Tag Archives: Self-Help

Already slipping on your New Year’s resolutions? Use ‘Being’ instead of Willpower!

Most people set New Year’s resolutions with the real intention to achieve them, and then life gets in the way. Sadly, research has shown 70% of us never achieve our resolutions.

Other things take priority, at work, at home, or we experience blocks, don’t how to start or to maintain your motivation, or we just do not feel in the right frame of energy to get going. Whatever it is, we are left feeling disappointed in ourselves, less than and our self-esteem suffers.

And, it does not have to be like that.

There are some very easy ways to help you keep up motivation, focus on your resolutions every day without effort and find creative ways to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some easy and fun to use techniques that will help you make achieving your intentions part of your day every day. And don’t worry, you do not need to find that extra 1 + hour a day for these.

So here it comes:

Hot Tip: Pick a daily State of Being

July 2012 002Although it does not sound like much, it is surprisingly effective. Every evening before you go to bed, or when you get up in the morning do the following:

Think of the resolution that most important to you, and ask yourself:

  • what quality or state of being does that resolution embody for me?
  • what qualities will I gain or enhance when I have achieved this resolution?

Examples might be: flow, confidence, fun, energy, being a magnet, clarity, openness, glamour, elegance ….

Choose whatever quality, state or symbol comes to mind for you. It can even be a colour, a texture or an image that means something to you.

Take 1-2 minutes to really deepen into the quality, breathe in the quality,  really get to know this quality….you have chosen for the day. Allow that quality to infuse you, to resonate with you, to embace you ….

  • what is it like to be that quality?
  • how are you when you are that quality?
  • what happens in your body when you inhale, invoke and resonate that quality?

Write (or draw) your chosen quality of being down on a piece of paper, and carry it around with you all day. And throughout the day, whatever you do, be that quality. You will find, before long, you are actually doing activities that progress your resolutions without you having schedule time or push yourself to take the next steps.

Make it fun!

I recognise that sometimes going it alone can be difficult. Therefore I have decided to give you a special coaching offer for January and February. To check this out click here.  

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Are you true to yourself?

How often are you doing or saying something that does not feel quite right? As if you are saying someone else’s words or just doing something because others would expect of you? Or have you ever felt you are playing a role, or felt that you are a fraud?

If any of these examples ring true for you, then you were not being true to yourself.

Compromising our authenticity can lead to stress and unhappiness

Our society and culture still tends to expect women, in particular, to fit in, to compromise, to satisfy other people’s needs, be it their spouse, children, colleagues or parents. Trying to satisfy all those demands of people around them, women often compromise their true self, their authenticity, and often without consciously realising it.

When we are not being true to ourselves, we feel fragmented and lose confidence and trust in ourselves. It can lead to stress as our own needs remain unsatisfied. Women also find that in the long-term their health and fitness suffers, and they become increasingly unhappy and dissatisfied. In fact, in a recent Guardian article  ‘not being true to oneself’ was cited as the top regret by people close to death.

When we are true to ourselves we feel satisfied and happy. We are brimming with energy, confidence and motivation; in short we feel good about ourselves.

Being true ourselves …what does that mean?

There are a lot of authors who have written about authenticity and being ourselves. Personally, I like the three components of authenticity put forward by Goffee and Jones in their book: Why should anyone be led by you?. They fit well with the NLP and other self-development processes that helped me and my clients.

In my view there are three steps to being true to yourself:

Being self-aware and conscious of your own feelings and needs

When asked whether they are self-aware, most people nod and say: Yes, of course!. But, a good number of us are not as self-aware as we think we are. Especially we women are very good at ignoring our feelings and needs in favour of those of others. And, habitually putting others first, leaves us out of practice being in tune with what we feel and need, let alone giving it a voice.

If the above resonated with you or you know a friend or colleague who falls into the others’ first and my needs are not important category, here is an easy way to raise your awareness of what you feel and what you need to be yourself:

  • Ask yourself: “What am I feeling?” Name the feeling(s), and acknowledge them. Be gentle with yourself.
    If you do not find it easy to name your feelings, check out this classification of emotions
  • Then ask yourself: “What do I need? Name the need or needs, and whatever they are, acknowledge them.

My top tips are: 

  • refrain from judging and analysing your feelings and needs. What ever you feel and need it is right at that particular moment.
  • Once you have named and stated them, consider how you might be able to act on your feelings and needs[1]. Sometimes it is all about saying ‘no’ to things next time or stating what you want instead.
  • Also check out my article on What’s your self-care strategy? for further inspiration.

Being grounded and comfortable with who you are

This is all about knowing and being in tune with who you are and what you stand for. You know and are proud of where you have come from and who you are now. You are comfortable in yourself and as a woman. Not being grounded means that you constantly feel the ground is shifting beneath you, and you feel unsettled and ill at ease.

If you are not already grounded in yourself, take some time to find out about yourself. Go on a fun journey of discovery allowing time for yourself to get to know who this wonderful woman, that is you, is. Questions that can help you the story of YOU , are:

  • What is important to me? (ask yourself this question a number of times and for different areas of your life)
  • What do I stand for?
  • What is my story? And, how comfortable am I with that story? (where do you come from, you origins, how did you get to where you are now?)
  • What is my identity as a woman?

To make this journey even deeper and your story more meaningful to you, consider journalling or unconscious writing. Both work best after a meditative practice. If meditation is not for you, consider putting some lovely music on after a pampering session and take some deep breaths into your core, to centre yourself before asking yourself the questions above. And, just keep writing until your inspiration rests.

Knowing and fully embracing who we are, grounds us in ourselves, and helps us to be true to ourselves and lays the groundwork for being consistent in what we say and how we act.

Being consistent and standing up for your needs and who you are

Do you say what you do and do what you say?

This equally applies to our interactions with others and our relationship with ourselves.

When we say things we don’t mean, and do not follow-up what we say with actions, others start to mistrust us and lose confidence in our abilities. Guess what, the same applies to ourselves. When we say we will do something for ourselves, and not do it, we lose confidence and trust in ourselves. Putting ourselves last signals to us, that we are not important, even if we are trying to portray the opposite to the outside world.

The first steps to being consistent are self-awareness and being grounded. Once you acknowledge what you feel and need, what is important to you and what you stand for, you can take action.

Let’s take an example: if you feel slightly stressed that your colleague comes to again just before your need is to focus on your own deadlines (going home, to lunch or project deadlines), and what’s important to you is being friendly and supportive, you might consider stating your feelings to your colleague and suggesting someone else as their contact point this time. It is helpful to run through these kind of scenarios, especially if they are repetitive situations, beforehand, so you already know what you are going to do and say next time the situation where you want to be true to yourself happens.

Consider the following questions:

  • How do know you are being xxx or have xxx? Substitute xxx for the quality, value, need or characteristic that is important to you or you stand for. It can also be a quality or value you want to embody from now on.
  • What does it mean when you are being xxx or xxx?
  • What will you see, hear, feel or say, or do when you are being xxx or have xxx? (do this for any scenario where you were not true to yourself in the past and want to change how you are being)

Being clear about what it means be you, will help you to be consistent, and it will help to avoid some of those ‘wish I had not done that/said that’ episodes. 

I invite you to do this practice as often as you can. It does not take long, maybe a just a few minutes every day to centre yourself in your true self – our needs change, you change and you experience different situations daily, and different things are important at different times.

Allow yourself every day to be true to yourself – like everything else it just takes a little daily practice.

Enjoy being your true self.


[1] In an ecological way, which means in a way safe and has a positive and evolving impact on our lives.

Procrastination is just signal that something is not right!

Who has not been there? You have a deadline or a target, and should really be doing something about it, yet, you procrastinate. You do everything else, even the admin or the dreaded ironing rather than tackle that particular task or goal. And not even iron will power or super discipline help. You still procrastinate. Often, procrastination is an unconscious process that we only become aware of when we are running out of time to complete our task or goal by the deadline or target time/date.

Why do we procrastinate? And how can we make procrastination our friend and not our enemy?

Both those questions are linked. In order to make procrastination our friend, we first need to become aware why we are procrastinating.

1. Why do we procrastinate?

It is very simple, we procrastinate because there is something not quite right with what we decided to do or how/when/where or with whom we decided to do it. This something wrong is a gap or discrepancy of some sort.

In my experience, these gaps or discrepancies that cause us to procrastinate tend to fall under the following categories:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Beliefs we hold about ourselves
  • A values violation
  • Overwhelm
  • Lack of knowledge or skills

And how can we make procrastination our friend and not our enemy?

Once we know what motivates us to procrastinate, we can address these reasons. Being aware is half the battle.

Every behaviour has a positive intention

So does procrastination. We do what we do because it gives us something positive or satisfies some need we have, we just might not realise it. So when you examine the reasons for any procrastinating behaviour, observe the behaviour from a neutral point of view and refrain from judging yourself. Look for the positive intention:

  • What is procrastination protecting you from?
  • What is it helping you avoid?

Consider the list of reasons for procrastination above, if nothing comes to mind. And remember, procrastination does not necessarily have to be a bad thing!

Addressing the reasons for procrastination

Fear of failure

This is a biggie for most people. What if I fail? Most of us fear that we will then no longer be appreciated by others or fall in their estimation. It is so drummed into us from early age that failure is something terrible, but is it? Or is it simply a form of feedback that the way we did something did not have the desired result?

So ask yourself:

  • Is this really true that we will lose others respect, esteem and/or appreciation if we ‘fail’?
  • What is the worst that could happen?
  • What is failure anyway? Edison had a 1000 odd so-called failures before he invented the lightbulb. He chose to call them steps or feedback. If you ‘failed’, how will you take that feedback, learn from it and change your strategy to achieve the task or goal?

Fear of success

This may sound weird, however it affects a lot of people. What happens once the goal is achieved? If there is nothing beyond that goal, a lot of people procrastinate about achieving the first goal. So if that is your reason for procrastination, look beyond your immediate goal.

  • What does this goal help you to achieve?
  • What doors open up for you once you achieved this goal?
  • And what is your goal beyond the goal?

Beliefs we hold about ourselves

Negative or unhelpful beliefs we have about ourselves hold us back from achieving what we want. Common examples of such beliefs are ‘I am not worthy’, ‘I don’t deserve’, ‘I am stupid’, ‘I am clumsy’ etc.. We tend to acquire these kinds of beliefs during childhood through repetitive experiences or decisions we made about ourselves. The way belief work is like unconscious programmes that run in the background and cause us to make choices that support those beliefs.

  • The first step is awareness and identifying the belief you hold about yourself. Listen to your excuses and self-talk about your task or goal, and pick our any ‘I am’, ‘I am not’ or ‘I am too’ statements.
  • The next step is to ask yourself: Is this belief about myself totally and utterly true everywhere and in any situation? What other evidence is there for the opposite belief?
    Give yourself permission to entertain the thought that your belief about yourself could be false.

Dealing with unwanted beliefs can be a challenge on your own, so consider asking for help from a qualified coach, NLP practitioner or therapist.

A values violation

Values are what is important to us. When something we want or have been asked to do goes against what is important to us, we have a natural tendency to dig in our heals and procrastinate.  The task or goal may be important to someone else, however, if it does not satisfy our core values, we are not likely to give it priority. So, check if what you are procrastinating about falls into this category:

  • What is important to you in this context?
  • Why is that important to you?
  • What other options are there to change, remove or delegate this value violating task? Be open-minded when considering this question.

Overwhelm

You have bitten off more than you can chew in the time you have available. Often procrastination is a stress avoidance mechanism. So if you have too many things to do in a short space of time and you do not know where to start, consider the following:

  • Prioritise! Prioritise! Prioritise! Which tasks are super urgent and which ones will keep? Are all of them equally important?
  • Who can you delegate to? Who can help you?
  • If the task is too big, and seems to loom over you, break it down into small pieces, and start with one piece at a time.

Lack of knowledge or skills

If that is you, and you know you have a knowledge gap or skills gap, consider the following:

  • Is it absolutely necessary that you do the task personally? Or can you outsource the task to someone else who has the knowledge and the skills?
  • If you need to do the task yourself, then think about creatively how can you acquire the knowledge you need and learn the necessary skills?
  • We often don’t know the how of a goal or a task. And in many cases we only find out the how by starting the task. So what you can do today to start this task? And even if the next step is to discover where to acquire the knowledge or where to find someone who knows how to do it!
  • Some people use procrastination as a creative space – they do something else so their mind can sort out a solution or way forward in the background. If that’s you and you usually achieve what you set out to do, then don’t worry about procrastination.

This list of suggestions for dealing with procrastination is by no means complete, however it will give you a great starting point. Once you tackled procrastinating about one thing, you will find it so much easier the next time. Be patient with yourself and make sure you acknowledge the positive intention of the procrastinating behaviour.

If you have any specific questions or challenges, feel free to share these via the comments box, and I am more than happy to answer your questions.

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It’s all about balance!

Your body continuously strives for balance. Notice, when you are walking down the street or even when you’re standing, your body is using lots of tiny muscles and big muscles to make sure that you are in balance and don’t fall over, and hurt yourself.

The body and mind are one. As the body is continuously looking for balance, so is the mind. When we are in balance our life flows, i.e. we achieve what we want and we are happy. When our life is balanced we are free from the constant niggling thoughts that keep us awake at night that say something like: “I should really spend more time on xxx” or “I never get around to doing xxx”. Most of us have these thoughts which are indications that our life is not balanced.

Although most of us are aware that our lives may not be as balanced as we would like it, we often don’t know where to start making changes. Our to-do list is often so large that it seems difficult to identify what to do first or next.

Here is an easy way to help you prioritise which areas of your life to work on next.

Take your “life balance temperature” check

We have areas of our lives that we happy with and where we achieve what we want. And there are other areas of our lives that we don’t pay as much attention to or where we just don’t seem to get the success we want.

Take a clean sheet of paper, draw a circle on it and divide the circle into as many categories or slices as you need. Use your own words to name the areas of your life – you can of course use the areas in  the example below if that works for you.

Then take each area in turn, and ask yourself the question:

How satisfied are you on a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 is not at all satisfied and 10 is very satisfied) with this area of your life, now?

Then draw a line (as shown in the example) between the two area-boundaries that reflects your level of satisfaction. If you like, you can also shade in the
area between 0 (the middle point of your circle) and the line you’ve drawn.

Once you’ve done this for all areas of your life, take a look at your wheel and notice:

  • how does your wheel look? Imagine you are using that you are using this wheel to on your car or bicycle. Would you be able to drive or cycle with that wheel?
  • which area (or maybe there are two) stands out? Which one is very different, either very low or very high, compared to the other areas?

Hardly anyone has a fully balanced wheel. Life constantly changes, and like our body that needs to rebalance every second of the day, we need to adjust our life balance continually. If our wheel is very much out of balance we need a lot more energy to keep it going and often tend to experience stress.

Therefore, it is good idea to do this wheel of life ‘temperature check’ on a regular basis. Most of my clients find that every three months works best for them.

Where do you want to be in each area?

Go back to your wheel of life and decide what level of satisfaction you would like to have in each area, right now. Use the same scale 0 to 10 (where 0 is not at all satisfied and 10 is totally satisfied). Use a different coloured pen to show your desired level. Of course, we all want to be 100% in every area, however, be realistic and decide what level of satisfaction would be happy or OK with in each area.

Have a look at your wheel now and notice: Where are you biggest gaps?

Once you have done that, look at your wheel again and write down those areas where you have identified the biggest gaps (in order – biggest gap first, followed by the second biggest gap) between your current level of satisfaction and desired level of satisfaction. Now you have a prioritised list, and most people find it useful to focus on the area where they have the biggest gap. However, some people find that 2 or 3 areas have the same gap. If that’s you, ask yourself: if you were able to do one thing to raise your level of satisfaction in one area only, which area would benefit the most? And where would you feel the biggest impact?

Taking action

Most people feel daunted by the gap they have identified in
the last step. An easy way to around that is to ‘eat the elephant in small
chunks’. Consider the following:

  • If you wished to raise your satisfaction in your focus area by 1 or even 0.5 (or even lower), what can you do?
  • What would you advise your best friend to do if they were in your position?
  • Which actions of your to-do list fall into your focus area?

If you run out of ideas, take an area of your life where your satisfaction is much higher than in your focus area:

  • What are you doing or have done there that keeps you at a high level of satisfaction?
  • What are the types of things/activities you do there that you could maybe adapt and transfer to your focus area to give it a boost?

Once you have a list of key actions, identify the one action that would make the biggest difference in your life right now and schedule time for it (if you are unable to do it straight away). Take action as soon as possible and once you have done the action, notice how much more satisfied you feel in that area of your life.

The wheel of life is a tool you can use on an ongoing basis, to re-balance your life and for goal setting. In invite you to go back to you over and over again and use it to identify your key activities to bring your life into balance and maintain this balance.

Enjoy.

What’s your ‘obstacle’ strategy?

How you deal with any obstacles or blocks that appear on the way to your goal is a key indicator whether you are likely to achieve your goals and what the journey to your goal will be like for you.

Obstacles can be of an external or internal nature. The external obstacles, which include things like rules (‘we do not do this here’ or ‘you can only get ahead if you fulfil certain criteria’) or lack of resources (money or time).

Then there are the internal obstacles. In my view, they are the more critical to us. We often do not recognise that we have them and use external obstacles as reasons or excuses to procrastinate about taking the next step or even abandon our goals. Internal obstacles include limiting beliefs or decisions about us such as our capabilities, our self-worth, what we deserve or do not deserve. Internal obstacles also include how much we subscribe to shared cultural beliefs. Do we accept that something is true for us if is the accepted norm in the environment we live and work in? For example, Roger Bannister obviously did not subscribe to culturally accepted beliefs that ‘it is humanly impossible to run a 4 minute mile’, whereas other athletes obviously did.

Both types of obstacles whether internal or external are very real to each of us. Having a good obstacle strategy helps us to not only deal with obstacles successfully but also to stay on course to achieve our goals.

So what does it mean to have an obstacle strategy? A strategy is a sequence of steps or techniques we go through to achieve a certain outcome. However, not all strategies are useful. For example if your normal obstacle strategy is to ‘overcome’ the obstacle however there is an easier way to walk around it, then why not walk around it and avoid the obstacle all together?

In order to come up with alternative obstacle strategies, it is helpful to know what you believe about the obstacle(s) that you perceive in your life right now.

So, take a few moments and consider what beliefs, rules, assumptions, decisions etc. do you have or have you created about the obstacle(s) in relations to yourself?

It is useful to write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t judge any thoughts that come up, just write them down and continue writing until you have listed everything you ‘know’ and believe about the obstacle as it applies to you. Then write down your possible actions that you can take using your normal strategy for each obstacle.

Now it’s time to be creative. Flip the obstacle or the beliefs on their heads.

I invite you to explore a number of options for each obstacle and each belief, rule, assumption and decision about the obstacle(s):

  • What of the opposite were true? Rephrase your obstacle and your beliefs about it so that it says the complete opposite. What action options do you have now?
  • Think of someone who you know of or a famous person you admire, and imagine you are them. How would they deal with that obstacle? Write down your ideas.
  • Imagine the obstacle was not there. That is especially useful when it comes of lack of knowledge and lack of resources. What would your next step be towards your goal, even if it was a tiny step?

Once you have written all your new options down against your perceptions of that obstacle, have a read through them again and notice how many more action options you now have. Take the one that appeals to you most at this time and put it in your diary!

Outwit the obstacle by travelling into the future

One other great way to deal with obstacles is to take a journey into the future and look back at it. Our amazing minds are able to imagine almost anything, so make use of this fantastic capability. Imagine yourself at a point when you have moved beyond that obstacle, when you have achieved your next milestone on the way to your goal of the goal itself. Make the experience real by noticing what you see, hear and feel in that experience. Then ‘figuratively’ (or if you are standing upright, physically) turn around and look back towards the present. Notice what happened that obstacle. What did you do move beyond it? Write down all your insights.

Using these techniques will help you to gain different perspectives on those obstacles you currently perceive in your life. A different perspective opens up new choices and alternatives that will help you move forward towards your goal.

Enjoy.

Have you checked your self-esteem level, recently?

When we procrastinate or put off pursuing our goals for some reasons, our level of self-esteem could be cause. So, what is self-esteem? Self-esteem is what we believe of ourselves.

Self-esteem, to me, consists of our self-worth and our self-confidence. Our self-worth, i.e. how much we value our own achievements and ourselves as individuals. It is also how we perceive ourselves in comparison to others, i.e. where we see our own achievements or qualities in comparison to others’. Self-confidence is about how much do we believe in our own abilities to achieve whatever we want and that we will get there. There are of course lots of other definitions and you might wish to come up with your own definition of what self-esteem means to you.

Low and negative self-esteem can be debilitating; it holds us back from achieving our desired goals and from being happy in relationships with ourselves and others. Low self-esteem can seem like a downward spiral. Every experience is taken as evidence of the limiting belief and further undermines self-esteem. On the other hand, when you have high self-esteem you feel good about yourself, you feel you can achieve anything you desire and you have fulfilling relationships with others.

A lot of people think that self-esteem is something that is given and cannot be influenced. That is wrong. We are all in control of our self-esteem levels. And another myth about self-esteem is that it does not require maintenance. Well, guess what. It does!

What is your self-esteem level right now?
In order to take control our self-esteem levels we first need to understand what they are. Studies have shown that self-esteem levels are not necessarily the same across all areas of our lives, therefore my suggestion is to use the ‘wheel of life’ technique to assess your self-esteem level for each major area of your life.

Feel free to change the headings to headings that are meaningful to you. You may also wish to add more categories, if that works better for you. Take each area of your life in turn and assess your self-esteem level from 1 -10 (1 being very low, 10 being very high). You might also like to split self-esteem into self-worth (looking how you feel about your achievements so far looking back and right now) and self-confidence (right now and ability to achieve your desired goals). Once you have done, notice where the differences are. In which areas of your life do have high self-esteem and in which areas is it lower. Ask yourself what are doing differently in the areas where you have high self-esteem compared to area where you have low self-esteem?

Now you know what your current levels of self-esteem are, consider, what do you want your level of self-esteem to be?
You can use the same wheel of life that you have drawn and in different colour mark each area of your life, where you want your level of self-esteem to be. Then, pick one area where you feel that raising your self-esteem would make a big difference to you and decide where you want your self-esteem to be. When you have got that number, ask yourself

1. What do you need to do to get to your desired level of self-esteem?
And if the jump is to big, just consider what could you do to raise your self-esteem by even one point, and if that is too much start with half-point.

In case you are stuck at this point, there are two other questions you can ask yourself:

2. How do you measure your worth in this area of your life?
Or in other words what evidence would you need to satisfy yourself that you are worth more in this area than your current self-esteem score? What are you currently using as evidence? Is that still valid or useful? Review your measures for self-worth or the value you put on yourself, and for each measure that you feel is valid come up with at least one thing you can do over the next seven days to raise your self-esteem.

3. What are you saying to yourself about yourself, your worth, and value in this area?
Most people who suffer from low self-esteem in an area of their lives, have negative self-talk. Are your thoughts positive and encouraging or are you replaying all those ‘failures’ and little ‘embarrassments’ in your mind? If your thoughts are negative, I challenge to you find positive things about you in that area.

What is your self-esteem maintenance regime?
Now you have some actions to raise your self-esteem, it is important that you actually maintain and improve your self-esteem levels on a regular basis.

I assume you have skin care regime? Most women do. Think about it, would you go out without having gone through your skin care regime. Most women I know, only ever skip their skin care regime in a dire emergency. Most women also slightly change their skin care regime with the seasons, i.e. add an SPF face crème in the summer or a more moisturising face crème in the winter.

Your self-esteem regime should be like your skin care regime: regular, daily and readjusted on a regular basis.

As your skin care regime is often quite individual to you and your particular skin care needs, your self-esteem regime will also be individual to you. You know best what you need to maintain and raise your self-esteem. So for each area (and if that is too much at this point, then choose one area) let your creativity flow and create a self-esteem regime that works for you.

If you need something to start you off, here are two self-esteem regime elements that others found useful:

Make a gratitude and appreciation list before going to bed:
There just two questions to answer:
1. What am I am grateful for today?
2. What do I appreciate about myself today?
It does not take long, maybe 5 minutes and you will notice the changes in you and how you feel about yourself within days. Make sure to think of at least 5 things for each question and include at least 2 items for each question that pertain to your current area of focus for your self-esteem.

Draw up your self-esteem inventory:
This activity requires at least 1 hour of uninterrupted time and a few pages of paper. For each area of your life, write down your achievements ( remember to also add those that others appreciated, not just the ones you that you value), your strength, any compliments or positive feedback you received and your development (your improvements and your successes in overcoming any challenges). Make sure to list everything even the smallest thing. Review this inventory regularly. If you want to be really creative, make a mood board with lots of images and symbols or just use different colours for each category or area.

The importance of maintaining your self-esteem cannot be underestimated. Therefore, I urge you to take regular time for yourself to review your self-esteem levels and adjust your self-esteem to do whatever is necessary to raise or keep your self-esteem at your desired levels.

Do let me know, how you get on…… Enjoy.

Motivation! – When is it ever the right time?

Are you one of those women who wait for the right time to feel motivated before taking action?  And, does it take you ages to make progress towards your goals which demotivates you even further?

Guess what, waiting for motivation to appear is not a winning formula! Most of the time, taking some action towards your goal or dream, even if that action is very small, is going to increase your motivation. If you wait for motivation to appear, your goal might just never become reality! And here is why:

Motivation is all about movement and motives

Motivation has a number of roots. The main one being the latin word movere which means to move or motus which means motion. Motivation is also linked to the words motive (reason or intention) and emotion (feeling).

This means, motivation is not something that happens to us when we are stagnant, it happens when we move and take action; motivation is also less likely to be forthcoming when we are not clear as to our reasons why we want to do something. We feel demotivated when our reasons for our goals conflict with our values or core beliefs – our emotions then let us know there is a problem.

Feeling a lack of motivation is always a sign that something is not quite right. So, if you do not feel motivation to take the next step towards your goal ask yourself the following questions to identify the cause(s) and  key actions you can take now to increase your motivation to move forward.

What are my excuses for not taking the next step?

Don’t feel like it? Not the right the time? Do not know how? Any of these could be the answer. Whatever your answers are, take some time to examine what you feel when you reflect into this answer. What do you see or hear internally? What is behind that excuse? Most women discover that is fear of some sort. The fear of being laughed at, fear of failure, fear or succeeding even. Whatever it is, acknowledging it and becoming aware of the emotion behind your lack of motivation often is what helps us to move forward.

What are my reasons (motives) for wanting to achieve this goal?

If your dreams and goals are things that you ‘should’, ‘ought to’ or ‘must’ be doing and they are more other people’s goals than yours, then a lack of motivation indicates that there is a values conflict and it might be worth re-examining the goal or dream. If you discover that there are loads of positive reasons for achieving this goals, make sure you write them down and have them in a place that you look at every day.

And if you discover that your reasons are ‘negative’, i.e. reasons that contain words like avoid, prevent, reduce, away from, don’t want, etc., then there maybe limiting beliefs about yourself and your ability to achieve your goal that hold you back. You might find it useful to write down what comes into your head without judging, and once you can’t think of anything else, go back and consider what beliefs about yourself are behind your ‘negative reasons’.

What if anything would make me feel motivated to take the next step given what I now know about the root of ‘lack of motivation’?

I am assuming you know your next step. If you don’t then, that might at the root of your lack of motivation. Consider asking one of your ‘success team’ for help or taking some time out to have a creative brainstorming session on what the options for next steps could be.

If you know your next step, I invite you put a number (e.g. between 1 and 10) or a value (lowest to highest) on the level of your current motivation to take the next step. Then ask yourself, what would need to happen for you to be slight more motivated i.e. if you used numbers and had a current motivation level of 5, what would get you to a 6, for example, and when you have established that, think about what would then get you to a 7 and so on.

I invite you to try and make this exercise as fun as possible. So be as creative and playful as you can!

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How serious are you about your goals?

A lot of women fall into the trap of not taking the time to describe their goals clearly and positively. Due to perceived time pressures, full schedules, limiting beliefs and conditioning, we often put our own needs last or feel that spending time on goal setting would be better spent elsewhere.

However, time spent on goal setting and planning is one of most profitable uses of your time! Research has shown that setting clear goals, writing them down and making plans how to achieve them often makes the difference between achieving one’s goals and not achieving them. You may have heard of the goal achievement study (Source: What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack) conducted on Harvard MBA students in 1970. Only 3% of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13% had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84% had no specific goals at all. When the members of the class were interviewed 10 years later, the 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all. However, the 3% who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% put together.

So, how clear are you on what you want to achieve? Try this exercise. Visualise or imagine yourself just after you have completed your goal, looking back at your goal and how you got there. What do you see, hear and/or feel when you have achieved your goal? What does the world look like at that time in the future? And who is there with you? Make your goal as real as possible, have fun with it and, very importantly, write down what you have visualised, heard and felt!

What happens if visualisation does not work? Some people find it very hard to visualise or describe their goals clearly, especially those goals which they have tried to achieve for a long time, but never gotten close to achieving. That could mean a number of things including:

  • The goal is not right for you at this time. You may need to learn other skills or other goals need to be achieved first: Ask yourself, what is stopping you right now from going for this goal? And what would it take to overcome this obstacle?
  • A limiting belief about yourself stands in the way: What do you believe about yourself that is in conflict this with goal? Ask yourself, is this belief absolutely and utterly true all the time? What evidence can you find that this belief may not be true?
  • The goal is someone else’s goal for you: Ask yourself where your goal comes from. Who is constantly encouraging you to achieve this goal? And how do you really feel about this goal? Be honest with yourself!
  • The goal is too complex, too big or too far in the future: Break down your goal into smaller goals and notice what difference that makes

Once you have clearly described your goal and have developed a step by step plan on how to get there, there is often one other thing that holds people back from achieving their goal: The language in which you stated the goal!

Always use positive and present tense language when describing your goal! Many people have goals to get them away from something and state their goal in negative language e.g. “I want to lose weight” (lose implying a problem and not a solution), rather than “I am achieving and sustaining my ideal weight of xx” or “I want to earn more money” (more implying a lack and thus a focus on lack) rather than “I am going to earn xx amount”.

Unfortunately, negative language often does not inspire us and makes us lose motivation quickly. If you believe in the law of attraction, then you know focussing on lack or something negative will just bring more of what we do not want.

Therefore, check out your goals and the language you use to state them to yourself and others. Is it positive, in the present tense and inspirational or it is negative, sometime in the future and aspirational?

Now, moving into the second quarter of the year, is a good time to review progress on your New Year’s resolutions or annual goals. Where you have not made the progress you wanted, you now have a great opportunity to do something about it.

If you are truly serious about achieving those goals you have set yourself, take the time and make an appointment with yourself to clearly describe your goals and prepare a goal achievement plan.

Enjoy.

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Do you talk yourself out of success?

One of the reasons why you may not achieve the success you want could be that your thoughts and the words you say to others about your goals and successes are disempowering and negative.

Consider this: a few years ago the National Science Foundation in the US estimated that a person thinks about 12,000 – 50,000 thoughts per day. This means we think a lot of thoughts a day, a different thought every few seconds and thought patterns recurring throughout our day. A lot of women have been conditioned by parents and society to downplay their talents, achievements and goals. Often, this conditioning is reflected our thoughts and words. Researchers have estimated that most people think negative or disempowering thoughts more than 50% of the time. No wonder, a lot of people find they are not achieving what they want.

So, have you listened to your thoughts lately? And I mean, really listened?

If you have not, I urge you to do so.You might be surprised what you discover. If you are unused to monitoring your thoughts, you might find it easier to start with listening out for what you say to other people and what words you use when communicating your goals and your achievements. Are those words or thoughts mainly positive and empowering or are they mainly negative and disempowering?

What are your thoughts or self-talk when you did something well? And what are you thoughts when things did not go so well?

Notice how you react internally (and externally) to compliments people pay you, to positive feedback you get given or to something you have achieved. Are you celebrating internally, think happy thoughts or congratulate yourself or are you on the others negating or brushing of that positive experience?

And how do you talk to yourself internally when something is not going so well? Do you call yourself names, make derogatory statements about yourself or put youself down in some way? Or do you treat yourself as your best friend assuring yourself that things will get better, the event is a one off or you learnt from this experience and next time you will change your approach?

How do you communicate your goals to other people? To yourself?

Notice how you think and talk about your goals. Do you use a lot of words like should/shouldn’t, ought/oughtn’t, might/might not, need, must/must not, have to? Using these types of words could mean that the goals are necessarily your own or you do not believe you will achieve them. Or are you stating your goals and your next steps more along the lines of ‘I am going to do x’, ‘I intend to x’ or ‘I want to do x’? Those words are empowering language and indicate that you are committed to your goals, they are your own and you believe in them.

Every thought we think reinforces the preceeding thoughts. Imagine a bank account. If you keep putting money in (positive thoughts), your money will grow and you will get interest. However, if you keep taking out money (negative thoughts) you will get overdrawn quickly. To keep your account healthy and growing, watch your thoughts and turn negative ones into positive ones where you can. Although it initially it might feel difficult, with a little practice it becomes a lot easier and can be a lot of fun.

So this week, I invite you to listen in to your thoughts and your inner self-talk! Notice what words you use lots of, and also what words you do not tend to use much. Then after listening to yourself for a few days, take some recurring negative thoughts and rephrase them to more positive ones and see how that feels? You might like to try on different version of the same thought, just for fun. And notice what changes in your life, when you work on your thoughts!

Enjoy.

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What is ‘SUCCESS’ for you?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines success as the “accomplishment of an aim or a purpose”. According to this definition, you are successful when you have achieved the outcomes, goals and targets you set yourself. These can be very different for each of us. Success can take many different forms for women, whether it is becoming a leader in her field, being a great mum, raising a family and making sure her children have everything they need to develop, winning medals in sport contests, caring for others or just being the best she can be.

 

Whatever your definition success it will be very personal to you and will reflect your unique qualities and gifts.

So what is your definition of success? What do you want to achieve in the next few months, this year, in the next three years, your life? I also invite you to review how your New Year’s resolutions (if you made any of those at the beginning of this year) in the light of your answers to these questions and check how these fit in with your definition of success. Some people find it helpful to journal answers to these questions as it helps them to check back on progress, jog their memory and/or become more focussed. If you are not used to keeping a journal,  have a go and find out if it works for you.

How much of ‘your ‘definition of success is your own? And, how much of it is based on what other people view as successful? Part or all of our definition of success is often influenced by parents, friends, teachers, the culture we grew up in or people we adopted as role models. I have known a lot of women who struggled to achieve the level of success they wanted without realising that part of their definition of success was, in fact, not theirs. They had subconsciously adopted other people’s views of what their goals should be and found themselves in constant conflict between what wanted deep down and what they thought they had to achieve. If you find it difficult to answer these questions, you might like to think about how the different people in your life define success and map this to your views.

How do you talk or think about what you want to achieve? If you find yourself using a lot of shoulds, have tos, need tos, ought tos, musts or using a lot of reasons why you were unable to make progress against your goals, one of the reasons for this could be that your goals may not be entirely your own. I invite you to have a play with this over the next few weeks and observe what words you use when you think or talk to others about your goals. If you want to make it more fun, team up with a friend and pick up on each others watch words about your goals and desired outcomes.

Feel free to share your views or ask questions by adding a comment to this blog article. I look forward to hearing from you!

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