Natasha Sherman

Change — particularly an unplanned career change — can be tough on the body and the brain. But business coach Natasha Sherman has created strategies for coping with it and getting the best possible outcome, even if it means going against your most ingrained instincts.

Sherman will share her advice on strategy, mindset, and coping mechanisms at the Professional Service Group of Mercer County meeting on Friday, June 14, from 9:45 a.m. to noon at the Princeton Public Library. The event is free. For more information, visit www.psgofmercercounty.org.

Sherman wrote an essay detailing her method of mastering change:

Most of us want at least some things to change in our lives; our finances, our weight, our level of well-being and fitness, our level of satisfaction and happiness, etc. At the same time, we tend to resist change/changing. The familiar is extremely seductive even though we may not be thrilled with it.

I was in a training where they hypothesized that the most singular job of the brain is survival, and let’s face it, the brain does a magnificent job. You do not have to instruct your brain how to operate your body, when to cross the street, or how to get to work. They also posited that to the brain, happiness has no survival value. Although somewhat shocking, this actually made sense. Since the brain is such an exquisitely functioning instrument, if happiness had some survival value, we’d all be happy.

You’ve survived breaking your diet a dozen times, you’ve survived procrastination, you’ve survived the repeated arguments in your relationship, you’ve survived the habits you wanted to break or create and didn’t, you’ve survived being dissatisfied and taking no significant actions to change it. Your brain is fine with that. You’ve survived! It has done its job.

If happiness is not your brain’s job, it’s your job. So is change.

Change requires desire, commitment, a willingness to take action, a willingness to learn, a willingness to “fail,” to look foolish, to make mistakes, and it most definitely requires a willingness to be uncomfortable. Discomfort is a powerful motivator. When you get a cut, thank goodness you have pain. It provokes action. We often look at discomfort or unhappiness or dissatisfaction as indicative of failure. Another way to look at discomfort in any area of life is that it is simply a signal that something wants our attention, just like that cut.

Where do we start? It starts as an inside job. We start with exploring how we think and what we believe about our lives, about the world, about ourselves, and about what’s possible.

Just about everything starts with a thought. The quality of our thoughts and beliefs determines the quality of our actions and our results. As the saying goes, garbage in/garbage out.

The Wright Brothers had to have thoughts and beliefs about the possibility of flying. They had to have the desire, the commitment to problem solve, the willingness to stick with it, the willingness to fail over and over and over again. Their thought process and their belief in the possibility is what created their success and because of that, we are in space.

We tend to think that what we believe is reality. We fail to recognize that it is our reality, not necessarily a universal reality. Our choices, and our actions, results, and experiences in life get created out of our unique perception of reality. However, it is possible to see a different reality.

“Five minutes after your birth, they decide your name, nationality, religion and sect, and you spend the rest of your life defending something you didn’t even choose.” (Anonymous)

We weren’t born with our opinions, our thoughts, our beliefs. They were fed to us; by our families, our culture, school, our experiences, society, media, even our own unique nervous system. We can’t escape this. But if there are areas of life that are not working as well as we’d like them to, perhaps it’s time to dismantle rather than defend.

As they say, no matter where you go, there you are. And all the ways you operate in life that work well for you are coming with you. But so are all the ways you operate in life that don’t work well for you. They are coming with you into your next job, relationship, partnership, friendship, etc.

This is about developing judgment-free awareness. It’s not about defending or blaming. It’s about developing discernment. This area of my life is not working the way I’d like it to. What do I believe about it? What do I see as possible or not possible? Are there other ways I could see this situation? Are my reactions based on habit (the default position) or on what is actually going on right now?

If you walk into an interview not having faith in your abilities, in the value you bring and your ability to perform, your conversation will reflect that, and your results will reflect that.

If you avoid making a call because you believe it will be challenging, it will cause you to speak a particular way, perhaps be defensive or even offensive, or negatively misinterpret what the other person says. It starts with the thoughts and beliefs you bring to it, and your results will reflect that.

You can never outperform your belief systems. As Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Zig Ziglar says, “You are the most influential person you will talk to all day.”

Start to pay attention to your internal monologue. Get curious. Train yourself to seek other ways of perceiving the situation. Experiment. Notice the results.

This is about managing your mind because your mind will mug you if you let it. Do not believe everything you think. Be willing to break it down.

Our ways of thinking are habitual and usually are predictable, often unproductive, and have become the default. The default runs the show — unless you interrupt it.

Mastering change is a process, a journey. As a life success coach, I work with people to develop the mastery to “live by design and not by default.” There are learnable skill sets, tools, effective ways to transform your thinking, and intentional dismantling of what’s not working.

My favorite piece of graffiti said, “You get what you settle for.” We don’t always get to choose what happens, but we can develop the mastery to choose how to respond with power, effectiveness, and high levels of satisfaction. This is about thriving, not just surviving.

Natasha Sherman is a Princeton-based life coach who can be reached at www.natashasherman.com, by email at nzscoach@verizon.net or by phone at 609-689-9063.

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