One more week of being 47

Next Sunday I turn 48. Yeah I know! I find it difficult to believe too. Clean living and a sunny disposition is the answer.

Anyway I am going to miss being 47, there is something about the number 47 that resonates with me. We used live at No. 47 Springbank (for the older reader from Hull, the site of the original Silhouette Nightclub). That may have a bearing on why it is so important to me. If you look up the number on wikipedia there is nothing outstanding other than it was used widely in numerous Star Trek spin-offs, of which I have zero interest. So my conclusion is, that I just like the number.

More importantly though my 47th year on earth has been one of my best. I have been more awake than I have been for a long time. I would even go as far to say that I am the most awake I have ever been. This year I came into my own as a coach, and learned to not be ruled by my self critic.

About 3 years ago when I started on my journey as a coach, I had quite a profound experience, when I realised how full of self-loathing I was. I was talking to a client about a book she had been reading, for the life of me I cannot remember the name of the book, as I was so traumatised by my reaction to our conversation. The profound moment came when she was describing one of the premises of the book which was to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say the following words with meaning; “I love you”. Well that was it, I realised that there was no way I could do that. I didn’t love myself. I felt ashamed of myself, I wouldn’t go as far to say I hated myself, but I was not far off. There was no way I could tell myself I loved myself. Hasten to add that coaching relationship did not survive my existential crisis. When your client is concerned for your well-being it is probably best terminate the agreement. I am however forever grateful for that moment. That started me on my personal journey to fall back in love with myself. Most of this rekindling of my love for myself has occurred on the pages of this blog. It was a long journey but now I am happy to look at myself in the mirror and say out loud ” I LOVE YOU!!”

It is so powerful, being able to appraise yourself and come to the conclusion that you are enough, you are not perfect, you are in some areas quite rubbish, but on the whole you are rocking it.

The secret to falling in love with myself again, was reconnecting with my values, and always trying to work with them instead of against them. I don’t always manage it but I always try. I have also made room in my mind for the difficult unpleasant things in life. And then there is Foggy who dominated my life for so long. He is still there and if you are a regular reader you will know that he still does cause me issues from time to time, but his impact is a lot less. This is because I make room for him and accept him as part of my psyche. When I look in the mirror I see me and foggy and love them both equally. I realise now that the happy and sad times in my life are both important and deserve equal space in my mind. I know I will feel really fed up, sad, even distraught in the future, I also know that I will laugh so hard that I will cry, I know I will so proud and happy that my heart will swell, and I am looking forward to all the times I have in front of me, whatever they are. As long as I am courageous and useful I will be content.

Can you say “I LOVE YOU”…. to yourself?

You are enough, warts and all!

Finally thank you my 47th Year, you have been amazing, I wouldn’t have missed you for the world.

How I made my resolution count

Well it is that time of year again, the time of year we start talking about the resolutions we are going to make in the New Year.

For years I would make a resolution that I would give up smoking. I made that resolution nearly every year for over 20 years, sometimes my resolution would last a week, on most occasions it would not even last the length of the New Years Eve party. I did give up smoking eventually, I did not do it around New Year though, I gave up on 13th January 2016 after making a plan that I came to after creating a goal with a compelling vision. I created a towards goal rather than an away from goal. At the time I did not realise that is what I was doing. What I did know was that every time I had attempted to give up previously I had worked out what I wanted my life to look like once I had stopped smoking. The goal was just to stop smoking (an away from goal). The problem with away from goals is that the desire to keep going decreases after you have stopped, the motivation to change your habits is just not sustained.

If you want to make a change to you life that is sustainable it is important to know what you want to achieve and most importantly why you want to achieve it. The why is what is going to sustain you when it gets tough. For me to stop smoking I created an image of me in my 60s playing with my grandchildren in the garden. I knew I could not be certain that I would be healthy enough to do this, if I continued to smoke the amount I was. If I wanted to increase my chances of being able to play football and hide and seek with my grandchildren I would have to stop smoking. This was my starting point. I then made a plan and set a date. It was hard but I succeeded because I always had that compelling vision in front of me.

When I think about this success now, I realise that the secret of that compelling vision was that it is congruent with my core values of courage and usefulness. Being a fun grandparent means I am useful to my family, as being a supportive father to my children is now. So I had the courage to tell myself that the lifestyle I was leading was not sustainable with being useful, therefore by continuing to smoke I was going against my values.

So there it is, if you want to make a resolution ask yourself what you value in your life, does the thing you want to change (being overweight, smoking, drinking too much, stuck in a job you hate) get in the way of that value? If it does what would your life look like after you had made the change? Make this as real as you can, create a picture of this life in you mind. This is important as it will keep you going when it gets tough. Once you have you goal and vision, then it is really important to make your plan. Think about what is going to be in your plan, talk your plan through with somebody, make sure you trust them and that they will not try to advise you on how best to make your plan. Ask yourself when you will know when you have achieved your goal and how you will celebrate your success.

Most importantly, don’t be a slave to the date, make your change when you want to make it, and do it because it is important to you.

Trust yourself you do have it in you to change your life.

Ugly Crying

The other day I made the mistake of watching Toy Story 3 alone. Oh god it was carnage. Now I enjoy this film and I also know being a sensitive soul I generally shed a tear at the end. Normally however there are members of my family around me, namely my sons who will have a laugh at me for crying at a cartoon. In fact Jack points out to me that I cry watching almost anything, including X-Factor (well I love to see people trying hard). Anyway none of these filters were present.

In hindsight I should have thought on and given the film a wide birth. But no, I thought I would be alright. I had things to do on the computer I said to myself, so I would not get completely drawn in and it would provide a pleasant backdrop to my work. That worked fine until the final 2 scenes. The scene where Andy is preparing to leave, and he walks into his bedroom with his Mum. She looks around the now empty and bare room. A room us as viewer of all 3 films recognise as a place of fun and adventure for Andy and his favorite toys, that is now is just an empty shell. All his toys and pictures packed away. Well the look on her face grabbed me, and it started. It started deep down in my heart and rose up to my mouth, I let out a little sob then the tears started and just did not stop for the next 10 minutes, accompanied by increasingly louder sobs and the obligatory snot bubble. my face was all contorted and I could not help rocking. If anyone had looked in through the window they would have assumed I had just been told some terrible news, and not watching a kids film.

As you all know, I have 2 boys. They are my world and I am so proud of them. They are 16 and 18 years old and over the next 2 years will be leaving home. Ben will no doubt leave next September. I want them to leave, and I want them to be successful and independent. Like every parent I want the best for my Children, but I would also quite like for them to stay young and need me, the way I am used to them needing me.

I have been starting to prepare myself for Ben leaving home for a while now. Many of his friends left home in September, so it has been on my mind since then. I think just watching Toy Story 3 brought those feeling to the surface. I realise now post sob that this is all part of the process of change that we are experiencing as a family and what I am experiencing as a parent.

There is nothing like a good ugly cry to let out all of those unhelpful emotions. It then gives you some space to create clarity in you thoughts. I felt so much better after it. I wish we all could feel more comfortable with full on sobbing, instead of repressing it. If we don’t let these feelings out, they just muddle our thought processes, and we end up being much more unhappy. In fact I was coaching someone recently that had a good old cry, we just sat there for a couple of minutes whilst they just cried. Once they had finished we had such a productive conversation, once the blocking emotions had been expressed. I did notice that they kept on apologising for crying, and I realised that was something I do. There is no need to apologise for doing something that is so useful. From now on I am going to practice not apologising for crying, I am also going to allow myself to have a good ugly cry and not repress it. I am going to appreciate the snot bubble. In fact I think that should be my mantra for the New Year.

APPRECIATE THE SNOT BUBBLE!

Have a lovely Christmas and New Year, and if you feel the need have a good old cry, you will feel so much better.

Do you really want to make that resolution count?

A week in to the New Year, if you embarked on a resolution, how is it going?

If it is not going well, don’t feel bad, you are not a failure.

Don’t feel rushed into making a change in your life just because it is the start of a new year.

You can make your resolution anytime. But it is vital you choose wisely and plan for success. You must believe in the change you want to make. The change must be more desirable than what you have otherwise where is the motivation to succeed?

On New Years Eve or even New Year’s Day we decide that we are not getting any younger, so this is the year I change my lifestyle. Without much planning if any we rush into a fitness and healthy eating regime. We go on our first run or first trip to the gym and the reality hits us like a brick in the stomach. Sometimes we will resolve to persevere as it is bound to get easier. However we always overestimate our level of fitness and attempt a regime that just is not realistic. Therefore we fail dismally and spend the rest of the month feeling fat and useless.

Now you can apply this to any resolution, such as stopping smoking, dry Jan and healthy eating.

Well don’t worry help is at hand. The answer is to apply the principles below then answer the following questions. But be honest.

First you can make a lifestyle change anytime you want. Don’t restrict yourself to January.

Changing you lifestyle is challenging, it will not always go to plan, so prepare to change plans and approach.

Do you really need to change? If you do, what do you want to change? Why do you want to change?

What does the changed lifestyle look and feel like?

How much do you want to change?

How likely is it that you will achieve it?

When do you want to achieve the change?

When you have set you goal you can then start to plan how you are going to achieve your goal.

The most important thing though is to set a goal that is realistic and is something you really want, not what you think you want.

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.

Giving up?


The other day I was thinking about the time when I gave up smoking. I was wondering to myself how I managed to give up. Did it take will power? I know that I have next to no will power so it couldn’t have been, just denying myself something for long enough that I would just give in and not want to smoke. There is no way I could just deny myself from something that I wanted especially something that I had done all my adult life.

So what was it that I did to ensure I would never want a cigarette again. In fact the thought of smoking now makes me physically ill. The smell of cigarette smoke and stale tobacco disgusts me. And yet less than 2 years ago, the mere thought of not having cigarettes would bring me out in a cold sweat. I would go as far as saying that I was terrified of not being able to smoke. I knew I needed to stop smoking for financial as well as physical reasons. Over time the reasons for stopping smoking got greater than the reasons to keep smoking. I started to plan how I would stop. The point was that I wanted to give up on my terms for my reasons. For that reason I didn’t tell anyone until I was ready. 

I had stopped smoking several times in the past, none of them were properly planned, and every time it was down not wanting to give up but thinking I should. I failed unsurprisingly, sometimes within hours. This time was different, I didn’t want a future with smoking in it. I aknowledged that smoking had been an important part of my life, but most of the reasons why I thought smoking was important was bogus and based on a psychological dependency to nicotine. When I examined my life, smoking did not decrease my stress, in fact it increased my stress, due to cost and having to try to hide my habit. So why after something stressful happened did I reach for my fags? Because the nicotine was telling my brain that. Smoking did not set me up for the day, in fact it slowed me down by reducing my oxygen levels, dehydrating me and giving me a headache and chest pain. Why would this be good for me!? When I looked at what it was doing it was a no brainer to stop. That is when it clicked, I was not going to deny myself anything, in fact I was setting myself free, smoking was denying me a life.

Saying that, nicotine still had a hold on me, and stopping completely terrified me. I mean truly terrified me, I still remember that visceral terror I felt when thinking about the day I was stopping. So I bought myself some nicotine gum. The gum was someone to hold my hand whilst I stepped off into the abyss of the non smoking world. That is exactly what it felt like, it felt like stepping into a terrifying unpredictable world. Clearly the reality was nothing like that at all. Nothing happened! For a few weeks I dutifully took the gum 3 times a day. Then one day I just decided that it was just too much trouble chewing the disgusting gum, so  I just stopped.

The key to stopping anything that is destructive or bad for you is to give yourself a reason to choose a life without it. Denying yourself something as a long term plan is likely to end in failure. You must see a compelling future without whatever it is you want to stop. Changing how you look at your life can have a profound effect on your life. 

We are amazing never tell yourself you cannot do something, based on the type of person you think you are. I never thought that I could give up smoking. 

If you are struggling to change something in your life, get in touch.