Where Are Your Thoughts Taking You?

I was replaying an upsetting incident in my mind one day when I became aware of what I was doing and I paused. I chose to forgive the other person who I felt had misjudged me. A few minutes later I found myself replaying the incident again, I chose to forgive her and I made a conscious effort to think about something else.

There are times in life when things simply don’t flow and it’s at those times we need to pause, reflect and ask ourselves questions. Often we find that we are spending a lot of time thinking about the very things we don’t want in life.  It doesn’t matter how right we are, how wrong the other person is or how unfair things are, like attracts like.  Critical thoughts attract critical people. Dwelling on not having enough money prevents money flowing to you.  Thinking about doing a job you dislike, keeps you stuck doing jobs you dislike.

Our thoughts, words and actions are the energy source that we use to create what we want, or don’t want.  How we think determines the language we use and what we talk about. This in turn influences how optimistic or pessimistic we feel.  How we feel has an impact on every decision, choice and action we make.  It’s that simple.

When we focus on not being good enough, or other people being out to get us, that is what we will notice.  We may be surrounded by good fortune or people who care about us.  People may tell us they love us, that we are good enough, but our mind will discard that and focus on what we expect.

I have someone in my life who can at times be very critical of me, and when I dwell on that criticism it takes me away from the person I choose to be, and the difference I want to make with my life.  Although I have good intentions I sometimes get caught up in my thoughts about how hurt I feel.  At these times I work at accepting, forgiving and letting go.  Sometimes I need to do something physical to change my state so I will go for a walk, or listen to an inspirational audio. When I can’t change my thoughts easily, I take myself away from that person.  Sometimes it is for the day, at other times it is for a few days.  It’s amazing how a few days away restores my equilibrium and my natural optimism returns.

No matter what your situation is there will be a strategy that works for you.  Sometimes you just need to experiment.  The benefits to be gained from consciously watching your thoughts and words will make the effort well worthwhile.

My Top 6 Inspirational Books

Several years ago I conducted a survey where I asked my blog readers where they would look for guidance or help if needed. Among the options included were; counsellors/life coaches, courses, friends and books. And most people told me that when they needed help or inspiration the first place they would turn to would be a book, followed closely by a friend.

I must admit The Power of Positive Thinking was the first of many inspirational books that changed my life because until I read it I had no idea that I had the power to change my life simply by changing the way I think. But as great an impact as that book had on me it was several more years before I really committed to learning more, and I only did this because I felt lost and directionless. I didn’t have a career, or any prospects of one. I was living on a Government benefit and looking after my two young children, one of whom was just a baby. But I had a great friend, Helen, who visited every weekend and each week she bought me a new book. Although I was grateful at that time I didn’t really realise just how much of a blessing those books were and what an impact they would have on my future. Some of the books Helen gave me included: Think & Grow Rich, Success through a Positive Mental Attitude, The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity and The Magic of Thinking Big. They literally changed my life as they inspired me to start my first business, from my kitchen table, with absolutely no money.

I have no idea how many inspirational books I’ve read since that time, but I wanted to name just a few that have really impressed me, and I’d love to hear what inspirational books have changed your life.

Conversations with God – Neale Donald Walsch
When I was going through my mid-life crisis I would go for a walk each morning and ask for guidance and each day I received insights as to how to change my life. A lot of those insights I implemented into my life but sometimes I did wonder if it was just my imagination, then a friend gave me the book Conversations with God and I soon discovered that some of what Neale was writing about was the same as the guidance I received. It reinforced that I was on the path that was right for me, and in some instances answered some questions I still had.

You’ll See it when You Believe it – Wayne Dyer
If I had my way I would make this essential reading in high school. In this book Wayne so clearly describes how we’ve got it all wrong, that we wait until we see something until we believe, whereas we need to act as if we believe then our dreams come true.

Don’t Die with Your Music Still in You – Serena J Dyer and Wayne Dyer
When Wayne Dyer died I felt so sad I went on a binge re-reading many of his books. One I hadn’t read was this one so I bought it at that time and I just loved it.

The Happiness Advantage – Shawn Achor
I love to learn and this book, while not just a motivational book, is filled with information on research and statistics that prove that being happy needs to be a priority in all of our lives.

The Success Principles – Jack Canfield
This is a book I recommend to all of my life coaching students as it not only inspires it is practical. It is simply filled with tips and strategies on how to live a great life.

Jonathon Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach
I loved this book, I was so inspired by the story of this little bird who didn’t accept limits that I bought a china seagull and named it Jonathon. It still lives in my living room and reminds me to never ever give up.

What books have inspired you, or changed your life?

 

 

How to attract opportunities

We either attract or repel opportunities with our thoughts, words and the subsequent actions we take. When our thoughts, words and actions are in harmony with the person we want to be, our goals, and the life we wish to create, we draw people and opportunities into our lives to help turn our dreams into reality. Carl Jung called this phenomena synchronicity.

This so called ‘positive thinking’ is not some new age mumbo jumbo, in recent years scientists have found evidence that shows why some people are ‘luckier’ than others. When testing brain activity in rats scientists discovered that when rats were given new tasks their brain developed new pathways, suggesting that the brain undergoes continuous physical changes throughout our lives. They confirmed these findings by conducting similar experiments on terminal cancer patients who gave permission for their brains to be studied after their death.

The major discovery to come out of this research is that our brains are continually remodelled by the lives we lead, which can mean that we no longer need to be restricted by the labels or beliefs that have been placed upon us. We can change our beliefs at any time,and at any age we choose, but there is a catch. These changes only occur when the mind is focused and paying attention. In other words when we are mindful.

ACTING ON VALUES IS A WAY OF BEING MINDFUL

Carol, who completed my life coach training course became aware that one of her core needs is security. Now one of the things I encourage people to do, when we want to create change, is to choose values that supports us to be the person we want to be. This has a number of benefits: acting on values makes us feel good about ourselves and this is the foundation for building a happy life; it helps us change our perception of who we can be and what we can do and have; and when we change our perception of ourselves, then other people’s perception of us automatically changes. Acting on values takes focused attention.

Carol chose to be more trusting. She did this by being: discerning, willing, slow to judge and more open to opportunities. She paid conscious attention to her actions and reactions and made conscious choices on a daily basis. She didn’t pretend to be a trusting person, she acted like a trusting person and in doing so her world changed.

At that time Carol needed a computer but didn’t have the money to buy one, so she started visualising herself working at her computer, and she was open to how this computer could come into her life. A few days later she was doing a favour for a friend and told her what she was doing. Her friend, who was in the process of buying a new computer, happily gave her her old computer. Inspired by her success Carol decided to focus on attracting coaching clients. She started chatting to people about what she did everywhere she went; in stores, at the hairdressers, in her yoga class and within weeks her business started picking up. Carol was committed to living the process that she was teaching and each day she became more joyful and the more she trusted in a responsible way the more opportunities came her way.

The reticular activating system, a portion of the brain which acts like a scanner, is an order taker. When you take steps as Carol did to respond in a different way, the brain is on the constant look out for it and brings these opportunities to your conscious awareness. The flow on effect is that the more success you experience, no matter how small, the easier it is to believe you can have what you really want. When you believe your actions automatically change.

Focusing can also help you learn new skills that may previously have been difficult. Susan Schenkel, a clinical psychologist and author of the book, Giving Away Success, tells the story of when she was in graduate school studying statistics.  It was generally considered that clinical psychology students would not do well in that subject, and she didn’t, but when the possibility arose of actually failing she decided to spend her Christmas holiday studying statistics by reading and re-reading the chapters.  At first it felt as if she was reading ancient Greek, she didn’t understand a thing, but by continually focusing, she not only started absorbing the material but started understanding it.  Then it became fun, and in her final exam she ranked number two out of forty students. Imagine if you placed the same focused attention on something in your life that you didn’t like, such as your job. You may find that by changing the way you think and what you focus on it becomes more enjoyable.

It’s easy to give up on your dreams when nothing seems to work, or they seem so far out of reach but I urge you to continue IF it’s what you really want.  There will be many times in life when you have no idea how to get what you want, and sometimes you just have to trust and do as much as you can now. The heart and the mind are incredibly powerful, and when you allow them to work together, take steps to be the person you want to be you often find a way where there appears to be no way.

 

 

 

Where are your thoughts taking you?

When Wayne Dyer’s book Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life was released in 2009 I purchased it immediately only to discover that it wasn’t the book I expected, so it was tucked away unread on my bookshelf. My daughter Laura has been telling me to read this book for quite a while, so needing inspiration one day I pulled it out and started reading a verse a day. And as the old saying goes, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear”.

For nearly 20 years I have felt blessed to be able to do work that I love, but as my business has grown my role has changed and sometimes I find myself spending hours marking a never ending pile of assignments or troubleshooting administrative problems. This change in my daily routine took me away from feeling joyful and I found myself becoming increasingly irritable, negative and tired a lot of the time. Wayne’s book was the perfect reminder to take control of my thoughts.

It’s easy for anyone to be positive and happy when everything in life is flowing, it’s when life challenges us that we need to be conscious of where are thoughts are taking us. Being positive is not a state you reach and stay there. To live in a state of flow we need to be conscious and willing to change the way we respond.

I chose to be mindful whenever I found myself in a low energy state, or whenever I was tempted to moan about something that irritated me. Instead I focused on all I had to be grateful for. Before long I noticed how incredibly grateful I felt, even when marking assignments, my least favourite job. I thought, How lucky am I to be doing this work, guiding teachers and coaches who go out and make a positive difference.

Thoughts are not something you take control of once, they are something you need to check in on on a regular basis. People often say to me how positive they are, and in some areas they most likely are, but we are all dual beings and we can be both positive and negative at the same time.

OUR THOUGHTS AND WORDS AFFECT THE WORLD AROUND US

We need to be conscious of how our thoughts and words impact the world around us. Now we all know that the world is predominantly negative and it is very easy to get caught up in negative emotions, but by being optimistic, grateful, kind and light hearted we can have a positive influence on the world around us.

According to HeartMath the heart’s electromagnetic field contains coding which is transmitted throughout and outside of the body and that intentionally generated positive emotions can change this information/coding. HeartMath believe that care, compassion, love or other positive emotions not only transmit through our own bodies but are transferred externally to people in close proximity, and possibly over long distances.

This means that we are constantly projecting our emotions into the energy field of the world around us. If you have ever read about the studies carried out by the late Masaru Emoto[2] on water you may remember his findings on how emotions change the quality of water.

When words such as ‘thank you’ and ‘fool’ were wrapped around bottles of water with the words facing inwards, the bottles exposed to ‘thank you’ formed beautiful hexagonal crystals, whereas water exposed to the word ‘fool’ created similar results as water exposed to violent heavy metal music, which was dark and murky.

CHANGE YOURSELF AND THE WORLD AROUND YOU CHANGES

When something is not working in our lives our automatic response is often to change something externally, but when we shift our focus off changing what is and onto changing our response we become powerful. We don’t have control over much that happens in the world around us, but we always have control over our thoughts and that is what makes humans uniquely capable of changing themselves and the world around them.

Some of the coaches I train get fixated on marketing, particularly their lack of knowledge in this area, and I know some who have spent $20,000 on a course to learn how to market their businesses. Yet the most productive thing they can do, that will guarantee a positive return every time, is focus on adopting and maintaining a positive mindset. Living your life as if you already have your heart’s desires is way more powerful than intellectual knowledge.

By adopting the habit of being mindful whenever you find yourself experiencing any negative emotion, you learn to focus on the present, not the past or the future. By giving thanks for all the blessing you have you create an energy field that draws what want into your life. This is what the law of attraction is all about, it’s not about wishful thinking and something magically turns up.

Write yourself post it notes and place them in prominent places, put reminders into your phone to stop and be mindful. Change your thoughts to ones that always support you and you will find that your thoughts really can transform your life.

[1] https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/science-of-the-heart/the-energetic-heart-is-unfolding/

[2] Masaru Emoto, Hidden Messages in Water, Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books, New York, 2005

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.

 

 

 

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?