Intentions vs Expectations

Harvard Professor Dr Robert Rosenthal[1] set up a study that involved 300 children who had equal academic abilities. The children were divided into two groups. One group of students was given to teachers who were told the children were all high achievers. The other teachers were told that the children were underachievers. By the end of the year it was found that both groups lived up to the labels that were placed upon them. The high achievers were doing very well while the class of underachievers were doing below average work.

This is one example where expectations can determine a person’s perception of themselves so it’s only natural to assume that having high expectations is a good thing, they make us stretch ourselves, but there is a downside. High expectations can lead to criticism, of ourselves and others, when we fall short. When we shame ourselves for failing it only makes matters worse.

Rules are expectations we place upon ourselves and others. Some people have rules around the way they should look, the home or area they should live in, the work they do, how successful they should be, or whether they should be married or not by a certain age. In these instances expectations create stress and they make it harder to succeed because they come from a place of judgement.

Intentions on the other hand are what we intend to create or achieve. They indicate preferences that do not have expectations attached to them. If we succeed then obviously we will be happy that we attained our goal. If we don’t succeed in the way, or time frame that we imagined, we are flexible enough to adapt with what is. We flow with life and often life takes us in a different direction to what we imagine.

When ego controls our choices and actions, we need to achieve our goals, it’s a matter of saving face, or proving we are good enough.

Intentions represent our dreams, the ideal life we would like to live. Even when we aren’t  clear on how we can achieve that dream, we are prepared to do whatever is necessary to bring it into our lives, BUT we also accept that we don’t always get what we want in the way that we want it. Setting intentions requires us to act as if we have faith and trust.

There are many famous figures such as Oprah and Louise Hay who never set out to achieve what they did, they just did what they felt led to do. Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, started her business to provide a living for herself and her children while her husband was trekking across the Americas. She ended up creating an international chain of stores that supported human rights.

Intentions are fluid, they clearly state what we would like in life but aren’t attached to the outcome. We are open that life may have different plans for us, often bigger plans than we ever imagined. We accept 100% responsibility for our own happiness, which is not based on having your expectations fulfilled, and we remain open as to how our dreams will manifest.

Expectations can be ego based, they represent our self worth. Intentions are neutral and are separate to us.

When we think about what we want all of the time, our focus is usually on what’s missing.  When we act as if we have faith, even when we don’t feel particularly confident, and accept 100%  responsibility for achieving our dreams, we live in the moment and have a more balanced perspective of the world.

Expect the best by all means, just be flexible and open as to how and when opportunities will show up.

[1] The Self Fulfilling Prophecy article, http://www.drmadelinedaniels.com/2007/02/07

Searching for more

Traditionally the major birthdays in life are when we turn 18 or 21, but birthdays should never be just about the number, the most important ones motivate us to pause, question and reflect. The life changing birthdays for me were 30, 50 and very recently when I turned 70.

We often hear people say at the beginning of a new year or when a birthday comes around, ‘Well this is going to be the year….’. Generally, what they mean by that is it will be a year when something external changes such as when they find a life partner, work they like, achieve a financial goal or attain a longed for dream. And while I encourage everyone to go after what they want in life it’s important to remember that the attainment of goals only makes us feel happy for a while.

It’s only natural that during our early adult lives we embark on a search for ‘more’. That search motivates us to choose who we want to be and what we want to do with our lives and that discovery process takes time and how long that will take is purely individual.

What I now know having survived turning 30, 50 and 70 is that while I like material possessions and even achievements, I no longer need them.

I expected that getting older would mean that life would be easier, and in some ways it is, I don’t care much what people think and I have more money, but there are always new challenges. I don’t have the energy level I once had. I am not as physically capable. I have to delegate more which isn’t always easy for someone as independent as I am. And there are still people who push my buttons. But I’m alive. I’m working. I am making a difference. I like who I am. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I don’t need ‘more’.

I am never going to be a person who sits back and says, ‘I’ve done all I want to do with my life’, for me as long as I draw breath I need to be sharing what I have learnt.

When I look back at the person I was at 30, I was so scared because I wasn’t married. All of my dreams were attached to the attainment of that one goal, and it is one goal that I never achieved. Yet I have no regrets. What life gave me was exactly what I needed to grow into the strong, independent person I am today. My life turned out so much better than I had planned for myself.

My advice to the 30 year old me, and to you, is: Believe in yourself. Trust life. Follow your heart. Life’s dream for you is far grander than anything you can imagine and it will happen when you stop chasing ‘more’ and trying to dictate the direction your life will go in.

How I Became an Accidental Entrepreneur

I never planned to be a business success. When I left school at 15, after having completed my Intermediate Certificate (equivalent to the School Certificate), I had no great ambition other than to get married and have a family.  I had planned to get a job until I found Mr Right, at which time I expected to give up work and be a stay at home mum. I started work in an office and paid to put myself through business college at night where I learnt typing, shorthand and bookkeeping. I had vague hopes of possibly owning a coffee shop one day but it was more a fantasy than a real dream. As often happens life didn’t go the way I planned, by 28 I had 2 small children, a 6-year-old and a newborn and I wasn’t married. I was the family shame who was hidden away, and I had been rejected by my children’s fathers, so I had a quite a bit of emotional baggage to deal with.

I was fortunate to be eligible for a Government benefit, something that hadn’t been available when I had my first child. I received $42 a week and my rent, for a revolting cockroach infested flat was $30. A friend, Helen, won $200 and she gave this to me so I could buy a very old, dilapidated car, on the condition that I drove her around, and could pay back the money when I could.

Living on the poverty line was no fun but it was enough to motivate me to look for ways to make more money.  I was young, optimistic, determined to provide my children with a good life and I had two great girlfriends who gave me so much support. Helen would come and stay most weekends and often brought me an inspirational book such as Think and Grow Rich, The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity, Success through a Positive Mental Attitude and so on. I devoured those books and applied what I learnt.

I started my first business, a typing service, from my kitchen table with a hired typewriter (thanks to Helen who lent me the money each time). That business started by word of mouth, and I said affirmations and visualised myself working in my business. That business was not my passion and it was never intended to be any more than a way to supplement my meagre income.

Fast forward a few years and I was working for a male friend. The business was successful, but because of conflict between my friend and his business partner, who embezzled some money from the business, was forced into liquidation. This business manufactured garden accessories which were sold in all major garden centres, department stores and Woolworths. My friend suggested that I take over the business and start again. My Dad lent me some money and I bought the key machinery required at the liquidation sale, employed the foreman, and started a much smaller operation supplying our key accounts. I learnt so much during that time about jigs, powder coating, distribution, I even tried to drive a truck (definitely not something I ever want to do again). In theory the idea was sound but what I hadn’t counted on was that I would hate working in a factory environment. Six months later I placed one advertisement to sell the business and a week later it was sold and I doubled my initial investment.

Meanwhile my former employer had landed on his feet and started a new business, and I went back to work for him. On the side I started a bookkeeping business with the intention of saving to buy a house. When I had a rather acrimonious split with my friend I left paid employment and with the few bookkeeping clients I had started a shopfront secretarial business. Over the coming months I added recruitment to the services I offered, and in my first year did exceptionally well. By the time my second year in business came around I had lost interest because I wasn’t doing what I loved. I put a manager in and went back to paid work for a few months, but that didn’t work. So again I placed one advertisement and sold the business, making a good  profit. That business continued to trade for at least 20 years after I sold it.

I went back to work in the corporate world and had 3 jobs in 20 months. I hated working for an employer again. I hated the office politics. I searched for the right job, did a career change course, regularly sent my resume out to firms I thought I might want to work for. When none of that worked I reached the point of surrender, and decided to focus on all I was grateful for. Once I did this an opportunity arose to start a subsidiary financial planning business for women for a major financial planning company. This was the early eighties and women did not have equal rights to men when it came to money. Many banks did not lend to women without a male guarantor, very few women bought a home on their own. Many older women didn’t know how to write a cheque and as ATM’s were new, a lot of people did not trust them.

This was the first job that met so many of my needs yet 6 months later, I heard through the grapevine, that I was about to be replaced. I gave notice and during my notice period my employer asked if I would like to take over an office under a licence arrangement, I would be responsible for all of the overheads. I jumped at the opportunity. That was the role that changed my life and I believe it was something I was meant to do. I learnt so much in that role such as how to talk to groups, run courses, handle the media, do interviews, write columns and so on. If it wasn’t for that role I would not have had my first book published, which changed the whole direction of my work life, and eventually led to my becoming a life coach and starting a training business.

During the lean period between The Financial Woman and starting Hart Life Coaching I started another small business just to make money to tide me over, and again sold it a profit. Not every business I tried worked. I had a few failures along the way but I don’t dwell on failure, what is most important to me is that I have more successes than failures.

I never set out to be an entrepreneur or achieve business success. I am not motivated by money. I have always wanted to help people and do work that I love and you can too. Here is my formula for business success:

  1. Be ready for opportunity. Throughout my working life I have done courses, sometimes not knowing where those courses would lead, only to find that what I learnt was invaluable in some future business. I did several public speaking courses which helped me so much when I started giving talks to the public. I was only offered my role with The Financial Woman because I was one of the few women in the country at that time authorised to give financial advice. I have always attended some type of personal development seminars or courses. I still do at least one course a year because I love to learn.
  2. Do what makes you happy. Studies show that the happier you are the easier it is to succeed, we naturally trust and want to do business with happy people. It took me a long time to discover this for myself. I didn’t have a life coach to help me when I was trying to find my way as they didn’t exist back then, but a good life coach is worth the investment.
  3. Act courageously. Note I did not say you have to feel courageous. Everyone gets scared at the beginning, it is how you act that is most important. Action comes first, feeling follows. When I look back at some of the things that I had the audacity to try I am proud of myself for being so courageous. It wasn’t always easy and I am a person who has always experienced some self doubt, but I didn’t allow my self doubt to dictate the direction my life took or influence my choices. Negative feelings only count if you dwell on them, or act upon them.
  4. Make a commitment. Every business I started has succeeded only because of the commitment I made to myself and the hard work I put in. I never put a time limit on my success, I never said I would only work a set amount of hours per week, although my work always had to fit around my children. I worked at night after I put my children to sleep if I had to. When I was applying for accreditation for my current business sometimes I started work at 5.30 am. Commitment and focus can be much the same, I always acted as if I expected to succeed and because of this I now have a deep seated belief that I deserve every bit of success and financial abundance that comes to me.
  5. Find someone to support you. You may have noticed that in every venture I went into in the early days I had a great deal of support from friends, this I believe was a major contributor to my success. Later in life I didn’t always have that support and it is very easy to focus on what is missing. I had to find ways to support myself, and sometimes that meant that I paid for support.
  6. Focus on your personal strengths. I am genuine, so many people who have done business with me have told me they did so because they trusted me. Some people are perceptive, great communicators, creative, adventurous. If you are not sure ask your friends and co-workers what they think your personal strength is.
  7. Find a way to market your business in a way that you enjoy. When I started the shopfront secretarial service I started cold calling on local businesses to see if they wanted to outsource their bookkeeping and I hated it, that is when I decided that I would never do something I hated again. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever do some jobs you don’t like much, most people have to do those. It means that when it comes to marketing I would use the skills that I enjoy using to build my business. For me that is writing. I love writing. I am a natural networker, if I find someone who is good I tell everyone about them, so much business has come to me through referrals.
  8. Develop a positive mindset. The single most influential factor that distinguishes successful people from the crowd is that they have a positive mindset. A positive mindset is something that you have to work at and commit to. You need to regularly feed your mind by reading inspirational books, listening to audios, watching videos. This is not something you do just for awhile, your daily routine needs to constantly feed your mind and your soul. We live in a predominantly negative world so this step is vital.

I never expected to be a best-selling author. Since I first started in business I have written seven books under my own name, and ghost wrote three books for other people. I adapted two of Suze Orman’s books for the Australian  market. I never expected to be a public speaker. I have spoken to audiences of over a thousand people. I never ever thought I would be on radio or TV. I have had regular TV and radio segments. I never expected to write courses. I have written many courses and have a training course nationally accredited. I  never expected to run a training school. I never expected my life to take the direction that it did. I just did what I had to do.

Business success doesn’t have to be hard, for many successful people it often just happens. There is a place that you are to fill that no-one else can fill, all you have to do is follow the above-mentioned steps and follow the signs. You are given signs all of the time, sometimes though when your focus is on what is missing, what is wrong, or your own self doubt you don’t recognise them.

 

 

 

You Can’t Make it Happen

During the eighties and nineties the concept of designing a life was very popular and I was a great supporter of it. I imagine that may have been where the phrase ‘Make it happen’ began. As time passed and my life didn’t match the ideal life that I had designed for myself, I became increasingly aware that this concept is flawed, and our attempts to make it happen can sometimes make life harder than it needs to be.

A question I am sometimes asked is, “How can we set goals and be responsible, yet remain detached from the outcome?”

So let’s go back to the concept of designing a life. When we set a goal we usually have an expectation of how we will feel when we achieve that goal. We think that when someone loves me I will feel happy, or when I have financial security I’ll feel happy, and while it’s nice to have those things they don’t guarantee happiness.

The life I designed for myself was to be married, have four children and be the woman behind the man, who would own a successful business. I achieved some of my goals but I didn’t get married, I had three children, but as one died at a young age, the reality is I have two children. I became successful in my own right, which is way more fulfilling than my original plan and I became a best selling author. The reality of my life turned out different to what I imagined but I am a better person for the experiences I’ve gone through, and I now know that my original vision would not have fulfilled me.

What I discovered is that we have no control over goals that include other people, so while we can pray, visualise and support others to achieve their goals we cannot manipulate them to do what we want. We cannot force someone to love us, or even when they do, we cannot force them to live the life we believe is right for them, as the life they are living may be perfect for them to achieve their life purpose.

I believe we always take responsibility and do what we can to create the life that is important to us. That means that in some instances we prepare, gain the skills, save, do whatever is necessary. Then we get on with life and trust.

I liken detachment to gardening. When we plant a seedling it is small. We put it in soil that is full of nutrients and in a position that suits the need of the plant. We feed it, water it, maybe even talk to it, that’s the taking responsibility part. When we are not tending the plant we get on with our life and trust that the plant will grow. It’s the same with our dreams, we do what we need to do to turn them into reality, if they die as some seedlings do, we know there is something better for us. We trust that life is guiding us down a pathway that is more suited to us.

Forget trying to make it happen, set up the right conditions, do what you can then allow life to guide you to the life that will make you happiest. The Universe knows what you need, trust it!

 

Struggle Precedes Success

This morning I was struggling to find a way to start this blog, when an email popped up on my screen from one of my graduates and the first words I saw were, “If you’re afraid of dying – innovate; If you want to live – evolve”. Those words, and I don’t know who the source is, so perfectly describe what I want to share with you today and that is any great success in life is usually preceded by struggle.

When life and plans don’t turn out the way we expect it’s very easy to play the blame game, give up and walk away, usually settling for less than we really want. There is a better way and it’s one I have used time and time again, that is to use your setbacks and struggles to be innovative and evolve.

Failure and struggle is how we learn

Trial and error is how we learn. Struggle can motivate us. But when people are so afraid of failing they don’t even try. If you never have any errors, you also don’t have any successes either.

Some success can be a drawback too. When you need to maintain your reputation as an achiever, you may be afraid to make mistakes and hence you stop trying.

Like it or not the world is changing and we have to keep us or suffer the consequences. On a personal level the consequences are that we disconnect from others and the world we live in, on a business level it means death. In the 1920’s the average lifespan for a major company was 67 years, now it is just 15 years.

There is an inspirational poster created by the Wall Street Journal on struggle and success which says:

Don’t be afraid to fail

  • You’ve failed many times, although you may not remember.
  • You fell down the first time you tried to walk.
  • You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim.
  • Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat? Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot.
  • Were you able to skate or jump rope the first time you tried?
  • H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.
  • 3M Corporation, one of the most successful companies in the world, was a dismal failure during its first 10 years.
  • English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.
  • Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs.
  • Don’t worry about failure.
  • Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.

It’s impossible to achieve great success without some struggle. Every problem holds within it the seed for greater happiness and success. Every weakness has the potential to become your greatest strength. Embrace your struggles, thank them, and look for the good. And remember, someone else will get your dreams, why not you?

 

The Mindset Of Success

One of my daughters experienced major depression in her teens, which prevented her from completing her HSC. As all of her friends went off to University she struggled to get through each day. When she sought full time work a few years later, with very little experience, she started on a salary of $50,000 a year, more than some of her friends who had graduated from University were receiving. Within three years she moved up to managing and marketing a large medical practice and her salary doubled. When she moved overseas a two-week temp assignment turned into full time work, and she stayed in that job until her visa ran out. She was earning five times more per hour than her fellow travellers who took on waitressing jobs.

Laura is a hard worker and is very intelligent, but so are many other people, the reason Laura has been able to succeed at anything she does is her mindset – she believes she can have anything she sets her mind to, and a positive mindset supports you to recognise opportunities.

Dr Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor, carried out an interesting experiment with two groups of people. One group consisted of people who considered themselves ‘lucky’. The second group was made up of people who considered themselves to be ‘unlucky’. Both groups were asked to count the number of photographs that appeared in a newspaper. The people who considered themselves unlucky took several minutes to complete this exercise as they flipped through each page and counted the photographs. On average the group who considered themselves to be lucky only took several seconds to complete the task. The reason for this was that most of them had stopped on the second page of the newspaper after seeing the message: “Stop counting: there are 43 photographs in this newspaper”.

The people conducting the experiment concluded that people who believe they are lucky are always on the lookout for unexpected good fortune, whilst those who believe they are unlucky have closed minds, and therefore miss opportunities.

CHANGE YOUR LIFE BY CHANGING YOUR PERCEPTION

Your perception of life influences every choice you make. Perception determines how happy you will be, how hard or easy life will be and how successful you are. Just because you have taken on beliefs that may limit you doesn’t mean that the rest of your life has to be restricted by those beliefs. Our brains are continually changing as a result of our daily experiences.

You can change your life by changing your decisions but anyone who has made the decision to quit smoking or lose weight knows it isn’t always that simple. However, support that decision with your daily choices and a success mindset can occur quite easily.

Choices are made when you have two or more options. For instance, if you experience a setback you can choose to look for the opportunity in that experience or you can use this setback as an excuse to stop trying. The first choice supports you, the second choice doesn’t. When you establish the habit of always acting on the choice that supports you, you begin to establish habits which allow you to be successful at everything you undertake.

The Mindset Of Success

Whenever you learn something new, such as learning to tie your shoes, ride a bike or drive a car your brain sets up a neural pathway associated with that action. At first that neural pathway is weak and you may have to really focus on what you are doing to be able to do it. The more you repeat that action the stronger the neural pathway becomes and before long you can carry out that action without conscious thought. Most people believe that what happens to them determines how they feel but that is not the case, your neural pathways produce neurochemicals so your actions and reactions determine how you feel.

Around 30 minutes a day is all it takes to establish a new neural pathway. So you need to act as if you believe you can have what you want until such time that acting in this way becomes an automatic response.