Cheryl Richardson: Life Coach Seen on 'Oprah'
You can’t re-adjust what the good life means to you without first making the raising of your own individual consciousness a priority, otherwise you go back to the way it was. I actually care less about you revisiting what the good life means to you and more about getting you to really just stop and ask, How do I feel about this life I’m living? Sometimes, I’ll be driving down the street and think, if this were my last day on earth, would I feel happy right now in this moment with how I’m living my life? And that begins that conversation, that deeper conversation about the good life. A good life is an authentic life. Is life good all the time? No. Life sucks for a lot of people right now. But how connected are you to your own inner wisdom. To your soul. To the people in your life, beyond the superficial cocktail level chitchat? Are you having deeper conversations with people, and yourself and not about whether the SUV is okay or the house is okay.
YM: It seems as though the modern day world is built around distracting us from taking care ourselves on a personal level. How do we get around that?
RICHARDSON: We have got to learn to manage technology. Are you letting technology manage your life or are you managing technology? That’s something we really have to learn. Like, rarely do I have ringers turned in my home. I hate them. They’re like a call to action. The phone rings, your body goes tense. I’ve rarely have voicemail on my cell phone. At one point I had to put it on for a client who was traveling around the world. My friends would call up and go, oh my god what happened? And I’d say, don’t get used to it, it’s coming off soon.
YM: What’s one important endeavor you tell clients to try and do when they want to rethink how their life is organized?
RICHARDSON: Our greatest asset is our time and energy. One exercise I have my clients do–and it’s a very simple and powerful–is create what I call an Absolute Yes list. These are five things they deem a priority for the next three to six months. It could be your health, your financial well-being, a big project at work, or taking care of an aging parent. Put them on three, three by five index cards in numbered order and stick them in a places you see on a regular basis–by the phone, on a desk in your office, I’ve even put one on the dashboard of my car. What it does is raise your consciousness about how you’re spending your time and energy, particularly on those things that aren’t on the list. If you find yourself complaining about things that you don’t really want to do, that’s really just an indication that you’re making unconscious choices and decisions. You’ll soon find that you’re starting to spend your time and energy on the things that really matter.
YM: It could be argued that you’re really just teaching people to be more selfish. Are you?
RICHARDSON: The path to selflessness begins with being selfish. I’ve been asked, aren’t you just teaching people to be selfish, and I’ll say, yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m teaching you to care about how you spend your time; to spend more time with your wife instead of at work; to not take your work home with you on the weekends. Eventually you’re going to feel better about yourself, you’re going to be better to be around and all of a sudden, you’re going to be a better husband, better wife, better partner, and soon you’re going to see the world differently. I’ve had CEOs of companies who’ve never thought a day in their life beyond their computer screen, who suddenly become incredibly selfless. I had one who went out to throw a bottle away in the rubbish and he suddenly stopped and thought, I can’t do that, I have to recycle. He had never recycled a day in his life and now he cannot recycle. Then what does he do? He goes on to create a recycling program at his company.
YM: Have we let our working life dictate, too much, how we feel about ourselves on a personal level?
RICHARDSON: We’re looking for things outside of us–our jobs, our 401Ks, our salaries–to define how valuable we are. And when we lose touch with our internal center and we spend so much time on what’s going on out there, those labels mean something and that’s dangerous place to be located. We need to do the opposite. So when we see that our 401Ks have gone down, or we are losing jobs, what ends up happening is that our external reference for our value disappears, and hopefully you’re forced to go inside and say, okay, I’ve been allowing the outside world to define who I am and that needs to change.
YM: You write a lot about monitoring what goes into our minds. Why is that important?