You Can't Always Get What You Want

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Hi readers!

Some big news here on the blog - I went and had myself a baby girl!

There’s been a little less content around here while I learned the ins and outs of having a beautiful newborn baby, but I’m excited to be back, writing to you all and coaching clients again.

You can imagine there’s been some hefty lessons that have come with this time in my life. I’ve been mentally storing them up to share with you readers, in the hopes that they’ll help you in a relevant area of your life too.

So - let’s start with how we try to control outcomes.

Over the years I’ve become pretty great at this.

Sure, I’ve been frustrated with the time it takes to tone up at the gym, but over a series of months I’ve always got there. At work, the promotion might not be available straight away but I keep plugging away and when it’s there, I’ve often been the chosen one.

You can imagine my surprise over the last couple of months when I discovered no matter what action I was taking I couldn’t control a certain result.

I have had some nursing issues (who the hell hasn’t I’ve discovered) and I took it on as a project - I researched all I could, went to appointments, stocked up on supplements and medicine, started my regime with full gusto and was ready for the results to start rolling in…

...then three weeks later… nothing.

Since I was told results should come after two weeks, I was confused. This isn’t what happens to me.

Cue a yucky spiral of sadness, doubt and defeat.

But then I realised… feeling crappy about it was only having one effect. Making me feel like crap.

It seemed I couldn’t change the circumstances, but I could change how I felt about them.

I have been loving being a mum but feeling down doesn’t leave much time to smell the roses and enjoy the moment.

After much thinking, I decided to mentally LET GO OF THE OUTCOME (gasp).

I realised even if I hung on tight to the outcome I wanted, it would still have no effect, so it was time to stop the suffering.

I now feel about a billion times better. Sure, I feel a bit disappointed, but it is what it is. I am trying my best, but sometimes in life that just won’t do the trick.

Can you change your thoughts about something that’s getting you down?

Can you let go of an outcome and, in doing so, let go of some suffering?

I hope you can and feel the relief I’ve finally come to.

Mwah! 

3 Ways To Balance Productivity And Ease

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I’ve been drawing on two concepts pretty heavily recently. The first is around productivity and, of course, it was sparked by my current guru, Brooke Castillo. She is all about managing the mind.

When it comes to time management she recommends scheduling the work you want to do and counting on your brain to try and talk you out of it when the time comes.

Want to clean your house on Saturday morning? You can count on your brain trying to convince you to stay in bed. Planning on a Pilates class after work? A glass at the new wine bar with coworkers sounds better. Want to write a blog post Sunday night? You deserve some ice cream and Netflix instead.

Sound familiar?

The other concept is around finding alignment, which is featuring heavily in Jess Lively’s work at the moment. When I have some free time during the day, I ask ‘what will get me into alignment?’ This pretty much equates to what feels best for me or what will bring me the most ease.

My mind used to lead me to spend that free time tidying up the house, paying bills or doing something equivalently un-fun, but now I tune in to what really sounds best, not what I ‘should’ be doing.

That currently looks like having a shower and putting a face mask on, going out for brunch or, my favourite, taking a nap. Rather than shoulding all over the place, I do what I really want to do.

So how do I marry these two seemingly different concepts up?

Honour thy calendar

Productivity is still important to me and getting things done can also put me in alignment. I just don’t want to run myself into the ground with my to do list.

So I schedule in my appointments, book time to write blog posts and block out time for exercise. When the time comes I know my brain will try and talk me out of it but I go ahead anyway, knowing that I’ve also set aside time to relax.

Set aside time for alignment

Leaving lots of space in my calendar to find alignment makes the productive times more easy to follow through on. Yes, there will always be dishes to do but when the free time comes, I don’t default to strapping on the rubber gloves.

I ask myself what feels best and go with it. And (shock) sometimes tidying the kitchen does feel like alignment - if so, I go with that too.

Regularly review your to do list

I keep a running to do list in the Notes app of my phone and I’m sure you all have different apps and planners and systems for tracking your lists.

A few times a week I look at my list and ask if the items are important to me anymore and actually need to be done.

More often than not I can cull a few items from the list - either because they’ve been there forever or because I’m mandating that I need to do them when I can actually let them go. Try it!

Does your brain try and talk you out of what you said you’d do?

And, when you have the space, do you ever ask it what feels best for you in that moment?

The Best Of The Blog, 2017 Edition

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Welcome to 2018 lovely readers!

I hope you had a great holiday season and are ready for an amazing year ahead.

If you’d like some support setting your 2018 goals (with a few weeks to recover from the excess of the holidays first, of course!), I'm running three complimentary discovery sessions in February, which you can sign up for here.

2017 was an amazing year for me and included launching my life coaching business, which I’m expanding in 2018, so stay tuned!

A huge influence on my year (and my coaching) was the amazing Brooke Castillo. I discovered her podcast in 2016, but enrolled in her more intensive Self Coaching Scholars online course during 2017. I'm so happy my post about her teachings was one of the blog's most popular last year.

There’s also a few themes coming through in what everyone is reading.

We’ve acknowledged we’ve become obsessed with being ‘busy’ and trying to maintain a tight grip of control on our routines and lives. Wanting to fill our days with more pleasure is what we're seeking.

Ease over control seems the way forward this year.

Top 5 Posts of 2017

Enjoy the top 5 posts of 2017 and here’s to more pleasure and less perfection and busy-ness in 2018.

Do You Love Looking At Your Calendar? If Not, Try This

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It’s Sunday evening and you take a look at your calendar for the week ahead.

You’ve either booked in something every night and feel exhausted already, or you hear crickets chirping from your planner, with nothing to look forward to but work, work and more work.

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to get my diary into a state I’m really happy with.

The structure changes from time to time, depending how busy I am at the office, what season it is, or how I’m feeling health-wise, but I’ve collated my top tips to help you look at your planner and feel excited for each week ahead.

Set weekly parameters

First, you need to set some ground rules. They can be flexible and a trial for now.

Why not try a month with an initial calendar framework, and set a date in your diary to review how it’s going after that month has passed?

After a super busy start to 2017, I was feeling spent and tired by the end of each week, so started trialling the following parameters:

  • A maximum of 2 weeknights out per week  
  • Booking at least 2-3 exercise sessions a week - usually 2 in the evenings and 1 on the weekend
  • One free weekend day or evening to recharge

I put the exercise blocks in my calendar but they could be moved flexibly depending on the week. Also, when friends asked for dates for a catch up, I was able to quickly see if I already had two nights booked out in any given week.

Be mindful of your weekends

I have seen this often with my coaching clients (and myself!) - we get to the weekend and jam pack our calendars and to do lists in an attempt to play catch up or pack some fun in after a long work week.

Before I started managing my calendar more wisely, I would wake up on a Saturday, go to see my trainer, do my groceries and errands, meet a friend for lunch, head for a wine in the afternoon, then move on to dinner and a night out with friends...

Sounds like a fun day right?

It usually was, but it also left me feeling exhausted come Sunday morning.

I started to pluck out the activities I loved doing and put in some that weren’t in my routine yet.

Firstly, I loved catching up with friends on a Saturday, but three catch ups in one day was just too much. I preferred the evening catch up so would usually suggest that to friends where possible.

Although I liked my Saturday morning routine, I really loved (and still love) a slow morning on the weekend. I make sure to block Sundays for this - I get up, make coffee, read my book, then take a long walk along the river.

Considering six mornings a week I’m working to a timeframe and pretty tight schedule, this type of morning is so appreciated. I love the quiet and slow pace of this practice.

How are your weekends looking at the moment?

What activities do you want to keep and what is missing from your weekends?

My four tips on creating a new routine can help you too.

Look at your calendar and ask yourself this tough question

Now that you’ve set some parameters and addressed your weekend planning, it’s time to look at each booked activity and ask yourself the most important question - ‘Am I happy this is in my calendar?’

If it’s a workout, it’s easy to roll your eyes at that question, but if the answer is a firm ‘no’, can you try a new class or take a friend for a walk with you so you actually look forward to your appointment?

If it’s a catch up with friends and the answer is no, you have permission to cancel.

Whether it’s because that week you don’t feel like going out with certain people or it’s a bigger issue to address, the key is to love looking at your calendar, not respond with ‘meh’.

If you could replace a ‘meh’ catch up or activity with something that makes you say ‘yes’ to the question of ‘Am I happy this is in my calendar?’, what would that activity be?

I’d love to hear how these tips help you improve your calendar and, even better, I’d love to see what your calendar looks like once you’re happy with it! Please shoot me a message here and share.

An Easy Visualisation Technique to Deal with Negative People

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Earlier this year, I was having trouble with a particular person in my life - I would call him an ‘energy vampire’...

I wasn’t super close to him but had to have a lot to do with him on a week to week basis. In my eyes, he was very negative about life and I felt like I was a sounding board for much of this negativity.

Plodding along through everyday life, I thought the relationship wasn’t having much of an effect on me. I knew how our conversations would go and I would nod and sympathise, then move on with my days.

However at a session with my kinesiologist, the relationship came up as a big red flag in our discussions. Despite the nodding and smiling, underneath I was feeling incredibly drained and exhausted by the relationship and it was bringing me down.

My kinesiologist suggested a great technique that I used around this person from then on and I’ve shared it with clients who are in similar situations.

Whether you’re feeling drained by family, a work colleague or friend, this visualisation technique is designed to protect you from any negative energy while still allowing you to be there for people as needed.

You can do these steps before you speak to them next or during your conversation.

Picture your bubble

This will be different for all of us, but if you picture a bubble around yourself when in conversation with this person, what does it look like?

What is it made out of? Is it wet or dry? What colour is it? Is it round or does it run close to your body?

Let the bubble protect you

Once you have a clear picture of the bubble around you, you can start to imagine it as a sort of shield in conversation with this person.

As the other person speaks, you are protected by the bubble.

Do you see their words bouncing off the bubble? Do their sentences drip down the side? Does the bubble reflect their words back to them?

You can still concentrate on what they’re saying but in the back of your mind, visualise and know you are protected by the bubble.

Repeat

The key is to use this visualisation technique to protect your own energy as needed.

Without the bubble, it’s quite easy to absorb what someone’s saying, feel down about their struggles and leave situations with them feeling depleted.

Using the bubble lets you still hear them out, be there for them, but you know you are protected from any negative words or energy and can move back into your day without your vibe being brought down.

Let me know if you try the bubble technique with someone in your life. How did it work for you?

Follow These Four Steps To Create Your Ideal Routine

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Do you have a routine you’re currently struggling with? Your morning routine, before bed routine, taking kids to school routine, exercise routine - which one is it for you?

Many of us just can’t seem to make a new routine stick. So day to day, week to week, we struggle through our days, wishing we could get some control over this particular area of our life.

It’s often on our mind but we feel too busy or too helpless to actually make a change.

I was working with a client recently on her morning routine - when we first started chatting she was snoozing her alarm repeatedly, scrolling through her phone while in bed, and prioritising her kids’ breakfasts over her own, leaving her hungry and exhausted as she headed out the door.

She knew it was time for an overhaul.

It takes time to stick, but it is absolutely possible to get a new, ideal routine in place. So what are the steps?

1. Journal about your current routine

This is usually the most surprising and enlightening step to creating a new practice. We think we know where our time is going or where we’re going wrong, but until you write it down, it can be hard to quantify.

Pick up your phone or take out a piece of paper and write down your current routine in black and white.

Are you leaving work braindead, so skipping the gym?

Are you frantically cleaning the kitchen before bed, then watching TV to help you doze off?

Capture your current routine and from there you can move to step two.

2. Envisage your ideal routine

The perfect routine is often what we’re dreaming about day to day, lamenting that we’re never going to get there.

My client found this exercise a lot more straightforward than capturing her current routine - among other things, she wanted to do yoga each morning, have a quiet cup of tea before her kids woke up and then eat a relaxed breakfast with them once they woke.

3. Add a new activity each week

Over a few months, we replaced old activities with new, manageable ones each week.

Rather than launching into a 60 minute yoga routine each morning, we added five minute stretching videos to three of her weekday mornings (Yoga with Adriene, we love you).

She found it tough to make four breakfasts in the morning so grocery shopped for some easy options to have in the cupboard, and sometimes prepped breakfast the night before so it was ready to go once the day got under way.

Week by week, new habits were developed and the baby steps started to stick.

4. Review your progress

What’s so heartening is once you have your current and ideal routine noted down, you can chip away at the changes, then (the best part!) go back and review your progress once your new routine is in place.

To see how far you’ve come is super motivating and you can then apply this process to any part of life that’s not going as you'd like it to right now.

Which routine are you ready to overhaul? Start with writing down your current and ideal routines, then add a new habit this week to get underway.

How To Stop Being A Technology Junkie

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Around four months ago, I started tracking the time I spend on my phone each day … as I mentioned in that post, I do use my phone to listen to podcasts while I’m commuting (up to an hour each day), but the number waiting for me in the Moment app next to ‘hours’ at the end of each 24 hours was still pretty exorbitant.

Like many, I often feel like I don’t have enough time.

Between work, my blog, coaching, cooking, exercise, keeping up the house, catching up with friends … you get the picture right?

But then how is it that I can manage 2+ hours a day on my phone?

The conclusion I came to was that I used it for relaxation. When I had a spare minute, or finished a task, or finished up the day, I was scrolling all my feeds.

Again, and again, and again, throughout the day.

What was troubling me even more were the not so acceptable times I was spending time on my phone.

When I had a nice ‘quiet’ weekend planned, the time on my phone skyrocketed, when I could have been doing some of those activities I feel I have no time for.

And even more harmful was the 3am pick up of the phone when I couldn’t get back to sleep - because we all know, a screen is not going to lull you back into a deep slumber. 

So what have I been trying and what can you do to cut back on tech time too?

Replace the urge

Picking up devices has really become muscle memory for many of us.

Particularly while away on holiday in Hawaii, I noticed, even when in another country with beautiful views and plenty to see and do, I would still automatically pick up my phone.

While I was there, I made a conscious effort to only look at my phone first thing in the morning and before dinner each night. Since a lot of the holiday involved swimming and relaxing, that left me with a fair bit of spare time. And I filled that spare time with reading.

This is something I’ve carried into regular life and now usually read my book to unwind after work and before bed.

As you can imagine, I am powering through plenty more books these days and although (disclaimer) I do read ebooks on my iPad, I’m actually more relaxed when I’m reading fiction (hello escapism) or non-fiction (learning about new topics) than I am when looking into other people’s lives on social media.

What main activity could you use to replace the urge to pick up your phone?

Create a list of spare time activities

I also began to wonder - what were all those things I wanted to do that I didn’t have enough time for?

They varied from doing more yoga, to decluttering my house, to blogging, to checking in with friends over the phone.

Knowing what I want to prioritise helps me when I do find myself reaching for my phone during a quiet moment.

I’ll do a yoga or pilates video on YouTube, I’ll call a friend or I’ll clear out a drawer that’s been bugging me.

Most of these activities are less than half an hour but usually make me feel much more accomplished and fulfilled than looking up from Instagram Stories for the 10th time wondering why my Sunday afternoon is nearly over.

What are some activities under 30 minutes you could add to your spare time list?

Admit that tech is not evil

This was an interesting learning from cutting back on my time online. It is truly hard to get away from tech day to day.

Life really has surrounded us with devices and apart from a hard copy book there’s not a lot I do at home or work that doesn’t involve tech of some description.

I’m grateful for online resources like books, TV shows, workouts and podcasts, and if they don’t have negative consequences for me, I’m going to go for it.

In what ways is technology creating a positive influence in your life?

The Birthday Post 2017: 3 Mantras To Live By

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Another year, another million lessons ... when I think back to where I was a year ago at birthday time, I haven’t fundamentally changed (remember this post?) but I have definitely learnt more and more.

Although I check in regularly on the blog, I feel like over the last 12 months I’ve been less into tracking goals and consistently reviewing where I’m at.

Circumstances at work and in my personal life have meant I haven’t had as much time for these activities, so when I came to write this post, I wasn’t sure how easily it would come.

What I did realise though was that I have continued to do a lot of reading and self coaching and from that has stemmed some mantras that I’ve been carrying with me.

I don’t use each of them every single day but they have been immeasurably helpful throughout the last year and, right now, I think they’re definitely keepers for the future too.

I’m going to summarise what each of them have meant to me and I hope you’re able to start thinking about some mantras to carry with you too.

Mantra 1: 

It’s just my brain, it doesn’t mean anything.

Holy what?! Thank you Brooke Castillo. She mentioned this one in her Self Coaching Scholars course and I have drawn on this many, many times in the last year.

If I wake up in the morning feeling unable to face the busy day ahead, if I start to worry about how a client meeting went, if I look in the mirror and am sure I’ve gained a heap of weight, if I’m sure someone is saying something behind my back… I just come back to this mantra. “It’s just my brain, it doesn’t mean anything.”

We are so often sure our thoughts are facts and that how we feel about situations is absolute reality. But really your brain can choose any which way to go.

This has taken the edge off many situations and helped me step out of my head almost immediately.

Mantra 2: 

My purpose is to appreciate being alive.

My purpose?! The meaning of life?? Heavy stuff I know, but questions we’ve all asked ourselves at one stage right?

Again I did some self coaching on this over the last year and was encouraged to come up with a one sentence statement that covered off what I thought my purpose might be and, more importantly, a purpose that felt good to me.

When I looked around at my situation - born where I was, into the family I was, with the education I was given, surrounded by the people who’ve entered my life, the angst over choosing my purpose started to drift away. I already really have everything I need and although there will be pain and hard times, it’s all part of the human experience and even the hardest emotions can be valued.

When in the midst of an existential crisis about major decisions or what the next stage is for me, I remind myself of this mantra and I’m brought back to the moment, knowing I am lucky and that I don't have to take life quite so seriously. 

Mantra 3: 

In the end, we all die. It’s over before we know it.
We will have controlled very little.
None of it will mean much.
So we might as well lay it out.

Not to end on a totally morbid note, but this one is all sorts of amazing. Again, I pulled it from my current guru Brooke Castillo.

I’ve talked about control on the blog before, and I know many of us are grappling with this day to day - controlling our routines, controlling our relationships, it’s pretty exhausting right?

The other aspect to this mantra I appreciate is the underlying reference to the fear we all feel.

We don’t want to launch our business, or post that photo on Instagram, or tell that person how we really feel, because we are afraid of being judged or feeling negatively.

Whenever I feel that fear, I refer back to this mantra and know, in the scheme of things, I’m just a speck on the historical timeline, and the least I can do is experience life fully, including fear, rejection, all of it.

--

Happy birthday to me and remember to lay it all out my amazing readers!

September Recap and a break from Monthly Intentions

Welcome to October! (aka my birthday month!)

Q4 of 2017 is here and I’m ready to see the year out with a bang... despite the blog post title.

September felt a big sluggish for me - there was lots of rain around and some of those nights on the couch I wrote about last post. But thanks to Brooke Castillo’s September Self Coaching Scholars topic of ‘How to get it done’, I still managed to get a lot done!

So let’s look back at the month and talk about the plan for Q4.

September Recap

Start regular Pilates practice

This one went really well for me. The practise of paying for and booking classes ahead of time has been a big motivator for me, rather than having a gym membership where no one minds or notices if I don’t turn up.

If you’re struggling with consistent exercise, I’d recommend booking and paying for classes ahead of time to help you get there.

I’ve been going twice a week and it’s been great for my office desk body in terms of both strength and flexibility.

I’m booked in for another fortnight’s worth of classes so will see if I continue beyond that, but I think the answer will be yes.

Tackle life admin

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So much life admin for me at the moment! Sadly I forgot all about my tax return until I re-read last month’s post (oops), so will get on to that in October.

I did follow Brooke’s method of writing a big list of what needed doing and putting it in my calendar. I got around 80% done I’d say, and the rest of the time my brain talked me out of it.

I’m not feeling too bad about that though, since I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have even gotten that 80% done without this intention.

Q4 plans

I’m planning on being pretty busy with work, coaching, Self Coaching Scholars and life in general for the rest of the year so won’t be setting any specific monthly intentions here on the blog.

I am going to focus on blogging about the topics you readers like the most - time management, routine ideas, good old imposter syndrome and relaxation.

Let me know in the comments below if I’ve missed any topics you’d like to hear more about in late 2017.

Otherwise, have a fabulous October!

Why Beating Yourself Up Never Works

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Earlier this week, I came home from a busy day at work and flopped on the couch with my phone.

I was tired, bone tired.

Suddenly the to do list I had in my head for that night seemed insurmountable and I resigned myself to the fact I was probably going to get nothing done.

Instead of accepting that decision and relaxing into the evening, I had a severe case of the guilts.

I hadn’t cooked dinner all week, I hadn’t exercised, I had a pile of laundry waiting and some freelance work unfinished and almost a week late.

Needless to say, it wasn’t a fun night.

Sure, I watched some TV and had an early night but the nagging voice that was beating me up stuck around for the rest of the evening.

The following night, after another busy day, I came home, determined not to have a repeat of the guilt.

I decided the best thing to do was stay off the couch (for now) and make something for dinner that could roast in the oven. Firstly, so I could get a couple of things done while it cooked and also so I wasn’t eating super early, since I’d only just got home from work.

My lamb and sweet potato fries baked while I did 20 minutes of pilates - I then made a quick salad and we sat down to eat. I asked my husband to take care of the laundry and decided the freelance work could wait until the weekend.

By 7.30pm, I was on the couch with a peppermint tea, Netflix on and no nagging voice to be heard.

Sometimes, it can feel productive or important to beat yourself up. My experience this week proved that doesn’t work.

Some days we’re not going to get our to do lists done, and accepting that without guilt is the absolute best way to go.

Some days we need to ask for help.

Some days we can just get a couple of things done.

And that’s fine, because the next day we get to wake up with purpose and goals again.

However you’re feeling right now, whether it’s super motivated or in a slump, be kind to yourself and know that coming from a harsh place is not going to help.

You’re doing a great job.