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.

Now you have your reason, what next?

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So you have found a reason to make a change and that reason moves towards a positive future rather than moving away from a negative past. But how do you get to your positive future?

What happens next is crucial if you want to make a lasting difference, and not crash and burn in a heap of recrimination and disappointment.

If you are anything like me, your natural tendency will be to rush ahead, without much thought and planning and then grind to a halt when you come across your first hurdle, and say to yourself, ‘that’s it, I don’t have the willpower, anyway I like being a fat smoker.’

It doesn’t have to be like that. I know it sounds boring but if you want to succeed, if you really want that positive future for yourself you will have to plan how you are going to achieve this.

When it comes to planning it is important to know what it is you really want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by. Write it down, don’t just leave it in your head, you need to be able to see it. It is also good to share it with someone, like a coach or someone you trust to be objective about what it is you want to achieve.

Once you are clear what you want to achieve and by when, it is worth just checking in with yourself, about how realistic your goal is. Rate how likely it is that you will achieve it in the time you have given yourself, then rate how much you want to achieve it. I use a simple 1-10 scale, but use any scale you want and name it after yourself. This is then your scoring system and something to measure yourself and progress against. If your scores are over halfway (so 5 in my scale) then that is good you have room to improve your score but you are positive. If they are less than halfway then you may need to look at your goal and timescales again, preferably with your coach until you come up with something you feel more comfortable with. If you have a score below half way don’t press on regardless, as it will no doubt end without you sustaining the change you want.

So you are happy with your goal and timescale, you now need to think about what and who you will need to help you achieve the change you desire. This is where you can really have fun and be imaginative. It is really helpful doing this with someone else and having fun with it. Don’t just think about the obvious like cook books, and fitness instructors, really go to town and let your imagination run wild. When you start being silly and laugh at what you are coming up with that is often when you are your most creative and are more likely to come up with the one thing or person that will make the biggest difference. That is why it is important to do this part of the planning with someone. Don’t forget to write all of it down, you don’t want to forget anything. Once you feel you have exhausted all ideas then stop. You can always come back to it another time.

Now you have an idea of who and what you are going to need, it is worth thinking about what might get in the way of your plan, what might slow it down or stop it in its tracks. Again be as creative and imaginative as you can think of all kinds of worse case scenarios. then what you will do to overcome them? what might you have to change in your plan? It is important to think about solutions to problems, don’t get bogged down by the problems. You might not think of all the issues you might face, but this will give you the mindset to be solution focussed. Don’t do this alone, again work with a coach to ensure you have appropriate challenge, and support.

How will you know when you have achieved your goal? At what point will you know when you have reached the end. For some goals it will be obvious, for some it will be a personal level, say losing a percentage of body weight or being able to run 5km without stopping. Whatever the end point is make it tangible, so if it is a feeling you want to achieve are you able to recognise that feeling?

Now you have the ingredients to start your action plans to achieve your goal. To make achieving your goal manageable it might be necessary to chunk your goal into small short-term goals that lead to the end goal. For instance if your goal is to run a 10km race, then your first goal may be to be able to comfortably run without stopping for 30 minutes after 4 weeks. By chunking your goals it also allows you to adjust how you achieve you goal if things don’t go to plan, without you feeling overwhelmed by the whole process.

Once you have your reason to change and you plan, you now need to act. You need to make that change, take that step. Be brave you have your reason and your plan, you will succeed. It might not go completely to plan but you have anticipated that and you know you can find a solution. Use your coach or supporter when you start to doubt yourself.

If you want to take the plunge email me or message me via social media, and take advantage of a complimentary consultation.

matt@mattycoach71.com

 

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

My week as a Coach

I was holding a coaching session yesterday afternoon at work. I know I have said this before but it was one of the best sessions I have held. The member of staff wants to be coached, and she is full of ideas. All I have to do is ask a few questions to help her with focus and clarity and watch her work out what she needs to do.

I know I have had a good coaching session, when I hardly speak. The only times I do is to ask questions to either open expand a statement further or move the conversation on when it loses focus. I always allow the conversation to wander a little as often the journey to bring the conversation back to the coaching subject can reveal other issues that the client/coachee really wants to give air time to.

Coaching as a process for this member of staff and at least 4 other members of staff I coach is having a dramatic effect on their practise and outlook on life in general. These staff are not failing or very senior. In my eyes they are exceptional, however they would not describe themselves as such. What I am trying to say is, that are like vast majority of people (hardworking, bright, and good at their jobs). All 5 have benefitted from having a coach in different ways. They all approach the coaching relationship for different reasons, the one thing they have in common was willingly entered into the coaching contract.

Getting back to the wonderful session I had yesterday. As I said previously the coachee did all the hardwork and came up with all ideas on how to evolve her practise to ensure she develops in the way she wants to. The coaching experience allows her to take control of her own career. All of her action plans are formed by her, therefore she has believes in them.

How many times have you completed action plans created by others or created action plans based on what you think you should do? Well coaching gives you the space to create your plans based on what is best for you, using the route that you decide. That is not to say that you ignore external influences, such as corporate objectives. If you work for an organisation where you are strongly disagree with their vision and objectives, then maybe you should consider changing your job if you ever want to be happy and successful. Most of us generally buy in to corporate objectives and values, and when we set ourselves professional goals they tend to be in line with the organisation as we want to be successful there.

That really is a long winded way of saying trust your own judgement, and set your goals on what you want to do and not what others tell you to do. Having a coach gives you that space.

Seek out a coach at work, a lot of organisations have them now.

If you have a senior position in an organisation that has yet to adopt a coaching approach, and the best place to start is to get yourself your own coach.

If you are self employed definitely get yourself a coach, for a relatively small investment you will have a dramatic effect on how you approach future business planning.

If anyone is interested in coaching, please e-mail me. I will either be able to offer you some coaching or signpost you to a coaching network that may be able to help you.

my email: matt@mattycoach71.com

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Everything Is Going To Be OK

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All us adults between 40 and 70  have tried our best to stuff everything up. We were the generations that had it easier than any other generation in the history of the world. In the UK we had universal health care (free at the point of access), free education up to University. Excellent pay and work conditions, which has led to a whole economy based on leisure and entertainment.

Now instead of using these opportunities wisely, considering parts of the world with less opportunity, the environment and future generations, we greedily consumed all we could and more, without a thought of how we were going to pay for it all.

Well now the bill has arrived, in the guise of financial meltdown worldwide, global warming, racial and religious intolerance, and the resulting finger-pointing and blame.

Fear not, all is not lost. There is still hope, and it is in the shape of our young people. As part of my day job I speak to young people about careers in healthcare. From speaking to these young people (not all of them wanted to work in healthcare) have a real sense of community and value, the welfare of all above anything else. They see themselves as part of a wider global community and concentrate on what unites them rather than what divides them.

Now I realise that we are all idealistic when we are teenagers, but this waivers when you get older and cynical. The question is why do we become cynical? We became cynical because no one took us seriously, we were not listened to and gave up. It is easier to look out for yourself.

So we have a responsibility to our youth to listen to what they are saying, to learn from their wisdom and help them make our world a better place to live in. Let them rekindle your passion for a better world. Most of all encourage them to have a social conscience, and to act on their beliefs. After all they are going to spend longer on this Earth than us.

Enjoy The Moment

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What a gorgeous weekend it has been. The weather has been truly wonderful.

I was cutting the grass this morning and was looking around my garden and thought to myself how lucky I am to be here right now enjoying the sunshine, listening to the birds singing and smelling freshly cut grass.

We spend so much of our time worrying about what we have and have not done, and planning what we are going to do next that we can miss what is right in front of us. The events of the past few weeks should make us all stop and take stock, as our lives can be snuffed out or changed forever in a blink of an eye. Live every moment, pay attention to what is all around you.

Now planning for the future is important, but it should never be at the expense of the here and now. How do you know what you want if you don’t really know what you have.

I am as guilty as the next person for ruminating on what I have done and what I am going to do. When I find myself doing this (usually in the morning), I start looking around me, I pay attention to my surroundings, what is next to me, what is above me, below me, and in front of. Before I know it I am appreciating what is happening to me now. My mood lifts immediately. I am alive, I can sense what is around me. As my mood lifts I feel more confident and more creative, and therefore more productive.

It is really important to plan and strive for a brighter future, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey.