The most common phrase I hear. Self doubt.

Do you have moments wondering “What on earth am I doing?” or observing a serious lack of trust in yourself? If there’s one term I’ve heard in abundance lately it’s “I have self-doubt”. Whether I’m networking, working with clients or chatting with friends it seems we all have moments of self-doubt running parallel with a case of the speed wobbles. Many of us become paralysed by it, leaving us running round in circles.

Self-doubt is defined as a lack of confidence in one’s self and ones abilities. So why is it self-doubt is making such an appearance at a time when we have content galore to help grow our confidence, positive mentoring a phone call away and app’s at our fingertips to solve every problem?

And oh the irony. I have been sitting on completing this blog for a good few weeks. Then it hit me. I had doubt around my abilities and experience to write about this topic. I finally had the realisation that much of this inner chit chat had no substance. So I did some research, delved into what I know from hours of coaching and here’s what I learned.

Self-doubt comes in all shapes and sizes. I’m not sure I’m smart enough to get ahead at work. I’m not good at maintaining friendships. I’ll never be able to reach my goal weight. But what it all boils down to the old chestnut, belief and fear of I’m not good enough. You are good enough of course but right at this minute you are very much not buying that story and instead choosing to not back yourself.

person-on-cliff-meditating

Imposter syndrome is a classic phrase closely linked with self-doubt. I feel like I’m completely winging it and one day everyone will find out I’m a fake. Wow, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that cracker! The ultimate in doubting ourselves at work, not trusting or believing in our abilities. Sure, there are folks out there who are totally winging it but for most of us we have the knowledge, experience and practical know how to be in a role. So why put energy into believing we’ll be caught out? Well, my friends it’s been noted that this doubting business also appears to function exceptionally well as a phenomenal excuse card for not stepping up, pushing harder or going further.

Is there a quick fix for self-doubt? Not exactly as it often stems from stories from our past that we’re holding onto. Whether they be real or imagined, if we’re holding onto resentment, guilt, shame for mistakes of the past they will all lead to self-doubt. Often many people fear they will repeat their own past mistakes or from something a parent has done. And as we know the more we focus on this fears the more likely it is to come to fruition.

In order to overcome self-doubt we need to consistently practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. As well as doing ourselves a big favour – drop the judgement. How harshly we judge others is a direct reflection of how harshly we are judging ourselves. The same goes for those of us with perfectionist tendencies.

According to a special report Loving You in the spring edition of Wellbeing Australia , if you doubt yourself you are settling for less. To move away from this they suggest we put our attention towards self-empowerment. Acknowledge you create your world and own your choices – no need for external approval or apologies required.  We would also want to focus on self-expression – how open are you with your communication style? Do you let have a creative outlet? How authentic is it?

doubtThe way our minds are wired for survival we will always find a bit of self-doubt popping up but how much power will you give it?

It’s your choice.

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Why habits are the new game changer.

When was the last time you thought about your good habits? powerofhabit It feels like habits get a bad rap because we often think of them negatively as in biting nails or over-eating but they can be huge game changers when you make the effort to turn around those that aren’t working for you.  My inspiration today is from Charles  Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit which throws new light on why we have habits, how they come about and how to change the ones which aren’t working for us.

So why do we have habits? Scientists believe it’s because our brain is always looking for ways to save effort. Remember your first aerobics step class or L plated driving lesson? How exhausting! But after a while your brain learned what to do so much so we often experience auto-pilot  where we wonder where on earth we ‘were’ for a  few minutes. Tests at MIT in the 1990s also showed after learning a habit lab rats had only minimal activity occurring in the rest of their brains compared to the first few attempts of a new routine.

An ancestral part of our brain, the basal ganglia is believed to be responsible for our habit storage. When people’s basal ganglia is damaged they are no longer able to form simple tasks when their access to ‘habit storage’ is unavailable.

The interesting hard cold truth: When a habit emerges the brain stops fully participating in decision making. So unless you find new routines the pattern will automatically unfold. The brain also can’t tell when a habit is good or bad so a bad one can just be lurking waiting to be fired up for a unhelpful reward.

But once you understand the habit loop you can break it down into parts, experiment and find ways to change it up by overpowering the existing neurological pathways with more compelling habits.

The Habit Loop.

Habitloop

Firstly the cue occurs: A situational trigger that is based on a reward you’re seeking.

Next up the routine: A physical or emotional action you take to obtain the reward.

Finally the reward: The satisfaction you seek by following the routine

The key is to understand what the craving is,  experiment with the rewards and then the routine can be swapped out for something more beneficial.

Before we go into solution mode it is worth observing the mechanism of habits. Habits create strong neurological cravings however because they emerge quite gradually we are often blindsided by their influence.  What’s even more interesting is our brain begins anticipating the reward long before we take action. Marketers and retailers worked this out some time ago hence the likes of Dunkin’ Donuts spraying their scents of hot cinnamon baked goods across mall floors to trigger a potential craving. Or how about foaming shampoo and toothpaste? It doesn’t actually need to foam but product developers discovered consumers feel cleaner from a foam sensation which drives more use  of the product more often to satisfy the clean craving.

One of our biggest cravings is often for distraction. 6a0147e0ba5e57970b017ee83f2f17970dThink about when a text goes off. How hard is it to resist looking at it? The brain has started anticipating the distraction of opening a text before you’ve even looked at it. But if you have your phone on silent  have you noticed how much longer you stay focused on your task at hand for?

So how do we get past an unhelpful habit?  Science has proven if we keep the same cue and same reward, a new routine can be introduced. For example a smoker who has identified their craving is relaxation and the reward is feeling chilled out a new routine of long slow deep breaths during a gentle stroll which activates the parasympathetic nervous system may serve as a good alternative. Or if you want to start running you choose a cue (put your clothes out the night before) and a reward – maybe a smoothie. Cue-Routine-Reward-Running_thumbBut only when you brain starts anticipating the reward – the endorphins or sense of achievement from your quick lap round the park will it become an automatic association for your brain. So you need to keep repeating the action several times to teach your brain you crave that new reward . Another key point is you must choose your own meaningful reward – not what someone else has suggested.

But just having a new routine and reward may not be enough. You need to believe change is possible and studies have shown you are far more likely to succeed if you have an accountability partner or a group of people going through a similar experience to share and commit to change with.

Here’s how to re:set a habit in 4 easy steps.

Step 1. Identify your routine. What is the behaviour you want to change? Working from home I have to admit I do a fair amount of pantry grazing when I’m overloaded and need a breather. My routine is to get up stare longingly into the pantry and wait to find something to satisfy what I believe is a hunger craving.

3Step 2. Experiment with rewards. Get your lab coat out, your notepad and pen & start trialing new rewards. I tried getting out & schimmying round the block. Then meditating. Then having a drink of water. After trying each new reward set an alarm for 15 mins. At that point ask do I still want the original ‘reward’?

Step 3. Isolate the cue. We have so much information bombarding us all the time it’s hard to know what exactly is triggering us. Answer these questions every time your habit is triggered to identify what is causing you to choose this habit over something more beneficial.

  • Where am I?
  • What time is it?
  • How am I feeling?
  • Who else is around?
  • What action preceded the urge?

Step 4. Have a plan. Remember that a habit is a choice that we deliberately made at one point, we then stopped thinking about it but continued to do every day. So start by making conscious decisions with a plan to do the new action. When I feel an urge to hit up the pantry I have a plan now to go for a walk and get some fresh air mid morning and mid afternoon when my craving for distraction seems to be at it’s highest. You might also want to find an accountability partner or group of people to help support your plan and discover the game changing nature of habit refinement.

Want more? Check out this nifty infographic from Duhigg on habits

 

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Searching Inside Yourself with Google.

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SIY Book

How much of your day do you spend mind wandering?  How engaged are you in meetings?  According to research completed by two Harvard psychologists in 2010  we spend 47% of our time mind wandering and 70% of leaders admitted to being regularly inattentive in meetings.

Last month I attended ‘Search Inside Yourself’, a Google programme brought about from an original Google leader, Chade-Meng Tan who bought in a mindfulness expert and neuroscientist to create a programme focused on well-being and sustained high performance leadership in the workplace. SIY is one of the most popular courses at Google & after being immersed for a couple of days in the foundations I can see why. And Google isn’t the only company doing flips over mindfulness – it’s very much en vogue with forward thinking companies adding training to their wellness programmes to increase employee engagement.

But what is mindfulness really about and without a fancy training scheme at work can you start doing it?  Here’s my key outtakes from SIY and simple techniques you can try from your couch to your desk.

The Brain.

Contrary to what was thought previously our brains are like plastic and their neuroplasticity means they are shaped by what we consistently do. For example studies on London black cabbies have shown their brains have increased in size after having had to memorise the London streets. It’s also been proven by many neuroscientists including Richie Davidson that when practicing mindfulness the grey matter/ cortical thickness in many key areas of the brain increases in size and has also been associated with the decrease in the activity of our ‘monkey minds’ (where we swing directionless from thought to thought).

person on cliff meditating

So when you start practicing mindfulness what are the benefits? Try less stress and panic moments. More clarity, focus and resilience plus it’s also been shown to improve our creativity. It’s a win win basically.

Emotional Intelligence

Another buzz topic we discussed was our ‘EQ’ and the  connection between our emotions and decision making. More often than not we believe we are making rational pragmatic decisions but our emotions are working us. Growing our awareness as to when this is happening means we can beging to make active choices vs reactive based on our emotion. Tying into this is having an awareness of what is happening in our body as we experience certain emotions for example I am angry vs I am having the sensation of anger in my body. And while the concept of ‘self-management’ may sound overly dull it does have benefits. Here’s an exercise in self management we learnt for when we can feel ourselves experiencing an unwanted emotions.

Stop (the secret pause). Breathe (this is under my skin). Notice (my jaw is tight etc). Reflect (what’s really going on for me and who I’m speaking with here?).  Response (what’s an appropriate way to respond).

Throughout the workshop we also practiced active listening to really engaged in what perfect strangers were saying. Many participants new to this concept were impressed with how much more of the conversation they retained and the greater connection felt with their partner.

Leadership

When discussing leadership the standout point for me was the research revealed in The Harvard Business Review in 2013 which demonstrated that people who show warmth first then competence are much more likely to succeed as leaders. The importance of compassion was also highlighted as being more sustainable than empathy which results in burn out. Compassion does not mean avoiding confrontation but rather leveraging strengths of wisdom & clarity to arrive at a conclusion for the greater good.

Exercises to try out:

You can put these into practice at work or home right away but first a quick note: Mindfulness is not about emptying your mind to nothing at all. That’s even tricky for the monks! Think of it as having a breather from the monkey mind and simply observing thoughts without judgement or attachment.

  1. Just look at your hand for 30 seconds. When you notice judgements arising let them go.
  2. Set yourself triggers for mindful moments while doing everyday things. Brushing your teeth, driving the car, riding in an elevator. Slow down the ongoing stream of internal dialogue and spend time noticing things you’d never normally notice about the activity.
  3. Here’s a 2min guided meditation from the SIY team to get you started or if you have just ten minutes try this body scan for an ‘insular’ workout.laptop
  4. For those who enjoy putting pen to paper giving yourself 5-10 minutes to write. Use these prompts to get you going. a) What I’m surprised about in my life is… b) A challenge I’m working with is… c) What I value is…

4. Check out this 2 min explanation on meditation and how it helps with your creativity.

5. With a colleague or partner pick a topic. While you listen they speak for 2 minutes – no interrupting. Be fully engaged giving them your full attention (see how Richard Branson does this) and once they’ve finished say back here’s what I heard you say. If you want to challenge yourself even more you could try ‘here’s what I heard you feel’. Then reverse the exercise.

Further mindfulness and meditation resources

Here’s an excellent free online mindfulness course recommended by the SIY team or for a simple start download the renowned Headspace app. I had a excellent experience learning meditation last year with Emma at One Meditation in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and I can highly recommend the benefits of feeling more calm and centered from my practice.

Starting 2017 with a BANG & a PLAN.

Whether we are cruising along nicely or feel like we’ve been foot-tripped and skidding sideways precariously towards 31st of December, there’s no denying 2016’s days are numbered.

I’ve always been curious as to why the 31st of December feels like a virtual finish line and 1st of January an invisible start line. But if like most of us you adhere to this, the end of the year break does make for an excellent time to review, reset, regroup and renew.

Speaking at a recent event in New Zealand last week, many people fed back they simply wanted more time to catch their breath, relax and not feel guilty about it in 2017. Other clients have said they want to reprioritise their health specifically around better eating habits, find new interests outside of work, less time on social media and make a conscious effort to extend their social circles. What’s on your agenda?

This kick off with a bang and a plan for ’17 will take fifteen minutes max but an hour is ideal. It’s very painless – in actual fact quite pleasant. And rocks a lot harder than any New Years resolutions you will make for one night and keep for about 10 days. Grab your paper and pen and answer the qs below.

# 1: Yes, I did that. CELEBRATE 2016.

  • What was absolutely awesome?
  • What did you learn? There is no failure only feedback.
  • Who are you grateful for? (Let them know!)
  • What will you take with you into 2017? A learning or success perhaps.

#2: Time to move on. LETTING GO.

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  • What are you willing to let go of? If you only answer one question answer this. So many of us avoid it but it’s fundamental if you want to grow. Is there a project that’s been on the to do list for years that isn’t happening? An event which you’re cursing yourself about? An emotion which is holding you back? A person who isn’t positively influencing your life and bringing you down? Have the conversations you need to and MOVE ON.

“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop” Rumi. 

#3: Here’s what I want to happen and why. ACTION STATIONS.

  • Name 5 things you want to commence, change or complete. And if not now, when? They can be habits, goals, a review of your personal brand ‘story’ or even a sabotage clean out.
  • Zones to consider: career, relationships, adventure, personal development, health, education.
  • For each game changing action list at least three reasons WHY you want it to happen. Without VERY good reasons you’ll find it ends up on your ‘did not complete’ list.

#4: I must I must I must keep going. MAINTENANCE & MOTIVATION

  • What will you read/ learn more about to propel you forward?
  • When does your plan start? We all know what “Next Monday” means. Commit to a date.
  • How often will you review your plan?
  • Who is on your team for 2017 to help make everything happen ?
  • When you lack motivation what/ who/ how will you get your momentum back? Have a reset strategy.
  • Share your plans with at least one close buddy who is good at holding you accountable. AKA your accountabilibuddy.
  • Visualize it. One of the strongest ways to make it all happen is to visualize yourself enjoying your success this time next year. Email me if you need some visualization resources.

totaranui

That’s it. Easy as. Enjoy your holidays and here’s to a fantastic 2017. Now to go make it happen.

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Get your connector self on this summer.

Schmooze, hobnob, mingle, rub elbows with are all synonyms for networking. No wonder many of us avoid anything with the word network like the plague. But isn’t it simply about making purposeful connections with people? As we enter the festive season and our opportunity to connect increases five-fold I wanted to offer some useful pointers on how to make growing your network an enjoyable experience.

Network

Recently I found myself falling back to old habits at a launch of a new network in Sydney. On arrival, I took a quick panoramic scan of the room & noted many millennial ‘mover & shaker’ types. I then observed myself lurking behind a palm tree, obsessively checking my emails, accosting the waiter for hors d’eovres and ultimately appearing far too busy to start a conversation. Now, before you scoff I know for a fact I am not the only one who can fall into this trap. I certainly have extroverted acquaintances who bounce into a room with a ‘who will I play with?’ approach however I am constantly receiving feedback from colleagues and clients about how uncomfortable putting yourself out there can be. Susan Cain, the acclaimed introvert expert wrote in her blog on networking “I’ve come to realize that the problem with “networking” is not talking to strangers but rather making small talk with strangers—a subtle but crucial difference”. Universally we don’t enjoy the small talk however once we’ve made a connection the conversation becomes so much easier.

So here’s some tips to make networking or my preferred term connecting, a much less painful experience and ultimately very useful skill.

Before an event.

  • Your personal brand. Who are you being? A quick 1 minute check in pep talk to ensure your inner critic isn’t running riot & producing a million reasons why you shouldn’t approach new people. Do you feel confident? If not, recognise your inner critic at play and use the Thanks mind, but I’ve got this covered tactic.
  • Consider your wardrobe. What story does it tell about you? You may want to wear one memorable, albeit suitable piece of clothing.
  • Prepare your chat and do your research on your potential audience. Also having a unique spin on a topic is useful when entering new conversations. Listen to relevant podcasts or read an article which you can contribute to small talk where appropriate.

At the event. 

  • On arrival approach people on their own or groups of 3 – interrupting two people can be uncomfortable. In this video the speaker goes further to suggest open groups of three with at least one women are ideal as generally they are more inclusive.
  • Always obtain a new connection’s business card – dishing our your card is beneficial however you want to be in control of the follow up.
  • Use the exchange of business cards as a way to move on from a conversation which only needs to be five minutes.
  • Shyness can occasionally be interpreted by other people as a lack of professional confidence or experience – if all else fails, keep eye contact, keep your head high and posture confident even if you aren’t feeling it.
  • Obviously body language is important for everyone with research suggesting up to 55% of all communication comes from body language, 38% from tone and 7% from literal words.  How are you holding yourself? Are you open or closed off?
  • Approach each conversation without attachment – don’t put pressure on it to ‘be’ a life changing conversation but still be an investigator – you’ll either learn something about a new person or yourself.
  • Be present and an active listener. Refrain from thinking of how you’ll contribute when they stop speaking. Listen intently. Your connection will be stronger.
  • Authenticity is paramount. People can sniff out in-authenticity very quickly. Be confident, humble and focused without coming across as a ‘that’ pushy salesperson.
  • Be mindful of your story. When you’re on your energy bus, passionate and open the reaction from new connections is completely different to when your story is all about how business is slow or you’re out of control with too much on.

Post an event.

Connecting promptly after an event is essential however refrain from requesting a standard half hour coffee catch up. Show you respect your contact’s time. Be specific about what you would like to speak with them about, how long it will take & what you want to get from the conversation. A phone call within a week of meeting may be enough.

Building your network.

Connecting smarter is just as much about developing a network over time as it is attending events.

Be strategic about who you network with. Rather than a spray and prey approach, be mindful and seek out the key connectors and influencers in your area of interest.

Thank you

  • If you’re after an introduction find a link through someone you already know as an alternative to going direct.
  • Your current network is invaluable. How can you reward those who have provided referrals or linked you to key contacts?

A big thank you to my key connectors Andy Lark, Alice Moros, Mark MacSmith and Nikki Gravning for sharing your top tips on connecting smartly.  

Spring clean your life.

springAfter what seemed like a pretty harsh winter (am I a woos?)  –  Spring has finally sprung and with that a brilliant reason to refine the ‘stuff’ we have been accumulating, hoarding and growing like a wild crop of kale in our garden.

As we de-clutter, it’s also a good time to think about a good clean out for the mind. Marie Kondo (dubbed the Queen of clean) says “Tidying is just a tool., not the final destination. When your room is clean and uncluttered you have no choice but to examine your inner state“.

Think about what’s in your wardrobe. There are the classics which make you look and feel great. Your favourite leather jacket, your go to shoes for ‘heels and earrings’ nights or for men, your favourite white basic tee which makes you feel awesome. However if you’re honest there a few items you’re ‘waiting to fit’, an old flames t-shirt and a pair of jeans which will definitely come back into fashion (do they really ever?) or a top from your Mum that never really worked for you.  Kondo says you must review your wardrobe and ask does this bring me JOY?  If not, it needs to go.

Our mind is a bit like a wardrobe. It stores useful and not so useful items but how often do we edit the data we’re storing in there? Let’s just look at our beliefs as an example.

A belief is simply a feeling of certainty about something.  For many of us our M.O. (modus operandi) is to operate off the basis of beliefs formed about ourselves when we’re kids and we never re-visit them to review how much reality there is actually behind it.

As you Spring clean your wardrobe,  garage or kitchen this month and put back the items that are going to stay, do this too with your mind. What is useful? What needs to be removed and replaced with something to get you moving in the direction you want?

For your spring edit of your wardrobe: Marie Kondo emphasises learning to let go (works on so many levels). Be honest with the “might need  it down the track” pattern. If the favorite but slightly too tight jeans have served their purpose but no longer bring you joy or are relevant to who you are as a person, let someone else benefit from them.

Try this belief detox: Write down your top ten beliefs about yourself. Which ones are working for you? Great, they stay. The ones that aren’t need to go. Depending on how old that belief is you may need to work with someone externally. However for now,  experiment with remembering where the belief came from. Was it something you overheard as a kid at school? Did a parent or elder tell you directly? Go back to that time and look at the situation as an adult now. How much gravitas have you given one comment? Are you holding onto it like your safety blanket? What are you getting from keeping this belief about yourself (you’re getting something otherwise you wouldn’t be holding onto it). Finally your old belief needs to be replaced with a new one and evidence of it. So if you want to fit your favourite jeans, have a belief you’re worth it and set up systems and habits to make it easy for yourself.

 One final edit – social media. We might not feel like we can get away from it but we can choose  how often we engage with social media and what we see. We seem to feel like watching people who are skinnier, more flexible and have more glamorous lives than us will make us feel more awesome. But if you’re waking up every morning to images or rants which aren’t cool for you – detox away. I am officially unsubscribing to any more breakfast bowls & any impossible yoga poses. Yes, some of it can be inspiring but if it’s not making you feel alive, invigorated and happy with yourself, you have a choice. Follow or unfollow.

The Momentum Series kicks off on Monday 12th of October.  A focus will be around de-cluttering your mind as well as becoming clear on your intentions for 2016.

Time for a 15 min mid-year check in with YOU?

I’m a straight shooter. And I’m not afraid to point out the glaringly obvious. It’s 1 July today. We’re half way through 2015. Around about now you start procrastinating about tax or filling in your automated yet clunky KPI Internal Comms system ‘demonstrating’ what a terrific year you’ve had so far for your manager to rush through to meet internal deadlines.  But here’s something outrageous. How about putting some time aside to actually reflect on your year so far?

Here’s some key questions to kick start your own personal mid-year review.

  1. Source your goals, be they in your head or on paper. How are you tracking? What have been your wins? Where do you need to focus your efforts to keep winning? What has slowed you down & how will you look to solve these challenges?
  2. Your approach. Rather than being attached to a set outcome as you begin each action, consider your strategic approach for each goal especially around who you are being. Do you need to adjust your openness to improve a relationship? Can you find more joy in the everyday, seemingly mundane things?
  3. Your support crew. Who are you going to recruit/ keep on board to assist you to make the rest of 2015 a stellar year? Equally who will you offer support and advice to you – remembering contribution is a key attribute to achieving greater happiness in your life.
  4. Imagine it’s the Christmas party season of 2015. You’re making the rounds. When people ask you how your year was what do you tell them? Make a list with all the areas important to you e.g happiness, health, fitness, love, career, finance, relationships, travel, family, hobbies, home, etc
  5.  What are three actions you will commit to completing this week to get you on your way to achieving your big ticket items and small every day wins?  Email them to a trusted friend who will hold you accountable or feel free to send them my way.

Ideally set aside 1-2 hours to reflect, refocus and refresh your outlook for 2015 but if you can only find 15 minutes just do it! You’re well ahead of the game already by even reading this.

I have a few places left at my women’s workshop The Direction Momentum in Bondi on 12th of July. A great opportunity if you or anyone you know is drifting along or needs some motivation!

mtnsI noted recently how many metaphors and language there is around focus and goal setting with roads and travelling. Journeys, direction,  path, momentum, wheels in mud, road map, stuck at a fork in the road, the road less travelled, crossroads, life intersections the list goes on. So I thought the image I took en route to Mt Hutt , Canterbury, N.Z. on Saturday was apt for today’s blog.

Where’s the road taking you for the rest of 2015?

Less chat. More action. And almost an Aussie.

Have you ever noticed how much time you spend in your head, analysing a decision, procrastinating on a potential direction, dithering over a different choice ? You may have a good old chin wag with yourself or share it forever and a day with anyone who will listen but it still goes on and on with no resolution in sight.

Last night I discovered my Nana’s great grandparents from Donegal, Ireland aged 18/19 made the incredibly brave voyage as so many did, to the Antipodes in 1863. They settled & married in Maitland, NSW (Hunter Valley)  – I like to think this was a voluntary move as opposed to them being of the convict persuasion! After five years, in 1868 they moved to Greymouth, New Zealand. First question – did they hook up on the boat & THEN get married?? Secondly I acknowledge if it wasn’t for their decision I wouldn’t be here today but initially I questioned their choice to move to Greymouth  – WHAT were they thinking? I could be an heiress to a vineyard by now though admittedly supporting the Wallabies would be a travesty.  I sat &  pondered how long it would have taken them to make the decision to leave Australia. Would they have struggled internally for months after already having moved so far to uproot again with their 3 kids (9 more were to be born in NZ!) to an unknown land, with unknown prospects and for that matter had anyone ever ‘penned’ to them about West Coast weather? Then I researched Maitland in the 1860s.  Good lord! Robberies, gang warfare, shootings galore – my call is Bernie said to Mary at dinner one night, “Look, we’ve given this a good swing love, but I don’t fancy becoming a bush ranger, or being shot in the back by one so let’s get out of here.” And in those days I’m guessing Mary went “Good decision Bernie, I’ll start packing”. Decision made.

As we know it’s not just decision making that traps us in our thoughts. We get lost in the stories we’ve made up about ourselves. “That’s just how I am” and “That’s just how it’s always been done”. We use our fears to keep us safe and constantly rationalise doing or not doing something based on evidence from the past. Some of us get so caught up in our mind, ‘busy’ living a life we’ve just ‘fallen into’ haphazardly or one that was expected of us and don’t notice how unhappy we are. While others endlessly wait to have everything ‘just right’ before we try something (god forbid if we ‘get it wrong’) some wait for the universe to deliver an opportunity to them while seated comfortably on their couch.

Humans have had internal chatter scientists believe for over 75,000 years. You’d think by now we’d all  be well practiced at keeping the negative banter at bay & our levels of life satisfaction should be off the charts! But it seems with the overwhelming amount of choice and complexity of our lives today we can be struck with a paralysis of analysis or many a downward spiral when things don’t pan out quite as we’d hoped. It leaves many drifting along almost unconsciously, sitting at the back of the bus with someone else driving (sometimes a 7 year old version of us – not ideal!). Months and even years slip by as we practice some excellent avoidance techniques to not dig a little deeper on where we are at for fear of what challenging actions might need to be faced in order for us to take our life in a direction we actually want.

One way to stop the thought drift is to get clear on your values. I’m betting one of Bernie ‘s was physical safety. One of yours might be connection. Everyone has different values, dependent on upbringing, life experiences and life stage . I’m sure what you wanted to experience every day on a consistent basis was quite different ten years ago compared to what it is today.

Where  it really begins is with you. How do you treat yourself – are you kind and compassionate? Who are you being everyday? What is the story you are telling yourself?  Are you owning the results you are getting in your life? Do you accept yourself completely –  the good and not so good parts?  What really lights you up or drives you crazy? How do you cope when you hit a road block? Bernie and Mary moved to the West Coast, but you might just need to revisit what gives you a little bit of happiness every day.

Hokitika, just down the road from Greymouth in the 1870s. 

I’m running a super fun and informative  half day workshop in Bondi Junction called The Direction Momentum on Sunday, July 12 at 10am. If any of the above rings some bells and you are ready to move forward but need inspiration we’d love you to join us. Numbers strictly limited.

Saying ‘No’ without the guilts

I must admit it is very 2015 to #justsayyes to anything and work out the details later.  In an age of everyday super heroes where we expect ourselves to multi-task families, jobs, friends, never ending personal admin lists and societal demands we often make the decision not to say no to anything for fear of what others might think – quelle horreur if we get labelled selfish or worse still we suffer from the frequently overused acronym FOMO.

This morning at The You Space (one of my group coaching workshops) we talked about the art of saying no. We all agreed that saying yes to the right things was awesome. You meet new people, have unique experiences you mightn’t normally, learn new techniques and boy, do you feel great when you help someone out who really appreciates your time and effort.

And let’s be honest. Some of us quite like saying yes to everything. We feel needed and valuable and sometimes we love the story that we are so busy helping others we don’t have time for ourselves. This story is great except when you’re skipping meals, your health goals,  family time and rushing round at work like a crazy person attempting to squeeze it all in. Can I cheekily suggest if this is you it’s worth considering what you are getting from your ‘I’m so busy’ story. Or perhaps there’s a part of you which likes being ‘worried’ about helping others, preoccupying yourself with their problems so you don’t have to think about your own? It’s quite a nice distraction isn’t it?

As cool and lovely as saying yes is, for those of us looking for balance and prioritising our own needs we need to learn to say no. And with conviction.  If we don’t, we end up draining ourselves of all our energy on tasks we don’t want to do and have nothing left in the tank for things we do want.  Today at The You Space one client revealed by saying yes too often before you know it you are ‘reliable yes mum, sister, mate, school helper, local volunteer team of one’. Not an ideal position to be in unless you want to be known as the Yes Lady/ Lad baking 20 cakes for the school fete or managing 5 junior soccer teams.

Saying No thanks starts with a mindset change. It starts with putting your needs first. Eeek. I know. How dare I say it! But if you take a look at your big picture, how is saying yes to so many activities, appointments, play dates, overtime for a colleague working out for you? You’re going to have to get a little (or a lot more) PRO YOU.41129-1_n

 

You’ll notice when you are able to put your needs first and become focused on your key goals, purpose, values and have conviction about where you are heading saying no will be a heck of a lot easier. Steve Jobs said “Focus is about saying no” Here’s some ideas for how to say no.

  • Say no straight away if you know you’re not going to do it. Don’t procrastinate.
  • If you can’t help out at an event politely decline but send through a helpful tip/ article.
  • I love this option for an email reply “Wow, great opportunity thanks for thinking of including my brains in the mix. I’m fully committed next week but I’d love to hear how it goes”.
  • No explanation required? No. Just means no. You’re already committed elsewhere and you don’t need to justify it to anyone. If detail is required explain you’re already fully booked and it would be letting the others down as well as yourself whom you’ve already fully committed to.

Check  out this four part formula for saying no (If you’ve ever had a review process in the office this may seem remarkably familiar).

  1. Start with a compliment
  2. Give your answer
  3. Say thank you.
  4. Encourage the person.

For the ‘bully’ who keeps asking. Re-iterate how you keep promises to yourself/ family and expect the same of them. We make promises to others so why can’t we keep the ones we make to ourselves?

For the ‘on second thoughts I want to pull the pin’ dilemma – be polite, firm and honest. Admit on reflection you have over-committed without thinking through the consequences, you aren’t able to give 100% and if you have them make suggestions for alternatives. Remember everyone makes hasty decisions now and again. No one is going to hold you to ransom for stepping out of a commitment. We’re only human and unless you’re volunteering for Red Cross you’re not saving lives. There will be someone else where this opportunity is exactly what they needed.

But what about the guilt? Guilt is an interesting one. We are the ones who have decided to feel guilty about not doing something. No one has forced us to feel guilty – no one can make you feel anything you don’t want to feel.  When you see the bigger picture of your overall focus whereby your time and energy is being poured into a greater purpose the guilt won’t ring in your little ears quite so loudly.

So when you next want to say no – just do it ! And if you’re diary is fully stacked with extra commitments which aren’t serving you and you’re feeling massively overwhelmed and under-excited about your calendar I think you know what you need to do next.

The Repeater

Life is speedily passing us by. We’re busy with family, career, friends, saving money, spending money, networking, socialising, renovating and enjoying holidays. We’re often so caught up bouncing from event to event we don’t even notice the consistent feedback we’re getting where a repeated action is not working for us. And even better we usually rationalise it by convincing ourselves ‘Well, that’s how it’s always been’.

Consider this. burgerYou go to Maccas (in an absolute emergency of course!) and order the same combo every time – not ‘lovin’ it’ but it’s what you know. Next time you order it again and are similarly disappointed with the taste.  Frustrated, you complain to your buddies.  When you head back again (potentially with a monster hangover) you order the exact same combo and are surprised it still tastes the same. Yes, you are in a spiral of a repeater combo mistake!

So yes, you guess it … you could  be ordering the very same combo in relationships, career, health – anywhere in life.

Where in life do you find yourself going ohhh wait a minute, I have been here before? The scenery, staging, lighting, people and content may be different but it’s the same combo and deep down you know it! Perhaps you’re an evidence gatherer searching tirelessly to make the right choice? A course-aholic – once you finish the next course then you’ll be ‘ready’? HFordDo you play the victim card a little too often – bad stuff always seems to happen to you? Are you a rescuer –  endlessly needing to save the world?  Do you have to be right all the time and are prepared to bring forth your shiny sword to defend yourself? Are you a ‘grass is always greener’ type never completely fulfilled or do you run at the speed of lightening when confrontation heads your way and have multiple unresolved disputes lingering in your mist? Do you trust people too much or not enough? Or perhaps you rush into decisions impulsively without considering all the consequences?  In The Monk Who Sold Ferrari by Robin Sharma it teaches how you will keep being served the same lesson in life until you learn it. Only then you can move forward on to your next exciting lesson – ole!

How to get out of Repeater Mode. 

Find your calm zone to sit and get real about your patterns. What repeated mistakes are you making? Where is it glaringly obvious but you’re so caught up in everyday life that they whizz by like the Mercedes in the Formula One. When you break down those repeated actions are they in all areas of your life or just some? It might be worth getting a trusted friend/ guide to help you on this (if you’re ready to hear it) as sometimes it’s easier for others to see.

Don’t give yourself grief about your mistakes – you had to experience them fully to really ‘get it’ & it’s where the growth happens. However be man or woman enough to admit you were probably getting something out of your repeater – you may’ve even formed a bit of a story about yourself that went quite nicely with your bag of fries let’s be honest!

Progress is a conscious choice. Commit to breaking up with your repeated pattern that is holding you back from moving forward and growing into an even cooler person. Acknowledge it, learn from it, then choose a different combo. It’s going to be easy to slip back into the old pattern because it feels secure and comfy so you’ll need to be on high alert and practice some solid self-awareness or have a friend/ mentor at the ready to keep you in check.

Reflecting on your repeated mistakes as with your weaknesses is a chance to take control of your life and having more say over how you shape it. If you leave it to chance, hoping the results will change by themselves you are potentially handing your life over to being shaped by accidental and external events.

TWB_260In The Winners Bible by Dr. Kerry Spackman comments that while self analysis is not glamouress task,  it’s where you build a platform for change “allowing you to grow and become an advanced soul, rather than an adult with a child’s personality”.

So get down and dirty with the realness of being a human – you’ll come out better off. As Henry Ford said “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”.