Archive for Lifestyle

Oops! My 2012 Epic Failures and why they’re important

Oops! Epic Failures and why they're important

Don’t get me wrong. 2012 has been a terrific year with lots of highlights, successes and good times.  But as I look back, it dawned on me that I’ve learnt far more from the goals that didn’t stick, things that didn’t happen and the stuff that I basically, well… stuffed up!

So here are some of my biggest stuff ups for this year, along with the wisdom I’ve gained to take into 2013 and beyond.

1. Don’t commit to something that conflicts with your values

When The Great Life Redesign was published early this year, I thought it would be kind of cool to make it a best seller.  Not knowing how to do this, I invested countless hours and a lot of money in a coaching program that guaranteed to make my book a best seller on Amazon.

I did all the work and was ready to launch my campaign when I hit a roadblock.  The campaign required me to email thousands of potential sponsors (none of whom I knew) to ask for their support.   Feeling this was somewhat like spam, I uncomfortably realised it directly conflicted with my ethics and integrity.

2. When it doesn’t feel right, remind yourself of your true intent and walk away.

In spite of the considerable time and money already spent, I decided to stop the project and put my flawed aspiration down to experience.  After all, when I wrote the book, I decided that if it helped just one person to change the life they have for the one they want, I’d be happy.

Based on the heart-warming feedback I’ve received and wonderful new clients who’ve found me via the book, I know I’m on my way to fulfilling my true intent.

3. When life deals you an unexpected blow, suck it up and deal with it!

In September I took my mum and daughter on a wonderful holiday to the UK and Europe.  Laura had always wanted to go to Paris but as we went to board the Eurostar at Kings Cross Station in London we were stopped by my sheer carelessness.  Searching for my travel wallet (with passport and Euros) I started to panic as I realised it was gone!

Somehow it had been carefully lifted out of my bag when I wasn’t looking. Though the sight of my suitcase contents strewn all over the crowded platform would have looked hilarious, if you’ve ever been separated from your passport whilst traveling overseas, you’ll know how hard my heart was thumping.

4. Perspective, composure and focus will always save the day

Panic turned to anger and remorse as I realised this was going to ruin our holiday and Laura’s Paris dream. Fortunately her instant calm and rational nature helped me accept what had happened and refocus on the business of replacing the passport.  24 hours and many exasperating conversations with policy bound bureaucrats later, I was issued with a new passport and we were soon on our way.

With the benefit of hindsight, I’ll now be a lot more vigilant and when bad stuff happens, I’ll be quicker to put it into perspective, faster to regain composure and divert my energy into solution focus rather than remorse.

5. Know when to say ‘no’, before you’ve said ‘yes’

2012 took off at break neck speed for me and showed no signs of slowing down. My business was doing well and soon each week was passing in a blur. Every new client or piece of work on its own seemed ‘do-able’ but I failed to recognise and decide just how much I could realistically take on.

Before I knew it I was completely over-committed and my life had taken on one of those scenes in a Greek restaurant where the waiter cleverly spins many plates on long sticks, all at the same time.  My family, friends and non-work priorities all took a back seat as I attempted to keep all my plates in the air!

Ironically, The Great Life Redesign is all about stepping off the 21st century treadmill to enjoy a happier, slower, more fulfilling life.  Yet here I was falling into the very trap I help people escape.

As 2013 rapidly approaches, I’m committing to be kinder to myself with fewer goals and priorities, a wall planner I’ll review before I say ‘yes’,  a slower pace and more care. Oh, and I’ll also deliberately pack intuition, wisdom and perspective in my Thrival Kit to take with me, everywhere I go!

So… now I’m wondering, what ‘epic failures’ did you have in 2012?

What did you learn from them and what will you take with you into the brand new year?

Carpe Diem

Caroline Cameron

A Real Life Redesign Story of Guts, Energy and Surrender

How one woman’s Good Life Crisis is changing lives, including her own!

When Serena Star Leonard quit her day job and redesigned her life, she really didn’t know what lay ahead.  At 26 she left her IT sales career behind to discover how to realise her passion for making a difference.

Johnny and Serena writing and editing en routeJohnny and Serena writing and editing en route

Fast forward 7 years and she’s now a best- selling author (How to Retire in 12 Months), blogger and business coach.  Currently travelling long term with her husband through Latin America, she’s having amazing adventures, filming mini documentaries and sharing stories of people all over the world who are making a difference to their communities.

In a ‘virtual fireside chat’ from Latin America, let’s go behind the scenes of Serena’s great life redesign.

What prompted you to follow your passion?

 

I had a safe, well paying job with a great future ahead of me – the problem was that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I had so much fear around the thought of the unknown that I was stuck. Meanwhile I created a charitable event on the side with some friends and it went ballistic!  A few days later I had the courage to leave my job and go out on my own.

It actually took me a couple of years to figure out what I wanted to do – so that was an intense time! I created lots of small businesses, charities, events and projects, many succeeded and many failed. I was over worked, over committed, flying by the seat of my pants and earning very little. But with all that going on, an amazing sense of freedom started to develop.

After a while I noticed that I loved helping people set up their own projects and businesses – as soon as I decided to be a business coach, everything fell into place. I had figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up!

You’ve helped many people to find and follow their passion.  What do you notice is different about people who make their dream a reality?

 

The difference is courage! The second you state your dream out loud, you risk failing. Everything about making a dream a reality comes with a risk that you might fail, so it takes a huge amount of courage to look possible failure in the face and carry on anyway.

What I love seeing is the moment when someone gets their first little taste of success. It could be the smallest thing, but at that moment they realise that the world is at their feet. You have no idea how big or exciting your journey could get, but you have to have the door open and that takes courage.

What’s a ‘Good Life Crisis’ and why should we all have one?

 

A “Good Life Crisis” happens when you have a minor freak out and realise that unless you take action, your life will end up being more of what it already is.

At that point people start to think about they want from life – and start designing their life rather than following status quo.

“Good Life Crises” seem to happen organically – either we are inspired by other people, or we are unfulfilled and look for change. Either way I think it is important at regular intervals in your life to take a good look at where you are at and decide if that is the direction you will continue to go in.

What three things do all ‘Good Life Crisis’ creators have in common?

 

1. Guts – it takes courage to change the course of your life. You are interrupting the flow that you have taken a lifetime to create, so naturally there will be some resistance in your head as well as in the world around you.

2. Energy – that moment when you choose to change things you also accept responsibility for how your life goes. It’s like the lights turn on! When you chase your dreams you find energy that you never knew you had. Life looks different and everything you do suddenly matters.

3. Surrender – after a while you start to surrender to the process rather than the outcome. You can do everything in your power to make something happen and it may succeed or fail. People who chase their dreams start to realise that the process or journey is what matters, more than the results.

You’re on a quest to find and share the stories of people who are making a real difference in their communities and the world.  What sparked the idea and purpose of Five Point Five and what types of stories are you seeking to share?

 

Well to cut a long story short – we were about to embark on 3 years of travel and adventure and rather than do the tourist thing we wanted to do something that had some meaning.

We saw an incredibly inspiring YouTube video about Narayanan Krishnan who feeds and cares for the destitute in India. In the video he says that “everyone has 5.5 litres of blood, everybody is the same”.

This had a huge impact on me – what if we could collect stories of all the inspiring people who are out there quietly dedicating their lives to making the world a better place?

Since we left in April we have spent time with kids in the slums in Colombia, with sex workers fighting for their basic rights in Nicaragua, with a turtle conservation program in Costa Rica, with women who collect plastic bags off the beaches and sew them into gorgeous bags to reduce pollution. Every week we meet new communities of amazing, inspiring people who are absolute heroes.

This is a total passion project and I get to mix adventurous world travel with intimate experiences with inspiring people and communities.

Johnny plays football with kids from a project in Columbia

 

Johnny plays football with kids fro a project in Columbia

Women sew plastic bags off beaches into beautiful things

 

 

 

 

Women sew plastic bags off beaches into beautiful things

Johnny gets help fixing the road at school

 

 

 

Johnny gets some help fixing the road at school

 

 

 

 

 

Serena in turtle conservation program in Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

How cool is that!

To find out more about Serena’s inspiring and interesting story, check out her blog.  If the idea of quitting your 9 – 5 job appeals, she’s also running a course in January to teach people how to build their first blog from scratch. http://www.retireyoung.com.au/the-retire-young-course/

Carpe diem!
Caroline Cameron

 

 

Are you too comfortable?

What happens when you stay bored for too longThe cure for boredom is to step outside your comfort zone

If you’ve ever felt like you’re dying of boredom, you’ll know how mind numbingly frustrating it can be.

The hours tick slowly by as you go through the motions and as time passes, life gets increasingly stale and monotonous.

Maybe you’ve been in the same job or industry for what feels like forever, doing pretty much the same thing, day in and day out.  Perhaps you’re in a stale relationship or you’ve lived in the same house and neighbourhood for years.  Boredom strikes and settles in when nothing changes.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a little boredom. It’s great for chilling out, recharging the batteries and taking the pressure off for a while.  That’s actually relaxation – a vital stress reliever we all need to create balance.

However, when you’re too comfortable for too long you can find yourself climbing the walls and longing for something even remotely exciting to happen. Many a mid-life crisis is triggered by boredom and complacency when we’re simply not aware of what’s really going on.

Prolonged comfort is an insidious trap – the longer you’re in it, the harder it is to break free.  With no sense of urgency and purpose, your motivation, desire and enthusiasm rapidly fall away.

No longer interesting or interested, you’re starving your need for growth and challenge of much needed oxygen.  Friends stop calling, loved ones stop talking and even if an exciting opportunity came your way, you’d probably miss it.

Excuses become reasons not to act as life and all it has to offer pass you by.

It’s time to leap outside your Comfort Zone!

Your comfort zone is a state of being that determines what you will and won’t do. Made up of concentric rings, the mental boundaries that keep you stuck or propel you forward are like a fence around each ring that encircles the stages of your life.  When you’re in it, you’re generally relaxed, which means you’re coasting along nowhere near the perimeter.  Comfortable – yes; challenged – probably not.

Your Comfort Zone

Gradually the tension to jump the fence increases alongside mounting boredom, dissatisfaction or desire.  Eventually the prospect of staying where you are is intolerable and the compulsion to move forward becomes irresistible. That’s when you know you’re ready to let go of the familiar and step into new experiences and challenges.

Pain vs pleasure, risk vs reward, tolerance vs desire

Most of us do far more to avoid pain than we do to move towards pleasure. If you burn your finger on a hot iron, you’ll quickly pull it away from the heat. This action is instinctive and necessary. Yet when offered the opportunity for pleasure, many people resist it thinking they don’t deserve it, can’t do it or haven’t earned it. This very basic instinct keeps our Gen D friends stuck in the life they have, not really happy but also not motivated enough to change it.

If you have a high risk tolerance, you’re more likely to take the leap of faith required to make a significant life change. However, if you’re strongly risk averse, naturally cautious or fearful, you may feel like a base jumper about to leap off a cliff without a parachute. Don’t worry, you’ll be okay! Remember, your comfort zone is all mental conditioning (what you tell yourself) and hence something you can control.

If prolonged boredom has given way to discomfort, that’s a good thing. It creates the motivation, focus and effort you’ll need to create change and redesign whatever part of your life is just not doing it for you. Problems are really opportunities in disguise. Likewise, if the catalyst for change is a positive one, your desire for a better life will motivate you to make the transition.

Making a fundamental change to the way you live will require a gigantic leap outside your comfort zone! However, you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone many times in the past and once you consciously recall how you did it, you’ll be well prepared to do it again, this time with even more experience.

Reclaim your Mojo!

If you suspect you may be just a tad too comfortable, decide now to quit tolerating whatever’s driving your boredom and ambivalence. Use it as the motivator to redesign whatever’s not working in your life and create what you truly want.  The Great Life Redesign includes a simple quiz to help you know for sure whether you’re ready for change.  It also offers some handy Comfort Zone Leaping Techniques to get you on your way.

Deciding to act right NOW rekindles your energy and desire for change! Imagine how much better your life will be when you actually take steps to redesign it.  All it takes is one step at time. Your life redesign will gather momentum and you won’t ever want to go back to boredom.

Watch what happens when you discover what you really want; inject new life into an old relationship or embark on something brand new and exciting.  It’s like opening a window, letting in the breeze and feeling alive all over again.

What are you going to stop tolerating and start doing to reclaim your mojo today?

Carpe Diem
Caroline Cameron

 

 

 

PS.  Even if you’re not currently in the ‘too comfortable’ space, you may know someone who is.  Send them this post to get them off the couch and into action!

3 Simple Ways to Swap Stress and Burnout for Freedom and Wellbeing

Loving life on the 21st century treadmill

Stressed and Busy PeopleWith the rapid introduction of mobile devices, labour-saving widgets and instant access to anything, anywhere, anytime we should be happy, right?

Wrong! As a professional coach, I work with many senior executives, managers, project teams, small business owners, entrepreneurs, stay-home mums and families. No matter where I go, they all have one thing in common – they’re all frantically busy and stressed.

Juggling challenging jobs, raising children, caring for aging parents, paying off hefty mortgages and more, the lines between work and life have become increasingly blurred. Contactable and on-call 24/7, the relentless pressures and demands are taking their toll.

Overlay an endless media stream of bad news stories, natural disasters and economic doom and gloom and it’s no wonder that life on the 21st Century treadmill is wearing us down.

Yet, ironically, there’s also never been a better time to create the kind of lifestyle you actually want. We’ve never had more opportunities, options and choices which is why now is the best time to redesign your life.

Hmmm, easier said than done’, I hear you say, and I understand. Flat out surviving, let alone thriving, many people simply don’t know what changes to make or how to make them to live the life they dream of. Fortunately we have more control and choice over our lives than we may think.

Here are three simple strategies to help you get started:

#1. Identify what needs to change.

Imagine your life is a house with different but connected rooms – health, relationships, career, finances etc. Take out a notepad and go for an imaginary walk through your life house, noting what parts could do with a fresh coat of paint. Identify what’s working and what’s not and jot down how you’d like each room to look.

#2. Start small and commit to action every day.

Often the smallest changes will make the biggest difference and it’s smart to start in a room that’s relatively easy to renovate. For example, if your fitness and wellbeing have been on the backburner, commit to a daily 20 minute walk and build up to regular gym sessions or whatever exercise you enjoy.

#3. Create space – decide what you’re going to ‘stop’ doing.

The hectic pace of life often leads us to unconsciously add more to every day until there are simply no hours left. Stacking your days with frantic activity is the fastest track to burnout and stress. Go through each room again and make a decision about what you’ll reduce, delegate to others or simply stop. Notice the relief and freedom that comes from removing the clutter. This creates space to focus on what’s really important.

There’ll be more simple ways to swap stress, overwhelm and burnout for freedom, choice and wellbeing in future posts.

In the meantime, what strategies do you have for making positive life changes easy? Please share them below – I’d love to hear your top tips.

Carpe diem.
Caroline

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

What’s your job really costing you and is it worth it?

Work Trap37 year old Mary had everything she could wish for or… did she?

Always ambitious, she’d finally scored her dream job heading up a $75m, international project for a construction company. The luring package included a generous, multiple six-figure salary, all expenses paid business class travel, ipad, iphone and a number of other glittering perks.

But it came at a cost.

Whilst taking a short break with her family over Christmas, her days were constantly interrupted by streams of urgent phone calls from her manager, anywhere between 7am and 10pm. Emails couldn’t wait so she logged on down at the beach while her beautiful, eight year old daughter Ellie played in the waves and built sandcastles on her own. Her demanding client didn’t ‘get’ the time zone difference and the sound of incoming text messages echoed through the darkness while her family slept on.

Yes, she could have turned the phone off and refused to log in – after all, she was on annual leave. However, Mary’s company had an unwritten rule and unspoken expectation that senior executives would be on call and contactable 24/7. Besides she didn’t want to let her client, manager or team down and was committed to being ‘on top of it all’.

Her husband Dave was resigned to but unhappy about the constant interruptions and their arguments were becoming more frequent. Even when she was with her family, she wasn’t really. Totally conflicted, by the time she returned to work Mary was stressed and exhausted.  If nothing changes, she’ll pay the ultimate price losing her health, closest relationships and happiness.

It seems as though we’ve spent the last 10 years striving to become more efficient, mobile, contactable and indispensable – but at what cost? Latest figures from the Race Against Time Report, (National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling and AMP Financial Services) show that balancing work and family remains a big issue for working men and women, with around 40% of women and 30% of men feeling often or always rushed or pressed for time. Worse still, you probably won’t be paid or adequately compensated for ‘out of hours’ work.

It’s your life – hop into the driver’s seat and take control

If Mary’s story sounds familiar to you or someone you’re close to, maybe it’s time to take stock. Ask yourself:

  • What are the real expectations of the job (rather than the assumptions)?
  • What price am I really paying and is it worth it?
  • What am I prepared to do to get the job done and have a life?
  • What boundaries do I need to keep my job in perspective and priorities in focus?
  • Who can I call on to share the workload and how else could we get the job done?

Set up a meeting with your manager and team, go prepared with creative solutions and be open to new ways of working. Remember, your colleagues have a life outside work too. While work demands are ever-increasing, the pressure on companies to reduce stress and foster wellbeing is growing too. But the ultimate responsibility for yours rests with you.

Get clear about what’s important, decide what you are prepared to do (or not) and take deliberate action to make it happen.

Life’s short – it’s time to get moving and create the life you really wish for.

Carpe diem.

Caroline

 

 

If you’re wanting simple ways to reclaim your life, my new book, The Great Life Redesign will show you how.  It’s now available in all good bookstores and here.

10 Easy Ways to Make Any New Year a Ripper!

Know where you are and decide where you’re heading.

New Year, New Life ChapterAs this year hurtles at break-neck pace towards its finale, we vow that somehow, 'next year will be better'. But, hang on, is 'better' good enough?  Don't we want it to be the best ever?

Like a fresh, blank page in a book, the New Year marks a brand new chapter in your life. Whether you’re on track to achieve bigger goals or wanting to make smaller changes, these tips will help you set next year up to be a 'ripper'.

1. Learn from the past and move on

If you’ve made a few mistakes this year, don’t worry, we all have! Take time to identify what went wrong, convert your precious life lessons into wisdom and move on. By extracting the lessons from mistakes or failures, you can let whatever was ‘wrong’ about that event go.

2.Take stock of where you are

Step back and give each area of your life an A – F grade. Review what’s working and what isn’t in your relationships, health, wealth/finances, career, home, environment, community, challenge/growth and spirituality/beliefs.

3.Consciously decide what to keep and what will be different

Having mentally reviewed each room in your ‘life house’, decide and make a list of what needs to change. If you do make a change, what will actually be different and how will that be better than what you have today?

4. Create a Next Year Vision

If next year was to be your best, what would you most like to achieve? By this time next year, what will be happening that isn’t happening today. Write down change keywords to decide where you’re going to invest time, energy and effort. Based on where you’re heading, what will it look, sound and feel like and who will be there with you?

5. Decide how you’ll make your vision a reality

This includes setting goals and developing strategies to bring your vision to life. Without these your vision will be based on wishful thinking – unlikely to ever be realised. Make concrete plans and hold yourself accountable for making change happen. Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with everything you need to make it happen.

6.  Keep it simple

Unecessary complexity often creates drag on life redesign plans.  Like barnacles on a boat, the more you add, the heavier it gets and the slower progress moves.  Before you know it, your big plans have ground to a halt, bogged down in red tape.  Pack light, only do what's necessary and remove any unecessary clutter.

7. Commit to the plan

Change without commitment is like a car without petrol – there's a limit to how far you'll get without it!  What will it take to commit to the necessary action and stick with it for as long as it takes?  Deciding what to say 'no' to will help create the necessary time and energy to make important life redesign changes happen.

8. Engage your support team

Even Hilary didn't conquer Everest alone.  Behind every great achievement is a strong support team – those people who'll protect your back and cheer you on.  Identify what challenges you're likely to face and who you need to keep you on track.  How can you best help them? Remember, life is karmic – what you put out will come back to you many times over.

9. Celebrate the wins

In the quest to 'get things done', we often forget to celebrate our achievements big and small. Take time to feel the satisfaction of achieving each goal and notice what it was that helped you get there. The ‘high’ of achieving a win will keep you motivated for future success.

10. Embrace the small stuff

The greatest enjoyments in life are often hidden in the small events that happen every day. Unfortunately in today’s fast paced life, we are often too busy to even notice them. If you need ideas, check out 1,000 Awesome Things. Revel in life’s little pleasures and start your own book of Awesomes – you’ll be surprised how quickly you fill it.

How next year shapes up is well within your control. Great and not so great things will happen but that’s not as important as how you respond to them. So, go on, make the most of it, ‘let rip’ and love every moment for what the new year gives you.

Carpe diem

Caroline

 

 

A Simple Solution to the Work/Life Balance Puzzle

It seems like the harder we try to solve it, the busier, more
stressed and exhausted we become.

A Simple Solution to the Work Life Balance PuzzleYou only have to Google ‘Work Life Balance’ (over 32 million results) to know it’s something we all aspire to yet struggle with.

Reality Check:  Work/Life Balance is actually an unattainable myth and the quest to achieve it is futile!

Think about it.  The idea of a ‘balanced’ life is actually flawed. Taken literally, balance suggests equal amounts of everything you’d love to cram into each day and it’s simply not possible.  If we spend 8 hours sleeping, this leaves 16 hours for everything else.  Do you really want or need to devote equal time to your work, health, family, leisure, daily incidentals and other priorities?

The other flaw in the work/life balance proposition is the inherent assumption that work is ‘bad’ and the rest of life is ‘good’ and we should therefore strive for less work and more of the rest of life.  Once you uncouple work from life, it all starts to unravel.  If you didn’t work, how would you support the rest of your life? Besides, many people actually enjoy their work which provides challenge, social connection, variety, routine,
certainty and financial stability.

Lifestyle pressures pull the pieces apart.  These are often self-imposed and it’s relatively simple (not to be mistaken with ‘easy’), to change them when you know how.  Like a jigsaw, all the parts of your life interlock and you are the common denominator.  So now you’ve been freed from the struggle, let's see how to piece together the puzzle and create a seamless picture of your life.

An Integrated Life – a realistic and attainable alternative

Rather than striving to achieve balance by enforcing strict boundaries between work and life, it’s much easier to integrate your life and treat it as a whole. Once you’ve mastered the art and skill, all the parts work harmoniously to support rather than compete with each other.

How to live an Integrated Life:

  • Decide what's important (our priorities often get lost amidst the 'busyness' of everyday life) and let go of that which isn’t.
  • Consciously devote time to what's important – scheduling self-appointments in your diary to get things done; learning to say 'no' without guilt, planning and responding rather than reacting.
  • Change your expectations – many of us are notoriously hard on ourselves believing we can and should 'do it all'. Be kind to yourself and take the pressure off.  You can have and do it all once you’ve decided what ‘all’ is, how much you really want it and what’s possible.

Living an integrated life is vital for your physical and mental wellbeing and once achieved, creates a positive impact on the lives of those you care about.  This includes
being a great role model for your children, friends and colleagues.

If creating an integrated life seems hard, these 3 steps will make it easier:

  1. Check in on what you're telling yourself.  For example, if you believe you have to  work a 50+ hour week, how do you know that? What evidence is there and who said so? We often fail to challenge work place norms and in doing so hold fast to limiting beliefs such as, I have to be at work before the boss arrives and stay till after he/she has left.  How do you know that?  Have you actually asked him or her directly?
  2. Turn statements and beliefs into better questions.  Instead of I have to work long hours to be successful, ask yourself If I could be successful by swapping the long hours for working smarter, how would I do that?
  3. Learn how to influence others constructively.  Creating an integrated life requires compromise and effective negotiation techniques are a powerful skill to master. Positive conversations with your boss (eg about working shorter hours or working from home), partner and children (to help out more around the house) are simple when you know how.

All puzzles are easy to solve once you have the solution.  Remember, you don’t have a ‘work’ and a ‘life’ – you only have one life. Don’t you owe it to yourself and those you care about to integrate the parts to make it work well for you?

Find out more about how to create an integrated life in my book, The Great Life Redesign – change how you work, live how you dream and make it happen today.  It will be available from all good bookstores and online in January.

Carpe Diem

Caroline Cameron