My Love of Reading

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When we were creating the “what are we thankful for in 2017 list” last month and I was asked for “an activity that I can become absorbed/lost in the answer came very quickly. I have always loved reading from about the age of 10 and now having recently been introduced to podcasts this is becoming an equally absorbing and enjoyable activity.

 I remember always having a book on the go initially Enid Blyton with the famous five and Secret Severn series and then from my early teenage years I graduated to detective novels when my grandmother introduced me to Agatha Christie which I proceeded to devour. Reading is a way of spending time by myself and I find it incredibly therapeutic and time does disappear when caught in a book that grabs me. I now love nothing more than a recommendation from a friend or colleague for a good book and I am straight onto Amazon to order. I must admit to still preferring a proper paperback book although for ease of travel the kindle versions are useful it’s just the added screen time that I try to limit at the end of the day, that is a dilemma for me on this.

 My reading challenge in 2017 was to add a bit more variety into my reading, as for the past few years most of my books have been related to either business or self-development. It took a conversation with another lady in the office who always relaxes by reading fiction that made me realise that I had neglected this area and wanted to add it back in. Having made that decision, I am pleased to have read around 6 novels in 2017 from very different authors and have thoroughly enjoyed them so I think in 2018 I will continue to alternate my pile of books in waiting between fiction and non-fiction.

 Podcasts are also becoming important and my initial introduction to these was via my Ashtanga Yoga Practice when some of the teachers started sharing stories via this method. I must admit I now listen to a variety of podcasts but mainly these are work related maybe there is another challenge for me to expand the subject matter wider here next year?

 My additional challenge is to encourage our little grandchildren to read, I always try and buy them books whenever possible in the hope that they might get the same pleasure I have from this pastime.

 

Sandra is a coach to Business and Private Clients and also the author of Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

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Getting Rid of Stuff

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Linked to my last blog post I will ask you a question. Did you know there is a strong link between clutter and energy levels?

 One of the activities I have recently become absorbed with is Minimalism. To be honest this time last year I wasn’t aware of the concept or the growing movement that is building, largely in the US now, around the concept of living a minimal life. I love it when people recommend good books or documentaries, and this is how I discovered this growing approach to life through a recommendation from a friend regarding The Minimalists. A google search later and I discovered the website, the documentary on Netflix and the two guys behind promoting this approach to life using their own experiences to illustrate the benefits.

 I have never been a massive collector of stuff but when I began to read around the subject it shed a whole new light on the benefits of decluttering our lives and only surrounding ourselves with things we love or add value to our life. It takes having a bit of a clear out to a whole new level.

 In 2016 I had begun to dabble in this concept via noticing another book advertised in a magazine at the hairdressers called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Again, as I read this book the concepts made sense and I now see are aligned to the Minimalist approach in it suggests that category by category we sort through our belongings only keeping things that “spark joy”. As a result of this earlier read my wardrobes and cupboards are now organised in the suggested “Marie Kondo” way which makes life so much easier to see what you have, choose what you wear and prevent you buying more of the same type of items. When I first did this, I was astonished how many pairs of blue jeans I have, probably not many by other people’s standards but when they are all staked on top of each other on a shelf it would confirm that I would need to think carefully before buying another pair as I really don’t need any more unless I get rid of or wear out the ones I have already. If I am honest I probably default to wearing only a couple of favorite pairs anyway. When I had sorted my stuff, and stored it in categories if looked so good and this is where the energy impact kicks in. Every time I look in my nicely, colour and category organised clothes collection it makes me feel good, it makes choosing what to wear a lot quicker and generally generates the feeling of me being in control of my stuff rather than the other way around.

 Minimalism takes things to another level asking us to question everything we own as to do we love it? and does it add value to your life.? With my jeans example my next project is to sort through the pile and donate or bin any pair that doesn’t pass those two tests! As I type this from our business office a lot of work needs to be done here as we have over 18years worth of stuff maybe that is a 2018 project in the making.

 

Sandra is a professional coach who works with both Business and Private Clients. More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com or www.thekudosgroup.com

 

 

Managing Your Own Energy Levels

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Having always been a naturally high energy person, it wasn’t until I found myself feeling low energy on a daily basis that I gave this subject any consideration. The only times when I had previously felt lethargic were when I was ill or in the early years of having young children when I just assumed it was a given in both situations.

It took the condition of an un diagnosed bout of glandular fever about 5 years ago for me to take a good look at how I managed my energy daily. The virus eventually did get diagnosed but not until I had suffered with extreme tiredness for many months getting highly frustrated not knowing the reason. In some of the Chinese medicine literature it states we all get the illnesses we need to give us signs that the body needs help or that we need to make certain changes to our lifestyle and I now believe catching glandular fever in my fifties did me a massive favor. It forced me to do a complete audit of my lifestyle, read around the subject of adrenal fatigue and make some positive adjustments in both how I manage my work and personal life.

Any person with a driven personality type tries to muscle on through when they get ill and this often not helpful. In the end I realised that I had to give in a bit, reserve the little energy I had to focus on  the most important tasks and take rest a lot more than I had ever taken in my life before. Being self-employed I decided that I needed to focus my energy on keeping my work commitments and let go of my social life, my then intensive exercise routine and pare down my diary time to two simple elements going to work and coming home and resting. If felt very unusual at first sitting down and doing nothing but in the end, I was left with little choice as the current way of operating wasn’t working. Within a few weeks the energy levels started to return, and this is dangerous as feeling better it is tempting to return to old habits and burn the candle at both ends again. Luckily during my rest periods I had been reading and a brilliant book called Adrenal Fatigue by Jim Wilson and it helped immensely; some of the key messages had filtered through and I made two lists of “things that make me feel good and energise me” and “things that make me feel bad and drain me” This exercise was a breakthrough for me as it forced me to list out activities, situations and things that aided my energy levels and also the opposite, any person, activity, food or situation that drained or stressed me and therefore depleted my energy.

Five years later I still add too and refer to these lists – I encourage you to create your own to manage and optimise your own energy levels.

 

Sandra is a High Performance coach who works with both businesses and private clients; more information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

How Many Rays of Sunshine do you know?

 

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You may have heard the phrase “we become an average of the five people we surround ourselves by” Personally I believe this is so true and can have a massive impact on how you live your life and whether you reach your full potential and live the life you want for yourselves.

 If I remember back to my early family life I wasn’t born into a family who inspired me to achieve anything other than average. Looking back for the first 21 years of my life the people I was surrounded by were using my own definition of weather character cloudy skies. They were good people and some days were better than others but until I started work for an American computer company Hewlett Packard my aspirations for my own life were average and ordinary.

As I started right at the bottom of this growing American multinational they type of people I found myself spending time with started to change. There were still the cloudy skies folk amongst the people I began to interact with however the big change for me was that I started to come across a more inspirational type of person who was operating on a different level. These people exuded infectious energy, they worked hard, they were professional, they were fun to be with as they knew how to play hard as well! When the company was growing rapidly in 1980’s we certainly worked and played hard sometimes staying behind in the office to reconcile the month-end accounts until midnight and being back at the desk by 8am the next day. I learnt about the importance of teamwork, setting stretch goals and continually improving both processes and taking any opportunity that came my way to attend learning and development events. Some of the course tutors on such training events were also pivotal in my own learning.

 Without really realising it at the time my world had expanded and now I was surrounded by some ‘Rays of Sunshine’ These people were impressive professionally but also authentic and approachable at the same time. Not everyone I met was like this but there was enough of them in my life now to know that there was a different way of approaching life. There was another level beyond Cloudy Skies and I wanted to learn how these people lived their life in this way.

 So, look back over the last few weeks, list who you spent your time with, how many Rays of Sunshine are in your life? Enough or do you need to find some more?

 Learn more about how important it is to understand who you surround yourself by in Chapter 8 of Own It Book available using this link amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

After the Honeymoon is Over

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We have all been here whether it be a new job, a new relationship, a new hobby, a new goal or a new business venture, there is always the initial phase where it is exciting, it is refreshing, you are on fire, your levels of enthusiasm are super high nothing can get in your way you are super focused. This lasts for a variable amount of time depending on the person or the subject matter. For me personally over the years this initial new phase lasts approximately 6 months, maybe shorter if it’s something like a new eating regime, for me the pattern is 3 weeks for this type of thing. This shows the timeframe isn’t that important it’s the recognition that the novelty of your new thing is beginning to wear off and it’s starting to get tougher to keep enthusiastic and motivated.

 What could be happening is that you aren’t getting the results you expected as quickly as you thought? I have witnessed this myself and with clients in the areas of starting a new business and in establishing new healthy lifestyle patterns. I think in the initial stages we tend to be over optimistic about how long things will take. In setting up a new business or freelance career for example I now talk with clients about the fact it could take 3-4 years to get established or at least get used to the unpredictability of self-employed income generation. When it comes to making changes to help your energy levels and wellbeing it is helpful if you see some instant results that encourage you to keep going but often the outcomes can be delayed until the habits become established and it becomes a way of life and one day you suddenly notice that you have more energy, or you aren’t craving a sugar fix every four hours. I know when I embarked on the “I quit sugar” process last year I expected to lose a ton of weight. That didn’t happen but 12 months down the line I am so glad I did it as I am no longer craving a food fix every four hours and I feel so much better with less sugar in my body with the side benefit I am weighing less than I was and managing to maintain this lower regular weight easier.

 So how do you keep going through this testing phase? You need to develop your own personal toolkit and surround yourself with the right people to remind you as to why you started this in the first place. What was your reason? What was your why? How any people have you told what you are doing? Making a commitment to others who believe in what you are doing and want you to be successful is another technique in your tool kit to help you get through this testing phase and keep the momentum going.

 For more tools and suggestions take a look at my book Own It regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon via this link http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

 

At A Crossroads? – don’t wait too long

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My last article discussed how we can often find ourselves “stuck” either in our professional or personal life or indeed both and how sometimes just the realisation that we need to take some action to get “unstuck” is the first step to making positive changes in our life.

Another situation we can find ourselves in is facing a crossroads where there are many alternative routes that can be taken and a decision needs to be made as to which path to take. When we are driving a car, or walking and we reach a crossroads we MUST decide a direction of travel at that point unless we want to annoy other cars or pedestrians by just standing in the middle of the road. When reaching a life crossroads however it is a lot easier to hover and procrastinate.

So, what is your personal approach when faced with a life crossroads situation? This can happen at any age. I work with graduates who have just finished university and have several options available e.g. graduate entry level job in big company, go and work for a smaller SME, apply for jobs in total alignment with their degree subject matter or make a complete change as they no longer have interest in that subject three or four years later.

In later life, another crossroads situation can appear in mid-career e.g. Having worked for a smaller company for many years, knowing everyone and having built up a good reputation for the work you do, do you stay put and build on that reputation, enjoy being part of the team or do you apply for jobs in a larger organisation where there may be more career progression and salary scope, alternatively you could go freelance or self-employed and as a fourth option a hybrid model of part time work and other work or personal activity is also an option.

Further on in life many of the people I work with are approaching the last phase of their working life and the crossroads they face can present itself as stay in current role until lucrative pension package kicks in, move jobs into their ideal role before it’s too late, be brave and launch the business they have always dreamt of, reduce hours and enjoy more leisure time, or retire early.

These are just some of the many choices we can face and on one hand it’s great to see how many different routes there are but on another front, having too many options paralyses some people to the point where they just stay put and always wonder in a “what if” way what would have happened if they had taken another route in another direction.

Over the years I have read many inspiring self-development books and added any useful learnings to my own personal toolkit from this reading. One tip I took many years ago that I still use today was from the classic Susan Jeffers book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway… in here she states there is no such thing as a bad decision. I use this when faced with the crossroads situation, take time to consider the options, do a pros and cons list and talk to others but then go ahead and be brave, make the decision and don’t look back. Make the decision on what route you want to take and then set off down in that direction with 100 percent commitment to make it work. Don’t look back or torture yourself with ‘what if I had taken the other route’. If it turns out you took one that doesn’t work out make a different decision at the next crossroads you meet and I have met many successful people who have had to make an occasional U-turn in their lives and its worked out ok in the end.

Peel Back The Layers

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If you are serious about your own personal development and continual growth an area of work that is never complete is building self-awareness. The majority of inspiring people that I have met in my life have had incredible self -awareness and saw this as an ongoing project and an area of their life that they were always willing to do more work on.

When I initially meet prospective coaching clients one of my first jobs is to ascertain how much work they have already done in this area. Some people have been lucky enough to have worked for organisations that have invested in people development and therefore these clients have attended training courses, developmental activities,360 degree feedback and even sometimes had psychometric assessments. Each one of these experiences has enabled the person to understand more about themselves, the good bits and the bad bits.

I was certainly privileged to have had such opportunities during my corporate career and learnt a lot however the learning hasn’t stopped since leaving and it is this ongoing commitment to personal development and self-awareness that is critical in achieving high performance either as an individual ,a leader of a team, in employment or self employed.

My advice would be to take every opportunity you can to learn more about yourself. What are your natural strengths? What are you passionate about? What interests you to the point that you choose to do it in your own time? What do you want to learn more about? What do others say that you are good at. What feedback have you had either formally or informally? What do you find easy to do? What are you motivated by?

On the other side of the coin what don’t you enjoy? What do you find difficult no matter how you try and apply yourself. What subject matter or tasks do you avoid as they don’t interest you? What feedback have you had from others regarding skills and behaviours you need to improve. What are you quite happy to pay others to do as you know this is more effective in terms of both money and time.

When looking at ourselves consider the following layers

  •  Personality … what do you naturally like doing and what are you naturally good at
  • Motivation…. what interests and inspires you, what makes you feel good
  • Confidence … what are you naturally confident doing
  • What are your values and beliefs… what is really important in your life, what do you stand for? What do you firmly believe in?
  • Attitude… day by day how would describe your attitude to daily life? How do you show up in the world? How would others describe you? A Ray of Sunshine always positive and inspiring , Cloudy – sometimes positive, sometimes negative or a Dark Storm – one of lifes victims.
  • Behaviour… what do you do and how do you behave day in day out.
  • Image … what image do you present to the world, how would others describe you?

These are just some of the things to consider as you become self aware.Learn more and how to apply this to audit and build your life plan in Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2phNU6t