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Go on holiday and log out!

I want to talk to you about holidays.

I’ve recently come back from a fabulous time in the US – I spent time in the countryside and then in one of my favourite cities, New York. The first part of the trip was in a gorgeous town called Hudson, in upstate NY which is about 2 hours from Manhattan. It’s a good place for New Yorkers to go to unwind for the weekend.

At breakfast one morning, I met a lovely woman who was doing just that. She has a very high powered job and we were talking about how with mobile phones and constant email access, it feels like there is no getting away from work anymore. She had left her office on Friday at 3pm and on Sunday morning she showed me her phone – in that time she had received 628 emails, mostly emails where she had been copied in by her colleagues.

We are a similar age and we reminisced about the good old days when we still worked hard and long hours but that when you went away on holiday, you didn’t hear about work until you returned, refreshed and raring to go again.

Whatever you do for a living, it’s really important to take time for yourself, away from the workplace. Sometimes, I do realise that, particularly if you are freelance or have your own business, the lines between work and play are blurred. However, there is a difference between work being a passion or it being a burden.

You may worry about being seen to take time off and then when you do, you feel that you should be in constant contact.

Sir Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Manchester University says: “You may not want to work but you feel that you should check in. Then you find an email that needs answering and that’s it, you get sucked in. Today, staying in touch is triggered by insecurity and the need to feel valuable. Some see status in appearing to be a workaholic”.

He then adds “We have this crazy notion that we are indispensable and we are not, if you have a heart attack, the company will continue. It’s your family and friends that are indispensable.”

When you think of it like that, it shows you what is really important.

If you are planning to take some time off, here are some tips to ensure that you really do get some time away from it all – even if you haven’t actually gone away.

Tip No 1

Colleagues, bosses and clients will understand that you want (and need) to have time off. Once you have planned your dates, tell everybody that needs to know, well in advance, that you are going to be away. It’s less stressful to warn them, than for them to find out once you’ve gone.

Tip No 2

Before you go, finish as much work as you can and then leave an status update of what stage each of your projects is at. Arrange to delegate any work that needs to be done while you are away.

Tip No 3

Write an out of office email outlining your holiday dates. Give the name and contact details of the colleague(s) that will be covering your work. Do NOT put your mobile number in this email. If anybody needs to speak to you urgently, your number will easily be found.

Tip No 4

I’m not going to ask you to go cold turkey and not check your emails, but if you must check them while you are away, be strict with yourself.

Only check your messages once a day, ideally at the end of the day as in the morning you will be more inclined to engage and reply (although I appreciate you have to factor in time differences).

As the holiday goes on and you get into a more relaxed mood, try leaving the checking for a bit longer. Could you check every few days, maybe?

Tip No 5

If you have to respond, don’t respond with questions, give instructions. Otherwise you are encouraging the back and forth replies. This also allows your colleagues to progress the tasks rather than waiting to hear what to do.

Tip No 6

Try and get some perspective around this. You are not indispensable – while you are away people will cover for you. Just like you cover for them, when they go away. It doesn’t mean somebody is going to take your job because you have a holiday.

Tip No 7

If you find being on holiday stressful and want to check in with work all the time, maybe the problem isn’t your work? Maybe the issue is elsewhere, so perhaps you need to ask yourself some questions about how happy you are in your personal life.

Tip No 8

When you are on holiday, you owe it to yourself and your family and friends to be present and to live in the moment. So, relax and enjoy yourself!

Toni x

 

 

 

 

5 minutes a day to reboot your mind

Have you noticed when you ask people how they are, they often reply “busy”? Some are a bit more forthcoming and are “soooo busy” or “ridiculously busy”.

Busy seems like a badge of honour, something to be proud of. Busy can help people feel important and to the outside world give the perception of achieving lots of good, important work.

The fabulous Brené Brown covers this in her book, Daring Greatly. She says “one of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. I often say that when they start having 12 step meetings for busyaholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”

Mmm, interesting isn’t it?

Life these days is busy, we all know that, but being continuously busy can bring overwhelm, frustration, anger, denial and eventually burnout.

As a Life Coach, I support people to help them find the things they want to do, the jobs they want to have, the person they want to be and to conquer the goals they want to achieve. And I encourage those people to get out, get started and to do those things, in order to make the changes they want to make. Which in turn gives them the life that they want to live.

That can be a lot of ‘doing’.

However, I would like to add that sometimes I also say and I would like to encourage you to realise, that every waking moment of your life does not need to be filled with intent, purpose, added value, success, opportunity or reward – all those things that we believe create happy lives.

Don’t get me wrong, they are all part of the bigger picture of having balanced, happy lives but there is another thing that we seem to have forgotten.

I wonder if we have simply forgotten how to just ‘be’.

We have forgotten that sometimes we can just do nothing for a while. Maybe daydream, maybe sit and look out of the window without feeling that you have to fit something else in. We can sit by ourselves or spend time doing nothing with other people.

When we sit around doing nothing, the majority of us feel guilty. We feel lazy and unproductive because we have been conditioned to use every spare minute of our time to be productive, to organise or sort things out or to check our phones and social media.

There is a lovely letter that Richard Branson wrote about just being, that was published in Mind’s book ‘Dear Stranger, letters on the subject of happiness.’ He said we are called human beings not human doings for a reason and I quite like that. If you want to read the whole article, click here.

The truth is doing nothing for even 5 minutes a day is good for your health. Even the busiest of people can find that amount of time to help reboot their mind. Like a mini-meditation.

So, this Bank Holiday Weekend, I would like you to take some time for yourself. No phone, no TV and if you have to get away from the kids, lock yourself in the bathroom. Sit for a few minutes, breathe normally, maybe close your eyes and just be.

Once you start doing this and realising that it does help, it will feel easier and more natural to do. Maybe some days you will have more than 5 minutes. Oh, and the guilt about not doing anything will subside.

It could do more for your crazy busy life than you realise.

Toni x

How to find your Life Purpose

Do you ever feel a total emptiness inside as if something is missing and you can’t work out what it is?

I’m not talking about the feeling you get when you have experienced a loss or maybe a shock, I mean a feeling that can’t be explained and won’t go away, no matter how much you try to get on with things.

Often potential clients mention this emptiness and my usual reaction is to ask them what their purpose in life is, what gets them out of bed in the morning.

Over the last couple of years, I have learnt that this is a question that flummoxes people and I would say that the majority of them have no idea, at that stage, how to answer.

I have been working with one client for a while and I asked if I could share his take on it with you. He said “I struggle with purpose because it sounds like why are we here on earth and I don’t feel like I’ve got a calling.”

I know it’s different for everybody but I don’t believe that purpose has to be a calling although I appreciate that some people do experience this. I believe that there is not ‘one thing’ that we are meant to be doing, it is a whole bunch of things, sometimes over a period of time and sometimes all at once, as in a portfolio career.

Some people know from a very young age that they want to do a particular job or live a certain way and they structure their entire life to get them one step nearer to their life purpose. Other people go through life and don’t really question or think about their purpose, maybe not ever knowing what they really wanted to do or achieve.

The feeling of emptiness inside is a way of telling us that we are off-course and not leading the life that we want to live. It is highlighting the importance of getting on track to find the things that give you happiness – your purpose.

If you aren’t sure what your purpose is, here are just a few starter questions that you could ask yourself:

Who am I?

What do I do?

Who do I do it for?

Does it energise me?

What are the things I love doing?

Am I doing enough of the things I love?

If the answer to the last question is No, start to take some steps to do more of what you love.

You know how both your head and your heart help you make decisions? Finding your purpose is definitely one for your heart. It’s all about finding out what your passions are, taking actions to make sure you include them in your life and through that, you will connect with your purpose.

There is a lovely quote from Mark Twain that says: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Finding your passion and taking action to do the things that you enjoy is leading a purposeful life and I think your whole being hinges on this. When you no longer have the feeling that something is missing, you have found your purpose.

Toni x

 

If you have any questions about this or would like some help to connect with your purpose, then please get in touch here. We can arrange a complimentary call and you can tell me what is going on for you right now.

 

 

 

Dealing with the ‘I’m not Good Enough’ voices

Do you know the voices I mean?

Those internal ones that tell us that there are things that we can’t possibly do, either because we don’t know how to do them properly or because we aren’t good enough to do them. These voices enter our minds both at work and in our personal lives and they can be quite powerful and persistent.

They can make you feel you haven’t got a clue about what you are doing and in turn, you question everything that you have done before.

And before you know it, the voice becomes ‘perhaps I’m just not good enough, perhaps I’ve never been good enough and maybe I won’t ever be good enough.’ So you work harder and get promoted, you go to the gym and you get fitter or you achieve a goal that is important to you. But, still the feeling hangs around and nags at you. Sound familiar?

Before we go any further, let me tell you it isn’t just you that feels like that, I sometimes get those feelings too. I can almost hear you now ‘What kind of life coach is she?!’ Everybody gets those feelings at least some of the time. Some people get them occasionally and some people are battling those internal voices on a regular basis. Remember they are feelings, not reality.

Why do so many of us feel like we are not good enough?

There could be many reasons but often the feeling may have started in childhood. You may be able to remember a parent or a teacher comparing you to one of your siblings or friends ‘why can’t you be more like her/him’ or ‘Only 70%, that’s not like you’. Comments like that helped the feeling to develop and as an adult, your mind continues to believe that you are not as good as you ‘ought’ to be.

When you get good feedback or maybe recognition for a project you worked on, do you find that the feelings subside?

That’s because you are looking, either consciously or unconsciously, for somebody else to give you good feedback, ie to give you validation. Guess what – you don’t need everybody’s approval. This may take the feeling away temporarily but when you hit another roadblock, the voices and feelings will come back.

When they do, you feel you now have ‘proper proof’ that you just aren’t good enough. The knock on effect is you will settle for less than you deserve in your life, in relationships and at work, because you don’t feel that you deserve better.

Ok, so here’s the thing, like most things in life it’s not about whether you get those feelings or not, it’s about how you deal with them and get some control back.

Here are my top tips to help you ignore those voices:

Remind yourself of everything you have achieved so far

Make a list of all the things you have done to date that you once thought you couldn’t do, but you did them anyway. It’s important to focus on your progress not on making things perfect. And focus on how far you’ve come rather than on how far you have left to go. This is absolute proof that you are good enough.

Celebrate your wins

No matter how small your successes, make sure you take some time to acknowledge and celebrate them. Celebrating small wins reminds you that you have success on an everyday basis and this will train you to be more mindful of this, especially when those voices come knocking.

Put your negative thoughts in a boat

When you get a negative thought, imagine packing it into a little boat and letting it float away on the water. This will train your mind to let those thoughts go rather than trying to stop them, which sometimes makes things worse.

Do not compare yourself to other people

We all know people that seem to have it all and social media doesn’t help, with images of the perfect life. I can assure you that everybody has their own challenges, but perhaps the difference is they have learnt to deal with whatever their ‘stuff’ is.

Ok, why aren’t you good enough?

If you honestly still think that you aren’t good enough, then I need you to go and get a pen and paper. Write down the reasons why you think that and leave enough space for comments. Now, in the comments space, reply to each reason with an answer as to why it’s not true.

When you read the reasons back, often they make no sense because when you are looking at things logically you can prove otherwise and that’s exactly what you’ve just done.

Talk to somebody

Sharing your thoughts and worries is proven to help stress and anxiety. By telling other people, you may find that they feel exactly the same about themselves. If you don’t have somebody in your friends and family network that you wish to confide in, please consider booking some sessions with a Life Coach as we are trained to help you re-frame your thoughts.

If this post is relevant to you, I hope these tips help. Get into a routine of doing them on a regular basis and I think you will find that they make a difference.

Stop putting things off because you don’t think you are good enough. Go and do all those fabulous things that you want to do. Some will work out for you and some maybe won’t. But until you try, how can you know?

If you would like to talk to me, you know where I am.

Toni x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February is all about Love

Now before we go any further, don’t worry this is not going to be a corny Valentine’s Day post. You know me better than that – I hope!

There’s a lot of talk around at the moment about self-care or self-love and so I wanted to talk to you about what you are doing to be kind to yourself?

Some people think that taking time for yourself is a luxury and a bit self-indulgent. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. When you take time to be kind to yourself and do the things that help you feel re-charged, nurtured and happy, you are more able to cope with whatever life throws at you.

We all live in an increasingly busy world that demands so much of our time and energy and so looking after yourself is more necessary than ever.

When I talk to my clients about their goals and what they want to achieve, it’s really important that we make a plan and get things scheduled in, so that they have something to work to, which makes them accountable. It’s the same with looking after yourself – schedule things in, like you would a meeting or a night out, and then you can’t say that you didn’t have the time. (Well you can, but you might feel a bit guilty for lying to yourself). Remember if it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.

There are many things that you could do to look after yourself and I’ve made a list here of the 6 tips that I think are high on the priorities list, if you want to be kinder to yourself.

1.  Sometimes you have to say No

You can’t always say Yes to everything and everybody, because that means you often end up at the bottom of the list, with no time for yourself. Imagine you’ve got yourself prepared for a cosy quiet evening, box set at the ready and some gorgeous food and then a friend calls and begs you to go out. Before you know it, you are saying Yes. Sometimes just say No as in “It sounds lovely, but No I can’t”. If you don’t say No enough, this can lead to you feeling resentment and then getting angry with yourself. No good can come of that.

2.  Nourish your mind, body and soul

This includes eating the right food for you (well 80% of the time, at least), spending time with people you love and care about, your hobbies and interests, having a good laugh, reading a book, going for a walk, having a beauty treatment, watching a film or having a good sleep. Whatever it is that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. It’s also vital to make sure that you properly relax. It’s so important that we take a break from work related things, whether that’s what you do for a living or the household chores.

3.  Keep active

Keep moving in a way that’s right for you. Anything that keeps you active is better than nothing. It will help you maintain your energy, level your moods and strengthen your cognition.

4.  Give yourself a break (and some credit)

Show yourself some compassion – why can we do it for others yet we can be so mean to ourselves? Give yourself some credit for the things you are doing right and celebrate every success, no matter how small.

If things don’t go to plan (and as you are human, chances are sometimes they won’t), don’t be hard on yourself. Work out what needs changing or fixing and crack on.

5.  Stop comparing yourself (or your life) to others

One of the easiest ways to feel bad about yourself is to compare yourself to other people. Others can seem more attractive, richer, more successful and have loads more social media friends. They can look like they have life sorted and are so, so happy.

All of those things are based on your own perceptions, you cannot know how they are really feeling. The image that others put out to the world, particularly on social media, is not necessarily the truth.

It’s a total waste of your energy, so please stop it now. Have role models by all means, but look at them in a positive and constructive light, rather than making negative comparisons.

6.  Accept compliments

When somebody compliments you on your cooking, your latest report or says you look good, how do you react? Do you feel a bit uncomfortable and not know how to reply? The best way to accept a compliment is to smile, look the person in the eye and say thank you.

Being able to accept compliments is great for your confidence and overall wellbeing and also makes the other person feel good too. So everybody wins.

So there we have it, my top 6 tips to start you off on your be kind to yourself mission. Start to think about your own needs and then put yourself first. You cannot help or love others if you don’t feel love, happiness, kindness and compassion for yourself. Oh and forgiveness, but I think that’s a whole post in itself.

I would love to know what you are going to schedule in for yourself – send me a comment below.

Take care of yourself and enjoy it!

Toni x