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Coaching is about living great lives. It’s about living lives based on our values, our priorities and our choices. And, as in building a great building, it takes a very strong foundation. In fact, the more spectacular the visible parts of the building are going to be, the more time and precision has to go into preparing the supporting structures and systems underneath. But one of the most difficult things in life is spending the necessary time on the foundations. Most of us are eager to build, to start living the life of our dreams, and the temptation is always to neglect the details of a strong personal foundation. Here are my Top 10 Tools for creating the foundation that will support whatever else you want in your life:
Get plenty of sleep. I know, that wasn’t on the list when I was younger either, but as Vince Lombardi noted, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Tired people are cranky, they miss opportunities and make careless decisions. And, getting plenty of sleep suggests a fairly regular pattern to your day, some structure and orderliness, and that’s a good thing!
Eat well. Yeah, I know, another boring one. But the body needs good stuff to keep it sharp and ready to serve you. Some people go a long way on this, carefully nurturing their bodies with organic fruits and vegetables. I don’t have that discipline, but replacing potato chips with carrot sticks, sure does seem to help. Cut down on fat, drink more water and fruit juice, and see what happens!
Exercise. Even a walk around the block does wonders to clear the head! At least 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week, and more if you enjoy it. Work up a sweat, huff and puff a bit. They say you’ll live longer. I know it gets me out of the office, away from the phone and computer for a few minutes, and my dog loves the chance to run! Enjoy it.
Read a lot. Read magazines and history, read biographies and cheap novels, but read. Follow politics and the economy, keep up with current films and take a moment to follow sports and those funny short stories in Reader’s Digest. It gives you perspective, broadens your point of view, and, like exercise, it gets you away from the phone and computer for a few minutes. It may even make you wiser!
Meditate. Keep a journal, or pray. Develop your own style and preferences for making peace with your world, and do it every day. Find the time and place that works best for you, sit quietly, settle into your routine, and take time to notice. Stuff will come up. You’ll have ideas, you’ll fall asleep, you’ll remember what’s really important. Whatever happens, be at peace with it.
Eliminate tolerations. Keep your nest clean! There’s no excuse to be tripping over the same clutter every day. It slows you down, and it wears you out. Some people are "neater" than others, and this isn’t about having a clean desk, unless that’s important to you. This is about eliminating those annoying frustrations that come up every week. Get a housekeeper, a bookkeeper, a gardener, and at least have your car washed! If it annoys you, deal with it.
Keep relationships clean. It’s not possible to be best friends with everyone, and some relationships do end, but that’s not as expensive as having a strained relationship that drains you every day. If you have "friendships" that need to end, take care of it. If you have an intimate partner with whom you need to spend more time, schedule it tonight. Stay on good terms with those you can, and end those relationships that are never going to support you. Just do it.
Do work you love. Doing a job you dislike is exhausting. I often talk with folks who are eager to change careers "as soon as…." They usually finish the sentence with something that will happen in a few years. Why wait? Life is too short! I suspect the time lost is a greater risk than making the change right now! Do what you love!
Laugh a lot! Humor and warm friendships, love and laughter go further to maintain "balance" than all the programs I’ve ever tried. Life is either a wonderful, strange and funny dance…or it’s too scary to think about. Either way, laugh all the way through!
Develop your "Daily 10". Have a regular pattern of 10 wonderful things you do every day for your own vibrant personal foundation. Find your own little rituals that just make you feel good! Every day, do 10 simple things that remind you how special, powerful, alive and wonderful you are! Delight in them!
Here's to you, and to building a strong, deep and lasting foundation that will support you for many years to come!
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