Unfolding stories

22 06 2010

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”
(Earl Nightingale)

For the last few weeks I have been watching an unfolding story of action and perseverance. At times it appeared that it was destined to end in failure but so far despite all appearances to the country it’s looking like a happy ending is on the cards.

I’m not referring to any TV show but a tale that has been taking place outside one of the windows by my desk. 2 wood pigeons have set up their home and have been raising a family.

Their initial attempts of “constructing” their nest looked like a single breeze would bring it down to the ground. Certainly in comparison to the blackbirds in a different part of the garden the term construction would be a generous description of their attempts to balance twigs on a branch.

Yet no one appears to have mentioned to them that they need to compare themselves to other birds. So they persevered with their building until they had a nest balanced precariously on the branch and took up residency. As an onlooker I was concerned as I had seen their attempts at bathing in the bottom of the garden which nearly always led to them knocking over nearby plant pots. Such apparent clumsiness and a balanced nest did not seem like the ideal match to me.

However, not being fluent in pigeon they were unaware of how I expected this story to unfold so they carried on creating a family home apparently unphased by it all.

So after a spell of sitting on her eggs we got a small family, who in recent weeks have been perfecting the art of flying. Sure the parents may not give the most accurate directions – judging by the rebound one of the youngsters had with a window. (Or maybe it’s just inherited it’s parents clumsiness). However, no-one had mentioned to it that if you failed then obviously that’s what it would mean every time because it was soon trying again altering it’s course so that there was no more bouncing of windows.

As I type one of them is currently sat in the tree apparently watching me through the window perhaps wondering what that strange creature is up to this time so that it can tell the rest of its family later the newest exploits!

So often we can get in our own ways by comparing ourselves either to someone else or an imagined perfection. On other occasions we may let someone-else’s concerns drown out our own inner knowledge. Not to mention how easy it can be to use a perceived failure as a reason not to attempt that again.

If you have a situation or project where you have found yourself stuck then this week I invite you to play with the following questions and see which will get you moving again.

1. If it didn’t matter how you completed this, as long as you got there, what would be your next step?
2. If you were invisible, so nobody could see how you completed this situation/project, what would be your very next step?
3. If it didn’t matter if you stumbled or failed, what would be your next step?

These questions are designed to give you new possibilities of action – you don’t have to “do” anything with any of your answers. They are here to give you a different way of approaching what you are stuck with. However, you may find that there is a gem of an idea of what to do next that you haven’t realised before. If there is any answer you want to do and like the consequences of, then by all means take action and get moving again.

Have a week full of taking flight with your next step




It’s a question of priorities

8 06 2010

“Action expresses priorities.”

(Mohandas Ghandi)

One of the satellite film channels is currently running a “films you’ve always meant to see but just not got around to it” season. I smiled when I heard that as there are several movies that I’ve meant to watch and just not got around to. Just like there’s books I’ve not got round to reading etc.

The “just not got round to it” is one of the things I can hear when people talk about procrastinating. Despite the fact that people often refer to it as a character flaw that they have, it’s actually normally a clue to the importance that you are placing on an activity/event etc.

It’s possible for the perceived importance of something to change in a moment. For example, if a loved one was to arrive at your work and invite you for a coffee immediately before an important meeting you would probably decline saying you hadn’t got the time. If that same loved one arrived before that same important meeting requiring immediate medical assistance it’s not outside the realms of possibility that would then become your priority.

Granted that’s an extreme example and probably not what people would class as procrastinating. Most often the term procrastination is used when it’s something that someone feels should be important isn’t being done.

For instance, as a student I would suddenly develop a need to have the tidiest room imaginable when it came time to start revising – something that wasn’t normally that high on my priorities.

This week I invite you to notice what you are prioritising. Not to beat yourself up if you find yourself watching TV instead of starting something you think should be important, but to increase your awareness of the priorities you’re choosing. Also remember that some time “off” can really increase your productivity.

If there is something that you haven’t got around to yet you may want to play with the following questions:

    1. Is this something that you actually want to do? Is the outcome of this event something that you want? If so you may want to consider how else you can get those outcomes.
    2. If you were paid 10 years worth of salary just to do this thing you haven’t got round to yet, what would you do differently?
    3. If your own, or your loved ones lives depended upon you getting around to this, what would you do differently?

    Have a week full of an awareness of your priorities




    Today’s post may contain themes of peril

    4 05 2010

    “The best way to find out where you are from is find out where you are going and work backwards.”

    (The 4th Doctor, played by Tom Baker from the Doctor Who TV story “City of Death”)

    I happened to watch an episode of a “classic” sci-fi TV show recently. Although I didn’t recall seeing this particular story before, it was from a series I’d seen as a child and remembered that it could be quite scary to my eight-year-old self. In fact, a warning that “the following program contains themes of peril” preceded the recent TV airing I saw!

    As I watched I found myself laughing at certain points I’d have considered just a little scary as a child. After all, time’s moved on and as an adult I now have a different perspective and knowledge.

    The passing of time and things which once seemed important, stressful and perilous becoming inconsequential is not something that just applies to childhood television shows. There’s no doubt occasions you can think of from your past that appeared important at the time, that once some time had passed you can’t recall why that seemed like such a big deal.

    This week I invite you to play with that concept to make a difference in the present.

    1. Pick something to play with, which when you think about it at the moment seems like it’s a big deal. Maybe it’s a situation that appears stressful, draining or perilous!

    The next stages involve playing with imagining things so don’t pick to do that when it is safer for your focus to be elsewhere – for instance when you are driving a car!

    2. As I started by talking about a sci-fi program, imagine that you time travelled 2 months into the future – so that it is now July 2010. Look back on the situation that you thought of as big. Notice, now 2 months further on how you think about it now.

    3. Once you’ve done that time travel a bit further so that you are two years into the future and it is now 2012. The London Olympics preparations are in their final stages and as you look back to May 2010 and that thing that you thought was big, notice how you look at it now with the benefit of 2 years extra experience and knowledge.

    4. You obviously have got the hang of the time travelling because you have now travelled 10 years into the future, to the year 2020. Look back at 10 years ago, to the situation that seemed so important then and become aware of how important it is now in 2020.

    5. Before we finish our time travelling, visit your “twilight years”, surrounded by loving family and friends, look back at that event, all that time ago. How significant is it to you now? With all that time that’s passed what advice or comment would you have given that younger you back in 2010?

    6. When you’ve finished travel back to May 2010, bringing back any and all the valuable and useful information you gained by travelling through time.

    7. Some people find that wiggling their fingers and toes, blowing raspberries and/or generally stretching is an ideal way to end a time travelling experience and making sure they are fully back in the present :)

    8. Now you are back in May 2010, and armed with the benefit of the perspective of the future you may become aware that the situation you choose to play with is now different. You may even have inspiration of what your next step could be when previously you were stuck.

    Have a week with time travelling adventures and decreasing perils.




    The self-care habit

    27 04 2010

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”


    This week I’m sticking with the topic of self care and what you can do if you love the idea, want to play some more but somehow when it would really help you to remember to pay attention you forget all about this idea.

    What if you could use the things that you find give you a boost and, if you choose to, make them a habit? Today I am going to talk a bit about how you can take what you already know and turn it into habit.

    I know that habits often get a bad press and there is no doubt that some habits have undesirable consequences. A habit is just something that you do automatically without thinking about it. I’m sure you probably already know that the habits that I’m talking about have results that you want in a manner you’re happy with having.

    So how do you go about turning a technique into a habit and increase your chances of using it when you need it most? The secret is to actually use the technique – and I do mean more than just the once. The knowledge that it works for you is one thing but you’re not going to get the benefit unless you use that method!

    Now that may sound simple, and it is, but the thing that often prevents people from doing that is that they get caught up in the regular routine and their good intentions of practicing fly out the window.

    Here are two ways to include practicing techniques and methods into your regular routine with ease.

    1) Build it into your schedule.

    Think about all the things you do as part of your regular routine without having to give it any thought. Perhaps it’s something that you do at a particular time of day or on a particular evening. For example if it’s Tuesday then it must be …

    Then there are all the things that you have set in a specific order in your routine which are now so automatic. Do you really have to think about cleaning your teeth in the morning and many people automatically check for their keys each time they leave their home.

    Use what you already do to make incorporating the things that work for you into your life easily. Perhaps it’s something that you can do at a specific time of day – i.e. spending 5 minutes at lunchtime. Maybe it’s something that you can build into your existing routine – if your day involves a daily commute by train perhaps its something you could do then.

    Building it into your regular routine ensures that you have actually got the time to start doing something. You will be the expert on your unique schedule and remember that this is about building it into your life so that it works for you.

    For example: When Jo looked at the things that, when she did them, she had a better day she discovered that being reminded of her accomplishments helped to keep things in perspective and she didn’t blow other things out of proportion. She decides to spend 5 minutes at the start of her working day, before checking any email, to just “reconnect” (i.e. list) her accomplishments. She finds that this puts her in a much better mindset for whatever the rest of the day brings.

    Bob likes an exercise that involves visualising and squeezing his thumb and finger together. (Click here for full details) Bob find’s that he can spend 2 minutes doing that immediately after he has had his evening meal.

    Rachel discovered that travelling a certain route to work may add 5 minutes onto her journey but was far less crowded so she arrived more relaxed and ready to focus on the job at hand. She found that leaving that 5 minutes early was not only far more pleasant but she got more done in that first hour at work as well.

    2) External reminder

    Perhaps there is a technique that you know that, when you use it, works brilliantly. However in the “heat of the moment” you get caught up and don’t always use it. Using an external reminder in such a situation is ideal.

    Remember it needs to be a reminder that will actually give you a nudge at the right moment. Think about the situation you want to apply this in and the things that will attract your attention particularly if you are focussing upon something else.

    It’s probably worth mentioning here that a sticky note often has an initial impact when you first look at it but it often then becomes part of your surroundings and will not grab your attention in the same way as an alarm or a pop up on your computer.

    For example, Brian knew that he feels more confident when he sits/stands in a particular posture. He choose to set his mobile phone alarm every hour to let him check how he was sitting and standing and alter his posture if needed.

    Lisa knew that spending 10 minutes admiring the view from her kitchen window in the morning was great for her. She decided that sticking a sticky note on the top of her breakfast cereal packet would force her to see it and move it if she wanted to have her breakfast. The note had that initial impact for which sticky notes are so ideal.

    This week I invite you to play with the following:

    1. Think of all the things that you know that, if you did them, makes a positive difference to your day – if you played with the exercise a couple of weeks ago you will already have a ready made list.

    2. From your list pick 1 that most appeals and you are happy with the consequences.

    3. If you choose to, how could you build this into your schedule?
    How else could you do that?

    4. If you choose to, how could you set up an external reminder to use this more?
    How else could you do that?

    5. If you want repeat steps 3 – 5 picking another item on your list.

    Have a lovely week full of using your own knowledge.




    Self-care, who has time for that?

    20 04 2010

    This is the second of three pieces concerning self care. If you missed last weeks, or just want to read it again, you will find it here.

    Self-care, who has time for that?

    “If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?”

    (Marie Dressler – Academy award winning actress 1868 – 1934)

    This week I want to address the response that can often come up when people would probably benefit the most from including self-care into their routine. The “it’s a lovely idea but I haven’t got time to do anything else, everything else is just so important and urgent …” response

    Sometimes taking action in a genuine emergency can be a form of self-care in itself – e.g. I highly recommend you remove yourself to safety if there is a fire alarm sounding!

    However, sometimes we push ourselves by treating everything as urgent. This fire-fighting attitude generally focuses upon purely the short term – it misses the longer-term implications.

    If you’ve ever done any first aid training you’ve probably had it well and truly hammered home that the first thing you do is check your own safety. The longer term focus being that you are very little use to anyone requiring your help if you take yourself out by injuring yourself first!

    Likewise if you make yourself ill by not taking care of yourself you’ll take yourself out of the “game”.

    While you may agree with this in theory, it doesn’t solve the issue of feeling that taking a bit of time to prioritise self care isn’t easy, even if it ultimately means you get more done long term.

    Everyone’s commitments and schedules are different so this week I invite you to play with a question designed to assist you to identify specific ways that would work for you. This is a variation of a question I first heard Michael Neill use:

    1. If you knew you were going to be paid £1 million* for finding time and doing self-care, what would you do differently to go about getting it?

    * By all means adapt this question so that both the currency and amount means something for you.

    Remember that what you do for self-care is something that makes a difference for you. Here are some examples of what I’ve seen others use and even done myself:

    • Get up 1 hour earlier to do some exercise
    • Write a shopping list before going shopping so you don’t get distracted and just buy junk food
    • A carer talked to a family member/friend and arranged a set regular time for them to take care responsibility while they recharged and did something creative.
    • Replace 30 minutes of watching TV to have a relaxing bath

    The answer and self-care itself can be unique to you.

    I invite you to commit for 1 week to using your new solution(s) and see the difference it makes to you. When I worked in the corporate world I found that although it appeared counter intuitive, getting up 1 hour earlier to go swimming before work actually resulted in me having more energy and was far more productive.

    For most people 1 week is long enough for you to assess how this works for you. At which stage you can decide if you want to keep this as a regular event, amend bits or do something different. Just notice the difference this makes for you.

    Have a busy week filled with more self-care




    Get Everything Done and Still have Time to Play

    7 01 2010



    Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play [Amazon.co.uk link]
    Get Everything Done: And Still Have Time to Play [Amazon.com link]

    If you feeling pressured with having too much to do in too little time you’ll be relieved to find that this book is not only easy to read and is full of down to earth and common sense.

    This is also NOT a time management book that is the size of a phone book! It is a short read so that you can start applying the content to your life to make a difference to your time crisis.


    What questions are you asking this New Year?

    30 12 2009

    “Our aspirations are our possibilities.”

    (Samuel Johnson)

    Have you noticed that sometimes the answer that you get will depend upon the question that you’ve asked?

    I don’t know if you actually make any New Years Resolutions or set any goals for the year ahead but if you did how would you do it? What questions would you ask yourself?

    If you are not aware of asking yourself any questions then you may like to look at previous new years resolutions/ goals and see what question they are answering.

    Your answer will no doubt have depended upon the question that you asked.

    This week I will talk about some of the common questions that people use when making New Years resolutions, setting goals and generally deciding what they want to create in their lives. (Oh OK a couple may not be so common but can be useful ;) ) I invite you to use these questions to come up with some possibilities. You can then use your answers to decide if that is something that you would actually like to turn into a reality.

    Why does it matter what questions are asked?

    While some things may happen because of external things that are completely outside of your control, others events happen, at least partly, because of actions that you choose to take.

    Earlier this year I was assisting on a couple of Michael Neill’s trainings where he stated that for most people the future they imagine is approximately plus or minus 10% of their past. That is, the future they imagine falls somewhere between 10% better or 10% worst than how they see their past.

    But the future hasn’t actually happened yet so the future holds infinite possibilities that fall outside that 10%. (Unless you are a time traveller and you’re reading this on a trip into the past!) Sometimes, the questions that you use help you to see more of those possibilities so you can choose if you want to take action to make them real.

    I invite you to play with the following questions and just notice the answers that come up for you.

    You’ll probably find it easier if you don’t jump ahead to figuring out what the next step is to making your answers into a reality – I know it’s tempting but you may miss including some really cool things by doing it that way. It’ll be like only watching the first song of your favourite bands music concert and then leaving because you thought you had heard all they had to offer.

    Besides, I’ve put together a list of resources that may help you with the next steps but I’ll tell you more about that after you’ve played with more possibilities.

    (You may want to have a pen and paper handy to answer them)

    What New Years Resolutions should you set?

    What New Years Resolution do you want to set?

    What New Years resolution would you love to set?

    What New Year resolutions will you set?

    What goals do you want to achieve in your future?

    What goals would be fun to have in your future?

    What goals are the next logical things to do in your future?

    What would you love to create in 2010?

    What would put a huge grin on your face in 2010?

    What may seem impossible and/or impractical but you’d still love to have it in 2010?

    If you know that you would be loved unconditionally regardless, what would you choose to do?

    If you knew money was no object what would you choose?

    If you know that it didn’t matter if you didn’t get it, what would you love to work towards?

    Once you have answered these questions, and any other that spring to your mind, read through your answers. You may notice that you have similar or very different answers to how you normally do such things.

    It’s now up to you, which (if any) you want to pick to use in your future.

    Bonus tip

    Sometimes your initial answer to a question is one that is influenced by how you think what you actually want can be done i.e. winning the lottery is one way of creating more money in your life.

    To open up more possible answers, you may want to ask, “What would that give me” about your initial answer. Keep asking yourself for each level of answer that you come up with (even if it feels like you are making it up) until you can’t answer anymore.

    For example, what would winning the lottery give me? More money

    What would more money give me? I’d feel like I had more freedom to do more fun things easier.

    For any that you would like to include in your future, now is the time to consider what the next step is to travel towards it.  For further resources that may be relevant for you click here. Then you can choose if that is something you want to do.

    Have a week full of more infinite possibilities



    PS For more resources compiled to make your New Year resolutions, your 2010 goals and generally to create the life you’d love easier click here.


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