Archive for Reduce Stress

H is for HEALTH

H is for HEALTH_26 top tips to change your life

Never take it for granted!

Poor health limits your options whilst great health opens many more doors.

Don’t wait till it’s too late.

Make time every day to nurture the health of all 10 parts of your life.

The Great Life Redesign shows you how to nurture your health, every day.

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron

How to be Storm Ready and Survive Life’s Toughest Moments

How to survive life's toughest moments

As Hurricane Sandy unleashes its fury on the east coast of America, millions of anxious people all along the east coast are living the nightmare.

We all face dramatic storms that change our lives forever. Maybe yours have included the death or serious illness of someone you love, losing your home, prolonged stress or the inevitable but painful end of an important relationship.

Sadly, the impact of these events can be devastating, leaving you bruised and battered for years.

Yet, as bad as they can be, major life storms do pass and life does go on, albeit dramatically changed. Life itself is a series of unstable, tumultuous times and quieter periods and while we often can’t change them, we can control how we deal with them.

Regardless of whether you’re currently in the eye of a ferocious storm or enjoying relative peace and stability, it’s wise to have a ‘Storm Kit’ ready for whatever life throws at you next.

Packing a Storm Kit won’t make bad things happen. Like life insurance or airbags in your car, it will mean you’re well prepared. So, let’s pack you a Storm Kit for when the storm clouds next gather in your life.

7 Storm Kit Essentials

1. Create an early warning device

Not so long ago we had little or no warning of pending disasters. In the same way we now the ‘know how’ to predict major storms, you too have early warning devices to anticipate the events that could upend your life.

Listen to your intuition – if something just doesn’t feel right, act on it. Recognise and acknowledge the indicators that tell you all’s not well. Increased conflict in a relationship, significant change at home or work and the health and wellbeing of those you love all provide vital clues.

2. Prepare for the worst and be ready to do and be your best

Once you know that a big storm is on its way, inevitable and that you’ll be right in its path, it’s time to batten down the hatches and prepare.

If possible, get out of the storm’s direct path. Knowing what’s within your control, do what you can to diffuse stress and decide how you want to ride it out. Consciously choose how you’ll respond, put coping strategies in place and be kind to yourself.

Remember, you’re stronger and more resilient than you may feel right now.

3. Know your priorities

Write down what’s important. You won’t be able to take everything with you and that’s a good thing! Let go of  everything that doesn’t really matter. Offload beliefs, responsibilities and tasks that will suffer if you struggle to maintain them as the storm unfolds.

Focus only on what’s important to clear the clutter of what keeps you busy but doesn’t add real value. If you’re not sure what’s important, clarify your core values and beliefs and use them to guide you.

4. Call on your powerful Inner Resources

Inner Resources are those internal ‘states of being’ we draw on to give us the strength and courage to face the worst that life throws at us. In times of crisis, these include faith, persistence, calm, resilience and perspective.

Think of a time when you’ve survived a potentially debilitating life crisis in the past. What was it that got you through?

Even in your darkest hour, there will be strong beliefs and ways of being that kept you going. Having called on them before, you know with absolute certainty that you can call on them again this time.

5. Have essential emergency supplies on hand

Both practical and emotional, emergency supplies are anything to make the crisis more bearable as the storm passes through your life. Stock up on healthy food, treats that make you feel better and activities to recharge your batteries and help pass the time.

One of my clients who was nursing her father through a prolonged and painful terminal illness, found comfort working on a beautiful tapestry. Sitting next to his bed for long hours as he lapsed in and out of consciousness, she patiently stitched. While it gave her something productive to do, each stitch created a precious bond with her father that would live on long after he was gone.

6. Build a strong support team

This isn’t a time to be stoic and brave – never go through a major crisis alone! Decide who you want in your life at this time and reach out for help. We all need connection with others and this is even more important during a crisis.

Close family, friends and caring professionals will do all they can to help you out and sharing the experience will lighten the load. Even asking for help with something seemingly small will make a big difference.

7. Create a mop-up plan

Knowing this storm will pass, turn your attention to what you will do when it’s all over. Making plans for life after the storm reminds you that life will get better. Major life storms have an uncanny way of bringing you new choices.

How will life be different and what opportunities await you on the other side? Even if you can’t predict exactly how you’ll feel or what life will be like, now’s the time to start planning optimistically for the future.

Change is inevitable and making it through to the other side alive means picking yourself up and moving on, when you’re ready. Give yourself time to heal and with firm resolve, know you have everything you need to move forward to a brighter future.

Carpe Diem

Caroline Cameron

 

 

 

PS. Even if you’re not currently facing a major ‘life storm’, you may know someone who is. Please share these tips and help lighten their day.

If Only I’d Known That Back Then…

Top 12 Life Lessons to replace struggle with ease

Life Lessons_If Only I'd Known THAT Back When...

Ahhh, hindsight – it’s a beautiful thing!  One of the best parts of growing older is the wisdom that comes with life experience. Like many wide-eyed 18 year olds, I launched into my adult life full of expectation, enthusiasm, energy and more than a little naivety.

10 major career and countless life changes later, only the naivety has gone and curiously, I learn much more quickly these days!

Whenever I gain a blinding new insight or learn a new skill, I find myself thinking, ‘if only I’d known that back when I was …[insert life struggle]’.

So here are my Top 12 Life Lessons shared to make your life easier:

  1. Every question has an answer and every problem a solution

Once you believe this, you’ll never be stuck again!  Even ‘do nothing’ or ‘do it later’ are solutions.  If you don’t know, someone else will – it’s just a matter of reaching out and asking.

  1. You can’t hang your star of happiness on someone else’s tree

In the same way we hang decorations on a Christmas Tree, we often abdicate the responsibility for our happiness to someone else. If you’re waiting for someone else to make you happy, you could be waiting a long time.  Be happy with and for people, not because of them.

  1. The best lessons come from the toughest stuff

While I’d not have chosen some of the challenges life has sent my way, I am grateful for what I learnt from them.  We never really know what we’re capable of until we’re tested.  Remember, when you’re going through a rough patch, you’re quietly building courage, resilience and confidence – inner resources you can call on anytime.

  1. This too will pass

The best thing about tough times is that they don’t last forever.  When the clouds part to let the sunshine in, leave the pain behind and take the lessons with you.  The greatest of times are often momentary too so embrace them for all they give you and cherish the memories.

  1. You always have a choice

Wow!  This is so simple and yet I only figured it out a few years back.  Once you adopt this one, you can wipe out self doubt.  We may not be able to control the events in our lives but we always have a choice about what meaning to put on them.

  1. Other people aren’t right or wrong – they’re just different

When someone annoys or disappoints us, chances are they’re pressing one of our core value buttons. Even though they may claim to hold the same values as you (eg integrity, respect, loyalty or achievement), their actions and words may appear to be incongruent. All that’s happening is they’re putting a different meaning on that value.  Neither right or wrong, it just is.

Respecting others beliefs and values doesn’t mean you have to compromise your own so there’s nothing to fear or protect.

  1. Everyone’s doing the best they can with what they’ve got – save judgement for something that needs it

No one sets out to do the wrong thing intentionally. The action or words may not be right by your personal principles but judgement won’t change them.  It merely leaves you frustrated, angry, drained and helpless.

Focusing on the behaviour rather than the person (play the ball, rather than the man) fosters acceptance, maintains perspective and keeps your emotional energy and powder dry for something that really does matter.

  1. Do something good for someone else every day, expecting nothing in return

The world and everyone in it owe you nothing!  Doing something selfless feels great because you know you’ve made a difference without expecting it to be reciprocated.  Being generous in all you say and do costs very little and has the potential to be profound.

It costs nothing to smile, appreciate and deliver a random act of kindness. Life is karmic and one day someone will do something incredibly generous for you.

  1. History never repeats and the past is never the future

Thank goodness!  Historical scars and baggage can hold us back from trying something new.  Circumstances and you have changed.  As you attempt something you’ve failed at in the past, remember you are now wiser and better prepared.

  1. Regret, guilt and self-doubt are futile

Seriously, if I had a dollar for all the time, head space and energy I’ve invested in negative emotions in the past, I’d be rich!  There is nothing to be gained for anyone, least of all you, by rehashing the past and beating yourself up.

Accept that you did the best you could under the circumstances and let it go.

  1. Every day is a brand new sheet of paper – write on it whatever you like!

No matter how bad yesterday was or how uncertain tomorrow looks, today is a brand new one. Only take with you that which is useful and decide how you want to live this one day.

Isn’t it great that we get to start over every 24 hours?

  1. Be the best version of yourself you can be, always.

Trying to be someone you’re not to live up to others’ expectations, is exhausting! Living your best life means being you to the best of your ability. You know when you’re being truly authentic when there’s no internal conflict going on, no matter what.  Rather than wrestling your demons, make peace with them and accept yourself for who you are.

After all, there’s only one amazing, talented, beautiful, wonderful you!

Carpe Diem
Caroline Cameron

 

PS. The Great Life Redesign has more Pearls of Wisdom to help you replace struggle with ease.

The Workstation Warrior’s Guide to Freedom

Had a bad day at the office?

The Workstation Warrior's Guide to FreedomAs a child, when someone asked you “What do you want to do when you grow up?”, it’s unlikely you would have said, “Oh, I’d love to spend my days in a small, beige laminate 3 x 3 space with my very own lockable cabinet.”

Yet many of us do and regardless of whether you’re doing a job you enjoy or not, your work space has the power to suck the very life out of you! Arriving early, you boot up your computer and wander round to the kitchen to let your sandwich hang out in the fridge with mouldy lunches long forgotten.

By the time you’ve trawled through the sea of red emails crowding your inbox (that appeared seemingly out of nowhere overnight), it’s time for a heart starter coffee.

Grabbing your regular coffee buddy you make your way to the usual cafe. While your skinny latte’s making its way into a polystyrene cup, you shoot the breeze with the other workstation warriors you see most mornings.

Back at your cubicle, you try to get your head into that report you’ve been writing for days. Just as you’re starting to make progress, it’s time for an important meeting. (Oh joy, another hour of your life to be wasted in a windowless meeting room, listening to endless discussions about who knows what.) You look interested whilst pondering how to make it across the road to your next back to back meeting on time.

After downing your lunch at your beloved workstation and catching up on the latest online news or Facebook goss, it’s time to do battle with those now even more out of control emails. (Doesn’t anyone pick up the phone or get off their bottom and come round to talk anymore?) By 2pm it feels like you’ve spent more time looking for things than getting them done.

An urgent request to prepare slides for your boss’ presentation to the board tomorrow suddenly shoves everything else onto the backburner. Yes, it was scheduled 3 weeks ago, but for some reason it slipped his mind and now it’s up to you to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. And if he could have the preso by 5pm so he’s got time to read it over, that would be great thanks.

By the time you head out the door to battle the peak hour traffic, you’re exhausted.  You’re racing to pick up the children and you’ve no idea what’s for dinner! Somehow none of this was part of the plan when you started your career and surely there’s more to life…

Sound familiar? Read on!

These Workplace Warrior Survival Tips will make life bearable while you hatch your freedom plan.

#1. Take Control of Your Space

Make time to clean up your workstation and ruthlessly biff anything you no longer need. Keeping your physical space uncluttered goes a long way to regaining your overall sense of control and freedom.  Within the boundaries of your work place, personalise your workstation or desktop with images that inspire, amuse and motivate you.

#2. Schedule Self Appointments for the Important Stuff

Given how much our workdays are dictated by electronic calendar invites, I’m constantly surprised how few people book an appointment with themselves to get the real work done.  Block out Real Work Time, get your head down and instantly feel more fulfilled by what you are able to get done.  If you need to work uninterrupted, book a meeting room or work from home, disappear and focus on the task at hand.

#3. Decide what Meetings You Really Must Attend

The ‘need to be needed’ and ‘in the know’ drives many people to attend meetings they can neither learn from nor contribute anything meaningful to.  If the meeting invite doesn’t state a clear purpose nor included an outcome oriented agenda, politely decline and reclaim productive hours back into your week.  If the outcome of the meeting you declined is important, you’ll find out about it one way or another.

#4 . Get Out at Lunchtime

The work will always be there and heroically downing your sandwich with one hand whilst answering emails with the other, won’t get it done any quicker. Research shows that those who clear their heads with a brisk walk or go for a run during their lunch break, are significantly more productive in the afternoon. Use the headspace time to regroup or decide what you’re going to cook for dinner!

#5. Plan Your Great Escape

If your current job isn’t remotely linked to what you really want to do, it’s time for a change. Decide what your dream work looks, sounds and feels like.  Find out what it involves and research the options. Create a plan to bridge the gap between now and your ideal future. (The Great Life Redesign provides a simple blueprint to make this easy).

#6. Change How You Look at Things

Once your Great Life Redesign vision and plan are crystal clear, the work you’re doing now becomes your ticket to freedom! Having clearly decided your future, your current role becomes a necessary, temporary transition job, rather than your life’s work. When each day is deliberately bringing you a step closer to your dream, today’s job takes on a whole new meaning.

Better still, when you’ve packed your Thrival Kit with resilience, perspective, courage and success, each day becomes noticeably easier.

Life’s too short to be chained to a workstation merely marking time to pay the bills.  Focus on what you really want, play to your strengths by doing more of what you love and do well.

Plan your escape and enjoy each day as it comes.

Do you have a favourite workplace survival tip that gives you more freedom?  If so, please share, I’d love to hear it.

Carpe Diem
Caroline Cameron

 

Discovering the Delicious Delights of ‘Slow’

What happens when you unwittingly stop and smell the roses?

Discovering the Delicious Delights of SlowMy father never really seemed to sit still for long.  Even on holidays there were always things to do and places to see.

Not surprisingly, the classic Type A, high achiever mould fitted me like a glove. This conditioning was even more deeply ingrained as I pounded the corporate treadmill, juggling single parenthood, peak hour traffic and never enough hours in the day.

A good day was one where I ‘got lots done’, preferably ahead of relentless deadlines, until recently…

As a big fan of the ‘brisk daily walk’ it came as a sad realisation that Sherry, my 17 year old Soft Coated Wheaten was struggling to keep up.

From puppyhood to middle-age she’d always possessed way more energy than me and was still raring to go, long after I’d collapsed in an exhausted heap!

Our daily goal used to be to knock minutes or even seconds off the walk and get home quickly, a challenge she relished as much as me.

Gradually, over the last six months, my beautiful Sherry has been forced to slow down.  Now showing all the signs of doggie dementia (a bit like the ‘7 signs of ageing’), she’s very deaf, nearly blind and increasingly forgets to tell me when she needs to go out!

Yet she’s still happy following me around, tail wagging as she waits patiently near the coat rack to have her leader put on.

But the cold, damp morning that greeted us as we ventured out this morning, seeped into her old joints, rendering us virtually stationary as we pottered around our neighbourhood.

Our excruciatingly slow pace reminded me of a childhood game called Dolly Steps where rather than rushing to the finish line, the aim was to take tiny… slow… short-strided steps.

If you stopped completely, you were ‘out’ and the winner was the last to arrive. As an eager 7 year old, it was a game that infuriated me and seemed rather futile.

Yet rather than being infuriated, our enforced slowness has uncoverd delights I’ve never noticed before.

First we stopped to watch a pink, wriggling worm inch slowly across the footpath. Given the distance such a small creature had to travel, I have a new found respect for its focus and determination to reach its destination, no matter how far away it must have seemed.

A little further along I noticed that one of my neighbours had planted some new and colourful shrubs in his front garden. He was about to hop in his car to go to work. Waiting for Sherry to catch up, I called out, “Your garden looks great!”

He smiled in acknowledgement and wandered over to tell me what he’d planted. We’d never had time to stop and chat before.

Seemingly out of nowhere, I heard a cacophony of birds competing to see who had the best call. Their chorus rang out over the street as if they were making some important announcement.

I stopped to listen, identified at least 5 different birdsongs and realised I’d never really taken any notice of them before.

Rounding the corner, a bunch of tradesmen were ready to start their day’s work on a new build.

Although I’d noticed the old house being demolished and the block cleared some months before, we usually hurry past to avoid the trucks, vans and muddy footpath.

Today we stopped for a chat with a couple of plumbers, leaning on their shovels, drinking coffee, waiting for their foreman to arrive.

They bemoaned the soaking rain that had held them up for the last week and yet, when they leaned down to pat Sherry’s soft head, their weather beaten faces softened into a smile.  “She’s pretty good for an old dog.  We notice you going past every day no matter what the weather and reckon that’s what keeps her going,” said the older of the two.

Sensing that we’re on the ‘home stretch’, Sherry’s pace picked up to a trot and as we turned into our drive she abruptly stopped.

An irresistable smell near the letterbox grabbed her attention and she was determined to investigate. Looking down I noticed an envelope wedged between the letterbox and a thick shrub next to it. Disappointingly for Sherry, it wasn’t full of dog treats, but I wonder if I’d even have seen it on my usual mail box dash.

Spring bulbs are peeping through in the front garden and while Sherry sniffed and pottered, I wandered around pulling out a few stray weeds, marveling at how the number of bulbs have doubled with no help from me.

Our daily walks used to take us 15 minutes – today it had taken nearly 40 and I didn’t begrudge a single one of them. I’ve lived in this street for 14 years and yet today the deliciousness of going slow brought a raft of new delights and a calming sense of peace.

Curiously, I’ve achieved a lot this morning at work, even though I’d been late getting started.

Who knew that ‘going slow’ could actually increase productivity!

Have you ever consciously slowed down?  If so, what did you notice that in the usual mad rush of life, you’d not otherwise have experienced?

Leave a comment below about the ‘delicious delights’ of going slow you’ve discovered.

After all, the moral of this story could be, ‘don’t wait until you’re old to slow down – you never know what you might be missing.’

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron

 

 

How to keep going, no matter how big the challenge ….

When the going gets tough, the tough get going…

Resilience - the key to keeping going, no matter what

I turned on the news this morning to hear that two children have been killed in a house fire; the Sunshine Coast has been deluged by floods and the horrific Toulouse siege has ended with a dramatic shoot out.

Not for the first time I wondered, how on earth do those affected by disasters ever recover?

Closer to home, we all face times when we’d love to simply curl up in a ball and give up.  When it all seems too hard, shock, grief and overwhelm threaten to engulf us and it feels like we can’t go on.  Yet go on we must and there’s a lot we can learn from survivors who pick themselves up, dust themselves off and little by little get on with their lives.

Taken from your Thrival Kit, the secret to recovery is Resilience – a quiet, steely inner resource we all possess that moves you forward, one step at a time.  Whether you’re tackling a challenge that feels beyond you, recovering from personal tragedy or heading into unchartered waters, it’s something you’re going to need in bucket loads!

When things don’t go quite to plan, the unexpected happens and your commitment is sorely tested, it’s resilience that will get you out of bed in the morning and keep you going, no matter what.

Grounded in your values and beliefs, resilience is simply a way of being.  While you can’t touch it, you can certainly feel and see it.  Knowing its ingredients makes it easier to call on whenever you need it. Unlike a cake it doesn’t matter what order you mix these in.  There’s also no limit to how much of each you add – the more the better!

7 Simple Ways to Build Resilience

1. Perspective – things are never as bad as they seem.

Draw on past experience; be philosophical and look beyond what’s happening right now to see where this event sits in the bigger scheme of life.

2. Optimism – it will get better! 

The sun will continue to rise, the floodwaters will recede and the mop-up will happen.  Know that you will come through this, stronger and wiser for the experience.

3. Clarity about where you want to go from here

This includes knowledge and certainty about how a better future will be.  Imagine how great it will be when you’ve triumphed over the challenge.

4. Gritty Determination –  the power to stay on track, regardless of what threatens to overwhelm you

Bloody-mindedness, stubbornness and an ironclad belief that this will not get the better of you, determination will keep you firmly focused on the future.

5. Conservation – conserve your physical and emotional energy to keep going

Personal disaster and major change are insidiously draining.  You will feel tired and less energetic than when things are going well and it’s important to conserve your energy.  Consciously invest headspace, time and effort in anything that increases your energy.

6. Support and Friends – give you time-out, replacing loneliness with strength and kinship. 

This isn’t a time to be brave and stoic.  Reach out to those who can help you and lighten the load.  After all, when the tables are turned, you’ll be there for them.

7. Time – perspective’s cousin and resilience’s best friend. 

Think back to tragic events or major life changes you’ve endured and you’ll notice how things do eventually get better, one hour, day, month and year at a time.

But wait, there’s even a set of steak knives with resilience!  It’s cumulative (steadily building over each adverse event you experience) and will always be there to help you through future challenges.

As you set about overcoming a challenge or redesigning your life, keep your resilience topped up. It will get better and there’s nothing you can’t overcome.

Carpe Diem

Caroline Cameron

 

 

 

PS – You actually have even more handy inner resources you can call on when the going gets tough.  To find out more, grab a copy of The Great Life Redesign.

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.

How to Love the Festive Season, no matter what!

A Thrival Kit – your secret weapon against festive season gremlins

Have you ever noticed how quickly the festive season can turn pear-shaped? In spite of meticulous planning, great expectation and fever pitched excitement, it only takes a poorly chosen gift or misplaced, thoughtless comment for ‘peace on earth’ to be shattered! Before you know it the kids are grumpy, the adults have declared war and what you hoped would be a happy family time has disintegrated into bitter arguments that could last a lifetime.

If this is your worst Christmas nightmare, relax – help is at hand. A well-packed Thrival Kit is the secret to sailing through this time of year with your goodwill to all men, sanity and happiness intact.

The Thrival Kit – this year's 'must have' gift

A Thrival Kit is a small but powerful set of tools that are easy to access and use, whenever you need them. Consisting of keys, questions, symbols and pearls, your Thrival Kit is free of charge and light to carry. Once packed with the right tools, it becomes your constant companion through the good and not-so-good times. Whilst being particularly handy for beating holiday season stress, once you’ve packed one, you’ll want it beside you all year round.

The contents of a Thrival Kit are like multi-vitamins. Taken daily, they become new habits and a new way of being that will ensure you thrive, regardless of what’s happening around you. Let’s take a look inside a typical Thrival Kit, see what these tools are and learn how to use them.

Three essential thrival keys:  your purpose, values and inner resources

Your purpose, values and inner resources are the most powerful keys available to you. They provide direction, the ability to prioritise and achieve whatever you set your mind to and heart on. Even better, you already have them! These are already inherently within you, you just may not be aware of them. Consciously accessing these ‘thrival keys’ will unlock previously shut doors, open up new possibilities and ensure you have everything you need to choose how you want things to be.

Whilst your purpose (reason for being here) and values (core principles, standards and ideals) guide your decisions and actions, it’s your inner resources that will help you thrive, regardless of what’s happening at your place this holidays.

Engage your inner resources

Limitless and super powerful, your resources are inner states of being that you can call on at any time, in any situation. Whether you are feeling sad, happy, doubtful or certain, inner resources reside in everyone. Once identified, you’ll soon master the art of recognising which you need in any situation. From here you can effortlessly call on the best inner resources to achieve your desired outcome.

Your inner resources provide instant light when it is dark and energy to take action. They are the power source for your purpose and values. Engaging them means you never need feel disempowered, angry or stressed ever again. Whether you are confronting a challenge, keeping the peace or determined to make the most of a magical moment, there’s a resource for every situation.

The 12 most powerful inner resources to keep close at hand over the festive season include:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Caring
  3. Calm
  4. Caution
  5. Contentment
  6. Flexibility
  7. Fun
  8. Joy
  9. Maturity
  10. Peace
  11. Perspective
  12. Spontaneity

What else can go in a Thrival Kit?

Basically anything that will help you sail through potentially stressful moments and take on new challenges. Thinkg about adding:

  • Powerful questions to help you make the best decision in the heat of the moment – eg How do I want this to be and what can I do to create it?
  • Strength symbols provide a physical stress reducer – these include special items such as a piece of jewellry that create instant calm when you touch them.
  • Pearls of wisdom – a phrase or saying to adopt as a calming mantra (one of my favourites, accompanied by a deep breath, is 'Keep Calm and Carry On').

Be Prepared for Anything

Holidays are a time when family legends are often written! Events good and bad are remembered and recalled by everyone for years. How you choose to be will determine whether you buckle under the pressure and ‘lose it’ or love every moment, regardless of what happens. A well-packed Thrival Kit will ensure you’re armed and ready for anything.

What else will you be packing and pulling out of your Thrival Kit this festive season?

Carpe diem

 

 

P.S.  To find out how to create more empowering tools for your Thrival Kit, grab a copy of The Great Life Redesign – change how you work, live how you dream and make it happen TODAY!  Available here and in all good bookstores.

Rat Race Feeders – the sneaky truths that keep you stuck

Is what you’re telling yourself really true?

Rat Race Feeders - the sneaky truths that keep us stuck

I’ve yet to walk into an office where everyone isn’t really busy! Busyiness has become one of many well-worn ‘truths’ – a cultural norm that weighs us down and holds us back. We rarely think about or question the commonly used phrases that keep our stress levels in the red zone. But beware – these Rat Race Feeders are unconsciously undermining your potential and outlook on life.

Simple comments take off like wildfire and before you know it they are accepted as stress-inducing facts. Here are a few of my favourite Rat Race Feeders, which are guaranteed to keep you running faster and harder on life’s treadmill, no matter what.

  • Everything’s a priority (a management favourite!)
  • I haven’t got the bandwidth
  • It’s out of my/our control
  • I’m/we’re so busy/flat out
  • My inbox is a ‘sea of red’ (unread emails)
  • I’ve got back-to-back meetings all day
  • We have to do more with less/work harder
  • It’s too early/too late to …
  • I’m/he’s/she’s really stressed
  • My client/customer/manager is always shifting the goal posts/expecting more
  • What work/life balance?

The problem with Rat Race Feeders is the way they often inflict unwarranted limits but few benefits. Before you know it, you too are ‘flat out’, ‘really stressed’ and feeling like you’ve little control over what’s going on around you. What you tell yourself is absolutely true for you in that moment.

Question the ‘truth’

Who says, ‘everything’s a priority’ and what’s that based on? If you had to decide what was most important right now, what would it be? Stepping back to question the reality behind a throw-away statement, will help you realise how baseless it really is and discover new options to take control of any situation.

Greg was putting in long hours at work and struggling to keep his head above water. No matter how hard he worked, new tasks continued to pour into his in-box. He just didn’t have the ‘bandwidth’ to get it all done. He was seeing precious little of his wife and children and when did, was often tired and abrupt.

It seemed like he was buying into the stresses of a high pressured work environment and felt powerless to change it. Besides, Greg didn’t like to say ‘no’ and never wanted to be seen as letting the team down.

You decide the truth

The ‘truth’ came to Greg when he realised he has far more control over his workload than he believed. Setting up his calendar to schedule his work; consciously deciding which meetings he really had to attend and turning automatic email off gave him fast relief and instant control.

Then he set up a meeting to play back the well-worn, stress-inducing phrases his team used often to raise awareness of how they were driving them to work harder but not necessarily smarter. They were surprised and amused, not realising how often they disempowered themselves and each other with throw away lines. Their favourite was “we’re under the pump and really stretched.” (Seriously, what ‘pump’ were they under and what’s actually ‘stretched’?!). The following week they set up a ‘rat race feeder radar’ team challenge to call out and question the validity of their common office cliches.

Within 2 months everyone in Greg’s team reported less stress, higher productivity and more fulfilment from their work. Rather than being ‘too busy’, they now agree the priorities every week and focus on the tasks that will make the biggest difference in the time available. Best of all, Greg’s achieving a lot more and enjoys his family time without worrying about work.

Over the next week, listen out for the unquestioned ‘truths’ used by your colleagues, friends and family. The words may differ slightly but their meaning will be the same. Once you start noticing them, you’ll be amused at how many pop up each day.

What are your favourite Rat Race Feeders?

Which limiting generalisations or hackneyed phrases are lurking around your office or home? Share them below – I’d love to hear your favourites!

Carpe diem

 © Caroline Cameron 2011: extract from The Great Life Redesign – change how you work, live how you dream and make it happen … TODAY