Asking for help to reach your goals: a true story

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Last week I wrote about asking for help. Today I want to share with you a true story about asking for help and how it was the exact strategy needed to reach a goal. This story is about me. Well, actually it’s really about you. It’s about how you can ask for help to reach your goals so that the challenges that will inevitably arise don’t become stumbling blocks on your way to success.

Setting goals is essential for growth and satisfaction

I believe that setting goals is essential for personal and professional growth and life satisfaction. There’s a delicate balance between accepting and embracing life as it is, and striving to be the best version of yourself. I don’t always get the balance right and sometimes find myself floundering in a pool of frustration as I strive for independence instead of striving towards my goal. This state of affairs is definitely not conducive to accepting and embracing life as it is! What I’ve discovered is that asking for help along the way does not necessarily erode your independence, but it does help you to accept and embrace life AND have the satisfaction of achieving success.

What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?

I set a goal and ran into a problem

A few years ago I set the goal of jogging continuously for 2 kilometres. I started off in the recommended way progressing from fast walking to walk-jog-walk and gradually increasing the time I spent jogging. I didn’t pay much attention to my nagging foot discomfort as it got worse. I’d always had trouble with my feet and figured I’d just need to put up with it, push through it, and prove to myself that I wasn’t a Drama Queen. After all, isn’t that what all athletes do? When I couldn’t stop the tears as I walked between my house and shed I realised this was a little bit more than my usual foot trouble.

Asking for help vs independence

Having been raised with a high degree of independence and an aversion to asking for help (I was the student who never raised their hand to ask a question in class), I realised this situation was one that I couldn’t solve by myself. I needed help from someone who had specialist knowledge and skills. The constant pain was a daily prompt that I needed to take action. So that’s what I did. I took myself and my pain, shame and embarrassment to a doctor for a review and x-rays, and then to a podiatrist. Armed with orthotics, physio exercises, iced bottles and advice on shoes, I went home to rehabilitate. It was definitely no magical overnight fix; in fact it took many months before I was able to take up my jogging goal again. If only I’d asked for help sooner, I’d have reached my goal much earlier than I did.

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You have to do more than simply ask for help

I really appreciated this lesson in life when I made my way back to my podiatrist last year with a new foot issue. I had a very specific goal that I was committed to and knew that if I was going to accomplish it I really needed her help with some new foot pain issues! I had four months to get myself sorted because I had registered for an overnight hiking expedition with a group of strangers in very rugged, steep country. The group was made up of bush adventure therapists, and I was sure I’d struggle to keep up even if I didn’t have foot pain.

Enthusiastically and confidently I gathered my new orthotics together with my new hiking shoes and new sports shoes and went home. I diligently did my exercises and physio every day, but the improvement was not as rapid as I’d hoped. A few weeks later I had a review with my podiatrist. I told her I’d been consistently doing the exercises but my foot was only a little bit better and I was worried it wasn’t going to get me up those steep rocky hills in another couple of months. The deadline was looming and I was losing hoping that I’d be able to reach my goal despite asking for help before things got really bad.

My podiatrist sensed my frustration and understood my goal-oriented approach to life. She did what I do in my counselling sessions with clients – she ran through my ‘homework’ checklist:

  1. Had I been wearing my orthotics? Yes!
  2. Had I been doing the calf stretches and massage at least twice a day? Yes!
  3. Had I been using the phsyio gel AND ibuprofen to reduce inflammation? “Ummm… no….. I thought that was just for the pain and I thought I’d be okay without it”
  4. Had I been icing my foot regularly, not just when it was really painful? “Ummm…no…”

Okay, so I’d THOUGHT I had been consistently following instructions but I hadn’t. I’d gone into autopilot mode following my ‘old’ treatment plan and had mentally filtered out some of the critical steps in the new treatment plan. Once I began following the plan completely, I was well on my way to achieving my goal. This consultation was a pivotal event for me. I realised how important it is to not only ask for help, but to listen to it carefully and follow through with every piece of advice.

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Choosing to ask for help is the balance between independence and success

Over the past few years I’ve thrown myself into the practice of asking for help from a range of professionals so I can reach my health and fitness goals as well as my business goals. Goals don’t have to be lofty to be valuable. They can target your ordinary everyday life, like learning to make your own muesli or re-potting a plant. When you set a goal and choose to ask for help, you’re finding that balance between independence and striving towards success, whatever that means for you.

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Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How to Manage Habits That Creep Into Your Life

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There are so many life lessons I’ve learned from nature – pest management (aka “managing the habits that creep into your life”) is the latest one. This year we’ve been making a concerted effort to manage some of the unwanted weeds on our property, in particular tree pears. It’s taken a considerable investment of time, hard work, money and resources to uncover the best way to deal with them. It’s also got me thinking about personal habits that creep into our lives, and what we can do to manage those sorts of weeds and pests.

Pests have always been around

We’ve lived on our small bush property for many years. We’ve always had a few pests here and there but haven’t been overly concerned about them. They’ve had little impact on everything else so we haven’t considered them a problem. In the past we had a few cows and sheep grazing the grass. We’ve had no grazing stock for nearly 10 years now due to ongoing drought conditions. Even though I miss seeing those big beautiful cow eyes looking back at me, we’ve actually gained a lot of satisfaction from watching the native plants regenerate as a result. We’ve also relished the opportunity to make use of the land in other ways such as building mountain bike trails throughout the property.

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The problem pest at my place

Apart from reduced stock, altered land use and drought conditions, other changes haveCactus Tree Pear also gradually taken place – changes that we were blinded to until they became quite obvious and problematic. Tree pear is one of these changes. It has rapidly multiplied in the recent conditions. Not long ago it was a fairly insignificant pest, kept in balance by naturally occurring biological controls. Now it’s dominating the landscape. It very easily and quickly multiplies, so we now have a dense covering of tree pear of all sizes. Its growth rate is amazing and it thrives in the harsh conditions.

Managing the pest

Mature Tree PearUncovering how best to manage this pest has been exhausting, taking lots of hours, energy, research and trial and error. We’ve learned how critical it is to choose the ‘right’ strategy – the difference between getting numbers of tree pear manageable again, or increasing their numbers even more! They’re incredibly tough and resilient – I’ve got to admire them for that! We’ve persisted with our management strategy because we want to live in a balanced way, minimising the impact of our own lifestyle, and supporting environmental sustainability. It’s taken nearly 12 months to reach the point where we can see a positive outcome ahead. And we’ve learned lessons about keeping a closer eye on the pests out there and intervening earlier rather than later.

Habits can be like weeds and pests

Noticing what isUnwanted habits can silently creep into our lives in the same way that the tree pear and other weeds and pests gradually take over tracts of land and impact the overall health of the environment. The habits can slowly, quietly and destructively begin to dominate your life in various ways. The damage shows up as it impacts your relationships, health and confidence. Reestablishing healthier habits requires a hard sustained effort over time, but the secret is in actually noticing that there is a problem in the first place.

Audit your life

In the same way that it can be helpful to regularly have a good look around your propertyReflect to check for pests and unwanted changes, it’s also vital that we review our personal habits from time to time. It’s often only when a crisis takes place that we take the time to do this, but it’s a healthy practice for any of us even when things seem to be going smoothly. When we take the time to reflect, notice and make adjustments, we are better able to keep on top of the pesky habits that impact negatively on ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.

Questions to ask yourself

You don’t have to run away to the quiet of the desert or the tranquility of the mountains to review your life (although if you have the opportunity that could be amazing!) A more practical way for most of us is to simply take a few moments, or even a couple of hours, to ask ourselves a few questions. You might find it helpful to write your reflections down in a journal, make some art work about the topic, or have a conversation about these issues with a trusted person.

1. What have I got in my life that’s working for me?

2. What is not working so well in my life?

3. What is one action I could take that would make the biggest difference?

4. How can I make sure I follow through on that action?

5. What can I let go of?

6. What do I need to keep?

Change can be challenging

Even desired change can be very challenging and unsettling. We can experience a conflict of values, a simultaneous push and pull towards and away from the change. We might sense resistance from people and situations around us, as well as our own internal resistance. Be prepared for this, and push past the prickly bits!

Early intervention is best

Small cactusAnd so as I walk and run my home trails, I’ve been much more aware of the little cactus popping up. I’ve been investing a little bit of time and energy to carefully prise them out when I see them, right there and then. I’ve learned the hard way that this is a much easier and more effective way of dealing with the problem. Burying your head in the sand and avoiding seeing the issue for what it really is, only makes the problem bigger and more difficult over time. Sometimes those unhealthy unhelpful habits just seem to creep into our lives but with greater diligence and readiness to take action, we can keep them in their place, and maintain a more balanced life.

VLOG (Video Blog)

Did you know that I have a You Tube channel? Over the coming months I’ll be regularly posting videos and VLOGS over there. You can watch my latest VLOG on managing the pesky habits in your life  by clicking here!

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

7 Step Action Plan to Conquer Scary Stuff (Part 2)

In Part 1 I explained how I used a 7 Step Action Plan to conquer an irrational fear I had about riding “the scary corner” on my mountain bike. While everybody else seemed to effortlessly glide round the corner at speed and then over or around the craggy rocks as they exited on an uphill slope, I’d turn to hike-a-bike mode. I had previously ridden this corner, but somehow the fear escalated and made me feel very small and incapable.

The Scary Corner is quite photogenic! It really doesn’t look so scary here!

The same 7 Step Action Plan that I used to conquer my fear on “the scary corner” can be applied to other scenarios in ordinary everyday life. Here’s how…..

First of all, what is it that’s got your heart pumping, your mind racing and your stomach churning? Maybe going to a meeting or party where you’re not sure if you know anyone? Going in a lift? Making a phone call that you’ve been dreading? Or something else? Let’s apply the 7 Step Action Plan to your situation:

  1. Walk it through

Think it through calmly. Maybe talk it through with someone. Stay rational, logical and reasonable.

  1. “Is anything missing?”

Are there skills or equipment that will help you be successful? For example, learn how to make small talk, have a dot point list in front of you, play music through your headphones.

  1. Make modifications – physical and / or psychological

Would it help to ask a friend to accompany you, place your chair near the exit, or use the phone on speaker so your hands are free?

  1. Identify your focus

Refocus your attention on what you want to happen, where you want to go, what you want to say, how you want to feel. The scary thoughts or feelings will keep popping up, but don’t give them the attention they are seeking. Keep refocusing.

  1. Practise your exit

Have an exit plan. If things get too much, what will you say, what will you do, where will you go? Knowing there’s a safe and valid way out brings a greater sense of ease and improves your rate of success.

  1. Make your entrance!

This is where you just do it. Every thing’s in place. You have a plan. Trust it. Trust yourself. What’s the worst that could happen now?

  1. Celebrate your growth

Your reward for stepping up to the challenge my be felt internally with a surge of relief or confidence. Or perhaps you’d like to reward yourself in another way.

Remember, everyone feels nervous about something at least some of the time. It’s a normal mechanism designed to keep us safe, but if it’s keeping you small, then it’s time to do something about it. If your nervousness is impacting heavily on your functioning or contributing to ill-health, you can seek support from your GP to access counselling. Counselling is a bit like having a coach provide step-by-step guidelines and support as you learn new skills to achieve your goals.

The Spiral Symbol: moving and growing

We are immersed in a world of symbols. Wherever I look, I see reflections of parts of myself – the drooping tomato plants fatigued from the long hot days of summer; the river red gums stretching tall and wide providing habitat for a whole ‘other’ world of plants and animals; the river pebble streaked with marks from its earlier life which have become integral parts of its present self. Artists, movie makers and marketing gurus use symbols of all kinds to convey messages to their audiences, and many of us use symbolic imagery in a conscious or unconscious way as we process information.

After completing my initial formal training in expressive therapies, I began to discover the richness that symbols contribute to our inner lives. Symbols are a language in themselves. They enable us to identify and communicate meaning about our inner and outer worlds in a visual way which is not limited by vocabulary. Symbols support connectedness and wholeness. They are not absolute, but remain open to the meaning that each individual attributes to them.

Historically we can pick out patterns of meaning that individuals and cultures have assigned to various symbols. This gives us a fascinating insight into shared understandings across time and space.

The spiral form has been represented in most cultures and ages with a variety of interpretations. It appears frequently in nature, and for me it’s a symbol that demands my attention; it calls out to me and speaks to my heart.

The new fern frond slowly, excitedly, intensely coloured, emerging inconspicuously at first from the ground or behind a larger frond protecting it from view. Over time unfurling, growing, becoming strong and productive.

The snail shell, offering protection and growing with the living body as needed. (Image Source: http://physics.aps.org/story/v17/st8)

 

Weather systems such as cyclones, twisting and spinning in defined semi-predictable spiral patterns. (Image Source: http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/pictures/disasters/cyclonecatarina.html)

Tendrils, often growing in a spiral fashion, twisting and twining, reaching out for support to further the plant’s growth and development. (Image Source: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=176569&picture=tendril-in-a-spiral)

For me, spirals are all about GROWTH and MOVEMENT. There is a newness, an anticipation and a vibrancy that excites the senses and stimulates the movement towards daring, reaching out and development. A natural inclination for flow between the inner and outer. Revelation, revolution and evolution. Productivity. Agelessness. Centrality and distance.

As I moved towards a new direction and a new focus with my business, I chose the spiral for my  logo as representative of all the above meanings. The fresh green colour adds to the imagery of growth and nature, both of which are foundational to my own sense of wellness and purpose. The spiral logo reflects my move towards supporting groups of professionals seeking mental health knowledge and skills development, groups of women seeking personal growth and development opportunities, and communities seeking wholeness and wellness. The spiral logo also reflects my own journey of growth and development, daring to reach out in a new and different way, searching for innovative ways to contribute to sustainable wellness practices in our society.

I invite you along on my journey. You can sign up to my e-news mailing list if you would like to stay informed about professional and personal development events which I offer throughout the year. 

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You can check my blog and my website regularly for updates.

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You can follow Condamine Assist’s Facebook for weekly “Monday Mantras” and other posts to keep you informed and inspired.

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If you follow Daisy Spoke Blog on Facebook you’ll receive a prompt when a new blog has been posted, or when I share other inspirational and empowering blogs.

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Left and right handedness: inner control issues of a mountain biker

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As a self-confessed strongly right-side dominated person, I have had my challenges on the trickier, more technical sections of trail rides. My right foot LOVES to step off my bike first. Anything else simply feels totally unnatural. But this urge doesn’t always serve me well. Take for example the many times I’ve come to a stop on a narrow trail with an obstacle in front of me, a rocky wall on my left side, and a sheer drop-off on my right. Let the image come to your mind, and you will see both the fear in my face and the ridiculousness of my bodily action as I desperately try to balance on …. well, nothing! and clutch at anything to stop the inevitable fall and slide, grazes and prickles.

Even learning to move my weight around on my bike has been a challenge in some respects. For general balance I have no issues, but when it comes to finely tuning the coordination of my left and right sides to safely negotiate tight switchbacks, I feel pretty awkward. Weighting and unweighting my left and right hands has been a journey into tough neurological territory. I’ve spent hours practising drills, telling my left side what to do over and again, with pretty slow progress.

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When you stop to think about it, our whole lives are about control issues. As babies, we begin the process of learning to control our bodies from a seemingly simple movement of the hand, shaking and jerking in what appears to be a random fashion, gaining greater control over our gross motor and fine motor skills with practice. Learning control of bodily functions like toileting and speech. Learning to balance on two legs instead of four, most of us then progress towards running, hopping, jumping. Learning to coordinate our mouths and hands to eat with a degree of gentility. Learning to regulate emotions and behaviours. And the most wondrous of joys – learning to balance on a bicycle with just two wheels!

By this stage of life most of us have a preference for using the right or left side of our bodies. As adults we’ve had many years of practice doing things with the same dominance. Some people I know have had injuries that have necessitated learning to use their less dominant side. Watching my son gain competent use of his non-dominant side over several months as he recovered from a complicated break in his elbow inspired me to teach myself some new tricks, like playing sport left-handed and winding the clothes-line up and down with my left hand. The knowledge that our brains have a degree of plasticity gives me hope that on my bike I can, and will, gradually develop skills that will improve my riding, confidence and enjoyment.

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Practising is something that I do a lot but I still find it hard. Getting my brain and my left side talking to each other is not something that comes naturally to me and it can be very frustrating. Over time I’ve come to realise that instead of messaging my left side a list of instructions, it’s actually more helpful to simply tell my right side to back off. This leaves space for my left side to do what it already knows, albeit a bit slower. The scenario reminds me of a child whose sibling / parent / friend does everything for them because it’s quicker and easier, and although often done with a loving intent, it prevents the child from developing the skills themselves.

Sitting back and observing the process, I can see these sorts of control issues mirrored in other areas of my life. To facilitate growth, it’s sometimes helpful to cut back, cut off or put firm boundaries up around a part of ourselves or our lives – give space to those parts of ourselves that need space; give time to those parts of ourselves that need time. And with practice, this gets easier too!

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Women Empowered: Living a Life With Meaning

Join me for an INSPIRING and INFORMATIVE day of retreat that will guide you through the maze of opportunities, choices and dilemmas that face women in our society.

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Women Empowered: Living a Life With Meaning” is suitable for women of any age and walk of life. We’ll be tapping into our inner strengths, values and what creates meaning in our lives to identify the ways each of us can bring unique leadership to our families, work places and the wider community. You will develop a deeper sense of your own value and identify purpose-driven pathways into your future as you live a life with meaning.

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The day is suitable for PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT as well as PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. Come along knowing that your workplace, friends, family and the wider community will all share the benefits of your participation.

The JOHN WALLIS FOUNDATION has generously supported this event through the provision of a grant so your financial outlay is only $20! Where else do you get such great value for so little expense!

Here are all the details:

Who: All women with an interest in developing their personal or professional leadership qualities in formal and informal roles in their families, workplaces or the wider community.

When: Thursday 15th September 2016 9am – 4:30pm

Where: St Mary’s Parish Centre Palmerin Street Warwick (between Wood St and Pratten St next to St Mary’s Upper Campus)

Fees: $20

Registration Fee includes m/tea, lunch, a/tea and handouts.

To Register: https://www.trybooking.com/LVQX

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This project is supported by donations to the John Wallis Foundation Small Grants Program, an approved project of the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR). FRRR is a government philanthropy partnership, supporting projects that benefit rural, regional and remote communities.

INSPIRE Mentoring Programs for Women

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INSPIRE combines the warmth, reflection and connection of Condamine Assist’s much-loved retreat days with the essential elements of a skills training program to provide you with support and guidance as you journey towards your professional or personal goals.

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FREE start-up sessions are being offered for a limited time. Find out how INSPIRE Group and Individual Mentoring Programs for Women can guide and support you as you work towards change or growth in your work or personal life. Contact Kathryn (kwalton@condamineassist.com.au) to arrange a FREE 45 minute start-up session for yourself or a small group of friends. 

INSPIRE will commence in August 2016 with the launch of the foundation group “INSPIRE: Now has the power!”

INSPIRE: Now has the power! will:
• Bring clarity to your professional and personal goals
• Empower you to bring your goals into reality
• Create a safe space for you to explore your inner world of thought
• Support you as you develop a deeper awareness of the power of your own thought
• Challenge the mind habits that get in the way of achieving your goals
• Provide a stepping stone into your future by focusing on the power of ‘now’
• Engage with your inner inspiration and empowerment
• Connect you with other women who are stepping into their power of ‘now’

What format and structure does INSPIRE use?

When you participate in INSPIRE, you will have access to 4 x 90 minute face-to-face structured sessions with a small group of women held fortnightly in Warwick and facilitated by Kathryn Walton. A group using SKYPE may be offered in the near future as an alternative for women unable to access face-to-face sessions – please email Kathryn if this interests you! (kwalton@condamineassist.com.au)

You will be provided with inspiring and enlightening pre-session preparation material so that you get the most out of the face-to-face sessions.

Your post-session reflections and action-based tasks will bring your goals closer to your reality.

A private online discussion group will be available to you and other members of your group program so that you can keep the conversations and inspiration rolling along between sessions.

You will have access to individual online support with your facilitator, Kathryn Walton, for the duration of the program.

What investment do I need to make?

The time and energy you commit to INSPIRE: Now has the power! is in itself an empowering investment in yourself and your future. Your commitment includes 6 hours of face-to-face mentoring, pre-session preparation, post-session activities, and private group and individual online support over a 2 month period. And what an amazing investment that will be in your personal and work life as you literally begin living the reality of your goals! 

To celebrate the launch of INSPIRE, a special rate is being offered. Your financial commitment to this inaugural program is only $290. This is a unique opportunity to engage in an inspiring and empowering program that is valued at over $490. (And an added bonus is that you may be able to claim professional development points for work-related mentoring, as well as claim expenses against your income for tax purposes – check with your employer, association and / or tax accountant).

If you have a keen commitment to ongoing growth and development you may choose to follow up with the subsequent program INSPIRE: Into the future! which will take you further on your journey of exploration, resilience-building, sustainability and inspiration.

How does individual mentoring work?

Individual mentoring is available as an alternative to the group programs. Individual programs are uniquely tailored to meet your particular need. A regular commitment to face-to-face sessions, pre-session preparation, post-session activities and online interaction will maximise the benefits for you over a minimum period of 2 months.

How do I find out more, sign up for a free start-up session for myself or a small group of friends, or register my interest?

If any of the above information sparks your interest, send Kathryn an email kwalton@condamineassist.com.au or phone 07-46670171.

Remember that limited free start-up sessions are available to give you and / or a small group of your friends a taste of INSPIRE before making a full commitment. I’d love to hear from you. Please share this information among your friends and colleagues who may be interested in this opportunity.

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