Intros

You Can Heal Your Life: The Movie

“This movie is life-changing. I am honored to be a part of Hay House’s first-ever film on the life and work of their founder, Louise Hay. This film not only tells the story of her amazing life and the healing work she’s contributed to millions of people, it also shares provocative wisdom on the power of thought, affirmations, the raising of consciousness and the vital link between the mind and the body that promotes true healing.  Watching this movie will create a shift in how you view the world.  Please take a moment and view the trailer below…”

Love,

Cheryl

Here’s what Hay House has to say about the movie:

This entertaining and inspirational movie hosted by best-selling author Louise L. Hay and directed by Emmy award winner Michael Goorjian gives penetrating insights into her fascinating life story; and also provides clarity on how her views on self-esteem, abundance, and how the metaphysical causes behind physical ailments were developed. The movie also features a number of luminaries in the fields of self-help and health and spirituality and new thought — including Doreen Virtue, Gregg Braden, Wayne W. Dyer, Gay Hendricks, Esther and Jerry Hicks, Leon Nacson, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Candace B. Pert, Cheryl Richardson, Dr. Mona Lisa Schulz, and many others who share their personal stories about Louise’s impact on their lives.  The music is composed by Grammy Award Winner Musician Jim Brickman.

This Expanded Version also treats you to bonus footage featuring additional interviews with Louise and your favorite Hay House authors, behind-the-scenes action, plus an exclusive interactive affirmation tool that will bring you practical, inspiring affirmations directly from Louise to practice, learn, and apply to your own life.

Now available as a digital download! (see below for format details)

Price: $99

Buy Now

The Practice Building Workshop with Cheryl Richardson

Are You Ready To Build a Thriving, Referral-Generated Practice?

Rather than focus on hundreds of marketing techniques, this program will help you nail down the necessary (and smart!) steps to build and grow a successful business that reflects your unique personality and talents.

Listen to an intimate gathering with Cheryl and the workshop gang as she talks about the writing process, getting published, building a successful speaking career, and effectively working with the media, from local TV/radio to Oprah!

“After attending this weekend workshop, I knew my time and money had been well spent when I looked at my notes a month later and discovered that I had actually implemented all of the actions I’d committed to. Like any self-respecting coach, I resist anything that feels inauthentic. (Definitely not a fan of cookie-cutter marketing plans!) Completely the opposite, Cheryl masterfully provided specific, practical and realistic suggestions that allowed me to shine in a bigger way without compromising my individuality. Very soon I saw the result of my efforts as my business expanded and evolved according to my design/desires.”

Sally McCue, MCC
www.growthwork.net

“The information and presence Cheryl provided at this workshop have moved me far beyond ‘the next level’ in my thinking about myself, my coaching, and my clients. Almost every day something reminds me of an exercise or insight I experienced at this workshop. What I learned is directly connected to my stepping into a niche where my practice virtually builds itself. In addition, my clients have reaped huge rewards from my having done this work.”

Mehrzad N. Araghi
Aligned Connections Consulting

In this recorded workshop, Cheryl covers three vital areas:

  1. Personal Development
    Most people focus on growing their business, but the first step in achieving success is growing you! In this section, you will:

    • Create a powerful vision for your life and your business — one that attracts success
    • Learn one of the biggest mistakes a business owner makes when marketing a business
    • Identify your unique talents, skills, and strengths so you can focus your energy in the right direction
    • Gain the confidence and courage that shouts “Competent Coach!”
Hear Cheryl’s personal vision story, written long before becoming a New York Times Bestselling Author, and see what happened!
  1. Business Development
    When your business is well organized and built on a solid foundation, you create the space for new clients to show up naturally. In this section, you will:

    • Discover the power of preparation when you learn to get (and stay!) organized
    • Eliminate anxiety about keeping track of income, expenses, and taxes by putting simple, smart systems in place
    • Learn whether or not self-employment is for you
    • Establish the rules every client must follow to get your best coaching
Cheryl shares the top three reasons behind her success!
  1. Practice Development
    If you cringe when you think about marketing your business, don’t worry. The key to success is choosing marketing methods that fit your style. In this section, you will:

    • Learn to give potential clients an experience of you and your coaching, from sharing a success story at a holiday party to building an online community
    • Develop a powerful referral network by building relationships with influential people
    • Avoid the marketing strategies that are a waste of precious time, money, and energy
Includes TWO bonus recordings! Learn the secrets to getting published, building a speaking career, and getting the media exposure you deserve!

“I was a participant in the workshop, having recently begun transitioning my therapy practice to a coaching business. I have been listening to the Practice Building Workshop audio program, and hearing the material now, a year and a half later, is really an extraordinary experience. There was so much I was just not able to take in at the time, which hearing at this point is priceless. Not only can I see how far I’ve come and how much I did take in about trusting myself and being who I am, but there are so many useful and inspiring suggestions that I am ready to hear now and they are already helping me move even further along my path. This audio program is such a gift! Thank you!”

Roberta Taylor

Also included: 2 PDF files with handouts and valuable resource list!

Price: $99

Buy Now

Please read before purchasing:

  • The Practice Building Workshop is available as an audiobook – M4B file.
  • File size: 366.5 MB
  • Please ensure you have sufficient disk space before downloading.
  • The amount of time it takes to download your purchase will vary according to the file’s size and your Internet connection speed.
  • Currently, iOS devices (i.e. iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) are not able to download M4B directly to the device outside of iTunes. Purchases should be downloaded to your computer, added to your iTunes library, and then you can sync your computer with any device compatible with iTunes.
  • M4B is an audio file format specifically designed for audiobooks. It is similar to MP3, but M4B collects many individual tracks into a convenient single file and ‘bookmarks’ your position when you stop listening, allowing you to resume listening where you left off.

To see the full card with its message, click on the button below the card you’d like to preview and/or send, then click on the “Next” button at the bottom of the page.













A 52-Card Deck

Self-Care Cards by Cheryl RichardsonPlease note: Some of the artwork in the deck contains nudity.

Below is a list of ideas from members of our online community.

Let these cards serve as a daily reminder to take special care of your precious Self. Enjoy!

Send a free Self-Care Card to a family member or friend!

Self-care card winner Monica Martinez Byrd from Vancouver, BC, puts a card in books that she gives as gifts, leaves them in an envelope with the gratuity for estheticians, nail technicians, massage therapists and hair dressers, and slips one into her hubby’s gym shoes before he goes to work.

Anna leaves a self-care card in the books she borrows from her local library. She says: “I believe there are no coincidences and I know that the person who most needs to hear those uplifting words will intuitively be drawn to borrow the book next.”

Pamela Mitchell from Vancouver, BC, says, “There is a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, so I developed a Kid’s Day. The children (my two nieces) make all the rules, choose the decor and menus, and we have it outdoors. The whole family comes and we have races, prizes, medals and trophies with Self-Care Cards for all the winners (and everyone wins). It’s a wonderful day of love, joy and self-care.”

Lori Lutze from Wisconsin keeps a box in her glove compartment and puts a card on the dashboard of her car each day. Lori has also been known to put cards under the windshield wipers of co-workers too :)

Cindy Babits from North Carolina gives a card to the toll takers at bridges and tunnels in her community.

Kelly says: “I decided to practice a random act of kindness by taping a self-care card to each stall door in the women’s bathroom at school.” Now that’s a fine way to add a little beauty to the world :)

Pam and her husband have five children and a very hectic life. Pam says that she and her husband leave self care cards under the windshield wipers of each other’s car as a way of saying “I value you and I want you to take the very best care of yourself.”

Use a self care card as a wedding gift/token for each guest at the reception (showers too!).

Hide several cards around your home (drawers, coat pockets, cabinets, etc) so when you stumble upon them you are not only surprised, you get the message you need in that moment.

Allison is a quilter who has been experimenting with scanning photos onto fabric to create “photo album” quilts. She recommends creating a self-care quilt using the cards.

Christina’s husband taped a small envelope to their bathroom mirror and once a week he chooses a card, slips it in the envelope, and invites her to focus on its message.

“I have a wonderful girlfriend who lives in another state. Each week I send her a ‘thinking of you’ note and include a self care card. It’s like sending her a big hug!”

Laminate several self care cards and use them as coasters (especially when visiting with your Life Makeover Groups :)

Take one or more cards and include them in a self-care basket. Our reader says, “Everybody (including men!) could use a pampering gift.”

Place them in a basket or glass jar and pick a self-care message every day.

Choose one card at the beginning of the week, and keep yourself focused on its message by hanging it on your refrigerator or by putting it in your daily planner.

When faced with a decision, you might shuffle the deck, center your mind, and choose one card to help guide you in the right direction.

Include a card in thank-you notes, birthday greetings, or any correspondence where you’d like to share a message of self-care.

Monthly Billing: Include a card in your monthly invoices (great for coaches or any business owner who does sends a monthly bill).

Life Makeover Groups: Have each member choose a card at random to focus on until the next meeting date.

Workshops: Have each participant choose a card at the end of the workshop as a thank you gift.

Place one in your kid’s backpack before going to school.

Hide self-care cards before having a party or gathering and have guests go on a treasure hunt to find one. Then, have each guest talk about how the card applies to them.

Put a card in each bill paid to not only surprise the recipient, but to make bill paying a joyful experience.

Create a hanging mobile for your home or office.

A 50-Card Deck

Dear Friends,

Grace Cards by Cheryl RichardsonI’m excited to share my new Grace Cards with you. Click here to see a few examples. There are 50 cards in each deck.

Once you have a deck of your own, you can use them in several ways. Empty them into a basket and pick a message every day. Or, when faced with a decision, close your eyes, ask a question, and choose one card for guidance and inspiration. Also, you can share the gift of grace with family, friends, and colleagues by including these cards in thank-you notes, birthday cards, holiday greetings, or any correspondence.

Here are some of the ways in which our community members have used our Self-Care Cards. Use their suggestions to now spread a little grace around the world!

  • Put a card in each bill paid to not only surprise the recipient, but to make bill paying a joyful experience.
  • Leave a card in the books borrowed from the local library.
  • Keep a box in your glove compartment and put a card on the dashboard of your car each day.
  • Give a card to the toll takers at bridges and tunnels in your community.
  • Practice a random act of kindness by leaving a card in a public restroom.
  • Leave a card under the windshield wiper of a co-worker’s car.
  • Use a card as a wedding gift/token for each guest at the reception (showers too!).
  • Hide several cards around your home (drawers, coat pockets, cabinets, etc) so when you stumble upon them, you’re not only surprised, you get the message you need in that moment.
  • Tape a small envelope to the bathroom mirror and, once a week, choose a card and leave it there to focus on its message.
  • Send a “thinking of you” note to a good friend and include a card.
  • Laminate several cards and use them as coasters (especially when visiting with your Life Makeover Groups :-)
  • Take one or more cards and include them in a Grace basket.
  • Choose one card at the beginning of the week, and keep yourself focused on its message by hanging it on your refrigerator or by putting it in your daily planner.
  • Send a card with your invoices (great for coaches or business owners who send a monthly bill).
  • Have Life Makeover Group members choose a card at random to focus on until the next meeting date.
  • Have each participant choose a card at the end of a workshop as a thank you gift.
  • Place one in your child’s backpack before going to school.
  • Hide cards before having a party or gathering and have guests go on a treasure hunt to find one. Then, have each guest talk about how the card applies to them.
  • Create a hanging mobile for your home or office.
  • Put a card in books that you give as gifts
  • Leave them with your gratuity for estheticians, nail technicians, massage therapists, hair dressers and waitstaff.
  • Slip them in your loved one’s shoes before he/she leaves for the day.

The Mind Body Makeover ProjectFor years I’ve listened to people beat themselves up for not eating right or failing to exercise on a consistent basis. As a personal coach and educator I’ve talked to thousands about their dreams and desires. Time and again when I ask people to identify the one goal that they’d most like to accomplish, the one that would have the greatest impact on their quality of life, the most frequent answer is “I want to lose weight and get in shape!”

If you’re reading this Foreword, there’s a good chance that you know the frustration and emotional turmoil that come from failed attempts to lose weight and improve your health. You probably feel tortured by a critical inner voice that monitors your eating or exercise habits and reprimands you for breaking yet another promise to yourself when you fail to follow through. And I’m sure that, like so many well-intentioned people, you’ve listened to many experts and/or read plenty of books, desperately searching for the one thing that will restore your willpower and put you out of your misery. Well, look no more.

In your hands lies the key to freedom, emotional freedom, freedom from the debilitating negative self talk that keeps you caught in a vicious cycle of hope and despair. In this book you’ll finally discover the truth about why you haven’t been able to lose weight and get in shape, and you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to end this cycle once and for all.

When I first considered writing the Foreword for this book, I had a moment of hesitation because the author, Michael Gerrish, is my husband. But as I thought about the millions of people who suffer needlessly with weight and health problems, I knew that it was an important thing for me to do. You see, I know that the process outlined in this book works. For the past ten years I’ve watched Michael successfully work with individuals just like you who have felt “beaten down” by numerous failed attempts to get in shape. His educational training in both fitness and psychology has given him a knowledge base and perspective that few fitness professionals have. As a result of more than twenty years of experience, Michael has created a process of uncovering and treating a client’s unique “unidentified fitness obstacles” (UFOs) which has consistently produced groundbreaking (and lasting) results. This process begins with a one-of-a-kind self diagnostic test. Once you’ve completed this test, you’ll see exactly what stands in your way. Finally, you’ll have a clear and accurate picture of the specific personal challenges you’re apt to encounter en route to success. You’ll see where the bumps in the road will be before they stop you in your tracks.

While developing this test, Michael gave me and several colleagues a chance to try it out for ourselves. All of us were amazed by what came to light as we tallied our scores. When you take the test for yourself, you’ll see exactly what I mean. As your obstacles are revealed you’ll feel a sense of relief when you discover that it isn’t your lack of willpower or discipline that’s been hindering your success, but rather, problems you weren’t aware of or were in denial about. The results of the UFO test will provide you with the all important foundation that is so often missing in most fitness programs. As a matter of fact, I believe this test should be standard procedure for anyone who is considering a diet or exercise program, and an essential tool for any fitness professional who is committed to his or her client’s success.

I also know that this program works because I had the privilege of being part of the “makeover team” who worked closely with the seven individuals profiled in this book. Their personal stories will give you a unique and intimate look at why millions of Americans who spend billions of dollars each year on diet and exercise products still can’t achieve the level of health they desire.

There are reasons why you can’t reach your fitness goals. Real reasons. Reasons that most fitness books and weight loss programs never address. Rather than deal with the symptoms, the program outlined in this book deals with the hidden, underlying source of your problem. As you read the journal entries and ongoing dialogues between Michael and each participant, you’ll see that each person had his or her own personal obstacles that had to be addressed before they were able to achieve a measurable level of success. For example, for some getting in shape meant addressing unexpected health concerns like attention deficit disorder, food allergies, or a hormone imbalance. For others, it meant facing the painful experiences that caused them to gain weight in an effort to shield themselves from intimacy or abuse.

In The Mind-Body Makeover Project you’ll also see that diet and exercise changes are not enough. They must be done in combination with life changes for long-lasting success to occur. Your busy schedule, conflicting beliefs, or discomfort with putting your self-care first all play a role in whether or not you’ll achieve your fitness goals. In addition to these life changes, you’ll also find that, like the participants in this project, you’ll come up against other challenges the pressure to reach your goals immediately, or the normal fear of whether or not you’ll be able to stick with the program once you’ve reached the level of health you desire. Don’t worry. Just turn the page and let Michael’s wise and compassionate voice guide you. Believe me, you’re in good hands.

It is my sincere hope that The Mind-Body Makeover Project marks a new beginning for the fitness industry — a beginning that honors the truth about what it takes to achieve good health. As you read through these pages, you’ll begin to see that improving your health is a multifaceted and highly personal process that requires patience, understanding, and, above all, self-acceptance. I wish you the best of luck!

— Cheryl Richardson

The Mind Body Makeover ProjectIf you ever want to impress your friends with the volume of mail you receive, put the word out that you’re looking for folks who would like a makeover for free. Not only would you be amazed by the number of people who’d write (to apply), you would also be deeply moved by their genuine, heartfelt pleas for help. The replies I received, for example, ranged from those who had “let themselves go,” to those who had serious health concerns and feared that they might even die (stories like this are what made me regret that I couldn’t respond to them all). Here are some excerpts from only a few of the letters that I received:

“Five years ago, my twenty-month-old son and I survived being struck by a tractor-trailer truck traveling 56 miles per hour. Eight people were killed, including my husband… I have successfully worked through much of my anxiety, depression, survivor’s guilt, and post-traumatic stress. However, my body does not reflect the work I’ve done internally. To me, this is a sign that there is more work to be done.”

“Significant milestones in my exercise history include getting rid of the Soloflex (that was in my garage) to make room for the Nordic Track (that was in my house). As my insight expands, so too does my collection of diet books, motivational tapes, health club newsletters, and unfortunately, my waist. I now weigh 195 pounds (leaning 15 degrees to either side of the scale).”

“I’m scared that I’ll lose my husband because he is obese. He’s a warm and loving person who always gives so much. In many ways, he’s saved my life I want to help save his.”

“As my husband lay dying, I promised him that I would take better care of myself. But I can’t do it alone. To participate in your program just might save my life.”

“Someday I’d like to get married, or at least find someone to date. But most of my first dates are last dates, and I know it’s because of my weight.”

“I feel like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel like this beautiful work of art that’s been fading over time, that needs someone to help define my edges, brighten my colors, and let me see again that I am a masterpiece.”

What saddened me most of all about these stories, and took me aback, was the fact that just about everyone said, “I’m ashamed of the way I look.” Quite a few people sent photographs of themselves in loose-fitting clothes, making it hard to accurately assess their size or weight. Others sent photos in which they were just tiny specks in the midst of a crowd, or hiding behind other people, trying their best to avoid being seen. And some letters came without photos, from people who claimed they had nothing to send! Most of them said they were camera shy because they were so overweight, and never let anyone photograph them, not even at family events.

Hearing, and seeing, this, time and again, confirmed an important truth — that getting in shape and developing self-esteem is an inside job. It also confirmed the need for a whole new way to achieve these ends, one where our bodies and minds aren’t viewed, and treated, as such separate things.

It’s with great admiration and deep respect for everyone who applied, and also for you, the reader, that my vision takes voice in this book. I hope that it guides and inspires you, and helps you be all you can be.

Visit Exercise Plus and learn more about The Mind-Body Makeover Project

A Practical Step-by-Step Plan to Build Inner Confidence and Personal Power

Stand Up for Your Life by Cheryl RichardsonFor years I felt haunted by a persistent inner voice that told me I was meant to do more with my life. Although I earned a good living and enjoyed the company of family and friends, I felt restless and unsatisfied. There was so much I wanted to do with my life but lacked the courage and confidence to take action. At the prompting of a good friend who referred me to her therapist, I finally reached out for help.

As I sat in his office waiting for my first appointment, my eyes stopped at a cartoon hanging on the wall. It was Snoopy, Charlie Brown’ s dog from the Peanuts comic strip, struggling to balance a doghouse on his back. The caption below the cartoon read: “There’ s nothing heavier than the burden of potential.” As I stared at that message I started to cry. I too felt burdened by my unrealized potential. I was bursting with energy and desire but lacked the skills to channel it in the right direction.

Once I realized that I could release this burden by taking specific actions to build my confidence and self esteem I got to work. Using the gift of guidance and a whole new action plan, I set about making the changes that allowed my true self to emerge. With each tough choice and courageous step I slowly learned to trust and act on the wisdom of my inner voice. As I did, my life began to change in ways I never would have imagined. Yours can too. In this book I’ ll offer you a step-by-step plan to unlock and use your greatest potential. As you do, you’ ll not only give birth to an amazing life, you’ ll be given an opportunity to help others do the same. To begin, you need only consider the possibilities . . .

What would your life be like if you had the courage and emotional strength to overcome self-doubt, fear, or concern for what others say about you? Think about it. How would your relationships change? Would you stay at your current job? Are there any big moves you’ d feel liberated to make? How would your life be different?

From my work with thousands of people, I know that many feel as though they’ re living a life scripted or prescribed by others. They long to break out of their self-imposed limitations and lead their own lives, but they lack the courage and confidence to do so. The situations are varied. For example, one client who had a successful career in health care said: ” I’ m dying to start my own restaurant, but I’ m afraid of disappointing my father by leaving the family business.” Another told me: ” Every day I fantasize about traveling throughout Europe, but I keep putting off my plans because I’ m too afraid to step outside of my comfort zone.” And one mom, echoing the longings of many, said, ” I know that my child’ s welfare comes first, but I can’ t help feeling that there’ s something more I’ m meant to do with my life.”

I understand these yearnings. For years I let fear and self-doubt rule my life, too afraid to step out on my own and follow my true desires. I designed my life according to the blueprints of others. I made people-pleasing a full-time career, trusted the advice of friends before my own, and sabotaged my success each time I came too close to doing something other than what others thought I should do. It wasn’ t until I faced the truth of how attached I was to the opinions of everyone else that I realized how clueless I was about my own.

If you feel as though your life revolves around the needs or expectations of others, here’ s an important message for you to hear:

You have deep within you the power to fulfill your highest vision of your life. To engage this power you must develop a solid personal relationship with yourself. By doing so, you’ ll tap into a wealth of inner strength that will allow you to take the necessary actions that build confidence and self-esteem. When you learn to stop hiding your power and use fear to your advantage, you’ ll become less attached to what others want for you and more attached to what you want for yourself. As this shift occurs,you’ ll naturally begin to lead a more authentic and passionate life.

Where do you begin when you decide to stand up for your life? The first step is to develop self-awareness. How you handle your day-to-day reality holds clues to the ways you deny your feelings and needs, weaken your emotional strength, and allow others to direct your life. To see what I mean, read through the following list and put a check mark next to the statements that are true for you:

____ I have responsibilities that prevent me from doing what I really want.

____ Though I schedule time for myself, I often end up canceling it to accommodate someone else’s needs.

____ I tend to care too much about what others think of me.

____ Each time I get close to success, I do something to sabotage my progress.

____ When faced with any decision, I immediately call several people for input.

____ When someone hurts my feelings, I keep my mouth shut and later fantasize about what I

could have said.

____ I often say yes when I mean no.

____ I take things personally and feel easily affected by others.

____ I feel like I’m not living up to my fullest potential.

____ When speaking with others, I often downplay my knowledge to avoid seeming arrogant.

____ I’m afraid to out-succeed my parents.

____ I have a nagging sense that something is missing from my life.

____ When I’m upset with someone I’d rather talk myself out of it than confront the person with the issue.

____ I have a secret desire that I’ve never admitted to anyone.

____ When someone neglects to follow through on a promise, I quietly brood and do it myself.

____ I long to find my passion or purpose in life.

If you’ve checked off even one of these statements, read on . . .

Over the last several years I’ve listened closely to the needs of my readers. By talking with them during live workshops, communicating electronically with my on-line community, conducting teleconferencing discussions, and leading the Lifestyle Makeover series for the Oprah Winfrey Show, I’ve met men and women from all walks of life. I’ve seen the epidemic of frustration and despair.

Parents, homemakers, corporate employees, business owners, artists, and students alike all struggle with the same questions:

  • How do I learn to speak up and honor my needs without feeling selfish?
  • Where do I find the courage to make the changes I know I need to make in spite of the reactions of others?
  • How can I overcome the self-defeating behaviors that make me feel stuck?
  • Is there a way to set boundaries without damaging my relationships or feeling guilty?
  • How can I stay motivated and stop sabotaging my success?
  • How do I find my life purpose — some kind of meaning or direction for my life?

These questions represent the inner challenges we all face as we attempt to find satisfaction in our lives. In my first two books, Take Time for Your Life and Life Makeovers, I offered practical strategies that allowed readers to begin reclaiming their lives. By practicing the basics of good self-care and tackling those areas that were causing the most stress — cluttered environments, poor financial health, or nonstop, draining to-do lists — many of you joined me in a plan to take more control of your lives. As you set about making these outer changes you may have bumped up against inner changes that needed to be made as well. For example, you may have wanted a way to deal with your guilty feelings as you made your needs more of a priority. Or you may have needed a strategy to handle your fear as you took bold steps to pursue a lifelong dream. Maybe you felt incapable of handling the inevitable conflict that would occur as a result of making a decision to take control of your life.

ARE YOU GIVING UP YOUR POWER?

When you decide to improve the quality of your life you set in motion new relationships with yourself and others. As you start to take better care of yourself there’s a good chance that you’ll feel uncomfortable at first, and that some of the people in your life will feel threatened. For example, if you’ve always said “yes” to family members who need your help, when you start saying “no” it will ruffle some feathers. If you’re used to putting the needs of your children before your own, you will feel guilty when you start to make your needs more of a priority. When these reactions to your newfound commitment to self-care occur there’s a good chance that you’ll do what most caring people do — back down to avoid conflict, hurting others’ feelings, disapproval, or abandonment.

Most of us play it safe by putting our needs aside when faced with the possibility of feeling guilty, disappointing others, or facing conflict of some kind. At home you may abdicate your need for support with the kids to keep peace with your spouse, letting your resentment build over time. At work you may allow a complaining coworker to keep draining your energy to avoid confrontation — and end up hating your job. Or you may go right back to saying yes to family members who give you a hard time to avoid their emotional rejection, only to feel frustrated by the lack of quality time that you have for yourself. We work hard to manage the perceptions of others, ignoring our own needs, and in the end we surrender the very thing that will allow us to live authentic, meaningful lives — our power.

We have been trained to surrender our power early in life. Each of us has been taught to live by the rules imposed on us in both subtle and not so subtle ways by generations of parental influences, societal demands, religious expectations, and educational training. Maybe you’ll recognize a few of these rules:

Be nice.
Be quiet.
Don’t get too excited.
Don’t get too big for your britches.
Be seen and not heard.
Put the needs of others before your own.
Keep your expectations low.
Be modest.
Keep peace at any cost.
Don’t out-succeed your loved ones.
Don’t threaten others by being too bright.
Don’t toot your own horn.
Do what I tell you to do.
Don’t be too proud of yourself.
Be happy with what you have.
Don’t be a know-it-all.
Don’t be so full of yourself.

Although the intention is to use these rules in a constructive, healthy way, more often than not, little by little, they end up stifling a child’s spirit. I once witnessed a startling example of this while fishing with a friend who was 79 years old. A young boy approached us and offered to help me cast my rod farther out. He said he was an excellent fisherman, well trained by his grandfather, and added with a proud voice: “I’m pretty smart when it comes to catching fish.” No sooner were the words out of this boy’s mouth when my friend piped up and said, “Yeah, and you’re pretty modest too!”

Instantly I felt the emotional hit in my body and turned just in time to see the young boy shut down too. He dropped his head and started to walk away. My friend meant no harm by his comment; it simply reflected the rule he had been taught to follow: Don’t be boastful.

By teaching our children to stay in line we create well-behaved followers. While this may make parenting a bit easier, it has enormous costs later in life: These same children grow up to be unhappy adults who desperately want to lead their own lives, yet lack the necessary skills to do so.

Instead of being trained to follow the rules that may have crushed your spirit, imagine what your life would have been like if you had been taught these instead:

Stop apologizing when you’ve done nothing wrong.
Be courageous.
Think big.
Be ambitious.
Don’t be modest.
Be seen and heard.
Be enthusiastic.
Be proud of who you are and what you know.
Keep your expectations high.
Go for it!

When I think about how my life might have been different had I been raised with these types of rules, I know I would have spoken up in school when I knew the answer to a teacher’s question instead of feeling too insecure to raise my hand. I would have performed in the high school plays that captured my imagination rather than relegating myself to the audience secretly longing to be on stage. And as I grew older I would have had the courage to leave the relationships that wounded my heart instead of sticking around, desperately trying to be “good enough.” I wonder what you would have done differently? Would you have taken more risks, allowed yourself to stand out from the crowd, or used your talents instead of keeping them hidden?

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Owning our talents and gifts can feel like a risky proposition. When we speak up for what we want and take the actions to make it happen, others may react in a hurtful way. For example, your best friend may get snippy as your new job makes you less available. Or your mother might become emotionally distant when your happy marriage reminds her of what’s missing in her own relationship. As we start to out-succeed our loved ones our discomfort with success heightens. We become a target when we have something others want. Rather than rocking the boat and being faced with hearing the question “Who do you think you are?” we settle into a semicomfortable relationship with dissatisfaction. It’s much safer to be needy.

We offer each other far more support for suffering than success. Success threatens. When you accomplish great things you tap into the unhealed wounds of those around you and remind them of their own lost dreams or unmet needs. A woman in one of my audiences said it well:

When my husband left me for a younger woman, my friends instantly rallied to support me during my divorce. They came to my rescue, made meals, and talked with me late into the night. Two years later, when I had recovered emotionally, lost 30 pounds, and received a big promotion at work, these same friends began gossiping behind my back about how “full of myself”I’d become. I had changed. I was stronger,more confident, and a lot less needy. I guess they couldn’t handle it, but that didn’t make the hurt any less painful.

It can be a confusing and tense time as we struggle with the emotions that erupt around another’s success. How do we deal with the complicated feelings of envy and joy or the fear of being left behind? I can still remember the discomfort I felt as I watched my friends achieve the kind of goals I wanted for myself. On one hand I felt happy for their accomplishments, and on the other, jealous of their success. I felt confused and embarrassed by these feelings. Over time I learned to see them as an indication that I needed to grow in some way. For example, I began to understand that my jealousy was a signal that there was some action I needed to take to move my own career forward. My fear revealed a belief that there wasn’t enough success to go around. As I worked through these issues and followed the journey that I’ll now share with you, I ignited my passion, and my career began to take off. Soon I found myself on the other side of the equation.

As I started earning more money and achieving the success I desired, I felt uncomfortable talking about it in the company of some friends. Up until that point, so many of our conversations revolved around what wasn’t working in our lives, and suddenly I didn’t have a lot to say. I knew how to talk about my dissatisfaction, but I had no experience in talking about my success. I was afraid that sharing my accomplishments might appear boastful or spark feelings of jealousy and competition (the same feelings I’d felt before). So I let others do the talking. And when I felt really uncomfortable, I even found myself looking for what wasn’t working just to level the playing field.

How you choose to respond to the reactions of others has serious consequences. When my client Kate decided to make her needs more of a priority, she asked her husband to take on more responsibility at home. The mother of two small children, Kate worked full time and handled most of the household chores. After complaining about the inequality at home and getting the cold shoulder from her husband, Kate made the decision to keep silent. Instead of causing a fight by challenging her husband’s response, she acquiesced and continued to manage their home. But over time her choice to remain silent had enormous costs. She became increasingly irritable with her children, her neck grew tight, and her back hurt constantly, and little by little her growing resentment whittled away at the intimacy in her marriage.

Another client, Carol, a medical researcher for a biotech company, was considered one of the best problem-solvers in the organization. Whenever her colleague Michael got stuck with a project, he took advantage of her reputation by turning to her for advice and taking credit for the result. Over the years Carol had simply ignored his need to take ownership of her ideas, but this time, after coming up with a successful new way to test a drug and sharing it with Michael, she was furious at him for suggesting to management that he had discovered the procedure. Though Carol wanted to confront this act of betrayal, she lacked the courage to do so. When she came to me for help in finding a new job, she soon realized that she needed to find her courage first. If Carol ran from this situation without learning to speak up for herself, the problem would only follow her to the next position.

Sometimes, the way in which we give up our lives to others takes a different form. Rather than keep silent or make choices in reaction to our fear, we hold ourselves back from the success we deserve by sabotaging our efforts. My friend Chris is a good example.

Chris had a masters’ degree in finance and, through hard work, had captured a terrific job in the private banking industry. As his income and professional status grew, his anxiety quickly followed. Chris noticed that family members had started making snide remarks about his upgraded lifestyle. During one family dinner in particular, Chris’s mother made a sarcastic comment about the flashiness of his new car. It was shortly after that that Chris told me that his work habits were shifting. He didn’t feel as excited as he once had and felt he was losing his edge. Chris started showing up late for work and even missed a couple of important meetings. He began to question whether the career he had chosen was right for him. When I suggested that his lack of motivation might have something to do with his family’s reaction to his success, he admitted that he felt guilty about out-succeeding them. His lax behavior at work was his unconscious way of sabotaging his success.

When we ignore our feelings and allow others to rob us of self-esteem, or hide our greatest assets out of a fear of becoming the target of another’s jealousy, we commit an act of self-betrayal that has grave consequences. Each act of self-betrayal may keep the boat safely in balance for the moment, but they will severely diminish our self-esteem over time. Ironically, as our sense of self diminishes, we become even more reliant on what others think. As this vicious cycle continues to play out, we slowly lose our passion and desire for life. Filled with doubt and resentment, we eventually face the stark realization that we are living everyone else’s life but our own.

There are several behaviors that prevent most of us from leading our own lives. See if you identify with any of the following:

  • You feel disconnected from yourself. The quality of your life has been compromised by your ability to do more and feel less. You’ve lost touch with the very things you need to experience a meaningful life: a strong connection to your feelings and an ability to act on their wisdom.
  • You long to experience a sense of fulfillment and purpose but you’ve centered your life around “shoulds” instead of what you value most.
  • You hide your power. You put yourself down or minimize your strengths and talents by engaging in self-defeating behaviors that weaken your self-esteem.
  • You care too much about what others think. You work hard at managing the perceptions of others to avoid confrontation and feelings of guilt. You allow people to rob you of time, energy, and self-esteem.
  • You allow fear to prevent you from making the changes you really want to make in your life.
  • You settle for less than you deserve. Your desire for instant gratification prevents you from making choices that are in your highest interest.
  • You long to realize your full potential but you stay put because you don’t know where to begin.
  • Your belief that abundance is limited prevents you from supporting the accomplishments of others. You’ve learned to bond with others through suffering instead of success.

These behaviors are in place for a reason. When you begin to relinquish your “follower” role, you may feel disoriented and afraid. There’s a good chance that you’ll feel confused about your direction in life. When you stand up for your life, you risk the loss of emotional closeness and camaraderie that you may have shared with family, friends, and colleagues, and this connection is important. The need to belong is hard-wired into our brains. When you develop the confidence and inner security to live your own life, this basic need is threatened. Loved ones, fearing abandonment, may attempt to hold you back by reminding you of the potential pitfalls in your plan. Perhaps colleagues who feel frustrated with their own lack of advancement might make snide remarks behind your back as you move up the ladder at work. When you take the leap you have no way of knowing that in reality, as you honor your needs, your true relationships will deepen and new people will come into your life to replace those you may outgrow.

STAND UP FOR YOUR LIFE

In this book I’ll take you on a journey that will provide you with new “self-honoring” strategies to transform your fear and self-doubt into power. You’ll learn to develop self-trust. You’ll build new courage muscles that will increase your self-esteem. And you’ll develop the confidence to step out into unknown territory so you can realize your greatest potential. As you learn to stand up for your life, you’ll begin to live a life of integrity — a life that makes a powerful contribution to others.

As you work through the program in this book, I’ll challenge you to:

  • Know who you are — build such a strong relationship with yourself that you’ll stop taking things personally and start making choices based on what you want instead of what others want for you—and you won’t think it’s selfish.
  • Define your values — identify your values and the ways in which you and your life need to change in order to center your life around these values.
  • Stop hiding your power — uncover the ways in which you hide your power and eliminate those self-defeating behaviors that chip away at your self-esteem and prevent you from using your full talents and gifts.
  • Stand up for yourself — acquire the necessary skills and language to speak up for what you want and say no firmly and gracefully to what you don’t want. By facing your fear of conflict head on, you’ll discover one of the best ways to build emotional strength — the kind of strength that will serve you in all areas of your life.
  • Build your courage muscles — use fear as your ally by taking more risks and expanding your comfort zone, so you can make the life changes that really matter.
  • Pass up good for great — identify and honor your spiritual standards so you can make wise choices for yourself and your life by learning to pass up good for great.
  • Center your life around your values — take action to make the changes that will center your life around your values.
  • Create a larger vision for your life — share your success with others by committing your life to being of service and by passing on these skills to loved ones, especially children.

This journey won’t be easy. By following this path you’ll be making a decision to rock the boat. As you do the exercises and apply the advice to your life, you’ll be sending a message to the universe that you’re ready to challenge your self-doubt and fear of what others think. And believe me, when you make this proclamation, the universe will respond. You’ll be sent the exact people and circumstances you’ll need to develop the kind of “inner security” that no bank account, relationship, or job can ever give you.

The truth is this: There is no other way to live the kind of life you long for — one that reflects your deepest desires and allows you to use your greatest gifts — the gifts you’ve come here to share with the world.

Pretty soon, you’ll hear yourself saying:

I know who I am.


I know what I value.

I express my power.

I tell the truth (even when it’s uncomfortable) and face conflict with grace and confidence.

I use fear to my advantage.

I trust myself to make choices that honor my highest good.

I live a life centered around my values.

I support and celebrate the accomplishments of others.

If you’re ready to stand up for your life, you’ve picked up the right book. Before we get started, there’s one more important thing you need to know — your secret to success.

THE SECRET TO SUCCESS — YOUR CIRCLE OF SUPPORT

The thousands of people who have already joined with others to do the programs outlined in Take Time for Your Life and Life Makeovers could let you in on a secret: The key to long-lasting motivation and change lies in creating a circle of support. As you take the steps outlined in this book you’ll need to surround yourself with others who encourage your choice for change.

Standing up for your life will require you to take courageous steps, and a community of supportive people who are committed to their own growth will become your emotional rock — the solid foundation to stand upon until you can stand firmly on your own two feet.

After listening to the success stories of thousands of people over the years, I’ve seen the dramatic difference support has made for so many. A high percentage of those who use the power of partnership succeed in making changes that dramatically improve the quality of their lives. After all, it’s much easier to confront a problem in your marriage or to ask for a long overdue raise when you know you have a safety net beneath you. There is power in community.

Along with providing the courage to face change, there are other benefits to creating a supportive community for yourself. With smart group guidelines in place that prevent gossip and complaining, you’ll learn to bond with others through success instead of suffering. You’ll experience the richness of moving beyond surface-level chitchat to more intimate conversations. And you’ll make long-lasting friendships that will add more depth and meaning to your life than any material possession ever could.

While you might decide to do this work on your own (which is perfectly fine), consider sharing some of your progress
with a trusted family member or friend. Celebrate your success and ask for assistance when you get stuck. When I refer to using your partner or Life Makeover Group for support throughout the program, this may be a good time for you to stop and consider whether or not you could use some extra help.

As you move forward on your spiritual journey, you deserve to have the support of others who will help keep you on track. You probably already know people who are or should be in your circle — four or five friends or family members you can trust to support you in making the changes that will make a difference. To find out who’s qualified to be in your circle, answer the following questions:

  • Who are the people who stand in your corner during your most difficult moments?
  • Which friends have risked telling you the hard truth with grace and love, simply because they care about you?
  • Which of your friends refuses to belittle or tear down others, even when those people are not around?
  • Who holds you accountable for what you say you’re going to do?
  • With whom do you feel absolutely safe?

Your answers to these questions may reveal some of the people who would fit nicely into your circle of support,but if you come up short (which most people do), take heart. I’ll not only show you how to create your own circle of support, I’ll help you connect with others who are looking for someone just like you.

Take Action! Start a Life Makeover Group

Wouldn’t you love an opportunity to meet with a small group of people who are just as anxious and ready for change in their lives as you are? Using my website as a central location, I’ve created a place for people to find each other. The goal is to offer any individual who is ready to make changes the access to free, in-person meetings that provide mutual positive support. In January 2001, using my existing on-line community — the Life Makeover Community — I decided to start Life Makeover Groups around the world. These groups are designed to be a safe place where people can get the support they need to make the changes they’ve always wanted to make.

Visit us at www.cherylrichardson.com, where you’ll find everything you need to start and run a successful Life Makeover Group. You’ll learn how to profile an ideal member, find new members to join you, locate places where you can hold your group meetings, and the best guidelines for how to run a successful meeting. If you’d rather join an existing group, we have an on-line database of open groups in search of new members. If you don’t own a computer, simply visit your local library, log on to their computer, and print out the information you need.

I’ve learned a lot about what makes for a successful group experience. Members who take their participation seriously and do what it takes to get their needs met have the most success. Some members prefer to form groups with people who share certain lifestyle issues or situations — moms with small children, business owners, or empty nesters. Others prefer to be part of a more diverse group. The size of the group is important too. Experience has shown that the most productive and effective groups have no more than 6 or 8 members.

Since the intention is to create community and to stay in action, it’s important for your group to meet regularly. Weekly is best, biweekly is next to best, and monthly works well when you buddy up with someone you can check in with by phone every week. Commitment is the key to success. If you decide to start a group, have members make a commitment to attend for at least three months, and schedule these meetings in advance to make planning easy and to demonstrate your commitment to the group.

Let’s review the guidelines for the best way to use this book and have a successful group experience:

  • Review the entire book before doing the program.
  • Choose a person (or persons) you can trust, and be sure that they are committed to the process of completing this book.
  • Pick a regular time to meet (at least once a month) either in person or over the phone.
  • Read one chapter (or section) at a time before getting together.

Once you’re together you can use the following format to make these meetings productive and supportive:

  • Start the meeting by sharing your success. What did you learn about yourself? What action steps have you taken? Give each person a chance to brag!
  • Spend time discussing the material that you’ve read in preparation for this meeting. Talk about your experience doing the exercises.
  • Decide on the specific actions that you’ll each take before your next meeting.
  • Ask for help. Use the last fifteen minutes of the meeting to request any support you might need—a check-in phone call, a special resource, or a helping hand.

As you set out to do the exercises in this book, please remember the following:

  • Buy yourself a journal or notebook to use in conjunction with this book.
  • Each time you see the words Take Action! use this as a sign to take action immediately. Small steps make a big difference!
  • Take your time doing the exercises and enjoy the process. If you feel overwhelmed by strong emotions, reach out to your group members for support. You might also seek the guidance of a good therapist (you’ll find more information about this on pages 57–58 in chapter one). You deserve to have great emotional support in place as you reclaim your power.
  • Celebrate your success! Don’t wait to complete the book (or a chapter) before you do something special to acknowledge your progress. Reward is the best motivation of all. As you complete an exercise, you might schedule dinner with a good friend, buy yourself a small gift, or enjoy some down time.

Whether you’ve created your circle of support or have decided to go through the program on your own, you’re ready for the first step. Let’s get started!

A Personal Coach’s 7-Step Program for Creating the Life You Want
Introduction – What Coaching Can Do for You

Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl RichardsonWould you like to change your life? Do you long for a sense of community? More time for yourself? Would you like to take better care of your health, reduce stress, and create more balance in your life? Well, you’re not alone. More and more people are tired of the fast-paced, frenzied ‘‘information age’’ and are interested in higher-quality lives — lives in which they have more time for themselves and their relationships, more energy to invest in their emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Whether you’re a corporate executive working sixty hours a week, a single parent trying to raise a family, or someone who’s tired of feeling stressed out and pressed for time, you have a choice about how to live your life. You can step back, reevaluate your priorities, and make a conscious decision about the future you’d like to create. How do you make such a decision? Where do you turn when you decide to improve the quality of your life?

When your body is out of shape and you need help getting fit or losing weight, you hire a personal trainer. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do this for all other parts of your life? Well, now you can. With the help of a ‘‘personal coach,’’ you can shape up your life and overcome the obstacles that get in the way of living a life that you love. In a sense, you can hire a ‘‘personal trainer for your soul.’’

When people hear that I’m a coach, the first question they inevitably ask is: ‘‘What sport?’’ Once I tell them that I’m not an athletic coach and that I coach people to create lives that they love, they wonder how coaching is different from therapy. It’s understandable that most people would confuse the two — therapy is the closest model we have to this new profession called coaching. But the two are very different.

Coaching is not about processing your emotional history or diagnosing and treating mental health issues. Coaching is action oriented, with a focus on a client’s current life and plans for the future; although therapy deals with a client’s current life, the focus is usually on the past and the healing of emotional wounds. There can be overlap between coaching and therapy, and a well-trained, experienced coach should know when a client needs therapy instead of coaching. Because of this, I’ve developed relationships with experienced, licensed professionals, and it’s not uncommon for us to refer clients to each other.

There is a growing need for more than what therapy provides. In therapy, clients may talk about the changes they’d like to make in their lives, but the ‘‘how to’’ and the resources are often missing. Yet such information is critical to my clients’ success. Clients want someone to help them design a new life. They want a guide who can anticipate the obstacles on the path to this new life and help navigate around them. They want a partner who will remind them of their greatness when they forget, give them the tools to get unstuck, and challenge them to take action in spite of their fears. This need is now being met by personal coaches.

The need for coaching became evident to me while I was working as a tax consultant more than fifteen years ago. The time spent with clients was often very personal, requiring an intimate look into their lives. Typically, we’d talk not only about their finances (income, spending habits, and debt) but also about their medical history, family goals, and career plans. The questions they asked often concerned decisions that needed to be made about relocation, relationship conflicts, business dilemmas, or the challenge of balancing work and family. This led to longer conversations about life in general.

Although tax consulting can be a straightforward, ‘‘just the facts, ma’am,’’ kind of job, my practice developed in a different direction. Year after year, in addition to their tax folders, clients brought me their life stories, wanting my advice and support. They needed a sounding board, an objective listener who could provide a fresh perspective. I learned how to create an environment in which people could feel comfortable and safe enough to talk about their lives freely.

In private, they would share with me their fears and concerns. Business owners, afraid of losing clients if they raised their fees, would let their own well-being suffer instead. Corporate employees, needing to support their families, struggled with how to handle political issues at work or the insensitivity of bosses.

Together we found solutions to the problems that were causing them stress. Sometimes, simply hearing an objective perspective would make all the difference in the world. Other times, finding the right language to communicate their needs allowed them to get unstuck and take action. Most important, knowing that they were not alone and that others grappled with the same kind of issues provided them with comfort and much needed support.

Over time I became less interested in preparing people’s tax returns and more interested in helping them prioritize their lives to spend more time with their families or fulfill a secret dream, like starting a business or having a child. I decided to stop providing my tax consulting services and start responding full-time to the greater concerns of my clients. I began to do this by holding workshops called ‘‘Secrets of Success’’ and speaking to groups about everything from goal setting to relationship-building strategies. People were relieved to find someone who could help them overcome obstacles to better their lives. One thing was clear—there was a need for ‘‘life planning’’ but there was no one to turn to. This need for objective guidance and support has spawned the profession of coaching.

Many people from all walks of life are turning to coaches to help them build better lives. The reasons may vary, but the bottom line is always the same — they want to improve the quality of their lives in some way. My client Shirley is a good example.

Shirley is the vice president of sales for a fast-growing biotech company. By most standards, she has reached a considerable level of success — she earns six figures, shares a beautiful lakeside home with her husband, and is a recognized leader in her field. But Shirley doesn’t feel successful; she feels exhausted. Her day begins at 6 A.M. with a trip to the gym and continues nonstop until 8 or 9 at night. Most days — among the endless meetings, phone calls, and social engagements — she finds herself dreaming of a different life, a life that includes more time for herself, less stress, and a chance to express her creativity. Shirley’s tired of living her best life in her head.

My client Joseph is a corporate employee who’s already been the victim of downsizing and is afraid that he’s headed in the same direction again. Joseph goes to work every day filled with anxiety, fearful that each day may be his last. After giving ten good years to his employer, an architectural firm, he knows that the marketplace has changed, and the company is now involved in restructuring. With mounting debt and one child headed for college, Joseph can’t afford to miss a day of work, let alone lose his job.

And then there’s my client Norman, the owner of a successful financial investment firm. Norman travels at least twice a month to visit clients scattered throughout the country. He has eight sales associates who call him at all hours of the day and night and a fiancé who complains that they never spend quality time together. Norman feels like life is rushing by at lightning speed, and he’s starting to get nervous. He jokingly admits that he needs to stop and get a life, but he can’t seem to slow down.

Joseph, Shirley, and Norman are caught in a trap. Each has come up against the kind of obstacles that prevent most people from taking control of their lives. For example, Shirley has no time for her life and feels frustrated by all the demands placed on her. She struggles to carve out time for the things she really wants to do — like taking a class and working in her garden. What’s stopping her is an inability to put herself first. Shirley needs permission to make her self-care a top priority over anything else.

Joseph, on the other hand, appears to need another job, fast, but a new job is only part of the solution. The source of Joseph’s problem is his vulnerable financial state. His credit card balances are maxed out, his mortgage is too high, and his family spends more than they make. To truly be in charge of his career, Joseph needs to invest in his financial health.

As for Norman, he may need to learn new skills to manage his employees better, but the first order of business is for him to manage himself. He’s running on adrenaline and must learn how to slow down and use healthier sources of fuel.

As a personal coach, it’s my job to listen carefully, beneath the symptoms of a situation, for the source of the problem. If you’re feeling exhausted, a better diet or exercise program will certainly help, but you may first need to identify and eliminate what’s draining you. Or, if you’re constantly undermined by people who criticize you or put you down, setting boundaries can make a difference, but sometimes you need to trade in those unsupportive relationships for more life-enhancing ones. If work has taken over your life, finding a way to manage your time won’t solve the problem. Instead, you’ll need to manage yourself, get your priorities straight, and focus your attention on what really matters. Most important, if you long to live a more authentic life, one that reflects your values and desires, then you must give your spiritual well-being a more prominent place in your daily life.

Over the last fifteen years I’ve coached hundreds of clients who have wanted to significantly change their lives. During weekly telephone meetings, I listen carefully as clients talk about what they want and don’t want in their lives. Over time, I’ve identified seven common obstacles that consistently prevent people from living lives that they love:

  1. You think ‘‘selfish’’ is a dirty word. You have a hard time putting your needs before others and often end up feeling frustrated and resentful about the commitments you make.
  2. Your schedule does not reflect your priorities. You find yourself exhausted at the end of the day without enough time left for the things that are most important to you.
  3. You feel drained by people, places, and things. Your life feels like one long list of things to do that never seem to get completed. Your office still needs organizing, your home may be full of clutter, or you may feel drained by a friend or family member’s constant complaints.
  4. You feel trapped by money. You’re tired of not being able to make the choices you want because of financial constraints. You may be saddled with unwanted debt, struggling to make ends meet, or feeling unsatisfied with the way you spend your money.
  5. Adrenaline has become your main source of fuel. You’re constantly running from one appointment to the next. You’d like to relax but you can’t seem to slow down. Peace of mind seems like an impossible goal.
  6. You’re missing a supportive community in your life. You feel isolated or disconnected from others and long to share a deeper connection with a community of like-minded people.
  7. Your spiritual well-being gets last place in your busy life. You’d like to spend consistent time in meditation, prayer, practicing yoga, or other forms of spiritual self-care, but life keeps getting in the way.

These are the seven blocks that, when given time and attention, can easily be turned around. Overcoming these obstacles is the focus of this book. If you’re willing to work hard and invest your time (which this book will help you find!) and energy in this process, I promise you, your life will change dramatically. You can make the shift and put yourself in charge of how you live your life.

You can live a life you love, and I’d like to show you how.

THE COACHING PARTNERSHIP

The coaching relationship is a partnership between two equals. My relationship with clients is based on the belief that they are smart, mature, and capable people who want support in articulating and achieving their goals. I provide this support and direction in three basic ways:

  • I ask provocative questions. I rely on the inner wisdom of my clients to provide important insight into what is needed to plan the next step.
  • I give direct advice and information. Drawing on personal experience as well as my work with others, I provide a variety of expertise and resources. This helps clients to avoid the mistakes that others have made.
  • I provide the focus and structure of ongoing support needed to stay in action. I celebrate clients’ successes, hold their hands through difficult periods, and act as a steward for the lives they most want. I’m their partner, and my only agenda is their success.

Since my early years as a tax consultant, I’ve learned a great deal about coaching others. My formal training as a coach, my life experience, and, most important, my clients, have taught me a lot about what people want and what gets in their way. Although this kind of experience and training is important, equally important is my commitment to model a high-quality life. I’ve grappled with the same issues my clients are dealing with. I’ve worked ridiculous hours, built a successful business, made plenty of mistakes in relationships, and paid little attention to my health. Over the last several years, I’ve used the process in this book to improve my own life. I know it works. I’ve made the changes that allow me to live exactly as I want to live. My life is a work in progress, and, unlike a therapist, sharing my own personal experience is part of the coaching relationship.

Clients generally decide to work with me because they’re ready to make significant changes. They may want to change careers, downsize or upgrade their lives, fulfill a secret dream, or slow down and spend more time and energy on what really matters to them. We start the coaching process with an expectation to spend a minimum of three months working together. However, once we get started and they experience the power of this unique partnership, they often stay much longer.

The initial process of coaching is like building any important relationship. As we spend time getting to know each other, a sense of trust is built that allows clients to tell the truth about their lives. To facilitate this process I ask clients to write a life story that chronicles the significant events of their lives and includes any present-day challenges and frustrations. This information gives me a good idea of where the client has been, what’s draining their energy, and which obstacles are causing them the most trouble.

In the beginning many clients tell me that they can’t afford to live a life they love. I tell them they can’t afford not to. The excuses seem real and insurmountable — their cost of living is too high, so they stay at unfulfilling jobs; they’re exhausted with the pace of life and lack the energy needed to make a change; they’re too old or too young; it’s too soon; it’s too late. The most crippling excuse of all is they believe they are victims of circumstance, powerless to change their lives.

YOUR LIFE, YOUR CHOICE

Making the decision to change your life starts by making a personal choice. Too often we get caught up in all there is to do and forget that we’re the ones running the show. It’s easy to understand why. The high cost of living often requires two incomes to raise a family. Layoffs continue, encouraging employees to work long hours in the hopes of ensuring job security; and the ‘‘the more you make, the more you spend’’ mentality makes it hard for people of all income levels to make ends meet. This perception of reality makes a high-quality life seem impossible. But don’t let this reality fool you. Sometimes, as in Marsha’s case, the smallest change can make the biggest difference.

Marsha was a single mom trying to manage a household, a full-time job, and two kids. She was stressed to the breaking point. Fed up, she thought that becoming her own boss would give her the relief she desired. Marsha yearned for the flexibility and freedom she imagined this would bring. The classic ‘‘supermom,’’ Marsha was strong and determined. She decided to start a cooking business in her home and asked me to help her develop the plan.

As I gathered more information about Marsha’s life, it became clear that she was too overwhelmed to make this kind of change so quickly. I explained that making important decisions (which would impact her family) while under stress was a recipe for trouble. Before she could even think about a new business, Marsha first needed to free up her time and energy.

More often than not, clients simply need permission to take good care of themselves. During our initial coaching session, I suggested to Marsha that we focus on her self-care and look for small changes she could make to give herself more time and energy. I asked her to hire a housekeeper to handle the cleaning and laundry, and I gave her the names of several to call. Providing this resource made it easier for Marsha to take action quickly before any reservation set in. I also recommended that she find a babysitter to give her at least one night during the week to herself. She arranged to exchange babysitting evenings with a friend in the neighborhood.

Although these seemed like small changes, they had big results. Marsha could now relax more in the evenings and enjoy time with her children on the weekends. With the added time and space in her schedule, her life began to feel more balanced, and from a more centered place she could rethink her plans. Marsha agreed that diving into a new business was a mistake. Instead, she spent the next six months eliminating the energy drains in her life, trimming her spending habits to save extra money, and talking with friends about her business goals. Over time, these friends started sending her clients one by one. Marsha was then able to make a transition from a full-time job to part-time work as she continued to build her new business in an orderly fashion. One year later, Marsha had a good, solid client base and was able to quit her job without any interruption in income.

Creating a life that you love takes courage, commitment, and hard work. Most clients are surprised when I ask them to focus on their lives instead of their careers or personal goals. I’ve learned that shaping up one’s life is the key to success. It’s my job to help clients overcome the blocks to a high-quality life by staying focused on the steps that will get them from where they are to where they want to be.

My initial work with clients is focused on self-care — freeing up their time and identifying and eliminating what drains their energy. The idea of adding more work by encouraging them to set goals or take on anything new makes no sense when they’ve already got a full plate (and most of them do). Instead, I focus on clearing the plates to immediately improve the quality of their lives.

Sometimes it feels impossible to focus on your life when a demanding job is taking up all your time and energy. This is when it’s important to remember that you are in charge of your life. With the right tools, you can make even the most challenging situation work for you. Let’s revisit Shirley’s situation to further explain my point.

Shirley manages seventy-five employees in her sales division. She is responsible for increasing revenues by 25 percent before the end of the year. Feeling stressed out and overworked, Shirley was concerned with taking care of her health while trying to meet this goal.

As I became familiar with Shirley’s typical workday, I could see why she was on overload. Her voice mail filled on a daily basis, and she was overwhelmed with unreturned phone calls. She often arrived late for meetings (and sometimes missed them completely). And she drank coffee by the gallon. Not only was this busyness taking its toll on Shirley — it was frustrating her staff as well.

Once I had a good idea of what was going on, I told Shirley the truth as I saw it — she needed to get some support and start taking consistent time off for herself. I explained to her that without a strong foundation for her life, any business success she achieved in increased sales would be short lived.

The first step was to give Shirley permission to put herself first. She needed to let go of control and start delegating. Each week, we reviewed her voice mail message list and developed strategies for her administrative assistant to handle most of the calls. As Shirley’s willingness to relinquish control increased, she gradually handed over responsibility to her assistant. Within two months, her assistant was retrieving and handling 90 percent of her calls. In the beginning, Shirley would never have thought it possible to delegate this type of task. But with permission and a plan that worked, what was once impossible was not only possible but much more effective.

Shirley also made a commitment to leave the office at 5:30 instead of the usual 8 or 8:30 P.M. This allowed her to spend the evenings with her husband and have time in her garden, something that always helped her to relax. At first, Shirley was concerned that this would be setting the wrong example to her staff, but the opposite occurred. Shirley was able to get her work done in less time. Her commitment to leave at 5:30 made her more focused and productive during the day, and she was able to be much more present for her staff, giving them the quality of direction they needed to do their jobs well.

I also encouraged Shirley to schedule fewer meetings and arrive on time to rebuild the trust she had broken with her staff. By the end of six months, Shirley felt that her life was much more balanced, and her division had increased sales by 15 percent. These are the kinds of decisions and actions that create true success.

I’LL BE YOUR COACH

With this book I’d like to coach you to create a life that you love. At first I’ll ask you to make the quality of your life the main focus of your attention. I’ll support you while you learn to trust your own best instincts — your Wise Self. And I’ll teach you the seven strategies to overcome the obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want. As you work through the program in this book, you’ll learn to:

  1. Put yourself at the top of the list. You’ll learn to make the practice of extreme self-care your new standard for living. I’ll show you how to build a strong relationship with yourself and connect with your inner wisdom to create a life that reflects your true desires.
  2. Get your priorities straight. I’ll show you how to stop reacting to life and start taking control of what gets your time and attention. You’ll set new priorities that mirror what’s really important to you and learn strategies to ensure that they are honored.
  3. What’s draining you? I’ll show you how to identify and eliminate what drains you. Whether it’s a disorganized office, a cluttered home, or the friend that constantly complains and drains your energy, I’ll show you how to plug those energy drains once and for all.
  4. Invest in your financial health. You’ll learn specific ways to get your financial house in order and build financial reserves so that you no longer feel like a victim to life. And you’ll attract more money by practicing these basic money management skills.
  5. What’s fueling you? I’ll show you how to kick the adrenaline habit and use healthier forms of energy — like the company of good friends, fun exercise, and soul-nurturing activities.
  6. Build a ‘‘soulful’’ community. I’ll suggest specific ways to surround yourself with a community of high-quality relationships that will support, challenge, and encourage you to be your best.
  7. Honor your spiritual well-being. I’ll show you how to take time for the most important relationship of all — the connection to your inner wisdom, the voice of your soul. You’ll create a personal practice and spend time every day nurturing your spiritual well-being.

As you incorporate these seven strategies into your life, you’ll feel better. You’ll find that you’re more connected to yourself and others and have a greater sense of what’s really important. And then, a funny thing happens. You actually begin to attract better things toward you. Like my client Nicole, you send a different message into the world, and what you get back is sometimes beyond what you could have imagined.

Nicole sounded discouraged when we first spoke. She said she felt frustrated with the direction of her life and wanted a miracle — Nicole wanted a new life. She felt lonely most of the time and isolated in her work as a graphic designer. She had lost touch with several friends and spent weekends alone working at her computer.

Nicole and I met during a time of deep questioning. With good intentions, she longed to ‘‘make a difference in the world’’ and wanted me to help her find the right career. Nicole was convinced that a new job helping others would help her to feel better about her life. As we talked further, I suggested that Nicole make a difference in her own life first, and trust that, as a result, a much better life would actually start to just ‘‘show up.’’

Over the next year Nicole focused on building a relationship with herself and getting her life in order. She bought a journal and began writing in it almost every day. She kept track of how she felt as she went through this process, wrote letters of support to herself, and made lists of things she felt grateful for.

A self-proclaimed pack rat, she went through old boxes dating back to her college years and threw out all the old junk. With my support, she handled the difficult things she’d been avoiding — like getting her finances in order, creating a nurturing home, and ending a two-year relationship that she had outgrown.

Nicole was slowly realizing that she had a choice about how to live her life and that fear had kept her from taking action. With someone on her side to guide her through the process, it became much easier to make the necessary changes that would give her the kind of life she desired.

As she started to feel better about herself, the world began to see her differently. Nicole loved children, and while volunteering her design services to a local school, she was offered a job as a creative director for a new children’s educational center opening nearby. This job would allow Nicole to use her creative talents to help others and meet new friends. Nicole’s health improved, she rarely felt discouraged, and she even lost ten pounds of extra weight she’d been carrying for several years.

Nicole also began to reawaken her spiritual life by writing letters to God in her journal and attending a local Unitarian church. She felt a deepening connection to a Divine power, which added a depth of meaning to her life that she had not experienced before. One year later, Nicole said she felt like a different person — a happy person living a life that she loved.

Strange as it may sound, I now encourage my clients to focus less on finding the best career, business opportunity, or relationship. Instead, by helping them to focus on basics like creating more time for themselves, learning to say no, and investing in their financial health, our work together becomes a spiritual journey. As they focus their attention on improving the quality of their life, the life they are meant to live unfolds before our eyes.

HOW TO GET THE MOST FROM THIS BOOK

This book captures this journey in a program designed to attract your best life. If you’d like to improve the quality of your life, this book provides an important ingredient for your success — the guiding hand of someone who’s helped others do the same. As your personal coach, I’ve included the same checklists, exercises, and resources that have helped my clients overcome the obstacles to better lives.

To get the most from this program, I strongly recommend the following guidelines:

  • Review the entire book before doing the program.
  • Once you’ve reviewed the book, choose a partner or create a small ‘‘coaching group’’ of people who want to actively support each other in creating a high-quality life. Since a book can never replace the powerful relationship shared with a coach, finding others to support you through this program is the next best thing. To do this, you’ll want to use the following guidelines:
    1. Choose a person (or persons) you can trust.
    2. Be sure that they have the time and desire to commit to the process of completing the book.
    3. Pick a regular time to meet (at least once a month). You can do this in person or over the phone.
    4. Read one chapter at a time before getting together.
    5. Once you’re together, use the following format to make these gatherings productive and supportive:

      Start the meeting by sharing your success. What did you accomplish? How do you feel? Applaud each other for a job well done.

      Spend time discussing the chapter that you’ve read in preparation for this meeting. Complete any group exercises contained in the chapter.

      Decide on specific actions that you’ll each take before your next meeting.

      Ask for help. Use the last fifteen minutes of the meeting to share any support that you need.

      What’s stopping you from moving forward? Where do you feel blocked? What do you need to take action in spite of your fear? A helping hand? An extra phone call to check in? A specific resource or referral?

  • Buy yourself a journal to use in conjunction with this book.
  • Each time you see the words ‘‘Take Action!’’ use this as a sign to take action immediately. One small step will make a big difference. As soon as you finish a chapter, start with one easy step. Success builds momentum, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself excited to move onto the next step.
  • Ask for help. If any part of this program feels too challenging, get the support you need to stay in action. Whether it’s from your partner or your coaching group, speak up and ask for help. You’ll also find help in the resource section at the end of each chapter. These sections contain the names of books, videos, and relevant people, as well as other information that can make it easier to take action.
  • Celebrate your success. After completing an action, take time out to reward yourself.
  • Take your time. The program contained in this book is not a quick fix. It’s meant to be worked through over time. For most, this program could take one to three years to complete.
  • Stay open-minded. Some of the stories you’ll read throughout the book seem magical. They are magical. When you make your self-care a priority and take action toward your highest good, you ignite the magic that’s available to us all. A divine force will guide you toward a high-quality life. Watch for this magic along the way — it’s the best motivating force of all.

A 12-Week Plan for Transforming Your Body and Your Life

By Michael Gerrish

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The Mind Body Makeover ProjectIf you want to lose weight, get in shape, improve your overall health and create a lifestyle that supports your long-term success, then you’ve come to the right place!

Thank you to the thousands of people who participated in our 12 week Mind-Body-Makeover Project, based on Michael Gerrish’s book. While the project is over, we invite you to listen to some of the audio recordings from our telegatherings and use our community boards for support. The telegatherings feature guest experts like author Michael Gerrish, Dr. Edward Hallowell (Driven to Distraction), as well as cutting-edge health professionals like Dr. Glenn Rothfeld, medical director of Whole Health New England.

Preface by Cheryl Richardson

Foreword

In addition, you’ll also find plenty of helpful resources here . . .

Visit our Community Boards

Join or Start a Life Makeover Group

See Before and After Photos on Michael’s Website at exerciseplus.com

“Creating and maintaining a strong healthy body and mind is the cornerstone for a maximally happy and successful life. THE MIND-BODY MAKEOVER PROJECT will help you accomplish this process with loving kindness and skill.”

Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of the New York Times bestsellers
“WOMEN’S BODIES, WOMEN’S WISDOM” and “THE WISDOM OF MENOPAUSE