Create a plan for your dreams

Zig Ziglar Quote

It’s that time of year. Resolutions promised. Vision boards created. Business plans crafted. Performance and development goals set at work.

Do you want to make changes in 2018? Become a better version of yourself? Take a step (or leap!) towards achieving a dream? Instead of just thinking about change, make a plan to achieve it.

As most of you know, I am launching a business in coaching and facilitation while I write a book on getting the most out of development experiences at work. I am also writing a children’s book around mindfulness and emotional awareness – with ideas for more that I want to explore. I had general goals for my business and writing, but I knew that I needed to be much more specific so that it wouldn’t take years to get there – and so I would even know where “there” was! It is hard to hold yourself accountable to ambiguity.

In November I spent a few hours on the floor of my condo surrounded by index cards and Sharpies to make this happen. I followed a simple process to articulate my vision and then work backwards to goals and tasks that were easy to achieve. The only required materials are index cards and a pen – but feel free to add color and creativity as desired! Here you go!

Brainstorm your vision for 2018. Do you want to run a half marathon? Write a book? Start a side business? Write each idea on a separate note card.

If you are unsure of your vision, ask yourself:

  • What would a successful 2018 look like?
  • What could you change that would improve the quality of your life in 2018?
  • If you own a business, what targets will you achieve? What impact will you create for your clients?

Line up your goals. If you have more than 5, I recommend pairing them down. The fewer goals you have, the more likely you are to accomplish them. One goal complete is better than 10 goals left unfinished.

For each goal, ask yourself: What do I need to do by the end of June to accomplish this goal in 2018? Perhaps you run a 10K in preparation for the half marathon. Write 50,000 words of the novel you’re going to complete. Create a page on Etsy. Write each action on a notecard.

Now take it three months out – to the end of March 2018.

Repeat for the end of January 2018.

Finally, what do you need to do each week in January to reach your first set of milestones by the end of the month?

I had goals around writing my books, networking, building coaching clients and speaking engagements, and the logistics of running a business. I also included goal setting as a task to complete each weekend to make sure that I’m staying on track and adjusting my actions as needed throughout the year (or change my goals – that is also allowed!).

Finally, I got out masking tape and put them up on the wall – a visible reminder of my goals and what it will take to get there.

This process was a fantastic kick for me to get moving. It created structure, clarity, and process for goals that were too high-level and future focused to be attainable in the short-term. It motivated me to get moving TODAY. I hope it does the same for you! Cheers to achieving your dreams in 2018!

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach working with people that want to have a meaningful career and live up to their own potential, but feel stuck in their job. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

A Letter To My Fear

Minneapolis sunrise

This past June was a month of uncertainty for me. I had internally decided to leave my job and become an entrepreneur, but I hadn’t actually pulled the trigger. About 90% of the time I was excited for the possibilities. The other 10% of the time I felt like someone had wrapped a corset around my lungs and pulled the strings tight. I questioned the sanity of my decision to leave my safe, steady job and pursue a path that could lead to failure. After all, I hadn’t actually quit my job. I could still change my mind.

But in my heart I knew that I couldn’t change my mind. I was already on this path. I was moving ahead and fear was just going to be part of the journey.

I remembered reading a letter that Elizabeth Gilbert had written to her fear in Big Magic and I decided to do the same. I had no intention of sharing this publicly, but a colleague suggested that it might help others to manage their fear.

It’s taken me five months to get the courage to share the letter. I feel vulnerable just typing this introduction. But I also believe that vulnerability is the key to growth, so here it is:

Heather – You are becoming the person that you want to be. Stepping fully into yourself. Expressing what you have to offer to the world. You are taking the time to design life on your own terms and release the expectations you have created for yourself or others have impressed upon you over many years. Heather, you are creativity, and when you reach into that creativity and act from your heart without ego, your light is unstoppable.

 And, Heather, you know that stepping into the light can be scary. Light exposes flaws, makes it harder to hide when things go poorly, all eyes on you. But remember when this fear washes over you and you feel vulnerable to the eyes of the world – a life in the light is also warm. It is open, illuminating, and free. It embraces your beauty and also your imperfections knowing that’s what makes you real. You’ve known for a long time that perfection is unattainable – it’s now time to act on that knowledge.

But the most important thing to remember, Heather, is that a life in the light isn’t about you at all. It is the light you give to others that matters. And only by stepping into the light and bathing yourself in its radiance do you have light to give to others. Overflowing radiance. What might be possible with overflowing radiance?

So when the fear creeps in and sucks the breath from your lungs and the energy from your heart, take a deep breath and turn towards the light, towards the possibilities, inward to your creativity and outward in overflowing radiance.

I’ve read this letter countless times since I wrote it in June. Whenever I feel the fear edge in, this letter gives me the pep talk I need to move forward with confidence. The fear doesn’t disappear entirely – and I wouldn’t want it to. A little fear gives me a sense of urgency and pushes me forward – into the light, into my creativity, and outward in overflowing radiance.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

Growth mindset and fixed mindset: Which do you choose?

Hiking in Slovenia

As I thought about the research for my book on maximizing learning during development experiences, I immediately knew that I wanted to include something on growth mindset. The term kept popping up in Ted Talks, webinars, and articles and it seemed like a key to ongoing learning and success.

What is growth mindset?

In her book, Mindset: The new psychology of success, Carol Dweck writes, “growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others.” In other words, if you believe you can get better, smarter, faster AND you put effort into it – then you will.

Fixed mindset, on the other hand, is a belief that your intelligence, gifts, character, creative ability, etc are fixed and cannot be improved. We are born with a certain amount of innate talent and we cannot develop past that point.

Why does growth mindset matter? 

Carol Dweck’s research repeatedly links growth mindset and continued growth and success throughout life. She provides examples of people that we now view as experts in their field, like Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, and Jackson Pollack, that didn’t show promise early in their careers. It was practice, effort, and experimentation that led to success.

This concept doesn’t just apply to world-renowned individuals. Dweck shares stories of kids that are taught the growth mindset and suddenly say “You mean I don’t have to be dumb?” After this realization, test scores improved rapidly. Belief in their abilities created a new reality.

My story

I’ve always been a learner. I enjoyed going to school, read with a flashlight under my bedcovers, and collected pond water to examine under the microscope I got for Christmas. I started this book assuming that I had a growth mindset. But as I read I realized that while I do have a growth mindset in my intellectual ability, there are other areas of my life where a fixed mindset is alive and well.

There’s one area where I shifted from a growth mindset as child to a fixed mindset in middle school and then again to a growth mindset as an adult – creativity.

I’m guessing many of you will identify with my story. As a child I painted and drew to my heart’s content. I never thought about whether my art was “good”. That changed in middle school when art class suddenly had rules and grades. It was immediately clear that I was not good. Art went from being fun and playful to something I avoided for years.

As I grew older my fixed mindset around art broadened to general creativity. Despite the fact that I wrote poems and loved taking photographs, I did not view myself as creative. My mindset told me that I wasn’t good at drawing and painting and therefore I wasn’t a creative person.

My entire attitude towards creativity changed with one conversation nine years ago. I was working on a global leadership development program and I had just pitched an idea to my manager. She looked at me and said, “Heather, you’re always saying that you want to be creative. You just conceptualized an entirely new module for our program. That IS creativity.”

For years I had equated creativity with my perceived failure in seventh grade art class. Suddenly I realized that the root of the word creativity is CREATE – and I did that all the time. That shift opened a whole new world for me. New ideas came to me with more frequency and ease. I looked at my photography as art. I didn’t just write curriculum for our programs at work – I created them.

I also took this growth mindset with me when I started to write a few years ago. Instead of thinking that I was either naturally “good” or “bad” at writing, I adopted an attitude of learning and enjoyment. I took classes, was open to feedback, and didn’t take myself too seriously. Not only has the quality of my writing improved, I’ve also written in styles that I never considered. I even have two silly poems that I’d like to turn into children’s books! I never would have written them in my fixed mindset state.

Your story

Where do you have a fixed mindset in your life? It might show up as a hidden saboteur, the little voice in your head telling you that you’ll never be good at public speaking or math or running. It may emerge as fear of taking on a big project at work or applying for a promotion. It could even appear as a limiting belief around dating, parenting, or belonging.

“We’ve found that whatever mindset people have in a particular area will guide them in that area.” Yes, we are born with certain abilities. But, as Dweck writes, it is curiosity, challenge, and effort that feed our abilities and cause us to learn, grow, and eventually succeed.

What might be possible for you with that mindset?

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

Keeping the Faith

Slovenia Coast

On my last day in Slovenia I decided to do what I enjoy most: walk. I had walked all over Slovenia during my 10-day trip – on mountain paths to waterfalls, down country lanes past herds of sheep and cows, on boardwalks through gorges. This last trek was along the coast from Piran, where I was staying. I planned to follow a designated walking route north, do a short loop at the end of the trail, and walk back to Piran.

I missed the turn back. I saw it. I paused to consider whether I should turn there, but the trail markers I had been following for two and a half hours kept going down the coast. So I also kept going.

After a while I realized my mistake. I wasn’t lost. I knew I could turn around, but at that point turning around would mean walking for at least six hours. I could do it, but it didn’t sound fun.

So I kept walking forward. I could soon see a town in the distance on the coast. I was pretty sure it was Izola. We had stopped in Izola on my bus from Ljubljana to Piran, which meant if I could get there, then I would eventually be able to find my way back to Piran without having to walk for hours on end.

Hiking in Slovenia

I continued to follow the path along the ridge over the sea. Eventually the trail ended at a road. I kept walking down and forward. The road led to a park (with a much needed bathroom!). From the park there was a promenade along the ocean to a marina. From the marina I walked to the first road I saw and followed the signs pointing to the center of town (it was now clear that I was actually in Izola – yeah!). I walked a few blocks along the road and ran directly into the bus stop. I checked the schedule and the next bus for Piran was coming in 10 minutes.

I’ve thought a lot about this walk. What amazes me most is that I felt no fear. Here I was, walking alone in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, not entirely sure where I was or where I was going and yet I had complete confidence that it would work out.

We could use a fancy corporate term, like managing ambiguity, to describe my attitude that day, but it really comes down to one thing: faith.

How many times do we need to be reminded of keeping the faith? When the final job interview yet again doesn’t lead to an offer. When you want to be in a relationship and put yourself out there only to be rejected. When the pregnancy test comes back negative. When you’re launching a business, but haven’t landed your first client.

And yet I am reminded of the walk to Izola. Not only did faith lead me to the end I wanted, but it was a beautiful journey. The Adriatic Sea sparkled into infinity. Soft pale green olive trees twisted their branches creating artistic shadows in the grass. The sun shone brilliantly above me. I felt like I was walking in a Van Gogh painting.

Olive grove in Slovenia

I know the journey doesn’t always feel beautiful. Sometimes it’s heart wrenching. It is vulnerable being out there on a ridge, knowing what you want, but unsure when and how it’s going to happen.

But keep the faith. One foot in front of the other. You (and I) will get there eventually.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

The Leap to Entrepreneurship

Torres del Paine, Chile

This week marks the official start to a major change in my life – the move from full-time corporate employee to entrepreneur. I say official because I started the transition months ago when I began seriously considering striking out on my own. But now it is real. Thursday is my last day as a full-time employee. Friday I leave for a month in Europe. When I return I’ll work part-time until February when I’m really on my own.

If you had asked me a year ago if I would be starting my own business I would have shaken my head. Despite coming from a line of entrepreneurs on my mom’s side of the family, I never considered being a small business owner. It seemed too risky, too unstable.

Today what seems risky is leaving all the ideas bubbling inside of me undeveloped. Risky to keep my creativity constrained. Risky to never take the chance to know what my life might be.

What am I going to do? Write a book on getting the most out of development experiences and times of change and learning in our lives. Seek out contract work while writing the book and build a business running leadership development programs, coaching, and doing speaking engagements.

It sounds so clear when I put it down in words. The reality feels more like the photo at the top of the page. I can see the path right in front of me. The destination in the background is visible, but not exact. The path forward fades quickly, the twists and turns unknown.

In many ways I have no idea what I’m doing. But I’ve never felt more sure that I’m headed in the right direction. The path will become visible as I continue to walk.

There are days when I’m terrified. Moments when the fear of failure and embracing the unknown induces a mild panic attack (more on that in a future blog post!). But excitement about the possibilities overpowers the fear every time.

I will be documenting my journey from employee to entrepreneur through this blog – the joys and successes along with the frustration, fear, and setbacks. I’ll start with a post or two during my trip to Europe over the next month.

I recently re-read the children’s book A Wrinkle in Time. In it, Mrs. Whatsit compares our lives to a sonnet saying, “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.” Yesterday, colleagues gave me a journal for my trip.  In it they had written, “Live your poetry.”

Here I go, ready to write the sonnet and live my poetry.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.