Set Yourself Free
Structure your life and business in a way that inspires you and your clients.
“I spend my days just surviving and getting from one appointment to the next. It seems there are never enough hours to get all the work done and still have some time for me! I feel hassled, hurried and agitated. How do I restructure my life to make it one I really want?”
This is a cry I often hear from my coaching clients, and maybe you find yourself feeling the same frustrations and wondering how you can change your life. Building a strong foundation for your life requires introspection and behavior change. You do it one step at a time, one change at a time. Careful preparation enables you to take strategic action, and consistent action leads to long-term maintenance.
In the June issue you learned to prepare for building a strong foundation by identifying your needs, core values and boundaries. Your goals for this issue will be to take that information and use it to
- outline the standards that will govern the way you behave and operate in both your personal and professional life;
- choose to live with integrity; and
- identify and eliminate the tolerations that distract you from your goals.
Standards are the behaviors you are willing to hold yourself to, a personal touchstone to ensure that you are living your values. The standards you choose for your business play a large role in its success and longevity. Living with low standards can cause numerous problems in your personal and professional life. You may find yourself indulging in gossip, whining and complaining—and spending your time with people who do the same. If you feel stuck in an uncomfortable rut you cannot find your way out of, perhaps the time has come to examine the standards you are living by.
Setting high standards enables you to challenge your business and customers to a higher level of existence. Eighteen years ago I decided I wanted a notably professional and personal fitness business. A few of the standards I set to accomplish this goal were (and are!) to
- give my best to each client every day regardless of how I feel;
- let go of clients who drain me; and
- be honest about what I feel are the needs of each client.
These standards have empowered me to create a successful coaching and personal training business that attracts quality people.
How do you define your own standards? Begin by responding to the following questions:
- Who are you? How would you describe your character, values and beliefs to someone else?
- How do you relate—to other people, challenging situations, etc.?
- How do you conduct yourself?
- What are your needs and/or values?
- Are your current standards inspiring and attractive to you?
- Do your current standards challenge you to be excellent?
If your current standards are not bringing you the kind of life you want, change them! To get started, see “5 Steps to Setting Standards to Live By” on page 14.
Integrity can be defined as completeness; the quality or condition of being undivided. When you act in harmony with who you are, you are a person of integrity.
Integrity is a choice. For me, it means living what I believe—having a private life that matches my public life. Integrity is being honest, loving, kind, generous, forgiving, humble and grateful. While coaching my clients through change and improvement, I complete the same homework they do. I constantly ask myself, “Do I live what I teach?” My fitness program matches or exceeds the guidelines I give my personal training clients. I approach every assignment as if it is the most important job I have. I am far from perfect, but I strive to be the best I am capable of every day. We all have tough days, off days and some days we just want to retreat from the world, and that’s okay. The ups and downs of life are a guarantee.
Choosing a life of integrity can sometimes feel lonely, but it is the most satisfying path there is. See “10 Steps to Achieving Integrity” to begin your transformation to wholeness.
Tolerations are the things that drain your energy and waste your time. Tolerations can be many things, including late cancellations, habitually late clients, bounced checks, a dripping faucet, a faulty printer, noisy neighbors, slow Internet service or wasted hours between client appointments. Tolerations are the things you bear, put up with and allow to be. But putting up with tolerations has hidden costs, because it can drain you of energy and make you feel apathetic and lazy. You quit growing and aspiring, since you are consumed with simply getting through each day.
The good news is that the pain caused by tolerations can lead to change. When I grew frustrated and stressed over income cancellation policy. Are you in enough pain that you are ready to make some changes? If so, see “3 Keys to a Toleration-Free Life, below.”
Do you remember when you were a child? Freedom was an everyday reality. You didn’t need to study the “stages of behavior change” to live your life. You followed your heart and used your creativity, finding pleasure in simply playing
with dirt or a cardboard box. Loose the fetters of your life once again by looking at your business with simple, childlike eyes that are attracted by simplicity and fun. Examine your standards, restore integrity to your life and get rid of the tolerations that distract you from your goals. When that work is behind you, ask yourself, “What do I really want?” And go after just that.
- List 10 people or businesses you most admire. Name the qualities and behaviors that you find attractive.
- Develop relationships with people whose standards you admire.
- List the ways you may be sabotaging your professional success or relationships.
- Define a list of standards that will inspire you to live and work at your very best.
- Share your list with a friend or colleague who will meet with you weekly to keep you accountable.
- Name who/what is your source for defining right and wrong.
- Create harmony with mind, body and spirit.
- Align what you believe with how you behave. Who you are equals what you do.
- Eliminate unresolved matters (e.g., pay your bills, restore your health, clean up your business).
- Fully handle whatever happens in your space every day.
- Accept responsibility for your choices.
- Let go of everything you know is not good for you. This may include some clients and so-called “friends”!
- Identify ways you are not living in integrity in your personal life or business (e.g., overspending, lying, living in an unhealthy way, working too many hours, spending too little time with family, etc.).
- Commit to restoring integrity in all areas.
- Simplify your business practices and operations.
- List 20 things or situations you are tolerating, and eliminate or reduce the sources of each toleration.
- Create positive energy sources to replace the old tolerations. For example, if you “fire” those clients who do not respect your time—by regularly arriving late, not showing up at all, or failing to do their part in their exercise plan— you free up your time so you can accept new clients who are a pleasure to work with.
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