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Strive rather than survive in life
When I asked my friend, Kirsten, if she's getting what she wants out of life, she looked at me as if I had asked her when she was going to change her name to Fifi and move into a harbour-side mansion with Renee Rivkin. It turns out to be a common response among women I quiz. It seems to be that for many women, what they want is completely removed from their reality, and rather than striving for what they want, they are going through their lives making do with what they've got.
It's not like Kirsten wants anything outrageously unattainable. She wants to work in a job that inspires her, receive recognition - financial and otherwise - for her work, and have the financial freedom to pursue her personal interests. She's educated, intelligent and confident, and there seems to be no reason why she shouldn't be getting what she wants. But there is - she's female.
According to life coach, Lyndall Robilliard, there are elements of being a female in today's world that need to be acknowledged so that we get what we want and, and contrary to the belief held by many of the previous generation of women, the remedy doesn't lie in becoming more masculine.
In an effort to bring together the love, nurture and support that comes from the union of women, and combine it with the more masculine movement of action towards achieving goals, Robilliard has joined together a group of female coaches to create Conscious Coaching. Here''s how she says women can get want they want,
Identify your barriers
There is a myriad of reasons why we don't have what we want in our life," says Robilliard, who advises we work to identify our particular obstacle. It could be a lack of motivation, a fear of success, fear of failure, an unwillingness to ask for what we want, fear of commitment, shame for wanting something more than we have, a need for support but an unwillingness to ask for it, a fear of fully stepping into our potential, a preference to stay safe and small, unrealistic expectations or perhaps an overriding fear of change altogether.
Don't lose sight of your dreams
In the case of my friend, Kirsten, it's a matter of priority. She is a mother of two girls under the age of five, a wife, and a full-time book editor. She's aware that her career isn't exciting her or bringing her the satisfaction she desires, but says that it''s time constraints stopping her from pursuing her goals. "I want ''it all''," she says. "But having it all means I''m working all day and spending all evening with the kids and my husband, and if I do get two minutes to myself I can''t face figuring out what I want, never mind how I am going to get it!"
We, as women, can often lose sight of our goals when swamped beneath the endless competing interests and demands for our time. Making your goals achievable is difficult, to say the least, if your list of demands isn't congruent with your lifestyle. Although she is saying she hasn't had the time, Kirsten is really saying it hasn't been a priority.
Stop making excuses
You will have many excuses to justify why you can't have what you want. Maybe you weren't given the opportunities another person may have had; maybe being a mother has meant you've had to put your career on hold; or maybe your desired career is very male-dominated and you believe you wouldn't get very far if you tried. While many excuses are valid and there are certain obstacles that women still face, other excuses are just reasons we give ourselves not to put ourselves on the line. Some of us know that living in the drama of not having is often more comfortable than change.
You know when you're making excuses when the problems you experience in your life are repeated. That means you're not addressing what the core problems are. How many times have you caught yourself complaining about that same old issue that continually seems to plague you? Ever found yourself in a repeat performance of an old relationship that you knew would never work and only his or her name had changed? Ever encountered the same problems with the same sorts of bosses? Feel like your life is just a continual cycle of revisiting the same old dilemmas?
Get the right help
"One possibility that focuses specifically on action is life coaching," explains Robilliard, who says that it is an option that's helping women around the world. "It is the second-fastest growing industry in the United States, and the reason for its meteoric rise in popularity is its astounding success in bringing about change. Not simply short-term, immediate-issue change - but long-term lifestyle change."
A good coach will build a relationship with you that is nurturing, honest and sustaining. They will challenge you to think and operate outside of your current paradigm. They will encourage you to consider previously unknown options for having what you want. They will work through the barriers to change, identifying and overcoming that mysterious ''x factor'' when it presents itself. They will create a space in which you feel supported enough to completely commit to going for what you want. They will believe in your ability to have your life the way that you want it and of course, they will celebrate with you when you get it.
Listen to what you sometimes don't want to hear
"Many of us know that there is no greater joy than sitting around with a group of friends analysing each other's problems and suggesting solutions," says Robilliard. "On more than one occasion however, I've found myself wondering whether my friends were being entirely honest with me, and then quickly realised that my need for them to tell me what I wanted to hear, to agree that life was unfair, was stronger than my desire to know the truth."
Find a way to take feedback constructively
This is not something that is easy for many women, raised to judge their self-worth through the opinions of other people. "How am I ever going to move from this spot if no one is prepared to suggest what I might need to do differently? And, more importantly for women, how can I have this level of honesty while still feeling cared for?"
The answer is in recognising that simply hurling us into action without establishing a relationship that holds us is going to do more damage than good. It is essential that a life coach recognises that women operate with a diffuse awareness rather than the focused awareness of men. We tend not to vocalise our thoughts and are highly aware of our moods, their impact and drivers, we have a greater capacity for fusion rather than a strict need for boundaries and that our focus is on rearranging ourselves rather than on rearranging the world.
Yet, when all is said and done, it seems there is a place for masculinity. It is essential that the coaching process also brings to the feminine way of being, the masculine mode of operation - focused awareness, and the development of boundaries that allow us to fully manifest our own abilities and enhance our capacity to vocalise our goals, and to identify what stands in the way of us attaining them.