5 tools for life change. (And…we’re back!)

25 05 2011

by Maya Mathias

I stopped updating this blog 16 months ago to make HUGE changes in my own life. And I’m now ready to re-launch this ChangePals blog, plus the accompanying it’s-so-freakin’-cool-I-wish-it-were-live-already website (coming this fall) with wiser eyes and a deeper heart.

Since my last post, I’ve learned even more enriching lessons, many of which I’ll share here in the coming weeks and months.

In a nutshell…I’ve moved halfway across the world, made new friends, started a business, secured 6 paying clients in 8 months, hired & trained a couple of interns AND healed a strained relationship with a close relative. Not bad for 16 months’ work.

But it wasn’t easy. No real and long-lasting life change ever is. That’s why the idea behind ChangePals is so powerful. It’s a place where change is your friend, where change is something to be cherished for the growth it brings us instead of the pain it can often cause us along the way.

How can change be your friend?

Think back to anything you accomplished that you’re still immensely proud of. I bet it didn’t come without a fight, hard work or taking a honest look at yourself more than once and saying you could do it. And I bet it involved at least one mentor or good friend who convinced you that it was an accomplishment worth striving for.  A caring someone who supported you when the going got rough and, more importantly, who gave you a kick in the rear when you got lazy and wanted to give up. And ultimately, someone who showered you with kind words and bear hugs when you met your goal.

So….here’s what you can expect from ChangePals:

  1. Inspiration.  We’ll have lots, and lots, and lots (did I forget to say it was lots?) of stories from people who have successfully changed their lives, or have at least learned something about the process of change.  There’s a bunch of science and theory around the idea of change, and we’ll blog about those too, but we also want to focus on the emotional & creative side of change.  You know, those unexpected messages that come to you when you hear someone else’s story and get a little ‘lightbulb’ moment of your own.
  2. Support.  We want ChangePals to be a SAFE and EFFECTIVE place to find the best mentors and friends for your life change.  ChangePals is not a therapy group or a collection of addiction-anonymous associations.  It’s a destination for high-functioning people (like you and me) who just happen to feel stuck in some way.  Between the ideas here and on our new website (launching this fall), we’ll help you ignore the naysayers in your life and find people who can and will cheer you through your change goals.
  3. Resources.  There are a ton of tools and ideas out there about how to make successful personal change.  We aim to blog about the ones that have worked best for us, our friends and our coaching clients.  The tools could be from a best-selling author or our Aunt Susie.  We really don’t care.  All we care about is that people have used it, and that it WORKS.
  4. Motivation.  Yeah, this one’s a tough nut to crack sometimes ain’t it?  The secret is….there is no secret.  ALL of us struggle with a lack of motivation at times.  We just need to keep reminding ourselves of our goal, and to keep our cheerleaders/mentors in the loop so they can help us stay on track.  Most of all, we need to remember not to beat ourselves up when we slip.  We’ll address the art and science of motivation as often as possible in this blog.
  5. Creativity.  In our rush to make it through each day on this earth, we often forget that we are an infinitely creative species.  It’s exciting to be living in a time where all forms of creativity are being celebrated (e.g. storytelling, problem-solving, art, technology etc).  And it’s equally exciting that adults are rediscovering the benefits of play and exploration, especially at work.  Here at ChangePals, we’ll show you how to tap into your creative toolbox to uncover your deepest passions and make the life changes that mean the most to you.
So there you have it.
5 ways that ChangePals hopes to serve you.
5 areas that can guide you through the most sacred and courageous of life choices.
5 beacons to help you design the life you know you’ve always hoped to live.
Tell us…what else would you seek from a friend in change?  Please comment below.
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Being a startup in 2010

5 01 2010

We’ve welcomed 2010 at home and now at work.  As thoughts of New Year champagne and merrymaking fade into recent memory, projects and deadlines loom large.  Targets, goals, benchmarking…hello job!

According to this WSJ article, Americans are less satisfied with their work than ever.  No kidding.  Between doing more with less for at least a decade, and this style-cramping no-end-in-sight economy, I dare you to find 10 friends who go to work for ‘the man’ with a song in their heart.

All of which gave me additional pause when I read that startups will keep struggling in 2010.  For many of us working in professional chain gangs, we dream of changing our work path, breaking free & finally being our own boss.  The article delivered a somber forecast, but here are some silver-lining thoughts if you want to or have already launched your own gig.  See if these might change your perspective:

  1. Angel investors and venture capitalists are doing more, but smaller deals.  VCs are targeting later-stage companies to minimize their risk.  And the SBA may see a modest stimulus-induced uptick.    So…funding is still out there.  What REALLY counts, more than ever in this climate, is a rock-solid business strategy that can be creatively and successfully implemented on a budget.  In other words, prove you know how to accomplish more with less dinero on as many fronts as possible.  If nothing, you will stand out for your ingenuity and resourcefulness.
  2. Companies are asking friends & family to work for free i.e. exchanging services or trading favors.  If you’re already neck deep in entrepreneur literature, this will not be news to you.  Consider 2010 the year to call in those favors – this is no time to be shy if you truly believe in your idea.  And if you’ve established high credibility with former bosses or colleagues, ask them if they’ll put their money or time where their faith is.
  3. Given the funding situation, a budding restauranteur featured in the article is rethinking his setup.  Instead of going it alone or starting from scratch, he may take on partners or invest in a failed restaurant.  So get creative.  Study that business plan again.  Is there something you can tweak without compromising your vision?  Is there a market entry point you haven’t considered?  Start talking to people abut your startup.  You’ll be surprised by what they reveal or point you to.  In this networked world where information courses at a million miles a minute and ideas just like yours could be a dime a dozen, sharing your idea won’t necessarily diminish your competitive edge.  However, a lack of  follow through and flawless execution will.

The business climate may not be ideal for your startup right now.  But that didn’t stop companies from trying and succeeding in previous downturns.  Give that budding vision a chance to breathe, evolve and eventually become the full-blooded entity you know it can be.

A New Year’s toast to your dream.  Cheers!





The paradoxes of change

20 12 2009

I was amazed at how relevant this 1997 article  is today.  It argues that what you fear, or what you/your family/your organisation instinctually avoid, becomes a useful marker of the direction of the most powerful change that you could encounter. 

In modern parlance, the comfort zone is enemy territory.

This, however, clashes with our instinct for order and our desire to make sense of the world.  We cannot measure what we cannot define.  We need boundaries, frameworks, taxonomies and systems to exert control over the entropic world we inhabit. 

Predictability = safety, security, power.  And yet, the pace of change outstrips our ability to comprehend or compute it.  Surely it’s high time we accept the fact that quickfire change is here to stay and, the better we’re able to adapt to and thrive amidst it, the more we can function, contribute and excel.

As 2010 beckons and we look ahead to its untold possibilities, what are your current attitudes toward change?

1) Do you naturally seek order or invite uncertainty?

2) Do you move toward or away from what you instinctually fear?

3) Do your New Years’ resolutions change or remain constant over the years?  Why?

4) How do friends/family influence the changes you do or don’t make in life?

5) If you desire change, do you know what direction to take?

Let’s begin the beguine of change.





Are you serving your life’s story?

7 12 2009

Always serve the story.

That’s what my improvisational theatre coach told us last week.  If you should feel embarrassed or afraid to portray a certain character, remember that you are an instrument of the story that is unfolding before and through you.  If you’ve never harmed a flea in real life, but are playing a mob boss with a penchant for slicing his enemy’s ears off, then commit to the character and be that menacing boss to full effect.

The larger notion of serving the story got me thinking.  As actors on our individual and collective life stages, what do we do to stay true to our stories?  And what IS our story to begin with?

Every now and again, we pose existential questions like ‘Who am I?’ or ‘What is my life’s purpose?’.  Some of us spend a disproportionate amount of time dwelling on the answers, others give it no more than a fleeting thought.  And yet, our life continues to unfold, with or without our conscious intervention.

What happens if and when you choose to intervene?  Where do you begin?  What needs changing most, and why?

It must surely begin with an exploration and discovery of your inner story.  One that is part of your DNA, something that you and only you were born to do.  Whether sealed by fate or fortune, your life path is a unique combination of personal connections, experiences and realisations.  You are drawn to certain fields of study, particular social networks, specific environments, all serving to uncover and express the story you carry within.

If you had to re-enact your life to date on stage tomorrow, and then improvise the next 5 years worth of experiences and sensations so that you honour that inner story, what would you do?  Who would you add to your fabric of existence?  What would you walk away from today?  What would happen if you started to move in a different direction?  What habits would you introduce?  Which would you cast aside, and why?

Most of all, who is and will continue to be part of your life’s story?  How will they respond to your newly improvised existence?  How do you take them along for the ride, and reassure them that this is a path worth taking?  What would you do if they resist?

I want ChangePals to help you explore these questions and more.  And when you decide to take that first bold step to honour your life’s story, there’ll be fellow travellers on the ChangePals site to guide you on your way and hold you to your promise of life change.

Nobody ever said change was easy.  Yet, it’s the only thing we can count on.  And what better change than that which brings you closer to your inner truth?

So, what are you doing to serve your life’s story?  And are you ready to take it to the next level?





To help or not to help?

1 12 2009

As I flesh out my ChangePals vision, I was struck by this article  that claims we’re born with a shared intentionality.  Science is beginning to prove that we all have an innate notion of what others expect to happen, beyond our conflicting sense of selfishness.  This sense of a group ‘we’ separates us from the other great apes and grounds our sociality.

Which gives me great hope for this journey I’m about to embark on with ChangePals.  It can’t be denied that we’re all selfish by nature and, indeed, I want ChangePals to appeal to your inner self(ishness).  For how can we truly change if we don’t, at some level, put ourselves and desires first?  We need to silence the inner and outter chatter of well-intentioned friends and family.  Of cultural dictates and conventional constructs.  Change begins with a strong sense of self and knowing what part you should or want to play in this giant jigsaw puzzle of a world.

But there is another side to the equation.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone cheer you on as you make positive change?  People who know exactly what you’re going through because they’ve been there before?  Many celebrities, for example, start foundations for leukemia, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, autism etc after losing a loved one to that affliction.  They speak from a deeper place of knowing, an inner core that resonates with yours.  And they persist and succeed in their cause because of it.  Their exchange is both selfish and altruistic: by helping others battle the disease, they continue to assuage the pain of their past loss.

And so I want ChangePals to be that platform.  A community that eventually helps itself by making its individuals more open to, accepting of and successful with change.

Life is filled with seeming contradictions, after all.  Business swings between competition and collaboration.  Relationships lurch between love and hate.  Team members bicker and support.

Yin and yang.  Selfishness and altruism.

Help and be helped.

Be a ChangePal.





Hello World!

21 10 2009

Change takes time.  On this site, you can discover your attitudes to change, find out how you want to transform, connect with like-minded people across the globe and join ongoing discussions about YOUR change priorities. 

Welcome to ChangePals.  Make change real in your life today!