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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 102: Purpose

This episode is all about purpose, and how understanding your purpose can change your life.

Our self-coaching topic for the Habitology membership in September is PURPOSE. 

Today, I want to talk about what purpose is, why it’s important, and how to figure out your purpose so you can live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

My First Thoughts on Purpose

This is one of the earliest memories of asking my mother a question; ‘Mummy, why am I here?’

I was about three years old and was stuck on the reason for my existence. This floored my  mother and she had no idea of what to say. She was concerned about why I was asking such deep questions. 

Fast forward to today, and I am on a path to fulfilling the purpose I identified several years ago.

Purpose Defined

According to Dr Paul Wong, purpose and meaning are linked.

Purpose is simply the reason you exist, while meaning is the intention or reason for doing something – in other words, the beliefs that sit behind your purpose and cause you to take action toward it.

Some people refer to it as ‘your why’ – the big reason why you do what you do in life.

So why is purpose important, and how do you figure out what your purpose is? 

Why Your Purpose Matters

There are lots of reasons why your purpose matters. Here are a few.

Beyond Blue has a great fact sheet that I’ll link to in the notes.

They say that your sense of purpose is the motivation that drives you toward a satisfying future and helps you to get the most from the things you do and achieve – large and small – right now.

When you know your purpose, you feel enthusiastic about waking up. You have plans, intentions, the drive to keep going, motivation and importantly, resilience.

Positive psychologists say that knowing and working toward your purpose helps you to identify and use your strengths, to grow, to feel happy and to thrive.

Think for a moment about the flow on effects of that.

Imagine yourself being someone who knows what they want and how to get it. 

Imagine that you are clear on what you will be doing today, next week and next year, and why you will be doing that.

How does it feel, right now, to think of those things?

By now you should be feeling motivated, alive, vital and all warm and fuzzy, thinking of that result that you could create by having a purpose.

That said and done, let’s talk about how you discover your purpose.

Discovering Your Purpose 

Let me be very clear. 

You can’t necessarily just discover your purpose and live happily ever after. 

For a lot of people, discovering their purpose is a journey that takes time, reflection and life experience. Having said that, there are some things that you can do right now to start getting clarity about your purpose. 

Knowing and working toward your purpose helps you to identify and use your strengths, to grow, to feel happy and to thrive.

Remember I said earlier that your purpose – or the reason you exist – is driven by your reasons for doing something – that is, your beliefs and values.

On that basis, a good starting point for discovering your purpose is to explore your values, character strengths and beliefs.

I also believe you can access more information about your purpose by reflecting on your hobbies, past experiences and successes, times you felt proud, moved, and motivated.

In other words, the times you feel most moved and emotional in life are probably sign posts that you’re close to discovering your purpose.

There are plenty of online quizzes you can do to discover these things about yourself if you’re unsure.

But let me ask you some questions now, to help you get the idea of how it works and to start narrowing it down.

1. What is most meaningful to you?

 

At the big picture level, you can start working out your purpose by figuring out what is most meaningful to you.

According to Psychologist and researcher Dr Joel Vos, there are five main sources of meaning:

1) Materialism: finding meaning through your animals, possessions, professional successes, finances, nature, leisure activities, sexual experiences, health, and/or sports.

2) Self-growth: finding meaning through resilience/coping, self-insight, self-acceptance, creative self expression, self-reliance, reaching daily goals, and/or self-care.

3) Social: finding meaning through feeling connected with family and friends, belonging in a specific community, contributing to society, and/or taking care of children.

4) Transcendent: finding meaning through purpose in life, personal growth, self-development, the temporality of life, justice and ethics, religion, and/or spirituality.

5)  Being here: finding meaning through your own uniqueness, for simply being alive, connecting with others and the world, and/or freedom.

Reflect on yourself right now – are your interests spread across these areas evenly, or do one or two stand out for you?

This is a starting point.

2. What are your values? 

Now, reflect on your values, or what’s most important to you.  

Values are things that are important to you and that you feel strongly about.

A rough definition of values is that they are the principles by which you live your life. They guide all of the thoughts and beliefs you have and actions you take.

When you live in alignment with your values, in other words, when you are being authentic, then you are living in integrity – which simply means your behaviour is consistent across all areas of life, driven by your values.

Think for a moment about different people that you know. 

You probably know some people who place high value on achievement and spend all their time striving to innovate, or get ahead. Others you know may be passionate about creating community, and others are focused on spirituality.

It’s great that we’re all different and have different values, because each of us contributes in some way to humanity, the world and our human ecosystem.

With all that said – what are YOUR values? 

If you’re unclear on this, I will place a link to a ‘defining your values’ booklet on my website that you can download to help you get some clarity. 

I think about what’s important to me, and it’s definitely being of service, achievement innovation, and fairness. 

These are huge for me, both important and meaningful. 

They drive nearly everything that I do in my life.

2. What are your strengths?

 

The next step in working out your purpose is to consider your strengths, as these are the things you’re good at, and which you use to overcome challenges. 

Strengths are things that you role model for others – that means others come to you to get help with the things that you’re masterful at – so they are also part of your purpose.

Strengths are strong character traits that you use often in life, and in most cases you’re using those strengths to help you succeed or overcome challenges.

Strengths are defined as things that you are good at AND enjoy.

You can take a VIA test and work this out but better still, ask your closest friends and family to describe three of your greatest strengths.

What do people say about you?

I collect words that people say about me in my coaching log. The list I have says that people think I’m calm, non-judgemental, persistent, productive, creative, inspiring and knowledgeable.

If you’re still unsure about your strengths, you can reflect on the qualities you like most in others, as a clue to what your values might be.

For example, if you admire people who are honest and forthright, then you are probably that way yourself, and they are probably strengths of yours.

Another way you can work out your strengths is to reflect on what people rely on you for.

Do they always come to you for help with sorting out their messy schedules?

Do they come to you for a friendly ear when they’re down?

Do they beg you to bake your famous biscuits?

Do they seek support with massive cleanups?

Do they get your advice on gardening?

Everybody has something that people turn to them for. What is it for you?

People often come to me when they’re doubting themselves, overwhelmed or unclear. 

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve helped people write resumes, or reviewed blogs or marketing copy, or are unsure about something – and I’ve helped them to acknowledge and get perspective on their strengths, achievements and their greatness.

3. What gets you fired up?

Finally, purpose is ignited by passion. The things that you get fired up draw on what is meaningful, your values and also your strengths, so even if you aren’t clear on those other three areas, your passion can be a very good indicator of your purpose in life.

Zoom out from your thoughts for a moment and think about what gets you ranty.

What is the injustice that you feel emotional about, or the outcome you’re passionate to see?

Be very specific about this.

Think about situations or injustices or exciting innovations or visions that get you fired up.  What are they?

Pulling it Together 

I’ll give you an example of how to pull this all together, walking through these four steps.

For me, all areas of meaning are important to me, but self-growth and contributing to society are big.

Below that, my core values are being of service, achievement, innovation, and equal opportunity. 

Feedback says my strengths according to the VIA test are creativity, gratitude, perspective and fairness. Client feedback is that I’m calm, non-judgemental, persistent, productive, creative, inspiring and knowledgeable. I think I am innovative and have a pioneering spirit and I value achievement.

People come to me when they lack self-belief, when they are bogged down in overwhelm or self-doubt.

What gets me ranty?

Well, I get ranty about the fact that we waste so much food. I get ranty that there are people who could be healthier if they just knew what to do and had support to do it, that we could solve our nation’s health issues if people ate better and were less stressed.

I get ranty that there are people who have amazing businesses that could help so many people – if those business owners just had the self-belief and the means of getting their greatness out into the world.

If I pull this all together, a few things are clear: I am passionate about creating health and wellbeing in the world, but I realise I can have the greatest impact in the world by helping people start business in the health and wellbeing space, and to believe in themselves and back themselves.

That, my friends, is my purpose.

What’s yours?

For a lot of people, discovering their purpose is a journey that takes time, reflection and life experience.

Summary

Finding your purpose can seem a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.

But if you follow this four step approach – to look at the pillars of meaning, to define your values, to get clear on your strengths and to find out what makes you ranty – then you’re well on your way to finding the answer.

If you need help to figure out your purpose, join the Habitology membership now, because September 2020’s self-coaching topic is finding your PURPOSE.

Ready to find your purpose?

Our September intake is all about finding your own purpose. 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 98: Consistency with the CARE Model

Today I want to walk you through a model I’ve developed – the CARE model – to help you be consistent with self-care and build resilience.

As I mentioned in episode 96, resilience is the ability to adapt to and cope with life’s challenges with ease, and to bounce back and thrive in spite of them.

As I’ve mentioned previously, if resilience were money, it would be a $50,000 buffer in your bank account. In other words, building resilience requires a regular investment in your own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

One of the challenges people face is being consistent with self-care.

You know what it’s like – the kids need something urgently, or you get loaded with extra work, or your partner wants you to spend some quality time with them and your exercise session or meal prep or book chapter gets shelved – yet again – for later.

In the short term, that’s ok, but if that keeps happening, then you’re adding nothing to your resilience bank account, so your ability to cope with stress, be creative, make decisions is going to decrease.

Now is a great time to decide how you want to respond to stress in the future – whether it’s a downwards spiral or to lift yourself up out of the chaos you feel.

And assuming you want to choose the latter, then you will want to choose some self care activities that are absolutely not-negotiable, and that you can be consistent with.

Let’s look at a simple, five-step process to get it right – the CARE model.

Self Care to Build Resilience

Self-care is any activity that builds and maintains your physical, mental, and emotional health and it’s therefore essential for building resilience.

It could be described as a more positive set of habits that can create an upward spiral rather than a downward one.

Some self-care activities that build resilience could include exercise, being in nature, painting, gardening, singing, reading, cleaning up or getting organised, cooking and eating healthy nutritious food, speaking aloud, writing, drawing, playing with your pets, sleeping well, doing puzzles or playing games, speaking to friends or families, being part of a community. 

A friend of mine came up with a novel self-care activity recently.

She sat with her partner and they looked through photos from their 2018 European holiday, while reading their travel diaries together and reflecting on the memories of some wonderful experiences.

Reflect on your own life for a moment – how would you rate your current level of self-care? Are you attending to it as much as you’d like, and in ways that you enjoy?

Here are some clues that you might need more or different self-care habits:

  • You’re experiencing insomnia
  • You have food cravings
  • You are overeating or overdrinking
  • You feel stressed
  • You are short of breath, feeling rushed or have fast resting pulse
  • You have aches and pains
  • You feel run down, tired or unwell.

Any of these indicates something needs to change!

To that end, what are some creative self-care activities you can think of that would help you to build resilience?

Step 4 is to ask: What does my ideal self-CARE routine look like to meet all my needs?  

Now, for each of the activities you’ve listed, use the CARE model.

Is the activity:

  • Convenient – does it fit easily into your existing lifestyle?
  • Attractive – do you want to do the activity? Would you enjoy it?
  • Realistic – can you enjoy a benefit from as little as 5 minutes up to 50, depending on available time? Does it fit in?
  • Energizing – do you feel good afterwards? Remember, this could be accomplished, productive, uplifted or have a calm energy.

Score each activity according to this model.

If an activity ticks all those boxes – great! 

If an activity doesn’t tick all those boxes, it could become a source of guilt, so you’ll want to change it or replace it.

Firstly, look at any activities you currently do and ask yourself how you could change them to fit with the CARE model.

Then, look at any new activities and ask yourself how you could make them fit with the CARE model. 

Step 5 is to develop a realistic, not-negotiable schedule.

Start with what’s already working – the things you are currently doing consistently.

Schedule those into your calendar, making sure you feel at least 9/10 confident that you could do them each week, in that time slot.

Now, consider whether you have room for any more right now, and can add to your self-care routine without stress, pressure or guilt.

If you can’t, keep your routine as it is and review it in a couple of weeks.

If you can, then consider one or maybe two things you could add, even just once or twice in the coming two weeks, to build more self-care into your life.

It takes about 12 weeks or 86 days to habituate a new routine on average, but often much longer.

This is a gradual process, and you’re building up your self-care activities in a way that is low-pressure, comfortable and achievable. 

Remember:

  1.     Keep it simple – rather under-commit and exceed your own expectations, and
  2.     Be extremely specific about what you will do and when so you always win.
  3.     Build your habits gradually, starting with what suits your current capacity.

Summary

Self-care is any activity that builds and maintains your physical, mental, and emotional health and it’s therefore essential for building resilience.

It’s a positive set of habits that can create an upward spiral rather than a downward one.

When people struggle to be consistent with self care, it’s usually because they expect too much of themselves, try to do too many different things, or do things they think they should rather than what they like.

Self-care is any activity that builds and maintains your physical, mental, and emotional health and it’s therefore essential for building resilience.

I described a CARE Model to help you overcome those obstacles, and to help you get clear on the habits that will be sustainable in the long term.

Then, there was the five-step process I outlined to help you implement habit change on your own.

What I’ve described today is exactly how a Health and Wellness Coach works. We can support you to become motivated and self-accountable for building your own realistic, not-negotiable self-care routine that will build resilience, capacity and a better quality life.

Ready to be consistent with self care?

Habitology can give you the support you need to create your own realistic self-care routine that will build resilience and improve your quality of life! 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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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 90: Working From Home

If you want to master working from home, this episode is for you. 

 I want to walk you through a four step process to set up a really effective working from home situation so you can more easily adapt to a new way of doing business.

Before we start I want to share a bit of my story with you so you get some context for the rest of this session.

Twelve years ago my husband and I did a sea change. 

We moved from our businesses with busy offices and staff, and our nearby friends and family, to the opposite side of Australia where we knew nobody and at the same time I was doing a career change.

So as you can imagine we went from being very well-connected and very confident in our skills to having no external connections with others, no other close relationships, spending all day with each other and grappling with the steep learning curve of doing something new and different then we were used to.

It took a long time for me to get my head around how I was going to operate in the world. I felt like I had lost my sense of purpose, who I was and what I stood for. 

I want to mention this because a lot of people right now are feeling this way too. 

Maybe you’ve had to give up your job or change your job, or have suddenly faced the new and uncomfortable reality of being faced with your life in the home environment as you work from home. And perhaps as part of that you’re really questioning your capacity or whether you can cope with this situation. 

My answer to you is yes you can. You can absolutely cope with this.

The secret is to figure out how to adapt, and to do your way. 

That’s what I want to talk to you about today

I want to walk you through the four steps that I went through to be able to work at home and be productive and feel connected as an example of what’s possible.

I hope this helps you to come up with your own ideas about how to transition into this way of working, yourself.

Let’s walk through the four steps!

1. Connection

Connection is the first important step, because without a sense of feeling supported, you can quickly spiral into fear, doubt and lack of confidence.

When I first moved to rural New South Wales I intuitively knew that I needed some sort of connection to feel sane and normal, and that things were working. My logical brain was telling me that I needed to make contacts for my business. 

But emotionally, I was missing the day to day camaraderie of like minded people in the office. I was missing catching up with friends and I was missing interacting with my family. 

So one of the things that I did when I first moved to a new place was to start going to different sorts of association events, social group events, sporting groups and meeting people in different contexts, so I could figure out where my people were and how best to connect with them.

For me, this was finding smart, positive people who are interested in health and wellness, who like brainstorming and being creative, and who like a laugh.

Connection is the first important step, because without a sense of feeling supported, you can quickly spiral into fear, doubt and lack of confidence.

Even if physical meetings are impossible for whatever reason, there are still plenty of online communities that you can join and be part of. 

One of the things that’s great about connection is the chance to get to know your neighbours, the people in your street, the people who run your local businesses, and those who own the coffee shop down the road. 

Even without friends in an extreme case like a sea change, these become points of contact and help you feel socially connected even if you don’t know them that well. 

Let’s be clear – when you move interstate you will be starting off with fairly superficial relationships because it’s pretty difficult to replicate the friendship of 25 or 30 years. But what I have made peace with is that you can build those relationships again in a new place or in a new context simply by showing up regularly in social situations where your tribe is.

First, you have to find them.

Beyond getting started in a new place, I think it’s really important to know that when you work at home and you’re with yourself and perhaps your partner 24 hours a day.

You can feel a bit claustrophobic, so it’s important to schedule in meeting opportunities so you can get enough connection with others. 

What could this look like for you?

It could be having a daily trip to a local cafe to write a blog. 

It could be that during the week you schedule time slots to get you out of the house and go to places where you will see people, whether that be the shop, the gym, getting a massage or any other sort of social interaction. 

Add another level if you feel that you need to be able to brainstorm ideas with other people in business. 

Perhaps then you could hire a co-working space for a day, book a room in the local library, or join your local Chamber of Commerce and meet other people in business who might like to get together and brainstorm ideas at one of these venues, or a cafe, or at someone’s home or a Zoom meeting.

All of these things are possible, it just requires creative brainstorming. 

2. Planning

Once you have a plan for connecting with people you will be able to fill that very primal need to be part of a tribe.

The next thing to do is figure out what you need to do each day. 

It sounds simple but it can be challenging when your whole environment, schedule and context has changed. 

Planning is super important if you are somebody who is used to following directions or collaborating with teams on how projects will be delivered. It’s also important if you’re prone to distraction, or to procrastinate as soon as an obstacle comes up.

The easiest way to get your planning right is to start with one month at a time. 

Within that month, block out your must do activities like taking kids to school or shopping or other sorts of life appointments.

The reason that I recommend you plan one month at time is because initially, you’re going to need to experiment with what works for you. 

You’re going to find that some days or some times a day you have more energy or more focus or more creativity than others. 

So in that first month your goal will be to understand your natural rhythm and then to adjust your schedule to fit with that. 

There are also some ways that you can proactively change your state to be focused or analytical or creative but I will cover that in a separate podcast.

Once you have your month planner in front of you, the next thing to do is to schedule:

1. any set work meetings that you have and any of those connection points that you’ve defined, and then;

2. the obvious things that you need to do like reconciling invoices once a month or doing social media posts for business or submitting monthly reports for work.

By now you should be feeling pretty good, because it feels great to have identified some concrete regular tasks to do each week and to know when exactly you will do them.

3. Now think about how and when you will check your email and social media.

You may not normally schedule that kind of thing in a normal work environment, but at home, these are rabbit holes for a lot of people. 

One idea to get you started is to think about coming up with one or two time slots per day where you will check emails and allow a bit of time after that to attend to any immediate business. 

For example you might decide that you will spend 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at the end of the day checking email, and allow another 20 minutes after each of those sessions to follow up with schedule any tasks that arise. 

So that’s 2 x 30 minute email slots, for checking and taking immediate action.

I was speaking with a client yesterday about the best time to do the morning email. 

What actually happens in the morning is that it’s often a very good creative thinking time and if you launch into email right away, it can lead you into a hyper-responsive, detailed focus pattern that stops your creativity. 

Experiment for yourself; you may find it best to do a block of work or a creative task first before you do your first email check.

4. The next step is where you need to be a little bit creative and work out how to deal with bigger, project-level tasks. 

These are bigger tasks that you need to do that aren’t so easy to identify, or quantify. 

They are usually things that you haven’t done before, that you might usually brainstorm, or that you usually have guidance and direction to complete, or that usually involve getting other people‘s opinions or advice or expertise.

With these sorts of tasks you will need to break them down into smaller steps, and identify which segments require external help, review or ideas.

I like to use the Getting Things Done model to tackle projects and I’ll explain that here, because it’s been a game changer to help me quantify and chunk down project-style jobs. 

You may have a different way of working with projects but I’m just going to explain this model now.

The idea is that you identify separate projects and I have a folder for each one and a sheet of paper or a blank document to outline what the project is and what the main steps are. At the very big picture level I have a time frame on that project and A series of main steps. Here’s an example. Let’s say that my project is to overhaul my website. And this was an actual project that I snoozed for 40 weeks because it lacked clarity and definition of the step-by-step process. 

So if my project is to overhaul my website I could break that down into main tasks of revamping the homepage, revamping the services page, and revising the blogs. I could prioritise those main steps from most to least important and then what I could do is take the main priority step and brainstorm some smaller steps within that. 

So let’s say that revamping the Homepage was my first goal. I would need to decide what that actually means. It could be that I want to read and possibly update the copy. It might be that I want to add some new photographs. 

For somebody else this task could mean that they want to totally change the layout. So as you can see doing that sort of breakdown process allows you to get clear on what the individual tasks are and it makes it easier for you to assign times and timeslots to each of those. 

For example I might decide I will allow an hour to read my homepage copy and revise it. If you’re unsure about how long something will take it’s best to add an extra hour to the end and be prepared to need to have a second session later on if required

Then what I would do is pick the very first task of the project and schedule it into my calendar. And when I do that task I would go back to my project list and identify the next task and schedule that in. 

Working in that way avoids overwhelm and it helps you to get clear as you’re navigating that project on what the tasks are as they arise. Because let’s face it we can’t necessarily know all of the steps in the right order up front and it’s possibly better to define them as you go. Our brains have a tendency to want to latch onto predefined schedules even if they stop making sense.

3. Brain Breaks

Planning aside there is something else that needs to happen when you work from home. And that is taking breaks. If you get really focused on your work and are working effectively and there’s nothing else to do chances are you’re going to work too much. 

I put my hand up this happened to me a lot in the beginning and still does sometimes. 

That’s why doing number one first and establishing those outside connections and commitments socially is really important because it gets you out of the house and gets you away from work so that you don’t overwork.

There’s two types of breaks. 

The first is taking a brain break while you’re working so that you’re not staring at your screen all day. It can be useful to put house work or other small tasks in between work tasks to give your brain a break, want to go and take a shower or to walk outside into the garden or something to give your eyes a rest and give your brain a chance to shift the focus.

The second type of break is taking a more extended break and knowing when to switch off at the end of the day and having a set lunch break. 

It’s really easy to work through lunch and to sit at your desk all day and for the slumped over desk posture become your new ‘asana’, and for digital eye strain to creep in, and to start feeling disconnected and snappy.

Discipline is often required to disconnect. Create rules and boundaries, and know that when you stick to them, you will be powerfully productive when you ARE at work.

4. Self Care

I coach a lot of business owners who work from home. And their universal lesson is that they need to do something for themself FIRST thing in the day in order to maintain emotional balance, to feel calm, and to eat well and exercise.

Many of them have learned the hard way; that when all work and everyone else’s needs come first, they start reaching for the chocolate, the wine and the weight watchers subscription, they sleep poorly and feel flat, snappy or moody.

I am thinking of several clients who do one thing for themselves before starting their day, and that allows them to do so much more and feel satisfied without needing to reach for comfort.

They typically start with either:

  1. Journaling or writing goals, or
  2. Exercise of some sort, or 
  3. Meditation, or
  4. Doing something creative or doing creative work FIRST before the meetings and clients. 

There are other options; these are just a few things that my clients are doing to stay sane, grounded, happy and productive.

Create rules and boundaries, and know that when you stick to them, you will be powerfully productive when you ARE at work.

Summary

We’ve talked about the challenges of working from home, and it may take you up to a year or more to get your head around how to make it work for you.

In this episode I’ve talked you through four steps that have helped me to gain enough connection, structure and balance ro adjust and adapt to a productive, happy work environment.

Ready to be more productive while working at home?

You can proactively change the way you function and even the way your brain works! 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 87: Creating A Vision For Your Coaching Business

Any time, but especially now, it’s a good time to review and revise your business vision. 

This episode explains two vision traps to avoid, and two steps to creating a compelling, inspiring, get-me-out-of-bed vision.

You might be asking – why write a business vision, and further, why would you revise it? 

Well, because your vision is a clear and vivid image or statement describing where you want to take your business and what it will achieve in the world.

It’s the thing that gets you excited. It’s a get-me-out-of-bed statement that inspires you to persist, no matter what, to overcome any obstacles that come up.

It is the outcome you seek to create, therefore your vision creates a framework for setting specific, actionable goals.

And of course, your vision may change over time, so you need to review and perhaps revise it from time to time – especially when your life and/or circumstances change.

A vision is SO important to your business because strong emotions are what drive us to persevere and what cause our customers to buy.

We need to create business vision statements that are aspirational, motivating and speak to a purpose that is bigger than ourselves.

A vision is SO important to your business because strong emotions are what drive us to persevere and what cause our customers to buy.

To get it right you need to reflect on your why – your values-based motivators; your deeper purpose, and what lights you up emotionally and touches your heart.

As you can guess, it takes some work to uncover these things. 

And that is probably why I see a lot of business owners struggling with creating a business vision – because they aren’t sure how to peel off the layers to find and explore their values and purpose.

So today I’m going to walk you through a process of defining a business vision so that you can firm that up and then, as a result, start to set and achieve meaningful, realistic goals.

I want to help you to create a vision for your coaching business that is realistic, meaningful and purposeful, so you can work every day on purpose.

Vision Traps

Before we talk about creating a business vision, I want to point out two main vision traps that people fall into. This will help you to understand why you might be getting stuck with your business vision.

The first main trap is the ‘looks good on paper’ trap.

If you’re like most people, you think that you operate and make decisions from a position of logic.  

In this case, rather than digging into what’s important to you and why, you are simply using your logic to examine some superficial facts about yourself and using those as your basis for creating a vision. 

Vision traps can happen to anyone who lives in a world of shoulds, or who isn’t that connected with their emotional side or values. Maybe you’re not sure if what you’re thinking is ‘right or not’.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say that you have had experience as a personal trainer, so it seems logical that you would set a business vision that builds around your skills in those areas.

For example, you might say to yourself, ‘I’m a personal trainer, so my business vision is that I want to help women in their 30’s to be fit and healthy and to have strong bodies that look good in a bikini.’

And let me just say – this is totally fine if that’s truly meaningful to you.

BUT maybe in your heart, you want to work with women who want to be consistent with going to the gym because they are struggling to manage stress, and they aren’t eating well or exercising as a result – and that’s meaningful to you because you’ve been in that situation yourself and it felt awful and out of control..

What I’m saying is this – If you looked a little deeper into what is truly meaningful for you, you might uncover that deeper sense of purpose, the stronger values behind the work, the bigger reasons for you to take action no matter what.

Think about how very different those two business visions might be – one around helping people to exercise, and another around helping people to manage their time, responsibilities and their minds.

The key message here is this: your past doesn’t necessarily dictate your future.

You get to choose a business vision that is meaningful and purposeful to you, in simple terms – it’s heartfelt

Sure, it may draw on any of your life experiences, skills and qualifications, but not necessarily the most obvious.

The second type of trap is the ‘this is working for other people’ trap.

It is similar to the ‘looks good on paper’ trap that I just described.

The main difference is that in this case, you’re not sure what you want to focus on, so you look at what others are doing and try to do the same thing – because it’s working for them, so it must be the right thing to do.

Notice once again how your logic is jumping in and taking over from the heart. Perhaps you are afraid of failing, or you’re unclear, or you aren’t backing yourself.

The same thing applies as for trap #1 – you need to get in touch with your feelings.

I am NOT trying to be your therapist here – just to explain what you need to do instead of using logic to define a vision.

And, I do want to say that yes, it can be useful to look at what others are doing to help you get perspective and ideas, and to help you to define what you like and don’t like.

But a business vision is a very personal thing and you probably won’t find that same level of emotional connection to someone else’s vision. 

Now that you’re aware of the traps, do either of them resonate with you?

Or are you really in tune with your heart and higher purpose, and working to that?

If you’re stuck and need help, let’s go to the next part – my process for helping you create a business vision that compels you to take action and persist.

Step 1 – Getting Clarity on Your Vision 

To clarify on the values behind your business vision, or the main areas you wish to focus on, I invite you to zoom out of what you think you know about yourself and start asking yourself some thought-provoking, coaching style questions, with a very open mind.

Here are a few of my favourite questions that can help you connect to what’s most meaningful and authentic to you.

  1. What did you love to do as a child when you were playing?
  2. What is your struggle to success story with your own health and wellness?
  3. What are your strengths and how have they helped you to change habits or maintain habits more easily?
  4. Who sees you as a role model, and why?
  5. What is your passion area of health and wellness?
  6. What really irritates you about a specific area of health and wellness?
  7. What do you feel is lacking in a specific area of health and wellness?
  8. What do people need more of? Why is that?

Using the previous example of a personal trainer creating a business vision, going through these questions might uncover things like:

  • You always struggled with body image
  • Your role model was Oprah – and you could relate to her yo yo weight struggles
  • You are passionate about helping women accept themselves and feel strong, without needing to turn to food
  • You are irritated about the unrealistic body imaging out there in the media
  • You feel that self-compassion is missing from the gym environment
  • You feel that the current advertising around gyms is disempowering and could speak more to strength, confidence and personal power
  • You want to help women to feel more confident about exercising in gyms so that they can be their fittest self

So as you can see, when you ask yourself for your opinion on things, your values are revealed in that conversation and you can uncover some more emotive statements that could be used to create a powerful, inspiring vision.

This exercise is a great starting point for creating a new business vision, or to clarify or test the relevance of your existing business vision.

Step 2 – Going Deep

To make sure you have gone deep enough into your values and motivators, you can use the Five Whys exercise.

This is really simple – it’s about digging deep to explore what’s behind the things you want to do or achieve.

It’s great to do this as an exercise for either a new business vision or an existing one – it is a reality-check that the vision truly represents what you feel, believe and stand for.

Basically, you look at the vision you created and ask yourself why five times in a row.

Those are all why type questions that might reveal values.

Here is an example to illustrate how it works.

Let’s say your business vision is to inspire women to feel confident about exercising in public so they can be strong, fit and confident role models in life.

Now you can use the five whys to see whether that really does matter to you, and what the values or motivators are behind that.

You’d first ask yourself – why is that important to me, personally?

Maybe you want to smash society’s body image issues and right the wrongs of the media.

Then ask yourself another why question, like – So what? What difference will that make?

Maybe you feel that if we all had better body image, we’d be more confident in our daily lives.

Then ask yourself something like – why does that matter?

Perhaps you know from personal experience that when you feel good about yourself, you can achieve more and be more and that feels amazing. You feel happier and healthier. Stronger.

Why is that important?

Maybe you feel that women are role models for their kids and peers, they have the power in the family unit, and they have a unique opportunity to end the cycle of body shaming.

You might then ask yourself – What could that create in the world?

And perhaps the answer is equality. Peace. Confidence. More women in more powerful roles, making the world a safer, happier, healthier place.

These are all just made up examples, but I use them to illustrate how you can go deeper into what’s important to you personally, so you can polish up your vision and make it more meaningful.

Road Testing Your Vision

Exploring the values behind your vision is designed to uncover the deeper stuff that is personal to you, so you will probably know when you get it right. 

But in case you are unsure, there are a few ways to road test your vision to make sure it is true, values-aligned, meaningful, exciting and compelling.

1. Read it aloud, with gusto.

Do you feel a swelling in your chest, or goose bumps, or feel a little teary, or hear the word ‘yes!’ in your head? 

Then it’s probably on the mark.

2. Ask a client’s opinion.

How does your client respond to the vision when you read it out? Are they visibly and audibly excited or inspired, does it resonate?

If so, then it’s probably on the mark.

3. Read it on a day when you feel tired and flat.

We all have bad days. And if you read your business vision on a ‘tired, flat’ day – does it perk you up, get you interested and fired up again?

If so, then it’s probably on the mark.

A word on perfection here – it may take you time to get it right. Maybe 3 months, or a year.

It may change over time, as your stage of business, life or priorities change.

And that’s ok. 

Review it once every year as part of your business planning process. And as long as your business vision inspires and excites you, it’s doing its first and most important job.

Then, you are ready to set some goals to achieve it.

Summary

Your business vision should be an inspiring, vivid statement that describes what you want to achieve in your business, and why that’s important to you.

A lot of people try to create a vision based on their logical thought processes, or leave their vision on the shelf for years without revising it.

Your business vision should be an inspiring, vivid statement that describes what you want to achieve in your business, and why that’s important to you

Today I talked about how important it is to bring heartfelt emotion into your vision, so that you are truly and emotionally connected to it.

That will bring energy and emotion into your marketing and help you to set relevant goals for achieving it.

Using a process of big picture questions to uncover what you want, and the five whys process to clarify the values behind it, is a great way to create a compelling vision statement for your business.

If you need help with this, visit melaniejwhite.com/contact and drop me a line, we can make a time for a free coaching call to see if this is something I can help you with.

Ready to create an awesome business vision?

You will love the feeling of having the right energy and emotion in your 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 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 81: How To Run A Business In Stressful Times.

This episode describes three levels of resilience and helps you to get clarity on what to do at YOUR level to keep your business on track in stressful times.

Everyone responds differently to external pressures. The way you respond depends on your personality, your thought processes and your personal circumstances.

But at the core of things, stress starts in your mind. Your perception (thoughts) determines your resilience. Resilience simply means the resources and capacity you have to cope with the circumstances around you. 

When your resilience is low, it affects your ability to make decisions, to think clearly and to be fully present with your clients – all of which are obviously important in relationship-based businesses like coaching.

When you’re running a coaching business in stressful times, there are different approaches you can take to support your wellbeing and to feel at peace with your business decisions. 

Your best approach depends on how resilient or stressed you feel. Most people will fit into one of three categories.

Three Categories of Business Owner Resilience

Category 1 – feeling resilient, seeing opportunities to be of service, and feeling ready, willing and able to reach out and help others. These people may have fewer external pressures, may be more extroverted, or could be people who have done a lot of their own coaching around beliefs and behaviours. In any case, they have the resilience to be able to cope with stressful times.

Category 2 – feeling fearful or overwhelmed, seeing roadblocks, and feeling unable to cope with the responsibilities of both business and life. These people may have more challenging circumstances, may be more introverted, or are yet to master the skills of emotional balance. They are unlikely to have enough resilience to cope with stressful times.

Category 3 – wanting to help, seeing opportunities but becoming easily overwhelmed. These people may be managing internal and external pressures but are close to capacity. They may have some skills around emotional balance and some level of stability in life. This means they feel resilient at times and are able to cope, yet can fall back into overwhelm. Their resilience is ‘inconsistent’.

These are generalisations but they may help you identify yourself for the purposes of making rational decisions about what to do with your business.

Let’s look at some approaches for each category.

Business Approaches for Stressful Times

If you’re in category 1, seize the day. Despite stressful times, you are best positioned to continue running your business or even expanding it, so that you can help others.

You may offer services that help others to;

  • Get some respite (e.g. online retreat)
  • Cope better (e.g. plans and strategies)
  • Maintain positive habits (e.g. visions and goals, accountability groups)
  • develop new habits or routines (e.g. challenges or programs)
  • create more joy, fun, freedom (e.g. uplifting classes or events)

Remember that showing up for others in stressful times takes time, energy and effective planning.

Showing up for others in stressful times takes time, energy and effective planning.

You may tend to attract clients who have similar resilience to you, but be mindful of others who are struggling and may have less capacity to cope with higher energy activities or sharing of information in a group setting.

If you are in category 2, your primary concern is your own wellbeing, stability and your loved ones. In stressful times you probably have limited capacity to truly be of service to your clients.

You may like to define a period (e.g. 2 – 6 months) to focus on your own physical and mental wellbeing, during which time you:

  • close your business temporarily (e,g, block your calendar)
  • Subcontract another coach to service your clients
  • Reduce business activities to a minimum (e.g. working with a few select clients)
  • Consider Centrelink or other options for financial support if needed. Business offsets, grants or hardship payments are sometimes available.

Remember that as a business owner you may have legal obligations to clients such as coaching out their contract, refunding them, putting payments on hold or suspending memberships.

There is also the common courtesy of emailing your clients to let them know that you are taking time off, and to let them know what to expect from you in the interim.

Maybe that’s nothing, or you may continue newsletters, or you may schedule social media posts, podcasts or have a VA do that for you. Just make sure you tell your clients how they can stay connected or when you’ll be back in touch with them.

If you’re highly stressed then it’s likely you’ll be in decision fatigue, so you may find it easiest to discuss a strategy with your business coach or mentor to help you develop a clear plan going forward.

If you’re in category 3, then your biggest priority will be emotional balance. 

That’s because you may feel motivated to make offers in the heat of the moment, or be super responsive to clients, but then realise you lack the energy or capacity to follow through with an appropriate level of service.

Your best approach will probably be to:

  • create a clear schedule of work and non work activities and stick to it (e.g. a weekly plan)
  • reduce the number of clients you see each week, and set a maximum number of sessions per day
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when a client asks for help rather than just responding  
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when you get an impulse to offer help or run and event, rather than just rushing into action  
  • Automate your marketing activities.

Remember that a successful business is consistent how it shows up. It underpromises and over delivers in value, not the other way around.

If you run your business in fits and starts, it may damage your reputation. You’re better off to dial down your activities and be consistent with them. 

SUMMARY

Those of us who serve others can fall into the trap of overhelping, overcommitting or overextending ourselves, and burning out.

The most important thing for us all as individuals is to check in with ourselves each day and reflect on how we are holding up, what our capacity is, and to maintain our own physical and mental wellbeing habits. We must do this to meet our own needs and to have the capacity to serve others.

The most important thing for any business – in good times and hard times – to be is consistent. Consistency builds a sense of trust, reliability and professionalism.

In times of stress, I encourage you to reflect on your resilience and make a decision as to what your business approach will be. Decide how long you will do this approach for. (E.g. 3 months? 4 months?) then take the appropriate actions.

The most important thing for any business – in good times and hard times – to be is consistent. Consistency builds a sense of trust, reliability and professionalism.

You can revise your plan at any time but definitely at the end of your defined time period, and get clear on how you’re feeling and what you will do next.

If you need support with your business in stressful times, these resources may help.

Summary of state-by-state stimulus measuresAustralian Tax Office information for COVID 19Business support for sole traders

Small Business NSW (includes info on financial hardship and bank loan deferment), Business Qld (includes information on economic relief, payroll tax relief,  power bill relief and support facts), Business Victoria (includes different support options including low cost business mentoring), Telstra small business supportTips for coping with COVID anxiety (Psychology.org, includes a list of resources)

Ready to navigate your business through this stressful time?

Now is a time to have a clear and realistic picture of what your business can do. If you’re looking to break old habits and get through this, 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 79: Interview with Terri Sparrow on packaging coaching with a product

Confused about how to package coaching with an existing service? This is part 1 of a series of interviews explaining how to do it.

Today, I talk to Terri Sparrow about packaging coaching with a product.

Ready to package coaching with your existing product?

It might be what you have been looking for. 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 70: Self-Discipline Without Guilt

If you want to be more self-disciplined and feel less guilty, you need to learn to manage your thinking patterns and emotions. Here are 6 guilt-reducing skills and 5 self-discipline building strategies to help you do that.

My Habitology members and I are studying self discipline this month and I figured that it would be useful to talk about guilt as part of that.

That was Podcast #68 – Cultivating Self Discipline and Self Regulation. You may want to go back and listen to that first.

Here’s a quick recap – self-discipline is defined as resisting an urge in the moment.

It’s resisting the urge to eat the doughnut you just got a whiff of. It’s resisting the urge to skip your exercise session.

Thinking of these examples, it’s easy to see how someone might make themselves feel guilty at giving in to an urge.

I see this a lot in my coaching clients.

And I think there could be two main reasons people beat themselves up and feel guilty about such lapses.

Firstly, we have trained ourselves to punish failure rather than learn from it.

Secondly, many of us have high expectations for ourselves, and subsequently a sense of guilt if we are not able to live up to those expectations. In other words, our rational minds tell us that we ‘should’ be able to do something, and therefore, we are somehow not good enough or a failure if we don’t do it.

So let’s have this important conversation about understanding guilt, so that we can create self-discipline without guilt.

What is Guilt?

Guilt is a feeling you create in your own mind, with your own thought patterns, when you do something that is not aligned with your values. 

It’s really important to recognise that you create guilt with your own thoughts and therefore, you can also get rid of guilt with your own thoughts too.

Guilt is the sense that you have done something bad, or wrong, against someone else or against your own moral code.

And while guilt is designed to help us act with integrity, in line with our moral compass. But many of us take it too far, to our own detriment.

Here’s an example. 

Let’s say that you planned to go to the gym three times this week and you wanted to be really self disciplined about that. But something got in the way and you are only able to do one of those three exercise sessions. 

Would you admonish yourself and make yourself feel guilty?

Would you become self-critical?

Would you challenge your own capacity to take action, or your worthiness?

If you answer yes to these types of questions, you may be an overly guilty person. Notice that it is your own thought patterns that create that unnecessary guilt.

There are two things I want to say about guilt.

Firstly, guilt cannot change the past. Once you have said or done something – or not said or done them – you can’t take it back. It’s over. It’s gone.

Secondly, guilt doesn’t make you feel good. Guilt is not an enjoyable motivator, and it may decrease your self-discipline in the long term. That’s because negative self talk weakens your resolve, self-confidence, motivation and self-belief over time, so it ends up being counter-productive.

What I want to offer is that guilt is unhelpful most of the time, and it can sabotage your attempts to build self discipline.

How to Be Guilt-Free and Self-Disciplined 

If you agree that guilt can be detrimental to your self esteem and goals, then let’s talk about how to be guilt-free AND self-disciplined at the same time.

Both of these things require you to manage your thoughts and feelings, so the primary skills you need to learn to be guilt-free and self-disciplined are managing your thinking patterns, feelings and actions.

You could think of learning to be guilt-free and learning to be self-disciplined as much like driving a car, or playing the piano, or any other skill you could be learning.

They take time, patience and practice.

Let’s start with the skills of being guilt-free.

The Skills of Being Guilt-Free

We must first recognise that guilt is an emotion that keeps you in check with your values, morals and ethics.

When I am talking about being guilt-free, I am specifically talking about excessive, unhelpful guilt that sabotages your ability to change.

There are some character skills you can learn to become guilt-free, which I will touch on briefly now.

Guilt cannot change the past. Once you have said or done something – or not said or done them – you can’t take it back. It’s over. It’s gone.

When I am talking about being guilt-free, I am specifically talking about excessive, unhelpful guilt that sabotages your ability to change.

There are some character skills you can learn to become guilt-free, which I will touch on briefly now.

The way to develop these skills is to pick one to start with and practice it as often as possible. 

That means making time in your week to do some thinking about the skill, or writing about it, or speaking to a coach about it.

Here are six skills that I think will help you to stop feeling so guilty all the time.

  1. Empathy – for yourself as someone learning how to do something differently.
  2. Self-awareness – of what you did, or your behaviour patterns.
  3. Mindfulness – of how you felt in that moment, in your body and mind.
  4. Reflection – on how you interpreted and responded to those mind and body sensations.
  5. Self-compassion – to accept without judgement and move on from any slip ups. 
  6. Decision making – for getting clear on what to do next.

Now, here are the steps you can take to help you be self-disciplined.

The Steps (and Skills) to Developing Self-Discipline

Here are the key things you need to do so that you can develop self-discipline.

1. Define realistic standards

Firstly you need to decide on some realistic standards for the area you’re trying to change. 

For example, it’s no use committing a standard of five x 1 hour sessions of exercise each week if you can only realistically fit in three.

Having unrealistic standards or expectations is a recipe for failure, and subsequently, guilt.

So you’ll have to do some learning about what can fit into your life style realistically.

As a coach, I often notice this is hard for a lot of people to do. It feels more logical or perhaps easier to set a goal around taking action, but looking at the big picture of what’s actually possible is the most important thing that will increase your chance of successfully achieving what you set out to achieve.

You might look at setting standards for yourself at the start of every year, or perhaps every six months. 

It may help you to think of these standards as behavioural goals – that is – to define the thinking or doing habits you would like to be doing regularly.

2. Discover what motivates you

When you know what motivates you, you will more likely succeed at taking action. 

For example, even if you have the time, you may not feel motivated to go to the gym in the moment. 

But if you are really clear on how good you will feel when you are 20% stronger, or 5kg lighter, those images will help you to get there and do a workout regardless of how you feel.

3. Use your strengths

All of us have character strengths – that is, things we are good at and enjoy doing or being.

When you know what your strengths are, you can use them to help you to maintain self-discipline. 

For example, if you’re a great planner, then you’ll probably find it easy to choose exercise timeslots where you are most likely to be energised for going to the gym.

Or, if honesty is one of your strengths, then being very honest with yourself about the doughnut, the gym or working too late will probably help you to make a healthier choice that you feel good about.

4. Learning to say no (or yes)

There’s another skill that most people need to learn when it comes to self discipline. And that is the skill of saying no. 

We all have responsibilities in our lives – to ourselves and to other people. And the skill of saying no as an important part of that.

Consider this. Let’s say it’s a Tuesday afternoon and as you’re finishing work, your mum phones and asks you over for a cup of tea because she hasn’t seen you in a while – in the exact time slot that you are planning to go to the gym. 

What do you do? 

Who do you say no to? 

Yourself or your mum?

A lot of people feel guilty about letting other people down and that is greater guilt than what they may feel around not doing their own personal habit.

Having your standards in place (point 1) will help you to make decisions at times like these.

So will planning.

If you have a clear plan in place and Plan B, C and even a Plan D to do your exercise, it may be easier to make allowances around other people.

Alternatively, you can stick with your original plan and let your mum know you will show up at another time – and book that in with her so she knows it’s important to you.

5. Learning, not failing

Finally, it’s important to get rid of the idea of failing – or at least, that it is a bad thing. Every time something doesn‘t go to plan, there is a lesson to be learned.

When you have the emotional skills you need to get rid of unnecessary guilt, it will be easier to step back and see the facts, problem solve and discover the valuable lessons that failure has given you, so you can do things differently next time.

Summary

Self-discipline is the act of being able to resist urges, but for a lot of people there is often guilt attached.

If you want to be more self-disciplined and feel less guilty, you need to learn to manage your thinking patterns and emotions.

There are six skills you can learn to reduce guilt and start being kinder to yourself.

Every time something doesn‘t go to plan, there is a lesson to be learned.

And, there are five steps and skills you can learn to develop more self-discipline.

As you can tell, it’s helpful to work with a coach on these things in tandem, so you can get the empathy and professional support and accountability you need to develop your own self-accountability, confidence and success.

If you would like to find out about working with a coach, visit www.melaniejwhite.com and visit my contact page. Shoot me an email to enquire about coaching.

Ready to take control of your thinking patterns?

I can help you to develop your own self-accountability, confidence and success! 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 68: Cultivating Self Discipline & Self Regulation

How to develop two important skills that will help you achieve results in any area of life!

I really wanted to do an episode on self-discipline because it’s an interesting topic and it really conjures up mixed feelings. 

In over 4,000 coaching hours, one of the most common wishes my clients have is to have more self-discipline or self-control, so they can be consistent with healthy habits and achieve their goals.

Have you had that thought, yourself?

If so, you’re in the right place. Let’s talk about what self-discipline is, how it relates to self-regulation, and the key steps you need to build both of these skills.

 

Let’s start with a question

When you hear the word self discipline – how do you feel?

A lot of people hear the word self discipline and immediately feel uncomfortable or a sense of dread, or that hard work or punishment is ahead. 

I believe that attaching negative thoughts and feelings to words is a big part of the reason we find it hard. We’re making self-discipline into something to be disliked, feared or avoided.

But in reality, discipline is something that we need in order to persist for long enough to achieve anything in life.

You know that if you are disciplined with exercise then you will have a fit and healthy body and a lower risk of disease. 

If you’re disciplined with food then you’ll maintain a healthy weight and your energy levels. 

If you’re disciplined in your business or at work then you’ll be productive, you’ll get a lot done and you’ll achieve things – and probably make more money. 

If you’re disciplined with budgeting and saving then you will accumulate wealth.

Having heard all of that, how do you feel about the word self-discipline, now?

To me, reflecting on the benefits makes it seem more attractive, and something worth cultivating.

I think it gives you a better understanding of your relationship with self-discipline.

That will allow you to unlock your personal secrets to cultivating self-discipline so you can do, be and achieve more in your life.

Along the way, I invite you to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings to see where the truth lies.

Self-discipline versus self-regulation

To define self-discipline we must also look at the word self-regulation. 

They are two different things that work together, but come from different parts of your brain.

In reality, discipline is something that we need in order to persist for long enough to achieve anything in life.

Self-discipline is the ability to control your feelings and overcome urges. It is more about making decisions and taking actions in the moment.

Strong emotional impulses happen in your limbic system, which is the primitive, reactive part of your brain.

On the other hand, self-regulation is about reducing the frequency and intensity of those urges by managing stress-load and recovery. It is a longer-term, more automatic thing.

The longer term process of self-regulation is what makes self-control possible, or even unnecessary!

Your prefrontal cortex – the rational, reflective part of your brain – is the part that processes thoughts, makes decisions and takes control and that is where self-regulation happens.

Consider how this works in an example.

The Smell of Doughnuts

Let’s say you’re walking through a shopping mall on a mission to buy something, and then you smell the strong, heady aroma of spicy cinnamon doughnuts.

Your mouth waters.

You look around for the source of that amazing smell.

You see the hot doughnuts travelling on the conveyor belt, people closing their eyes with delight as they sink their teeth into the hot, fluffy dough.

Your brain screams – I WANT SOME!

But suddenly your self-discipline kicks in and you tell yourself – HEY – I am going to say NO.

Your self-regulation then kicks in – that is, your pre-determined beliefs, rationale and coping strategies. 

You rationalise the doughnut decision by thinking about your longer term goals – I want to be consistent with healthy eating. I have just had a healthy lunch, why would I want to spoil that with a sugary fat-sponge?

And although you’re tempted in the moment, you use these thoughts and also perhaps a strategy of distraction to refocus on your shopping mission and walk away from the doughnut.

This is an example of self-discipline and self-regulation in action.

So there are two skills to master here:

  1. Resisting an urge in the moment (self-discipline), and
  2. Defining your beliefs, standards, goals and how to monitor and uphold them.

The Benefits of Self-Regulation

If you have good self regulation then you have the ability to keep your emotions and behaviours in check.

It means you have the ability to resist impulsive behaviours so that you don’t need to keep relying on willpower, which is a finite resource.

Good self-regulation means that you are able to cheer yourself up, and find motivation to do everything that you need to do.

There are two parts of self-regulation – behavioural and emotional self regulation.

Behavioural self-regulation means that you’re able to consistently act in line with your values and for your best long-term interests. 

Even if you don’t feel like doing something you will do it anyway. 

For example you might wake up on a Friday morning and not feel like going to work, but you still do it anyway because you know that it’s going to bring you the money that you need to live a healthy and productive life.

Emotional regulation is being able to influence or control your emotions. 

It means that you’re able to talk yourself down from catastrophe, or that you can calm yourself down after being angry, get yourself out of a bad mood or avoid emotional outbursts at other people. It means that you’re not overly reactive to the situations around you.

Why are we disciplined in some areas and not others?

Let’s explore this conundrum.

I bet that you show up to work every day. 

You probably don’t eat lollies for breakfast. 

It makes sense that brushing your teeth is 100% not negotiable.

All of these things show that you are using self-discipline, but more broadly – self-regulation. 

Even if you want to lie in bed all day, eat lollies for breakfast or stop brushing your teeth, you simply don’t give in.

As you can tell, self discipline and self-regulation are really important parts of wellbeing.

Then why, oh why, can’t we be like this in ALL areas?

You’d be surprised how many thousands of unconscious thoughts you have running through your mind; so well practised and ingrained that you barely notice them. 

If you are mindful and watching your thoughts then you’re able to catch those thoughts before they lead to automatic actions. 

Maybe you have trained your brain to give into urges – that is, to reward those urges – so they keep getting stronger.

Maybe you haven’t made decisions about what is appropriate behaviour and what isn’t. 

You might be starting a new habit that you’ve never done before, and you haven’t sorted out your standards, reasons for change, motivators, and how to monitor and get back on track, so you are relying solely on willpower which research shows, is a finite resource.

These are skills gap for a lot of people. And that certainly explains why so many people fail to stick to new habits; they simply aren’t aware of what’s required to develop self-discipline and self-regulation.

It’s one of the reasons why working with a coach is so important – to learn the process of managing urges and developing self-regulation, and to get accountability and support to work through both.

Cultivating Self-Discipline / Managing Urges

The process of managing urges is simple, and it draws on three things:

  1.     self-awareness,
  2.     mindfulness and
  3.     self-compassion.

Here are the steps to manage an urge when you feel tempted.

Step 1 – watch your thoughts and feelings through the day

Step 2 – notice when you are tempted to do something e.g. work late, or give in to doughnuts.

Step 3 – allow the urge – sit with it the moment and notice that you have it. DON’T resist it – feel it. Be uncomfortable for a moment without judgement.

Step 4 – notice when the urge decreases.

Step 5 – reward yourself with something positive.

It’s a really simple process that simply requires practice. You will build an incredible amount of self-discipline if you follow this process.

Developing Self-Regulation 

Now let’s talk about developing self-regulation. 

Building self-regulation is more of a process of deciding in advance what you truly want and what feels aligned with your values, how you want to act, and how you will monitor and stay on track with that.

For any area you want to change, you could simply ask yourself these questions for any ONE area that you want to change:

  1. Why is that important to me/what will I get if I do?
  2. What would a realistic (and enjoyable) standard look like?
  3. How will I monitor myself?
  4. What are my triggers for falling off track?
  5. What are some strategies I can use to stay on track when I notice those triggers?

These questions will allow you to discover what you truly want and why, and to arm yourself with ways to check in with yourself and manage urges.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say that health is a really strong value of yours because you want to remain active and avoid disease as you age.

You know that exercising three to four days per week would be both realistic, and about the right standard for you. 

You decide that an exercise schedule in your diary will be your best way of monitoring your exercise.

You also choose to monitor your thoughts about the exercise on those days so you can work out your triggers for doing it or not doing it.

During that monitoring, you might notice yourself sometimes trying to get out of the workouts:

  • You have a busy day so you tell yourself you’re too tired or it’s too cold. 
  • You are feeling emotional so you tell yourself that you don’t feel up to it, or you feel too fragile

It’s your ability to notice that sort of mental chatter and then to do the work out anyway that defines self-regulation.

That’s where your strategies come in.

Perhaps you decide that after a busy day you will do a different kind of workout, or call a friend for accountability.

Maybe you decide that on emotional days, you will go to a PLAN B session time that you have penciled in just in case that happens.

These are just examples, but you can see how the thinking work right at the beginning can determine your success or failure.

A Word on Standards

Something that really stands out for me in that model of self-regulation is that we often try to live up to other people’s standards instead of our own. 

Or we may have unrealistic standards for ourselves because we haven’t really reflected on what’s realistic and achievable given everything else going on in our lives. 

So if you want to become better at self-regulation and self-discipline, the first thing to do would be to get really clear on what your standards are what’s in what’s achievable and realistic.

This can also be hard for some people. It means you really need to step up and take responsibility for your own actions – including any win, loss, pass or fail. That can feel a little scary, but that is way better than the disappointment of inaction!

Summary

Self-discipline is your ability to control urges as they come up, whereas self-regulation is your ability to control your emotional and physical behaviour in line with your beliefs and moral compass.

Although you may have a negative view of the word discipline, combined with self-regulation, it is really important for your well-being. 

People who are stronger in the area of self-regulation are more self-confident, they have greater life satisfaction, supported and are able to deal with stressful situations or difficult people more easily. They are more likely to persist and achieve goals.

Building self-regulation is more of a process of deciding in advance what you truly want and what feels aligned with your values.

Cultivating self-discipline requires self awareness and an ability to say no to urges and temptation so you can uphold your own personal standards for behaviour or emotions.

Cultivating self-responsibility means taking the time to set those standards, monitor them, and develop strategies to uphold them.

It can be super helpful to work with a coach to help you cultivate these two important skills for greater wellbeing and a more fulfilling and successful life – especially if you are someone who typically expects a lot of yourself, consider yourself to be a perfectionist, or lack confidence in your ability to stay on track.

Ready to develop better self discipline and self regulation?

These skills will increase your confidence, give you greater life satisfaction and help you achieve your goals! 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 67: Making positivity a habit

I want to talk about why we need to start making positivity a habit, and how it will totally transform your experience of daily life.

If you listened to episode 67, you’ll know that we need to experience three positive emotions to counteract every one negative emotion that we feel – on a daily basis.

Barbara Fredrickson’s work discusses this 3:1 ratio at length, and she describes it as the tipping point between languishing and flourishing.

When we achieve this ratio, we more likely have a wonderful experience of life, feel fulfilled and happy, and have greater resilience to help us cope with difficult times.

This on it’s own implies that it is worth making positivity a habit, because you are in the practice of constantly filling your cup.

But I also want you to reflect on how much MORE important it is for some of you to create a habit around positivity – depending on your current state of mind and wellbeing.

Our Status Quo – Positive or Negative? 

Neuroscientists say that negative thinking is our default thinking pattern. 

We are wired this way as a survival response that’s designed to keep us safe – not trusting those around us, being on alert for threats.

In the modern world we are less at risk of the life or death scenarios that our ancestors had to cope with. 

So what happens to us now is that our brains find new micro threats and negativity every day. And further, when we focus on something, we build that and broaden that thing we are focussing on.

The data suggests that around 70% of our thoughts are naturally negative. So unconsciously, that is our default thinking pattern.

On top of that though, have you noticed that some people are always upbeat and optimistic, while others seem to have one drama after another?

That’s right – we are all unique. 

When you look at one person’s tendency to be a pessimist or an optimist – to be negative or positive by default – then: 

  • 50% of that tendency is influenced by genetics 
  • 30% of our tendency is influenced by our environment, and
  • 20% is the way we manage our thoughts.

So those of you who tend to be more negative, stuck or fearful, have more work to do in building positivity, than those who are naturally that way.

Just like your muscles, your brain needs to be trained to become stronger, more positive and more resilient.

Think right now about YOUR status quo – how are you wired? Here are a few questions to think about where you sit on the positive to negative spectrum.

  1. Are you a positive or negative person?
  2. Do you consider yourself to be an optimist, a realist or a pessimist?
  3. Do you often struggle with anxiety and stress?
  4. Are you a ‘she’ll be right’ kind of person?

Now consider the influence in your environment that affect that.

Environmental Triggers (Positivity Robbers)

There are so many things that rob positivity points in our daily lives, which gives further value to proactively developing more positive thinking and doing habits.

Examples of positivity robbers include:

  • The stress of daily traffic
  • Negative news
  • Conflicts on social media
  • Poor food choices
  • Unsafe behaviour or situations
  • Difficult people
  • Toxic relationships
  • Negative self-talk or the inner critic
  • Too much responsibility
  • Ugly or uninspiring surroundings.

Remember that our environment influences around 30% of our state and our environment can tip us into negative emotions simply by virtue of exposure to any of these factors.

Our exposure to these things further builds the case for making positivity a habit – we can use this as our secret weapon to counteract the constant onslaught of negative influences around us.

More Positivity = Resilience = Getting Unstuck Quicker

Let’s talk about positivity and resilience for a moment.

Several of my clients right now are going through some major stuff in their lives, in multiple areas. 

Some are more negative, and some are more positive. So let’s see what happens in either case.

On the negative side

Despite getting qualified help, some of my negatively wired clients are still stuck in a negative thought loop. 

They are acknowledging that things are difficult, which is totally ok, but they are also saying things that perpetuate negative thoughts and feelings, such as ‘I always think negatively’, or ‘I can only think about what’s going wrong.’  

Although that’s how it feels, it isn’t helpful to dwell on the fact that you’re stuck and to play those statements over and over in your mind like a tape recorder.

That’s because negative thinking can become a habit. It can become a thought pattern and process that we entrain.

So anything that is self-critical, a negative label, or really all or nothing thinking, can do more harm in the long run than good.

These thoughts reinforce the negative and provide no instruction for how to resolve it. 

If you’re in this space right now, I invite you to acknowledge that you may be struggling with something but that you want to do something different. 

Doing this creates an opening for the possibility of change. Saying to yourself, “Yes I am this way right now but I want to be different” creates a foot in the door for more positive thought processes and habits. 

You may want to listen to episode 2 or read my blog on the topic of thought change models.

On the positive side

I am thinking of another client right now who has had massive challenges for most of the year, and is surprisingly on top of things.

They acknowledge that things have been tough, but their self talk is positive, they are taking action, getting help, making plans and being proactive. 

Instead of dwelling on the situation or the feeling of helplessness, they are saying things like ‘I have learned so much this year,’ or ‘I am grateful for the help I’m getting’ instead.

What this creates is a sense of finding hope and optimism, moving forward, getting unstuck quickly and not getting bogged down in despair. They are able to function normally and live their lives and be productive and a good parent, despite the circumstances.

The Positivity Habit – What it Boils Down To

At the heart of the matter is this – if we want to be more resilient and more positive then we need to make positivity a habit. 

That means we develop one or two regular practices such as those that I mentioned in the last episode – number 67 – and commit scheduled time to them each week – even when there is no crisis at hand, and especially then.

Think of the analogy of going to the gym – it’s something that most people can relate to in a physical sense.

If you’re one of those people that says “I always think negatively,” it is like you’re sitting on the couch saying “I’m not fit because I’m sitting on the couch”. 

You are stating what is, but this is not giving you a roadmap to change.

If you wanted to become fit or muscular then you would be saying something different to yourself.

You would be something like “I am looking forward to going to the gym,” or “I will commit to one training session this week”. 

Then you’ll be going out and physically lifting the weights to build the muscle you want.

Of course, when you build that muscle, you need to maintain it with regular gym sessions, right?

It’s exactly the same process if you want to be more positive and resilient.

But this time, you are ‘working in’ instead of ‘working out’. 

Making positivity a habit means that you are actively scheduling time for activities that will build any of the top 10 positive emotions.

For example:

Every night before bed, you rewrite one negative thought into a more neutral or positive thought. E.g, “I want to build resilience” or “I noticed my negative thoughts and I would like to let them go”.

Maybe it means that you walk in nature four mornings per week and be mindful of your surroundings.

Just like your muscles, your brain needs to be trained to become stronger, more positive and more resilient.

Your inner work is what makes positivity a habit. 

It’s the act of doing something repeatedly and in this case thinking a certain way repeatedly. 

If you start to plug that new information into your brain then you are instructing yourself to do and think something different – and you will become the more positive and resilient person you wish to be.

If you start making positivity a habit, you will create a practice of constantly filling your cup so that you can build resilience and enjoy a more fulfilling and rewarding experience of life.

Summary

We are wired to think negatively as a survival mechanism. But some of us have more negative influences in our lives than others.

Barbara Fredrickson says that we need to experience at least 3 positive emotions for every negative that we come up against.

Just like working out in the gym, having a regular schedule of positive thinking and doing habits will help us to build resilience, be happier, roll with the punches much easier and to enjoy a more fulfilling and engaging experience of life.

 

Ready to make positivity a habit?

Having a regular schedule of positive thinking and doing habits can be life changing! 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 66: 5 Simple Ways to Increase Positivity

If you want a more enriching and fulfilling life, keep listening to learn what positivity really is and 5 ways to get more of it in your life.

What is positivity?

Before we can talk about how to increase positivity, we’d better define it. After all, some things will feel positive for me, while other things will feel positive for you.

And that being said, based on the landmark work of PhD Barbara Fredrickson, I’d like to define positivity like this:

“Positivity comes in many shapes and sizes; it is the cousin of the more hedonistic ‘pleasure’, it is based in love, and it is expressed in ten main forms”.

Positivity underpins success in any area of life and what I love about it is that it makes the journey to get there easier and sweeter.

Yes, negativity exists and has a purpose. In the Taoist sense, we could not know and appreciate positivity without its opposite, negativity.

And life was never meant to be 100% positive – but we have the capacity to improve and develop positive habits so that we can enjoy a more enriched experience of life.

Barbara Fredrickson defines ten forms or aspects of positivity:

  • Joy – relishing the bright, light feelings that come up when things feel right
  • Gratitude – the acknowledgement of all that you have
  • Serenity – the sense of peace that everything is as it should be
  • Interest – a sense of feeling engaged, fascinated and compelled to explore
  • Hope – a sense of optimism and belief that things can change
  • Pride – a sense of accomplishment of what you have said or done
  • Amusement – the freedom of laughter, sharing and connection 
  • Inspiration – the ability to transcend the ordinary and rivet attention
  • Awe – noticing goodness on a grand scale, and
  • Love – the glue that binds it all together. Love raises your levels of oxytocin, the feel good hormone, and progesterone, both of which create biological responses linked with lifelong bonds, trust and intimacy.

Researchers have created something called the Positivity Ratio, which quantifies your positive and negative emotions and gives you a tool to increase positivity in your own life.

I’ll talk about the ratio in another episode but for now, let’s explore positivity in more depth so you understand what it is and why it’s important, and some ways of building it.

Why does positivity matter?

There are lots of reasons why, but here are five great reasons I can think of. 

  • Positivity is attractive 

We love to be around people who create a positive energy and atmosphere. It helps us to relax, let our guard down and feel more engaged and connected.

  • Positivity in tribes can empower member persistence

Tribes have greater capacity to achieve more in a positive way than any individual could on their own. 

This is important when it comes to personal goals too; often people lack confidence in themselves, motivation to persist and lack the support they need to gain momentum and achieve. 

Purposeful, positive tribes can help us to stretch and grow beyond what we thought was possible because we are invested in the bigger vision. 

In a supportive tribe, we may be more likely to persist with something until we achieve it.

  • Positivity kills stress 

Without harping on the kajillions of studies out there, stress is clearly one of modern society’s biggest killers and disablers.

Yes, lower stress and more positivity can slow down aging and reduce the risk of many diseases and the bad habits that cause them.

But more immediately, being positive fosters an open, creative brain state that is essential for solving problems, making decisions, building businesses and persisting toward our desired success. 

  • Positivity improves our experience of life 

How does feeling positive impact your day to day life?

I spoke with someone recently who noticed a dozen shifts in their behaviour and experience of life as a result of being more positive.

The first shift this person mentioned was more collaborative relationships. They were able to better connect with their partner and family, with greater forgiveness, openness and without any judgement.

They felt better equipped to uphold personal boundaries and make better decisions, which in turn fostered a sense of self confidence.

They were able to be more proactive with their health and wellbeing habits.

They felt more able to take action with some of the tasks in their business that they perceived as being ‘difficult’, and which they might struggle with on a less resilient day.

  • Positivity builds resilience and an upward spiral, via the ‘broaden and build’ concept

In a nutshell, the more positivity you experience, the more positivity you will create in your life and the more resilience you’ll build.

And for anyone embarking on change – losing weight, building a business, starting a new relationship or job – resilience is about your capacity to cope and thrive.

The more positivity you experience, the more positivity you will create in your life and the more resilience you’ll build.

What Can Positivity Do For Your Business?

Positivity is vital for any business owner.

Working on your own, coping with the good and bad, juggling many roles and handling suppliers and staff, there’s a lot that can create stress, sap your energy or knock your confidence. 

Building positivity can counteract these things.

Positivity attracts people who are forward looking, who wish to change and who want to be part of something. It’s a great recipe for attracting the right clients.

Business is also a creative pursuit – and stress is the opposite of creativity. As I mentioned before, by bringing more positivity into your life, you can roll with the punches of life more easily.

5 Simple Ways to Increase Positivity

If you’re in my Habitology membership then you know we are looking at many options for increasing positivity and you are working through those this month.

I am really interested to know how this is impacting your business and your life and excited about doing this work with you.

For this podcast though, I want to share my favourite ways of increasing positivity. 

I like these because they are simple, take very little time, and they’re very effective.

1. Dispute negative thinking

This one is a no-brainer. Most of us have faulty thinking patterns that we repeat, and it is our work to notice these and turn them from emotive statements into factual statements. 

This can help us to unlearn those patterns and create healthier thinking without any drama involved. There are several ways you can do this.

2. Connect with others

Often people these days feel isolated and lonely, yet connection with others is said to be a key part in the longevity of our oldest living people across the world. 

Even if you are struggling, reaching out via a text message, phone conversation or visiting a friend can bring a sense of wellbeing and positivity.

3. Connect with nature

There is much to be said about connecting with nature; we experience awe, gratitude, serenity, inspiration and love. It facilitates mindfulness.

It is easy to do and requires no tools. This is simple and powerful.

4. Assess your media diet

Media catastrophizes everything and divides and conquers people based on opinion pieces and bias. Being selective with what you read and watch, and who you listen to, can make a massive difference to your state of mind.

5. Reconstruct your day

This is a bigger exercise but can be transformational. You write down how you spend the major chunks of time in your typical day – for example, waking, breakfast, driving to work, eating lunch, etc, and you rate your level of positivity for each of these events.

This gives you so many clues about where circumstances might conjure up negative emotions, so you can then take steps to do something about these, and to build and increase the positives that you experience.

Here are two examples.

Let’s say that you notice that you feel anxious at your weekly staff meeting because there is a difficult person who always creates tension.  You could decide to change your thinking about this person to decrease the negative emotions – for example – wondering what positives might be coming out of this, or perhaps feeling compassion for them that they are behaving like this.

On the flipside, you might also notice that you enjoy your lunch breaks outside. You could build on this positive experience by practicing mindfulness during this time, by walking and exploring the area after you’ve eaten, or perhaps to invite a friend to join you for part or all of the lunch break to increase your sense of connectedness.

In both cases you are proactively changing your attitude and experience of that time in your day to build more positivity into your life.

Summary

Ok, let’s recap what we’ve covered today.

Positivity is a recognised science that is defined by feeling a suite of 10 positive emotions. Positivity has been quantified into a measure, which I’ll talk about in another episode.

There are so many benefits that come out of increasing your positivity; but to sum it up, positivity creates more positivity in your life and a better experience of work, life, relationships and yourself.

Positivity underpins success in any area of life and it makes the journey to get there easier and sweeter.

Five simple ways to build positivity could include disputing your negative thoughts, connecting with others, connecting with nature, assessing your media diet and reconstructing your day. 

These are just a few – others like gratitude journalling and acts of kindness are things that create positivity too.

I invite you to reflect on this for yourself and ask what your life might be like if you were more positive.

If you need help to get on top of this, visit melaniejwhite.com/habitology on how you can get the help you need to become a more positive, fulfilled person.

Ready to increase positivity?

What might your life be like if you were more positive? 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 64: 7 Tips To Increase Body Awareness

This episode of the podcast helps you understand the benefits and challenges of building body awareness, with some tips on how to get started.

Body awareness is the first pillar of Body Intelligence. It is the foundation of all healthy habits. 

It is a simple yet powerful tool that is easily overlooked or pushed down your priority list.

What is Body Awareness?

Body awareness is simply paying attention to the signals that your body gives you. It’s another way of talking about mindfulness but in relation to your body.

And I want to talk about a few examples so that you really understand what it might involve. Here might be a typical day and where body awareness fits in.

Let’s say you wake up in the morning and the first thing you notice is that you have pretty dry, sleepy eyes so you rub your eyes to get to sleep out of them.

And then you realise you’re a bit thirsty maybe you had your mouth open last night so you have a drink of water because your body has told you that your mouth is dry and you’re attending to that need. 

Next you notice your stomach growling and you feel a sense of hunger so it’s time to have something that you know will sustain you for the morning.

All is good so far, but as soon as you realise that you need to get on with getting to work, your focus shifts to other things and your body’s gentle, subtle signals get lost in the noise.

Having worked with my Habitology members this month, we’ve discussed some interesting things that we’ve all noticed.

One realised that she just needed to take breaks to eat more often.

Another discovered that she had been pushing herself too hard and ignoring the signals.

One noticed how calm she has been feeling.

Another noticed how much more clarity she has because it’s caused her to slow down.

I noticed that when I drink water late in the afternoon, my stomach is settled and I wake up more energized the next day.

Can you see a trend here?

The Benefits of Building Body Awareness

As you can see the main benefit of building body awareness seems to be that being aware means that you will more likely take action to attend your needs better.

But what of that? Why is that important?

That’s actually where the real gold nuggets lie – in the benefits of being aware enough to commit to taking action.

  • You squash imposter syndrome

If you think about it, the first benefit for you if you’re a coach is that you truly feel like a role model for your clients. 

When I ask coaches I’m working with what their number 1 struggle in business is, they say that it’s maintaining emotional balance. 

They say that inadequate self care is a recipe for catastrophizing, judgement, fear, anxiety and lying awake at night ruminating.  All that can be largely avoided or at least tamed with some body awareness.

  • Freeing up creative thinking

What was (not so) surprising was that self-care reduces stress and anxiety, so you have more space for creative thinking.

And let’s face it, business is largely creative, and stress is the opposite of creativity. A little awareness can be a game changer in this regard. 

  • More healthy choices, more often

Being body aware means you’re noticing whether you’re moving enough and eating for hunger rather than boredom or stress. It means smarter alcohol, coffee and chocolate consumption.

I’m sure the cumulative benefits of those things are pretty clear – a healthier, calmer body and brain that ages well, has more energy and maintains a healthy weight.

There are many more benefits, but these are enough to start with and their big, juicy benefits.

How would YOU feel if you could achieve even just ONE of these four benefits?

The Challenges of Building Body Awareness

The main challenge around building body awareness is that you have an existing pattern of being distracted by other things – it’s easy to shift your attention away from your inner signals and to lose focus.

You may also be in the habit of convincing yourself that something else is more important than attending to your body’s needs in the moment – without stopping to think about the bigger impacts and consequences of this decision.

But the great news I want to share with you is that these two things are just HABITS.

They’re thinking habits you have, and you can unlearn them.

You can rewire them.

When you go back and think big picture about the benefits of using your BA on a daily basis, then it’s a no brainer to do some simple, menial tasks to rewire your thinking and get back onto the BA bandwagon.

Seven Tips for Building Body Awareness

Here are some tips to help you build body awareness, so that you can live more of your life, be more productive and feel happier and healthier.

I suggest you create a simple schedule around these things and use reminders to start building these new habits to improve your BA over time.

Tip 1 – schedule 5 minutes in the middle of the day to write down 3 negative thoughts you’ve had and rewrite them as facts.  

Tip 2 – set an alarm to do a body scan at morning tea, afternoon tea and after dinner to notice how your body is feeling.

Tip 3 – set a reminder or diarise a check in with how you feel emotionally at 1pm – good or bad, reflect on the possible influences and decide what you might have done more or less of to influence that result. 

Tip 4 – write in a journal four mornings or nights per week before bed – even a few lines is enough.

Tip 5 – work with a coach to speak out loud about your body awareness and set individual goals.

Tip 6 – meditate 1 – 5 times per week using an app like Headspace if you need assistance.

Tip 7 – use mindfulness each day to bring your awareness to your five senses – choose a random moment to notice what you see, hear, smell, taste, feel and sense.

Body awareness is simply paying attention to the signals that your body gives you. It’s another way of talking about mindfulness but in relation to your body.

Summary

Body awareness is a simple yet powerful tool that is easily overlooked or pushed down your priority list.

But if you use 1 – 3 practices each week to raise your BA, it’s highly likely that you will sleep better, have less anxiety, eat more healthily, feel calmer, feel like a good role model, have clearer thinking, feel more empowered and in control, and make better, more rational decisions in your life.

If you would like to talk to a coach about raising your BA, go to the contact page at www.melaniejwhite.com now and fill in the form.

Ready to improve your body awareness?

You can live more of your life, be more productive and feel happier and healthier. 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: