Category Archives for "Goals, motivation"

What to do when you feel stuck in life

Feeling stuck in life is suffocating.

When you’re stuck, without motion in your relationships, career or personal life, it can feel as though everything still moving around you is merely compacting the problem. Such is the case when we see no movement and yet our responsibilities continue to grow regardless. It’s no wonder the inclination arises to fold in on oneself and retreat as deeply as possible, both mentally and emotionally.

When most people retreat, they do it as a means to escape or hide, rather than to uncover a way out of their circumstances. Being mammals, we will always find some comfort in a dark, undisturbed corner, and from time to time we should allow ourselves this luxury. When we really want to solve a problem however, assigning our retreats as a time to explore our inner workings, beliefs and patterns, is its most effective use. Too often the solution to our disease in life is searched for externally, when what we need to do is step away, be still and ask ourselves some pertinent questions.

When you feel like there is no way forward for you, or as though you’ve exhausted all options, my suggestion is that you stop trying. Sometimes the act of struggling against life can in itself create so much internal resistance, that any solution will become buried in the energy of that struggle. By stopping and giving yourself space to exist alongside a problem, instead of inside it, you allow the possibility of realigning with the things that can help it. You stop drowning out your next best move.

In my experience, people are rarely, truly stuck. More often than this we are;

  • disconnected with our intuition
  • fearful of the options we do have
  • lacking awareness of a pattern or belief that is holding us back

The very idea of being stuck has a finality to it. There is no way in, except the way you unfortunately managed to find, and no way out. A useful exercise is to change your description of the situation and disassociate your problem from such a loaded term. For example, “I don’t know what to do about my career, I feel stuck”, becomes “I am unhappy in my job and want to find a new one”. One of these sentences opens a door to choices you can make, the other does not.

Describe your situation exactly as it is and should you need to retreat into yourself, do so in the search for both stillness and answers, not escapism. In stillness there is the possibility of resolution and at very least, respite. Escapism will simply give you a longer journey back to the same problem.

How much of a teacup are you?

Everyone likes change, even those who say they don’t are usually referring to the ‘bad kind’. The kind that is unpredictable or uncontrollable and which pushes them out of their comfort zone. The good kind however, like going from broke to having money, or being single to part of a loving relationship, isn’t always acknowledged as such. Things like these we confine to the category of luck.

Somewhere in-between the people who actively avoid change and those who welcome it, are a group that I want to spend some time bringing out into the light. They live and mingle amongst us with such dexterity, that sometimes we’re not even aware of the impact their middle-groundness has on our lives. I call these people theteacups, as in the funfair ride that goes around and around, but never covers any real ground.

Teacups are usually aware on some level that change is necessary within their lives. They talk about making improvements, they talk about their dreams and ambitions, they can even share your own motivation and desire to be better and to do better in life. The tell-tale sign of a teacup however, is that for the duration of your relationship, they rarely progress from the state in which you first met them. They still haven’t built that website, they haven’t left that woman, they haven’t booked that holiday or left that job. There is all of the animation involved in moving forwards, but it is in fact an illusion, a magician wildly waving his hands to conceal the real truth of what is happening.

We all have people in our lives like this, sometimes we even share the same goals and so feel understood better by our teacups. The relationship is harmless, we’re not really losing anything, so may as well entertain it, right? Well no, this is where you have to be careful.

If you share the same dreams as someone else, it can be likely that you also share similar fears or obstacles. Doubling any sort of fear or negative energy can become mutually restrictive, even when it cleverly masquerades as supportive.

Sometimes when you meet new people you’ll get an immediate sense of whether they’re a positive addition to your life. It’s a mix of body language, feelings and also what they say. Every now and then however, you have to reassess the people who’ve been around for a while and make sure they’re still bringing something truly wanted and healthy to the table of your friendship. Cheerleaders aren’t always what they seem, so it’s necessary to be mindful of the ones you have on your team.

If you think that you yourself might be a teacup but you aren’t sure, ask yourself this, does going around and around and back and forth feel familiar and safe, or does it just make you feel so sick that you have to get off and move on?

What do you need from your life, to have made it worth it?

There are people who will spend their whole lives with the unwavering knowing that they want and need more from the life they’re living. They’ll know, as well as they know their names, the colour of their skin, that to be happy and to be fulfilled means doing or being something more than they currently are.  But they will never achieve the experiences they crave.

The route to unravelling this problem and to achieving what you desire is one that so few people know about or, because of its ease, believe in. I’m not talking magic fixes, self help books or affirmations, I’m talking simply about clarity.

Amongst all the longing, wishing and hoping, the most common obstacle I see is a complete lack of clarity in what happiness or fulfilment means to an individual. There will often be a lot of doubt, always some limiting beliefs or action-paralysing self-talk, but rarely any clarity and very little focused direction.

So I’m asking you this:

  • Do you know, really know, what you want in your life?
  • Do you know, what will have made it worth living, for you?
  • Have you accepted that thing as your way to fulfilment, during you’re time here?
  • Is there a part of you that still wants more and if so, what is that more?
  • You need to get clear, to get down-and-dirty honest with yourself, until you’re right at the root of your needs.
  • What sort relationships do you want and with what sort of people?
  • What’s your dream job?
  • What hobbies do you want and how far do you want to take them?
  • What countries do you want to travel?

You don’t need to know the how, but you do need to know the what.

I’m by no means saying that the rest will be plain sailing after this, but clarity gives you something special. It gives you the space and knowledge to create a blueprint, from which to build the life you want.

Feminine Power vs. Feminine Vulnerability

I work in the field of self-development, I live and breathe practical ways and theories on how to accept, improve, love and be honest with oneself. I interact with a diverse array of other professionals in varying fields of coaching, healing and training, all trying to help people in the many different ways that it’s possible. I’m telling you this because last week I received an invite to a webinar about reconnecting with my feminine power and my response to it was unusual. I did something that made me think really hard about who I am and the people I mix with. What I did, was instantly reject it.

 

My first response to this webinar was ‘Nope, not for me, I’m standing right in my feminine power.’ I could see the value in such an offering for the right woman, but there was no part of me that identified with her. Next, as I do, I thought about the other women in my circle, my close friends and family who might find the webinar useful. It was in this moment that I realised none of the women I knew needed a webinar about connecting to their power, what we needed was one about connecting to our pain.

 

I am surrounded by powerful women who after so many years of proving their strengths, their worth and equality, actually really need to take the time to reconnect with the things that make them human. I’m talking about the ability to express emotion without shame, to ask for help without fearing the consequences and to take a break from the quest of perfection.

 

Identifying and acknowledging the things that hurt or challenge us, namely our vulnerabilities, is a vital practise that needs to be retaught equally as much as how to realign with our powers. It’s essential that it’s reclaimed as part of a balanced and stable life.

 

Personally speaking, displaying my vulnerabilities as confidently as I do my strengths, goes against what feels natural and definitely against what is expected by others. It’s why I know it’s necessary. I suggest that anyone drawn to any of the ‘reclaim your power’ type courses, first makes a conscious effort to think about the opposite of power, and how they deal with this.

 

Sometimes, it’s the less obvious, less common lessons, that need the most attention.

Share your dreams wisely

I was in a coffee shop today, sitting next to what sounded like two work colleagues. They were both fairly young, discussing their futures and what their plans were for the coming year. Listening to them, as I worked, I was struck by how subtly one was dissuading the other, from pursuing his dreams.

The man wanted to work hard in the UK, buy a property in his home country Australia and start having some investments. The woman kept asking him Why? What’s the rush? Just enjoy life. She gave the example about how she used to be a broke student, never having any money to do the things she enjoyed. She said that the minute she got a job she had vowed to not save a thing for the first year and to just enjoy it. The only problem, she openly admitted, was that she hadn’t stopped thinking like this and 6 years later, still had no money. They both laughed.

Then the guy went on to explain more fully that his aim was to make X amount in one year, buy a one bedroom flat, rent it out and then come back over to the UK to work again. Of course, this was the woman’s cue to mention how hard it would be to try and maintain payments from a far, that the weight of it might be a bit of a drag, that maybe it wasn’t a good idea. And on and on.

Whilst I know nothing about the backgrounds of these two individuals, what I do know is that you have to be really frikkin careful when mixing with people who clearly have different goals and agendas to you. It doesn’t matter how much smiling and laughter is involved. Especially when they’re using their own experiences to advise you about your own life.

What you need are people who can see the positive in your choices, ask you questions about them and who will support rather than deter you.

We are all on vastly different paths and for some, just one conversation like this could be enough to throw you off course. So be vigilant. Share your dreams with those who appreciate you and if you must have lunch with people like this then you have two sensible choices. Either use the time to inspire them out of their own negativity or, just discuss the weather.

Are you losing the competition against yourself?

 

There are many high-flying women out here who believe success revolves around taking one’s place within previously male dominated arenas. That it means getting the same roles, earning the same pay, being afforded the same or better opportunities for growth. With this, the collective advancement of our mindset has been extraordinary, achieving positions now that a few generations ago would have seemed impossible. This is undoubtedly overdue for us, but amidst our progress as a sex, how much are we paying attention to its impact on the individual? How, amongst the triumph stories and inspirational talks, do we stop from losing a core message that will serve us in all areas of our life, not just business? The message that yes, as a sex we are competent and capable of anything, and not that yes, as a sex we are competent and capable as men.

 

From a young age human beings are introduced to the concept of competition. Pre-school might have us intent on drawing the best picture or being the quietest at storytime. As we move forwards into school, it becomes about who’s fastest in gym or top of the class academically. Finally, we’re onto our careers and it’s now about being first in line for promotion or the most successful entrepreneur in our field. Of course it doesn’t stop there, our need to be better than others or at least equal to, also extends the rivalry into our friendships and family lives. As exhausting as it sounds, it’s true that a little competition can be healthy, but when one continually focuses on external motivations instead of internal inspiration, it’s not. It’s then that we create the perfect breeding ground for disharmony between our feelings and our ambitions.

 

The ‘lack mindset’

Constantly viewing yourself in comparison to, or in competition with, someone else implies that there can only be one type of win and space only for one winner. With this develops a belief that there simply isn’t enough to go around; not enough wealth, accolades, clients, time, press, recognition, *enter as appropriate*. Surely, with the amount of success stories we now hear daily, the number of businesses mimicking each other or offering slight variations of similar products, we’re able to realise that there is plenty for the taking. Take a look specifically at technology for example, the amount of social networks there are, bidding sites, dating sites, apps, games, the list goes on. No, they’re not all as well known or as high profile as each other, but the sheer number shows there is room for recognition or riches for anyone with an idea, drive and perseverance. The problem occurs when you believe results in life are in limited supply, this is the moment when something odd starts to happen.

 

It seems that when we see lack instead of abundance, by default we begin basing a majority of our decisions on fear. A fear of failure, missed opportunities, wasted efforts, the poor house. And sometimes it works, it gets the job done, but the issue is this: sustained fear is unhealthy, toxic even. Fear that unless you are in the boardroom you haven’t truly made it, fear that people will overlook you because you have children, are not sexy or smart enough, will keep you exactly where you’ve always been mentally, never mind the strides you might be making in the outside world. By using fear and competition as your guidance system, you run the risk of losing touch with your own, real and authentic inner compass for fulfilment and happiness.

 

Believe it of not, there is a simple remedy for this. Screw what you hear, what society uses as its marker of affluence and success. What is it that makes you feel successful and satisfied? What are your terms and conditions on your road to achievement? When you understand that as a woman, as a person, you are inherently enough, you will steadily begin realising that you have the ability to create the exact circumstances required in order to fulfil your goals. They are dependant on no one else.

 

It’s about being your best, not being better than someone else

Most people are familiar with the thinking that you get what you focus on in life.  There has been many a book written on the law of attraction, on matching your mindset and energetic frequency to what you desire in life. If you’re new to this, I urge you, explore it.

 

If you’re already a believer, keep this in mind and think about what happens when you’re constantly concerned with being bigger, better, faster than someone else. Focusing on competition, from a place of fear and not growth, means all you’re going to do is perpetually create more and more competition in your life. Beat one contender and before you have time to enjoy your victory, you’re looking around to see what’s next.

 

So, how do you know if you’re focusing from a place of fear or a place of growth? Here’s a thought, why don’t you ask yourself? Slow down, stop to consciously ask yourself the question. Are you fighting against something or gunning for something? Are you trying to beat ‘ the man’ to the top or, are you trying to be the woman at the top? The two are different. Take some time to think about the people of this world who have done great things, and think about the competition they had. Think Howard Hughes, the Wright Brothers, Rosalind Franklin, Helen Greiner, Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, Stephanie Kwolek. If they had needed opposition or external competition in order to realise their every potential, how different might their results have been? Where would we all be now?

 

When you live in the fear that achievement is only possible if someone else doesn’t get there first or outdo you, there is a dis-service being done to your innate ability to do and be your best, no matter what. So, the next time you have your eyes set on a goal, acknowledge the others in your field, keep them in your peripheral vision, but be more inspired by your internal driving force. Be your best first and the best second. Your success depends on no one but you and you contain all the motivation you need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Thoughts

There is a fundamental flaw in the creation of New Year’s resolutions that most people will miss for their entire lives. It’s one of those bizarre repetitive behaviours that we continue to do without question, like saying we won’t over-indulge or spend too much, all the while forgetting our not so successful results from previous years. Whilst this mistake we’re making can be harmless if our resolutions aren’t essential to health or happiness, it is still one worth correcting for the times that do matter.

 

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As radical as it may at first sound, the true reason that your New Year’s resolutions usually fall flat is because you’re focusing purely on action. We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ but whilst hopeful, the list of what you’re going to do is largely impractical. At the root of all conscious action is the way you’re thinking and it truly is a force to be reckoned with. Put simply; if you want to eat less, exercise more or have better relationships, then joining a slimming club, the gym and a dating agency isn’t going to cut it. Not longterm. Your time in January is best served investigating 1) the thought patterns making you so emotional that food is the only comfort 2) the mental process keeping you on the sofa when you could otherwise be taking a walk or 3) the reason your relationships haven’t worked thus far. If your New Year’s resolution is not about addressing the root cause of why you haven’t already achieved the things you now desire, then real progress is much, much harder.

Alongside the thought process that tells us we ‘just need to commit’ to something in order for it to work, is the one telling us that willpower in large enough doses will conquer all. This is an immense amount of pressure to put on yourself and it’s helpful to remember where willpower actually originates from. Yes, you guessed it, from the mind. If you’ve had a thought which for most of your life has told you it’s not practical to pursue the job of your dreams, then a new thought urging you to ‘go for it!’ will have a lot of groundwork to cover. It’s more productive to address the old thought first, so the new one doesn’t have such a mega fight on it’s hands.

 

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So this year, when sitting down to write your list of resolutions, approach it from a different angle and try something new. Rather than focusing on what you want to do or the new behaviours you want to adopt, write a list of possible thought patterns which may have hindered these things in the first place. It may be challenges around self-doubt, a lack of confidence or even personal beliefs that are limiting your true potential. Whatever you come up with, deal with that underlying cause first, and then go join the gym.

Aligning your personal and business values

Aligning the person you are at work with who you are in your personal life is a greatly feared option in today’s society. People have become so used to the idea of work as a separate world, containing set routines, etiquette and expectations, that the thought of applying personal principals or reasoning is something that’s considered experimental. Yes, it’s important that we’re skilled at adapting to various situations or challenges as they occur, we do this in order to attain goals and it’s a very successful way of operating. However, to live in a constant mode of adaptation or compromise for eight hours a day is a very different scenario. If you listen close enough, you’ll find it says a lot not only about you, but also the environment you’ve chosen to work in.

 

The most common presumption is that introducing more of your ‘out of office personality’ into the work space equates with some sort of weakness or with being unprofessional. If this is the case, what does it say about the other side of you and your overall compatibility with the company you’re currently in? Why are you choosing to be somewhere that requires you to be so incredibly different from what you consider your natural state? Whilst we need allow room for a little give and take, there are some fundamental principles that are definitely beneficial to stick with.

 

Be clear on what you’re good at and what you need help with

In our personal lives we’re often quite vocal about the things we can’t do, sometimes to the extreme of self-deprecation or, doing a disservice to our own capacity to learn. In the work place however, it’s common to take on tasks with elements we know are going to be new and taxing, and to become frustrated as we muddle through, only reluctantly asking for help. If when you’re out socially you’re the person who naturally stands up and says, “wait, I don’t get this” but you don’t do it at work, then question why. Ask why you allow work to repress your honesty, then make a change based on your answer.

 

Know your limits and respect them

You’re out with your two best friends and they both ask you to be somewhere or do something on the same future date – what do you say? Is it your natural reaction to agree and then fret about it for weeks, or do you make them aware of your other commitments and attempt to renegotiate times, dates or needs? It’s so incredibly easy in the work environment to feel stretched to capacity, but all too often we have the battle internally or we discuss it with the wrong colleagues who are only able to sympathise, rather than the ones at cause or able to directly influence change. Respect your limits as you would in your personal life and at the very least communicate your reality to the right people. If you enjoy this level of pressure or it’s what you actively signed up for then that’s another story, if it makes you uncomfortable however, do something.

 

Don’t stand for in business what you wouldn’t stand for in your personal life

I’ve seen countless cases of office bullying involving victims who are true forces to be reckoned with in their personal lives. The bullying behaviour experienced by them can range from being constantly given all the menial tasks, to being addressed rudely and dismissively. It’s crucial to understand here that the four walls of work do not contain a magic force-field that your personal standards and self-respect are unable to penetrate. These aspects of your personality are what have helped you get to this stage of your life, they are loyal resources that should be upheld, not tucked away because suddenly the environment has changed and you believe the boundaries have shifted. Self-respect, standards and personal values are traits which need never change from situation to situation, unless you’re happy to let them do so. The key word here is happy, if it makes you miserable – hold them firm.

 

Listen to the way you feel

In the work place, ignoring the feelings that see you through your personal life is not always a good idea. Feelings are the mind’s natural way of communicating messages to us about things we are experiencing. What you’re doing when you ignore your feelings at work is essentially ignoring yourself and placing some other thing or person as a greater priority. Even if it’s not appropriate in the moment, it’s essential to revisit anything that causes a strong reaction in yourself, so you can either deal with it or learn from it. It doesn’t just have to be the negative reactions you focus on either, it can be something that makes you extremely happy, i.e. a colleague or project. Pay attention and pursue these feelings as much in your work environment as in your personal.

The 5 Steps of Change

Change, once you strip out any pressures, baggage, sentimentality or emotions associated with it, is a very straight-forward process. Not easy, straight-forward. If you’re genuinely in a quandary about a decision, mentally step outside of the situation and follow this chart. Answer the questions factually and honestly until you get to the end. Your answer is 5 steps away, sometimes less.

Once you get to the end of the chart, you have the choice to add back in everything you put aside.  So that’s the pressures, baggage, sentimentality or emotions. You choose, it’s up to you. Or, more usefully, you can concentrate on the next step you need to take, the resources and strength required to follow through with your decision.

 

The 5 Steps of Change

 

 

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The Art of Fulfilment

No matter how much money you make, how many of the finest restaurants you dine in or the amount of airmiles you accrue, there comes a time when you realise that this quality of pleasure only flows so deep. When a certain level of personal or business success has been reached, whereby privileges and luxuries become everyday habits, it’s not unusual for it to trigger an unexpected questioning of oneself and one’s purpose in life. As well as the discovery of all that is available for purchase, clear glimpses of what isn’t begin to filter through and unless we are living lives we utterly adore, it can have a major impact on our feelings and thought processes. This along with the realisation of how incredibly transient a companion happiness can be, leaves some aching for a return of its prodigal father, fulfilment.

 

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When one thinks of fulfilment it is a concept of some stature, the word itself evoking a sense of ultimate peace, a thing which even when a moment has passed, still leaves its weighty imprint on the very slightest of memories. And, when it comes to admitting that success has left you wanting, fulfilment is often the gap yet to be filled, even if you’re at a loss of where to begin. The biggest challenge I’ve witnessed with clients is them allowing themselves to learn that not only is the feeling of fulfilment internal, but so too is the answer to what it will look like for them. For those who find themselves at the unexpected junction of success and fulfilment and not knowing which road to take next, here are some questions that may help to at least get you facing the right way…

 

What would you do for free?

There comes a time, usually during adolescence when we’re either taught or learn by osmosis that following our passions is not the sure-fire way to living a successful life. The success that is spoken of is often measured in terms of money, opportunity, respect and maybe even our ultimate contentment. Our focus is steered toward what makes sense in the outside world and away from what satisfies our senses in our internal one. What we then do is we focus on the people who are making meagre incomes and living unstable lives doing that thing we love and, we use this as fodder to forge ahead in an alternate direction. Unsurprisingly then, true fulfilment can often be found in or attached to these abandoned passions, the ones you know have followed you around your entire life, mostly ignored but still present like a faithful and patient servant. These passions may even have been disregarded for so long that they’ve turned into a fondness or an occasional nostalgic thought, but chances are they’re still there. Start loosening them by answering the question: In each decade of my life so far, what would I have done everyday, for free, if money and the judgement of others were of no concern? If there is any answer that spans multiple decades, explore it.

 

List what is missing from your life

Normally not one to promote a focus on the negative aspects of life, this is one of the rare exceptions and an important task. When living a life where we have proven the boundaries to be minimal, finding sources of true happiness or fulfilment is best done by sweeping aside all that is taken for granted anyway. What you then do is write a list of all the emotions, thoughts and experiences which you believe are currently missing from your life. It’s fast, dirty work with no self-censoring and the list is best kept away from any loved ones who may take offence. As you write, don’t question the feasibility of managing your own football club or scuba diving 11 months of the year, just write. Awareness of what fulfilment means to you is the very first step. Think about the following one after that.

 

If you could change one thing now, that you know will take you closer to fulfilment, what would it be?

This isn’t a question to mull over or to spend an age working out the answer to. This sort of information is not hidden from us, it’s programmed into our unconscious mind and will flow almost immediately. We only think it’s not there because of how practiced and speedily our brains are able to delete and distort feedback, based on what we think is appropriate, possible or fitting. No matter how surprising, write down your answers and then really think about them and their possibilities. Do not dismiss them.

 

Future pace your life

This is a powerful method of thinking and of clearly receiving information that you find hard to imagine from your current viewpoint. It’s surprisingly easy to do as well, it’s as simple as imagining yourself 20 years in the future, and then turning around to face the past and ask yourself, what is the experience I would have most loved to have? What are the actions that I wish I had tried?  Then come back to now and go do those things.