Serena Simmons Consultant Psychologist

Change. Motivate. Adapt. Improve. Perform


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Why you must follow your dreams…

With the New Year looming, it’s usual to start thinking ahead to the things you might want to do.  New projects, holidays, new exercise regimes and diets, or bigger changes you might want to make in your personal life or career?

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Everyday in my work as a psychologist, I get to talk to people about these kind of things.

I get to encourage people to take the time to look at how these things might be achieved in a realistic way and figure out some of the potential stumbling blocks that might occur along the way.  These might be due to circumstances or emotional and deep seated patterns that means we work against ourselves, hindering our own ability to get to where we want to be (we are great at sabotaging ourselves!).

Now, I’m a big, big fan of the practical.  I love to-do lists, goal setting and working within the confines of our physical, tangible reality. In other words, though thinking positively is hugely, hugely important, just sitting on your bum thinking positively aint gonna cut it.  After all, we can’t merely ‘think’ ourselves thin/rich/successful etc. etc….I think you get the picture!

But for a moment, I want to consider how important it is to for a moment to forget our daily reality and go inwards a little more and focus on what really lights us up?  This isn’t thinking, so much as dreaming.

– What are your dreams for 2016? – 

Remember when you were a child.  What did you dream about?  What did you want to do…really?

What kind of things did you sit and imagine or daydream about?  What did you or indeed do you get excited about?  Do you sit dreaming about travelling to different places?  Do you dream about another career or job where everyday you get to go and do something that truly inspires you!  Do you dream about being in a loving relationship or finding more time to devote to your passions?

It is SO very important to not lose sight of our dreams.

Our dreams and what we picture and imagine in minds that make us feel happy, content, excited…all positive emotions, are an insight into what is in your heart and therefore what your heart desires.  Indulging our dreams keeps us in touch with what we want is also hugely important as it can give us access to an understanding of our purpose or what we feel we should be here while we live this ‘one precious life!’.

It is so easy in the throws of every day life, to get bogged down with the day-to-day grind.  Getting up to go to work.  Looking after those around us.  Keeping our homes clean and tidy. Staying on top of the washing/e-mails/chores and life admin.  Sometimes the closest we get to ‘dreaming’ is day-dreaming about having finished the cleaning after dinner and being able to find 5 minutes to have a cup of tea!

Before the New Year gets under way, I invite you to stop for just half an hour and with a notebook and pen to help you solidify/keep note of your thoughts, take a moment to free your mind and go into that place in your head, and hearts, that allow for you to dream for just a moment about the things that you desire.

What is it you dream about?  Has it been a while since you indulged these thoughts?

Do you think, and fantasise about the same things regularly…for example leaving your job and starting your own business?  Or maybe you think about moving to the coast or packing up and travelling?

What fills your heart with joy and gets you feeling excited?

What would your life look like if you indulged this feeling and even dare I say it, pursued some or all of these things now!

Then consider, what is stopping you?…what are you afraid of?…what are your blocks?

Not all dreams are destined to become reality.

Some dreams are designed to be just that; dreams….I mean I dream about flying but let’s face it, that’s not going to happen any time soon!  But my dream about living near the sea is one I’m going to take more seriously over the next year or so, therefore I’m going to focus on figuring out how I could make that happen.

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Dreaming goes you access to your hearts desire and purpose.

With the right focus and planning we can then work on bringing some of those dreams into reality….how exciting!

So as the New Year approached and you think about changes that you might want to make, I encourage you to dream.  Take note f what you dream about and the recurring themes you see. Maybe then you can also look to make some of your dreams a reality…what could be more fun than that.

Til next week!

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If you would like help focusing on planning for next year you may which to take advantage of an hour and half coaching session for the price of one hour if booked before 31st December.  For more details click HERE to be take to the SHOP PAGE.

Also, more discussion, tips, advice and inspiration can be seen over on my Facebook page.

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Why are you holding yourself back?…

I’ll do it when I have enough money.

I’ll start it when I can find the time.

When I have the right job, I’ll feel more relaxed.

When I slim down, I know I’ll be happier.

When I have my own business, I’ll know I’m on the right path.

When I don’t have to take care of my mum/dad/children I will focus on me…

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Lovely pic taken from ‘blonde bronzed twenty something’

I hear these kind of statements everyday in my work as a psychologist.

It is so common to think that your life can only be ‘on track’, or even start (!) when everything is ‘in place’ or how you want it to be.  The feeling is, that if you have certain things in place, from the right job, to a particular income, not having to take care of others to having the right body or finding and creating more time in your day to do more things you love, then your life is somehow complete or that this set of circumstances will now allow you to ‘start’ something that you have been putting off.  That you will now be in the place from which everything can now begin.

– Planning versus wishing and waiting – 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to plan ahead.

It’s great to think about what you want to achieve and if you’ve read my blog for any length of time you’ll know how much I advocate ‘planning ‘ as part of your regular practice…I mean stuff doesn’t happen by itself!  We have to be able to define what we want and make goals in order to achieve them. This is a different though.

If you are used to saying these kind of things (possibly just in your head, not out loud), then they often lend themselves to things that feel out of your control.  And certainly having too many ‘I’ll do it when…’ thoughts as your inner dialogue can lead to all sorts things when you maybe realise that you’ve been thinking these things for a long time and in reality, you are no closer to getting there.

This can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, depression to generally feeling like you are not good enough, successful enough or worthy enough to achieve what it is you want to achieve. When will it happen?  Will it ever happen?  Will I ever get to where I want to be?  When will be the ‘right’ time?

There is also that pesky group of course, that like to remain in ignorant bliss about these things.  This groups appear deluded about what ‘may or may not’ happen.  They like living in their mind in that parallel universe where their imaginary life is better, brighter and shiner than the one they are really living.  These people are definitely the ‘one day I will do….’ group.

– We have all done it – 

I have done this throughout my life at various times in various circumstances.  From viewing particularly jobs as being temporary until I got my ‘forever’ job – my how surprised I’ve been when I realise just how long I ‘ended up’ doing something’ – to poor clothes purchases until I got my ‘perfect’ body, to putting up with being over run doing things for other people – because I’ll start saying no when…..you can see the theme here.

Another really good example was when I bought my first house.  I liked my first house, but I didn’t LOVE it.  In other words I didn’t think that it was my ‘forever house’.

I remember when I bought it, thinking that I would live in it for a year or 2 and then go on to buy something that was more my ‘forever home’….my big barn conversion with the obligatory Aga and a couple of acres of land with chickens and few other animals for good measure.  In the meantime, I was just going to be comfortable (make the best of , but not put my heart into the house I was in).  I decided against making any massive decorative changes as it just wasn’t worth it. I hated the yellow walls, but didn’t change them.  I also wanted a proper shower instead of the shower attached to my bath taps, but ‘put up with’ holding the antique shower head over my head instead because ‘I’ll make do until until I get my forever house’.

Well, it wasn’t 2 years by the time I moved, it was nearly 4 years later!

Funnily enough I made the changes I had wanted the whole time just before I sold the house….all just in time for the other person to enjoy.

And so, did I move to my forever home?  No.  Do I have acres of land and an Aga now? No.  Am I happy in the house I am in?  Yes, very.  Have I repeated the same pattern and not made any changes to it based on the fact that the home I’m in now isn’t my forever home?  No…I’ve made lots of changes!  Why? Because my life isn’t going to be better, more fulfilling, easier, lovelier, prettier or more perfect if I get the forever home, than it is now.  Also, in the meantime, I don’t want to live my life in limbo or ‘on hold’ until I get these things I desire.

You can apply the same thinking to any of the situations I have mentioned here.  In my case, every day I try really hard to notice when I have thoughts about, ‘my life will be XXXX when…’ because I’ve learnt that it is really, really important to be happy in this moment because as the saying goes, ‘this moment is all there is’.

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean we should go off doing things with abandon as if there is no consequence.  It also doesn’t mean that I am not aware of the fact that I, and I’m sure you do actually have responsibilities that require us to be present. It just means that in each moment it is really important to retain, remember and hold on to values, thoughts, beliefs that nurture and fulfil you.  That you are thinking and relating to yourself as the person you truly wish to be…NOW. (and creating some time for it, but that’s another post!).

– Over to you – 

I hope that this idea and the sharing of some of my own recognition and experiences has got you thinking about the things that you may be waiting to do until ‘conditions in your life are perfect’.

In the meantime I encourage you to plan ahead for things that you would love to do.  Plan and dream with abandon!  Enjoy the prospects that lie ahead based on the work you put in now. Things may not be perfect but how important it is to love the life you are living right now!

Til next week.

If you would like some help in looking at these kind of issues, do go over to my SHOP page where you can still purchase an hour and a half 1:1 coaching session for the price of 1 hour, prior to December 31st.

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Why not come over to the Facebook page where much more discussion and chat takes place too!


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Do you have the Power To Create?…

A bit of a different post this week, as I’d like to tell you all about what I did at the weekend.

Well…what a fantastic Saturday I had!

I got up early in the morning, had a hot shower, a hearty breakfast, donned my clothes and headed out to Antenna in Nottingham where I was going to be a part of an amazing conference that was hosted by the Nottinghamshire RSA .

The conference was the Power To Create Conference and was set up to ‘ignite imagination and collaboration’ in the Nottinghamshire area around the key themes of Public Services and Communities; Creative Learning and Development & also Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing.

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Fantastic Artist Cara from Graphic Change created this fantastic graphic note-taking representation.

– Like minded people, like-minded conversation – 

The day was so much fun.

I met so many wonderful people, heard about some super inspiring things that are going on in our community, as well as across the UK and the rest of the world, and made many great connections.  I have a lot of coffee dates set up!

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The talks that were presented were all important and thought provoking and really got you thinking more about what we could all do to contribute more, do more and continue to be a part of the dialogue that makes a difference to our society and the individuals in it.

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I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to present a workshop on the day in which I got to speak all about a really exciting project I’ve been working on called Mind Clubbing.

Mind Clubbing is a brand new event that I will be launching in the New Year.  I’ve been working really hard on this and I’m going to be telling you all about it in a few weeks’ time…I can’t wait.  But for now, I got to tell all the wonderful people at Power To Create all about it.  It was SO well received and I lots of people signed up on the day.

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– What can you do? – 

There will be other events in the area so I really encourage to find out more about the conversations that are going on.  What conversations might be important to you and your community? What help might you be able to provide via your own skills, ability or expertise?  Maybe you too just want to meet other like-minded people having these fantastic conversations about creative learning, taking care of our environment, forming community groups and things like the incorporation of technology into our lives and businesses.

If you are not UK based, is it that these conversations are going on in a different format in your own countries?  If not, could you start something?

I’d loved to hear from you about what you would like to create or maybe what you have already created?  And if you are local, I look forward to seeing you at one of the future events.

Til next week!

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When should I stop listening to feedback?…

Ellie is just about to launch her new product.  She’s been working on this behind the scenes for the last year and now and she is very excited about sharing this with the world.

She decides, reluctantly, to tell a few people close to her about what she is doing in the hope that they might give her some feedback.  She hopes it will inspire her to push on and makes some small tweaks before she releases her work to the world!

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Ellie gets the feedback, buts it’s not what she’d hoped for…

‘Gosh Ellie, what do you hope to achieve doing that….have you thought about the cost as I wouldn’t be able to afford it!’

‘I don’t think that works.  I mean I already know about nutrition and I can get that all on-line if I Google it’

‘I can see what you’re trying to do, but do people really want to look at that with someone.  Can’t they do it on their own?’

‘I think you should only do 4 sessions, not 6’

‘I think this would work better in person not on-line’

‘ I think that you have to make it more accessible to people like me who can’t use a computer’

‘I think…’

‘I think…’  ‘I think’..

Agggghhhh!

– Information overload – 

I hear this all the time from clients, and also friends who have been in this situation.  You share your work that has been so precious to your heart.  You’ve worked so hard on this and all people seem to do is find fault.

It feels deflating, it feels uninspiring and you worry that you are going to fail. Well, having been in this situation myself (many, many times), I’m going to share with you 3 things that I find help me to filter out the stuff that is helpful versus the stuff that makes me want to stop it all and go and work for Waitrose!

#1

Ask the right people

So, who are you asking about your work/new product?

This makes all the difference not only to your mindset and general wellbeing but also the future success of your business.

For example I know that if I want an opinion on what new car to buy, advice on my leaking roof, or anything in general to do with property I ask my Dad. When it comes to my business however asking my Dad for his opinion/advice is like consciously giving him a cleaver and asking him to chop my arm off…basically he is that helpful!

Now, he’s a clever man and knows a lot of about running a business.  He’s done it himself for a long time, but as his daughter I’m too close for him to see clearly what I should do, for two main reasons;  One – my business is psychology and he struggles to understand properly what I do and how I make a living from it. And two – he loves me and worries that anything I do will be too risky and he wants to take care of me.  All this equals a recipe for disaster.

The ‘right’ people to ask are basically those that I have learnt will give me constructive and useful feedback and those are typically people who have ‘done it’ already.  In this case I go to my friends in business who are successful at what they do.  Not only would they have been where I am before, but they are able to give constructive critique and offer advice to help and move forward, not just point out what is wrong.

It’s constructive, it’s useful and I can use it to actually go forward. Hurrah!

#2

Ask specific questions

Another thing you can do is to be specific in how you ask your questions.  That is instead of just saying for example ‘what do you think of this?’ or ‘do you think this is a good product/idea?’.  This gives people too much reign, and there is then a tendency to go mad on trying to say everything that they think is relevant.

I find that asking specific questions is often more helpful and often more helpful to get feedback on the things you really need/want help with.

A good way of doing this is to do your market research before you create your product using survey tools like Survey Monkey or Smart Survey.  Both are free tools and you can easily collate information to make sense of what trends there are in your sample. You could also choose to interview people, asking a series of set questions that do exactly the same thing.

Doing this also allows you to ask questions at different stages of your design which you can incorporate on-goingly.  It also allows you to be really specific for example you may want help with pricing, so questions from people about ‘willingness to spend’ might be useful?

It’s also a really great method for you if you don’t want to get direct feedback from people you know and you want feedback to remain anonymous or be sent to people outside of your friendship groups or family.

# 3

Know when to stop listening

The last thing is simply to listen when you need to and to stop listening when you don’t want to hear anymore.

It is good to have feedback.  It is good to do your market research.  It is nice to hear the good stuff as well as areas of improvement as these will all help you in creating your product, however the truth is, as you are well aware, is that you will NEVER please everyone!

You are not making your product or putting together a service that is for every man and his dog, so we have to know that not everyone will have helpful advice, possibly just through not understanding what you do.  Also, people like to feel important sometimes and maybe in the process of giving you feedback, they actually start to try and twist your product to something that THEY would do….guess what?  If you did that, it wouldn’t be YOUR product anymore!

On that basis, similar to last weeks post on feeling tired of inspirational blogs, books and social media messages, you have to just know when to walk away from feedback and trust that this is your product that has come out of your vision and you are gonna big, fat do it anyway.

For more information and amusing video about feedback particularly on writing, click on the lick to Jenna Moreci‘s YouTube video about ‘haters’ in the writing process.  It’s again a good reminder, even if you are not a writer, that you have to stick to your path and your own vision of what you want this to be!

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So, I hope you’ve found this helpful.

I’d love to hear from you if you have ever encountered ‘unhelpful’ or even strange feedback?

What did you do and did you make any changes to your product as a result?

Remember you can also come over to my Facebook page where much of the discussion happens and please do also sign up to my newsletter by signing up in the below box.  Those that get my newsletter also get first dibs on Early Bird tickets to talks and events and some exciting things I’ll be doing before Christmas and in the New Year.

Til next week!


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I’m tired of growing…what to do when you’re sick of hearing about stories of inspiration and enlightenment!

Open up your Facebook page or read one of your favourite blogs and it’s very likely that you will encounter some kind of story or message that tells you about how someone has overcome something and wants to share evangelically about their experience.

You read all about how this person has fought back and made big changes in their life and now wonderful things have happened.

How through hard work and determination and seeking enlightenment they’ve achieved their hearts desire.

How reading this amazing book that ‘you’ve got to read’, they’ve changed their life and are now implementing little things every day that make a difference. Oh, and how they appreciate everything!  Even the morning dew on the flowers in the….blah blah blah…

How they took up a life changing course or training and now they are up at crack sparrow every day drinking green juice, running 10 miles and meditating all before their kids wake up and then they have the rest of the day to focus on their multi-million pound business.  Agggghhhhh!…

…the list goes on…

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– I’m so tired of it all! – 

Well, it’s not surprising that sometimes it all feels like too much.

Sometimes when you feel like you are struggling just to get the day to day tasks done that you need to survive, like go to work, clean your house, eat proper meals and not contribute any more to that little paunch of a belly that is now peeking over the top of your trousers, then hearing stories of others’ wonderfulness feels like the least helpful thing EVER!

But is this reality?  What is really going on here?

Well, if you find yourself going through a period like this, where it all feels a bit much and you feel like ‘personal growth’ stories and sharing might just tip you over the edge, there are few things that might help your mindset…and help you not to strangle the next happy-clappy person that wants to share their super-duper amazing news with you….Grrrrr!

#1

– The feeling doesn’t usually last forever – 

I’m no stranger to feeling like this.  I call it ‘inspirational burn-out’.

I get to stage where I feel like I’ve read so many self-help books, looked at so many pretty and ‘inspiring’ blogs, read so many friends’ stories on Facebook about how they are so in love with their partner or that their business is going so amazingly well or the kid that they were complaining about last week is now their little angel and they love them so much < enter picture of angelic sleeping cherub> that I want to crawl under a blanket…maybe with a good bottle of red!

At times like this though I try to remember, just like the parent who wanted to throttle her child last week, that the feeling is short lived.

I know now when I feel like to this to step away from the book shelf, to turn off pretty pictures on Instagram and beautiful blogs of  ‘perfect’ houses, to turn off Facebook and to take a breath and focus on something real.  In other words to actively participate in my ‘real’ life.

When we feel like this, it’s often a sign that we need a break and time to refocus on the here and now.  Taking one step at a time just doing the things that we need to get done and being active takes us out of our head and back to reality. Sure, take what you will from the books and things you’ve seen in a way that feels helpful, but you don’t have to see it as a road map for your own life.

After a while, when you feel more grounded and maybe have done more things that are important to you in your own life you may begin to feel like you’ve really accomplished something, and that you haven’t merely been focussed on other peoples stories of success and growth.

I know for me, that when I’ve taken time to stop measuring myself against outside sources of perceived ‘perfection’ or happiness then these books and stories and pictures are just things that I can dip  in and out of with little more than interest or amusement.  They also have more ability to make me smile and not affect me on a deeper level.

A good way to put some of this in perspective and an example of how fickle some of this stuff can be is in the funny Instagram account for Sociality Barbie who just basically takes the mick out of ‘pretty’ and deep and meaningful photos.  Tee hee…enojoy!

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# 2

– It’s not real anyway!- 

Following on from this is just recognising the fact that what you are seeing/reading is usually not a true representation of real-life anyway, especially when it comes to social media.  If you are reading a book, the book usually always has a happy ending.  If you see something on Facebook it’s through someone else’s filter which often is geared to portray the ‘best side’.

The best way to highlight what I mean is by watching this fantastic video that was made by the Higton Brothers in Norway which shows how easily these things, especially social media, can help you to portray a wonderful looking life if you want to?

Really, it’s well worth watching and SO helpful as a reminder to anyone who feels bombarded by others stories of happiness and success.

Remember, we tell people what we are comfortable telling them and show them what we are comfortable showing them.  The reality is often quite different.

(Also, you may want to read this interesting Telegraph article about the same HERE-Telegraph Article re Higton Bros Video)

# 3

– The journey is only inspirational when it’s a story told – 

The last thing to note here is simply that when we read a book to help us; when we look at the stories of others and witness their growth, and amazing journey of inspiration it’s so useful to remember that it is just that.  It is THEIR individual journey and story.

It is much easier to portray something when we have been able to get our head around it and present it as a story with a clear conclusion and therefore messages of courage and inspiration.

 A really good example of this is Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.

In a recent interview she interestingly says the following:

‘I love helping people. I think there are much more efficient ways for me to do it…like, I give money to good organisations, I vote and I volunteer and I do all that kind of stuff.  My art though is mine.  And even the art that I make that ends up helping people, like Eat, Pray, Love- for instance people will say ‘thank you so much for your book it really helped me, it changed me’ I didn’t sit down to write that book saying ‘it’s high time I changed peoples lives!’

‘You know, like I was such a hot mess at that point in my life.  Like I could barely tie my own shoes and that moment like, the last thing I had any business doing, was like and now people….let me give you the answers’.

(for the full interview please CLICK HERE)

 I love this, as Elizabeth is really clear that the books she wrote were for her.  That when she wrote Eat, Pray, Love it was really just her account of what happened and it had been a very difficult and painful journey.  What people took from it was up to them.  If it helped them great.  But that was not her intention.

It also highlights the power of the story.  Like I said, a story has a beginning , middle and end and the end is usually a good one…just like Eat, Pray, Love.  This book was so good in fact that they made a film of it, in which you see the journey of this young woman who ends up finding love in the arms of her now husband after a long and inspirational journey of discovery.  The fact is, is that you know there is a good ending and so the journey just seems easy…the truth however is as Elizabeth Gilbert describes it….a hot mess!

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So, if you find stories of others inspiring that’s wonderful, but it’s important for us to remember that the reality is often oh so different.  That really so many of us, even those that have a ‘story of success’ or challenge that they have overcome did so in their own time, in their own way.  It doesn’t mean it has to be YOUR way.  You get to choose.

I hope you found this useful, if not a little entertaining. Remember, don’t believe all your read and see.  Grow when you want to in the way that you want to and find your own path to happiness, dipping in for inspiration when you need to but more importantly focussing on your real life, because that is where it all REALLY happens!

Till next week.

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Hacking your way to the top…

To hack…
1- To cut with rough or heavy blows
Hak/verb
2- Gain unauthorised access to data in a system or computer
Noun
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– Hacking gone crazy – 
You don’t have to search for very long on the internet before you will encounter all manner of sites and articles advising and giving tips on how you can ‘hack’ your way to where you want to be…
Maybe you want to know how to lose weight really quickly?
 
Maybe you want to know how you can be able to coach people tomorrow instead of training for the next 3 years?
 
Maybe you want to set up your own business and know how to earn 10,000 in your first month?
 
Maybe you’ve seen a course that will get you that qualification in a weekend?
We’ve all been a position where we desire to have something NOW, versus having to wait for it (see my post on self regulation/delayed gratification).  It’s difficult to wait for something sometimes when we know we desire it now and that the path to getting to where you ultimately want to be feels so far away.
It takes long term commitment to lose weight the ‘old fashioned’ way.
It takes time to learn how to coach people.
It takes experience and building a community to know how to grow your business and make money.
It takes dedication, and money, to study for a qualification in your chosen area.
We live in a society however where people are quick to give advice on how we can all achieve these things quickly by merely learning how to ‘hack’ our way to where we want to be.
One Google search on ‘hacking’ revealed the following sites:
17 Weight loss hacks that have nothing to do with diet or exercise:
9 weight loss hacks:
Forbes: 9 money hacks:
This list goes on. These were just a few selected examples of the kind of help and advice you can get if you search for a quick way to achieving your hearts’ desire.
– So what’s wrong with hacking? – 
Well, you may argue that there is nothing wrong with getting a foot up.  A little advice on the side that might help you achieve what you want, to have a little help from those that have been there and done it.  But let’s look at what is really happening here when you enter the world of  hacking.
#1:
You are missing out on the journey of discovery
Arguably the whole point of doing something, is to experience it.
It is our journey that makes us who we are and it is our journey that allows us to figure out on the way what works for us and what doesn’t work for us.  Tis the path of self-discovery.
By merely ‘hacking’ your way to a result or end game, you have missed the entire journey of discovery to that point. Take any of the examples I have given here from losing weight through to making money in your own business.
The person who takes a weight loss pill, or who uses diet hacks to lose weight is now reliant on that as the ‘process’ to achieving weight loss.  This is versus the person who learns to regulate their diet in a healthy way.  To learn what works and what doesn’t work for them.  They will also learns what exercise suits them and what helps them retain any gains in the long run.
Hacking might get you to the end result, but you will the be reliant on that process, which is what a hack is.  It is not a process that allows for healthy growth as all you would have done is followed someone else’s blueprint to get there!
#2:
You are missing out on the detail
Following on from the last point, and by missing out on the journey, you are missing out on truly understanding what works, but also more importantly HOW it works FOR YOU.
Human beings are all entirely different and that is why when we make a model of something, that model really only acts as a starting point.  A good one maybe, but nonetheless something that is not bespoke to you.
Take my work in psychology.  If I assumed that everyone was exactly the same, and everyone experienced things in exactly the same way, I would treat everyone in the same manner regardless of what they told me.
In hacking a process you have forgone your ability to problem solve and figure out what works for you, to assimilate that knowledge effectively into your own life and ultimately make any adaptations that will allow for a long term life of success in that area.
Basically its a quick fix, that has a short life span.
#3:
You are missing out on making important connections
When I studied for my degree in New Zealand, I was surprised to find out when I returned home and worked for HM Prison Service that my lecturers from NZ were known to some of the people that I worked with on the Offending unit here in London.  I was then even more surprised when, while working at Rampton Hospital, we had a visiting guest speaker come over from Australia who had also been a guest speaker on my course in New Zealand and was also friends with my old supervisor in NZ….
Those connections continue, through to my work as an Academic here in the UK.
The people I knew in NZ know that people that I have worked with here at home in the UK in all of the settings I have have entered bar none!
One of the important things to note here is that those connections have served me.  Not only because I have been introduced to some important people in my field which have led on to great things, but because I have learnt from the right people and made super important connections for my future and therefore future success.
You CANNOT achieve this by hacking…nuff said!
#4
You are going to piss off your community
 So, it’s taken me over 20 years to get where I am today.
I’ve pursued my passions.
Worked hard to get qualified (and paid out tens of thousands of pounds for these pieces of paper that represent my hard work).
I’ve worked hard to get to know people, to learn from these amazing giants in my field.
I am humble.
I am considerate.
I am a life-long student willing to learn from everyone at all times.
Why would I want to ‘hack’ that…and why should someone else want to hack that from me?
Think about what you’ve taken a lifetime to learn. What has taken your time.  Your blood, sweat and tears and then imagine that someone stands before you wanting in at the top!
You are gonna piss off your community and I’ve illustrated in Point 4, the world you are entering is much smaller than you know….
…piss them off and see what happens!
– Know when to step away form the hack – 
I hope that you see the serious and the amusing side to this conversation about hacking.
I’m certainly not here to make you wrong for trying to hack.  It’s human nature to some degree to choose the path of least resistance.
I suppose the important thing is that we know when it might be appropriate to take a short cut and when it might actually not serve us in the long run; in fact it may even cause more damage to us and those around us….
…ultimately we have to know when to hack and when to step away from the hacking!
I’d love to hear from you about your experience of hacking.  Have you hacked where it’s back-fired or maybe someone has tried to hack your business brain?
I look forward to reading your comments as ever.
Til next week!


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Do you want a coach or do you want a friend?

A little while ago, I sat down with a new client for what was going to be our first session.

Louise (not her real name), was seemingly a lovely woman who had opted into Coaching sessions with me, which had been provided by her workplace.  Sessions were offered to staff in order to help figure out things like goal setting, work-life balance (what I call Life-Life balance), progression and leadership opportunities, to name a few things.

Some months earlier I had provided a group workshop to a team of people in the company and Louise had been one of the people in the group.  All the people involved were offered, if they so wished to, 4 individual coaching sessions with me on completion of the workshop, should they want to have some psychological coaching input into their work.

So, here we were face to face in a room a couple of weeks later and I asked Louise what she wanted to get from the sessions? She looked at me blankly, so I repeated the question…

‘Louise, what would you like to focus on in our sessions together over the next few weeks?’

Louise frowned and then said, “Ummmm, to be honest, I’m not really sure’.

‘Ok’ I said.  ‘Is there anything that came to mind during the workshop?  Something that you felt you might benefit from looking at with someone else?  An objective view that might be useful in your role perhaps?’

‘Ummmm, not really’ she said.

‘Well, there will be a reason that you said that you wanted to have sessions with me?’

‘Ummmm, not really’

Finally I asked, after a little more probing and a few more questions…

…’well Louise, why exactly did you want to have sessions with me if there’s nothing that you want to look at?’

‘Oh’ she said.  ‘You just seemed really nice and interesting and I wanted to speak with you.  I thought it would be fun.  I thought that, well, I could get to know you a bit better’.

– Getting clear about what you want – 

Though I’ve clearly changed the name here and also made a few slight alterations to this story, it is actually true.

It’s also not the first time that someone has opted to see me for sessions in the same vein.

It usually happens after someone has seen me give a talk, watched one of my videos or I have come into their workplace to deliver some training.  It has resulted in being sat with someone I think is a client, but is actually a person who seemingly desires more of a friendship.  At the very least it is certainly not an ethical client-practitioner relationship.

Silhouette, group of happy children playing on meadow, sunset, s

– I see it all around me-

This isn’t new.

It’s something I see all the time. I fact it’s happened to friends and colleagues too, where people have attended their events, networking meetings and training not really because they are all to interested in what they are saying, but more in a desire to get closer to them. Kind of like a pop-star or guru!

Now, I want to be clear here.  It’s great to admire the people that you work with or even wish to work with!

I have been privileged to work with many people I admire.  Over the many years that I have worked with these people, some have turned into genuine friendships.

A good example of this is a fantastic friendship I now have with someone who started off as my Undergraduate Psychology Lecturer while I was at University in New Zealand.  I really admired this lecturer, and what began as standard lecturer-student-relationship, progressed to a peer relationship when I became a postgraduate student and then a lovely friendship. Now some years later I am good friends with him and his family.

Although I certainly admired this persons work prior, this was obviously a natural progression of events and not outside the realms of our given relationship to start with.

Further to this, I also admire and would love to sit down and chew the cud with lots of people that I would say I admire, like the people I  ‘follow’ on Twitter or Facebook, like my favourite authors for instance.  The difference is, that I know and understand my reasons for admiration. More importantly I am also aware of my boundaries…and theirs!

The difficultly occurs when people are unable to see the difference between admiration and therefore wanting to learn from someone or indeed work with them as opposed to just being ‘attracted’ to them as a person and therefore wanting to be near to them in the hope that either some stuff will rub off or you will get to be friends!

– Set your boundaries, and know when to help- 

As a psychologist my boundaries and ethics are clear in this instance.  It would be unethical to befriend my clients so I will stop working with someone if I think this is what they really want or are confused by.

I think it is important as a practitioner to recognise when you have someone come to you for work, and they appear confused by this.

What is it they are really searching for? For example…

Can you help that person see what it is that they really want?

Do they recognise that there is maybe something that they see in you that they want?

Do you portray something that they desire for themselves, like confidence, happiness or contentment.

I did have one client, who after she had said that she came to see me because she ‘liked me’, realised after some discussion that what she really meant was that I seemed confident.  She on the other hand lacked confidence so much, that as someone who seemed to have it, maybe I could help her?

So, it may be appropriate in that first session to go a little deeper and look at a persons reason for ‘liking you’ or ‘wanting to be friends’ with you.

If after discussion it appears that someone really does just want to be friends, I will always refer people on to a colleague or at the very least will refer them to some useful resources like books, blogs and articles (if appropriate to their needs).

So…

We are always going to encounter we admire…how wonderful to find people to look up to or mentor us! But we always have to know the difference and sometimes there is great power in just recognising this.

Til next week!

I’d also love to hear from you about  this topic…

Maybe you are also a Coach or Psychologist and have found yourself in a similar situation.  What did you do? Did you help someone discover something about themselves or did you refer on?

Maybe you are on the other side of the coin…did you admire someone and realised this for yourself.  How did you handle it…what did you learn?

I look forward to reading your comments.


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The stress that passion brings…

I have been compelled to write quite a serious post this week, as I’ve recently experienced a flurry of new clients who have sought my help due that oh so familiar feeling of stress and overwhelm!

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Picture:  Edvard Munch, Sick Child

I write regularly about how we need to take care of ourselves in our lives and our businesses as do many other bloggers and business owners…this is not a new subject by any means.

So many of the posts that you will read as we pootle around the net looking for advice on how to handle stress and overwhelm tell us take time out.  Have a holiday they tell us….have a spa day…book a massage or treatment…have that glass of wine or cup of tea with a good book.  The list goes on.

But what do you do when you are experiencing more than a ‘I have a little too much on my plate’ to more of an acute stress or trauma in your life?

I know this feeling….

I am stranger to this.  In fact I experienced this very recently myself.

A few weeks ago, my beloved Grandfather passed away after a long and drawn out illness. On the day he died, my mother was taken seriously ill and was admitted into hospital herself.  The powers that be were feeling pesky that day, and so they decided I needed the added challenge of admitting my mother to the same ward that my grandfather had passed away on just hours earlier.

On top of all of this, I had booked a very expensive trip away the following day for 2 nights and I also a friend of a friend staying with me the same week, who I had said could stay with me to be nearer to a conference she was due to go to.  Of course I then had my ‘normal work’ that week including client sessions, writing deadlines and some University marking to complete.

I was on the verge of a meltdown!

This isn’t made better by a cup of tea!

I can tell you now, that a cup of tea or massage would not have cut it in this case.  In times like this we feel like we can’t focus on anything in our world, let alone our work or businesses.  This is really a fight or flight situation.  Look your situation in the face and deal with it or turn and run….metaphorically speaking.

The fact is that when you lead a full life.  When you have a life that is fortunately full of people you love, when you have real-life commitments and the need, and desire, to sustain a good income, life as they say, is going to ‘get in the way’.

I’m sure as you are reading this you can think of a time when you have felt like everything as going ok, maybe even really well and then suddenly the universe decides to present to you, as I like to call it an opportunity for growth : )

So what can you do…really?

I’m going to summarise some things that I recommend that can help you in times of crisis, acute stress or overwhelm.  These may not all work for you and maybe you do some of them already, but you may also not know what to do and so I hope you find these things useful.

# 1

GET CLEAR

The first thing I recommend you could do in a moment of crisis is to get really clear about what  the crisis is?  This sounds silly, but let me go back to my own example to help explain what I really mean by this.

Getting clear means taking stock of the things that I had control of, and those I didn’t.  In my case there was nothing I could do about what had happened to my Grandfather.  I knew that my grief, though it was there in all its glory would essentially have to be parked while I ‘took care’ of the things that needed my immediate attention, namely my mum.  In this case it was my priority to get her comfortable and put at ease. I could then set fourth cancelling my holiday, calling my insurance company and also contacting my friend regarding her stay.

Getting clear is often best done with someone in your world who can be rationale and calm.  This may be your partner, it may a specific friend or family member. This kind of person acts as a sounding board to your thinking through of the situation, and can be really helpful if you feel emotional or need help getting clear your execution of your plan or even by making calls/running errands and the like.

What happens when you don’t get clear, is that you end up fire-fighting and maybe even being pulled in all directions by others who are around you.  When you do this you are not putting your needs first and this can mean more stress in the long run.  Getting clear requires a strategic thinking through of what needs to be done and setting the wheels in motion.

Just having this clarity and a plan of attack can help us to feel like we have some control over the storm.

# 2

CREATE YOUR BOUNDARIES

When you are in this kind of acute phase of stress, your boundaries and fundamental needs are really important for both your immediate and your long term health.

Again, let me go back to my example.  When I was going through this, there were many people around me who had expectations of what I should or should not be doing (this is not unusual and I’m sure you can relate!).  One small example was the expectation that I would go home and stay with family while this was occurring.

So, I have a need to have my own space.  This was even more important while this was happening.  I knew that every night the ritual of driving home for an hour and a half, would allow me to decompress.  The ability then to go home and be at home and sleep in my own bed, was a need that I was not willing to give up during this time.  It may have upset people, but tough!

In this case, you should think about what boundaries you also have in your own situation.  What are willing to do/not do/  What are you willing to give up or not give up?   Again, thinking about what is important for you, so that you can retain some ‘normality’, some routine or activity that means that you retain a sense of self as well as a feeling of control over the situation you are in.

# 3

PLAN YOUR NEXT STEP

As you move further into this period of stress or trauma, I would be checking in regularly to reassess where I was in regards to the event/period to see how I felt.

Has your situation resolved itself?  Are you feeling better, more able to return to your version of ‘normal’ or ok to settle in to your ‘new normal’ depending on what has happened?

There will come a moment when you feel more able to look forward and plan in a conscious and comfortable way.  There might be things that you have missed doing too that you want to get back to.

Maybe you will have to go back to work or maybe you have put your business on hold and so have the desire now to get back into this.  Maybe it is as simple as getting back to your usual tasks of shopping and running your household, things that often get pushed to the bottom of our lists (funny how the washing being done isn’t so important after all?).

When we have been in a stressful situation its amazing how the most menial errands and tasks can actually seem exciting and fun.  I remember when I was going through my stuff…the thought of just going out for a coffee and sitting in the sun seemed just blissful and I couldn’t wait to do it.

During this time, you may want to try and re-establish these things as you feel more able to go forward.  Inevitably for some, there is no choice about when you go back to work or your business.  If you have to earn money, we do not always have the luxury of waiting until we feel ‘ready’ to go back to this.  In light of this, I would keep the practice of creating your boundaries as much as possible, in order to help you as you transition.  For example, it might be that you have to go back to work, but that you stick to your hours; that you take your lunch breaks; that you leave early if you can; that you take leave if you are able.

Do whatever you are able to to do to make your transition back to your ‘best self’, as easy for yourself as possible.

# 4 

MAKE LIFE ‘TWEAKS’

 So, here is the juiciest tip I have of all.

Based on what you’ve experienced or been through or learnt or ‘survived’….now what are you going to do?

What you have experienced may have been life changing?

Maybe it wasn’t, but if we work on the premise that we can learn something from everything we experience, what might you want to do differently because of it?

 Is that you you realise you want to spend more time with loved ones?  Is that you want to take up that course that you’ve been putting off?  Is that your whole life at home or even business or job need changing?

Maybe you’ve realised that you want to leave the job you are in and do something else?  Maybe you realise that you want to earn more money to give you more flexibility or that you want to be your own boss so that you don’t have to ask someone else for time off when s*+# hits the fan?

This is almost the most important piece of advice of all.  After all if we don’t learn from our experiences and change, what is it all for?

I can tell you that life, as it does, will throw stuff up again and that is when people who don’t think about what they want, end up doing the same things again. And we all know, that if you do the same thing, you have to expect the same results.  That can mean feeling even more stressed and overwhelmed the next time.

So, I invite you to ponder these questions…

What can I/what do I want to do differently?

What will make the biggest difference to my life and future self?

What do I owe to myself in light of what Ive experienced?

What do I know for sure?

Over to you…

I hope you’ve founds these tips helpful?  Maybe the next time you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed you can try some of these things to help yourself?

I’d also like to hear from you?  Maybe there are other things you can offer that would be helpful to others about the things you do when you are feeling stressed.

Please share and connect with other fellow readers by commenting below.

Til next week, when I’ll be announcing all the details for MPWC2015….finally!

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 Want to know more about the new 4 week course coming up in October for ‘How to brand and set up a website for your Multi-passionate Business’, then please CLICK HERE to be taken to last weeks blog post all about it and fill out the form to be the first in the know.

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There is calm in nature…

I’m on holiday as you read this, so a brief post this week in which I would love to share with you the photographs shown here which were taken on the Chatsworth Estate a couple of weeks ago.

A couple of good friends came to stay and it was such a beautiful day that, being only an hour away, it was just too lovely outside to resist not going for a little wander around the grounds of the Chatsworth Estate for a little outdoor fun, so off we went…

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It was a super hot day and after we had had picnic on the lawn at the front of the house, we then wandered up through the woods at the back; up through the trees and towards the waterfall (seen above), which I have to say a couple of the group ended up in!

But why am I telling you about this little outing?

It’s because nature for me, is one of the places I get my strength or maybe to put another way it is where I feel a calm and connectedness that I crave if I have not ‘had it’ for a while.

I try to get out in nature as much as possible to get this ‘fix’ or feeling at being one with nature and the seasons.  It’s something I don’t get from walking around a town or city and I’m fortunate enough to live near some lovely woods which serve well as a running route for me during the week so little mid-weekly trips are possible for me to indulge in.

It’s something I talk about a lot on the pages here on my site, and that is finding your calm.

In this busy world we live in, we need places that we go to to find peace, relax and reconnect with ourselves. And it’s even better if we can build some of those things into our daily practices.

It may not be the woods or nature for you, it may be that you are one of those people that want the buzz of the city or maybe you need to go swimming or maybe you curl up under a duvet?  Maybe for you it’s your daily meditation practice or some form of exercise…the point is, that you have a place that you can ‘go to’ to find your little island of calm.

As the summer holidays are fast approaching, and as you read this I will be sunning myself on a sun-kissed Mediterranean beach, I encourage you to think about where you get your little place of calm and make a plan to go there very soon.

Til next week….where I will be announcing where you can buy tickets for MPWC2015!


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What’s your passion….really?

Journal - 6

Oh, I’m so passionate about reading…

I’m so passionate about interior design…

I couldn’t be more passionate about running…

I’m SO passionate about being a teacher…

I’m super passionate about my yoga business…

Oh, there’s no one more passionate than me about cooking/gardening/dancing/writing/make-up/making my own clothes!  You fill in the blank here.

We’ve all heard people tell us about what their passions are.  I’m sure even as you are reading this, you can think of things that you have said you are passionate about too.  I certainly can, but when I tell people what I’m passionate about, am I really communicating what my passion is?

Digging deep to know what your passion is…

One of the things that used to say I was passionate about, especially in my ‘early days’ straight out of university, was psychology.  As a psychology graduate wanting to be ‘fully understood’ (how deep), about what my passion was, I would tell potential employers/write in my CV/tell friends and family all about how much I loved psychology and how passionate I was about all it could offer in terms of our understanding of human behaviour, and therefore the career I was going in to.

Now I was, and indeed am still passionate about psychology, very much so, but what do I really mean when I say this? After all ‘I’m passionate’ has become a term that is banded around so much that sometimes it feels like the phrase has lost its meaning.

It’s because of this, that I feel we have to dig a little deeper to the heart of what we mean when we say ‘I am passionate’, after all I’m passionate about ice cream, but the two are clearly not the same thing.

When I think about what is beyond the phrase for me, in light of psychology, I can see that I am drawn to any opportunity  to help someone ‘make a change’ or more specifically the chance to aide someone in ‘breaking their routine’.

I notice this as a running theme in both my teaching at University, my private practice with clients, the packages I write, the book I am working on and the courses I am compiling.  Although Psychology is the label or umbrella term if you will, that I work under, I am driven by this greater force and it is THIS, I am truly passionate about.

Keep your passions, whatever guise they come in!

So, what I’m not suggesting any one does is stop using the phrase ‘I am passionate’.  How wonderful it is to be able to say that about something…what a rich and full life you will live when it is full of passion and action that is from your heart.  What I’m saying is, that there is great power in taking time to think about where this descriptive statement comes from for you?

What does it mean when you say you are passionate about cooking for example?  Is it that what you are really drawn to, is putting time and love into something that brings people together around a table, and this is your passion?  When you say you are passionate about exercise, do you really mean that you have a fundamental belief in having a strong healthy body that will carry you through to old age, and this is your passion?

When we realise more deeply where our passions come from, it’s interesting how you may start to notice a pattern in other things that you do in your life because it has the same underlying theme or element that we are drawn to (your deeper meaning for passion)….this can help  things to make sense, and can also help you plan future steps in your life and business as you have a clearer view of the driving force behind your decision making and also enjoyment.

It was like this for me when I started teaching, I couldn’t understand why it felt so addictive, and then I realised that it was the ability to help ‘change’ someone via learning, as it had been when working with patients who were ‘changed’ by therapy, that was the theme for me!

What themes do you notice?

Sometimes, it can be easy to figure out the underlying reason for your passion and sometimes it can take some time to get to the bottom of when the ‘real’ reason is for you.  The fun is in the exploration and as we delve deeper we learn more about ourselves and others.

Now there is something to be passionate about.

Til next week!