No one is born an expert

Characature of Albert Einstein

No one is born an expert.  Not even this guy!

One of the biggest buzz-kills to motivation is the false belief that we have to be brilliant at something.   It’s as if we can’t fail, otherwise “what’s the point?”.

If you recognise that you have high expectations of yourself whenever you attempt something new, you might have had these thoughts before too.

Putting so much pressure on ourselves from the outset can be a barrier for attempting to learn new skills or put ourselves out there.  We fear looking like a novice or beginner, or worry that other people might notice our weaknesses.

We all want to feel successful at new things, especially if we put time and effort into something.

But if we’re willing to accept being a learner for a while, it can really help when we feel rewarded for our hard work by noticing our improvements and progress.  These incremental gains can help to build motivation and give us the incentive to keep going.

Go on, dare to try something new…and be willing to learn along the way!

 

Photo credit:  Andrew George via Unsplash.com

Motivation isn’t like a light switch

An image of a light switch that can be flicked on and off

How do you view motivation?  Is it all or nothing?  Either all ‘go’ or all ‘no’.  It can be helpful to remember, motivation isn’t like a light switch.

We can easily talk ourselves out of things when we feel less motivated,  and the more we do it, the more difficult it can be to overcome it.

If you can think back to a time where you’ve struggled to get motivated with something, can you remember how you felt about yourself?  I’m guessing it was pretty negatively.

We can start to blame ourselves for things going wrong and the more we avoid situations or taking action, then we are at risk of starting to see ourselves as a failure.   This type of thinking gets us believing that motivation is something we either have or don’t have. And if we don’t have it in that moment, we blame ourselves.

In reality, there are a lot of different factors that impact on our motivation, and it’s normal to feel more or less motivated at different times.  Even when it’s something important or enjoyable.

So if you notice that your motivation is a little unpredictable, go easy on yourself.

Photo credit:  Steve Johnson via Unsplash.com

How conscious are you about your behaviour?

An image of a water wheel

How conscious are you about your behaviour?  

If you’re someone who is actively going after a goal, then you are probably already aware of the impact of your behaviour.   You should have an idea of the input required to get you to where you want to be, and are taking steps to modify your behaviour to get you there.

But often we go about our daily lives, just ‘getting things done’.  We might not give a great deal of thought to it.

In CBT, the role of our behaviour is key to understanding not only why we have certain issues, but also how we might be maintaining them.

In other words, how we behave might be contributing to the fact that the problem doesn’t seem to be getting better.

You might notice for example that if you are feeling low in mood, then you might start cancelling plans or you might not have the motivation to do things you used to enjoy.  Things feel more of a chore than usual.

Or alternatively, you might recognise these change in behaviours as an indicator that you’ve been taking on too much and need to rebalance.

This month, I’m looking at some of the common behaviours that can have a big impact on how we feel…whether we’re conscious of them or not.

Identifying behaviours that might be impacting or holding us back, is a key first step in making change.  But with a few small tweaks, they can make all the difference.

 

Photo by Drew Bae via Unsplash.com

 

 

 

 

Where Is Fear Leading You?

Do you feel that you are being led, rather than leading?

If so, this could be an indication that fear is running the show.

Sometimes we’re aware of it, but often we’re not.  There are so many fears that can impact on how we feel, without us knowing.

Fear of failure, fear of getting it wrong, fear of looking silly or incompetent. These are all quite common.

But so is a fear of being stuck, a fear of not reaching our potential or getting left behind.

Fear in that sense can be helpful. Because it highlights what will happen if we don’t act.  In other words, we’ll stay exactly where we are.  And that can be the scariest thought of all.

Fear is there to teach us something

So don’t be scared of fear.  Fear can be good.  Use it to motivate and move yourself.  Use it to make positive changes towards the life you want. Not the life you feel stuck in.

As Susan Jeffers famously wrote, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

 

Photo credit: Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

How To Have A Happier New Year

An image of a calendar page for the month of January

Firstly, Happy New Year to you all!  It’s that time when we sincerely wish each other all the best for the coming 12 months.  And you may be feeling some trepidation about what’s in store, after the last two years.

Here are some ideas of how to have a happier new year.

Firstly, take stock of how the last twelve months have been for you.  For lots of us, 2021 was another challenging year and the thought of turning the calendar page may be welcome.

But if we’re feeling uncertain or anxious about the future, it can be helpful to give a few moments thought to remind ourselves what we’ve gone through.

Secondly, be patient with where you are right now.  New Year is traditionally a time for resolutions and goals, but if you’re feeling depleted and exhausted, then this isn’t the time to make any life changing decisions or set yourself huge challenges.

If you know that there are some changes you want to make in the coming year, start to think about what that might look like.  Why are you wanting to make those changes? How do you want to feel? Focussing on the general ‘big picture’ can help to clarify our goals.  For example, if you’re feeling really frustrated and stuck at work, do you need a new challenge or project rather than making a career change.  Or could you investigate starting a potentially profitable hobby or side hustle whilst you’re still working, to test out how your idea of being your own boss would feel.

Starting small is a good way to go at this time of year.  It’s a lot less pressure than going all-out on something, and you’ll still be making progress.

Likewise if you want to make some lifestyle changes, such as exercising more or eating healthier.  Start by making small incremental changes each week, commit to doing 15mins exercise a day for example, so that you get in the habit of working out at a certain time and then increase it gradually.

It’s estimated that up to 80% of New Years resolutions fail, and that is mainly due by people trying to do too much too soon, and becoming despondent when they can stick to the strict routine or cut things out too quickly.

Taking some time during January to get really clear on how you want to feel by 31st December this year, can help to cement that vision and give you the motivation to get started. And keep going.

Be good to yourself this year, there are still 11 months left to fulfil those New Year wishes!

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

How Do We Transition Through Change?

An image showing the stages of transition from chrysalis to butterfly

Change.  We all experience it, whether we like it or not. 

And even when it is change of our own choice, it can still be difficult to transition through it.  

This month, I’ll be looking at the theme of ‘change’, because it seems that no matter how often we experience change, or how welcome it is, there are still blocks and barriers that we might encounter…or even put up for ourselves.   Even when we know change is going to bring something positive.  So why do we do it?

There are a number of models of change, and what they all have in common is that they talk about the various stages that we go through, if we want to make change work.  You might recognise some of these phases in some of the situation you’ve encountered:

Pre-contemplation

This is the phase before change,  when we’re either blissfully unaware or blinded to the fact that we need to change.  But we are most likely feeling the impact, either we feel stuck or we’re getting negative feedback from our life, which alerts us to the fact that something needs to  change.

Contemplation

This is where we start to think about what changes we need to make.  And more importantly, we  start to identify the positive things that could come from making change.  If you’re looking to make a change in habit or behaviour, this is really key, because focussing on what we will gain  can be a strong motivator.

Preparation

The preparation stage is exactly how it sounds. This is when we start planning, research and collecting information in readiness for making change.  Being prepared is great, as it helps us to set realistic timelines or goals, but it can be an easy phase to get stuck in.  We can be in danger of putting all our time and energy into planning, without actually getting started.

Action

By this stage, we’re already on the way to taking direct action towards our goals.  Even if we start small, once we get started, it’s much easier for progress to build.  We might need to experiment or take baby steps at first.  The important thing is that we keeping moving forward.

Maintenance

Another key step in making lasting change, is being able to maintain it.  How often do we aim for something, then lose momentum once we’ve achieved it?  If our main outcome is reaching a specific goal, it can be very easy to let our habits and routine slip.  Having a plan for maintaining change can help to keep you on track.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be looking at how we can make change work positively for us, and how we can deal with the blocks that can get in the way.

Photo credit:  Suzanne D Williams via Unsplash.com

How To Keep The Holiday Vibes Going

A beach scene recreated at home

When you’re on to a good thing, you want to keep it going, right?  But how can we keep the holiday vibes going?

I posted before the summer and asked about what memories you wanted to create, and hopefully you’ve got a few good ones to keep you going.

But the back to work/school routine and shorter days could well be starting to feel a drudge by now.

Here are a few ideas on how to relive the feel-good summer vibes, if the sunny memories are starting to fade.

Switch up your routine. 

Now we’re back in the old routine, you might need to inject a bit of novelty into your week to avoid things becoming same-y.  Try and think about how different your day to day routine looks when your on holiday….leisurely breakfasts or relaxing mealtimes, getting outside for walks, exploring new places.

Think about how you can incorporate this – even if it’s just planning a leisurely weekend brunch or walk, if the weekdays are too hectic.

Become a local tourist. 

Being restricted to our local areas during lockdown meant that we had to be a bit more creative about where we visit.  Perhaps there are some local attractions or activities that you’ve always meant to explore.  Or perhaps you’ve always fancied fruit or pumpkin picking?  Check out what’s happening in your local area and get some things in the diary.  Having fun things to look forward to can help when you’re having a dull week.

Dream on Dreamer. 

If your feet are itching to stuck into some warm sand, rather than trek around your local park in the rain, you can spend some time daydreaming of distant shores.  You might want to create a visualisation that you can use during meditation…you can imagine the palm trees rustling in the breeze as you’re swaying in a hammock, or feel the warm heat from the sun on your skin.  And if you want to make it a reality, why not start a vision board and plan your ideal break…sometimes planning an adventure can be just as much fun as going.

Immerse your senses. 

Recreate your favourite sounds, smells and flavours from your most memorable trips.  Make up a playlist of your favourite holiday tunes.  Buy a room fragrance or skincare scented with exotic florals or woody tones.  Research your favourite dishes and get cooking (or drinking, cheers!).

Some really simple little ideas like these can help to inject a little joy into the everyday, and can really give you a boost when you’re feeling a bit dull.

 

Photo credit: @lionel_gustave via Unsplash.com

Why not have a go this month?

Motorcycles with learner plates

Did you know that September is the Festival of Learning’s ‘Have A Go’ month?  In celebration of lifelong learning and self development, it’s encouraging people to try new things.

I have long been an advocate for lifelong learning and I believe that our education shouldn’t stop when we leave school.

And whether you consider learning to be education in the formal sense, such as gaining qualifications etc., or whether you are interested in learning more about yourself and how you can get the best out of life, education and evolving is key.

Just as the world around us evolves, so do we. So should we.  We’re not the same people we were when we were younger.   Situations and experiences shape us.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

We are constantly evolving.

The positive side of that is that we have the opportunity to choose what we become.  Our resources may be limited at times and we may need support to do it, but ultimately, we have the power to change our experience.

And without learning, we stagnate.  Physically and mentally.  We lose motivation and desire quickly if we’re not stimulated and engaged with the world or the people around us.  And it can be difficult to get it back.

Trying new things brings novelty, and our brains love novelty.

Research has shown that we are much more likely to stick at a new habit or skill if it involves something new.

During lockdown, many people have struggled with motivation, and after months of being stuck at home without routine or structure, it can be hard to get yourself back out there again.  So trying something new could be one way to take small steps.

Whether it’s a new activity we’ve never tried before, or perhaps doing something familiar in a different way, we can build our interest back up.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to have a go at?  Perhaps a new skill or ambition, or just greater awareness of self?  Something to improve your health or wellbeing, or open doors to new opportunities?

Sign up for a class, join a group, try a taster event…you never know where it might lead!

Photo by The Ride Academy on Unsplash

What Is It Costing You To Remain Where You Are?

Woman sat in contemplation what is it costing you to remain where you are

Do you need to consider what it’s costing you to remain where you are?

I’ve been looking at the theme of living with purpose this month, and for the May newsletter I’ve created a mini guide with hints and tips of how you can live life with more purpose (click on the link here if you haven’t signed up yet!)

This week, I’m looking at what it is costing us to remain where we are.

It’s very easy to get lost in the ‘day to day’, especially with everything that’s been going on during the past year, and we can drift or lose focus.

And as the weeks roll into months, and roll into years, the time always passes quicker when we are head down, getting on with it.

Perhaps after months of lockdown, you’ve had lots of time for reflection and questions – I know I certainly have. And I don’t want to go back to how life was before.

If you recognise that you are feeling unmotivated, or lack confidence or inspiration, you may well be feeling stuck.   And it’s likely that you may have lost, or outgrown, your purpose.

By not having a purpose to work towards, we can lose focus. But it doesn’t matter how big or small that purpose is.  Purpose doesn’t need to be this huge achievement or ambition…it can mean being better than we were yesterday, or last week, or last year.

It’s recognising that we want different.  We want better.  We deserve better.

Often we don’t notice until we hit that wall, asking ‘Is this it?’.

The very act of recognising means that we are intentionally noticing what’s going on. Maybe you haven’t done that for a while either?

The first step in getting unstuck is noticing that you are stuck.  Because then you can create the vision of where you want to be instead.

Photo credit: by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

 

How You Can Get Unstuck

Car stuck in the mud representing inaction

 

 

 

 

Feeling stuck and unmotivated can be the worst, right?  Why does it happen, and what can we do about it?  Here are some tips on how you can get unstuck.  

Find your focus.

Often, the most difficult part of taking action is knowing where to start – if you recognise this, get clear on the end result that you’re seeking.

When we dream of winning the lottery, we don’t dream about piles of bank notes.  We dream of the home we’d live in, the holidays we’d have surrounded by friends and family having a great time, we imagine ourselves driving our dream car.

The same goes for any kind of success.  We envisage what the end product will be once we’ve achieved it.

Remembering what it is we want to gain, and how our lives could be improved, can help to keep us focused.

Accept that it might get uncomfortable.

Taking action means we want to change, and change can be hard.  When we want to move out of our comfort zone, we have to let go of what we know, and that means taking risks on the unknown or the uncertainty.

We come up against our subconscious barriers and fears.  Maybe we dread failure, or we compare ourselves to others and think we’re not doing, or being, ‘enough’.

When you feel stuck, recognise what it is exactly you feel stuck about.  Identifying what’s wrong will help you to get unstuck.  Is it the practicality of not knowing what to do, or is it more about your internal thoughts?

Be honest, and get unstuck quicker.

Inaction teaches us what we don’t want.  And maybe it’s telling us our heart isn’t really in it.

If you struggle to get going, or to keep going, ask yourself if you still want this.  Go back to your ‘why’.  Is this goal still important to you, or have your priorities changed?  Are you no longer sure that it’s worth the effort it will take, and do you need to realign or modify your goal, to fit where you are right now?

There is no shame in dropping something that no longer serves you, or changing your mind.  In fact, ploughing on with something when your heart is no longer in it, can be more harmful.  It can affect your self esteem if you’re continuing to put effort in, when you know you’re not getting the results you want.  This is a sure sign, something needs to change.

So, if you’re struggling with a particular goal and you’re feeling unmotivated, try some of these tips to get unstuck.  It will help to improve your confidence, and longer term chances of success when you deal with issues quickly, and will give you the momentum to keep going.

For more tips on self development, stay up to date with the monthly newsletter, which also contains a free downloadable resource every month.  Sign up here to receive the latest newsletter in your inbox.

Photo credit:  Aubrey Odom on Unsplash