All in Well being & Inspiration

An incredible human feat - prepare to be impressed!

I have today been listening to an interview with an incredible woman. Jasmin Paris, a record breaking ultra marathon champion was chatting to Simon Mundie on the “Don’t Tell Me The Score” podcast about endurance, time management, and achieving your goals. Why? Well, when you hear her story, you will understand why she is perfectly qualified to discuss these topics.

Earlier this year, Jasmin took part in the 268 mile Spine race across the Penine Way National Trail, widely regarded as one of the toughest endurance races in the world. Jasmin, became not only the first woman to win the race outright, she also smashed the men’s course record by a staggering 12 hours.

As if this wasn’t incredible enough, Jasmin was also expressing milk for her 14 month old daughter along the route. In addition, whilst training for The Spine, she was not only juggling the demands of being a Mum to a young baby during the day, she was up in the night feeding her baby, then getting up at 5am to complete a long training run, and all this on top of working as a vet.

I was desperate to find out how she managed to fit it all in, particularly from a time management point of view. Jasmin stressed that we first need to love what we do and when we find that it gives us purpose and drive. She described that her goals keep her focussed and they help her to decide where to focus her attention and what to spend her time on. She doesn’t watch TV! She occasionally watches the odd film and only looks at social media approximately 3 times a week. Jasmin explained she is able to juggle everything by spending time on 'worthwhile tasks' only - tasks that underpin and support her goals. She uses her time well, not losing hours on YouTube, Social Media, or TV. Jasmin's trick to time management is to carry out valuable tasks only, each with a real purpose and each connected to helping her achieve her goals, or for her family, or her career. A tip I for one am going to draw on a lot more to see the results for myself. How could this help your time management, too?

Could your life be one long experiment?

Imagine for a moment that your philosophical belief wholeheartedly was that “life is a series of experiments.” What would your life be like with this approach? How would it be different and how would you react to events that came your way with this steadfast mindset?

Would it be better? I think so. I feel I would be more adventurous and much more willing to try new things. I suspect I would react differently when things didn’t turn out so well, too. Surely, for any of us adopting this mindset, we would dip our toe and try far more things, whether it is activities, foods, sports, experiences, sexual activity, reading material, places to visit - and the list goes on…

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and have come to the conclusion that if I try approaching everything that comes my way as ‘an experiment', then if it goes well, it’s a success, fun, tasty, or rewarding, then I have discovered something positive and new and will therefore embrace and repeat it. If, on the other hand, it is not such a positive outcome, then I won’t beat myself up or regret it, but merely see it as the result of my experimental approach to life, accepting that it wasn’t great, learn from it, and just move on. I won’t hang on to the negativity and dwell on it, nor would I turn the opportunity down in the first place.

So I’m going to try it…. How about you?

Become your own coach

A question for you…..

How do you know when you’ve done a really good job? Or, how do you know when you look really good in a new outfit?

Some of you will say it’s because your boss or customer has told you so and you’ve received really good feedback. Or that your husband, friend or parent told you. These people are “external validators” - they rely on external validation to confirm how well they look or how well they are doing.

Others will reply with something along the lines of, “I just know, I know I have checked the work through thoroughly, that I’ve put in lots of hard work and effort, I’ve taken my time and I just know it is good” or, “I just feel really comfortable in the outfit and look in the mirror and if I love what I see, then that’s good enough for me".” They are internal validators - relying much more on their own internal measures of how well they are doing in life.

There is no right or wrong, but the downside to needing largely external validation comes when you are in a relationship with someone that just doesn’t naturally give compliments, or work for a boss that doesn’t see the need to give constant feedback/praise, or doesn’t know how. In these instances, we feel unsure of how we are doing, we can feel lost, uncomfortable, vulnerable, uncertain, very unhappy, and starved.

So when working with clients who feel this way because they rely heavily on external validation and just aren't receiving it, then we work towards them strengthening their “internal validator,” or internal coach or friend. The client learns to self coaching each time they have completed an important task by asking themselves the following questions:

1. What did I do well?

2) What, if I could turn the clock back, would I do differently?”

3) What will I do more of in the future?

At first this feels difficult and uncomfortable, but with time it becomes easier and incredibly helpful. By building and strengthening their "internal coach muscle" they are far less dependent on others and much better equipped with increased confidence and self acceptance. Don't get me wrong, most of us enjoy receiving the odd compliment, appreciation or praise, but once we have learnt to do that genuinely for ourselves, then we can take that internal coach with us wherever we go and use it with whatever we are facing and that has to be a good thing.

When you're in two minds about something...

Have you ever experienced a real dilemma where part of you wants to do something, and another part of you doesn’t? Where you are in two minds about something or feel the angel sat on one shoulder is encouraging and supporting you, whereas the devil on the other is holding you back, and warning you against it.

Who wins? Which way do you go? What do you do?

When I work with clients who are facing exactly this situation we work on each part separately. We explore every single benefit that taking the step, making the decision, embracing the opportunity, would bring them. And I mean every single benefit, by repeating questions such as, “and what would that give you?” and, “what would be the benefit of that?” and “what does that bring you?” - over and over again, until we get to the absolute root of why they are considering it in the first place, what it would ultimately bring them and what is at the core of it all.

We then look at why part of them doesn’t want to go for it, make that change, embrace the opportunity. What that part fears, dreads, worries about, etc., through exactly the same process. I repeat the questions, drilling down to the very core root, the absolute need that this part of them has and what avoiding or staying safe brings them - the benefits to not making the change, to staying as they are, remaining safe.

And guess what we ALWAYS FIND OUT? …….. that both ‘parts’ want EXACTLY THE SAME thing!! Whether it is ultimately that each ‘part’ wants them to be happy, or secure, or fulfilled, or loved or healthy, the devil and the angel want exactly the same. This will be true for you, too- deep down, those separate parts or different ‘minds’ want exactly the same thing for you - they are not working against each other at all - you just feel they are.

In reality, the only difference between them is the route by which each part thinks you can achieve that one thing. One side believes it is by taking a risk, making a decision, making a change, moving forward and embracing something new. The other believes it is better to stay safe, embrace the familiar, stick with what you know.

So, drill down and ask yourself exactly the same questions of your ‘two minds.’ Find out what the root desire/need, aim that each part has, see the similarity, get them to work together and decide on the best possible route for you to achieve what they both want for you. It works, I promise you. Once we know they are on the same side they can work together. It is merely a question of strategy, approach, and route to take in order to get what the whole of you wants. It is not “if” but instead, “how" - and that is far easier to untangle and sort out…..

Don't stay stuck in the mud

What is inner resilience? Why is it that some people cope with difficult times and life struggles better than others. What's the difference, and how do they do it?

The answer is that 'resilient people' don't stay stuck in the swamp of the problem. They don't focus on the "why is this happening?" or "why me?"

Instead, resilient people focus on the "how am I going to get out of this?" or, "what can I do to solve this/improve this?"

They go into solution mode and problem solving, they look ahead to when and how things can improve. They take action, make decisions, have goals and look forward rather than dwell on the present problem exclusively.

Sometimes we all need to wallow a little, but there comes a time when we need to get out of the mud and start to move forward. The question is, how soon do we want to do that?

Live with the end in mind

Sadly yesterday I attended the funeral of, and said goodbye to, a truly lovely 86 year old family friend. He had become something of a Grandfather figure to our boys, and a father figure to me following the loss of my own Dad four years ago.

But he’d lived a great life and up until just recently had been very active, healthy, full of fun, laughter and projects! As I sat listening to his eulogy and reflected on what I am going to miss most about him I wondered what people might say at my funeral when the time comes.

The advantage of foresight is that we can steer that ship now in the direction we want it to go in. What do we want people to read out when our time comes? What kind of character do we want to be remembered as?

I would love them to say that I was always smiling, upbeat and optimistic in life. That I was full of energy and a go getter. That it didn’t matter what you asked of me, I would always try and help. That I cared deeply about my family and friends and would always put them first - and because I know that is how I want to be remembered, I need to remind myself of that now and absolutely ensure that is how I live my life.

What would I like them to regale about what I did, where I went, how I spent my life? Again, I know I would like them to read interesting words, tell funny stories, remember great places or things I had accomplished. What I am saying is I would love for them to be able to read about a well and full lived life with lots of variety and interesting times - and again, I need to remind myself of that now……. just as I am settling down on the sofa every night to watch rubbish TV and waste evening after evening!!

Yesterday’s funeral was a celebration of a life well lived by a man who had a deeply warm heart, a huge sense of humour, was interesting, funny, full of life, a passion for travelling the world and was a true gentleman. I hope he was proud of his achievements, of how he lived his life, and who he was as a person and I hope when my time comes I will be equally as proud because if we all live now with the end in mind we can benefit from the power of foresight and be the people we want to be remembered as, and live the life we want retold to the generations we leave behind.

Don't Tell Me the Score

A shorter post today. I really just wanted to share an excellent Podcast I have been listening to lately. It is by Simon Mundie, entitled “Don’t Tell Me the Score” and is free via the BBC’s Radio 4 page.

It’s definitely worth a listen to and you truly do NOT have to be sporty to gain loads of insights, tips and thought provoking facts learnt through sport that can help us all in everyday life. I have learnt facts to help with leadership, performance management, motivation, overcoming fear, sleep and rest, how vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness , how managing your mind is crucial to happiness and success, and information around the nutrition that will help us get the most out of our day, amongst many other things - and there are many more episodes to come yet apparently. So give it a go, even my 16 year old son has inadvertently learnt lessons from it when I have left it playing on our car journeys, and you can’t teach teenagers anything!

What's in your 'bank?'

Watching the thousands of amazing people take part in today’s London Marathon inspired me so much. What true grit they all had, such determination, mental strength, and phenomenal spirit.

Anyone that has ever completed a marathon will remember their first (and possibly last!) time. It isn’t just about the actual day of the run, it’s the months’ of work beforehand that equally deserve admiration. The terror when you hear yourself agreeing to sign up and then all the work that follows; finding a training plan and importing that into your calendar, seeing all the runs mapped out in black and white in the looming weeks and months ahead, seeing the distance and speed increasing on that plan, and then the reality of actually following it. The painful limbs, the blistered feet, the black toe nails, the sleepless nights dreading the next morning’s scheduled ‘long run’ as you push the distance up and venture into unchartered waters, and the sober evenings out when you have to hold back from the booze because of the looming miles you’ve got to put in the next day.

Then there is the psychological battle; the self doubt of “what if I can’t do it?” The dread of “how much is it going to hurt?” - and it will hurt!! The tears throughout the training, the doubt, the fear of the unknown and the doubting of your ability to rise to the challenge. Oh, and then there is the fund raising for the charity that is so close to your heart, and the pressure of not letting them down.

For all those reasons I applaud every single person that entered the London Marathon - not forgetting those who were due to, but couldn’t take part today because of injuries and illness encountered as a result of the training, and who watched with the mixed emotions of real sadness, envy and perhaps even a little relief.

They can all feel so incredibly proud of themselves. They took it on, worked hard, made physical and psychological sacrifices, pushed themselves, got out of their comfort zones, battled in mind and body and found what they were capable of. Well done to each and every one of them.

But we don’t have to enter a Marathon to do all of that. We can find our own challenge and make ourselves get out of our comfort zones by doing many other things, pushing and challenging ourselves, showing real commitment, overcoming self doubt, and finding out what we are capable of, too. By doing so, we find out what we are made of, feel unbelievably proud of ourselves, come alive and energised and, more than anything, can draw on the accomplishment in the future whenever we have a moment of doubt or fear.

For example, only a couple of weeks ago I was coaching a teenager who had just returned from 5 days in Wales completing her D of E Gold Medal and she proudly told me with a massive grin across her face that “When I first put my huge back pack on I struggled to even walk across the car park and genuinely doubted that I would ever be able to carry it for five days over miles and miles of Wales - but I did, and I am SO impressed with myself.” Quite right, too - she has every reason to be.

It really can be anything - but pushing what we think are our boundaries and limits and finding that in fact they weren’t is such a powerful tool and can help us in the future in so many ways. We can ‘bank’ those accomplishments as credits and draw on them anytime in our future when we have a little (or large) wobble, a moment of self belief, or find ourselves truly out of our comfort zone. It is those times when we can tell ourselves with real conviction, “come on, I can do this - I managed to do XYZ, so I know I can do this….” and it really works. This is probably over-sharing, but I even got through childbirth this way by me drawing on the fact that I had managed to complete a huge bicycle challenge a few years previously, in aid of MENCAP, over 500km in China - so I know this strategy works.

What’s in your ‘bank of accomplishments’ and how many more credits can you work towards investing in the future by stepping out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself in some way, facing your fears and pushing your limits? It is so worth it, both at the time but also for future use.

Good luck and enjoy the challenges.

What friendships need.....

Having recently spent time researching the subject of happiness - I came upon lots of evidence that reveals a very real and genuine human need for "reciprocity" within relationships and friendships. We feel happier when we feel we are getting out of a friendship or relationship as much as we are putting in, and that the other party is giving and taking a fair and equal amount in return.

On the other hand, we feel real unhappiness if there is an imbalance - if we feel we are the one always making contact, doing all the organising of social events, including them in things, making all the thoughtful gestures or showing kindness - and that the other person is not doing these things as often, or at all!

Apparently the need for reciprocity is a natural and normal need. So feel comforted if you ever find yourself feeling annoyed, frustrated or even hurt by a "friend" or loved one - you are normal.

And if you don't and rarely have ever felt these negative feelings towards someone close and important to you, then perhaps you are that person who doesn't make the contact, organise things or take the initiative in the relationship!!!!!

So we always need to keep in mind give and take, balance, a two-way street and therefore reciprocity if we want maximum happiness within a friendship or relationship.

Please Share - so those of your friends may see this and do some self reflection, too….

Are you waiting to "feel motivated" before starting something?

So often I find myself working with clients who "don't have any motivation to ........." and therefore they talk themselves out of making that change, taking that decision, sorting things out, trying something new, turning a corner. They believe they need the 'motivation' first. THEN they will apparently take action.

I completely disagree. I have witnessed too many times that the motivation just doesn't ever seem to arrive and the block (or excuse!) wins.

MY TIP: Think about it this way instead - how often do we tell ourselves we don't feel like doing something today, perhaps it is cold, wet and blowing a gale outside but we are due at a netball, hockey, football or rugby match or had planned a run or walk with a friend. Yet, despite not 'feeling like it' we make ourselves go because we can't let other people down. What happens? By showing up and just getting on with the game, run or walk we get into it, start enjoying it and guess what? THEN OUR MOTIVATION ARRIVES!!!!

It is by taking action, getting on with it, starting..... that our motivation comes to us - NOT the other way around.

So what are you waiting for? What are you putting off? Start first, and get the motivation as a result of the doing. Don't wait until you feel sufficiently motivated, that's the wrong order of things and it won't ever happen.

No more excuses. No more waiting (avoiding!). Just get on with it!!! In the nicest possible way, of course xxxx