Monthly Archives: November 2013

Stuck in a rut and can’t move forwards?

“The most important thing you can do to achieve your goals is to make sure that as soon as you set them, you immediately begin to create momentum.”  -Tony Robbins

Have you ever hesitated to take action and ended up stuck in a rut not knowing what to do? There are some common reasons why this happens.  Sometimes we are waiting for some kind of sign to indicate that it’s okay to move forward. We might be waiting until we feel more confident because we don’t really feel up to the challenge. Or, we could be thinking that if we just wait a bit longer than all the obstacles will disappear and our goals will be easier to achieve.

But how often do we use those reasons as excuses to avoid leaving our comfort zone? Let’s face it, if we are looking to justify procrastination there is no shortage of reasonable sounding excuses.

Procrastination is the equivalent of going nowhere!

The longer we wait to take action, the harder it is to get started. Circumstances will never be perfect and waiting until they are means that in the meantime, you’re going nowhere. The truth is, it will probably never get any easier to move forward and every moment that we hold back will just make things worse.

When we avoid taking action it’s often because we have created resistance in our own mind. We have convinced ourselves that what we want to do is exceedingly difficult. But is that really true or is it just an avoidance technique?

Create momentum, create confidence

Momentum is one of those rare, self-perpetuation phenomenon. That’s what makes it so powerful. The perfect example of momentum is a snowball rolling down a hill. What happens? It grows and picks up speed along the way, we all know this! But how can you use this power to achieve your goals and start living the life that you want to be living?

Instead of getting bogged down by excuses, we need to create some momentum as soon as possible. Trust me, this is not something that is hard to do! That huge, fast moving snowball started out small and slow. The reason it grew was because it kept moving. We don’t have to throw ourselves into action at warp speed, but we do need to start moving and to keep moving so we can build some momentum.

3 Ways to build momentum

Commit to taking the necessary action steps first. That’s what you really need to focus on. What do you need to do first? What’s the most important step at this point? It could even be finding out more information on what to do!

One of the main reasons why people don’t achieve the goals that they set for themselves is because they lack commitment. Commitment to following through on the actions that will bring us where we want to go. Why do we lack commitment? Because we don’t begin immediately! Early on, action needs to be our main concern. Obviously, we want to keep our goal in sight, but the majority of our attention should go toward taking consistent and purposeful action. That’s how we build start building momentum as well as commitment!

Break the process down into baby stepsTaking small, consistent steps toward a goal is generally much more effective than mammoth action every now and then! (Think about, if you’re goal is to become healthier then which is best; exercising a little every day and cutting down on sweets or a 7 day detox once a year?)

Also, it’s easier to get ourselves to act on smaller tasks. Even tiny actions will eventually begin to build momentum and produce results, as long as we are consistent.  Making it your mission to move forward consistently will make it much easier to overcome obstacles because with each step your confidence will grow.

Don’t give up too early!  So many goals have been abandoned because people do one thing, they wait to see what happens, and quit when they don’t see the results they wanted.  Sometimes we don’t even see the results for a long period of time but change is happening below the surface- we just can’t see it yet!

So focus on building momentum, focus on keeping the ball rolling, even if you’re not seeing the results you want just yet. If you get discouraged and quit, that’s it, game over and you lose.

Use momentum to overcome procrastination

Taking action leaves procrastination in the dust. If you do something every day that moves you toward your goals, you’ll be too busy to think about making excuses. Dale Carnegie made this point nicely when he said:

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

So, what are you going to do today?

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Progress! If you have any strategies for keeping momentum or have any stories you’d like to share, just pop over to the facebook page and let us know!

Until Next Time,

Keep going!

P x

When you just feel raw and exposed…….

I had an incident the other week which was a real struggle for me! I’m talking about a wallowing, spiral of negative emotions!! Of course, needless to say, this pit of despair is not where I like to spend my time! I lived there years ago, but I managed to move and get a place that was brighter with a view and I haven’t really gone back to visit the pit, except for this particular incident!

Now, when you’re working as a coach there is a bit of extra pressure to avoid the pit because you’re supposed to have it all together! Luckily ‘having it all together’ isn’t my unique selling point and never has been! Being me, being real and facing up to what’s not working so that I can change it is what I try to bring to my coaching relationships. Being authentic and true to myself is of the utmost importance to me, whether that means that I’m strong and supporting others or if that means I’m in tears on the kitchen floor cuddling the dog!

So, let me paint the scene… I’m self employed and I work from my  home office on my electric blue sony laptop for about 8-10 hours per day, nearly 7 days a week for the past 2 ½ years. I’m not techy; I don’t know much about ‘cloud’ computing, backing up etc! All I do know is that when a blue screen appears on my laptop that says Incorrectable hardware error’ that it is bad. It’s the blue screen of death and I completely lost my mind when it appeared! I turned into a lunatic!

I was able to re-start the laptop and it appeared to be fine but I still went into panic mode. I hopped into the car, drove to the shops and 5 minutes later I was talking laptops to the salesperson. They didn’t have any more electric blue sony ones which made me sad but there were two others that seemed pretty good, a different Sony and a Toshiba! I took down the spec numbers; details, prices etc and I went home to chat to my Dad- the computer genius! We chatted about the Toshiba, he did his research and mentioned words like benchmark, processor and RAM, it went over my head but bottom line was he gave it a thumbs up! He said to leave it with him and he would do a bit more research to see if he could find a better deal. That was 8pm. At 8.15pm I was back in the shop (I think I was possessed!)

I wanted the Toshiba laptop right then, I didn’t need a better deal; I needed security. The fear and panic had set in again. I had to try and control the situation, I had to make sure I was covered, this is my livelihood and I was a business owner, an entrepreneur, a home owner, I’m responsible etc. I felt raw, exposed, stupid for not backing up and very vulnerable at the thought of losing all of the work I had saved on my computer- we’re talking everything!

Of course, they were sold out of the Toshiba. The salesperson offered me the Sony laptop, said it was ‘much of a muchness’ between the two and knocked 50 quid off. Sold! With a smile on his face and a debt over €1000 on my credit card, I left the shop feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Hmm, what now? Well, of course I didn’t take a deep breath and calm down.

I got home, opened the box and attempted to set up the computer. I followed instructions and entered passwords, then I realised it was windows 8. Ooops, Dad said ‘Whatever you do, don’t get windows 8’. Crap, the panic was back and it was now mixed in with fear, shame, anxiety and regret!

I sent my Dad an email with the spec of the Sony (the one that was now sitting on my kitchen table) and I asked him to check what it was like. I did not tell him I had bought it, opened it and messed around with it. He replied shortly afterwards using words like ‘benchmark, lousy machine, not good value, not even half as good, don’t even go there’. Unfortunately those words didn’t go over my head, they sunk right in and I felt like the biggest gambeen on the planet.

I was wide awake for the whole night with a tight jaw and an anxiety ridden mind. ‘What was I going to do?’ ‘How can I HIDE this?’ ‘How can I pretend this never happened?’ ‘What was I going to say?’ ‘They won’t allow me bring it back, I’ve opened it and I don’t think there’s any legal comeback for impulse buying’ ‘Dad is going to think I’m an idiot’ ‘I am an idiot’. Talk about a shame spiral, plus the whole I just spent over a grand on something I regretted! Ugh, horrible horrible feeling!

At 6am, after pondering and tossing and turning all night I sent an email to my Dad with the subject line ‘I f*cked up’. That was probably the hardest email I’ve written in ages, acknowledging that I made a mistake and needed help. I could not believe how hard I found it!

His response was great, he said ‘Shit happens, sounds like the salesperson took your buying intent for the Toshiba and transferred it to the Sony. You trusted him; he said it was ‘much of a muchness’ between the two machines which wasn’t true……. Come over to me in the morning, we’ll go back to the shop together and we’ll talk to the manager and see if we can get your money back. Stop beating yourself up! Love Dad’

 As soon as I read it, I grew up a bit. There was a part of me that wanted to hide behind someone else, point the finger, blame the sales guy and let someone else protect me and fix my problems! I just started laughing that this was the situation I had created- it had to stop! There was no way that I would/could do that, blame someone else and hide. It would really go against everything I stand for, being real, being authentic and to be honest, even if I got the result I wanted- I knew I would be ashamed at how badly I handled it. It was time to be a big girl again and to be honest it didn’t feel good!

 I called over to my Dad a few hours later with sausie sandwiches and I thanked him for his support and explained that I had to deal with it myself. I told him that my approach was to go back to the shop, and be honest. Tell them I had been in a panic and that I had made a mistake by buying the Sony laptop on an impulse and that I was going to ask for their help. He was proud of me but also tried to prepare me for the fact that I was going to be turned away. “You’ve opened it, there’s nothing wrong with it; you’ve just changed your mind. Legally, they don’t have to do anything for you. So don’t be disappointed…..”

Back to the shop I went, I found the sales guy I had dealt with the night before and I told my truth. My face was roaring red, the anxiety was eating me up on the inside, I wanted the shop floor to open up and swallow me whole, and my jaw was getting tight.

‘Hi Trevor, I was here last night and I bought the Sony laptop. I wanted to get the Toshiba but you were sold out so I took the Sony instead’. He nodded remembering me. I gushed ‘Well, I made a huge mistake. I’ve opened it and messed around with it but I really don’t want it, I shouldn’t have bought it. I should have just waited for the Toshiba and I was in a panic and it was an impulse buy. I need your help; can I please bring it back?

‘Sure’ he said. ‘Come with me and we’ll get the manager Andy to get you sorted out.

 Just like that.

It was an incredible lesson for me. I had been riding a train of thought that had brought me to places where I felt weak, small and vulnerable. Where I wanted to hide my mistake so that no one knew, where I wanted to blame the sales guy, where I wanted to be protected and where I lay in bed wide awake for a full night listening to mind monkeys chattering in my head. All because I didn’t want to say ‘I made a mistake and I need help’. It was a valuable and very uncomfortable lesson for me! But in the end, being truthful and allowing myself to go into a situation where I could be rejected and denied was the course I chose and after that experience, I learned that it will be the course that I want to keep on choosing.

I know that it’s difficult for us to acknowledge that we make mistakes and it’s also difficult for many of us to ask for help. We don’t like being seen as wrong, weak or vulnerable (or an impulse buying crazy lunatic!) but it happens. Engaging in life fully means that there will be times when we need to deal with these emotions, even when we don’t want to!

So I just wanted to share my experience with you for a few reasons; firstly that hopefully you find it beneficial and you can take something useful from it and secondly, for you to get to know me a bit better. I’m not the coach who has it all figured out; I’m a Paula and I can be raw, weak and vulnerable- just like you. I get myself worked into states; I fret and worry often- just like you! I get mind monkey attacks with that voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough- just like you. What you see is what you get with me. I’m real, I’m tough, I go after my dreams and I don’t give up on myself (I might have a rocky start sometimes though!) I love my work, I love coaching and supporting others to be real, to be tough, to go after their dreams and to never give up on themselves. I love it because I get it.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s issue of Progress, slightly different yes but hopefully you enjoyed it! I’d love to hear your feedback so feel free to drop me a line!

P x

 

Do you Know Your Own Strengths?

If someone asked you what you were good at, what would your response be? Would you find it easy to tell people what your qualities are, or would you mutter under your breath and change the subject very quickly? Generally people struggle to understand or articulate their strengths and their skills, what they are good at and where they excel. Many people find it easier to talk about their weaknesses. You may find yourself saying ‘I can’t do this’, ‘I’m no good at that’, or put yourself down, and find it hard to accept that you do have strengths and abilities.

Knowing your strengths and (yes of course, weaknesses) is part and parcel of developing yourself. With a better understanding of these factors, exploring what you enjoy, what you’re passionate about and ultimately what you want to do with your life becomes easier.

As you start to explore and take ownership of your strengths, you’ll also start to understand what you can naturally do to express them. You don’t see a fish trying to fly, do you? Or an eagle trying to swim? They do what comes to them naturally, because that’s who they are. They are just “being”. Imagine having a job where you can ‘be’. That’s something I hear from clients so often, they want to be able to be themselves in work! They don’t want to have to put on a mask and feign interest, they don’t want to living in fear that they’ll be caught out; they don’t want to continue feeling ‘not good enough’.

Strengths or Weaknesses

It’s the classic question: should you focus on your strengths, or should you work on addressing your weaknesses? It’s a question with good arguments on both sides, but personally I believe that you should focus on your strengths.

Competitive Advantage

Success depends on doing certain things extremely well, rather than doing a lot of different things at an acceptable level. By sharpening your skills and strengths, you give yourself a competitive advantage. Great will always win over mediocre. People will always choose impressive over acceptable just as you will naturally gravitate towards what makes you enthusiastic.

You Are Most Happy When You Enjoy What You Do

Achieving goals are external reasons to focus on your strengths, but there are inner motivations as well. Strength is a natural ability, an innate quality that comes instinctively. According to the renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced me-high-cheeks-sent-me-high!) who studied happiness and productivity, full happiness is achieved only when we are fully using the physical and mental talents given to us. Csikszentmihalyi describes this state as being in “flow.”

Is There Enough Emphasis on Strengths?

In a recent worldwide survey of employees in large corporations, it showed that only 20% of people regularly apply their strengths at work. Markus Buckingham, author of ‘Go Put Your Strengths To Work’ believes a major reason for this is that society puts too much effort on addressing weaknesses rather than improving strengths.

Think about school for a moment, if you got your report card and you got 2 A’s, 2 B’s, 3 C’s and 2 D’s- where would you be told you needed to put more effort into? Without a doubt it was your report_card_1weakest subjects? You would get grinds; you would have extra lessons and put so much effort into improving your weaknesses.  That’s fine if it’s necessary to pass an overall exam but if this becomes your pattern throughout your whole life- ignoring your strengths and focusing on your weaknesses then it’s not ok. It’s pointless and harmful. Some experts say that we have a natural tendency to focus on our personal insecurities but is it really natural or are we trained this way by being encouraged to focus on our weaknesses?

While your priority should still be on your strengths, here are some strategies to address your weaknesses:

 1. Improve it to just an acceptable level: For this strategy, you’re not trying to be good at it. You’re only trying to improve it to the point where it doesn’t affect you negatively anymore. For example, if you are taking doing a driving test, you may be a perfect driver and be completely in control however, parallel parking is your weakness. If you don’t learn to parallel park, you may fail the exam. So obviously here, you would spend some time improving your parallel parking to an acceptable level so that you can pass the test. Once the test is completed, you don’t have to park that way if you don’t want to. If you’re uncomfortable with it and would rather find a space you can pull into, then do that!

 2. Delegate it to another person: Collaborate with a partner who can work on this weak area for you and you could work on an area for them which to you is a strength.

3. Use your strengths to overcome the weakness: Sometimes your strengths can compensate for your weaknesses. If I was to take my own strengths and weaknesses, self control and discipline rank low for me which is quite bad for someone who is self-employed! But love is my highest strength. For me to be disciplined at a high level in my work, I need to link it to a higher purpose- supporting those I love. This is what I have done and it works beautifully, perhaps even a bit too well!

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Progress and that you got something valuable from it! I’m curious though- do you know your own strengths? Pop over to the facebook page and let me know!

Until next time,

Focus on the good stuff!

P x

Conquer Your Career Crisis- 30 days to knowing what you want to do with your life!

Starts Saturday 9th November 2013!

Click here to find out more

hamster wheel