When Preparation Meets Opportunity

There is an old saying that ‘luck happens when preparation meets opportunity’. My experience has been that miracles occur when you prepare for what you want. I first read about this principle many years ago in Catherine Ponder’s book, The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity. Catherine said and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘You have to create a void so that there is a space for what you want to come into’.

I started reading Catherine’s books in the seventies and I still practice what I learnt then today. The moment I set any goal I start preparing to receive it. It’s a habit that has served me well. When I wanted to find my perfect work I would walk around the city of Sydney in my lunch break and pick out the buildings I wanted to work in. I thought about the type of people I wanted to work with. I decided on the type of clothes I wanted to wear to work and I wrote every choice down. Keeping a list of what I wanted enabled me to focus my attention on what I wanted to create rather than the frustration I experienced working in a office full of office politics where you never knew who to trust. At that stage life coaching didn’t exist as a career choice.

Keeping a list also meant that whenever a job opportunity came along I had a checklist to compare it against. The job I took at that time changed my life and matched every item on my list except one, it wasn’t my own business. However, within six months I was offered the opportunity to carry on that business under a franchise type agreement, so ultimately that choice matched every item on my list.  This job turned out to be my ideal job for a good number of years. It prepared me well,  and provided me with so many opportunities and credibility for the career of training life coaches that was yet to come.

Preparation can take many forms from creating a physical space, making time, studying, creating order, looking after your body, being coached, to acting like the person you want to be. Preparing for what you want is a way of allowing no doubt that you will achieve your dream. However, how you do this is vitally important because I’ve known people who have thrown in their jobs, or packed up their houses in preparation for moving to their perfect home and it hasn’t happened.

Any form of preparation needs to support you to keep your focus on what you want to create. If you gave up your job in order to make way for a job that you would love and you didn’t find that job straight away, it is more than likely your focus would shift away from your goal and onto worrying about money. However, by staying in that job and preparing your resume, making sure you have the clothes to match the position, being very clear on what you want to attract even if you don’t know the job title are activities that will support you.

If you want to achieve a financial goal, save some money specifically for that goal that you use for no other purpose. It is never about the amount of money that you save what is most important, is that you are getting ready for the opportunity to arrive.

If you want more friends, create time to spend with them. Create a space where you can socialise, for most people this is their home. Is your home in such a state that you could invite anyone over at any time? Do you have enough clothes to wear out to social engagements? Are you fit enough to participate in some of the leisure activities you like?

If you want to share your life with someone look at your bedroom, is it full of clutter? Clear out your wardrobe, create a space for the other person’s clothes. Get rid of, or put away, mementos from old loves. Create a space for them to move into.

If you want more harmony in your life look at ways you can create harmony within. Choose values to act upon that make you feel good about yourself. Watch your thoughts, make sure they focus on what you want to create, not the problems surrounding you. Create pockets of harmony throughout your day, this could be in your lunch break or travelling to work, focus on how good it feels to be at peace. Make time to meditate every day even if it’s only for 10 minutes.

Preparation supports you to focus on what you want to create. It enables you to find a way where there appears to be no way. Preparation takes a lot of stress out of life. When preparation meets opportunity, miracles happen.

When You Discover Your Calling You Never Have to Work Again

A growing trend globally is for people in their late sixties and seventies to be a vital part of the work force. While this is a bonus when you love what you do, imagine having to spend an extra 5 – 20 years doing a job you don’t like just for money.

Most of us have fantasised at some stage about winning the lottery but fantasies are usually a way of escaping from a reality that doesn’t fulfil us. To never work again is a fantasy for many, but it doesn’t have to be.  The key is to do what you love.

I consider myself fortunate to have had many careers that I have enjoyed but it wasn’t until I started life coaching, nearly 20 years ago now, that I found my calling.  A calling is something that you don’t need to retire from because it doesn’t feel like work. Some of us find our calling through our work, while others find it through volunteer or leisure activities. However, I’ve found that the more you go in search of your calling the harder it seems to be to find and that’s often because it’s often something we don’t expect.

We find our calling when we share our gifts. Gifts, in this context, are commonly thought of as skills or attributes, but a more accurate way to discover your gifts is to focus on what you love doing. I love meeting people from all walks of life, helping them to be happy, and working out what motivates them. I also love sharing what I learn. If we were to translate those loves into gifts they are optimism, resourcefulness, curiosity, love of learning, and my willingness to do whatever I need to do to be the best me I can be. The skills, which I have developed over time, evolved from doing what I love.

It’s so easy to waste so much time and energy trying to work out how to do what we want to do, and worrying about whether we are making the right choice, when what serves us best is simply doing things we love.

A woman who trained as a life coach with me loved life coaching but was concerned about how to build a full time business, she also felt a little lost working on her own all the time. I suggested that she continue working with clients and allocate some time to volunteer work. I suggested she choose a cause that she was passionate about. She did this and within a short period of time a paying role arose in that organisation which enabled her to use her life coaching skills and all her gifts.

Sharyna Sharman knew she wanted to help people but as a country girl used to spending her days in paddocks with horses, she didn’t want to do spend all her time in an office, so she combined coaching with equine therapy to assist people to build confidence and leadership skills.

The Universe knows exactly what you want and there is a role that is perfectly suited to the lifestyle you want to live just waiting for you,and you claim it by doing what you love, as much as you are able to, right now.

It is very easy to get caught up in all the reasons why you can’t have what you want and one of the biggest excuses that people make is ‘I don’t have time’. To live a life where you never work again you need to make time because doing what you love energises you, it changes everything in your life, whereas working for a living drains you.

You have unique gifts to share, isn’t it time you found out what those were and started being true to yourself?

The Seduction of Job Security

At one time I worked as an accountant for a major publishing company and I thought I’d found my dream job. I loved books. I liked the people I worked with. I met some interesting authors and after being self employed for several years it was nice to have the security of a regular income.  But it wasn’t long before I realised that the work I was doing was so boring I started dreading going to work.

Talking to my family one night I said, ‘I think I’m going to resign’. My security conscious dad begged me to reconsider. Dad said, ‘But Anne you’re an accountant!’  My dad had a very valid point as such jobs weren’t always easy to get without formal qualifications. I knew I did the job well, I was valued, my job was secure and there was the potential to move up within the company. But I also knew that I couldn’t do this work long term because it was soul destroying.  I needed a creative outlet and I needed to work with people. So I resigned and it’s a decision I’ve never regretted because within two years I was offered the position of starting and managing The Financial Woman, a financial planning business for women. That role not only suited my essential nature, it launched my writing career and set the foundation for the work I do today. Eight years later my first book was published by the very company I once worked for.

Although I like job security it is nowhere near as important to me as it is to some people.  Recently one of my daughters said to me, ‘I’m worried that if I don’t leave this job soon I am going to get locked into a career and lifestyle I don’t really want.’  My daughter has been very successful, after just a few years of working she was offered the role of setting up and managing a large medical specialist centre.  She enjoys the job and likes the people she works with but her passion is writing.  Like many people my daughter values security but fortunately Laura is more aware than most and knows the pitfalls of settling for security.

A lot of people start their adult life with so many hopes and dreams and within the span of ten years so many settle for less than they really want lured by job security, income or the expectations or needs of others until they become so locked in they feel they have no other choice, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Ignoring the call of your heart can lead to confusion or a midlife crisis.  Driven by the need to find a better way to live some seek the services of a life coach, or look for the answers in books.  If you are willing and open you can rewrite the story of your life.

Look at your life as it is today and ask yourself these questions:
Do you get more enjoyment from gardening or some other leisure activity than you do from your job?
Do you feel as if something is missing no matter how successful you are, or how many friends you have?
Are your weekends the highlight of your week?

If you answered ‘yes; to any of these questions it’s time to let go of the illusion of job security and reassess your life.  I’m not suggesting you throw in your job or do anything reckless, just take the time to reassess, be open to finding a way even where there appears to be no way, ask for help, or hire a life coach.  It’s scary to step out of your comfort zone and follow your heart but the joy that comes from being true to yourself makes the journey so worthwhile.

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.

 

 

 

Building resilience

Motivation is desire, a feeling of excitement that inspires us to take action. A shift occurs when we change the way see things. Resilience is the ability to pick ourselves up when life challenges us and keep moving. Focus on developing all three and you become an unbeatable force.

It’s easy to be happy when life is flowing smoothly. It’s easy to stay motivated when we make progress. And it’s easy to be positive and take action when we believe, but what challenges most of us are the times when we make no progress, when nothing seems to be happening, or when we lose someone or feel hurt by someone important to us.

Motivation dies during tough times and this is when so many people give up on their dreams. To create permanent change we need to create a shift in the way we perceive events so we can become more resilient. Tough times are a necessary part of life. They build character. We still need motivation, it helps to get us started but when we shift our perspective, we become more open minded, we are willing to do things differently, to look within, to BE different. A shift helps us grow and builds resilience.

And that is why I love life coaching so much. A good life coach can help a client shift their perspective. Help them recognise what is holding them back, see the opportunities that are right in front of them to be more and do more.

Your emotions show you what you need to let go of

No one will feel happy, positive or inspired all of the time. We all experience down times. Emotions shine a light on what we need to strengthen, and show us what we need to let go of.

Giving up is an abdication of responsibility. True surrender is a deepening of responsibility. It is relaxing into what is while asking yourself what do I need to do to move forward.

Sometimes moving forward is hard, when my son died I was in such intense emotional pain I didn’t think I could survive. Just the thought of getting through each day felt overwhelming, my motivation to keep going was to support my daughter and to end the pain, so I focused on each minute. What I practised, without realising it, was being mindful. As each day went by the minutes extended and I would go for longer periods without feeling as if I was going to shatter. Over time I started finding joy in little things until I got to a point where I felt alive again. A shift had occurred in me and I discovered that I was wiser and stronger than I ever thought possible.

Make a list of your strengths

Our strengths, or potential strengths, support us during tough times. Often we don’t recognise our strengths and that’s because they can be closely allied with our weaknesses. When I was younger you just had to tell me I couldn’t do something and I would silently vow to myself to do it. This is how I gave up smoking a long time ago. While this may not appear to be a strength so much of what I have overcome or achieved came about because of the vows I made to myself. I was told I could not write well enough to ever be a writer, the same with being a speaker, I didn’t agree with my critics and I set out to show them I could. Now while that may not be the best form of motivation if it works for you use it. It’s always about how we act upon our strengths that determines if they support us. I am a problem solver, but if I get too stuck in finding a solution, I end up resisting what is. If I spend too much time taking care of others I burn out, so it’s about acting on our strengths in a way that supports us and for me that means pausing and reflecting as if I am a wise person. As I am naturally impulsive pausing before I jump into something thinking it will be the solution to all of my problems saves me from making costly mistakes.

There are time when life sucks. You resist what is every time you blame and complain. Life gets easier when you look at difficult times as an opportunity to create something better. You have a lot more power than you give yourself credit for. If you are stuck in a job you don’t like – change it. If you are in a relationship you aren’t happy in – set boundaries, seek professional help and when you have tried everything and nothing works, move on. If you are trying to build a business and it’s not working – seek advice or coaching from someone who can help you. If you don’t have enough money look for ways to increase your income. I only ended up in business because I couldn’t find a way, as a single woman with children, to achieve my goals in the paid work force, which led me to achieving more than I expected.

Most people have more strengths than they realise, just have a look at this list to see how many strengths you have, and add your own if it’s not included here:

Creativity

Curiosity

Open mindedness

Willingness

Determination

Love of learning

Courage

Being able to see things from different points of view

Persistence

Kindness

Integrity

Energy

Positivity

Optimism

Leadership

Diplomacy

Emotional or intellectual intelligence

Forgiveness

Humility

Gratitude

Self control

Discipline

Humour

Light heartedness

Peacemaking

We often hear that the younger generation are not resilient, and that is partly because they have grown up with more than previous generations, but life gives everyone equal opportunities to become more resilient, sometimes they come in a different shape to what we expect.

I would not be who I am today if I had not made the choice to look for the good in every experience. Being an optimist is a strength which has become part of my personal calling. Pause for a moment and consider your life challenges and ask yourself, who is life calling you to be right now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.