How I’m preparing for the new year

…out with the old ‘goals’ and in with some smart, mindful actions that are very NOW

I think after 37 years of experience I’m a little done with devising goals when preparing for a new year; but I do believe in setting intentions and maintaining some kind of vision about where you see yourself headed.

If you can’t see it (or importantly, feel it) then how do you know ‘it’ when it shows up?

I’m often asked about the processes I implement coming into a new year, because in recent times I’ve developed a suite of tools and tips that have proven to be helpful for friends trying to either set themselves up for the months ahead, or recover (faster) from bad news and tough times.

While we do have the opportunity at any time of the year to begin fresh; even any time of the month, week or day (and God knows I’ve been practising that recently), January is a nice time to try to set yourself up for a positive start.

I’d like to share what works for me, and what I’m doing now to prepare for the new year. Personally this year has had definite high points, however it ended up a bit rocky. But that’s ok – it’s life, right? As Anne [of Green Gables] says, each day is a chance to start fresh.

Onwards.

How I’m preparing for the new year

I seek positive, helpful books for reading during the holidays

I plan to use the holiday break to get stuck into a few good reads intended to motivate and inspire me. My go-to authors are people like Gabby Bernstein and Rebecca Campbell who write about life, business, spirituality and strategies on how to make space in your life for the important stuff, as well as how to move through difficult times faster.

Of course, your go-to books might be about goal setting, fitness, healthy eating, mindfulness or on a subject you aim to know more about in 2017 like learning a language. It’s all good!

I find investing just twenty minutes a day in reading something positive, interesting and helpful can shift your energy and perception. If you’re too tired to read, try finding a podcast or listen to audio books as an alternative.

 

I subscribe to regular free broadcasts

We’ve all heard of YouTube, but did you know you can utilise it for much more than getting the odd laugh out of dog and cat clips?

If you sign up for an account (and here’s why you should do that) you can subscribe to inspiring broadcasters you find on the platform. Some YouTubers now have more influence than most people on television, and no matter what you’re into, there’s a daily or weekly vlogger who can supply you with a dose of inspiration and motivation each week.

About a year ago I got into watching Doreen Virtue‘s weekly oracle card readings. She’s cute and quirky but quite possibly not for everyone (obviously, angel cards and tarot isn’t for everyone, anyway!). However, every Monday morning first thing I take a look at her ten to fifteen minute broadcast for the week (I’ve come to love her). She reads three cards that she pulls from a deck and quite surprisingly I find her readings to be accurate.

BUT I should stress that I’m not actually looking at this to view my ‘fortune’ for the week. I watch it for the messages I can take away to apply to situations in my life, whether they be challenging work or personal problems that I’m looking for a fresh perspective on, or words of wisdom I can share as advice with friends.

These resources are free and at our fingertips, and finding something to engage with on a regular basis that encourages a positive perspective shift – whatever you need – is a healthy way to pass the time, I think. It’s something I’ll focus on with any spare time this holiday season, and a habit I’ll continue into next year. I hope you choose to take advantage of this type of resource too.

 

I’ve engaged advice from a coach

An opportunity to work with a life and business coach popped up in my sphere very recently. I’ve engaged in this type of activity before but for a slightly different purpose (back then I had the intention of gaining a new perspective on building my own business). This time around, I’m aiming to see things differently in my life and career and to learn new strategies for dealing with situations that are unfamiliar to me.

I find I’m very happy to help and mentor others and am proud to have achieved a level of success in doing so. But when it comes to getting yourself out of a rut sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes – and someone who is trained in this art is even better!

In our first session I outlined issues that I could simply not see a way out of, and left the session with a set of action points that really gave me my power back and made me feel so so much better and in control.

I realised that engaging in this activity before the new year is preferable to starting after January 1 has ticked over (although obviously any time is a good time to begin).

When I talk about ‘coaching’ though, for you this could mean in the fitness, health, Yoga, meditation, business, personal or spiritual sense. I think we can all do with guidance, and you definitely need the help of the right person, but if you’re on the lookout for them, I believe you’ll know and feel it when they appear.

And of course, if you’re serious about making real change (eg. getting fit, quitting smoking) make a call and set up an appointment with an expert now, and maybe even invite a friend along too so you can keep each other accountable.

 

I get serious about gratitude

There’s no faster way to make yourself feel better or to attract positive things than to mindfully consider all the things and people you’re grateful for.

Big, small, unexpected or the constants in your life – begin it now and I guarantee in under 60 seconds you’ll feel better about yourself and the world.

Using kindness and gratitude as a tool moving into the new year, set the intention to remember these things; recall them, revisit the list, add to it and send a little love back to those people on it to remind them about the good in the world.

This isn’t about forgetting the atrocities that go on around us; on the contrary, it puts things into perspective and is a reminder to help out where we can. Also, by giving more energy to the drama the television news generates, we’re perpetuating that negativity and it’s not helpful!

There are just as many like-minded souls such as you and I who are doing our best to bring the light – we can never have or contribute too much of that!

 

On that note, I really enjoyed this story by Bernadette Russell in Balance Magazine (December 2016) on being kind at Christmastime and how often the nicest thing we can offer anyone is our time.

 

I write things down

Using a good old notebook or an app like Evernote or OneNote, write down the things you want!

I have several years worth of experience writing ideas, wishes, dreams, plans down (funnily enough, often done during long flights); I’ve written down what I want to see happen, that I intend or that I want… I have later come across these lists and am so surprised to see what has actually manifested!

The power of putting it on paper is proclaimed by so many motivational speakers, coaches, authors, successful entrepreneurs… you name it. I don’t know what the magic behind it is (although I know a bit about the Law of Attraction and believe it to be true from personal experience); but write it down because wow, I’ve seen it work first hand – even before I knew about any of the things I talk and write about today.

A tip: try not to be too manipulative when it comes to specifics around working in a certain business or seeking a particular person as your new romantic partner; a neat trick to try is writing down how you want to feel.

 

In other words, what you want or what is for the greater good might not come in the exact form you imagine, but it will come, and it will be better. Write it down.

 

In one of my favourite Gabby Bernstein lectures (via podcast on iTunes) she talks about how to develop what she calls a ‘desire statement‘.

The process is made up of three parts:

  1. Write down a list of what you want right now in your life;
  2. Then make another list about how these things will make you feel;
  3. Following this activity free write (that is, simply write whatever comes to mind, no editing) for two to ten minutes after pondering these things you want to receive in your life right now.
  4. When you’re done, go back and underline any significant words or phrases that particularly resonate with you.
  5. From there write and edit your ‘desire statement’ into a clean, succinct, positively worded paragraph that you should then read and reflect on day and night. Use language like, “I want to be abundantly rewarded for a job I love and in a workplace where I’m valued…” rather than, “I don’t want to have trouble paying my bills and I don’t want a job where I’m not respected.” (note the difference in language used).

Surround yourself with your new intention, read it aloud consistently, and watch it come to life.

This manifestation technique has worked for me and friends so I personally vouch for the process. All it takes to work is your time commitment.

If you want an example of one of these or would like input on your own for the new year, feel free to email me or drop me a line in the comments.

 

Christmas can be indulgent – who cares, just go with it. But be aware of balancing some healthy activity for your body, mind and soul.

After a tough few months I’ve become very aware of the fact that I don’t want to be someone who moans or ‘carries on’. Yes, life is filled with hard times, difficult characters, sickness, sadness, challenges both personal and professional, but without those things we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good. Nor would we be able to lean on faith and positive, nurturing activities that we can take responsibility for on our own (like the ideas I have outlined above)!

If I can help just one with something in here, then I’ve done my job. Drop me a line in the comments if an idea here has sparked inspiration in you, or if you have other tips to add then we’re always grateful to hear from you.

 

 

How to ask for help and to see things differently

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I recently experienced a really really terrible week, which followed several weeks prior that weren’t much better.

Faced with countless deadlines, challenging situations in all of life’s areas, a seriously ill loved-one and me feeling generally unsupported, I hit one of those awful places in time where I was finding it difficult to get up in the morning.

I was stuck on where to begin, how to ask for help and to see things in a different way.

My mood matched that of the now-wintry grey English skies.

As one to usually be able to drag myself out of feeling miserable, I found myself in a place where I didn’t know what to do next. I was depressed, teary and withdrawn.

I waited for the clock to tick down at work each day, feeling utterly awful, and even more down because usually I’m happy there. I enjoy my days and make a point of trying to make someone else’s day a bit brighter too.

Ironically, someone I turn to for genuine and useful advice was also having a terrible week. While I appreciated the odd bit of sympathy gained here and there, I basically felt really alone.

Seems to be the way when down times hit. I’m sure you know the feeling well – we’ve all been to this place.

There’s a difference between feeling a bit down and being depressed, and my mind wasn’t in a great place. I was depressed.

Thanks to the tools I now carry with me though, I knew it was up to me to crawl out of it, no matter how hopeless I felt.

And while I insisted on hiding under my warm quilt covers instead of going to the gym in the mornings, and despite feeling like I was easily set-off at every tiny little thing that could be perceived to be going wrong each day, during my morning commute I endeavoured to try to lift my own spirits.

Friends know I’m a huge fan of author and speaker, Gabrielle Bernstein, and her new book, The Universe Has Your Backhad been sitting on my Kindle for a few weeks.

I felt like it might be time to open it up.

On the bus each morning, I read just a few pages at a time, absorbing one small idea a day and taking it with me into work.

The one thing that struck me in the opening pages of the book was Gabrielle’s discussion about how we are the dreamers of our dream; we are responsible for what we see.

I knew that I was feeling sad and disappointed, and that there were reasons which had led me to that place. I have learned that it’s ok to feel down about things sometimes, for a little while.

But, I knew the way I was feeling was not how I wanted to continue feeling; I didn’t want to be taking it with me everywhere and I sure as hell didn’t want to be projecting it into the world, because I’m well aware that what I put out will come back in larger doses.

I wasn’t even sure where or how to ask for help and didn’t have any idea how I’d be able to shift what I was seeing in front of me.

I highlighted in Gabby’s book:

“You don’t have to be a world leader to have a radical shift in perception. Sometimes it can be as simple as choosing to perceive your job with more gratitude or your family with more love.”

 

I practised this in my head and in writing, and it helped a bit.

I knew if nothing else, just trying would raise my energy (and therefore what I was attracting) just a notch.

 

How to ask for help and to see things differently

I was still in a horrible place and this didn’t help me move through to anywhere significantly better. I felt particularly low that I was lost and without an idea of what to do moving forward.

Which is why this next part of Gabby’s advice was particularly helpful and as always, timely, and why I feel compelled to write a few words about it.

You see, I’ve realised in recent years that we don’t have to have the answers all the time and we don’t necessarily need to worry about figuring out what to do. (This coming from someone who feels very uneasy without a plan!)

All we need to do is ask for help.

“I need help. I want to see things differently.”

 

I am completely aware of this strategy but typical of being in a hopeless funk, we often forget to follow the advice we give to others.

I’ve used this strategy previously when I’ve been at the end of my options (or seemingly so), and when I have wanted to make a difference to loved ones having a hard time, but feel helpless to do so.

I stop and ask for help – a miracle even. And, I must say, I’ve seen it work each time.

The part about seeking a different perspective is reasonably new to me – or at least, specifically seeking a new perspective as a strategy is novel.

But how would it work?

I wasn’t sure, but it seemed straightforward and something that I could call on even when I was feeling hopeless.

I went about making this my daily mantra – asking to see things differently.

I fumbled my way through the week still feeling like a right old miserable mess, and half feeling like my crazy self-help strategies were failing me.

But being the believer that I am, I persisted.

“Help me see things differently”. 

And then it happened, out of literally nowhere, some news that changed the way I would view a scenario that was getting me down the most.

Something that had felt hugely disappointing turned out to be hopeful.

Then the next day, additional information came my way that lifted a veil of uncertainty over another upsetting situation that I’ve been holding space for.

I’d asked to see things differently – I had no idea how any of it would go, after all, that’s part of the reason I was feeling so depressed – I couldn’t see my way out of problems I was perceiving.

I kept asking to see things differently, and low and behold, that’s what happened in a relatively short amount of time from when I started asking for help!

Apparently the universe does have my back, and I’m glad to have had the chance to witness it.

What do you think about all this; would you try this strategy for a week to see what happens?

 

Constructive criticism vs destructive criticism

 

After a very nice break away, yesterday I returned to discover a bulging inbox which left me feeling more than a tad overwhelmed, and to make matters worse, one of the first emails I opened turned out to be a lengthy rant about a piece of content I hadn’t complemented with a photo. The feedback was reasonable enough – I had been forced to rush through a digital feature that was to be attached to a marketing email, and the copy had been supplied at the last minute. Because I was extremely short on time, I failed to include a larger photo on this accompanying attached content, and absolutely agree that it would have been the better way forward. No excuses, and I for one am well aware that the best learning usually comes from recognising the mistakes I’ve made (or how I could have improved).

Only thing is, this message from a reader was shared in such a way that it was upsetting, and the tone of voice used was that of an individual who came across (in this email, at least) as one who assumes they know better.

It was really obvious they had not considered:

  • My (as the content creator) feelings and the amount of work actually put into the entire body of work in the first place.
  • Other time constraints and workload pressures I might be facing.
  • All the other things in the overall campaign I’d actually got right!

Do you know the feeling?

Many of you reading this spend much of your day putting yourselves ‘out there’, creatively speaking and otherwise. Whether you are broadcasting on air, writing, blogging, filming, painting or working in PR and communications – it’s all a bit of a risky business for the ego. Some would even say we’re brave for doing it. I know a lot of people who are apprehensive about sharing their ideas, content or stories for fear of any type of criticism.

As content creators and communicators, we are consistently in a position where we need to produce written work or other creative output (videos, social media, blogs, magazine features etc.), and with that opportunity comes the people who are quick to judge our work, and not often in a constructive way.

We’re all pretty used to being ‘judged’, and I think most of the time this actually helps with positive personal and professional growth. Cooper and I began our careers in radio – an industry rife with arrogance and daily criticism of your work! That said, when delivered well, this really can help you become a far better on-air announcer than you ever would without feedback. Similarly, my mentors in publishing consistently showed me better ways to phrase, word, style and so on. This is how we hone a craft. This experience also helps you to develop a thick skin, which is something of a necessity in this and many other lines of work.

Criticism delivered in a negative, thoughtless or hurtful way though (whether intentional or unintentional on the part of the person sharing it), can have an adverse impact on self-esteem and confidence, and for those working in communications and creative industries, it has the potential to cause real problems.

People tend to be quick to pick problems, but very slow to share praise or thanks in the form of emails or comments on social media, websites or blogs. Have you ever been on the receiving end of destructive criticism and what kind of impact did it have on you?

These kinds of experiences remind me to think twice if I catch myself being judgmental and critical of other people’s work, because actually, they’re likely to have put much time and effort into the ideas, reason and production of the content being consumed out there in the public domain (whether you thoroughly enjoy it or not). Sharing feedback on someone’s published work is actually challenging their abilities and ideas, and it’s reasonable to expect that what comes back – if not entirely positive – should be designed to help them grow.

Moral of the story: give feedback constructively not destructively; and if you’re on the receiving end, take the valuable learning from it, and leave the rest at the door.

Today’s challenge: When you see something online today (on social media, a website, news site or blog) that’s helpful, makes you smile or feel inspired, drop a positive comment there to let the person behind it know you appreciate the thought and time they’ve put in.