Your Weakness if Your Strength!

I was talking to a friend a while back and the subject of weakness came up. My friend was frustrated with an aspect of his personality that he felt was a weakness. At one point in the discussion my friend said “I hate that weakness and just want it to go away” at which point I chuckled. It wasn’t that I didn’t sympathize with my friend, but what my friend saw as one of his weaknesses I saw as one his biggest strengths. Many times the things that we consider our own weakness are really an integral part of the whole fabric of who we are. Do you look at your weaknesses as strengths? Here are some things to consider:

Weakness 31) Embrace yourself – The first thing to consider when seeing your weakness as strength is to embrace yourself. You are a whole person with things that are great and things that need work. You will never be perfect, so stop trying. Embracing who you are…ALL of who you are…is a great first step to embracing that your weaknesses are just as important as your strengths.

 

weakness 12) Be Honest – We all have things we need to work on. If you don’t believe me ask my wife who would be happy to give you a list of the things I could improve on. By being honest with yourself about who you are you can then make a plan to change the things that you feel need to be changed.

 

 

weakness 23) Make a list – Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Look at that list closely and ponder the fact that each aspect of your strengths and weaknesses has an upside and a downside. For instance one of your strengths may be you’re a hard worker. That is an upside. The downside may be that working so hard takes away time from your family. You may list being too emotional as a weakness. That may be true but the upside may be that you have the wonderful gift of empathy when someone is hurting. Take some time and think about the upside and downside of your strengths and weaknesses.

For my friend the weakness that he named made him think that people saw him as weak and ineffectual. The reality is that in his particular career he is able to listen to people from a special place and help them. And that is because he has a unique perspective about people’s pain. We all have things in our personality that we think are weaknesses. Today I want to challenge you to think about your weakness as a strength. You are a uniquely created person. Embrace who you are. ALL of you.

StephenIf you need help, a Communication coach can help you identify your strengths and create a plan to move forward. Whether you are local or on the other side of the world I am here to help. If you need a life coach, please do not hesitate to contact me at StephenLifeCoach@gmail.com. Have a great day and don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

It’s Time for the 3 R’s

RESET – The weekend is a great way to reset your life. Not only is it the  beginning of a new week but it can also be the beginning of making positive changes in your life. Things been tough at work? Not happy with some of your relationship? Hit the reset button and face the new week with a fresh positive attitude. Today, you can change the way you deal with every aspect in your life and put it back on a positive track. You are the only one who has full control of your life. Use that power toRESET your life and move forward today by making positive interior changes.

 

Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliff
Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliff

REALIGN – Have you felt like your life has been out of balance? Are you burning the candle from both ends? Have you been eating too much of the wrong foods? If you have ever driven a car whose tires are out of alignment you know that eventually your tires will wear down and go flat. Today is a great day to realign your life and start living a more balanced existence. Take a few moments and think about your life and create a plan to realign your life to lower stress and bring some balance back. Life is about balance. Take some time to REALIGN yourself.
banner-investment-lifeREINVEST – Have you been feeling stuck? Do you feel you are not fully engaged in your life? Feeling pretty low about yourself? You are your most important asset and it may be time to reinvest in yourself. When we think about investing we tend to think about financial things, but in reality the most important investment you can make is in yourself. For some of us that may be going back to school, for others it may be learning something fun and for others it may be taking to the time to do something you love. Some of us just to reengage in our current situation. Some of us need to celebrate the great things in our lives instead of focusing on the tough stuff.  If you don’t REINVEST in yourself who will?

As you begin this weekend I want you to take a few minutes to think about the 3 “R’s”: Reset, Realign, Reinvest. You have the power to make the positive changes that will help you become the best you possible. And honestly, the world needs the best you. So take the 3 “R’s” and run with them. Today is a whole new day. I look forward to hearing about your “R’s”.
StephenDon’t forget I am here to journey with you. I am just an email, phone call or Skype away. A life coach may be one of the best investments you can make in yourself. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram or you can email me at StephenLifeCoach@gmail.com

Have a great day and don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

4 Keys to Effective Communication

communication-groupA couple of times this week I was struck by the fact that communication is so important.  I actually knew that since I do a lot of communicating each day, but this week there were a couple of occasions that I realized that I had not really communicated well with people I am in relationship with and that I had assumed that people understood where I was coming from without being told.  That of course led to some misunderstandings and some explaining.  The details aren’t really important.  The lesson is:It is important that we communicate well in all our interactions with family, friends and everyone around us.

There are 4 Keys to Effective Communication.

  1. effective-communicationCommunicate Clearly – Make sure that when you communicate that you are doing it in a clear way.   Know what you want to communicate beforehand and be sure that you speak without beating around the bush.  A good way to know if you are communicating clearly is to ask questions about what you just said.
  2. Communicate Concisely – Many times people spend a lot of time talking around the point because they either want to lighten what you are about to say or they are avoiding the subject.  Being concise about what you are trying to communicate.
  3. Communicate Honestly – Because many people are afraid of confrontations they may not be fully honest about how they are feeling or what they want to say.   My experience is that the truth will eventually come out so it is better to be honest right up front.
  4. Communicate Sincerely – Beside being honest you should be sincere when you communicate.   Let the person you are speaking to know that you care and them, their feelings and the situation.

Communication 2One last thing: it is important to not assume that others either know what is going on or that you have communicated well.  As a Couples Communication Coach, I often see that problems arise from people not communicating well with each other or assuming that the other person has understood what was being communicated.   I have often heard people say “I just assumed you understood that I felt that way.”  Don’t assume anything.  Even if you have known someone a long time you need to take the time to communicate clearly, concisely, honestly and sincerely.

So this week’s life lesson is pretty simple: Communication is key to all good relationships.  It is important that we all the 4 keys to ensure healthy, lasting relationships.

If you have questions about your relationships or you need someone to help you to learn how to communicate better in your relationship please contact me and I can put you on the path to creating a healthy, happy relationship.

And don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

StephenStephen Halpin has been using his skills as a couples coach for many years and has been in private practice for the past three years.   He is available for one on one or couples sessions.   He is also available to come to your organization and talk about such topics as Tough Conversations, Creating a Vision and Creating a Life of Wholeness.   For more information you can contact Stephen at: StephenLifeCoach@gmail.com

Making Time

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I have to admit that I like my alone time. There are times when my wife goes away for several days and I love the idea that I will have the house to myself and can do whatever I want to do without anyone being around. That usually means reading, television and eating a steak, but it is wonderful not to have to have to worry about another person. In fact, I sleep in the middle of the bed and I love it. About 3 days into being alone I really start to get antsy. I realize that I hate being alone and more importantly I miss my wife. It gets worse as the week goes on. I can’t wait for her to get home. Besides the fact that I love her to death, I think one of the reasons is because we are pretty intentional about making time for us throughout the week and I miss connecting with her when she isn’t here.

cropped-relationship.jpgEarlier this week I listed 8 hallmarks of a good relationship and the common threads that make them successful. Whenever I speak to a potential client they always say the same thing: I am feeling stuck in my life…and oh, yeah, my relationships are a mess. Relationships have a way of affecting many areas of our lives. Today I want to stress the importance of making time for the important relationships in your life. Again, this will apply to most of your relationships including your love relationship, family and friends. Here are some things that may help you:

date-night• Make an appointment: I have spoken several times about the need to make an appointment with yourself. This is also true for important relationships. My wife and I set aside Saturday mornings as our time to catch up and spend time together. We have a regular breakfast thing we do and we try not to let anything interfere. I do the same thing with important friendships. I have several friends that I have a standing appointment with. We take the time to catch up, share our lives and give each other advice.

Be Present• Being Present: A true story – I was sitting in a booth having lunch with a great friend. My phone goes off several times and I say I’m sorry and take a couple of the calls. Towards the end of the lunch my friend says to me “I love you and I love having lunch, but I won’t do this again.” When I push for a reason he tells me that by answering my phone it makes him realize that he is not that important and I am not present anyway. When I go to defend myself he tells me something that changes my life. He says: “Despite what you may think, you are not THAT important that any phone call can’t wait until after lunch. You are not the President or a Dr.  There is nothing happening that won’t wait an hour.” I apologize and we continue to meet for lunch on a weekly basis. I always turn my phone off when we meet. By the way, kids pick up this very easily. ALWAYS be present for your kids!!!

• Misplaced Importance: I was talking to a gentlemen in his late 60’s the other day and he was dismayed that his children seemed to have no time for him. As we talked about the reasons we talked about the years that his children were growing up and how he worked a lot of hours building a business. Now many years later the business is gone and though he may be comfortable financially, he is feeling alone. Giving your all to your career or hobbies is not a bad thing, but don’t misplace their importance. At the end of the day your relationships are the only things will be your most important legacy. At some point a career will end, but your relationships will still be around.

Little-things• Small Things Count: We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in our house. When I tell people that they are surprised. The reason, I explain, is that I bring my wife flowers all the time. Why? Because I know she loves them and I love her. There are very few weeks that I don’t bring home flowers, her favorite candy or a card. Just this past week I grabbed some construction paper and made her a flower. It was pretty crude looking. On the flower I put a note that said: “You deserved a flower today but I couldn’t get out to get one for you, so I made this one you instead. I love you!” She loved it. It is the little things that count. I call friends on their birthday or send them messages when I think of them or I know that something big was going on for them during the day. It says that I am thinking of them and they matter. Small things count.

Just-For-Dad-Post-1024x683• Dads Day Out: Life is busy and sometimes you lose your focus. I used to do this thing called Dads Day Out with my kids…actually one kid at a time. I would block out time on my calendar and one of my children and I would go do something that they would find fun. I didn’t answer calls or do anything other than give that child my undivided attention while we were together. They loved it as kids and they still talk about it. And by the way…I still do it now even they are adults.

As you can see it is important to make time for your relationships. Sometimes it may be extended time and other times just small things to let your relationships know that you care. Take some time today to make time for your relationships.

And don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

StephenStephen Halpin has been using his skills as a couples coach for many years and has been in private practice for the past three years.   He is available for one on one or couples sessions.   He is also available to come to your organization and talk about such topics as Tough Conversations, Creating a Vision and Creating a Life of Wholeness.  For more information you can contact Stephen at: StephenLifeCoach@gmail.com

Have a Plan!!

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Have a plan!

Have a plan!!

Have a plan!!!

Goal 1If I had a dollar for every time I told someone that the key to succeeding in your life, or reaching your goals, or not making the same mistakes over and over is having a plan, I could retire.  One of the things I preach over and over with clients is the importance of creating a plan and then following the plan.  You wouldn’t go into battle without a plan, you would be angry with a professor who didn’t give you a syllabus and you wouldn’t be happy if your financial planner told you that they were making up as they go along how to grow your retirement money.   So why then is it that so many of us don’t take the time to create a plan for the important things in our life?

Today I want to talk about what goes into making a good plan.   My hopes that be giving these tools you will be able to create a workable plan in most areas of your life.

  1. Have a starting point and a final goal –  Take some time and take a long, hard, realistic look at where you currently are and where you hope to get to.   Most people fail in their plan because they haven’t taken the time to understand the realities of their current situation or being realistic of the final goal.
  2. Goal 2Work backwards from the goal –  Think of this as sort of reverse engineering.    The tendency is to start at the beginning an work forward.  I suggest that you do the opposite and start from your goal and work your way backwards through all the steps to the beginning.  This helps make the goal seem more attainable and it will help you see the possible bumps along the way that you may encounter.
  3. Be detailed oriented – The old statement “The devil is in the details” is most certainly true.    When I say be detailed oriented I mean very, very detailed oriented.  For instance: saying I will get a job is not good enough.   You need to decide what job, how much you will need to make, what kind of hours you can work, when you can work, what industries you are willing or not willing to work in.   By going through the details now it will be easier to make decisions as you are working your plan
  4. Leave space for things you missed – I always tell clients to leave actual spaces on their plan (gaps if you will) for things that you just missed along the way.   It is not unusual to get far into a plan and either realize that you forgot an important step or you didn’t plan for something.   By leaving space you will be able to go into the plan and easily add things without feeling you messed the whole thing up.
  5. Plan 2Be open to adjustments – It is not unusual to be working your plan and you find a door that is closed or something unexpected requires a small detour.   Plans need to be followed but we all know that nothing is ever perfect.   The plan is a detailed guide but you WILL have to adjust on occasion.
  6. Be prepared for mini-plans – You are going along and following your plan and all of a sudden the car dies a painful death.  Instead of throwing up your hands in defeat you can create a mini-plan on how you can work around this hiccup.
  7. Enjoy the journey/Celebrate the victories – This is an important part of living out a successful plan.  Each day of the plan is an important part of the journey.  Try to enjoy the ride…even the tough days.   And then celebrate the victories and milestones along the way.    This will help you move forward, even on days that are tough.

By taking the time to create a well crafted plan, you are three steps ahead of most people who are going through life.    If you are having a problem creating a plan or even getting started, I can help.    Helping people create plans is what I do.  Do not hesitate to reach out and we can discuss how I can help you create a plan for your life.   Have a great day and don’t forget: “Life is a journey, not a destination!”

cropped-life-coach.jpgStephenStephen Halpin is a certified Life Coach with over 15 years of experience in helping people discover their fullest potential.  Stephen has helped his clients chart a path for success in their careers, understand their talents and develop a plan of action to move forward in their lives.  Stephen is a proud member of the International Association of Professional Life Coaches and the North American Life Coach Association.

 

Aging Parents and the Plan

 


elder-care-handsI have been talking a lot lately to folks who are dealing with the issue of parents who are aging and are facing the challenges that aging brings.   The discussions have ranged from taking away the car keys, home care and family dynamics when deciding on options for parents.  In each case the person has shared their deep concern of doing the right thing while making difficult decisions.   My answer to each of these questions has been the importance of creating a plan about how to move forward.    Today I want to share some ideas on how to create a workable plan that will make these decisions easier when the time comes.  The worst time to make decisions is while in a crisis so it is important to create a plan when there is no pressure.  Here is how to start:

  • what-if1“What ifs” – One of the best ways to get everyone on the same page is to ask the “what if” questions.   I suggest that you do this with both your parents (“What if you were unable to drive anymore?”) to your siblings (“What if mom couldn’t live on her own anymore?”).   By asking these questions over time you will learn what everyone wants and needs when the time comes to make some difficult decisions.

 

  • Get the paperwork in order –  If you have ever tried to gather paperwork while someone is in the hospital you will appreciate this step.  For instance: people are always surprised when I tell them that if your parent cannot speak for themselves you can’t do simple things like turn off a parents phone or cable without a power of attorney. Everyone needs to have the following things on file:
    • A will
    • Power of Attorney
    • Do Not Resuscitate – if that is their wish
    • File of important papers such as insurance cards, bank accounts, any pre-arranged funeral plans, etc

 

  • Conversation with Aging ParentsBe honest, sensitive and will to compromise – While going through the process of creating a plan everyone needs to be honest about their feelings and sensitive to other peoples feelings.   It is helpful to know exactly what your parent’s wishes are under certain circumstances.   It is also important for siblings to have conversations about how best to approach those wishes.  Let’s be honest…when it comes to our parents we can all feel a little emotional and have strong feelings on what the right things are.  However, unless you are an only child you need to take everyone’s feelings into account.  Many families never recover from fights that arise from making hard decisions about parents.  The best thing to do is be honest about how you feel, listen to other peoples thoughts and feelings and then make some decisions.

 

  • Write it down – Think of this as a game plan for an emergency.  Write down what everyone has agreed to, who is responsible for what, what your parents wishes are and how you are going to approach the crisis.   Make sure everyone has a copy of the plan including photocopies of important papers.  Remember that the hospital, nursing home, rehab center will most likely ask for the originals.

talking with parentsThere are very few weeks when I don’t meet someone that once I share about my work with families and aging parenting they will begin sharing their own personal story of the challenges they are currently facing.  Some people tell me that they can’t or don’t want to talk about these things.  My response is that almost everyone will have to face the reality of the challenges when a parents health begins to deteriorate and the decisions that come with that.  Many times we don’t get to choose the timing of these things and having a plan is the best way to make good decisions during a family crisis.

If you need to talk about how to create a plan, how to have difficult conversations with parent or siblings or just need a place to talk things through, a life coach is a safe place to have those conversations.   In my practice I help people make difficult decisions and create a workable plan on how to move forward under crisis.   Let me know if I can help.   You can reach my by email at StephenLifeCoach@gmail.com.

Don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

cropped-life-coach.jpg

Stephen

Tough Conversations – Part Two

elder care 3Yesterday I shared some of the stories I have been hearing from families who have gone through a crisis with a parent and the divisions that it can cause in even the closest families.   Today I want to share some of my journey and how we dealt with some of the issues.  Then I Friday I will give you tips on how to have Tough Conversations in your own family.

Several years ago my mom took a fall.  Nothing overly serious but it did require her to stay in the hospital.  While in the hospital she developed an infection that increased the length of her stay in the hospital.  My mom was never the picture of health and her time in the hospital took a toll on her.   She was eventually transferred to a rehabilitation facility to help her get back on her feet.  She started to work hard to get back home but it proved more difficult than she thought.   Not long after being in the rehab facility she developed a terrible infection in her injured leg.  Unable to deal with the medical issue she was transferred to a facility that could offer rehab and a higher level of medical care.   It was very discouraging for my mom and dad.  My dad spent every day from early in the morning until after dinner with my mom.   After 5 months my mom finally was able to leave rehab and head home with the help of an electric wheelchair.   She was home 3 days when leaving a doctors office she ran the wheelchair off a curb which sent her back into the hospital and then rehab.   She was there for over 2 years before she passed away.  I think the final injury crushed her spirit and she just gave up.  My dad had never given up hope that my mom would come home and it hit him hard when she passed away.

elder careDuring this time we learned a lot of about insurance, medicine, hospitals and rehab centers.  We also learned about how complicated the systems can be to maneuver and after my mom was gone my sister and I began having conversations that we titled “What Ifs?  They started slow and were never really planned out but we understood that our father, who was in his late 70’s at the time, would at some point possibly require more care then we could give.   My sister and I would talk about the many scenarios that could happen.  “What if dad can’t live at home anymore?” “What if he is no longer able to drive but is healthy?”  “What happens to the house?”  It was a conversation we had with just the two of us and never really shared with my dad.  Eventually we decided that we needed to include our dad in these conversations.  He had a will and a power of attorney but we had never really talked about what he wanted to do with his house and its contents if something happened.  This might sound a bit morbid but it really wasn’t.  We were always clear that our intent was to honor his wishes.    One of things we talked about with him was there anything in the house that he wanted a specific grandchild to have.  We weren’t talking expensive stuff but sentimental trinkets in the house.  For instance he wanted one grandson to have a signed baseball bat.  He remembered that my mom always wanted one of the granddaughters to have a certain figurine.   So over time we began marking things that were to go to specific people.   This became very important this summer when my father was rushed to the hospital and ended up on a nursing home.

elder care 2What happens over the summer can fill several weeks of blogs but suffice it to say that when we had to make decisions about my fathers health, his house, his car and the stuff inside the house.  There was very little discussion and there was no arguing at all.  In fact, in the midst of a very difficult family time the least of our problems was worrying about what to do.  The nursing home commented that they had never met a family so easy to work with in a crisis.   You see the “What If’s” conversations had taken all of the guess work out of what to do.  My dad is doing fine and has adjusted to his new life in the nursing home.  He well taken care of and someone visits him daily.

Tomorrow I will share how to have some of those Tough Conversations and help you create a plan to make transitions like this easier.  More to come tomorrow.  Have a great day and don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

StephenStephen Halpin has been using his skills as a life coach for many years and has been in private practice for the past three years.   He is available for one on one sessions, family sessions and group sessions.   He is also available to come to your organization and talk about such topics as Tough Conversations, Creating a Vision and Creating a Life of Wholeness.   For more information you can contact Stephen at: StephenLifeCoach@gmail.com