It is Almost 2020: Give Yourself Permission to Pursue Your Desired Future

The end of the year – and in this case the beginning of a new decade – is a great time to take stock of where you have been and where you want to go!

Milestones in time create the ideal moments to clear the challenges of the past, celebrate our wonderful memories and launch our dreams. Listen to your internal compass. Maybe you have been feeling stuck or have an internal knowing that it is time to do something different. If so, it is time to give yourself permission to consciously create and pursue the future you truly desire.

One of the first lessons we cover in F * School is giving ourselves permission to do whatever we truly want to experience, try or pursue on the path to our preferred future – the future we truly desire.

I have noticed the need to “give permission” in both individuals and in organizations, so I created a lesson to address this need. Many people tend to keep themselves mentally stuck or wait for someone else to give them permission to move forward with an idea, project or vacation (Yes-sometimes leaders really struggle with taking time off to recharge and renew).

I have been guilty of choosing to stay stuck at times. My amazing executive coach, Elise Auxier, pointed this out to me as I transitioned from my job to my business. Instead of waiting for some external person or force to give me permission to leave a long-time career that was no longer serving me, I had to take ownership of my life and do it myself. It took a series of bold, baby steps. And, it took a lot of support. Ultimately, I had to be the one to take action. I gave myself permission every step of the way. Was it always easy? No. Has it been totally worth it? Yes!

The process of giving yourself permission to move forward with your dreams and desires can be especially important if you are going through a time of change or transformation. I used the Permission Slip several times to help with my midlife metamorphosis. It took me a year to leave the place I had been at for twenty-five years. As a mentioned earlier, it was a process of bold, baby steps. It has taken some time; however, I am finally emerging as the person I have always wanted to truly become.

Give yourself permission to take steps forward, no matter how big or small, to experience your dreams and desires. Don’t choose to pursue what I call the Purposeless Future.

The Purposeless Future

Too many people keep their desires inside of them.  They pursue what I call the Purposeless Future. This is the future that “just happens” because people opt to stay on the hamster wheel of life rather than taking the time to develop and pursue a purposeful future that they truly desire.

The future is not a straight path forward.  Rather, there are many alternative futures. In the world of strategic foresight (futuring), we us a tool called the Cone of Possibilities to help people understand this concept.  In the cone, there are multiple futures that can be described as:

  • Preferred:  The desired future we choose to pursue
  • Possible:  The wide range of events and possibilities over the course of time
  • Plausible:  Futures that are possible but unlikely
  • Probable:  Events and future scenarios that are likely to happen
  • Purposeless:  The future that occurs without conscious intention

There are also two key assumptions about the future:

  1. There are multiple futures.  It is important to clarify your preferred future through a visioning process; however, you must also be willing to change course when necessary.  Remember, life is not simply about achieving in the future — it is also about enjoying the present. 
  2. You influence the future through your true intent.  Once you establish your preferred future, you must develop the beliefs, behaviors, mindset and actions to make it happen.  If you do not truly believe in your preferred future, you will not consciously or subconsciously pursue it with true intent.

The Power of Honest Intentions

Our honest intentions are naturally supported by our beliefs and actions; therefore, all true intent is realized.  Intentions become the outcome — they become your future. Your intentions serve as motivation and the source of actions and behaviors. Setting and pursuing false intentions can lead to a lack of interest and motivation, which typically ends in feelings of failure and self-doubt. Feelings of failure and self-doubt can seriously erode confidence and our sense of self-empowerment and success. Be genuine about your desired future and your intent to pursue it.  If you honestly and consciously establish your true intentions, your beliefs, behaviors and mindset will align to create the outcome.  

Dealing with Wild Cards

Sometimes, we experience Wild Cards — those unpredictable, unexpected and unforeseen happenings that can impact our present and future.  We might lose a job or have an unexpected health emergency. We might inherit a large sum of money or land a big client.

Wild Cards are a part of life, and we have to learn to deal with what comes our way. 

Life is Not a Straight Line

There is no straight line to any future. As leaders of our own lives, it is important to take risks, learn from the challenges and celebrate the successes. Our preferred futures may ultimately look and feel a little different than we imagined; however, they may be even better than what our minds are capable of creating!

The Pace of Change

Wild Cards are unpredictable, unexpected and unforeseen happenings that we must deal with throughout the course of our lives; however, we are also living in a time of unprecedented change.  Not only is technology evolving faster than ever – life is too.  We are living longer and experiencing careers and families differently than ever before.  We also feel like we need to always be “on” as we are constantly bombarded with the demands of life.  This is especially true for people who are creating new ways of living and working.

All of this change can feel overwhelming and cause stress that undermines your potential.  Don’t give into the hype! Change will continue to happen. The intention here is to create the positive change, and preferred future, that works best for you and your life. So, get give yourself permission to pursue your desired future!

WIN with Action!

Giving yourself permission to pursue your dream future is not about striving, working hard or struggling to make it happen.  It is about the freedom to make decisions that work best for you. This exercise is about exploring how you personally WIN, and by WIN I mean let the process feel —

W = Wild = Free, Fulfilling and Fun!  

You have the freedom to choose how to spend your life. Put your ego, external validation and the thoughts of others aside so you can be totally free and honest with yourself.   Let your transformation be guided by self-honesty, personal fulfillment joy and fun!  

I = Inspired = Explore with Energy and Excitement! 

Anytime is a great time to explore new possibilities, so pursue your desired future in a way that gives you energy and feels exciting!  If you are feeling a bit stuck, start asking yourself some questions designed to increase your self-awareness:

  • Where does your energy naturally flow? 
  • What saps your energy?
  • What do you want to let go of doing, feeling or thinking?
  • What have you always wanted to do but have not yet tried?

This should be a process of experimenting and exploring.  Remember, your true intentions will naturally lead to inspired actions. 

N = Natural= Totally You.  

Have you ever tried on a piece of clothing, looked in the mirror and thought, “Wow!  This looks amazing!” It fit perfectly and the color made your face light up naturally.  That is what the “N” in WIN should feel and be like. Write, do and explore what feels totally and completely like you.  What comes to you without thinking about it? What have you been covering up or avoiding that is begging to be set free? What comes to you naturally — without effort or striving?  What makes you feel alive and excited — taps into your intuition (that inner wisdom we all possess) and aligns with your soul?

It’s Time to WIN!

Download and complete the Permission Slip below.  Take the time to give yourself permission to consciously create your future and experience your life by taking big leaps or bold, baby steps. Do whatever you need to do to give yourself permission to WIN and pursue your desired future!

Use extra Permission Slips if you need them. After you finish giving yourself permission to take consciously create your future by intentionally taking action, share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below!  What steps did you decide to take? How did it feel? Whatever you want to share is absolutely welcome!

I look forward to hearing what you gave yourself permission to do, feel and experience to make your desired future a reality!

-Dr. Connie

Easter is Awesome!

My family is winding down our fantastic Easter weekend. We found lots of eggs, and had fun spending time outside in the sun. The lovely rain made everything seem clean again, which is such a great reminder of the true purpose of Easter.

My daughter’s favorite part of Easter was the candy! Jim’s favorite moment was taking a nature walk, and my son’s favorite moment was finding an Easter Egg in his room. My favorite part was remembering that all is forgiven because of a special sacrifice that was made many years ago. Easter is a great time to reflect on the past but also let go to make room for a new and even brighter future.

Thank you Lord for all our blessings and for a fresh start!

Go Wild with Easter!
-Dr. Connie

20140420-193720.jpg

Megatrend 3: Decentralized Global Marketplace

Distance learning is in the age of the “Empowered Consumer-Learner” who has a buffet of educational choices.   The empowered consumer-learner decides what educational experiences and knowledge they need, when they need it and how they want to experience it.  The wide-array of non-credit and for credit choices makes for a very competitive marketplace but also a field of new opportunities.

Venture capitalists continue to invest in distance education because of the return on investment potential.  Big Data is being used to develop marketing campaigns, study human behaviors and determine patterns.  It is also being used to examine various areas of teaching and learning.  Data can help create bite-sized, customized courses and programs that are both personalized and interactive (Koller, 2012). Technology enables the delivery of information and education anytime, anywhere and from anyone in a way that makes sense to the learner while adding value to their lives.

It’s no longer necessary for people to enroll in college, formal classes or workshops to learn.  They are learning what they want to know from their networks and resources they find on the Web, through Apps or in iTunes.  People will increasingly be able to create and print their ideas from wherever they choose with 3D printing.  Technology, combined with the continued growth of self-expression and meaning, will continue to change education at a rapid pace.

Value is becoming less about college credit and more about meaningful outcomes and self-expression through enhanced skills and evolving abilities.  The world is fast-becoming an “Add to Cart” society for anything and everything, including educational experiences.  Individuals are creating local, national and global communities of meaning and change that are self-selected and self-formed.  Many of these same individuals are transforming distance learning in new and innovative ways.  Technology, combined with the need for meaning, self-expression and self-actualization, has created an increasingly decentralized marketplace.

People are choosing how to meet virtually, when, where and whether-or-not to meet face-to-face and connecting over common causes.  Education, along with so many other areas of life, is becoming increasingly decentralized.  Savvy consumers seek and create the value they crave to transform their lives.   They are choosing whether or not they want a badge, certificate, credit hour or degree, and their demands are shaping the marketplace and future trends.  The Empowered Consumer-Learner wants a unique experience that adds value to their life.  Future-focused leaders who ask and answer not, “What is the lifetime value of a customer?” but rather, “What value can we add to a lifetime?” will be in a better position to compete in the increasingly decentralized marketplace.

Innovation Retreat: New Ideas and New Dollars on April 29!
As educators, what is the value we can add to a lifetime?

Megatrend 2: Living with Purpose and Meaning

Our society is quickly evolving into an era characterized by shared purpose and meaning.  Leaders must be willing to create an atmosphere of sustainable innovation designed to continuously move organizations forward while connecting employees and clientele to meaningful experiences and their definitions of personal fulfillment.

How many distance-learning leaders are adding value to the lives of learners, faculty and staff from a holistic perspective? 

Personal fulfillment is a growing trend and may be a growing trend in distance education as well.  Research on the “entrepreneurial learner” in the distance learning environment demonstrated an increase in credit hour completion as learner motivation associated with personal fulfillment strengthened (Reimers-Hild & King, 2006).  People are looking to decrease their levels of stress and strengthen their healthy habits while finding greater fulfillment.  Minimalism is one of the trends shaping the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend because people are seeking less stuff and more life.  At first glance this may seem like an odd topic for administrators in the distance learning arena to consider; however, minimalism is gaining popularity in trend-setting places like Silicon Valley and is influencing everything from living spaces, to workplaces and web design.  The Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend will continue to grow as the global population increases and places more demands on the planet’s limited natural resources.  How can future-focused distance leaders create a better experience for learners and employees alike?  Leaders can connect with individuals’ beliefs while helping them find purpose and meaning in their educational endeavors and careers while living fuller lives with less clutter and greater health and well-being.

Technology may help distance learning administrators holistically add more purpose and meaning to the lives of both learners and employees.  For example, a forecast by Carbone and Nauth (2012) describes the evolution of the “cloud.”  They discuss the cloud evolving from a place to store data to an intelligent resource that will actively help people improve their lives:

Virtual agents will migrate from being an automated form of phone-based customer service to a personalized form of support and assistance that provides information and—more importantly—performs useful tasks. For example, such agents might design a weekly menu based on a family’s health profile, fitness goals, and eating preferences, and automatically order ingredients.

This forecast provides an example of how distance leaders can use technology to help their organizations innovate with a focus on the future.  A transition from cloud-based computing to cloud-based living and learning might be help institutions focus on both learners and employees in a more holistic manner.

Two trends supporting the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend include: 1) life increasingly flowing together instead of being compartmentalized into work, family, recreation, etc., and 2) the quest for greater well-being, health and vitality.  People are increasingly learning and living on the go in both the virtual and physical senses, which blurs the lines between family, self-care, work and play.

How do these trends influence distance learning?  As more people want to connect with their purpose, find meaning in their lives, and increase their vitality, educational institutions should take a more people-centered approach focused on meaning, well-being and the mind-body connection supported by the right social networks, experiences and technologies.  A few ideas might include:

  • Integrating holistic, healthy living and self-care principles into distance learning programs in an effort to create better learner experiences and to create more value in courses, programs and the lives of learners (including the lives of their families).
  • Providing coaching for learners and employees to help them uncover their purpose and create strategies and structures to support meaningful actions designed to improve their educational endeavors and lives.
  • Adding physical activity and fun to courses or programs in an effort to stimulate creativity, decrease stress, build camaraderie and strengthen overall wellness (perhaps an App or the intelligent cloud can help).

It’s time to move beyond the traditional grading scales, discussion boards and homework assignments and focus on the whole person and what life means to them.  Helping people find their fulfillment, purpose and definition of success may provide distance-learning administrators with tools to innovate their institutions.  Competition for learners, along with their precious time and dollars, will continue to increase.  Distance-learning institutions will have to find new ways to add increased value to the lives of learners, employees and their families.  Not only can people choose to learn anytime from anyplace, people can choose what they want to learn and from whom they want to learn it.  Institutions that add the most value will have the competitive advantage.

 cropped-img_2646_wow1.jpg

Megatrend 1: The Rise of the #GigEconomy

The rise of the entrepreneurial individual, and what is currently referred to as the Gig Economy, will create new challenges and opportunities for distance learning administrators.  How can institutions of education help learners create value for traditional employers and for their individual brands?   If not as many people are investing in education to land a full-time job, what does this mean for higher education?

An emerging trend, the rise of global joblessness (International Labour Office, 2014), is supporting the growth of the Gig Economy while creating a need for the marketing of talents and skills in new and meaningful ways.   The number of large employers is predicted to shrink in the future causing people to find new and inventive ways to make a living.  The ability to sell, purchase and promote goods and services as well as individual brands on the Web has created a need for education to add value to the lives of learners in innovative ways.  People are increasingly defining success for themselves, which does not always include a college degree and a 9-5 job.  In many ways, it is now much cooler to be a successful start-up entrepreneur, famous blogger or YouTube sensation than a person working in a full-time job.

One common denominator will remain the same:  People need to be found on the already crowded World Wide Web.  They have to build their brands and levels of influence to strengthen both credibility and success.  Educational institutions should keep a close eye on the rise of businesses like Fiverr.com and the use of Twesumes (Twitter + Resume = Twesume = a resume in 140 characters or less) to land jobs or gigs (thus, the #GigEconomy).

Leaders should also consider building their brands, as well as those of students, faculty and alumni.  The rise of social networks and technology has enabled people to both learn and teach at anytime from any place.  These same tools have helped people create their own businesses and design their lives in ways that best suit them, which supports the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend.  Life purpose is shaping everything from healthcare to education.

I Need Your Help before Friday!!

I need your fresh insights about confidence before Friday? Why??

Clint Bellows, a man I truly admire, invited me to be a guest on the Tom Becka show this Friday at 3:30 PM. Clint is hosting the show, and I am starting to get my thoughts on confidence, leadership and coaching together. Your ideas, perspectives and experiences will make this radio experience on the Mighty 1290 a much richer experience for listeners.

Here’s a question to get the conversation started:
What do you do to strengthen your confidence and the confidence of others?

I would love to hear from you!

Go Wild with Confidence!!
-Dr. Connie

Jagger’s fun and amazing drawing represents my feelings about being on the show (I am so proud of my little artist):

20140101-212708.jpg

Starting the New Year with True Intentions!

 

It’s the perfect day for writing.  The snow is falling and the new year is full of positive energy and gratitude!

If you are contemplating your resolutions or goals for 2014, my updated SMARTER Intentions and Authentic Goals Coaching Guide may be of use.  It is designed to help get you started or to help you refine what you may have already established.

Intentions influence our actions and behaviors.  If intentions are established with awareness, truth, and meaning, they help us experience a life filled with passion and personal fulfillment. Lack of understanding around our true intentions often causes frustration and confusion, which is one reason people oftentimes do not achieve their goals.  Many goals are written; however, they are not established with honest intent.  It’s time to get brutally honest about your true intentions so you can achieve authentic goals.

Intentions have the power to strengthen your Inner Leader and help you move forward in a meaningful way as long as they represent what you truly want to accomplish and experience.  Honest intentions, based on personal fulfillment and purpose, can also keep you motivated and focused while measuring progress and celebrating success.

What we truly intend will happen, so I use this coaching guide to encourage my clients to create SMARTER Intention Statements that support their personal vision.  So, what exactly are SMARTER Intentions?  They are statements designed to help you achieve your vision while holding your accountable and having some fun along the way because they are Super Cool, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound, Evolved, and Rewarded.

The SMARTER Intentions and Authentic Goals coaching guide can easily be downloaded via the web by going to the University of Nebraska Extension Kimmel Education and Research Center Digital Commons site.  Simply click on: SMARTER Intentions and Authentic Goals.

Go Wild with your SMARTER Intentions and have a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!

-Dr. Connie

 Happy New Year

What Holds Meaning to You?

I just returned from making a presentation on entrepreneurial leadership and innovation.  The conference was really informative, and the participants seemed to accomplish their goals.

Coaching was a central theme.  Most participants agreed that coaching leaders would help their states achieve inroads to economic growth.  I think they may be on the right path because coaching is such an awesome tool.

However, it made me think about the correct approach to take and the meaning of it all.

Each person plays a different role in this universe.  What role do you want to play?  What is most meaningful to you?  And, are you concentrating your limited time and resources in the areas that make you most happy and joyful?  Have you taken the time to decide what holds the most meaning to you?


The most successful and fulfilled leaders are the people who have taken the time to answer and continuously revisit these questions.  Take some time to answer these questions.  Invest in yourself and in your own personal journey.  Take the time to “get your ducks in a row” by developing your personal leadership and innovation plan.  Take time to create joy in your life.