Life and Spiritual Coaching

October 27, 2008

Plan, Do, Check, Act

Filed under: Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 11:06 am
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1 Planning is an exercise we all use daily, but seldom do we use it on our own growth. In order for you to get where you want to be in the next 5 years, a plan is essential. This post will take you through the planning cycle using Deming’s famous Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.

1.1 Plan:

Planning includes defining what you want to achieve. I use a mission statement, roles (like mother, wife, friend, and worker), and goals (like become an expert Digital photographer, have a solid financial plan for retirement…) and break those down into short term and long term goals.

You can use any number of these and other tools to plan your ideal future. Remember; don’t let that demon that says “you can’t do that” get into your head. You can do anything you set your mind to!

Once you have a written account of where you want to go, it is time to determine how you should go about achieving it. Use time management techniques, prioritization, visioning and other tools to help you complete your plan. I will talk more about these techniques in later posts.

1.2 Do:

Practice your plan for a month or so and see how it goes. Keep a journal and write down what is working and what is not. Even though I am talking about long term plans here, that doesn’t mean they won’t change all along the way.

1.3 Check:

Take some time to analyze your successes and failures. Remember – failures are not bad. They are simply learning mechanisms. If someone never failed, that would mean they never took risks. Risk taking is an important key to moving ahead in life; so no punishment or feeling bad if something doesn’t turn out like you thought it would. Just change the way you go about it!

1.4 Act:

This is the fun part. You have worked out the kinks and are ready to fully act on your mission. Your chances of success are greatly enhanced by a positive attitude. Keep a journal of successes, what you are grateful for and what things you may want to look at during your next Check cycle.

2 Prioritizing:

When you are in the Planning stages, prioritizing is a great tool to help you hone in on what is most important to you. First write down the actual priority of these roles in your life. What do you spend the most time on? Then write down your desired priority of these roles. There is probably something you should fix to get back in line with your authentic self.

3 Goal Setting:

Goals should be written as SMART goals. S = specific, M = measurable, A = attainable, R = realistic and T = timely. Specific means the goal states exactly what you are going to achieve, measurable means you can measure whether it was successful or not, attainable means you are giving yourself a goal that is within your grasp to achieve (no flying to the moon), realistic means it can be done within the limits you set and timely means it has an end time in which it should be completed.

Write the goal in positive language so it is something you would like to do, not something you’d like to put off.

Goals can be achieved over different timeframes; short term (within a month), medium term (within 6 months) or long term (within a year or several years).

4 Planning Your Goals:

Here are some steps you can use to plan your goals:

·         Visualize how your will feel, what you will see once you achieve your goal. Close your eyes and hold this vision in your mind. Write down your thoughts on a sheet of paper.

·         Write down the steps you think you need to take to achieve it.

·         Arrange the steps in time order

·         List all the resources you need to help you get your goal.

·         Identify any blocks or risks that could get in your way.

·         Establish plans for managing the risks.

·         Make a list of action steps and take your first action!


October 26, 2008

Tips on living a Balanced Life

Filed under: Family,Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 12:11 pm
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Everything we do comes with a cost. One thing I do is to spend a good part of my time learning new things. I think that time is well spent and I would advise anyone to put learning in your life balance set. The things I have in my life balance are:

·    Spirituality: I spend lots of time studying books about God, reading the bible and participating in bible studies. It keeps me grounded and happy.

·    Family: I spend as much time as possible with my family. My kids are in college, so that is hard. I always make a big deal on holidays and take 2 weeks off during Christmas – my favorite holiday.

·    Learning: I read constantly, take courses, practice new things. I don’t think I could ever give this up.

·    Work: when I am working I put my full attention to it and do it well.

·    Exercise/health: I spend time in the gym and love to hike on the weekends if I can.

·    Managing the house: believe me – this can be a full time job, but I keep up on it and parcel out work to my husband to lighten my load. I also have a cleaning lady come in once a week. I’ve had her for 15 years and she is part of the family. I call her my angel.

·    Fun – this can be a date with my husband, doing some of my hobbies (I like taking pictures and writing), or curling up with a romantic novel to relax. It can also be hiking or doing something else outside. I love nature.

The important thing is for you to spend time defining what you like to do in your job; it takes so much of your time. Never forget the other things in your life that give you balance. When I am at work, I make sure to take a few minutes each hour or so to do a 5 minute meditation to calm myself down and be the best I can be at work. I always clean off my desk at the end of the day and write down the tasks I need to do the next day. These change of course, but it gives me something to start with when I arrive. I do my best not to think about work at home so I can concentrate on my other priorities. If possible, I exercise at lunch. If not, I walk at lunch. You can walk almost anywhere you are and it costs nothing. Being out in the sun clears my mind and energizes me for the afternoon.

I schedule time for each of my priorities listed above and try to make sure they are always taken care of. If something happens where I miss one, I get out of sync and have to get back to the things that balance my life.

Remember – you are the only one that will truly take care of you. Make your list of priorities and schedule them in your day timer each week so that you don’t over commit yourself. That will help you to live a truly balanced life.


Peace be with you and take good care of yourself!



October 23, 2008


Filed under: Communications,Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 5:46 pm

An important part of using others as creative problem solving resources is, of course, making sure you understand their ideas and suggestions. One technique used to do this is “paraphrasing”. This is the act of summarizing someone’s thoughts using different words. It is important to check your understanding, even when you think you understand. It is a natural tendency to not check our understanding when we do think we comprehend. However, because our understanding is based on not just what was said, but also our interpretation of what was said, the understanding could be way off the mark. In order to avoid this misunderstanding, when you paraphrase a thought, be sure to check it with the person doing the communicating. A paraphrase is not complete until the person offering the suggestion agrees.


When paraphrasing, it is important to not only understand what the person said but what they meant! Even if you think you hear the words correctly, your understanding of the intended meaning can still be off the mark. It is important that you check your understanding, especially in these situations:


·    Prior to developing someone’s thoughts or to make a final decision to accept or reject them.

·    Prior to agreeing or disagreeing with someone’s view or information about a problem.

·    Prior to judging or evaluating someone’s work or actions.


Paraphrasing is not only useful in confirming that you have understood what was being said, but it is also the only way the other person can be sure you were actually listening. In addition, a useful, though not foolproof way to use paraphrasing is to try to manage someone who is rambling or repeating. If, as a facilitator, you can step in and paraphrase what their thoughts are, you can more effectively capture their idea and then move to the next person.


Here are six steps to effective paraphrasing:


1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.

3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.

4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.

5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.

6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.


October 22, 2008

Enjoy Yourself – Don’t take on other’s problems

Filed under: Life Balance,Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 11:51 pm
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How do you treat yourself? Do you realize that you are a unique and special individual that God loves just because of yourself? You have all the power you need to live the life you have always wanted to live.

Think about how we treat ourselves every day. How often do we blame ourselves for other people’s problems? Do we talk to ourselves with love and care? Do we show enough respect to our self? Let us take a moment and think about what we do when we make a mistake or do not get the desired result? Do we tell ourselves off? How many times do we call ourselves ‘Stupid’ or use a similar word to express our dissatisfaction? If we think about these questions deeply then we will discover that often we treat ourselves unfairly. And when we do not treat ourselves properly, the world treats us in the same way. It can even affect our mental and physical health.

Now is time to break the cycle! There is no one in this world as special as you and you should treat yourself that way. Take care of yourself, your heath and your emotional well being. Take time to exercise, eat right and play. Take meditation and prayer walks.I had this bad habit myself. Whenever I made a mistake or even of those I loved made a mistake, I used to blame myself, and carried a feeling of guilt with me. What happens if we do this? First, our subconscious mind accepts whatever we say as true. If we say to ourselves, we are not good at doing something. Immediately our subconscious mind receives this message and records it as true; because it does not judge any statement, we make.

When I realized the way we talk or communicate to ourselves decides the quality of our life and our effectiveness, I changed my approach. I desperately wanted to break free from this never-ending cycle. So, what did I do?


I took responsibly for what was truly my fault, sought forgiveness and moved on. For the rest of the mistakes made around me, I supported my loved ones without taking their blame on myself and began to find ways to enjoy my life. Have fun – you deserve it!

October 21, 2008

8 tips to great listening skills

Filed under: Communications,Life Balance — by Donna Ritter @ 4:12 pm


To become a good listener you want to hear the other person. Think about your own experiences. Didn’t you feel much better when you were truly listened to? Here are eight ways to help you become a better listener:

1.   Look at the speaker and keep your eyes on them:

The whole listening process begins with giving the person your undivided attention. Do not catch up on other work, read your email, take calls or shuffle papers. How would you feel if it were you in this case? If you don’t have time at that instant, make a new appointment as soon as possible.

2.   Don’t interrupt:

Most people react badly to this and at the very least are hurt by it. People who interrupt to so for several reasons:

·         They care about what the person is saying

·         They want to impress others (or themselves) with how smart they are

·         They are too excited by the conversation to let the other person finish!

If you have this habit (one of my faults I am working on) examine your motives and determine to make a change. Would you like to be around someone like this? Let the other person express themselves and also to feel comfortable if there happen to be silences in the conversation. This gives each of you time to take notes (if applicable).

3.   Concentrate on Understanding:

Have you ever noticed how quickly people forget what has just been said? Communications also includes noticing tone, body language etc. – not just the words being said.

4.   Determine the need at the moment:

A lot of people find themselves in conflict because they occasionally communicate at cross-purposes. They neglect to determine the need of the other person at the moment of interaction. Men usually want to fix any problems they discuss. Women are more likely to tell about a problem simply to share it; they neither request nor desire a solution. Anytime you can determine the current need of the people you’re communicating with, you can put whatever they say into appropriate context. And you will better understand them.

5.   Check your emotions:

Most people carry around a lot of emotional baggage that causes them to react to different people or situations. Anytime a person has an axe to grind, the words of others are drowned by the sound of the grindstone. Anytime you become highly emotional when listening to another person, check your emotions – especially if your reaction seems stronger than the situation warrants. You don’t want to make an unsuspecting person the recipient of your venting. Always allow others to finish explaining their points of view before offering your own.

6.   Suspend your judgment:

Have you ever begun listening to another person tell a story and just started to respond before he/she was finished? Just about everyone has. The truth is that you can’t jump to conclusions and be a good listener at the same time. As you talk to others, wait to hear the whole story before responding. If not, you might miss the best part!

Experts agree that listening is most effective when you’re active. If you train yourself to comment meaningfully, the speaker will know what you are saying and may offer further information.

7.   Ask questions for clarity:

Looking at the person, focusing on what they are saying for understanding, suspending judgment and summing up what the person says is a key technique that most interviewers use. Another skill that helps to gather more information and increase your understanding is to ask good questions.

8.   Always make listening your priority:

The last thing to remember when developing good listening skills is to make “listening” a priority, not matter how busy you become or how far you rise in your organization. These skills serve you well with family and friends as well.



October 19, 2008


Filed under: God — by Donna Ritter @ 1:31 pm
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I am in two bible studies right now that happen (although there is no such thing as coincidence in my book) to both be on the fruits of the spirit. Do you think God is trying to tell me something?  One is a Beth Moore study called “Living Beyond Yourself” and the other has a little booklet for each “fruit” – this week’s was on Patience. These studies have helped me to look at things from a more spiritual point of view.

Here are the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit listed one right after the other in a bullet point format:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control

Now here is the specific verse from Scripture where these 9 fruits are being given to us by the Lord:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

So far in my study we have seen that:


·         Love never fails

·         Joy commeth

·         Peace rules

·         Patience waits.


Patience is a sorely needed quality in the fast paced world in which we live in today. I found that after doing my studying today, one of the people that I lose patience with quickly is my daughter. There are two Greek words used to describe patience in the bible. They are makrothumia and hupomone. The first means to be long suffering in relation to people (inspired by mercy) and the second means to persevere, remain under, circumstances or succumb under trial – in relation to circumstances (inspired by hope). I am sorely in need of makrothumia when dealing with my kids! Just look at how people treat each other today. Not with love and patience, but quite the opposite.

The words in this bible passage are so relevant to us today. Who doesn’t want the fruits of the spirit to rule their behavior – their lives? Only through the Holy Spirit can we continually live our lives in the Fruits of the Spririt!



October 14, 2008

Put Joy into Your Work

Filed under: Life Balance — by Donna Ritter @ 12:21 pm
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Put Joy into Your Work

Sabrina Schleicher, Ph.D.

Have you been feeling the doldrums with your job lately? Do you find yourself procrastinating with certain tasks? Is it hard to get up in the morning to get to work? If you answered “yes” to these questions, chances are there is incongruence between your job and your life purpose. And, the good news is, you don’t have to quit your job to address this incongruence (unless you really want to!)
In my Coaching Groups, we work on articulating our life purpose as a means to increasing our joy in our work. Yes, you have a life purpose. No, you don’t have to create it out of thin air. You already know what it is, even if you haven’t put words on it yet. You have been living out your purpose all of your life. Your life purpose is about the essence of who you are. It is who you can’t help but be.
There are many ways to identify your
life purpose. One way is through art. Art is a powerful tool for self-exploration. Art bypasses words and language. Art allows us to express the core of who we are, even when we can’t find the words to do so. And, you don’t have to be artistic to benefit from using art for self exploration.
Try this: Make a collage using magazine pictures, photos, or any random items that capture your interest.  As you are selecting things to include in your collage, the key is not to think too much. Just select pictures or items that you are drawn to.  Arrange them in your collage in whatever way feels good to you.

Once you have completed your collage, ask yourself these questions:

  • What feelings come up as you look at your collage?
  • What themes do you see?
  • What colors or patterns stand out?
  • What does your collage say about who you are?

Write your answers to these questions. Put your collage aside for a day or two. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking about your collage off and on. What thoughts and feelings come up? Jot these down.

Then come back to your collage. Notice what is in your collage and what you have written down. To take this one step further, share your collage with a trusted friend or colleague. Ask for their feedback as to what the collage says about you. 
What words or phrases come up repeatedly? Use these words or phrases to write a few sentences about your life purpose. Start with the words, “I am…” and go from there. See what comes up. Play with this.

How do you feel as you read your life purpose aloud? You may feel what you have written is only partially done. That is ok. Articulating your life purpose is an on-going process. By doing this exercise, you have begun to develop a sense of your life purpose, and that is sufficient for looking at how your life purpose relates to your job.

When you feel lagging energy for your work, what is happening in your job that may be incongruent with your life purpose? What options are there for dealing with that? How are you expressing your life purpose in your work? What might you do this week to bring your life purpose into your work?

Answering these questions AND taking action on your answers will put you on the path to bringing joy into your work.


Boost Your Creativity and Make it Work for You!

Filed under: Life Coaching — by Donna Ritter @ 12:18 pm

Boost Your Creativity and Make it Work for You

Sabrina Schleicher, Ph.D.

There are times when it can feel like you have simply run out of good ideas. This is the classical “writer’s block,” and you don’t have to be a writer to experience this phenomenon. No matter what you do for a living, your creativity can be one of your best resources. What can you do to boost your creativity when you feel as though you just can’t access that part of yourself? Take advantage of the mind-body connection to boost your creativity. There are a number of simple things you can do to clear your head and get your creative juices flowing.


Exercise. Step away from your project and go for a walk, or head to the gym. Exercise promotes the flow of oxygen to your brain. Exercise also releases stress-relieving endorphins and decreases the levels of cortisol (i.e., stress hormone) in your body. All of these positive side effects of exercise will help to get your creativity going again.


Get Plenty of Sleep. Be sure you are getting sufficient sleep. In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to short-change yourself on sleep. We need at least eight hours of sleep to be fully alert and functioning at our best. It is impossible to come up with your best ideas when you are sleep deprived. 


Get away. Take a vacation or mini-vacation for a change of pace and scenery. Do something totally outside of your ordinary routine. This will help you to see the world differently and get a fresh perspective. If now isn’t a good time for a vacation to the Bahamas, take a mini-vacation. This can be as simple as a 5-minute break to close your eyes and use imagery to evoke a relaxing scene in your mind.


Practice Relaxation, Meditation, or Yoga. Inducing a relaxed state of mind and clearing your mind of clutter will help you focus in the present moment. You will be surprised at the creativity that returns to you once your mind has been freed of the clutter of your daily thoughts and worries.


Schedule for Creativity. Notice the days and times of day you are most likely to be creative and have good ideas. Rearrange your schedule to best utilize those times for your creative endeavors. Treat this like an appointment with yourself. Do not let other matters intrude on this important time.


GET Coaching. Coaching is an excellent way to get your creativity flowing again. As a coach, I love to work with creative clients. Even the most creative person sometimes feels stuck, or has difficulty implementing creative ideas. Having a supportive coach to assist you in brainstorming and developing specific plans to implement creative ideas can move you much further along than when you work alone.


An example that comes to mind is a woman with whom I recently talked to about business ideas. For several years, she has had the idea of marketing her creative therapeutic interventions to other therapists, but she has never had a plan for moving forward with her business. After just a few conversations, she has developed a website and products she is marketing to therapists, parents, and teachers. The support of a coach can be of tremendous value as you take action to put your creativity to work! 



Saying “No” When it’s not that Simple

Filed under: Communications,Life Balance — by Donna Ritter @ 12:11 pm
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Saying “No” When it’s not that Simple

Sabrina Schleicher, Ph.D.


As a psychologist and life coach, I often find myself discussing the importance of saying “no” with busy, stressed out business owners and professionals. Everyone likes the idea of saying “no” more often, at least in theory. But, when it comes to actually doing it, I hear a lot of “yes, buts.” In other words, “yes, I could say no to that, but then who would do it?” or “yes, I could say no to that volunteer project, but then I might disappoint them.” Why is it so hard to say “no” to others?

Most of us experiencing success in our careers have learned one lesson really well–if you want to move ahead, you have to be willing to do the work. Translation, say “yes” to opportunities that come your way–you never know where it will lead. Well, look where that has led you. . . right to reading this article, looking for a solution to managing the stress from your busy life!  
The truth is, we are much better at saying “yes” than we are at saying “no.” Saying “yes” is easy, even if it means more stress and frustration down the road. When you say “yes,” the person asking something of you smiles, thanks you, and you are left feeling as though you have pleased someone. There is a lot of emotional payoff in that.


Saying “no” is not immediately gratifying to us. Although rationally we know that saying “no” will mean we will feel less stressed in the future, when we say “no,” we may feel guilty about disappointing the person who has made a request of us. Or, we may fear the consequences of saying “no.” What’s so good about that? Not much. That’s why simply telling yourself to say “no” more often is not a very effective means of managing your busy life and career. 
So, what’s the alternative? Contemplate saying “yes” with awareness of what the “no” is in every “yes.” For every task or project we agree to do, we are saying “no” to something else. For example, when you are starting a small business, there are a lot of start-up costs. You also are investing your time and energy into developing your product, building your customer base, and networking to promote your business. Your resources are limited and you have some difficult choices to make about where to invest your resources. Your time and energy are precious resources, as are your financial resources. Yet, we tend to believe we can stretch ourselves thinner and thinner by cramming more and more into our day. This simply does not work in the long-term because you deplete your energy.

Instead, think of your time and energy as being limited, just as you think of your financial resources as having a limit. This will help you to use all of your resources wisely. When you say “yes” to one opportunity or project, you are saying “no” to something else in your life. So, when you say “yes” to volunteering on a project, you will be committing your time and energy to that project. What are you saying “no” to? Where else would you be spending that time and energy? Perhaps you are saying “no” to some relaxing time with your family, or time spent developing your product. It becomes much simpler to say “no” to others when you are fully aware of the impact your choices have on your business and personal life.

Being fully aware of our choices allows us to make choices congruent with our goals, values, and life purpose. This brings us closer to a sense of balance.  


Try this over the coming week: Each time you are presented with a new opportunity, project, or task, ask yourself, “what am I saying ‘no’ to by saying ‘yes’ in this situation?” Write this question on a piece of paper and post it where you will see it often. You will soon be making wiser choices about how to allocate your precious time and energy.


Live Your Authentic Life!

Filed under: Life Balance — by Donna Ritter @ 11:38 am
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You are the creator of your own vision. Writing a mission statement helps you to clearly define your mission, a powerful tool to create meaning and meaning and direction in your life. A personal mission statement answers these questions:

1.   What are you about? What does your ideal life look like?

2.   What are your primary values?

3.   What values do you need to develop and what tools will help you to do that?

4.   What is your daily practice to keep you in touch with your personal values?

5.   What/who are you grateful for? Plan to keep a gratitude journal.

6.   What inspires me to be the best person I can be?

7.   Examine your public, personal and deep inner life to define what values, contributions and roles are most important to you.

8.   Visualize your desired results. Identify the principals and values that will help you to realize your vision.

9.   When you day dream, what do you see yourself doing? What if you had unlimited resources?

After you have answered all of these questions to the best of your abilities, consider what you would like to leave as your legacy. How do you want to be remembered?

At the end of the exercise, revisit your gratitude journal. You will find that you have much more to be grateful for than you thought you did at first glance. Make a plan to enhance your best qualities and live your authentic life!



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