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Episode 108: AmIOK?

This episode is about taking care of your own mental well-being. 

 I want to start by talking about the RU OK campaign in Australia and then to talk about the need to manage our own mental well-being as well.

RUOK?

R U OK? is an organisation whose vision is a world where we’re all connected and are protected from suicide.

Their mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.

Their goals are to: 

  1. Boost our confidence to meaningfully connect and ask about life’s ups and downs
  2. Nurture our sense of responsibility to regularly connect and support others
  3. Strengthen our sense of belonging because we know people are there for us
  4. Be relevant, strong and dynamic

I love that the RU okay campaign exists. It gives us all an opportunity to think about the people around us and consider how we can offer support. 

It means that we are proactively reaching out to check in with people and to help them to speak up about what’s going on for them so they can get help.

I had a conversation with somebody one-day who I knew was severely depressed and going through a major incident and I had reached out to say are you okay. 

It was a difficult conversation because I hadn’t yet trained as a coach and this person was very upset but I was concerned about their mental well-being so I did the best that I could with the skills that I had at the time. 

Months later that person phoned me and said they were considering suicide the day I had called – they were getting ready to do it – and the conversation we had stopped them from taking action and caused them to reach out for help. 

Truly, I was taken aback that the conversation had had such a powerful impact on that person and it made me thankful that I’ve been able to help but also concerned about my skills and education and knowledge in this area.

So where and how do you start getting these skills?

What if you’re not a coach or working in a support capacity but want some basic understanding and skills?

Mental Health First Aid

It’s worth mentioning the mental first aid course.

Several organisations deliver this course: Mental Health First Aid Australia says that: 

Each year 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness. Many people are not knowledgeable or confident to offer assistance. Physical first aid is accepted and widespread in our community, however most do not cover mental health problems. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches people the skills to help someone who they’re concerned about.

What About Me?

All of this got me thinking recently about the fact that there are many campaigns that are outward directed – helping us to check in with the other people about their own mental health and well-being.

But just as important is the ability to be self-aware and identify our own mental health challenges.

As a coach, I know that one of the main reasons people hire coaches is simply that they lack self-awareness of how they are thinking and operating in the world, and what their habits are.

People are either too busy to notice themselves and reflect on their behaviour, needs and wants, OR, they notice an issue coming up for themselves but say ‘she’ll be right, I’ll just push through.’

The old ‘she’ll be right attitude’ is a mask that many Australians have been wearing for a long time.

In either case, most people simply don’t know HOW to check in with themselves or to ask for help.

They say, I’m okay, don’t worry about me, everything is fine. I don’t need any help, I’ll put on my big girl pants or I’ll pull up my boots and I’ll just get on with it. 

I can totally see how we came to be that way. That attitude comes from the hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves, hard-working people who founded modern society in our nation.

Think about it – once upon a time, not that long ago, we were a nation of pioneers in a new country who travelled long distances, lived off the land and managed many hardships to establish towns and cities. We were the kind of people that pitched in and did things and got on with things and to build a great nation.

But these days, there is a changing of the guard.

We have the rise of Gen Y (with more of a values focus, in my opinion) as dominant players in the workforce and leadership positions. 

We have an increase in multiculturalism in our society, and a need to consider people with different cultures, ethics and values.

And we are giving more attention to well-being, health and mindfulness. 

With all of this going on, we are starting to realise that the old ‘she’ll be right attitude’ is a mask that many Australians have been wearing for a long time.

The old stigma around mental health issues, not wanting to show any weakness or to be judged, has to come off.

We have to learn how to ask for help.

But first of all, we must be self-aware enough, to know when we need to get that help.

AmIok – a new paradigm 

I propose a concept that sits alongside RUOK, to acknowledge that it’s just as important to check in with yourself rather than to ignore the warning signs and push through. 

I want to ask you to think about a new paradigm. 

The AmIOK paradigm. 

Certainly check in with the others and ask are you okay, but at the same time give yourself the attention to – how am I travelling? 

Am I ok? 

And if not, what do I need, how am I feeling, what’s my capacity, and what do I need to do differently? 

I had this experience myself recently. 

I noticed a few things were becoming difficult for me. 

I was starting to avoid certain situations and certain tasks that I didn’t like. 

Normally I can do tasks that I don’t like or don’t enjoy, but when I’m stressed, under a lot of pressure then I go into avoidance of those basic tasks. And to me that is a sign that I need to step back and check in with myself. 

Other signs that I need a break or to get help are that my cooking is boring, I’m not sleeping well, and I feel frustrated, and starting to look for more coffee.

Basically, I lose my enthusiasm and creativity. 

When those things start to ebb, I know it’s time to take a break or to get help.

Summary

RUOK is a wonderful initiative that helps us to lower the risk and rate of suicide, by reaching out to others.

It’s important to check in with yourself rather than to ignore the warning signs and push through. 

Mental Health First Aid is a great training course to gain basic skills.

I propose a new paradigm – AmIOK? – as a means of learning to give our own needs more attention and to get help sooner rather than later.

Ready to pay more attention to your own needs?

It’s OK to be not OK, but it doesn’t always have to be like that. If you need help to feel more in charge of your life, I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 107: Just-ification

What you say to yourself matters. It has consequences. Learn how to rewire your reticular activating system in this episode for a calmer, less rushed, more grounded way of living.

How are you going right now? How are you feeling?

There’s been a lot going on in my life lately and it seems to be the same for a lot of people I’ve spoken to.

Today I want to talk about a topic related to hard times, but that is also relevant at ANY time. 

I want to help you to identify when you’re telling yourself some fibs, playing small and talking yourself into overwhelm, so you can quickly back out of that rabbithole and get back on track.

Sound ok?

What is Just-ification?

A few years ago, I remember a point in the year and in my life where I was feeling low, harried, and overwhelmed.

For a little while, everything felt hard.

I felt swamped by urgent deadlines.

I felt like I had to push through things and rush to get things done and meet targets.

I was rushing from one appointment to the next, doing some things at the last minute, and racing out the door to simply meet friends for coffee!

Yes, as you can see, the key theme here was feeling pressured and rushed.

Of course, if you’ve listened to my previous episodes, you know that this stuff that we ‘feel’ happens because of what we tell ourselves.

And this is where I noticed something interesting about my language – when I felt like this, I was always using the word ‘just’. 

I was saying things to myself and others, like:

  • I just need to finish this document (to justify my working late)
  • I just have to do this job, then I can come out and meet you for coffee
  • I will just squeeze in some quick emails in this 5-minute break before I have to leave for an appointment
  • I just need one more minute

This pattern in my language, and variations on it, made me realise that they were metaphors for how I was living. 

With most of the ‘just’ statements that I thought or verbalised, I was unwittingly loading myself up with JUST one more thing.

And I was justifying behaviours that were causing me to rush through life and become overwhelmed and overloaded!

I’m sure you can see the pattern.

Do you do this too?

Is your language full of just-ifications that are creating stress, unnecessary busy-ness, a sense of being rushed and pressured?

Your Words Are Instructions

Just-ification is a real thing (to me at least), and it has me wondering what other language clues there are to indicate when we are talking ourselves into stress, strain, drama or heaviness.

What are you telling yourself about your business or your life?

What are the words that you use regularly, and what do they mean to you?

“Be careful of what you say, because your body will hear you and obey.”

If you say openly that you are playing small, procrastinating, ‘not ready yet’, I can’t do that, I’m no good at that, or any version of this kind of self-talk, please be aware of the implications.

When you say things to yourself, I believe you are giving your body and mind instructions on how to behave.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Let’s say you describe yourself as a chocoholic, or a workaholic, a sweet tooth or an insomniac. At that moment, what kind of instruction are you giving your body and mind?

What kind of information is getting plugged into the reticular activating system in your brain – your brain’s GPS?

When you make any sort of written or verbal assertion, your RAS takes note and filters in everything that fits with that assertion, and at the same time, filters out anything that doesn’t fit that paradigm.

On that basis, let me ask you this – what kind of behaviour are you condoning or even actively promoting for yourself?

What kind of claim are you making about yourself as a person, and what does that say about your identity?

Lots of questions from me today, but I have to say how important this is.

 Summary

By virtue of the way our brains work, specifically, your reticular activating system, when you think or say something about yourself, your body responds in a way that reinforces that statement.

I coined a phrase years ago while teaching a bellydancing class, that sums it up.

“Be careful of what you say, because your body will hear you and obey.”

Ready to have better self-talk?

What you tell yourself matters. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 96: 5 Tips For Coping With Uncertainty

Resilience is your ability to bounce back from stress and it’s something you need to be able to cope with uncertainty in a healthy way. 

It’s not until you’re tested that you realise how much resilience you actually have, or not.

In this episode, I’ll define resilience, and talk about five things you can do to better cope with uncertainty and build resilience.

Here are three definitions:

  1. “Advancing despite adversity”
  2. “Recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”
  3. “The capacity to respond to stress in a healthy way

When you’re resilient, you’re better equipped to cope with uncertainty.

Resilience is built by using a set of skills and doing certain habits consistently.

If resilience was money, it would be like having $50,000 in your account as a buffer. Just like savings in the bank, resilience is a kind of personal wealth that must be built over time.

Firstly, I’d like to talk about the skills of coping with uncertainty.

Then I’d like to talk about habits you can develop to build resilience and help you cope better.

5 Tips for Coping With Uncertainty

1. It’s normal to feel stressed

As we have seen, uncertainty is a normal and unavoidable part of life. 

We have control over many things, but we can’t control everything that happens to us. Life throws us all curve balls at times. We lose our jobs, people pass away, our kids leave home, and relationships change.

We may feel stressed about what we can’t control, and that is normal.

Stress is a response that helps us to survive. Healthy or positive stress allows us to adapt and make good out of situations.

It’s unhealthy or negative stress that feels difficult and needs attention.

Recognising and accepting that you feel stress, and understanding which type it is, is a first step to being able to cope and build resilience. 

It can give a sense of relief to recognise that you’re feeling something right now, that is normal and will pass.

2. Process negative emotions (feel the feelings)

 

For a lot of adults processing the emotions around these types of events is difficult. Many of us have forgotten how to do it, or we are too busy to give this attention. 

It’s a really important skill to have because we cannot suppress negative emotions. They hang around in the background and eventually come out like a big volcano when you least expect it or, when something stressful happens.

If you want to learn how to process emotions properly, watch your kids. Think about the last time your child fell over or got in a verbal fight with a sibling or friend. 

They probably talked about how they felt, they probably cried a lot, and eventually the crying would have stopped and they would have settled down and moved on.

Making time and space to acknowledge and process your emotions, with self-compassion, can help you to cope better with stress.

3. Focus on what you can control to dial down stress and emotional intensity.

Please know that stress is caused in your own brain, and therefore, you can use your brain to resolve stress.

What I’m saying is that we are the ones that decide how we will react to life’s circumstances.

While your brain can tell you a big story about how bad things are, realise that you are not your thoughts. Thoughts come into your head, but they are not necessarily facts.

Rather than get bogged down with your thoughts, it can help you to see the flipside – what I call factualising.

By focusing on the things that you can control, you can shift out of an emotional state and back into some logical thinking which can help to calm things down.

This could include:

  • Listing things that you do have control of
  • Identifying all the things that ARE stable in your life right now
  • Recognising how you have succeeded in the past

4. Use Your existing skills

Think about any uncertain times you’ve faced in life, and what you learned from those times.

What skills did you use? How did you use them? What was the outcome?

Here’s an example.

A client of mine said she had struggled with uncertainty around her job. Every week she was told a different thing, and she felt a lack of control over her future, and even her ability to make a weekly plan.

When we discussed this further, she identified that one of her skills was organising and another was persistence, and a third was being able to ask for help.

She realised that in the past, she had been able to develop a week by week schedule to help her cope with the uncertainty, and she realised she could do this again, and reach out for help to make sure it was the right thing for her.

By focusing on using her skills, she was able to get through her period of uncertainty.

5. Self Care

 

Self care simply means doing things that boost your physical, mental or emotional health.

Most of us don’t make enough time to do these important things, but they help to create healthy hormonal responses, remove us from the uncomfortable situation, give us an outlet for stress, and help us feel mentally and emotionally replenished.

Self-care activities can also feel like an achievement, even when life is uncertain.

Some self-care activities tick all of those boxes, for example, exercise.

Let’s say that you’re able to go out into your yard and use a skipping rope for a few minutes. You break a sweat. You release some tension and you release endorphins.

Your mind is on the present moment, not tripping over the jump rope and staying upright, or counting your reps.

Meanwhile, you’re outside in nature. You experience physical sensations that distract your mental worries. You remember what it’s like to be outside again. 

After all that, you feel like you’ve achieved something and you have something to show for it – an elevated heart rate, knowing you’ve done some good for yourself, and you’re feeling calmer and more in control.

As you can see, self-care is a way of building and maintaining resilience. It’s what puts credits in the bank for when you need them.

If you actively practice self-care activities each week you can keep building your mental and emotional savings account.

Summary

Resilience is your ability to bounce back from stress and it’s something you need to be able to cope with uncertainty in a healthy way. 

Resilience is your ability to bounce back from stress and it’s something you need to be able to cope with uncertainty in a healthy way. 

It’s often not until your busy life is disrupted that you realise that you’re not coping well and need to build your resilience.

I described five ways to cope with uncertainty and start building resilience:

  1. To acknowledge it’s normal to feel stressed 
  2. Processing negative emotions – feeling the feelings and letting go
  3. Focus on what you can control 
  4. Identify your existing skills and decide how to use them
  5. Develop a consistent self-care practice

Ready to build resilience?

Resilience is built by using a set of skills and doing certain habits consistently. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 95: Validation and Profit

This episode shows you why and how validation using rigorous, high quality data is your secret weapon for helping your clients to get better results and make long lasting change, and to create more value, more sales, higher prices and better profit.

Today’s episode is called validation, and I’m talking in relation to results that your clients get in your coaching business.

In my last episode I talked about how to sell more coaching programs with the inclusion of monitoring data, and that’s the backstory for today’s episode.

I’ve chosen the title ‘validation’ because I want to show you why and how rigorous, high quality data is your secret weapon for helping your clients to get better results and make long lasting change, and to create more value, sales and higher prices.

What is validation?

Let’s start with a simple definition.

  • The action of checking or proving the accuracy of something.
  • The recognition or affirmation that something is valid or worthwhile.

 Change is hard for our brains, and data gives our brains the validation they need to decide a habit is worth continuing.

Why Validation Matters

Let’s start by talking about why validation is important.

Let’s say that your client is living a stressful life, and she quite likes the idea of regular meditation and wants to start up a regular habit to help her relieve stress.

To create a consistent habit, you know she’ll need to convince her brain that it’s worth it.

That’s because the human brain prefers to run efficiently, on autopilot, doing the things it already knows how to do well, so it can focus on threat, survival and fun stuff.

Therefore, according to your client’s brain, having to bring focus on developing a new habit is a chore and possibly a risk. 

Change is hard for our brains, and data gives our brains the validation they need to decide a habit is worth continuing.

Aside from learning how to do the habit, her brain requires a process of ‘learning’ a whole bunch of micro habits and rewiring entrenched behaviours that happen before and after the meditation, before it can get the habit to happen automatically.

For example, she’ll have to learn to stop what she’s doing, say no to people, set aside time, stop saying she’s too busy, and then do the darn 10 minutes of meditation.

As she juggles her competing priorities and her already entrained habits that create stress, her brain will start to realise that starting a simple habit like 10 minutes of meditation is actually hard to fit in, commit to, and do consistently. 

That will probably feel uncomfortable. She’ll have the urge to continue with her ‘more important’ stuff.

And a day after she meditates, she may feel totally stressed again, so her brain will question how effective it really is, because the results may not be huge or immediate. 

Her belief system could jump on the bandwagon. She might start telling herself that this is too hard. She might tell herself that I might as well give up, because I am probably going to fail anyway.

This is why validation with evidence-based data is so important.

It does more than just prove to your client’s brain that a habit is safe and worth the effort. 

It also provides tangible evidence that your client is capable of change and that the results are worth pursuing.

This is especially important for habits that have little to no visible, immediate impact.

For example, there are habits like physical exercise where you feel the endorphin rush and sweat afterwards. There’s a tangible impact.

Compare that with deep breathing exercises to lower your blood pressure and stress hormones. Those are two pretty invisible measures that your habits had a gradual, positive impact. No immediate reward there.

That begs the question – how do we help our clients monitor and measure progress? What kind of data are going to be meaningful?

Let’s look at two types of data – qualitative, and quantitative.

As she juggles her competing priorities and her already entrained habits that create stress, her brain will start to realise that starting a simple habit like 10 minutes of meditation is actually hard to fit in, commit to, and do consistently. 

That will probably feel uncomfortable. She’ll have the urge to continue with her ‘more important’ stuff.

And a day after she meditates, she may feel totally stressed again, so her brain will question how effective it really is, because the results may not be huge or immediate. 

Her belief system could jump on the bandwagon. She might start telling herself that this is too hard. She might tell herself that I might as well give up, because I am probably going to fail anyway.

This is why validation with evidence-based data is so important.

It does more than just prove to your client’s brain that a habit is safe and worth the effort. 

It also provides tangible evidence that your client is capable of change and that the results are worth pursuing.

This is especially important for habits that have little to no visible, immediate impact.

For example, there are habits like physical exercise where you feel the endorphin rush and sweat afterwards. There’s a tangible impact.

Compare that with deep breathing exercises to lower your blood pressure and stress hormones. Those are two pretty invisible measures that your habits had a gradual, positive impact. No immediate reward there.

That begs the question – how do we help our clients monitor and measure progress? What kind of data are going to be meaningful?

Let’s look at two types of data – qualitative, and quantitative.

Qualitative (subjective) data

Normally coaches use tools that are subjective, that is, where the client rates themselves.

We use various quizzes, questionnaires, 1 – 10 rulers, sleep diaries, logging sheets and other self-rating tools to help clients understand what they feel, who they are and what’s changing for them.

They use these to rate hunger, energy, mood, stress, sleep quality, response to food and similar types of information.

Qualitative data is very important because it captures how the client feels at any given moment. The problem is, that information is subject to bias.

A client who self-rates may feel exuberant one day, and miserable two days later, so their mood will skew the data.

Even the more high level, scientifically validated questionnaires can be influenced by bias.

I had a client do a quiz several times because she wasn’t sure that her answers were accurate and she got a different answer every time.

How would you feel about the data if that was you? 

How much would you trust it? 

Could you rely on it?

That’s why coaching programs can be bolstered by rigorous data collected in an accurate way.

This kind of data provides the validation our clients need to believe that they can do something, and to believe that their new habits are ‘working’ and ‘getting results.’

Quantitative (objective) data

This is essentially what quantitative data is – objective data that is measured accurately using numbers.

Even better, using calibrated devices to measure physiological data that shows the impact of our habits on our bodies and minds.

One of the best examples is the bioimpedance scale which measures body composition – in other words – bone, fat, muscle and water. 

While not as accurate as a Dexa scan, bioimpedance is an easy and accessible method to quantify body weight, muscle mass, bone mass, hydration and body fat percentage.

Obviously the more expensive models give more accurate data, and a Dexa scan is the most accurate.

I used this scale early in my business – from 2005 onwards – as a marketing tool. At health expos I had lines of people out the door wanting to get their body composition measured, while other vendors stood at empty stands, wondering what was going on.

 

Data provides tangible evidence that your client is capable of change and that the results are worth pursuing.

I used this scale in my coaching program to help clients see tangible changes in their bodies – inside and out – in conjunction with other qualitative and quantitative measures.

These methods gave my clients plenty of evidence that their bodies and minds were changing and, it gave me a huge data set that could be used to demonstrate typical client outcomes in my marketing.

For example, I could specify that 99% of my clients lost weight during my program, ranging from 3 – 15kg, and with the majority of that being body fat based on the numbers recorded.

These were all things that they measured during the life of their program, so they had great awareness of what had changed.

They loved the physiological data as it proved their lifestyle changes were having an impact and it validated how they felt.

You can imagine what that did for my marketing!

My clients would say things like – “there is real science behind this”, and “I have gotten so much more out of this program than I ever expected!”

That’s just with a simple scale.

More recently, some higher tech options have come up to get even better quality data.

One that comes to mind is the heart rate strap and watch that measure exercise performance.

There are a variety of wearable watches that measure various physiological data. 

I can imagine what my clients will say in future when I use these devices as part of their coaching program and I’m very excited about the value, precision and accurate response measurement that can be developed.

It will help us to add tangibility to our somewhat intangible services.

It will help your clients to quickly identify which of their habit based interventions are having the greatest impact, and help them pinpoint where to focus their energy.

They will have a greater appreciation for the effectiveness of habit-based intervention, and a greater awareness of their own best solutions for managing physical and mental health.

And finally, it will give coaches a competitive advantage over others, help them to sell more programs, at higher prices and retain clients for a longer period, as has been my own experience in my own coaching business.

I am excited to share some new research in this area in coming months.

For now, if you would like to know more about monitoring and measuring, please get in touch at melaniejwhite.com/contact.

Ready to use data to improve your coaching business?

Knowing howto use data effectively can make all the difference. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 93: Client Strengths = Better Marketing

In today’s episode, I want to show you a great way to capture important information about your clients so that you can learn more about who your ideal client is, who you naturally attract, and how to become more of a client magnet.

There are really two parts to working with clients in a coaching relationship. 

The first part is to help our clients become more self aware so that they know what thinking and doing habits need to change. 

When our clients are more self-aware it facilitates the second main part of coaching clients, which is helping them to experiment with new lifestyle habits and make those changes in a way that suits them, their needs and their personalities.

Coaches use a variety of quizzes and questionnaires to help clients become self-aware. I call this ‘grow’ content because every time a client learns something about themselves it helps them to grow a little.

And one of the main tools that coaches use is the VIA strength test.

In this episode I want to walk you through a step-by-step process of enhancing the professionalism of your practice, and using the VIA strengths test information to enhance your marketing.

VIA strengths test

The VIA Institute on character is an organisation that combines the science of strength with the practice of well-being. 

According to their website:

The VIA Institute on Character helps people change their lives by tapping into the power of their own greatest strengths. Established as non-profit organization in 2001, we set out – and continue to – advance both the science and practice of character, and empower those on their strengths-building journey. That’s why we make our research accessible to everyone and offer the VIA Survey free of charge, worldwide.

 

Every time a client learns something about themselves it helps them to grow a little.

They say that “your character strengths are the qualities that come most naturally to you. They say that every individual possesses all the 24 character strengths in different degrees, giving each person a unique character strengths profile. And when you know your strengths you can improve your life and thrive. The research reveals that people who use their strength a lot are 18 times more likely to be flourishing than those who do not use their strengths.”

The VIA character strengths test is a core piece of strengths-based coaching and it sets the scene for introducing positive psychology into your coaching sessions, and helping your clients create an upward spiral with their health and wellbeing habits.

Enhancing Your Professionalism

As a scientist by training, I’m a strong believer that every time you do something in your business it makes sense to do it in the most professional, replicable, efficient and streamlined way possible. 

And the first tip that I want to share with you today is something that is going to help you build your professional, credible reputation.

You can actually create your own professional account on the VIA website and you can store basic client results in that website. 

Firstly, what that means is that you can give your client a personalized link to the VIA website that has your practice name or business name in the URL.

Here’s how you set that up.

Firstly visit www.viacharacter.org

Click on the ‘Professionals’ menu link in the top right of the screen.

Choose ‘Pro Sites’ from the dropdown menu.

Read the information on that page, scroll down and go to the Create Your Pro Site Now button, and follow the prompts.

Now, you can send your clients a unique URL with your business name in it, taking them to the VIA test.

My link is http://melaniejwhite.pro.viasurvey.org

Now, when your clients take this survey you will be sent an email letting you know that they have completed it and you will be able to log into this website and see a list of clients who taken the strengths survey, the date that they took the survey, and you’ll be able to click through to see their results. 

This is all free. 

There are other things that you can get with a paid account but you probably don’t need those things yet.

Know Your Niche, Enhance Your Marketing

Here is the really interesting thing about the data that you collect over time.

I have a couple of coaches that work in my business as licensees for an 8-week weight loss program that I developed. 

Recently, I downloaded The VIA survey data for all of our clients from that program.

Then, I made a spreadsheet that lists the top 5 strengths of the clients who have recently taken the test. And then I sorted them by coach. 

My theory is that we tend to attract people who are 80% like us and I wanted to see if this strengths data reflected that different coaches are actually attracting different kinds of clients.

And the results are pretty amazing. 

For the clients that I have coached recently around weight loss, their top 3 strengths fairness, gratitude and honesty. All of my clients have had at least two of these in their top 3 strengths.

For another coach in my business, all of her clients top 3 – 4 strengths were honesty, kindness, love and humour.

So very clearly the two of us are attracting slightly different kinds of people. Honesty is something that all of our clients have as a very high ranking strength. 

But hers are slightly different to mine. 

I also see that my clients are much more consistent in the top 3 strengths than the other coach, and perhaps that means that she works with a slightly broader range of clients or that her niche is less defined than mine.

What does this all mean, and how can we use this to improve our marketing? 

Well looking at my client list, and knowing that I seem to attract people whose top strengths are gratitude, fairness and honesty, I know more about my ideal client AND I can more likely attract them with sales copy that creates those sorts of emotions.

I can present my offer in a way that seems fair.

I can be open and frank about who it is and isn’t for, and what is or isn’t included.

I can share my gratitude for being able to help others around through the power of their transformation.

This is just a bit of an idea of how you could use this information but it’s really amazing to see these trends and to understand the power of this information.

Regularly checking in with strengths survey results and collating the data in this way might make a big difference to your ability to attract and engage potential clients. 

Summary

To wrap up today’s episode as coaches we like to help clients become self-aware and to use their strengths to experiment with and form new habits.

We use a variety of quizzes and questionnaires to create aha moments and raise self-awareness.

The VIA character strengths questionnaire is a recognised tool that many Health and wellness coaches use.

You can go to the VIA website and create your own professional account, as part of your professional positioning.

Being more self-aware helps our clients to experiment with new lifestyle habits and make those changes in a way that suits them.

In addition to that, you can collate client data in a spreadsheet and identify trends that tell you important things, like how clearly defined your niche is, the common ground between you and your ideal client, and the types of strengths and emotions that might resonate with them in your marketing copy.

I’ve included links in the transcript of this episode to help you get started on getting to know your clients better.

Ready to know your client better?

Quizzes are just one of many tools that can make your coaching business easier and more effectictive. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and make your life easier I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Eppisode 92: Feeling Connected and Creating Clients

If you are finding solo business hard, and want to feel more connected and create clients through networking, this episode is for you. We explore five ways to start building professional and personal networks to achieve these aims.

When you work in an office as part of a team, you get a sense of connection each day as you interact with others and share ideas, jokes or brainstorm work problems.

But when you start your own business, things can be a little bit different.

Some people run their business from within another business such as a wellness clinic or studio, and so they experience that much-needed peer interaction.

But what happens when you are flying solo, and operating from home?

We need a way to feel connected and supported in business so that we can find the motivation, energy, confidence and enthusiasm to persist.

On top of that, building professional and personal networks is a wonderful way to meet potential clients and referral partners who can send qualified referrals your way.

Let’s look at the various ways that solo business owners can build networks.

Joining a Health Professional Network 

Allied Health professionals often have either formal or informal meetings, social events and/or online groups for the purpose of networking, referring and collaborating.

Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

By reaching out to the Allied Health professionals in your area and catching up for a cup of coffee or brief Zoom introduction, you can quickly find out which ones are ‘your kind of person’ and find out where and how these professionals network in your local area.

If you are a member of the Coaching Success Accelerator, you can find a downloadable, step-by-step process for reaching out to Allied Health Professionals.

  • Action step: make a list of 10 practitioners in your local area, relevant to your niche or specialty area of coaching, and phone or email to book a time to chat.

You might also like to listen to episode 74 where I do a deep dive into how to build a referral network with Allied Health Professionals.

Also, check out episode 65 which is about communicating your value.

 

Allied Health professionals often have either formal or informal meetings, social events and/or online groups for the purpose of networking, referring and collaborating.

Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

By reaching out to the Allied Health professionals in your area and catching up for a cup of coffee or brief Zoom introduction, you can quickly find out which ones are ‘your kind of person’ and find out where and how these professionals network in your local area.

If you are a member of the Coaching Success Accelerator, you can find a downloadable, step-by-step process for reaching out to Allied Health Professionals.

  • Action step: make a list of 10 practitioners in your local area, relevant to your niche or specialty area of coaching, and phone or email to book a time to chat.

You might also like to listen to episode 74 where I do a deep dive into how to build a referral network with Allied Health Professionals.

Also, check out episode 65 which is about communicating your value.

Joining a Professional Industry Association

Every reputable profession has an industry association that acts as a voice for its members.

Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

Being a member of a professional association can provide opportunities to vote on important issues, but also, it lets your clients know that you work in a serious, credible profession that has a formal self-regulation process and quality standards.

Being featured on the home page of an industry association is another way for people to find you online, positioned in a professional environment.

In Australia and New Zealand, the premiere industry body is Health Coaches of Australia and New Zealand Association.

  • Action step: Contact HCANZA to enquire about membership.
  • Action step: apply to sit the NBHWC exam and become board-certified

Joining a Social Networking Group

LinkedIn is a globally-recognised platform for networking with other businesses and potential clients.

It has an advantage of being “more professional” than other social media channels, so may lend credibility and good business positioning.

You may make valuable connections for referral, collaboration or potential clients here.

There are industry-specific groups where you can network with peers in specific areas of health and wellbeing.

This is a great place to go if your niche group is a professional, entrepreneur and/or manager.

Facebook also offers support in the form of industry-specific groups, like the Students of Wellness Coaching Australia group.

  • Action step: Jump into LinkedIn, brush up your profile, and explore groups.
  • Action step: Join the Students of Wellness Coaching Australia group.[MW1] 

Joining a Local Business Network

Your local Chamber of Commerce is an active business hub where you can meet and rub shoulders with decision makers in your community.

Their meetings are typically monthly.

Depending on where you live, your local Chamber may be quite active or not so much.

In any case, it’s worth exploring the network to see who is involved, and to ask to attend a first meeting as a guest to see if it could be mutually beneficial.

Often, Chambers of Commerce have an active role in community projects, Council grants or industry-level initiatives that may be relevant to you (e.g. health related).

  • Action step: Google search your local Chamber to enquire about meeting dates, opportunities to attend and what is typically discussed

Start Your Own Group

An easy way to build professional alliances is to start your own group.

This is a good tactic for you if you are outgoing, love people and enjoy networking (otherwise it may feel like too much work – and you’re better off joining someone else’s network/group).

In a professional sense, this could be a mastermind, a specific collaboration project, or simply a peer support group.

Or even better – you can start your own Facebook or LinkedIn group to attract potential clients.  This is a bigger job than the others, but if you are ready to build a tribe of like minded people and have the energy to show up every day, this is a good option.

There are a variety of training courses that can help you do it right.

  • Action step: Consider whether you’re ready to start your own group and find a training course to help you do it right. 
  • Action step: If you are not ready, join a big group where your clients might be, and observe how it’s done.

Summary

It’s easy to feel isolated when you transition from a workplace to your own solo business.

However, I’ve listed FIVE options that you could start exploring to build professional and client networks for the purpose of feeling supported, brainstorming ideas and creating clients.

We need a way to feel connected and supported in business so that we can find the motivation, energy, confidence and enthusiasm to persist.

To get started, choose the one that feels like the best fit and make plans to join and explore what it’s like to be a member.

If that works well, schedule in the number of meetings or days you would like to attend (keep it small and simple!) and start getting into the hang of participating, contributing and collaborating.

When that’s working well, you may like to explore another option.

Now, it’s over to you.

What is your easiest and most obvious starting point?

Ready to get more connected and create clients?

It becomes a whole lot easier when you know how. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 91: Being Authentic

If you want to be more authentic, there are three things you need to do – create courage, be honest and act with integrity.

Nearly everyone I speak to wants to be more authentic. Authenticity is something most people value, and it is a key part of building strong personal and professional relationships.

But what does being authentic mean, and what does it involve?

I created this episode to help you understand what being authentic really means, the squeamish parts of being authentic, and the three things you need to do to start being more authentic.

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity means being yourself. It’s when your actions and words are congruent with your beliefs and values.

The VIA Institute on Character describes authenticity with this statement:

“I am honest to myself and others, I try to present myself and my reactions accurately to each person, and I take responsibility for my actions.”

VIA Institute on Character 

In other words, courage, honesty, and integrity are the three skills that create authenticity.

Here’s an example of what being authentic looks like.

One day I made a biriyani for dinner. My first one ever. We ate the meal and at the end, I asked my husband how he enjoyed it.

He said, firmly but kindly, “I really appreciate the effort you went to in making dinner, but I would prefer not to have this again. I don’t really like it, but I’m glad you tried it and am thankful you took the time to make a lovely meal.”

My first reaction was to feel deflated. He saw my face drop, and we talked about the importance of honesty.

It turned out that he didn’t want to pretend to like a meal then lie to about it later. It would mean that I’d made it again, thinking he liked it, and he’d have to lie again. He might become frustrated, or resentful about that.

It totally made sense to me, and I appreciated his honesty and courage and I could see that he was genuinely speaking with empathy and giving feedback from a place of love.

This one conversation opened a whole new way of thinking and personal growth for me.

It deepened our relationship and helped me to examine my own beliefs, thoughts and actions about honesty and integrity.

It helped me to identify the skills that I wanted to develop, so I could be more authentic.

As you can see it might be easy to assume that authenticity just happens.

But it doesn’t.

It’s more than just appearing to say something nice, or honest. 

Have you heard of the smell of fear? It’s a real thing. When we are afraid, we give off chemicals that send a warning to others.

If you have any fears, doubts or lack conviction in your beliefs and values, or are ‘faking it’ or hiding something, then you will be given away by your body chemistry, posture, tone of voice and facial expressions. Your body will contradict your so-called authenticity. 

Have you ever heard people say one thing and seen them do another?

Or have you ever had the sense that someone was lying to you?

How did that feel? 

And how did that affect your opinion of that person?

Authenticity is a wonderful thing but the fact is, being authentic can be challenging.

That’s because being authentic means that you need to be honest, to speak up for yourself, to voice an opinion, perhaps to be vulnerable, to expose something or to face a challenge.

Being authentic often requires us to develop certain skills, like courage.

If building relationships is important in your business and life, then it will serve you to improve your authenticity skills.

Let’s look at the three main skills of being authentic.

Courage

In interpersonal relationships, it’s courage that allows you to name what is happening to raise awareness, acceptance and understanding.

It’s when you can express observations, feelings, needs and requests and to shake up the status quo without offending, violating, blaming, shaming, or demeaning others.

For example: I don’t like it when you do X, it makes me feel Y. I would like it if you didn’t do that around me anymore.

If you have been in a cycle of people pleasing, it can be hard to find the language of courage, especially knowing that the other person may feel sad, disappointed or angry.

It’s about being able to stay on the right side of that fine line.

And let’s be clear: people pleasing is dishonest because it usually involves pretending to be someone that you’re not to meet someone else’s needs. It involves putting your own feelings and needs aside.

As you could guess, it takes courage to break out of that cycle and say no, or to be clear about what you will or won’t, can or can’t do.

If you have been in a cycle of people pleasing, it can be hard to find the language of courage, especially knowing that the other person may feel sad, disappointed or angry.

You will also need to learn to be ok with other people’s discomfort.

But courage is a powerful skill that can transform your relationships and build personal integrity.

I recommend that to build courage, you start with some small challenging situation in your life where you want to speak up for yourself or set a boundary, or a place in your business where you need to ‘show up’. 

Choose something that is just a little uncomfortable.

Then rehearse what you will say in that situation and how you will say it in a way that is calm, rational and non-judgemental.

Then schedule that into your diary and do it. Reflect on how it felt. Reflect on what you learned.

I promise you, if you do this one small thing, and do it regularly, you will build phenomenal courage, diplomacy, self-assurance and emotional balance.

Honesty

The second part of being authentic is being honest.

Honesty goes hand in hand with courage.

It means you are speaking the truth and more broadly, it means that you are presenting yourself in a genuine and sincere way, without pretence.

The research shows that honesty achieves more than just trust and positive relationships – it also helps you to set more accurate goals – in other words, goals that reflect your true values and interests.

When you set realistic goals, you can more easily achieve them, and this in turn builds self-confidence.

Honesty can be challenging because we are often afraid of the consequences; of hurting other people’s feelings, or of letting others down.

The most important thing you can be, though, is honest with yourself. If you aren’t happy about something, or if you are living out of alignment with what you believe in, then it’s going to create more tension within you than if you lie to protect the feelings of others.

This is worth thinking about.

And the truth is, if people can’t handle your honest and tactful truth, spoken diplomatically, then they are probably not your people.

Integrity

The third part of being authentic is integrity.

Integrity is when you are who you say you are and act consistently across all areas of your life, rather than behaving differently around different people.

Integrity is when you live your life in alignment with your values, morals and ethics.

It’s been described as ‘doing the right thing, even when no-one is looking.’

In other words, integrity is a personal choice.

And it is a choice that builds confidence, courage, and authenticity.

Here’s why.

When you live with integrity, you never have to question yourself or doubt yourself. You are doing what you know is right for you. 

And when you take responsibility and are accountable for your actions, other people will trust you and respect you.

You become a role model and develop a positive reputation.

I feel that it’s easier to forgive someone’s mistakes if they have integrity, because you know that they are coming from an authentic, honest place.

Integrity directly impacts on your success in life because it improves your chance of promotion, leadership and attractiveness, generally.

Right now, think about someone you know who seems to have a lot of integrity.

How do you feel about that person?

How much do you trust them?

What is it specifically that causes you to feel this way about them?

You can hone your integrity by being clear on your core values, your decisions and by developing your strengths.

For example, if your strongest values are around family, community, contribution, love and responsibility, then it makes sense that you will cultivate thoughts and actions that align with those values.

In another example, if your strongest values are around achievement, competitiveness, courage, hard work and helping society, then it makes sense that you would cultivate thoughts and actions that align more with those values.

Neither of those two people is better than the other, they are just different.

But if person B presented to be family-oriented, but was more interested in creating ventures that helped communities, you would easily identify the incongruence between words and actions.

Similarly, if person A said that they badly wanted to get promoted at work, they might secretly rather prefer to focus on their family and loved ones, and might not be able to get the promotion they say they want.

As you can see, one of the foundations of being authentic is being self-aware.

When you understand what your values are and what drives you, then it’s way easier to act congruently and to be authentic.

When you take responsibility and are accountable for your actions, other people will trust you and respect you.

Summary

Being authentic is a wonderful way to build personal and business relationships, to feel fulfilled, and to follow your purpose.

But it’s more than just saying certain things or acting in a way that impresses others.

Being authentic requires three core skills; courage, honesty and integrity.

When you are self-aware, and act consistently with your values across all areas of life, with honesty, you are well on the way to being authentic.

Ready to be more authentic?

When you understand what your values are and what drives you, then it’s way easier to act congruently and to be authentic. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 89: Stretch Goals

Do you want to develop courage, confidence, persistence, agility, strategic thinking and self-belief? Then you might just need to set a stretch goal.

Imagine if you could achieve a huge goal, something bigger than ever you thought you were capable of?

How much self-belief would you have if you could do that?

What else would be possible?

And how sweet would it be to overcome your fears and overwhelm, so you could bask in the glow of achievement?

It would be amazing.

Many more doors would open for you, and the world would have many more possibilities because you’d taken a leap of faith, and grown as a person along the way.

Would it be an easy process to get there?

Probably not.

It would be a baptism of fire – a situation where you must immediately cope with difficulties and obstacles.

But you would be a stronger, better person for it, more confident, accomplished and ready to tackle the next thing.

Welcome to stretch goals – the topic of today’s episode – guaranteed to supercharge your business and your life.

What is a Stretch Goal?

According to Harvard Business Review, a stretch goal is a blend of extreme difficulty and extreme novelty.

Extreme difficulty means going beyond your current capability and performance.

For you, this could mean going all out to lose 15kg, or holding a big marketing event to attract 100 people to your business, or just saving an extra $300 this month.

Extreme novelty means working differently, creatively, following new paths or approaches never tried before.

For you, this could mean trying a totally new exercise approach, or making a complete change in your business model.

Why Set A Stretch Goal?

You’re probably thinking that the whole stretch goal idea sounds a bit hard, a bit crazy and a bit scary. It sounds like a risk.

And it is ALL those things.

BUT the results you get from a stretch goal are worth it:

  • courage
  • determination
  • agility
  • the ability to manage risks, and
  • self-belief.

So in summary, a stretch goal is a hard goal that pushes you outside your comfort zone so you can truly discover what you’re capable of.

Top performers know that failure is part of the process so more than anything, stretch goals are an exercise in developing self-belief, acceptance and persistence by achieving bigger things than you thought were possible.

A Crazy Example (Do Not Try This At Home)

In 1997, my then-boyfriend, an avid motorbike rider, suggested that we do a trip across Australia from Perth Western Australia to Cairns Queensland through the middle of the country on dirt and sealed highways. 

It seemed like a great idea – but I had never ridden a motorbike before in my life.

This was going to be a monumental stretch goal that would shape my beliefs, attitudes and the course of my life going forward.

At the time, I had to take stock and think seriously about whether I could actually do this. Whether I had the resources within me to be able to take on such a big crazy goal.

I had to consider the time it would take me to learn to ride a bike. What would it cost me to buy a motorbike, lessons and to get my license and riding gear.

Then of course there was the whole rest of the trip to plan, like where the fuel stops were, how to modify the motorbikes to carry enough fuel between the fuel stops, how physically strong I’d need to be to ride the 10,000km and endure the harsh conditions of the desert. 

We had to think about safety check ins, sleeping arrangements, dried food and water given the limited carrying capacity of our motorbikes. 

I figured that between us we had what it took to do this trip and to plan it really well, so I said yes, let’s do it. And we developed and rolled out our travel plan over a 12 month period.

This was going to be a monumental stretch goal that would shape my beliefs, attitudes and the course of my life going forward.

In the weeks leading up to the trip people told me I was crazy. They laughed at me. They said things like, ‘you’ll never do that’ and ‘you’ll kill yourself’ and ‘who do you think you are?’

I didn’t dare tell my parents I was going because they would have been horrified. 

After all, I was 26 years old and was about to ride my own small off road motorbike – a Yamaha XT-250 – across the desert with no off road experience and only three months of lessons, license and riding time.

But I forged on. I created a 6-week gym training program for myself to build up some strength for the long haul ahead and I added 2kg of muscle to my skinny little frame. I felt strong, and physically and mentally ready.

A week before we left, I came down with a really terrible flu and was bedridden with a chesty, green-phlegmy cough in the week prior to our departure. I was SO sick. I had barely any energy and I lost all of the gains that I’d made in the gym. 

But we delayed our departure by a week, had a farewell party, and decided to go ahead anyway. 

The first 2 days it rained solidly and we made it on the sealed roads via Merredin and Kalgoorlie to Laverton where we holed up for a day and waited for the rain to pass.  

But when the rain showed no signs of letting up, we decided to hit the dirt highway so we could get ahead of the front. 

That meant riding a bike with 3 months of experience under my belt, heading into slippery mud holes, slimy sliding muddy roads, rocky hills, deep sand river beds  and of course coping with any cows, camels, kangaroos, wild horses and other wildlife sprinting across the road. 

There was not a soul in sight for most of the ride, and being the middle of winter in Australia it was freezing cold at night and crisp and sunny during the day – great for riding but not so good when you have the flu and a fever and a constantly runny nose. 

We wore balaclavas during the day under our helmets to keep warm and my balaclava was stuck to my top lip because of my runny nose. 

As you can imagine, I felt miserable and like giving up. I spent the first few days crying, sending daggers at the back of my boyfriend’s head, realising that there was no way out and I had to keep going. 

It felt bloody awful and terrifying. I was riding at about 40 km per hour while my boyfriend rode on ahead then impatiently waiting for me to catch up. 

On about day 6 of the trip something interesting happened. We were riding through the desert near Peagull Caves in WA, and up ahead on the dirt road I could see this little shape.

As we drew closer, I realised it was an Italian guy riding a little Vespa with a small suitcase and a hat box (of all things!). He was smoking a cigar, grinning broadly, and pottering along at 30 km per hour. I passed this guy and waved, then suddenly I felt like the queen of the world because finally there was somebody going slower than me on a smaller bike and he was enjoying himself.

You would not believe how good I felt in that moment. It was a huge lesson – that I could actually enjoy this journey and make the most of it. I didn’t have to be the fastest or best rider, I could simply ride, and be happy for being here and doing this huge feat.

Then I started to gain more confidence in my riding and although I was still to be sick with the flu for another six weeks, I really made progress. I felt like I was accomplishing something.

Then after a couple of nights’ stopover at Ayers Rock and Alice Springs, we hit the dirt again, and one of the most rugged tracks in the Northern Territory desert called the Cattle Water Pass. 

My boyfriend convinced me it was a 60 km shortcut but it ended up being one of the most hectic, eroded, difficult, windy tracks I could have ever imagined (he did apologise for taking me down it later on). The upshot is I ended up nearly falling off my bike and collapsing in exhaustion covered in sweat and feeling defeated. 

I was in the middle of Australia and the only thing I could do was to keep riding.

We ended that day at the Urandangi Roadhouse and all I could see ahead was a dusty road with rocks and big bulldust holes that could easily cause an accident. Bulldust holes look like the normal road, but they are actually gaping holes that can be up to a couple of metres wide and maybe half a metre deep, filled with very fine dried silt.

So on the surface, they look like road, but when you ride a motorbike through them at 70km/hour, your front wheel plunges in and you go flying over the front. Which is NOT what you want to do in the remote central desert.

I was terrified of the road ahead, so I asked every person I saw at the pub – both of them – what the conditions were like. 

The first guy said “it’s a great road, you could drive a regular 2WD car on it, you’ll be fine”. Phew, what a relief!

But then the next guy said “it’s the worst road I’ve ever been on it’s full of bulldust holes and you’re at high risk of a serious crash – it’s not safe to drive on”. 

It was at that point that I realised that nobody could predict what the road ahead would be like. Nobody could guarantee me that I would be safe. I had to just get on that road and ride it; to make my own decisions about how to ride, and how I was going to talk to myself about that journey (mostly, I prayed). 

But, isn’t that a metaphor for life? 

The trip got easier from then on. We made it to Cairns, stayed a few weeks and by the time it came to do the journey home I was a confident and competent rider and I was riding at 80 km per hour off-road and was able to handle all different sorts of terrain with confidence.

What Stretch Goals Create

I mentioned that that trip was a defining moment for me.

At the time, I felt like I was the queen of the world. I had a huge sense of accomplishment and achievement. I had so much more self-belief. 

I knew that if I persisted I could get through anything, even when it seemed there was no way out.

That trip helped me to develop character strengths and skills that I would not have had otherwise.

And in the years after that, I have used those strengths, skills and that self-belief to start businesses, to change careers, to move interstate, backing myself the whole way.

Why was I able to do these things? 

Because I knew that I could make them work. I had proof. And without that baptism of fire, I might never have achieved everything I have so far in my life.

That, my friends, is what stretch goals can create. 

For me, that was a stretch goal worth pursuing.

Summary

Yes, the whole stretch goal idea is a bit hard, crazy and scary. 

It involves getting out of your comfort zone to tackle something huge – something that seems impossible – knowing that you could fail along the way.

Some people will tell you it’s easy, others will tell you it’s hard. In the end you’ve just got to back yourself. 

Is it worth it?

You will have to decide for yourself.

But if you want to grow as a person, and to develop more courage, determination, persistence, agility, strategic thinking and self-belief, I highly recommend setting yourself a stretch goal.

It will totally change your life.

If you want to study stretch goals with me, jump on into my monthly membership at https://www.melaniejwhite.com/habitology.

Ready to set a stretch goal?

It’s a great way to grow as a person, and to develop more courage, persistence, and self-belief! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 85: What You Can Control

In pandemic times, there are four skills you can use in a four-step process to dial down the intensity, feel calm, take charge and gain a sense of control.

I’m not sure about you but sitting at home in isolation has bought a bunch of things to the forefront of my mind, and my life.

I think right now we are all faced with it – the overwhelm of all the unfinished things in our house and in our lives, the clutter we have accumulated, and the onslaught of media and negative headlines.

We normally have the ability to physically escape these things and to continue on with the doing work of life, rather than attending to this unfinished business. 

But now living in pandemic times, it’s an extreme experience to face the internal clutter as well as the external tragedy, risks, loss, grief and uncertainty. 

Few people have prepared themselves for these times. 

It’s more than just stocking your pantry – it’s also about feeling in control.

After all, right now we are winging it, pivoting, adapting and trying to take steps toward our goals in a new way. And we may also have had to throw our goals out the window!

That’s why I want to talk about feeling calmer and less overwhelmed – by taking control of the things that we CAN control.

What’s really in our control?

If you think about it, most circumstances are outside our control.

Six months ago you had no idea this pandemic was coming – and that’s just one of hundreds of things you could never have predicted in life.

What is within our control is what we think about things, and how we act.

And, we create certainty and a sense of control by making decisions about what we do and don’t want, and what we will and won’t do.

What is within our control is what we think about things, and how we act.

So right now is the perfect time to stop thinking about what we can’t do, and to get clear on what we can do, so we can take back control of our thoughts and actions.

It’s time to stop the spread of fear, anxiety, and worry, and instead of just coping, we need to bounce back and start thriving, coping with challenges and feeling strong.

It’s all in the mindset.

Let’s stop letting our thoughts run wild, unfettered. 

Let’s talk about the skills we can develop to manage our minds and to actively cultivate healthier thoughts.

Compassion

Firstly, we can develop compassion for ourselves and for others. Compassion is a practice as well as a response to the circumstances around us, but it starts with self-talk.

Compassion is being kind to ourselves and others (instead of judging). It’s about recognising the common humanity (we are all suffering and it will pass) and to be mindful of what we can do in this moment (I can control my thoughts in this moment).

We can only focus, think straight and make decisions when we are calm.

Factualising

The second thing we can do is to stop catastrophizing. 

As an expert in catastrophizing with many years of experience, I want to take you through a three step process I have developed to calm things down – a process I call factualising.

The premise of the model is that catastrophizing is a sense of heightened emotion that we create in our brains. It’s exaggerating and expecting or even predicting the worst possible outcome.

Obviously, that’s very unhelpful!

So this model I’ve developed helps us to step back from that heightened emotional state and out of our ‘feeling brain’, into a more neutral, calm and logical state, by engaging our more logical, ‘thinking brain’.

The three steps to the model are to 1. write down your negative, catastrophizing-style thoughts, 2. trim it down to just the non-emotive facts, and 3. to reframe it with an ‘even-though’ statement.

Here’s an example.

Negative thought:

I am so irritated with myself because I didn’t do my exercise session today. I was too cold and tired, and now I feel terrible.

       Just the facts:

       I didn’t do my exercise session today.

       Reframe:

Even though I didn’t do my exercise session today, I feel determined to do my session tomorrow.

Finding Strength

The third thing we can do is to find strength, because this helps us to feel grounded, and to gain a sense of our capacity to cope.

The process to finding strength could include reflecting on past challenges and how you overcame them.

Maybe it’s identifying all the people and networks around you who can support you, and who have been there for you in the past.

Strength also comes from cultivating positive thoughts. This could include practicing gratitude each day, creating an oasis for yourself at home – a quiet place to rest, relax and reflect.

Strength includes looking at the upsides and shifting attention to what has been learned or discovered despite the challenges. 

Strength can be more easily maintained when you are consistent with self care. We gain physical and emotional strength and resilience by going to bed early, waking up at a consistent time, eating nutritious food, doing exercise, breathing deeply, meditating, thought modelling, journalling, factualising and practicing self-regulation.

Make Decisions

The fourth thing we can do is to make some decisions about how we will think and act in the next period ahead. 

When we have no plan and have made no decisions, we are floating around in the sea of chaos, feeling helpless.

But when we decide what we will and won’t do, how we will do things for the next week, what we will experiment with, and which tools, support or resources we will use to give our plans a good chance of success, it feels like we’re taking charge again.

A lot of people think that decision making is where they should START in the process of taking charge.

But in uncertain, pandemic times, decision fatigue is a real thing. It means you don’t have the capacity to make decisions.

That’s why I started with the three steps of compassion, factualising and finding strength – because these are the foundation of good, rational decision-making and planning. 

As you might have noticed, there are a lot of things that ARE in your control right now.

Probably more than you imagined!

If you follow this four-step process, it will help you to take charge of the things that are in your control so that you can feel calmer, more confident and more resilient in the face of uncertainty and chaos.

Summary

In any case, even the most calm, balanced people may struggle in uncertain, stressful times. 

My four step process for taking charge of the things that you can control is:

  1. Practice compassion and self compassion
  2. Start factualising instead of catastrophizing
  3. Find strength in the past, your networks and appropriate self-care
  4. Make decisions for the next period of time to regain your sense of control.

Instead of just coping, we need to bounce back and start thriving, coping with challenges and feeling strong.

In the longer term, consistent self care is the foundation of mental wellbeing. It is therefore an essential precursor for building resilience, for effective decision making and for remaining calm in the face of adversity.

If you would like to find out about working with a coach, visit melaniejwhite.com/contact

Ready to feel calm and in control?

Focus on the things you CAN control. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 84: Countering Anxiety

Let’s talk about how to identify the signs of anxiety, and some simple daily routines to counter anxiety so you can stay calm, focused and relaxed.

Today I want to talk about staying calm and to talk through some tools you can use to dial down anxiety. 

I feel pretty qualified to talk about this because I’ve had anxiety my whole life. I had anxiety as a small child as a teenager. As an adult it comes and goes, but I largely have a handle on it and I have used many tools to help me manage it.

By the end of this episode I hope that you will have some useful tools to help you to tame the anxiety that you may feel from time to time and especially right now and, to know that you have so much power in you to do this.

Stress versus anxiety

The first thing I want to talk about is the difference between stress and anxiety.

Stress often has a root cause – it is a response to a perceived threat. Anxiety may be a reaction to stress, but it may also have no root cause. Anxiety may be a sense of heightened tension or persistent feeling of apprehension.

Some of the signs of stress include low energy, headaches, upset stomach, aches and pains, heart palpitations, loss of libido, chest pain, skin rashes, insomnia, and frequent colds and infections.

According to Beyond Blue, there are three types of anxiety symptoms.

Physical symptoms could include panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening chest, quick breathing, restlessness, feeling wound up and edgy.

Psychological symptoms could include excessive fears, worry, catastrophizing or obsessive thinking.

Behavioural symptoms could include avoiding situations that cause anxiety.

You may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, but aside from that, anxiety is largely caused by our thinking patterns. 

The thing about anxiety is that if you have lived with it a long time, you may not be aware of it or how it’s showing up in your body, your mind or your life – because it feels normal to be anxious.

Now let’s talk briefly about what creates anxiety and what the impact of that may be.

I don’t really want to dwell on this too much but just to say enough about it that you can tell for yourself whether anxiety is something that you need to be dealing with and resolving.

What causes anxiety?

You may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, but aside from that, anxiety is largely caused by our thinking patterns. 

So if you have a racing mind, or a lot of worries, then you may feel overwhelmed or have a sense that you have a loss of control.

You may find yourself ruminating on things or catastrophizing about things. This can happen at any time but it often likes to pop up at 3 o’clock in the morning when you can’t sleep and suddenly your head is full of busy stuff.

Some people may not be that attuned to those things because it’s normal for you so you don’t notice that there is anything unusual or super challenging – maybe you think that’s just how life is. 

I first noticed anxiety as nail biting, picking the skin on my fingers, endlessly twirling my hair, nervous twitches, shallow rapid breathing and an inability to sit still.

In fact one of the hardest things for an anxious person is to sit still because then we are left alone with our thoughts and our difficult emotions so we prefer to be moving all of the time. 

You may also find yourself reaching for alcohol, chocolate, crunchy foods, savoury foods or caffeine to try and manage your energy and your emotions.

None of this is helpful, so let’s talk about counter anxiety because I think this is where the joy is for us.

How to Counter Anxiety

Since anxiety largely starts in your brain, in your mind, and there’s so much movement and energy around it, then the general principles to counter anxiety are around three things:

  1. slowing down 
  2. single tasking and 
  3. being more mindful.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about how you can introduce more slowness and stillness and presence into your life in a way that feels safe, comfortable and calm.

It’s really important that you start your day off right in a calm, slow leisurely way. 

Right now I invite you to think about what would create that for you. 

It may involve swapping a caffeinated drink for a non-caffeinated drink. It might be about having breakfast with some protein in it to balance your blood sugar.

It might be about including some movement at the start of the day where you are able to become present and mindful, which could involve a walk, some rhythmic movement in nature like swimming or surfing, or being in the garden. 

For some people it’s meditation or yoga to create that calm mental energy that allows you to be focused and level headed as you start your day.

In terms of getting through your day, I think the key part of managing anxiety is to just take on a bare minimum of things that you need to get done. 

This means leaving plenty of time to do each task, with plenty of white space in your diary. 

Maybe for you that is three things a day for five things a day or one thing a day. You need to experiment to find what your sweet spot is.

Because my work involves a lot of coaching conversations and a bit of teaching, I have worked out that my capacity is about five sessions per day. I’ve realised that if I’m feeling a bit tired or stressed then I will block out a day and reschedule my appointments because I won’t be showing up as my best I calmest to those sessions. 

If I’m feeling rushed or going too fast then it affects the quality of the conversations that I’m having and it limits my ability to truly listen to people.

It has taken a lot of discipline for me to do one thing at a time, but it’s been worth it.

As you can tell the good part of this is about setting boundaries that are realistic and healthy so that you can do what you need to do and feel calm by the end of the day. 

People often ask me how I manage to get so much done and it is simply because I am calm, I don’t take on too much and I finish things as I go. 

It’s been hard to get into that routine but it’s been so worth it for me.

I used to multi-task and it has taken a lot of discipline for me to do one thing at a time, but it’s been worth it.

I now expect less of myself, which lowers my anxiety, and I actually get more done.

In the evening, I find that being organised with meal prep is really helpful for staying calm and eating slow, relaxed meals. To achieve that, I spend about 2 hours on a Sunday night making up some delicious salads and proteins for lunch and thinking about what dinner will involve, depending on my evening work commitments.

Before bed, I like to spend time reading a book to help me wind down and empty my mind, but I might also have a long chat with my husband or take some time to simply stare into space and think of nothing.

There is a great book that I recommend called the Practicing Mind by Thomas M Sterner, which covers a lot of these principles. It’s been a game changer for me.

Summary

Some of us are wired for anxiety and we may be in the habit of creating anxiety with our repetitive daily thought patterns.

But there are a range of things you can do to slow down, simplify and stay mindful, so that you can counter anxiety and remain calm and focused.

 

Ready to counter anxiety?

There are things you can do to slow down, simplify and stay mindful. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 80: That Quit Voice

What does it take to succeed, and how do you silence that quit voice?

When you start a business there is a lot to learn and at various times you may feel uncomfortable, challenged, frustrated and scared. 

And let me tell you this – if you feel all of those things, it means that you’re doing it right. 

Welcome to the world of being an entrepreneur.

The thing is that along the way, you are probably going to hear an inner voice – that quit voice – the voice that tells you terrible things, like:

  • Who are you to run this business?
  • You can’t do this, you have no clue!
  • Why would anyone buy HW coaching services from you – you can’t even look after your OWN wellbeing.
  • I have no clients, nothing is working, I might as well just give up.

There are 100 other versions of these statements but these are some common ones.

If you’ve ever heard these voices in your head – this podcast is for you.

The Quit Statistics

You’ve probably heard the statistics that 95% of businesses fail in the first year of operation. 

But have you ever wondered what that actually means – that 95% of businesses fail

Sure, there can be mismanagement, lack of research into the demand for your service, poor marketing, or over capitalising. 

But I think what it means is that people have given up. 

It means that they lack grit and persistence – because all these so-called reasons for failure are lessons, and things that can be overcome. 

And I want to tell you that success may not come in your first year or even your first two years. But if you believe in what you’re doing and you know that it’s valuable and you persist then your chance of success increases.

So rather than call these business failure statistics, I want to call them quit statistics.

What Does It Take to Succeed?

As described in Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, there is a theory that it will take you 10,000 hours over 10 years to reach the expert level of proficiency in anything you want to do. 

Think about what that means in the context of giving up or quitting in your business in that first year, two years or five years?

The thing it takes to succeed is persistence.

Persistence means that you are resisting the novelty and freshness of shiny objects. 

You are committed to finishing what you start.

Persistence is doing things now that will set you up for success later – there’s no quick fix.

You’re working with the distant future in mind.

You are focused on a clear and definite goal.

You have the determination to stick to a course once you’ve committed to the goal.

You don’t abandon tasks in the face of obstacles.

And most importantly, you have a big vision of what you want to achieve that you just won’t let go of.

Right now I want to ask you to check in with yourself. How many of these traits do you have?

Persistence is doing things now that will set you up for success later.

Which of these might you need to sharpen up? 

Most people don’t have all of these traits, but when you are truly passionate about something and feel you have a big purpose, it makes persistence as I’ve just described it, a whole lot easier.

If you knew that you could succeed if you persisted long enough in your business, what would happen to your quit voice?

How would it affect your investment and commitment to your business?

Right about now you might be thinking to yourself…

…“Yes but I need to earn an income! What if I”m flogging a dead horse?”

This is a valid question and it’s one you need to answer because it will give you the confidence to commit to your idea and then persist for long enough to achieve your goal.

First let’s consider the reality – accept you will experience failure along the way. You will learn lessons about what to do differently and you will need to adapt your approach or method.

Secondly, you really need to research and test the market to know that there is both a need AND a demand for your services before you start.

Thirdly, you must be good at what you do, and that takes time and ongoing personal and professional development. 

If you do those things and make good connections as you build your business, you will likely succeed if you persist long enough. 

Aside from that, you need to find ways to make money to support you while your business is growing AND at some point you need to earn income in your business.

How long does it take to succeed?

Maybe the next question you’re asking is how long does it take to succeed in a coaching business or other service based business?

Let’s make it easy and assume that success means making a profit consistently for a period of time.

And let’s assume that you’re not mucking around, playing small, trying to do it all yourself, staying stuck in fear. Let’s assume you’re doing NONE of those things, and you’re proactively seeking good quality advice and support to help you develop a business in a viable niche.

With those things in place, the time it takes to succeed depends on your grit and persistence.

Yes, it comes down to you.

Going back a way, it took Thomas Edison almost three years to test around 3,000 designs for light bulbs and then, after getting a patent, he spent a year testing 6000 plants to get the filament right.

That’s an example of someone with a physical product who is testing and refining his invention to get it right.

It took life coach Marie Forleo many years to build her business and 2.5 years of daily online content and presence to build her brand online.

It took me, the lowly Melanie J White, about 6 months to develop and deliver a pilot program, and about one year until I was earning a full time income from the full version of that program. That success continued for the next two years until I stopped running that program and pivoted in my business.

In a tangible sense of income and clients, that’s what’s possible.

According to author Angela Duckwork in her book Grit, is roughly 10,000 hours and 10 years of commitment to a craft before you are at expert level in your craft.

You can definitely develop a successful business before then but having a high level of skill is ultimately the true measure of success beyond anything else – because it is ultimately what attracts people to your business.

The message is this – if you follow a road map and give something a red hot go, and stick with it, you will become good at it, and you will succeed.

Passion. Courage. Focus. Resilience.

How to Silence the Quit Voice

Hopefully this has given you some perspective on what’s possible if you put in the time, energy and effort – and most importantly, commitment to persist.

Maybe you’re feeling pumped up at the thought of succeeding.

That means you have the first two magic ingredients of success – persistence and grit. 

But beyond this, how do you silence the quit voice that can get in the way of persistence?

You need four other things – passion, courage, focus and resilience.

Passion, courage, focus and resilience are the things that help you to persist when your computer shows the blue screen of death, or you are overly emotional after a lack of sleep, or your marketing campaign gets crickets. 

With passion, courage, focus and resilience, you will be agile and objective enough to stand back, learn the lesson, change track and move on.

To build these skills, you need to practice self compassion and develop a growth mindset.

That means being kind to yourself, being mindful, reframing your failures as lessons, and embracing the discomfort of the unknown as an opportunity to gain new skills and insights.

In other words, if you want to silence the quit voice, you need to coach yourself.

This means focusing on your big why, managing your emotions and reframing failures. When you do this, you will be able to make rational decisions and act in a logical, calm and objective way, no matter what.

You will overcome procrastination, overwhelm and fear.

Just stick with it.

I want to refer you to some previous podcast episodes here that will help you get there:

  1. Episode 4 – How to Get in the Mood to Get Things Done
  2. Episode 59 – Becoming Your Future Self
  3. Episode 68 – Cultivating Self-Discipline and Self-Regulation
  4. Episode 73 – The Three Best Ways to Build Self-Confidence
  5. Episode 76 – The Importance of Self Compassion

Summary

Mental discomfort is part of being a business owner.

We all have an inner voice that can turn the tiniest problem into a catastrophe, or to revel in the slightest hint of self doubt.

Then you start to telling yourself reasons why you should give up on your business.

That’s your quit voice talking.

It’s what causes so many business owners to give up on their business or their big goal or dream.

But the fact is, you can do some important groundwork FIRST to make sure your business idea is viable.

If you follow a road map and give something a red hot go, and stick with it, you will become good at it, and you will succeed.

Then, if you persist with your idea long enough, keep troubleshooting along the way, getting the right support and improving your skills, you will eventually succeed.

Your quit voice might pop up along the way, and to get rid of it or at least manage it, you can practice self-compassion and work on developing a growth mindset.

If you would like some help to get started on persistence, you may like to join the my monthly Habitology membership for personal and professional growth. In April 2020 we are focusing on stretch goals – so it’s the perfect time to commit to yourself.

Visit https://www.melaniejwhite.com/habitology for more information.

Ready to mute that quit voice?

With passion, courage, focus and resilience you will be successful. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 75: Confidence in Your Coaching Business

Here are two things you must do if you want to succeed in your new coaching business – and measuring your numbers isn’t necessarily one of them.

Today’s episode is the second half of an important topic – confidence in your coaching business.

In episode 74 we talked about confidence in your modality and also in your own skills as an important foundation – so please go back and listen to that one. 

That’s a segue into today’s topic.

It’s one thing to feel confident as a coach, but running a business is a whole different ball game, especially if you have only ever been an employee, and never run a business on your own.

So today I want to talk to you about how to grow confidence in your business skills.

Confidence in Your Business Skills

I want to start by busting a myth.

A lot of business coaches talk about how important it is to know your numbers. 

That means things like how many people are clicking on your email links, how many people are visiting your website, how many people signed up for your webinars, what the conversion rate is, and so on.

Too many coaches and wellness practitioners set goals around a certain number of clients and give up within a month or two if they don’t hit those numbers.

I want to challenge that for brand new business owners and say that getting fixated on the numbers can be a huge confidence killer for a new business owner.

Why?

Because when you start out, you are still figuring out your strengths. You are still figuring out your niche. 

You are trying to work out who your clients are, what they want, and how best to give it to them. 

You are finding your voice in the public arena and working out what you stand for.

You are testing, experimenting, and trying different things to see what suits you and your style. You might not yet be sure about which business model you will use.

When you start out, you are still figuring out your strengths. You are still figuring out your niche. 

And while it’s useful to measure how many people are responding to you – ask yourself – what do those numbers really mean if you are chopping and changing your messages, forums, platforms and topics during this early experimental phase?

The answer is – nothing. 

It’s like comparing apples with oranges.

So if you put too much emphasis on the numbers in your business, you may do more harm than good, and end up eroding your confidence rather than building it.

How do you build confidence in your business skills?

You might remember in the last episode that I mentioned our brains want proof of something before they believe it is true, or possible. 

But it’s hard to get proof in advance when you are totally new to something, like running a business!

Here are two things you can do to give your brain that sense of confidence.

1. Get help to create a solid strategic plan

The simple answer is to get help to create a solid strategic plan in your first year of business.

This is your framework for experimenting to see what works, to work out YOUR best way of doing business, and create a regular, organised and intentional work plan.

If you are new to running a business you will definitely need help to create this plan.

But that is your framework for moving forward and having a plan helps you to build confidence in your business and that you have a pretty good path to follow.

2. Measure your commitment to take consistent action

Measuring things is a great way to see progress.

If you are new in business, the true measure of your business acumen is your ability to consistently take action

Your commitment to consistent action, no matter what, is actually what builds confidence in your business. 

That’s because taking action no matter what indicates that you have grit, courage, persistence, strength and determination.

Having those traits feel good, and empowering.

They are all qualities of confident people and confident business owners.

And the stronger those traits, the more resilience you will have to experiment with things and not take any failures personally.

You will be better equipped to manage your emotions and be logical, factual and realistic.

And in a new business there is a LOT to experiment with.

You will be experimenting with business processes and tools, coaching techniques, session plans, number of sessions, trying different sorts of questions, what type of client to look for, where they are, whether you’re going to market online or offline, which social media channel to use, how best to have conversations with people, how to plan effectively, how to create offers that attract clients, how to pull together coaching programs and what clients want in their coaching programs. 

Some things will work and some will fail.

Some things will feel right and others won’t.

Your brain wants proof of success. But you can’t know the exact formula for any of this in advance. 

At least while you are figuring out how to run a business, succeeding and failing along the way, you can create a consistent, stable platform of action-taking so that you can build confidence in your ability to run a business.

Then, when you’ve been in your business for a year and have worked out YOUR way of doing business, you can start looking more at the numbers and results. 

But in the beginning, I encourage you to focus on measuring your ability to follow your plans and process – because when you get that process right, you will succeed. 

Summary

In summary, know that you are experimenting with so many things right now, so the numbers don’t mean that much. 

When you learn to take action no matter what, you are actively cultivating a growth mindset, the behaviours of a self-confident person, resilience, capacity and self-motivation.

What is more confidence-building is 

  1. To get help to create a strategic plan as the roadmap for your business and,
  2. To take consistent action toward your plan, problem solving and tweaking along the way, with the support of someone with the right skills and experience. 

When you learn to take action no matter what, you are actively cultivating a growth mindset, the behaviours of a self-confident person, resilience, capacity and self-motivation.

Those are the secret formula for your business success.

Ready to grow confidence in your business?

A plan and a growth mindset can go a long way! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 74: Confidence in Your Coaching Skills

If you want to build confidence in your coaching skills, quickly and effectively, you need to start doing these things right now.

I have been having lots of conversations lately with graduate coaches about their levels of confidence around their coaching and their ability to run a business.

So I decided to create this episode – dedicated to you new coaches or wellness practitioners out there – about how to build confidence in your coaching business.

When I say confident coaching business, I mean that you feel confident in your modality, in your skills, and about your business. We are going to cover these things in TWO podcast episodes because it’s a big juicy topic.

Today, we are going to focus on confidence in your modality and your coaching skills.

The NEXT episode will cover confidence in your business skills.

Before we dive in, I want to share one of the most important lessons that I’ve learnt in life.

It’s simply this – if you feel confident about what you’re doing or selling, then it is extremely convincing, magnetic and compelling to other people.

Here’s proof. Think about someone you know who is self-confident. 

How inspired do you feel around that person? 

Would you trust their opinion or advice? 

Now, think about somebody that you know who is confident in running their business. 

Do you look up to them? 

Are they a role model for you?

When you are confident in who you are and what you do, you can sell anything – no matter what it is. Your unwavering belief and confidence is highly magnetic and highly attractive. It’s the secret of effective marketing!

That’s why feeling confident in your coaching will help you to build a powerful business.

Now let’s explore three areas in more depth: feeling confident in what you do (your modality), feeling confident about your skills in that area.

Confidence in What You Do

Let’s start by talking about your confidence in what you do – that is, in your profession. 

Even if you don’t have much experience in your field as a coach or wellness practitioner, you will likely have great confidence in the modality that you use. 

When you are confident in who you are and what you do, you can sell anything – no matter what it is.

You probably have great confidence in the power of that modality to truly help people make change, to become healthier, calmer, less anxious and more at peace.

That’s a really important starting point. Because if you lack confidence in your abilities, at least you know that your modality is effective and you believe in that – and you can learn and improve your skills.

If you feel confident in what you do, congratulations, that’s great! 

If you don’t believe in what you’re doing then your commitment, confidence in your abilities and your ability to sell it are going to be virtually zero.

I’ve had this experience myself. I joined a network marketing business many years ago and they introduced new product lines that I didn’t like.

Because I didn’t believe in many of their new products, I found it harder and harder to sell those products because it didn’t feel authentic and aligned. I had to quit that organisation within a year of joining.

That taught me a valuable lesson – simply, that I must believe in what I do in order to be good at it and be able to sell it.

So I invite you to step back and look at the big picture of what you do for a moment – your modality – and consider how effective that modality is. 

Consider what happens when experienced practitioners use that modality. Think about the results that their clients have achieved. 

The upshot of this is, even if you have had few or no clients yourself, really get clear on how much you believe in your modality as an effective tool to help people. 

It’s a great point of focus if you are new as a coach/practitioner, and/or in your business, because at least you believe in the power of what you do!

To help you boost your confidence and get rid of doubt, you may like to include a focus on the benefits and possible outcomes of your modality as part of your pre-session ritual, to truly get connected to the value of what you do.

Confidence in Your Ability as a Coach

The next thing to talk about is building confidence in your own ability as a coach or practitioner. 

You will need to take a slightly longer view because it takes time to develop skills and competence in ANY area of life.

Let’s face it, you can’t study a year of piano theory and step onto the stage as a concert pianist, having never done that before, right?

The thing with confidence in your ability is that you need to find evidence for your BRAIN. That’s because our brains want evidence that something is true before truly believing it. 

I recommend that you listen to my previous podcast #73 where I talked about how your inner critic can get you stuck in a negative thought loop that your brain will eventually turn into a belief!

If you think that you’re no good and focus on that then your brain will find evidence to support that. And if you think you could develop confidence and skills and are curious about that, then your brain will find evidence for that instead. 

So focusing on how you could develop skills or become a better coach, or to acknowledge what is working well, is way better training for your brain.

This raises the question – how can you help your brain to get the evidence that it needs to believe that you’re good at what you’re doing or at least competent – so that you can start to feel more confident in your skills and abilities?

Our brains want evidence that something is true before truly believing it. 

In my role as a Coach Trainer for a health and wellness coaching school, I explain a few different ways for student coaches to that can quickly and effectively build confidence. 

These ways revolve around mindfulness, self-awareness, reflection and acknowledging success. These are things that don’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s important that we develop these skills as part of our personal and professional development – and to help us become more confident as coaches.

I want to share FIVE ways that you can become a more confident coach or practitioner.

You may want to write these down, so you can set some goals around these things and weave them into your schedule.

#1 – The first thing to do DO IT – to actually coach – with practice clients – until you start feeling confident enough to do paid sessions. 

Find anyone with a pulse who you like and who is willing to change. Do two or three sessions with them just to get the feel of coaching and using the skills. 

Don’t worry about ongoing sessions or continuity in the beginning – just use the sessions to become familiar and comfortable with your methodology and running a coaching session.

That leads me to the second point.

#2 – When you work with clients, make sure that you choose people that you have good chemistry with and who are ready to change. 

If you don’t have a good personality fit with your client or if they’re ambivalent or a bit resistant to change, or just trying to do a favour, then your session with them will likely feel difficult or uncomfortable and you will probably question your own ability.

By all means experiment with different kinds of clients and personalities so you can see who fits best, but be mindful that not everyone will be the right client for you – and that this is NOT a reflection of your skills as a coach.

It’s a fact of life – we tend to attract certain types of people and not others. That’s one reason why only certain people will want to work with you, and why it’s worth targeting a niche.

I learned about client chemistry the hard way. 

I was running my coaching business and had somebody else selling clients into my program. 

After a while, I realised that I felt drained and tired when I was walking into those sessions. I started to doubt my ability as a coach. And I was ready to quit. Fed up. Disheartened.

THEN I reflected on the facts and realised that I had exceptional rapport with certain clients AND that they were getting the best outcomes. It was then that I realised I needed to target a niche and find my ideal client so that my work was always energizing. 

It is valuable to work with different types of people in the beginning to figure out who your people are – but be aware that the differences in your personalities or learning styles and how that may affect your confidence in your skills. 

What do you think that means for a new graduate coach or practitioner? If their client seems difficult, they will likely start blaming themselves for their poor skills. I’ve seen it a hundred times, and it’s the absolute wrong thing to do. 

If you DO find yourself feeling uncomfortable about a client, please simply step back and acknowledge them as a person with their own challenges that they are responsible for, and know that your job is to hold space and work with them in a way that they need. 

Your job is not to fix them but to be there for them and support them and to help them find their own solutions. Better still, start becoming more selective about who you work with and choose people that you have great chemistry.

That’s a really organic process for finding your niche and ideal client, loving your work and to rapidly build confidence and capacity as a coach or practitioner.

#3 – The third way to build confidence in your coaching skills is to start reflecting on your own performance. 

When you graduate, you no longer have a teacher supporting you and guiding you in the use of your skills. You’re on your own. Developing your own feedback loop is therefore an essential part of your professional development.

Do a post session reflection and fill in your coaching log. 

This is an essential professional development practice that can raise self awareness, identify your strengths, and find areas that need sharpening up.

#4 – the fourth way to build confidence is to get feedback from your clients. There are a few types of feedback that you can get in a session. 

  • You can get non-verbal cues from your client.

Watch their body language through the session with you. Do they become more open? Do they seem more relaxed? Does their energy or excitement build?. 

These are all non-verbal cues that indicate your client is growing and getting something important out of the session with you. 

  • You can ask your clients for feedback at the end of each session.

Build it into your session close to ask what they learnt about themselves and if they have any feedback on the coaching. What you’ll find is that clients are usually so thankful and grateful for your listening or the realisation they had. 

Many new graduate coaches I speak to think that listening to someone doesn’t have any value and isn’t worth anything but when you hear your clients expressing their heartfelt gratitude for your holding space you’ll start to really see how valuable it is for the client and that’s what this is all about-them.

  • Ask clients to complete a written survey at the end of their whole coaching program asking them what they liked, didn’t like, what changed, and how they changed, and what their next goals are.

This will give you a LOT of information about the entire process as well as your skills, and about their own openness to change, commitment and self-responsibility.

#5 – The fifth way to build confidence in your coaching ability is to help your client measure and monitor changes they experience on a week by week basis. 

Monitoring and measuring could include the assessment of weekly goals using percent success for each goal,  it could also include physical measurements that they may take such as number of steps or 1 to 10 scales for stress or energy. 

Anything that they are physically recording and seeing changes in is giving you evidence that your process your methodology and your skills and their readiness to change a facilitating shifts that have value to the client. And all of these give you ongoing evidence that will help you to build confidence in your coaching skills. 

The caveat for this one is that some clients struggle to change due to their own beliefs or past trauma that have nothing to do with your skill. It may simply mean that their challenges are outside your scope and referral is required.

Summary

The way to build confidence in your coaching ability is to actually do it. 

We discussed two ways to build confidence.

1. Start with confidence in your modality. 

It will help your brain and your mindset to focus on the positives that your qualification or modality can create. 

Look to experienced practitioners in your industry and observe your role models to validate that what you’re doing is effective and credible.

2. Build confidence in your coaching ability by coaching, and collecting feedback.

The five ways to do this included:

  1. Start coaching people now and start learning from that. Get comfortable with a couple of free sessions with a client, then work up to a series of sessions with paying clients.
  2. Work with clients you have good chemistry with.
  3. Create your own feedback loop – your coaching log.
  4. Get client body language, verbal feedback in a session, and written feedback at the end.
  5. Help your client measure and monitor change as evidence that ‘it worked’.

Just like playing the piano, you can only become good at coaching by actually doing it.

Ready to sell your service with confidence?

Feeling confident in your coaching will help you to build a powerful business. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 73: The Three Best Ways to Build Self-Confidence

Do you really wish you were more self confident but aren’t sure where or how to start?

Then this episode is just for you.

Self-confidence is a skill that anyone can learn.

And I want to walk through three things that you can do to start building self-confidence, so you can show up and be more powerful in your own life and in the world.

What is Self-Confidence?

A  nice simple definition of self-confidence is to be secure in yourself and your abilities.

I believe self-confidence comes from three things; trust, a sense of competence and your ability to value yourself. 

You may like to go back and listen to Episode 72 for more information on developing Unwavering Self-Confidence.

Why would you want to become self-confident?

Well, there are lots of great reasons.

When you are self-confident, you can handle your emotions better.

You will feel more in control of yourself and your life. 

You will become more self-reliant, which means you can make better decisions for yourself, trust your own instincts and look after yourself better.

When you’re self-confident, you will probably speak to yourself more kindly and be a happier person who achieves what they want in life.

It sounds like a great place to be, doesn’t it? 

So, how do you get there?

The Shy Little Rabbit

I would like to share my own experience of developing self-confidence as it may be relevant to you.

As a small child, I was what you would call painfully shy. 

What I mean by that at adult parties I would be terrified of playing with other kids or even speaking to other kids, so I would sit next to my mum all night while she spoke to the adults and I would enviously stare at all the children having fun around me. 

At primary school, I didn’t raise my hand in class even though I knew the answer because I was terrified of being wrong or being judged. 

As a teenager I was uncomfortable about who I was and having any attention paid to me so I sat quietly at school and had just a couple of close friends because I didn’t feel confident enough to join in with social groups and activities that my peers were involved in. 

And when it came to my first serious dinner date with a new boyfriend, I was so self-conscious about having him see me eating that I struggled to eat much of anything at all.

Through my growing up years, I wasn’t secure in myself, I doubted my abilities and I found it hard to value myself or my opinion.

I struggled at job interviews in my 20’s, and I feared judgement in social circles so was never willing to put forward an opinion or take a stand for anything.

So a lot of the time I sat on the sidelines.

I was a watcher; a listener, a passenger on the bus.

But I felt that life was passing me by and that I was capable of so much more and helping so many more people – if only I had the self-confidence!

Does any of this resonate with you?

Have you felt like this before?

Fast forward to today and I am confidently and competently running my own successful business.

I am a contract coach trainer for Australia’s leading Coach Training organisation. I’m very comfortable on camera, doing Facebook lives, and in any sort of public speaking event. 

In the past few years, I’ve danced in a troupe in front of 10,000 people on stage, performed in various concerts, and have presented at local and international conferences with ease and confidence.

These days, I trust myself, back myself and I recognise what I am capable of. 

I’d like to share three things that I have done to help me develop self-confidence.

1 – Change your self-talk and thinking patterns

 

The most powerful thing you can do to build self confidence is to change the way you talk to yourself and to observe and start to change your automatic thinking patterns. 

I didn’t know about the power of changing your self-talk when I was growing up, but I really wish I had started there because I would have become self confident far more quickly & easily.

The reason self-talk and thinking patterns are so powerful is that most of our thoughts are unconscious, and negative.

I believe that as a society we tend to condone the behaviour of self-deprecation, of de-valuing our efforts or diminishing ourselves in front of others. 

People call it being humble. But I disagree and I really want to challenge this paradigm.

The dictionary definition of the word humble is “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s importance.”

But the VIA Institute on character has a more accurate definition of humility as a character strength. 

They say a common misconception is that humility involves low self-esteem and worthiness or a lack of self-focus. 

But true humility means that you can accurately assess your own skills, you can recognise your limitations, you can keep your accomplishments in perspective and you’re not distorting any part of your own image, representing yourself and your capabilities accurately.

True humility means that you can accurately assess your own skills, you can recognise your limitations, you can keep your accomplishments in perspective.

So back to the concept of self-talk and thinking patterns.

It’s as simple as this: if you are thinking accurate, factual and positive thoughts about yourself and your abilities, you will develop self-confidence.

If you are criticising yourself, doubting your abilities or judging yourself, you will create self-doubt.

Thoughts are just statements that, when repeated, become your beliefs.

So how do you change your self-talk and thinking patterns?

The first step is to start watching your thoughts and noticing how you talk to yourself, and what you are thinking about yourself.

The next step is to replace any negative or unhelpful thoughts into something factual and non judgemental.

For example, if you catch yourself thinking something like “I can’t do this”, then you could change that thought into a question, like “what do I need to learn so I can do this?”.

Since our thoughts are largely unconscious and automatic, it is really helpful if you work with a coach to uncover your hidden thoughts, and to learn how to self coach as we do in my membership.

2 – Set and Achieve Stretch Goals

You probably would agree that a lot of people start with action rather than thought because they’re not aware of the impact of thought work, or perhaps they think that actions are easier to start with.

We see it everywhere: people tend to start with a gym membership, or a diet, or some other sort of action rather than examining the thoughts and motivators that drive those actions. 

Before I had any awareness of the power of my mind I would use stretch goals to help me do things that I lack confidence to do otherwise. 

I didn’t know that by changing my thinking I could develop more self belief more quickly and I wish I had started there, because I would have managed failure a lot better and become stronger and more resilient. 

In any case, I learned that if I dug deep and found courage, and took action despite my fear, then I felt good about what I was achieving. 

The added bonus for me was that taking physical action gave me tangible proof that I had some sort of skill or ability or confidence to do something, and the sense of accomplishment felt more real.

So while it’s important to change your self-talk, it’s equally important to set and achieve stretch goals.

Here are a few of the bigger stretch goals that I have done through the years. 

They mostly involve being in the public eye somehow, I think because I found it harder to back out of something and perhaps a little more of an accomplishment to put yourself out there.

  • At high school; volunteered to do a role play with two other students in Year 11 English class (I got a standing ovation! LOL)
  • On a Bali holiday, I was asked to do catwalk modeling of locally made leather clothes at a big tourist party and saw this would be good for developing posture and presence.
  • At university, I did a presentation on my honours project at an International Wetlands Conference with an audience of around 300 people (scary – but a way to build credibility and hone my speaking skills)
  • After my honours year, I put my name down to be a first year student tutor (a paid role) which involved me teaching cell biology and animal biology to classes of 25 – 40 students at a time. This taught me agility. 
  • From the age of 25 onwards, I started presenting my research and findings at environmental conferences in front of audiences of 100+ people
  • When I was 27, my boyfriend at the time and I rode motorcycles from Perth to Cairns, through the desert. I had three months to get my license and learn how to ride off road.
  • When I was 27, I became a company Director and Manager in our business.
  • When I was 28, I danced in a troupe in front of 10,000 people at the Perth Entertainment Centre on Australia Day.
  • When I was 38, I went for a Guinness World Record for the longest bellydance shimmy at a local health expo and was promoted in local and interstate media.

These are just examples and they may be bigger goals than you might like to stretch for. For me, these gave me a sense of validation and external feedback, of proof in the world that my goal was real, and a more tangible sense of accomplishment.

Right now you might be asking, what should my stretch goal be?

I will say that what’s most important is that you work where you are now. 

Challenge yourself to the level that is comfortable for you and will guarantee your success.

If you set goals that are a stretch, but winnable, you will build confidence. If you aim too high and fail, it may be an emotional setback.

Maybe your stretch goal would be to strike up a conversation with someone. 

Maybe it’s to ask for a raise, or to have a sales conversation.

Maybe your stretch goal is to say no to that second scoop of ice cream.

Decide on 2 – 3 goals that are meaningful for you – one action you will take each week for the next three weeks – and notice what happens.

 3 – Intentionally recognise success

The third part is so important.

Our modern epidemic is constantly striving for more, for greater expectations, without recognising how much we have done already and what our capacity is.

I call this the Pattern of Pursuit, and it’s a habit that I recommend you break.

My definition of the Pattern of Pursuit is when you are constantly achieving but not recognising your efforts, such that you feel not good enough because you are too busy doing and not taking the time to be, to reflect, and to acknowledge.

Self-confident people have humility.

And if you recall the earlier discussion on the VIA Character Institute’s definition of humility, it was being able to accurately assess and represent yourself and your capabilities.

You can only do this if you reflect on and acknowledge what you have achieved.

Further, every time you recognise your achievements, such as accomplishing your stretch goals, it generates a sense of self-confidence.

What I love most about intentionally recognising your success is that you learn to trust yourself and back yourself, and to value your own opinion and skills.

When you do this, you stop worrying about whether you are good enough. You stop worrying about what other people are doing, whether you are keeping up, and whether they are judging you.

You value your own opinion, and you start to become more self reliant, where you set your own internal standards and develop your own motivation to succeed.

It’s powerful stuff.

My favourite ways to recognise success are to:

  • Tick of tasks completed in a physical work diary
  • Monitor exercise, movement and standing on my Apple watch
  • Speak about accomplishments over dinner with my husband
  • Journal about achievements and goals.

Summary

To summarise, even the most timid little rabbit can become a self-confident person. 

Self-confidence is simply a skill you can learn.

The three easiest ways to build self confidence are:

  1. Watch and change your self-talk – through coaching, self-coaching or journalling
  2. To set and achieve stretch goals that are 100% winnable – start where you are now
  3. To use simple ways to measure and recognise your daily and weekly achievements.

Challenge yourself to the level that is comfortable for you and will guarantee your success.

If you would like to work on your self-confidence and master it, pop into the Habitology membership in February 2020 where we will be studying and self-coaching these important skills. 

I’ve included the link in the notes for this episode.

In the meantime, please comment below and let me know your favourite confidence-boosting technique. I’d love to hear all about it!

Ready to build self confidence?

Self confidence is so important when setting out to reach your potential. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 72: Unwavering Self-Confidence

This episode is for you if you want to be more secure in yourself and your abilities, and to feel worthy, helpful and capable. We look at what self-confidence is and the basics of what you need to do to get it.

Right now, imagine the feeling of having unwavering self-confidence. When I say unwavering, I mean steady, resolute and consistent.

You are someone who is totally secure in yourself and your abilities. You trust yourself and your abilities completely – there is no second-guessing, and you are committed to taking action without needing to know all the steps required, or any promise that you will succeed.

What would it be like to be a cool cat like that?

How would self-confidence affect your relationships, your business, your job, your kids, your friends and your level of satisfaction and fulfilment with life?

It’s really worth talking about self-confidence because it’s one of the keys to success, and it’s something that most people want – yet there is a bit of confusion about what it is, what it isn’t, and how much confidence you have.

So that’s what I want to talk about in this episode.

Let’s start by exploring what self-confidence can create in your life.

Self-Confidence is a Key to Thriving

According to research by Deci and Ryan (2002), confidence is one of three vital lifetime pursuits (the other two are learning/developing competence and applying strengths).

You have probably heard of the saying that “like attracts like”.

What this means is that if you are confident, you will tend to attract more positive and confident people, opportunities, clients and circumstances.

Confidence is a strong predictor of success in all areas of life, from work performance through to creating new health habits.

So, What is Self-Confidence?

There are various definitions of self-confidence out there.

But a simple one is this – self-confidence is your ability to be secure in yourself and your abilities. A self-confident person has thinking patterns about how worthy, helpful and capable they are. 

So what are the elements of confidence?

There are three things:

  1.     Backing yourself
  2.     Trusting yourself and
  3.     Having a healthy opinion of yourself.

Backing yourself is mostly about courage. It means that you will take the risk of putting yourself or your ideas ‘out there’.

Trusting yourself is mostly about your competence or self-efficacy. It means you believe that you have enough skills and know how to follow through and complete something.

It means you will follow your plan and take responsibility for things, even if you are nervous, frightened, unsure or inexperienced.

Trusting yourself is mostly about your competence or self-efficacy. It means you believe that you have enough skills and know how to follow through and complete something.

Notice that I said complete, not achieve.

Trust is not about results – it is about your faith that you have the ability and persistence to follow through.

A healthy opinion of yourself is about your self-esteem or value. In other words, you feel good about yourself and have a realistic view of your value, and that you are deserving of success, respect and achievements.

Henry Ford sums up confidence in his famous saying:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.’

That being said, I want to myth bust some of the confusion around self-confidence and be really clear about what it isn’t.

What isn’t Self-Confidence?

When you hear the word self-confident, what comes to mind? Here are some words that are often associated with self-confidence, but which are actually nothing to do with it.

Aggressive – this is being forceful.

Aloof – cool and distant; uninvolved.

Arrogant – this is thinking you are better than someone else.

Assertive – the quality of being self-assured without being aggressive.

Gregarious – fond of company, sociable.

Happy – showing pleasure or contentment.

Successful – accomplishing a desired result.

These words are more likely based on your perspective, beliefs or judgement. 

Please don’t confuse them with self-confidence. Being self-confident is none of these; it is capacity, capability and strength.

The interesting thing about confidence is that you can be self-confident without any proof.

When you have those three elements in place, you develop a self-confident attitude to life, and that’s what creates the results and life you want.

The Attitude of Self-Confidence

To develop self-confidence, you need to adopt a proactive attitude. That is, if I see it, I will believe it – rather than the other way around.

Your attitude is that you don’t need certainty to take action and you are prepared to take calculated risks on the unknown. 

We’re not talking about reckless behaviour – it’s about managing risks and being willing to be uncomfortable, knowing that growth is on the other side of that.

Remember that self-confidence is about backing yourself, trusting yourself and having a healthy opinion of yourself.

With that in mind, you can see that someone with an attitude of self confidence totally trusts themselves and the process – irrespective of the result.

This is also known as a growth mindset.

Let’s do a little test. I’m going to read out six statements now. Count how many you agree with and believe. 

  1. The why is more important than the how
  2. The steps will be revealed along the journey
  3. You need to persist and follow your plan even if you’re fearful
  4. You may need to change your plan, problem solve and be agile
  5. There is no failure, only feedback and learning
  6. Risk is a prerequisite for learning and growth.

How many did you agree with? 

Does this sound like you overall?

The more of these statements you agree with, the more of a self-confident attitude you have.

You are probably someone who is willing to give things a red hot go, to respond to feedback, and to problem solve so you can overcome setbacks. 

You are willing to explore uncharted territory and go against the grain in order to succeed, if necessary. 

You have a pioneering spirit. And, with a self-confident attitude, you an innate capacity to build self-confidence. But even if you don’t – you can build this attitude with a few simple techniques, which we will talk about in a coming episode.

By now you probably have some idea about your own level of self-confidence.

I want to ask you some questions now so that you can get clarity on what self-confidence means and feels like to you. 

When have you felt self-confident?

What did it feel like in your body, and where did you feel it?

What were you thinking at the time?

What were you able to do because you had self-confidence?

What results did your self-confident action create?

I’m sure you have felt self-confident at some time in your life. 

Here’s what it feels like. It feels good, energizing, uplifting, optimistic and powerful.

You feel unflappable, unstoppable. You have pose, and are calm, unshaken. You have a cool head, you are composed, have faith and are disciplined. 

You take action because you believe in what you are doing, and your ability to do it.

Does that sound familiar? If not, or if you want to feel more self-confident, you may need to do some work – and that is a topic for the next episode – a deep dive into building self-confidence.

Summary

Self-confidence is your ability to be secure in yourself and your abilities. A self-confident person has thinking patterns about how worthy, helpful and capable they are. 

The elements of self-confidence are your ability to back yourself, trust yourself and have a healthy opinion of yourself.

Remember that self-confidence is about backing yourself, trusting yourself and having a healthy opinion of yourself.

When you have those three elements in place, you develop an attitude of self-confidence, that is unwavering, persistent and the basis of all your actions.

We will talk about building self confidence in the coming episodes.

But if you’d like to build unwavering self-confidence NOW, join the February intake of Habitology where we will study this important topic and implement the lessons into your life. 

Visit https://www.melaniejwhite.com/habitology for more details or visit my contact page.

Ready for unwavering self confidence?

Having a healthy opinion of yourself can make all the difference. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here: