A Case of the Septembers? Ways to Get Ready for Change

As September 2012 approaches and that autumn back-to-school energy fills the air, I hear from lots of folks who want to shift something in their lives. If you too are thinking of making a change and wondering if coaching might be a good support, I’ve got lots of options for how we might work together!

Here’s a summary of the programs running here at Ready for Change this fall.

If you have any questions, just drop me a line (laura@readyforchange.ca). I’d love to talk further.

A Free Consultation.

I always offer a free 30-minute no-obligation consultation to individuals interested in seeing if working with me is a good fit for them.

Coaching in Your Inbox.

Sign up for a four-week email program on the theme “What Do You Really Want?”, for a cost of $60 plus HST. Ongoing start dates throughout the fall — you can see more information here.

Online, Daily Coaching.

A one-month program focusing on a change that you want to create. The program consists of a 45-minute coaching session (conducted by phone or Skype) followed by daily online check-ins (you report on your progress daily, answering customized questions which I design for you), and I email you coaching responses twice per week. The cost is $250 plus HST. You can see more information about this program here.

Individual, One-on-One Coaching.

I work one-on-one with coaching clients by phone, Skype, or in person.

Clients hire me for one month at a time (I encourage a 3-month commitment in order to commit to the process, go through some ups and downs as you work toward your goals, and see results).

Each month consists of 3 x 45 minute sessions. Clients also have unlimited email access to me and the option for up to 2 x 10 minute “laser coaching” sessions each month, to be used if/as needed.

The current cost for each month of one-on-one coaching is $400 plus HST. A limited number of scholarship spots are available for those who would otherwise be unable to afford coaching.

You can read more about one-on-one coaching here.

Group Coaching Course (Ottawa only).

The Authentic Relationships program is born of the idea that all of us carry personal baggage, unfinished business, and unhelpful patterns, all of which cloud our ability to authentically relate to ourselves and others. By working through some of this cloudiness, we create more open, authentic, and meaningful relationships.

The group will meet weekly from September-December, one evening a week and one half-day per month.

Tuition for the fourteen week program is $975 plus HST. The program fee can be paid all at once or in monthly installments.

You can read more about this program here.

Questions? Comments? Want to talk further?

Just drop me a line and let’s have a conversation. I’m at laura@readyforchange.ca.


Honouring Values

I’ve often had the experience of working with a client who knows he/she values adventure, but whose life hasn’t incorporated adventure for a long time. Or a client who values openness and transparency, and yet has been putting off a conversation he/she knows he/she has to have in order to honour those values in a relationship. This past weekend I got to explore these values coaching conversations more deeply, as I served as an assistant at the Coaches Training Institute’s Fulfillment course. One aspect of Fulfillment coaching is working with clients to identify their values, and then coaching clients to bring those values more alive and more in action.

What might this look like for you?

Below is an exercise we completed in the Fulfillment course. I invite you to give it a whirl.

1. Get clear on your values.

Think of some of your values. These might spring to mind readily, or you might need to mine past experiences to identify them (my friend and colleague Tanya Geisler has posted some values clarifications tools that could help you out).

I have a super long list of values, probably fifty or more, that all speak to me in various ways.

2. Pick five values that are calling out to you right now.

Don’t stress about having these be your “top five”; just reach for the ones that seem most important to you at this moment.

From my list, I selected peace, truthfulness, warmth, unconventional, and clarity.

3. Get measurable.

For each of your five, rate how much you are honouring this value in your life. 10/10: you couldn’t possibly honour it any more than you already are; 1/10: you aren’t honouring it at all.

My ratings:

  • Peace: 8/10
  • Truthfulness: 9/10
  • Warmth: 6/10
  • Unconventional: 8/10
  • Clarity: 8/10

4. Pick one.

Choose one of the values that you’d like to honour more in your life. You don’t have to choose the one with the lowest score–choose the one that’s calling you.

5. Dream big.

What would your life look like if you were honouring this value at a 10/10?

What would you be doing?

What would you be feeling?

Who would you be?

What would others notice about you?

As I envisioned 10/10 warmth, I noticed myself getting stressed. I imagined people dropping by, coming over for dinner, my home as a centre of hospitality; I got tense thinking that people would drop by and interrupt my quiet, peaceful day; I would have to be “on” even if I didn’t feel up to it; I didn’t have the energy to be that warm.

What was happening to me is a perfect example of what often happens in Fulfillment coaching: as one dreams about living fully in line with one’s values, all the voices about “Why this won’t work” get louder and louder and can prevent one from taking even a small action. This is a perfect time to acknowledge all those “Why not” voices, and then return to the spectacular feeling of what it would be like to honour one’s values.

6. Pick an action. Then act.

If you’ve been playing along here, you’ve identified some of your values, picked a few, chosen one to explore more, and dreamed about what it would be like to honour that value more fully.

Here’s where the rubber hits the road: pick one action, small or large, that will move you closer to honouring that value in your life.

For me, it was setting a date to host a dinner night at my house.

What will it be for you? I invite you to chime in on the comments.


Do you have values you would like to be clearer about? Values you would like to be honouring more in your life? Working with a coach will add clarity and move you to action. I invite you to get in touch to learn more.

Animus, Shadow, and Other Jungian Archetypes

Last week I came face to face with my animusshadow, and wise old woman thanks to one of my colleagues at the Transpersonal Therapy Centre, who led our class through a series of art exercises inspired by Jungian psychology.

My animus emerged as a guttural caveman, eager to go out and spear a boar and then come grunting home to the cave.

My shadow image–an evil, silent, laughing clown–still makes me screw up my mouth in discomfort.

And my wise old woman glowed with calm, presence, and beauty, sending the blessing “Peace Be Upon You”  to all she met.

What to make of all this, and what part might be useful for you, dear internet surfer?


As I understand Jung, I need to understand and incorporate my animus (my inner masculine side). I’ll need to do some work to find out where I see this fierce, inarticulate provider/caveman come out, and understand how I can draw on that as a positive energy.

For you:

If you are a woman, what traditionally masculine qualities do you notice inside you?

If you are a man, what traditionally feminine qualities can you find in yourself?

For both, what about those qualities could be of service to you at this point in your life?


I need to examine my shadow to find the hidden parts of myself that I disown. As I learn to accept these uncomfortable parts of myself, the shadow will lose its power over me and I’ll even be able to find the gift that (Jung says) resides in the shadow. Perhaps this means owning up to an evil silent part of me that laughs at others, although right now I can’t fathom the gift in that particular shadow.

For you:

Here’s a question that might point you toward your shadow -> imagine the most annoying person at a cocktail party, the person you are going out of your way to avoid, the person you most definitely do not want to talk to. Got a person in mind? Write down five adjectives about that person.

Now, ask yourself, “How is it true that I am [adjective]? What would be helpful about being [adjective]?”

Ask these questions separately for each of the five adjectives that you came up with.

Wise old man/woman

The Wise Old Woman is the image of Self that I am moving toward. Sometimes this peaceful, blissful, blessing-generous being seems very distant to me; other times I can sense her, right here, just beyond the veil, waiting for me to step into her comfortable–yet stylish–shoes.

For you:

To get in touch with your inner wise old man/woman, here are a few starter questions:

Who and what are you when you are at your best?

Where in your body can you feel/sense your ‘wise voice’, your ‘inner wisdom’?

What do you need to raise the volume on that voice?

Finally, one tool I’ve found helpful for getting in touch with my own personal wise woman is the Future Self journey I learned at The Coaches Training Institute. If you’ve never experienced the Future Self journey, drop me a line to book an appointment, and we’ll travel there together.

A Transformative Program in Toronto, With Room For You

Last week I went to the first class of my third year at the Transpersonal Therapy Centre in downtown Toronto. As I sat in the room, which holds two years of memories and learning for me, I wished that more people in my life could experience the transformative growth that happens in this program. When I learned that space is still available for students to join the first year class, I decided to post about my experience in the hopes that someone who will read this will decide the program is for him or her.

I chose the program after working for two years in one-on-one therapy with a program graduate. I’ll never forget my first session with her: in contrast to psychologists and psychiatrists who sat me down, took a family history, and suggested it was all about my father, this therapist asked, “How do you feel?” and I said, “Sad.” And she asked, genuinely, “What does the sadness do for you?”

From there on, I knew this would be a different sort of therapy. I was not going to be judged or analyzed. I was going to sit across from someone whose heart was fully open to witness me, to acknowledge and accept my feelings, and to assist me in experiencing them rather than fighting them. And the more I was able to experience and accept within that space, the more things changed and shifted toward my emotional health.

I was in awe of her work, and started to want to use some of her tools with friends or family who were suffering. Yet I knew I didn’t have the personal resources to be a therapist, and I also knew that while my ability to be a functioning, mature, capable adult on my own was growing, I still had much room to grow when it came to relating to people around me. I struggled to make true contact with the people around me – I shied away from meeting someone from my own honest and authentic place, and relating to them in the here and now. And as I learned from Gestalt, growth happens at the boundaries, in contact, and in relationship.

So I went to the Transpersonal Therapy Centre, where everything happens in relation to other people. Week after week, I sat with my peers, and was challenged to share myself honestly and to see them honestly. I was challenged to communicate directly, to be aware of my unconscious reactions, to be aware of my projections, to identify and act on my own needs, and to take responsibility for my own growth. Week after week, ten other people offered witness to me, and I witnessed them.

And things changed.

I cannot predict how you might transform if you were to undertake this program, but I can share how it has changed me.

I’ve learned that the world doesn’t fall apart and I will not be abandoned if I honestly and directly express my needs. I’ve learned that I can hear another person’s pain and struggle, and even hear about the painful things they see in me, and I still can witness this person with love and compassion instead of judgment or flight. I have a better awareness of the (unhelpful) patterns I have clung to unconsciously, and with that awareness comes an ability to choose something different.

I have expanded my ability to be with myself – fully present and conscious, not running or hiding from the less pleasant parts of myself, and not running or hiding from my gifts or strengths either.

I have expanded my ability to be with others – to sit with someone who is in pain and to be present with them instead of mentally running away into my own pain. To sit with someone who is celebrating and to truly celebrate with them instead of becoming defensive or compulsively making a mental list of my own accomplishments.

I am slowly learning – and I imagine this is a never-ending curriculum – to embrace life rather than fight it.

As Pema Chodron says –

When you wake up in the morning and out of nowhere comes the heartache of alienation and loneliness, could you use that as a golden opportunity? Rather than persecuting yourself or feeling that something terribly wrong is happening, right there in the moment of sadness and longing, could you relax and touch the limitless space of the human heart?

Through the Transpersonal Therapy Centre, I’ve learned to touch the limitless space of the human heart. Not always. Not without aiming for it and missing. Not flawlessly. I have far to go before I can habitually hang out in that limitless space, instead of just glimpsing and touching it now and then. But I am on my way.

If there is something in this post that speaks to you, and you are in the Toronto area and would like to know more about the Transpersonal Therapy Centre program, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. Enrollment for the first year class is open for just a few more days.

DiY Perspective

Here’s a Do It Yourself guide to reflecting on your last six months and the six months to come.

I invite you to sit down for an hour or so with whatever tools best help you reflect: maybe your calendar, your journal, a notebook, art supplies, a friend.

Open up by asking yourself:

What do I remember from these past six months? What has happened in the world during the last six months? What has happened in my community, my group, my family, my team?

What has happened in my life during the last six months?

Who was I on January 1, 2010? What has changed? What is the same? What have been the highlights and the lowlights of my last six months? What have been my dreams and goals? What am I proud of? What do I wish had been different? What am I celebrating?

Take some time to sit with these questions and wait for the answers to come to you.

Journal about them. Sketch an image that comes to mind. Get curious about what’s coming up for you.

Note where are you right now.

If 2010 is a journey, and you are midway through it, what is the landscape in which you are standing right now? Imagine travelling up in a helicopter, and then looking down from far above at where you are on your path. What do you see around you? What do you see behind you? What do you see on the horizon?

What is the energy and the potential of where you are right now? What is there to love about where you are right now?

Imagine where you are heading.

What do you hope is true about you by the end of 2010? What do you want more of in your life? What do you want less of? What one change could you make that would make all the difference? What do you need to be reminded of over the next six months?

If you could write a billboard, a bumper sticker, a newspaper headline to capture the energy you want to bring to your next six months, what would it be?

Make it real.

Take your billboard, bumper sticker, newspaper headline, motto, and bring it to life. Write it in bold colours and post it on your wall. Draw what it would look like, photograph it, and set it as your computer desktop. Tell other people what it is. Ask yourself every morning how your intention will come alive today.

Open yourself to what might happen, and thank yourself for taking the time to reflect and dream.

Thank you to everyone who joined me for the in-person Two Hours of Perspective. I’m so excited to bring my newspaper headline to life:

Woman on Fire!


Final Words on Time (part five)

Part Five: Final Words

Do Less

  • Every day, choose three things on your to-do list and decide NOT to do them. Ever. Now cross them off.
  • Say no.
  • Say no.
  • Say no again.
  • Only do things that are in line with your purpose.

The Hardest Part Is Starting

  • Plan and prioritize.
  • Set yourself up the night before for success the next day.
  • Get started.
  • Work for at least five uninterrupted minutes. Then keep going.
  • Time yourself. I like Tick Tock Timer (hat tip to Write to Done).


  • Chunk your time.
  • Do one thing at a time. Don’t multi-task.
  • Do the three most important things first. Do them before you check email / facebook / twitter / phone messages.
  • Do a thing until it’s finished.
  • Keep a notebook beside you to jot down the distracting things. Go back to them later rather than interrupt what you are working on now.
  • Use Leechblock if your internet self-control leaves something to be desired.
  • Have a scheduled time to crash through all the little things that get in the way and take up your time.
  • Set time limits on how much time you are willing to spend on a project. If writing a document is supposed to take you one hour, then schedule an hour, write it, and then call it done. Good enough.
  • Move away from your computer.

Don’t Let Email or Meetings Get in Your Way

  • Especially move away from your email.
  • Set a personal goal of limiting the length of your emails – save your time, and the time of those who read them (see http://four.sentenc.es/).
  • Don’t answer emails that don’t need answers. No emails that say “Thanks.”
  • Chunk your email time. Limit your email chunks to a 15/30/45 minute chunks 1/2/3 times a day.
  • Suggest alternatives to meetings.
  • Be a vocal advocate for meeting efficiency. Speak up, do time checks, and arrive and leave on time, whether or not the meeting ends on time.

The Big Picture

  • Do a monthly time audit.
  • Make sure you’re creating space in your life for fun. Otherwise, you might try to get your fun fix by fiddling away a whole bunch of time on something work-related that’s unimportant but more fun than what you really need to do.
  • Be clear on your purpose, and plan actions that are in line with it.

If you need a system, check out:


You may also be interested in:

Truth in Data (part four)

Part Four: Truth in Data

This week, I’ve blogged about the mental switch from “managing time” to “managing actions”. I’ve said that my best tool for managing actions is my action management sword: clarity of purpose. I’ve referenced the Big Rocks concept to show that putting my big chunks of purpose work first gives me a structure to get more done, and to get more done in line with my purpose.

You might feel that you’re well on the way to moving your actions into line with your purpose. You might feel that you have a long way to go. You might have no idea. I invite you to start with getting curious. Honestly and non-judgmentally curious.

For one day, track what you do and what goal(s) you are pursuing by doing it. One whole day, from when you wake up to when you go to bed. Set up three columns: the time, in half hour increments; the activity; and the goal you are pursuing with that activity.

Remember, you are doing this out of curiosity. What actions are you undertaking today? What do your actions say about the goals that are important to you? What did you learn by recording your sample day? Are you acting in line with your purpose?


You may also be interested in:

Purposeful Big Rocks (part three)

Part Three: Purposeful Big Rocks

Multiple productivity and time management systems tell me to do the important things first. To really get this into my head, though, I needed the explanation from Zen Habits about Big Rocks.

The Big Rocks are the most important things. The things that are in line with my purpose and the things that stand the best chance of propelling me towards my goals. They are the things that are often easy to put off or hard to start. They are the things that take up a chunk of time that’s hard to find if I am constantly checking emails, paying bills, updating websites, or running to meetings.

Zen Habits explains that if I put all those little “pebble” tasks first, my week will have no room for the Big Rocks. But if I put the Big Rocks into my schedule first, then all the little pebble-y things will just fill in and find space around them.

Getting Things Done comes at the concept in a different, but also useful, way. The GTD system uses “time available” as its second criteria for choosing an action in any given moment. I used to look at my schedule and see two free hours before my next scheduled appointment, and think, “How many items from my to-do list can I cross off in two hours?” I aimed for quantity, because I am easily reinforced by looking at a list with twenty things crossed off.

Now, I look at two available hours and I go find the thing on my to-do list that is going to take two hours, and I do that. And somehow, all those other little tasks have a way of finding themselves tiny time slots where they can get done. My quantity of production hasn’t gone down. But the amount of Big Rocks that I’m getting done has substantially increased. And that means that I am working more and more on the projects that are most in line with my purpose, which is to help people grow and change.

As one of my yoga teachers used to say, “If you make time for yoga, yoga makes time for everything else.”

I find that if I make time for my purpose, my purpose makes time for everything else.


You may also be interested in:

The Action Management Sword (part two of five)

Part Two: The Action Management Sword

I can pick from numerous criteria to manage my actions. To name just a few:

  • context (does completing this action require my computer / being somewhere where I can make phone calls / coordinating with another person?)
  • time available (how long do I have, and how long will it take to complete this action?)
  • priority (how high on my priority list is this action?)
  • sheer whimsy (what do I feel like doing?)

I’ve found all of those criteria useful in one way or another, but none of them compare to what I call the Action Management Sword. My Action Management Sword slashes through the unnecessary and tips its point straight to the heart of the matter. It’s the line at the top of my weekly plan that reads:

Which actions are most in line with my purpose?

Zen to Done describes this as “only hav[ing] those commitments in your life that really give you joy and value”. Getting Things Done prompts the GTD user to process his/her inbox with a view to his/her purpose. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey claims that effective people spend most of their time in his Quadrant II: working on tasks that are important and non-urgent, i.e. tasks that arise from one’s purpose (I found a nice explanation of Quadrant II here).

All of these books emphasize that in order to manage my actions, I need to understand what I’m here for. Through my insatiable addiction to personal growth books and exercises and coaching, I’m clear on my purpose. At its simplest, it is:

I help people grow and change.

For an action to deserve my time and attention, it must either help people grow and change, or help me help people grow and change.

What purpose determines your choice of actions?


You may also be interested in:

I Can’t Manage Time (part one of five)

In the five days leading up to the workshop Do You Have Time or Does Time Have You?, I’ll be posting daily about the ideas that work best for me when it comes to time.

Part One: I Can’t Manage Time

Whenever I work with a coaching client who uses the words “time management”, I get curious.

What would it mean to “manage” time? Time doesn’t perform better when I give it positive feedback. I can’t give time a bad performance review and then fire it. I can’t send time to human resources training.

David Allen sums this up succinctly in Getting Things Done. You can’t manage your time, he says. You CAN manage your actions.

That’s a simple and powerful switch in perspective. As long as I am trying to manage time – an intangible phenomenon that can’t be managed – I’ll feel frustrated at my losing battle. But if I switch my focus to managing my actions, suddenly I am back in control.

Next time you hear your mental chatter telling you to “manage your time better”, stop and ask yourself: Which of my actions do I need to manage better? And what would it mean to better manage my actions?

In my post tomorrow, I’ll dip into some of the action management skills that I’ve found most helpful.