“I feel like a failure” she said

I had a very interesting conversation this week where the person was convinced that what she was doing wasn’t working.  In her own words, “I feel like a failure.”

When I asked her what that meant, being a failure, she said “I don’t know, but I feel like it.”

This sparked an interesting dialogue that had two parts to it:

1.  What does failure look like?,

2.  And equally importantly, how will you know when you are successful?

She had fallen into the trap of comparing everything she did or did not do to everybody else around her instead of tracking her own progress.  And it’s an easy trap to fall into.  We try and keep up with the “Jones”.

The important step is to be very clear about your goals and how you progress over a reasonable time frame.  Sure others might be faster in some areas, but they do have their weaknesses as well.  I see this all the time in yoga where for years, practitioners (including myself at times) can feel like they are getting nowhere compared to the person on the mat next to them yet they themselves have a beautiful practice.  Or people who feel they are making very little money in comparison to those around them, but live comfortable lives themselves.

What YOU DO needs to reflect your efforts and abilities.  By working backwards and defining your goals from the get-go, you can then also define the conditions that will indicate failure as well as what you define as success.   But without your own personal path, process and criteria, you’ll be trying to place yourself into a mold made of another person.


Have you been staying true to your progress and hard work in different areas of your life or have you been trying to live up to expectations of those around you?  What could you change to measure your progress accurately?  Could you celebrate yourself as well as those that you perceive to be leaps and bounds ahead of you?

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4 reasons for inaction

What we think vs. what we do

The desire to do something is strong in all of us.  We have our secret fantasies, daydreams and people we hold up in high regard because what they do in life is something we aspire to do as well.   However, taking those desires and thoughts and implementing them into tangible actions with proof in our lives is often a challenging task and sadly left unfulfilled.  Why?

A look at our core values

As we grow up, we are shaped by our environment; society, schools, and home life.  These environments impose external values upon us that serve when we are young.  However, as we get older and develop our own personalities, what we truly believe about life may be different from what we were told life should be like; our true core values do not match the external core values we were given as a child.

When difficulty arises in life and we are frozen with inaction or current action becomes increasing difficult, it is because our true core values are not in alignment with our actions.  The role of the coach is to help the client fully explore their core values and examine areas in their life that are not in agreement.


A common scenario is to have an idea, get excited about it, but then as time or reality sets in, the idea fades away without being acted upon.  That flame of an idea burns brightly for that short amount of time and then dies; sometimes slowly and more often than not, very quickly.

What is it that keeps us from acting upon our ideas?

What limits us from bringing our true core values out into the world?

There are many, many factors of why people do not act as there are people, however there are some very common themes that restrict our actions when it comes to acting from a place of our true core values rather than what we were given.

Reasons for Inaction

1. Fear

The reason for fear is varied.  It can be fear of listening to our true selves, being different, what others will say, fear of failure, and/or the emotional component of exploring our values and beliefs.

2.  Uncertainty

Having our core values handed to us and not questioning them (even though we are not happy with them) is a defined path and with that comes some comfort (to use the expression of the “devil we know vs. the devil we don’t).  Exploring our true core values, and venturing out on another course of action puts us out there on new uncertain ground.

3.  Limiting personal habits

Despite wanting to implement our true core values, our life may not be structured to facilitate that happening. Time management, monetary priorities, addictions, poor self concepts and/or an overly negative outlook of the future are all activities and behaviors that not only take up time and energy, but also create an environment that does not nurture growth.

4.  Gremlins (or Saboteurs)

These are the voices in our heads that tell us what we are thinking is crazy, a waste of time, doomed to fail and we should give up now before it’s too late.

These factors, either alone or in concert, can keep us stuck and frozen with the inability to act.  Furthermore, left unchecked they do not only promote a lack of progress, but also start to move us backwards stripping us of self confidence and really knowing ourselves.


What keeps you stuck in action?  What would  you add to the list?

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How do you pack up your life?

My wife and I just packed up our overseas life after 15 plus years to set out on an adventure/experiment of moving to Laos.  We want to see if we can make a living by teaching yoga and life coaching (me) and have some aspect of interior design (my wife).  Ideally, our long term goal is to have a retreat center, but in the short term we need to see if it is viable.

So we have (in our own words) taken a lateral step out of our very comfortable careers of teaching overseas (I teach biology and my wife works as literary support) and as of last Thursday, set out on this adventure.

One of the questions that people ask (other than “Where is Laos?”  and “Life what?”  and “You teach yoga?”) is just how this big move came about.  Here is a snapshot:

Creating an exit plan

  • Listening-  About 6 years ago, we realized that we wanted a change.  We had been living in Africa (Tunisia) and what we were doing was not as fulfilling as we had wanted.  This slowly lead us into yoga, life coaching and interior design and we opened up, started asking questions and got more information.
  • Acting-  Over these 6 years, everything we did revolved around furthering our education and experiences around yoga, life coaching and interior design.  The trips we took, the money we spent, daily schedules and the sacrifices we made all revolved around the same question “Does this help us get closer to our goal of leaving teaching and trying something new?”

Talking about actually doing it

  • Communication-  We’ve had a lot of conversations (I mean a lot) about not only how to do this, but SHOULD we do this.  Fantasizing about change is one thing, but finding the courage to put it into place is another.  A lot of doubt, second guessing, and fear comes up especially when your life seems to be going well.  We both had great jobs, traveled very frequently, and were able to save a great deal annually so it seemed irresponsible to walk away from it.  These conversations not only helped us express our hopes and fears, but also affirmed that what we were trying to do was still what we wanted to do.
  • Language-  Choosing our language properly was vital.  In the beginning, the idea seemed to be for the rest of our lives.  However, during a rather scary conversation, my said “Why can’t we look at it like a lateral step out of teaching?  If it doesn’t work, we can step back in.”  That made all the difference and gave us the perspective to try.

Putting it into action

Once we decided to do it, it is quite easy to start to make it happen.  Here is how it looked since November:

  • Work-  We didn’t renew our contracts in Korea.  We decided that 2012 was the right time to try this out
  • Health-  We looked into our own health insurance.  We settled on NOW (for me) and Cigna (for my wife because it has a good maternity package for when she gets pregnant).  These both cover the world (except the US/Canada) with very good coverage for 1100USD and 1800USD respectively.   When we travel to North America, we buy temporary travel insurance.  You can get world wide insurance that includes North America, but it is approximately 4 times the cost.  So with us only spending a few weeks to months in either Canada or the US, it didn’t justify the cost.   It is much cheaper to buy the temporary travel insurance.
  • Home-  Our apartment was packed up into a 5 cubic meter container (actually 7 cubic meters but we were only charged the price for 5 cubic meters due to an estimation error by the company).   It is stored in Korea and when we settle into Laos and have an address, it will be shipped to us.  The cost of the packing and shipping from Korea to Luang Prabang, Laos is 3500USD and a monthly storage change  is 45USD (with the first 3 months free).   Pretty reasonable considering the price of a moving truck across a North American city can be upwards of a thousand dollars.
  • People-  Having conversations with our friends and family has been an ongoing dialogue.  Most people are curious and supportive, some very excited, others ambivilous but none against it.  The more we explain it to people the more confident we become, and our hesitations become less and less.  Bringing those around us on board is a vital step that takes patience, time and an understanding of their points of view.
  • Money-  We have savings that can carry us for a while, but we want to start generating an income as soon as possible so as to not eat through our bank accounts.  Laos is a very cheap country and money goes extremely far, but the sooner we can start bringing in at least enough income to cover our costs, our hard earned saving can be put to use for growing our vision (i.e. retreat center).

That is it in a nutshell.  A move of this size is like turning a ship; it needs to be done with anticipation and over the recent years, this is what we’ve done.  It started with questioning which lead to education and ultimately action.   The next phase is to work hard to make our actions count.

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What you talk about vs. what you do

What I’d really like to be doing

This past week I’ve been visiting my home town in Canada.  It’s a small, quaint, college town right on Lake Ontario and as I’ve been going around, people are quick to chat.  It’s that friendly, Fargo like feel.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that people love to talk about “what else it is they do in life” other than their job.  For example, in the bank over a discussion of investments, the broker was very quick to mention many times that she’d rather be out in her boat.  The barber could not stop talking about his passion for fishing.  The waitress spent the entire weekend canoeing and couldn’t wait to get back out on her day off.

There is the job they have that pays their bills and then there is their real passion.

We’ve all been in this situation where what we do in our “day” jobs is not how we want to be spending our time.   Something else is nagging us.

Being open to yourself

I’ve written a lot lately about:

If your passion is growing and how you pay the bills is becoming harder, then it’s time to start asking yourself some questions.  You don’t need to quit your job or radically change your life (most life changes are small tweaks), but being open to the ideas of “what if?” and “could I?” start an internal dialogue.  This self conversation will then help you start with small actions that allow investigation, questioning and potential action.

You are now being open to “what if?” and not closed off with “no way!”

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The question of “what would it take?”

The ideas in our head

These ideas are the ones that keep coming up but never get acted on.  They are exciting, motivating and get our hearts going, but are quickly quelled out by fear, financial concerns, how you perceive your age, fictional voices of others and ideas of how life should be lived.

But what would it take for you to let one of these ideas remain on the forefront of your mind?  Those ideas you have about trying something, quitting something, or even being something are part of you and if given enough room to breath could be put into motion.

These ideas are often not that farfetched and simply by addressing them, discussing them and/or moving forward with the smallest of actions, the possibility of what they really could become is much more visible.

A large part of life coaching is allowing the client to dive into those areas and ideas in their mind that they have assumed are untouchable.  Helping them give themselves permission to float in the uncertainty of their ideas is not only a vital exercise, but an extremely rewarding one for both client and coach.


If you could today replace the voices in your head of doubt, fear and nay-saying with the simple idea of possibility and the phrase “What if?”, what is one action that would move you forward TODAY?  How does it feel to be in the light of possibility rather than the darkness of impossible?

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