This New Mantra Will Change Your Days

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Patience seems to be my theme of 2018. In all sorts of ways, I am learning to be more patient - with the activities of my day, with long term goals, with people.

Spending a lot of time with my baby this year, life has taken a new, slower pace.

Earlier in the year, I was feeding her at the dark and civilised hour of 4am. I found myself waiting and waiting, timing her feed.

After it was done I was watching the clock as I waited for her to burp. I felt impatient and I wanted it to be done so I could get back to bed.

After lots of time spent reading and listening to Alex Franzen, the queen of appreciating ‘life minutes’ as she calls them, I was reminded of a quote from one of her books… ‘Allow it to take as long as it takes’.

Bleary eyed, I repeated this to myself and looked at my daughter. She didn’t care how long things were taking and she had nowhere else she wanted to be. And neither did I.

Now, I use this mantra regularly.

When thinking about a goal or purchase I want to be here right here, right now, I remind myself - allow it to take as long as it takes.

When I’m cooking and find myself wanting the preparation to be done and to be sitting at the table eating the finished product already. I stop and think - allow it to take as long as it takes.

Are you rushing through your daily activities, wishing they were done already?

Are you impatiently waiting for your train to arrive at your station, anxious for your name to be called at the coffee shop, restless for the stretching track in your gym class to be finished already? 

Maybe you’re impatient for a promotion, a new car, a boyfriend, a holiday to be here already?

What if you stopped the mental struggle and allowed life to take as long as it takes?

You Can't Always Get What You Want

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Hi readers!

Some big news here on the blog - I went and had myself a baby girl!

There’s been a little less content around here while I learned the ins and outs of having a beautiful newborn baby, but I’m excited to be back, writing to you all and coaching clients again.

You can imagine there’s been some hefty lessons that have come with this time in my life. I’ve been mentally storing them up to share with you readers, in the hopes that they’ll help you in a relevant area of your life too.

So - let’s start with how we try to control outcomes.

Over the years I’ve become pretty great at this.

Sure, I’ve been frustrated with the time it takes to tone up at the gym, but over a series of months I’ve always got there. At work, the promotion might not be available straight away but I keep plugging away and when it’s there, I’ve often been the chosen one.

You can imagine my surprise over the last couple of months when I discovered no matter what action I was taking I couldn’t control a certain result.

I have had some nursing issues (who the hell hasn’t I’ve discovered) and I took it on as a project - I researched all I could, went to appointments, stocked up on supplements and medicine, started my regime with full gusto and was ready for the results to start rolling in…

...then three weeks later… nothing.

Since I was told results should come after two weeks, I was confused. This isn’t what happens to me.

Cue a yucky spiral of sadness, doubt and defeat.

But then I realised… feeling crappy about it was only having one effect. Making me feel like crap.

It seemed I couldn’t change the circumstances, but I could change how I felt about them.

I have been loving being a mum but feeling down doesn’t leave much time to smell the roses and enjoy the moment.

After much thinking, I decided to mentally LET GO OF THE OUTCOME (gasp).

I realised even if I hung on tight to the outcome I wanted, it would still have no effect, so it was time to stop the suffering.

I now feel about a billion times better. Sure, I feel a bit disappointed, but it is what it is. I am trying my best, but sometimes in life that just won’t do the trick.

Can you change your thoughts about something that’s getting you down?

Can you let go of an outcome and, in doing so, let go of some suffering?

I hope you can and feel the relief I’ve finally come to.

Mwah! 

3 Ways To Balance Productivity And Ease

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I’ve been drawing on two concepts pretty heavily recently. The first is around productivity and, of course, it was sparked by my current guru, Brooke Castillo. She is all about managing the mind.

When it comes to time management she recommends scheduling the work you want to do and counting on your brain to try and talk you out of it when the time comes.

Want to clean your house on Saturday morning? You can count on your brain trying to convince you to stay in bed. Planning on a Pilates class after work? A glass at the new wine bar with coworkers sounds better. Want to write a blog post Sunday night? You deserve some ice cream and Netflix instead.

Sound familiar?

The other concept is around finding alignment, which is featuring heavily in Jess Lively’s work at the moment. When I have some free time during the day, I ask ‘what will get me into alignment?’ This pretty much equates to what feels best for me or what will bring me the most ease.

My mind used to lead me to spend that free time tidying up the house, paying bills or doing something equivalently un-fun, but now I tune in to what really sounds best, not what I ‘should’ be doing.

That currently looks like having a shower and putting a face mask on, going out for brunch or, my favourite, taking a nap. Rather than shoulding all over the place, I do what I really want to do.

So how do I marry these two seemingly different concepts up?

Honour thy calendar

Productivity is still important to me and getting things done can also put me in alignment. I just don’t want to run myself into the ground with my to do list.

So I schedule in my appointments, book time to write blog posts and block out time for exercise. When the time comes I know my brain will try and talk me out of it but I go ahead anyway, knowing that I’ve also set aside time to relax.

Set aside time for alignment

Leaving lots of space in my calendar to find alignment makes the productive times more easy to follow through on. Yes, there will always be dishes to do but when the free time comes, I don’t default to strapping on the rubber gloves.

I ask myself what feels best and go with it. And (shock) sometimes tidying the kitchen does feel like alignment - if so, I go with that too.

Regularly review your to do list

I keep a running to do list in the Notes app of my phone and I’m sure you all have different apps and planners and systems for tracking your lists.

A few times a week I look at my list and ask if the items are important to me anymore and actually need to be done.

More often than not I can cull a few items from the list - either because they’ve been there forever or because I’m mandating that I need to do them when I can actually let them go. Try it!

Does your brain try and talk you out of what you said you’d do?

And, when you have the space, do you ever ask it what feels best for you in that moment?

An Easy Visualisation Technique to Deal with Negative People

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Earlier this year, I was having trouble with a particular person in my life - I would call him an ‘energy vampire’...

I wasn’t super close to him but had to have a lot to do with him on a week to week basis. In my eyes, he was very negative about life and I felt like I was a sounding board for much of this negativity.

Plodding along through everyday life, I thought the relationship wasn’t having much of an effect on me. I knew how our conversations would go and I would nod and sympathise, then move on with my days.

However at a session with my kinesiologist, the relationship came up as a big red flag in our discussions. Despite the nodding and smiling, underneath I was feeling incredibly drained and exhausted by the relationship and it was bringing me down.

My kinesiologist suggested a great technique that I used around this person from then on and I’ve shared it with clients who are in similar situations.

Whether you’re feeling drained by family, a work colleague or friend, this visualisation technique is designed to protect you from any negative energy while still allowing you to be there for people as needed.

You can do these steps before you speak to them next or during your conversation.

Picture your bubble

This will be different for all of us, but if you picture a bubble around yourself when in conversation with this person, what does it look like?

What is it made out of? Is it wet or dry? What colour is it? Is it round or does it run close to your body?

Let the bubble protect you

Once you have a clear picture of the bubble around you, you can start to imagine it as a sort of shield in conversation with this person.

As the other person speaks, you are protected by the bubble.

Do you see their words bouncing off the bubble? Do their sentences drip down the side? Does the bubble reflect their words back to them?

You can still concentrate on what they’re saying but in the back of your mind, visualise and know you are protected by the bubble.

Repeat

The key is to use this visualisation technique to protect your own energy as needed.

Without the bubble, it’s quite easy to absorb what someone’s saying, feel down about their struggles and leave situations with them feeling depleted.

Using the bubble lets you still hear them out, be there for them, but you know you are protected from any negative words or energy and can move back into your day without your vibe being brought down.

Let me know if you try the bubble technique with someone in your life. How did it work for you?

Why Beating Yourself Up Never Works

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Earlier this week, I came home from a busy day at work and flopped on the couch with my phone.

I was tired, bone tired.

Suddenly the to do list I had in my head for that night seemed insurmountable and I resigned myself to the fact I was probably going to get nothing done.

Instead of accepting that decision and relaxing into the evening, I had a severe case of the guilts.

I hadn’t cooked dinner all week, I hadn’t exercised, I had a pile of laundry waiting and some freelance work unfinished and almost a week late.

Needless to say, it wasn’t a fun night.

Sure, I watched some TV and had an early night but the nagging voice that was beating me up stuck around for the rest of the evening.

The following night, after another busy day, I came home, determined not to have a repeat of the guilt.

I decided the best thing to do was stay off the couch (for now) and make something for dinner that could roast in the oven. Firstly, so I could get a couple of things done while it cooked and also so I wasn’t eating super early, since I’d only just got home from work.

My lamb and sweet potato fries baked while I did 20 minutes of pilates - I then made a quick salad and we sat down to eat. I asked my husband to take care of the laundry and decided the freelance work could wait until the weekend.

By 7.30pm, I was on the couch with a peppermint tea, Netflix on and no nagging voice to be heard.

Sometimes, it can feel productive or important to beat yourself up. My experience this week proved that doesn’t work.

Some days we’re not going to get our to do lists done, and accepting that without guilt is the absolute best way to go.

Some days we need to ask for help.

Some days we can just get a couple of things done.

And that’s fine, because the next day we get to wake up with purpose and goals again.

However you’re feeling right now, whether it’s super motivated or in a slump, be kind to yourself and know that coming from a harsh place is not going to help.

You’re doing a great job.  

I Worked Out Why You're 'Too Busy'

If you think back over the last week, how many times did you reply ‘good... busy’, when asked how you are? 

I hear it so often - from coworkers, friends, clients and, of course, I hear it come out of my own mouth too.

I genuinely feel busy - I have a job that keeps me busy, a social life, a side business, family, friends. The thing is I don’t want to feel bored and have nothing to do - I’m grateful for all in my life.

But I also don’t want to use ‘busy’ in a negative way or as an excuse.

This is unfortunately what I hear so often - not just I’m busy, but I’m ‘too busy'. That’s when alarm bells start ringing for me, and here’s why...

You are prioritising ‘busy work’

We’ve spoken a lot about the second shift here on the blog - the household labor women do after their paid job is done.

After all, if you look for it, there’s always something to do in your second shift.

Is your house clean? I bet you could take everything out of your kitchen cupboards and clean those out too (please don’t).

I really want you to think about the things you can let slide… I’ve had two examples of this in the last few days.

Firstly, I got back from my holiday to Hawaii and my general inclination is to unpack and put the washing on once I get in the door. Why? I just got back from holiday. Instead, I made myself a coffee, sat on the couch and watched a movie. The suitcase was still there the next day once I’d had a good sleep and eased back into home life a little more.

Now, once I got the washing on the next day, I heard the washing machine beep its last beep, just as I was in the middle of writing this post. My inclination? Jump up and go hang the washing out. Why? I’m in the middle of something more important to me and the washing will be there in an hour when I’m done.

If you’re not ready to let anything slide this week, at least observe when you might be doing this - either doing things you don’t care about, or interrupting yourself constantly to rush on to the next task.

You’re avoiding what you care about most

Ding, ding, ding! This is the clincher my friends and something I observe frequently.

For my brain it’s much easier to hang out laundry than it is to write a blog post.

Writing a post takes thought, effort, courage, working through fears.

Who wants to do that when I can just stand in the backyard, pegging t shirts on the clothesline?

So often we deprioritise the things that are important to us for the sake of being busy. And this can include self-care or relaxation.

For example, I noticed earlier in the year that my days were going like this - work all day, go to the gym, cook dinner, then sit down to work on my website…

Of course, I was too tired to work on my website by then and although the other tasks were still important to me, I was putting less important things ahead of my main goal.

I’ve seen this in many areas with clients - 'I have to look after my family so I don’t have time for exercise', 'I have to check my work emails in the evening after dinner, so I don’t have time to paint', 'I can’t sit on the couch when there are dirty dishes in the sink', and on and on.

The things that scare or challenge us are the things we push aside, but they are also usually the most rewarding.

What step can you take towards a scary goal this week, ahead of your busy work?

You’re letting your mind run the show

Have you ever noticed how you can do things on your to do list with pain or ease? Let me give you an example.

Some Sunday afternoons, I cook around three meals for lunches and dinners for the week ahead. I can do it one of two ways.

  1. I try and do it as quickly as possible, multi tasking across recipes, huffing and puffing around the kitchen, watching the clock, lamenting having to cook on a Sunday. I also notice I’m more likely to cut my finger with a knife when I’m in this type of mood. Sounds fun right?
  2. I put on a podcast, pour myself a drink, grab everything out that I need for the first recipe and methodically work through each step in a relaxed way. I admire my handiwork when everything is in tupperware containers and reward myself when I’m all done - with a bath, an episode of a great show or getting ready for dinner out with friends.

The crazy thing is it usually takes me the same amount of time to meal prep whether I choose option 1 or 2 and guess which one leaves me happier?

If you have chosen to do something, do you want it to be mentally painful or pain-free? Try it out this week and also have a read about segment intending for help focusing on the task at hand. 

Want to chat about this further? Book in for a complimentary 30 minute consult with me and we can look at your to do list and move you away from being ‘too busy’.

Why I Ditched My To Do List In Favour Of Self-Love

I’m very excited to be featured on a fellow coach, Bailey Opsal's blog this week, talking about the challenging topics of self-love and self-care.

All too often, in conversations with friends and clients, self-love is a concept they struggle with.

It’s not that they hate themselves, it’s that they think the more they push themselves or berate themselves, the more pleased they’ll be with themselves ... and that will somehow lead to self-love. It kind of sounds logical, but also quite harsh.

I used to fall into this camp. Sure I had fun and took care of myself, but the repetitive to do list of everyday life took precedent - I had to exercise a certain amount, there was always a list of things to do around the house and guilt and anxiety would set in if I wasn’t on top of everything.

I eventually figured this busy work was surely not what life was about.

Similar chores and to do lists would always be there, but I no longer wanted to make them the focus of my life or thinking.

I decided the things I loved to do had to come before my to do list.

So what does that look like?  

Yoga

If you remember this earlier post, you’ll know that I resisted yoga for a long time. In line with my busy to do list, yoga seemed boring, slow and did not burn enough calories for me back in the days when that mattered to me.

Now, I do it every day in some shape or form. It’s usually first thing in the morning and has worked wonders for waking me up and stretching out my creaky body after sleep.

You’ll know my favourites are Yoga With Adriene and Tara Stiles - try these short videos from Adriene and Tara if you’re interested.

Yoga now gets me out of my own head and slows me right down.

Reading

I used to read like a crazy person when I was younger - to the point where my sister was horribly embarrassed by me always carrying around a book.

Like many avid readers I know, the plight of social media and the short attention spans that come with it, meant I wasn’t reading nearly as much as I was buying books.

Over the last 6 months, when I catch myself on my phone, checking Instagram for the 10th time, I remind myself that reading would be much more fulfilling and again, will help me switch off.

I read a combination of hard copy books and download onto my Kindle app obsessively (are you guys all over the free sample chapters on Amazon’s Kindle store? Try before you buy!).

I’m currently reading The Course of Love (I am obsessed with Alain de Botton) and The Year of Magical Thinking (heavy going but Joan Didion’s writing is incredible).

Spending time with people

If you’re ever feeling too much up in your own head, my best advice is to go and spend quality time with someone else.

Sure you might want to talk about what you’re going through or your to do list might be nagging at you, but inevitably you’ll gain some perspective and either be distracted, or realise we’re all going through similar things.

If I can’t catch up with people in person regularly enough, I try and call them in the car on the way to or from work and make sure I check in with those most important to me.

Playing games

Those who know me, know I have a penchant for video games… yes, yes I know...

My favourite for years has been The Sims (stop laughing) which I dip in and out of a few times a year. I also love hidden object games (Google them!) - they are great for switching your brain off and relaxing. I have also recently made a triumphant return to playing Mario Kart.

Listening to music (and having dance parties)

Although I have an obsession with podcasts (my current favourites are The Life Coach School Podcast and On Being), I recognised a while ago that absorbing information constantly isn’t always the best for me switching off.

What is good for switching off my brain is listening to music - I try and do that in the car more often than not, and love going through my back catalogue of music on the computer at night and dancing around the living room when called for (much to the confusion of my cat Pickles).

What can you do this week to step away from your to do list? 

I also have one coaching spot opening up in June - contact me here for a complimentary 30 minute consult if you'd like to talk about how you can find fulfillment outside of your to do list. 

What To Do When You're Low On Energy

Confession: over the last few weeks, I feel like I have run out of energy.

Between the clocks changing, work slowing down and the weather feeling much cooler, I’ve fallen out of routine and, to be really honest, feel like a bit of a slug getting around most days.

Now, this is not my style at all. I enjoy being busy - catching up with friends, exercising, working on my business and writing to you guys.

So you can imagine my brain started going a little crazy when those activities fell away and I found myself nodding along to the Netflix notification that my next episode would be starting in 10 seconds.

‘What’s wrong with you?’
‘Get up and do something’
‘You are way behind on your to do list’

Thanks brain! But of course, berating myself wasn’t working or making me feel any better. I took a new perspective and tried these steps instead.

Be kind to yourself

Instead of beating myself up, I took a step back and looked at what was going on.

I’m not a robot who is going to feel the same way and do the same things every day for the rest of my life. I’m going to have ups and downs and feel different week to week and year to year.

Once I accepted this, it took a big load off and I could just accept that I wasn’t running at full steam at the moment.

Appreciate what you had

A few weeks ago, pre-energy slump, I was probably begrudging my busy schedule and responsibilities - and ironically, now I missed them!

The grass is not always greener and I know when I’m back to feeling energetic again, I’m going to bear in mind how much I missed that busy life I created for myself.

Just do something

The other night, while feeling tired after work, I thought: 

‘I’ll just get the laundry on, and will make it a bit more fun by listening to a podcast while I do it.’

After that, I knew I could sit down again and rest.

Lo and behold, once I got the laundry on, I started doing a few other things around the house, then felt ready to reply to some emails I’d been putting off.

My energy level rose as I went and after about an hour of productivity, I was ready to chill out again, knowing I’d made some progress. Don’t push yourself here but doing small things can make you feel much better.

What do you do when you’re in a slump? Let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook.

 

Struggling To Get Out Of Bed In The Morning? Read This...

Do you ever get the feeling you’re the only one who struggles in the mornings?

Your alarm goes off and you a) hit the snooze alarm or b) start the desperate bargaining for how you can stay in bed.

Can I exercise tomorrow instead? Can I call in sick? Can I work from home? Can I cancel all my plans and stay in the warmth?

I hear about this happening a lot in conversations with clients and friends and - shock - also sometimes feel this myself.

In particular, over the last week, with clocks changing, I’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the morning.

So what can you do?

Expect it

We often go to bed with grand plans of yoga the next morning, prepping our lunch and jumping out of bed gleefully to our to do list. If you wake up and don’t feel like the person you expected to the night before, that’s ok.

The worst thing you can do is berate yourself and feel shocked, disappointed or guilty about your struggle.

If you know you don’t usually feel great, expect it and it will be easier to take when it comes up in the wee hours of the morning.

Watch it

In one of my favourite personal development books, The Happiness Trap (read my review here), Dr Russ Harris talks about distancing yourself from your thoughts.

As we’ve come to understand, our thoughts are not necessarily the truth, so if you can name the thoughts or watch them from a distance, they will likely be easier to deal with.

For example, you can name the thoughts you go through each morning (“Here comes the ‘stay in bed’ story again”) or mentally stand back and watch your thoughts drift by from a distance.

This loosens their power and effect on you and helps pull you out of the intensity of your feelings.

Move on with it

I’m sure many of us have had this experience - we are 100% sure we cannot face the day and will feel like rubbish all day if we even attempt to face the world.

We promise ourselves as soon as we get home from the day we can go back to bed and pull the covers over our head.

Then after dragging ourselves out of bed, we shower, have breakfast and can barely remember that crazy person who told us to not to get out of bed today.

We get on with our day and enjoy the evening, before returning to bed at regular time that night.

I’m not dismissing the need to have a doona day now and then, but usually it’s not actually what we need or want by the time we start our day.

Try moving on with your day’s activities and observe the results.

If you’re ready to try becoming a morning person, read my three tips here.

And let me know how you go with your morning thoughts this week and if these tips help you face the day. 

3 Reasons To Let Go Of Control

Now if I know you reader, you are leading a busy life balancing a mix of career aspirations, family commitments, your health and fitness, hobbies and a fun social life.

You likely want to find satisfaction in all of these areas and, with that hope, comes a certain desire to control your life - through a to do list, an organised calendar or a running list in your head (or all of the above).

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live a well-rounded, fruitful life but with that desire to control every aspect of your life comes pretty big risks.

We can easily let ourselves down by missing an item on our list, others might not measure up to the image of our perfect life and it can just bring a whole heap of stress and anxiety with it.

Although I love to stay organised and work on creating a great life, I have also learnt to let go of some of the control I used to so tightly hold on to.

So why should you let go of control?

We are not living life on a points system

The brilliant coach Amy Young said this quote and I remember it daily.

Sure, ticking things off our to do list feels good, as does an organised schedule, but remember - there are no points for any of this.

 The experiences I’m more interested in prioritising involve fun and connection with other people, not scrubbing my bathroom floor or answering every email in my inbox.

At the end of January with an empty public holiday weekend ahead, I thought to myself ‘I could declutter the house this weekend and get everything super organised’.

My next thought was ‘Hey, I’ve got nothing on this weekend - I could go visit my family for a few days and go swimming, go on long walks, eat out and catch up with them’.

Guess which one I chose? I’m pretty sure I’m going to remember that weekend more than I’d remember a Marie Kondo-ed linen closet.

Control never lasts

How many times in the last year have you finished your to do list? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

We obviously don’t want to let our lives and households fall apart, but adjusting to the idea that I’ll never really be up-to-date with my to do list is something I’ve come to accept.

I remind myself that it would be worse to have nothing to do, no aspirations and be sitting around bored with an empty to do list.

I have things I want to do, blog posts I want to write, TV shows I want to watch, places I want to visit and I don’t need to come at them with a sense of control - just a sense of curiosity and appreciation.

Controlling others is fruitless

Trying to control others is one we’ve all indulged in, I’m sure.

Our partners, kids, coworkers - if everyone could just behave as we want them to, life would be so much easier right?

A big lesson I’ve learnt is - you cannot control anyone, only your own thoughts about that person.

An attempt to control someone may seem like you are helping them or making life easier for yourself, but accepting others as they are is much more likely to serve you.

Think of someone trying to control your actions, nagging on you to change, telling you to act in a different, unnatural way. Even if you agree to it, you will most likely go back to what you wanted to do in the first place.

Other people are exactly the same.

Letting go of the need to control others lets you off the hook stress-wise as much as it lets them be who they want to be.

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What are you trying to control in your life? How can you let go of that grip over the next week?