Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Staying on Track With Your Goals

Almost as soon as you decide to make a change in your life, obstacles will appear to test your commitment to your goals, often in the form of conflicting priorities. To keep on the path and reach your destination, it’s essential to have an accurate map, a reliable compass, and a workable plan.

Be clear about what you want

What is the outcome you’re seeking? “Getting in shape” is too vague. Do you want to fit into a pair of jeans you used to wear or keep up with your grandchildren for two hours at the beach or run a mile without being out of breath?

Think of something specific and measurable that will tell you when you have realized what you set out to do. Now you have a reference for making moment-to-moment decisions that will move you closer or farther away from your goal. “Should I take the stairs or the elevator?” “Should I order the chef salad or the hamburger?”

Remember why you’re doing it

A compelling “why” will provide the motivation that propels you on the road to mastery. What will you be able to do or have when you achieve your goal? The vitality to pursue your dreams? The satisfaction of accomplishing something difficult and worthwhile? The confidence that you can meet a challenge and succeed? Make a list of the “goals behind your goal.”

Also, think about how you want to feel as you work toward your goal. Acknowledge the courage, dedication, focus, and integrity you are cultivating. It makes the effort a reward in itself so that you’re already winning even before you approach the finish line.

Smoothe the path to action

Create strategies that make it easier to say yes. The fewer steps it takes to practice the behaviors you want, the greater the chance of success.

Commit to specific time or situational triggers that support your goal. For instance, put your aerobics or yoga class or gym workout on your schedule like any other important engagement. Plan to go for a walk right after supper. Pack your workout clothes before you go to bed.

If you want to trim down, eat an apple or banana before you have dessert. Drink a glass of water before you have coffee, tea, or soda. Use a smaller plate, cup, and bowl than you used to. You get the idea.

Congratulations on taking steps toward the life you want to live. May you discover strengths you didn’t know you had along the way!

Copyright 2010 by Eugene Y. Smith, III. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Move toward love, not away from fear

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about motivation—why we do what we do—and it boils down to two things: love and its opposite, fear.

Fear is reactive; love is creative. Fear comes from a place of lack; love issues from abundance. Fear is exhausting; love is energizing. And perhaps most important, fear is concerned with survival; love is about being alive.

So here’s my encouragement: move toward love, not away from fear.

Notice moment by moment what’s driving your thoughts and behavior. Is it love or fear? Things may look exactly the same on the outside, but the energy, the experience, will be completely different.

Say, for instance, I want to get in shape and I make a resolution to walk for an hour three times a week. Sounds good, right? But why do I want to do this?

Is it so I’ll have the energy to accomplish the things that excite me and make the world a better place? Is it out of respect for the marvelous being that I am? Is it a joyful expression of my strength and power?

Or is it because I’m unsatisfied with who I am? Do I think getting in shape will make me more worthy somehow? Will I transform myself into someone more acceptable than I am right now?

How do you tell whether you’re doing things from love or from fear? One way is to see whether you’re trying to control yourself. If you’re trying to control yourself, you’re operating from fear.

From an early age we’re trained to be afraid of who we are.

I don’t believe babies compare themselves to other babies or have thoughts like “I should be crawling by now. What’s wrong with me?” or “Am I asking too much? I don’t want to be a bother.” or “God, I’m fat! I hate my body.” They just seem to have an endless unselfconscious fascination with the world around them.

As we develop, we are socialized by the giving or withholding of approval and when we are small and dependent, acceptance means survival. Pretty soon, we’ve internalized our trainers and we have an onboard guidance system that asks, “Who do I have to be so that you will love me?”

I have spent much of my life living from the belief that I am not enough. It hasn’t made me a better person. In fact, I would say there isn’t any such thing as a “better person.” Instead, it has been a tremendous obstacle toward experiencing the strength, the truth, the beauty of who I am. How about you?

Starting today, just observe with clarity and compassion what’s motivating you, moment by moment. Don’t resist what you see and don’t try to change it yet. Accept that this is part of being human, part of being you. No need to be afraid of being afraid.

Copyright 2010 Eugene Y. Smith, III. All rights reserved

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Power of Commitment

During a three-day yoga intensive last weekend led by my dear friend and mentor Cindy Dollar at One Center Yoga in Asheville, I discovered something while attempting Warrior III pose. (Virabhadrasana III for you Sanskrit scholars.)

In case you’re not familiar with this, in the completed pose the yogi balances on one leg and extends the torso and arms forward and the other leg back so that they are parallel to the floor. Viewed from the side, it looks like you are forming the letter “T” with your body, almost as if you were about to take flight.

This is a challenging pose for me for reasons that involve balance, flexibility and strength. And, because I don’t feel like I’m “good” at this pose, I seldom practice it. So, of course, I never will be good at it because I don’t practice it, right?

My a-ha came when I realized I wasn’t trusting myself enough to fully commit my weight to the standing leg. I would kinda, sorta extend myself and then wobble and fall out of it, hoping to get an “A” for effort until the teacher directed us on to something else.

When I saw what I was doing, I took a breath and started over. I extended, got fully into the pose, and felt that rush that comes when you let go and are swept along by the energy of the moment. And after a few moments I wobbled and fell out of the pose again.

It was great! I reconnected to my intentions and felt the power of who I am and what I can achieve. Since then, I am finding more things every day to say “Yes!” to as new opportunities present themselves. It’s exciting and joyful.

May you trust yourself to be OK with falling and say “Yes!” to whatever life is inviting you to do or be right now. You just might find yourself flying instead.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wishes vs. Intentions

This morning, I read in a blog entry that the writer “intended” that her child be able to participate in an event that was already closed to new entries and that the child have a good day. It brought me up short. Here's why:

To me, an intention is a decision to take action, not an expression of what I want. For instance, I can’t intend to win a race—I can wish to win and intend to run faster than everybody else.

Why is this important? Because my wishes—or my vision or dreams, if you like—are about outcomes that will happen in the future. They are vital to give me direction and fuel for the journey. My intentions, on the other hand, are my commitment to live in this moment in ways that bring my wishes into reality.

For example, I want the experience of financial security and to be free from fear of lack. That feeling is my wish. I have a vision of living in a certain kind of house in a certain neighborhood; driving a certain car; having a certain amount of income, savings and investments; having the money to enjoy travel and vacations and helping others.

How can I experience that right now, in my life today? My intention is to notice and be thankful for who I am and what I have, to focus on what I can give before what I need, and to reach out to more people through my writing and social media to let them know how they can access their own power and truth.

When I do these things, I feel wealthy and grateful and generous right now while I wait for my circumstances to shape themselves into the realization of my vision. My experience doesn’t depend on my circumstances; it depends on my intentions and the actions that follow.

What are your wishes, your dreams? What are your intentions? What can you do today to be fulfilled?

All the best,

Copyright 2010 Eugene Y. Smith, III. All rights reserved

Monday, August 9, 2010

Creativity Feeds the Day

Around the first of this year I started writing fiction about two characters who have been in my head for some time now. At first, I would sit down every now and then and empty the ideas that had occurred to me onto the page. Then, a month ago I began writing for 30 minutes every day right after breakfast. As of this morning, I have written 58 pages.

This has transformed my life. Really!

I start the day having fun doing something that puts me in the flow and I can feed off that energy for the rest of the day. Not only am I excited and inspired, but the imaginative, inventive part of my brain stays turned on for use in addressing everyday problems.

The activity is its own reward. I’m playing, not working, not focused on an outcome or meeting some standards of what is good. That keeps it easy and fun.

I have found it’s essential to do this BEFORE I check e-mail or read anything written by someone else or listen to the news on the radio. That way, I have allowed space in my mind for my own original thoughts instead of filling it up with someone else’s.

So, what is something you could do first thing that would connect you and nourish and inspire you? “Creativity” doesn’t have to be limited to fine arts. I suggested to one of my sisters, who loves gardening, that she consider working in her flower beds before getting ready to go to work. It could be anything you find meditative or expressive.

If you choose to try this, I would love to hear about what you experience and what you learn. Please comment here. (Click the "# Comments" link below.)

Although I have deliberately this activity playful, I realized a few days ago that I have the beginnings of a novel here. I’ll let you know when it’s ready for you to read.

Stay creative!


Copyright 2010 Eugene Y. Smith, III. All rights reserved

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What's holding you back?

“It is the truth that offers us this freedom, the freedom to test what we are taught, to accept what we feel in our hearts, to believe what we know in our bones, and to love ourselves—including the worst aspects of ourselves—until we see through enough of our illusions to discover who we were really meant to be. At that point, we will have dismantled the biggest lie, the most profound denial of all: the denial of our own inestimable power and value.”

— Martha Beck, The Joy Diet (Crown Publishers: 2003)

What have you been putting off? Is it something that, once you do it, will make a substantial difference in your life? An exercise plan that will give you more energy? A talk with someone about a relationship that’s out of balance? A project that will move you to the next level of fulfillment and/or prosperity?

For me, a big one is marketing myself—getting out of my cave and letting people see how my talents can make a difference in their lives and businesses. Letting them see what a funny, bright, likable guy I am if you look past my shyness. I will meet someone I could collaborate with or get a lead from a friend and then … nothing. Six weeks can go by and I haven’t followed up.

And the stories I tell myself! “That probably won’t work out anyway, so why try?” “I’ll get to it when I’m ready.” “I’m not prepared. I don’t have the right business cards, website, presentation, credentials, references, resumé.…” In other words, I believe the lies I have learned to tell myself. How sad.

Bottom line: I’m scared. Scared I’m not experienced enough, talented enough, smart enough—yes, good enough—to be accepted and valued. And so, to avoid the pain of that, I put things off that would help me live a more joyful, prosperous, peaceful life.

The truth is that I sometimes feel inadequate. It is also true that there is nothing in my experience that shows that I actually am inadequate. That’s just a story someone taught me long ago.

Exploring the edge

I am learning to move into those tight, uncomfortable places that are the door to freedom. Yesterday I went to a entrepreneurs’ networking lunch. Beforehand, I was nervous. “What if they don’t like me?” Once I got there I was fine—relaxed and articulate. I came away feeling I had made new friends. I am in the process of trading services with two of them in ways that will help us all succeed. Go, Gene!

To progress, I have to work mindfully and skillfully at the edge of my resistance. I go to that edge and watch with curiosity and kindness to see what inside me is holding me back. As I watch, the edge softens and a space opens. I find new thoughts, new energy, new opportunities, new willingness, new possibilities. I move into the space, right up against my faithful edge, and wait for the next opening so I can move again.

Practice invitation

Pick an area in your life where you feel unfulfilled or know you could do better. It doesn’t need to be high stakes.

Where’s your edge? When you approach this thing, where do you first meet resistance? What story do you tell yourself about this? “It’s not that important.” “I don’t have time.” “I don’t have what it takes.” “This is just the way I am.”

What do you usually do as a result? Fight against it? Distract yourself? Tell yourself you’ll do it some other time when you’re feeling stronger, more confident, less stressed …? How well have those stories worked so far?

Try this: Stop pushing; stop running away. Stay with the discomfort and see what is really true. “I don’t want to do this because ________.” Don’t believe the stories that say you can’t have what you long for. They’re like blind ghosts giving you bad directions. Instead, be creative. Try something new and see what happens. What have you got to lose? The lies never kept you safe; they only kept you imprisoned.

Each time you confront your limits, you reclaim part of yourself. And the world gets better because there is more of you to give to it.

Thank you for all of us.


Gene Smith
Life & Wellness Coach
Life Turned On™

Wild Life

The Wild Life monthly practice group meets this Saturday, June 20, 1:00-3:00 PM, in Asheville, NC. We'll have tea and explore more deeply how we can go beyond the limits we create for ourselves. For details, click here.

Copyright 2009 Eugene Y. Smith, III. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Giving to receive

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

— from “When Death Comes” by Mary Oliver

It seems like a lot of us are worrying lately. Worrying about money. Worrying about health. Worrying sometimes about whether our lives are headed in the right direction and whether there is time (once again) to change course and accomplish anything. Sound familiar?

I find that when I focus on what I think I need and don’t have, life seems small, constricted. I feel a kind of panic in my body as if I’m fighting for air. To me, greed isn’t so much a sin as an affliction; it keeps me isolated and miserable.

Fortunately, there’s a reliable cure: generosity—to myself and the world. Instead of focusing on what I lack and scrambling desperately to get it (“Oh, please, hire me, feed me, love me …”), I wake up each morning and think, “What am I going to create today? What am I going to give the world?” And life becomes more spacious. I feel peaceful and calm and powerful—and excited. And that’s a gift to me.

Maybe you thought I was going to say that gratitude is the cure. It is if it takes form in action. Recognizing and appreciating who we are (our genius, our beauty) and what we have (the people, relationships and resources available to us) are a good start, but only that. To be “married to amazement,” “to take the world into our arms” requires honoring what we have been given by using those things to make a difference in the world.

Today I want to cultivate a healthy body, an animated spirit, a clear mind, and a generous heart. I want to dwell in my highest self: Alert and powerful. Amazing. Connected. Confident. Sexy. Dangerous. Delightful. Insightful. Smart. Talented. Spirited. Reverent. Irreverent. Courageous. Compassionate. Creative. Funny. Alive!

I want to contribute to a world that’s kinder and more peaceful and more generous. I want to help others in whatever way I can to find their own truths and power and happiness. I want to experience the joy that comes with giving freely of my talents, my “gifts.”

What about you? What do you want to create today? Share a comment here and tell me about it. I’d really love to know.

My best to you,

Gene Smith
Life & Wellness Coach
Life Turned On™

Wild Life personal growth practice group
meets Saturday, May 16 • 1:00–3:00 PM
in downtown Asheville, NC
For details, visit our page.
(You don't have to join the group to attend the meeting.)
Have tea with us and share a lively exploration of how we can create the lives we want to live!

Copyright 2009 Eugene Y. Smith, III. All rights reserved.