Posts in Mindset
The disneyfication of spirituality, coaching and entrepreneurship

When I started my first blog, Change One Woman, it was (like a lot of what I do) a reaction to being unable to find what I wanted. What I had been searching for was personal development courses, workshops or classes to help me figure out what the hell I was doing with myself and where to go from there.

I found nothing.

Well, not nothing exactly. My only options back then were seminars on being a domestic abuse survivor, self-defense, becoming more aggressive in a corporate environment or discovering my inner goddess. None of which were what I wanted or needed. I remember thinking

“Is THAT IT?! These are my options?!”

Although I did end up doing the self-defense Krav maga workshop for fun…

But it annoyed me for a number of reasons, the first being that it was so limited. For someone who believes that they are capable of doing anything if they have access to tools and training I was disappointed that there were such narrow options. But also because, as so often happens, each of the options was so unbelievably stereotypical!

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I’ve never liked boxes and labels, especially when it comes to people.

But I started my blog, it grew. I started coaching. It grew too. I did workshops. They grew too. It was all going rather well… and then somehow the internet got in the way of my simple and surprisingly easy success.

When I moved to the USA I was stunned at how sleek and shiny the marketing was for the many many coaches that operate here. And at first I LOVED it. The diversity is incredible and it was so gratifying to see how quickly the industry that I adore was growing.

And then the Disneyfication started. (I don’t actually know if that’s a world, but I love it and it should be)

Seriously though, I’m waiting for the musical movie of “Fabulicious Sarah and the overnight success following the uncovering of her money blocks”. Or “The magical tale of Annabelle the bizbabe and the 6 figure coaching business” or my absolute favorite “Miranda the Fabpreneur, biz coach, spiritual revolutionist, green smoothie rebel junkie, mother of a super baby with magic powers, stylista *insert more overused words that are super catchy but don’t exist* ” I’m just kidding, that one makes me want to gag.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.  - and to prevent me from getting sued.

All of these women are AMAZING and DO run incredible businesses so don’t think I’m knocking their success at all. But I'm frustrated that this is seen as the best and often only way to make this being a self employed coach thing work.

What frustrates me is the rush to copy the Disneyfication of the coaching and entrepreneurial spirit. The sudden assumption that to be a business woman means also being a part the fluff and flutter of the sexy and cute. Its understandable, but it often comes across as forced and lacking in authenticity. And I sometimes feel like we are dumbing down the real and unbelievably powerful impact that we make with our work.

Part of the problem is that it IS difficult to market what we do. How do we easily explain to people that we help change lives without resorting to finding something catchy that sticks with people. It’s in many ways a marketing Mexican standoff.

But I think it can be done without getting all FAAAABULOUS on each other.

Call me old fashioned, but when someone starts off a sales call or a pitch by calling me Babe, fabulosa, femprener, biz babe, girl boss (though I love the book) or any variation of a professional title that gets dipped in glitter and given a tiara, I immediately sigh and click “hide”. Or sometimes I think “you don’t know me guuuurl”, and then move on…. after checking out their Instagram to see their cute shoes though. Because yes, I am a woman and I have needs. I can be as girly and sparkly as the next lady boss. And I love sharing my day on Instagram and pulling the occasional fish lips selfie. But when it comes to taking what I do and what’s between my ears seriously, the marketing is not the THING.

As I would say to my clients. Who would you be if we took away the clothes you wear and the image that you project? Does it change you, your talents, your passion?

My point is that I think as women in the coaching industry, we are still fighting to create that image that says we can do and be it all, while still being super cute, well dressed and girly. It’s all about the marketing.

The packaging is becoming more important than the product and the people.

As I’m a part of the industry, I tend to see a lot more of the coach to coach selling that goes on, and I think its partially responsible for the fear based “must do and be all the things” trend that I not only see everywhere, but have felt myself. Just this morning I was talking to a lovely coach about getting lost in the industry noise and what we’ve dubbed “imminent failure nichitus” (thanks Tanya!)

Which is basically the relentless scream from countless industry experts with rags to riches stories, telling us in floods of social media and emails that unless we do things in a certain way with our niches and checklists and periscopes and professional photoshoots…. Doom will be upon us.

Yes

DOOM.

Doom.

The niche is nigh
The niche is nigh

One of the things that I love most about what I do, is that I don’t tell people WHAT to do. Granted I’m not a business coach, but I am a coach who believes that the best way to create success, is to help create a successful person. Someone who is successfully being THEMSELVES. Not a Disneyfied biz babe version of themselves (unless of course that is truly who they are and it makes them squeal with happiness).

So for my own sanity, I’m checking out of the constant and over flowing marketing, the cannibalization of our industry where we coach the coach who coaches on coaching. I’m unsubscribing from a hundreds of emails that I signed up to for inspiration that have ended up strangling my own voice in my head. And I’m deleting anyone who calls me a biz babe. And. I’ve deleted my own email list.

Tiara and high heels or not,

I’m just here to write and help people be awesome.

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MindsetTarryne West
Feeling overwhelmed? Time to reconsider what you're trying to do with your life.

Last night at the Inspired Woman's Book Club that I host, we got talking about motivation, energy and getting things done. Particularly, how to make time for the things that truly make us happy and push us further towards our goals, that often get neglected in the rush to get everything else finished. I think its safe to say that we have all at one point or another experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by the day to day tasks like our day job, answering emails, paying bills on time, cooking for our family, or the one I hate the most, laundry! Its interesting that even though our very modern lifestyles are full of ways that are meant to make these things more convenient and time efficient, we seem to be more and more stressed by what we have on our plates.

There's a post floating around on Facebook that really summed it up for me that says "Beyonce has the same number of hours in a day that you do" which is true. But I can promise you that Beyonce does certain things that if you're feeling overwhelmed, you don't do. (she also has personal assistant and probably doesn't have to do her own laundry which helps!)  And anyone who has gotten good at fitting things in and balancing their schedule has mastered these tactics.

The first and most important thing is a mindset change.

Ive often heard people say "but I have to pay rent, I have to get the laundry done, I have to cook dinner" Well actually, you don't. Doing these things is a choice. Now I know you're probably thinking "well that's just stupid of course I have to do them". You could seriously not do the laundry. But you choose to because the consequences are something that you don't want to deal with. You choose to take action to avoid those consequences.

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It seems like a small shift, but when you start looking at your activities as things you CHOOSE to do rather than you HAVE to do, you take back a certain level of control. Its a step towards empowerment over what you do in your life.

Next time you write out your to do list, try writing something like "Today I have chosen to..." before each item and when you get to doing that thing, focus on that fact, and the benefit that you gain from it.

Next, you have to change how you think about your time and what you spend your time on.

What do you think your time is worth? Seriously. Think about it for a second. Did you immediately put a dollar value on it? Most people do because we are so used to thinking about time spent in terms of what we get paid by the hour for it.

Imagine for a moment that you thought about every day as one day closer to your death. Its a bit depressing at first, but I promise you I have a point.

How much time do you have left? .....you don't know. You can guess, you can hope, you can plan for a best case scenario, but really you have no idea.

When you start to think about the REAL value of your time, you realize that time is the single most important and valuable thing you will ever have. It is literally the stuff that your life is made of.

So, how are you using that time?

Prioritizing is not just about doing the most urgent things on our to do list, but also about being careful about whats on the list to begin with. Whenever people feel overwhelmed, I ask them to list everything they are trying to fit into their lives and ask them for each one

What will this add to your life? How important is that to you? 

Who are you really doing this for?

That last question in particular is a good one to ask yourself, because often stuff that we are trying to do consistently, isn't really for us.

Maybe of us feel pressured by what other people are doing, what we are told by media and society is what we should be doing. What we feel would make people think differently about us if we did. Often we are trying to do stuff because we fear the judgement of others if we don't.

How many of your To Do items start with "I really should..." Like "I really should get to the gym more often" "I really should be more social and go out for dinner with people more" "I really should learn to speak french" " I really should repaint the living room so it looks better in my Instagram pictures"

If the lists starts with "I should" rather than "I want to" then your really need to look at why you're doing something. And if its not because you REALLY want the outcome, but I mean really really really. Then cut it out and set it free. You don't really want it in your life. Find something else that you're more excited about and do that instead.

Every new opportunity or project or idea that comes my way gets carefully evaluated before I try to add it into my life. I try to ask if it will really benefit me, is it in line with my long term goals, will it make me happy, do I have time for it. and most importantly, what will I have to drop from the list to fit it in.

Once you've done all this, the rest is really quite straight forward. Find a scheduling or time management system that works for you. Just because something works for someone else doesn't mean that its going to work for everyone. Experiment a little and find the right way that fits with your lifestyle and personality.

Remember that scheduling rest and relaxation is important too, and be prepared to be flexible. Life doesn't give a damn about your schedule, so you need to be able to flow with things that come up.

Because as my mum once said to me, "You can do ANYTHING, you just cant do it all at once."

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MindsetTarryne West
Weight loss. Maybe we're fighting the wrong war.

Yesterday a client said something that's really stuck with me. We were discussing the challenges she'd had on her weight loss and health plan when she said "All I want is the freedom to just eat whatever I want and not worry" I remember that feeling. Really well. Because what she wants isn't the ability to gorge herself on burgers, the freedom shes talking about is and escape from the constant concern about food, weight, body image and confidence.

She wants to be free. To not be a hostage to how she feels about food and her weight.

Something that most people believe is the ultimate result of being thin.

And it rattled me because I know this feeling. Very well. And although my life and my relationship with my body and with food is vastly different to what it once was, that feeling sometimes still surfaces, forcing me to confront it and work through it yet again.

I started to think about how strange it is that although I'm a coach and so many of my clients struggle with those feelings but don't want to talk about them. Because we are led to believe that food and willpower are the problem. If we just eat right everything will be fine.

The reality is that whether you've suffered from an eating disorder or not, a disordered relationship with food can be a constant and overwhelming presence in your life. One that even when you have all the tools, can be difficult to resolve.

My client put it perfectly when she said "Quitting smoking was easy. But it's not like I can just stop eating! I have to remake the decision to eat well every single time there's an opportunity to put something into my mouth. And sometimes, I just need to eat everything I possibly can because I feel like I'll never get to have it again".

Someone who's never had a difficult food relationship doesn't understand the drive that has you eating an entire loaf of bread with butter, slice after slice until you can fit any more in. They don't understand being anxious around fruit loops cereal because if you have just one single loop, it will ruin everything and you'll have to fast for days on end. Both those things were absolutely real for me at one point. I remember on more than one occasion being so exhausted by the mental battle of each meal that I started to wonder if I could just give up food completely. Live on protein shakes and vitamin injections or something.

Anything to stop the insanity that I felt on a daily basis from the moment I stepped on the scale,

to when I tallied up all my eating for the day in a notebook and went to bed promising myself that tomorrow was THE DAY.

While I was thinking about writing this post, I started to think about my own journey with my difficulties with food and body image and weight, and it was startling to think that it was a regular feature in my life for almost HALF of my entire life and that it's only in the last 5 years that I began to really find clear head space away from the constant "food debates" that my mind liked to host. Only a few years of freedom from that absolutely constant presence of food on my mind, affecting everything from what I ate, wore, where I went, what I did for fun, who I hung out with...

The value I placed on myself as a person.

I sometimes wonder what else I could have accomplished in life so far if Id put the time and energy spent on freaking out about food and my body on things that were really worthwhile... and wouldn't make me feel overwhelmed, frustrated and crazy.

In my own journey, I've learned so much about nutrition, about the bodies metabolic processes, about food manufacture and production, and about how different foods affect the body and the mind. All of which has been tremendously helpful both to me and my clients, but I also know that its only a small part of the whole solution. Anyone who has difficulties with their weight or with food will tell you that no matter how much information they have, its just another system. Another plan, and other diet. It doesn't change anything.

Coaching people for weight loss made it very clear to me that my experience is not unique, because at the end of the day, so much of the issue is not about food, and trying to fix it with food is like trying to fix crumbling wall with new wallpaper. Looks good for a while, but that wall is still falling apart. There is always an underlying reason for weight issues, whether it's about an emotional difficulty with food, habitual programming or beliefs that we have developed about ourselves and what our diets or weight represents, a "weight problem" is a symptom, not the problem itself.

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I think its time that we stop accepting that a new diet, an exercise plan, the latest protein shake or will power is going to permanently change our weight or our mindsets. If you've "been there, done that" with every diet and plan on the block. Maybe its time to look a little deeper. There's a lot more to the puzzle than that and it has very little to do with whats on your plate.

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MindsetTarryne West
Not my circus.
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About a year ago I came across the charming expression "not my circus, not my monkeys". Not only is it a hilarious visual (yes, go on, imagine the people who frustrate you as being monkeys dressed like clowns...) but its so incredibly profound. At its essence is this.... Other people are not your problem.  Its that simple.

Often in life we find ourselves being the ringmaster in what feels like a circus, particularly when there are people around you, who for whatever reason are difficult to deal with. Whether its the one who never has anything nice to say and loves to bring others down, the one who is always a victim of some or other drama... or maybe the one who just likes to create the drama.

These people are not your problem.

What I mean by that, is that whatever is causing them to behave in the manner that they do, is not about you. And its not your responsibility to fix that.

This often comes up when I'm coaching people on dealing with negativity or toxic people in their lives, because its something that we all face, and too often we get totally wrapped up in the issue created by those people and in getting angry that they wont change or do things the way we think they need to be done.  There are people in my own life who are very difficult to deal with, and I have days where I want to shake them and ask them what the hell their problem is, but, as you'll know if you've ever confronted someone like that about their behavior, it only makes the situation worse and fuels the drama that comes with them.

The best way to deal with difficult people, is essentially to have compassion for them. To recognize that whatever is driving their behavior is most likely quite painful and its all part of a defense mechanism. Happy, confident people are drama llamas!

But, and here comes the BIG BUT...

That is not your issue to deal with, and their behavior actually has nothing to do with you.

So next time you're finding yourself on the verge of losing it with someone, getting upset over their behavior or trying to change them, remember. That is not your circus.

Those are not your monkeys to train.

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MindsetTarryne West
On authenticity and nobody liking me.
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I watched this video last week that had me laughing hysterically for about 20 minutes. Ok, I lie I didn’t just watch it once, I watched it about 5 times in a row. It’s hilarious, and at the point where she starts waving her hands around going “why does nobody like me? Why does nobody think I’m pretty? Why does nobody like the things that I like?" I pretty much lose it.  (warning language)

Thing is, I have had moments where I’ve looked at myself, and at my life or work, and thought pretty much the same thing. Especially when its so easy to look at someone more successful than you and start making negative comparisons. Even with my Facebook page, particularly when I first started out, I was guilty of looking at other people’s pages who are a million times bigger than mine and thinking to myself. “why does nobody liiiiiike me?” And sometimes there’s a tiny voice who whispers in a nasty way “if you were more like that other person then more people would pay attention to you”. Sometimes it’s really hard to trust that who you are will be good enough to get you where you want to go.  And I proved it to myself too when I started following advice from from bigger and more successful pages, and as a result, my page lost its uniqueness.

This is something that we have all done at one point or another, taken on aspects of something or someone else in the hope that it will make us more popular, more successful, or more loved. I know from my own experience that when I’ve done that it’s turned out to be a complete disaster. And I’ve watched so many other people work their way into huge and unhappy messes by doing the same.

Trying to take other peoples uniqueness and copy it, is like turning yourself into a cheap designer knock off. It may look the same, but it’s never going to be the same. And I started to wonder at one point, if I'm not being myself, then how can I say people like me anyway... they don't even know me!

The problem is that by changing who you are to fit an idea that you have of what people want you to be, you lose something really vital.

You lose sight of that magic thing that people are drawn to.

Your authentic self.

A couple years ago I was preparing to sing something at a competition, and I was worried that it was going to be a disaster because it was a song that has been done to death, when my coach said to me “Yes, they have heard it a million times, but they have never hear it sung by YOU”. She didn’t mean that my version was particularly exceptional or different, but it was mine. My interpretation, my voice, my spirit. The same is true of my blog and my work. there are hundreds of thousands of blogger and coaches out there, but there is only one who is me.

It doesn’t matter how many other people do the same thing that we do, or have the same goals, interests, hobbies, profession etc. What makes us remarkable is that little bit of something special that no one else can copy, and it’s that little something that draws people in.

The more genuine you are, the more people genuinely respond to you. And who you really are IS what is so incredible about you.

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MindsetTarryne West
Life lessons from shoe shopping.

Last weekend my husband and I went boot shopping. Not just any boots mind you, he wanted to get me actual leather cowboy boots as part of my integration into Texas. It was an interesting experience because generally I like to go shopping alone. I have a very strong sense of my own style and while I don't shop often, when I do I like to take my time and make sure that I really love what I'm buying because I am not into waste or buying things simply for the sake of having more.

Which brings me back to my cowboy boots.

When we set out I had a clear idea of what I wanted in my shoes. Apart from well made and comfortable, I was after a particular look and style with a level of simplicity that suits me, which means that I tried on probably 10 pairs of boots before finding the ones I really liked.

Funny thing is that after I had finally chosen the ones I wanted, my husband informed me that the sales assistants at one of the places we had tried shoes on, had been gossiping about me and calling me picky. (in Spanish which I dont speak, but he does!)

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I had to laugh! Its not the first time Ive been called picky, but it really doesn't bother me, because being picky is actually a part of a deeply held value that I have.

One of the lessons that I learned from a Tony Robbins book some years ago was, Raise Your Standards, and its something I strive to do in every aspect of my life that I can.

What sort of message do you think it would send to my sense of self worth to have just bought any old pair of shoes simply because people were pressuring me to hurry up? What do I say to myself if I'm willing to accept less than what makes me happy and suits me?

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I don't settle for less than what I really want in any other aspect of my life, whether its my work, my education or even my friendships, so why would I settle for less when it comes to shoes? And to me, it doesn't make sense to spend my money on things that I'm not 100% happy with.

So yes. I'm picky, but I also believe that I deserve to have what I really want in life and not settle for second best or just good enough.

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MindsetTarryne West
On forgetting to be thankful

I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude as my first experience of Thanksgiving approaches, and it’s been interesting as I’ve discovered that its actually really hard to write about being grateful without using lots of overused buzz words that make people roll their eyes! But I write this from my desk, on my laptop, in my home with a cup of coffee in my hand and my tiny dog sleeping in my lap. It’s a good life.

Seriously.

And while that does seem all warm and fluffy, I have to tell you that it’s taken me half a day and several rewrites to be able to be able to express my thoughts on gratitude. What I have realized in that time is that I am actually a lot better off than I realize and that I don’t stop to be thankful nearly often enough. In fact,

I’m feeling a little bit like a teenager who's always going “I want more!”

The biggest issue with being involved in the personal development field is that I’m always looking for ways to improve. Every single day the question I answer before I go to bed is “what can I do better tomorrow”, which if you’re interested is an AWESOME way to kick your results into high gear, but it also has the unintended consequence of rendering everything you did the day before as “not good enough”. And if you are like me and have goals and ambitions, sometimes the space in between here and THERE is a land of “things that are not what I want them to be”. Which breeds frustration and as I learned this morning, a lack of gratitude.

The reality is that even if my life never changed from what it is right now, it’s a good life. I have all the basics (a roof over my head, income, a family) and many many non essentials that I’ve grown so used to that I tend to take them for granted. Which is deeply ironic at a time when we are working on teaching my step daughter to have a sense of gratitude for the many privileges that she has.

So yes, I’m feeling a little like a teenager myself today!

Gratitude is not settling for what you have now, but it IS about recognizing that what you have is good. It’s a way of shifting your focus from what you don’t yet have, the struggles and frustrations that you may experience and in a way, almost fortifies you against life’s difficulties.

A few years ago I participated in a movement that a friend started called Three Good Things, which was literally about just writing three good things about every day. And its funny that since I stopped doing that, I’ve found that I’ve lost some of the benefits of focusing on the good in our lives. And there is plenty of good solid psychological research out there to show you that being grateful is good, so don’t just take my word for it! Google is your friend!

Because gratitude creates a mindset change, it helps you to see more good than bad in your life. It also keeps you grounded in the here and now. It’s a lot harder to worry about the future when you’re focused on what good things you have now.

Being grateful stops negative emotions like jealousy or regret from stealing your attention.

Because you can’t do both at the same time!

And most importantly, gratitude reminds us that we are not alone. Being grateful means recognizing that there is an element of luck and of other peoples input into our lives, it reminds us how important the support and love of those around us is to our happiness and success. Which makes it a deeply spiritual practice too. My mum likes to say “there but for the grace of God go I” which basically means, you’re a lucky lucky fish and it could be so much worse!

And if all those things are not a good enough reason to be thankful.... there’s always pumpkin pie!

MindsetTarryne West
The magic ingredient in success

I wanted to quickly share something that I was reminded of yet again today (because clearly I don't remember it often enough!) When you're deeply passionate about what you do and its aligned with who you are, something magical happens and progress just flows.

I spoke this morning to a large group of college students about the importance of personal development and a growth mindset and after the first couple minutes I abandoned my speech plan and my notes and just followed my instincts.

And it was incredible. Far greater than I had planned for. It was an hour of pure brilliant magic.

Trust yourself. You know what you're doing, you're the right person to do it, and your passion will carry you to success.

MindsetTarryne West
Comfort is self sabotage

I recently went to gym with someone who has never done any weight training before. It was both amusing and eye opening to watch her set the machine at the lowest possible weight and proceed to do around 60 repetitions of a shoulder press before declaring, “Well that’s not difficult at all. What’s next?”

On the next machine I explained that the idea was to select a weight that was challenging but still achievable. After doing a single set of around 10, she decided that she preferred her way and that it was way too hard to push herself to lift a heavier weight.

“It’s hard, and I know that I’ll be sore later, so why bother?”

A feeling I know all too well.

Why indeed?

If you want a different life, you have to
If you want a different life, you have to

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of, “Why bother when it’s hard?” My husband firmly believes that one of the great “illnesses” of our modern age is that we strive to be comfortable at all times. Which may seem extreme, but when you look around at just some of the conveniences we’ve created in our resistance to anything painful, difficult, inconvenient or uncomfortable, you start to realize just how far we will go to make things easy for ourselves.

Having lived in the United States for some months now, I’ve been regularly stunned at the many ways in which I would be able to avoid doing anything that requires effort or discomfort. From drive through everything (including banks, pharmacies and coffee shops) to little carts at the supermarket that you can ride on so you don’t have to walk. Or why bother with the supermarket at all, when there’s online, delivered grocery shopping. And our culture too, the requirements for human interaction grow increasingly strong on the side of avoiding any and all discomfort.

We don’t like difficult discussions or rocking the boat, and why bother, when we can simply opt out of the tough stuff.

This reluctance to leave our comfort zone is also the reason that industries selling magic bullets (like the diet industry for example) are so unbelievably successful. The idea of getting the results you want without having to endure the discomfort of actually changing your diet? Winner! It preys on our instinctive desire to avoid pain.

But what do we gain from being bubble wrapped in an existence that seeks to make our lives as pain-free as possible? Are we really better off? When did we become so scared of change, difficulty, a challenge?

Personally, I like to think of comfort zones as “resting” zones, a pause to take a breath in between periods of effort and growth. Which I think is important as development can be hard work and often emotionally very taxing. Sometimes it’s nice to just relax and admire how far you’ve come. Like my friend discovered when we were lifting weights, it’s easier and requires less effort to stay within the boundaries of what she could already do, but without raising her weights and facing her unease with feeling physical discomfort, that boundary will never ever move.

Taking a close and honest look at your beliefs or behaviors, admitting to self-sabotage, changing your routines or making real progress towards your dreams is not easy. It can be very uncomfortable. These things are well beyond the safe little bubbles that we are taught to hide in from a young age. It’s one of the reasons why despite the fact that my work and writings as a coach can literally change lives, my most widely read article ever is a review for mascara that I wrote as a freelancer some years ago.

Because it’s easier to make superficial tweaks, to distract ourselves with comfortable pleasures, than it is to truly challenge ourselves.

To push ourselves straight out of the restrictive bubble and widen our life experiences.

Think about your life for a moment. Think about the things that you want to achieve? The experiences you wish to have. The things you avoid or put off doing.

Now ask yourself this… Who would you be if you let go of always being comfortable?

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MindsetTarryne West
The problem with coaches

I came across a really interesting article this morning written by a coach blasting other coaches about their way of selling their lifestyles and how they direct their clients.

On the one hand, I absolutely agree that coaches should be authentic and transparent, and on the other, I don’t think it’s any of his business to tell other coaches how to deal with their practices and clients. If those coaches are running their business from the beach and living out their dreams that happen to include lots of yoga and Paris, who is he to say that it’s wrong?

I thought that it might be a good opportunity to tell you that my life is perfect. I don’t spend my day at the beach, or even at the pool at my house (I keep thinking it might be fun, but the glare on my laptop would be dreadful!). I don’t fly to Paris, I don’t live on green smoothies (I do like them though!) and while I do yoga and go to the gym almost every day, I do not have a “yoga body,” and I’m not interested in having one.

Because that is just not me, If it were. I can guarantee you that I would be sitting on the beach with my super toned yoga arms, laptop and a mojito right now.

I have a loving, brilliant, crazy husband and a wonderful step daughter. I have strong family connections, an amazing network of friends who are diverse, intelligent and interesting in their own rights, and I have the world’s cutest dog. I’m fortunate enough to have traveled extensively. I own more books than I care to count. I have been privileged in my career to work with some remarkable people who inspire me. I’ve lived in three totally different countries, and despite all this, which IS “Instagram perfect” (if I could remember to take pictures of it all) it’s about balance and I spend my days much like any other working person.

I get up, I work out, I make sure my home is cared for and my family looked after. Then I settle down at my desk.

My work day which can last anything from four hours to 12, to create work with the intention of changing people’s lives.

Whether I’m writing, connecting with people, in coaching sessions, or even just putting together Facebook memes that make people think, this is what I love to do.

Is any of that day to day stuff interesting enough to share on social media? Doubt it. I don’t think anyone wants to see pictures of me doing research or managing my website. It’s really not very inspiring, and it’s certainly not going to drive traffic to my website.

However, I’m good at what I do and I’m organized, and my experiences and my qualification in coaching has allowed me to create a life that MAKES ME HAPPY. Sure there are things that I’m still working on. I have goals and ambitions like anyone else. But they are mine. And that is what my “followers” do find inspiring.

The fact that my life is not “Instagram perfect” is completely irrelevant. And being that way does not make it more real, or more valid or more acceptable than a life that IS Instagram perfect.

My life is not somehow morally superior because someone else sees it as more “real’ than another.

However, I would call my life pretty perfect, because what the author of that article is forgetting, is that it’s not up to us to decide what other people’s lives and successes should look like. Our job, as coaches, is to help people define what they really want, then support them as they go out and make it happen. We don’t get to decide or dictate what success is. Not for our clients, and certainly not for other coaches who’s ideal audience is likely to be completely different to our own. If a client wants the lifestyle that they see a coach having, who are we to say “no, you can’t have that because I don’t think it’s real.” I call myself the “real life, life coach” because what I deal with is peoples individual realities. Their personal real. Whatever that is, whatever it looks like.

If you, as a coach, are telling your clients what their life should look like, you’re not coaching. And if you have a coach that’s trying to mold your life into their version of perfect. Run.

One of my own very deeply held values, is freedom from dictates on whom and what I should be. Therefore, I encourage my clients and my readers to question and challenge all social and internal “rules” in the same way. If my client’s goal is to be a size two and live on the beach, and we discover that it will for whatever reason make them genuinely happy. Then that is what we are going to achieve. So I’d like to challenge what the author of this article is saying, which is essentially…

Your goals and lifestyle don’t look “enlightened enough” to me to be real or worth pursuing.

Which in my opinion is none of his business.

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MindsetTarryne West
When things get tough, keep going.

This week, the universe told me twice to suck it up and keep going. Well, it’s not like it emailed me! But, the theme was pretty obvious: You have to stick with it when it gets tough.

It was one of those weeks where nothing seemed to go right, and everything seemed like it was just hard work and a struggle. It’s been a tough busy week where I’ve started to feel like I’m running out of steam.Thankfully, the messages have been clear.

On Tuesday morning I went to an early yoga class with a friend where at some point the instructor said (in her very gentle yoga guru type voice)

“It’s when it gets hard, and you want to come out of the pose, that the REAL practice begins”

I was so struck by what she said that I actually rested for a moment and let it sink in. It seemed so simple but incredibly valuable! Being good at something, keeping your life balanced, dealing with everyday stress… all of these things are easy when it’s within your current capability. It’s when it gets hard and you want to walk away, THAT is when you have to use what you’ve learned to keep your mindset, you emotions and you actions on the right path for your goals.

The second time was funny enough also while doing something physical. At my normal training session with the girls on Friday morning, our adorable personal trainer laughed when complaints about how hard the session was started coming up. He told us;

“It never gets easier, you just get better”

Sucks to hear it, but the only way that you keep improving is if you keep pushing yourself. Sure, we could have gone back to a training session that we did 6 weeks ago and it would have been easier for us, but that would have achieved nothing.

So, if things seem really tough for you at the moment, and you feel like you’re struggling…

Congratulations, you’re fighting your way through and getting better every step of the way. Just keep going.

MindsetTarryne West
Inner trash talk - and why its not ok.

Most of the women I know are successful, intelligent, attractive and deeply insecure. Read that sentence again, and think about yourself and the women in your own life. It’s rather sad isn’t it?

I can’t pretend that I’m in any way qualified to explain why this is the case, although there are as many theories as there are women. There is a wealth of literature on how women have been repressed, oppressed, liberated and glorified, all pointing to one reason or another for the downfall of women’s self-esteem.

What I do know is that no matter how intelligent, successful or attractive women are, too many of them feel inadequate and treat themselves as though they are second rate. And we do it all without even thinking. I cannot count the number of times I have heard friends make seemingly off-hand comments that are actually very destructive and indicate that they don’t have any faith in themselves. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve done it myself.

Imagine for a moment taking those comments we make about ourselves and directing them at someone else.

Actually, if you have a friend that will understand what you’re doing, try saying this to each other. “You have eaten like a pig this week and you look fat in that dress”.  Or try this one “you’re not nearly smart enough to be in that job”.  Absorb for a moment how you feel saying that to someone and consider your feelings on hearing it said to you.  Shocking isn’t it. I’ll bet that you cannot imagine actually saying this to someone without feeling like the most horrible person who ever lived.

 

And hearing it?  For me it’s a combination of “how dare you F#$&*ing say that to me!!” and a smaller quieter voice asking “is she maybe right?”. Would you be friends with someone who said this to you? I sure as hell wouldn’t be!

So if it’s completely unacceptable to say this to someone else, why do we allow this kind of self-abuse?

I completely believe that the very first step in overcoming feelings of inadequacy and repairing our relationships with ourselves is to stop with the abusive self-talk. The problem is not only that our subconscious absorbs whatever messages we give it, but it also starts a cycle of self-talk that spirals out of control really quickly.

But thankfully, it’s relatively easy to identify and slow down this horrific self-degradation.  Listen carefully to the things you say to yourself, not just when you’re upset but when you feel ok too, and ask “is this something I would feel ok saying to someone else?” If it’s not, TRASH that thought!! Whether it means stopping and saying to yourself, “no that thought is not valid and it’s mean”, or writing it in a notebook and then writing down why it’s not accurate, whatever works for you.

Often seeing it written down is enough to make you realize just how absurd it is to be thinking those sorts of things.

I know one woman who imagines the voice saying these nasty things to be coming from some hilariously silly cartoon character in a really high pitched squeaky voice.  I think the idea of a chipmunk telling you that you that you are boring and have no friends would put it into perspective for pretty much anyone!

Whatever method you find works for you is fine, but you MUST deal with negative self-talk.

Stop being so harsh towards yourself and be nice to you!

MindsetTarryne West
Real progress looks boring

Recently I had a giggle at a meme I saw on Facebook that went something along the lines of “There! I ate a salad! Am I skinny now?” I’ve had moments like that too, especially when I’ve been really good about being consistent with my yoga practice and thinking “surely I should be able to do headstands by now! I mean seriously! I’ve been working on them all week!!” When we set about trying to achieve goals or make changes to our lives, we often get caught up in the excitement and momentum of the change, hurtle along doing all the right things and then watch in disappointment as we slowly abandon all the new things we set out to do and fall back into old patterns and habits.

It’s very frustrating and is one of the most common things that people come to me to work on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had new clients say to me

“I did amazingly for like three weeks and then I just lost all will power. I’m just lazy and a failure.”

But what most people who set out to make changes don’t realize is that it’s not just about willpower, it’s about working WITH the way your brain functions, not against it. And to do that, you need to use the simplest and most boring tool that we have, the power of routine.

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As an example, which do you think is going to have a greater impact on your fitness, going to the gym for a mammoth session once a week and vegging in front of the TV the rest of the time, or going for a walk every day?

Not only does routine have huge cumulative effects, for example, the difference between caring for your skin every day vs doing nothing and trying to fix it all with a facial once a month. But it’s also closely aligned with the way your brain works best.

Our brains like to create patterns and put things on autopilot, which is why it’s so easy to slip back into an old habit as soon as we stop focusing on the new behaviour that we’re trying to create. Our brain, if given a choice, goes “Well this way takes effort and I already have a pattern for this so I’m just going to switch back to that one!” And the time it’s most likely to do this is when you’re stressed, or busy or overwhelmed. Which is why making a lot of big changes all at once is very exciting but unlikely to last.

This is why, if you want to really understand why your life is the way it is, have a look at the things you do every day.

Because our collection of habits and routines are what make up our everyday existence.

The trick to sustainable changes that create even bigger changes is to focus on shifting the routines and the habits that we have now, to more positive ones that support our overall goal. By focusing on the smaller steps, each successive supporting habit, we build our way more easily and with far less frustration and resistance to what it is we really want.

For example, my goal is to be more productive earlier in the day. Now I could set an alarm clock for 6am and drag my butt out of bed and then argue with myself and later get annoyed because I am inevitably going to hit snooze 50 times and keep sleeping. And repeat this pattern every day relying on willpower to try force myself into a new habit. (Which then becomes a habit on its own!)

OR

I could focus on building routines that allow the 6am wake up call to happen more smoothly. I go to bed 30 min earlier than usual so my internal clock starts to shift. I have a morning routine where I get up and take the dog outside straight away which helps me to mentally wake up. I plan out what I’m working on in the morning and in what order the night before so that I don’t even have to think. I can simply grab my tea and get started. Each of these habits once established, means that my morning happens on autopilot in a way that works towards my larger goals rather than against them.

If you’re trying to achieve a goal, whether it’s to exercise more or lose weight, be more productive or make more time for family and hobbies, have a good look at the things you do daily, all of your habits and routines and be honest. Are they supporting what you’re trying to do, or are they sabotaging your progress?

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MindsetTarryne West
A users guide to toxic people
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I don’t remember who first said this first, but my grandfather once quoted to me, “You become the company you keep”.  I didn’t pay much attention to it until I began to notice that my life had become filled with drama and turmoil, some of it self-generated, but I had no idea why. It turns out, I was becoming the company I kept. I had managed to become attached to a Toxic. Once you start identifying the behaviour of toxic people you will start to notice them everywhere. And once you’re aware of it, you can actually see the behaviour seeping in and affecting the people around them.   

Think about people that you know who make you feel drained of energy when you’ve spent time with them.

The ones whose comments always feel a little backhanded or judgemental.  People who downright pull you down and leave you feeling worse about yourself. The ones who always seem embroiled in drama. Negative, needy, manipulative people who suck the happiness out of your day.  Women are in general very sensitive to the environment around them and will likely be taking on the negativity of a toxic person often without even realising it.

The simplest way to spot a Toxic? Watch to see who criticises and complains the most. 

Cheryl Richardson’s bookTake Time for Your Life. (yes it has a vile 90s self-help vibe but it's really worth reading) She writes a great deal about dealing with negative people and has some incredible insights into salvaging relationships when this is an issue. What makes her so brilliant is that she empowers you to grow beyond the behaviour and possibly even help the other person become aware of their own without creating confrontation.

She breaks them down into these categories

The Blamer  This person likes to hear his own voice. He constantly complains about what isn’t working in his life and yet gets energy from complaining and dumping his frustrations on you.

The Drainer  This is the needy person who calls to ask for your guidance, support, information, advice or whatever she needs to feel better in the moment. Because of her neediness, the conversation often revolves around her, and you can almost feel the life being sucked out of you during the conversation.

The Shamer  This person can be hazardous to your health. The shamer may cut you off, put you down, reprimand you, or make fun of your or your ideas in front of others. He often ignores your boundaries and may try to convince you that his criticism is for you own good. The shamer is the kind of person who makes you question your own sanity before his.

The Discounter  This is the person who discounts or challenges everything you say. Often, she has a strong need to be right and can find fault with any position. It can be exhausting to have a conversation with the discounter, so eventually, you end up giving in and deciding to just listen.

The Gossip  This person avoids intimacy by talking about other behind their backs. The gossip gets energy from relaying stories, opinions, and the latest “scoop.” By gossiping about others, he creates a lack of safety in his relationships, whether he realises it or not. After all, if he’ll talk about someone else, he’ll talk about you.

Sound familiar? Does it even maybe sound like you?

Dealing with these people can be tricky as the easiest way is just to avoid them.  If you can’t do this, make encounters as brief as you can.   Unfortunately many times toxic people are unavoidable. It might be a friend within your social circle which can be tricky as you will have to find ways to either exclude them from gatherings or for a time being, exclude yourself. 

A strategy I have found successfully is to avoid larger gatherings and see your friends in smaller bunches of two or three at a time and phase out having that person present. When they are there, ignore all drama. Don’t take the bait to start arguments and don’t participate in negativity. Because they aren’t getting the response they need they will simply move on to someone else. Quite often you’ll discover that the other members of the group feel the same way but just don’t know what to do about it.

Sometimes your Toxic may be a close friend that you don’t want to have to cut out.

The only way to deal with this is by creating boundaries and being honest but gentle about their behaviour.

Don’t forget that it comes from a place of incredible insecurity.

The worst type of Toxic is one you have to work with. Being exposed to negativity, criticism, passive aggression and complains for 8 hours a day is enough to drive anyone to drink. My personal solution is to make it someone else’s problem. Sit down with your manager and explain your feelings and issues. A good manager will organise personal development or counselling for everyone involved until the situation has either resolved itself or gotten to a point where you don’t want to murder your colleagues with a stapler. A bad manager, who does nothing, means you are in the wrong job and should take your talents elsewhere!

However you decide to deal with your Toxic, you do need to take some kind of action.  The negative impact on your own life can translate into causing you self-esteem issues, difficulties in your relationships and friendships and just plain stressing you out!

Your life is yours to create so remember; you become the company you keep.

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MindsetTarryne West
On eating elephants
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Life is filled with moments where you suddenly stop and go “oh! I get it”. These moments are wonderful and inspiring and really make you feel like you’re finally getting somewhere. I often hear people saying, that it all just clicked into place one day, but on closer inspection that’s not completely true. If we haul out the various clichés about life being a journey and every journey starting with a single step etc., we can see how our greatest achievements are created by many tiny changes that lead up to the big AH HA! But often we become so frustrated with the apparent lack of progress that we give up and decide that whatever it is that we are attempting or what we want in life is impossible.

I’m very much a big picture person. I do love a grand plan and I’m perfectly able to envision the finished product of whatever I’m working on.  I can see quite clearly what I want my life to look like, but I am unable to see the process involved, and if I’m really honest, I’m impatient to see the end result.  Or rather, I used to be. I don’t yet have the “perfect life” (lets face it, nothing is perfect), but these days I’m certainly a lot closer than I once was. I’ve come to understand that in order to get what I want I need to focus on each tiny, seemingly insignificant step along the way.

Even a tiny step in the right direction

A quote that’s been popping up a lot for me lately is “We are what we repeatedly do”, and that’s exactly what the AH HA moment is all about.  Its about repeating a thought or an action until it becomes ingrained and you reach a point where you don’t even have to try. You’ve created a habit that’s a positive force and you ARE what you wanted to be. The best part? This principal can be applied to absolutely any aspect of your life. Marvelous stuff!

For example, when I still struggled with feeling anxious and having negative thoughts that ran away from me like a speeding train. I spent a few months consciously reminding myself that I was in control of my reactions and that I would be a much happier person if I made sure that I looked at things positively. It was a great deal easier than I thought it would be and I had an unexpected day where something happened that would normally send me completely off the deep end, but… Voila! Habitual positivity. I'm never going to be a perpetually happy bubbly positive energizer bunny (not all the time anyway people like that scare me!) but around 80% of the time I am a very positive person and, I hope, a positive influence.

Change is an extremely intimidating thing, but it is what we all need in order to be able to live the lives that we dream of. Very few people are able to change overnight without some massive motivational incident, but everyone can make one tiny change every day until you suddenly go “AH HA!”  Making the commitment to change is the hard part. The rest is just about making it manageable for yourself.

As my mum likes to say, How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time.

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MindsetTarryne West
Being here when I'm here
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One of the things I’ve always noticed when I don’t feel like my life is working very well is that I’m thinking ahead with conditions attached. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes thinking forward is what holds you back. How many times have you thought to yourself “I’ll apply for that job when… I’ve lost weight / done a course / feel more financially secure / have a partner who can support me”.   I’ve done this too many times to count, with the result that I often feel I’ve missed out on so many opportunities.

Even with seemingly little things, “I’ll go to the races when I can afford a nicer dress/hat”, “I’ll be more social when I’m happier with my look”. “I’ll date when I’m thinner”. Sound familiar?  I remember being on holiday once with a friend who spent the entire time concerned about what her tan was looking like and taking photos of EVERYTHING so that she could show off when she got back to work. Yes, she wasted her whole holiday thinking about being back at work. Needless to say neither of us really enjoyed it. She wasn’t happy just being there.  I think Facebook has a lot to answer for in this department. So many people are more concerned about documenting how much fun they have on a night out, than actually having the fun!

Without hauling out the old blah of “it’s the journey not the destination”, there really does need to be a focus on the here and now. The more we think forward the more potential we have to put things on hold until we feel circumstances are “perfect”.  Part of this I’m sure if about fear. A fear of things not working out the way we had hoped.  A fear of being rejected because things (or we)aren’t quite right.  A fear that our life isn’t measuring up to our expectations so we ensure it at least looks exciting.

A character in one of my favorite movies says disparagingly to her mother when not allowed to go out, “I’m as likely to find a husband in my room as in any other part of this house!”. And it’s so true, well maybe not the husband part unless that’s what you’re looking for. Life will not happen if you spend your life planning what you might do and don’t leave the house!

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So focus on what’s going on right now. Of course if you give whatever you’re doing only half your attention and the other half concerning yourself on how much better it could be, you’re going to be frustrated and unhappy. Ever noticed how the first thing people seem so say when they've been zoned out is “what did I miss?”  You miss subtle pieces of life that are often really significant. (Laundry is the exception. I hate laundry. It has nothing to recommend it!) If you’re bored at work, stop ignoring everything around you while thinking “I’ll enjoy work more when I find a perfect job”. There is no such thing!  Focus on what makes your job interesting, put up your hand for new projects or focus on building relationships with your colleagues. Who knows where it might lead you.  Also, apply for your dream job! If you’re sitting around saying to yourself “I’ll go out more with my friends when I’ve lost weight or can buy nicer clothes”. Get your ass dressed and go out! Alternatively if you seriously cant face going out, invite your friends in! Dinner parties are wonderful. Promise yourself you’ll try not to think about any of the things that hold you back for one night (tequila helps here). I’m willing to bet you have an amazing evening even if you’re just going 10 pin bowling.  It’s that first step that creates momentum.  Get out there and live!

Essentially, focus on doing. Don’t worry about if it’s going to work out, don’t worry about what your friends might think. Let someone else document the chaos for Facebook. Once you’re on the move you’ll find that a lot of the things you worry about feel less important.  Be in the moment with whatever you’re doing and it will be so much more rewarding than worrying about what you will or might be doing.

That said, always make time to day dream.

MindsetTarryne West
What I learned from Disney
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I have a few friends who will probably murder me for this, but I learned a great deal about life from Disney movies. Today I was reminded of Aladdin, which has always been a favorite.  There’s a great scene in the movie where the Genie lists the rules of wish making, two of which are; I can’t make anybody fall in love with anybody else. I can’t bring people back from the dead.

Yup, even having a Genie can’t make someone fall in love with you.  While you may never really think about it, we all spend a great deal of our lives trying to make people love us. Its most obvious with romantic love because it’s the setting in which we let go of so much of ourselves and open the doorway to fear and self-esteem issues.

In yet another fairy-tale movie (yes, I’m a fan) the step mother says to her two daughters “Remember girls, we hide our flaws till after the wedding”.  While I know it’s just a movie, that kind of thinking is prolific and incredibly destructive.  Everyone wants to present their best face at the start of a relationship, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you are presenting a person that isn’t you, it’s easy to get sucked into a belief that the authentic you isn’t good enough.

People are often more intuitive than we give them credit for. A guy knows that you don’t really like rugby despite your stoic presence in the rain at matches. He probably knows that you don’t find his habit of falling asleep on your couch (which you will have to clean) covered in crumbs and sauce, as cute as you may say you do. Most of us make allowances for small lies like these at the begining but later on in a relationship when people stop trying to hide their percieved flaws, real intimacy develops and we are more secure, but more vulnerable. If that relationship then fails, it often sparks a belief that revealing our true selves was a cause of the split, after all who would love us as we are… right?

Sometimes no matter how much people care about each other, how well they get on, how “good” together a couple might be, it just doesn’t work.  I don’t think most breakups are about flaws or being imperfect. I believe that it’s about imbalance.  When a relationship doesn’t work it often means that one person is less invested than the other. One is putting less effort into the relationship.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about their partner, it means that being a part of that relationship isn’t as important to them as it should be.

We are so quick to look at ourselves and believe that we are not good enough. That in some way we have been found wanting, but is this really the truth?  How many times have you looked carefully at a failed relationship and honestly analysed it?

I have sat over many glasses of wine listening to friends wailing variations of “if I was sexier/more spontaneous/liked his interests more/complained less, then maybe we would still be together”.  I said these very things myself.  But what if we looked at a relationship and instead of placing blame on our imperfect natures, we said the things that deep down we know to be true. Think about your past relationships for a moment and see if any of these fit;

  • “I don’t think we were emotionally mature enough to commit”
  • “He cares about me but doesn’t provide what I really need in a partnership”
  • “We love each other but there isn’t enough effort put in to maintain our relationship”
  • “I love him, but I need to resolve my insecurities which lead to trust issues before I can commit”
  • "We are actually not a good match but Im scared of being alone so I keep pushing for it to be right"
  • “He’s actually just an assbag and I deserve much much better”

Doesn’t that make a great deal more sense than sitting around sobbing into your fifteenth martini that you’re not good enough?

Holding onto the past, is like holding onto

When we start to accept that we cannot be responsible for how our partners (or ex) feel and react, we can start to let go of the belief that we are responsible for not being loved enough (Exception: if you are going through his garbage at night and sending creepy notes with bits of your appendix attached… It may be your fault – yes true story). We can start to see that relationships are about more than good chemistry and shared interests. They take work, and that can be scary.

If your partner, or love interest does not genuinely want to be in a relationship with you, and won’t put in the effort required, that is not your fault. It is their own issue that they must grow to overcome.  Nothing you do or say can change that. Or maybe, you're just in the wrong relationship.

It does not matter who you are, what you look like or what your interests are, you cannot make a person love you.  Not even a Genie can make someone love you if they aren’t ready to love, and he can’t bring that love back from the dead.

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MindsetTarryne West