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Mindset Coach Pilgrimages Self Development

Three Steps to Powerful Decision Making

And a few reasons why you are brilliant at it already!

I’ve just retaken a personality test that I did some months ago. Not to worry, I am still firmly set in the space of introversion:)

A key takeaway for me from the results of this current test is that my decision-making has improved.

But before I give you this three-step process, I want to start by telling you why you are already an awesome decision-maker.

Here goes!

  1. Micro Decisions

You start making conscious decisions the moment you open your eyes in the morning.

Each micro decision you make gets you through your day. Making your first cup of coffee; your thoughts and actions while you are getting ready for work; getting into your car; doing the shopping; dropping the kids off at school; doing your incredible work.

These are all micro-decisions, and we often forget that they are decisions because they have become part-and-parcel of your daily process.

So, take some time today to stop.

Stop – what are you thinking? How are you feeling? Are you worried? Concerned? Happy? Comfortable?

Stop and observe.

2. Your decisions have shaped who you are

Take a look at your life up to this point.

Yes, there might very well be low points and things that you might regret or feel sorry or sad about.

However, when you position yourself into a space of gratitude for everything that has come about – whether you flourished or learnt a lesson, your decisions have carved out your life.

Your life is a reflection of you.

This might be a sobering thought for some of us. If so, your decisions that you make today then can be an epic way to repurpose your intentions and move you into a space where you are able to flourish.

What are you going to decide to do today?

3. There are no good or bad decisions

Regret.

I used this word to discuss a past decision that I had made. My friend lovingly reminded me that regret has no place in our past decisions.

Since past decisions cannot be undone, they must be seen as points along a journey. A journey that has brought you here to this place.

If that is a sobering thought and you are not altogether comfortable with your space at this moment, then another decision – one based on learning from that regret, can make every difference to your onward journey.

We make decisions every second of the day.

What are you going to decide to do today?

I made a decision that changed my life

I decided to go on pilgrimage and walk the Camino de Santiago.

When I started walking, I didn’t realise that I was carrying with me such immense grief. I was aware that my mood affected my life and my relationships, but I had never considered that I was suffering grief.

It seems so obvious to me now.

My decision to walk the Camino Frances saved my life. It allowed me to re-discover my courage and to face the loss of my brother, my grandparents, my best friend and my parents.

The beautiful gift of time that I had given myself gave me space to consider my own goals and my own dreams, and it changed my thought around how I was going to live the rest of my life.

My decision to go on pilgrimage was the first decision of many that have now shaped who I am.

We have to decide who we are, and what our primary purpose is, in order to thrive, and not only survive.

What are you going to decided to do today?

Now onto what has improved my decision-making skills.

Since I am an introvert and I use both judging and sensing to make my decisions. This might be somewhat different for you.

However, since I have taken to using my own coaching tools and techniques that I have learned on myself in addition to my clients, I believe that my thought process has developed because of my increased overall confidence.

This three-step process is ideal when you are facing challenging situations, and a decision must be made.

  1. Define the challenge

By this, I suggest that you really give it a good assessment.

  • What are the facts;
  • What has worked before and can you apply this positive outcome;
  • What hasn’t worked;
  • Who can you count on to help you – consider your outer resources;
  • How can you overcome this yourself – consider your inner resources;
  • Who do you know that has faced a similar challenge to support you through this moment.

Once you have clearly assessed what needs to be done, and who can help you you are 80% of the way to making a well-formed decision.

2. Consider all possibilities

As human beings when we are faced with difficult decisions as a result of situations or circumstances we often resort to the worst-case scenario.

This is absolutely great!

Using our intuition and considering the facts together, we are energised towards finding a workable solution and then making well-formed decisions around the challenge.

Considering all possibilities, even the nasty ones, allows you to make short-term and actionable decisions to get you moving forward. That forward movement will empower you through those challenges even when, at the outset, they seem insurmountable.

3. Consider the consequences

My go-to question to myself, when I am at this point is:

“What’s the worst that will happen?” That worst-case scenario aspect of decision making.

I often find myself writing up a “pros vs cons” list. It’s funny how my “pros” are always longer.

It’s because, I believe, that we know intuitively what to do, it is only our limiting beliefs that often get in our way.

It’s very helpful to consider the consequences from both angles:

  • What will happen if I don’t make this decision?
  • What will happen if I do make this decision?

Ask yourself how will this decision, whether you make it or not, impact your loved ones. Those people who count on you.

What are you deciding to do today?

If there are no challenges you are being faced with today, observe your thinking and contemplate this statement:

Thoughts are real forces.

This is the first law of the mind, as described by John Kehoe.

If you believe that thoughts are real forces, what are your thoughts about?

If you need to change them are you deciding today to be happier, more fulfilled, more successful, more purpose-driven, or will you decide that the status quo is ok for you right now.

Either way, there is no right or wrong decision, as long as you remember that every decision shapes our lives.

Our lives are a reflection of ourselves.

What are you deciding today?

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

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Pilgrimages

Pilgrimage

I was drawn to the Camino. I had not had any information on this pilgrimage prior to reading about it in a magazine, despite my many travels into Europe. The more I read up on this historic trail, I learned that the Camino de Santiago, does not consist of just one trail, but of many. In Spain, there are currently 15 different routes, in Portugal, and in France, 7 routes. Upon learning this, I realized that I didn’t have enough years in my life left to explore them all, and so I have set about changing my lifestyle in order to achieve this dream.

My pilgrimage is mostly a religious one. I feel the spirit and warmth of faith every day while I am walking, and while I try very hard to bring this feeling into my normal life, that is life not on the Camino I often fail miserably. I love this feeling of peace and tranquillity that I experience on Camino, and I am aware that for me, it comes from a higher place. I have often thought of joining the church, and while I am on Camino, this thought almost becomes a reality for me.

In historical context, for those who don’t know, the remains of St James the Great are said to be interned at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The most popular route, traditionally starting in St Jean Pied Du Port on the French Pyrenees is also known as the Camino Frances. The Way of St James, which is any of the many routes currently sign-posted through Europe, represents one of the most important pilgrimages still today, and during the Middle Ages most certainly a primary route upon which on completion, the pilgrim would earn plenary indulgence for one’s sins.

Traditionally the route begins at one’s home, and so pilgrims from all over Europe during the Middle Ages would have walked the route from their front door. Today, there is controversy as to the starting point of the pilgrimage. In order to receive a Compostela, which is your certificate of distance covered and issued by the Pilgrims Office in Santiago De Compostela one needs to walk at least the final 100km’s. This fixes the starting point for this minimum requirement in Sarria, which is around 112km outside of Santiago De Compostela. There is lively discussion around this aspect of the Camino and that a true pilgrim should have started in St Jean. Outside of Sarria, there is a popular milestone upon which the words saying that Jesus didn’t start in Sarria. While it doesn’t have any historical foundation, many pilgrims talk of this and believe that a true pilgrim walks any of the routes from start to finish. My position on it is based on history. It seems quite unimaginable for a pilgrim in the Middle Ages, who might have had his home in the area surrounding Sarria, to walk all the way back to St Jean Pied Du Port to then start his pilgrimage back to Santiago de Compostela. It is based on this practicality, that I base my own pilgrimage on the idea that medieval pilgrims did – it starts when I leave my door. That door is in Johannesburg South Africa, and it really is a pilgrimage since it takes me generally two or three flights, a train, and a bus to the starting point, which was on the first occasion in Pamplona and the second, Sarria. On my way, my mind is fixed (probably more fixated) on the task at hand and is preparing for the way ahead. I practice gratitude every day these days, and when I leave for a pilgrimage I am filled with so much gratitude that it is difficult to contain and even harder to explain the feelings that overwhelm me.

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Pilgrimages

Just follow the yellow arrows

There is a little town just before Puenta La Reina. I wish I had my guidebook with me so that I could remember its name. As I progressed on the trail, I ripped out the stages, so as to lessen the additional weight that I might have been carrying. In retrospect, I am not really sure that I saved any weight, but what I did do, is deface a perfectly good book. In any event, I was passing through this little town and I became quite mesmerized with the lovely church square in the centre of the sleepy town. It was Sunday. It had lovely benches and play areas for worshippers, and visiting families, and I enjoyed the tranquillity of the surroundings. I walked on, and left town.

A few km’s out of town, I realized that I had not seen a yellow arrow for some time. There are a few rules while you are on Camino and being a responsible pilgrim, I generally take note of them. I stopped and contemplated that I might have taken the wrong road out of town. I had been walking on the main road, and this should really have been a sign earlier on for me to turn around.

Despite the tar road, there were many farms alongside it, and perhaps this was why I had not been alerted to my error earlier. Watching an elderly couple work their farm, I noticed the woman was beckoning to me. I crossed the road, and when I arrived within earshot of her, she spoke quickly in Spanish, and again I was so disappointed that I had not learnt the language prior to arriving on my Camino. It is amazing though that even when a language separates people, you understand the importance of what is being said through the gestures and concern on the messenger’s face. She looked very concerned and so I stood and waited for something to make sense to me.

I gestured to her and using my fingers to demonstrate what I was saying, I asked her whether I should be walking back in the direction of town. I know the word for “town” in Spanish is “pueblo” so I asked used this word in between my English words, hoping for the best. She seemed relieved when I finished my finger demonstration and she clapped and waved my along, pointing to town and also using her fingers to tell me to walk back. So off I went.

Arriving back in town, I quickly saw where I had gone wrong, and really if I had been watching, there was no way that I would have taken the wrong road in the first place. There were my trusty yellow markers, boldly displayed and telling me to walk in the opposite direction than I had originally to leave town, and so I was back on track.

It’s not hard really. The guidebook I had used for information on the towns and to learn the history of the particular area that I might be in. It was also a very useful telephone book for the local albergues in the area. But a pilgrim doesn’t really need this guidebook to tell them where they are going, or which direction to walk. You just need to follow the yellow arrows.

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Pilgrimages

It had been a particularly long day on the Camino

I had set off early and had missed breakfast leaving Arzua. It was nearing the end of my days on the trail and I was feeling a little emotional about the whole thing. When I had started, I hadn’t really grasped the whole experience, but now I was entrenched in the simplicity of it all. I loved the people, loved the environment, I just loved it all. Despite the ache that had developed in my pelvis, I had headed out of town, while emotional, happy that I was about to achieve my goal.

Heading into a forest, the hill that was ahead of me, looked like it could have been walked quite easily. After some of the earlier hills, this one looked like a walk in the park. Forgive the pun. I headed into it, and halfway up, my pelvis was feeling like it had the weight of the world suspended on it. My legs ached, my lungs hurt and I just felt defeated. I stood for a long time, just looking down at my boots, looking at them and the dust that I had collected over the km’s I had already covered. I didn’t want to go on. It was just too much for me.

I looked back thinking that that was the way. I looked ahead thinking that the path forward was just too long, and too hard. Either way, I suppose I was right. I remembered a book I had read on your thought process and recalled how what you think you believe. My mind was totally giving up on me!

From behind me, a soft voice spoke. I couldn’t hear the words initially but the closer she came to me I realised that she was speaking in broken English and recognised a Spanish accent. I felt like a fraud being on this path since my Spanish was just so weak. Here I was, feeling sorry for myself, in this lady’s country and she was speaking to me in my home language. Very well too!

All she said was: the hill levels out just past that tree over there. It’s not far, and then you are on flat ground. She smiled at me and walked on past. She was wearing a backpack, so I assumed that she was a regular on the trail. I think I assumed correctly. I waited a while and watched her trudge up the hill. Even if I had tried my best, she looked like a walker who would outpace me on a flat trail. She reached the tree ahead, turned to look at me and waved, and then disappeared over the rise. Smiling, knowing that she was right about her assessment of the hill ahead, I gathered myself and started up the hill. Arriving at the tree, there ahead of me was nothing but flat road.

My Camino angel had disappeared from my sight, perhaps she was a figment of my imagination, perhaps she just walked really fast?  Either way, I was looking at the rest of the trail with a renewed vision, and I was taking another step closer to living life with gratitude and purposefully.

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Pilgrimages

A day in the life of a Pilgrim

It really is simplicity in its purest form. To summarise a day: you wake up, put your boots on (since you are generally already dressed in your walking clothes, to save weight in your backpack you are not carrying pajamas and those luxuries) and you walk, stopping along the trail to eat, have a coffee (in Spain I order a café con leche – it really is very energising) fill your water bottle, find an Albergue to sleep at, eat a simple meal, take a welcoming shower and then back to bed. For as many days as you need or plan your walk – it is a repeat of that simple cycle.

While the day is purely simplistic, the process is engaging, invigorating and life-changing. Along the route, you might discover some very interesting aspects of your personality that you never understood. I am not a psychologist, and would never assume to provide guidance on this point, but for me, I learned to accept things that I couldn’t change, to accept things as they are, and to live with gratitude – gratitude for what was the past and gratitude for what is the future.  My future had never seemed clearer.

It was clear to me when I really started to experience the Camino, that I didn’t have the need to restore a broken life. I was not filled with grief for loss; I wasn’t trying to get over a bad spell nor was I trying to right a wrong. While I miss my mother especially, I don’t feel trauma by her physical loss. In fact, when I think of all the people that are physically not present for me anymore, I don’t experience a wave of emotion for their absence. They are ever-present, and I always feel that they are by my side with every step that I take in my life, and on the Camino, it was the strongest presence of them that I had ever felt.

Undoubtedly, my mother would understand why I have gone on this journey. She would probably be able to articulate the reason why I am here at this point in my life, far better than I can. She would say that it is the draw of the adventure of the Camino; the simplicity of it all; and the spiritual upliftment that I experience when I am walking from place to place, and being very far from the noisy world that we all belong to.

We should really all experience this type of day – the simple day, where faith takes you on your journey and delivers you to your destination.

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Pilgrimages

Camino – my pilgrimage.

I was sitting reading a magazine having a pedicure. I generally do this, when I want to avoid opening a discussion with others. I am an introvert you see. I can’t remember the name of the magazine, but I came across an article describing the Camino de Santiago, and how this pilgrimage had changed the author’s life.  I was intrigued!

It took me some three years to go on my first Camino, after reading that article. In fact, I had a pilgrimage planned but postponed it, having to have my second hip replaced. I now have two ‘bionic’ hips. In any event, when I eventually went on pilgrimage, on my first attempt I turned out really disliking it. I injured myself and had to return home to recover. Since I had all the time in the world though, I had resigned my job, I decided to return to Spain after some recovery time and finish this thing called the Camino.

There was something that happened on my return to Spain. I flew into Madrid and was waiting for my train to take me to my starting point, and it sounds like a cliché, but I had this warmth inside me, and I suddenly had this all-encompassing feeling of peace. I have lived an awesome life, but this feeling was so new – I had never felt this before. Here I was, back in Spain to finish something that I had dreamed of for such a long time, and I had such faith that this time I was going to be ok.

You see, it was initially about getting what all pilgrims know as the “Compostela” This is a certificate of completion for the distance you have walked on the Camino. To qualify for the Compostela, a pilgrim needs to walk at least the last 100km, which is verified in the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago de Compostela. This time around, I didn’t have that on my mind – it was all about dealing with this dream of mine, to see the world, to live with freedom and mostly about trying to live a more purposeful life. I’ve traveled a lot, but this trip was very different – it really was a pilgrimage. And in the end, I discovered that it really was a journey to me, back to myself, and everything I ever needed, I had already