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.
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.
Not only did it give me inspiration to coach others but also to coach myslelf. During the day I set myself a new goal and looked at some of the goals I have already set for myself, just to check in with my commitment to achieve them.
So I have set a goal of writing a novel over the next year, as well as to continue to work towards being fitter and healthier both mentally and physically. I have set very specific goals with timescales. For instance I will have a finished manuscript in my hand on the 4th May 2018, to achieve this I have set myself a series of performance goals along the way. So I have started putting together a story drawing on the work I did writing my story of my life, and brainstorming some other ideas. Next is to develop an outline of the story. That is to come over the coming weeks.
With regards being fitter and healthier I have revisited my level of commitment to running. Over the past couple of weeks I have questioned why I wanted to continue running. I have pushed myself to get out there and run. I use an app that gradually increases the amount of time running, I am now up to 28 minutes, and the last 2 runs I have started to enjoy, during the run itself. This is quite remarkable as I hated the discomfort I felt in my back and legs and never enjoyed the running. What kept me going was the feeling of elation and achievement after the run. But now I have managed to get to a place in my head that makes me feel calm and contented. I have tried mindfulness exercises in the past with some success, but this time it feels so effortless and natural during my runs. My runs have turned into something I want to do to relax and de-stress. Running now gives me something worthwhile rather than just sore legs.
However the problem I have is my food intake, my level of commitment to weight loss is some what suspect and I do need to re-examine why I want to lose weight. It has to be a reason that is more compelling than chocolate. Wish me luck.
This week has been a positive, optimistic week, I have coached a lot, been running and started to enjoy. City got relagated but that has been the only blot on the week and I finished it off this evening cooking a barbecue in the sunshine. Tomorrow brings a new week of opportunity.
Last night whilst queuing to get in to the Ferens to witness my unveiling to the world I thought back to the original unveiling in Queens Gardens at around 5am on the 9th July 2016.
I hadn’t really thought about how I would feel getting naked with so many strangers until the moment I was stood there in my undies. At that moment I was terrified, I suddenly felt very vulnerable. Then I did it I pulled them down and stood laid bare to the world. I looked up at this point and felt suddenly relaxed. I wasn’t vulnerable, I wasn’t exposed I was with thousands of naked people in the middle of a city centre painting ourselves 4 different shades of blue. We would become in the hours to come a sea of blue naked people flooding the city.
The initial awkward silence was now replaced by laughter and chatter as we asked each other if we missed a bit.
Looking at thousands of people walk towards the fountain in the early morning light painted blue, was surreal.
As the morning drew on the atmosphere got better and better, there was plenty of laughter and shouts of Steve! Steve was one of Spencer’s assistants who was in charge of getting us in position. Spencer was constantly shouting his name to get us inexperienced models in the right place. To 3000 plus knackered hysterical blue naked people this was hilarious so we all started shouting it.
As we marched around the old town, we started to attract an audience of residents hanging out of their windows. This was most evident for those of us who went to the swing bridge over the river Hull. On the other side of the river is a hotel, where Spencer took the photo from. Every window was filled with faces as were the riverside apartments behind us. We were now being watched but it felt ok we all felt safe, we were a group, we were safe.
That morning will go down as the single most liberating moment in my life. It was incredible, we were all taking part in something that will go down in the folk history of our city. We are all now a part of the cultural heritage of one of the most incredible cities in the world.
I am incredibly proud of taking my underpants off in Queens Gardens. I am part of something amazing, I took part in an adventure that I will never forget. That adventure will be viewed for years to come in Ferens.
If you get chance to do something outside of the usual, do it. Take yourself out of your comfort zone. Seize the moment, be amazing.
If you are not from Hull, make an effort to visit us during 2017. The SKIN exhibition is on at Ferens Gallery until August, and 4 of the photographs will be kept at the gallery after that.
Hull is not my hometown but I can say it is a hidden gem, and my favourite place.
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.
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.
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.