Friday, October 31, 2014

What masks do you wear?

It's Halloween today. Time for all the little ghosts and goblins to come knocking on your door. Often we know who's behind the little masks and costumes. But sometimes we get fooled.

It's a good time to think about our own masks.

We all learn from a very young age to cover up some of who we are and what we feel. We just feel safer that way. Sometimes we even grow up in families where our very survival depends on not showing what we think or feel, on not showing who we really are.

There comes a stage in life, however, when we realize that our masks hold us back. We don't feel real. We don't feel authentic. We want people to know us more fully—at least some of the people near and dear to us. It will always be true that we'll reveal more of our selves to some people than to others and that we'll always reserve some form of mask for certain people in our lives. But by and large, we'll feel better about ourselves and about life if we can shed some of those masks. Perhaps we can put on a much lighter, smaller one for those from whom we need some protection?

Little by little, as we shed more of those heavy masks, we begin to feel far more comfortable in our own skin. We trust that who and what we are is really OK. We believe that we can be loved for who we are—not for who we'd like to be.

Today is a good time to check out your masks. Anything need shedding?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

'I don't understand'

Last week I spent time reflecting on something I read in the Mark Nepo book I mention often, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have. So often Nepo will turn a thought on its head or say it in a completely new way so I hear it as if for the first time.

First Nepo quoted Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, author and peace activist, who said, "If you tell me you already understand, I feel a little pessimistic. If you say you do not understand, I feel more optimistic."

And as Nepo said, "... there is no real bond with others until we share the evidence of who we are and not just our conclusions." Oh, yes.

As one who grew up thinking it was important to have answers, I always need to hear this. It's OK to not understand. In fact, it's normal. I can't know everything. You can't know everything. It's part of being human. It's being honest and vulnerable to admit we don't know. When I can admit that I don't know or don't understand, when I can ask you questions about how you see things and when I can avoid just giving conclusions, you and I can have a real conversation. We can have a give-and-take that will likely lead to more authenticity for us both.

I think I'll practice saying, "I don't understand."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

When happy doesn't work

I've written several blogs on the topic of joy—and on the idea of keeping a positive rather than a negative attitude. I know how much better I feel when I see the glass half-full and when I keep a grateful and joyful heart.

It's important to say here, however, that I also firmly believe in being with whatever is real and true for you in your life at the time. If you find yourself in a bad place because of life events or because of depression or for any other reason, it's not helpful to stuff those feelings down and try to put on a happy face. At that point, accepting where you're really at is more honest and authentic. And in the end, that will get you where you need to go. Sometimes the idea of faking it until you make it doesn't work.

I have spent time in those dark places, those wilderness sites, before. That's the time to reach out for help. It's not the time to act as though everything's cool. It's definitely not. Do what you need to do to address the issues before you. And do what you need to do so you feel better. But don't simply put your mask back on and go on as though you're just fine when you're really not. It's OK to feel the way you do. It really is. And it's more than OK to ask for help. From friends, family, a counselor or a coach. Get the help you need—and perhaps the glass will be half-full once again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

3 ways to boost joy

Want to ramp up your joy and pleasure quotient a bit?

Sometimes we're down in the dumps because difficult things have happened to us, and we're worn out dealing with them. Sometimes we experience depression and need help. Other times, we've just stopped noticing all the good things that really are there all the time. That's when we can use a little jump-start.

First, when you awaken in the morning, try spending those first few moments thinking about what you most look forward to that day. Derive the pleasure of anticipation, which many times is 90 percent of the joy anyway. This will awaken your senses to other pleasures that day. You'll be watching for things. Expecting them. My guess is that you'll notice far more than you usually do. At night, too, it's good to review the day to remember all the joys.

Second, pay attention to your senses. Many of us have gotten pretty good at ignoring the signals our various senses are sending us. When you eat food, really focus on the taste of each thing—even if only for one minute. Feel the texture of your clothing or that soft blanket or coat. See how pleasant that feels. Smell the clean, fresh fall air. Or literally stop to smell the roses—or whatever flowers are in your environment.

Third, knowing that we all rush through our days with little awareness much of the time, put post-it notes around your home or office to remind you of something pleasurable. Or check your phone's wallpaper if you have a photo there of someone you love. It will remind you of good things in your life, and most likely it will spur you to look around for other good things. Do whatever will serve as a reminder to you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Technology & patience

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with technology and all our devices. Labor saving? Sometimes. Helpful? Yes, when they work. But when they don't, we end up spending more time looking for fixes than we generally have to spare. And there are other issues, too.

Last week, however, I heard an interesting twist on all that. A journalist and mother was interviewed on how the iPhone personal assistant Siri was helping her autistic son. Two fathers of sons with Asperger's syndrome also weighed in, agreeing with the mother. Her claim is that because Siri cannot understand questions or commands unless the phone user speaks clearly, her son is learning to be more careful with pronunciation. He's learning to go to Siri to ask questions about topics in which he's interested. All three parents said that it helps their children that Siri isn't judgmental when she continues to ask for clarity. And she is far more patient than these parents feel they are with their children's questions.

This gave me a whole new appreciation for Siri, who often drives me crazy when she reacts to a request with what I consider an off-the-wall response. It also reminded me of the importance of two things in human interactions: patience and non-judgment. I don't know about you, but I continue to work on those two. Because I am a passionate person and get jazzed (or upset) about things, I have to hold back sometimes on what I think about an idea or an outcome. These days, my mantra has been "Non-attachment to outcomes." Sometimes it's important to be invested in an outcome or even in a direction. Many times, it's not. I want to let go and let life flow more easily.

Who knew? Sometimes we can even learn from our devices.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fun & function

Is there any law that says we can't have fun while waiting at a traffic light for the signal to turn green so we can cross the street? Apparently, someone thought it would be fun to design such a signal. It combines fun and function. I found a YouTube video of it.

So some person created a traffic signal with a dancing figure that has lots of moves to show you while you wait for the light to turn green. Not only does the signal encourage people to dance on the sidewalk in sheer joy while they wait, but the signal has been shown to be more effective—81 percent more people stopped at the signal where this was tested. So, let's see: people happily dancing on the sidewalk and most likely spreading joy during the rest of their day OR people crabbily waiting for the signal to turn, or worse yet, dashing across the street in front of fast-moving cars? Hmm, that's a no-brainer.

So, are there ways we can make ordinary, everyday—and sometimes irritating—tasks more fun? We can combine fun and function. I know women who dance in their kitchens while they're preparing meals. Good exercise. Good fun. And the meals get done. They may even taste better because they're made with more love and more joy!

How can you add some fun into your daily tasks today? Go for it. There's nothing that says the mundane can't also be enjoyable.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

An unexpected gift

Everyday experiences and objects can be our teachers. Have you discovered that, too?

In August one of my out-of-town granddaughters and I enjoyed another of our annual Grandma Days. One of the many fun things we did that day was each design a glass sushi plate at a glass-fusion art studio. We had great fun selecting the various colors of glass with which to decorate our plates, scoring and cutting the glass, and then laying out the design we each created. Our inner artists came out to play that day.

We didn't get to take the plates home since the fusing had yet to be done by the studio. Recently when I visited my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter again, I got to see the finished products and bring mine home. Olivia's plate was perfect. Mine was beautiful, too, but it had a little bump in part of the design where a tiny glass bead hadn't melted down for some reason. Everything else was fine except for that little knob of glass (really, only about 1/8 inch in diameter). It bothered me at first, and I was upset that it happened.

The more I thought about it, however, the better I felt about it. I've decided that not only will this plate remind me of the wonderful day Olivia and I spent but it will remind me of the importance of imperfection. Perfectionism is a heavy load to carry around. I know—because I did it for years. I'm trying to be OK now with being imperfect, and I'm learning about the gifts in that. I more easily take risks (reaching out to someone I might not have before, for example) because I don't have to worry so much about being perfect. I am more compassionate because I acknowledge my own flaws and am comfortable in my skin. I can better accept myself—and others.

There are many more gifts, too. If you want to read more about imperfection, I recommend research professor Brene Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kindness comes full circle

Don't you love how when you provide a random act of kindness, you see its ripple effect—and often it comes full circle to bring you goodness as well? It works in reverse as well, and you get a chance to do something kind for a person who helped you—or even to just pay it forward to another.

I just read about a woman who was raising four children, working and also going to college. Her life was stressful and difficult. One day a customer entered the country store where she worked, and he bought a lottery ticket. He just knew it was a winner. Sure enough, he was a $100 winner. He asked her to give him two $50 bills, and he gave her one and gave her coworker the other. The lottery winner absolutely insisted they each take the money. That money meant so much to this frazzled mother who was having a tough time financially.

As a nurse 12 years later, she walked into a patient's room—and to her surprise, discovered it was the lottery winner. She was delighted to thank him again and tell him how much that $50 had meant, and in her words, "I was deeply honored to be caring for him when he needed someone."

Stories like this are so heart-warming. Who can I reach out to today? To whom can I show kindness and love?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Together we rise

It doesn't just take a village to raise children, I believe it takes one for us as adults, too. When we support, encourage and help one another, we do so much more than we can do alone.

I recently read about women around the globe gathering to help each other, thanks to a nonprofit begun by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Lean In Circles are established in more than 70 countries already in attempts to empower girls and women to find their voices and achieve their goals. Participants gather monthly or more often to learn, encourage and share with one another.

Last year Sandberg wrote a book titled Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead that started discussion around those issues, and now her nonprofit is helping us join hands around the world. Reportedly, there's even a circle of men in Phoenix who want to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem and their desire is to make their law firm a better place for women.

There's so much power when we join hands and when we support and encourage one another. By sharing our stories, we inspire one another, too. Where are you finding encouragement today? And where are you giving it?

Monday, October 20, 2014

One small step at a time

Last week I saw a YouTube video of a little girl taking her first steps—and eventually learning to walk. Her father shot the video as a time-lapse so it chronicled all her baby steps, from learning to stand for a few seconds to much later, walking steadily on her own. He showed lots of falls, which always are a part of learning to walk, and even a few gentle pushes by her older sister.

This video reminded me that life comprises lots of stops and starts, lots of falls and recoveries, lots of helping hands along the way, sometimes a few pushes (both good and bad), and affirmation from those who love us most. What we need to remember is that taking baby steps toward a goal or dream is the best way to get there. One small step at a time—and before you know it, you're there.

And when we fall, just like that little girl, we need to pick ourselves up and get moving again. It helps to surround yourself with positive and affirming people, too. Although life often brings us negative people who are all too ready to criticize us (and our inner critics can do enough of that on their own), it's helpful to either tune out those voices or in some cases, drop those friendships. Develop relationships with those who can affirm and support you on your journey. Learn to love that inner critic, too. If you'd like to learn more about how to deal with your inner critic, I invite you to contact me.

For today, though, think of things you want to achieve—and what baby steps you can take to get there.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Try optimism

Are you a cup half-full person? If you are, you know already the benefits of a positive attitude. You most likely feel healthier—and are healthier, too. Because you have a positive attitude about your future, you no doubt put more energy into creating it. So your satisfaction level is higher. And your stress levels are lower because you produce less cortisol, research shows.

If you are a cup half-empty person, don't despair. Suzanne Segerstrom, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky who has studied optimistic vs. pessimistic people, says that if you act like an optimistic person, the benefits of optimism (satisfaction, health and lower stress levels) will follow. So it's again one of those "fake it until you make it" behaviors. Try to think like an optimist would. Act as though you are one.

I like the words of poet, philosopher and theologian Khalil Gibran: "Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."

See what can happen if you try to think more like an optimist. Begin by finding at least four things each day that are blessings—at least four things for which you are grateful. Gratitude is a good start to developing a positive attitude.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Take action

In its early days, the U.S. space program was an all-male bastion. Male astronauts. Male engineers. Females were secretaries and "computresses" (operators of mechanical calculators). That was it. But after years of speaking up and speaking out, including going before Congress, finally women were allowed in the doors. They took their place as astronauts and engineers, among other things.

As I watched a PBS program the other night that chronicled those years of the space program for women, it reminded me once again: We don't get anywhere with our hope and dreams if we don't take action. We need encouragement to find our voices. Once we find our voice, feel comfortable with who we are and with our right to make choices that we want, we can join with others to create an action plan to open doors that were closed before. Or, if the doors are open, we can create our own personal action plan to reach our dreams and goals.

What dream is still unrealized in your life? Is there some passion still buried inside you? Is it time to create an action plan for yourself so you can truly soar like that beautiful butterfly you are? Go for it. If you really want it, it's worth fighting for or working for.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Enlarge your view

Rain falling by the buckets. Wet, slippery roads. Snarled traffic inching along for miles for some reason I never determined. Darkness falling rapidly. Throw in 50 miles of road construction for good (or bad) measure. Now you have a recipe for frustration and tense muscles. That's what I faced as I returned home a couple nights ago from a long weekend.

By the time I neared my house, I was so ready to be out of the car and stretch my aching arms, legs and back. But just a block from my home, traffic came to a halt and I saw several flashing lights from police cars and emergency vehicles. As I felt my stress rising even more at the thought of sitting in my car even longer and not getting home soon, it occurred to me that several people's lives may have just been profoundly changed by whatever happened just ahead of me.

I still don't know details of the accident other than that it was a head-on collision. But I can imagine. I sent up several prayers for whoever was involved as well as for the emergency responders. The whole situation gave me a different perspective. Suddenly my stress seemed insignificant. I did get home safely. Whoever was in those two cars probably had a totally different outcome, however. At the very least their cars were likely ruined or at least badly damaged. Judging from all the emergency vehicles, it must have been far worse than that.

Perspective. It's always good to keep a perspective on things, isn't it? It's easy to get caught up in the everyday drama of our lives and not get the larger view of what's happening around us. But what a difference it makes. It doesn't mean we should diminish our own stress, sadness or feelings. It just means we should enlarge our view to include people all around us and across the globe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Soak up all the learning you can

American blues musician, singer and songwriter B. B. King said, "The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you." Yes! It seems so obvious when you hear it. But it hasn't always been so obvious—and we don't always value learning enough.

When I came of age, I remember hearing often that if a young woman wasn't going to have a career, higher education was wasted on her. That's silly, isn't it?

Now we know that learning can make us better people—more well-rounded, insightful, happier. It helps us in whatever roles we take on, from parenting to membership in any organization to whatever job or career we might choose. Our minds are a valuable part of us, and we do well to keep them active and engaged for as long as we're able to do so. That doesn't necessarily mean we have to attend college. There are many ways to learn. Developing awareness. Reading books. Watching thoughtful movies or TV shows and discussing them with others. Auditing classes. Learning a new skill or hobby.

The idea of lifelong learning really jazzes me. In fact, when I hear one of my grandsons talk about his college courses and what he's learning, I long to be back in a college classroom myself. But there are many ways to develop our minds. And, despite the threat of dementia and Alzheimer's as we age, there are many ways to try build up our memory and retain what we've learned. Why not stop today and pay attention to this important part of your life?

Monday, October 13, 2014

What you leave behind

Anne Elizabeth Denny has a wonderful blog in which she talks about preparing for death—ours and that of those we love. Her blog is not at all a downer. She has wonderful ideas that make final times easier and smoother.

Recently she talked about the legacy we leave. I'm certain that I've blogged on that subject, perhaps long ago. But it's not a once-and-done topic. It bears thinking about. When she talks about leaving behind a legacy, she isn't referring to the financial legacy. Most of us won't have millions to leave behind for our families. She means the impact we have on the lives of others. That's what I always mean, too, when I speak or write of our legacy.

In this recent blog, Denny talked about three "priceless, extraordinary gifts" we can give:

1) The gift of you. Your time, skills and abilities are a gift to others—and your influence and encouragement are amazing gifts.

2) The gift of forgiveness. How healing it is to give and receive forgiveness. It lightens the load for everyone involved.

3) The gift of peace. When you experience a broken relationship in your life, seeking reconciliation is such a gift. To you and to the other person. As Denny says, you can foster peace, too, by withholding judgment as you listen to the views of others whose worldview may be different from yours. She also points out that when we create plans for our end-of-life journey, we promote family peace. How much easier that will make life for our loved ones.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Say it now

My father was in a hospice facility the last few days of his life. His wife of 65 years, my mother, was by his side. My two siblings and I were by his side as were my sister's husband and children and my three sons, my daughters-in-law and grandchildren. We had a few days to say goodbyes and "I love yous" and anything else we needed to say. We sang, we cried, we laughed, we read, and we prayed. We all said what a good death Dad had. We were so grateful for that time together.

We don't always have that opportunity to say those things at the time of death, however. So why not say them now when we're living and our loved ones are still alive? Don't wait. Dr. Ira Byock, an international leader in palliative care, recommends saying 11 powerful words regularly to those you love. It will bring them peace, healing and a deep feeling of being loved; and it's guaranteed to do the same for you.

Here are the simple 11 words he says are important to convey:

Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you.

Go ahead—start today.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Life questions & ambiguity

So many people I know are going through what can be called a time of discernment, wilderness or desert time, or any of a variety of names for those times of deep questioning and uncertainty about what's happening in your life or what should come next. Each one of us experiences such periods at various times in our life, so this is not at all unusual.

How you choose to handle that time is what can matter, however. Try to be OK with the ambiguity. Seek to befriend whatever questions arise within you. Above all, determine to not rush toward resolution and answers. It's never comfortable to be in that in-between place—but usually it's a time of real creativity, and it can be the seedbed for new dreams and possibilities. Don't try to run fast to escape the questions and uncertainty. That could just prolong the process. Spend time with the discomfort and complexities to see what might emerge.

Journal with what's coming up inside—or find someone with whom to discuss your thoughts and feelings. If you'd like some coaching around this topic, I invite you to contact me. Remember, I always offer a complimentary, no-obligation initial strategy session before any coaching agreement is entered.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Encourage those around you

Yesterday I was fortunate to be part of a group of women (and a few men) who attended a brunch that was followed by a program featuring an impersonation of Zelda Fitzgerald. These programs are regularly offered by a set of shops in a nearby suburb, and each one includes a program in which someone impersonates a historical figure. Last time we got acquainted with Benedict Arnold's wife. It's a wonderful way to learn more about historical figures as those who do these impersonations spend lots of time researching the characters they play.

One of the things I learned about Zelda was that her husband, F. Scott, was threatened by her writing talents when she became more accomplished. And he regularly used her diaries for material for his own writing! What a shame. It made me think of all those whose partners or spouses hold them back because they don't want anyone to outshine them. If those who love you aren't your cheerleaders and encouragers, who will be?

It's just a good reminder to check out my life. Am I encouraging those I love? Those around me? Do I try to control anyone else? Does anyone else try to control me or hold me down? And if so, what will I do about that? Don't accept put-downs, and don't allow the discouraging voices around you to carry the day. By the same token, become an encourager yourself.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Giving brings joy

I'm not exactly ready to think about Christmas already (even though I have actually purchased just a few gifts). I like to enjoy the season I'm in and not rush too far ahead of myself. Right now I'm enjoying fall.

However, I just read in my new issue of Weight Watchers Magazine several ideas for favorite holiday traditions of the magazine's staff. One really struck me as a wonderful idea. Here's what that staffer wrote:

"My husband and I don't buy gifts for each other (we already have too much 'stuff'!), so around mid-December we go to a department store and pay down layaways for people who've got toys on hold. We love how it makes us feel."

Isn't that a great way to "pay it forward" and to celebrate the holiday season? And this in a culture where truly there is so much "stuff" and where there's such an emphasis on spend, spend, spend and me, me, me. I'm just imagining the joy such an act brings to this couple. And it takes no imagination whatsoever to think of the joy it brings to the children who will receive these toys—and to the parents who have been saving up money little by little to give their children some Christmas joy. It's just another reminder of how much joy can be spread when we reach out to others.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Together we rise

Last week the Today Show highlighted breast cancer survivors and those currently dealing with the disease. What really struck me as I watched women share their stories in the company of others was the strength they drew from each other. I saw a real sisterhood—though they spanned the country and came from a variety of races, age groups and lifestyles.

When one woman would share her fears, her experiences and her triumphs, I could see the hope light up in the eyes of those still going through the chemo, radiation and surgeries. There were hugs, tears, words of support and encouragement for each other—and I have no doubt that for the thousands of viewers who watched the program, that hope spread even further.

We do need each other. And it's in the sharing of our stories—sharing our fears, our dreams, our hopes, our losses and our triumphs—that we help one another. It's also through that same sharing that we experience healing and confidence ourselves. Through that, we can find the strength to face what comes our way.

Sometimes our fears draw us deeply down into ourselves, and it's difficult to reach out and tell others. It's also difficult to ask for help and support. But it's good for us to do so, and it's equally good for others to be able to offer support, hope and encouragement.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Slow down. Enjoy life.

Do you often feel harried and rushed? As though your life (to say nothing of your to-do list) is out of control? Find yourself inhaling your food rather than tasting it? Even in retirement these days, people are moving so quickly from one thing to another that there's no time at all to "stop and smell the roses." Names have even been coined for this dis-ease: "hurry sickness" and "time famine" (feeling that you never have enough time).

It's so easy to get caught up in this way of living. Those still in the workforce often are expected to pick up the work of colleagues who have been let go. Those on an upward career track feel pressure to keep moving and keep impressing the decision-makers. And those who are retired certainly don't want to be seen as slackers!

Would you like to get off this treadmill-going-nowhere? Would you like time to notice the beauty around you? It's not easy to slow down your pace when you're so used to a fast one and when everyone around you is in constant motion. But it is possible. In fact, I recently learned that there's a whole movement devoted to this: the Slow Movement. It began with the Slow Food Movement, an alternative to the fast food takeover. And it now includes slow travel, slow gardening, slow living, slow sex and more. It allows time for creativity, rest, savoring relationships and experiences. It's about living mindfully—living with awareness rather than sleepwalking through life. It's about moving at the pace that's needed, neither too fast nor too slow.

What changes and choices might you make today to slow down your life?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Anger's up and down sides

Anger is an interesting emotion, isn't it? Most of us women were raised with the idea that it's an emotion we should avoid. It surely isn't feminine to get angry. Right? (And the corollary of that was that men were told to avoid sadness and crying because that was a female thing! They were allowed anger, and we were allowed sadness and tears.) Let's examine that, though.

Emotions are emotions. Pure and simple. They come uninvited and know no gender. They aren't right or wrong. They just are. How we use emotions matters, however. And what we do with those emotions may seem to be more gender-specific, largely because of how we're taught to react or respond.

What I have discovered about anger, for instance, is that there are times I want to keep it for a while. Anger contains an enormous amount of energy. And there are times in life when you and I need that energy to get through an experience. I certainly needed it, for example, when I went through my divorce years ago. Its energy fueled me to get through lots of fear and what otherwise might have been immobilizing negative thoughts. Anger gave me the energy to get through many tough days. I needed it when I lost my job, too.

Once it's served its usefulness, however, it should be dropped. Like a hot potato. For once you've mined the gold in anger, as a friend of mine puts it, anger will reverse itself and suck energy right out of you. It will become the proverbial ball-and-chain. So pay good attention to your anger—know when you need its energy and when it begins to take away your energy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Stay the course

Do you get discouraged easily about your dreams and goals? Do you change direction when things get tough, even to the point of letting go of your dreams and passions? If so, you may like to consider this quote by author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar: "When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there."

You don't need to see obstacles as a sign that you're pursuing the wrong dream. Obstacles happen. Period. Is the obstacle something you can surmount? Is there a work-around? Can you change direction and still keep the same goal or dream? Sometimes obstacles are merely good pause-points—times to stop and reflect on what you're doing and whether you're going about it in the best way. Often, you just need to tweak something to better suit you.

When I received my training to become a life coach, the professor asked each of us to develop a HUB statement (Hottest Undeniable Benefit) that would say who our target audience was and what we offered them. I created several drafts and finally settled on one; so did my classmates. We were told to be very specific with our target audience (not "women," for example, but more like "middle-aged women in career transition" or something similar). I started out with a different target than I now have, and it wasn't working well. That didn't mean I had to give up life coaching. It just meant I needed to do some tweaking and think more about who my gifts might best serve.  And that tweaking made a huge difference. I absolutely love what I'm doing—and the variety of clients I'm now serving.

That said, there are times in your life when an obstacle arises and a pause-point may show the need for a left turn or a total shift in what you're doing. Know the difference. Know yourself.