22 Mar

If you had balance in your life, how happy would you be?

Work-life balance – a phrase we hear all too often. But some people will roll their eyes, put the thought of balance into the “too hard” box and carry on with the juggling act they call life. Sound familiar?

When the topic of work-life balance comes up in a coaching session, and it comes up often, people have a range of opinions. They either believe that it’s too selfish on their part to have a balance in their lives, in other words they are not worthy of balance; or they don’t believe that all components of their life carry equal weight. For example work is seen as more important than spending time with family and friends or exercise.

The funny thing is, is that no one in your life is going to create balance or happiness for you. You have to make it happen for yourself. Stop waiting for permission, stop waiting for someone to make you happy and take control of your own balance and happiness.

Here are two questions I would like you to think about.

  1.  If you had balance in your life, how happy would you be?
  2. How are your personal goals aligned to your work/business goals?

If you think your life is unbalanced and you are unhappy in your current situation because of this, either working too hard or playing too hard. Think about if you changed your current situation, how happy would you be or how much happier would you be?

We cannot separate our personal lives from our working lives, so are your goals in alignment, or do you try and live two separate lives? How’s that going for you?

One tool which you can use to help you reflect on all areas of your life and to create a starting point for change is the wheel of life.  After you have rated yourself on each of the eight areas, think about a goal that you would like to achieve for each of these areas. Let each goal be as important as the next. Then put your thinking cap on and come up with a way to achieve these goals.

Remember, no-one but you is going to create balance for you.

03 Sep

The happy secret to better work

I’m a total advocate of positive psychology and not only do I promote it, but I also try to practise it in my own work and personal life. When I came across this TED talk by psychologist Shawn Achor,  I wasn’t just entertained, I was reminded yet again that by introducing very simple practices into your daily routine, you can re-boot how your brain works.

Shawn talks about how we have trained ourselves to believe that to be happy we firstly have to be successful. The problem is that once we have reached the goal, we then need to keep raising the bar in order to deem ourselves successful again. These repeated actions push happiness further and further away until eventually happiness becomes the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow which you never do find.

Shawn turns this whole “success = happiness” concept on its head. He introduces us to  techniques that have us practising the art of happiness with no prerequisites, like having to achieve a goal or catch the carrot dangling in front of us.

This TED Talk is brilliant and funny and to assist you I have outlined the techniques mentioned below.

Being positive in the present

  1. 3 Gratitudes: List 3 new things you are thankful for over the next 21 days
  2. Journaling: Document 1 positive experience you have encountered during the past 24 hours
  3. Exercise
  4. Meditation
  5. Random acts of kindness
28 Apr

What do you bring to the world?

What is your centre? What do you bring to the world?  If you ask yourself these questions what is your first reaction? Do you feel content? Are you happy with your answer or do you feel that you need some work?

Whilst pondering these questions I read an article written by one of my favourite authors and public speakers,  Patrick Lencioni. “Make your values mean something” was published in the Harvard Business Review. His article was directed at business, discussing the many mistakes companies make when they create company values. He pointed out some key issues that businesses should be aware of if they want to be successful with a company values initiative.

I wondered if his advice for creating corporate values could also be applied to personal values? Two of his points felt particularly applicable to personal values.

1. Understand the different types of values

I’ve always thought of the concept of values as being pretty simple. You either have them or you don’t. And depending on where you are in your life, certain values will be more important than others. According to Patrick, values are not as one-dimensional as I thought. He differentiates between core, aspirational, permission-to-play and accidental values. That lead me to some questions…

Starting with the most sacrosanct values of all – core values. “Do you have values that are so deeply ingrained in your core that they would never be compromised  no matter what happens in your life?”

“Do you have aspirational values?” If there is a change that you are making in your life and you aspire to behave in a certain way, does your value system portray that desire and need?

Permission-to-play values simply reflect the minimal behaviour and social standards required by any person. These values would be something deeper than the core. Values that are the foundation of our very being. So how do these values differ from one’s core values or even one’s aspirational values? Values such as honesty, kindness and integrity come to mind. Values that should be shared by every human being. Core values are then values that define you as a unique individual. Separate you from the crowd.

Accidental values I feel are very relevant to the question of “What do you bring to the world?”. These are spontaneously cultivated over time. They reflect the true personality and behaviour of you. Accidental values can be positive and negative. These are the values that your family, friends, peers and society sees. These are the values that you bring to the world. Are you satisfied with what you see?

Are your core values your accidental values? Or is what you perceive to be the “real you” just a pretty dream of make-believe, and the values that you think you project are completely opposite to what you actually portray to the outside world?

It takes guts to look at yourself in the mirror and point out your own flaws. This bring me to the second point, which is a way to make your values real.

2. Weave core values into everything

If you are thinking about changing or improving what you bring to this world, start with re-evaluating your values and then commit to living by them.

By weaving your values into your everyday tasks, decisions and thinking, they become part of who you are.  Through practice we create new habits. What we believe and treasure most is then reflected in what we bring to the world.

14 Apr

Are you enjoying the journey?

Over the past year I have been very conscious of the concept of being happy. Not to be happy for happiness sake, but being conscious of what makes me happy.

The tricky thing is that happiness means something different for everyone. You need to find what makes you happy. For me it is the idea of enjoying the journey.

In our pursuit of happiness do we take the time to stop and smell the roses? Do we appreciate all the highs and lows along the way? Do we look for happy moments in our everyday routines and mundane tasks or are we so preoccupied about getting stuff done that we don’t take notice?

Happiness is not a goal that you achieve after completing an action plan within a pre-determined deadline. Happiness or lack of happiness is a by-product of your continued actions. Like Viktor E. Frankl said in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”  Happiness is the result of what you practise. What are you practising?

Life’s journey has inevitable highs and lows. Summoning the strength to take charge of the lows is especially rewarding. Your confidence and self-esteem will grow after successfully dealing with the difficult times, and this will provide space for happiness to re-appear.

Enjoying the journey is about appreciating the good, the bad and the ugly. Be mindful about your thoughts, actions and choices. This helps you to grow, move forward and prevent those moments from being repeated.

In my journey, I find that my happiness levels increase when I am able to put a label on reasons for things that are going right or wrong. I am able to own the success and the failure. Being accountable and in control of the next step brings me happiness.

If happiness or unhappiness is a result of our everyday actions, what are you doing to control those actions to allow for positive results? What are you doing to enjoy the journey?