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,
When I’m planning a project, I like to see it all laid out in front of me. I like creating lists, scheduling it, and then crossing it off my list – done!
There are a number of tools you can use to plan your project and keep track of where you’re up to, and cross off tasks as you get them done. These tools don’t have to be complicated software. Thankfully there are paper-based and some simple software options (with handy apps) available that you can use instead.
At a really simple level, a notebook or diary can help you track your project. You can use post-its, index cards, or pieces of paper to do the initial planning and then transfer your final list to a notebook and schedule project time into your diary.
I like writing things out because I seem to remember things better. I also like to see the schedule laid out in front of me so I can plan around potentially competing priorities. So for me, a diary of action items where I’ve allocated time works a treat. I can plan on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis all the things I have and where I need to be!
When it comes to planning steps and timelines for a specific project, I like to work with software. In the past, I’ve worked with Microsoft Office Outlook using the task list to manage ongoing events and to populate my Microsoft Outlook Calendar, and Excel to map tasks against a timeline, using the columns and rows to make a grid. Both these options enable me to see a full picture of tasks and potential timelines in a big picture. If you’re familiar with this software and don’t want to try anything new, I would suggest having a play with one or both of these to see if they suit your needs. I use Excel to map my Communications Plans, map out my subjects for my university degree, and workshop delivery plans. This way I can use colours to differentiate between aspects of the business or planning processes, which makes it easy to see where I’m up to.
Another option now available is project planning software such as Asana, Trello, Monday, or Microsoft Planner. While I’ve seen online advertisements for all of these, I’m personally most familiar with Asana as I use it for all my projects whether it’s milestones in a study course I’m completing, annual business plans, or a specific project such as developing a training course. Asana comes with an app for my iPhone which means I can track my tasks, subtasks, due dates, and also that lovely part of checking things off my list! (By the way, I’m not an affiliate for Asana – I just enjoy using it). One of my friends uses Microsoft Planner – and while she’s tried Asana says that Microsoft Planner just fits better with how her brain works. Many of these options have free trials or free plans, so why not have a play and see what works for you!
Do you have a preferred project planning tool? I’d love to hear about it and why you like it! Leave your comments in the space below.
Have a great week.
Making changes in your life can seem like an impossible dream. The idea of making change, of what to do, how to get there – and even knowing what you want can all seem too much. Where do you even start?
The way I tackle problems or goals like this – regardless of how big it might seem – is by breaking it down into steps. Still too big? Break it down into even smaller steps. Just keep breaking it down until it something you can mentally wrap your head around without hyperventilating over the enormity of it all!
When you take things step by step, your focus is purely on what you’re doing next. One thing at a time. A 6km hike starts with one step. Every single step is progress towards the end result. Just focus on the next step or goal in front of you and move towards that.
For example, when I wanted to set up my own business I had absolutely no experience in that area and no idea of how to get there. But I knew what I wanted – my seemingly impossible dream. I wrote down all the things I thought I needed to do to get there. Some of those things were simply written as research: find out about business structures, find an accountant who I could work with, research marketing avenues, find out what marketing is. What I found out during research often generated more things I needed to do, and they went on my list.
I put my list in a general timeline order and grouped like things together: research, appointments, training I could attend. Then I would do one thing every day such as book an appointment, attend an appointment, find business advice websites, read one or more business websites, borrow a book, attend training. Every day was one step in my mind towards my end goal. Every step got me closer to what I wanted to achieve. Did I have all the answers when I started? No. Did I have all the questions or steps outlined when I started? Again, no. But I started. I made a plan of what I knew and went from there: step by step by step.
What ‘impossible dream’ do you have for yourself? What do you need to do to get there? How could you break it down into smaller steps to make it manageable?
If you took one step every day, would it make a difference?
Need some help getting started? Come and see me for a coaching strategy session and we can talk about what you’d like to achieve.
Hope you have a fantastic week!
If you undertake any project in the corporate world, the first thing you need to do is make a plan. You’ve probably heard about marketing plans, communication plans, software implementation plans, strategic plans…and so many other kinds of plans. These all have one thing in common: a clearly defined outcome to achieve in the most efficient way possible. That means considering the time and resources (people and money) available, the stakeholders: who will be impacted, who else needs to know; possible risks, threats and opportunities. All this is identified and strategised before any action is taken. Why? Because if you don’t the project can fall flat on its face very quickly: over budget, no resources, people not engaged, and the goal no where near achieved. Massive fail.
So why is it any different with a personal life change? Why wouldn’t you sit down and make a plan? If you really want to achieve your end goal, the best way to start is with a plan. So where do you start with that? First of all you need to define the problem. What are you dealing with? Why isn’t it what you actually want? What would you like to change about where you are right now? You need to understand what that looks like first.
Then define your goal: where are you going? Don’t get bogged down in the how right now – that's the fastest way to find yourself going nowhere! Just put some words around where you want to go. How would you like your current experience to look, feel, sound, smell like? How would you like to feel while you’re experiencing that part of your life?
You can break down that end goal into two parts if you like:
Once you have the here and there defined you can see the gaps in between. This is where you plan comes into place. What do you need to do to get from here to there? Start by making a list of these things. Don’t worry about the order or the how – just write them down so they’re out of your head. Here’s some suggestions for things to think about:
Write down all the things you need to do – even if they seem small. Writing them down means you don’t have to keep remembering them: you can see them in front of you like jigsaw pieces and you can begin to play with them and see how they fit together.
You might like to gather a list of those things used in a corporate plan:
Once you’ve gathered all the information you can start to structure a plan. You know what you’re dealing with, where you’re going, and what you need to do to get there. Put your list in order of a timeline – what needs to happen first? What needs to happen next?
A good idea is to write things on post-it notes or pieces of paper so you can shuffle them around into an order. Once you have an order, write it out and schedule time in your calendar for each of your steps needing action.
All these steps may not be necessary for every change you implement – but the basic structure will help you put a framework in place so you can actually achieve what you set out to do. Even if you don’t know what all the steps are, you have a general idea of the direction you’re going and the who, what, when, how much involved.
Once you have a plan – don’t forget to take action! Just thinking about it doesn’t get anything done 😊
Need some help with your planning? Book yourself in for a coaching session and we can work through it together.
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!