Author Archives: Svenda

Shifting Relationships

A brief video describing a simple life hack that expands your world of choice with relationships. Includes enabling you to:

  • turn a situation around
  • improve your understanding of other people
  • access your inner wisdom
  • reconnect with your own feelings and needs
  • Freshen up your thinking, feelings and happenings
  • ….. and more

Capture a Mood

Capture a mood and step into it when you choose. Switch your mood in just a moment. Fill yourself with, say, self-confidence, in just a moment. Interested? The brief video describes a straightforward process for you to prepare yourself to do just that.

The 27 Minute Rule

If you are not doing something that must be done, you may find it useful to call on “The 27 Minute Rule”.

The 27 minute rule is quite simple.  You make a strict deal with yourself to focus on the matter in hand for twenty seven minutes. You allow nothing to hijack that dedicated time. No excuses!

27 minutes… and that’s it – that’s the rule.

separatorWhatever happens in those twenty seven minutes, I know that I will emerge with something of value.

At the one extreme, I may get stuck in to whatever it is and the flow, well, flows and the deed is done!

Often, I find that I make serious inroads into the matter in hand during the allocated time and/or emerge with a do-able action plan to move it forward.

At the other extreme, I may spend my precious 27 minutes mumbling and grumbling, cursing and sulking (and I’m quite good at all of that). I can get something useful from this. By the end of the 27 minutes, I will have insight into whatever is stopping me getting on with it. Compared with the oblivion of inaction, such insight is gold dust – I can work with that!

In the process, I may gain insight in to what is stopping me. There may be lots and lots of different reasons (or is that excuses?) for why I am procrastinating so much that I have to call on the 27 minute rule.  There may be some FEAR (False Expectation Appearing Real)  – what if I do it wrong (better to do nothing than get it wrong)? Stupid, I know, but a big blocker even so.  Maybe there are too many unknowns (don’t know where to start, what to do, where stuff is that I need etc.). Perhaps I simply don’t want to (childish sulk mode, having a tantrum – and I can be quite good at that).

Stating the obvious, perhaps, but the most important thing about this rule is not the number of minutes, it is the concentrated focus during the time that you allocate. Occasionally, I catch myself thinking 15, or even 5, minutes is all I can possibly contemplate – and, sometimes, that is all it takes to break the stalemate and kick start a way forward.

If you’re like me, anything that you keep putting off (for whatever reason) starts to take on monster proportions and distorts out of all perspective. It is on my mind, all the time, like a wicked whisper in the background or a looming cloud that permeates and poisons my inner world.  Out of proportion, or what! At the very least, when I get to the end of the 27 minute window the matter is put back in to proportion. Well worth it, don’t you think?

Can if … or can’t because!

can if graphic

Images courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you are thinking “can’t because” about something, why not have a go at rephrasing it as “can if”. This may look like we are simply playing with words but we are not. It can make a huge difference to how you think about the matter in hand.

To illustrate:

say “can’t because” and you may have a list of reasons, issues and even, maybe, excuses.

Rephrase

  • change “can’t” to “can”
  • change “because” to “if”

say “can if” and you may emerge with a list of things to do, conditions to fulfill to achieve what you want.

Do you notice that “can’t because” items feel like blockers (reasons to not do, problems) and that “can if” items feel like puzzles to solve?

separatorI feel like I’m being blocked, thwarted when I say “can’t because”. I hate being thwarted.

I get thoughtful when I say “can if”. My brain goes into puzzle solving mode. I enjoy solving puzzles.

To get from feeling blocked to having puzzles to solve, I need to shift my thinking. I can’t just ignore the list of “can’t because” items. They matter to me, obviously – I wouldn’t have allowed them to stop me doing something if they weren’t important, would I? I have to acknowledge and work with/around them somehow – which is where the “can if” items come in.

The “can if” items are where I can express the things to do, the conditions to be fulfilled for it to become achievable. I am not ignoring the blockers that cause me to think “can’t because”.

Of course, I may still wish to not do whatever it is, and that’s ok. What I will have is a clearer insight into what possibilities may exist should I wish to move forward.

I have been “can if”-ing for so long now, it is almost automatic. If I hear the word “can’t” it triggers the “aaah, but can if” thinking.

If you want to find a way forward with a “can’t because” thing, why not give this a go?  It may be a way to shift your thinking.

Strike a Pose

Strike a pose – position yourself in a certain physical posture and change the way you are feeling – from the outside-in. How useful is that? Feeling nervous maybe, say, before an interview? Take two minutes in a private space, adopt a confident posture and emerge feeling, and looking, confident. Handy?

We all know that body posture reflects the way we are feeling. Take a look at these two characters.

Images courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Images courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At a glance, you can read how they are feeling, can’t you? How do you do that? You notice their body posture and, from that, interpret how they are feeling. Given that our feelings show up in our body posture, can our body posture influence how we are feeling?

Act as if

To get a real sense of how very effective and simple this is, why not give it a go? Adopt a posture, strike a pose and notice the way that your feelings mirror your pose. To illustrate, pick a way you would like to feel. Let’s use “feeling confident” as an example.

Observe

Relax. Consider, what does a “feeling confident” body posture mean to you?

Recall that feeling. Think of something, call up a memory of when you had that feeling of confidence.

Your own experience, a memory, is best. If, however, you are finding it difficult to call up a memory and that’s what stopping you from giving this a try, you can always use someone else’s confident posture as a reference model. Notice what you observe in their body posture that makes you think that they are feeling confident.

Notice your “feeling confident” physical posture – head, chin, eyes, arms, shoulders, upper body, legs, feet, lower body, facial expression etc. Notice such things as how you are holding your head – is your head lifted or bowed? Are your shoulders slumped or straight? What angle are your head, shoulders and upper body at? What shape is your mouth – smiling, straight? What expression is in and around your eyes? How are your feet placed? What is your breathing like – deep or shallow? Fast or slow? …

Notice as much of your “feeling confident” body posture as you can.

Relax. Shake it off.

Do

Strike a pose.

What did you notice about your confident pose? Change your body posture to reflect what you noticed. Start anywhere you like. Changes may include such things as, say, set your feet slightly apart, straighten your shoulders, lift your head a little, smile a bit … a bit more, breathe more deeply, eyes looking forward …

Any aspect of your body posture may trigger the whole feeling. Often, but not always, the way you are breathing, holding your head and your facial expression may act as a trigger for the rest of the posture. Sometimes it can be something to do with how you place your feet.

Done

I believe that you will know when your “feeling confident” pose is a good copy of the original. How? You will be, well, feeling confident (on the inside), matching your physical posture. It’s great to experience, isn’t it?

Supporting Research

This “fake it till you make it” or “acting as if” is an example of a positive feedback loop. The more you do it, the less faked it feels. Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body posture.

“ … don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it. Do it enough until you actually become it and internalise.”

Amy Cuddy TED Talk: “Your body language shapes who you are” (June 2012)

In the world of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) you may encounter “Anchoring” and recognise how this uses this body posture: inner feelings connection to good effect.

Like many of you, I have been doing something like this, unknowingly, instinctively, for a long time. I now think that this is what I was doing when putting on a brave face at my first day at school (I was determined to NOT cry – I was a big girl now!). This is what I was doing when gathering myself before giving a presentation to a roomful of people (without it I would have been in a million pieces, desolated and inarticulate). The scenarios and feelings where I call upon this ‘strike a pose’ are endless.

I have little doubt that we all, knowingly or unknowingly, strike a pose, put on a front at some time for a whole host of reasons. This means that we already have all the skills and resource we need to do this. We know that we read body posture so, having noticed what aspects matter, we can write it in our own posture. Just two minutes of your time to observe, do and know that it is possible. Just two minutes for you to make it so, at will.

This is a capability that we all have and one that I feel so lucky to knowingly possess.

In the future, whenever you want to feel a particular way, strike a pose (adopt the physical posture) and … like magic … the matching feeling (on the inside) will blossom. Enjoy!

LEAP Today

“LEAP Today” is a great way of creating specific, realistic expectations for your day. It is easy to  do and, even on the busiest of days to be, it generally takes me less than 5 to 10 minutes to LEAP into the day.

LEAP is an acronym for List, Estimate, Allow for the unexpected and Pioritise for today.

LEAP Today

Leaping character Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

LEAP Today is for a To-Do List fresh each day, do NOT keep the same list running. and get real – get purposeful – get results – savour the pleasure of your flexible, responsive, focused efficiency today.

List the things for today

Demands on your time and energy come from lots of places, some of which are planned (like your projects, scheduled appointments), some of which you can predict (like regular duties) and some of which you may be called upon to do (out of the blue, maybe), etc. Pick out items/pieces of work for TODAY from your usual To-Do lists.

Estimate

Make an educated guess at quite how much effort and elapsed time each item – piece of work – will take.

Allow for the unexpected

In real life, we all know that the unexpected happens (best laid plans of mice ‘n men, and all that). The unexpected is predictable in the sense that you just know such stuff always comes up – unpredictable in the sense that we do not know, specifically, quite what it will be.

Prioritise

REMEMBER – this is about Today’s priorities rather than priorities in the overall scheme of life!

separatorList, Estimate and Prioritise are all pretty run of the mill, aren’t they? The Allow for the Unexpected is, for me, the magic touch. What do you think?

Through doing LEAP Today I am inspired to set realistic expectations. I am creating my day’s agenda today. I am blending items from the world of demands and allowing for the unexpected. Add those things together, and I ‘get purposeful’, using my energy and time effectively, focus with clarity on intentions for the day. At the end of the day, I scan the list and get a buzz from noting my achievements.

I had a job where there were a number of channels of planned demand on my time – meetings, regular duties (commitments as a manager, technical specialist and/or a project resource), project tasks etc. I also spent a lot of time dealing with interruptions of all kinds. The interruptions were often critical, important and/or urgent including unexpected problems to be solved, discussions to bring an unexpected (and unwelcome) situation under control etc. etc.

My (monster) To-Do list was fed by items from the planned stuff (meetings, duties, project tasks) and was … errmm … overflowing, sometimes overwhelming and NEVER in the right order. Things got crossed off, some dropped off (no longer required) and, always, always, items got added.

It was demoralising. I worked long hours (too long), did a lot of stuff and worked very hard (no, really) but never got to finish my To-Do list!

Then two things happened around the same time. First, I had a ‘Time Management’ course which gave me the idea to record how I ACTUALLY spent my time. My thinking was that reviewing my actuals would, hopefully, give me insight into what the ‘time thieves’ were. I’ll admit that I really didn’t want to do this ‘every 15 minute actual time spent record’ at all – but I promised myself I would do it for one week. Second, during that same week, I encountered the LEAP Today. My eyes, and heart, were drawn to the Allow for the Unexpected” and there was little tug from the Prioritise for today.

Observation of my ‘actual time spent’ crystallised what I had mumbled often … on average, 50 to 70% of my time was being spent on the unplanned ‘interruptions’. However, dealing with ‘interruptions’ was an essential part of my job (one of those unwritten/unplanned/taken for granted items). A five minute conversation could avert a disaster waiting to happen or save the waste of time and effort on dealing with avoidable consequences. You know, the priority zero (override all other priorities) kind of things. There was no way I could stop handling ALL interruptions!

Focusing on the interruptions, it became obvious that some were predictable – in terms of scale of demand if not in the specific items – quite what they were was a daily surprise, but that they would happen was predictable. Key step 1 – I added an item ‘predictable interrupts‘ to my list of things to do on a daily basis with an estimate of, say, 30% of my time. Key step 2 – I added an item ‘the unexpected‘ with an estimate (based on observation) of, say, 30% of my time. On an average day, I now had 40% of my time for ‘planned items and regular duties’. If the ‘predictable interrupts‘ and ‘the unexpected‘ actually take less than estimated there is a good chance that I can get ahead of the game. WooHoo!

Adopting “LEAP Today” to create my To-Do List for today made such a positive difference to my sense of achievement on a daily basis and, dare I say, put a bit of a bounce back in to my step! The monster To-Do list is tamed! The “LEAP(ed)” To-Do List for today blossomed with big ticks (never underestimate the power of the tick), my daily sense of achievement soared actually generating energy and so much more. So simple. So effective. So it flows – like magic.

Change Roller Coaster

 

We all live in an ever changing world and we handle change every day. Some changes are imposed upon us by changing circumstances, others we want to make to enrich our lives, some we hunger for, others we battle against – and many we hardly notice as we integrate them into our lives. Recognise natural human reactions to change and make changes work for you.

As we all know from personal experience, the prospect of any change (imposed or self-driven) challenges our feelings of confidence, comfort, competence and control. The catalysts for change are many and varied. Change is both a threat – and a promise. Whatever our present circumstances, at least they are habitual and familiar. Initial resistance, reluctance, to change is natural.

Many changes we take in our stride while some are (initially) awesome to behold. No matter what the scale of change is in prospect – whether it be the small changes we scarcely notice or the awesome changes that strike fear into our hearts – our emotional reactions have the same elements. The Change Roller Coaster Ride is a natural reaction to the prospect of change – we are human, after all. Our Change Roller Coaster rides can be so brief – over in a flash.  Sometimes we can spend hours, days, weeks, months and even years wallowing in any one – or  more – of the different phases. Such long term wallowing is not my idea of fun and not the most useful of experiences!

Change Roller Coaster Ride – Phases.

transition curve

Change Roller Coaster Ride Phases (based on John Fisher’s model of personal change)

When change is in the air, we may experience some anxiety – and then, when the change becomes more solid, we may be happy that – at last – the waiting is over. The change event arrives and our reactions may include Fear, Denial, feeling Threatened – “Oh No! No! No!…” – and the emotions go into turmoil – feelings of Guilt, Threat, Fear, Depression swirl around … “Oh dear, oh crumbs, boo-hoo, eek, ooer…” – Resistance may kick in “NO WAY! Not me!…” – the lowest point when the dark fears wallow – “Oh woe is me!”

Acceptance begins to bubble up – “hmm, just maybe, perhaps …” – and continues to grow – “Yeah, I can work with this” – and you spot those opportunities, you find your way forward and commitment grows “Yep, ok, now then …” … and the change is in your life.

How we actually deal with the transition around any change is as individual as we are. The phases we go through are, however, the same – it’s natural. By being aware of the phases in the process of transition from start to end of any, and all, changes, we may get through the process more effectively. The fearsome changes can be cut down to size – look them in the eye and, amazingly, they can dissolve into pieces which we can handle and work with. The length of time we spend in each phase varies widely. Sometimes, we can run through all phases in the blink of an eye and others, well – it can take a long, hard time.

“Change alone is unchanging” – Heraklietos of Ephesos

separatorHave you ever been caught in the whirlpool of a chosen – or imposed – change? I have. Remember the distressing feelings as the anxieties stirred up and took on monster proportions? I do. Recall disappearing down the drain of distraction – sliding down the transition curve ski-slope, wallowing in the depths of darkness, and then the gritty, clamber up the precipice to get to the other side of the change chasm? I do recall.

The magic, for me, is simply knowing and understanding that my emotional reactions to change are, well, entirely normal, human, natural. Before I realised that, I wasted energy on fighting those reactions. Knowing that the emotional roller coaster is natural (I am human, after all) I feel better about me and the way I’m handling the change. I can redirect my energies to enjoying the ride and getting the best out of the change.

I first saw ‘The Process of Transition’ when I was on a leadership training course. I should have guessed what was coming when I got back to the office, huh?

Know that you will ride the Change Roller Coaster and Take Control. Choose to ride that roller coaster, enjoy the excitement and anticipation – ride it so confidently that you feel like you’ve just hopped over the gap to a different future full of promise, new experiences and potential.

Consider the change as an opportunity for a better future and Make Changes Work for You. Assume that the looming change brings with it opportunities. Maybe see the looming change rather as a doorway to exciting opportunities. Maybe it’s an opportunity to have a go at something fresh and interesting – or just different. Maybe it’s an opportunity to add a new string to your bow – or add more skills to your ever growing portfolio of personal and professional skills. Maybe it’s a launch pad for a new future for you. Maybe you can make even imposed changes be of real value to you!

Look to Your Future – think of your tomorrows, create your desired outcome and drive yourself towards it – get the best result for you.

Be sure to recognise all the good stuff you’ve got, your experiences and skills and resources.

Acknowledge your current reality – truly recognising where you are, knowing where you want to be, you can take control of making steps towards your changing reality.

Choose responsibility for action – where there is a will, there is a way.

How much better it is to experience the excitement of an opportunity, positively anticipating change, recognising the differences between the now and “gonna be”, focusing forward and dealing accordingly. Would you agree?