How to Close the Gender Pay Gap

By amandaalexander | Leadership

Sage is a global company and the UK’s biggest tech company.  They have 13,500 employees – 53% male and 47% female. 27.5% of those women are in technical roles – and anyone who knows about the gender bias in tech, will recognize that this figure is right on top of the bell curve.  This is […]

Have You Met Your Inner Dobby and Your Inner Oprah?

By amandaalexander | Mindset

If you are going through a tough time, the one thing that you DO have control over is your thoughts, because thoughts have a direct correlation with your level of emotional resilience. In other words, you’ll cope better, you’ll find solutions faster and you’ll recover faster if you can learn to become aware of your […]

3 Steps To Escape A Job You Hate

By amandaalexander | Career

Once upon a time, there was a talented, highly skilled woman called Jane. One day, Jane became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She dropped out from the senior level she had reached in her industry as she didn’t think it would be compatible with motherhood. She moved to a job in the same […]

Positive Daily Habits: How to Get Better, Every Day, in Every Way

By amandaalexander | Goals

Can you improve your life with positive daily habits?

Positive daily habits are the steps you take on a CONSISTENT basis that will improve your life, in any area.

Improving your life might mean that you want to:

  • Quit your job and work from home, or feel better about your daily commute
  • Run a 5KM race, or run an ultra marathon
  • Sleep 8 hours a night, or quit sugar
  • Improve your overall health, or address a specific health concern
  • Declutter your home, or take control of your finances
  • Have more courage to speak up at meetings, or become a public speaker and get paid for it

It doesn’t matter what it is that you want to change – daily habits are an easy and powerful way to get there.

You can use daily habits as a way of achieving your goals, but you don’t have to get hung up on the word “goal”. If you don’t want to set a specific goal, that’s fine. Just ask yourself:

“What would I like to be different in my life or work?”

The next step is to brainstorm ways that you could move closer to your desired change by a small, forward-reaching daily habit.

Daily habits keep you focused, motivated and positive. They support you via baby steps to make permanent shifts in your behaviour that will dramatically improve your life.

And they really WORK!

Do you know the original positive affirmation?

“Every day in every way I’m getting better and better”

The originator of this quote was a French pharmacist called” rel=”nofollow”>” target=”_blank”>Emile Coué, who, in 1920 introduced a method of psychotherapy that made use of frequent repetition of this sentence. In fact, the original quote was, of course, in French!

“Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux”

Coué would ask his patients to repeat this phrase again and again each day. His theory was that this method of auto suggestion would help people to overcome their issues and achieve more success by working on their unconscious thought processes as well as their conscious will (e.g. willpower, getting it done, battling on through!)

I believe that Coué’s “every day in every way” mantra and other such mantras or positive affirmations work, thanks to the part of our brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS).

The RAS is a bundle of neurons at the base of our spine through which nearly all information, apart from smell, enters the brain. The RAS acts like the gatekeeper of information that lets information into the conscious mind. Our RAS selects the information that is most important for our conscious mind to pay attention to.

So if we are reminding ourselves 20 times a day (as Coué prescribed to his patients), that “In every day in every way, I am getting better and better”, then we are more likely to be aware of opportunities for actually GETTING better and better.

That little mantra might lead us to smile rather than scowl, breathe more deeply, respond rather than react, drink an extra glass of water, say no to that cream cake… And all simply because, from a very small, easy habit, we are helping our RAS to help us. Let’s dive into how we can adopt small daily habits that actually WILL help us to get better and better, every day, in every way.

I have a fantastic “freebie” for you to accompany this article. You can download the daily habits workbook to help you to choose habits that you’ll keep. In the workbook , I also share with you the free app that has made a BIG difference to my own daily habits. One of the BEST ways that I walk my own talk as a Coach and develop myself continuously is via small, consistent, daily habits. Each of my daily habits takes a maximum of 15 minutes and a minimum of a few seconds.

I chose each of my daily habits to support me with goals and a lifestyle that are based on my values. Many of them are related to my health and wellbeing, but others support my finances or my business. Occasionally, I will add a new daily habit if I have a short-term goal (see habit no. 9 in the post). Daily habits can help you to achieve your goals, because they break down huge projects into manageable bite-size and CONSISTENT chunks. They are SO powerful.

Here are my current daily habits, in general time of day order – and how you can create your own habits that fit in with our day.

1. Meditate – 15 minutes.

I’ve made meditation my number one priority and my ‘must do’ daily habit. That’s why it’s top of the list and it’s the very first thing I do when I wake up, even before I get up. I just sit up in bed and do it! This habit has changed my life. The benefits of meditation did not suddenly jump out at me one day; the impact has been subtle. Ask The Bloke and he will tell you that it has made me much calmer, much more resilient and generally easier to be with! Having a meditation practice has not made my life perfect and it doesn’t stop me from getting knocked down. But it DOES help me to bounce back again. The benefits to my resilience have been enormous. There are occasions when I have to get up very early to travel. This is almost the only time that I don’t meditate first thing, but if for example, I’m travelling by train, I’ll meditate on the train instead. I was up early on Wednesday to host my monthly” rel=”nofollow”>” target=”_blank”>Forward Ladies Business Breakfast and my train was delayed by 25 minutes. So I walked back to my car and meditated for 15 minutes – much nicer than standing on a freezing cold station platform! What is your number one daily habit? What is one habit, above any other, that will make the BIGGEST improvement in your life long term?

2. 30 Press Ups and Pull up Practice.

I have a goal that I wonder if I’ll ever achieve it, but I’m moving forward regardless: I want to be able to do 10 proper military style pull-ups. I can do 3 on a good day, but only if I touch my feet on the floor between each one! So I do a bit of push up and pull up practice every single day in the hope that one day, I’ll get to 10! I usually do these whilst my coffee machine is grinding away! I can get to about 20 whilst the first shot is brewing and then it’s the home straight of the last 10 with the second shot, with a few seconds left over to start unloading the dishwasher! You can fit some daily habits into pockets of “waiting’ time. What could you do to kick-start your day whilst the kettle is boiling each morning?

3. Take collagen

This supports my personal vision of “glowing with health, young looking and vibrantly healthy”. You can read about the benefits of collagen” rel=”nofollow”>” target=”_blank”>here. It’s so easy to achieve as a daily habit as I mix it into my coffee every morning. When the bloke is around, it’s even easier, as he makes my coffee with collagen every morning whilst I’m meditating. You see – you can even get other people to help you tick off your daily habits! 🙂

4. 15 Minutes of Book Writing

Having tried and failed to write a book for many years, this is the ONLY strategy that is working for me. My book is being written in tiny chunks of 15 minutes first thing in the morning. I have created a little rule – in order to enjoy my morning coffee, I have to be sat at my desk doing 15 minutes writing or research for my book. Similar to my morning meditation, book writing is important. But it’s never urgent!  Which means, if book writing doesn’t happen first thing in the morning, it never happens. My life, just like yours, is busy and packed. Book writing is a “nice to have” in my day and it certainly doesn’t shout the loudest. It doesn’t put food on the table (yet) and as it’s such a long-term project, it doesn’t give me much of a feeling of achievement (yet). So the only way to do it is first thing, and to create a little write-reward link between coffee (which I love) and writing. I couldn’t do my early morning writing without my coffee by my side! If you have a goal that keeps getting postponed, create a daily habit that moves you towards it. It’s the only way to achieve that “important but not urgent” stuff! 

5. Take Vitamins

I take Vitamin D, because it’s one of the most important vitamins and it’s very difficult to get enough of it in the UK from sunlight, even in summer. I take Vitamin K2, as it works in conjunction with Vitamin D to support bone density and keep the calcium balance right in my body; Vitamin B is my “stress armour” (who doesn’t need some of that?!) and Magnesium, because it’s one of the most crucial minerals for our overall health, but one which we’re very deficient in nowadays. Taking my vitamins takes a few seconds. What’s one beneficial daily habit you could practise that takes less than a minute?

6. Five Minutes of Admin/ Paper Killing

A necessary habit, because when paper comes in that needs actioning, I do NOT jump with joy and get on with it! I suspect that possibly 0.1% of people never have any paperwork waiting to be dealt with. I’m not in that 0.1%. Ugh… little by little. One day I may hit nirvana and get to the point where my household and business inbox is empty and 5 minutes a day keeps on top of it. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away in baby steps. The benefits of this habit are that I can tell myself I AM getting better every day. I’m doing something. It serves to remind me that there’s no such thing as a perfectly neat, tidy and ordered life, but as long as we take small daily actions, we’re always moving forwards. If you have a daily habit like this, focus on how you will feel AFTER you’ve ticked off that habit, and what it will achieve in baby steps over many weeks.

7. Do ONE Thing to be a Great Leader to my Money

This might be checking a bank account, paying a bill, looking at my sales forecast or reading a money blog. It can take anything from a minute to 15 minutes. For me, this “loose, choose anything” habit is about being consistent with my long-term goal of financial independence. If you have a long term goal, then creating a habit that puts you in alignment with that goal will not only help to keep it top of mind (remember the RAS!), it will also help you to discover new ways of achieving it.

8. A 5-minute share on social media

A tiny marketing type activity that is important for me with a business. This is probably one of my weakest daily habits. Some days it’s easy, but other days, when I’m in my “introverted extrovert” mood, I simply don’t want to be on show in any way! But having it written down as one of my daily habits reminds me to do something and means that I’m 70% successful. Without it there, that percentage would drop considerably! Is there a daily habit that you know will make a difference to your work if you did it consistently? Make it as small and easy as possible. 

9. Plank Challenge

Finally, this is my temporary daily habit. Unlike my meditation habit, that happens every day, this one is just for this month, because I’m taking part in a “January Plank Challenge” with my British Military Fitness buddies. The challenge is simple 3 minutes of plank each day, with a 1-minute rest in between each minute. Taking part in a group challenge is a good way to kick-start your daily habits, as it naturally keeps you accountable to your tribe. It’s easier than ever to set your own challenge now, thanks to the wonder of Facebook groups. Maybe you could start your own challenge, invite some friends and strengthen your habit from the start.

Over to you

So now you’ve got some inspiration and ideas for the kind of habits that help you get better and better, every day and in every way. Which habits would you like to start with? Ask yourself what your life might look like if, one year from now, you continued with one particular daily habit. Would it help towards your happiness, fulfilment at work, wellbeing or wealth? Don’t forget your freebie  – my “Daily Habits” workbook.  Just use the link below! 

What’s Your Story This Christmas?

By amandaalexander | Inspiration

People keep asking me “Are you ready for Christmas?” Well, the house looks festive, – there’s a beautiful Christmas tree in the living room, a wreath on the door and sparkly lights outside the house.  I’ve ordered a goose (not a turkey fan) and I seem to have bought enough cheese to feed all the mice in the […]

Stop overthinking! 2 practical ways to quieten your busy mind

By amandaalexander | Mindset

Overthinking is a habit that many women get into.  Join the club - me too! 

In her book “Women who think too much”, Dr Susan Nolen-Hoeksema says that the evidence for women’s tendency to overthink points towards social and psychological roots. Noelen-Hoeksema says that the more stress a woman is under, the more she tends to overthink. Not earth-shatteringly surprising, is it?

To put it simplistically, most women are under stress because they are doing too much and thinking about too much and trying to find a way to be in more control! Trying to be more in control of our lives is something I hear frequently from my clients; unfortunately “being in control” is a constant journey of discovery for most women, with no final destination!

Nolen-Hoeksema’s research shows that even though women are busy pursuing careers in the same way as men, women still bear the lioness’s share of managing the household. In an attempt to feel more in control of having too much on their plate, many women fall into overthinking. Women literally try to think their way out of a tangle of conflicting priorities.

At this time of year, probably like you, I have a to do list as long as my proverbial arm! I still haven’t written my Christmas cards; there is still a pile of paperwork that needs wading through and there are always clothes waiting to be put away. As for the cobwebs, I’ve given up the battle for dominance and bowed in defeat to the spiders!

There’s a lot to think about! As a business owner, I’m thinking about plans for the New Year, cash flow and stretch goals. As a mum, I’m thinking about Christmas presents. And with Fred’s 10th birthday on Wednesday, I’m thinking about his celebrations. And on it goes.

​Some of this may sound familiar to you!

But what do you do when, even though you are managing to keep it all ticking over so well on a daily basis, it’s still not enough and you find yourself in a chronic state of overthinking, trying to figure out how you can get it all done, just get that little bit more ahead of the curve, in control?

And what if you find yourself waking up at night, continuing the inner dialogue from the day? You can fall into a vicious cycle of overthinking and exhaustion.

I don’t want you to get exhausted and overwrought, particularly at Christmas, so in this post, I’m sharing my 2 favourite – both practical and highly effective – ways to quieten your busy mind and reign in your overthinking habit:

1. Do a graphical brain dump

You’ve probably heard or even given advice about “get it out of your head and down on paper”? It’s a great strategy when you’ve got a lot on your mind.

You might be an avid list writer, but I’m not talking about writing a list here. The problem with lists is that they are linear – it can certainly help to write a big list when you’ve got a lot on your mind, but it won’t give you a big picture of all those buzzing thoughts.

Enter the mind map…

Mind mapping helps your thinking process by enabling you to structure thoughts in a graphical, visual way. This will help you to “see the big picture”. I’ve created the bare bones of a “what’s on your mind?” mind map in this post to show you what a mind map looks like.

All you need to do to start mind mapping, is get a piece of paper (the bigger the better) and turn it so that it is landscape layout. Draw a circle in the middle and label it “thoughts” or “brain dump”. You can use an online mind-mapping tool as I have done for the purposes of the example, but I actually recommend you use pen and paper; there is something scribbling down on paper that facilitates the creative thought process better than any computer software.

You can structure your mind map however you want – there is no right and wrong and you’ll start to see a pattern as you write on it. Just brainstorm anything that comes to your mind and then allocate it a category. The categories will become your primary branches directly linked to your centre label. You can see in this example, I created 5 categories: Home, work, Christmas, Fred’s birthday and miscellaneous thoughts. The latter category can be used to scribble down anything that has been racing through your head, which doesn’t seem related to anything in particular. AS you brainstorm, you’ll easily be able to see which category the thought fits into.

Your mind map is NOT a to do list – it can and probably will contain things you need to do. But it might also contain random thoughts, worries, quandaries, decisions you need to make and ideas. It is simply a graphical brain dump.

The great benefit of mind mapping to stop you overthinking is that everything is in one place, on one sheet. You don’t have to go looking for one particular thing – it’s all there ‘at a glance’.

2. Get unstuck from your groove

If you’ve fallen into a rut of worry, create a mind map with the title “worries”.Another great benefit of mind mapping to help you stop overthinking is that, if you keep your “worry” mind map and then look at it in a year’s time, you will invariably find that most of the things that on it have been and gone without the fanfare of impending doom that you’d anticipated. In fact, most of the worries will have never materialised in the first place. It’s a great exercise to remind yourself how fruitless worrying is!

Sometimes when we overthink, we focus on the darkest possible scenarios over and again. It can be so difficult to change our focus. Think of a record player (if you’re old enough! If not, Google it!) Sometimes, the needle will get stuck in a groove of the record, playing the same sound again and again. The only way to fix this would be to skip the track, by physically lifting the arm with the needle and placing it after that “stuck” groove.

When you’re stuck in overthinking, your mind is similar to the stuck record. The best way to get unstuck is to physically do something different – i.e. lift your own needle and put it somewhere else!

If you find yourself lying awake at night with a racing mind, try focusing on your breathing. Lie on your back, put your hands on your belly and silently say, “breathe in” and “breathe out”, focusing on your breath. Look up “Yoga Nidra for sleep” if you need something more than focusing on your breathing. You’ll find some great recorded sessions specifically designed to help you relax, clear your mind and get back to sleep.

If you STILL find yourself drifting back into overthinking, drastic action might be needed – get out of bed and curl up somewhere cosy with a good book – preferably a non taxing novel that will let your mind switch off, rather than a book on “How to change the world in 90 days” or “How to have 50 great ideas in one hour”

When you’re overthinking during the day, the same rule applies for getting out of your stuck groove. Lift that needle! And I swear by physical activity EVERY TIME! There is a strong correlation between your mind and your body – when you change the state of your body, your mind will almost always follow.

If you’re at work – step AWAY from your desk! Find somewhere you can move your body without getting strange looks from your colleagues. Maybe you could head out to the stairwell if you’re in an office building.

Now – let’s get physical! Do a set of lunges, squats, jumping jacks or simply run on the spot (take your heels off!) You’re giving yourself a mini impromptu exercise session. Do your chosen exercise until you’re out of breath and feeling the burn! You’ll soon find your focus has moved away from your negative thought patterns to the burning sensation in your thighs as you approach your 50th squat!

This will really help you to quieten your overthinking – you’re getting out of your groove and resetting yourself – and raising your endorphin levels to boot!

Do you ever overthink? When do you tend to overthink? And what helps you to quieten your busy mind? I’d love to know what works for you. Share in the comments below! And if you enjoyed this post, please share with your overthinking friends!

Overthinking is a habit that many women get into.  Join the club – me too!  In her book “Women who think too much”, Dr Susan Nolen-Hoeksema says that the evidence for women’s tendency to overthink points towards social and psychological roots. Noelen-Hoeksema says that the more stress a woman is under, the more she tends to overthink. […]

What You Need To Do To Get Flexible Working

By amandaalexander | Business

My latest Inspiring Women Interviews Podcast has just been broadcast on iTunes and Stitcher. This episode is an interview with Tina Freed, founder of E2W and a champion of flexible working to support talent retention and attraction. Tina has been helping highly talented women in the city to continue with their careers since 2002, when […]