Tom Hanks’s Special Message to Thirtysomethings

One of the greatest lines from Tom Hanks, in my opinion, is in A League of Their Own when he’s coaching a woman on his team who complains that baseball is “hard”.

“It’s the hard that makes it great,” he booms.

I shiver. I shudder. I feel the urge to grab my glove and hit the field.

It’s a great line made even greater by the fact that it’s not really about baseball at all, but everything in life, including life itself.

“Nothing worth anything comes easy,” they say. I’m revved up again.

But I’m not quite ready to grab my glove, so to speak.

See, in the case of baseball, I know what the challenge it and what glory looks like when I get there – cheering fans, a golden glove, a pennant, a world series ring, a bubblegum card.

But when it’s my life, I’m blindly aiming at a target most days.

New job? Different hairstyle? Swipe right? Go back to school? Ignore colleague’s wandering eyes? Vacation or staycation? Retirement savings?

Why can’t it be as simple as hit and throw well. Run as fast as you can. ? .

I don’t have the answer. Life is just hard sometimes. Hard to predict, hard to get through certain days (even certain hours). It’s hard to imagine it getting better and easy to imagine worse.

But “the hard is what makes it great”. Hmmm.

And let me be completely honest – I’ve been watching that movie for years; it’s one of my top favourites of all time. But it’s only recently that I’ve embraced this Hankonian perspective.

Since I turned 30, life has pretty much been a not-so-great box of chocolates. Surprise after disappointment after struggle after a brief bout of delight and repeat.

And now, in my mid-thirties, I finally get the joke – without the hard, there is no delight. And, most importantly I see that without the unknown, there is no hope.

I don’t know if I’m ever making the right choices and I worry about the outcome.

I don’t know if I’m giving the best advice to my friends.

I don’t know if I just paid too much for house insurance.

I don’t know if this time, this yoga will save me.

I don’t know any of it.

But I just hope. Close my eyes and click.

And just when you may be thinking that this is a depressing way to live – directionless and all that. Consider this:

We’re all floundering along, doing our best and still f-—king up and making a mess. Sometimes hating ourselves, sometimes forgiving.

Dropping kids off at the wrong school (hi, Jill) and standing in awkward silence at your first stand-up gig. Keeping it secret that your marriage is a sham, secretly liking one kid more than the other, and spending over twenty-one hours streaming Netflix instead of going to your cousin’s wedding.

Point is, screwing up and acting immature and being embarrassed about our foibles is all part of the game.

My friend Jillian drops off the kids she babysits every day. I don’t know how many days are in a school year, but it’s a lot. But she’s never told me a specific story about it until the day she left the wrong kid at the wrong playground.

And we laughed. OH, we laughed!

We laughed until we cried.

There may be no crying in baseball but there are plenty of tears in life – happy and sad. And I love them both. I’m a cryer so I have no choice but to embrace it if I stand a chance of loving myself fully.

So cheers to hope. Cheers to the struggle. It’s real, so they say.

Life is hard, so play hard. Screw up, and then laugh. Together.

Laughter and hope make it great.

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I’m opening my doors again for personal coaching now for a limited time. If you’d like to see what coaching is like and if you’d like to work together, send me an email at ashewoodz@gmail.com so we can set up a time to talk.

For more on me and what working together is like, visit ashewoodward.com.

😉

Is Going Back to School Just Small Thinking?

For some of us (myself included), going back to school would be an absolute nightmare with a side of personal hell. Okay, maybe not that bad but, when totalled up, I’ve done about 8 years of formal post-secondary education and I am so not interested in more of those painful all-nighters, disgusting microwavable dinners, and the epic frustration of not being able to get my life started already.

A couple of years ago I was faced with making a career change, and the very last thing I wanted to do was hit the books again. Not to mention, I really really really wanted to get started making money.

I’m all for more education and I love school but just the thought of another two or four years of stress from writing essays and taking exams makes my young heart start pounding – No thanks.

For others, it’s the only option if a change is going to happen and we have to just bite the bullet…or do we?

Truth is, what seems like the only option may just may be your good friend FEAR running the show.

How so, you ask?

When I was starting my coaching practice, the thing to do was get certified as a coach. But, as I mentioned before, nothing would have made me more miserable than to hit the books again and fork over my day job money to yet another course.

On the other hand, a lot of people put a lot of stock in certificates and it makes me seem ‘more official’ and more trustworthy.   

But then, thankfully, I realized something about the current trend of over educating ourselves.

In most cases – not all – going back to school or taking more courses is simply a way of playing small and staying safe. Taking the course meant I could look the Universe in the face and say I’m taking action towards my dream but at the same time I’m safe from actually having to start anything on my own.

In other words, it was a way to keep me from just starting my business already. I was scared to start again and I was happy to use school as an excuse to stave off reality, which is the opposite message I wanted to give to my future clients.

The other thing I realized is that I’m not alone. It seems like every time I run into an old friend they’re busy taking courses to change careers. Nowadays its a big topic for a lot of people I work with and it does take a bit of consideration, depending on what you really want to do.

It’s still true that some career changes actually do require a certain certification. I am in no way urging alone to become a doctor or lawyer, for example, without the proper education [Yikes!]. In these cases, you’ll want to be sure that you’re ready for a commitment and you’re passionate about the course.

Here’s a quick and cool article about jobs that are worth going back to school for.

10 Careers Worth Going Back to School (Keep in mind these are US numbers).

https://lifereimagined.aarp.org/stories/6481-10-Careers-Worth-Going-Back-to-School/2

And if you’re not sure if more school is for you, answer these questions for yourself:

1.  Are you taking this course to get only one specific job or can the skills you learn be applied in a variety of places?

My hunch is that you know what it’s like to put all your eggs in one basket, or you wouldn’t be here now. It’s just good sense to consider having more than one option at the end of all of it.

2.  Are you ready for the cost?

Investing in courses is a financial expense, yes, but it will also cost you emotionally. Are you ready for those late nights and microwaved dinners again? Is your family?

When you look at the big picture, is the cost in the present truly worth it for the return in the future? And don’t forget to look at how long it will be microwavable dinners until you make that investment back and more.

3.  What will you do if you do the course and don’t like it?

This is a tough one but it has to be asked. Try to dig deep and give a specific answer here. Draw out your detailed plan B – sometimes surprising things can reveal themselves here.

4.  Is there anyone who does your dream job without having the credentials you’re looking at?

I’m sure you could find someone. How different is your situation? Do you think having the credentials will make you better at what you want to do? (I personally didn’t). Make sure you’re not leaning on going back to school as a crutch or a way to waste time until you really know what you want. You’ll be more successful with your plan if you’re clear about your WHY.

And if your WHY is big enough, it might be possible to forego the certificate and impress people with your life experience, skills and passion.

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If you feel like you should go to school, rather than really wanting to, I hope you do your research.  Not only should you find out about the job you’re in treated in and what kind of credentials are needed, but also research yourself.  Sometimes we have more skills than we think and, with a good resume, you an exploit these for any job you like.

Just know that there is always another way and if going back to school isn’t for you, don’t let that deter you from your dream – there’s always a way if it’s what you really want.

Need to discover your skills and see what you’re made of? Get in touch for personal success coaching at support@ashewoodward.com. For more information visit ashewoodward.com

Getting Over Your Big BUT!

Even though it’s a snowy day here in Toronto, spring is in the air.  Unfortunately, It also means I always have to be prepared with plenty of tissues in my pocket to combat my mild allergies this time of year.

Last week, I happened to notice a fellow sufferer on the subway – red eyes, sneezing, sniffling, and then riffling through her pockets and bag for (I assume) a tissue. She didn’t find one and I watched her as she sat back sadly to politely and discreetly sniff away every couple of seconds.

Knowing I had my pack of tissue in my pocket, my first reaction was to offer her one.  But as I put my hand into my pocket, the voices began…

But what if she doesn’t really need a tissue and she’s just a sniffly person?

Or,

But what if she throws it back in my face and flat-out rejects my tissue in front of everyone and I’m outcasted and publicly shamed?

And (my personal favourite),

But what if it’s not allergies at all and she’s actually a zombie who sneezes when she’s hungry for brains?

Having a great imagination is a blessing an a curse sometimes, really.

Then I thought,

Well, that’s just too much risk so I’m sure she’ll figure it out.  I’ve been in the same position myself but I managed.  It’s uncomfortable to sniff away without a tissue, but it’s not life or death. She’ll be fine…

Thankfully, my sympathy for her outweighed any ‘ifs’ and ‘butts’, and I offered her to help herself to the package.

Did she scream in my face and reject my offer?  Did she try and eat my brain? No, she didn’t. Phew, right?

Actually, she laughed, thanked me profusely and it led to a really nice conversation on our commute, and even ended in an email exchange.

I don’t know where it will lead – a new friend, connection or new client?  I do know that she’s sending me one of her favourite TedTalks and I’ll probably send her some funny allergy memes. But after that, who knows?

The point is that the potential wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t ignored my ‘big buts’ and just acted upon my first instinct.

I can’t believe I was so close to talking myself out of it, giving myself the permission to let something go because of a myriad of [some crazy] excuses and missing out on a great chat and a cool new connection.

The lesson learned here is that my big buts can really get in the way of great things.  It’s not easy to quiet them BUT we have to try, especially in the hopes that something amazing (not life-threatening) will come of it.

Have you overcome a big BUT lately?   I’d love to hear about it on the Facebook page.

And if you need a hand overcoming your big BUTs, get in touch to learn how coaching can help.  Go to ashewoodward.com or reach out any time at support@ashewoodward.com.

What are you waiting for?

If you are chewing on something right now or you’re scared to get started on something you really want to do, you have to hear this story about my client and friend, Mary.

I met Mary in December when she was looking for a coach to help her with changing careers.  She had recently been laid off and was more interested in getting into something new, rather than wait around for her company to give her a call back when their numbers were better.

I was really excited to work with her because she was so passionate and creative and she seemed so ready to start the process – she was even inspiring me with her energy!  But when I proposed that we get started right away, I could see her taking a step back and I braced myself for the usual spiel:  no time or money right now.

Sure, it was Christmastime and the end of the year, which really does strap us all for cash and extra time, but I urged her to strike while her motivation was up.

In the end, Mary thought it would be better to start fresh in the new year and we’d talk then.  Well, between December and the end of January her job called her back.  With bills to pay and Christmastime credit card dues to pay off, she accepted her job back and put her ideas on the back burner.

Mary just recently called me up and wanted to talk. 

After two months of being back at her job, she has remembered what passion she had at the end of the year and she’s realized that she has to do something with her home business idea.

I told Mary, I’m not here to say I told you so but…

And I don’t tell you this to be a sassy know-it-all… I tell you this because I have been there myself too many times and I know what happens when I think too much about all the ins and outs of an opportunity.  I ignore my excitement, calling it a phase or momentary adrenaline that will surely pass.  And, like Mary, I rationalize and blame time and money for not being in enough supply. 

I think we all do this. But in the end, we just delay the inevitable because eventually the desire to do something can’t be quenched any longer with excuses.  So all we do is waste time when we could have been getting started and be further ahead right now.

Can you imagine a time when time and money will both align perfectly for you?  How long will you be waiting for this so you can then make a decision that would greatly benefit your life, your well-being and your happiness?  In my experience, a perfect time doesn’t exist.  The only perfect time is when you are ready to move forward and not let any obstacle stop you from your dream and living to your fullest potential.

So say ‘yes!’ to that opportunity, whatever it is.  Stop the excuses!  Try it once and you’ll be hooked. There really is no feeling like taking a risk for the benefit of your success and happiness.

What are you waiting for right now?  What have you put to the side because of time and money not being ‘right’.  Share on the Facebook community page.

If you’re ready to take a risk, you can play it smart by having a coach guide you into the best decisions and even help you with time management and making more money even faster!  Check out what’s possible for you at ashewoodward.com.

Being Thirties – Podcast with Natalie Edwards

No new posts, just as promised!  I’m working away at my own goals at the moment to bring you more great content for 2016.  But here is one of those projects already- an interview done by Natalie Edwards of natedwards.co.uk.  

Natalie asked me some great questions on creative thirtysomethings and entrpreneurs as well as my thoughts on family pressures and standing in your own decisions and power.

This was a fun chat for me so I hope you enjoy it and get something from it.

http://www.natedwards.co.uk/2015/11/26/success-coach-ashe-woodward/

If you’d like to experience the power of coaching first-hand, get in touch for a FREE 30-minute consultation/exploration.

support@ashewoodward.com or get more info at ashewoodward.com

Celebrating Our J’s: How to Really Support JLaw and The Toronto Blue Jays

I recently heard somewhere that when a sports team isn’t doing so well people will refer to the team as ‘they.’ Like, “They suck this year,” “They’re not doing so well,” etc. But when a team starts to do well, the language changes to ‘we‘: “We’re doing great this year,” “We’re going to take it all!”bjteam

Of course, I really got thinking about this because of my hometown team scoring a big win this week. And although I truly am
a Boston Red Sox fan, I can’t ignore the amazing energy in the city right now and not want to be a part of it. So I am definitely guilty of this bandwagon psychology, I guess you could say. Go Jays Go!

Anyway, this ‘we’ and ‘them’ stuff also got me thinking about some other hot news this week. Jennifer Lawrence (JLaw), star of The Hunger Games, wrote an essay about her discovery of her lower wages than her male counterparts in a Sony film when Sony was hacked last year. In it she says, “I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable f— that!”

As a woman, I admit I have participated in this phenomenon as well. More than once have I stayed silent, just so no one was put out. Don’t cause a fuss is a common thing for us ‘good women’ to think because we don’t want to put anyone out. But, who exactly are these people that women are offending by asking for an equal share? Who is put out by a woman receiving the pay she deserves or what is at least the equal to a man doing the same work?

But we can only go so far to blame the show or the companies or the industry before WE all admit that WE contribute to this outdated treatment of women. Even JLaw admitted that she wasn’t mad at Sony when she found out about the pay discrepancy: “I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.” The gist of her reason was that she didn’t want to seem like a brat or spoiled for asking for more money. She writes that she also realizes now that there wouldn’t have been the same thought of a man for asking the same.jl3

Applause to all the men who support women receiving equal pay, like Bradley Cooper for Jennifer Lawrence and like the recent scandal on the Netflix series, Grace and Frankie. Martin Sheen and Tom Waterston came forward and agreed that they should receive less pay than Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, two female stars of the show.

Not to get too cheesy, but we ALL need to contribute to empowering ourselves, our team – us humans who want the world to keep progressing into a greater and greater place. This is a human problem, not an industry problem, and WE are all responsible for how we got here and how WE get out.  WE all deserve equal pay.

If you are aware of any woman earning less pay for the same work as her male counterparts, you have a responsibility to yourself and all of us to speak out and correct the error. WE all will be better for it.

And while I have your attention, and in the spirit of a great week in baseball, let’s all stop saying, “He/She throws like a girl,” in a negative way. WE need to set a better example for OUR next generation of awesome girls and support them as strong equals.

For more kick-ass thoughts to fuel your thirties or your next big life change, check out ashewoodward.com for more great articles and the down low on private coaching.

Make your first appointment!

Jennifer Lawrence and bird photo adapted from vanityfair.com/at premier from hitfix.com

Blue Jays photo from thestar.com

Did You Know That Fun Stops At 30?

As a society, I think we’re getting a lot better at accepting various versions of success at any age, yet it seems we are still hardwired to see 30 as a deadline for the bulk of our exploration to finish. In my coaching practice I see how this kind of thinking can negatively affect our decision-making process – by slowing it down, stalling it completely, or causing us to settle for good enough.

I used to believe that adulthood would really kick in when I turned thirty. I thought I could run wild in my twenties, exploring and trying on different hats. Then, at the exact moment I turned thirty, it would all stop and I would transform into a well-adjusted, perfectly content adult. Yes, the Cinderella and fairy tale motifs run deep, don’t they?

And it’s not just me. My clients and friends all agree that 30 is a cut off for the fun we have in our twenties and it’s time to get serious about life. We have to make our decisions more carefully because they tend to have lasting effects and can affect a lot more people.

A while ago I conduced a survey. I asked 158 people various questions and one of them was, “Did you have a ‘by 30’ bucket list?”

Sixty-five percent said they did have a list. For some it wasn’t a physical list, but they had an idea about several things they wanted to accomplish before they turned thirty. When probing a little deeper I found that for many this wasn’t a goal, it was a cut off. In other words, more than a few people in the world believe that after thirty, there are just some things that are no longer possible to achieve. Interestingly, it’s exactly this type of thinking that inspires my work.

Who says 30 is a cut off?

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to probe further into what was on the lists, but I can take a stab since my clients tell me similar things almost every day. It seems like travelling is a big one that people think will cease after thirty. Sure, I’ve seen families grow and vacations become more family-oriented and closer to home, but mom and dad can also let go of some control and guilt too and leave the kids with someone for a couple of weeks while they see Brazil, can’t they? What are friends and grandparents for?

Also, career decisions are often made carefully and end up being a safer option that seems good for the family at the time. But, in the long-run, if mom or dad are unhappy and unfulfilled, where does that leave everyone else?

And who says that 30 is a deadline? Who says you have to have a house, kids and a certain amount of money in the bank to be a successful thirtysomething? Don’t let the ’30 under 30′ lists scare you. There are so many examples of people finding their stride after 30.

I’ve published it before, but let me do it again…

  1. Julia child was 36 before she even tasted decadent food!
  2. J.K. Rowling was 32 when Harry Potter was published.
  3. Danny Glover’s first role was at 33.
  4. Rodney Dangerfield didn’t catch a big break until 46.
  5. Harrison Ford was a carpenter until his mid-thirties when he starred in Star Wars.

…and the list goes on!

Success can come at any age and it can be whatever you make it. What we have to grasp is that it’s all a process and wherever you are in the process is great. You’re exactly where you are supposed to be. So when it comes to making decisions for you, your future and family’s future, remember that there is always time to go after passion and not settle for what you think you’re supposed to want or have. You will be better for it and be setting a better example for everyone around you if you believe in yourself.

So, the moral of the Cinderella story is:

Decide with the mindset that age is nothing and nothing is impossible.

NOT The End 🙂

Having trouble making the right decisions for you and your family?

Get in touch at support@ashewoodward.com for private success coaching or go to

ashewoodward.com for more information.

feature photo from karapearson.com