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.

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.

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

An Inspiring Week


Last week I attended a coaching masterclass through work run by Andy Gilbert a coach of high repute. It was a truly inspiring day, and has given me so many ideas to take into my own coaching.

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.

Sea of Hull

It is official I am a work of art. Last night I was unveiled in the Ferens gallery in Hull along with over 3000 other hardy souls, who braved the ravages of an English summer morning last year.

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.

We were then instructed to walk up to the fountain and get into position for the now famous picture taken from the BBC building 

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.