January, 2008 Archive

Your perfect day?

January 28th, 2008 by Christiane

What would be your perfect day? Who would be in it? What would you do? What makes a day the “perfect day”?

For me, right now, a perfect day would be one, where I don’t have to think about what I “must do next”. I long for a day off – but I know this is only temporary, since I feel a little exhausted.

Normally, I would describe my perfect day differently: I would describe it as a nice, sunny and warm day. I’m spending the day with people I love to be around; and I would get to know something new; the last point being the most important part of the perfect day. I love to have new experiences in my life; these may be traveling to foreign countries, taking courses or visit a museum where I haven’t been before.

I’m unhappy if I have to spend my days with routine jobs, in routine meetings, or with routine chores at home.

Why did I ask the questions about your perfect day? Because I believe, it’s important to think once in a while about the perfect day. It tells you where you are standing right now in life, what’s missing and what you might want to change or add, if possible.

One of my favorite quotations:
Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. (Benjamin Disraeli)

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Happiness and Relationships

January 21st, 2008 by Christiane

This weekend, we finally made it to the movie theatre and watched “The Bucket List”. This is an outstanding¬†movie about two elderly men from very different backgrounds, who – in the face of death after diagnosed with incurable cancer – go out into the world to do in the last months of their lives all the things they always wanted to do.

There are many funny situations and dialogues. However, the movie also wants to teach us something important: All the money in the world, and all the trips to exotic locations, fun and adventures one can buy with money, can’t replace what really counts, a relationship with someone close to your heart.¬†Toward the end of the movie, both men found their way¬†back to the most important person in their lives, and then they were able to experience true happiness and inner satisfaction.

Personally, I believe that the movie’s message is correct – and I also have scientific back-up for that. A few years ago was a study published that asked ” What makes us happy?”. For this study, several hundreds of college students¬†answered questions about¬†recent experiences, which the students had rated as “satisfying events” in their lives. The result of the scientific analysis of these events was that students rated especially those events as satisfying that gave them a feeling of autonomy, competence, self esteem and connectedness with other people.

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Do you work in your dreams?

January 18th, 2008 by Christiane

According to studies, the majority of people have dreams about their work. In one study about 70 % of those, who dream about their job, said that they even have found solutions to work-related problems in their dreams. 

Opinions now vary as to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

While dreaming about work may be just the normal response to the fact that we spend most of our day at work and with colleages, it could also be seen as manifestation of too much stress and inability to shut off.

Scientists don’t even know for sure, why we are dreaming. Sigmund Freud called dreams the “royal road to the unconscious mind”. This idea became the¬†foundation for countless of books about dream symbols and how to interpret dreams. Other researcher doubt that dreams have a deeper meaning. According to new research we seem to consolidate memories in the REM-phase of sleep. This is also the phase when most of our dream activity is happening. Allan Hobson, professor of psychiatry at¬†Harvard medical school, explains dreams as the result of more or less random brain activity while the cognitive control centers are shut down. Therefore, it wouldn’t make much sense to search for meaning in our dreams.

Anyway, whether dreams have a meaning or not, there are many testimonials of people, who are saying they had the best ideas while asleep. I would love to have such dreams,¬†because¬†I always think in the morning that I didn’t dream at all.¬†

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The Power of Persistence

January 16th, 2008 by Christiane

Cancer researcher Judah Folkman has died. Folkman was a visionary who for more than 30 years pursued his idea that cutting off a tumor’s blood supply would stop cancer growth. Today, more than one million of cancer patients are being treated with medication based on his groundbreaking research.I’m writing about Folkman because his life and work demonstrates that success often requires sticking to ideas even in the face of skepticism and criticism. When he first proposed his ideas about cutting off the blood supply his colleagues didn’t take him seriously. Cancer research in the 70s focused on improving chemotherapy drugs. But Folkman didn’t give up on his idea to swim with the mainstream. Instead, he pursued it with great determination even though his own experiments didn’t always deliver the results he had hoped for. It eventually paid off and in 1998 the Ney York Times celebrated him on page one as the man who could cure cancer. Though these hopes were too high, drugs targeting a tumor’s blood supply are today a fixed part of many treatment plans.

Secret of success

In my opinion, Folkman’s story highlights¬†one of the biggest differences between successful people and less successful. It’s often not about skills, talent, knowledge, power or money. The difference is in the degree of determination and persistence. I read in Folkman’s obituary in the Boston Globe that he liked to joke “if your idea succeeds, everybody says you are persistent. If it doesn’t succeed, you’re stubborn”.

The thing is, many people with good ideas give up because they are afraid of being perceived as stubborn.

No such word as ‘failure’

According to the same obituary a friend said about him, that there was no such word as defeat in Folkman’s lexicon. A setback like an experiment with inconclusive results was only a learning point. Relentlessly, Folkman tried again with new experiments to prove that cancer growth can be stopped by cutting off the blood supply.

This is the second secret of success: the ability to view failure only as a temporary setback. On the long run, each failure offers the possibility to learn from it and thus gets you one step closer to your goal.

Experience success through the assistance of a life coach

Not many people have this ability, and exactly here a life coach could help. A life coach provides support, offers feedback, designs with you a plan how to achieve your goal and will help to refocus in times of temporary setbacks.

Most importantly, a life coach will help you to silence your “inner critic”; it’s this voice inside your head which most of us know too well: “You are not good enough; nobody cares; who you think you are?” The road to success is rocky enough without the added burden of the inner critic.

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Weekend blues?

January 11th, 2008 by Christiane

Finally weekend. Any plans?

Friends often tell me that they are not really sure what to do on weekends, aside from sleeping in or going to the movies; ‚ÄúThere is not much else to do‚ÄĚ.

I’m under the impression that many people don’t really know what they are passionate about, what would really fill their lives, and what could energize them.

In the book ‚ÄúWishcraft‚ÄĚ by Barbara Sher, I read her recommendation to think back at childhood. What was it that could energize you as 5 year old, what did you love to do, how did you spend your time back then? Chances are high that what you loved to do as a child could still hold some ‚Äėpassion potential‚Äô today.

For me, this is true. As little girl, I loved to draw and paint, and creating things. Today,  I still love creative work, from photography, designing my garden to cooking.

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Afraid of improvisation?

January 8th, 2008 by Christiane

Yesterday, I took an Improvisation workshop for Life coaches. It was a workshop with Daena Giardella, an amazing actor, writer, creativity and acting coach.

While I was listening to her, I became more and more aware of the little space we give to spontaneity and improvisation in our lives. All the time, we strive to be perfect. We plan and follow rules, anxiously trying to avoid failure.

But if we restrict ourselves to what’s already tried and tested, how will we find new solutions and make exciting discoveries?

Daena says, ‚ÄúImprovisation is about making choices and daring to give them your fullest commitment even before you know why or where it will lead you.‚ÄĚ

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Only 12 % of New Year’s resolutions successful

January 6th, 2008 by Christiane

How is it going with the New Year’s resolutions? Still trying to stick to the resolutions? How about participating at a psychological research study? (http://richardwiseman.com/, link to study sign up at the bottom)
Prof. Richard Wiseman, the lead researcher of this online research project, says that according to previous research the success rate for New Year’s resolutions is only about 12 %. Wiseman and his team tracked last year the resolutions of more than 3000 people from the US and the UK. Resolutions with the highest success rate (between 24 and 32 %) have been: “enjoy life more”, lose weight, improve fitness, and limit or stop drinking alcohol and/or smoking.

Wiseman says that the sexes should follow different strategies to make success more likely.

Men should follow the rules for SMART goals (see previous blog entry) and divide the” big goal” into easier achievable sub goals. It also helps them to remind themselves frequently of the benefits for their life if they achieve their goals. A helpful structure for men would therefore be to write down a list of benefits and put¬†the list¬†in a place where they see it often.

Women increase their chances of sticking to their resolutions by telling others about them. Therefore Wiseman advises women to go public with their pledges by telling friends and relatives. In addition, women need reminders that slipping up once in a while is no reason for giving up altogether.

As I said in a previous posting, breaking old habits and adopting a new lifestyle needs time. Therefore, be gentle with yourself and take your time. View “failures” to stick to your resolutions as temporary setbacks and try it again.

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Too little sleep could make you fat

January 3rd, 2008 by Christiane

An Australian/ New Zealand study about sleep in seven year old school kids found a link between too little sleep and obesity. The 519 children in the study slept an average of 10 hours per night. Those, who got less than 9 hours of sleep, were significantly more likely than the others to be overweight or obese. They were also at a higher risk for mood swings. The study is published in the Journal Sleep. (www.sleepjournal.org

Another study published several months ago found a similar link between sleep duration and body weight for adults. It seems that more time being awake translates to more time spent eating.

So, for those of us with a New Year resolution to sleep more, there is a new pro argument: sleep instead of diet. Works for me!

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January 2nd, 2008 by Christiane

How is it going with the New Years resolutions?

Already struggling? It’s an old game, almost a ritual¬†– we start every year fiercely determined to make important changes in our life, from losing weight to exercising more, or sleeping more…..and then, after two weeks, it’s over and we are back to square one. The problem:¬† we don’t do it right with the resolutions. Psychologists¬†say that setting¬†SMART goals will increase success rates.

Here is what the acronym SMART stands for with respect to resolutions and goals:

S= Specific: Make a specific resolution. Instead of “eating healthier”¬†, “I will eat two apples per day”

M= Measurable:  Make your progress measurable. Example: if you want to lose 10 pounds overall, then losing one pound per week is measurable.

A= Attainable: Be realistic. Don’t hope ¬†to lose 20 pounds in two months and then keeping the pounds off.¬† For permanent weight loss you must take it slow. The same applies to all major lifestyle changes. If you didn’t exercise at all before, don’t expect to do it suddenly one hour per day. Unrealistic expectations are the main reason that people give up on their resolutions.

R= Relevant:¬† Is your health relevant to you? If not, why a resolution concerning a healthy lifestyle? Don’t do it, just because your friends want to improve their health. You won’t stick to health related resolutions anyway and it would be just a waste of time. Don’t make more thean 2 or 3 resolutions and stick to things you are passionate about.

T= Time-bound: Set a time frame within which you will realize your resolutions. As I said before, drastic lifestyle changes are not happening in one minute.

If you are unsure how these rules apply to your personal goals, I like to offer you my life coaching services. Together, we will find the right goals for you. Goals that are really important to you and structured in a way that you have the best chances to turn them into reality.

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