As I was driving in my car yesterday, I was thinking about “themes” and life lessons that keep reoccurring in my every day life. It seems that each week, there is some kind of thread of commonality that manifests and keeps trying to be recognized – with my clients, my colleagues, my kids, my life.

The theme/word/life lesson that has been coming up over and over again is “shift”. We shift gears, we shift in our seats when we are nervous, we look shifty when we lie; at one time or another, we are all “shifters” (no pun intended). However, recognizing this need to shift is the key. There are times when we are so stuck in our own reality, mindset, routine, whatever, that we need someone to remind us – “Ah, yoo hoo, mister – time to shift now or you are going nowhere – fast!”

Over the course of our lives, we create mental templates for ourselves. Some of us are “go-getters” while others describe themselves as “followers.” Whatever the adjective you use to describe yourself, this creates little mental templates that we use to form our belief systems and basically, the mindset on how we think and our opinions of ourselves and others.

However, when we are faced with a bump in the road or a brick in the wall (as my previous post stated as a tribute to Pink Floyd), how do we overcome these mental templates that may not have the tools we need to change the way we think or tackle a new obstacle? This is when it’s time to rev up our internal engines and switch gears as to what we believe, think and feel.

For instance, let’s just say you lost your job. Unfortunately, we all know too well how much this affects our lives – with our family, finances, self-esteem, relationships. You have tried and tried to understand why you lost your job to no avail. To put it bluntly, your situation stinks and you need to deal with it. However, it’s HOW you think about your situation that is key to moving forward.

The reality is, you are where you are and there is no going back. The reality is, if you are not loving the way your life has turned out, you need to stop doing more of the same and shake things up a bit. Doing more of the same will only create the same results. You need to change the way you are thinking, doing, feeling, etc – this is called “shifting.”

The hard part is, separating your emotions from this shift. It’s easier said than done. There is no way I can say to my clients (some of which are going through some major life transitions) to simply “deal with it.” That’s not the point. The point is, to look at your situation squarely in the eye and say, “Okay, I accept what is going on and take it for what it is. I cannot change what happened to me yesterday but I can come up with ways on how to change my life from today forward.”

There are three stages you must go through to promote the shift. Make peace with your past (okay, this is the way it is, I may not like it, but I can learn from it). Accept what has happened, not fight it and try to remain hopeful (I may have lost my job but at least I have skills to help me get another job). Dream about the future (maybe I can get that teaching job I have always wanted instead of being stuck doing financial stuff I have always hated anyway).

As you can see, you may not have achieved a”physical or aesthetic goal,” but you have created a mindset on making it easier to move forward and go for those goals. For example, by changing your belief system and reality at the present moment, you are more likely to put yourself in a positive mindset to move ahead and start successfully achieving your dream job, etc.

As for me, I am still a novice “shifter” but I am working on it. I had the potential for a really crummy day today when I found out that the title of my new book had already been taken! I had a five minute pity party for myself and realized, “Hey sister, you better practice what you preach to online ‘blogland’ or there is no truth to your sermons.” And, my shift began. I decided to call my mom (who, by the way, is an excellent shifter!) and had a 10 minute gab session. At the end of our conversation, we optimistically surmised that I was pretty darn smart for thinking up a cool title that was already used by a very famous author (that just so happens to be sitting on my nightstand in book version) so – that was that. As a result of this shift, here I am, sitting on my laptop, making sense out of it and coming up with a Patti life lesson that hopefully can bring a some relativity to your life when you are faced with a bump in the road.

So, the next time you sit down to make a list of your goals, take note on how you are going to get an action plan together to achieve them. You may have all the best of intentions on how to check them off your list. If you can do that, then gold star for you. But for the rest of us, before you put that action plan into place, you may need to change the way you think about your life and the challenges that you face from a standpoint of self-awareness, accountability and that of a non-victim role. By doing this, you will be more likely to shift the way you think and create a better, move positive life for yourself.

Tip for the Day – The next time you find negative mental templates emerging that may perpetuate the ever so popular victim mentality – shift your way of thinking. Switch gears and use that difficult time as a tool to challenge your new mindset and belief system and know that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. You may grind the gears the first time or two, but in the end, you could very well be the Mario Andretti of goal setting.

Happy holidays!

Keep the faith,


Patricia Phelan Clapp M. A. LLC

Transition Coach

1704 Maxwell Drive

Wall, New Jersey 07719

(732) 865-5377

“Be Your Own Success Story”

Follow me on Twitter – NJSuccessCoach

my website –

Author's Bio: 

I am a forty something single mom of two awesome kids. In the past six years, I have: separated and divorced, finished a graduate degree with honor’s, started a part-time career as a writing instructor at a local college, opened up my own business as a transition coach, and as of November 2008, became newly engaged! In addition, as of June 13th, I will have finished my basic training to become part of the

Jersey Shore Collaborative Law Group. As you can see, it has been quite an eventful few years! However, I have never felt more fulfilled in my life.

How did I do it?

I can honestly tell you that I have utilized many of the same principles I learned in graduate school (I have an Master’s of Arts in Teaching) and applied them to my life. I thought, “What are my goals? Where do I want to be in one year – two years – five years? How am I going to get there?” (Think of this as being your own tutor!)

Like a teacher does with her class, I wrote out my lesson plans on how to achieve those goals. Hour-by-hour, day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, slowly but surely, I kept my eye on those goals and made sure that I kept forging ahead, even on the days I barely could get out of bed. (On those days, I gave myself a gold star for even making myself a pot of coffee or going to the dry cleaners!)

This is a true testimony on how you can use a crisis to create a new path for your future. That is what I did. I took all the pain and suffering I had during my divorce, turned it around into a positive learning experience.

What is the magic formula that makes my business thrive?

I knew that knowledge was power and the better educated I was as to what I could expect from the divorce process, the better. I wanted to be one step ahead of the game when meeting with the professionals and my goal was to be the ideal client. I wanted to get the most for my money when meeting with my lawyers and other professionals for many reasons – I wanted to save money, not waste my time talking about emotional issues during our meetings and I wanted to get it over with as smoothly (and quickly) and possible.

In the meantime, I read and studied books on goal-setting and laws of attraction as well as countless books on divorce (refer to recommended book list) and interviewed many legal professionals.

While I was studying and researching the various aspects of divorce and how to do it right, so to speak, I would reward myself with reading books on how to achieve your dreams! As a result, Patricia Phelan Clapp M.A. LLC, the Transition Coach, was created!

You can do two things at once during times of crisis – you can work on YOU and go through the divorce process as skilled and knowledgeable as possible!

All you need to do is commit to wanting to move forward in a positive direction.

What will we do out your coaching sessions?

* We will find the necessary resources for you and clarify the various roles of the lawyer and other professionals as part of the legal process. In doing this, we will make it easier for those professionals to help you by implementing their legal, financial and psychological areas of expertise.

* We will focus on creating a positive client-based relationship that will give you the ability to compartmentalize the divorce process separate from your emotions.

* I will help you achieve your goals and find a balance between divorce and moving on with your life.

* A step-by-step plan will be devised on how to manage the legal and financial aspects of your divorce.

* In addition, personal goals will be set and a plan will be developed on how to achieve these goals.

* By creating a road map for you to follow during your divorce, we can concentrate on empowering you with the peace, self-respect and hope that may have been lost along the way.