Anne Hartley
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anne Hartley

Anne Hartley is the founder and CEO of Hart Life Coaching Anne is also the author of several books including Financially Free, Love the Life You Live, Love Your Money - Love Your Life and Life Lessons. www.hartlifecoaching.com.au

Midlife a Time to Awaken

Most of us have hopes and dreams which give us a sense of purpose and structure but as time goes by what once gave our life meaning shifts, our children grow up and our roles change or become redundant. Work which may have once fulfilled us may suddenly becomes a chore, relationships change or break down altogether. And for some of us our big dream never came to fruition, leaving us wondering, What now?

This time in life is often described as a midlife crisis, a better way to describe it is an unravelling, as it’s a time when we question everything about ourselves, our lives, who we are and what we believe. Of course, some people go through periods like this earlier in life but what typifies a midlife unravelling is the life stage, and it’s often associated with some change in our lives.

Midlife unravelling is an inside job. Those closest to you may have no idea what’s going on. You may feel apathetic, fearful, anxious, despairing, depressed, confused and out of control. Or, your might just feel lost. The intensity of this time varies for each one of us. It feels as if this is something we can’t control, manage or fix but, if we are open and willing to learn it can lead us to the best time in life.

Not everyone goes through a midlife unravelling. Midlife is generally classed as the time in life from mid to late 40s and 50s, although some people experience it as early as 35 and some in their 60s as it occurs because of a life stage.

I experienced a midlife unravelling in my late forties when I felt every one of the abovementioned emotions. What led me out of my crisis was my curiosity, I actively went looking for a better way to live and discovered that what made me happy had changed. Up until that time my life had been very goal focused. I became aware that achievement and success didn’t necessarily equate with being happy and so I chose to shift my focus onto being the ideal person I wanted to be. That discovery led me to find my passion and the work I do today.

Midlife unravelling is not something that is experienced by just women, having been a life coach for 20 years, I’ve worked with many men who have been through this transition as well.

It’s so easy to cling to our old lives, to the familiar even when that life doesn’t fulfil us any more usually because it’s not as scary as the unknown.

How we handle this period of discontent or disconnection, determines how difficult it will be. If we refuse to look at anything that makes us uncomfortable or try to be perfect by working harder and longer, while pushing our emotions down, this transition becomes tougher than it needs to be. Some people in fact never fully recover and live their lives accepting that the way they feel is all there is.

My books, and all the work I do resulted from questions I asked myself. Every time I don’t know what to do, feel lost, confused or just need guidance I ask questions. Some people say, Who are you asking? And the answer depends upon your belief system. Some people ask God, the Universe, themselves, life. As a coach I have seen first-hand the power that one question can have on a person’s life.

If you are going through a period of confusion in mid, or even late life, ask yourself these questions. Then listen for the answers which can come in many different ways.

  • What’s missing from my life?
  • What matters to me?
  • Who could I be?
  • Is it too late?
  • If my life was rich and meaningful what would that look like?
  • What’s standing in my way?

Unravelling provides us with an opportunity to awaken to what our hearts and souls are calling us to do. Our heart is our compass, it knows what makes us happy and our soul knows what makes our life matter. By being honest with ourselves and viewing life through different filters, we can recognise and share our unique gifts, and this is what adds meaning to our lives.

Midlife is a doorway that leads to the best time in life, if you are ready to step through it.

No tree tries to become a certain kind of tree. No flower tries to become a certain kind of flower. The tree and the flower open up to the sun and soak up water. Thus, they grow into themselves. No judgment. No expectations. No commentary. Your task is the same. If you can stop trying so hard to become who you think you should be, and instead commit to understanding and nourishing yourself, you will bloom into whatever kind of person you are.
Vironika Tugaleva, The Art of Talking to Yourself

 

 

Allow Intuition to Be Your Guide

In the months following my daughter’s liver transplant I started feeling discontented, obsolete, I lost interest in things I once loved and experienced mild depression. These feelings were familiar, I experienced all of them and worse when I went through my midlife crisis 20 years ago. That crisis led me to find passion, joy and meaning. So, following the urgings of my heart and soul I started to write, thinking that if I wrote about what I was feeling I would find my way out.

My writing started as a book, then a course and grew into a training program for coaches. The more I wrote my passion ignited, joy leapt, twirled and bubbled within me. My life felt meaningful again and I knew that this is what I wanted to share with others for the rest of my life.

Writing, if you want to do it well, needs to be an intuitive process. It’s using the thinking mind to get you started, then as inspiration pours through being prepared to put it aside and trust the process. I can write quickly. The three books I ghost wrote took just three weeks each and that’s because they were about money and it was a subject I knew a lot about. When my writing is inspired it’s a longer process, because my thinking mind gets in the way at times, so I need to gently remind it, now is not the time. Of course, there is a place for the thinking mind, the organising and getting my work out there is very much run by this part of me, but the creative process needs to be led by my intuition.

Some days I just sit at my computer and it pours out of me, I am just the vehicle. At other times, when I don’t understand the next step, I need to write my way to clarity. Usually this means that days of work and pages that aren’t quite right get thrown away. But when clarity dawns I slip back into the flow again.

When I write I meditate more than usual, I am fully present. I connect with my heart multiple times throughout the day and time stops. I can’t tell you what bliss this is, even though at times the pain (from arthritis) is so bad it feels as if my arms will fall off.

By following my intuition, I discovered what was making me feel discontented. I found the answer to a problem I hadn’t been able to overcome. I’ve found a way to meet an unmet need.

A very wise man once said to me, ‘Sometimes you just have to walk through the fire first”. The fire is different for each of us, mine is physical pain so I am going to have three joint replacements, starting December, one after the other as quickly as my body can cope, so that I can enjoy my life to the fullest.

For some people the fire represents their feelings of not being enough; worrying about what other people think or, being rejected.

Ask for guidance and take the first step, then follow that step with another. You may not feel inspired at first but as you walk through your fears at some stage inspiration will dawn, that’s when you will know you are exactly where you are meant to be, and doing exactly what you are meant to do.

 

 

 

Positive Habits That Enrich Our Lives

Recently, as I was pulling out of my driveway I looked at my home, my beautiful garden and the beautiful bay that surrounds my home and I was filled with an overwhelming sense of awe, and gratitude, at what I’ve created. None of this would be if I had not adopted positive habits that enriched my life. Before I got into personal development I expected ‘other people’ to make me happy, but all the work that I put into myself, and the positive habits I established paid off.

It took me way longer than I anticipated to get to where I am today, both financially and in terms of how I feel about myself. And a lot of things didn’t turn out the way I expected, but none of that has detracted from the quality of my life. At times I allowed other people’s words to make me doubt myself. I allowed the unhappiness of others to take away my joy. But I’ve always read inspirational books, listened to audios and attended personal development courses and seminars and it’s these simple habits that enabled me to get my life back on track time and time again.

A lot of people, as they get older, give up on dreams but it’s important to have dreams no matter what age you are, and it’s equally important to act as if your dreams will come true, while remaining open that what you want may come in a different way and form to what you imagined.

Tony Robbins once told the story of a man who attended one of his seminars. By just about anyone’s standards, this man was a success. When Tony asked him what had to happen in order for him to feel successful, he replied that he had to earn $3 million a year in annual salary. He was already earning $3.5 million a year but that was made up of salary of $1.5 million plus bonuses. He also had to have eight per cent body fat, he had nine per cent. He had to never get frustrated with his kids. With rules like this I doubt this man could ever be happy.

It would be nice to go through life without rules. Rules make life hard but change your rules and you really can change your life. If I decided everyone had to like me, or my work, I’d be setting myself up for failure.

Life can be so much easier when you change the way you look at life.

Every day I hear people complaining about their situation, yet at the same time all of these people have a roof over their heads and most of them have regular incomes. We live in one of the best countries in the world. We have freedom we have choices, yet we live in a negative world where the majority of people focus on what they don’t have, or what is wrong.

We always have a choice. No-one, let me repeat no-one can tell us how to react to any situation. We can choose to be happy; no matter what happens to us and that is a choice I consciously made and continue to make every day. You can choose be prosperous; even though right now your circumstances may not look so positive. I chose to be prosperous when I couldn’t even afford to feed my family. You can program your mind to look for the good in every situation, and that’s the wonderful thing about habits, after a while you don’t consciously think about it, it becomes an automatic response.

We are all a work in progress and the path to the life we wish to create is not a straight line, we go backwards and forwards and that’s okay as long as we pick ourselves up and start over.

Positive Habits that Enrich Our Lives

The simpler habits are the easier they are to commit to, so I urge you to:

  • Take time to create a daily routine that supports you:
  • Regularly listen to yourself talke and choose to talk positively
  • Ensure that your positive words and actions outweigh your negative ones by 5:1, this is the ratio researchers believe is the key to success.

These simple habits really can enrich your life.

 

 

Transform your Work Life with Gratitude

John Kralik didn’t think he had much to be grateful for. He was miserable, broke, overweight and living in a run-down apartment. While hiking one new year’s day he made a resolution to write a thank you note every day for that year, and that simple habit changed his life. Writing the notes gave him a positive focus that made him realise just how much he had in his life to be grateful for, and this habit which extended way beyond a year, led to him writing, A simple Act of Gratitude.

Since 2003 there has been an explosion of research carried out on gratitude and the ability it has to transform lives, and while being grateful is a great habit, the time when we need to practise it the most is when our life is not all that we want it to be.

Prior to starting Hart Life Coaching I felt so demoralised. I had lost money, prestige and confidence when I was reduced to working as a bookkeeper for a pitiful hourly rate. In my former life I had earned thousands for a one hour talk, had a regular spot on TV and my opinion was sought after. Then I was nobody reduced to working for $17 an hour. My fall from grace turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me because it motivated me to shift my focus off what was wrong and onto being kind and grateful for what I had.

Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation. Appreciation, kindness, caring, compassion are all emotions that lift the electromagnetic field that our hearts produce which in turn draws good things to us. I had only been focusing on gratitude and being kind to others for a few weeks when, out of the blue, a stranger rang and asked me to ghost write a book. That one opportunity led to other opportunities and within months I was able to leave bookkeeping behind and do work that I love again.

Research has confirmed that gratitude at work:

Boosts pro-social behaviour
Promotes deeper relationships
Fosters kindness and new friendships
Strengthens existing friendships
Increases productivity

If you aren’t in love with your work, if you want to start your own business but haven’t been able to yet, focus your attention on gratitude. Gratitude is not about you, it’s about other people. Simple acts of kindness and gratitude leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling. When I was stuck in jobs I didn’t really care for I looked for ways to make other people happy. I would pay the bridge toll for the person behind me, I bought flowers for the receptionist, I told people how much I appreciated them. I started giving thanks in advance for the things I wanted as if I already had them.

When we get stressed, we sometimes feel as if we are moving backwards, so by bringing some heart energy into our daily interactions we become refreshed, happier and we feel good about ourselves. And the bonus is that we make other people feel good as well.

Being grateful at work isn’t about adding another thing to your ‘to do’ list. It’s about developing an attitude that looks for the good first, and it’s always a good idea to support the development of gratitude with a habit. Every time I drive past the beautiful bay near my home, I give thanks for the privilege of living here. I have two cats that love to sit on my lap, and I give thanks every time I stroke them for the love they give me. I give thanks before I go to sleep each night. And I give thanks for all the wonderful people who choose to train with my company every time I walk into my office.

David Steindl-Ras,a Catholic Benedictine monk and author said, “If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live.”

 

Imagine

What if you woke up one morning and decided to view the world through different filters, how different would your life be?

Imagine experiencing a major disappointment as number 1 ranking tennis player Ash Barty did after losing at Wimbledon and saying, “Today wasn’t my day it isn’t the end of the world”.

Imagine the world is conspiring to support you to live your dreams as Louise Hay did, she went on to build Hay House.

Imagine questioning if your perception is accurate, that there might be a better way to view what’s happened to you, as Byron Katie did. Byron not only ended her cycle of depression, she found inexplicable joy which she says she still experiences today.

Imagine choosing to believe that everyone loves you, as I’ve recently done. I can’t tell you how much happier it makes me feel and how much easier life flows.

The ultimate freedom we all share, regardless of our circumstances, is the way we view the world, and that is one freedom no-one can take that away from us. It doesn’t matter if you live in one of the poorest parts of the world, how smart you are, or if you have no-one to support you. You and only you have control over what goes on in your mind.

Denis Waitley says, “If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won’t, you most assuredly won’t. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.” But belief isn’t a feeling, it’s taking action. Repeated action towards a goal, or lifestyle, creates a neural pathway in our brains that supports the creation of that outcome.

When I first became interested in personal growth we didn’t know about the brain’s ability to rewire itself, or the power of heart intelligence. We simply acted on faith and that decision enabled me to create a life and achieve goals that many said were impossible.

The only person who lives in your mind is you. You can choose to procrastinate until you are perfect, and it will only slow you down. You can choose to worry about what other people think of you, it will only make you doubt yourself. You can beat yourself up when you make a mistake or blame someone for why your life is the way it is, and you’ll give away your freedom.

Or, you can choose to believe that disappointment is only temporary. That the world is conspiring to support you. That everyone loves you. And that you can have everything you want. Just imagine what a difference you could make with your life if you chose to believe in you, and your dreams?

 

 

Understanding Your Why

When I was younger my big dream was to own a home of my own.  I never had any money left over to put towards saving for a home. I wasn’t a high income earner and I already worked more than one job, so I couldn’t take on extra work. I knew the only way I was going to make enough money and have more freedom was to go into business for myself, but I didn’t know the first thing about business, or know anyone in business to ask, but what I had was a good brain and a compelling reason. More than anything in this world I wanted to give my children a great life and to be available for school functions and holidays. Having a compelling reason to create my dream gave me the motivation to look for different ways to attain my goals, and to persist when things didn’t go the way I planned.

In the early 1900s Samuel Pierpont Langley set out to be the first man to fly an airplane. He was highly educated and ambitious and had friends in high places who funded his efforts, so he was able to use only the best materials. He also had a dream team of talent to help him achieve his goal.

Wilbur and Orville Wright’s passion for aeronautics and flying started when their father brought home a model helicopter made of cork, bamboo and paper that was powered by a rubber band. When they started working on their own flying machine they didn’t have any money or funding, and they didn’t have any college degrees. They had people helping them but no-one on their team had any advanced training. Yet, despite the odds against them the Wright Brothers beat Samuel Pierpont Langley to become the first people to fly an airplane. Why?

Langley had a goal, the Wright Brothers had a dream. Goals can be great, but they don’t motivate us as much as a dreams do. Dreams come from our heart and soul, they inspire us to be more, do more. Understanding your why is one of the most important discoveries you can make.

Why do You Want it?

The most important question you can ask yourself is, “Why do I want it?”

I ask this question in coaching often and one of the answers I often hear is, “I want to make a difference”.

But why do you want to make a difference?

We rarely get the real answer with just one question. If you asked that question followed by, “And what else?”, and you wrote your answers down each time you would get closer to what your deepest motivation is.

If you want a goal because your mind worked out that this is the best way for you to achieve your dreams, then it won’t motivate you enough. Most people give up easily when they don’t see results but people with a compelling ‘why’ often persist even when the odds are against them.

As my children grew and became independent, I needed a new ‘why’. If you had asked me all those years ago why I pushed myself to overcome my fear of public speaking and putting myself out there with my opinion, I most likely would have said, “I want to help people”. And that would be true, because it’s what I’ve always wanted, but I could have volunteered, or performed acts of kindness without pushing myself through my fears. My real motivation was that I wanted to be heard and I love to share. I didn’t feel heard growing up, I felt my opinions were always rubbished and that may have just been the way I perceived things back then, but it was a powerful motivator for me.

Curiosity is one of my gifts. Learning, researching, exploring, understanding and then sharing is what makes me feel alive. It keeps me young. My why nowadays is still learning and sharing and that’s because this make me happier than anything else I do, it’s that simple.

Imagine someone asking you why they should do business with you, why they should support you, or why they should employ you. When you know your why, you inspire confidence. People trust you. When we have a compelling why, we wake up each day eager to start again. We find the time. We overcome our fears.

When you know your why, create a daily routine that supports you, and take steps at least five days a week to turn your dream into reality, you can forget how it will manifest. The how is less important than the why, as it often takes care of itself.