Where I’m Meant to Be

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a task thinking ahead to the next task you need to get through? Or maybe you find yourself thinking of something you’d rather be doing instead?

It’s human nature, I believe, to always be thinking of what’s next. We even have a program designed to help people navigate what comes next after a big life moment or shift from how things used to be.

But what if, before we started thinking ahead to what’s next, we take a moment to show up to and appreciate where we are. What if we could be fully present in each task to learn from and enjoy everything we can get out of it?

I’m the first to admit I’m always thinking ahead to the next task on the list, watching the clock to make sure we stay on schedule (the hangry is very real if I’m even a few minutes behind for snacks or meals). But when I interrupt this incessant need to be someplace other than right here, right now, I not only enjoy it more, but I also feel more at peace. I feel more productive. Ultimately, I feel happier.

Let me give you an example. Most days, my boys and I end up in our playroom for a few hours in the morning. As you can imagine, there are days when it feels like I’m constantly the referee, blowing the whistle and breaking up fights every few minutes. But, I’ve noticed that when I remind myself to be present to all the personalities, preferences and moods for everyone in the room, the entire mood changes. And a large part of it is I am now more aware of who each of my boys are and how to be with them so I am less triggered and wiser in what I say and do. As a result, everyone seems to be happier.

How do I center myself and remind myself to be fully present? I use this mantra: This is where I’m meant to be. Right here. Right now. Doing exactly what I’m doing.

How could a continual reminder to center yourself and bring your attention to the task, person, moment, feeling or situation at hand improve your productivity, your experience and, ultimately, your life?

Take Action
When you find your mind is in a place where your body is not, you are not present. But don’t judge it. Just notice it, and see that there is an opportunity to make improvements.

When this happens to you, take a deep breath, close your eyes and remind yourself this is where I’m meant to be in this moment. Come back to unite your mind and body. Be where you are. And if you need to be in another place, bring your mind AND body there. Your intentional effort to be present will cause a mindset shift and you’ll start to feel calm and focused instead of rushed or distracted.

Remember to be present in the moment. It will change the way you see everything you do and can set you on a more productive course as you move on to whatever comes next.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Managing Your Self-Talk

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Don’t Create Unnecessary Limits

What would you accomplish if you weren’t afraid? If you didn’t have doubts? If you didn’t limit yourself to time or other resources?

What if you allowed yourself to think big?

I think most people hear “think big” and “don’t limit yourself” and immediately say “it’s just not realistic because [fill in the excuse].”

Excuses like: I don’t have the time. I’m not financially prepared to try that. I have too much going on already.

And I admit I find myself in that mindset quite a bit, especially now when I’m home with EVERYONE, and the time I have for big thinking is after everyone has gone to bed… and I’m barely able to keep my eyes open.

So, rather than dwell on all the things I could do “if only I had the time,” I started thinking about why I feel that way. And I started by thinking of the people who have had a direct impact on the way life is today, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos (to name a few).

These people didn’t do their best thinking when everything was quiet and perfect. Instead, they showed up creative, dreaming and inventing in the everyday moments of life. What they each created wasn’t always seen as a project, but more as a way of being.

So, do you impose unnecessary limits on your thinking, dreaming and inventing? Do you think that having the job or the life of your dreams is for others and not you? Maybe all you need is a reset. Here is my guidance:

  1. Set your goal. Picture what you want. It could be work related, could be family related, could be something else entirely, like losing weight or committing to reading more. Identify it (and be specific). Write it down. Allow yourself to think big. You’ve just allowed yourself to visualize your goal. Now you know where you’re going.
  2. Figure out where you are today. With greater clarity about where you are headed, refocus on your starting point. Be honest about where you are. Assess what’s working or not working in this moment. If it is working, do more of it. If it is not working, figure out why and make an intentional effort to change it (it could be the reason why where you are is not where you want to be). That’s okay. Now you know. This will help you decide on the options to move forward.
  3. Stop judging. Now that you see both edges – where you are and where you want to be – the gap between the two becomes clear. Maybe this makes you feel a little anxious. Maybe you’re running through a bunch of reasons why what you want could never happen for you. Maybe you have doubts about your abilities and think the goal is unrealistic, especially in the timeframe you identified. STOP. Stop right there. The purpose of setting a goal and getting clear about where you are right now is to see what is true in this moment. Don’t waste your energy on judging the situation. Instead, use your energy to come up with ideas to get closer to your goal.
  4. Stop comparing. This is your goal, specific to your wants and needs and your life. No one else has exactly the same goal. No one else encounters the same obstacles and challenges you will. No one has the same talents and strengths you do to get you to your goal. Don’t distract yourself by thinking about what success looks like for others. Stay focused on what success looks like for you.
  5. Make a plan. This is the hardest part because we are creatures of instant gratification. We can easily get distracted and frustrated as we work toward a goal when we don’t see progress immediately. So create a plan to reach your goal with mini-goals built in. Start small. One or two things. Then notice your progress and reach for more. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you will not achieve your goals in a day. But you can make remarkable progress little by little.
  6. Find an accountability partner. The best way to stick to your plan to achieve your goal is to ensure you’re holding yourself accountable to it. Sometimes, having someone else help you stay accountable can be helpful, especially when you have a human moment and feel too tired, too frustrated or too distracted to stay focused. Choose wisely.

Oftentimes, we are the greatest limits in our own success. Sure, sometimes there are finite resources, like the number of hours in a day or financial assistance, but that should not prohibit you from thinking, imagining, dreaming and inventing big. Instead of seeing the resources as obstacles, consider how they can become part of your plan to reach your goal. You may need to think a little differently to approach the goal (or mini-goals) to overcome the challenge of limited resources, but when you don’t allow the doubts to creep in, when you hold yourself accountable to the end result, you’ll see a significant change in how you think.

Take Action
Identifying a goal and sticking to it is hard. Just think of all those New Year’s Resolutions that rarely make it past February 1. The first step is to work on getting rid of your limited thinking. Dream big and start small to make it happen. Get clear. Get help. Stay on task.

As you practice this and start to expand your thinking, notice how you feel about each new challenge or opportunity that presents itself. Adjusting your mindset to avoid allowing doubts, fears and uncertainty take over your thoughts opens the door to an entirely new way of being.

Watch how it changes your work output, your relationships and your overall mental well-being.

Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s how you move past it.

So set your goal and have the courage to go get it.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Creating Goals: Start with “Be Better”

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4 Tips to Not Be Bad at Working from Home

I was talking with a client recently who kept saying they are “bad at working from home.” Throughout the conversation, they mentioned their ability to be a forward or strategic thinker was hindered because of distractions at home.

Though we can all relate to having distractions at home in whatever form they come in (kids, roommates, the pile of laundry you’ve been meaning to do, food, neighbors, pets), learning how to be more efficient in your work-from-home approach will help you in the long run, especially as we try to imagine what life will be like during cold and flu season just a few short months after the stay-at-home orders around the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, first, create your space. Assess what you need to get done and create the space that will ensure you can achieve your performance expectations. Do you need privacy and quiet? Do you need a large computer screen? Do you need additional technology and connections? Do you have Zoom meetings that will show your space on screen? Create what you need to be successful.

Second, remove the obvious distractions. Working at home can put many distractions right in your reach. Scan your area for anything that will distract you such as the TV remote, the availability of snacks, piles of laundry, dirty dishes, other household activity. Take a step back and just observe your workspace. Ask yourself: what could disrupt me in an unproductive way? Then remove it.

Third, create a daily to do list. Spend whatever time you need at the start of your day getting your head in the right place. Review your calendar so you know what calls or deliverables are required. Consider creating your to do list in order of priority with the items at the top of the list that need to be done today. Or, if you like to see the red marks as you cross things off your list, consider creating an “at work” list and an “at home” list. Identify 2-3 big things for each list you want to accomplish for that specific day and stay focused on getting those tasks done.

And finally, divide your day into blocks of time. This includes work and home times. For work times, set your day up to tackle the biggest, most important or thought-provoking items you need to complete during the part of the day when you are most productive. Be sure to define a clear start and end to your workday to also be able to accommodate the home requirements. This may take some time to notice what works best for both your work and home responsibilities, so challenge yourself to take note of what works best to get done what has to get done.

Working from home can be challenging when there are multiple distractions outside of your control. But following these four tips can help you set yourself up for success as a productive work-from-home employee.

Take Action
Take each step on its own. Master each one before you move on to the next. Take a day to get adjusted to the approach and give yourself some grace in learning this adjustment. There will need to be some flexibility for the first week or so, but stick to your new guidelines. You’ll see a drastic improvement in your productivity and mental capability.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How to Balance Working From Home With Kids

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How to Help Your Kids Decide What to do After High School

Asking a 16, 17 or 18-year old about what they want to do for the rest of their lives can be daunting, especially now. Our world is unpredictable and, lately, pretty volatile. It’s hard to plan for something next week, never mind next year.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be asking our high school students – and even our college students – about what comes next. It all just depends on how you’re asking the questions.

Consider these four tips to learn how to ask productive questions of your high school student(s) to encourage self-discovery and a greater conversation about what comes after high school.

First, ask questions that help them focus on what they are good at and what they like. Questions like “What do you want to do with your life” are unproductive. These are too large and focus more on the end. Most people, regardless of their age or where they are in life, would probably answer “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” because this type of question can feel overwhelming. More productive questions include:

  • What is something you really love to do?
  • When you are the happiest, what are you doing that makes you feel so happy?
  • Tell me about something you’re really good at, something that comes naturally to you.

All of these questions set up the conversation to explore what they could do with their lives, but it starts by putting them in a comfort zone: asking them questions they know the answers to.

Second, build on that self-awareness by digging deeper. Ask for examples of when they feel successful. Ask about what impact or contribution they want to make. Ask about what gets their attention for careers and why. Ask about the things that matter to them and what careers could lend themselves to making the things that matter the priority. Encourage them to dig deeper into who they are, what matters to them and how they could see themselves. Despite being the parents or caregivers, you may find yourself discovering new things about your kids that you may have overlooked in the busy day-to-day of life.

Third, be prepared to explore a variety of options. This is the time of explorations, not solutions (those will come). Many teens have limited views of what is possible because what they think is often based on what their friends or family say. Help them see greater options to expand what they consider. Having a greater number of options can improve the selection of one that is truly meaningful. Options could include trade school, a 2-year institution a 4-year institution, a gap year, or going right to work. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, so be flexible and encourage your kid to find the right fit for them, based on where their natural talents and passions lay.

And finally, be supportive. Regardless of what your kid(s) may want to further explore or what talent they want to expand on, it is their life they are building, not yours. Remember that your role as the parent and caregiver is to guide from the side, not be the sage on the stage. Guide and support, don’t direct and tell. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice, you’ll find you are much more comfortable gently nudging your kids back onto their path as opposed to paving the way for them.

The conversation about what comes after high school (or college) shouldn’t be about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. The conversation should focus on what you know of yourself and how that self fits in to today’s world. This takes guidance, patience and regular conversations to create greater self-awareness and self-discovery, two pieces of getting to know and understand the real you. Once you have this insight into yourself, when you learn how to tune out the world and all its demands, you will feel empowered to make better and more intentional decisions that fit you.

After all, like Buckminster Fuller once said, “What is it on this planet that needs doing that I know how to do that won’t get done if I don’t do it?”

Take Action
Start today. Pay attention to how you are helping your high school or college students prepare to make good life choices. Ask a lot of questions. Be available to discuss their responses. Be open and remind yourself that they are living their lives, not yours. Help them discover who they are so they can live it wisely and intentionally.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How to Help College Grads Succeed in Your Organization

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The Lessons You Find in Movies: Tangled

In today’s lessons from movies, we’re taking a look at Tangled. This is one of my favorite Disney movies. I love this version of the Rapunzel tale (I grew up watching a VERY bizarre version of the story). The music combined with the great characters and the comic relief make for a very entertaining movie.

But just like every other movie I’ve been watching with my boys, there are big life lessons the movie can share with us.

Here are the three lessons that resonated with me the most.

Lesson 1: The good guys can sometimes do bad things. – Flynn Rider is introduced at the start of the movie as the charismatic and funny one of three thieves who steals the missing princess’ crown.

The Takeaway: Sometimes, good guys do bad things. It doesn’t make them a bad guy, per se. It just might mean they veered off the path they were supposed to follow in life; they might be a little lost.

The Communication: This was a surprisingly important and really big discussion point for my boys who are big on superheroes fighting the bad guys. To them, the world is still just black and white. Good and bad. Right and wrong. Good always triumphs over evil. There’s no gray area to them yet, no extenuating circumstances that make explaining why something happened the way it did a bit easier to comprehend.

So, when I explained that Flynn Rider is actually a good guy who does bad things? Mind. Blown. We talked about how there are levels of “bad things.” Something like hitting or punching your brother is a “bad thing,” but it doesn’t make you a bad person. Something like stealing is a bad thing, and it can, perhaps incorrectly, label you as a bad person.

This also opens up the conversation to talk about how you perceive yourself and others. The labels you assign to yourself and to others carry a lot of weight, whether intended or not. So how do you identify yourself? And how does the world see you? The reality is often somewhere in the middle. (This can absolutely lead to an even larger discussion about what labels do to us and to others.)

Lesson 2: Always be kind. – Despite everything, Rapunzel is always kind and honest and generous to whomever she meets. In her first adventure outside the tower, she is brought to a tavern where all the “bad guys” are hanging out and in a twist Flynn never expected, she engages them all in a song where they each share their hidden dreams and wishes.  

The Takeaway: Being kind goes a long way. Not only does it invite kindness toward you (hello, karma), but it can also create amazing friendships. An added bonus? You often feel really good after you’ve been kind to others.

The Communication: The world can be a hard and challenging place, and some people might not know how to deal with the difficulties life shares. It’s a known fact and for that reason, there have been a number of efforts to encourage the world to be kind. Things like #bekind and #passiton and #givingTuesday are all intentional events that encourage people to think of others first.

So, think about what you could do today to be kind to your family, your friends, your neighbors, a stranger. How could you improve on something today to make the sun shine a little brighter for them so they feel recognized, valued and appreciated?

Lesson 3: Be strong enough to stand up for what is right. – In one of the final scenes of the movie, Rapunzel stands up to the witch, telling her that she will no longer bend to her wishes.

The Takeaway: Sometimes, standing up to what you believe in is hard, takes courage and may go against popular opinion. But, it’s important to identify your core values and beliefs to be able to stay true to them in a world that will frequently challenge them.

The Communication: It will always be difficult to be the one who stands out from the crowd, especially when it’s against popular opinion. But this is why it’s so important to know and be committed to your values and beliefs and to identify your guardrails. Your guardrails keep you moving on your road in a way that fits and matters to you. They also help you notice when you are being swayed to do something you’re not comfortable with or be someone you’re not. Talk about your guardrails and help others identify theirs. Life is so much easier to navigate when you know what your road looks like.

Take Action
I love Tangled. It’s a fun, entertaining movie and the music is terrific. But the life lessons it inconspicuously shares are powerful. At the end of the day, being true to who you are is ultimately what helps you identify, and consistently and wisely move forward in, the direction of your life. And the ability to be kind, regardless of what life shares with you, will always benefit both you and others, and will take you far.

How are you staying true to yourself and remembering to be kind with your family, friends and others in good times? In challenging times? In the time of COVID-19 quarantine?

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading more Lessons in Movies

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The Lessons You Find in Movies: Shazam!

In today’s lessons from movies, we’re taking a look at Shazam! This obviously isn’t a movie for young kids, but the purpose of these posts is not to focus on just the conversations you can have with kids, but the conversations you can have with anyone of any age. These posts hope to encourage you to see and hear beyond the obvious and learn how to communicate it, expand your thinking and engage with others.

Ok, so, let’s chat about Shazam.

Here are the three lessons that resonated with me the most.

Lesson 1: Know your powers. – Just like any other superhero movie, one of the most exciting parts is seeing the superhero discover and use their superhero powers. In Shazam, we see lead character Billy Batson as Shazam, trying to figure out what his superpowers are and how they work.

The Takeaway: You’ll never discover your “superpowers” (aka your talents, strengths and unique abilities) unless you’re willing to explore what they could be and how they could be used.

The Communication: If you ask any kid what their superpower would be, you would get a slew of preferences. “Flying! No, x-ray power! No, super fast speed! No… um, super strength! Um, wait…”

But if you ask an adult? I’m willing to bet you won’t get many ideas, if you get one at all.

This is because in the adult world, we get stuck in doing what we always do instead of making time to discover, develop and live what our unique “superpowers” are. We get stuck in the monotony of our schedules, frequently overlooking our unique abilities because we just don’t have the time.

Take the time now. What is it you are truly remarkable at? What do others applaud you for?

When you know this, ask yourself how you can use your superpowers to make things better. Try it. What are you noticing and how could you start to bring your superpowers into more of your days?

Lesson 2: Don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do today. – Shazam (the original) kept denying passing on his powers to anyone he essentially interviewed for the role, saying no one was worthy or pure or heart to take on his job. He waited so long that he wasn’t strong enough to do his one role: keep the seven deadly sins trapped, ensuring they didn’t escape and unleash their destruction on the world.

The Takeaway: There’s an old saying, “don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.” Sometimes, waiting to take care of a big task can create more problems for you in the end. But sometimes, it’s not just procrastination. Sometimes, you can create an idea in your head so spectacular it’s hard to see it as anything else. And this can create a block or obstacle for you, one that you’ll need help overcoming.

The Communication: Building a picture in your mind about what you want a situation, event or even life in general to be can be inspiring. But left unmanaged or unchecked, it can mean you lose touch with reality. You have heard the phrase “paralysis through analysis.” Sometimes getting started instead of waiting until the perfect moment will deliver you greater results than you imagine.

So, consider how you could change that goal, or the end-result image, to be more attainable. Try this: chunk it. Break it into smaller, more manageable pieces. This is by no means a discussion about limiting your dreams or to stop you from imaging being better in every aspect of your life. This is to encourage you to set small, achievable mini-goals to help you stay focused and motivated on your course. This is what it looks like to be self-managed and keep your ideas and ideals in check.

Lesson 3: “Family” is entirely up to you. – Throughout the entire movie, the lead character – Billy Batson – is on the search for his biological mother. A constant foster run-away, he finds himself moved from foster home to foster home until he lands in a group home with an unlikely cast of characters. The final scene reveals the importance of family, in the way he decides it should look.

The Takeaway: Each of us has the ability to add value to those in our lives by caring deeply, valuing others and bringing our best to what we do, whether we call them family or not.

The Communication: How do you define family? Is it the biological family you were born into? Is it a close-knit group of friends who would do anything for each other? Is it a combination of the two? Regardless of how you define family, the real value is this: you are there for each other. You are all there to recognize and celebrate each other’s unique strengths. You’re also there to help each other navigate blocks and challenges life shares. This is what families do; they walk through life with each other, guiding, supporting and helping each other grow into their best and most “super” selves.

Take Action
Shazam was an enjoyable movie. Some great laughs. A lot of tough love and lessons learned. But in the end, it really showcased the importance of discovering, developing, owning and living your true self – and allowing others to do the same. This could mean avoiding unrealistic expectations and instead identifying achievable and tangible goals. It could also mean that we’re defining who we call family. This reminds each of us that we can choose who we want to surround ourselves with and, as a result of that intention decision, we can be supported and celebrated to be the best version of ourselves.

So, the really big, important question: if you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading more Lessons in Movies

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The Lessons You Find in Movies: WALL-E

In today’s lessons from movies, we’re taking a look at WALL-E. I have maybe seen the movie in its entirety 2 or 3 times, and that’s including the time I just watched it with my boys. But I admit that recently watching it again, I was surprised how much of the movie I vividly remembered. This was particularly surprising when I realized it was released in 2008 (what?!) and despite being nearly 12 years old, the lessons it shares are incredibly accurate for our world today.

Here are the three lessons that resonated with me the most.

Lesson 1: The Earth needs a break. As explained on the WALL-E Wikipedia page, “In the 29th century, rampant consumerism and environmental neglect have turned Earth into a garbage-strewn wasteland.” Sound familiar?

The Takeaway: As humans, we are notoriously bad at recognizing our impact on those around us. Whether it’s other people, places or things, our impact is so much more far reaching than we could possibly imagine.

The Communication: This is a great discussion point for your kids – especially with Earth Day just a few weeks ago – to highlight the importance of taking care of our environment. We talked about the impact we have on the environment on The Leading Edge not long ago as it relates to COVID-19, and since then, we’ve seen a continued number of stories and pictures emerge as the Earth seems to be healing from our harsh way of living. Understanding how to recognize your impact on others – whether people, places or things – can make a big difference in the words you choose when you’re expressing frustration with another. The cars you choose to drive. The intentional decision to recycle or throw something away. The effort you make in the relationships with those around you. Be aware of yourself enough to recognize when something you may do or say could negatively impact those or the world around you.

Lesson 2: Reliance on technology – In the movie, after everyone was evacuated from Earth, they become lazy and helpless, unable to do the most basic things due to their increasing reliance on machines to do it for them.

The Takeaway: Technology is amazing. It can do so many wonderful things and has allowed for incredible advances, like the ability for so many of us to work from home during this pandemic. But if it’s not managed, if technology is leaned on too much, it becomes a crutch we can’t walk without.

The Communication: Though technology can let us do so many wonderful things, using it too much can actually cause more harm than good. Remember the wisdom of the ancient philosophers, “Nothing too much.” Watching TV too much or playing too many video games can damage your eyes and impact your brain. Using a laptop or tablet from your favorite place in the house may be appealing for a while, but soon you’ll start to notice parts of your body getting tight and uncomfortable, most likely because you’re not sitting correctly. Like everything, technology is great when managed but can create challenges and unhealthy behaviors when left unmanaged. Learning how to use technology as a supporting item, and not relying on it for survival, is a tough transition to make, but possible. Start small, like putting the phones away during dinner. Retrain your brain to think on its own instead of relying on your virtual assistant to do all your thinking for you. Manage your technology the way you manage your eating: use it well and have a treat every now and then.

Lesson 3: Stay curious. Be positive. – Despite the fact that WALL-E is the last surviving robot on Earth tasked with cleaning up the mess, he still continues to wake up and do his job every day. He takes new items he discovers that intrigue him back to his “home” and gets excited about finding new things. He’s also incredibly curious, which shows his eagerness to continue to learn new things.

The Takeaway: Life is what it is. In every challenge there is always an opportunity – or three or four. But it’s what you do with what you’re given that makes the difference.

The Communication: Consider how you can shift your mindset to see the good in whatever life has to share with you. For example, think about the current quarantine we’re in. Do you see it as being stuck at home? Or do you see it as being safe at home? Same event, different perspective. Recognize how a mindset shift to see things in a positive way can change the entire experience.

Take Action
WALL-E is about being self-aware (knowing your strengths, passions, liabilities and triggers) so you can be self-managed. This is how you ensure you’re managing your impact on the people, places and things around you. This is how you create a positive approach to life, allowing you to see the good in every moment, even when things seem particularly challenging.   

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading The Lessons You Find in Movies: Frozen 2

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The Lessons You Find in Movies: Frozen 2

Ok, this might be a little corny, but I’m finding some big life lessons presented in movies as I’m watching with my kids.

Let me explain. I’m trying really hard to not resort to having the TV on all the time with everyone home during this quarantine phase. I’ve tried to make it an exciting event (“movie day” with special chairs and snacks in popcorn containers) rather than a normal occurrence. It works, sometimes.

Most recently, I noticed how many questions my kids ask when I turn a new movie on. And I realized they’re not asking questions to interrupt but instead to help them make sense of what they’re seeing.

Movie Day – Frozen 2

So I started answering their questions. All of them. And then I started asking them some questions, too. Before I knew it, I realized there was an untapped opportunity here: if we watch a movie, we have a conversation about what we’ve learned or taken away from it. *Flashback to freshman English class.*

As a coach, I’m sharing some of these big lessons with you to encourage you to have discussions with your kids about some of the things you see everyday – not just in movies – and to always entertain questions. After all, how can you learn new things, or see how things could be better, if you’re not willing to ask a question?

In fact, one of the greatest things we can do for our kids is to encourage them to find their own answers. By asking them questions, they can try out their own thinking and practice putting their thoughts together to (ideally) develop into a critical thinking and problem-solving person who can successfully navigate their way through life. But this means we can’t direct and control; we have to guide them and help them interpret what they see so they can learn about life and themselves and how to put the two together.

So here we go: lessons you find in movies. Up first, Frozen 2.

Full disclosure: I put this movie on in desperation for an hour of uninterrupted time to get some stuff done around the house and try to tackle some work. But I mistakenly sat within watching distance and let me tell you: I didn’t get any work done. I was sucked into this movie in a way I haven’t been in a very long time.

I know I’m late to the party with this one, but I was absolutely amazed at the depth of the life lessons shared in this movie. Here are just three that resonated with me.

Lesson 1: This will all make sense when I am older – It’s a great song Olaf sings (check it out on YouTube) as he encounters a variety of things that scare and confuse him.

The Takeaway: Life is big and amazing. But it can also be confusing and scary. And this is ok. Moving through the confusion, the scary parts and the overwhelming moments is part of life, but you can always get through it when you remain positive and choose to see the good. I also can appreciate the sarcasm here because really, when do any of us really have the ability to make sense of why things happen the way they do?

The Communication: This is a great discussion point for your kids if you’re looking for a way to chat with them about our current situation with COVID-19, or any situation they find themselves in that they don’t know how to handle. Whether they’re 2, 12 or 20, they’re looking for a way to make sense of all of this. Their world has been changed, drastically, and it was done seemingly overnight. This will all make sense when I am older could be a great way to illustrate to them that as they gain wisdom that comes from every experience they have in life, they’ll start to recognize when they can and can’t control a situation. And in both situations, they’ll see how they can control their response to the situation. Like Olaf in this song, he chose to remain positive and optimistic instead of cowering in fear.

Lesson 2: Lost in the woods – Another powerful moment, we see Kristoff lamenting that he’s been left behind, forced to make a decision to follow Anna (again) or to wait for her to come back. He’s confused and unsure about what this means for their relationship and he works through it by highlighting his confusion, frustration and undying love for Anna.

The Takeaway: It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok to be confused. It’s ok to be uncertain of what the future holds. It’s not ok to sit back and wait for the good to come to you. Life is what it is. It’s what you do with what you’re given that makes the difference.

The Communication: When you feel confused or vulnerable, sometimes talking through your situation can be incredibly helpful. Some may choose to journal or draw to get their thoughts on paper for a visual representation of what they’re feeling. Some may choose to talk to someone, like a friend, family member or coach, to hear the words said out loud and get feedback and support. At the end of the day, feeling vulnerable is not a weakness; it’s a sign of self-awareness that helps each of us determine how to act in a meaningful way. It’s a learning opportunity to help yourself understand why you feel the way you feel and identify how you can overcome the feeling of vulnerability. The biggest lesson, though, is that even though there may be times when you feel vulnerable, confused or defeated, it’s what you do in the next moment that matters more: how you choose to respond to those feelings to make the next moment better.

Lesson 3: You’re the one you’ve been looking for – Ok, SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t seen the movie, continue reading this lesson with caution. This is the scene when Elsa learns that the person she’s been waiting for, the person to help her navigate her magical powers and help her become who she’s supposed to be has actually been her the whole time. It’s a powerful scene… who’s cutting onions?

The Takeaway: Sometimes, you can be so caught up in what you think life should be or how you think it should look that you forget to see what’s right in front of you: you. The uniquely wonderful, amazing and very capable you.

The Communication: Imagine what the world would be like if you were able to fully embrace all your strengths, talents and liabilities. What would it be like if you were able to fully step into the person you were born to be? How could you be different? How would the world be different because of you?

What’s holding you back?

Take Action
Frozen 2 is ultimately about learning how to become self-aware and to embrace who you are – all your strengths, passions, liabilities and triggers. You are just right as you are, and you have what you need to have a great life. You may just need some help to discover, uncover or access all that you are.

What do you know of yourself? Start to build your list of your abilities, interests and the things that matter for you. And if you want some help, check out The Greatness Zone, a great read while everyone is at home during COVID-19 to learn how to discover who you are and how to connect what is best in you to your world.

COVID-19 or not, you are capable of great things. Use everything around you to help you learn this and ultimately discover what is great and remarkable about you. Then bring it to your life and do great things.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading What Fills You Up: Finding Your Fit

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Could COVID-19 Help Us Get Back to More Successful Relationships?

When it comes to maintaining relationships, technology has been a mixed blessing. It has allowed many of us to stay in touch with family and friends who are too far away to see on a regular basis. But it has also given us a lazy pass to avoid the face-to-face time with those closest to us.

With the arrival of COVID-19 and our requirement to maintain social distancing, it’s forcing us to review our use of technology in relationships.

Have we been sacrificing our relationships this whole time?

Think about your living situation. Most of us are now required to be with our families or roommates all day, every day. In the past, we could escape if a situation became too much or was uncomfortable (think about how many people NEED to go the movies during a holiday week, just to get out of the house and away from their families).

In our COVID-19 world, we have no quick escape. We have to stay put and work it out.

It might seem tough, but let me suggest a new way to see this: an opportunity to improve your existing relationships. I see this time as learning through immersion.

The best way to see this is with languages. When you really want to develop great language proficiency, you spend time in that country. You are surrounded by it in every aspect of your days. You can feel overwhelmed by it or you can see it for the opportunity to develop skills quickly.  Your attitude about it will determine your success with it.

We are in a similar situation now. We have been immersed in our relationships. By changing your attitude about it, along with these ideas, we can use this unique moment to build better, more sustainable and more effective relationships.

  1. Acknowledge your situation. Have a family or apartment meeting to identify the elephant in the room. Pretending that all communication and interactions will be easy when you are forced to spend time with each other won’t serve you well. Instead, see that this moment will require more from each of you and a goal could be a collective focus on getting along better and building better relationships.
  2. Create new rules. We know that sometimes in relationships, we can trigger each other by what we say, how we say it or, sometimes, what we don’t say. Gather ideas for rules that will encourage open, caring, professional and managed communications throughout the day. Holding each other accountable to create, support and comply with the rules can get everyone on the same page. Use the rules to focus on building and sustaining quality relationships, not to spark competition, fights or holding a grudge.
  3. Share more of yourself and learn more about others. Make time to get to better know the people in your environment. Most of the time, we only know a little about each other, or we share only a little about ourselves. This is true even for families. Use this quarantine time to ask deeper questions, listen more generously, understand each other more significantly and connect more personally. Think of the people who get stranded in a bus station or airport because of a storm. As the time progresses, they realize that the quality of their experience will be in how they connect and support each other. They frequently leave the situation as friends or even just more appreciative of each other.

Take Action
Four weeks in, are you frustrated with the quarantine? Or are you finding your relationships with family members, friends / roommates are getting better?

We can react and be frustrated or disappointed that we are in this situation, but this is an ineffective use of energy and emotion. Instead, create and act on the intention to use this moment to build stronger relationships. Use this moment to be more present, gather and share more information and come away more informed and connected.

The world will send what it will send – COVID-19 or something else. At first glance, we can be discouraged by it. But, if you reframe your thinking to see the opportunity in whatever comes your way, you will always be impressed, instead of disappointed, by life.

Check out our upcoming FREE 30-minute webinar on How to Have Your Relationships Survive Quarantine on April 15, 2020 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Register to reserve your spot.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Don’t Be An Ostrich

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The Double Standard to Accepting Change: Kids vs. Adults

Some people balk at new situations or big changes in life. In fact, it’s become an inside joke between my husband and me – whenever we need to make a big decision, the joke is that we’ll get back to someone in 3-6 months, once my husband has time to wrap his head around the changes that will result from the decision we need to make.

It’s almost expected, or at least allowed, for an adult to not like change. Our brains see change as different and dangerous and, using emotions, try to guide us away from it.

As a society, we’ve even created labels to help us connect with others who are like us because being different is so uncomfortable. Extroverts vs. introverts. Drivers vs. analytics. The book worm vs. the social butterfly.

It doesn’t matter what labels you use; it helps us, as adults, wrap our heads around how people engage and interact with their world.

But what about kids? I’ve seen such a variety of behaviors in kids, just like in adults, yet it’s almost frowned upon when a kid doesn’t want to jump right into something new. My 3-year old, for example, hates when routine is shifted. He doesn’t like when he doesn’t know what’s happening. He doesn’t like when things seem to be out of his control. He’s not always comfortable in a new environment, at least not right away. He has yet to learn how to understand and manage change.

Whenever someone comments on his behavior, saying that it’s “strange” or “unusual” for a little boy to be so reserved, I calmly remind them that 1) it makes navigating being a mother of three boys a little easier that they’re not all escape artists and dare devils and 2) it’s not for them to worry about.

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Easier said than done, though, right? When you hear a criticism or opinion from someone else about your own children, you start to notice things that may not have been apparent to you before. You see things through a different lens. And then you start to wonder if something is wrong, or if you’re doing something wrong that encourages that behavior.

So I’m going to say it: let’s lift the double standard. Let’s guide our kids to learn how to navigate their world in their own way. Let’s be their guardrails, helping to guide them to figure out who they are, what they’re good at and what they love to do in their own way and in their own time. After all, it is their life. We are just custodians charged with helping them figure out who they are and how to be authentic. Their lives are not our lives. Our lives are not theirs.

Regardless of how well you may roll with the punches, I think we’re all inherently the same: we don’t like to not know what’s coming. We don’t like when things are out of our control. We don’t like to shift from our normal behaviors. When we go somewhere new, we often take a friend with us so we’re not alone. When we try something new, it’s not without nerves that we learn how to overcome.

It’s where the phrase “creature of habit” comes from. I think most of us are like this. We park in the same parking spot. We shop on the same day. We get the same food or drink from our restaurant of choice. I, personally, am a creature of habit. I like my routines because creating these routines helps me feel more grounded and in control in my world.

So let’s help our kids learn how to create successful and grounding routines. Let’s help them see and accept change because they have confidently learned how to manage it in a way that makes sense for them. Change is truly the one constant, so the sooner we can guide our kids to knowing and appreciating it instead of fearing and resenting it, the more capable they will be in today’s world.

DISCLAIMER: Some behaviors seen in children certainly do warrant special attention. If you find yourself wondering if a specific behavior you’re seeing in your child(ren) may need some correction, it’s best to seek professional help (pediatrician, specialist, etc.) for guidance, advice and, if needed, treatment.

Take Action

Stop and notice when your child is resistant to change. Do they shy away from it? Refuse to try something new? Do they lash out and seem angry? Whatever behavior you may see, ask the important question: “why?” This can help you identify what environments are inspiring these behaviors and help them learn how to navigate these and others. In the process you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by quickly and confidently your child learns how to manage their world in a way that matters to them.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Hear What They’re Actually Saying

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