Do you feel stuck? Here’s what’s REALLY going on

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Coaching clients often come to me with the same problem – they feel “stuck.” Some are unhappy in their job and want to make a change, but they don’t know what that looks like. Some have a vision, but are overwhelmed and unsure of the next step. Some say they just want to get back to feeling like themselves again. Others feel like they’ve lost their ability to dream and consider new possibilities.

Occasionally these clients really do some practical tools to consider new career paths and possibilities.

But that’s not usually what happens.

Almost every time, once we get into the coaching, we discover the problem isn’t being stuck. Here’s what really going on:

  1. Doubt and fear are getting in the way. It’s not that they don’t know WHAT they want – it’s that they don’t think they can actually GET it. They don’t go for the job they want because they don’t feel qualified. They don’t launch the business they’ve been thinking about for years because they’re afraid it’s not going to work or or believe it’s all been done before, so why even try. They don’t change career paths because they worry about what other people are going to think or fear they don’t have what it takes to be successful in a new field.
  2. They’ve lost connection to their true inner voice. This is the voice of your inner wisdom. Your authentic voice that is completely aligned to your purpose and values and JUST KNOWS. It’s always there, but we’re not taught to listen to it. It gets lost in the noise of our lives.

These often go together. When you lose connection to your true inner voice, you start to doubt yourself. Fear and imposter syndrome and the inner critic show up and throw a party.

The good news is this is completely fixable! Through coaching and different practices you can manage doubt and reconnect to your true inner voice so you can get unstuck and start following your true path.

Want to start today? Click HERE for a 15-minute journaling exercise to tap into your true inner voice.

Why affirmations, mantras, and positive thinking alone don’t work

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I recently started reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. The first time I heard the title many years ago I remember thinking, “Gifts? Yeah right. I may need to ACCEPT my imperfections, but they are NOT gifts.”

Maybe this thinking is the reason it took me so long to pick up the book, despite being a HUGE Brené Brown fan.

This past Sunday I read a line in the book that struck me as true and real as the couch I’m sitting on – “I’ve never seen any evidence of “how-to” working without talking about the things that get in the way.”

YES.

YES to all of this.

We are addicted to headlines that read, “5 simple steps to lose weight fast” and “3 practices guaranteed to find you love” and “The ultimate how-to guide to building a 7-figure business.”

No one clicks into a headline that says, “The uncomfortable process to explore your shame and fear so that you can live authentically.”

But the latter is what’s needed for REAL change. Change that doesn’t last a week or a month, but an entire lifetime.

We must examine the limiting beliefs holding us back and the parts of our story we’re ashamed to own. We need to hear the inner critic and understand why it’s talking. We have to know the obstacles getting in our way.

It’s like setting up a tent. Before plunking it onto the ground, you look around and make sure there aren’t any sticks or rocks that are going to make sleeping uncomfortable or poke a hole in your tent. And if there are, you REMOVE THEM. Way better to take the 5 minutes up front than attempt to sleep with a rock digging into your shoulder.

And so is life. It takes time and energy to remove the rocks and sticks, but it is 100% worth it. It’s worth it to ENJOY your life. To let go of proving yourself by saying yes to everything and everyone. To release the expectations you’ve piled on yourself since middle school. To follow the career path that your authentic self desires. To release the need for perfection and embrace the gifts of imperfection (yes, I believe they are actually gifts now 🙂).

All this is possible because you know in your heart of hearts that you are valuable. You are worthy. You are enough.

That is the work of real change. No quick-fixes and how-to guides can get you there.

If you’re ready to do the work, click here to set up a free coaching consultation with me. In that call, we’ll explore what’s holding you back and discuss if coaching is the right path for you to remove those obstacles so that you can have the life and career you really want.

Five Ways To Get More Quiet In Your Life – Without Meditating

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If there is one common thing I see among my clients – among all Americans really – is that we need more quiet in our lives.

Our lives are filled with noise. People and devices are constantly talking to us – and often at the same time. If we have a minute of downtime, we pull out our phones to scroll through social media or check email. We’re so used to noise that it can be uncomfortable to be in the quiet.

But we need quiet. BADLY. We need to stop and listen to ourselves think. To get back in touch with our true inner voice. That whispering in the back of our heart that keeps us on our authentic path.

Meditating is an awesome way to get more quiet in our lives. But I also know that it can be hard to find the time. And I hear a ton of people judge themselves for not meditation “perfectly” – i.e. they can’t sit still and empty their minds. (Side note – if this is you, there is no such thing as perfect meditation! Our brains are designed to think and we’re on overdrive all the time – you can’t be expected to sit down for 10 minutes and magically empty out your brain!).

I wanted to share five ways to get more quiet in your life that don’t involve mediation – or any extra time at all.

  1. Drive with the radio off. I do this about 50% of the time now, but it was WEIRD the first time I did it. I don’t think I’d ever sat in a car without music or talking of some kind. But it quickly became a respite for me and I think you will learn to love it as well. Same approach goes if you take public transport instead of driving. Practice just sitting there quietly.
  2. Take a walk without headphones. Unplug. Feel your feet hit the ground. Look at the flowers or the way the sun hits the snow. Listen to the birds. Notice what is happening around you and just be present.
  3. Eat a meal alone without looking at your phone, watching TV, etc. Really enjoy each bite of your food. Smell it, feel the texture, taste every morsel of flavor.
  4. Take a day without social media. Technically social media doesn’t always have actual, physical noise as we’re scrolling through, but it’s like noise in our brains. So take a day a week or each month and give yourself a break from social media. Pro tip: Delete the apps on your phone so you won’t be tempted. They only take a few minutes to reinstall!
  5. Choose your own quiet. What is something that you typically do with noise? Do you workout while listening to podcasts? Cook with music? Do the dishes with the TV on in the background? There is nothing wrong with any of these things, but try doing one of them in silence.

Most of these activities will be uncomfortable at first. Expect the discomfort. Embrace it. And you’ll soon learn to enjoy the quiet 🙂

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.

Stop “Should-ing” All Over Yourself

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Last spring I was invited to take a day of no obligation.

A day when I followed exactly what my heart and body told me to do.

A day to unhook from all the “shoulds” in my life and just BE.

It was kind of amazing.

And also completely eye-opening to see how much I followed the “should”.

One situation in particular still sticks with me. I completed a hiking loop in a park and immediately thought, “I have time, I should do another loop.”

But then I caught myself. Did I actually WANT to do another loop?

The answer was a clear NO.

I had enjoyed my hour of hiking and it was time to be done.

I realized that I have a big “should” around exercise – mainly that more is always better. That belief has led me in the past to exercise when I was sick or exhausted and to punish myself for overeating by trying to burn all the calories that I had consumed.

I thought I had put these beliefs behind me. That I exercised for my health and because it felt good.

And yet – this SHOULD to do another hiking loop just to get more exercise was my automatic thought.

It was only because I had taken this purposeful day of no obligation that I paused to question my thoughts.

What “shoulds” are you holding onto?

Do you stop yourself from rocking the boat because you SHOULD be the nice girl?

Are you staying in a job because you SHOULD like it?

Do you say yes every time someone asks for your help because you feel like you SHOULD, even if you’re already completely overloaded?

Instead of following your “shoulds” start asking yourself what you really want.

Do you want to speak your mind even if it means rocking the boat?

Is your job actually rewarding and fulfilling?

Do you want to say no without an excuse or apology?

A life of should is not happy. It is overwhelming, stressful, and misaligned to our values.

Following what we actually want is engaging and fun. It can also be hard – but in a good way! The way that makes us learn and grow. And it’s always satisfying. Because it’s authentic and real. Because it’s us showing up exactly as we are.

So start asking what you really want. And stop shoulding all over yourself.

 

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.

Weeding Our Beliefs

Belief

What do you believe?

It’s a big question.

We hold beliefs about everything – the job we’re supposed to be in, how attractive we are, whether we’re good at painting, running, math, or being a leader. Our beliefs affect how we work, learn, love, and live.

I inadvertently began a deep dive into my own beliefs in January during a discussion on spirituality with Andy, a friend (and fellow coach!) I had recently met. I referenced my past Christian upbringing when describing the connection I felt in the world by saying, “I guess that’s what some people would call the Holy Spirit.”

Andy’s response?

“You can call it whatever you want.”

It wasn’t exactly a spiritual awakening – more like a spiritual startling. I had to pause for moment to let it sink in.

He was right. This was my belief. I could call it whatever I wanted.

I continued examining my beliefs in preparation for a panel discussion on generations and faith at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in February, the church where I grew up and worked for many years. During a meeting ahead of the panel, someone mentioned they didn’t understand what it meant to be spiritual and not religious. So I decided to share my perspective during the event.

In front of 200 people.

In the same room where I had been confirmed 23 years earlier.

The irony and impact of the moment hit me about an hour before I went on stage. A million thoughts went through my head. Would people be disappointed in me? Would they look at me like I was crazy when I described spirituality as being in the flow and feeling like I was stepping into the river of the universe?

Maybe. But I did it anyway.

It was a true adult moment. I stood on a stage with a microphone and put a stake in the ground on my beliefs. And I called them what I wanted; what I chose.

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Last Thursday I attended a workshop on creating happiness. The facilitators told us that we are constantly cultivating our beliefs – and it’s our job to weed out the beliefs that no longer serve us.

Think for a moment….

Are you in a job today because of a belief you held at nineteen that no longer applies?

Do you avoid art classes or public speaking or asking someone out on a date because somewhere along the line you believed you weren’t good enough?

How many of your beliefs were given to you by your parents? Your teachers? A former boyfriend, coach, or manager?

Do those beliefs still serve you?

Or is it time to do some weeding?

 

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.

Taking Risks

Taking Risks

This morning at The Business Women’s Circle I facilitate we discussed women, confidence, and all the weird and unexpected ways that lower confidence shows up, like perfectionism and feeling like an imposter. One of the biggest outcomes is not taking risks.

We tend to think of all the potential downsides to taking a risk. Every single little thing that could go possibly go wrong. But what about the risk of doing nothing at all?

Pause for a second. Think about your life. If you’re still in the same place five years from will you be happy?

If the answer is yes – awesome! Keep going forward, growing and evolving!

If the answer is no – then ask yourself again – what is the real risk of doing nothing?

The real risk is (not) having a job you really love, (not) contributing your awesomeness to the world, (not) creating from your heart – (not) being the full and amazing person that you are. Those are the real risks. What do you choose?

 

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.

Changing Your Path

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Last week I decided to give up something I really wanted to do – lead a group coaching program. The design was nearly complete and I was excited to get started. The problem? I couldn’t find 3 people for the pilot that were both interested in a group program and available at the same time each week for 12 weeks in a row. It was even hard for my schedule and I was the one leading it!

So I let it go.

I was disappointed. And instantly relieved. The stress I had been feeling melted away.

The same day I decided to stop the group program I confirmed two new clients. I had three more referrals and a request to write a proposal for a women’s coaching and development program by the end of the week.

It was like the universe knew I had space and energy and it rushed in to fill it up with amazing possibilities.

We hear a lot of messages about persistence and determination when we are growing up. Stick to the path! Keep on keeping on! Perseverance is the key to success! And there is a time to hold onto your dreams with both hands and scrape your way forward.

But there’s also a time to pause, honestly ask ourselves what isn’t working, and choose a better way.

This is especially true when it comes to our careers. I hear clients say:

I’ve been on this path for 10 years and the future is laid out in front of me. But I’m not sure I want to be on this path anymore.

My managers have always told me I have potential and will be a great leader. What if I want to use my potential in a different way?

I want to try something else, but I’m afraid I’ll disappoint everyone.

Choosing a different path is not failure. It is an opportunity to create the possibility for something great.

Take the first step towards a future that you really want. Start exploring the options. Talk to new people. Reflect on what’s most important to you.

And if you want help on the journey, I work with clients that are feeling stuck in their career. We’ll work together to figure out what you really want and build a plan to create a meaningful career.

The path isn’t laid out in front of you – you create the path as you walk forward. It’s your move.

 

Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach that works with women to combat self-doubt, own their brilliance, and step into the career and life they desire. Click here to learn more. 

My #1 Priority in Business (and Life)

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My number one priority as an entrepreneur? Rest.

Yes, rest.

But aren’t new entrepreneurs supposed to be all about the hustle?

I don’t think so. In fact, I hate the word hustle. Hustling feels rushed and jittery. Like I’m running from one thing to the next without time to pause and figure out if what I’m doing actually makes sense.

That’s not the way I want to build my business. It’s not the way I want to live my life.

I want to do what is meaningful and will have the biggest impact for my clients. Sustain the important relationships in my life. Take risks and create new things to bring into the world.

That work takes focus.

Focus requires energy.

Energy demands rest.

How do I renew? Sleep is the most critical. I need at least eight hours a night. Sometimes nine. Most days I take a short nap or meditate for 15 minutes in the afternoon. And there are evenings when I collapse on the couch and watch four episodes of Mozart in the Jungle or a bad Hallmark movie and that fills my tank as well.

I’m not perfect. There are weeks when I go to bed too late or push through back-to-back days without taking a breath.

And then I pay for it.

I pay for it with my creativity and productivity. With my ability to listen deeply. With my focus and motivation to tackle the important work.

Avoid the hustle. Rest, renew, and get the good work done.

 

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.

Walk Boldly Into This Season

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Last week I received an email from my cousin Kelsey with the message, “I think you’ll be blessed for your boldness in the season you’re walking into.” Now that is a set of beautiful words! Blessed. Boldness. Season. Walking into. I’ve shared this sentence with multiple people and each person has derived their own meaning from it, just as I imagine you are now thinking about what it means for you in this season of your life. Here are my thoughts.

Blessed

I equate blessed with gratitude. Living blessed is shifting from a mindset of scarcity to abundance. Choosing to focus on what I have in my life instead of what is missing. Looking for evidence of beauty, belonging, and love. Taking the moments to savor joy, sink into the feeling, and imprint it in my mind. Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast said “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful.” Create the space for gratitude and you will be blessed.

Boldness

One of my favorite quotes and a life motto is “If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” (Emile Zola). This is my definition of boldness – life out loud. Boldness is not a lack of fear. It is walking forward with the fear. Bringing forth the courage held deep in our hearts to follow what we are called to do.

Season

Green grass and flowers are a long way off in Minnesota, but we have turned the corner on winter. The days are getting longer. There are no subzero temperatures in the extended forecast. As the Earth transitions, so do we. There are seasons of rest and renewal and seasons of flurry and change. I am in a season of learning and growth, which is, inevitably, also a season of vulnerability. Every day I become aware of something I don’t know and skills I need to build. I am constantly reflecting on how I want to show up in the world, the relationships I want to create, and how I will generate impact with my life.

Walking Into

Dr. Michael Bernard Beckworth said on a recent SuperSoul Conversations podcast with Oprah, “Pain pushes until the vision pulls.” Pain can get us started on a new path. Sometimes it drags us kicking and screaming. And then, one day, we see the vision ahead and suddenly we are walking into the vision instead of running away from the pain. We actively move ourselves forward, taking steps into the life we desire.

Lay down your path of gratitude and walk boldly into this season, my friends.

 

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.

 

Aligning Your Human Being and Human Doing

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When I graduated from college I had no intention of entering the traditional workforce. I taught environmental education, guided camping trips with teenagers, and led semesters abroad with gap year students. I filled any downtime in employment with substitute teaching. A desire for roots and community brought me back to Minnesota for grad school. I applied for a summer internship at Cargill and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I decided to stay. (And they decided to keep me!)

I look back at the last 10 years of my career with incredible gratitude. I still can’t believe some of the experiences I’ve had. My colleagues taught – and continue to teach – me lessons about courage, creativity, leadership development, coaching, and authenticity. I discovered that curiosity and listening are the keys to engaging and building trust with anyone, from a union leader in the middle of Ohio to an executive in Ecuador. I learned how to be vulnerable to give others the permission to learn and grow. I am here today because of these lessons.

Even through these amazing experiences, I always wondered if a full-time role in corporate America was the best place for me. Many of you have been reading my blog and know that I started to listen to that voice and seriously entertain the idea of entrepreneurship about a year ago. After much exploration and reflection, I put in my notice at work in July, went part-time in October, and my last day is Thursday.

Although I never felt like my life was particularly out of alignment, I have become increasingly aware over the past several months that I am now living in alignment. I am energized and inspired. I have never experienced this level of creativity. Amazing people are entering my life. The changing structure of my days fits my personality. The actual work I am doing and developing is aligned to my values, my skills, and the impact that I want to have. I am serving with my whole self. Life feels full of possibilities. It’s not easy, but it’s right.

My former leader at Cargill recently started a project called Significance Matters. On the website she and her husband have two different bios – their human doing bios and human being bios. Alignment is a collision between the human being and human doing. Instead of my being and doing existing separately or bumping into each other only occasionally, they are becoming one. This is the difference I feel.

 

What about you?

Most of the time we aren’t in vast misalignment. We tend to notice when our integrity is crossed or values blatantly violated. Subtle misalignment is harder to recognize and easy to ignore. It’s the boiled frog metaphor – if you drop a frog in boiling water it will leap out. But if you place a frog in cool water and slowly raise the temperature, it will boil to death without ever leaving the pot.

Are you in a pot with the temperature rising so slowly you don’t notice?

Are you like me? Generally happy with your life, but feeling like something is just a little off?

Pay attention to those sensations that tell you something is awry. Lean into the feeling. Get curious about it. Ask yourself where it is coming from. Do your best to withhold expectations or judgment from the response.

Once you recognize where you are out of alignment, you can make adjustments. Sometimes a big change is needed. Often more exploration. But just a tweak here and there will also help bring your human being and human doing closer together.

 

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.