Take action! Go With The Flow…

go-with-the-flowSounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? We’ve been taught to believe that ‘going with the flow’ means inaction and passivity. Lying back and letting life happen to us, without any sense of direction or will involved. Old hippy dippy stuff.

But the true meaning of the phrase is the exact opposite. When we negotiate a river and go with the flow, we harness the energy that’s already available to us, in the currents. And we combine it with our own. Fighting the current is pointless, as is inaction. To truly go with the flow in life is to notice patterns, energy and circumstances around us – whether they be challenging or easy – and make full use of them. As a result we’ll get to wherever we are going far faster than if we resist.

Going with the flow doesn’t mean we have no idea where we are going. We do. But we remain open to the myriad ways of actually reaching our destination. There is no ‘right way’. Yet for so many of us (me included) our control beliefs all too often dictate the show. We decide on a course of action and come hell or high water we’re gonna stick with it. We have our GPS all worked out and can’t possibly deviate! Our beliefs tell us that unless we are ‘in charge’ we will lose our way, or lose ourselves.

The result of this rigidity? Staying in relationships way past their sell-by date (ouch – done that), jobs that are unfulfilling and drain our life force (tick), and in friendships that no longer serve us (been there too). We rigidly remain tied to plans that simply aren’t working and refuse to budge. Painful.

Recently, I had a plan to move to the south of France, and headed there. But after only a few weeks I realised that this was not the right place for me. I needed to let go of certain constructs and ideas I’d had and allow myself to be guided by my intuition. It didn’t actually bother me that I’d told everyone I was moving there (again) and instead I headed south for Spain and spent a blissful time on the coast at my friend’s wedding. A totally unexpected change of events that was even more wonderful as I got to see a dear friend from New York I hadn’t seen since 2009.

By letting go of my Grand Design, I was able to create space for other, better and more fulfilling opportunities to come into my life. It’s scary stepping into the unknown as it so often feels like a void. But this void is actually pregnant with potential. Trusting that there is a higher force guiding us – if we will only allow it – takes practice and self-awareness. But the more we do it, the more trust we will have in it. And the richer and more fulfilling our lives will be as a result.

This week, take a look and feel into areas of your life where you know you are holding on. Maybe take a different route to work, shake it up a little. Or go for a walk with no destination in mind and simply allow yourself to be guided. Practice going with the flow in your life and you’ll be amazed at the results.

 

 

 

 

 

Wake up Call: How to Reward Yourself the Right Way

Buffet Open All You Can Eat

I’m sure most people will agree that there’s no better way to boost motivation than rewards. Each time you achieve something big, reach a goal, or move forward with a task, a little pat on the back in the form of rewards will go a long way.

However, are the so-called rewards we give ourselves healthy or helpful?

Personal goals can range from losing weight, quitting smoking, eating healthy, to completing a project or getting a big promotion. To achieve your goal requires going out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself to your limits, and taking risks. And there will be times when you’ll hit a blank wall, but there will also be times when you achieve certain milestones.

When you do achieve that milestone, the best way to celebrate and reinforce the positive behaviour is to reward yourself. Indulging in little rewards is a good reminder to not quit and keep moving forward.

You should watch and make sure that the rewards you give yourself don’t backfire on you. If your big goal is to lose weight, then don’t reward yourself with an eat-all-you-can buffet! The reward is that you lost weight, not the possibility of over eating again. Instead, reward yourself with smaller, better fitting clothes or perhaps a new gym outfit!

If you’re working to save money or get out of debt, then don’t celebrate your hard work by spending money to reward yourself. Buying something new or indulging in a shopping spree won’t help with your long term goals, in fact; it may cause you to relapse to your old spending habits! It may be a better idea if you use the money you’ve saved up to open a new investment account or simply put the money in a rainy-day piggy bank.

Be careful that your motivation doesn’t slide you backwards and away from your goal.

It happens to everyone. We get over-zealous with our achievements and want to celebrate immediately. It’s absolutely fine to give yourself a reward, but make sure you do it the right way. Here’s how:

  • Save the rewards for those big wins and milestones. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging every little success you make and feeling motivated about it. But there’s a big difference between acknowledging success and actually rewarding them financially. Watch out that you don’t mix these terms.

  • Motivation doesn’t always have to come in material things. Think of rewards that will relax you, inspire you, and soothe your inner spirit. Be creative about it; time alone with a good book can be as good as a new gadget and it won’t cost a dime. Try giving yourself time off from work to walk your dog or take your kids out to the park.

  • Okay, if you really want to reward yourself materially by buying something, then make sure you put a ceiling on your spending limit. Don’t blow the money you saved for so long with just a single purchase to reward yourself. Celebrate getting out of debt, but try not to get yourself back in debt while you’re at it.

  • Don’t cheat by rewarding yourself anytime you feel like it. Only reward yourself when you truly deserve it, this makes the moment extra special. Don’t grab a hearty meal every time you feel like you need the motivation to keep losing weight because you never will reach your goal that way! Save the celebration when you know you truly deserve it.

  • When thinking of the best reward always choose time over food. The last thing you want is to find yourself regularly splurging on food just to reward yourself for hard work. You might soon find yourself looking for the slightest reason to splurge on food. Choose time—give yourself more time with a book, more time with friends, and family.

Have you ever given yourself a nonsensical reward just for the fun of it? Share your experiences below.

 

Head First – Giant Leaps Out of Your Comfort Zone

Leap of Faith - Krabi ThailandIn a previous blog post, Gina shared some tips for stepping out of your comfort zone especially in the face of fear & uncertainty; and in another, Chris looked at how staying in your comfort zone can lead to The Greatest Regret You May Ever Have. But for my first post in months, I wanted to be ambitious and explore those times when we need to truly jump head first…

With a giant leap of faith.

Throw ourselves into the deep-end.

And take massive steps out of our comfort zones.

It is scary though. Some people might never choose to face these leaps head on; but some of us do, and throughout our lives have chosen to step massively outside our comfort zone. Why is this so?

Why Leap Outside Of Your Comfort Zone?

The inspirational idea of “feel the fear and do it anyway” offers us ways to challenge our negative thinking, in order to move from feeling stuck or overwhelmed to happier and more assertive, but there are also times when no amount of logic or positive intention can shift us out of the rut we find ourselves in.

A lot of the time, confidence comes from the actual doing of something – not from the desire to do it, or even necessarily the preparation towards doing it. So by choosing to leap forwards into the unknown, we are automatically giving ourselves a confidence boost. We create the sense of being confident or of achieving confidence specifically because we’re doing something so radical – something we have no idea if we’ll succeed at! Whereas, sometimes the pressure of preparation and trying to work up the courage to do something simply ends up adding to it’s sense of overwhelming terror.

So instead of staying stuck, or struggling against the tide, there is on occasion a time and a place for a more avant garde approach…

I think of it as my “balls to the wall” approach!Continue reading

Quick Tips for Managing Stress

42. stressed... (part 5)

Stress management is one of the most important skills everyone  must learn and master. In today’s world, stress is inevitable and the only chance we have at dealing with it successfully, is by learning how to manage it.

Depending on the levels of stress, a person may have varying symptoms. Many people experience sleeplessness, lack of appetite, back, and neck pains, mental fatigue, and other early signs of health deterioration. People who are constantly under a lot of stress are often cranky, irritable, always on the verge of anger; they are miserable, and ultimately unhappy.

The worst thing is you end up unable to focus, your work productivity suffers, you’re unable to work with your team, and are always fearful and anxious about practically everything. Most people have the tendency to take stress lightly. However, when left unaddressed, stress can have severe effects on a person’s overall health, productivity, and countenance.

Below are some very practical tips on how to manage stress.

  • You need to be on the lookout for early signs of stress. Do you work nonstop? Are you always anxious? Do you have less time for family because you’re always working? Do you have poor sleep? All these are early signs of stress that you need to manage immediately. Talk to your partner, friend, work colleague or coach about your need for work-life balance and assess your own habits to see what you need to improve.

  • Get physical. Try to integrate exercise, enough rest, and social activities into your daily life. Read books, take walks, eat good food, and get to bed on time. Developing your physical and emotional health will help you battle stress when it comes. When you see early signs of stress creep in, get back to your routine of activities, rest, and socialisation, and keep at it.

  • Organize your priorities. Perform tasks in order of importance and urgency – by doing this you will be able to accomplish more with less stress. Don’t forget to delegate tasks to others, you can’t do everything on your own or you will end up burning yourself out, allow people to help you.

  • Time management is critical to stress management. Make a timetable of responsibilities and tasks, and make sure you include time for family, social activities, and personal time. Do not over schedule tasks in a single day; spread them out wisely so you do not fall into stress.

  • Stay positive. Stop complaining and whining about things. Fill your mind with positive thoughts instead of self-defeating thoughts. You need to learn to motivate yourself and encourage yourself every day. Start your day with some simple meditation, and just have fun with work. Never lose your passion and allow stress to move in.

 

Dangers of Perfectionism

Tempus fugit! Perfectionist[1]Or as most of us say now, time flies! And it really is flying by… March already. Christmas seems a lifetime away and we will soon be in Spring.

This has to be the fastest flying year EVER! And I know it’s got nothing to do with me being 1. busier 2. older – time really is speeding up. Or at least my perception of time is changing. And I’m not the only one – children I know have also told me their school holidays seem to be coming round faster, while friends of more advanced ages are also bemoaning the fact that we’re on a speed-up.

Talking of speed, I read last night that the earth is actually hurtling around the Sun at the mind-boggling speed of 18.5 miles per second. Now that’s what I call fast!  Continue reading

Learn to Overcome Your Shyness Before it Overcomes You

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Are you a shy person?

When you’re around a crowd of people you don’t know, do you sometimes wish the floor would just swallow you up? Is it your biggest fear to have to speak in front of a large audience? When you enter a room, do you want to just go unnoticed? If you were able to relate to any of these scenarios, then yes you are a shy person.

While constantly seeking attention and desiring to be in the centre of conversations are not always good, being overly shy can be just as bad. Announcing your entrance at a party can turn people off just as much as not opening you mouth and making eye contact during a conversation. Yes, it may be a challenge to strike a balance between the two, but once you learn how; you’ll see just how easy it actually is and how much better your social life and relationships will be!

There are many reasons why a person feels overly shy. In many cases, people feel too conscious about themselves—what they’re wearing, how they look, and their speech all these result to feeling so awkward and shy in front of people. There are also other who have such a negative self-evaluation that they feel they will never measure up to people’s expectations, thus they feel extremely shy facing people.

Again, it’s okay to feel shy every once in a while but when that feeling starts to take over your life and hinder your actions then it becomes wrong.

Below are a few quick tips on how to overcome that feeling of shyness before it overcomes you.

  1. Stop feeling self-conscious. Unbelievably the people around you are all too busy with their own concerns to even notice and scrutinise you.

  1. Acknowledge your strengths. What are you good at? Focus on it instead of what you think you lack.

  1. Stop trying to conform to everyone. Just be yourself and accept that you have your own awkwardness. That’s fine.

  1. Release your anxieties through physical activities. Always feeling self-conscious are signs of anxiety. Release the pressure through jogging and working out.

  1. Affirm yourself of your strengths and capabilities. Dwell on these instead of always sulking on the things that you think you’re too weak at.

  1. Never take rejection personally. Remember you are not the only one who experiences rejection, we all do. There’s really nothing personal about it. 

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. You may never measure up to the smartest or most popular person at work, but believe it or not, you also have strengths that other people desire. So stop comparing yourself or setting standards that are too high to achieve. Love yourself for who you are! 

  1. Build on your social skills. Practice being around people and interacting with them. This will help boost your self-confidence. You may still have episodes of shyness, but just keep practicing and you’ll get better.

  1. Learn to accept your weaknesses. No one is perfect, even the person you most admire isn’t, so stop trying to be one. Just accept that you have you own shortcomings. We all do.

  1. The next time you’re in front of people or in a social gathering and you begin having episodes of uncontrollable shyness, take deep breaths to calm yourself.

 

Three Keys to Gaining Clarity (Instantly)

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the privilege and honour to deliver training workshops and coach individuals from over 18 countries. Some in person when I travelled to Australia, Russia and Germany; some over Skype to America and Spain.

While everyone has their own challenges and ambitions, what continues to strike me is the absolutely critical importance of CLARITY.

Clarity is at the heart of progress and achievement. When you have clarity, you (for the most part) can confidently march forward towards the result you’re after. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or effortless but it does mean that there is a certain force of energy, focus, conviction or commitment directing your every step.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, it can be painfully obvious when you lack clarity or feel like you have no clue on what you should do. You stop, get stuck and barely make any progress.

But the tougher, more challenging and more dangerous place is somewhere in the middle. You THINK you are clear, you ARE putting in the effort but the results are underwhelming-to-non-existent. It’s kind of like counterfeit money – it looks real, it feels real but using it too much can get you in serious trouble.

“Counterfeit” clarity applies equally to the small things – for example, prioritising your daily to-do list – as well as the big things such as the direction of your life, relationships and career.

You may start out ok but before long your momentum slows and more and more problems, hurdles, delays or distractions get in the way.

Can you relate to any of these?

  • Poor time management, easily distracted, continually chasing new ideas and ‘dabbling’ in a lot of different things
  • Not finishing what you’ve started
  • Waiting for the perfect moment to begin…or continue
  • Telling yourself “Tomorrow will be better to get started on that”
  • Getting caught in circular thinking, continually debating the pros and cons of certain actions
  • Repeatedly set goals and never achieve them
  • Overwhelmed at what needs to get done
  • Indecisive with little things and avoiding the ‘big’ things

A lack of clarity isn’t the result of these behaviours, it’s the CAUSE.

And as it happens to all of us at times, the cure isn’t to just make sure you get clear first, but rather to learn to spot the signals quickly and make a swift change of course.

What do you tend to do when you’re unclear?

For me, the signals I’ve come to know quite well are:

  • Checking emails (…or Facebook or the News or my phone…) way to frequently, especially when I’m not expecting anything of importance or urgency.
  • Starting my day by reviewing emails (…or Facebook or the News or my phone…) before I’ve even exercised or showered or had some food.
  • Telling myself I need to switch to more important things or resolve a bigger problem yet continue to carry on dabbling in minor things.

When I eventually snap out of that trance and back to the things that matter most to me, I am reminded of three keys to getting clear:

1. As soon as you recognise you’re off track and not making the right progress, stop.

2. Immediately ask yourself four questions:
What is my real outcome in this situation? (or in the next ____ minutes/hours/days?)
Therefore, what must I stop doing right now?
What is the first action I can take to build momentum towards my outcome?
How good will I feel when I start to make progress?

3. Take that next step no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Don’t waste time debating whether it’s the right or wrong step. You just need to take action and move forward. You might learn it wasn’t the ‘right’ step but at least now you know and can adjust your approach even further.

Time and time again those three prove to be uber helpful and quickly shift focus, energy and momentum towards getting clear, and ultimately getting what you want.

And if you’re really stuck on HOW to get clear, you owe it to yourself to make ‘getting clear(er)’ your top priority. Ask a coach or mentor, search for a relevant blog or article online, speak to a friend or family member or ask us at ActionPodcast.

So start to recognise your signals more quickly and follow those exact steps.

You’ll be glad you did.

Let us know what your tricks for getting clear are and what you need to get clear on now by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Ouch! Love hurts!

Love_hurts_by_AlephunkyRelationships – of any kind – are always a minefield of emotions… as the song goes “its a thin line between love and hate”.

Keeping your heart open after you’ve been hurt is almost counter-intuitive. Why would you want to do that?

Doesn’t make any sense at all to open yourself to another bruising…  It certainly makes sense to lick your wounds, look after yourself and be kind to your heart after a betrayal of trust. But it’s imperative you also stay open to receiving love from others, however much you’re hurting.

When a client of mine discovered his partner was seeing someone else, his whole world fell apart. He told me he felt like he’d been kicked in the stomach; a knife stabbed through his heart. A visceral, aching pain that he couldn’t handle. It took him months to get over the shock and the disappointment of this ultimate betrayal. He told me he wasn’t much fun to be around at that time.

It became clear during our sessions that he’d shut down his heart. And was pushing away friends who were trying to help him. And latterly he was also pushing away potential new partners. A double whammy pain.

He was shutting himself off from love, whereas he actually admitted to me he really needed to be held, to cry, to yell out, to laugh with friends who could support him. And when he stopped fighting himself, he began to allow allowed close friends in to support him. His real friends gently coaxed and nudged him through his pain – and often self-pity – to a happier space. And now, six months later, he is dating again. Cautiously but with an open heart.

So if you’re going through a break-up right now.. sure, acknowledge all your emotions – they need to be released. But please don’t close your heart to receiving love while you go through the letting-go process. You need it.

Photo: alephunky.deviantart.com

 

The Power of Reviewing 2012

Happy-New-Year-2013-HD-Wallpaper-2Happy New Year everyone!  We made it!

Clearly, 2013 is just the beginning of a massive shift in consciousness… I think the Mayans knew this very well, that 2012 marked the end of an old way of being and interacting – with ourselves and those around us – as well as the planet.

And as I watched the amazing NYE fireworks on the Thames two days ago, I felt excited and full of optimism for the year to come. The New Year is traditionally a time of resolution- and goal-setting. But this year I decided to celebrate a little differently.

Instead of setting goals – I’ve looked back over 2012 and did a ‘completion’ exercise on the whole year. This a great way to let your subconscious know you’re through with certain projects and can put them to bed. It’s a way of acknowledging your triumphs, your challenges and bringing to your awareness exactly what you’ve learnt the past year.
So I asked myself the following questions:

1. What have I created?

2. What have I learnt?

3. What is it true to let go of?

4. What would I love to create now?

You could do this ‘straight’ ie just ask the questions and receive the answers. Or you could do it more intuitively – so you’ll get answers from your subconscious (no avoiding the truth there!).

To tune in to your subconscious is very easy. Simply close your eyes, take a couple deep breaths and imagine you are surrounded by a circle of gold light.
Ask yourself the first question, ‘What have I created’ and allow the first image or symbol to appear. It could be anything – from a banana to a colour to a mountain… Don’t judge the image… just open your eyes and write it down. Then it’s time to interpret it.

What does this symbol or image mean to you? Just make it up. There is no right or wrong answer. Simply allow your subconscious to speak. Then using the same symbol, ask yourself,  “What have I learnt.”

Repeat the above for questions 3 and 4, getting a new symbol for each question.
You’ll probably find the answers quite illuminating as I did. By doing this exercise intuitively you are more likely to receive the ‘truth’ of your creations, your learning, your letting go and what your heart would love to create next.

Happy completing! And happy creating 🙂

Christmas Traditions

Journal Your Christmas 2007 #9: TraditionsIf you celebrate the festive season, then chances are there are some Christmas traditions that you keep. These are things that add to the meaning & spirit of Christmas for you – that have perhaps been inherited from your family, or special ones you’ve picked up along the way. And as Paul & I discussed in a recent podcast, they can make the difference between enjoying this season or feeling left out in the cold.

In my attempt to be a little bit less Bah Humbug I’ve been reflecting on the things I love or think embody Christmas so that I can take more responsibility for enjoying this time of year. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then the idea of traditions also applies to other special holidays that you might celebrate throughout the year.

What are Christmas Traditions?

These are going to vary widely depending on local, national, cultural & familial influences, as well as your beliefs, personal experiences and preferences.

Some of my best Christmas memories include a large family gathering with puns flying thick & fast across the Christmas table that is covered with seasonal specialities like Grannie’s cold chicken curry and enough blancmange to allow the men to fight over 2nd or even 3rd helpings, trying to play Christmas carols on my otherwise neglected keyboard so that my sister & I can sing (arguably badly) along, trying to pronounce “S Roždestvom Khristovym!” to my Russian grandparents, as well as Santa stockings of presents that promised to hold little treats, surprises & wonders that I loved individually unwrapping.

As I’ve gotten older (and spent more of my Christmases in the snowy northern hemisphere rather than the summery heat of my childhood home), I’ve added a love of steaming mulled wine to the list, along with Continue reading

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