Category Archives: Well being

Do you know how to say no?

Do You Know How to Say No?

Stop, Look, Listen – And Say No!

Is time slipping away for you? Hardly believe we’re 5 weeks away from Christmas and the holiday season? Yes I know – where did 2015 go?

If that sounds like you, perhaps the following can help.

Traffic lights

Project management systems will often apply a ‘traffic light’ approach to seeing whether things are on track or not. I think it offers a useful tool to help us prevent overwhelm and consciously choose how we spend our time and energy, helping us to say ‘no’!

RED – STOP! 

How is what you are about to do (or thinking of doing) really going to serve you? Be aware if you are committing yourself to actions that are linked to feelings of guilt or inadequacy. We don’t need to keep up with ‘The Jones Family’. The children honestly don’t care about homemade cakes!

AMBER – Pause, Reflect

What do I really need to do right now? (remembering that doing nothing is always an option). Listen to your heart. Give yourself time to reflect. We can’t make good decisions when we’re frazzled. Go for a walk, run, have a bath, switch off the phone. Just ‘be’. Breathe.

GREEN – Go, Consciously

Being aware of your focus, of the reality behind your decisions, move forwards with action that is in tune with the ‘real’ you.

We seriously don’t have to do everything we think we have to. 80% of our results come from 20% of our action – the key is to understand what are those productive 20%. Applying a traffic light system to your reactions just might help.

 

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Passion Trumps Making Do

Do you love what you do? shutterstock_330111

Is there enough of that passion left to get you through the long and difficult days?

Do you still feel that excited energy of motivation and purpose pulsing through your veins as you approach your day’s work?

No? Let’s take a time out.

Passion flows when you’ve identified what you’re good at and get results from, with what you are energized by (we can be good at lots of things that drain us – that isn’t where the magic lies). Yes, sometimes we have to do stuff that doesn’t suit so well because it allows us to tap into the things we do love. If you can’t find that in your work for some reason, people will often seek out other opportunities that gets their heart’s racing and the blood flowing. We all need passion in our lives – it tells us we are alive and vital!

So if a quickening pulse of excitement and flow is no longer happening for you, ask yourself these questions.

Did I ever feel passionate about what I do and if I did, what specifically did I love?

How can I bring more of that back into my life?

If you’ve never felt that passion, what would really light your fire? (Hint: it’s the things you can’t stop talking about, the stuff you seek out, the things you do where time stands still).

How can you bring more of that into your life?

Passion trumps making do.  Don’t let this one and beautiful life slip through your fingers because you settled at making do. You don’t need to launch yourself into drastic change to re-ignite passion – remember the tortoise won the race not the hare. You just need to get started.

Choose2Flourish

Do you love what you do?  Is there enough of that passion left to get you through the long and difficult days? Do you still feel that excited energy of motivation and purpose pulsing through your veins as you approach your day’s work? No? Let’s take a time out. Passion flows when you’ve identified what [...]

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Career and confidence coaching for purpose led professionals looking to thrive in a career that feeds their soul as well as their bank balance.

Career strategy, cv, preparing for interview, stepping into a new role, leadership transition and career crossroads navigation

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Work Life Balance or Merge – Are You Getting It Right?

shutterstock_131588138Work-Life Balance – it sure sounds good, but what exactly is it and how do you get it?

Work – life balance is the dynamic interaction between ‘work’ and ‘life’.

‘Work’ is those tasks you must do to keep your life functioning – paid or unpaid, inside or outside of the home. And ‘life’ is those things you do for your own personal fulfillment – the things you really enjoy and want to do. ‘Balance’ is the ideal blend of those two areas.

To move toward life balance, become aware of how you are spending your time. Notice where you are satisfied, where you may be imbalanced and what you would like to change.

Next create your own vision of a balanced day. How do your desire your ideal day to look while enjoying the perfect combination of ‘work’ and ‘life’?

Identify the obstacles that interfere with your quest for balance such as your own thoughts, words and actions. Also look at other obstacles such as other people’s opinions, schedules and actions.

And finally, put it all into ‘action’.   Awareness, desire and identifying your obstacles are important, but to move toward balance, you need to take action.

Work-life balance is not a destination. It is a dynamic state of awareness and choices. Try these simple tips to help move you toward the life you desire.

Choose2Flourish

Work-Life Balance – it sure sounds good, but what exactly is it and how do you get it? Work – life balance is the dynamic interaction between ‘work’ and ‘life’. ‘Work’ is those tasks you must do to keep your life functioning – paid or unpaid, inside or outside of the home. And ‘life’ is [...]

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Executive career and confidence coaching for purpose led professionals.

Enabling you to thrive in a career that feeds your soul as well as your bank balance.

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Centre Yourself for Calm & Balance

shutterstock_140239432Are you always in your head, thinking things through, planning for the next thing, worrying how that recent conversation / meeting / decision / piece of work went?

How often do you really tune in to how your body is feeling instead?

When we bring our attention to our bodies we help ourselves break free from the tyranny of constantly thinking.

If we are constantly thinking and not ‘being’, we can easily become unbalanced and this shows up in our reactions and emotions. Having access to quick and simple tools that calm and balance us is vitally important to our health and well-being. In our fast paced and ever-changing world, proactively managing our state throughout the day is very beneficial to our health and well-being, our energy levels, mood and ultimately performance. Tuning into our body is an easy, accessible and fun way of doing this.

Centring is a form of state management that works with the fight/flight/freeze response to optimise how we are. One simple technique is called ‘ABC’ and is taken from a field of bodywork called ‘embodiment’. Embodiment is the way we are. It is how we feel, relate and do. Our bodies reflect the set of habits that we call ourselves. This technique comes from the great work of embodiment  and I’m grateful to Mark Walsh for sharing this with me at a recent training event.

ABC – Simple Centring Technique

A – Aware

Become aware of yourself, your body. Be mindful of the present moment, using the 5 senses (touch, feel, sight, smell, hear) , especially feeling the body, ground (chair or feet) and your breath.

B – Balance

Place your feet firmly on the floor, make sure your weight is distributed evenly, not skewed to one side. Check this balance in your posture and attention. Have an expansive feeling extending up and out from your chest, your heart.

C – Core

Relax your mouth and stomach, breathe deeply into your body. Notice your breath moving your belly in and out. Breath deeply for a few breaths and enjoy the calm focus.

Practicing this technique outside of any challenging situations helps you get used to how your body feels and responses as you quickly move through the sequence. When a stressful or challenging situation occurs, you should be more able to slip into using ABC ‘in’ the moment. Notice how it slows down your ‘flight/fight/freeze’ response.

When you run through and practice this technique, ask yourself:

What personal insights come up?

How might you use this technique in your life?

Choose2Flourish

Are you always in your head, thinking things through, planning for the next thing, worrying how that recent conversation / meeting / decision / piece of work went? How often do you really tune in to how your body is feeling instead? When we bring our attention to our bodies we help ourselves break free [...]

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Powerful career and confidence coaching for purpose-led professionals

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Childhood Dreams

Three Tips to Help Find Your True Vocation From Childhood Dreams

Remember those dreams you had as a kid?

The ones where you’d confidently state you’d be singer, an artist, a circus performer? Or perhaps you wanted to be a scientist, an inventor, or a teacher?

I wanted to either be an artist in a studio, or an actress. I’d write and perform plays whenever I got the chance and an unsuspecting audience. I’d set up my paints in the back garden and recreate the apple tree in fantastic detail and colours. The time just whizzed by. What did you think you’d be ‘when you were a grown up’?

Childhood Dreams

For most of us, we don’t actually become what we say at 7, 8 or 9 years old. For a lucky few however, those early seeds do provide the actual signposting of a lifelong passion. My twin sister was, as far as I can tell, born knowing she wanted to be a doctor. When she graduated from her medical school, I was in tears of joy, recognising the dedication, determination and belief she had put in to realising that childhood ambition.

So what does that say to the rest of us? What if I told you that those early assertions of purpose do actually hold the kernel to your life satisfaction and happiness?

Paulo Coelho in ‘The Alchemist’ talks about the heart giving out nudges that, when listened to quietly, provide all the insight and guidance a person could need. The heart shouts out the loudest in the young but as we get older, things get in our way. We learn to get scared, we start to doubt our abilities and take on other peoples’ perspectives and experiences.

When we stop listening to our heart and allow the fear to take over, we settle, we give up and our lives are less fulfilled as a result. Reflecting back on what made our hearts sing in childhood, what we confidently proclaimed to any pesky inquiring adult, may have more bearing on your current adult life than you think.

Tip 1: Reflect fully on what you wanted as a child.

Behind the immature language, what were you really saying? If it was ‘to be a doctor’, was it the helping people, the status of the white coat, your interest in how our bodies work? What, in more adult language, lies at the core of what you were saying?

Tip 2: Consider where and how you lost track of time as a child and ask yourself whether you are still bringing those things into your life now.

As well as creating and performing, it was whizzing along lanes on my bike, enjoying the sense of freedom and speed. Cycling still opens up the same feelings for me and I know I am simply ‘better’ after time spent outdoors. What about you?

Tip 3: Look at the small, tiny ways you could bring your ‘childhood’ dreams into your life now.

Looking out of my window to the Clifton suspension bridge from my new studio base last week, I suddenly recalled my ‘artist in a studio’ ambition. And here it was. Creating, yes – coaching my clients is definitely that, coming up with new ways to support a smooth and fruitful positive transition. Working by myself, in an environment far removed from a typical office situation.

Speaking at the launch of a new network for Bristol based PAs last week, I was also bringing into my life the other aspect that so enthralled me as a child – performing. With my adult eyes, I can see how standing in front of a crowd, with a message to share, fulfils me at a very deep level.

So what about you?

How can you recall your young self and that youthful heart – what nudges was your heart giving you then and what can you do now?

I’d love to know what resonates here with you so do get in touch.

Choose2Flourish Ltd

Remember those dreams you had as a kid? The ones where you’d confidently state you’d be singer, an artist, a circus performer? Or perhaps you wanted to be a scientist, an inventor, or a teacher? I wanted to either be an artist in a studio, or an actress. I’d write and perform plays whenever I [...]

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Navigating a life or career crossroads can be a breeze with Choose2Flourish by your side. You can step up or find a new direction, ensuring the next phase in your life is truly amazing.
Powerful career, confidence and life coaching services by Rhian Sherrington

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Successful people know where they are going

FIND YOUR OWN WAY TO FLOURISH 

A Flourishing Path

A Flourishing Path

How we define success is very personal. There are many, many books out there that will tell you all about the various strategies, steps and tools. Some will ring true for you and others will leave you wondering if everyone is off on another planet.

Personally, I define success as having a rounded and grounded perspective on a life lived with purpose and meaning; being able to use my strengths to accomplish things of value and importance to me, combined with a capacity to feel and give joy and gratitude. Well, that is what it feels like to me right now – I’ll probably come up with slightly different words tomorrow – but the essence will be the same.

In a nutshell, it’s about fully knowing the ‘why’s’ behind your decisions on what to focus on, and being sufficiently self aware and tuned in to others, to both self manage, and to manage with compassion, your impact on others.

To expand on that a little.

Successful people know where they are going. In all likelihood they;

* creatively use their strengths to thrive at work, at home;

* are open to new possibilities;

* enjoy excellent relationships with others;

* have learnt how to manage daily stresses;

* are self aware and know how to be authentically themselves; and

* invest time to reflect and grow.

HOW CAN YOU DO THE SAME?

I think age helps! A life lived through it’s natural transitions and stages brings wisdom for many. Whilst we’ve a long way to go before we venerate the ‘Third Age’ as much as the Chinese or Hindu culture’s, perhaps we are seeing a shift in attitude as the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation in this country heads out into their Third (and Fourth?) Age. There’s nothing quite like sharing your thoughts with an ‘elder’ to help put your current concerns into perspective.

However, if you’ve not quite got to that point of ‘wise old sage’ yet yourself, starting to prioritise a bit of ‘me-time’ to reflect, read and question is, I think, essential. Often that can get shoved to one side as our various roles make their multiple demands of us. There is a very good reason though, why the life jackets get put on the adults first and not the infants. You’ve got to sort yourself out before you can be of any use to others. Spending time alone can be really helpful in this regard, but so can meeting up with others who use a similar definition to ‘success’ as yourself.

Which is why I am delighted to be running a short course of ‘Choose 2 Flourish’ workshops in Bristol starting on 23rd May. We’re going to be using some great tools and models to broaden our thinking, develop our awareness and self management, and work on the stuff that matters to us. If you’re in Bristol, and this post has rung your bell, then click on the link below to get the full details.

http://choose2flourishworkshops.eventbrite.co.uk

Focus on your strengths – It will make you happier and more effective: Part 2

SO, WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS? shutterstock_81178216

How do you know what your strengths are? You are probably aware of some, but identifying your strengths can be tricky. This is due partly to our innate ‘tuning into’ the negative about ourselves or situation, and the difficulty we all have in recognising what we are truly good at!

One way is to ask yourself what strengths you have just used when you have done something you feel good about.  You could also try asking a friend or trusted colleague who you feel can give you honest feedback (itself a real skill).

Research shows there are 24 character strengths recognised across cultures as being inherently desirable human traits.  Martin Seligman has used these as the basis for his ‘VIA Character Strengths Tests’ questionnaire which is available, for free, on his website http://www.authentichappiness.org You need to register and the questionnaire will take about 40 minutes to fill in. That time is well spent however, as the results can be truly illuminating.

“OH, THAT WAS NOTHING!”

If you do ask for feedback on your strengths, it’s worth noting how hard it can sometimes be to actually hear a strength being identified in you, or indeed for others to hear it said of themselves.  How many times have you heard, or said yourself, “Oh it was nothing” or “the others did it, I did very little” when being praised for something done well, whether it be at work or in your personal life. Giving and receiving positive feedback is a skill, and given that it can be so powerful in shaping many things, not just our ability to identify strengths, it’s good to know that we can all learn to give and receive it.

TOP TIP: USE EVIDENCE BASED, POSITIVE FEEDBACK

Here’s where providing evidence for the strength is so valuable. Next time you listen to a friend or colleague talk about something that went well, identify a strength they used in order to achieve what they did. Identify specifically what they did so when you then feed their use of that strength back to them, you can provide the evidence.  See and feel how different things appear by trying it out when you don’t use the evidence.  For me, it carries far more impact when my husband tells me I’m good with people when he also refers back to the specifics of the situation he has perhaps just seen me in, letting me see the strengths of kindness, patience and empathy, for example.  Collecting your evidence of where and when you have used your strengths is a great activity for building up your self-confidence and self-belief in your abilities.

RE-CRAFT YOUR WORK / LIFE AROUND USING YOUR STRENGTHS

The next, essential step, is to actively use your strengths in different ways across your day. Remember, using your strengths builds positive emotion, opening you up to new ideas and alternative ways of thinking. You’ll feel good and will be more likely to ‘get into flow’ at work or whatever activity you need to focus on, when you are applying your strengths. (Go back to Part 1 of this blog series if you’ve forgotten why it matters).

As a mum, I’m aware how powerful this all is for my children. I help them recognise the things they have done well and encourage them to reflect back on things they feel good about. Being a coach I find it fairly natural to bring into use all those great empowering questions with them, such as “How did that make you feel?”, “What did you learn from that?” And “How could you use (insert strength) with (new challenge or difficulty)? I actively help them identify their strengths, celebrate their use and encourage them to think of where they can apply their ‘good skills’ to tackle their problems.

I’m still not brilliant at doing it for myself though. So, time to apply a bit more positive psychology on me I think, and here’s an immediate opportunity: how can I use my ‘optimism, zest and energy for life’ to work out an approach to cooking dinner for the children when much of it is likely to be immediately scraped back into the compost bin…

Still optimistic that the next day's dinner will be eaten...

Still optimistic that the next day’s dinner will be eaten…

Focus on your strengths – It will make you happier and more effective

WHY ARE WE BAD AT BEING GOOD? 

When did you last tell yourself this?

When did you last tell yourself this?

What makes it so hard for us to acknowledge what we are good at?

Why is it that at the end of the day, we remember the stuff we didn’t do so well whilst experiencing amnesia over the great things we actually achieved?

Apparently it’s all to do with our evolutionary make-up. Focusing on where we need to improve helped us to evolve as a species, prevented us from being eaten and enabled us to adapt to the many challenges that were faced.

Today, an awareness of our strengths can be hugely beneficial. On an individual level, how we were parented has a considerable influence on how easily we can tune into what we are good at. Regardless of our ‘starting point’, the good news is that we can all learn to cultivate more awareness of our strengths, and use that information to ‘float our boat’ and navigate it through turbulent times, at work or at home.

HOW DOES KNOWING YOUR STRENGTHS MATTER?

It matters for several, important reasons.

  1. If you know and consciously use aspects of yourself you are good at, you’ll feel more positive and that in itself brings about huge benefits. For example, this includes being able to think more expansively and more creatively, as explored by Barbara Fredrickson in her ‘broaden and build theory of positive emotions’ (Positivity, 2009). This now well accepted theory states that positivity opens our minds, making us more receptive and more creative, whilst enabling us to build new skills, new knowledge, new ways of being.
      Going back to our ancestry, Fredrickson states “positive emotions were consequential to our human ancestors because over time those good feelings broadened our ancestor’s mindsets and built their resources for the future”  (2009). Working from our strengths, designing ways in which we can use more of them, more often, can be a highly successful way of bringing in more positive emotions into our daily lives.
  2. Knowing what our strengths are gives us a way of dealing with challenges. When you work from a place of strength, you are far more likely to be successful. As you accomplish more, you build more and more evidence of your abilities. Success breeds success, so applying your strengths to help you tackle difficult situations or conversations, for example, helps you build the self-belief and self-confidence to do more. It’s a virtuous circle, which when consciously acknowledged can be very powerful.
      Recently a coaching client of mine was having difficulty seeing their strengths, and keeping an evidence log in the form of a ‘what went well and why’ exercise made all the difference in building that awareness and insight.
  3. Knowing what your strengths are can also help you be aware of your ‘shadow’ side. This is the opposite, unhelpful aspect of having that strength. For example, ‘a love of excellence’ has a shadow of being a perfectionist; ‘optimism, zest and energy for life’ (one of mine) can also lead you to overcommitting and needing to take a few reality checks. Transactional Analysis (a theory of communication) frames someone’s character traits you may find annoying as a ‘strength overdone’. Developing insights to where you (and others) are perhaps overdoing some strengths can lead to better relationships, at work, at home, with friends, family and colleagues.
  4. Acting from our strengths makes it easier for us to go into ‘flow’ at work and find what we do more satisfying (Johnstone, 2013).  ‘Flow’ has been the subject of considerable research in the field of positive psychology. One leading researcher, Mikaly Csikszentmihalyi states that flow is “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter” (Flow, 1991). Researchers Clifton and Harter who reviewed work across this field concluded that workers who “have the opportunity to do what they do best every day” show less staff turnover, better customer loyalty and higher productivity (2003).

In Part 2, we examine how to identify your strengths and use them creatively across your daily life.

References:

Clifton, D. & Harter, J. K. (2003). Investing in strengths. In K. S., Cameron, J.E. Dutton, & R. E. Quinn, (Eds), Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline (pp. 111-121). San Francisco, CA: Berrett- Koehler

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002), Flow: The Psychology of Happiness: The Classic Work on How To Achieve Happiness. Rider

Fredrickson, B. (2009), Positivity: Groundbreaking Research to Release Your Inner Optimist and Thrive. Oneworld Publications

Johnstone, C. (2013), Positive Psychology for Coaches and Health Professionals, online course materials, FindYourPower.com

Three Facts About Emotions

Emotions signal to us to pay attention. They are quite literally “energy in 256px-Drill_instructor_at_the_Officer_Candidate_Schoolmotion”, as the chemicals in our brains let us know about risks or opportunities facing us. Learning to recognise what our emotions are telling us has been a tremendous benefit to human development.

Marquis De Vauvenargues, a french philosopher stated “Emotions have taught mankind to reason“. Seeing how our emotions actually give us important data helps us work out what is going on, how we need to react and subsequently how we can get the best outcome from a situation. Fundamental to all of this is understanding that ‘you’ are not ‘your thought’.

The folks at 6 Seconds, the Emotional Intelligence network, are brilliant at explaining this and provide some amazing and helpful tools to help us develop our emotional literacy – increasing seen as essential skills at work, play and rest. Working out what your emotions are telling you, and then what to do about it, is a key part to developing your sense of well being and life satisfaction. Check out their latest 2 minute YouTube video that explains …

Three Essential Facts about Feelings 

‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ by NEF – still useful 5 years on

5 Ways to Well Being” – Brilliant postcards – grab a free one here!5 ways to well being part 1

In 2008 Foresight’s Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project examined state-of-the-art research from across the world to consider how to improve everyone’s mental capital and mental well being through life.

The evidence suggests that a small improvement in wellbeing can help decrease some mental health problems and also help people to flourish ..

The weighty report was condensed into a series of postcards of fabulous, bite-sized information by the New Economics Foundation called ‘5 ways to wellbeing'; a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal wellbeing.

Despite being 5 years old, with significant advances being made in how we view flourishing, I still love these cards and have stuck them up in office kitchens, posted to friends and regularly re-read mine where I’ve popped it above my computer. You can purchase a set directly from NEF here

or if you drop me an email, claiming your freebie ones until my supplies run dry –  rhian@choose2flourish.co.uk