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Boredom

The benefit of social distancing and being in lockdown is that I have more hours in the day to do things outside of work as I no longer have to commute or socialise; though I recognise that this is not the case for many, especially families with young children. However, for those on the same boat as me, do you feel that you have more time? I have tried to make time for myself and work on things that I am passionate about, however, a few of my family have complained that they are bored.

I wanted to delve into this a bit more because I was surprised. Isn’t boredom quite novel in the busy world we currently live in? Just the sheer amount of content from news, books, Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, to Instagram etc. surely means that boredom is dead, and yet we still get bored. Is it because we do not know what to do with our free time?

Grant Faulkner wonderfully describes boredom in this article as an incessant need for stimulation – I have a tic, an affliction, a virus. When a moment of emptiness descends upon me, I reach for my phone, tap it madly, and hope to find stimulation…My brain craves novelty and stimulation, and I’m caught in a loop of compulsive neediness. I can certainly relate to this, have you ever caught yourself looking for new things on Instagram, what is the latest fad during this pandemic? Baking, cooking, working out, making masks, it keeps evolving every week.

But why is boredom considered a negative thing? The word is associated with the sin of idleness and laziness. We should be productive and hardworking; it is what we have been taught to think – it explains the thousands of articles on how to stop boredom. However, I would like to ask when was the last time you felt the tedium of too little stimulation?

We need to be comfortable with boredom, more specifically, mind wandering. Sandi Mann, a psychologist, conducted an experiment to further understand emotions in the workplace in the 1990s. She found that “People who are bored think more creatively than those who aren’t.” Others have described that boredom can be a powerful tool that invites you to rethink your relationship with the world.

We have been given an opportunity to be bored, I recommend embracing it, we have the right to disengage from our surroundings and let us be in our own minds. Therefore, instead of giving you tips on how to tackle boredom (like the rest of the internet), here are a few tips on how to get bored!

  • Avoid technology when you feel bored – entertainment snacks will make you crave for more; rather than controlling your boredom, your need for distraction will never be satisfied.
  • Recover the joy of mundane tasks – when was the last time you wash the dishes and just allowed yourself to be present at the moment thinking of nothing else? Recovering the pleasure of doing small tasks may build a sense of achievement. This might be the perfect chance to work on that minimalist lifestyle and clear out old things.
  • Let your mind wander – when you find yourself bored, why not pick up a pen or paper and just let your mind wander. See where it leads you, let your mind feed on your own thoughts. It could potentially lead you down a creative path.

Let your mind wander!

Procrastination

When are you most productive?

  • Are you one to plan your work schedule and stick to it?
  • Or do you prefer a deadline, but wait till the last minute to complete your work?

I do not think that there is a right way of doing things, as individuals, we all function and work differently. Some of us like to wake up early, whilst others are night owls are more productive during the evening. Yet, there is a lot of tips and tricks out there to help us build “good” habits to eliminate our desire to procrastinate because it is thought to be a sign of idleness or laziness. In this day and age, the focus is always on productivity. From squeezing more output from one individual to using more technology to bring efficiencies. People are becoming stressed out, where they are “always-on” and love to talk about how busy they are at work.

Though I would like to pose to you – is this necessary? I am not saying that one shouldn’t focus on their goals and be driven; that is why many people choose to have a coach. However, are we not doing ourselves a disservice to step back, pause a little – procrastinate a little? Potentially it might be a positive thing!

Originality

In Adam Grant’s Originals: How Non-Conformists Change the World it explores the premise whether procrastinating can cause creativity. They found that people who procrastinate moderately are viewed by their peers as more creative. However, those who are chronic procrastinators did not have any new ideas. Those are in a rush to get things done first, they also have less original thoughts.

From the research, they found that if you are not intrinsically motivated to solve a problem, then procrastination, unsurprisingly, just sets you behind. However, when you are passionate about coming up with new ideas, putting off the task a bit can lead to more creative solutions.

There is a sweet spot.

Procrastinating is a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity.

Adam Grant

The Discipline to Delay – Zeigarnik Effect

In 1927, Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik demonstrated that people have a better memory for incomplete than complete tasks. I have certainly experienced this! Once a task is completed, why do we need to think about it? However, when something is incomplete then it is in the forefront of your mind. For example, the dining room in my house needs a light, it is one of the unfinished tasks in my home. Though there is no rush for a ceiling light, especially during these times. However, I am always finding myself thinking about it, especially when I am mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.

Great originals are great procrastinators, but they don’t skip planning altogether. They procrastinate strategically, making gradual progress by testing and refining different possibilities.

Adam Grant

When you have to stop procrastinating…

Eventually, the task will need to be completed, so there is a fine line when it comes to procrastination, it is very easy to tip it into something negative. If the incomplete task makes you worried or anxious because it will mean you are likely to miss a deadline or you know that there are more serious consequences down the line, if you do not complete the task, then there are ways to help you get started.

  • Start with a small win then move onto the toughest task – a lot of people start with the toughest task first, however, I think this stops me from wanting to move forward as I am freaked out! My suggestion is to start with something that will ease you into the task. Once completed, you will feel good and in control, thus giving you courage to start on the trickiest/toughest task next.
  • Set small goals – break the task down, let yourself have mini wins along the way
  • Pomodoro – I have mentioned this method in another post and I think it is really helpful to break things down. Set the timer to work for 25 minutes distraction free. When you hear the beep you have to take a 5 minute break, even if you are mid sentence. Be disciplined and you will realise that you will get a lot done in a short space of time.
  • Reward yourself – once you have broken it down into mini wins/milestones, recognise a job well done. Something small so that it is easy for you to return to the task at hand
  • Be kind to yourself – It is okay if you slip, we are human after all. If you find yourself procrastinating, just recognise that you have and just stop and go back to the task at hand. Start with a small win again and keep on going.

Happy procrastinating!

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Managing Change

During this time, everyone one of us has had to deal with change, particularly to our freedoms and routine. This has made me think about change and how stressful it can be.

The Change Curve

Copyright Moss Warner https://newsfeed.mosswarner.com/change-management-communications/

Many of you will be familiar with the above curve. This was originally developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for the stages of grief but this has been applied to change management in organisations. I believe that this can also be applied to other forms of change in our personal life, the curve, though shown as linear, in reality, is not as simple. As you will read below, you will go through all stages, but not necessarily in a linear fashion – it can be a bit of a rollercoaster.

  • Shock – this stage requires no explanation, the shock of the spread of the virus and how many people’s lives have been taken away by it can leave one in a constant state of shock. For your mental health, it is important to control the amount of news you read. I understand the need to stay informed – how about trying to just read an update just in the morning. The rest of the day should be dedicated to your work, recovery and mental health.
  • Denial – The seriousness of the situation was questioned at the beginning of the pandemic. Is it really a pandemic – are we scaremongering? Do we really need all these measures in place? Surely this is a bit over the top? I am sure I can visit my family even though we have been told not to. Certainly, this has been observed in governments where they did not put measures in place as soon as they should have because let’s face it – they were in a state of denial.
  • Acceptance –  As I write this, four weeks into lockdown in the UK, I have accepted the situation. I think for many of us in the UK, we have reached this stage. This has been reflected in lower use of public transport and fewer cars on the road. We have to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. We realise that we all have a part to play.
  • Depression – This is when emotions are at is at its lowest, I have flitted between depression and experimental over the past few weeks. Thinking that I have got a routine down then on some days, everything feels futile. Low energy, not willing to wake up and do anything; binge-watching Netflix and craving unhealthy foods. (I could do with a KFC bucket right now – oh right – they are closed…NOOOOOO.)
  • Experimental – This is the stage where you start engaging with the situation. Finding that routine that works for you, having a good set up at home for your home office. Making time in the diary to have lunch away from the computer screen. Protecting your time for your mental wellbeing, whether it is to read, relax or work a project you have been putting off. You are finding your rhythm. Check out my other blog post for ideas on how to survive the COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Decision – This stage is similar to experimental, you are finding ways to improve your mood and mental wellness. At this stage, you have found a good routine. This is the perfect time to share your knowledge with your friends and family on how to help them to accept the situation and adapt to this new norm. This is also my way to share what I have experienced with you all. To all the readers who are earlier down the curve, it will get better – keep working on yourself and find your new rhythm.
  • Engagement/Integration – This is the final stage, the changes have been integrated and it is “onward and upward”. I think this is the big question, the world will not and should not be the same after COVID-19. I am hopeful in how the world will change for the greater good.

If you are interested to learn more, here are a few more links on the Change Curve:

Implementing Change

John P Kotter is a name you will hear often on the topic of understanding and managing change. He developed an eight-stage change model and written books – ‘Leading Change’ (1995) and the follow-up ‘The Heart Of Change’ (2002).

  1. Create Urgency – the idea is to develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. For COVID-19 we had the virus to do this for us. However, to try and implement a change, you need to spark motivation. Communication is also key, whether it is working with your partner, family and friends, to be aligned. For my family, it is agreeing not to visiting vulnerable family members, unless it is to drop off groceries and even then, only at the door.
  2. Building a guiding team – get the right people in place with the right emotional commitment, and the right mix of skills and levels. This is not applicable when we are working on ourselves, however, why not find someone to be your accountability coach to keep you on the right track?
  3. Create a vision for change – When you first create change, everyone will have an opinion or idea. It is important to create an overall vision and strategy. Everyone needs to understand why they are doing something and their role in the change process. It is to help embed the change and make it clear, in your mind, what the end goal is.
  4. Communicate the vision – Talk about the vision and address peoples’ concerns and anxieties, openly and honestly. This ties very closely with Stage 1 of the process, people need to understand the change and it is communicated. This is also to hold you accountable for the end goal.
  5. Empower Actions – remove obstacles and enable constructive feedback. Again, communication is key. Are you as productive as you want to be? Is there are a better way to reach goal/change you want to implement?
  6. Create short term wins – set achievable aims, this will help you keep momentum and motivation. I always feel better when I have crossed off something on my to -do list. What is your Most Important Task (M.I.T) of the day?
  7. Build on the change – real change runs deep. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change. This is the decision – experimental part of the change curve. You want to continuously build on those new habits and positive changes.
  8. Anchor the changes – Last, but not least, make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your life – make it your new norm.

For more information, here are some handy links:

May the change be with you!

Photo by Supremelysab on Unsplash

Resilience

Coronavirus

Unprecedented

Increasing deaths.

Lately, these are words we cannot escape from. Understandably, we are experiencing an incredible amount of uncertainty during this time. As a generation and global community, we have not experienced this before. No doubt, for many, there is a lot of fear and anxiety.

Will I get an infection? Would I pass it onto my loved ones? Will I lose my job? Will I ever be able to buy flour at the supermarket?

Resilience

Emotional or psychological resilience basically refers to our ability to endure stressful events, without being overwhelmed by them. Through cognitive and behaviour skills training we can improve resilience and prepare ourselves to cope better with future adversity.

Donald J. Robertson

Recently, we had a webinar about resilience at work and I thought that given the pandemic, it was the perfect opportunity to reflect and explore the different ways to build resilience. Having done a quick questionnaire, it turns out that I don’t have much cognitive hardiness (not all that surprising but does hurt the pride a bit!).

Cognitive Hardiness

Cognitive Hardiness refers to a specific set of attitudes or beliefs about work and life that are relatively enduring from day-to-day. It includes the following:

  • a sense of commitment and strong interest towards work, family, hobbies or projects and whether there are things that you look forward to doing
  • a sense of belonging with your friends, work and family
  • life changes are seen as challenging rather than threatening
  • a sense of belief that you have control over your life, where what you do is relative to what you achieve
  • individuals who have coping behaviours and possess a strong sense of self-confidence and self-esteem.

Some of us may be resilient already, therefore, there is not a lot more to work on. For those, like me, that do not have the traits above, it does mean we need to give up on ourselves, as there are ways to build resilience.

Building Resilience

  • Re-frame – If you are feeling overwhelmed, this is the time to step back, assess your situation with as much objectivity as you can and re-frame the problem/stress at hand. Try not to personalise the issue.
    • How bad is this problem?
    • What is the worst thing that can happen?
  • Control – there will be a lot of things that we cannot control. Looking at the situation, identify what is within your circle of control and take back control. A lot of the time it may be recognising and controlling your reactions vs. not being able to control the situation or what someone has said.
  • Share – During this difficult time, make the effort to connect with friends, family and community. Though it is difficult now to see people physically, in this age of technology there are countless different apps to connect you to someone. Be vulnerable and reach out first when you need to speak to someone. Talking on the phone with my best friends always makes my day better.
  • Sleep – for many, we no longer need to commute, so why not take that time to sleep more. Letting your mind recuperate and process each day is extremely important. Want to know more, try reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.
  • Explore – explore your feelings and don’t repress it. If it gets too much, try to be present at the moment. Whether this is grounding yourself or taking time to meditate, take that time to recover when you need it.

Option B

As part of trying to understand more about resilience, I read Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s book, Option B. I have yet to explore the website but they have put up a new page in light of COVID-19. I didn’t think the book particularly helped with building resilience as the book is not a “how-to guide” and did not provide concrete actions.

However, I would recommend this book to anyone that has lost a loved one or how to be the supportive friend in times like these. Sadly and inevitably, we will know someone within our network that will have lost someone to COVID-19. I think this book is a great book to work through grief and understand loss.

After reading the book, heart-breakingly, I had a good friend who lost her husband, after a long illness. From the book, I learnt that I should not shy away from talking to her (the easy way out, thinking I will be in the way) and offered an open invitation for her to call me at any hour.

One of the key things that I learn from the book was that there are three P’s that can stunt recovery:

  1. Personalisation – the belief that we are at fault. It’s my fault this is awful.
  2. Pervasiveness – the belief an event will affect all areas of our life. My whole life is awful.
  3. Permanence – the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last. It’s always going to be awful.

This framework is useful when we try to re-frame the issue or problem we are facing. Do not apologise for things that are not within your control, as you are personalising the problem. Build a routine and recognise that your feeling should not touch every aspect of your life. The hardest is most likely to be permanence, but rest assured, this everything gets easier over time.

Let us all support each other to build resilience, and as Sheryl said it, let us bounce forward and find joy again.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

The One Thing

During this lockdown period, there have been a lot of posts on Instagram that are in either of two camps:

  1. use this time wisely to self improve,
  2. or be kind to yourself and know that it is not necessary to be super productive and learn a new language in the space of a month.

Personally, I have found this to be a challenge as I have flipped and flopped between the two. There are days where I struggled with my energy levels and motivation. When I am in such a mood, I find it important to revisit my values and to understand what I am passionate about. It is only when you find your “why” or passion that you would build the necessary routine and systems to do something positive.

I have had many people recommend, The ONE Thing by Gary Keller to me. Many have found the book to be transformational. The premise is to identify What is the One Thing that you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary. Honestly, I have found this concept difficult to grasp. They say if you don’t know what your ONE Thing is, then you should make it your one thing to find out what that is… Helpful. Some might simply say, money – If I had money then everything will be easier and then I can focus on everything else. I have also tried to consider something more short term or concrete, but I recognise that the ONE thing is not just going to fall on your lap.

This must be a life long journey and every stage of your life is different, every day is different. A person is multilayered, I am both analytical and creative; what I want to achieve at work is different from what I want to achieve personally. Though it is easy to feel overwhelmed by these thoughts, you need to lean in and be uncomfortable and critically ask yourself – what is your ONE thing. Potentially, start with the end goal and work backwards?

When thinking of this topic, it has reminded me of the importance of coaching. Someone to help you work through all the mental blocks and to ask the difficult questions to be that helping hand in reaching your goals. Obviously, you do the hard work, but having someone to keep you accountable and ask the right questions, you had not thought about, is extremely powerful.

Do something

Coming back to which camp I am on in the Instagram debate, I am on the side of doing something. Being in lockdown is an unusual opportunity and it should not be wasted. Build-in recovery time, but also be disciplined and make time for your thoughts to find your ONE thing or to do something that you had previously put on pause because you were too busy.

Finding that ONE thing requires work, you are not going to find it if you sit on your laurels. Dweck and Greg Walton of Stanford recently performed a study that suggests it might be time to change the way we think about our interests. Passions aren’t “found,” they argue, they’re developed.

Try spending 20 minutes each day thinking about the things that have interested you recently, or any opportunities that you have spotted. Maybe try thinking back to when you are a child, what did you care about? What did you enjoy doing – is this something you can do now as an adult? Have you done something that made you lose track of time because you enjoyed it so much? It is a journey of discovery and it is exciting!

Once you have identified something that might be of interest. Read all about it and read some more. Do your research – websites, blogs, books, anything you can get your hands on! This is because there is probably someone out there in the world that is passionate about the thing you are. Read up about it, they probably have already done a lot; so learn from their experiences, enhance your knowledge.

Good luck! I hope you find your ONE thing, do let me know how you get on in the comments below.

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Motivation

As I write this, it is the second week working from home due to the Coronavirus. I think for many, there is a struggle to get up in the morning and building that routine that feels worthwhile. My poor grandmother, who has is not used to being told what to do, especially not leaving the house feels defeated. Another conversation with my sister has sparked the creation of this post. Why are you not working on your blog and other ideas, now that you have more time on your hands? Why are you spending watching your free time to watch Netflix?. I replied, You are right, despite my free time, it is frustrating that I can’t seem to find the motivation to do anything.

Motivation is the desire to act in service of a goal. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining one’s objectives

Why do we need motivation?

There are no clear answers as to why we need motivation but boiled down, we need it to get things done; whether it is to get up in the morning to start your day or to start a business. It is the thought process which leads to action towards a particular goal. The keyword I believe is goal. Goal setting is fundamental to getting the right level of motivation.

Many of you are aware that there are external and internal forces that would impact our levels of motivation. I find that motivation can be elusive and fickle. At times it can give me laser-like focus, other times when I want it the most, it is just not there. Procrastination is king.

Systems

If motivation can be fickle, is there a way to minimise our dependency on that and just get s**t done? This is where systems are so important – routine and discipline. There are two ways to think about it: prevention focus or promotion focused. Below are a few tips that I have found useful and helpful as I tried to crack the whip and get things moving.

M.I.Ts

A few years back, I was inundated with things I had to complete, both work and personal life. It was just a long shopping list of things that was not categorised or sorted. A list of things that I translated from my thoughts to paper. However, the 100 or so items in physical form was incredibly daunting. There was no motivation to complete it because it was just too big of an ask.

This is when I came across the concept of MITs – Most Important Tasks. Turns out that this is used a lot in the design world. Unfortunately, this had not translated to my side of the corporate world. The concept is incredibly simple. Each morning before I start my day, I put down a few (c.3) tasks that I have to complete. If I complete those things, I know that if someone called it a day, I would be happy with myself and that it was enough.

This helped with my motivation because the little post-it note on my desk became achievable. It drives to me to act now and think about motivation later, if at all. It forces you to focus on what is most important. Time is precious, what is worth doing? What is the One Thing you want to achieve in the long term and does that task on the piece of paper get you there? Be brave – be brutal.

Protecting your time

This is incredibly important, you need to identify when you work best. I am a morning lark, so if I wanted to get anything done, then I need to do it between 6AM to 12PM; as I know that I would not be as effective after that. After I have achieved my key tasks in the morning, I can do less mentally intense tasks, such as laundry or reading papers/documents for work. I reward myself later in the evening by winding down, reading and watching TV, but only after I completed by MITs. However, I would never be able to do that or build a routine if I did not protect my time. Be brave – be brutal.

Don’t Break the Chain

Now that you have started doing things, it is important to not break the chain. This stems from the idea of momentum. Once you start, it is easier to continue. Form the habit/routine and keep at it. After that, it will be like riding downhill.

Best of luck!

Survive Working from Home during Coronavirus

It is tumultuous times we are facing; in the UK, we have been told to work from home (“WFH”) as much as possible as we have reached the “fast” phase of the virus; as well as other measures that is important to reduce the number of people contracting the virus.

Though I am going to be honest, WFH is something that I am not particularly good at. There has been a plethora of information on the web on how to be productive and better at it, so I thought that I would share what I found to be most useful. There will be some links at the end of this post for those who want to read more about it. I would also love your suggestions as well so please leave me a comment below!

Tip 1: Setting a routine

This is a great opportunity to sleep a little longer for those who don’t have to commute anymore and reset you body clock. However, it is also important to maintain and routine (and I have also been told to keep to complete my contracted hours at work). Currently, I still wake up at the same time, even if means I am rolling around for longer than usual. This is because I enjoyed the commute time to work as it is one of my opportunities to read and I wanted to maintain that. Therefore, I have my necessary sleep, cup of tea and reading time before starting my day to work.

Importantly, I also get up and change. Not necessarily into what I would normally wear at work (which is pretty chilled anyways) but this is just courtesy to your fellow colleagues who might have to see you on webcam (see further below) and also just to “mentally” prepare that you are “going to work”.

For lunch, block out time in your work calendar so your colleagues know when you will be away from your desk and use that time to relax and rest your eyes from staring at the screen. If you are as lucky as me, my partner and I are both at home together, we don’t speak much during working hours but we will connect during lunch and dinner.

Most importantly, make sure you know when it is necessary to stop. It is easy to become engrossed with what you are doing but just like you would leave work at a certain time, it is important to manage your work life balance.

Tip 2: Tidy Up

Tidying up your space and making a dedicated space for work is important. During this time, it is important to keep surfaces clean and disinfected, so use this an opportunity to create a calm space for yourself.

In addition, make sure that you have all the right equipment so that you are able to work. Push for your employer to provide you with the right equipment or subsidise you buying items to complete your work, such as an additional screen or keyboard. I get really distracted from a cluttered desk; so tidying up and cleaning up is a great way to take a break, which brings us nicely to the next tip!

Tip 3: Take regular breaks

In your normal working environment, your day is broken up by chats with colleagues/managers, meetings and just chilling in the kitchen when making a cup of tea/coffee. When at home, you have much more “deep work” time where you can work without being distracted by the usual hustle and bustle of a full open plan office.

This can become “too much” very quickly. The day has to be broken up, so build in that stretch time or making a cup of tea – zoom / slack/ call a colleague for a quick chat before returning to your work. I also try to use the Pomodoro technique which means that I set a timer for 25 mins to work and then I ensure I have a break of 5 mins before starting again.

Tip 4: Try to build in social time

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that quarantining could lead to loneliness and depression and as humans are social animals it is necessary to work on this. As an introvert, not having to interactive with a lot of people is great, but I still need that social connection. One great way is to have Whatsapp Web on your computer so that it is possible to have group chats with my best friends. As we are all now working from home, the little sidechats we have is extremely uplifting.

Why not set up a virtual buddy system where a group of three call each other once a week, even if it is just five minutes to check in on a social level. If you have Slack or other ways to communicate with colleagues, why not engage in the group chats or set up a new channel yourself to talk about something outside of work? Be creative, I am sure you would be surprised

Other Resources

So there are my top tips for now, as I said before, would love to hear your thoughts and here are some other resources for you to peruse. Stay safe everyone!

Protect your dreams

This weekend, I had a conversation with a family member which has inspired me to write this post. Have you ever had those conversations where the individual has an agenda and don’t have the capacity for listen to anything you have to say? Sigh…it completely drains you and my natural reaction to this is to completely shut down and become indifferent. It induces hair pulling and much frustration, but family is family, right?

My partner and I are looking to purchase a property together and has become an all-consuming process and has been on the back of my mind every single day. I tried to share the good news with said family member that we have found a place. The said individual then fires questions in machine gun-like succession:

  • Have you showed your mum?
  • Have you asked her approval?
  • Have you asked anyone else’s approval?
  • Is it a good area? It doesn’t sound like a good area
  • Do you know what you want?

They then ended their soliloquy with a dismissive, well do whatever makes you happy. -DEEP BREATHE-

With every dream, you will have to face the non-believers and others with their opinions. Some individuals have good intentions, though some would inadvertently project their fears and insecurities onto you. Others may have not so good intentions, some may be jealous of you pursuing your dreams and would try to hold you back where they can’t handle you getting ahead. Whatever it may be, it is important to recognise their opinion for what it is and then move on. Use that energy to refocus on yourself and gather information to make a better decision for yourself.

Whether it is trying to set up your own business, make a major purchase or quitting your job; take the time to know your why. As a performance coach, some of the key questions I ask individuals are, what do you think will be the challenges going forward? And, how do you think you will be able to overcome them? I have found that it is easy to identify technical difficulties when it comes to dreams, such as, I need to ensure I have this licence to set up this business; but not necessarily the emotional or relational difficulties.

What do you need to ask yourself?

After the conversation with said family member, I felt defeated. I started to lose focus and started asking irrational questions about myself and my dreams. Upon reflection, it is because I had expectations of what the individual should have said and feel. This is exactly where I went wrong – this is the wrong way to have conversations about your goals and dreams. We are incredibly social creatures and it is understandable why we would want to share them with others, but to ensure you don’t lose focus on the end goal.

I have narrowed it down to the follow options:

  • Either keep it to yourself, though this is not always easy
  • If you share your dreams, be objective when listening to others and only process what is worth processing.  
  • Better yet, share it only with select individuals who have the right experience and you think will be able to assist in your dreams or decision making.

It is natural to think about others and their opinion, but ultimately, you are the only person who would have to live with the decisions you have made. Stop worrying about others and what they have to say or what they are doing. Focus on your why and you will get there.

Courage

I am going to give a big shout out to my colleague Ben who encouraged me to write my next post on courage.

As we continue to enjoy the new decade, starting new things can be scary. What if it is too difficult? What if I fail? Can I really be bothered? Is this going to make me happy? Will it be good for my wellbeing? Is this going to be waste of time? Basically, a lot of questions to make you chicken out. It is as discussed previously, discipline is what is the difference between success or failure.

When I look back on 2019 with a fresh pair of eyes, I remember that I was constantly battling between wanting to be this incredibly determined and courageous individual vs f*** it – I am tired and I want a more comfortable life (i.e. eating snacks in my T-Shirt and watching Netflix). By the end of the year, I was definitely the latter. I had set out to achieve many things in 2019; in my mind, I was going to become this incredible influencer who would blog twice a week and organically build a loyal and dedicated following. Reviewing my timeline, my readers were lucky to have one post in the six months! As a result of my inconsistency, writing was became a chore and my creative juices struggle to flow. I did not build the discipline or habit. Blogging has became an increasingly difficult thing to do, which in turn had meant I avoided it even more. A lose-lose situation.

Why? Why is it so hard to keep determined/have willpower in what you want to do? The beauty of a new year is that you can start again and do things differently. I know I had more to give and I want to achieve more as I was not okay with the status quo.

The Choice

The choice is ours: “We can either stay in bed where it’s comfortable, warm and there are no critics to judge us, or we can face the world and push beyond our limits”. Courage as a muscle that has to be exercised which starts with the simplest, yet daunting, step.

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen – Brene Brown

Brene Brown discusses courage in-depth in her books, in addition, she has a Netflix special which I highly recommend to watch as it introduces some key ideas that I have tried to exercise in my life in relation to vulnerability, courage and relationships. Personally, I think she is much better speaker than writer so save yourself some time and watch the show or her TED talk.

Courage

I have recently met an extraordinary individual, who I am going to shamelessly introduce on my blog – Rachida. She is a career coach and blogger, I would encourage anyone to read her articles as they are inspiring and easy to digest. I know she will become a life long friend, especially if I have anything to do it with it!

I only spoke to her for 15 minutes during an event, but in that short amount of time, she concluded that I need to pick up the courage and just do it. She said it is not necessary to make any grand announcements or get buy-in from others. If I felt that something was right then I should just go for it, no excuses, nothing should be holding myself back. *Phew* that 15 minutes was one of the most intense conversations I have ever had in my life. After recovering from the shock of her energy and message, and letting myself process what she was trying to tell me, it left me invigorated and I sat down to consider what was holding me back. I realised that I spent most of 2019 unhappy was because I was stuck in my comfort zone; I knew that my job was not providing the mental stimulation I required.

Taking Rachida’s advice to just do it; I finally picked up the courage to hand in my resignation letter at the end of November! I decided that there is no point continuing to work in a job that I could not give my 100%, but instead to focus on moving to a new industry that I have a passion for. Now, I am not going to lie to you, it wasn’t this awesome WOW moment, instead, I had to battle the creeping dread that I might have done something rash. However, since that day, I have become a more and more excited. I have been offered a role in a company that I admire. By taking a bet on myself, it has enabled me to work in something I care deeply about and align with my values.

I am certainly not telling you to quit your job (but totally do if that is what you want). As I blog this journey, I hope it will prove that taking the courage to do something different will give great rewards.

So here is the call to action: Be courageous and start something new, change something you don’t like. Take that first step and show up!

Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash

Discipline

The start of January is always the start of something new, but how do you keep up the momentum for the rest of the year. Many of you have heard of the astounding statistics about the gym, where 80% of individuals do not go after 5 months or 14% who signed up in January drop out by February. Keeping disciplined and motivated is hard work; though I know that some individuals find it easier than others (lucky sods!). My partner has tunnel vision when he has an idea in his head. He is an absolute force to be reckoned with; he just lives and breathes the project – constantly researching and working at it. I, on the other hand, would get distracted by the latest Netflix series (Have any of you watched Messiah yet?).

2020 is a year of discovery; I start a new job in February and I want to make sure that I have enough time to develop my coaching skills as well. How can I be a good performance coach if I do not test theories/advice of others? I read a lot of blogs and books on self improvement. The only way to know what works is to test them out. Hence, this blog will log my journey of discovery and I would encourage you to join in with me and share your experiences with other readers too! Sharing is caring 🙂

It is very timely that I have decided to talk about discipline. It has taken me a whole day to write this post because I spent 6 hours of my day house hunting with my other half, instead of dedicating time to write this blog. Self-discipline is partially a mental battle and the development of a habit. I understand that discipline is intrinsically linked to motivation but that doesn’t help much either!

 “Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing.” – John C. Maxwell

Jari Roomer wrote that building strong habits and creating a supportive environment would help with motivation and making the right decisions. I think this is better than solely focus on self-discipline. It seems more practical, so here is a list of a few tips that seemed to make some sense.

Tracking progress towards a goal

You have a goal or project. You know the end result, but you need to know how you are tracking towards your goal. If not, it is easy to lose sight of what is required. I really like the idea of getting a diary/calendar and marking it off. Each day you have worked towards the goal, cross it off NICE AND BIG. Enjoy the process – exaggerate it! If you didn’t work towards the goal, leave it blank and set a target on how many days you are allowed off. E.g. you can’t have two consecutive weeks without working towards the goal. You will feel guilty when there are too many blanks – that is exactly what you want! Feel the guilt and start working towards the goal again.

Journaling

Let me be honest, I am rubbish at journaling but others really swear by this. Similar to tracking above, writing your thoughts and recording your memories and feelings is a great way to reflect. Honestly, I feel like this is a lot of hard work, so my shortcut is to use the Daylio app where it gives me smiley faces to rate my general “feel” of the day and you can log the activities with easy to click icons and a SMALL box to write a couple of notes. Simple and it takes me about a minute to record the day – perfect. I have been doing this for a few months now. How it helps is that I can assess my moods and what activities are associated with a positive mood. The more positive you are feeling, the easier it is to be disciplined.

Meditation

Before you roll your eyes, this is a habit that I have tried to develop and I genuinely think that this has done great things for my patience and emotional consistency. I can’t say that I have noticed any significant changes to my focus. However, I am at the beginning of my journey with meditation and once I have completed more sessions I will let you know whether I note any other changes. When many successful individuals preach this practice, there is no harm in giving this a go and I really encourage it – truly one of the best things I did in 2019.

Working Distraction-Free

Being on my smartphone is the worse thing for my productivity. Whatsapp, Telegram, Instagram, YouTube & Netflix are my worse culprits. I moved Instagram from easy access from my phone and just that simple move did wonders to changing my habits. I didn’t spend hours aimlessly scrolling through posts and stories. I had so much more time to read and learn. Social media detox is one of my most recommended tips for self-discipline.

Dopamine Fast

Similar to working distraction-free, one level up is to have a “dopamine fast”. No internet/electronics, no books, no sex, no food, no talking, no music or coffee. Let’s be honest, there is not much more left for someone to do. However, it has been suggested it is possible to go for a walk, writing with a pen, meditate, sleep and drink water. No stimulation whatsoever – how horrifying! I have yet to try this, but I will let you know when I plan it. Personally, this seems really daunting, but I believe a detox from time to time is necessary for the body and mind.

Let me know how you get on and share with me any tips for me to try out and “review”!

Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most – Abraham Lincoln