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Kindness in the workplace: small gestures = great impact

Kindness in the workplace: small gestures = great impact

 

How YOU can generate kindness in the workplace

(and brighten someone’s day in five minutes or less!)

One of my ‘Friday jobs’ (as part of life working in internal communications) is to wander around our beautiful big central London building to visit all the different departments, update their staff notices, promote whatever’s going on (official business), and share some gossip (unofficial business).

When I returned to my desk after one such round recently, my boss told me that someone in another area, Ashley, had sent him a really nice email about me.

Ashley specifically emailed my boss to share that I represent my team in a positive way both in person and via phone and email. She made the comment that she thinks it’s important to highlight the good going on around us because it’s too easy to dwell on the negatives.

I share Ashley’s sentiment, and while I make a point to always genuinely thank or compliment friends and colleagues in my own way of generating kindness in the workplace, what struck me about her gesture was that she put herself out there and sent feedback to my manager.

That type of action is thoughtful and really matters. It didn’t just brighten my day, but my week which in all honesty had been long, tiring and reasonably stressful.

It got me thinking, what other ways could we each bring a little kindness into work?

 

4 ways to implement kindness in the workplace today

 

Thank you cards

I have a little stash of thank you cards at work and I hand write a note on one every now and then when I notice someone has gone out of their way for others.

Certainly, I’m no-one special at work – not a senior manager or anything – but that doesn’t matter to the recipient who is always grateful that someone noticed and cared about their efforts.

 

Pay attention to what’s going on around you

We are always so busy and stuck in our own deadlines that it’s easy to miss that others are in the same boat.

Being a little mindful and supportive can go a long way.

A hard-working friend of mine, Isabelle, was run down with a cold recently and she was really touched that a nurturing colleague, Emma, picked up some effervescent vitamin C for her while she was out on her lunch break.

They aren’t even in the same team, but Emma clocked that this could make a difference to Isabelle (who was also about to take a long flight to China to visit her sister), and she was right – this was a nice thing to do, at just the right time.

Similarly, two colleagues I work with this week noticed I seemed to be having a tough afternoon and promptly delivered chocolate to my desk. While I very much enjoyed eating the treats, their thoughtfulness cheered me up (thanks Caroline and Izzy!).

 

Start a gratitude initiative

We have staff noticeboards in all departments at work, and one of our jobs as internal communicators is to use these to build morale and engagement.

We’ve pinned pretty little cloth pouches (jewellery bags I found on eBay) to each board and filled these with coloured cards and pens; staff are encouraged to use these to pin notes on the boards. The messages can be about anything, including events, goods for sale, or praise for co-workers.

More specifically, I’ve pinned up A4 pages that go on the boards blank except for a heading: ‘Thank a colleague who you don’t usually work with who has made a positive difference to you’.

In some departments we’ve ended up with pages of notes from people who have shared messages of thanks (either including their names or anonymously).

When staff see someone’s thanked them in that public space it gives them a nice buzz, and generates wider feelings of happiness throughout the office.

This same concept can be applied using postcards, notes in your internal magazine or newsletters, and on intranet notices, digital thank you cards or conversation threads.

 

A few words go a long way

Finally, taking a lesson from Ashley’s kind gesture, it only takes a moment to email someone a genuine message of praise or gratitude.

Or, be proactive and let someone’s manager know an awesome job is being done – you might be surprised to know how little this happens!

In my experience people often assume things are a ‘given’; that gratitude or compliments are dished out freely (by someone else!). Often they are not.

Yet, countless human resources survey results have revealed that people are much happier and far more productive when they feel appreciated by managers as well as peers.

Imagine the difference that we would all experience at work if each of us took responsibility for implementing just one small kind action for someone else every week.

I’d love to hear about your tips, ideas and experiences around kindness in the workplace… Is it really possible to make an office happier, do you think?

Constructive criticism vs destructive criticism

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. 

Why now is your time to live abroad and travel

Why now is your time to live abroad and travel

A few years ago I compiled this interesting set of interviews for a national women’s magazine in Australia, on when in life is the best time to live abroad and travel. I had the opportunity to chat with some inspiring women over 30 years old, who had decided to take a ‘late gap-year’ – that is, a year to live and work abroad (despite the expectation that a ‘gap year’ is only for under 25s).

Unfortunately, the editorial team at the magazine changed direction during a new year restructure, so this feature never saw the light of day. But, as it’s becoming more and more common to ditch the early backpacker years to develop a career, and then take a ‘risk’ on a life far away from home ‘later’ in life, I’ve decided to dust off this piece in the hope it inspires one more of you to take the plunge this year!


The great (late) gap-year debate.

Why now is your time to live abroad and travel

Would you press ‘pause’ on life in order to head overseas? Four women talk to Sarah Blinco about the risks and gains associated with taking time out for a mid-career ‘gap year’.

A few years back I could think of nothing else but going to live abroad. I felt like I’d missed my chance, entirely career-driven throughout my twenties. Finally I’d reached a horrible point where I felt like I was ‘too old’ to follow a dream. When fate presented an opportunity to move to London, I just scraped in securing a British work visa by age 31. I couldn’t believe what was happening – a chance to live and work overseas, just when I thought it had slipped away. Why then, on my way to London, did I sit fighting back tears, panicking, thinking, ‘what have I done’?

I’d packed all my worldly belongings into the required 20kg checked luggage, said goodbye to family, friends and dog (utterly awful), and was on my way to Britain. No job, no home, no friends. It had only dawned on me that making the decision to leave life as I knew it behind to experience some kind of Eat Pray Love dream was probably the easy (or perhaps stupid?) part. I was doing my utmost to contain my freak-out so that fellow passengers wouldn’t get the wrong idea!

Spinning in my mind were questions like what if some of those loved ones aren’t around when I return? Will I adjust abroad? What if a job isn’t here for me when I come home? Will all my friends be married with kids when I get back? Will I be completely out of the loop? What was I thinking?

If the numbers of older professional Australians working and residing in cities like London, Dubai or New York are anything to go by, women are evidently getting over these fears (as I quickly did) and letting go of safety nets in order to embark upon a ‘contemporary gap year’ – that is, choosing to take a mid-career pause to travel and develop international skills.

In fact, a recent Wanderlust travel survey found that over 50 per cent of respondents thought that taking a gap year for the ‘big trip’ of a lifetime mid-career was actually the best time to go, above post-university, after having children, and retirement.

Taking my homeland, Australia, as an example too, in 2012 there were over eight million overseas departures, and of that number, 372,200 left with the intention of going ‘for good’. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) anticipates that around 80,000 of those Aussies will see the dream realised, starting a new life abroad. Australian Department of Immigration statistics share that 66.1 per cent of this 80,000 departing permanently were in employment prior to leaving, and 25.5 per cent – the largest group, were professional adults, 25 to 39 years old (almost even between women and men); highly skilled and well educated, and increasingly mobile, moving between Australia and other countries as career and life chances appear.

Sarah Blinco Stonehenge England

The concept is undoubtedly exciting, especially to career-minded women who missed a chance to travel earlier. However, when an adult gap year becomes reality and with seemingly more at stake the older we are, is the experience worth the worries associated with putting ‘real life’ on hold?

Teaching in the Middle East

Hannah Wallis, a teacher and education recruitment consultant, admits to a panic attack mid-flight to her new life over such a decision. “I was 30-years-old and chose to move to Jordan following an invitation I’d received to teach there. I had never been to the Middle East and I was really interested in going somewhere that my friends had never tried”. Hannah says the biggest risk to her was leaving a happy life behind in Australia. “I was worried about hating it in Jordan, but it wasn’t until I actually got on the plane that I panicked.”

A gap year involves starting again on one level or another (new home, job, friends, routine…), and obviously for Hannah these issues were magnified. “I arrived in the capital city at midnight… was raced through the airport and taken to a hotel that was in the middle of the desert. I thought this is crazy, what I am I doing? It was like landing on the moon… I was taken to a medical centre where I had a needle stuck in my arm. I wasn’t put in a chair or anything, just jabbed. It was very scary”.

Hannah lived and worked in Jordan for two years. “The first year was good because it was all new to me. The difference in culture is difficult; I was ready to come home at the end of my contract”. She adds that she doesn’t regret the experience and might consider a future gap year teaching in Asia, however Hannah maintains that taking time abroad in your twenties is preferable. “You’re less mouldable [in your thirties]. You know your own limits a bit more but that’s not to say you don’t know them in your twenties. I think it’s easier to go with the flow when you’re younger. Also, when you come back home when you’re 25 for example, you still have time to kick around for a bit; but when you come back in your thirties you have to be serious. Everyone expects you to settle down.

It’s harder to secure visas when you’re over 30, and there does inevitably come a point where you question whether you’re prepared to start again”.

Setting up fresh in Hong Kong

“Is it brave or stupid to take a late gap year?” Sydneysider Fleur Filmer, Startup and business growth specialist, and Managing Director of Lulu and I.com, laughs heartily at the question.

Only a clinically insane person would do what I did – going to Hong Kong, one of the most expensive places in the world, on my own at 35, with no job but yes, I’m very happy for the experience!”

Fleur decided that she wanted to do something totally different with her life and thought that a gap year would broaden her horizons.

“This incredible opportunity presented itself when I was 35 and it’s honestly been one of the best decisions I ever made. My family was shocked – I’d never flown the coup before! They didn’t expect something like this from ‘professional, ‘responsible’ me, but they thought it was courageous… It wasn’t until I’d set up my apartment in Hong Kong and the shipping container with all my belongings was on the sea that I thought, ‘wow, I must be nuts’; I felt empowered though – I’m the only person I know who has ever moved to another country without a job, but I went out, sought advice, started my own business in Hong Kong and the whole thing just felt right”.

Fleur attributes her positive experience to the fact she was older. “You face things with a different head on your shoulders once you’re out of your twenties. Financial security is also a big thing for this version of a gap year. You can experience another culture and not have to slum it. If I’d done this when I was 21 I wouldn’t have appreciated it… I wouldn’t have had the ability to understand how awesome the opportunity to take a gap year is. My experience taught me that if you follow dreams there will be lots of rocky things happen along the way, but if you stick to your guns you’ll get there. This is exactly what I’ve done and now I have devised my absolute dream business in Australia – I owe it all to my gap year in Hong Kong”.

Falling for Paris

Sydney-based book editor, Desanka Vukelich, agrees that an older gap year has improved her confidence. “It’s most certainly a brave thing to do, taking a gap year when you’re mid-career. The experience has helped me to have the courage to know I can do anything”.

In 2008 at the age of 30, Desanka left a prestigious job as an in-house editor and moved to Paris for a year. She explains, “I knew I wanted to travel and work overseas but mostly in my twenties I was shy and wasn’t ready for the adventure”.

The critical risks to Desanka were employment, and pride. “I was really scared of failing in the respect that I wouldn’t get a job in Paris, and that I’d have to turn around and come back with my tail between my legs. My cousin inspired me by reminding me that I’d never failed at anything I’d tried before, so why should this be different? This gave me the confidence to stop worrying about home safety nets and just get on with my dream”.

Desanka, like Fleur, insists that ‘gut instincts’ played an integral role in overcoming concerns relating to this type of ‘controversial’ life move.

“The period before I left for Paris was definitely a confirmation of the fact I was doing the right thing. It was a very positive time. For me the gap year later in life was worthwhile because I simply had more wisdom than I did in my twenties… I now maintain my own successful business thanks to inspiration and lessons from my time overseas that I couldn’t have gained at home.

Too often we get caught up in worries that turn out to be unnecessary, like what people expect us to do – I feel it’s not a sufficient way to live. I understand that not everyone has the option though, and it’s difficult when people feel obliged to others or even themselves to do certain things. The overriding lesson for me though, is that the risks are worth it and I now live following my heart and instincts. I found work, everything was the same in Australia when I got back, but I had a life changing experience in Paris, it was home”.

There’s no place like London

Katrina Dudley, a marketing professional from the Gold Coast says that she stands testament to the fact that age is advantageous when dealing with challenges associated with a new life elsewhere.

“When I was 19 I moved to Tokyo to live, but stayed for three weeks and had to come home because I was too overwhelmed. My biggest fear ten years later however, was that I wouldn’t have the chance to take this gap year. I was running out of time to secure the working visa and was keen to accept an opportunity in England”.

The British gap year option for Katrina wasn’t about taking a break from her career but was more about adding to her skill set. “There was some resistance. My parents hated to see me leave. They queried why I would want to go when I had a mortgage, a good job and would have to come back and start again, but a large part of me knew it would be worth the risk. My career was in full swing but I had to follow my dream and I was fortunate to be presented with amazing opportunities in London… Now I am in Australia I see how easily you can slip back into life. I think people are concerned that they will come back to nothing, but it’s all the same.

If anything, employers love the fact that you have broadened your horizons, experience and skills”.

Is an adult gap year brave or stupid? Katrina replies, “In my experience it’s not stupid at all. I think it is a shame that people don’t step outside their comfort zone… When you’re younger a year away is a bit more like an extended holiday; when I lived in London it was ‘real life’. All the risks that seem like issues before you leave home turn out to be inconsequential. In the UK had a network of friends, a responsible job, annual leave. Other people find love and their dream jobs overseas! It is also easier when you’re older and have a well paid career – you appreciate it all differently and have money to do many amazing things… I would definitely consider another gap year. I think it would be brilliant to move to Mexico one day, work remotely on my laptop and learn Spanish”.

When is the best time to live abroad and travel?

Tracey Batty, CEO of Pure Professional Recruitment encounters many considering the ‘contemporary gap year’: “Working offshore is a great thing to do but my advice is to be very clear about what you want to achieve. Build your ‘gap year’ around goals for the year, whether they are to explore, improve career marketability, to make money or to find your passion”.

Primary concerns

  • Not ‘settling down’ and buying a house.
  • Missing out on home front career opportunities.
  • Not being taken seriously / finding employment abroad.
  • Criticism for being ‘irresponsible’; also missing friends and family. Tracey adds, “remember though, twelve months is not a lifetime”.

Worth the risks

  • Increased confidence, professional and personal growth.
  • Finding love, inspiration or adventure abroad.
  • A professional / marketable skill is advantageous in most ‘adult gap year’ cases, improving financial and job security. Tracey notes, “look for international transfers or secondments within your organisation – you may be surprised what you find when you speak to HR or a recruitment company”.
  • It’s now acceptable to not be restricted by antiquated age stereotypes.

For me, I ended up returning for a second time, and am generally happier for the experience (at least for now!). What are your thoughts on the best time to live abroad and travel? Please let us know in the comments below. Similarly, any questions, please ask.

Re-edited in 2015, original interviews prepared in 2012.
How to conquer the fear of public speaking

How to conquer the fear of public speaking

Both Cooper and I have our own fears around public speaking, but because we’ve got messages we passionately want to share in the future, we know this is something we need to conquer.

The fact we wanted to conquer the fear of public speaking meant we had been keeping an eye out for opportunities to learn and practice, and so late last year when a new course near to us in London popped up on our radar, we decided to take the plunge (despite feeling just a tiny bit ill at the thought of this shift outside our comfort zone)!

How to conquer the fear of public speaking

Take 15 minutes to find out more about our experience and newly discovered tips on how to conquer the fear of public speaking and become a more polished presenter.

If you are in London and interested in the Bishopsgate Institute course we’ve mentioned, you can find details here (book now for the next course which is starting very soon!); otherwise, go to bishopsgate.org.uk and search for their acting and/or presenting offerings. (PS we’re only referencing the course because we got a lot out of it and genuinely loved the experience!).

What are you waiting for?!

We’d love to read about your thoughts, questions or tips on how to conquer the fear of public speaking – please share in the comments space below.

Image credit: Sean Lamb, creative commons
Looking ahead | Goal setting and personal development

Looking ahead | Goal setting and personal development

Usually I’d get onto this whole goal setting and personal development year-in-review exercise much earlier, but the last part of 2015 has been fraught with distraction and even a little bit of devastation.

It’s New Year’s Eve, however, and so this morning I pulled from my bag a printed, crumpled sheet that I’ve been carrying around for a few weeks – Suzy Greaves’ annual review questions. Suzy is a life coach and editor of one of my very favourite magazines, Psychologies UK, and she’s full of wisdom. Join her mailing list for more at suzygreaves.com.

Rather than emphasising that we choose one big goal and set to work on ‘achieving it’, Suzy reminds me that reflection on what’s gone by, and intentions for the new year are much more important than setting major milestones that we may or may not reach (that’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for our best). I do think this is a healthier exercise, and it’s one that can be done at any time of the year, not just December/January.

On my personal reflection I realised that although this past year has had some major challenges, it’s come with lots of laughs too. Both Cooper and I had the absolute pleasure of spending time with our parents who visited the UK all the way from Australia – that’s very special, and we enjoyed many times where we laughed uncontrollably over shared stories, jokes and London survival strategies (stay to the right on the escalator!!).

And on the family front, we’ve got an aunty, uncle and cousin in Queensland who we offer eternal gratitude to, for loving and caring for our dog (and fur baby) in his golden years. While the end to that story is too difficult to write about still, I’ve been shown tremendous examples of kindness that the only way to repay is to pay forward, and I will.

We’ve got gorgeous family of all generations; true friends where distance and time do not matter; and an abundance of good things in all directions. Gratitude gratitude gratitude. If you care to consider it…

I had a good think about situations that got me down at work and in life, but then realised some proud moments where I made a move to change these for the better. Through my own practices of goal setting and personal development, I know now that I’m happiest and at my best when I can bring light to those who need it most; when I can be creative and travel and inspire the one person who really wants and needs to hear what I have to say at any given point in time. I’m proud that I have encouraged people to get out of their comfort zones and travel. Some have, or are on the way for a visit soon!

The TBEX gathering was a highlight, not only for its ongoing creative, entrepreneurial and fun energy, but because I reconnected with a person I’d previously worked with who will be a life-long friend now. Plus, there’s always Spain – the backdrop of our favourite conference this year. Yep, I could live there one day.

Back to reflection though, an important aspect of my year has been attending other goal setting and personal development workshops and seminars, like Hayhouse’s I Can Do It, as well as Rebecca Campbell and Robyn Silverton’s wonderful Spirited Urban Retreat. I strongly recommend you take advantage of any type of workshop or conference you can get your hands on in 2016 because aside from any helpful, practical tools you can take away from the sessions at such events, it’s the positive energy you’re immersed in that really makes the difference. Spending dedicated time with like-minded people who want to implement positive change (despite wide and varied obstacles) does make a significant impact, and truly worked for me this year. My advice is don’t underestimate it – go with an open mind, ready heart and choose to let a day like this make a difference. I can’t wait to attend Gabrielle Bernstein‘s upcoming workshop in London!

While I’m reasonably good at identifying larger situations in career or life that I need to make changes on, I’m not so good at managing the smaller aspects that can get me down – that is, I consistently fret about not having enough time – for work, friends, phone calls home, blogging, upkeep of this site, social media, networking, travel, downtime… the list goes on. But, my reflection this morning has reminded me that I know that when I intend for there to be time, there is. Daily meditation and being consistent at taking twenty minutes a day to write, going to the gym with Cooper; and weekly yoga and creative outlets are my lifestyle aims for the coming year.

Suzy asks, ‘what is the moral of your story in 2015?’ I think one for me is that just when I think I’ve got it all in hand, something shows up to challenge my understanding and comfortable space. I realise now that life isn’t about getting to a particular point (financial, career, family or otherwise); it’s about the journey, lessons learned, adapting and thriving. I think in the end, it’s about an unapologetic pursuit of happiness and freedom to be yourself (that will obviously mean different things for different people).

One thing I know for sure is that this past year I’ve helped people, and I like it! It might only have been a handful of souls, and in the only ways I know (chatting, writing), but I’ve made a difference, just like others have done for me. One small step at a time – but this year I learned that sending that energy into the world is a far stronger force than pushing out fear (or upset, worry, obsession over all the bad things that are going on). I believe this. I liken it to the adorable film Monsters, Inc when they realised that rather than scaring kids and gathering energy from fear, they did far better by generating the vast reservoir of energy garnered from happiness, laughter and love.

I think if I can look back on the moments of a year or period in time and recognise how I was challenged, how I dealt with it, what I learned and what I could have done differently (or will do in the future), then that’s an achievement for me. That’s success, and living. What do you think?

Goal setting and personal development – in a word

My mate, Madonna Williams, shared a wonderful post this morning, encouraging her friends and yoga clients to consider the one word that they might use to describe the year gone by, and the one they will use for the year ahead.

I’ve chosen ‘allowance‘ for the past year because it represents what I kept coming back to during scary, difficult, upsetting and even exciting times brimming with opportunity. Letting go and allowing – a very big thing for me. Next year I’ll go with ‘abundance‘, because I want to attract more creative endeavours, travel, adventure and even a few more dollars into my world. And dogs, lots and lots of dogs.

What are your descriptive words, or your stories from the year gone by? Drop me a line in the comments.

And if you would like to take a look at Suzy Greaves’ questions, she’s kindly linked them here.

How to get out of your own way

How to get out of your own way

Are you blocking yourself from playing bigger?

Have you ever considered what your “default emotion” is? I’d not heard the term before, nor had I even placed any thought on the matter, until I came across an interview with Nisha Moodley, a women’s leadership coach. She says we each have default emotions − some people get sad easily, or angry or confused; often this is a way of escaping the discomfort of what we are facing, whether it be a conflict, fear of change or moving forward.

We’re all up to big things these days. We have big ideas on what we want to create for our families, businesses and lives. While I believe anything is possible, that large void of potential can be scary at times.

Those who know me understand I’m often doing crazy things, making wild manoeuvres away from my perfectly-fine comfort zone. I do wish I could sit still, but my mind − like yours − conjures big things, and I find myself making significant changes every few years in an attempt to pursue these ideas, hopes and dreams. Those of you who don’t know me personally have probably worked this out about me though, based on what I write and blog about.

I mention it, not to advocate making wild changes, nor to preach that change can be positive. I bring it up, because I know first-hand that while change more often than not leads to something amazing, it can be tough. Whether it’s self-imposed or change that has been thrust upon you, it requires time, perseverance and sometimes, a lot of deep breaths to move through, until you get to that place where you realise you’ve made it, and you smile.

So, “default emotions”. They usually run rampant when we’re in a period of flux. Mine were at play recently when things were spinning around; change and choices flying at me swiftly. I could feel myself blocking it all with self-doubt and fear. I rationalised reasons for not trying things, rather than reasons why I should go for (or deal with) it. Interestingly, Nisha warns us to get familiar with such emotions and associated reactions. When you feel them creeping in, learn to recognise the emotions, and check to make sure they’re not emerging in response to something which needs to be managed or overcome (fear, doubt, guilt, anxiety etc.).

By being able to recognise these signs, Nisha explains, we can learn to not let blocks stop us from “playing bigger”. Sometimes your default emotion(s) will prevent you from taking the next − possibly daunting, but potentially game-changing − step forward in life, love or career.

How to get through your own road-blocks? Nisha suggests we need to reconnect with what she calls “your North Star”, a combination of “WHY for you and WHY for the world.” That is, “Your ‘why for the world’ is what really inspires you and calls you into action (e.g. better education for all children, animal rights), and the ‘why for you’ is what personally inspires and calls you into action (e.g. do you long to write, create, nurture…?).”

The best bit about Nisha’s advice is she reminds us to stop trying to work it all out alone. Instead, touch base with friends and mentors who can quite often and easily help you move through confusion or worry, and remind you of what your strengths are, and what life adjustments are likely to complement you as an individual. “Develop your sisterhood, seek advice, share openly (the good and the bad), ask for assistance; help each other,” Nisha says.

What better moment than Christmastime to round up the girls for a brainstorm and heart-to-heart!

Soon it will be a new year, a time generally associated with change and goal setting. The notion of big change might not be where you’re at, or maybe you’re like me and you’ve just reached a particular milestone and presently looking around mystified and thinking, “OMG, what now?!”

An option I’ve embraced is to go back to basics. Slow down, breathe, take baby steps, and reconnect with people (in person, not online). Avoid overwhelm by focussing on just one important thing you need to do each day which will move you closer to “your North Star”. Stop to assess those “default emotions” too, and consider the outcome surrounding your potential next steps. That is, if you were to remove fear, doubt and confusion from the equation, what decision(s) would you really make? Upon reflection, you’ll likely realise, as I have, that you are the one who has kept you playing small. It’s safe in that space, sure, but it’s the only thing stopping you from achieving your “more”.

The interview discussed:

By Sarah Blinco. Originally published in Get it Magazine, December 2014