Apr 192016


Picture this. Your boss asks you to work late but you promised your son you’d be at his soccer game that evening.  You say yes to your boss and walk away with a pit in your stomach.   As you walk back to your office thoughts like ”why didn’t I just say no…what’s my son going to think…why is it so hard for me to honor my boundaries?” stream through your head.

This is never an easy situation.

Saying NO to someone (no matter who it is) is never easy.  But it is “easier” when you have clear, healthy boundaries.

Boundaries are like an invisible fence.  This invisible fence keeps in what you do want in your life — things like hard work, family, health, trust, happiness, commitment.   At the same time, this special fence keeps outthose things you don’t want in your life – things like stress, disappointment, overwhelm, struggle, heaviness.

The problem is that most of us don’t have this fence because we haven’t established strong, clear, healthy boundaries.

In my experience clients start out in one of three boundary categories: No Boundaries, Squishy Boundaries or Rigid Boundaries.

No Boundaries.  This category somewhat speaks for itself.  But it’s safe to say that people who fall into this category suffer greatly because they don’t know how to say NO and their focus is typically on pleasing other people at the expense of their own peace of mind.  People with no boundaries often feel and appear like the victim.

Squishy Boundaries. People with Squishy boundaries are inconsistent with maintaining their boundaries.  Whether or not they enforce a particular boundary depends on their mood, the situation, or the person challenging their boundary. People with Squishy boundaries often merge with other people’s boundaries and because of this they are easily manipulated.

Common statements from clients with squishy boundaries sound like:

** I feel like people take advantage of me,

** I feel guilty for saying “NO”,

** My time is often highjacked by other people,

** My choices are often dictated by what others want,

** I often feel like the victim,

** I often feel anxious or afraid.

Rigid Boundaries.  With rigid boundaries there is no grey area.  There is only black and white.  I like to think of rigid boundaries as barriers because they don’t allow for connection — they keep people out, and prevent closeness and developing relationships.  Rigid boundaries are created from a place of fear and/or control.

Comments from clients with rigid boundaries sound like:

** I feel confined,

** I am unclear about why they are setting a boundary in the first place,

** I feel in “control” but not in a healthy way,

** I feel isolated,

** I feel angry (again, because they’re not sure why they are sticking to a particular rigid boundary).

The goal when I’m working with clients one on one or presenting a workshop on boundaries is to move clients away from boundaries that keep them stuck to more flexible boundaries that allow them freedom and choice.

Flexible Boundaries When a person has flexible boundaries it doesn’t mean that they change with the wind.  It simply means they are set with love, intention and self awareness, and that they get to choose what to let in or what to block out.  They are at choice.   These are the strongest healthiest boundaries.

Now, listen to what clients with clear, well-thought-out, flexible boundaries often say:

**I live with intention,

**People respect me more (ironically),

**I know what’s important to me and I honor that,

**People know they can count on me,

**I feel at peace,

**I feel comfortable with myself and my choices.

What a difference!

So what do you choose?  Do you choose the struggle of living without boundaries?  Or do you choose the power of taking control of your choices and of yourself?

And, remember, the strongest and healthiest boundaries are set from love not fear.

Stay tuned for my next newsletter where we’ll explore boundary types and areas to look at when setting your boundaries.

And, check out this free download of questions to help you determine where you might need stronger, healthier boundaries in your life.   You can access it here:  http://www.encompass-coaching.com/OrderCreatingBoundaries

Good luck & have fun playing with these concepts.


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Apr 162016


Are you living your passion or just going thru the motions?

Going through the motions looks like being frantically busy but feeling like you’re not accomplishing much.  It looks like struggle, anxiety, overwhelm, indecision, static, limited, heaviness.  Picture paddling up stream with only one paddle.  It looks like following other people’s rules, ignoring your inner-voice.

On the other hand, living with passion looks like living with a sense of excitement, possibility, creative energy, enthusiasm, motivation, and a focus and drive that are hard to derail.

When you live with passion life flows; it has meaning and purpose.  When you ignore your passion life is complicated, full of roadblocks (perhaps the Universe trying to tell us something?).

Going through the motions feels like the Winnie the Pooh character Eeyore. Although a loveable character, he seems to be followed by misfortune and a dark gray cloud overhead.

Living your passion feels like Woohoo!  It’s one heck of a roller-coaster ride.

Realizing and living your passion, though, takes dedication, courage and commitment. It’s not always easy.

With so many competing ideas, opinions and options available to us, it’s difficult to stay the course.  Following your passion means saying no to the nay-sayers and yes to yourself and what you want for your life.

Living your passion means you might even disappoint people in your life – your family, friends, co-workers, boss. You might even anger some people who are resistant to your change.

This is where the commitment to yourself comes in; continuing to honor and work towards fulfilling your dreams and your passion even though not everyone agrees with you.

So by this time your probably saying to yourself, “Sounds great, Erin, but how exactly do I find my passion?”

Here are some ideas.


Slow down.  In this increasingly busy world, taking time to sit quietly and breathe sounds like fantasy.  The thing is, it’s really difficult to connect with your passion when you’re mind and body are in constant motion. So, give yourself a break (literally). Take time to breathe deeply, slow your mind and reflect.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What do you dream about that is so audacious you dare not tell anyone?

What are you longing to do?


Think big. You are more than your job or your title. You are more than your familial or your financial status.  You are so much more!  So think beyond just you and your sphere. Think about the city or state in which you live.  Or, really challenge yourself and think globally.  The idea is to think outside yourself and ask yourself what’s important.  Here are some prompts:

What causes are important to you?

Where do you volunteer your time and resources?

What about these causes is important to you?


Embrace your strengths.  We all have strengths; those things we do particularly well, often without much thought.  Do you know what they are?  If yes, that’s great!  If not, get to know them.  Your strengths can point you in the direction of your passion.

What specific talents do you have?

What do you get lost in doing?

What activities are you passionate about?


Have fun. Although finding your passion is serious business, it’s important to tap into the lighter side. 

What activities bring great joy, laughter and inspiration to your life?

What do you want more of in you life?


Embrace Fear. Yep, I said it.  Embrace fear.  Fear is crucial to finding your passion for two reasons.  One, it lets you know you may be onto something. And, two, it inspires action.  If you face your fear, if you’re curious about what it’s telling you, you’ll have the chance to move beyond it to what’s waiting for you on the other side…passion.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

What is your fear telling you?

What is your authentic self telling you? (at this point the Gremlin usually appears with a whole list of why and how it won’t work. This is great and generally means you are on to something!)

It’s never too late to pursue your passion! Don’t let fear, negativity or other people stand in the way of you fulfilling your dreams!  The cost is too high!

However, the payoff of living a purposeful and passion-filled life, one filled with commitment, inspiration and motivation is priceless and well worth the effort!  Dream big!  Live large!

And remember…The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Enjoy your learnings.


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Apr 152016


We all mess up.

It’s part and parcel of being a human being.

You miss a deadline;

You flub a speech;

You hurt feelings;

You fail a test;

You forget important dates or events;

You blow an important job interview;

You send a nasty email out of anger;

It happens.

How you handle mistakes or failures makes a big difference.

When you beat yourself up, rehashing the situation, over and over, like a movie reel playing the same old scene in your head, you tend to stay stuck.  And although it’s healthy to acknowledge mistakes, when you stay in that space, it can quickly become toxic.

Choosing to find the opportunity in the failure, on the other hand, empowers you, enhances your resilience and creativity, and allows you to learn, grow and make better or different choices in the future.

Here are a few tips to help you process failures and move forward:


Ask, what’s the learning for me here?   What can I take away from this and do differently next time?

There is always learning in every failure, every mistake.  Isn’t that magnificent?!

Take time to discover the learning, and then use that learning as you continue to move forward.  Maybe you need to tighten your schedule, or say NO more often, or maybe you need to hire an assistant (or delegate) to relieve some of your workload.  The learning is yours, and it’s there for you if only you take the time to seek it.


Own it.  Some failure is due to others’ actions and some is due to our own.  Acknowledge your role in the failure. No one likes an excuse-maker, or a blamer, so own your role, make amends, if necessary.

Then, give yourself the space and time to pick apart what went wrong; take an honest account of the situation.  This isn’t a license to dwell and brood.  This is time to really, honestly, authentically reflect on what went wrong so that you can keep from making the same mistake next time.


Shift your perspective. Most of us look at failure as the worst thing that can possibly happen.  Not so (from my perspective).  Failure is evidence that you are moving forward, taking risks, and stretching yourself.  Growing.

Everyone makes mistakes.  Lighten up on yourself (and others!).  The key is the learning you take away and then moving forward and using that learning to take better action.


Acknowledge your progress.  Too often we are so focused on our lack of progress that we fail to acknowledge how far we’ve come, all that we’ve accomplished.  Take the opportunity to write down all of your accomplishments, all of your strengths, all of your learning’s and discoveries.  You might just be amazed at all the great stuff you’ve learned and accomplished, despite a failure or two!


Be easy on yourself.  I’m going to say it again (in case you didn’t hear me the first time); we all make mistakes.  Are you going to continue to grow, try, learn and expand by being hard on yourself?  Probably not.  Well at least not with ease and grace.  So go easy on yourself; pat yourself on the back for trying something new, stretching beyond your comfort zone, being honest.

And remember, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”  Henry Ford

Good luck & have fun playing with these concepts.


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Apr 142016


Anyone who has a dog (or has witnessed a dog), knows that chasing its tail is great fun for the dog. They could run in circles fruitlessly chasing that illusive furry thing all day long, and love it.

For humans chasing their tail. Not so much.

Chasing your tail is frustrating. Energy draining. Nerve wracking. Time wasting. Success limiting.

It looks like this. You work and work, harder and hard, faster and faster, and yet you feel like you’re not getting any closer to achieving your goals.

You spend your time bouncing from one task to another. You’re not clear on your focus. You waste the best hours of your day – the time you have the most energy – on menial tasks. You buy into what your inner critic tells you. You’re rarely still.

Chasing your tail is exhausting.

So what do you do instead?


Unitask. Focus on one project, task or activity at a time. Use a timer and give yourself a set time to work and then get to it. Turn off your alerts (on your computer, smartphone, tablet), turn off the phone, close your door, and work. When the timer goes off, pick another project and set the timer again. You will be amazed at just how much you can get done when you focus on ONE thing at a time. And I think you’ll find that you accomplish your tasks not only faster but also easier and better.


Get clear. The more clear you are on your goals the more likely you’ll achieve them. Spend some time with your goals, write them down, ask yourself, “why is this goal important to me?” Or “How will this goal change me/my life?” and “How will I feel when I achieve this goal?” Asking yourself these kinds of questions not only gives you clarity around the goal, it also gets you in touch with your feelings around the goal and that is a powerful motivator.


Don’t start your day with menial tasks. Many people start their day opening their email, checking their voicemail, and any other number of menial tasks. That’s a waste of time and energy. You’ve had a good nights’ rest (well, hopefully), a healthy breakfast (you did, didn’t you?!) and your ready to begin the day with energy and focus – Start by tackling biggest task/project you have on your agenda. Knock that out and then you can sit down and check your email, voicemail. The key is to do this efficiently so set your timer for 30 minutes for both tasks and then move on to your next biggest project/task.


Don’t believe everything you think. Studies suggest we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. That’s one thought per second during every waking hour. And, for the average person, 80 percent of those habitual thoughts are negative (Marci Shimoff from Happy for No Reason). Here’s the thing, though. Just because you have a thought, doesn’t make it true. (Repeat that last sentence to yourself!). Just because you think you’re not “enough” (smart enough, pretty enough, qualified enough, educated enough, blah blah blah!) doesn’t make it true. The two best ways to overcome negative thinking (or Gremlin thoughts) is to simply notice them and then challenge the thought with “Is this really true?” When you shine a spotlight on your thoughts they tend to shrink, so be sure to carry a big flashlight with you!

If you’d like to learn more about overcoming limiting thinking download 10 Ways to Manage Your Gremlin @ http://www.encompass-coaching.com/products/


Be still. Our culture celebrates busy-ness. In fact, it rewards it. But the thing is, YOU need a break. Your mind needs a break. So, be still. When you’re still – whether through meditation, listening to classical music, taking a quiet walk – you give your mind a well needed rest. But, ironically, guess what happens? You often receive your most creative ideas when you’re still! So give yourself the gift of stillness daily. You’ll be amazed at the rewards you reap.

Don’t try tackling all of these strategies at once (that would be continuing to chase your tail!). Break them down. What strategy will have the biggest impact on you? Try that one for a week, and pay attention to what you notice. Then try another and then another.

Chasing your tail is a choice. You can choose to run in circles or you can choose to be mindful. If you continue to run in circles, you’ll continue to get the same old results. You can also choose to be mindful. Being more mindful of how you spend your time will give you more energy, focus and ultimately allow you to make better decisions.

Enjoy your learnings.


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Jan 152016

I’ll admit it.

I fell into a familiar pattern.

There I was, 9:30 in the morning, furiously tearing through my speaking notes for my upcoming teleseminar. When I say upcoming, I mean in 30 minutes. I had meant to finalize editing my notes the previous week (best laid plans and all). But you know how it is; things get in the way (you can imagine what those “things” were). Let’s just say there was laundry and dusting involved. Cursing myself for waiting until the last minute (again!) I continued to edit, add, refine.

Did I complete my notes? Sure. Did I do it easily and gracefully? Definitely not.

Patterns pervade our lives – whether they are actual behaviors or ways of thinking. Some of them work for us, propelling us towards our goals and dreams. Some of them work against us, stifling our creativity, keeping us stuck.

Those patterns that support you – keep them! Those patterns that don’t – eliminate or limit them.

You know your patterns; they can show up in a variety of ways — procrastination, habitual late-ness, over-simplifying or over-exaggerating a situation, people-pleasing, not following through on commitments, negative thinking and gossip just to name a few.

And, negative patterns, not only impede your effectiveness, your productivity, and your success but can also impact your reputation (IKES!).

Here are some steps to help you identify your patterns and some ways to limit or drop them altogether


Identify. Identify your patterns. It could be negative thinking, gossip, being late, whatever it is, write it down. Don’t skip this step, there’s power in writing things down.


Reflect. Ask, how does this particular pattern currently serve you? How or when might this pattern have served you? How does it get in your way, damage your reputation, and/or limit you?

Many patterns were developed as a response to something, so they may well have served a purpose for you at one time. Now? Not so much. Reflecting on them helps bring them to light. Note: This isn’t reflection accompanied by judgment or self-flagellation. This is reflection for learning. There’s a big difference.


Eliminate or Limit. If you can completely eliminate a pattern then do so. Let’s say your pattern is falling short on your commitments. When you realize the negative impact that has on your life and work, make a promise (or commitment) to yourself to follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Every time. You’ll notice that when you do this, you’re very selective about what you commit to.

Oftentimes it’s enough to simply limit a habit. Maybe your habit is chronic negative thinking. You can limit this pattern by simply being aware of what you’re focusing on or thinking at any given time. If you catch yourself thinking negatively, simply refocus your thoughts on something more positive. Or use a coaching tool called “reframe” to help turn your negative into an opportunity, and capture the learning.


Seek Accountability. Patterns are stubborn, and hard to let go of and you may need some help. When you’ve decided to do-away with a negative pattern, your best bet is to tell someone. Ask a trusted (the key word here is trusted) friend, family member or your coach to hold you accountable. They’ll be honored to help and you’ll have set yourself up for success.


Be Patient. Change takes time. When you’re trying to limit or eliminate a limiting behavior or thinking pattern, be patient with yourself. Judgment is the enemy of change. Simply notice when you’re thinking a negative thought. Then, make a conscience decision to do it differently.

The big question here is, are your patterns supporting you or sabotaging you? Are they pushing you gracefully and effortlessly towards your goals, or are they tossing you from side to side, like a boat in a storm, throwing you off of your path?

Once you’ve identified your negative patterns you can make a plan on how to limit or deal with them. I’ll tell you up front that it takes patience (with yourself and others) and perseverance, but the end result is worth it – taking control of your patterns rather than letting them control you is very empowering.

Enjoy your learnings!


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