Return of the Fog

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I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this today. I thought it might come across as a bit self-indulgent. Then I thought that I have been trying to encourage people to talk about their mental health so I should feel comfortable doing it when I need to. It will help me and it might just encourage someone else to be more open about their struggles.

The past few days have been particularly difficult. Foggy has been particularly active. Doing the usual, like making me feel generally shit about myself. He has also managed to put a cloud over my thoughts, literally making my feelings foggy. Everything has required effort.

So it started Monday morning with a feeling of despondency, I felt completely useless, and everything I did was rubbish. Luckily for most of the morning no one was around, as not only was I intolerant of myself but everyone else as well. When everyone else got I up I decided to go for a run. It worked as it always does, I felt lighter and more positive when I got in. It didn’t last, by early afternoon I was back to being a bear with a sore head.

Tuesday morning was the same on the way to work I hated myself, nothing I was going to do was going to be any good. I did what I always do I let Foggy do his worst on the bus , by the time I got to work he had gone to sleep. While he was quiet I wrote my plan out for the day and the rest of the week and got busy before he could sabotage my day. My mood remained positive for the rest of the day and I was able to be quite productive. In fact when I got home at first I felt really positive and had forgotten how low I had been in the morning. I managed to catch up with Line of Duty after tea and then when it had finished it hit me like a brick wall. I was exhausted, for no obvious reason, as well as feeling so tired I just wanted to cry, I was so desperately sad, and I had no idea why, as well as sad I was intolerant and angry. I went to bed and slept soundly until 3am, then he woke me up telling me how shit I was.

Today has been difficult, all day I have had no confidence in myself. I attended a meeting this morning, and it was torture I just wanted to curl up in a ball for the whole hour and half. I managed to speak and I certain no one noticed, over the years I have got quite good at hiding it. When I got back from the meeting I bumped into a Staff Nurse I needed to speak to about a development plan, that was excruciating, I struggled to think of what I needed to say, it was like pulling teeth (on my part) just to say anything that made sense. Once I got back to my office, the waves of despair and hopelessness started. Thankfully my boss emailed me with a question, and that set my off on a new task that occupied my mind for the rest of the day.

Once I am engaged I can get myself into a mindful state that keeps Foggy at bay without trying to do battle with him.

Now I am home, and he has been back with a vengeance. That is why I thought I would try to write how I feel down.

I am not sure if any of it makes sense. I hope it does.

I think I understand a little more how this Foggy affects me. Normally I can only objectively look at him after he has gone to sleep, but this evening I have been examining him whilst he is awake.  As an exercise of getting him to go to sleep it definitely worked.

The hardest thing is accepting the feelings that are generated without any good reason, the only thing I can do when he is around is to grab those moments of mindfulness and know that he will go away again.

That is the difference between now and a year ago, I have a level of optimism that I have more time without him than without him. I just wish he wasn’t here at all.

If you have managed to read this far, I thank you, and anytime you want a sympathetic ear I will be there to listen. Don’t suffer alone.

Easter Holiday

I hope you are all having a relaxing Easter doing all the things that make you happy. 

I am cooking for the family daydreaming about my future plans, imagining a time when I can coach full-time. I imagine working with all different people helping them realise their dreams, or taking stock of the wonders they already have, and it makes me smile. I get excited and what to achieve my goal more than ever. 

Daydreaming is so important when planning the direction of your life, it reminds you why you want something, it keeps that desire alive. 

You must however combine it with a robust and clear goal, alongside a strong plan. 

Keep dreaming, keep planning, and enjoy the journey.

Move towards a positive future

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Move toward a positive future, not away from a negative past. When you are deciding to make a change in your life do are you moving away from something negative in you life, such as an unhappy relationship or a job that you dislike? How easy was it to make that change?

Thinking and feeling negatively has been proven to reduce to the amount of options you can think of. When we want to get away from something bad we employ the emotional centre of the brain, this gives us less choice, as this part of the brain is there to keep us safe, at its most extreme you are offered 3 choices: stay and fight, runaway, or play dead. On it’s day this is very useful to stop us from being harmed or at worst killed. However the solutions offered are quite short-term and perpetuate negative thought. This is our default setting, so we will always revert to this approach if we do not make the effort to think differently.

Thinking positively however has been shown to increase our options and creativity. This approach employs more of the brain, and therefore is much more considered, has short-term and long-term elements, and is therefore more likely to succeed.

It is important to recognise that the driver for the change will sometimes be a negative, as  this will give you the desire to move. Allow your emotional thinking to give you the reason. This however will not be enough to make the need to change compelling enough to do something about it.

Where would you rather be? What would you rather be doing? Once you have answered this question, you then need to put some detail on this place or job. Start to imagine what it looks like, what it would be like to live there or do this job. Visit your future regularly adding more and more detail every time. Don’t think that day dreaming is childish or a waste of time. Day dreaming is essential when creating a compelling future. You need to really want to be in this future, this gives you, your reason when you a struggling to achieve your goals later. As mentioned earlier, it also increases your creativity, therefore increasing your planning ability.

Once you have a compelling vision of your future, that can be recalled easily, you then have to make this a goal, to turn it from a dream into a reality. Make sure you take care with setting your goal and do not rush it. You goal must be clear and not ambiguous.  I use to spend about 5 minutes writing a goal that would be ambiguous and open-ended and wonder why I never achieved it. When I was a smoker I would say to myself tomorrow I am going to stop smoking.  By lunchtime the next day I was smoking. I had put no thought into how I would achieve this. How I was going to deal with my physical and psychological dependency on smoking. Until one day I decided to plan how I was going to deal with the dependency and gave myself a clear date when I would start and when I would review my progress. My initial goal was on the 12th January I am going to buy 5mg nicotine gum from the chemist, and on the 13th January I will replace smoking cigarettes with chewing the gum. I will chew a piece of gum at specific points in the day when I crave for cigarettes, these will be on the way to work in the morning, at 10am during a morning break, after lunch and on my way home from work. After 2 weeks I will remove one of these gums. It worked I have not smoked since Jan 2016. My compelling vision in my head was playing football with my grandchildren in the back garden. When ever I fancied a cigarette I would summon up that image.

So make sure your goal is really what you want to achieve, that it is specific (it is clear to you exactly what you want to achieve), that you know when you have achieved it (it has a measure, like I will stop smoking), that it is achievable, realistic (no matter how dedicated and clever you are training to be a nuclear physicist in 6 weeks is never going to happen), and that you have a timescale. As I said earlier it is also important that you can day-dream your future, seeing it in your mind’s eye gives you that compelling reason. Make sure your goal fits who you are and where you want your life to go, otherwise it is just going to make you unhappy again. For instance if you like routine and order and do not cope well with the unexpected then becoming a paramedic or a firefighter would probably be inadvisable. Lastly make sure it is going to challenge you, if your goal is to easy, it is unlikely to make much a difference to your life.

The next time you want to change something in your life, before you act on your emotions, ask yourself what you want your changed life to look like, then create yourself a goal and take action.

What is a successful life?

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Is a successful life measured by the value of what you own? For many of us I suppose it is. The problem with that concept is that, what you have is never enough and you can get caught in the trap of always striving for more and never actually enjoying what you have.

Now many of my blogs are dedicated on setting and achieving goals, which is striving for what you don’t have. On face value that is correct, if all you do is strive for a goal that you will never reach and not pay attention to what is happening now.  When you are setting goals it is important to have short term goals that pay attention to the here and now. It is vital that you enjoy your journey to achieving your goal. If you are happy in your journey you are more likely to achieve your goal.

There is no point measuring your successful life on your deathbed. Isn’t it much more satisfying appreciating each small success you have throughout your life. Enjoy your successes as you travel through your life. You will be happier, which increases your creativity, which in turn increases your success.

Now, what do you consider to be success? Is it just earning a shed load of money, driving a swanky car and living in a fancy house? Of course it would be lovely to be rich, but to be honest most of us won’t be. Is success setting out to achieve your goals and achieving them? For me, it is not what the achievement is, but more that it was challenging and you achieved it.

To be a success you needed to have achieved a goal that is something you really wanted, it makes an impact on your life and takes you out of your comfort zone.  28 years ago I started my Nurse training and 25 years ago I qualified as a Registered General Nurse. As anyone that has ever undertaken nurse training will tell you, being a student nurse takes you out of your comfort zone on a daily basis for 3 years, and then beyond once qualified. Becoming a Nurse was my first success as an adult. I am not rich or world famous, but I have still had a successful life so far. Now I am striving to be an effective coach and help people recognise their own personal success. Every coaching session takes me out of my comfort zone, and gives me a sense of achievement once I have finished, giving me a feeling of success on a regular basis. There is nothing better than having that feeling that you have achieved something.

Take time to set your goals, remembering to that they must be heartfelt, have impact, and be challenging. If they meet these requirements you are much more likely to achieve them, enjoy achieving them and therefore be successful.

Always keep striving, but remember to enjoy the journey.

If you want to discuss how you will set and achieve your goals, get in touch.

matt@mattycoach71.com

 

 

 

We all have a choice.

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We all like a good moan. In fact moaning and complaining can be quite comforting, as we examine our circumstances critically and then on balance decide that we are generally satisfied with our lot.

There are a number of people who feel trapped in their current lives and are deeply unhappy. I have been there, I was felt I was trapped in a job that I was making me deeply unhappy. The behaviours that I perceived were expected of me were not in line with my personal values. I didn’t think I had a choice to change my circumstances, I didn’t have the self-awareness to see that I did have choices. It was only later when I changed my role that I realised that I had a choice to be happy at work if I wanted to take it.

The key to exercising choice is to raise your self-awareness. Get to know what you like, and what you dislike. Know what really makes you tick and what you are capable of. For most of us we are much more capable than we think we are. We often work and live well within ourselves and rarely step outside of our comfort zones. This is understandable to some extent, most of us would find constantly being outside of our comfort zone quite stressful and tiring. However it is important to challenge ourselves regularly.

If you are unhappy in your job or your life you need to know what it is that is making you unhappy, and why it is making you unhappy. Is the source of your unhappiness within your power to change? If not what are you prepared to do? Can you walk away from the situation and start anew somewhere else? What would be the consequences of this action? Can you accept the consequences, are they better or worse than what you have now? If you think you can live with the consequences and take responsibility, then you need to set yourself a goal and make a plan of how you are going to achieve it.  If you are not able to live with the consequences of walking away, you need to accept the situation that makes you unhappy. That does not mean that you have to be unhappy. You have to change what you think about the situation. Once you have accepted that you can not change the situation you are in and that you are not prepared to leave the situation behind, you need to spend time looking at all the positives that are in your life and how you can make them more prominent in your life than they are now. This is also a good time to examine your aspirations, and concentrate on those aspirations that compliment all that is positive in your life. Once you have identified those key aspirations, it is time to set yourself some goals, and then plan to make these aspirations a reality.

This is by no means an easy exercise to undertake alone. Having a coach will help you work through every step. The coaches role is to guide you through a process. You provide the content and all the ideas the coach provides the process and challenge to help you raise your self-awareness, set your goals and evaluate your success. Coaches do not give you the answers, they just hold the flashlight for you.

If you think you could benefit from a coach get in touch. We can discuss your situation and see if coaching is for you.

matt@mattycoach71.com

 

 

A Special Day

17 years ago today my life changed forever. I became a Dad!

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Ben had been late arriving and was nearly 2 weeks overdue, so Lisa had been booked to go in to Hull Maternity Hospital on the 9th April to be induced. As nothing much was going to happen overnight it was suggested I went home.

On Monday 10th April I was at the hospital early (I desperately did not want to miss the birth). I needn’t have panicked, apart from Lisa being in Labour since being induced the night before, Ben was nowhere to be seen, and Lisa was desperately uncomfortable.

By the evening it was clear he wasn’t coming out through the traditional route. As he was becoming distressed Lisa was taken through to theatre for an emergency Caesarian  Section. Surprisingly I was quite calm, it wasn’t a conscious decision, I just got involved in caring for Lisa, after all I was just a bystander and this was all happening to her, and I could not imagine what she was going through.

At 10:43pm on 10th April 2000, Benjamin Stephen Smith was born. I had never felt anything like it. It was love at first sight. To me he was the most beautiful baby in the world (I will spare you a picture of him on the day of his birth, he was not beautiful really, he was bright red  and huge 9lb 14oz). As I went to introduce Ben to his Mum, it was clear that she was not well, and had lost a fair amount of blood. However all was soon sorted by an expert team. After a blood transfusion Lisa was soon on the mend all be it quite weak and shaken for the next day.

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I went home that evening on cloud nine after crying down the phone to various relatives. I was a Dad! We had produced another Human Being! I had never felt anything like this, before. All of you parents will know exactly how that feels. I can best describe it as Christmas Day, my Wedding Day and winning the lottery all in one go.

The next day I couldn’t wait to see my boy, arrived at the hospital early, when the Midwife saw me she said “Well it is obvious who you have come to see.” When I saw him I chuckled as there was a mini Matt in the cot.

2 years later that wonderful, incredible feeling was repeated when Jack Samuel Smith was born.

Every day of my life since they fill me with pride and joy, even when they make me angry and sad I still love them more than I have ever loved anyone else. I don’t have a favourite son, I have my boys and they are handsome, talented and incredible.

Happy Birthday Ben!

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Do you have the determination?


Martin Selligman calls it grit or character. Just because you have a goal and a plan will not mean you will succeed. 

In a previous blog I asked the question can we be anything we want to be? The answer is yes, if you really want to be that and have the grit and determination to succeed.

So how do you determine if you have the grit and character to succeed? Well ask yourself how much do you want to achieve your goal? Close your eyes and imagine you have achieved your goal. What does it look and feel like? Can you clearly see yourself and your surroundings. Can you hear the admiration and congratulations of your friends and relatives? How much do you want it? If you want it more than anything, you are halfway there.

Now you have to build and manage the plan that is going to get you there. What do you need to achieve to get there? Map out all the steps you will need to achieve to get to your goal. Set yourself SMART goals for each step. Take care setting your goals to make sure they are challenging, but realistic and you know when you achieve them. All too often we set goals without having a specific measure and we end up losing focus and give up. Every year I would say to my self that was going to get fit this year. That would be the extent of my goal setting. As I didn’t have a measurable end point I would struggle on for a few weeks, not get a washboard stomach and give up telling myself that I don’t have the character to be athletic. 

What I am saying is, is that the goal setting stage is crucial. If you don’t have the time to set your goal carefully and map out the different steps you need to achieve your ultimate goal, then you have to ask yourself how much you want it. 

It is really important to not try to tackle your ultimate goal in one go. The sheer scale of it is likely to overwhelm and you will lose any determination you had very quickly. If you want to succeed point as many small performance goals in as possible. Spend your time focussing on achieving them. 

When things go wrong and one of your goals is not achieved, it is not the end of the world, it was just a performance goal. Allow yourself to be disappointed, but accept that it has happened and move on. Re-energise yourself by imagining life once you have achieved your ultimate goal. Remind yourself why you are doing it. Then reset your performance goal. 

Keep going until you reach your ultimate goal. 

You will have the determination if you want to achieve your goal enough.

Don’t put it off anymore make that dream a reality, you know you want to.

Having a coach really helps you focus on your goal and helps you keep focus.