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10 things to do in December

Whilst part of me can’t quite believe how 2014 has whizzed passed, another is hoping to savour its final month and all the joy December can bring.

I also know it’s a time poor month as we’re often pulled between work deadline, gift hunting, socialising with friends and family and our own wellbeing. So I’m jumping straight in with my top 10 things I’ll be doing this December – join me if you like!

1. Plan your work down

Nothing sucks more than having that nagging little voice in your head over the festive season that reminds you of some pressing piece of work or a deadline or something hanging on to your to-do list.

My tactic is to plan it down. “Do what Sarae?” I deliberate seek end points or at least a convenient pause in tasks and assignments or negotiate deadlines that mean I get real clear head space to focus on the fun stuff. Another tactic is to do a small work binge to get ahead of myself – I find this more satisfying if I’m honest.

2. Set a budget

Avoid that mid-January financial black hole when your bills and statements arrive, workout what cash you have saved or spare for December’s little additional spaces. Gifts, travel tickets or petrol, drinks and dinners all quickly add up.

Alternatively, host an event and ask people to bring something along – and not just a bottle – why not some nibbles, something sweet, a game, a playlist or a decoration.

3. Fit in some “me time”

A long bath, a good read or a bike ride. Whatever works for you to recharge your body and mind. These precious and important moments often get squeezed out and we start to feel it as short tempers, sore backs and overeating pile on.

Maybe try chunking it up – shorter higher impact hits of “me time”. Do 3 x 10 mins online fitness classes instead of the hour one down the gym ( I like these ones.) A pre bedtime pamper, rather than the full blow salon event. Time with a new album or an audio book on the move.

4. Treat your body with respect

With all those yummy season foods popping up at meetings, coffee catch-ups and pre dinner, it’s easy to find our stomachs and bodies affected. Waistbands a bit tighter, not sleeping properly and skin or hair bad days can all be the knock-on effect of too much chocolate, alcohol and processed foods.

Diarise healthy eating and drinking days or take a packed lunch or late afternoon snack to boost your body and brain. And don’t forget plenty of water! Dehydration slow your mind, decreases your energy level and zap your mood.

5. Get crafty

Make your own gifts or decorations with friends over a glass of Glühwein or mince pies with kid. I’m being inspired by Martha Stewart and Delicious magazine for foodie makes. For decorations and wrappings, I’m a big fan of Lia Griffiths’ downloads (ok so a bit of cheating helps those of us with two left thumbs.) I’m hunting down pine cones to make those cute owls!

Or perhaps book into a class? These are local to me, eat and mess’ festive bakes and Sewitover’s stocking class, but Google can find you something close to home.

6. Make the most of seasonal extras

Think about things that happen only at this time of year – a carol concert to sing yourself silly, a dance off or fairground. Since spending a winter living Munich, I’m easily persuaded to go to a Christmas Market and ice-skating rinks. (My favourite one in London is at Hampton Court, just so stunningly gorgeous).

And shout your heart out at a pantomime….. He’s behind you!!!!!

7. Decorate Declutter your home

A lot or a little, this is a chance to put away (or give to charity) any trinkets, art and books that you no longer really love and to do a spot of decluttering – think of it as making space for new ones 😉 And while you’re at it, maybe it’s time for those cupboards or the top of the wardrobe or under the stairs….you know the place.

Take unwanted, good condition clothes to a homeless shelter – you’ll make their work easier and someone else’s winter warmer.

Oh and get a tree – any size works. And a star. And tinsel. And some baubles. And twinkling lights. And…….

8. Give back to your favourite charity or community

An extra pair of hands can really help out a shelter, charity shop or church concert. Delivering a goodie bag or hamper to a local old dear can bring a smile to their day.

Adopt a granny or monkey scheme exist all over the world and for a few pounds or dollars a month, you can make a difference. Ethical charity gifts could also be the solution to those hard to buy for people. Most charities offer something – you might try this UK specialist site for one stop shopping – I’ve sent library books, randy rams and school places to family and friends before.

9. Be generous and wholehearted

The festive season can be hard going for many of us or our closest people. It could be the first Christmas and family gathering after a sad event. It could be an anniversary of an unpleasant event or bring back a bad memory from previous festivities. Equally, it could be something non related to the season – life dishing out a bit of the rubbish stuff.

Regardless of whether it’s ourselves or others that finding it hard going, it’s so easy to get hooked into frustration, blurt out something or step out of the situation all together.

Take a leaf out of Brené Brown‘s book – consider this an opportunity to offer wholehearted empathy and compassion. Don’t shy away from the fears, pain or vulnerability we’re sharing. Pause. Connect at a human level. Express your appreciation of the emotion. Ask or offer help – a daily chore, some time out, a thoughtful note or quote. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive nor fix the issue. Knowing you’re not alone, you’re loved and worthy of love is enough to help change how you feel.

10. Review your 2014 and look ahead to 2015

OK that’ a chunky one – too much for this b-mail 🙂 I’ll write more on this next week and provide some templates to get you moving. My one ask of you is that you start to reflect, reminisce and ponder how 2014 has been for you.

So, tell me what’s on your December to do list? Fun? Work? Friends? Share your top ones here so we can join in! Or perhaps you’re concerned about how the month will run – let me know, my compassion is yours.

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perfect planners for 2015

OK so I’m a sucker for stationery. I love the smell of a new book, when you flick the pages in front of your face. I’ll go weak at the knees over beautiful pens. And don’t get me started on magnets, postcards and post-it notes.

What I do know keeps me and my big plans on track is a system all contained in one place.

It’s no secret that I love Evernote for work and family projects, but sometimes you just can’t beat a real “hold it in your hands” book – the perfect planner and I truly believe by committing your intentions, goals and ideas on paper can set you for achieving them. Why? The physical and mental act of writing it down, creates both the logic and the emotion to drive you on to bigger, braver, bolder things in life.

Here’s some of my 2015 favourites – is your perfect planner in here?

planners WDDPUsing Whitney English’ Day Planner, you’ll never drop a task, forget an appointment or miss out on a key call  – buy yours here. Not sure, sign up and get a pdf of a single day straight to your inbox.

Planner PP

Passion Planner was build for a place of need and helps you set yourself up for a year that’s on track with your passion. Yep, clues in the name. Buy yours here: A4 and A5 sizes available to fit your handwritten (or your bag). Trial both sizes to get your perfect fit 🙂

Planner DGJ

Another of my favourites taps into the day to day plus helps you focus on goals whilst providing littles pieces of insight, motivation and inspiration. Buy your Dailygreatness Journal here. They also have gorgeous training and yoga journals too, if a new health, fitness or wellbeing trend is in stored for you in 2015.

planner MGD

I just love the cover on this one by MI Goals – gives me that little extra ooomph reading it before I even open up and get into its helpful structured pages. Inside you’ll find quotes, great layouts and clean design. Two places to buy – Worldwide here or if you’re in Australia, go direct.

Planner BLD

Lead a double life and seeking a better work/life balance? This is the one for you. Left page for one, Right page for the other – no more double booking, simple at a glance harmony. Busy Life Diary – buy it with the organising stickers an tabs and save cashola 🙂

Planner DMP

Discovered the Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte? Yes, then you’ll love this – The accompanying daily diary and journal. A Mini blaster of DM magic each day! Order yours express here. Oh not discovered the Desire Map? Order both together and save on P&P.

Planner Personal P

Fancy having a go at designing your own planner? You can with Personal Planner – you get to choose the look, content, layout, colours, size and so on. Want a different colour? Check. Want to personalise it? Check. Want to use your own image? Check. Seriously, you can have it any way you like!

Planner IHO

Another beautiful layout and bright, bright colours can be found with IHeart Organizing’s day and week planner – the joy is you can get a personalised cover and print it any size you like to fit your filofax, mini ringbinder or lever arch (ok the last one might be a bit over the top!)

Want more freedom in how you create your layout, yet still have structure? I like bullet journalling – it’s low hassle, flexible and you can use ANY book you like. Learn how here with its creator.

Oh and yes, don’t forget Evernote – your online, go with you on your multiple devices, wonder tool 🙂

What kind of planner or tool are you going to use to maximise your 2015? I’d love to discover a few more to try out!!

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what’s holding you back

I began b-elastic to inspire, encourage and support people, like you, who want to change the rest of their lives into something more meaningful, purposeful and happy. I’d worked within a variety of organisations helping employees develop to their full potential; at some point in that journey, they’d hit a block. Something began to hold them back and I know I’ve had to step over some blockers to move forward towards the life I want to lead. It’s a journey – some parts go smoothly, other come with patchy turbulence and others require a rethink on the route.

Here are the 5 common blockers I’ve seen myself and others tackle in order to achieve their goals. Which one is holding you back?

1. Starting

Take the first step. Pass GO. Play the first chord.

Hmm, sometimes it’s not that simple. Beginning can be hard. You might be racked with nerves, unsure of yourself or your decisions or perhaps you’re outside your comfort zone. Getting going will bring you motivation and energy to take the second step and beyond.

Ask yourself:

  • how can I put my fears aside?
  • why do I want this?
  • can I break down this into smaller steps?

2. Continuing

You’ve been working really hard. Spare time is now stretch time. You’ve spent cash, missed nights outs and ditch your old ways. But the results aren’t coming as fast or smoothly as you expected. Your motivation is down, your energy levels are low. You can’t bring yourself to focus on your goal.

Ask yourself:

  • what will life be like when I crack this?
  • am I looking after my wellbeing? (think sleep, rest and recuperation)
  • will I regret stopping now?

3. Changing

Your actions are delivering results. Your behaviours, habits and activities are lining up with your goals, ambitions and vision of your future. Great stuff! The only thing is people are starting to notice the “new” you. Eeek!

Ask yourself:

  • are you attaching un-proportional importance to them and their opinions?
  • are you happy with where your changes are taking you?
  • are you happy with what your changes making you?

4. Failing

You’ve planted your face firmly in ground. Ouch. That stings. Whether a large public screw-up or a small setback, you’re likely to find your confidence a bit sore round the edges and yourself pondering about what next or is it worth it.

Ask yourself:

  • are you human? (Yes? So, let it go as Elsa would say)
  • what can you learn from this?
  • how are you going to approach this differently next time?

5. Succeeding

Wahoooooo! The end is in sight. The checkered flag is waving in the distance. Your new life, career, health and relationships are waiting for you. Oh. What’s that? Cold feet. Doubts creeping in. No longer sure this was the right thing – you could have done all this for nothing better.

Ask yourself:

  • why did you start out on this route in the first place?
  • how can you celebrate and mark your achievements?
  • how can you use this progress to motivate you to achieving your goals?

I hope knowing you’re not alone in finding blockers along your journey and find some leverage in the questions, I’ve suggested. Nor do I want to trivialise the angst, tears and frustrations blockers can bring. I know those too. Keep moving and get round, under, over or through them – the future is waiting for you. And boy! It’s going to be brilliant.

Jump into the comments box – I’d love to know your experience of blockers on your journey. What’s your tactic to moving on? 

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decisions, decisions

Starter or dessert? Movie or a play? Beach spa or mountain retreat? Internal role or join a new employer? Stay on the couch or a jog round the park?

Life is full of decisions. Some are easy to answer. Others require a bit more investigation and thinking.

But some…… well, they get you stuck. Going round in loops, seeking out an encyclopaedia of information, gathering opinions, creating stacks of analysis from every angle possible or potentially, you might choose to avoid the decision, ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t need to be made.

The good news is all of those things are normal human reactions to decision making. Phew. The bad news is that there is no one single, perfect, failsafe method to get you out of being stuck. However, I do think there are somethings that you can do to improve your decision making comfort and success.

b-mail: decisions, decisions

Check your responsibility

Ask yourself honestly “is this a decision I have to make?” If that’s a no, then you’re carrying someone else’s monkey. Let it go.

By caring for others, we can absorb their emotions, challenges and explore how we can make their lives or situation better. It’s a wonderful, kind, generous use of your energy – but only if they want your support and help in making their own decision.

Also check in that you’re seeking to resolve the right questions and what you can control or influence. Assumption is not your friend in decision making and could lead you down a rabbit hole or into a maze of confusion.

Open your mind

You may have heard of “analysis paralysis” – the whirlwind circling of being driven to collect facts, details and evidence and then review it from every conceivable angle, yet not quite getting to a conclusion – rather finding more avenues to travel down first.

Finding the right amount of insight prior to making a decision is tricky. For example, you may be confident to move ahead based on a gut or heart reaction. Or you may feel the need to do more in-depth research. This will depend on how significant the decision is. Deciding to have an extra helping of dessert may be a positive emotional reward for a milestone achievement so gut happiness alone works. What if it could be breaking of a new healthy eating habit? Then combining the emotional and rational together could help make a more long-term decision.

My suggestion would be to find a balance of emotional comfort and logical satisfaction for all major decisions – the ones that impact the key areas of life, relations, work and finances.

Visit alternative universes

Many times when we’re making a decision, we get stuck in the impacts on the present or in how similar decisions went in the past. What about the future? The aftermath of decisions beyond the first wave are overlooked.

Try this approach: taking each potential option, fast forward time to 1 year, 3 years or 5 years ahead. Then create a “video” in your mind, write the story or draw the setting of how things are if you had taken one specific option. Include the colours, sounds, emotions, people and places in as much detail as you can. Replay and notice your reaction here in the moment. Do this with the different options.

This type of future visioning can help inform your decisions today.

Set your end time

If you aren’t given a firm deadline to decide by, create your own. Mark it in your diary. Post it on the fridge door. Adding certainty to the decision point, enhances your brain’s comfort levels and helps to prevent decision avoidance.

Leaving it open ended encourages more turning in circles, avoidance of making the decision and typically, greater stress levels!

I’m interested to know what types of decisions get you stuck and how you move ahead? Ask me a question on how to get unstuck or share a different way.

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at my best…..

In the strengths series, I shared a number of different ways of discovering, growing and utilising your strengths. (Check them out here – part 1, part 2 and part 3) I’ve got one more new shiny tool to share with you – I’ve used it with a couple of clients and coaching peers recently and it’s getting great results with lots of “lightbulb” moments.

Have you ever been asked “When are you at your best?”. If so, how did you answer it? Could you answer it authentically? Or did you give a response that you thought the questioner would approve of or like?

Perhaps you’re looking to express yourself in your biography, online profiles or branding more clearly? Or you want to develop a balanced work/life aligned to being the best you, but not sure where to start?

Are you part of a team struggling to move ahead or find the best ways of working together?

At my best cardsMay I introduce to you the “at my best” card deck. 48 cards put together by Work Positive, a positive psychology consultancy; having researched and validated their approach across fellow psychologists and conducted regional tests with volunteers, these lovely cards were born.

They are double-sided; an image on one side and a word on the other. No definitions, no explorations, no directions.

I’m finding clients struggle to keep their hands off the cards – somehow they have this magical attraction. I love the exercise suggestions from Work Positive on using the cards and find a few simple open questions get the ball rolling.

And using both sides of the cards enables us to draw upon how the images and words speak or have meaning to us.

My expression of “flexible” or my interpretation of the cute puppy image might be different to yours. That’s ok and for me as a coach, that’s the joy of these cards – they draw from you, words, images, memories, experiences and more that speak to you being at your best from all aspects of your life.

Whether used with a team or in one-to-one or group coaching, these cards provide a basis, a language and a safe way to create your authentic “at my best” response. Results I’ve seen include more engaging, compelling copy on entrepreneurs’ websites, job offers received and teams increased their awareness and appreciation of others. With every use of the “at my best” cards, energy levels rise, smiles emerge and shoulders open out as confidence and motivation grows.

Where could you use great confidence, motivation, clarity and inspiration in your life, career or business? Shout ’em out in the comments – I’d especially like to hear how you’d use this new info?

I’d love to help you achieve all of those things using these brilliant cards – take advantage of my introductory offer for a 15 minute Skype initial consult and 60 minute coaching face to face session in London for only £80(inc VAT). Hop over to drop me a short note on the challenge you’d like to apply your “at my best” to and we’ll get started!

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