Why There's No Such Thing As A 'Right' Decision

Do you remember that Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors?

I may be stuck in the ‘90s but I tend to still use it as a reference in my life - ‘This is like Sliding Doors’, I’ll say when a friend is making a decision or when I’m confused about which option to choose.

For those who don’t remember it, the premise of the movie is a ‘what if’ scenario. In one reality Gwyneth Paltrow’s character jumps on a train home, finding her husband cheating on her and in the other she misses the train and is none the wiser.

Now the outcome of the movie is (spoiler alert) that things end up the same anyway, which isn’t necessarily my belief, but I’ve been thinking a lot recently about making ‘right’ decisions, doing things at the ‘right’ time and living life ‘right’ in general.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a Libra but I’m fairly indecisive and love to overthink my way around every decision I make (and even made, past tense, sometimes). I really don’t enjoy this about my brain but I’m consciously aware of it and am working on not dwelling on each and every decision quite so much. Here’s what I’ve realised:

There is no right decision

This has sunk in for me this year and has kind of blown my mind. I was pretty certain for a lot of years that you could make right or wrong decisions but now, bar doing something really horrible in my life, I’ve realised that there is no such thing as a right or wrong decision - just a decision in itself.

How would I know what was right or wrong anyway?

I can’t do a Gwyneth Paltrow and live both realities in parallel so I just have to back myself and know each decision will lead where it’s going to lead.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I really enjoy my job. Although I also enjoyed my last job and particularly loved the people I worked with, I knew it was time for a change of industry, and felt some guilt about only staying in my last job for around 18 months. The job before that (are you following?) I’d been at for five years and I initially felt it had been a waste to move to a new one, only to move on again so quickly.

Except, if I hadn’t moved to my last job, I may never have heard about my current company and be where I am now. So rather than obsess over making that wrong decision between jobs, I can see it as the right decision quite easily. Which leads me to...

You can find good or bad in any decision if you look for it

Our brains have been trained to obsess about major decisions that need to be made, and who hasn’t heard of the good old pros and cons list?

If those lists help you, I’m all for it, but it’s also proof that you can find good and bad in any decision. It’s what you focus on that matters.

Last decade (gulp) I moved to London and, for certain reasons, had to leave my boyfriend back in Australia to do so. I could have obsessed about what leaving him meant for our relationship and where that would leave us in the long run, and, although it was difficult, I did my best to focus on what I wanted to experience in London and where I wanted to travel in Europe.

Looking back now, I would have missed so much if I’d only focused on the negative side of my decision to live there and am so grateful I was able to do it from a place of backing my own decision.

Indecisiveness stops you from making your next decision

Whether you’ve recently made a decision or are coming up to making one, spending your time in a place of worry or regret is not fun, and also not particularly useful.

What worry and regret do is keep us stuck in the past or obsessing over a current decision and, if we’re stuck, we are stopping ourselves from moving forward with new decisions.

I relaunched my website in May, and I spent a lot of time at the start of the year worrying about how I’d pull it off - I tossed and turned over whether I should have hired a designer and web developer to completely redo it, or whether working on it myself was ok for now.

After launching on 1 May, I was so happy to have the new website out there and have now been able to move on with other decisions and parts of my business - working with coaching clients, being featured in interviews on other websites and, I know in the future, I will probably relaunch again when I feel the time is right.

Are you making any tough decisions at the moment? Or are you spinning out over a decision you’ve already made? Book in a 30 minute complimentary chat with me so we can talk through it.

 

Three New Tech Tools I'm Using

Going crazy on downloading apps is a phase that has passed for many of us, but I still do a lot of reading about tech, often through Fast Company, and try and take on the tips I read when they resonate with me.

Over the last while, I’ve been trying a few tools I thought I’d share here on the blog.

Moment

Moment is my latest online experiment, and although it’s an app, it actually encourages you to monitor and eventually reduce your screen time.

Moment runs in the background on your phone and tracks how much time you spend on your device each day.

Over the last week of using it, I’m averaging around 2 hours on my phone per day and I have mixed feelings about that number.

I presume it’s tracking me listening to music or podcasts, or using maps in the car, which makes me feel better, but the Insights section of the app reveals that 2 hours means that 18% of my waking life is spent on my phone and I’m apparently picking up my phone around 25 times a day.

I’m just gathering data at the moment, then will see where this leads me...

Momentum

Kudos to the husband who first introduced me to this one… or really I saw it on his computer.

Momentum is a Google Chrome extension, that brings up a new photo, the time and a to do list every time you open a new tab in the browser.

Their aim is to promote focus, productivity and inspiration, and although I’ve become very used to the function after almost a year of using it, I do find the new daily landscapes pretty relaxing, and being reminded of the time helps me stay focused at work.

Night Shift / f.lux

There is stacks of research reporting the dangers of too much tech time, particularly before bed.

When I saw a kinesiologist last year, I was having real trouble with waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back to sleep.

She suggested f.lux, a plugin that reduces the brightness of your laptop screen (aka filters out blue light, which affects the hormones that help you sleep) as the day moves into evening.

The iPhone and iPad have a similar setting called Night Shift and I think the combination of using both of these have helped me sleep better.

Considering the other option my kinesiologist offered was blue blocker glasses, I’m glad these tools worked instead.

Will you try any of these tech tools this week? What are your favourites at the moment? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below or over on Facebook.

 

Why Your Future Plans Won't Make You Happy

Obviously I’m all for setting intentions (not goals!) for myself around here but I’ve come to some realisations over the years, and I’m sure some of you have been through scenarios like this too.

Have you saved up for a new car (or any new possession), dreaming what it will be like to finally have it, then a week or maybe a month after getting it (and trying to keep it sparkling clean!) it becomes no big deal?

Did you plan your milestone birthday / wedding / other occasion, working on every detail and planning the perfect outfit, only to come crashing down to earth the day or days after when the anti climax of the event being over kicked in?

It’s all a little depressing yes, but all comes back to the false theory of “I’ll be happy when…” I hate to break it to you readers but this is all an illusion.

If it wasn’t, wouldn’t you be happy now, since I’m sure you’ve had those thoughts before, reached your goals, and thought I’ll be happy when I’m done with ‘X’?

So what can you do to be happy right now?

Practice gratitude

An obvious one, but a goodie. One of my guided meditations from Stop, Breathe & Think is all about gratitude and I love choosing this one in the morning.

It asks you to think about all the people who have supported you in your life, all the people you don’t see who make the world tick as it does for you (think roads, food in your grocery store, etc) and to think about the freedoms you have in your life that so many others don’t.

I love thinking like this and not taking seemingly obvious things for granted. Look around readers, there’s a lot to be grateful for right now.

Go after feelings, not just goals

I’m sure many of you have heard of Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map. I haven’t done it fully myself but do support the idea of picking core desired feelings and aiming for those instead of focusing solely on goals.

Not to the level of Danielle’s work, but I have picked my top three desired feelings for each day in the past and came up with ‘excited’, ‘energised’ and ‘satisfied’.

If I keep that in mind when deciding what to do each day (or even approaching things I don’t get to decide on with those feelings), I notice a huge difference. You can try Brooke Castillo’s worksheet on this here.

Realise this is all there is

A little morbid but I guess we all know we’re not necessarily promised any future other than today. That’s a struggle to comprehend but is incredibly grounding too.

One of the exercises I did in Self Coaching Scholars was to write out my ideal day.

What really surprised me was that, despite often trying to improve, I’m really not that far from the days I want to have.

Although it can sometimes seem boring or repetitive, on my ideal day, I would still do yoga, meditate, write to you guys, do some coaching and exercise.

I could pass them off as ‘have to’ tasks in my life, but after completing the exercise I realised I really want to do all of them.

How can you find happiness now, instead of waiting for it in the future?

 

Best of Where the Light Plays 2016

Happy new year readers!

I sincerely hope it was a good one and you're looking forward to 2017. And, if it wasn't, or you're not, I hope you realise the construct of years is not such a big deal and you just keep going for today...

Looking back at the blog in 2016, I feel like I have learned a lot and am thankful to say, the posts full of those learnings were most popular with you readers.

From working on my negative thinking with Brooke Castillo's self coaching model, to continuing with intuitive eating (thanks Paige!), through to the eternal struggle of being super productive, while also making time for pleasure and relaxation - I'd say I've been working on it all. No wonder I needed this holiday break!

Enjoy revisiting your favourite posts below and thank you for coming by week after week to read my musings.

I truly love writing here and can't wait to connect with more of you in 2017. I'm taking a couple of weeks break, then will be back with more ideas for you to try out for the new year. 

I'd love to hear in the comments below or over on Facebook what posts you'd like to see in 2017.

Top 5 Posts on Where the Light Plays 2016

 

34 Ways To Have Fun Every Day

In between incessantly organising our to do lists, our careers and our families are the moments when we lose ourselves and have genuine fun.

Back in this post, I pointed out that many of us have neglected to include fun in our every day and quite a few of you asked how I bring enjoyment into my day to day life.

I’m a big fan of lifestyle coach Sarah Jenks and she inspired me to make a list carved into categories (yes, you can be organised and controlling even with your fun list!).

I’ve got a few regular activities that I swear by week to week (I try a new cafe for lunch each Monday, on Tuesdays I take a pilates class then go on date night) but it’s good to have this list to refer to when I’ve got some free time or more importantly, when I’m feeling in a slump.

I hope you can steal some ideas from my list for your own lives and let me know in the comments below if you have some great ideas I might be missing!  

Pleasure

  • Get a massage
  • Take a bath
  • Get a mani pedi
  • Buy fresh flowers
  • Walk outside

Romance

  • Have a date night
  • Go for a picnic
  • Plan a weekend getaway
  • Go cycling
  • Go for a sunset walk

Friendship

  • Call a friend
  • Visit a museum or exhibition together
  • Cook a BBQ for friends
  • Go for brunch
  • Visit a rooftop bar after work

Adventure

  • Go hiking
  • Wear a new outfit or makeup look
  • Go bowling (my idea of adventure - haha)
...OK, I definitely need some new adventure ideas

Entertainment

  • Go to a concert
  • See a play
  • Go to Moonlight Cinema
  • See a poetry reading
  • Watch cooking shows (one of my guilty pleasures)

Tuning out

  • Sleep in
  • Stay in bed and read books
  • Read in the park
  • Take a nap

Education

  • Watch a documentary
  • Read non fiction
  • Go to an adult education class or do an online course

Creativity

  • Listen to music
  • Dance
  • Cook
  • Write

Which ones are you going to add to your fun list? Let me know below! 

Why You Should Stop and Celebrate

I come from a family that loves to celebrate. Birthdays are a huge deal, champagne is called for when someone buys a new car, Christmas sees a tree overflowing with gifts and I always get texts from family on pertinent anniversaries.

It’s what I’m used to and I’ve always felt grateful for that being how my family operates.

Celebration is something I’ve held on to as I’ve formed my own life away from my family.

I like to make a fuss over friends’ new jobs, new babies or new anything really, and my husband will attest that I smother him in birthday fun whether he likes it or not (spoiler alert: the answer is ‘or not’)

So why should we take time to celebrate?

It differentiates your life

Although I’m sure you all try to lead rich lives, it’s natural to feel a sense of groundhog day from time to time. Another day at the office, another meal being cooked for your family, the days can just bleed into the next.

By taking time to celebrate - whether that be a dinner out, rewarding yourself with a new candle or taking a day trip away - breaks up our lives and creates stand out memories.

It feels amazing to make someone else feel special

One of my favourite reasons to celebrate is to make someone else feel great. I’m not a cruel person who forces ‘Happy Birthday’ to be sung in a restaurant to a cripplingly shy friend, but I make sure my loved ones are made to feel special through words, gifts and somehow making their life easier on important occasions.

It points out how lucky you are

Not every person in this world has the resources to celebrate in the way we do. Along with that comes the fact that not every person has friends and family to celebrate with.

When I stop and celebrate my own and others’ special occasions, it gives me a chance to pause, look around at those close to me, and remember how truly lucky I am to have the life I do.

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Do you take the time to stop and celebrate? What’s the next milestone or occasion you can start planning a celebration for now?

 

How to Make Weekends Work for You

Even when we enjoy our work and weekdays immensely, nothing really beats a weekend.

Friday has that special energy about it and two days of possibility stretch out before us. I personally used to be the victim of Sunday blues (find out how I beat them here).

Although I don’t suffer the Sunday sads anymore, I do often find myself working through a long list of errands and feeling like I’m spending more time preparing for the week ahead than enjoying my time off. So, I’ve come up with a new strategy to try:

Friday nights are for relaxation

This isn’t really a shift for me (ha!) but I’m making a conscious effort to either enjoy dinner out with friends, go to happy hour with coworkers or hit the couch at home at the end of the week.

The real aim is to relax but to also make sure I rest up for Saturday.

Saturdays are for errands and prep

Sounds fun right?! I actually looked at what errands and preparation I would like to do and, to be honest, it’s not going to fill my whole Saturday.

I think the real mental shift is batching all these tasks together so they’re out of the way and don’t seep into the entire weekend.

So in no particular order, I’ll be aiming to nail a combination of the following each Saturday (and I’ve included a time estimate to prove my point):

  • A gym visit (1 hour)
  • Supermarket shopping (30 mins)
  • Meal preparation (see my best meal prepping tips here) (1-2 hours)
  • Housework (1-2 hours)
  • Study (more to come on this in the future...) (1-2 hours)

So even if we go with the maximum time estimates here, I’m looking at 7.5 hours of activities on a Saturday.

Luckily I’ll be awake for at least 14 hours, so half of Saturday is still mine for relaxing, catching up with people or doing whatever else I fancy.

What do you think? Am I crazy to cram all this in to one day?

Sundays are for fun

Ah, Sundays. I’m now looking forward to a mix of the following:

  • Brunch
  • Shopping
  • Binge watching TV shows (or more specifically, cooking shows)
  • Bike riding with the husband
  • Yoga
  • Museums / Art galleries
  • Whatever else I come up with!

I’m not going to pack my Sundays full, but I am going to make sure I enjoy myself.

Rigidity is not the aim here - I know some Saturdays I will have catch ups with friends and won’t turn them down to spend time at the supermarket, but I’m going to try this framework over the next month and see how it leaves me feeling once Monday rolls around.

Do you have any tips on how you balance chores and fun on the weekends? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Three Life Lessons Learnt in Vietnam

Hi readers, I’m back! My husband and I just spent two weeks in Vietnam and a week in Thailand and it was an amazing trip.

Three weeks felt like aggggggggeeees and we saw and did so much. It was super warm (35 degrees Celsius plus) which was amazing, but I’m actually kind of happy to come back to cooler weather.

I highly recommend travelling to both places, but I thought today I’d reflect on the three major themes I took from my experiences in Vietnam.

Keep it slow and fresh in the kitchen

Vietnamese food is incredible - at almost every meal my husband or I would say to each other ‘I know I said this last time, but this food is just so … fresh …’ and we’d laugh.

We visited bustling food markets in Saigon, Hoi An and Hanoi and whipped up some dishes at a cooking class on the river in Hoi An.

The experiences really inspired me to slow down and take the time to make fresh, healthy, delicious food.

Often when I’m racing home after work, it’s a case of ‘what can I cook the fastest, with the least amount of steps?’ and although there are times when that is called for, it’s not that difficult to shred up mountains of fresh green herbs, slice your meat carefully for optimal cooking and stir fry delicious noodle dishes while meditating over the steam.

Relax and take risks in life

As some of you may know, Australia is often referred to as a ‘nanny state’.

Australia has a LOT of rules and laws and the complaint is that we are way too over-regulated compared to the rest of the world. Think - you have to wear a helmet on a bicycle, you really can’t smoke anywhere anymore and the restrictions go on and on.

As I grew up in Australia I’ve obviously grown accustomed to the safety and comfort of where I live, but I do love going to other countries and observing the differences.

Well the cities of Vietnam are perfect for that - in particular, gawking at the traffic.

Leaving the airport at Saigon, we were caught in a semi-traffic jam.

I peered out the taxi window at motorbikes weaving in and out of the lanes (often with up to a family of 4 on the motorbike), cars and buses beeping their horns (always as a warning that they’re there, not in an aggressive manner) and random people strolling into the middle of it all as they try and cross the road. It is truly an incredible sight.

Although I’m aware Vietnam’s road toll is much higher than Australia’s - I love that the chaotic traffic situation just works.

People live with more risk and get on with walking, driving and living without fear.

Be grateful for what you have

Vietnam is not a rich country and is still officially a communist nation. Although the food, the people and the places are amazing, I was reminded how lucky I am to come from a safe, spacious, wealthy country.

In Vietnam there is more poverty, no free healthcare for citizens and a very low pension for retirees so most are looked after by family into old age.

On the positive side of that, you see many older people floating through tai chi routines or using the free exercise equipment in the park on a plight to remain healthy for as long as possible.

Vietnamese-owned companies require employees to work six days a week and wages are often not high enough to afford a visa and trip to a country like Australia. I am extremely lucky.

I’d love to hear about your travels. What’s the number on lesson you’ve learnt in another country?

Farewell Purple One

I saw Prince three times in my lifetime. He was far and away the best performer I've ever seen, and I've been to many gigs. I always felt slightly embarrassed saying this - like someone more underground, less popular, should be my favourite live act. But no one has ever beat him, so I kept telling people.  

The first time I saw him, I was 20 years old. My phone didn't have a camera and I had no social media to post about my experiences on. It was an after party at a club in Melbourne and I was still young enough to wait up until 4am for him to come on, drinking tequila with my dear friend Annie. Most people had given up on Prince turning up at that point and I recall about 30 people being left in the venue. He was utterly cool, talented, energetic and inspirational. He played only one song I knew and commanded his band, including Maceo Parker, James Brown's saxophonist, through the set. It was 110% worth the wait. 

After nearly nine years of telling this story, my husband of two months could tell I was pretty shattered when Prince announced another tour of Australia - while we'd be in Europe on our honeymoon. First world problem I know. I didn't need a reminder of why I married him but when my husband bought us tickets to fly and see Prince in Sydney the night before we were due to head to London, I couldn't help but fall in love a little more. After talking my first experience up, I was worried that maybe tequila and time had exaggerated the story. Not at all. The stadium show was incredible - more hits, more people and Prince telling us he was 'going to tear this place apart'. He did and I remember seeing dance moves from my husband I've never seen - I like to think Prince is so good, he makes you run out. 

The final time I saw Prince (it feels awful to even say that) was around two months ago. It was a different experience again - a small theatre in Melbourne - Prince, piano and a microphone. I went to the show solo and was lucky enough to be moved forward around 15 rows. He was intimate, he was sad, he was funny, he was happy.

That's what I ultimately remember. Prince was unbelievably talented, commanding and cool, but, most of all, he seemed really happy. I have no idea what went on behind closed doors, but you could tell he loved what he did, and I loved what he did. I feel very lucky to have seen it.  

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YouTube Favourites: Lifestyle Edition

I’ve unashamedly confessed to my love of YouTube channels herehere and here.

Today I’m taking you through my favourite ‘lifestyle’ channels - a difficult category to define but I’m pegging it as advice and tips from others on how they’re living their lives.

Mimi (and Alex) Ikonn

Mimi and Alex’s videos are just beautiful. They are such high quality and always include stunning landscapes and left-of-centre tunes.

From travel vlogs to Mimi’s monthly favourites, it’s basically a fun reality show with insights into their lives and business in London.

One of my faves - their morning routine - is above.

Gabrielle Bernstein

If you haven’t discovered Gabrielle Bernstein yet, you’ll be happy now you have.

Some of her concepts are pretty out there but the underlying themes of her books and videos are spirituality, health and how to manage your thoughts and moods.

There are plenty of great, short tips on her channel to get started with.

Marie Forleo

Bizarrely, I used to have a dance cardio DVD with Marie Forleo as the instructor. When she blew up on the internet, she seemed very familiar…ha!

Now she runs the famed B-School, teaching marketing strategies to entrepreneurs.

Her YouTube channel covers ‘Marie TV’ viewer Q&As and interviews mainly with business owners.

It’s not just business-specific though - there’s lots on productivity and life choices and her wacky cutaways always lighten the mood.

Team Stratejoy

Ok I’m cheating as the Stratejoy channel only has two videos (for now).

But Molly’s website is great and the Year of Mastery video is amazing - it’s about a concept called the Cycle of Years and the types of years you may encounter. Watch it now!

Which year are you having in 2016? Let me know below.

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Meanwhile, I'm taking a brief hiatus from the blog while we're on our overseas trip. I'll be back in May!

If you miss me, you can read some of your favourite posts here, and if you have any suggestions for what you'd like to see on Where the Light Plays in the future, let me know in the comments below, or over on Facebook