Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Ten steps to find out what you want

Just over three years ago I was at a bit of a cross roads and unsure of the way forward. I went  along to a presentation by company that was working with young people. Their aim was to increase the self esteem and hence the  exam performance of students. Part of the programme was in goal setting. So of course we all had to do the goal setting on our selves and yes part of setting goals is finding out what you actually want. It is true to say this started a process that has got me where I am now.  It would not be true to say that everything became clear that afternoon in a hotel on the Isle of Wight but the one thing it did do was to start me on the path of taking action.

I have been working on my personal development since  then. It has  not been a single Eureka moment but a journey of discovery on which I am still  progressing.  Okay although I do not want to open up to you completely about  my personal  goals and dreams,  I will  share some basic principles I have discovered.  First of all I am responsible for my life. Responsible for my actions and responsible for my choices. I have got to the stage now where I do what I want for a living which mostly means walking up hills but also putting back something  back, for me this this means life coaching. I love to help people, I love helping them to escape from what is holding them back. I love helping people live their own lives especially people  who are unsure like I was.

Give your self time to think about where you want to go, the answer will does not always come straight away.  The time is now for you to invest in your self so follow the steps described below and I wish you well.
  1. Start a diary. Use a small note book that you keep with you all the time. Fill it during the day as you go along with your responses to situations as they arise. Record your achievements and small victories. You will be amazed how many good ideas you have but would have forgotten if you had not written them down.
  2. What would you love to do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? Often its the  fear or failure that prevents us from imagining and daydreaming about what we really want. If that fear didn’t exist, if you knew you couldn’t fail what you love to do, daydream for a while.
  3. If you wake up and a miracle had taken place during the night how would your life be? How would you know a miracle had taken place?
  4. What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies?
  5. What were you doing as a child when your mum called your for tea for the 3rd or 4th time?
  6. Describe what you want, not what you don’t want. For me I found this quite difficult. For example one exercise I did was to describe my perfect job, everything down to journey, environment, hours, tasks etc. I actually found it easier to start with my worst job ever I could imagine. Once I had done that I found it easier to describe what I did want. Which ever way you do it, get to a place where you are describing what you DO want.
  7. Make ‘follow my heart’ your mantra. Explore new things, try new things.  I discovered  all sorts of things about myself  when I tried this. You don’t have to know where it is going or why you are doing it. Do it for doing it’s sake because you enjoy it. As it says on the back of my favourite brand of t-shirts " Do what you love, love what you do."
  8. Be responsible for your own actions, remember you always have a choice on how you respond to any situation. listen how your the language you use betrays the way you are thinking. How often do you say you ‘should’ or ‘need’ to do something. Is someone forcing you to do it or are you really choosing to do it? Take charge of your life and language and change it to ‘I choose to do X’ or 'I chose not to do Y'. Create a vision board. Get lots of magazines and newspapers and become a child again. Cut out and stick on a large piece of paper anything that inspires you. You may be surprised at what you discover about yourself.

  9. Draw a picture of what you want. A simple picture or image can give you mind something to focus on. It needs a target. If you don’t give it one, it will create it’s own perhaps in a direction you don’t want to go and are unaware you are going in. Scan and put the picture you  have created  on your computer as your wall paper. Or put it somewhere you see it often such as on the fridge or office wall.
  10. Write down the goal in your diary and read it, say it out aloud daily with a smile on your face.

Remember you are free to explore what you want! You don't need permission to do what you want to do. Some times we have limiting beliefs that hold us back from really discovering who we are. If you want help letting those go contact me and together we can work to remove those self limiting beliefs.
Have fun discovering you!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Seven easy steps to enjoying life today

Stop living life for what's around the corner and start enjoying the walk down the street." - Grant L. Miller, motivational guru

First of all the bad news we have virtually no control over 50% of our enjoyment levels. It seems that how happy we are, or could be is controlled by our genetic makeup. Right what about the other 50%? Well there is good news and some bad news there also.

There are other factors that can affect how much you enjoy life on a day to day basis. First there are the overall circumstances of our lives, this includes things; like how much money we have, our education level, whether we live in rich or poor countries, how old we are, whether we are married or not and whether we are religious. All of these factors have some relationship to how much we enjoy ourselves on a day to day level. For example, higher levels of education are associated with more happiness, as is higher age and even being married (I know, I know!).These are all factors which, generally speaking, are difficult to change. While circumstantial factors do matter, the surprise is how small a contribution they make to our happiness, some estimate it at only 10%. This is completely dwarfed by the genetic contribution to happiness. However we still have 40% to play with.

So if we can't change our genes and we can't, broadly speaking, change our life circumstances, what on earth can we change?

The only thing that is left is what we actually do every day. What is called 'intentional activity' that is the 40% we can control. These intentional activities are what we can do in moving our enjoyment levels but within the set range determined by our genetics and our life circumstances. So what are the activities we can do on a day today level to increase our enjoyment of life?

Step one Decide that today you are going to enjoy your day. By setting a positive expectation you are tuning your RAS (reticular activating system (RAS) is an area of the brain responsible for regulating arousal) to focus on getting the most enjoyment out of the day. Then as the day progresses you should notice more enjoyable experiences and importantly remember them.

Step two Do something new that you like doing. The first time we try something stimulating that we find enjoyable, it is likely to increase our happiness levels considerably. Whether it's that first parachute jump, the first kiss with our partner or just a new and exciting book we're reading. Unfortunately when presented with that very same stimulus again and again we soon become used to it. So look for smoothing new or failing that do something in a new way. For instance take the dog for a different walk or the other way round the Park.

Step three Do something for somebody else. Try random acts of kindness. You will enjoy doing something good for others and the thing is they don’t have to know what you are up to, so you can’t be embarrassed if it goes wrong.

Step four. Do what you enjoy and stop doing what you don’t. It’s only for one day and who is going to know apart from you. You can always do those horrible things later if they are still important.

Step five. Do some light exercise. This is the best way for lifting your mood and making your day enjoyable. It does not have to be a marathon just needs to get your blood pumping a bit more than normal and about twenty minutes should do. You might find this fits it into step two because you are chasing the dog around the park, having confused the poor creature by going a different way.

Step six. Listen to some of your favorite music and try singing along. If you have a voice like mine it may be better to do this when you are alone. I normally do this whilst walking the dog, which helps the dog to find me because we never seem to go to the same places twice in a row.

Step seven. Take some small steps to improve your life circumstances. Working towards a goal and achieving a small victory is a great way of you enjoying yourself. Of course there is still that 10% of your life factors that you can go on to improve on.

So there you have it seven steps to enjoying yourself for one day. Now if have you liked enjoying your day, you can always do it again on another day, then another and so on ,who knows you may enjoy more of your life.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Take action Strike!

How unhappy do you have to be before  you say, no?
How much money will you allow to be stolen from you before you say, stop thief?
How long will you follow other peoples rules before you say, I demand my own life?

A common reply to the question " How are you?"by British people is "mustn't grumble". That saying betrays so much ,it means in effect that, things are not  good but I am not going to do anything to change them. Some people spend years putting up with things while screaming for change on the inside. It reminds me of a lyric by Pink Floyd " in quiet desperation is the English way" ( I shall give a prize to anyone who can tell the track and the year that came from,)you don't have to be English by the way to suffer this , just human. This is the grey zone of human experience where things are bad but not that bad as you want to change. However living in this grey zone slowly eats away at your happiness until you enter the "awful zone" or if you are English the "could be better" zone.  Things are so bad you just have to take action. With luck you will have arrived at this point when you still have many years in front of you to enjoy your life. So how far down that spiral do you want to go before you say No?  You always have a choice say why not exercise that choice before things get awful?

If someone stole £250,000 away from you would you be angry? Course you would and quite right too. Imagine you saved some of your wages each month, put some of it away for your old age, then before you got your hands on it some one stole that money. You  now had to work for many more years to save only half of what you had before. Would you be angry? Course you would. This is the situation now for many public sector workers in the UK, their  employer ( the UK government) is taking the deferred part of their salary away and saying  that the workers will have to work longer to  and then get less money. Outrageous! Yet when you speak to some of these workers they say things like " what can we do?" , " nothing changes" , and the classic " strikes never change anything"  I wont go in to history but there are many cases of change been brought about by collective action.( Votes for women is just one) When enough people say no or stop thief change does occur.  So on a social level as on a personal level change happens only when you start to act and make changes happen. Or do you want to live a life  of" quite desperation" ?

Who is responsible for your life?  The answer of course is you are. This is one of those big insights for me. When it dawned on me that I was responsible for the choices I made and how I responded to those situations. It was splitting the word into response-able and of course the converse "able to respond" that  begand to unlock things for me and I started to get it.  I could now start acting as an adult  and to take responsibility for my actions and their consequences. No longer  were the SAS going to come over the hill to rescue me because I now was the SAS. It was quite scary at first but very liberating. I am not fully liberated from the grey zone, in fact I think liberation is a mode of travel not a destination. My last question to you is how are you going to respond, "mustn't grumble" or " response-able"?

Right on a more up beat note I shall put some Bob Marley on for the rest of the afternoon. Which reminds me of another quote, yes there will be a prize for naming the track. Its something like this;

                "...emancipate your self from mental slavery only you can free your minds..."

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Killer Goals

“It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves” Sir Edmund Hillary

Oh no! Has Patrick gone completely mad? In the last post I was taking about the benefits of setting goals and now barely a week later I am going to tell you how having a goal can be lethal. Well yes I am and the reason is to help you set good goals and so increase the chance you will achieve what you really want.

Imagine that you had plenty of money and had achieved most of the things you wanted to do in your life. Your family is secure your professional goals are achieved and now you want some excitement. For sure you could you could go travelling the world or maybe bungee jumping but how about combining them together and do something that is really special. You could have adventure with a hint of danger and achieve something that few have achieved. You could be one of the few out of all the billions of humanity who have stood on top of the world. Yes you too, would just love to climb Mount Everest. You have the money,$65,000, because that was the price back in 1996, so why not? Would you go for it? Well there were plenty of people who would and this led to disaster back in 1996.

In his book “Destructive Goal Pursuit" D. Christopher Kayes illustrates how sticking stubbornly to simple goals in a complicated and shifting situation can lead to a fiasco.  The clients of the ‘96 Everest Expedition had paid their $65,000 to get to the summit. However eight people died and others had to have amputations. This disaster could have possibly been avoided if the team leaders had heeded the warning signs, and acted on the fact that the group was running out of time to make a safe descent. Kayes calls this pursuit of idiotic goals “Goalodicy”.

The group got delayed. There was a storm was brewing. Oxygen levels were running low. It was beginning to get dark and yet the summit was tantalising close. The summit, Everest’s summit, the panicle of the climbers dream was just there. What would you do? Do you press on and risk everything or do start to make the long trudge back without attaining the peak?  The group of ‘96 started to idiotically to follow their goal. Goalodicy can happen when the following six conditions arise in a group.

·         A narrowly defined goal ( to get to the summit)

·         Public expectation ( the group consisted of ambitious people who had a large public audience)

·         Face-saving behaviour ( the climbers and their leaders all wanted to maintain their credibility)

·         A dream of an idealised future ( that of conquering Everest)

·         Goal-driven justification (the ends justified the means)

·         A sense of destiny

The key lesson to be learned from this ill fated expedition, I believe is that the group set the wrong  goal. The $65,000 price tag was for an ascent of Everset but it was never made obvious that you were to get back alive! Compare that to the goal set by J.K. Kennedy for the Apollo moon mission , which was to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth. Can you see how this is a better goal and yet it is still ambitious and inspirational.

 Goals do help you make progress and yet progress for progresses sake can be self destructive. You need to make sure your goals are in balance with the rest of your life. There are always consequences to getting your goals. There is a price to pay and you have to decide whether the price you pay is worth achieving your goal. Is reaching the top of Everest worth your life? Is becoming a millionaire worth destroying your personal relationships? Is pursuing your dreams worth giving up your happiness? You always have the choice so choose wisely friend.

If your success is not on your own terms,if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.   Anna Quindlen

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Law of Attraction?

Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Francis of Assisi

You should have guessed by now that I am interested in Goal setting, self improvement and achievement or to nick a few words from John Marytn " Life enhancing , take a chancing..." There will be prizes for the people who can correctly guess which  song that comes from.

When people start talking about goal setting , one term that gets banded about quiet a bit is the " Law of Attraction" I am sure you have heard of this before, that is Like attracts Like and we can control everything in our life just by our thoughts. You may have also heard of "opposites attract" but that is just a song by Paula Abdul and possibly a topic of another post.

The Law of attraction  has its own industry of published materials books like Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. There is even a film based on The Secret.

The underlying principle  of all of these books and films is the same: think about it, visualise it, affirm it, and see it manifested — and then it will manifest (meaning you will get it).There are some important details you must learn about how to phrase your affirmations (in positive rather than negative language such as what you want rather than what you don’t want), and how to visualise things as already happening rather than occurring in the future.

Once you have mastered the affirming and the visualising then hey Presto!  You  then have the key  to all the good things  the universe has to offer. Sounds great but there are just one of two things that bother me about this.  Firstly what about all the negative things I have attracted into my life, have  I manifested them too?  Secondly if I just sit in my study will somebody just drop by and give me £656,000 (that's a million dollars US but don't ask me what it is in Euros  because I don't think I will have enough space on my screen for all the zeros).

I am not rejecting positive thinking as such. It has much going for it. It helps tune your mind to what is possible and helps you get your a--e in gear. I will have to think of a more polite way of saying that , maybe get your seat in the saddle will do.
Its not the universe that starts to bend to our will once we begin to focus on our goals: it is fact us. Well more precisely our Reticular  Activating System (RAS)  that does the manifesting. I know what your thinking now. Reticular activating ..what?  Let me explain a bit more.  Your RAS is the part of the brain that is responsible  for regulating arousal.  The part of your mind that seems to notice things that you are currently interested in. Say for instance you or your partner became pregnant, then suddenly the world would become full of women about to give birth. The fertility rate has not suddenly shot up, those women were there before its just that you never noticed them before. Previously your brain had just filtered out the fact that sometimes you get pregnant women are out there.

So if we focus on our goals, suddenly our RAS  seeks out stimuli that supports this train of thought. Anything that passes by us suddenly gets flagged up in our consciousness as being relevant to us.
Your positive thoughts will keep supporting you if you want them to but you have to work at those goals. So stop reading and get out there and do it. You too can make things happen.
Lastly another quote that I like:
"You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however." Richard Bach   

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Are you easily satisfied?

Groucho Marx is often quoted as saying “I would not want to belong to any club which would accept me as a member”. I assume what he meant by that is if a club had such low standards as to accept him then it is a club not worth joining. By the way the statement is constructed it is impossible for Groucho to join in to any group or club. In the real world what this point of view leads to is unhappiness, because if what you want is by definition impossible, then you are not very likely to be happy.

At the other end of this scale is Henry Ford. When he first started producing the Model-T Fords he is often quoted as saying to potential customers “You can have any colour you like as long as it’s Black”.  The reason was that other colours took longer to dry and would slow up the production line and so make the cars more expensive to produce. In real life this point of view means if what you want is exactly what is available then, you are likely to be happy.

Now everyone can place themselves on this scale somewhere between those two extreme positions. Being human we don’t like been given exactly what we need we think we want choice.  We also have a tendency to want what is impossible. Now I think this quote is  from the prayer of Francis of Assisi “ Lord grant me the strength to change those things that need to be changed, the humility to accept those things that can’t be changed  and the wisdom to know the difference between the two”
Here is to wisdom then!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Customer Service, a true tale of two shops

This is a true tale of two shops (not the row above but nearby). When we first moved into our home there was at the end of the road a grocers and a newsagents that had both been run by elderly gentlemen.  They both sold their shops to new owners who went about investing in their new shops. Each had a separate identity but did overlap on some of their products. It did not really matter as the footfall in the area was large and competition kept the prices low. Both shops had friendly service and always had a few friendly words to share.

Unfortunately there came a day when the people in one of the shops changed. No longer where you given the time of day. The cashier would stick their hand out whilst on the phone to someone else! If you want to this shop sometimes the people were not skilled enough to help you or even take your money. We started to go less frequently.

The other shop went from strength to strength and even expanded. They still talked to you as if you were human and asked how you were. They employed more staff and nothing was too much trouble.

The first shop then went on a advertising campaign and started to offer cut prices. Well that tempted us back a couple of times. However they still did not care about their customers. They still thought it was okay to watch the telly or be on the phone whilst serving you. So we stopped going altogether.
Today I walked past the row where these shops are and guess which on is closed and boarded up. The moral of the story? If you have a product or service then the thing that makes you standout and successful is customer service. It does not have to cost much to be effective.
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