Holiday cheer, or holiday stress?

Editor's note: The Coaches Corner column appears regularly on the advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

"Don't lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from ..."

That line comes from one of my favorite songs, "Life Uncommon," by the multi-talented artist Jewel from her work, Spirit. When I listen to it, it always provokes much thought and emotion in me. As a coach, I often talk personally with people about what's not working in their life – in fact, it's usually what brings them to me in the first place. As a dentist, I often see what's not working!

In this column, I want to ask some fundamental questions about that gap between where we are now and where we want to be -- especially during this time of the year.

How often do we give our strength to those things in our life that we don't want in our life? What's the cost physically, emotionally ... spiritually? How does it affect your attitude at this supposedly joyous time of the year? What does it do to your stress level?

So let's start here: What do you want in your life? Make a list. Listed below is what I want in my life; perhaps these will get you started in making your own list.

  • Love
  • Intimacy
  • Wellness
  • Connection
  • Freedom
  • Compassion
  • Peace
  • Happiness

Got the idea? Although my list is primarily intangible items, it could include tangible items, such as money, a boat, a lake house, and such. Include everything you want in your life.

That was the easy part. Now comes the hard part.

What are you doing in your life that is moving you toward the things you want most? Take that list you just made and write specific actions you are taking that move you in those directions. What do you discover?

If you're like most, you'll discover that you're likely spending the greater part of your days tending to things that aren't necessarily moving you toward what you really want in your life. Granted, there are just things in life that we have to attend to that don't, won't, or can't move us toward what we really want, but they need to be done regardless. But what about the rest of the time?

Taking stock of where you are putting your energy is useful and important. Are you putting effort into one-sided relationships? Are you trying to salvage an employee that just needs to be let go? Are you working in an environment that doesn't bring out the best in you? What else?

There are seemingly endless possibilities for ways to use up our time and energy. Fortunately, you have a choice about how you can spend your days. Choosing consciously how you will do that will have greater, far-reaching benefits than if you just drift along. Lending your energy to those things not working in your life -- whether it's personal or business -- robs you of the things you want most in life.

Go ahead -- be stingy with your energy and effort. Lend your strength only to those things you truly want in your life -- not what you want to be free from.

Your holiday season can be infinitely better this year!

Don Deems, D.D.S., F.A.G.D., known as the Dentist's Coach, is a co-founder of the Dental Coaches Association, an organization of dentists who are professional coaches committed to bringing professional coaching to the dental profession. Learn more about professional coaching by visiting

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2009

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