Monthly Archives: April 2015

And ‘BOOM’ goes life as you know it!

Has your world ever gone ‘BOOM’?boom

I’m talking about a personal big bang and then suddenly everything in your life is thrown up in the air? A major personal big bang for me happened in December 2009/January 2010.

Like so many other women in their late teens/early 20s- I did what I thought I should be doing and what everyone else was doing. After spending five years in college, I was working as a HR & Employment Law consultant with one of Ireland’s top consultancy firms. I worked with companies all around Ireland, advising boards of Directors, CEO’s and business owners. I got to travel. I had an expense account. I had a boyfriend I had been with for six years and whom my family adored. I had the picture perfect life for a young twenty-something. I was on my way apparently!

But something wasn’t right and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had a horrible anxious feeling that plagued me and just wouldn’t go away, it was like a black hole or an emptiness feeling in my chest. I had panic attacks, I was anxious all the time; I was overweight (I had put on 2 stone without even realising it) and just plain miserable. Everyone else seemed happy and I really thought there was something wrong with me. I was confused, unsure and totally lost. I had reached the place that I had been striving towards for years and now I was asking myself, ‘Is this it?’

I was miserable in my work and it was completely unexpected. A redundancy situation arose in my firm and as I was last in, I was first to go. I was devastated but being made redundant was the best thing that ever happened to me. It forced me to step back and take a long hard look at myself, my life and my career. The job had been a really bad fit and by then I could see that the boyfriend was too. He must have sensed this because, after six years, I got dumped- BY TEXT. At the time it was extremely painful and sad, but it was necessary for both of us.

So when I was freed up from two bad fits in my life, was I any happier? Absolutely not! In fact, I was worse. I had defined myself by my career and by my relationship, and while I knew that they just didn’t fit me, now it was just me and without them- I felt lost and I just didn’t know who I was anymore. I was in the middle of an identity crisis!

There I was, feeling lost. No Job. No relationship and nowhere to turn. You see, I was the one who all my friends turned to when their lives hit a bump. For years I had been the ‘go to girl’ for guidance in a crisis. For years, my friends, and their friends had been coming to me in times of trouble. Now, I was the one whose life was in crisis, but there was no one amongst my peers who I could turn to.

I knew I needed to get to know myself, understand myself, so I set out to discover who Paula really was and what she really wanted. I had always kept diaries and at the age of 14 I had written in a diary, ‘I want to be a life coach’. I had completely dismissed the idea because I believed I had to be in my forties or fifties and have grey hair to be a coach! But when I read that statement – something clicked.

It took a while for the coin to drop and for me to see that I needed to be my own first real client in a new career as a life coach. I could now see a trend in everything I enjoyed- the films I watched, the books I read, the conversations and the people I adored- my passion was coaching and it had been for almost 15 years. I had been unconsciously preparing myself- I had even attended two training courses in coaching, ‘Just as a hobby!’

I enrolled in a diploma in Life Coaching in 2010 and loved every second of it, graduating in 2011 with Distinction. When I started working with clients on a pro-bono basis (just for fun!), I found that I was mostly attracting women in their 20s and 30s because they could relate to my life experience, career mishaps and my age!

I’ve been quite fortunate since my big bang to have spent the past 5-6 years exploring my passion and living my purpose and during that time, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with so many of my ‘tribe’- these are other women who like you, yearn for something more, something deeper and something meaningful.

I’ve been able to create a profile of how they describe their career experience and I’m guessing that you’ll recognise yourself here too!

Do you know this person?

  1. You’re so uninspired and bored that you want to chew your foot off!

You took the job because you thought it was the right decision. Maybe the pay was good, or you felt you were doing the “right thing” taking a job that you knew in your heart of hearts wasn’t really what you wanted to be doing. And you were right. Every day you simply feel deflated, bored, and uninspired. There’s nothing about the work that feels engaging or remotely interesting. So if this is you, my question to you is ‘Do you really want to spend 8-10 hours a day doing something you hate for years and years?’ I didn’t think so! It’s time to move on.

 2. You feel restricted, confined and suffocated.

The job may be great. The pay is really good. And the people are pleasant enough. But the fit just isn’t right. Maybe you’re a free-spirited artist working in a tight collared office or a numbers cruncher working with free-spirited artists! The culture of the office just isn’t you, and you feel restricted, confined and suffocated. You can’t change who you are, and you’ll always feel misplaced if you don’t find the best fit for you.

 3. You don’t believe in what you do.

You may have a great job, but if you don’t believe in the product or service your company is promoting, then you can’t be truly successful on the job. How can you support something that goes against your values, your integrity, or your standards? Find a job where you feel proud and happy to support the business of the business.

 4. You’ve hit a dead end.

The job you have now is great. But will the same job be great in 5 or 10 years? If there’s no way to move forward, no room for promotion and growth, then you’ll be at a dead end with your career. Leave now before you feel resentment and frustration.

 5. You are feeling stress and anxiety.

You are regularly working long hours or even on the weekends. Your boss pressures you or the expectations for performance are higher than the reality of what’s possible. The office environment is intense and always fast-paced. If you are regularly feeling stressed, anxious, and depleted, your mental and physical health will suffer. Is this job really worth your health?

 6. You aren’t stretching yourself.

When you first began this job, it was fun and challenging. But now it’s so easy you can do it with one arm tied behind your back. Yes, it makes the work far less stressful and demanding, but are you growing as a professional? It’s time to take the next step toward your career passion.

 7. It isn’t your passion.

Your job is OK. You can live with it. It isn’t bad every day. But what if you could wake up excited about your job every day? What if it felt more like play than work? What if it was deeply fulfilling and interesting – perfectly matched with your interests, skills, and values? There’s no better time than right now to uncover your passion and find work that supports it. As you find your passion, you’ll discover your current job is no longer acceptable.

So, could you recognise yourself? It’s interesting isn’t it, how many different ways a job can make us feel lousy, low energy and uninspired. It doesn’t have to be this way and I’d like to invite you to embark on a personal mission to become your own career manager and discover your passion and purpose!

I’m running a 6 week programme ‘Conquer Your Career Crisis‘ starting on the 30th April 2015. This is the ONLY time in 2015 that I’ll be running this programme! It’s limited to a small group so everyone can get individual attention, all the resources will be available online so you can work around your own schedule, you’ll have a private facebook group, 3 live coaching calls and lifetime access! All for only €147 (payment plan available). Will you be joining us? Click here to register now!

Is now the right time for you to make some changes?

Most people don’t change until they have to: they might be forced to change by outside circumstances or the pain of staying put becomes unbearable. Either way, often it takes massive negative motivation to make massive change. Making changes as a result of negative motivation obviously isn’t our first choice but it sure does work!

Often, we put up with a serious amount of crap in order to keep things the way that we’re familiar with. We might even say, “I will never put up with my boss demanding X, Y or Z,” but then of course, he demands X, Y or Z and then we move the line in the sand. We give in ‘this one time’. We’ll stand our ground next time, we’ll state our boundaries next time, we’ll say no but we just don’t do it.

Slowly slowly, our self esteem and our confidence is chipped away. Not just in relation to the work we do, but also how we express ourselves, how we feel about ourselves and what we expect for ourselves in the future. We feel really lousy for a long time – but not quite lousy enough to do anything about it except complain and grumble. Until one day everything explodes. It’s normally something really small that ends up throwing us off the handle! Finally, we’ve had enough, we’ve reached boiling point and we can no longer accept that the life we are currently living is all that there is to offer and experience.

This is what happened with me 5 years ago; I was in a job I couldn’t stand, in a relationship that wasn’t working and it was building and building until it all exploded! BOOM! It wasn’t pretty or comfortable and my life was unrecognisable within the space of a few weeks. Now, this was change that was forced upon me- I was dumped and a few weeks later, made redundant. In the end I was incredibly grateful that it had been forced upon me because to be honest, at that time, I think I was too chicken shit to proactively do anything about it myself.

 If you tolerate the intolerable, accept the unacceptable, and live outside of your integrity and authenticity long enough, you will either explode or implode.

 You explode by creating or attracting a dramatic, life-changing situation in your life as described above. You implode by directing your pain and frustration inward in a dramatic way that manifests itself as frustration, anxiety anger or absolute and complete boredom. I’d been imploding for a while before it exploded!

These big bang scenarios, the implosions or explosions, might happen a few times over the course of your lifetime! I’d be surprised if you’ve never ever experienced something like that before. But the thing is that once we heal from the pain, deal with what has happened, and re-create ourselves, we can look back and be grateful we’re on the other side of it, having become stronger as a result.

But what about the rest of the time? The time when we are living day to day, when we’re caught up in the flow, when we’re just getting by day to day with no major emotional dramas? What about that space in between ordinary and a full-blown explosion? Those times when there’s nothing really wrong but there’s nothing really bringing you any joy or happiness. If you’re still reading this, then that is the space that I believe most of you are in right now.

And that space is the best place for making positive change in your life and career, for discovering your purpose and passion and for taking the action necessary to create change. 1374265_535424596537050_1640816290_nCreate is the key word here. The best way forward for you right now is the scenario in which you are the creator rather than the reactor.

This picture is one in which you proactively decide exactly what you want for your life and then boldly and fearlessly go after it. You make change on your terms rather than waiting for a huge eruption to force change on you.

When you are proactive about change, you don’t have to deal with the pain, the fallout, the lost time and energy. Yes, there are some difficulties even with proactive change, but you can prepare for them. They aren’t thrust upon you, you are choosing it and you know why.

It can be really scary to be proactive. Often, we feel stuck and don’t know what to do first. We don’t know what to expect. We don’t have any certainty that what lies ahead is any better than what we have now. But I can promise you that doing nothing will eventually land you in chaos, burn out or melt-down- even if it’s after you retire, when you look back over the 70,000 hours that you spent working and ask yourself ‘Why? What was it all for?’

I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t want to have to wait until I’m retired in order to start living my life in a passionate and purposeful way. I don’t want to wait until I’m in my 60s to start making a positive difference to the world! I know that you don’t want to wait either and that’s why you’re still reading this! You want to figure out what you want to do with your life! Does that sound good? What are you waiting for? Click here if you want to Conquer Your Career Crisis!

 “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu

Do you Over-Function or Under-Function?

We’re in the festive season and lo and behold, stress has been coming up a lot with clients recently so I thought I’d try tackle it this week! The most common form of stress that I’m seeing for our generation is a mix of anxiety and feeling flat or sad. Now, we all have stress in our lives- and we know that some days can be worse than others depending on what we have on our plate at any given moment!

Stress in itself is not a problem- some people thrive on having an impending deadline (or at least tell themselves that they do!) But stress can become a problem when we feel we can’t control it when the pressure on us outweighs our ability to cope. When we feel under pressure or that we can’t cope, we tend to default to our patterned ways of responding -we either over function or we under function. I’m a complete under-functioner!

The first time I came across this concept was in a book called ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ by Dr Brene Brown. This idea of how we handle stress blew me away because I had definitely experienced it but never really understood it before. The theory is that we all have patterned ways of responding to stress/anxiety.  We either respond by over functioning or under functioning.  Neither is good or bad, right or wrong- it just is what it is.

Over-functioners respond to stress by wanting to take charge of the situation. They become controlling, feel that they have to rescue others, they take over, micromanage, and tend to believe they know what is best for others rather than looking at themselves first. Their thought pattern goes something like this ‘It’s up to me. I’m the only one who can do x,y,z. It needs to be done this way’………etc etc!

They can see other people as either unwilling or unable to ‘shape up’ to their standard. Rather than feel vulnerable they go into action mode. They often can get labelled as bossy, controlling and a know it all and they absolutely hate being thought of that way!

Under-functioners like myself, respond to stress by wanting to avoid the situation. They get caught up in their feelings, feel too vulnerable and start showing up less. They tend to get less competent under stress, they detach, procrastinate and retreat from the world. Their thought pattern goes something like this ‘I’m not good enough. I don’t know. I can’t’………etc etc!

They can see other people as overbearing and demanding. They can often get labelled as lazy and unreliable and they hate the idea of people thinking that of them.

The key thing is to remember that these are patterned responses to stress and anxiety, rather than truths about who we are.  THIS DOES NOT DEFINE YOU. Understanding this point helps us to understand that we can ALL learn to take control of how we tend to handle stress.

So, how about you. Do you tend to over function or under function when you are under stress?

Here’s what to do:

We all need people in our lives that we trust and who will be brutally honest with us!  We need to ask for their help- rather than tell you that you’re being controlling or unreliable which would make you feel ashamed of yourself and even more stressed- these trusted people need to focus on your behaviour.

It is easier for Over-functioners to ‘do’ than to ‘feel’ so if this is your default response to stress then you need to work on being more willing to embrace your vulnerabilities in the face of stress. Imagine, something incredibly stressful is happening in your world right now and you go into to default mode of operating, organising, delegating and taking charge. Someone you trust comes up to you, looks you in the eye and says ‘You’re over-functioning. You’re not on your own.’ This allows you to take a step back, breathe and realise that you’re not on your own and you have support.

It is easier for Under-functioners to ‘avoid’ than to ‘feel’ so they need to work on building their self regard and strengths. So imagine something incredibly stressful is happening in your world right now and you go into your default mode of operating- you start to step back, retreat and feel that you have nothing to offer. You need someone to come to you, look you in the eye and say You’re under-functioning. You have what it takes. Your opinion matters and you need to step up and be involved’. This allows you to breathe and acknowledge what can be done. You can break things down into smaller pieces and tackle things in pieces.

Other things you can do to help during stressful times include:

  • Get more exercise- go for a walk, a swim, yoga- anything! Get your body moving and if possible, exercise outdoors.
  • Cut back on caffeine!
  • Practice calm and stillness- for you this could be meditation or mindfulness. For me, this is purposefully going for a walk on the beach with the intention of calming my mind
  • Get it off your chest- express your emotions either by talking to someone, writing in a diary- whatever works for you! If I’m really stressed or upset, I’ll actually watch a sad movie that I know will have me in tears at the end! It’s a way to release the built up tension or emotion! (Especially for over-functioners)
  • Bank your successes! By this I mean, make a note of all the times that you stepped up and did great despite your anxiety! Try journalling regularly and making a note each day of 3 things you did that day that demonstrated self confidence or self regard! (Especially for under-functioners)

I hope this issue of Progress has been helpful to you and that this concept has resonated with you as much as it did me when I first read about it. I think it’s really powerful and I challenge each of you to take some time to think about what your default response to stress is! Then, go and find people who are willing and able to speak the truth to you when you need them to.

Until next week!

Take care,

P x

Is it better to live disappointed than to feel disappointed?

I don’t know about you, but I held back in life so often! I second guessed myself, hesitated, over-thought every little thing and got myself into analysis paralysis. Most of the time I did this when an opportunity presented itself or when I wanted to do something really amazing and exciting, something that would make me happy!

Do you know why I did this- it’s because I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

I know I’m not alone in this- we’ve all done it and many of us are still doing it. We say things like ‘I don’t want to get my hopes up’ or ‘I’ll see what happens’ whenever the chance of a great opportunity is there regardless of whether it’s a promotion, new job, meeting someone great that you really click with- our almost default reaction is not to get our hopes up. It seems like the smart thing to do yeah?


What we’re doing is we’re trying to protect ourselves from being let down, feeling disappointed and vulnerable. One way that you protect yourself against vulnerability is you just kind of stay in a constant state of  disappointment.

It’s easier to live disappointed than to feel disappointment. A constant state of disappointment is easier than dipping in and out of it and this is what so many people do. The problem with this approach though is that without realising it, you’re building up barriers against the good stuff as well and isolating yourself.

When I made myself live in that constant low level of disappointment in order to protect myself from feeling disappointed or let down- guess what happened? I was always low. I didn’t get excited about things, I didn’t pursue anything with passion and I didn’t share my hopes and dreams with people I cared about, I kept putting off the excitement and happy feelings and then all of a sudden, the moment would have passed and it was over. It was incredibly lonely.

There is an author/researcher in the States called Brene Brown and I adore her work- she has a book called The Gifts Of Imperfection and in it, she explains that if you refuse to get your hopes up, it doesn’t lessen the disappointment if your dream doesn’t happen, but it absolutely lessens the joy and happiness you experience.

So, say there is the amazing opportunity in work. A job that you have been working towards for years, great salary, a bit of travel and some work from home- you know you want it so bad BUT you start protecting yourself from disappointment and start to tell yourself and other people ‘Oh, it’s not that big a deal! I might not get it because if this and that, this person is much more qualified, blah blah, blah’.

Say you don’t get it- do you feel disappointed? Of course you do, you feel crushed! And not only that, but you also feel lonely because no one else gets that you’re feeling crushed because ‘It wasn’t a big deal’. No one reaches out to you, there’s no offer of a girly chat with tea and biccies, you’re on your own in your misery!

On the other hand, say you do get it! Do you feel good? For most people, the joyous feelings of success are very brief because you want to shout it from the rooftops about how excited you are and you want to celebrate but it doesn’t happen because it wasn’t a big deal remember. No one in your life even knew that you cared about it so again, no one reaches out. There’s no congratulations, there’s no dinner and cocktails, no champagne, no fuss and you know what, you probably won’t even celebrate it yourself- you’ll just say ‘that’s done, now what’s next?’.

You protected yourself so fiercely so that the pain would be less if it didn’t work out how you wanted but in doing so, you sucked all of the good stuff out of the experience as well.

It’s easier to live disappointed than to feel disappointment but my question to you is this:

Is it worth it?

Is protecting yourself from potential disappointment worth it if you also suck out all of the good stuff?

I used to think that the people who announced their wild dreams and hopes were just plain idiots who ultimately would come crashing down to earth with broken hearts and shattered aspirations but now, I want to be like them.

You see, I’ve lived in that space of shattered aspirations, a broken heart because I lived disappointed in an attempt to avoid ‘feeling’ disappointed and that was without announcing my wild dreams and hopes! I just built walls around myself and hid from the world telling myself I didn’t care.

But now, I’m ok in ‘feeling’ disappointed. And it’s what I believe we should aspire to- instead of building walls around ourselves, let’s build a community of people around us who know us, who see us and know when to celebrate with us and when to console us. Let’s strive for that connection and passion. Maybe we will feel deep disappointment some days but I guarantee that we’ll also feel deep, deep, joy, passion and excitement as well! I don’t know about you, but I want to live and love like that!