“Ummm, I came to work on my career!” I said emphatically-ish to my new life coach, shocked that all of a sudden I was staring at the 12 Areas of Life Handel Group assignment and being asked to write a dream for ALL 12 of them! Sure, I could get why write a dream for a few of them, like Career, Time, Money, and even Self…but Spirituality and Fun?!
Who’s got time for that???
“I certainly shouldn’t be wasting my time on areas like those,” I thought, but didn’t say out loud. I was starting to get the sense that my coach wasn’t that interested in my opinion just yet. Not to mention (and I didn’t), there was no way in heck I was going to touch the area #2 called “Body.” It’s a sensitive subject, after all. One I had given up on years ago. No other course leader or therapist had ever made me go there. Plus, I had no dream for it anyway. So, in a nutshell, I simply couldn’t do the assignment in its entirety. No problem, right?
Right. Unless, that is, I wanted my first session with my coach.
You see, there would be no first session until I could at least attempt to write a dream in each of the 12 areas AND tell the truth about my “current reality,” a.k.a where I was today in comparison to those very dreams.
Write Out Of The Gate
I knew right at the start that Handel Group coaching was going to be different. It was going to require something I did not want to give, but that very thing would change everything, for real this time. I wanted what my coach had: HAPPINESS. I came to understand that if I didn’t look at ALL the areas of my life, I’d be missing two major points:
All areas are interconnected: Meaning, the areas in which I rated myself low are affecting all other areas, and if I get happier, prouder, and inspired in one area, it also affects the other areas.
It matters where you start: If I didn’t address what was most fundamentally off-kilter FIRST, I wouldn’t get the power of the domino effect.
So, yes, I did the first assignment in full, articulating in all 12 areas of my life my highest ideal for myself. And as I did that, I got to see for myself that, if I were honest, of all the dreams I wrote, I was already actually closest to fulfilling my Career dream.
My body and my love life? Well, they rated a lot lower on the scale. Not just my bathroom scale, but the rating scale HG provides. Which, I got to admit, was disturbing to see – not just in words – but in numbers.
If I didn’t demonstrate basic self respect with how I nourished both my body AND my relationship with my husband, how could or would I ever allow myself to dream HUGE for my career? Let alone, trust myself to accomplish it.
I’m not going to lie. It was hard to write a dream for the areas I had long given up on.
I had given up on my body when I was about eleven and, as for my marriage, I moved it to the back of the line after having our two kids, who were still quite small. The first attempt at my dream for my body started off with something like this: “I will not hate shopping for clothes.” And, well, if you know The Handel Method at all, you know that my opening line breaks every rule of dream writing. I could not imagine a dream. I was so heavy with excuses and justifications for eating what I did (namely, crap). And somewhere deep down (why they call it SUBconscious), I knew if I stopped eating to numb myself, I’d also have to feel how cold I’d gone in my marriage. But the following coaching hint helped: Try going back to a time when you were allowed to dream about the area.
I was able to remember a vision I had for myself when I was very young. I pictured myself standing in a sun-filled room, post yoga, compiling a salad made fresh from my own garden. In reality, at thirty one, I was eating processed carbs, sugar, and dairy at every meal, and often in between too. And my only exercise was chasing kids, which I did slowly. This memory of a distant vision I had for myself before I had a job, disappointments, hard relationships, and kids helped me tap into what I could admit was my dream. So, then I wrote something like this:
Body Dream 2.0
I am light, tight, and toned. I love looking at my reflection when I pass it by and think “WOW! Look at those triceps!” I enjoy nourishing myself with delicious healthy food. My eating choices connect me with my higher power and with nature. I feel really proud of how I am feeding myself and changing how I feel. I am strong, graceful, and I love to dance. It’s easy to do what I want to do. I am flexible and full of vitality. My body gives me sensual pleasure, and my husband too. It’s easy to lose the baby weight and exercise is a delight!
I also made promises that my coach held me accountable for to match that very dream.
Dominos (And Pounds) Dropped
The domino effect was amazing – feeling better about how I was treating and feeding my body AND literally FEELING better (double entendre intended) made it virtually impossible to keep avoiding my marriage.
No surprise (anymore) here, my coach also had me have a marriage-altering conversation with my husband about listening to him (a.k.a not interrupting) and about sex (who knew that’s all a good marriage really needs?), and then held me to account to continuing to do both on a regular basis (a.k.a. forever).
All of sudden, I was feeling great, proud, looking better, getting laid, and reconnected with the love of my life. Then, guess what happened? I naturally started dreaming about what I wanted for my career. Want to know the best punchline of all?
I also started to believe I deserved to have all I wanted in my career.
It Matters Where You Start
If you knock the wrong domino down first, you can work really hard to get to a result, BUT never feel full satisfaction: That was me, always knocking down a domino or two but never smartly looking at how it was all interconnected and starting at the top of the line.
Seems we cannot ignore and compartmentalize an area and expect to feel WHOLLY happy and free. I dare you to look at your life as a whole. To love yourself THAT much. To zoom out and see the big picture from ABOVE all the dominoes. Need help? Take our Current Reality Quiz.
Get to know the most important person you know better: YOU.
Laurie Gerber is a Senior Coach and Co-President of Handel Group® Life Coaching. For over 15 years, Laurie has led international events and private coaching courses. She has appeared on MTV’s True Life, A&E’s The Marriage Test, Dr. Phil and TODAY.
Image courtesy of Charl Folscher.