Don’t let Insta-Christmas get in the way of Christmas

For many of us Christmas is a wonderful time of year. But it can be incredibly stressful, trying to create that perfect Christmas experience.

We are constantly shown on social media and the TV how to celebrate the perfect Christmas including the perfect tree, decorations, food, drink and gifts just to list a few. We are bombarded with this from at least November up until the big day itself.

It is so easy to get so caught up in creating that perfect Instagram Christmas that we forget to relax and enjoy ourselves.

Trying to live up to someone else’s idea of a perfect Christmas can also make you very unhappy, making you feel inadequate and like a failure.

If other people want to have a 20 foot Norwegian Spruce with decorations handcrafted by Franciscan Monks in the 10th Century and have a hand fed turkey roasted in a wood fire oven served with Nigella’s to die for roast vegetables smothered in a fuck off expensive Gin and giblets gravy, then let them.

Remember all those wonderful Christmas Days you have had up to this point. Remember what made them so wonderful. Like lumpy gravy, warm beer, mismatched chairs, eating chocolate for breakfast and sneaking downstairs to see if he has been yet. Remember all your favourite family traditions and do them, do what works, do what fills your heart with joy and don’t worry about making it look perfect on instagram.

My Album of The Year

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As you all know from my blogs music plays an important part in my life. I take music with me wherever I go. Whether that be on my run, on the way to work, in my office and in the seminar rooms just before teaching. Music can provide a narrative to what is going on around me. When I rediscover a piece of music I have not listened to for a while it evokes feelings and memories of the time I first listened to it. Music can also create a mindful state to help me reconnect with myself when I have been over thinking. In essence music is my safe place. Therefore the music has to be pretty special to evoke these feelings.

I have chosen 10 of my favourite albums that have been released this year. At least 2 or 3 of these albums will live long in my consciousness and evoke feelings and memories in the future. All of the albums have provided me a safe place throughout the year. However my number 1 album this year I have no doubt will be a favourite of mine for some time to come. This from a band that I have paid little attention to for the past 10 years, and it took them to split up and reunite to produce in my opinion a classic album. If you have not listened to American Dream by LCD Soundsystem then I implore you to do so, every track is a delight,

So here is my top ten albums of 2017

  1. American Dream-LCD Soundsystem
  2. Pure Comedy-Father John Misty
  3. Popular Manipulations-The Districts
  4. Villains-Queens of The Stone Age
  5. I See You-XX
  6. Little Fictions-Elbow
  7. Deep Understanding-The War on Drugs
  8. Stranger in The Alps-Phoebe Bridges
  9. Everything is Forgiven-Methyl Ethel
  10. Sempa Femina-Laura Marling

I derive a lot of pleasure from music as many people do. So by putting together a top 10 list and talking about it, I am celebrating a positive part of my life. It is so important to consciously acknowledge what is positive in your life on a daily basis. It is so easy to dwell on what is not going well and miss what is good. I am not saying ignoring what is going wrong is the way to go far from it. If you look at what is good first you start to feel positive and put yourself in a far better frame of mind to tackle what needs to be addressed rather than just feeling about what is going wrong. There is always something positive in your life.

 

 

What does coaching offer?

Before I trained to be a coach I had no idea what a coach was outside of sports coaching.

I am not surprised then that most people really don’t have a clue what coaching really is.

As I have coached more and more I find it easier to articulate what coaching is, and what it can do for people. I say this because the experience of being coached and coaching is different for everybody. So the more coaching experiences you have the more you realise what coaching can achieve for you as an individual.

It all starts with self-awareness. We all like to think we are self-aware, but are we really? There has been plenty of studies done in this and the majority of them highlight that our self-awareness is not as great as we think. For instance some of you may have heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect. This was a study done by David Dunning and Justin Kruger in the 1990s where they showed that people generally over estimated their knowledge and skills. Without external clues we are not very good in realising how little we know. Worse still the less you know the better you think you are. So we need other people to tell us how little you know. We are rubbish at assessing ourselves. And what is even worse is, that if you are an expert, you often do not realise you are until it is pointed out that you know more than others.

That is why coaching is important to all of us in some form or other. It is like holding a mirror up to ourselves and discovering what we are actually good at and what we need to work on.

Coaching does not criticise or advise it just asks you why you think what you think and know what you know. It will drastically change the way you look at yourself and give you the motivation to get on with your life in the direction that is best for you and no one else.

If you want to know more and take advantage of a free coaching session email me.

Snowflake Generation

I have heard talk in the media describing my children’s generation as the snowflake generation, implying that they have never had it so easy. This is a statement that I heard when I was in my late teens, along with ‘the young nowadays don’t know they are born’…..’they would have never got away with it in our day.’

In many respects life is increasingly easier as each generation passes. In the West we are more prosperous than our parents and grandparents. Life is physically safer.

However the young generations are faced with other risks that just were not present when I was growing up.

The thing is our brains have evolved to protect us from danger and cannot differentiate between real and implied danger. This is a problem in a world of social media, and 24 hour news. Our children can be exposed to real and perceived threat almost continuously.

Now I am not saying they are any worse of than previous generations, just that learning to be an adult is full of hazards. It always has and always will. So let’s not compare their life with yours.

Let’s support our children to be the best adults they can and cut them some slack.

Do you get your excuses in early


Before I gave up smoking, I used to tell myself I had an addictive personality, that is why I can't give up.
Does that sound familiar, in fact I heard it today. It is just an excuse, because we don't believe we can achieve.
The person today is incredibly talented, intelligent, professional and driven, but they are worried they will not succeed when it comes to giving up smoking.
In reality that concept is completely bonkers. Throughout their adult life they have faced far more daunting challenges and succeeded. When faced with changing something we do everyday, we all falter. The prospect of change is terrifying. We need to believe that the change is worth it, and that we can do it.
I like the person today needed to recognise what I had achieved when I wanted it enough. There is no such thing as an addictive personality, anyone can be addicted to something and anyone can stop being addicted. You just have to want to do it enough to succeed.
If you give in and have a sneaky cig or chocolate bar, it is ok, just go back to your reason why and have another go. We often fall off the wagon because our reason to make that change isn't strong enough and our desire to succeed isn't as strong as the enjoyment we derive from smoking or drinking or eating too much. So it is important to have that strong reason and believe you can. If you find yourself getting your excuses in early you need to examine why you want to change.
If this rings a bell get in touch for a free coaching session.

Have a compelling reason to change

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At some point in our lives I suppose we all decide to change something in our life that we think is unhealthy, or limiting us. For me this has been especially acute as I travel through middle age, and parts of your body don’t seem to work as well as they used to.

It doesn’t matter what you want to change, if you want to make it permanent then you will have to prepare yourself. Most of us wander blindly into a change, and suddenly make knee jerk reactions, as a result of something adverse happens to us. For me it would be getting my shorts out for the summer and realising I cannot fasten the button. “Right that’s it, I am going on a diet, I look disgusting!” This is never going to be a good enough reason to lose weight. Once I have gotten over my indignation I would just buy a bigger pair of shorts.

Moving away from a negative lifestyle or situation rarely works for any length of time. Ask yourself how many times have you been on a diet. Many of us do very well at first if we use a sensible diet plan such as those organised established diets such as Weightwatchers or Slimming World. How long do maintain your new weight for? How many of you actually get to your final target weight? When most of us embark on a diet our primary goal is not to be fat, to lose weight. Or if we try to give up smoking we want to stop as it is expensive. In both examples we a moving away from a negative. However the further away from the negative we move, the reason for making the change becomes less, therefore our motivation to maintain and consolidate the wonderful change lessens. Then when something stressful happens in our life, we immediately say “I cannot do this, there is just too much going on in my life, I need a fag, or chips or wine or cake.” Then all that hard work has come to nothing and we end up back at square one.

Instead of moving away from a negative, why don’t you move towards a positive future? For instance when I gave up smoking I asked myself what do I value the most. I was able to answer straight away without any hesitation. I value the time with my children above anything else. I then asked myself in the next 10 -15 years what will I value. That was easy again, it was spending time with my children’s family. I imagined myself playing with my grandchildren in the garden, taking them on adventures, and generally being a fun granddad. I asked myself if I could guarantee that I would be able to do all these things in my sixties if I continued to smoke 20 cigarettes a day. Would I be around to see my grandchildren grow into adults like my mum has? I struggled to answer that question. I then knew exactly what I needed to do, and giving up smoking was easy from then on. I had a compelling reason to give up smoking. More importantly I can use that same reason when continuing to change my lifestyle to a more healthy one.

As I am moving towards my goal my motivation to stay a non-smoking is always high.

Never rush into a change if you want to succeed, take you time and think carefully why you want to make the change.

If you want to discuss this further to help discover your compelling reason or keep you focussed get in touch either by email or messaging via social media.

Are you satisfied with your life

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From time to time I feel dissatisfied with my life. I feel I should be more than I am, that I do not live up to my potential. I should have a higher paid job, I should be living in a big house, driving a fancy car, going on exotic holidays. I should be more decisive at work, be pro-active, ruthless, a go getter. Sound familiar?

These are just some of the markers of success that our culture values, therefore we have a tendency to measure ourselves them, and decide if we are a success or not. Invariably with are not able to live up to all if any of these values. But we are constantly exposed to the idea that people around us are doing better than us. Pre-social media this exposure was limited to people we saw on the telly, the odd self publicist and gossip. Now we are all connected with have all become shameful self publicist, and now it seems even our friends and neighbours have a better life than us. This just adds to our feelings of inadequacy, and dissatisfaction. This clearly is no way to live our lives.

One answer to this problem I suppose would be to disconnect yourself from all forms of social media. But social media has so much going for it. You would not be reading this blog for one if you stopped engaging with all forms of the media. After all Facebook and Twitter are great ways to share with everyone, how much of a nice time you had, or to share a common experience, therefore adding to your feelings of satisfaction.

The answer is not to change the world but to change the way you see the world and how you respond to what you see. The first thing to do is to assess how you see yourself based on your own measure of satisfaction rather than the medias’. I like to measure myself against Martin Seligmann’s conditions that are required for happiness. Martin Seligmann suggested that to be happy the following conditions need to be present in your life. If you are happy then you will feel more optimistic about you future and therefore more likely to succeed and feel satisfied. The conditions are:

Positive Emotion; how many times a day do you laugh and smile?

Engagement; do you take part in activities that you do for the sake of it, something you don’t have to think too much about (reading, sewing, running, singing etc.)?

Relationships; how often do you see or speak to family or friends or both?

Meaning; why do you do what you do? what are your values?

Achievement; this does not have to be academic or vocational achievement, it could be baking bread for the first time, a personal best time swimming or running, anything where you have done your best, and achieved personal excellence (as good as you can do it). How many times have a you achieved this week.

Answer the questions relating to each condition above. What are areas of your life do you need pay attention to your life to be satisfied? Identify them and then plan how to address them. This is how you can be successful, rather than trying to live up to an impossible ideal imagined through our cultural idea of success.

Be happy, be what you want to be, then you will be successful.

If you want to discuss this further, or want some coaching to have a successful happy life, email me.

Matt@mattycoach71.com