The Art of Pushing Your Edges

Where is Oliver heading?

Oliver’s wrap-up of 2019 is a cocktail of angst and frustration. The holidays were overshadowed by mounting insecurities around his legal practice. He over-confidently convinced himself that the wrapping-up of a few lucrative cases would eliminate stress.

Each day Oliver’s emotions ping-pong back and forth arriving seemingly from nowhere. Riddled by fears of financial instability and mile-long to-do lists, Oliver spews sarcastic one-liners at fellow co-workers.

Home life is a wreck for Oliver. His wife manages a chronic illness. His 2 teens act-out due to lack of parental guidance. Oliver vacillates between working in sweats from a messy home office to suiting-up to inhabit the corporate arena.

Is 2020 Oliver’s year to conquer stress?

It’s been years since Oliver socialized with close friends from law school. He no longer feels relaxed enough to engage in friendly banter. Shouldn’t he be home with family? Oliver shuts down further thoughts which might incite his anxiety. He walks a tenuous tightrope constructed in his head to maintain the status quo.

Oliver’s mind registers the calendar flip from 2019 to 2020 as he pencils in upcoming events. He can’t help but wonder how the next 365 days may progress. He hasn’t considered making a New Years’ resolution in years. Might Oliver consciously resolve to de-stress and create a life incorporating ease? Each new year presents new opportunities and fresh outcomes: 2020 is no different.

As Oliver navigates his life from an escalating precipice of total burnout, a wake-up call summons from deep within. It occurs seemingly from nowhere even as he mindlessly reviews next year’s 2020 weekly calendar. He can’t stop his observation: Why so many appointments which engender his eye-rolls and sinking heart?THIS IS MY TIME

2020 possibilities lie in the imagination.

Although time is Oliver’s most precious resource, he decides to try a few wellness coaching sessions. Through coaching, Oliver slowly begins to teach himself how to create possibilities instead of stress. This type of professional support encourages new thoughts, behaviors and attitudes which lead him to a new and challenging uncharted phase. Oliver’s coaching to-do assignments cover five areas.

Imagine a New future.

1. Can you tap into possibilities?

Possibilities originate in the imagination – that big invisible TV set hovering above your head. Grab a bucket of popcorn and have a seat! With the imagined remote control, click the channel called December 31, 2020. You are the leading actor. Describe in detail the scene unfolding.

What parts of you have changed since January 1, 2020? Do you like what’s on the screen?

When Oliver tunes into his current 2019 TV channel, he realizes his biggest challenge is spending hours at the office alone, while spending little time at home with his beloveds or friends. For years he didn’t think twice about his routine. He never considered whether rote routines contributed to stress.

Does past behavior need to dictate his future? Once the question pops into his mind, Oliver acknowledges it’s time for change. This newfound awareness combines with growing discomfort to push him forward toward a search for possibilities.

2. Expand and Recreate Concept of Value.

When you are out and about, how often do you see posted signs which remind you to hang on to your valuables? Everyone and everything in the world has value, an assigned measure of worth. When we don’t assign value to our time and gifts, someone else will. Who do you prefer?

Our valuables can be anything at all – a gift, a photo of a happy time or a treasured family recipe. Whenever we enjoy these valuables, we pause, smile and are reminded of the meanings we have attached to them. If we lose something valuable, we tend to express sadness and frustration because something important is missing from our lives.

Can Oliver identify what he values?

Coaching encourages Oliver to develop a broadened definition. He realizes values can be both negative and positive. He understands that his consistent behaviors confirm that he values stress over well-being, work over relationships and pressure over contentment.

Once he takes inventory, Oliver is ready to establish a group of valuables which inspire Peace, Love and Joy. Possibilities inspire and provide more added-value than we give credit – they inspire potential, purpose and passion. They generate the energy type we need to transform work and relationships.

““What if today each of us were to ask ourselves: What if I were to value Possibility, really value it?

When I ask myself this question, I immediately notice some areas in my life where I have not been valuing Possibility.
A particular unsolved problem comes to mind.

I realize I’ve been defining my options as limited. So I pause to regain a sense of Possibility.

I get quiet, shift my focus, and ask, “What if there are many possible solutions to this problem?” As I wait in the silence, my perception expands, a new sense of Possibility arises.”

— Writer and Educator Dr. Pamela Gerdoff

3. Create a Mind Beyond Grind.

How much of your day is lived on auto pilot versus the here and now?

Most of Oliver’s day is packed with activities he has deemed important. Yet he can’t remember what he did last week or even the day before. He wonders how he gets dressed and off to work in the morning.

WIth Coach he brainstorms better understanding what he actually does each day.

The suggestion: Brush Your Teeth.

At first Oliver shrugs off the suggestion believing it does not address his concern about how he gets through the day. However, he ends up doing it anyway to see if it makes any difference.

Oliver feels the toothbrush in his hand and tastes the minty toothpaste in his mouth. He registers feeling refreshed afterwards. “I guess it is nice to notice the little things,” he mumbles to himself. He chooses another activity like making coffee and tying his shoes to see if awareness helps him feel plugged-in to his life. The surprising answer is yes.

4. Commit to Stress-Free Experiences

Oliver’s only free time is when his head hits the pillow. Even then he mentally takes clients, family and stress with him to bed. It is clear to Oliver that he needs a new bedtime routine to give his body and mind a break. Literally and figuratively tired of nightly intrusions, he tries out a few possibilities for quality rest such as outlawing devices in the bedroom and substituting ambient music.

Oliver likes the ambient music so much that he starts listening at the office. He notices his mood swings occur less frequently and with less intensity. Something good is finally happening for Oliver!

5. Invest in Enjoyment.

Now that Oliver understands the benefit of his own mind’s TV set full of possibilities, he pursues the idea of incorporating self-care, travel and friendship into his world. Why? He sees the difference between energy that drains and energy that fuels. Stress did not generate fuel. It constantly left him empty – physically, emotionally and mentally. It’s no wonder he was tired, angry, anxious and troubled.

The top 2020 priority for Oliver and his family is a weeklong beach vacation where the sun and water lift spirits and slow down the pace. Family members see an emerging Oliver who is playful, funny and free. Even Oliver likes to be around himself!

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