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Archive for the ‘Visioning and Vision Quests’ Category

First a few questions for you to consider:

Did you have a productive day today (or yesterday if you are reading this in the morning)?

How much did you do?

How do you personally quantify and or qualify productivity?

How important were the things you did and by whose standard?

How do the things you accomplished fit into the big picture of what you want for your life?

Merriam-Webster’s tells us that to be productive is to “have the quality or power of producing, especially in abundance” which is how most of us think of it, but it also says to be productive is to “yield results, benefits, profit as well as yielding or devoted to the satisfaction of wants or the creation of utilities.”

So, if we review our activities at the end of the day with the measurement of how much we got done, are we necessarily speaking to our productivity? Maybe and maybe not. Perhaps we are just bustling with activity or checking things off of our list without being discriminating about the value we are producing.

If you sat under a tree all day, would you be productive? What if you were Buddha?

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Most of us collapse productive with being visibly busy or producing visible results.   We often feel like we are playing beat the clock. There is only so much time in the day. This leads to multi-tasking (now known to be counterproductive for most people) and myopic vision of what is important; putting out fires.

Busy-ness with no cohesion of direction or intention, with no sense of overarching purpose and lacking in substance, leads to overwhelm and burnout. For a long time now, being the busiest, most overwhelmed person around has been a kind of badge of honor. It is the ego’s way of saying “I am important. I must be, because I am so busy. Everyone needs something from me.” It is also the martyr’s excuse for never being able to get to what matters to them, because they are taking care of everyone else’s business.

But what does the wound-driven ego or the martyr know about what really matters in your big picture?

If you invested your time today in things, thoughts, activities, people that are in alignment with your soul vision, in alignment with your values and priorities, then you have been productive whether we can see it or not. You have surrendered to your vision and your priorities and come to understand what, at the end of the day (literally), really matters to you, no matter what other people make of that.

In the same way that action without substance can lead to burnout, substance without action can lead to a whole lot of potential with nowhere to go and it can lead you to depression or delusion.

So, being productive is about both the visible and the invisible, action and substance. There is a story that Einstein was often found sitting with his feet on the desk staring out the window. Was he being productive in those moments?

The key is not to fool yourself into thinking you are not procrastinating simply because you are being busy. By the same token, your musing, planning and visioning time may be highly productive or it may be a delay tactic. In either case, be honest with yourself.

Were you able to accomplish anything today that feeds your soul vision, your values, your creativity, your imagination of what’s possible for you in this life? If so, congratulations! If not, what were you up to instead?

Were you taking care of another person’s agenda?

Were the decisions and choices to be made so overwhelming that you escaped into the social media vortex?

Were you focused on that mountain of things that you think need to be out of your way, before you get to what matters?

It is time to walk away from the mountain. One thing I have learned about that mountain is that it will never be conquered. It is always growing. Trying to get to the top is about as easy as trying to move a sand dune, one teaspoon-full at a time.

You will need your body to help you out here. The mind sees things as done: whole and perfect. It has little concept of what it takes to birth something. Consider the last time you installed a new program on your computer and ended up online with tech help the rest of the day. Consider the last time you had a remodeling project or thought you might just do a “little yard cleanup.” Consider what you feel like the first Monday morning after we switch the clocks to daylight savings time.

The mind can plug things into your calendar without regard for your body’s needs. It just sees open squares with times next to them. Your body doesn’t care about the calendar whether paper or digital. It is not a machine. It follows the sunlight, your bio-rhythms, the moons, the seasons and the weather and reacts to what you ate the night before. Your body has reliable reactions to your choices and what you consider your priorities.

So, if your mind tries to convince you that you can add this one little thing your friend asked you to do because, it shouldn’t take long or says you can sit at your computer eight hours a day without consequence, check in with your body. Trust your aches and pains, your gut reactions.

Procrastination then is not necessarily detectable by a lack of action, nor is being busy proof you are not procrastinating. Meanwhile, we can just as easily procrastinate on what matters by getting busy with unimportant things or constantly taking care of other’s needs as we can procrastinate by doing nothing.

Sometimes what looks like procrastination is actually a time of stopping so that we can break old habits that keep us locked in our familiar patterns. This happens to musicians all the time. She may find that she’s been playing something incorrectly all along and the only way to break the habit is to leave it alone until she can approach it with a fresh start.

We are evolutionary beings. We are not meant to lock into one way of being and working our entire lives. We are not machines. We are not meant to be grinding our gears 24/7. Sometimes we need to just stop and wait and listen for a sign, a vision, a direction.

It takes love and hope to generate and receive your soul vision.

It takes vulnerability and willingness to stand for that vision.

It takes courage to hold your boundaries around your own agenda. Many will call you selfish for their own selfish reasons.

It takes commitment to invest your time and energy regularly in your soul vision

It takes discipline to meet that commitment time and time again.

It takes flexibility to surrender to the river of life when it takes an unexpected turn.

It takes forgiveness to meet your failings and begin again.

It takes faith to get off the familiar trail you’ve been on for years and follow your heart to blaze a trail  that is entirely yours.

How do you get a vision, develop deep listening, receive signs?

How do you develop these qualities of courage, commitment, flexibility, forgiveness?

That’s what I’m here for. If you are ready to invest in yourself and your dreams by receiving the help of a qualified coach and spiritual anchor, contact me today to set up an exploratory consultation.

I also invite you to read the other entries in this blog for inspiration and illumination.

Copyright(c)March 2016 Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved (includes photograph)

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“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~ Rumi

In the previous post, I wrote about momentum. Momentum is about sustaining action (large and small) long enough that our project picks up a speed of its own and carries us along with it. We don’t feel like we have to push so much.

Motivation is about what gets us into (or out of) action in the first place. It speaks to a need or a desire that moves us. It can just as easily move us away from our target as toward it. Motivation can come from fear as well as love. It matters that our motivation be honest and in alignment with our more real self.

If we are motivated by fear, we may seek to avoid something. Even if we are motivated by a need to fill a sense of lack in ourselves (looking for love, recognition, a sense of belonging from an outside source), we may be trying to avoid the pain and emotion of feeling that sense of lack. In that case, we are afraid of our own emotions more than that from which we think we are running.

Feeling deeply our own emotions is one of the  first steps toward recognizing we are the authors of our lives and as such are the ones who create our feeling loved, recognized and belonging.

If we are motivated by love, we may seek to express a passion, to share skills and insights, to create something for ourselves, for others, for the sheer beauty or play of it.

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Our motivation contributes to our momentum. It is important to explore our motivations because, to put it bluntly, if our motivation is to prove something to someone else or to get something from them, then our strategy may well backfire. Our energy reserves will be depleted and our momentum will lose steam.

If you are procrastinating around something that makes your heart sing, you are more than likely avoiding vulnerability. It is vulnerable to allow yourself to be seen in your awkward exploration, grand adventure, playful innocence, sheer majesty.

If you are procrastinating around something that you think you should do, but it doesn’t really float your boat, then look deeply into your motivation. Is this your agenda or someone else’s? How in alignment with your values and desires for your life is it really? What do you expect to achieve or get for this? If you say yes to this, to what are you saying no? What are you avoiding by focusing on this instead of what you really want? Do you need to delegate or ask for help?

Let’s play with “motivation” as both a process/conditions question and one of goals/outcomes (motive).

As a process/conditions question, we are addressing how we can move ourselves into action, build and sustain momentum.

Some responses might be to:

• Build a habit or routine
• Plant a seed the night before to facilitate more automatic action the next day
• Make a game of it
• Have an accountability buddy
• Create a ritual around it
• Work with others
• Go on a working retreat
• A clean office
• Setting a timer
• Play music while doing the work

What processes/conditions motivate you? Are you putting them into place?

As a goal/outcome (motive) question, we are addressing why we want to do what we say we want to do. What we hope to get from it. It may also be a question of why we are avoiding what we say we want to do. Again whose agenda is it? Is it a should a have to a must or a desire? Is it for short term gratification or long term satisfaction?

Here’s an exercise to help you tease out whose agenda you are following (or chasing).

What do you want?

Take a moment or two to write down your answer to that question. Write at least 10 things you want and include the thing you are procrastinating around that you think or know you want.

Some of your wants may be simple, like a new washing machine. Some may be more complex like to have a child or change careers. An avoidance want might be, to get out of my marriage or get away from this town. (You aren’t sure what you want, but you know what you don’t want. If you have to start there, then do.)

What do you really want?

Take time to write down the answer(s) to that question, however it shows up for you.

If your first answer was more of a “don’t want” avoidance item, then write what you want instead of that. For example, I want to get away from this town might now become I want to live in the country or I want to live where the weather is more temperate.

For some people, it will be further clarity around their original answer, like a front-loading, red washing machine or a career in which I can telecommute.

For others, the answer(s) may be entirely different. The first wants become replaced by something deeper, more heart-felt, more vulnerable. Perhaps it even feels risky to put it in writing or say it out loud.

Many of my new clients have difficulty with the question, “What do you want?” It is totally understandable. For the most part, we have been shut down over the years with admonishments about what we should and shouldn’t want, can and can’t have, need to accept, plan B’s and compromises.

We’ve also been told it is selfish to want what we want unless it is for someone else or “world peace.” We are subjected to the opinions and judgments of others about our desires and preferences. It is painful to want something we think we can’t have. So, over the years, we’ve learned to stuff it.

We bury our treasures so deep that finding them is a major archeological dig. So, don’t worry if you are having trouble with the question. Stay with it. You were designed to want what you want at a heart and soul level. Our life energy and time is too precious to waste on chasing after someone else’s (including our wounded ego’s) agenda.

Here is another fun and powerful way to open up to your heart’s true desire, which you may also interpret as your calling). I first heard this from my good friend Joette Tizzone. She says she may have adapted it from elsewhere. You’ve probably heard similar approaches. I am fond of this version.

The Bliss Question

Close your eyes.

You have everything you need to create the life of your dreams.

There are absolutely no obstacles.

You have the money you need.

You have the knowledge you need.

You are surrounded by helpers, and anything you don’t know or think you might need is happily supplied to you by others.

Everything is in harmony as you create your beautiful life.

Allow yourself to feel this….

Now, please describe it to me, in the present tense, such as I am ….

Where are you? ( I am …)

What are you doing? (I am …)

What is around you?

Who is with you?

What does it feel like? (I feel …)

Allow yourself to bask in the feeling.

Open your eyes.

If you take the time to do this with reverence for the spiritual human you are, you will have begun to feed energy to a future that motivates you into creative action and comes back to you as a river moving through you.

Do not worry for now about the how. The how is always revealed as needed.

As Joseph Campbell said:

If what you are following, however, is your own true adventure, if it is something appropriate to your deep spiritual need or readiness, then magical guides will appear to help you. If you say, ‘Everyone’s going on this trip this year, and I’m going too,’ the no guides will appear. Your adventure has to be coming right out of your own interior…You must have courage. It’s the call to adventure, which means there is no security, no rules.*

So, dear reader:  What do you want? What motivates you?

The next post in this series will help you make a distinction between the form and the function of what you want which will help you go further with understanding the why.

If you would like to uncover the buried treasure of your true calling, begin your grand adventure and could use an ally along the way, contact me and we can talk about how coaching might be your best investment in your self.

copyright © October 2015 Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

*Joseph Campbell in A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.

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