Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Be Careful Who You Spend Time With

I spend ninety percent of my time with my three teenagers.  Maybe this explains why I refuse to grow up!  An eternal teenager, trapped in a forty-something body.  The saying ‘you become like the five people you spend the most time with’ is so true.  One of the issues I faced on my road to self-recovery was the annoying ability I had to give my power away.  I would hand myself over to the first friend, boy or tutor who showed an interest.

Times change and I am happy to say that I’m getting better.  Unfortunately, I do slide back to my old ways now and then, but I’m getting there – slowly.

I’m not sure why I do this, why I feel the need to ‘fit in’ and give my power away as if that’s the only way someone would like me.  No doubt, it stems from a childhood issue that I don’t even remember. 

At the end of 2015, I did my closing down ceremony for the year.  A way to switch off the negativity that surrounded last year, and to start 2016 with fresh energy.  One of the most powerful realisations was about friendship.  I’d done it again – given my power away to energy vampires who had stripped me bare and then spat me out. 

With the ceremony over and a renewed sense of wellbeing, I was in a better place to build my new year.  I decided to look closely at who I was spending the most time with and to build on those relationships that matter and release the ones that didn’t offer me anything positive.

I realised how vital it was to my energy levels that my relationships with family, friends, colleagues and even online acquaintances were nurtured.

A few weeks ago, I attended a blogger/author event in Birmingham. This was a huge step out of my comfort zone but one that I relished.  I got to meet a host of talented authors, and the book bloggers I had followed and interacted with over the past year but never met in person.  It was a wonderful event, and I was able to step over the line from virtual to real life friendships.  The key to building good relationships does include the opportunity for face-to-face contact.  It doesn’t have to be at events if travel is problematic; Skype works just a well!

Making new friends isn’t just for the school playground.  At a recent event where I ran a workshop on meditation for beginners, I met a huge number of visitors who stopped by my stall to talk about my books and writing journey.  Social media enabled many of them to get in touch with me after the event, and I was able to continue the conversation.  This kind of interaction is positive, helpful, and for me, it’s vital as I know that just one kind word, thoughtful gesture or shared discussion could help someone on their personal journey.

Sometimes relationships do change, the dynamics shift, and you find that certain people aren’t worth the time or effort that once seemed so easy.  It’s important to not only look at who you’re spending time with but to how they make you feel.  If that’s changed and you find it more of a chore than a pleasure, then learn to let it go.  Slowly pull back, don’t be as available as you once were, and then slip away. 

When I began writing this post I jotted down the last few people I’d seen and how they made me feel – it was an interesting exercise.  Try it for yourself.

I was speaking to a lovely lady the other day who was going through a divorce.  She found, as most newly divorced couples do, that certain friendships had altered.  This can be a problem when you’ve socialised as a couple for years and then suddenly become single.  Who gets Janet and John, and who stays friends with Bill and Barb?  She used a mind map to record the friendships that mattered to her the most.  It was the perfect way to see at a glance who she spent the most time with and gave her the clarity to choose her relationships going forward. 

Spend time thinking about your friendships, partners, children and work colleagues.  What changes can you make to enhance these relationships and make them work for you and your wellbeing?

Remember, you become like the five people you spend the most time with.  Choose carefully.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Seize Life and Live It Now - Ribbon of Life Experiment

When I ran my Motivate Me workshops several years ago, there was an exercise I did that shocked many of the ladies sat in the audience.  It was an eye-opener for all of us and a simple visualisation of how we shouldn’t ‘wait for the right time’ before we follow our dreams or action our goals.
Try it for yourself:
Take a 100cm length of ribbon and a pair of scissors.
Now ask yourself the following question; “What is the estimated lifespan of an individual?”  When we did this exercise, my group decided that 80 years was about right.  The actual figure is 79 years so they were pretty close.  If you agree, cut 21cm off your ribbon and throw it away.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

How to Calm a Busy Mind

January certainly started with a bang for me.  We are two weeks in (how fast has that gone) and I have already hit the number one spot on Amazon with my non-fiction title, How I Changed My Life in a Year  Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog will understand when I say ‘thought’s become things’.  Oh yes, I’m thinking exclusively about successful book sales and hopefully bringing more of it to me!

Next week is the release date for the second book in my young adult fantasy trilogy so I’ve been working hard on publicity and dealing with the fiction side of my writing business.  I am also hosting a vision board workshop, attending a meet the author event and a blogger/author meet up, doing a radio interview (it’s true! I’ll share the link on my blog when it’s over), and I’m an exhibitor and speaker at the It’s Your Life West Midlandsth January. 

Phew, busy month.  When I found this meme on Facebook it made me laugh out loud because I was pulling that exact face when I saw it.

Maybe you feel the same when you are busy? With so much going on it does feel like you have a million tabs open in your brain.  I tend to panic if my computer has more than three pages open at any given time.  If you are starting to feel anxious about all the half-finished projects or the ever increasing to-do list then panic not – I am here to share my plan of action.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

What Blogging Taught Me About Myself

As we start a New Year the smell of possibility and new challenges are in the air.  It’s amazing to think that three years ago, I wrote my first blog post.  A post that was to be the beginning of a new chapter in my life and one that would be the catalyst for a life-changing experience.

I have learned so much over the past three years, not just about how to blog, but about myself and who I want to be, and it all began with a list of New Year Resolutions.

What is a resolution? 

The English Oxford Dictionary describes it as, 'a firm decision and the quality of being determined.'

It was on New Year's Eve 2012 when I set myself a challenge; sick of setting resolutions and breaking them before the mince pies ran out, I decided to set a better example and so I wrote a list of twelve resolutions - one for each month of the year.

This list included the usual suspects - lose weight, get fit, iron less and laugh more but I also wanted to challenge myself.  I included things like, 'do something new', 'give up alcohol', 'give up Facebook (that one was tough!) and many more.

Having never blogged before I thought it would be a fun way to keep me motivated.  It also forced me to be accountable for my actions – a bit like having a diet buddy.  But I knew that I wanted to keep it real and blog the lows as well as the highs throughout the year.  

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

My Organised Life Series - Reduce Stress by Prioritising Tasks

Welcome to 'My Organised Life Series', a feature where we will be looking at various ways to organise yourself and streamline your life.  By the time January 1st rolls around, you will be ready and raring to take on the New Year.

Week 3: Reduce Stress by Prioritising Your Tasks

You can read the first article HERE – Creating a Home Workspace

You can read the second article HERE – Time Management

I have a confession.  I am so unorganised this year that my gift buying, wrapping, and writing of Christmas cards is still incomplete.  Deep down I know that I’m creating a false stress because if I just got on with it, then I would be able to enjoy the festive season.

The stack of unwritten cards sitting on my desk taunts me daily.  I sit at my computer and plough through my to-do list, but at the end of every day I still haven’t written the cards, and I end up adding this task to tomorrow’s list.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

My Organised Life Series - Time Management

Welcome to 'My Organised Life Series', a feature where we will be looking at various ways to organise yourself and streamline your life.  By the time January 1st rolls around, you will be ready and raring to take on the New Year.

Week 2: Time Management

(You can read the first article HERE – Creating a Home Workspace)

One of the topics I cover in my Motivate Me workshops is ‘Time Management’.  We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, but it’s what we do with them that matter.  I often refer to Stephen Covey’s approach, using the Time Matrix.  This is the process of putting your tasks or to-do list into one of four boxes.
  • Important and urgent
  • Important and not urgent
  • Not important and urgent
  • Not important and not urgent
Here’s an example for you:

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

My Organised Life Series - Creating a Home Workspace

Welcome to 'My Organised Life Series'.  Over the next four weeks I will be looking at various ways to organise yourself and streamline your life.  By the time January 1st rolls around, you will be ready and raring to take on the New Year.

Week 1: Creating a Home Workspace

As a writer, I have developed a knack for writing anytime, anywhere.  It can be in a coffee shop a la J.K. Rowling, or on the train during a commute.  I’ve even been known to take a pad and pen into the bath with me!  But, nothing compares to having a desk for my creative pursuits.

Most office workers will have a desk that they call their own, and they can become highly territorial about it.  It’s a place to house your potted plant, family photo, folders, files, a collection of coffee mugs, and somewhere under the mess, a laptop or computer.

Having a desk at home is vital to your wellbeing and sanity.  This is where you can plan, organise and streamline your life.  A dedicated workspace allows you to stay prepared, and be on top of the household comings and goings.

So how can we use our home workspace?