Sunday, December 27, 2009

How to set New Year Goals

As our thoughts turn towards New Year, we sometimes contemplate what we’d like to change about ourselves, and what we’d like to achieve in the year to come. When ‘resolutions’ are broken it’s usually because they haven’t been considered thoroughly, and then we feel disappointed in ourselves.

How much better would it be to come up with one really important goal, to think it though properly and to set yourself up really well to achieve it?

Try following the process if you’re in a ‘resolution’ mood...

What do I want? (Of all of the things that I could accomplish or change in my life next year, which one is most important to me?)

State the goal positively, ‘To be trim and healthy’ is better than ‘not to be overweight anymore’. Science has found that the subconscious mind doesn’t process the negative, ‘not to’ – it only hears ‘be overweight’.

Write the goal down (goals that are in writing are far more likely to be achieved) and ensure it is something that is within your power to achieve (that is, don’t rely on others to help you achieve it).

Ask, ‘if I had this, or if I achieved this, what would it give me?’ (For what purpose do I want it?)

Think not only of the obvious and straight-forward gain, but of other benefits stemming from it. Try to build a bigger picture of why this matters to you.

How will I know when I’ve achieved it?

What will I see, that tells me I have reached my goal? What will I hear? What will I feel?

For example, if you are currently a little overweight and your goal is to be trim and healthy, what you will see is yourself in the mirror, looking terrific, wearing your old jeans again comfortably, or a new outfit. You’ll see yourself running around the playground easily with your children and hear them laughing while you chase them. You’ll hear compliments from other people and you’ll feel excited, optimistic and confident... you’ll hear that old self-esteem again in your voice when you walk into a room and you’ll feel energised...

Why haven’t you got it now? Exactly what’s been stopping me?

Be honest with yourself here. What’s really been holding you back? What excuses have you been making? Do these obstacles still stand in your way? If so, what can you do about them?

Is there a price to pay for achieving my goal? Am I prepared to pay that price?

Again, using the ‘fit and healthy’ example, there IS a price to pay for achieving this goal. You’ll have to eat/drink less of certain favourites, and find time to exercise, which you may not enjoy at first. Being clear on what you’ll be giving up or going through in order to achieve your goal is crucial. You’re far more likely to stick at it if you have analysed and accepted these things in advance.

Does this goal sit comfortably with me and with the people around me?

You’re unlikely to achieve a goal if it advertently or inadvertently inconveniences or hurts someone else. Make sure there are no stumbling blocks of this nature

What resources do I have, and what resources do I need to achieve this goal?

What emotional strength do you require? Who do you need to be on your side (speak to them about this)

What information do you need and where will you obtain it?

What is the first step towards this goal, no matter how small?

When will I take it?

What is the next step/milestone?

How committed am I to achieving this, out of ten?

Spend some time imagining yourself at some stage in the future, when you have achieved your goal. Bask in this thought for a while. Tie emotions to it. Understand that there may be moments when you stumble and fall on the way, but that’s okay. Just get up, dust off your knees, and keep going!

How exciting a new year is! Anything could happen...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This is Christmas

I was in a Canberra department store on Christmas Eve a couple of years ago along with hundreds of equally desperate last-minute shoppers. We were queued half-way through the store - large trolleys groaning with toys, CDs, clothes, baubles, wrapping paper, wreaths of tinsel, tins of scorched almonds, paper tablecloths, serviettes and more. It was bedlam.

Then... HORRORS, the power in the store cut out!

You can imagine the scene. Nineteen cash registers flickered and died in concert, the lights went off and the air could have been sliced with one of the carving knives that were on special in the kitchenware aisle.

For a few awful seconds there was no reaction at all except for stunned disbelief. I braced myself for the inevitable revolt. Hot, tired, cranky, ‘over-it’ shoppers had already queued for more than twenty minutes in the inadequate air-conditioning. ‘Mass uproar, here we come’, I thought.

And then, unexpectedly, from somewhere way back in the queue, a man starting singing.

‘Dashing through the snow...’

There was a smattering of nervous giggles.

‘In a one-horse open sleigh’, he persisted.

Three or four voices tentatively added themselves for ‘o’er the hills we go’, and furtive glances were exchanged between strangers, while others tried to curb reluctant smiles. Imagine the vibe, a few seconds later, when a couple of hundred people spontaneously joined in with the Jingle Bells chorus. Just about everyone in the shop – staff and customers, old and young – was singing.

There was smiling and laughing and more than a few tears. Staff lit candles and started handing out lollies and chocolates and we all sang Silent Night and waited patiently for the power to be fixed. The registers and lights finally sprang to life and joined the festivities. Everyone broke into an enthusiastic round of applause - cheering and laughing and chatting easily with the strangers beside them.

It was one of the most beautiful, unexpected and uplifting moments that I can recall.

It’s so easy to get frustrated and fed up with a difficult situation that is outside our control. We do have free choice, though, over how we will respond.

When something goes wrong, as it inevitably will, we choose whether we will throw a tantrum or sing. We can give up and walk out, or we can dig in and look for ways to make the most of it.

What an enormous difference that choice makes. I saw how remarkably easy it was for one man to easily lift the mood of hundreds of people, within seconds, just by choosing the optimistic response to a mutually frustrating situation. As a result, something that might have remained an annoying incident that we all went home and complained about was transformed into an unforgettable Christmas highlight.

I wonder how many similar opportunities we miss in our lives, just by defaulting to a negative response...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Imagine the possibilities if you had no past

On the weekend, I watched a fascinating television program called The Man With No Past. When his life spiralled out of control, 25-year-old David Fitzpatrick suffered an extremely rare, spontaneous loss of memory called ‘psychogenic fugue’. His entire past was erased from his mind. He had no recollection of his own identity, or of those of his friends, his family or his young daughter, or of any of the events in his life preceding the fugue – good or bad.

Living with no past was incredibly frustrating in many ways, but it also brought second chances. No memory of what had gone before also meant no recollection of his own habits or patterns of behaviour, or of his perceived limits or fears. David was given the gift of a completely fresh start. Every experience for him was brand new – no expectations - and he was able to re-invent his career, his relationships and his ambitions.

Imagine having no limiting expectations of how you’ll be in any situation. There’s no, ‘I was brought up this way,’ or ‘this is how I do things’, or ‘I’m not that sort of person’. Imagine what you would try if you had no evidence for, ‘I can’t’...

David has a clean slate and a future. ‘I’m back at zero,’ he said. ‘This is where my life starts.’

We all have an opportunity for a start fresh. Our past does not equal our future.

Think of something you’ve held yourself back from experiencing because of beliefs you formed about yourself at some point in your background (often in childhood). What do you tell yourself you’re not good at? Public speaking? Art? Maths? Singing? Sport? Relationships?...

What would you do differently if you had no knowledge of your past? What would you have a go at if you didn’t assume ‘I’m not good at that...’ and you threw yourself into it with complete confidence?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Australian Women Online profile

WorkLifeBliss has been profiled in the magazine Australian Women Online.  You can read the article here:

It's nice to read that some of our easy-to-use strategies and tools are sinking in and making a difference in people's lives.  Check out the tips within the article for making 2010 more balanced and fun. 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Knowing when to quit

I helped to sponsor a beautiful children’s book launch this morning (Riley and the Dancing Lion, by Canberra author, Tania McCartney - who I'd only met once at a seminar I gave recently, and who may be sorry she asked - read on).

As there were going to be clowns, goodie bags, colouring in and all kinds of fun at the launch, I thought I’d take along not only my daughters but my nearly three-year-old niece, for the experience.
All went very well until we hoved into sight of the bookshop, festooned as it was with helium balloons.

Alas, and unbeknown to me, at the local community carols event last night (where she was supporting my daughter in the school band after attending the English Ballet’s production of Angelina Ballerina with my other daughter), two-year-old Abbey had developed a phobia of balloons when a boy popped one while she was on the jumping castle.

As soon as she saw the first balloon (of about thirty) at the book launch, she burst into tears and wailed, ‘I don’t want to be here! I want to go home! I want my Mummy!!!’

‘Abigail,’ I reasoned (like the out-of-practise, early-childhood mum of a pre-teen and a nine-year-old that I am), ‘Auntie just has to do some work here, then we’ll go home, ok?’ (Auntie was supposed to stand with another local author and present our signed copy of our respective books to the lucky-door-prize winners as they were announced.)

‘Nooooooooooooo!!!!! I want to leave! I don’t want to be here!! I want Mummy!’

I stared at her in horror.

‘Here. Have a lolly!’ I suggested, (mother-of-the-child, you have to understand I was professionally-desperate by this stage.)

‘Nooooooooooooo!!!!! I don’t want a lolly! I don’t want to be in this place!!!’ Scream, screech, wail...

At this point a potential client approached me to enquire about work-life balance coaching.


Oh - that! My core business...

‘This is my niece,’ I apologised. ‘My business card is over there, on that table...’

When a four-year-old boy jumped on an empty popper-juice container right beside us, moments later, it was obvious from Abbey’s understandably hysterical response that my Plan B of seating her on the bench with her cousins while I rushed inside and did the honours was not going to work. I sent my eleven-year-old in to convey the message to the host of the celebration that, regretfully, we had to leave.


No questions asked.

So, my advice is: know when to quit.

The Christmas season can be a minefield of social events and, whether it’s your balloon-phobic niece, your kids or yourself who is crying at the party for whatever reason - anticipate when ‘enough is enough’, and leave about 15 minutes before that moment arrives.

Repeat this any time you’re at risk of hoping things will improve at a social event, when they really won’t...