Christmas is a busy time of preparations. The year is wrapping up, work projects are being finished, the kids are almost on holidays. Family will be visiting, there’s cooking and shopping and cleaning to be done. Travel plans to make. It can be hectic to say the least!
In the middle of all these goings on, especially the hazy, lazy week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, it’s also a great time to look back over the past year and reflect on all that’s happened: progress made, losses and heart ache, fun times and laughs, quiet moments. Throughout the year we can be so focused on where we’re going and what’s next on the list that we don’t give ourselves the chance to acknowledge all we’ve achieved. Or to recognise the mental and physical break we so desperately need.
Over this Christmas and New Year period, take some time to reflect on the year gone by. You might like to write about it in a journal – getting stuff out of your head and onto paper can be so powerful and bring home so many ah-ha moments and insights. Sometimes by simply making a list of all you’ve done – what worked and what didn’t, what was fantastic and what was simply awful – puts life in perspective. You can make better decisions about what you’d like to drop from your life and what you’d like to build on.
Don’t be hard on yourself – go about your reflection with kindness and compassion for yourself and those around you. Everyone does the best they can with what they have and know at the time – including you!
What did you love about this year?
What went really well?
What didn’t go so good? What would you like to let go of and not take into 2020?
What would you like to acknowledge yourself for?
This Christmas – celebrate you and all that you’ve done this year.
Have a great week, and a beautiful Christmas.
Gratitude is a symbol of hope, it’s a way of finding a spark of light in the down times, and it’s a pathway to heart connection. I love all that it stands for, but I think sometimes in our commercial environment gratitude can become a platitude…unless you dip below the superficial surface, and actively apply gratitude as a tool for personal growth.
What do you want?
When I ask this question of a client she often doesn’t have a lot to say to start with because she doesn’t know the answer. All she knows, or all that she’s been focusing on, is what she doesn’t want. ‘I don’t know…I just know I don’t want ‘this’ anymore’, is a common response I hear. What you may not realise is, knowing what you don’t want is often a great place to start.
How? Well, when you stop and take the time to describe what ‘this’ is, you’re forced you to put words around your thoughts and this makes them tangible and manageable. (Yay! Less confusion!). From here you can start to see patterns about what’s missing in different parts of your life, and once you understand the problem you can start to find a solution. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Let’s just start with the first questions:
What don’t you want in your life? What are you unhappy about or dissatisfied with?
Write down your answers to these questions, then have a look over your list. Are there any patterns or themes emerging? What’s missing from your life?
What are you grateful for?
Did you know gratitude gives you a direct link to what you enjoy about your life, on a heart space level? Knowing what you’re grateful for tells you what you want more of, and tells you want you delight in connecting with.
It’s so easy to go through life and say ‘yes, yes, of course I’m grateful for all I have’ – but do you ever actually name those things? Do you ever sit in that space of gratitude and connect with it? When you name what you’re grateful for and connect with the feeling it brings, you give it an opportunity to exist in your life – and in your heart. A dismissive ‘of course I’m grateful for it’ is a head-space, superficial lip-service. It’s like giving a friend a hug while you’re thinking about your shopping list.
Instead, why not take the moment to drop into your heart and connect with what you’re grateful for, and the feeling that gratitude brings you? Just like writing about what you don’t want, writing down what you’re grateful for makes it a tangible thing, something you now consciously notice. And, when you can see on paper what you’re grateful for, you can start to see patterns in what you love about your life and what you would like more of.
So, what are you grateful for? Write it down.
Now, take a look over what you’ve written. Are there any patterns or themes emerging in this list? What would you like more of in your life?
Gratitude helps you make decisions
Tapping into gratitude helps you become aware of the fairy lights in your life, the parts that twinkle at you more brightly. With this new awareness comes insights into what you want, what you enjoy, and what’s important to you. And when you know that, your life direction becomes clearer, decisions become easier, and your life can start to take shape.
On the other hand, it can also raise a whole lot of new questions, like ‘OMG, I just realised how much my life is nothing like what I want, so now what?’. If this is you, just take a big breath, right now, and congratulate yourself on your new awareness! It’s only when you understand the problem that you can start to make changes. From here, you can start to map out what you DO want and where you want to go, and move in that direction one step at a time. What you do next is your choice. What do you want? Go after it. You can do this!
Have a great week!
This question has so many possible tangents to explore. It’s a question that keeps people stuck where they are because they don’t know what they want. They don’t know how to recognise what’s right for them. Or they’re so focused on what could go wrong – ‘what if I make the wrong decision?’ that they can’t comprehend the notion of tuning in to the feeling of what’s ‘right’. What if I make the wrong decision was the focus of the last blog – if you need to review that first, head over HERE and check it out. This week, let’s talk about knowing what’s right for you.
The ‘knowing’ that we’re talking about here is self-awareness. It’s not an intellectual decision of right or wrong – which is the thing I believe trips people up. When making a decision based on what’s ‘right’ for me, it’s not about making the ‘right’ answer. That is a completely different thing. If you’re focusing on making the right decision, or rather not making the wrong decision, you’re probably looking outside of yourself for the criteria of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Knowing what’s right for you is an inner feeling. It’s that feeling you get in your gut when you know something to be true. When you feel like you’re being yourself, relaxed, connected to the people and places around you, and you feel good. That’s the ‘knowing’ I’m talking about.
When life gets busy it’s easy to slip into a completely intellectual zone of organising, scheduling, and analysing, and you forget about being aware of what’s happening in your body. You stop listening to your body and its messages about being tired, hungry, or needing to move, and you lose touch with the gut feelings that give you the messages about what’s right for you.
Learning to know what’s right for you starts with listening to yourself. You can do this by sitting quietly – meditating or journaling or daydreaming over a cuppa. It’s also great to get outside and go for a walk so your intellectual brain can switch off. When you switch off the analytical thoughts you give yourself the space to tune in to your gut feelings. Ask yourself the question you’ve been pondering (the thing you’re wanting to know if it’s right for you) and allow options to filter through without judgement or analysis. Don’t limit yourself. Listen to what you feel excited about, notice what motivates you and inspires you to take action. These are the things that are ‘right for you’. Then bring in the intellectual brain to figure out how.
What I’ve described here is a strategy that’s worked for me several times – you’re welcome to try it on and see if it works for you. You might have your own way of knowing what’s right for you – and that’s great! After all, it’s you that has to know! 😊
Have a great week!
In the moment of feeling stuck between fear of making the wrong decision and confusion over which is the right decision – a lot of fantastic life opportunities can pass you by.
To borrow the concept of a C.S. Lewis quote:
Making a decision
To put it bluntly, getting stuck on trying to make the ‘right’ decision (or on trying to avoid the wrong the decision) is either about: 1) looking for validation outside of yourself, or 2) not spending enough time with yourself to know what it is you want (which can be the reason you look to others for the answer). Either way, at the end of the day, you’ve gotta do what’s right for you. It’s your life, not someone else’s. If you don’t know what’s right for you, then maybe it’s time to do some soul searching and personal research? (Tip: personal research isn’t about doing a survey of your family and friends about what they think is right for you – that’s just another form of looking for external validation). Get to know yourself so you know what’s right for you, and find the courage to act on it.
Let’s follow through on the concept of making the wrong decision – after all, that’s what’s got you stuck, right? The ‘what ifs’. So, what if you make a decision and you don’t like the outcome? Well, my perspective is you call it experience, and then make a different decision. (And if you don’t like that outcome, call it experience, and make a different decision). More decisions made equals more experience gained and a closer step to the right decision (i.e. the right one for you!). Sometimes you need to make a few ‘wrong’ decisions, to know what the right one is. But if you don’t make the first step, you’ll never know...right?
It’s all about the contrast of what’s ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ for you, and that’s how you get to know yourself and what you really want. But if you just live with the decision that’s making you unhappy and don’t explore the contrast to find out what you really want instead, then you’ve learned nothing about yourself and will continue to be unhappy. At the end of the day, that’s your choice. But you can also choose to do something about it!
Here are some ideas to help you move towards making a decision:
Day dream ideas and options for finding your way forward from your current situation. Day dreaming allows you to come up with ideas that the logic brain may dismiss as ‘impossible’ at first glance. Be bold and crazy with your ideas. Out of the ‘crazy’ the ‘very possible and perfect’ idea can emerge. Coming up with ideas and options isn’t making a set decision. They are just options. Day dreaming helps you to think outside the square. Don’t be held in by what you think you ‘should’ do, or what you think other people might think. What, in your wildest dreams, could be possible?
Once you have options, research them. Write a list of pros and cons. Talk over your ideas with someone who is open to thinking outside the box and who isn’t tied to the outcome (that is, they have your interests at heart, and won’t get hung up on the ‘shoulds’ and won’t hold you back on how they think you ‘should’ behave). Spend some time reflecting on your options and listen to your heart. What feels right? What’s right for you?
Sometimes it may seem like you have no options at all. If this is the case, don’t force it, just wait and let life go on. Maybe you still need to transition. Maybe the dust is still settling around the change. Maybe the ‘right’ option hasn’t yet made itself known. Just wait, and remain open to opportunities.
What decision do you need to make? Which forward direction feels ‘right’ for you?
Gather up your courage – and do it!
Have a great week!
So, here’s the scenario: you’re stressed out and something needs to change or you’re going to break.
Or, life has changed – unexpectedly – and now you’re stressed out and if you don’t do something about it – you’re going to break.
But where do you start? Can you take action yet?
Wait up. First of all, get a handle on what’s going on. How do you know what action to take if you don’t know what you’re dealing with? Any action at this point is going to be a knee-jerk reaction and maybe get you more in the poo.
Write it down.
Now, you’ve done that – is it time for action? Do you quit everything and jump ship?
Have a look over what you’ve written - what options are open to you? What do you actually want? Are there safety and lifestyle considerations of higher priority? Like getting a job or finding somewhere to live?
Write it down.
Okay – now you have a game plan – it’s time to take action. Do it!
The name of the game now is ‘progress, not perfection’. No need to wait for ducks to line up, start taking action now and putting changes in place – the way you want them to be.
Review your plan as you go:
So, to recap this really quick lesson in tackling change:
And lastly, don’t forget to ask for help if you need it!
Start taking action, and have a great week!
Sometimes life can feel like you’ve been backed into a corner with no exit route. It’s as if all options have been stripped away and you’ve no choice but to accept what’s been dished out. As the old saying goes ‘You made your bed, you lie in it’, right?
Maybe it’s just me, but I have some issues with that. I don’t know how many times I got told to ‘just suck it up’ whenever I expressed my dislike of having my back to the wall without a choice. Dutifully, I’d shut my mouth and keep pushing on, figuring there must be something ‘wrong’ with my mental approach to the situation. It seemed like other people were coping with it and were okay with ‘sucking it up’. But again and again I’d come to the same point of feeling I was a slave to my lifestyle. I felt hemmed in, and I wasn’t happy. I was sure there had to be another way. But I didn’t know where to find it.
Then, at a conference in Melbourne, I listened to a speaker talk about choices. He said that everything is a choice. We all get to where we are because of choices we’ve made along the way. If something isn’t as you’d like it to be, what choices did you make to get there? What choices can you make to change it?
When I first heard this, I resisted it. How can my situation be the result of my choices? It’s happening to me. I’ve been pushed into a corner by others. There’s nothing I can do to change this; I have no choice but to go along with the culture of the environment I work in and ‘suck it up’.
But, what if this guy was on to something? What if I did have a choice?
What if your current situation of feeling stuck, in a rut, on life’s treadmill…is actually a result of your choices?
Knowing you have a choice can be an empowering and strong motivator, yet so often you’re not aware of the choices you’ve made or the opportunities available to you. When you feel stuck it can be difficult to see and own the choices you made to get to that point. When you’re so used to life being a certain way, you often don’t think to look for alternatives.
Believing there are no options available to me, it’s useless, there’s no way out of this, I can’t, I won’t, it’s too hard, or nothing will change – are all choices of how to view the world. They are all beliefs that choose to focus on ‘I can’t’, instead of ‘I could’. Where you focus is your choice. What you do next in your life is your choice.
When going through change, awareness that you have a choice can be a game-changer. Believe it or not, you don’t have to do what others say just to keep the status quo. It’s a choice.
But what about accidents and the unexpected (I hear you say) – they don’t happen by choice!
Accidents happen. There are always life events you can never plan for. No one chooses to be involved in a car crash or lose their property in a bush fire. Choice in these moments comes in how you respond to it. Do you give yourself time to heal emotionally and physically? Do you push on and sort out the practical aspects and shelve the emotion to deal with later? Do you look after everyone else and make sure they’re okay? I’m not saying any of these choices are right or wrong; we all do the best we can with what’s available to us at the time. The important thing is to own that each of these actions is a choice.
If your response to a situation isn’t turning out how you’d like it to, do you push on regardless, or do you consider what other choices might be available? Have you ever considered there may be a different way to respond?
As Einstein is often quoted as saying, ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’. In your current situation, what result are you looking for? What other choices do you have?
As you learn, be kind to yourself.
As you become aware of choices you’ve made to get to where you don’t want to be, don’t beat yourself up with regrets. Be kind to yourself. You did the best you could at the time, and you’ll do the best you can now. Look at the options around you and choose what you’d like to do next. What choices will help you experience the results you want?
And if that choice doesn’t bring you a step closer to your goal, then you have the choice to do something else. Over and over again you can make a different choice.
Create your own fork in the road – you don’t have to wait for someone else to make it for you.
After the conference in Melbourne where I first heard about choices (and resisted the concept!), I returned to my public service job in Canberra where the full impact of choices finally hit home. I was in a management role that was pretty full on and night after night I found myself staying back at work for an extra hour or two to get stuff done. It was disheartening to see others pack up at 4, 4.30, or 5pm, and go home. I could feel myself becoming resentful when I would wish them good night and ‘see you tomorrow’. How come they get to go home when I have to stay here?
Then I realised it was a choice. Da-na – light-bulb moment! It was a choice! I chose to stay and work. I didn’t have to do it. No one was making me work longer. I wasn’t getting extra pay to stay. My management level meant I didn’t accrue flex-time, I was never going to get this extra work time ‘paid back’ to me in time off. What was I doing here? It was a choice. I chose to be here. Wow. The flood lights went on, and suddenly I saw the situation from a whole different perspective.
By owning it as a choice, I became aware that sometimes I worked back because it was quiet time for me to get stuff done without interruption – and I actually enjoyed it. Other times I was staying back out of habit, or out of some sense of obligation that because of my role I needed to be doing extra work. I wrote myself a note and stuck it near my desk: “If I stay late and work my butt off, it’s my choice”. It was a personal reminder not to grumble about it – it was my choice. After this I felt better about the hours I was working, and I didn’t always stay late. When I did stay, it was a conscious choice, and I was more productive because of it!
How have the choices you’ve made influenced your life?
What options are available to you – to make a different choice and go down a different path?
How would your life change if you did?
It's something to think about...
Take care, and choose to have a great week!
Language is one of those things you live and breathe without giving it a second thought. Yet, it plays such a big role in how you experience the world. Language comes to you through words, body language, and unspoken communication and your senses are bombarded with it through radio, television, social media newsfeeds, overheard conversations in public places, meetings, and events.
The language you hear and subconsciously absorb influences your opinions, your perception, and your actions. Just think about the effectiveness of word of mouth advertising, it’s one of the most powerful forms of product or service validation. How many times do you consult your friends or family for their recommendations? For example, ‘Do you know someone who does <insert service>?’, or ‘Where did you get your <insert product>, I’ve been looking for something like that?’ With these reviews in mind, you form a perception of a product or service, which influences your decision of what and where to purchase.
While seeking comments from people you trust is one thing, the words we tell yourself also influence your opinions and actions. For example, affirmations.
Affirmations are often used in personal development because they help to shift your mindset and outlook. An affirmation is a statement or phrase that you say often, usually to yourself, that begins to affect your beliefs and the way you see the world. It affirms your beliefs.
When you say something often enough you start to believe it, and the brain will subconsciously look for things that match or provide evidence of what you’re saying. What you may not realise though, is an affirmation can be positive and supportive or negative and destructive. And because you may not consciously listen to what’s coming out of your mouth – you’re not consciously aware of the things you start to believe as being true. For example, ‘I’m so tired’ or ‘I’m so sick of this’… If this is what you’re saying, well, you can imagine what your subconscious is looking for to prove this statement is true!
On the other hand, if your personal comments are more like ‘I can find a way to fix this’ or ‘I’m willing to change’, then your subconscious will have a completely different focus!
Are the affirmations you tell yourself helping you? Would you feel more supported if you changed the words you tell yourself?
Have a go and see if it makes a difference (tip: this isn’t an overnight change – you’ve possibly been telling yourself the same thing for YEARS – it will take practice to get of the old habit and make a new one!).
Take care, and have a great week.
Do you ever feel like you’re pulled in so many directions you get nothing done? You wish that only if you could get an uninterrupted block of time you might make some headway, but just when you get started - something else grabs your attention and away you go.
While it might be helpful to know you’re not alone in this experience (we've all been there!), just knowing that doesn’t change anything, right? This week I want to introduce you to a couple of strategies to help you change that because focus is all about where you put your energy.
Let’s start with what’s happening on the inside. Say you’re working towards an end goal: finishing a project, doing the housework, even picking your kids up from school. In any of these moments you can either choose to focus on the negative stuff that doesn’t support you, or you can choose to look at what will support you. We looked at this in the blog on filters. So, what’s the difference? Well, you may have heard the phrase: what you focus on grows. If you’re focusing on the pile of washing, the traffic jams, the long to-do list then I can imagine you’re not only feeling overwhelmed and disgruntled, but also not very motivated to keep going. And the more you get frustrated with the situation, the worse it becomes.
On the other hand, if you choose to look at the positives: your achievements, the small steps you’re taking to get something done, the reason you’re working through the washing pile (so you can have beautifully clean clothes!) – your whole world can seem brighter. Same task, different focus. The more you notice the great moments, the more they ‘grow’. Chances are these moments have always been there, but in all your busyness you may never have been awake to them.
On a hands-on action level, one thing that’s really helped me with focus is a simple phrase I picked up from an online mentor, Janet Beckers. I was forever feeling like I was busy, busy, busy but getting nowhere. In one of her blogs, Janet mentioned F.O.C.U.S. to mean Follow One Course Until Successful. When I heard this it was like someone had given me a gift. (Thank you, Janet!) I was so exhausted spreading my energy across so many projects. It had never occurred to me (where was my focus??) that it could be different if I only focused on one project at a time. Simple, but true. And what a game-changer.
What if you focused on only one project at a time? And once that was completed THEN you took on another project?
I applied this new view of F.O.C.U.S. in terms of working on one big project at a time, as well as segmenting my day. If I was writing blogs, that’s all I was doing. I limited my distractions until I got that job done. And the result? I was so much more productive! Lesson learned! Even now, I use F.O.C.U.S. to keep myself on track, focused, and being productive.
It all depends where you’re looking.
Have a go at shifting your focus, and see the difference it makes in your life!
Have a great week,
In my last blog, I touched briefly on how what’s happening on your inside can influence your perception of your outside world. I was speaking about how working through your emotions around an issue can provide you with clarity – a whole new way of looking at your situation. Your emotions are just one filter that influence how you see your world.
These filters are a very cool thing to know about. We all have them, and they’re formed by our life experiences from the moment we come into this world, and some may say even before that. Once you become aware of your filters, you can choose to change them – and therefore how you experience your world. What happens on the inside has a huge effect on what happens on the outside!
So what are these filters? Well, they’re a bit like a filter you might put on a camera – add a filter and the image you see looks different. As you keep layering filters over the top your image will change again and again. In your mind, these filters take the form of things like your beliefs, your memories, your attitude, and your focus, for example.
When you take a life situation, such as going for a job interview, your approach to that interview will depend on so many factors:
There are many ways to slice up this one example – but you can see what I mean. Filters don’t operate by themselves either. Your belief about interviews is likely influenced by your memories of past interviews, which influences your attitude and where you’re focusing as you walk into the building. All of these things are going to have an effect on your posture, your language – to yourself and others, and most likely your performance.
You may be thinking, well that’s all very nice but that’s just the way I feel and there’s nothing I can do about it. Maybe. Maybe not. What happened previously may not happen now. Today you are in a different place in your life than your last memory. You can choose what happens next: to hold on to that memory so you can relive it at your next interview or not. To continue your beliefs about interviews, or not. To retain your current attitude towards interviews, or not. You can see where I’m going here. If something’s working for you, keep it. But if it’s not…wouldn’t you like to have a different experience?
Changing your filters starts with becoming aware of what’s happening on the inside. Start to observe yourself and your response to life. When something great happens: run through what was happening on the inside – what were your beliefs, memories of similar events, attitudes, and focus? How did these contribute to your response to the situation? If something crappy happens, do the same thing – check in on your beliefs, memories of similar events, attitudes, and focus? How did these contribute to your response to the situation?
You can’t change what happens, but you can change how you respond to it and that can make all the difference to your experience and what happens next.
Have a think about it. Try it on. See how you go.
Have a great week,
When change lands in your lap unexpectedly, after the initial shock of emotion, there’s often a crazy urge to get life back to normal as quickly as possible – whatever normal looks like! Maybe it’s establishing a routine, maybe it’s getting your brain to function with some ounce of energy, maybe it’s touching base with the important people in your life and ensuring your relationship is still intact.
A couple of years ago a job contract I thought was ongoing for some time came abruptly to a halt. All of a sudden I went from months (years?) of employment to a couple of weeks. The change in circumstances was a complete shock to the system, and there were a few tears as I processed the news I’d just been given. Then I pushed the tears aside and tried to gain some mental clarity so I focus on fixing the issue. I had to find a job. Knowing I was employed and had ongoing financial support was my ‘getting back to normal’, and that was my priority.
Lurking underneath though there were still emotions lurking, fumbling about, being processed. I didn’t want to look at them just though, but I knew I had to at some point.
Sudden change (of the ‘negative’ variety) can be a lot like grief – there’s a change in your relationship with your life as you know it. You may be in denial or angry about it. You might be angry at particular people, or angry with yourself. You may start bargaining with yourself, with others (real or imagined), or with the universe – that if this situation could just go back to being the way it was you would look after yourself so much better in future (or whatever your bargaining chip is). Maybe your mood slumps to depression as you feel so down on yourself, your current situation, and your feeling of lost power to do anything about your life.
All these feelings are completely normal – and it’s okay to feel them as you process what’s happened and readjust to the way your life looks. The important thing is to allow yourself to feel them so you can let them go. Blocked feelings just hang about waiting for a chance to surface. The sooner you work them through the better. That said, you can’t simply force feelings out like squeezing a pimple. They need to surface of their own accord like a buried splinter working its way to your outer layer of skin.
It may help to talk to a friend about what’s going on for you, or speak with a complete stranger like a counsellor or someone on one of those free support lines. Journaling can also help because it gets the emotions out into words, on paper – and it’s private, just for your eyes. Working the emotions through can also help to work out what ‘normal’ is meant to be for you right now. Change often happens for a reason, it’s just hard to see it in the moment. When you go inside and work through the emotions, it filters through to your perception of the world around you and your focus can become so much clearer.
In my example above, this is exactly what happened. Yes, I needed a new job – but what? I trawled the online job websites to no avail. So, in the meantime I worked through my emotions and what I loved about my current job so much, and why I was so upset about the contract ending…what was that really about for me? By understanding those things about myself, I found it easier to let that job go and be open to finding a new job that was even better suited to my skills and interests.
What emotions from a sudden life change are still hanging around inside you? How would it help to process these? How could your life be different if you gave yourself the space to sift through these emotions?
Here’s to being brave and tackling what’s on the inside!
Have a great week,
Life experience has taught me a lot about change - its messiness and my desire to circumnavigate it in a more efficient way. In this blog I share my experience so you too can survive change with a smile on your face!