New Year Resolution: How’s it going?

January 2015 is almost over which means that if any of us made any new goals or resolutions for the year it’s either on track or dead in the water.  The top 5 new year resolutions are:

1.  Lose weight.

2.  Start Exercising.

3.  Spend more time with family and friends.

4.  Enjoy life more.

5.  Help others.

I have to admit that my new year resolution falls into those 5 categories and I am well pleased to note that so far I am on track.  I have lost the weight that I had gained during the festive session, running 5k 3 times a week, golfing with the aim of reducing my score to 100 but really just to have fun, setting aside and spending time with God and focusing on my coaching activities.

One of my new year goal is to start my blog/online presence as part of my coaching practice.  I have been procrastinating on this for a very long time.   Why?  It was out of fear and laziness more than anything else.  My mind would just feel too tired thinking about setting it up, updating it and whether anyone would even read it and so on and so forth.  All these rather “negative” thoughts had me defeated even before I could start.  To overcome this, I decided to just DO IT.  I love the Facebook motto of “Its Good Enough”.  I wanted or envisioned perfection but I have come to realise that Good Enough is really Good enough.  To know “why” I am doing it is far more important that “what” I imagine could happen or not happen.  Hence I started this blog to share my learnings, my thoughts and to help bring some clarity or steps to take to break down barriers.

What can you do to break down the barrier of NOT starting on your goals?

1.  Start with a goal.  Sounds obvious but there is a need to write a list of goals down.  One of the great trainings from Microsoft is writing down SMART goals.  Strangely I actually still do that.  It provides a starting point, end point and clarity to what you want to achieve.

2.  Keep it simple.  Keep you actions or steps simple.  Simplicity helps you to focus and cut through the noise of complexities.   For example, to start a weight loss program doesn’t require massive investments in shakes or diet programs or joining a gym.  It just starts with reducing 1 not so healthy element with another better option.  My example is instead of starting with a flashy, robust, all beautiful website, I started with a simple blog.  Just keeping it simple, makes the step less arduous.

3.  Just do it.  Nike tagline is perfect.  To overcome the fear whether it’s about failure or success is to just do it.  Just take the plunge.  Take the first step.  Does not matter what the reaction is or the results are.  Taking the step is more significant than any set back you might encounter.  As we take the step, confidence will grow and that will in turn reduce your fear level.

4.  Stick with it.  Perseverance is a must and that will get you through the grind when its tough.  Nothing worthwhile ever comes from nothing.  My best friend always ask me why I play golf.  Well it’s about that 1 good shot, forgetting the 110 bad shots.  That in itself helps with your mindset.  Focusing on the good and learning from the bad.

5.  Have fun.  Whatever the goal is, it must because you enjoy it or will enjoy it so that you can have fun with it.  Some things might start out as not fun but necessary e.g. exercise but I think that once you find something that you enjoy or can feel the difference that its making, the fun element comes into play.

I hope that your resolution for 2015 are on track and if not, I hope that those 5 suggestions can help you get going.

Confidence: Just one step at a time

I was watching my little nephew the other day showing off his cycling skills.  He had just learned how to cycle and took him a quick 20 mins to get his balance and off he went.  He was cycling fast, with one hand on the bar and even trying to pull off some tricks.  He was also confident enough to cycle a bigger bicycle (his sister’s).  That was his first time on a bigger bicycle and he loved it and in his own words “It was higher.”  That’s what confidence will help you do and become.  You will experiment, go for bigger goals, dream bigger dreams and even reach for the stars.

How does it all start?  Just take one step at a time.  To overcome doubt and fear, is to take courage and take the first step.  It does not matter how small the step is, it is the act of taking that step that matters.  It does not matter whether it ends in success or failure, what matters is that the first step was taken.  And then the real adventure and learning starts.  More often than not, we don’t immediately get the results that we desire but it is the lessons learned and the perseverance of taking the next step and so on that matters.  Slowly with each step, we gain the abilities and skills that leads to building confidence.  And that confidence will grow just like riding a bicycle.  The falls and tumbles will come but the joy of riding makes you forget the pain that you had to endure.

In most of my coaching sessions, I have discovered that confidence and fear is closely related.  In most situations, once strategies or action plans are put in place, and steps being taken, fear reduces and confidence increases.  I would encourage you to think about one thing or area that you might want to learn or grow in.  Take the steps to make it happen.  A baby step is all that’s required.

Just one step at a time is a simple confidence builder approach.

Self Care: Do we look after ourselves?

I was in a discussion with a friend when this topic of caring for self and others came up.  It seems a natural act of love that we should care for the people that we love.  We look after them when they are not well, we cook for them, we take them to see a doctor and practically do all that we can to show our love.  That is all normal and comes so naturally for each of us.  However, when we talk about looking after ourselves, the same effort does not seem to apply.  We don’t sleep well, don’t eat well and certainly don’t exercise, we live a life of stress and anxiety, we work 12 hour days and all to what end?

Why do we neglect self?  Is it because we think that it’s a selfish act?  Do we think that we don’t have time for it today but will do it tomorrow?  Whatever the reasons, maybe the best motivation for self-care is so that we can care for others.  What does self-care look like?  Is it going for a massage every month?  Pampering yourself with facial?  Eating organic and exercising 45 mins every day?  I do think that it has some of those aspect but I think that it starts with Love yourself.

How does that look like?

  • Be happy and content and comfortable with who you are and where you are in you life today.
  • Be grateful with what you have and do not have.  Appreciate everything around you, your family and friends.
  • Enjoy the present and be present in the moment.  Don’t waste the moment or time for we can’t get them back.
  • Clear the mind and quieten the noise around you.  Take the time to focus the mind and be mindful.  Take a quiet time and spend it meditating.
  • Eat healthy, Exercise and Rest well.  Well there is a mountain-full of information and enough said.  Just do it.
  • Enjoy your work.  When you are in the zone in the workplace, it’s an amazing feeling and you will also know when it’s a grind.  No matter the situation, find something that you enjoy about it and do it with gusto.  This will allow you to keep on at it.  You will also know when it’s time to move on.  For self-care will dictate that for your overall well-being, moving on is the appropriate course of action.

I am sure that there are things that we can do and you will have a different list.  I encourage you to take a moment and reflect and create a list for yourself.  A list that would work for you.  Write down your priorities or what you love.  Write down what self-care for you would look like.  It doesn’t have to be a perfect or comprehensive list, just enough to get you started.

Judgement: How to Release it?

One of the courses that I took as part of the coaching certification was called “Releasing Judgement”.  I thought, now that’s an interesting topic.  Interesting as it’s an act that I do all the time whether consciously or unconsciously and I suspect, so do you.  There are many instances where judgement comes into the picture, whether it’s about a person, a situation or a decision taken.  In most situations, we need to made a judgement of a situation in order to make a decision.  For example, after analysing a serious of facts, we come to a conclusion or make a judgement as to which is the appropriate course of action to take.  In my mind, good reason why judgement is necessary.  Is there a situation when it’s not good to make a judgement?

I think that the lines are blurry when it comes to judging a person.  No one likes to be judged.  Therefore, it would be naturally to think that because no one likes to be judged, we should not judge others.  But we do.  Why?  One of the reasons is the need to compare.  The need to compare the other person with ourselves.  When I judge someone, what I am really doing is comparing that person with me.  Comparing that person with how I would have done something, how I would have reacted, how much or little I have, and so on.  Is that a fair comparison?  After all, in my eyes, I am the best and always right.  Therefore, now that I know that the basis for my judgement is me, I have a way of releasing judgement and that’s through NOT comparing.

To let go of the need to compare with others.  Unfortunately, it is very hard to do as we are wired from a very young age to compare and judge or be judged.  For me, I have found that doing these 3 things have helped me.

1.  Don’t compare.  Don’t base your judgement by comparing against you or how you would have done something.  I am not living in that person’s shoes and therefore will never have all the details that make up that person or the situation that led to the decision or outcome.  Assumptions after all are just that, assumptions.

2.  Be content with who you are and what you have.  That does not mean, don’t strive to be better or to grow.  It just means to strive and grow based on your strengths and attributes and not someone else’s.  Each of us has our strengths and weaknesses and to recognise them and work on them is critical in ensuring that we are comfortable and confident in our own skin.

3.  Recognise the triggers that makes you judgemental.  Be aware of what triggers your thoughts or feelings to judge someone or a situation.  Most of the time, its something that is close to our heart.  Something that we hold dearly to.

Try it out.  When you catch yourself making a judgement of someone or a situation, think about What is causing it?  Why am I reacting this way?  What can I do to release judgement?

Self Awareness: How do I find it?

The term “Self-Awareness” has been used over and over again.  I can remember this term being used in every performance review or during a discussion with a manager when some form of improvement needed to take place.  It was as if, just by using this word, awareness of a certain area of improvement would be acknowledged and actions be taken effectively.  I can also remember using the term.  However, did I really know or understand what it meant?

In Daniel Goleman’s article on What Makes a Leader? on the Harvard Business Review “self-awareness means having a deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives. People with strong self-awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest—with themselves and with others.”  Now that we have a common understanding of what it is, the question is “How do we gain that deep understanding?“.

The first step of self-awareness is recognising and acknowledging that you want to gain awareness.  Recognising that you want to is both scary and powerful.  Scary as it might mean that you will discover certain areas that you are not happy with and powerful as it means that now you can do something about it.

My top 3 suggestions are:

  1.   Write a list or keep a journal.  This is the first step of recognising a need or an area. Writing a list of your strengths, goals or what you enjoy doing.  The process of writing and reading through the list will help you identify areas that you want to work on.
  2.   Connect with people.  Family, friends, mentor and coach are all resources that you can use to help you gain awareness in any area.  They are also your support group and cheer squad when you are on that journey to make improvements.
  3.   Self-care.  The need to take care of yourself is important.  If you are not at your optimum best health wise, its hard for your mind to focus on what you need to work on.   Eat healthy, rest or sleep well, meditate and exercise are all key areas that need to be taken into consideration.

Self-awareness can drive positive growth in all areas of your life.  Taking the first step will need you to overcome the initial fear but rest assured, the outcome will surprise and motivate you further.  It’s like riding a bicycle for the first time.  It’s scary, you will fall but you will get up and start again and then suddenly, it will all just click and you are cycling around like an expert.

Take a deep breath and start your journey.