Passions Serve a Purpose!

We have just celebrated Valentine’s Day on February 14th, so I thought that finding your PASSION was an appropriate topic for this week’s List for Living. If your life is lacking passion in certain areas – such as in your job, your love life or even in life in general, then this is the list for you!

  1. Does your life seem a little dull? Do you drift along in the same routine every week? Well guess what! Becoming a passionate person is a choice. The most important thing that you need to do to become a more passionate person is to be yourself. That means that you should follow your interests, no matter how weird they appear to others. When my kids were little I use to love colouring in the pictures in their colouring books, it was so relaxing. I always thought I was a little weird but look at the market for adult colouring books now!
  2. Get back your energy and ironically once you do,  you will find your passions, this will energise you further and you will discover more passion for life. It really is a vicious circle. (for tips on gaining more energy see my Blog post ‘Health – A New Confident You’).
  3. Rediscover your dreams. Have you lost sight of the plans you made when you were younger? Maybe life has thrown in some unexpected events which have steered you off your path. Take some time to remember why you are doing the things that you do. You may be resentful of the fact that you are the family taxi driver but when you think about why you do it, you realise that you do it because you want your kids to develop interests outside school. You may get the benefits of feeling part of a community who stands and cheers their kids on or who help with refreshments. When you remember the ‘why’, life will have meaning and direction again.
  4. Finding passion in the mundane. Truly passionate people are able to find passion in everything they do. How? Because they know the reason why they are doing something. They are passionate about doing the housework because they love inviting friends to their beautiful home. This is what is the motivation behind the dusting etc.
  5. What if your passions still elude you? There is a power in knowing who you are and what you want. This is what leads you to your passion. Most of us will have multiple different interests and hobbies though there will often be an undercurrent running beneath them. Often this undercurrent will be partly inspired by your beliefs. Finding that undercurrent is the solution. You can do this by making mind maps or vision boards (more about these will be said in next weeks lists).  Do this and take a step back. Look at what you have created. What themes run through everything and what would you have to do to create that perfect world for yourself or others? This is your mission and right there is who you are.
  6. Being passionate is good for your health. Passion stops you drifting aimlessly through life. Passions force us to grow and evolve. They make us more interesting and attractive to others. What better excuse do we need to get out there and find our passions?

Happiness is a Choice

For those of us who live in the Northern hemisphere, Spring is just around the corner. Yesterday on my Facebook feed, I saw posted, a photo of the first daffodil to appear on the banks of Clifford’s Tower in York. This momentous occasion heralds the beginning of Spring in England, for me. In California, the days vary between being very hot and cold, damp and foggy.

So today as another Winter draws to a close, we look at creating a list in order to create a better mood, in readiness for welcoming in the beginning of Spring. Traditionally, this is the season in which we gain the energy to push ahead with all the goals and projects that we started planning over the Winter months. So here is this week’s list for creating a better mood:

  1. Understand that you have the ability to change your perception of life, and therefore your mood, at any time you wish (I am not including those people who suffer from any form of depression here. If that is the case then I suggest seeking medical help).
  2. One of the things that we do as humans, is to live life on certain vibrations, and we tend to live on these vibrations unconsciously. If you want to create a better mood, start by becoming intentional about being happy. Practice living on a vibration of happiness, without having to rely on external factors. Practice smiling (an instant mood-booster) and reach for the happiest thought that you can think right now.
  3. Practice gratitude for all that you have right now.
  4. Create an environment for yourself that lifts your spirits. Play music that speaks to your soul, watch uplifting movies, wear bright colours (it can be a lipstick or scarf to add colour to a neutral wardrobe).
  5. Start hanging out with upbeat people and watch that your mood doesn’t try to drag others down. Do you meet someone and begin moaning about life as soon as you meet them? Make sure that you begin conversations in an upbeat positive manner – this is something I am working on as I often arrive late, full of apologies about how busy I am. I am consciously working on arriving on time and unstressed. The other person does not want to know about your troubles in the first five minutes of seeing you.
  6. If something is getting to be a chore, then change your routine, or your attitude towards it. Do something out of the ordinary. I found that I was dragging myself out of bed on a cold, dark Winter’s morning to do my yoga. Once I was doing it, I loved it but getting up was the hard part. In order to get myself more excited about beginning my day, I found some inspiring music on YouTube which lifted my spirits so much that I now bounce out of bed much more easily because the lyrics have such a positive effect on my mood. Check out Karen Drucker – ‘Thank You For This Day’ on YouTube.

Have a great week. Check out my YouTube Channel – Coaching to Confidence and let me know how you are getting on with the lists.

Care Less, Live More!

Are you one of those people who cares too much about what other people think of you?

Do you worry that people are always talking about you?

Are you afraid to express your true opinions?

Do you aim to please, everyone?

Do you find yourself saying ‘Yes’, when you really mean ‘NO’?

It is time to stop caring what others think. Why?

You give away your power

You give up your happiness

You live in fear

Your focus is scattered if you are always at the mercy of others demands and opinions.

So how can you begin to care less about how others view you?

  • Find out who you are. What are your preferences, your desires, your dreams?
  • Practice self-acceptance. If you want to do something, don’t automatically ask others for their opinion or their permission. Start by making smaller decisions for yourself.
  • Learn to accept that some people won’t be happy if you say ‘No’ to them, especially at first.
  • The only real opinion of you that matters – is YOUR’S!
  • Decide how much help you can give to others and plan accordingly. This is a good way of softening the blow at first if you are always someone who does a favor when asked. Next time someone asks you to do ‘X’ tell them that you are sorry you can’t do ‘X’ but you are willing to do ‘Y’. Or you could practice asking for a favor in return, for example when a friend asks you to babysit, you could reply with ‘oh yes, I was going to ask if you could babysit for me one night, let’s do a swap’. You will soon find out who is genuinely interested in helping you and those who expect help but don’t want to return the favor in any way. If this is the case:
  • Find a new tribe!
  • Finally stop judging yourself and start loving yourself.

Simplicity is the key.

This list is all about simplifying your life, so my aim is to keep this blog post simple. I will expand on the categories a little more in the coming weeks but for now:

  1. Consider arranging your life so that you can live a minimalist lifestyle. How can you free up possessions, obligations and half finished projects?
  2. If it feels overwhelming, start by taking small steps. Set aside 15 minutes each day to clear out a drawer, sort through a pile of post or try on an item of clothing that you have not worn for a while. If you feel the urge to carry on decluttering after the 15 minutes is up, then that is great!
  3. Look on YouTube for ideas on how to build a capsule wardrobe that suits your needs.
  4. Start clearing your house of paperwork – scan in documents which you need to keep and categorize it in folders online (I use a combination of Dropbox and Google Drive). I always keep the paper documents that I need for my taxes, but I also keep digital copies of the papers I need.
  5. Are you really going to finish that pair of curtains or mend that table that have been stuffed in a corner out of sight? If the answer is yes, do it now. If not, get rid of the project and free up time for something you really want to do. I think one of the reasons that I love going away on holiday is that I am not surrounded by loads of possessions which all need attention either dusting or mending or putting away.

One of the shocking things that  I found when I was getting ready to move to the US, was that 6 months before I intended to move,  I made conscious effort to use up all the toiletries, food and wear only the clothes that I had already bought. In fact, I moved a full year after I originally intended to and  I was still using things up that I had bought over 18 months ago. That experience taught me only to buy what I needed at that moment and not to buy things just in case!

Anyway in my opinion, one of the best books on Decluttering is this one:

https://coachingtoconfidence.com/LifeChangingMagic

 

The Power of Living in the Now

Living in the Now, is one of the most powerful tools for living your best life. The drive to be constantly doing something, makes us distracted and so focused on the daily grind, that we have little time for relation, creativity or self-development.

So here is my list for this week. Living in the Now:

  1. Let go of the past. Create a new identity by releasing the pain and self-limiting thoughts of the past and taking things one day at a time.
  2. Don’t get too wrapped up in the future. Don’t be so busy chasing your future dreams that you overlook the joys of the present. Some of us (I am guilty of this!) spend so much time chasing after the future that we want – such as money for the down payment our our dream house, that we fail to live in the Now, so we keep that job that we dislike and work longer and longer hours. Then we get frustrated because life isn’t joyful.
  3. Practice Mindfulness. Become more aware of all that is around you – the weather, the thoughts in your mind, the breeze on your face. This practice helps to guide you back to the present moment and takes your mind of dwelling in the past and the future.
  4. Give up the myths of multi-tasking. Concentrate on really listening to conversations with others or cooking the dinner – I know if I try to multi-task while cooking, my food never tastes as good without other distractions around you.
  5. Set your intention for the day and for all the actions that you wish to achieve. This practice can help us focus on our long term goals in a way which allows us to live in the present. If my intention for the day is not to get overwhelmed by doing too much, I make sure my to-do list reflects that intention.
  6. Stop watching the clock all the time. Allow some time in the day  just to potter and enjoy life- to take a walk, pet the dog or water the plants. Step off the hamster wheel for a short while at least. If I get to the point of being overwhelmed, I practice meditation and ask the Universe to show me my next step.
  7. Go with the flow. Don’t try to control life so tightly. Try living life moment to moment. Get curious about what happens when you relax control and let go of the stress of trying to hold everything together. Movies and books are full of stories in which a stressed, uptight executive with a high powered job is forced to surrender to the flow of life and then finds a different more fulfilling way of life.
  8. Practice stepping away from all media – cell phones, emails, computers and video games for a period of time and just allow yourself to be.

What does your Now look like right at this moment in time?

Mindset for Success

In last week’s list we looked at creating a fresh start in life. In this week’s list, we are going to look at creating a success mindset in order to begin our new journey.

  1. Begin with an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’. Be thankful for the things which are in your life. Begin with small things if you are unhappy in life right now and gradually increase your level of gratitude. Some people find it easier to start by creating a list each night of the things that they were grateful for, throughout the day. Don’t forget the things that you may take for granted, such as your health, a beautiful sunset or a warm bed. I found that this attitude completely turned my life around – from victim to creator of my own future!
  2. Surround yourself with positive influences. Hang out with positive people, watch uplifting YouTube videos instead of the news, listen to uplifting music and read books from people you admire. Notice your feelings throughout the day. Are you starting the day on a positive note and then descending into a negative mood in the later afternoon? If so, what can you do to keep your energy high? I have started going for a 15 minute walk each afternoon and the sunshine and the exercise help to lift my spirits.
  3. Create good habits. Are you constantly late for appointments? What could you do to prevent this from happening? Are you a procrastinator? Do you feel overwhelmed at the thoughts of what you need to do? How could you gain  more control in your life? I am a big procrastinator and I often feel overwhelmed at the beginning of a project, so I have learnt to set a time limit of an hour on any project that i begin and once that hour is up, I have a break. If I am really reluctant to get going on a difficult project, like doing my taxes, I set the timer for 15 minutes only. This is a manageable chunk of time for me.  It takes roughly 13 weeks for something to become a habit, so stick with it!
  4. Learn to plan effectively. This point really goes hand in hand with point 3. Once you know what habit you wish to adopt, you need to make a plan to allow you to have the best possible chance of success at maintaining that habit.
  5. Take action. It is human nature to try to make sure everything is perfect before we launch a business, publish a book, reveal our works of art. But there comes a point when we just need to take the plunge and take action. There is a point at which we have to start on our journey towards our goals, perfect or not. We worry because once we reveal what we are doing, we leave ourselves open to judgement from others. Hopefully, having worked through these lists however, we have gained confidence in ourselves and our abilities and as the saying goes: ‘What others think of us, is none of our business’
  6. Sharpen your focus. Do not be tempted by ‘The Bright New Shiny Object’. This is a well-known syndrome which means that you begin something and then get sidetracked by another idea or marketing scheme or goal which looks more interesting, lucrative, appealing. Instead focus on what you have in front of you. Do not get sidetracked posting on Social Media or doing the housework (I admit I am guilty!) but again you can set a timer to make sure you focus for a set amount of time. I have found, it is better to focus on your goals for a short time each day than to try to block out great chunks of time in one day.
  7. Make a habit of constantly learning. YouTube is a fantastic resource in which you can learn all sorts of things. You can take online courses relatively cheaply on Udemy or read books on the subjects you wish to learn more about. If you have bigger goals to complete a degree or other training, there has never been a better time for pursuing your dream.

Time for a Fresh Start

In this week’s ‘List for Living’ we are going to be challenging ourselves a little further in pursuit of our ideal life. Having changed your story in last week’s List, hopefully you are now viewing yourself in a positive light. So the next step is to put all our experiences that we have encountered in life so far to good use. Where do you want to go next in this exciting adventure we call life? What is going to be your New Beginning? Lets start thinking:

  1. Make peace with the past, the mistakes you made, the actions that others took towards you, the habits you have acquired that have prevented you achieving your chosen path. This step is obviously not one which is a quick fix and can take some work to achieve but it can be achieved step by step over many months or years if necessary. Look at this step as a work in progress but it should not prevent you from moving forward on the List
  2. Gain clarity on your chosen path. Think carefully about the area(s) in which you wish to make a fresh start. It is easy to be overwhelmed when we say that we want a fresh start – where do we begin? One way we can reduce our overwhelm is to  think of an area that we wish to start again – have you just lost your job, got a divorce, suffered a loss? Perhaps all three things have happened to you. Make a list of all the areas you wish to improve and then pick  one to begin with. When I got divorced my finances and the welfare of my children were the most crucial areas of my life to start again in. Although important, a new social life and other relationships would have to wait until I was on a stable financial footing and my children were taken care of. On the other hand if no area of improvement is of obvious importance, think how improvements made in one area may help improve another area. For example if you want to start doing things that benefit you after years of looking after others needs and you decide that you would like to take better care of yourself health wise, and you would also like to improve your social life, you may take steps first to improve your health and find an exercise class which will also benefit your social life.
  3. Once you have decided which areas of your life to prioritize, you need to start looking for the resources which will help you. It can be YouTube videos, books – Kindle books are a great place to look for resources as there are often books written that include links to current blogs which may be of help and groups, either on social media or in real life. Finding people who have achieved success in the areas that you wish to improve and taking note of what they have done is a great start.
  4. Take a look at the photo above. It shows a young plant which will one day bloom into a beautiful flower or tree. But at the moment it needs love, attention and the right conditions to grow, as does anybody who embarks on new challenges. So be kind you yourself, allow yourself to make mistakes and keep taking one step at a time.
  5. Show commitment. When you hit a  rocky patch, remind yourself of the life that you left behind and why you wanted more. Look forward to the life that you will achieve and feel the difference in the person that you are becoming as a result of this journey. If you have ever undertaken a building or decorating project you will know that the middle phase always looks worse than the beginning of the project and you always utter the words ‘Why did I start this!’ You have to go through the process of upheaval in order to move forward. Just remind yourself it is a temporary phrase and the sooner you take another step forward, the sooner you will achieve your goals.
  6. The great thing about making a fresh start is that each time you begin the process you have no idea of your own capabilities and as the journey continues, you realize that you have so many skills and talents, that when this particular journey ends you will want to start a new one, to see what else you can discover about the magnificent creature that you are.

Change Your Story

In this week’s ‘List for Living’ I am going to be asking you to Change Your Story. I am writing this post on New Years Eve and  I cannot think of a better way to begin a New Year than by starting it off by acknowledging what a wonderful person you are. So here is the list which will take us into a New Year:

  1. Begin to notice the story that you tell about yourself. By this I mean what beliefs do you hold about yourself, that you project onto the world? These beliefs may take a while to become aware of, as they rise from your subconscious mind to your conscious mind.
  2. Clarify the story that you are currently projecting about yourself. Is it a positive message that you are projecting onto the world and the people you surround yourself with? If it is and you feel good about your self image great!
  3. If you don’t like the image that you portray, it is time to change it for a new one!
  4. Take a sheet of paper and make a list of the beliefs that make up your current story. On the other side of the sheet, start to look at how you can alter these current beliefs to reflect the new image that you wish to project. So for example, a couple of years after I got divorced, the belief that I projected on the world was that of a single mother, relying on benefits, to bring up 4 children. I had a victim mentality in which I wanted people to feel sorry for what had happened to me.  I suddenly realized however that this image no longer served me. I wanted to see myself in a more positive light. First I had  to take responsibility for where I was right now and praise myself for my achievements so far. Now my story gradually became that of a woman who was working hard to give her children and herself a better life. Because my image of myself started to change, so did the way people treated me.
  5. The way that the world treats you, is a reflection of the way you treat yourself. Ask yourself if you are treated as you would wish to be and if not, how can you treat yourself better? A male friend of mine recently told me that in a relationship a woman deserves to be cherished. This belief had never occurred to me until this point, but now I have incorporated it into my belief system and it starts first with cherishing myself. Any man who comes along in the future and wishes to have a relationship with me, will take his cue on how to treat me by noticing what story about myself, I project onto the world.
  6. So what story do you want to tell about yourself? Think of when you are at your most wonderful and start from there. Spend some time feeling what it is like to be that person and think how that person thinks and acts. Soon it will become second nature to live the story that you are creating for yourself.

Fear Busting

Fear is the basic emotion that limits our life. It controls our comfort zone and dictates our actions – if we let it. Fear limits us from taking risks too often  and fear is what prevents us from living a full life.

This week’s List for Living focuses on dealing with our fears.

  1. What are your greatest fears in life? If you had to name your top 3 fears, what would they be?
  2. Once you have your top 3 fears, lets examine them more closely. Write each fear down and start becoming curious about each one. Where did it come from? Often our fears are handed down to us, sometimes through the generations and they feel like part of our very fabric. What is the fear stopping you from doing? How is it affecting your life? What is it protecting your from?
  3. Step into your fear. Face it head on. Imagine that it has come to fruition. What would that feel like? Often we will try anything to avoid feeling what the fear is trying to protect us from, it is too painful to contemplate. But if we can step into our fear and really face it then it loses its power over you.
  4. Who would you be if you let your fears go? Our identity is often bound up with our fears, we see ourselves as victims of circumstance and as such we invest in our own fears. For example, a person who is frightened of having their heart broken, will identify themselves as a person who is unlucky in love. Their fear will guide them to unsuitable people so they can reinforce this impression of themselves over time.
  5. What would you do if you let your fears go? What are your fears preventing you from doing? Now you have examined your fears closely, are they justified? What are the consequences of letting your fears interfere with your goals? Write down the worst case scenarios that your fears are trying to protect you from and ask yourself, how realistic are they? Are there actions you can take to minimize those risks?

This list is designed for you to start bringing your fears into your conscious mind and become more familiar with them. If we can bring our fears out into the open and start questioning them, we become less afraid of living with them and this takes away some of their power.

Health – A New Confident You

What does health have to do with setting goals, you may ask. Well in order to gain the confidence to take action towards your goals you want to feel as good as possible, have as much energy as you need to make changes in your life and just to feel good about yourself in general. So here is my list of living this week.

1. Love yourself and your image right now.

Even if you want to make improvements to your fitness levels, your body weight, to pay more attention to your image, start by honoring the person that you see as you stand in front of a mirror.

If you find this hard to do, repeat each time that you look at your reflection, ‘I am enough’. Soon a change will come over you even if you do nothing else.

2. Decide what steps you are going to take first to improve your health and vitality. Do you want to improve your fitness level? Lose some weight? Gain more energy? Whatever you wish to do remember that your goal starts with a small step and then another and then another.

3.Healthy eating – Change eating habits one mouthful at a time. Make a note of the times when you are most likely to eat food that does not take you towards your goal. Some bad habits are caused by mindless eating. But some bad habits are caused by low energy at certain times of the day. In my case, I crave sugary, sweet things in the late afternoon, especially after a day at work, so I try to eat something which has some sweetness in it to satisfy my cravings. – I never found dieting a good way of altering my body weight. I know what my weaknesses are and when I make bad choices in my eating habits so instead of eliminating food that I know are bad for me, I will eat a generally good diet (fresh vegetables and protein) and then I don’t beat myself up if I lapse and have a chocolate bar. But the more you come to love and value yourself, the better your diet becomes as you get to know what is beneficial to your body.

4. Exercise – many of us do not get enough exercise in life. I am guilty of this having moved from one country to another, I don’t have a fitness plan worked out yet and one of my goals in the next couple of months is to put together a plan to incorporate more exercise into my life. I love how my body feels after I have been exercising, whether I have been for a long walk or been to a dance class. I don’t have a car so I walk everywhere I can, which I love doing. Neither do I have gym membership as I know I would not use it. But I have loved trying various sports in my life, including Tae Kwon Do and Pole Dancing! If you don’t yet do as much exercise as you would like, start small, start with a walk and look around for an activity which makes your heart sing.

5. Sleep – What is the right amount for you? Not to survive but to thrive! If you are deprived of sleep then look at how you can make the situation better. Are you an early riser yet you find yourself going to bed late? I know that after 9pm, I am too sleepy to do anything but read and get ready for bed. I am much better at getting up early to finish tasks than I am trying to stay up late at night to try to complete them.

6. Stress – How high are your stress levels right now? Focus inwards and find out if anything is causing you a high level of stress. I know if I have had money worries or worries about relationships for example, sometimes it is better to face them head on, to question them and come up with a plan to deal with them, rather than to have them linger in the back of your mind. Even low levels of stress can drain our energy which makes setting our goals seem impossible.

7. Mental health – just as we need be aware of treating our bodies well to prevent ill-health, we need to keep our minds healthy and active. There are many tools to help to keep our thoughts positive and healthy and they deserve a list of their own. A good starting point however are mindfulness and meditation. Even just an awareness of the thoughts which cross your mind is a great starting point to becoming more self-aware. We have the power to accept or discard any thoughts that we choose

8. This list has covered a lot of topics and it is not intended that you try all suggestions at once. That would for many of us be overwhelming but if the mood takes you, pick one starting point and go from there. One new haircut or a phone call to the local pool to find out the times of the swimming sessions is a great first step to healthy living.