Time Mastery2014-04-1111th Apr 2014
Building on the previous article about mastering your own destiny I want to discuss the subject of time. We all lead busy lives, yet despite us all having the same 24hrs in the day some people seem to get more done than others. Are they just more organised or is there some secret trick? The truth is there are ways to make more of every minute but it comes down to having clarity of purpose and knowing how to prioritise. I will look at each of these in turn.
Clarity of purpose means understanding what is important to you. If you know what is most important you instantly know where to focus your energy. Jessica Heron, CEO of Stella & Dot, the multi-million dollar global business, is a mother of two and probably one of the busiest women I know, balancing home life with the constant travel requirements of her business. She explains that we are all juggling balls all the time. The trick is to know which are made of glass and which are made of rubber. The rubber ones will bounce if you drop them but the glass ones are beyond repair. She gives the example of her children’s school asking her to help out on a committee. Its’ a great honour to be asked, and it could help influence her children’s experience of school. However it is not going to give her quality time with her children. For her that face to face time with her children is so precious and is the glass ball that can’t dropped. She would rather spend that one or two hours with her children than add another item to her ‘to do’ list that takes her away from her family. What are the glass and rubber balls in your life? With that in mind what is going to be the best use of your time today? Where do you want to focus your time and energy to produce the best results for the things that matter most?
You might say ‘But everything is important? Everybody needs my time’. The trick here is learning to prioritise, and linked to that is learning to say no. List out all the activities you need to complete and think about when these are needed by. Then colour code or add a symbol next to them for urgent, important but not urgent, less important. Urgent are those activities that have an imminent deadline, important but not urgent are those activities that either could wait until tomorrow or is something that if left too long will impact on your life happiness (the glass ball that must not be dropped) and less important are those things that need to be done when you can get to them such as washing the car or doing the weekly shop. Most people’s activities will fall into ‘important but not urgent’ however in our minds we put them into the ‘urgent’ category, usually because someone else is telling us they are urgent and we go along with that rather than tell them no. I think part of the problem to saying no is it seems so final, and as if we are spurning that persons request, when really what we are actually saying is ‘not right now’. If we can bring them into our world and help them to see all the other truly urgent items on our list then more often than not they are the first to say their item can wait. Also don’t be afraid to get help. If there are several urgent things that just have to happen today is there someone else who can help? In a work context this might mean delegating to your team or even passing something upwards to your boss. They would probably be far happier to take one piece of work off you rather than upset a client by missing a deadline. Far from seeing this as a weakness they are more likely to respect your maturity and foresight in the situation. If it’s in a home context then can you plan ahead by forgoing the weekly shop and doing it online instead, or talking to your family and children and asking them to help out around the house in order to give you an extra hour or two in the week to focus on other important things that also benefit the family such as your work.
If you would like help to refocus your energy on those things that really add value to your life and learn how to find a balance that works for you then do get in touch.
How to Master your own Destiny2014-03-2020th Mar 2014
Do you know someone who seems to have it all? The great job, the wonderful relationship, the ‘perfect’ life...? We all know people like that but the interesting thing is what makes them different to everyone else? Do they know some secret that we don’t? Are they drinking some magic elixir or have they just been lucky? In truth it’s a mindset. These people, whether they know it or not, are in control of their lives because their thoughts and actions support each other. They have clarity about what they want and inner-confidence to go after it. They are creating their lives rather than passively letting life happen to them. You too can do this and here are the steps to help you start:
1. What is it about your life that currently drags you down? Perhaps you dread going to work, or maybe you feel trapped in an unhappy relationship. I am not suggesting you run away from these. Far from it. The first thing to do is really understand why these things are making you unhappy and what part your own thoughts play in that. Try to observe your own thinking as it is often the negative things we tell ourselves that actually cloud our judgement and prevent us from seeing what actually could be quite wonderful. We can say some pretty spiteful things to ourselves: I’m stupid, unattractive, not good enough, a fool... Would we ever say these things to our best-friend? Obviously not, and yet we can do it to ourselves on a daily basis. Start to be your own best-friend. Check your thinking and each time you spot yourself being negative take a breath and try to turn it around.
2. Your life is a consequence of the choices you make. This can sometimes be hard to swallow, especially when you are feeling at your lowest. I’m not talking about the tragic events that can come out of the blue, but the place you live in, the work you do, the relationship you are in, these are all down to the choices you have made. The good news therefore is that you can make a different choice. You are the Director and Producer of your own life, so why sit on the sidelines waiting for someone else to come and change it for you? How you choose to respond to a situation is what matters. Taking action is the quickest way to turn things around. It’s empowering, confidence building and life-affirming.
3. So how do you make the right choice? It’s about knowing what you want from life. Not what you think you ‘should’ have but what actually resonates with you. I use that word deliberately as we talk about ‘buzzing with energy’ and it is this deep seated thrill that one can get when you know you are on the right path. Suddenly the world seems brighter and you are more vibrant.
If you would like help working out what will make you happy and vibrant do get it touch. I work with clients to help them build their self-awareness, understand their values, develop their confidence and take action to create the life they want.
The Path to Change2013-10-088th Oct 2013
Many clients come to see me to identify the right career for them. They are often in a state of flux, not sure which way to turn and frequently feel they are going round in circles and coming up with the same unhelpful answers. Do they change industry? Would a company change be enough? What about starting a business? The consistent thread that I’ve noticed with the majority of my clients is the feeling that their options are limited. The pressure of family expectations, financial burden and in many cases low self-esteem means that they usually feel trapped on the path they are already on. Many of these pressures are very real but a fourth and often overlooked pressure, which can contribute to all of the above, is the belief that careers are only shaped one way – as an uphill gradient to be climbed until you reach the top. This is based on the historical structure of people having one job for life and the accepted norm that we must all climb the corporate ladder.
Most 30+ individuals will have entered the job market at a time when people chose a career for life. They have been moulded for their careers from an early age through the subjects they selected, work experience obtained and potentially further vocational education, not to mention the 5-10 years already under their belt in that sector. To therefore walk away from all this can be daunting to say the least. However perhaps change can come in many forms? Surely it makes sense to build on the education, experience and skills where time and money has already been invested? I would strongly agree as long as the analysis on what skills and experience should be developed is done against a wider backdrop of options, personal interests, identified values and broader lifestyle ambitions. With this in mind a career evolution rather than a revolution may be what’s required. Maybe that uphill gradient can morph into a broad horizon, with scope to encompass a diverse array of skills and interests. The growing trend for ‘portfolio careers’ where an individual has more than one job simultaneously is just one example of this.
If this feels like it rings true for you then here are some points to consider. The first thing everyone needs to obtain is clarity. What is not currently working and why might that be? If you feel quite stressed at work can you pinpoint the triggers for this? The Birkman Method, a psychometric tool that I use with many of my clients, is excellent at identifying and explaining stress, as well as identifying the environment that you need in order to succeed. Secondly, are you clear about what you want in life? Do you know your values and priorities? Seldom do we take the time to step back and assess these. Working with a coach gives you the space to explore this. And thirdly, what are your interests? What kinds of activity energise you? For example do you love to cook, debate, dance, run, read, sell, negotiate, research? The list is endless, and often people will have interests that they would never associate with work... but if they could turn it into work then they could truly say they never worked a day in their life! The sense of joy that comes from aligning your work with your values and interests is so important for a fulfilling life.
So the first step to change is taking action. You are the Director and Producer of your life. You get to design it AND make it happen! Nothing is more exciting than that, when done with a sense of clarity, confidence and commitment. That doesn’t mean it will be straightforward, easy or happen overnight, but surely a happy and meaningful life is worth the effort. If I can help you on this journey do get in touch.
Identifying your values2013-06-066th Jun 2013
Are you living in line with your values?
The key to enjoying your job, and your life, is to ensure that the work you do and the environment that you operate in aligns with your underlying values. Have you ever felt under pressure to do something that deep down you felt really at odds with? That feeling of being pulled in two directions is incongruence. This feeling will prevent you from throwing yourself into your work and ultimately you are cheating yourself from realising your full potential. Below are two exercises that can help you work out what your values are.
1.Think of a person you really admire. It can be a celebrity or a personal friend or colleague. Write a paragraph describing what it is that you admire about them.
2.Think of a peak experience in your life. It should be something where you felt you were at your best. Describe this event on paper, explaining what was going on and what your contribution was and how that made you feel. What made this experience stand out for you?
Review the paragraphs from these two exercises. You will probably see some overlap. In the peak experience were you perhaps exhibiting some of the behaviours of the person you admire? Circle those attributes that seem to consistently come up. These are the values that are most important to you. How we prioritise our values can change over time depending on our life circumstance. Make a list of your values in order of their importance to you today. Does your current job fit with the ones at the top? Are you living a life that is in line with your values? If not what options might you have to change this? If you would like help to explore this further do get in touch.
Making the Leap2013-05-1414th May 2013
In order to get to where we think we want to be we need to know where we’re going. It’s all well and good to say we want a better job, but what does that mean? How does it look? What will you experience that is different from your job today?
Take a blank sheet of paper and on the left hand side list out all the words and phrases you would use to currently describe your job. Use words that describe how you feel, what you experience, and how you might describe it to others. These can be both positive and negative. Once you have 10 – 15 words or phrases listed out move to the right hand side.
Take a moment now to think about how you would ideally like your career to look. This could be 5 months from now or 5 years from now. Work with whatever timeframe feels most appropriate for you and on the right hand side of the page write the title ‘My career in (X amount of time) is...’.
Close your eyes for a moment and just imagine... where are you working? What does the environment around you look like? How do you feel? What specific tasks / rewards / actions make you feel that way? What is being asked of you? What skills are you using – creative, strategic, administrative, fiscal, developmental?
Once you can visualise this in your mind list out key words or phrases to describe this on the right hand side of the page.
Now compare the two lists. Are there any consistencies? If so how can you build on these now to help take you to where you want to be? And what differences are there? Perhaps you want to earn more, or feel more appreciated at work, or have a corner office with a window. Whatever the ‘new’ environment holds consider how you might be able to change your existing environment to create the dream version. It could be as straightforward as making those in charge clear about your aspirations, or it may require some changes on your part in terms of behaviour and actions. Perhaps you need to demonstrate your leadership skills in order to get the promotion you want, or maybe you need to improve team relations in order to increase performance and feel valued.
Hopefully this exercise has provided plenty of food for thought. If you would like to explore this further please do get in touch.
Are you on your side?2013-04-1919th Apr 2013
“Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you are right.” Henry Ford
It is important to be aware of the language we use to describe ourselves. I’m often amazed by how negative we can be towards ourselves, often far exceeding anything we would ever say to a close friend. It is this constant negative chatter in our minds, which we’re often unaware of, that diminishes our confidence and holds us back from achieving great things.
If I was to ask you to describe yourself what words would you use? Quite possibly you would come up with a mix of positive and negative labels such as parent, comedian, overweight, kind, etc. It is important to be aware of these innate labels we give ourselves as sometimes these can be the very thing holding us back and eating away at our self-esteem. Even something we think of as positive could actually be preventing us from achieving our desires. Below is a quick exercise to help you identify the labels you carry.
1. Take a post-it note pad and on each note write a word or phrase you use to describe yourself. These are the words you hear in your head, whether it’s your parent, friend, school teacher, or partner’s voice saying it, or maybe just your own. Do as many of these as you can. I’d suggest at least 20.
2. Once done sort these into 3 piles; those you want to keep as is, those you’d like to throw away as on reflection you recognize they are just an overhang from childhood and not actually true anymore, and those you feel there is some truth to but you would like to change.
3. With this last pile think about what you can do to change it. It might be the case that this label is a carry-over from your youth and actually no longer holds true. It could be that you can see some truth in the word but would rather it was phrased differently. For example, a tall girl might have been given a nickname at school such as ‘lanky’, which has always made her feel self-conscious. Now as an adult she could turn that into something far more positive such as ‘Slender’ or ‘Great pins’! Another example could be a guy who describes himself as ‘lazy’. Maybe as a teenager he was, maybe to some extent he still enjoys a slower pace of life but is that laziness or could it be described as ‘Conserves energy’ or that he lives by the phrase ‘everything in moderation’, or he is ‘considered’ in his approach? These are positive, attractive qualities.
4. Keep going with this until you end up with a pile of labels that you are happy with. If you are still left with one or two negative ones at the end then think about what you can do in your life to address these.
How did you find it? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Admittedly it is easier to do this exercise with a trusted friend or partner who can challenge you to see beyond the limiting self-beliefs you may hold. If you would like to explore this further do get in touch.