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Get ready for success – planners, stationery and more

Following on from last week’s “me time” activities, I wanted to pick up on another of the things I do (and rejoice in) to make sure I’m on track to balancing the musts and shoulds with the a big of stretch and fun.


There I said it. Give me a wall planner, family calendar, diary or online app. I just love planning! (And don’t forget, I always gift you a series of day, week, monthly and year planners to print and share for Christmas!)Balancing my various work and life activities, I needed to upgrade my planning this year.

At my side, come rain or shine is my lovely Erin Condren planner. I introduce you to these last year in my planner review and took the plunge this year and invested in a tailored, eye-candy pleasing life planner. It’s a heavyweight holistic book of loveliness – offering uplifting quotes, gratitude reminders and a wealth of repositionable stickers.

I love Whitney English’s printables for plotting out hour by hour tasks such as writing up coaching notes, report editing, b-mail drafting and so on. Time boxing is effective for me to push through and achieve more. I print two side by side on an A4 page, block out my plans on the left and my actual outcomes on the right. Whitney’s well known day planners have also been revamped for 2016 and are well worth checking out.

Building on last year’s successful Kickstarter campaign, the Passion Planner is due to December dispatch dates! Again like last year, you can trial the different sizes and layouts here. I’m still a big fan of the insightful goal and purpose worksheets included in the planner.

Need something more handbag friendly (aka light) I like how Inkwell Press lets you order their planner in one book or 4 quarters.

I’m massively drawn to colour and layout, but also need to be able to flex my plans as life whirls around me. To do this, I’ve got a colour coded breakdown on the inside cover of my EC planner – red for deadlines, blue for clients, baby blue for family, limey green for friends, orange for things just for me and so on. I use Frixion erasable pens – the roller ball gels are neat and tidy, but the felt tip ones are bolder and more playful.

Etsy is a brilliant source of dashboards, sticker and page markers. Fave shops for me are: Crossbow Printables, Dubu Dumo and Planneresque.

Looking at my iphone and ipad, I’m falling out of love with the Apple options and toying with trialing Planner Plus, Pocket Informant HD or Daily notes apps. I’m not sure how I might use these yet and key features for me are easy to use, shareable calenders and colour coding.

OK enough about me and my planning goodies. I’d really like to hear how you’ve used the 2015 planners and what you’d like from the 2016 ones. Drop me a line or add a comment below and I’ll be sure to try to better make them serve you and your stretch in 2016.

Credit: Post image from Erin Condren site. (Just soooo beautiful)

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your perfect “me time” activity and why it’s important to do it

Creating change and experiencing elements of stretch in our lives, relationship, bodies and work is great. And it’s can also be energy consuming, brain-achy, nerve-jangling, pulse-raising…….oh how I could continue.

It can be tough going.

You need to take time out of change. Just like an elite runner takes time off the track, hangs up their spikes and does other things to promote mental and physical wellbeing. These might be related to their specialism or not.

Those who go hard day in, day out – without listening to their body, mind or feelings – tend to end up with long-term damage to their joints or muscles and lose their drive to compete or simply participate. They get switched off from their goals and their performance drops off.

Recharging and recovering also need to be a part of your journey, if you want to make it with your motivation and well-being intact.

And here is where your personal preferences, your self-awareness and your self-compassion come in.

Personal preference as to what your perfect “me time” activity is – time off with family, cycling class, baking cookies or a long soak. I’ve even been known to choose to do a batch of ironing.

“WHAT!!” I heard you cry. “Ironing?”

Yep. My “me time” activities include ironing. I like the sense of achievement I get producing a line up of perfectly ironed shirts. for me, it works on those days when everything isn’t going well, I’m not making progress and I’m frustrated. Getting hot and focused on the crease on the back of the arms, neatening out the pockets and soon bring my mind back to a sense of calm, displacing any other thoughts.

Pilates classes or a good read. Playing a monster game with my step kids. Swimming lengths back and forth. A glass of champagne. Laughing on the phone to a friend. All work for me in different moments. If I need to create a space to absorb a setback. If I need to empty my mind. If I need new inspiration. If I need reminding that I’m doing alright. I pick my perfect “me time” activity.

Spotting those moments is where developing your self-awareness is key. Recognising that tension in your neck, the shortening of your temper, when you’re fidgety or just can’t concentrate. Knowing your reactions in adversity or how you show fatigue are essential to putting in “me time”. This balances your determination, hard work and resilience for achieving your new life and stretch. Keep a journal, record your daily gratitude practices, reflect on your plans and progress. Check in with how you feel, as well as how you are doing, to connect your physical and emotional reactions to your actions.

And here’s where self-compassion becomes the permission to step off your change action plan. It’s oh so easy to fall into the trap of keep pushing, keep striving on, keep going until we break. Allow yourself some downtime. Allow yourself the chance to break off and do something from your “me time” list. Allow yourself to invest in maintaining your well-being, your mind and your planned change.

Take a moment or two now to think about how you balance striving for your desired outcomes and your perfect “me time” activity. Are you at risk of pushing to breaking? How do you spot those moments and what are your “me time” revitalising activities?

PS looking for a good fiction read? Two books, I’ve recently loved, are “A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel” by Ruth Ozeki and “Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd. Got any recommendations for me?

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love your breasts

Two years ago, I discovered a hard lump in my breast. It showed up on an MRI of my shoulder as a jelly bean sized white shape.

Both my shoulder doctor and I stared at the screen. Shock. Horror. Gulp.

Within a week, I was visiting another specialist consultant, having my first mammogram and being reviewed by specialists in a one-stop breast clinic. After what seemed like the longest afternoon I’ve ever had, I got the all clear. I don’t think I really heard the rest of the conversation.

I was lucky, but too many of my family and friends haven’t been. Who will be #thelastone?

Breast Cancer hits men and women. It doesn’t care who you are, the life you’ve led or what your future holds. Treatments and diagnosis have come a long way since my great grandmother’s breast cancer journey and awareness of how to check yourself is much improved.

Why am I sharing this, instead of the usual #lifechanger or #careerchanger b-mails? October is Breast Cancer Month in the UK – I want you to make sure you know what to look for, what to feel for and if, God forbid, you find anything unusual, to go and get it checked.

Please take time out today to learn or refresh your knowledge on how to check your breasts – this Give your breasts a little TLC video from Breast Care Now makes it simple. Then make it a habit to regularly check and recheck yourself.

While you’re there, Please donate now Even the smallest amount makes a real difference.

If you or someone close to you is affected by breast cancer, my heart goes out to you. I know your pain, frustration and angst. Let’s beat this cruel disease today.

My ask of you this week – share this b-mail and help spread this knowledge now. Post it on your Facebook page or tweet a link (Heck the little buttons below make it easy.)

  • Kellie

    I’m so glad you got medical attention right away and can celebrate your results. I’m glad you shared your story. I live in Canada and as far as I know it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month every where. It it so nice to see so much promotion about this issue. Thanks for posting in DCW and for spreading the news. Kellie from Princess and the Yard Ape

  • Sarae

    Kellie, the more this is talked about the better so great to hear Canada is also promoting the TLC checks!

  • Daniela

    Thanks for sharing your story!

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accepting yourself is hard to do

When I was about 10 years old, my hair sprang up. It found its curl. Gone were the days of carry free ponytails, plaits and the like. Here to stay was a crown of wild curls. I tried straightening it. I tried potions, oils, creams. I wore it up in buns. I had it cut super short. I grew it long. The annual school photos created a gallery of wondrous looks and future cringe worthy snapshots as i fought who I am.

Those curls also brought something I didn’t appreciate for a long time. My curls say something about me. They are a perfect mirror of my character.

Yes, they have a mind of their own. Yes, they are full of energy. Yes, they are unique. Yes there are days I can’t believe what they are doing!

Having lost a lot of time trying to solve the problems they gave me and worrying about what others thought of me in an era of the “Rachel” cut and “Posh” bob, I gradually found my way to befriending them. Now, I can’t quite stop making a face when a hairdresser asks to dry my hair straight. I still get angsty if people want to touch it, but I do accept that the compliments are true and others can be jealous of how my hair moves.

OK so this isn’t the only thing I’ve had to work hard to accept and celebrate about being me. Oh how the list goes on. I suspect you have your own list. Some you are aware of and readily accept, others may be a work in progress.

Does my bum look big in this?
I feel like a fraud.
I’m not as good as she is.
I’ll never make it.

Holding on tight to those self doubts or shameful perceptions of yourself, makes life hard. Energy that could be channeled into your life or career changes gets burnt up on them.

Here’s my mindset must-haves for accepting yourself with grace:

  • Know that you are not alone. Even the most confident, out there, successful super hero has walked their own path to awareness and acceptance.
  • Know you are enough for whatever you want to be or do.
  • Set your attitude to positive; it’s your silver linings in these things that makes you special.
  • Turn the dial down; your intense focus is likely to be 100s of time more than anyone else’s.
  • Be wary of compare-itus. Of course, you’re not like others and you’re not on the same timeline.
  • Know your values and your view of what success and happiness is.

Next, you need to act. Seek out support and comfort. Your acceptance may mean subtle or significant shifts in yourself or others. Take daily, small steps towards acceptance.

Move a little more. Wear something with a smile. Act with a new sense of confidence. Try to hold your head a touch higher. And each day, you’ll find acceptance and peace with your unique and wonderful self.

Tell me, I’m curious, what have you had to come to terms with about yourself and how you made it. Or perhaps you’d like a hand in accepting a part of you, I’m here to be of help so let me know.

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find your silver lining

One of the things I’m known for is seeking the positive in whatever or whoever is around me. I’m sure there is a silver lining to be found. These shining wonders help us be brave, start new things, keep going and change our worlds.

Sounds easy right? Hmmmm not always. Tough situations, experiences and relationships exist in all our lives. Spotting your silver lining can be quick, but often needs time. Time to sit with it. Time to dwell. Time to grieve or let the frustration dissipate. Time for the lightbulb to go on.

That time finding your silver lining can encourage you to give up, think small or worse, develop mental blockers to achieving your potential futures. As a coach, I find this process of helping people, like you, shift their perspective, examine their mindset and find their silver lining a real motivator.

In coaching, we call it “reframing” – taking off the old frame, dusting or repairing our recalled experience and putting a new frame on it. What does this look and feel like in reality? It involves an open, curious, non-judgemental analysis by you with facilitated questions, observations and numerous hypotheses from me. Some coaches will follow set methods and others are more free form in style. Me? I flex to suit your preferences. Discovering a silver lining can be a bit of a shock to your system (Like a lit lightbulb – hot, when touched. Ouch!) and at the same, also like an energising leap forward!

When does reframing help? When you want to throw in the towel. When you can’t see your next step. When it feels like Groundhog day. When an experience keeps replaying in your mind, disturbing and distracting you. When your gut is telling you to stop avoiding something and focus on it.

How? Drop me a line – if we’re a good fit, let’s talk. If not, I’ve a wealth of fellow coaches with different expertise who could help you.

Or….. try asking yourself a few of these and see where that takes you:

What would you like to reframe? A behaviour? An experience?
What happened chronologically?
How would someone else describe it? (e.g. the other person, an observer, a CCTV camera, etc.)

What helped you? (Supported you, your actions or your resolve?)
What hindered you? (Self? Others? Resources?)
What “rules” were you applying or sticking to?

What do you need to let go of, in order to find your silver lining?
What is shining out at you now?

Now, describe what happened with your reframed perspective. Notice how you feel now. Lighter? Tension going from your neck, shoulders and forehead? Driven to move forward with your change? Hurray! Hang on there’s more I can offer you.

Some bonus extras – With your new reframe in mind:
What would you do now, if you knew you had all the resources you need?
What would you do now, if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Now, decide on your next step and do it!

I’d love to hear how you use this technique – it works on big and small, simple and complex, happy or sad. It also works well with a friend or safe colleague as a conversation. Share your newly identified silver linings in the comments 🙂

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