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Welcome to the Anchored Coaching Blog

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This blog has been a long time coming, and yet I am confident it is in God’s timing. When you begin to pray about launching a blog, and three different people—a longtime friend, a new friend, and some guy trying to sell me marketing tools(!)—bring up the matter—unsolicited—over the course of a week, you pay attention!
So, here it begins. The title is a double entendre: As a coach, the words I love most hearing out of a client’s mouth are, “Hmm…that’s a good question!” It means we are about to discover a hidden treasure. Gift. Talents. Solutions. Resources. Helpful tools my coachee had never considered. Until the question was asked.
The second meaning points to the content you’ll read each month. (Maybe more frequently, as time allows.) Good Questions make you think differently. You’ve heard the phrase, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” I believe you need to see the forest, and all that is within it! That’s what these posts are designed to help you do.
You can ask yourself the Good Questions. (I’ll do it, too.) You can help friends by asking them the questions. You can seek God’s direction for you by asking Him the questions.



   

























What should I do?
 
Editor’s note: For this information to be most helpful, first read the post Values: Those things worth fighting for (below) and practice the exercises to determine your values.
 
It is estimated that the average adult makes 1944 decisions each waking hour. That is 35,000 basically unconscious decisions a day. In fact, researchers at Cornell say 226.7 of them are on food alone! (This makes no sense to me. When you ask someone in my family what they want for dinner, “I don’t know. You decide.” is the typical answer.)
 
Some decisions are small, such as what to wear or which podcast you want to hear. Other decisions are large, such as selecting a college major or where you want to live. We like options, but long sessions of making decisions can actually wear down our brains! (Ahhh…that’s why no one knows what they want to eat at dinnertime!)
 
There is actually a name for this condition: Decision Fatigue. Just like your muscles tire out after a long run, that grey matter between your ears is also a muscle that becomes exhausted. As a result, it responds in one of two ways: paralysis—the flat-out inability to make a choice; and recklessness—making a poor decision, just to get it over with.
 
Operating from your values makes a difference when your decision-making ability hits a low. “When values are clear, decisions are easy,” is a saying that helped Roy Disney when he had to make important decisions. 
 
When you have a big decision to make, always ask yourself, “How does this align with my values?” If it does not, there will be tension. When your choices honor your values, then decisions become easier.
 
Other tips to avoid Decision Fatigue:
  1. Eat a healthy snack. When your sugar levels are low, a piece of fruit or a KIND (or any kind of granola) bar can give you the boost you need to think more clearly.
  2. Give yourself a break. “Calgon, take me away!” Unless you work from home, a mid-day bath may not be possible, but you can go for a walk or chat with a co-worker for a bit. Giving your brain time to rest allows the prefrontal cortex—where logic is stored—time to restore itself.
  3. Limit your options. Picture Steve Jobs for a minute. What’s he wearing? A black turtleneck and black pants, right? “Capsule Wardrobes” are trending again. A closet comprised of few of a women’s favorite or classic pieces in the proper size eliminates the “I have nothing to wear” excuse (and energy drain). President Barack Obama wore only gray or blue suits during his presidency to pare down the number of decisions he had to make. Choosing what to wear was not worth the brainpower for him.
  4. Silo your work. “When your energy is focused on just one thing, then you become more powerful,” notes Motivational Speaker and Entrepreneur Chris Winfield. Divide your work into dedicated timeslots of your day or week, and you remove the need to make decisions on what to work on next. (Learn more about the Pomodoro productivity method. )
  5. Set a deadline. A goal without a deadline is just a wish. Deadlines can cause pressure, but they also provide relief. Knowing a decision will be made by a specific date and time is like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
 
Still, I wonder, what should we have for dinner? Hmm…that’s a good question!  I think I'll take a bath.   




























WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU?

“What should I do?” was the focus for this week’s blog, but I decided to hold off. You see, until you can honestly answer, “What’s really important to you?” you can’t confidently respond to the first question.

I am sure you are familiar with values. If not, values are your guiding principles—the things most important to you. They are foundational to who you are, and drive the actions you take. Values are non-negotiables—a hill you are willing to die on. Recognizing your values helps you to see your raison d’etre, gives you clarity in decision-making, and informs your What-do-you-really-want-to-do answer.

Here’s the deal: when you don’t honor your values, you can be pretty miserable. It’s kind of like loving football, but having to spend Sunday afternoons at the ballet. Or having a heart for the elderly, but finding yourself serving in the church nursery week after week.

On the other hand, when you make decisions based on your values, you feel satisfied. A life aligned with one’s true values (not what you think should be important or would like to be important or others say should be important) far more fulfilling.

“One look at your checkbook tells you what’s of value to you.” You may have heard that declaration from the pulpit during the annual stewardship season. It is partially true—how you choose to spend your money is one indicator, but so is how and with whom you want to spend your time, where you invest your talents, what you like to think and talk about, gets you excited, and makes your heart beat faster!

Take the time to identify your personal tenets. Think about what it would look like to honor them to the highest degree. When you give an honest answer to “What’s really important to me?” you may be surprised at your “What do I really want to do?” response.  Those are good questions!

Because Good Stewardship (of time, talent, and resources) is one of my personal values, I’m going to recommend this  Values Exercise, instead of recreating one. J

Take a look at the exercise, but please note a couple of tweaks I recommend:

Step 1: Check 20 (not 8) value words, then narrow the list to 5-10 values, instead of the 3-5 suggested. Be aware that you may choose words that are similar, and can be under the umbrella of one value. For instance, “efficiency,” “effectiveness,” and “stewardship” could be spun into “stewardship;” and “freedom,” “independence,” and “autonomy” could simply be the value of “freedom,” etc.

Step 2: Follow instructions as written.

Step 3: Use these questions to ensure the values you’ve chosen are your actual, not wishful, values. There will likely be gaps between your core values and behavior. If the disparity is too big, you may need to reconsider if that value really belongs on the list right now. Otherwise, be intentional about changing your behavior to tighten the gap. The smaller the gap between value and action, the greater your self-satisfaction.

Here’s the values exercise link again.    
 THREE GOOD REASONS TO BE THANKFUL
 
When the Polar Vortex reached Pittsburgh at the end of last month, I had one mission: Keep the pipes in our 120 year-old house from freezing! Any time the mercury drops below 10 degrees, we are on high alert.
 
It’s a pain having to lug your dishes up a set of stairs to wash them in the bathtub.  First world problems, I know. But still.
 
Suffice it to say we’ve had enough issues (including those required the $ervice$ of a plumber), that the “Keep the doors beneath the sinks open, the space heaters running, and a steady stream of water flowing from the faucets” manifesto is delivered probably three times on average each January and February.
 
So I give thanks on those frigid days when, at the turn of a knob, our pipes release fresh water taken for granted most days. And I thank God for a working furnace, heated mattress pad, warm clothes and blankets, and even the crackling fire which burned in someone else’s home, so I could enjoy it on YouTube. (The placebo effect is real.)
 
My Facebook post that morning reminded scrollers-by, “Today would be a good day to count your blessings. Very good.” A friend commented, “Every day is a good day!” And it is.
 
What are you thankful for? Here’s something cool about practicing gratitude: Jesus’ admonition to “Give thanks in every circumstance” is not because He needs to be appreciated. It’s because God designed our brains in such a way that being grateful is for our own good!
 
Look at what gratitude gives you:
 
A Better Life Remember labeling parts of the brain in seventh grade science class? The hypothalamus is the almond-sized part that governs basic bodily functions, such as eating, drinking and sleeping and also plays a role in metabolism and stress levels.
 
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) discovered higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus of subjects who showed more gratitude overall (Zahn et al,2009). This evidence on brain activity suggests increased gratitude could result in improved exercise, better sleep, decreased depression, and less aches and pains.
 
Plus, when you feel thankful, the limbic system activates and triggers a release of dopamine. Not only does the chemical “reward” you, but dopamine encourages you to do what it takes to  get that good feeling again. It’s your brain saying, “Oh… that felt good! Do that again!”
 
Improved Relationships Your brain also produces oxytocin, AKA the “cuddle drug,” when you experience gratitude. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter known for its positive impact social behaviors like trust, empathy, and affection. But get this—our bodies need a trigger like thankfulness to produce oxytocin, because they don’t make it naturally.  And it’s another case of ‘tis better to give than receive: we produce more oxytocin when we are the ones expressing gratitude than when it is someone thanking us!
 
The Ultimate Job Why pay a headhunter, when being thankful is free?  An article in The Journal of Research in Personality asserts that an attitude of gratitude “helps you network, increases your decision-making capabilities, increases your productivity, and helps you get mentors and proteges.” The latter is a no-brainer, right? Who wants to invest in a Donnie or Debbie Downer? Not only can gratitude help you to more ably reach your career goals, but can make your workplace a happier and friendlier (see Improved Relationships above) place to be.
 
We live in a fallen world, so life will never be perfect this side of Heaven. But we have a God-designed ability to raise the bar on our quality of life, relationships, and career just by being grateful.
 
So, why not make time to be thankful? Hmmm…that’s a Good Question!
 
Ready to get started? Download The 90-Day Gratitude Journal right here:
 
Need more convincing? Check out these links:
    



Jenni Bartling



ONE STEP AT A TIME

We are already almost two full months into the New Year. Kudos to you if you made resolutions this year. Positive lifestyle changes are always good!

You may be on track with your resolutions, and that is awesome. If you are still keeping them by the end of the second week in February, you are among the 20% of people who do! Month by month, however, that number drops to less than nine percent.

The primary reason resolutions fail? They are too big. What is it about the turn of a calendar page that we think we can incorporate extreme change, one that often requires rearranging priorities, adjusting schedules, and changing habits? It’s no wonder it doesn’t take long to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and ready to give up.

Personal growth and improvement are important and positively impact you and your loved ones. Taking care of your health could mean more energy to play with your kids (and a longer life so you may do the same with grandbabies!). Employers, clients, and friends will appreciate your desire to be prompt for work, appointments, dinner dates, etc. An organized home saves time and eliminates anxiety-inducing last minute searches for an important paper or missing shoe. (Yes, I am speaking from experience!)

The answer to successful change may be to set "small, attainable goals throughout the year, rather than a singular, overwhelming goal," according to psychologist Lynn Bufka. "…it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”

Remember the Winter Warlock’s desire to change his mean ways in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town?” Kris Kringle encourages him that he can do it. “Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking across the floor,” sings Kris. “Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” (Sorry for the earworm!)

If you have a big goal you want to reach, what is one small step you could take this week to move toward it?
Hmmm…that’s a Good Question!

Jenni Bartling