Serena Simmons Consultant Psychologist

Change. Motivate. Adapt. Improve. Perform


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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!


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I want IT…whatever IT IS?…….

What is it that you want?

Is it a different career?  Is it a better relationship?  Is it nicer clothes or maybe you want more money and lots of it!

Maybe what you want is much simpler than that?

Do you want space, peace, clarity? To be able to finish a cup of tea or have a pee in peace before someone is banging on the door asking for something?

Maybe you want more time to do the things you enjoy, like gardening, painting, yoga, walking, pottery…maybe you want a holiday?

Maybe you don’t know what you want and there in lies the problem.

Do you want a GOOD LIFE?

Have you ever seen the programme The Good Life?

I happen to love it just a little bit. I watched it as a child and thoroughly enjoyed the fun that Barbara and Tom used to have in the garden with a menagerie of animals not to mention their hilarious relationship with Margot and Jerry.  My love for the programme was only enhanced when I lived in new Zealand as an adult as the true ‘Englishness’ of it all made me feel a little closer to home.

But this isn’t just about my love of this quirky British sitcom and the characters in it (or anything to do with the fact that I own the box-set!).  This is about the premise behind why the characters chose to live the ‘good life’ in the first place and how the reason itself is so closely related to real life, in fact our own lives and how we live on a daily basis.

What are your goals and where do you want to be?

Let me explain, the first episode begins with Tom Good celebrating his 40th birthday.

Tom heads to work that morning and notices his feeling of boredom and apathy about what he is doing.  No one in the office recognises him for his work, he doesn’t feel acknowledged he doesn’t feel inspired by his work and he feels that what he doing is actually a joke.

He also notices that no one recognises his passion for fun or really, even knows his name! You also witness him realising that he wasn’t invited to play cricket with the office as he is considered, wait for it…..too old!

Tom seems to realise quite quickly that he is downright miserable, and so that evening after his birthday dinner with Barbara he starts a conversation about this very issue and how he is missing ‘IT’ in his life.  If he could find ‘IT’, he says he might be able to solve the problem.  After all he says that he doesn’t want to ‘feel the same way when he is 41’.

He decides, after an entire night up writing lists and drawing up plans that IT for him is…

“…breaking the circle.  Going to work, to get money to translate into things, which you use up, which makes you go to work again!”.

And that is how their Good Life begins…

What is it for you?

Not everyone can just sit down with a piece of paper, stay up all night and solve their life problems, therefore figuring out what ‘IT’ is.  But what this programme is a great illustration of (even though it is only made up!), is that if you dig deep and ask yourself some big questions, starting with noticing what you want/desire, then we owe it to our future self to get started on the path that we feel will take us there.

Maybe if you don’t know what ‘IT” is for you, you can try some things to help you rediscover what that might be?

What is it you need to do?

Do you need to take some time out of your daily grind so you actually have a moment to reflect?

Is it to take up an old hobby or activity that will allow you to ‘reconnect with yourself?

Do you need to protect time in your day every day just to sit and write down in a journal about the things you have enjoyed or appreciated that day?

Maybe you want to seek some external help to help you figure out your IT?

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There can be great power in figuring out what “IT’ is for you.

I encourage you to take some tome to reflect this week on what ‘IT’ is for you.  If you already know, then brilliant!  Are you therefore living your own Good Life? if so I’d love to hear about it and maybe you have some tips to share about the things that work for you in allowing you to stay focussed on your path.

For now I’ll just leave you with one last piece of advice from Tom Good…

“What we should be doing is working at the job of life itself”

Fancy that.

Till next week!


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Tell the truth and everyone’s a winner…

I’ve just had a wonderful half term holiday day trip with my nieces.

They are at the lovely ages of 10 and 8, which means that you don’t have to worry about taking bags of ‘supplies’ for them when you go out for the day.  They also like to do cool things and really explore, and that means we can generally do so much more together now that they are older.  We also have very, very funny conversations.

They make me laugh….a lot!

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What was so obvious when I took them out for the day to London, was just how different they are as people.

They have always been different since they were very little.

Jasmine, the older sibling is outgoing, gregarious, loves pink, loves make-up and also (much after my own heart), loves dare-devil activities and adventure.  The day before I saw her, she has spent the day roller-coaster-hopping at Alton Towers!  She talks about travel, singing and will try anything new whether that be food or experiences.

Her sister LiLi is so very different.

Quiet, a little shy and so caring and sensitive, she is happiest colouring in quietly or watching a film.  She likes her head rubbed and hates to wear anything really feminine, preferring her jeans, a hoody and converse trainers.  She is also a creature of habit, a little bit of geek, has the cheekiest laugh you have EVER heard and also in her words is ‘scared of everything Aunty Serena!’.

– ABSOLUTE HONESTY – 

What I loved about LiLi telling me this, was her absolute honesty about how she feels about the things that make her scared.  Don’t get me wrong, hearing that she is scared of everything doesn’t exactly fill my heart with joy.

I’ve known for a long time that she has struggled to do some things because of being wary or a little frightened, and so myself and the rest of the family lovingly and supportively have encouraged her to ‘get involved’ and try new things.  She’s getting better and I think with the same continuous encouragement and the experience of trying new things and ultimately enjoying herself, she is learning slowly to tackle these things head on.

The lesson here though is such an important one, you see I know people, adults, who cannot and do not own up to their feelings of being scared the way this little person can.

What this sometimes results in, is a ‘bending of the truth’ situation where people try and concoct all sorts of stories to get out of doing something.

I’m sure you are familiar with the situation, the friend who can’t come on that run with you because of an ‘ankle injury’, or the mate who can’t try the shellfish because they are ‘allergic’ or the friend who can’t come to your karaoke night because  they they have to help their partner with writing up their new CV?

[…or I have to add, given that I am also an academic, the student who can’t submit their work because of the death of a Grandparent…I’m not being mean! This is a researched and documented phenomenon, in fact an amusing article on the subject can be found HERE with links to scholarly articles). 

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– FEEL THE FEAR – 

In our desire to not look silly.  To not feel weak.  To not feel vulnerable.  To not feel inferior.  To not feel pain or shame or discomfort, we AVOID telling the truth.

We are FEARFUL. We are SCARED.

But here’s the thing.  The first step is in acknowledging what we are scared of, just like  LiLi and in doing so you might actually realise that there are things that you would like to have a go at, but you had already made a decision that you were scared or wouldn’t like it!

To actually say I am scared, out loud to those around you, is the first step towards change.

After all, people close to you can usually see what’s really happening. If you have friends who you are constantly ‘putting off’ doing things with, they may eventually get tired of your strange responses and may even stop asking you to join in or do things altogether?

If you have the ability and the can harness the desire to first acknowledge and tell the truth about what you are afraid of, people who care about you will certainly appreciate your honesty.  They may even have more understanding of your situation and feel sympathy or indeed empathy for what you are experiencing.

In doing this it will also allow you to look at why you don’t want to try something and maybe you can then make some headway towards changing it…if you want to that is, as clearly there are some things that you may never want to do, Karaoke being a good example!

I really encourage you to take a look at things that you feel make you scared?  Why is it that you don’t want to do them? What are you really afraid of?

When is the last time you tried it…maybe its been a long time and you could actually have another go at that thing?

Maybe change happens outside of our comfort zone!

Could you consider opening up to someone about what you are ‘scared’ of? If you did what might this change?  It may not having you bungee jumping next weekend, but it may help you feel freed up of your desire to show yourself in a particular light which can help you towards a more balanced, honest and truthful self.

Till next week!


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Stop your brain being your worst enemy!…

Hello everyone!

How was your week and if you were in the UK, how was your Bank Holiday weekend?

If you glance over at my Twitter feed, you will see that I spent my Bank Holiday on a fabulous camping trip with friends in the Peak District this year…happy times!

So, to todays post which is a short and sweet one today, as I present to you an article that you can find in this months’ Cosmopolitan Magazine (UK), which is a feature all about my advice for getting into action and getting done the projects you are currently working on or would like to work on!

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I’d like to thank Cosmo, for taking the time to interview me for this piece.  It was great to be able to contribute to the mag and I’ve had a great response from readers and also from the staff about the advice given, so thank you Cosmo.

More exciting news to follow about my courses that are coming up over the summer as well as MPWC2015 which, has had to be slightly delayed due to getting the amazing logistics ready for such a glorified, relaxing day. Apologies to those that have registered interest.  You will be the first to know the date and details and will be the first to be given the Early Bird Discount.

You will be updated as soon as I can tell you more….in the meantime to continue to express your interest to attend and if you too would like to receive notification of the Early Bird Discount, then please email me at serena@serenasimmons.com putting MPWC2015 in the subject line.

Till next week!


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Are you ready for a BIG leap outside of your comfort zone?…

I’m SO excited to share today’s post with you!

I’ve been wanting to share this news with you for some time now, but have been waiting until a few more things were in place before I set-to, so here goes…

I would love to present to you a new Programme that I am launching this year called Ape-athy!

Final Ape-athy Logo

I’ve been working on this programme behind the scenes for over a year now.  It is a programme that means an awful lot to me especially as I really consider this a culmination of my life’s work to date.

For me this is the programme that I have looked to do myself that doesn’t exist.

This, and noticing that there was a stark gap in the market for a programme that would help me achieve the change/have the experience I was looking for, is what inspired me to create it.  So here it is in all its glory, but let me first explain what it will do for you…

Ape-athy ist is a completely immersive, experiential programme that is designed to help you achieve a radical change and shift in thinking as well as a new lease for life!

Ape-athy is the programme for you, if you are the kind of person who ever wonders why they are here?  What are you supposed to do with your life, how can you be your best self and peak-perform on a consistent basis.

It’s for people who want to achieve, have success, feel like they are moving forward and also at the same time find an inner peace and calm.  It’s also for people who want to have fun, feel exhilarated, feel connected and learn something new about themselves.

Ape-athy is delivered in way that allows you not just to hear good information, like many of the other types of personal development type programmes that exist…in Ape-athy you will be taken through a series of talks, exercises, group activities, individual activities and other more unusual tasks that will have you experience and kineasthetically acquire the insight via your own experience.

To complete the programme, you have to be over the age of 18.  You will also fill out several batches of psychometrics before completion of the programme so that we know as much about you as we can before you enter.

On day one of this 2 day programme, you begin by handing over your mobile devices, sign your disclaimer stating that you will not discuss the programme on completion and then for the next 2 days you will be taken on a journey that takes you right from the evolution of man, through to your future self.  More than that, when you leave you will know exactly what you need to do in order to get to where you want to be.

During this course of the programme you will be ‘helped’ out of your comfort zone, you will get to know others, you will clearly know what you want from life, you will know what you need to do next, you will know what you need to do to keep evolving so to avoid the stagnation or ‘apathy’ that can oh so easily creep into your life.

Please do take a look at the latest advert for the programme below which gives you a feel for the programme…

Ape-athy is not for the fainthearted, as there will be activities that participants will have to complete that can only be likened to being on a roller-coaster…in more ways than one!

What you can be guaranteed of however, is that you will be taken care of, you will be safe and you WILL leave after 2 days with a new boundless energy, knowledge of who you are, an understanding of what your gift really is and thus how you can apply the knowledge you have gained lead a successful and happy life.

Pheeew!  So there it is.

On this project I am collaborating with leaders from across the globe in many areas, from my own passion of Psychology, to Physiologists, Biologists, Sports and Exercise Scientists, Philosophers, Artists, Economists and I’m getting a little help from Magicians.  As I said, you will taken on an experiential journey so the ride will be informative, challenging, a little scary but also fun.

If you would like to know more please go to the Ape-athy website at www.ape-athy.com

Here you have the opportunity to ‘sign up’, which means that you will be the first to find out about new information, dates for the programme and also other news from the Ape-athy World including Early Bird Discounts.  More information will also be coming to the pages soon, and this will also include details regarding the Ape-athy charity which is part of the business.  In this capacity money from the programmes will go to chosen projects that support the conservation of our planet, including several key animal charities…more about this soon!

I’ll also be talking about this on NOTTS TV next Monday 18th on the 6.30 Show and will be particularly talking about the ‘Pitch to Rich’ that I have made for business mentoring and funding from Richard Branson which you can see here:

(click on the link below):

Apeathy

I felt that this was an amazing opportunity to get the word out about the Programme, learn more, meet new people as well as having access to some of the best business minds in the country.  I would also be so honoured if you would consider voting for me between 9am Monday 18th and Wednesday 20th at 5pm.  All it takes is the click of a button and then verification of your email.  By getting more votes I have a chance to go through to the next round which would be immensely exciting.

Thank you again. I’m so pleased to be offering this course to you and others who are just as passionate about change and our own evolution.

I also look forward to sharing more news on these pages about the programme in the coming months, as well as more about the other events that are taking place for Multi-passionates and my usual goings on.

In the meantime, thank you for reading all about this new exciting project.

Till next week!

DO YOU WANT TO ‘TEST’ APE-ATHY?

I am looking for people for the first ‘test’ audience for Ape-athy later this year.

if you would like to know more about this, then please be in contact with me by sending an email to serena@serenasimmons.com writing ‘Ape-athy TEST’ in the subject line.

I look forward to hearing from you brave souls!


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Time to pull your head out of the sand and get on with it!…

How do you react when you know you have a big to do list?

Are you the kind of person who attacks it with full gusto until you’ve ticked the very last thing off, or are you the kind of person who likes to bury yourself in other ‘avoidance tactics?’

I’ve encountered people who have ended up cleaning their entire house, or watched entire box-sets when they’ve been in avoidance mode!

There are also the people of course who bury their head in the sand (or put their head up the proverbial, as per the photo of my cat below).  Then there are those that are in such avoidance of what needs to be done, that stress and sickness, eventually, settle in.

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As a psychologist who is geared towards helping people achieve and makes changes in their life, I’ve been made privy to these kinds of actions.  In fact much of my role can often be about helping people overcome this apathy and the bad practices that have managed to creep in over the years.  Actions and behaviours that can ultimately lead to a feeling of lack of drive, motivation or belief that they can really succeed.

My avoidance pattern…

I remember as a teenager, when I had mountains of work to complete for my GCSEs, that my avoidance ‘pattern’ was feeling extremely tired.  Sleepy to the point of being able to drop to the floor and nap!

Don’t be fooled that even though this appears to be an involuntary reaction, that it wasn’t something that had been ‘cultivated’ over time.  It became a conditioned response.  It was inevitable.

I would have a list of important deadlines and when faced with having to sit and actually ‘do the work’, I would feel  incomprehensibly tired. Even as a teenager, I could see the pattern emerge and realised then that it was something that I would have to overcome if I wanted to get my work done.  For a long time however, I was stuck in an unhealthy cycle of having a big pile of work…feeling tired..avoiding doing work because I felt tired and then waiting for the deadline to be so close, that last minute stress was the catalyst to get me through.

Sound familiar?  Regardless of your tactic to avoid doing what you need to, the ‘way out; for many people is to wait until doing that thing is so completely unavoidable that the mere stress of having a deadline is what you now wait for to actually do it.

So, what can you do?…

Like many things that we want to overcome from losing weight to ending a bad relationship, that ‘thing’ will only stop wen you recognise that it is actually a problem and also that you want to change it!  As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…

If you recognise that there things that you are avoiding, that you too struggle to get things done consistently (not just every now and again which I’d say is completely normal and even the most driven person can have off days or days when they want to indulge), then you there are many things that you can do.

I’ve summarised here 5 tips that will help you to overcome the desire to bury your head, or clean your house (!), starting with…

TIP #1:  JUST NOTICE

You will never overcome something unless you take the time to notice what you do that is an avoidance tactic. In my practice I often get people to keep a diary for a short while, one that monitors the things they get up to.  When we then talk through it they, and I, get to see when the desire to avoid comes about.  We can also see what they did instead as a method of ‘avoidance’.

You can do the same.  Just notice what you do or how your body reacts.  Do you, like me, suddenly feel tired?  Do you tidy the house or start watching television or a film?

TIP #2: HAVE SPECIFIC GOALS

Sometimes people avoid because what they actually need to do seems almost insurmountable.  Usually I find that this is because their lists are so ‘loaded’.  By this I mean that it may have on it things like:

– Organise Sarah’s party

– Write report for David

– Gym

Lists like this are not actually helpful, especially if you are someone who tends to ‘avoid’, why?  Because each ‘thing’ is far too big.  For example ‘Organise Sarah’s party’ can be broken down into 30 different components or more, for example:

– Choose the venue

– Make booking

– Send email to friends re the date

etc, etc…

You might well just choose to do these 3 things in one week, as opposed to thinking that you need to do the entire thing.  Breaking down our to-do list in this way allows us to see things that are specific and measurable and that can more easily be ticked off.  This makes us feel like we are actually accomplishing something and the feel good factor continues.

TIP #3: WORK ONLY FOR 20 MINUTES A DAY!

This is an interesting one as it seems to go against the grain for some people.

When I am helping someone get a project off the ground, maybe one that they’ve been trying to get done for a long time (like write a book or programme); I get them to stick to a 20 minute a day rule to start with.

I ask them to factor into their day the time when they feel they are most able to get 20 uninterrupted minutes to themselves and to use this time (having preplanned what they will get done as per the above), to do this.

Often people start arguing that they could do at least an hour, or 45 minutes to which I reply, no.  Don’t go above this time.  You are ‘not allowed’ to go above this time limit.  For now, you should just stick to 20 minutes a day (sometimes for only 5/7 days a week).

The idea behind this, is that you are forming a habit.  As with all habits, they become, yep, habits!

You want to set up a new habit that actually serves you in your purpose not works against you…also it has to feel good.  We as humans are pretty good at avoiding things that we feel bring us pain, hence avoidance!

So, based on this you would work for 20 minutes a day for a few weeks, and then slowly up your time to 30 minutes, then to 1 hour then 2 hours etc.

In doing this, what people often find is that they really want to do more than 20 minutes quite early on in the process.  When you realise you can enjoy it, we become a little more conditioned to the pleasant feeling of the experience and therefore don’t go into a fight or flight mode at the mere thought of doing it.  You may even find that you actually chomping at the bit to do your 20 minutes versus avoiding it in the first place!

TIP #4:  BUILD IN REWARDS…

This sounds like an obvious one, and it is!

It’s important to rewards ourselves along the way.  For some this might be as simple as an hour watching TV in the evening for others it’s a monthly massage or spa break?  If you get done what is on your list, what can you factor in that you have to look forward to at the end of each big task completed?

It could just be as simple as pizza on Friday night after 5 days of going to the gym….

…think of something and book it in!

ADDITIONAL TIP #5:  DREAM A DREAM…

There are many extra tips I could give here, but one that is really useful for people is to have a dream board or vision board of some kind?

Cheesy?  No.

Outdated?  No!

Vision boards, though they feel like they were all the range in the 90’s (!!), can actually be very helpful.  It can take any form but may include things like pictures and photographs, but it may also just be words or phrases that means something to you? (you may want to use Pinterest for this).  You may also want to have a selection of objects or tangible things that inspire…whatever it is that helps you to keep focussed on a goal.

Something that all of this hard work is aimed towards achieving.

Over to you…

I hope that you’ve found some of these tips helpful.

I’d also love to hear what happens to you when you’re in ‘avoidance mode’ also what have you found that works as a way of overcoming your bouts of procrastination?

Till next week!


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Is your career for a moment, season or a lifetime?

Do you sometimes look at your life and wonder what things would look like if you had chosen a different career?

I’m not suggesting that you regret where you are or what you’ve done, but maybe from time to time you find yourself pondering what life would have looked like if you had done that Art degree instead of Geography?  What would life look like now if you became an interior designer or maybe you wonder what would have happened if you trained to be a nurse or started your own business?

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I meet many people in my coaching practice who often feel that they chose the wrong career path.  Some people feel that they just ended up in their work without any real thought.  Others feel that they have outgrown their job or that they now want to move on to something that is rooted more deeply in a passion or something that they find more fulfilling.

The fact is that we often chose a career thinking that it will be for life, when in actual fact, as we grow and change as individuals, doesn’t it seem natural then that our work or purpose in this world would shift also?

Working with students who have chosen a degree path, I see every day young people who think that in choosing their degree subject they have now chosen a career for life.

I remember feeling the same way when I went to University.  I was so committed to working in the area of Criminal Psychology I did two degrees at the same time!  Not something I’d recommend to everyone.  Nonetheless I graduated with my BSc in Psychology and a BA in Criminology and then went on to do a MSc, PGCHE and then PhD.  ‘Still at University?’, is what I would often hear from my parents.  How funny that I then went on to work in one.

What I didn’t consider when I was working so hard to get good grades and juggle all the other things I was doing, was that there might come a time when I would decide that there might be other things I could do or would want to do that would bring in an income.

The fact is, is that it is never ‘too late’ to make a change to what you do for a living. Any work that you have done previously can only work to enhance what you choose to do in the future.  The other thing to remember is that you can truly make a loving doing something that you love, and I believe that this is not the standard message we teach our children.

Sir Ken Robinson tackles this in his work when addressing the idea of being in your ‘element’, What is it you really love to do?  What are you good at?  What do people come to you for?  Maybe this is your career…maybe this is your path…maybe this is how you can make your living…maybe THIS is what we should be teaching our children (please do take a look at this TED Talk – please click to to be taken to it).

It is never too late to move in to a new moment, season or to live out the rest of your days doing something new, fulfilling and exciting.  Find your element and find your path to a new chapter that may be even more exciting, fulfilling, financially beneficial and thrilling than the last!

Till next week.


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All the gear and no idea….

Oh my!  I hope that the photograph below makes you giggle as much as it did for me.  Todays post is about people who seem to have all the gear and no idea.

all-the-gear

Photo sourced at http://abc1mamil.com/?p=26 …great little post on the same topic!

The fact is that we all know people who epitomise this.  They seem to spend most of their time accumulating ‘stuff’ for their new venture whether it be in the form of actual physical equipment, particular clothing, making their office look super pretty or accumulating books that need to be read….but does it make you better at what you do? I think the granny in the picture here probably would think not.

‘I want to do karate’

It’s the kind of thing some of us did as kids. I remember doing it with new hobbies when I was a child (sorry Mum and Dad), and I see my nieces do it now. ‘I want to do Karate’ says littlest niece. So Mum and Dad go out and buy her all the gear. Karate suit, belt, bag for carrying said gear, etc. You know what happened next in the story don’t you? Two months later, she didn’t like karate and she wanted to play football instead!

Sometimes this is a practice that even adults don’t grow out of I’m afraid. We take on new things, hobbies, jobs or businesses and sink funds, not to mention precious time, into buying ‘stuff’ (or doing stuff), so that might make it seem as though we are living a particular life before we are yet in a position to really do so.  Of course a flash gym outfit means we are super-fit, active and healthy, doesn’t it?

This can also translate to do doing expensive courses and training that really on reflection don’t add anything to our lives or businesses, especially in those early stages of transition.

Know where you are in the process

In my Coaching practice most of my clients are at a point of transition, most going on to do some really exciting things…setting up new businesses, changing career or finding new relationships. I see many people who have put so much time and money into buying things for something that they think they want to do, but really it turns out that they are not sure it was really what they wanted after all. Sometimes they are struggling to maintain a balanced and fulfilled life while feeling so stretched in maintaining something that they have lost passion their passion for.

What happens then when you have already bought all the gear?

Lessons to take away

So what’s the lesson? I’ve tried to summarise this into 3 big lessons to learn, so here we go…

Lesson #1: Don’t run before you can walk

Amazon was started by a bloke and his wife selling books on-line from their home. The books were kept in their garage and all over the house and every evening after work they would sit until the early hours packaging them at their kitchen table. Do not underestimate the power and future scale of a kitchen table based business.

The fact is, is that you may not need a separate office location. If you do, maybe you are seeing clients for example, then does it have to be that flash? What can you get away with? Does it really need that big desk or aquarium? What is the least financial outlay that will bring you the greatest return? Ask questions like, am I over-committing by signing up into a 2 year lease? Can I spread the risk and do this with someone else?

Consider that you might be better off staying at your kitchen table until you really NEED to move or even better can you transfer all your clients to Skype so you can have location independence like two fine ladies from my MPWC conference, Corrina Gordon Barnes from You Inspire Me and Marianne Cantwell from Free Range Human

Lesson #2: Be good at self-regulation

I love teaching my psychology students about self-regulation (Bandura 1991).

Picture this…A small child in a room with a big slice of chocolate cake on a plate positioned in front of them.

An adult then enters the room and says to the child, ‘See this lovely piece of cake? ’Yes’ says the child, licking their lips. ‘Well, I’m going to the leave the room now, and while I’m gone, you can eat the cake.’  The child gets very excited….’BUT’, says the adult, ‘ if you don’t eat the cake while I’m gone, when I get back I will give the rest of the cake as well…not just a slice, the whole thing!’.

This is self-regulation (put very simplistically!). This test at a young age shows us how good people are at self-regulation.  Some children launch into the cake and munch away immediately.  Some last a big longer, but still eat the slice of cake after much deliberation.  Then there is another group of children, who ‘self-regulate’.  They appear to see the benefit of waiting, a longer term strategy to getting what they want, which is ultimately MORE!

This is a super little experiment and is often replicated with sweets or marshmallows (see picture below) and the outcome is even more interesting as it seems to be, that how children behave is also a predictor of how they will behave as an adult.

Self Regulation

Image taken from http://rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=4622 (click on image to be taken to site)

So, the link here I hope is an obvious one. Learning to self-regulate early on in your transition can pay off!  If you can wait before sinking big money ‘buying all the gear’ or doing that expensive training course until you know you have enough income coming in, evidence shows us that the ground work and building a solid foundation may mean greater rewards in the long run**

*Please note that this is quite different from the ready, fire, aim analogy which doesn’t need a financial outlay or ‘all the gear!*

Lesson #3: Don’t be a Magpie

The last one is a simple one, which is just about not being taken in by shiny things. Another way I could have put this would have been to say ‘never judge a book by its cover’.

This makes me think of my old favourite restaurant I used to frequent all-the-time when I lived in Wellington in New Zealand. The restaurant was situated opposite to the hospital where I worked and it was simply called ‘The Mexican café’.

This place had a weird exterior, painted in garish colours. The interior matched, in that it had mismatched chairs, ugly paintings on the wall (none were from Mexico) and to add to the strangeness, it was run by a Chinese family…links to Mexico, unknown.

Now and I can tell you that this little restaurant was always fully booked and nearly always had a queue of people waiting to go inside. It was probably up there as being one of the most popular restaurants in Wellington, no mean feat as there are A LOT of places to eat in Wellington. It was also an arse to get to on top of all of that, so you knew people were making a real effort to get there.

Again, what’s the lesson here? Well, they had the fundamentals of a good business right.  They had a long term strategy, a la ‘self-regulation’.

They had excellent (really truly excellent) food. Also, although it was garish, it was super clean.  You could BYO a nice touch, and to add to all that, even though the owners didn’t speak the greatest English, they tried to get to know everyone’s names and always welcomed you with a smile.

They also remembered your order from your previous visit and asked you if you would like the same (yes, I went too much and mine was a vege burrito), and all in all it was truly awesome customer service!

So, did they need a flash spangly premises, no. They didn’t waste their time or money on just having the gear.  They had every idea of what it would take to have a super successful restaurant.  Great food, awesome atmosphere and fantastic customer service.  Job done.

What gear have you got?

So, if you are starting something new, maybe a new hobby, business or career, whatever it is, consider that it’s not really all about the gear. That sometimes the gear can really distract you from your true purpose which is just to do an amazing job.  It’s not that these things can’t come later on, but its more about how we self-regulate and don’t get taken in with ‘shiny means better’.

Sometimes, when we take our time building the foundations for change, the outcome can be so much sweeter!

What gear did you wait to buy?

I’d love to hear from you and the gear you waited to buy? Was it something for a new business, or maybe you waited to spend money on more studying for more qualifications until you felt you really needed to?

I’d love to hear from you.

Exciting Blog post next week!

Do watch out for a really different and super exciting blog post next week….I’ll be sharing something with you that I’ve never done before and I’d love to know what you think?

Tell next week…


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Did you know your success depends on who you know?

I’ve made some huge changes in my life recently.  The biggest change I have made that I would like to share with you is that I have become, for the most part, self-employed!

It’s taken a long time to get to a place to make this decision, and anyone who has made that jump themselves (or hasn’t and is still thinking about it), will know just how scary and exciting it can feel.

In my new life I work as an academic for 2 days of my week, and the rest of the week I am scarily, wonderfully, amazingly my own boss!  For me it’s been so fantastic because I now have some clarity.  I can give myself wholly and fully to my students and the work and research I am so passionate about for 2 days, and the rest of the time I get to play, explore and be creative about how I work (watch this space because there are some pretty big projects coming your way before the end of the year).

What do you want to change?

So, why I am I telling you this, aside from the fact that everything is wonderful right now?  Well, it’s because I know that there are some key reasons that this has happened for me right now and a lot of that has to do with the people I have been associating with…

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I have over the past few years gathered around me, both consciously and unconsciously (the Universe heard me), people who have shifted my thoughts, challenged me and shown me ultimately that other things are indeed possible.

I could go into the many areas that these people have had an impact because the areas these people have impacted me is multi-dimensional and far reaching, but for the purpose of this post I will stick to the main topic at hand which is self-employment.

Who do you hang out with?

Have you ever heard the saying that you are a product of the 5 people you spend the most time with?  Well, I happen to think that the people you spend your time with is really, really important.

The people around you help to shape who you are, your beliefs and as a psychologist I’m also aware of the ‘group effect’, specifically in this case Group Cohesion  What studies in this area show us is that whilst you may not always agree what members of an group of people do, you are more likely to agree or go along with ways of thinking and being because you ultimately have created your own ‘norm’ and to go against this would mean not fitting in (put very simplistically psychology peoples!).

So think about this for a moment, if you are not achieving what you want right now, why not take a look around you?  Who are you associating with?  What is your partner doing or saying to you about what you want to achieve?  What do you friends or colleagues say to you, or maybe they don’t say anything they are ‘just being’ not what you want to be?

One of the best strategies you can implement to start changing something, is to start associating with and surrounding yourself with people who either doing what you want to do or who are at least supportive of what you want to do.

For me, the biggest role model has been my mum who made a successful business out of her own passion which was a group therapy home for Mentally Ill patients.  My Dad did the same with his love of houses.  He ran his own property development business, back when it wasn’t so popular!

Now, I surround myself with determined, passionate, hard-working and knowledgeable women who are, for the most part self-employed and living a life of location and financial freedom.

Success rubs off…

So, although success doesn’t rub off per se, after all you can’t really be successful merely by association; I can tell you that good evidence both research and certainly in my own life and practice, shows that who you choose to spend time with has a big impact on what you do, who you are and ultimately, who you end up being.

Choose these people carefully.  Learn from them. See what they do and build your knowledge.

Welcome and be generous and giving to those who truly inspire you and ‘light you up’ and with a smile say goodbye to those that don’t.  Misery attracts misery, success attracts success.  I know which camp I’d rather be in.

Till next week…

I’d love to hear from you.  Have you ever experienced this?

Did you feel like you needed to make changes to who you spent time with?  Maybe you too have noticed a big difference in choosing to associate with other like-minded people?

I’d love for you to join in the conversation and tell us all about it…