Category: Demo

Founder’s Corner – Life Planning

Someone once said to me, “How can I plan my life when life is ever-changing and unpredictable?” I found it a thoughtful question and a reasonable one to ask. While I believe it to be true that we cannot predict what will happen tomorrow or in the next minute for that matter, planning for the future has always been a worthy consideration –  as long as we do not become attached to our plans. Yet, having a plan in place is how many choose which schools to attend for a degree, what cities to live in that offer opportunities, and the qualities to look for in a mate versus remaining single. 

Some plans we look forward to and are eager to engage in.

I’ve witnessed couples planning their wedding. What colors to consider? Which caterer to hire? Who will be invited to that special day? Those same couples may plan for a family. How many children do they dream of having? What neighborhoods do they wish to live in? Which schools to send their children to? Those types of plans may lead to the type of job you want, the roles that are most important to you to take in your profession, and how much money you want or need to earn. 

Other plans are necessary and not so much fun to contemplate.

Recently I heard from a former client who shared that she is embarrassed to admit that, as she nears retirement, she has not planned out investments so that she has the money to retire comfortably. She admitted that planning for this next phase of her life is not something she looks forward to doing. So she simply avoids the topic altogether. This is a pervasive reality for many of us who don’t want to think about retirement. Yet, avoiding the topic doesn’t make its reality go away.

Life is full of plans. Some go as hoped while others, well, require rethinking. And just because you make plans, how you intend to carry out your plans may not always seem so clear. 

As a part of human nature or how we’ve been conditioned to act, we often find ourselves planning for the future – however unsure the future may be.

What I’ve discovered is that when it comes to the type of plans we make later in life, it can be the difference between planning the life you envision for yourself and living the life that someone else envisions for you, leaving your wishes out of the equation entirely. 

Hi, I’m Byron Darden with another edition of Leading with Purpose on Purpose. In this latest installment in the series on Transitions we began publishing in December 2023, we explore the value of Life Planning. The connection to our theme this month draws on the fact that more than a dozen countries celebrate Independence Day. So in keeping with the significance of gaining independence we thought it fitting to acknowledge the importance of doing so by planning ahead for the abundant life that is your birthright.

I’ve been supporting executive leaders for over 20 years in planning their climb up the corporate ladder and how to strategically navigate the process. Now I’ve drawn on that wealth of experience to support you in planning the life you most desire, rather than just hoping for the best that life has to offer. Because too many of us fail to plan for what is most important to us. Focusing on your passions, your dreams, and your greatest desires, I’ve learned first-hand the value of Life Planning. 

It began for me in 2008 when a dear friend and colleague offered me an opportunity to plan for what is next in my life. It was a profound experience unlike any I had before. While I had planned out my life as a skater as well as my rise as a stage actor, and my ultimate move to New York, these were all centered around my career. What I hadn’t considered was planning for the aspects of my life that were most important to me. Getting clear on how my life beyond my career might look. 

I was stunned to discover how many plans I made over the years without much thought to how retirement might fit in, as well as what and how I would like to give back. Particularly considering the countless opportunities that came my way and not by my own efforts. In fact, taking advantage of Life Planning is how I found my way to New York and what prompted me to begin Triple Axel Executive Coaching. 

Just to give you a taste of what Life Planning can do for you, I not only planned how my company would form and unfold, I even planned the last two-year pivot through which I’ve been transitioning in real time since we began publishing this series. 

You may have noticed that over the past eight months, our website has gone through a transformation. Our colors have changed from orange to several hues of blue. Our logo is different. Our services are more dynamic. And while we continue to specialize in serving women in leadership, we are also now inclusive of all executives and the various types of organizations in which they lead. We’re primed to help organizations become more inclusive, support them in facing change, and provide coaching to executives to sharpen their skills. In order to navigate promotions more effectively, we help leaders develop their personal brand, and guide our clients to build on what they do in business by also helping them identify what comes next in their lives.

As you read this month’s blog on Life Planning Part One, think about how you can benefit from allowing us to help you make way for your life’s passions. Enjoy!

Continue to this month’s blog on Life Planning!

One with You: Life Planning

It’s easy to get swept away by the cycles of daily life. We find ourselves caught in a cycle of routines, obligations, and unforeseen events, rarely taking the time to pause and reflect on where we’re headed. Last month, we discussed the importance of mindfulness and staying in the present moment with our tasks. This is extremely important. So is looking ahead. This is where life planning comes into play—a process that empowers you to take control of your future, align your actions with your goals, and ultimately lead a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

Life planning is not just about setting goals; it’s about envisioning the life you truly desire and mapping out the steps to get there. It involves a holistic approach, considering every aspect of your existence, from career and finances to health and relationships. By dedicating time to planning your life, you create a blueprint that guides your decisions, helps you navigate challenges, and keeps you focused on what truly matters.

In this blog, we will explore the nuances of life planning, exploring how it can enhance your sense of direction, improve your mental and emotional well-being, and provide a clearer vision for your future. Whether you’re at a crossroads, seeking greater balance, or striving for personal growth, life planning offers invaluable benefits that can transform your journey. Life planning can help you craft the life you’ve always envisioned or create a vision for the life you want to have.

Your Personal Road Map

Life Planning is your very own guide that draws from your personally developed itinerary focused on your most desired places to go, sights to take in, experiences to savor, identifying the causes you want to champion, and being with the people dear to you, on your most significant journey imaginable. 

Your guide is tailored for and by you, matching what’s core to why you are who you are; taking into account what you yearn for most. You’ll discover what obstacles might get in your way. Determine who can help you overcome them. You’ll even have the freedom to exercise your option to choose the timing to take action on possible adjustments to keep your journey on course.

When you find that certain aspects of your itinerary no longer align with your initial planning, you can let them go. This includes adding new choices to your itinerary, including changing where you wish to travel, expanding or scaling back your list of people to be with, and shifting experiences based on your change of heart.

Essentially, Life Planning is a roadmap that identifies what is most important to you that is born of your dreams and aspirations. It’s a way of taking wishes and fantasies and turning them into a plausible approach to making them a reality. 

What Life Planning is not, is a plan for the end of life. By contrast, it is as the title suggests. It is a way of looking at your life in terms of what can be possible when we allow ourselves to dream and then look at ways of turning dreams into reality. It is also not a plan full of guardrails. Instead, guidelines for how to move forward. It also is not a constriction that can not be altered. 

As the saying goes, “Life happens when you’re making plans.” The suggestion is that life does not go according to plan. While this is often true, the lack of a plan provides you with no starting point nor ultimate attainment of something important to you because you chose not to put whatever it is in motion. Life planning allows you to consider what you really value most and then map out steps to move you in that direction. While you might find something else along the way, the life plan guides you to possible roads to travel. Something that I often heard as an athlete is a quote credited to Norman Vincent Peale, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Next comes Creating a Purpose and Direction

Creating Purpose and Direction

The significance of life planning is twofold. First, consider the analogy of taking a trip. You wouldn’t embark on a journey without some level of preparation and planning. Without a plan, you might find yourself overspending, ending up in places you didn’t intend to visit, and missing out on key experiences you would have cherished. Just as a well-thought-out travel itinerary helps you maximize your trip, life planning ensures that your resources—time, money, and energy—are directed toward your most valued goals.

When you have a plan for your trip, it’s easier to manage unexpected events with contingency plans. Similarly, life planning equips you to handle unforeseen circumstances with greater resilience and adaptability. By anticipating potential challenges and having strategies in place, you can navigate life’s uncertainties more effectively. This proactive approach reduces stress and helps you maintain a steady course, even when faced with obstacles.

Second, life planning fosters a deeper sense of purpose and direction. It encourages introspection and self-awareness, prompting you to identify your core values and long-term aspirations. This clarity of purpose acts as a compass, guiding your daily decisions and helping you prioritize what truly matters. Without a plan, it’s easy to become reactive, constantly responding to immediate demands without considering their alignment with your broader vision. Life planning keeps you focused on your ultimate objectives, ensuring that your actions are intentional and aligned with your desired outcomes.

In essence, life planning is about taking charge of your destiny. It’s a proactive approach to living that empowers you to design a life that reflects your true self and aspirations. By planning your life with intention and foresight, you set the stage for a more organized, balanced, and fulfilling existence. In the following sections of this blog, we’ll explore practical steps and strategies to help you create your life plan, ensuring that you are well-equipped to achieve your dreams and navigate your journey with confidence and purpose.

It begins when you Shift Your Mindset.

Shift Your Mindset

The choices we make and the mindset we adopt play a crucial role in shaping our experiences and outcomes. Often, we find ourselves stuck in patterns that limit our potential and stifle our growth. To truly thrive, it’s essential to recognize these limiting behaviors and actively work towards more empowering alternatives.

The table below outlines a transformative path from limiting beliefs and actions toward more empowering and fulfilling approaches. Each transition represents a shift from a constrained, reactive state to one of intentionality, freedom, and self-empowerment. By embracing these shifts, you can unlock your true potential and craft a life that is successful and also deeply satisfying.

Move Away FromMove Toward
Limiting beliefsLimitless ones (at least at first)
Listening to adviceBeing heard for your dreams and desires
HesitationFreedom of flow knowing you have someone in your corner as a cheerleader rather than a naysayer
Stifling emotionsBeing in touch with your emotions
Letting life happenPlanning life’s happenings

Each transition signifies a profound change in perspective and behavior:

  • From Limiting Beliefs to Limitless Ones: Start by challenging the constraints you’ve placed on yourself. Open your mind to new possibilities and believe in your potential to achieve great things. This became very real for me when I was advised to earn a championship before turning to professional skating. 

Competition was not for me at the time. Learning how to skate well enough to be hired by Ice Capades and work my way up was my greatest desire. I was told it wouldn’t happen. A year after joining Ice Capades I became the understudy for the lead male in the show. In fact, he was my coach. Eventually, he left the show and I took his spot…without a championship under my belt.

  • From Listening to Advice to Being Heard for Your Dreams and Desires: Move beyond simply taking advice from others. Find your voice, articulate your own dreams, and ensure that your goals are acknowledged and supported.
  • From Hesitation to Freedom of Flow: Overcome hesitation by building confidence and embracing the support of those who believe in you. Experience the freedom that comes with knowing you have a cheerleader in your corner.
  • From Stifling Emotions to Being in Touch with Them: Instead of suppressing your emotions, learn to understand and express them. This emotional intelligence will enhance your well-being and relationships.
  • From Letting Life Happen to Planning Life’s Happening: Take control of your destiny by actively planning your life’s course. This proactive approach allows you to shape your future rather than being shaped by external circumstances. I learned this firsthand when I dreamt of becoming an Olympic coach. Because I wasn’t a champion. Because I didn’t have my gold figure test. Because I did not train with a star coach. Because I didn’t have the politics in my corner. 

Because, because, because I stopped letting others plan my life for me according to what was “reasonable” to them, I instead kept my eye on what was most important to me. Eventually, one thing led to another, I became well known for an emerging discipline in the sport that put me in the spotlight and my dream eventually came true. Interestingly enough, you may recall my sharing in an earlier blog that I indeed became a professional pairs champion. It happened the same year my student earned his birth on the US Olympic team.

By making these shifts, you can move from a place of limitation and reaction to one of empowerment and intention. This transformation is key to living a life that truly reflects your passions, values, and aspirations.

Stay tuned as next month we discuss tools you can incorporate into your life to prepare for life planning, I share a personal story, and we explore the science behind life planning.

Founders Corner – Mindfulness of Transitions

Ever wonder what all the fuss is about regarding meditation? It is just one of the many ways of developing mindfulness. The practice of focusing on the present moment, often through sensations in the body. It can be practiced during meditation or in everyday activities, such as cooking, eating, cleaning, walking, or star gazing up into the sky. However you find yourself most comfortable developing it, mindfulness is a powerful tool anyone can develop for themselves. How have I come to know so much about mindfulness? It is a daily practice of mine and one I share with all my clients, no matter where in the world they may be leading teams, interacting with colleagues or influencing senior leadership and clients. Developing a mindfulness practice has helped every client with whom I’ve worked become a more effective leader.

Hi, I’m Byron Darden with another edition of Leading with Purpose on Purpose. In this seventh installment, we continue our series on Transitions with this month’s, Transcending Change: Embracing Mindfulness in Transitions. Enjoy!

Let’s begin this month’s blog with Transcending Changes: Embracing Mindfulness in Transitions.

Transcending Change: Embracing Mindfulness in Transitions

Transitions in life are tightrope walking experiences between the familiar and the unknown, where uncertainty lurks at every step. Whether it’s a career change, a move to a new city, or a relationship shift, navigating these transitions requires focus, courage, and resilience. Yet imagine the difference when aided by a guiding light. Enter mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and engaged at the moment and it offers a powerful tool for navigating life’s transitions with grace and clarity. It’s about cultivating a deep awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, without judgment or attachment to the past or future. In essence, this practice provides a steady anchor when the storms of change arise, allowing us to navigate transitions with greater ease and flexibility.

Focusing on the present moment helps us embrace the beauty and richness of each experience, even when faced with uncertainty. It invites us to observe our thoughts and emotions with curiosity and compassion, rather than getting swept away by them. In doing so, a mindfulness practice fosters a sense of inner peace and acceptance, enabling us to move through transitions that may lack clarity and sanctuary.

We’ll explore how mindfulness serves as a guiding force in navigating life’s transitions. From practical tools and exercises to inspiring stories of personal transformation, we’ll uncover the profound impact of mindfulness on our journey through change. And you will begin to better understand how mindfulness addresses our overall wellness as we learn about the benefits of developing this invaluable practice.

Keep reading to learn about Cultivating Awareness

Cultivating Awareness

Mindfulness is awareness of the interconnected communication loop between the body and brain that influences the perception and behavior of ourselves and our environment. While it requires a mental effort, it is an exercise that requires drawing on all our senses. It is a practice that involves bringing our attention to the present moment without judgment. It’s about being fully aware of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the environment surrounding us. 

Rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, mindfulness encourages us to experience each moment as it unfolds. Within its unfolding, it is helpful to combine mindfulness with loving kindness; the latter of which is more directed to our awareness in the physical realm. Often these two are combined to be certain to balance the mind with the body.

Mindfulness is a practice rooted in ancient contemplative traditions, particularly in Buddhism,  it has also gained widespread popularity in modern psychology and other wellness practices. At its core, mindfulness involves intentionally paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity, and acceptance.

Think of mindfulness as a framework to prepare for approaching transitions. By integrating your practice of mindfulness and loving-kindness into your transition process, you can navigate change skillfully and with a greater sense of inner peace. We will speak more about this in our final blog next month which brings closure to our series on Transitions.

Here are some key aspects of mindfulness:

  • Present Moment Awareness: Bring your attention to the here and now, focusing on your current experiences, sensations, thoughts, and emotions without getting caught up in past regrets or future worries.
  • Non-Judgmental Awareness: Observe your experiences without judgment or criticism. This means accepting your thoughts and feelings as they are, without labeling them as “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong.” These are judgments that when used to express our opinion of another’s effort, particularly in a business setting, can have an adverse effect on the receiver of such judgmental words. As a result, while we may not be conscious of their effect, the impact is felt and can often lead to the very reason people choose to move on to opportunities in other organizations.
  • Acceptance and Letting Go: Develop your ability to accept issues, circumstances, and situations as they are in the present moment, even when they are difficult or uncomfortable. It’s about letting go of the impulse to control or change things and instead allowing them to unfold naturally.
  • Awareness of Thoughts and Emotions: Become more aware of your thoughts and emotions as they arise, observing them with curiosity and without attachment rather than becoming overwhelmed by them.
  • Focused Attention: Focus your attention on a specific object or function, such as your breath, bodily sensations, or an external stimulus such as the flame of a candle. This helps anchor your awareness in the present moment and prevents your mind from wandering.
  • Cultivation of Compassion: While awareness and acceptance are primary, you will also want to cultivate compassion and loving-kindness towards yourself and others. This involves treating yourself with gentleness and understanding, especially during challenging times such as transitioning through change.
  • Practice and Skill Development: Mindfulness is a state of being and a skill that can be developed through regular practice. Activities such as meditation, mindful breathing, body scans, expressing loving-kindness and mindful movement, (i.e. yoga or tai chi) are common ways to cultivate it.

This developed quality is a powerful tool for promoting mental well-being, reducing stress, and enhancing self-awareness. It can be applied in various aspects of life, from managing everyday stressors to navigating major life transitions with greater resilience and clarity. You will recall my sharing about this in our May blog on “The ART of Listening.”

Discover the Role of Mindfulness in your life.

The Role of Mindfulness

Incorporating practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or body scans into our daily routine can help cultivate these skills over time, ultimately supporting us in managing our emotions. This is a useful skill given that our emotional state can lead to anxiety and stress – well-documented contributors to poor performance and health complications

Mindfulness practice is important in transitions for several reasons:

  • Emotional Regulation: Transitions often bring about a range of emotions, including stress, anxiety, excitement, and uncertainty. The practice helps regulate these emotions by allowing individuals to observe their feelings without judgment and respond to them in a more balanced way.
  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety: These practices have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels. By staying present and focused on the current moment, individuals can alleviate some of the worry and rumination that often accompany transitions.
  • Increased Resilience: Transition periods can be challenging and require adaptability. Practicing fosters resilience by helping individuals cultivate a mindset of acceptance, flexibility, and openness to change. I’m reminded of a colleague and friend who has meditated for decades and discovered how much more grounded they felt when dealing with an ailing family member. Their settledness also provides them solace with tensions that come up with other family members – who do not meditate regularly – who are more easily rattled when facing the illness of that same family member.
  • Improved Decision-Making: Develop your practice to enhance clarity of thought and concentration, which can improve decision-making during transitions. By staying present and grounded, individuals can make more thoughtful and intentional choices about their next steps. This can be particularly useful when addressing obstacles that can get in the way during the Life Planning process.
  • Enhanced Coping Skills: Mindfulness provides individuals with effective coping strategies for dealing with the uncertainties and challenges of transitions. By developing a greater capacity to stay present with difficult emotions and situations, individuals can navigate transitions with greater ease and confidence.
  • Promotion of Self-Awareness: Transitions provide opportunities for self-reflection and personal growth. Mindfulness enhances self-awareness by encouraging individuals to observe their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without judgment. This self-awareness can lead to deeper insights and a greater understanding of oneself during times of change.
  • Improved Relationships: Regular practice fosters enhanced communication and deeper empathy, which can strengthen relationships during transitions. By being fully present with others and actively listening to their experiences, individuals can build stronger connections and provide support to one another.

By cultivating mindfulness during transitional periods, individuals can adapt more effectively to new circumstances and embrace the opportunities for growth and transformation. That is what transitions generate and why remaining grounded is of great importance.

Learn how to Harness the Benefits of Mindfulness

Harnessing the Benefits of Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can serve you well in various transitions throughout life. Here are some examples:

  • Career Transitions: Whether starting a new job, gaining a promotion, transitioning to a different career path, or retiring from your current profession, mindfulness can help you navigate the transitions of these changes more effectively.
  • Relationship Transitions: Draw on your practice to support you during relationship transitions such as starting a new romantic relationship, going through a breakup or divorce, or adjusting to changes in your family dynamics.
  • Life Stage Transitions: As we learn, grow, mature, and explore, life stage transitions are inevitable and look different for everyone. Mindfulness can help us embrace these differences and transition through the changes they present to us with openness, acceptance, and a sense of purpose. This insight led me to learn how I can provide support to leaders as they consider what is next in their lives. Helping them plan for it rather than just letting life happen to them.
  • Health Transitions: Managing health-related transitions, such as recovering from an illness or injury, adapting to a new diagnosis, or making lifestyle changes to improve your well-being, can be challenging. Your practice can support you in coping with the physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological aspects of these transitions.
  • Cultural or Environmental Transitions: Moving to a new city or country, adjusting to a different cultural or social environment, or experiencing changes in your community can be disorienting. Mindfulness can help you stay grounded and connected through cultural or environmental shifts. Loving-kindness will help to orient to new situations with greater ease.
  • Educational Transitions: Whether starting school, transitioning between academic programs, or pursuing further education, mindfulness can help you manage the academic pressures and uncertainties associated with the educational environment. Adding loving-kindness will support you physically as you experience the stress of such a transition on your body.
  • Personal Growth Transitions: Engaging in personal growth activities such as starting a new hobby, embarking on a spiritual journey, or challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone can be transformative. Mindfulness can support you in staying present, curious, and open to new experiences.

In essence, you can benefit from a mindfulness practice when experiencing any change, uncertainty, or adjustment. By cultivating mindfulness, you can navigate transitions with greater ease, resilience, and well-being, embracing the opportunities for growth and transformation that come with change.

Learn more about Developing Your Practice.

Developing Your Practice

Here are some ways to incorporate a mindfulness practice into any transition:

  • Mindful Breathing: Take a few moments to focus on your breath. Notice the sensation of each inhalation and exhalation, allowing your breath to anchor you in the present moment. This simple practice can help calm your mind and ground you during times of change.
  • Body Scan: Conduct a body scan to bring awareness to physical sensations. Starting from your toes and moving up to the top of your head; be sure to heighten your awareness as you sense each part of your body. Notice any areas of tension or discomfort without judgment. Simply observe and breathe into those sensations, allowing them to soften and release. 

This is something I find myself doing from time to time when my energy is high and I notice my hand trembling when holding a piece of paper or another object. By simply observing the tremble, breathing into the sensation of trembling, and then releasing muscle tension with the exhalation, the trembling stops and I am now aware of regulating my breathing and energy.

  • Observing Thoughts and Emotions: Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions as they arise during the transition. Instead of getting caught up in them, observe them with curiosity and compassion. Recognize that thoughts and feelings are transient and that is what the mind and body does. It creates thoughts and experiences feelings. Then choose not to attach to them and allow them to pass away as though helium balloons were being let go to float away. Or clouds that dissipate over time. Then allow your attention to return its focus to the breath, the flickering flame of a candle, or the physical sensations you experience in your body
  • Engaging Senses: Use your senses to connect with your surroundings. Notice the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures around you. Engaging with your senses can anchor you in the present moment and provide a sense of stability during transitions.
  • Mindful Movement: Practice mindfulness during movement activities such as walking, yoga,  tai chi, eating, food preparation, or star gazing. Pay attention to each movement and sensation in your body as you move through space. This can help you stay grounded and centered through the transitions of change.
  • Gratitude Practice: Cultivate gratitude by reflecting on aspects of the transition that you are thankful for. Even amidst uncertainty or challenge, there are silver linings or opportunities for growth. Focusing on gratitude can shift your perspective and foster a sense of resilience.
  • Acceptance and Letting Go: Practice acceptance of the present moment, including both the joys and the difficulties of the transition. Let go of resistance to change and embrace the unfolding journey with openness and equanimity.
  • Regular Mindfulness Practice: Maintain a regular mindfulness practice, such as meditation or mindful journaling, to build resilience and inner resources for navigating transitions. Consistency is key to reaping the benefits of mindfulness over time.

Remember that mindfulness is a skill that develops with practice, so be patient and gentle with yourself as you integrate these practices into your life during transitions. Also remember that with any practice, seeking help and support will set you up for greater success. I know this to be true because I was unable to master this practice until I sought support.

Read how mindfulness and transitions have helped me through Life Changes.