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spring clean for a simpler life

This week is the first official week of spring. There are tulips, daffodils and crocuses galore out in the gardens, bobbing their heads towards that warm, bright sunshine. They’ve spent winter quietly gathering their strength, waiting for the temperature to rise and then…. BAM. A burst of energy and they shoot out of the soil, rising up to their full potential.

What I love about these flowers is they keep it simple. No fancy ruffles, heavy perfumes, or complex leaves. Just simple green leaves and a splash of eye catching, smile inducing colour.

With that in mind, I want to look at how you can keep life simple by ditching the clutter and adding bold accents.  First I’m going to chunk up your 24/7s and then I want you to prioritise where you need to spring clean for max impact.

1. Clean and prepare your Body and Mind

Over-busy, buzzing brain keeping you awake or stressing you out? Externalise your thinking, to-dos, appointments, emotions and so on to clear our your brain. Spring weather is here (ish!) and that means less clothing, so add in some toning exercises into your activities and start pampering your skin.

Top tip: Use your smart phone or tablet: I’m a big fan of Evernote for lists, things to remember, reminders and bookmarks and my voice memo dictation app for downloading the moans, groans hmms and aaahs – stopping my mind whirring all night and saving my partner’s ears.

Top tip: Buy two water bottles (one for each hand), fill up and work out. Drink half of each and keep going. Drink the rest to clear your skin and rehydrate your muscles. Then get your toes pampered and remove that winter hair – yes, you know what I mean 😉

2. Do more purposeful work and business

Sometimes, work gets you bogged down with meaningless tasks, desks covered in post-it notes with messages, chewed pens and piles of papers. Lift yourself up. Decide what adds value and balance your time across the have-tos and the want-tos.

Top tip: Use Stephen Covey’s Urgent/Important four box grid, explained here by Brian Johnson of Entheos Academy

Top tip:  Unusual strategies to balance the must-do with the want-to tasks with Michael Bungay Stainers’ Great Work Manifesto.

Top tip: Feel stuck in a rut? Seek out new opportunities within your role or organisation AND outside. Can you learn something new, volunteer at a school or charity and why not work with a coach to design your career or business expansion.

3. Re-energise in your free time

When life seems to be running away with you, it’s easy to push all your fun time stuff out of your diary to catch-up on work, chores or all that other stuff you can’t leave alone.

Top tip: Put a price on what you love to do. How much is the rest, relaxation or stress reduction worth to you in the midst of your spring? £10? £100? £1,000?  Imagine if you had bought a train/concert/flight ticket for that value, would you give it up so easily?

Top tip: Try something different and outside your norm. Go to a roller disco, visit an exhibition, cook and eat something new, try stand-up comedy or karaoke. Or booking into a retreat or pampering session.

4. Declutter your home and surroundings

Whether your abode is shabby chic vintage or minimalistic white, it needs to be somewhere you are comfortable and relaxed. That’s pretty hard when it’s messy, laundry hanging from the curtain rails, bills and statements stacked up on the dinner table, old clothes stuffed in the back of your wardrobe and drawers.

Top tip: Arrange a swapping party – invite your friends and colleagues to a themed swapping evening or afternoon. Everyone has to bring at least 5 items (clothes, shoes, bags, candlesticks, cookbooks, ornaments and knickknacks, whatever) and lay on some refreshments.

Top tip: Empty a clutter cupboard out one item at a time. Add them to one of 5 piles: gift (ie suitable for a specific friend), charity (donate to your favourite charity’s shop), recycle (fabric, cds, paper, shoes, etc.), trash (stuff beyond repair or passing on) and lastly, keep. Once done, go through the keep pile again and ask yourself “do I need this and do I want this?” Get a single “no” and the item needs to go on a different pile.

Your spring clean needs to be accompanied with a desire to change. To create space, time and the right mindset, you gotta keep the rest simple to avoid distraction and excuses. So roll up your sleeves, don your marigolds (or roller boots!) and get dirty to simplify your life for spring!

Which area do you need to focus on to create a simple, yet bold life this spring? How’re you going to tackle it? Share your plans in the comments.

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ditch distraction and get focused! Part 2

Missed part 1 of this duo? Read it here and ditch your distractions with new habits.

How are those new habits helping? Still finding those distractions slipping back in? You need part 2 of our strategy: to clarify your “why?” As in Why I am doing this? Or you might know it as the “what’s in it for me?” question.

You may know the reasons why this change is important to you –  I want see a bit more rigour in them to ensure they deliver focus and results for you.

Dan Pink’s Drive book pulls together tonnes of research on motivation to conclude the “carrot and stick” method no longer works, but true motivation comes from mastery, autonomy and purpose.

I want to work on the last one, Purpose in this strategy (although you’ll find the other 2 at the bottom as a bonus 🙂 ) Pink considers purpose to be the context in which we are. I think it’s a combo of the reason you do something and your sense of resolve or determination to achieve it.

I want you to pin down your change’s purpose, so you can use it to vanquish any pop-up distractions and make progress. This might be at the highest level or something more detailed; for example adopt a health conscious lifestyle to ensure you live to a ripe old age vs. eat your 5 a day.

Take a blank sheet of paper. List (or draw) the positive impacts and benefits of your change in all aspects of your life: career or business, play, friends, family, partner, finances, health, personal growth, physical environment and so on.

Got them all? Ask yourself “what else?” and see what comes. Ask it again and again until you’re totally out.

Now sit back and review what you’ve produced. anything really do nothing for you? Cross them out. (Hey they may be benefits, but if they don’t give you that special feeling, consider them a freebie).

Looking at what’s left, what leaps off the page for you? Makes you grin? Ignites the fire to get moving? Mark these with a little star or underline/circle them in another colour. You just found the elements of your purpose.

Complete the following statement first for your big high level goal and then the mini chunked up goals between here and there:

I am/I do …..…….… (describe your goal here) ………………..,

so that ………… (add in the attention grabbers here ………..

Make sure to get specific in your words – are the five senses in there? Look, feel, hear, smell and taste. OK the last 2 can be tricky for some goals, just try it. You’ll remember a while back, I did a 56 mile charity bike ride and was finding fitting in all the training hard; I don’t like riding at dawn – I need coffee then and after a long day with clients, it was easy to be seduced by social plans. So my statement read like this:

“I am cycling this crazy distance for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, so that I raise record donations to kick blood cancer in the teeth, increase my long distance stamina and can eat more yummy mango-tango energy bars and bonus: I can suck it out my teeth when it gets tough.”

It worked: 30-60 minutes every other day on the turbo trainer, longer weekend rides out of town and a kick-ass 4 hour 31 minute ride gave me loads more long distance capability, a few empty wrappers and just short of £500 raised!

Once your statement is crafted, display it or a visualisation of where you do you change activity. If distractions creep up on you, deploy your new habits (b-mail part 1 ) and repeat your purpose statement to get focused.

Keep up those new habits and layer on your purpose statement – Post how this 2 part strategy tackles your distractions and delivers you focus in the comments and would love it if you could share your statements too.

And for those of you who like to get the full picture and I’m at risk of leaving you hanging on Pink’s theory. Bonus b-mail content to ensure you get that change wagon really rolling!

Mastery: We thrive when we’re at our best, hence becoming the go-to girl or guy or delivering to über high quality give us a kick. Now relate this to your change activity.

  • Collate a list of your “how tos” to get your change activity/activities completed from as many sources, people, books, etc. as you can.
  • Score each either
    • 1 – I suck at this
    • 2 – I can do this ok
    • 3 – I’m great at this
  • Ditch any 1s or if key, delegate or seek intensive guidance
  • Work hard to lift 2s with some guidance to make them 3s
  • Run with those 3s and show us what you got!

Autonomy: Like being told not only what to do, but also how, when and with who to do it? Get your goat? Ruffle you feathers? Yep. Me too. You got to make it your own – no one wants a carbon copy same goal or outcome; you’re unique – own it.

  • Go back to the 3s, how does your way look like or how could your way differ?
  • Prioritise your options and choose the “hot to” way that most inspire and excites you.

Bring it all together – Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose. Now get those activities in your diary, visualise your success regularly and chart your progress. Enjoy!

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life’s lemons and self acceptance

You’re working away on adding that important stretch to your life, everything is going well. You’re moving towards your goal or new role or better fitness and then……BAM! You’re thrown a lemon that knocks you off track; maybe a request from a friend or boss, or an injury, or a big bill.

What do you do? How do you handle it? Hair pulling? Nail biting? Or perhaps you pull up your socks, push through and add that extra thing or bunch of tasks onto your chocker to-do list? Even when you know it’s going to exhaust you.

I love a motivated person as much as you and I’m always thrilled to hear how you’re heading forward to the great things you want. I’m equally saddened by seeing people drive themselves into the ground, making them sick and all out of energy to actually enjoy their successes.

So this week, a simple message: take it easy on yourself and add a bit of acceptance in your life.

I’m not saying give up or that you should just accept your “reality” as it is. Nope – you know me better than that: I’m all for adding change and stretch to create the life you want and I absolutely want you to enjoy it once you get there!

That means sometimes being a little patient with what’s been thrown at you in the moment and accepting you can’t be all things in all situations. You’re human, not super human and have just 24 hours in the day, a bunch of responsibilities on your shoulders and people you care for. Deal with whatever has come up, make sure you’ve fully sorted it and come back to your plans as soon as you’re able.

If life is throwing you a few lemons, choose to make something of them. Lemonade is always refreshing and best enjoyed after you complete a challenging task or action.

What lemons have you caught and how are you accepting yourself this week? I’d love to hear how you’re achieving a balance and keeping your focus on the real goals you have.

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what’s your big picture?

Sometimes, it’s super easy to get stuck down in the details of everyday life and miss what’s going on at a higher level. You know the saying “can’t see the wood for the trees”, right? Ever felt that way?

I have often seen this happening for truly amazing folks, who for a variety of reasons can’t pull up, breathe and see what’s around them. As a coach, I soak in what I see, hear and sense from them to find a question or observation to help spot the wood. Today, I want to share a simple way to get started, that my clients find useful.

Grab your pen and paper and find somewhere relaxed and disturbance free. Divide the paper in half – top and bottom or left and right – your call.

Let’s take the first half – this is the doom and gloom space. Ask yourself what/who drains my energy? What/who makes me want to stay away? What/who is out of sync with my ambitions and values? Jot it down – big and small, it’s all valid. Be as broad as you can – work, life, relationships, hobbies, socialising, etc. If you run out of steam, ask yourself what else? Note it, ask the same question again and note it…you get the idea.

Move to the second half, the joy and laughter space. Now ask what/who really makes me feel energised and passionate? What/who makes time fly by without me noticing? What/who matches my values and principles? If you dry out, ask “what else?” – keep going until you’re fully out.

Look at both side by side: how can you turn down the doom and gloom and turn up the joy and happiness side? I like to take a big fat black pen to the bad stuff and a big green highlighter to the good 🙂

Now, the wood should be starring back at you from trees in its big picture glory!

Want to develop your joy further and ditch the gloom? Why not book a session with me to get the benefits of a second mind, new perspectives and a good prune of your trees? Head over and drop me a line.

Right now, I’d love you to share in the comments: what are the joy and laughter things in your life? Let us all enjoy them here!!

  • Ritu of The Lifester

    Sarae, I LOVED doing this exercise. Really effective to lift myself out of the panic of holding my first event for 20-somethings and dealing with the “OMG my marketing efforts are not working, what should do?” and the endless minutes spent on Facebook amounting to nothing. I forgot to look at the positive side: 15 RSVPs, a couple of tickets sold, amazing venue, the promise of the pint afterwards 🙂
    Thank you so much. Love, Ritu

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