with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Learning and Living Against the Odds

Trying is the first step towards failure.
Homer Simpson

Homer Simpson of the television show, The Simpsons, has it a little backwards, but for many of us, this rings true. Our fear of success, whatever that looks like, often keeps us from moving forward because we just KNOW we will fail, so why bother in the first place. How many times have you thought a good thought, a motivating and power thought, and then did nothing about it because the doing was just "too much"? How many of you have procrastinated about doing your homework or calling the members of your group? Feel intimidated by the full group of six? Is this just too much? Do you often feel that way in your life?

Take a moment and look at what is stopping you from even trying. Does the thought of calling all the people in your group intimidate you? Pick up your phone bill and see how many people you talk to every day for a reality check. How many phone calls do you get? How many people do you talk to every day? If it is the issue that six people in your group is too much, then consider calling them and discussing this. Maybe some of the others feel that six is too many. Discuss it and maybe break up into smaller groups. Or is it that the time commitment is too much? Since you are just getting started, how do you know how much time this will really take? New things always take more time at first, becoming faster and easier as you go along. Just make an appointment with yourself to do it and allot a certain amount of justifiable time for it and see how it fits in your schedule. Look at your choices and options and choose what will work best for you to help you get motivated and going forward.

Internal Goals

The assignment for week two is to come up with an "internal goal", a goal associated with improving the inside you. What characteristic or quality do you need to work on? The challenge seems to come in writing a personal, positive, present tense affirmation.

A personal, positive, present tense affirmation is a sentence that describes your internal goal in a way that is a statement. It needs to be clear and concise so it will be easily remembered. The first idea is usually something that says, "I want to be more organized in my life." A "want" implies wishing rather than doing, so we can change this to be more positive by saying, "I am more organized in my life." Does this sound like something personal, like a real commitment? Not really.

What does "getting more organized" really mean? Maybe deep down it means you procrastinate a lot, putting things off. Maybe the internal goal you really need to work on is your issue with procrastination rather than just organizing yourself. Look deeper for the real internal goal you need to work on.

How do you turn procrastination and getting organized into a positive affirmation? This one happens to be my internal goal and after a couple weeks of playing with different affirmation statements, I came up with the winner. I say it in my head whenever I start a project or slow down with one. It keeps me going and as a byproduct, I become more organized, more efficient, and not so distracted and frantic all the time. My affirmation is:

I am a person who completes things.

You can use this if your issue is procrastination, or come up with your own, but make sure that the affirmation is a statement, is something you can "own", it is short and simple and easy to remember, and it feels RIGHT.

Talk to your small group to help you come up with affirmation ideas and suggestions for taking the next "action steps".

The assignment for week three is "Finding Your Lost Self". Cheryl Richardson writes about how many people feel like something is missing in their life. They’ve lost their way or lack the sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. For many of us, recent events in the world have changed USA, our thinking and our choices in life. What once was important may seem trivial now. Even without the Life Makeover process, many people are changing their priorities and evaluating what is really important in life.

Part of "finding your lost self" involves connecting with your "inner self". Cheryl says that in order to find the "something" that seems to be missing, you need to invest time in getting to know your inner self. When people make an investment in the stock market or a business, they research the potential before they hand over their money. Consider yourself an "investment" and do some research into "you". You might just find something worth investing in.

Life Lessons

Gary Zukav, author of "Seat of the Soul", talks about the philosophic belief that everyone is a student in the school of life. Therefore, everything that happens to us is a lesson. I’m hearing from a lot of you about how exciting this process is and how much you are getting out of it. I’m also hearing about how you really don’t like the journal writing, the home work is too hard or difficult to understand, your small group has people you are uncomfortable with, or the time and day of the meetings don’t work for you. Imagine that you are a student in the school of life and each of these issues has the gift of a lesson.

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands.
You seek problems because you need their gifts.
Richard Bach from Illusions

How you respond to the challenges in this process is no different than how you respond to challenges of day-to-day living. Are you someone who jumps without looking? Do you say yes to everything and then regret it? Do you find yourself whining about a lot of things? Do you like to do things that look easy, but the moment they get hard, do you want out? We all have excuses in our life that we repeat over and over again. This kind of thinking becomes a habit.

Ask yourself if the feelings are familiar. Do you recognize them? Is this a pattern you’ve repeated? Are you listening to old tapes running in your head? Then ask yourself if this way of dealing with things works for you. We all get really good at justifying our feelings, but now we are in the process of making over our lives and re-evaluating whether or not the methods are really working for you. Maybe they actually stop you from moving forward in your life.

Before you make a decision about any issue you are having with this process or your life, take time to examine the reason behind the feelings. There are lessons to be found there. Open the book of your life and invest in some research into the inner "you." You might find someone worth investing in.

What is Stopping You: Self-Sabotage

In the last paragraph of this week’s assignment, Cheryl writes, "Remember that as soon as you schedule this time, chances are pretty good that someone will challenge your commitment. Stay strong!" In a self Good intentions are the big arrows that get shot down by all the small ones which keep us from our goal.improvement program I attended many years ago, they used a graphic similar to the one enclosed called "Good Intentions Go to War". It features your "good intention" as one large arrow heading out into the world with all the commitment and energy you have to make it work. Then a million tiny arrows attack you from the opposite direction, trying to shoot down your good intention. We start out with the best intentions and then we start shooting ourselves in the foot right away. For example, if you decide to lose weight, doesn’t it seem like you are suddenly surrounded by food? Everywhere we go there are donuts and candies just begging to be relished.

As you start to make changes in your life, all kinds of little arrows of self-sabotage will fling itself into your life. As soon as you schedule some time in your life to do some things for yourself, the kids or grandkids will get sick, a ton of work will fall upon your desk, friends will call wanting to visit, or current events glue you to the television. Life just seems to nag at you, urging you to give in and give up. Hang in there.

When I started exercising and losing weight, the little sabotaging arrows flew at my good intention on the second day. Little voices popped up everywhere telling me that I couldn’t do it, it wouldn’t work, it took too much time, it was a waste of time…all kinds of things. I kept going against the flood of arrows. So the arrows got smarter. After a couple of weeks they started in with "So, you miss a day. So what. There’s always tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…" and "You’ve been working hard. A few cookies won’t hurt you." I reinforced my arrow of good intention with bullet-proof shields and kept on going. Every day I had to remind myself of the bigger picture and the long term goal, setting smaller ones all along the way. Walk to the beach and back for a couple weeks, then add a 20 minute swim. A couple weeks later, change the route to make it longer. A week later add another 10 minutes to the swim. Then I started thinking about a hiking trip to Switzerland. A bigger goal to work towards, I always challenge myself to go just a little further, making the process more of an adventure, and resisting the tiny arrows of self-sabotage.

As you go through this process and set your good intention arrow in place, you will be targeted by self-sabotaging tiny arrows. It’s okay. It is part of the process. Just keep going. If you don’t finish your homework this week, finish it next week and still do that week’s assignment. If you can’t make a small group meeting, stay in touch by phone and make it to the next meeting. Keep working at it. Recharge your reasons to keep going and bullet-proof your good intentions.

The Life Makeovers year long project has completed in Tel Aviv with Lorelle VanFossen and Ruth Alfi, but you can get involved or start your own group through the author of the book, Life Makeovers, Cheryl Richardson.

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