Goal Setting in January? You don’t have to!

By amandaalexander | Goals

It was about 3pm on Sunday 2nd January, the rain was incessant and the sky was dirty grey. I had spent 2 hours taking down the decorations and hoovering the pine needles and before that another 2 hours clearing out Freddie’s wardrobe.

I laid a fire, made myself a cup of tea and lit some candles in the living room. I had already printed out a workbook.

I was finally ready to review my year and set my fabulous goals for 2016.

But it didn’t quite go as I’d expected. I pretty much drew a blank with every question in the workbook.

I tried to answer questions like this:

“What amazing things did you achieve in 2015?”

I thought of some things I’d achieved, but they didn’t feel particularly amazing.

“What tools and resources have helped you succeed this year?”

I couldn’t think what helped me succeed. I could, however, remember the “tools” that had sucked up my time and caused me grief and frustration when they didn’t behave as expected.

“What made you happiest this year?”

Ah… now this was much easier. I scribbled down:

“Being outdoors, moving, getting muddy, swimming in lakes and rivers, dancing, larking around with the bloke, the company of good friends and fascinating people, cuddling my boys, laughing, being silly. Doing what I love in my business – connecting, coaching, speaking”.

Feeling more positive, I got to the part of the workbook inviting me to “manifest” an amazing year.

I couldn’t think in terms of amazing. I wasn’t feeling inspired or fired up. I started feeling like a fraud. Surely I should be able to describe my plans for the year without even pausing?

On Sunday 2nd January, the day after the hangover from hell (because I’d had a REALLY good New Year’s Eve larking around with lovely friends dancing and being silly), with that incessant rain still falling from the lowest, darkest of skies, the only amazing thing I could think of manifesting was a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

Then I read 3 words that were supposed to inspire me, but which actually made me feel like crawling under a blanket and hibernating…

“BEST YEAR YET”

Have you heard that phrase yet? More than once, perhaps? I’m guilty as charged – it’s a phrase that I have used myself in previous years. But “best year yet” wasn’t doing it for me. I wondered how I’d feel about this phrase if, like many people, I was in the middle of a big life challenge.

Of course, we can set intentions and get really positive and follow through on our intentions. But there WILL be downs as well as ups throughout the year. Let’s face it, none of us will come to the end of 2016 with jaw-ache because we had a fixed grin on our faces for 365 days.

And that’s perfectly normal and fine.

But I could feel myself getting anxious about it. One of the voices in my head – Ms Inner Critic – had already piped up:

“Call yourself a Coach? Call yourself a positive person? You’re a FRAUD. How can you coach people when you can’t even set your New Year goals”

Ms Inner Critic got into her stride:

“If you can’t even set goals and be positive, how on earth are you going to succeed this year? You’re just going to meander through the year and get nowhere. You’ll be a failure.”

I listened to Ms Inner Critic, stayed with the anxious feelings and got curious…

What if it doesn’t matter if I’m not feeling inspired?
What if I’m just buying into a load of self-development “thou shalt” dogma without applying my own common sense to it?
So what if I don’t feel particularly excited right now?

Which is when the other strange voice in my head – Ms Inner Coach – gently whispered…

“I bet there are LOTS of people struggling with goal setting in January”

So I created a little meme on my phone to express my feelings, thinking it might help one or two people to read it. I wrote:

“Actually… you DON’T have to set brilliant goals in this first week in January. It’s all OK… the year will unfold and there will be plenty of opportunities ahead.
With love from Amanda xx”

I posted it on my personal Facebook timeline. The response has taken me by surprise. To date, 113 people have liked it, 13 have shared it and the comments? Well.. they can be summed up in one word:

“Phew!”

If you’re all fired up, you’ve set great goals and you’re convinced that 2016 will be your best year ever, then this is GOOD and I’m cheering you on. And of course, in this case, this particular post isn’t going to float your boat!

However, if you are feeling a bit “meh”, not quite ready to take on 2016 or just a bit unclear as to what a great 2016 will look like, then this is for you..

Here’s what to do instead:

1. First of all, here’s your PERMISSION SLIP:

* You hereby have my permission to feel less than brilliant or amazing in January.
* It’s OK if you’re not ready to set goals.
* It’s OK if you’re still transitioning from Christmas.
* And guess what, you don’t even have to set a date by when you WILL set goals.
* Let it be – I know it feels uncomfortable. You want to feel good and that will come. Just go with the flow!

2. Here’s what you absolutely do NOT HAVE to do this month:

* Set any goals
* Set the intention that this will be your best year yet
* Take part in Dry January
* Take part in any challenges
* Go on a detox
* Stick to your resolutions
* Beat yourself up because you broke your New Year’s resolution today, yesterday or even on 2nd January.

You can if you want – but you don’t HAVE to.

3. Seek your moments of “flow”

When do you feel “in flow”? Being in flow is when you are so captivated and happy in your present moment that you forget to tell yourself that you’re rubbish or that your life isn’t perfect and that you’re a rubbish parent because you haven’t created a balanced meal plan for the week.

It’s when you are absolutely present in the moment. It might be walking in the countryside, laughing with your best friend, when you’re in a team meeting and you’re brainstorming ideas. It might be when you’re in a warm bath reading a trashy novel. You could be swimming, dancing, climbing, singing, playing the ukulele or driving your car with the radio turned up loud with one of your favourite tunes.

The trick to finding your moments of flow is tuning into your core values. What makes you feel that you are truly alive, living in integrity, soaring? Usually, our moments of flow are fully aligned to one or more of our core values. For example, I love being outdoors, I love meeting new people – values of freedom/adventure and of connection. So I’m in flow when I’m doing something outdoors or engaged in a fascinating conversation.

And here’s the thing – The more you can seek out and indulge in your moments of flow, the more you’ll start to feel inspired, see opportunities and get clear on what you want in 2016.

Next week, I’m going to share with you a great alternative to goal setting this year. It’s come about, funnily enough, from a fascinating coaching conversation with one of my clients, Grace Marshall, who always inspires me.

Until then, relax, be kind to yourself and go with the flow!

Are you ready for Christmas?

By amandaalexander | Uncategorized

Do you know which question I mean?….

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

NO!!!!! I am NOT!

Someone said to me the other day: “I haven’t got time to be ill now, just 2 weeks before the day; I have too much to do”. None of us “have time” to be ill, do we?! Particularly at this time of year. And yet, when illness hits us, we are forced to re-evaluate the things we thought were priorities. You didn’t hear from me last week for this reason – I came down with a nasty December cold, which is taking it’s time to disappear. I was forced to re-evaluate my priorities and it got me thinking about the pressure we put ourselves under with the false concept of “getting everything done” at this time of year.

You know what time of year it is when the usual “How are you?” question in polite society is replaced with “Are you ready for Christmas?”

Yesterday, Peter “the shed man” came to measure up for a wood store/shed. When he was about to leave, he asked, with a look of panic on his face, “You don’t want it before Christmas, do you?” He was so relieved when I replied “Erm, no, Christmas is not dependent on the shed!” We had a brief discussion about the pressure to “have it all” and “get it all done” before the day.

Peter told me his wife was insisting that she needed to clean their windows. And that most of his customers were pleading for their sheds in time for Christmas day.

Do we really need to have it all and get it all done?

But despite not insisting on having my shed built within the next week, I’m just as guilty of this kind of thinking as the next woman. I have my fantasy “things I want to get done by Christmas” list… I wanted to finish off several work projects (yeah right!) clean the oven (this has been on my list ALL YEAR) and clear out the boys’ wardrobes and the under-stairs cupboard (the expression “I’d rather have root canal surgery” comes to mind).

What’s this all about?! Why make a list of additional things when there is plenty to do at this time of year anyway? Why add this pressure? It’s crazy, isn’t it? None of this is actually important. So what if you miss the last post and your Christmas cards arrive AFTER Christmas? Is it really going to mean the end of the World? So what if you haven’t ordered your turkey/beef/goose/nut roast and you have to make do with what’s left on the the shelves on Christmas Eve? In my experience, there’s never been a shortage of turkeys! What if, (like me) you are not 100% organised and not only have you not yet WRAPPED your presents, you’re also not entirely sure where you’ve hidden them all! The fact is, the presents will get wrapped!

So my message to you – and reminder to myself – in today’s post is that we don’t have to have it all or do it all before Christmas Day.

Perhaps we should look to the true meaning of Christmas for reassurance and to give us permission not to be “quite ready” or “done”:

Mary did not have a private maternity suite booked. She had to make do with a stable.

Jesus had “no crib for a bed”. He made do with a manger full of hay (so you’ll be fine if that new sofa doesn’t arrive in time)

Despite the many things that weren’t in place for Jesus’s birth, it all worked out. The shepherds managed to find him, the three Wise Men managed to cobble together 3 gifts – and I bet they didn’t go shopping for them weeks earlier. 🙂

So whatever your faith or your beliefs, please take comfort from knowing that the origins of Christmas were humble. The messages of simplicity, kindness, trust, hope and love can still be at the heart of our own Christmas time, even though our own lives may be very different.

Remember to enjoy this run up to Christmas as well as the day itself – of course there are things to do, but do them with lightness and let go of the need for perfection. What doesn’t get done, doesn’t get done!

I wasn’t expecting that – Build Resilience

By amandaalexander | Uncategorized

Do you have an Advent calendar in December? There’s always at least 2 in our household. I have just received 2 DIY Advent calendars for the boys that I ordered a couple of weeks ago. They each consist of 24 little envelopes with pegs on a string so that you can fill each one with a gift. I’m a bit late as they have just arrived yesterday, but my idea is to write a little love note to include in each daily envelope for the boys to read each day. However, I suspect they will be more interested in the daily chocolate or sweet than the love note!

Before you read this week’s post, I need to warn you, have a tissue nearby if you watch the video – It’s a tear-jerker!

I wasn’t expecting that

Have you heard the Jamie Lawson song, “I wasn’t expecting that”?

If not, then please watch the video on YouTube to it before reading the rest of today’s post, as there’s a spoiler! In fact, DO watch the video, even if you’ve heard the song.

The first time I listened to the song, I thought, “This is such a beautiful love song”. It’s so true to life – none of us ever expect to fall in love, it just happens!

“Isn’t it strange how a life can be changed
In the flicker of the sweetest smile?”

I loved this song as it rolled on because, as a mum and a woman in her (ahem) mid life, I could relate to the story…. the years rolled on. In fact, it even made me feel quite young because in Jamie’s song:

“Time doesn’t take long, three kids up and gone”!

Hurrah! I’ve got a few years ‘til the kids are up and gone yet! One thing I’m noticing at present is that my friends and clients seem to be getting younger, so I particularly welcomed that line. Smiling face (black and white)

As I listened to this song for the first time, I felt all smiley inside, romantic — and young, but then Jamie kicked me. He takes a sharp turn in his lyrics:

“When the nurses they came, said it’s come back again
I wasn’t expecting that”

What?! Eh? What’s going on Jamie? You’re supposed to be telling me about loving your wife and having time together now the kids are grown up!

Then he finishes with the cruelest sting in the tail:

“Then you closed your eyes, you took my heart by surprise
I wasn’t expecting that”

It took my breath away. I certainly wasn’t expecting that.

Every time I hear the song now, I know what’s coming, but I still hope vainly for a different ending. But there isn’t a different ending, no matter how much I might hope.

So many women spend far too much of their precious lives worrying about things that might never happen. I know, I’m a recovering worry addict. 

Do you try to predict outcomes and waste your energy creating stories in your head about “if the worst happens”. Yet I wonder how many times this mental “disaster planning” has actually served you? It’s more likely to have kept you wake at night, made you feel anxious or stopped you from enjoying the present.

There are a few places for disaster planning – when managing projects or anticipating zombie apocalypses, to name a couple. And it’s good to create “reserves” in your life, for example reserves of energy, time, money…and toilet roll.

But really, you must STOP mentally planning for disaster and getting lost gazing into imaginary crystal balls. Even if you have the gift of foresight, what can you do if that’s what’s going to happen anyway?

Life’s big moments tend to be those that we are least expecting – whether they are moments of joy and bliss or moments of horror and heartbreak. We WILL, as human beings, experience the full range, whether we like it or not. You can’t love without loss, you can’t live without death, you can’t experience happiness without having experienced sadness. We simply can’t STOP those things.

Instead, start focusing on all the little moments of joy that you weren’t expecting. What might happen tomorrow when you wake up? Really, you have no idea what tomorrow brings. It could be “good”, it could be “bad” or it could be just “so so”.

But try this: When you wake up tomorrow morning, approach your day as if it is an exciting adventure and resolve to throw yourself wholeheartedly into that adventure. You might have some wonderful surprises along the way, because you are more likely to discover moments of joy when you focus on being joyfully playful.

I can’t promise you that everything will go your way. I can’t promise you that you won’t experience pain, sorrow or fear. But I can promise you, that if you shift your thinking so that you are curious, present and open to the unknown possibility in each day, you will be much happier and much more to build resilience.

The one surefire way of taming your ego

By amandaalexander | Wellbeing

 

I have been pondering on the nature of our ego lately and how it gets in our way.

What IS an ego anyway? There are so many definitions and it’s one of those words that is open up to endless discussion.

Here’s one definition of ego:

“A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”.

In a more spiritual context,  here is ego as defined by Deepak Chopra:

“The ego is our self-image, not our true self. It is characterized by labels, masks, images, and judgments.”

And perhaps, most succinctly, the ego can be defined as “our small self”.

None of us wants to be “our small self”, do we? Yet we are frequently slaves to our ego, despite the pain this causes us.

I found myself being a slave to my own ego the other week. A couple of things happened and my ego kicked into play:

  1. A business colleague who had offered to connect me with someone has ignored my gentle prompts. So far I’ve sent 2 polite emails, 2 polite private messages and called and left a message with a secretary. All have remained unanswered.

This is what my ego thought about the lack of response:

“There’s obviously something about you that has made her change her mind.  You’re not important/good/professional enough.  . maybe she actually just doesn’t like you. Yeah that’s it.. there’s something wrong with you.”

Actually, it’s just plain rudeness, but my ego is paranoid enough to think it must be about ME. Because that’s what the ego always thinks!

  1. I wasn’t invited to be part of a project within an area I have a great deal of expertise in as well as a solid reputation. I noticed that others, less experienced, with less knowledge HAD been invited to that conversation. One of these was a lady I had mentored who had gone on to use some of my intellectual property and pass it off as her own without acknolwedgment.

So my ego was properly p***d off about this. It chattered and chattered away…

“Don’t they know who you are and what you’ve done in this area?”
“Why haven’t they invited you? They DO know the expertise you have in this area. Of course they do. What’s going on?”

At this point the ego stamps its little feet and pouts and feels properly sorry for itself!

Our small selves HATE being left out, don’t they? They really like to be taken SERIOUSLY, because they are so very, VERY important.

They make up stories – completely fantastical, far-fetched stories which always have bad endings.  They embellish those stories with all sorts of monsters.

But I know how to tell that ego to be quiet. I know how to calm that small self and reassure it that it is safe.  Sometimes I forget, but as soon as I remember, it works a dream.

For me to tell you the secret to letting go of your ego, I need to tell you a story…

Two Presidents were sitting in an office engaged in a meeting. Suddenly, in bursts a woman, apoplectic with fury. She is swearing, she’s gesticulating, she’s absolutely furious, complaining to the Home President:

“Look what these people have done now. I don’t believe this.  Don’t they realise what this means?!”

“Suzanne,” says the home President to the woman after she has ranted for a while. “Please calm yourself, and remember Rule #6.”

Instantly, Suzanne is calm. She smiles, her shoulders drop, she walks out of the office a different woman.

Ten minutes later, a man walks in, red in the face, obviously agitated, frowning. He’s really, really angry.

Again, the President waits until the man has said his piece, then he says quietly but firmly to the man: “Carl, please. Be calm and remember Rule #6.”

And again, the same effect. Carl, just as Suzanne did earlier, instantly looks more relaxed. The frown disappears, he smiles and walks out of the office as a much calmer Carl.

At the end of the meeting, the visiting President says,

“Tell me, it was extraordinary, when those people came in. They were so stressed. You mentioned this Rule #6 and the effect on them was instant. What is this Rule #6 you said to them that changed them?”

The home President said to his guest,

“Ah. Simple. Rule #6 is this:  DON’T TAKE YOURSELF SO DARNED SERIOUSLY.”

“Ah, that is a fine rule,” said the visiting President. “Tell me, what are the other rules?”

“The other rules? There aren’t any.” 🙂

And that is the story of Rule #6. I learned this many years ago from a book called “The Art of Possibility “ by Ben and Rosamunde Zander. It has stayed with me ever since I first read it and I have retold this story many times within workshops and to my clients.

——————–

When you find your small self, your ego getting noisy, the surefire way to calm yourself down is to remember Rule #6: Don’t take yourself so darned seriously!

The opposite of fear

By amandaalexander | Courage

“There are only two emotions: Fear and Love. Go with love”
-Wayne Dyer

My intended post was about letting go of your ego, which I’ll share with you next week.  I felt compelled acknowledge the recent terrorist attacks.  Some are suffering after the murder of people they love, others are in heated debate about media coverage or what to do about it all.  And there are also many who are looking for ways they can, in their own little way, make a difference.

This edition of Inspire comes to you with the intention of making a difference in a very small way.   Knowing the opposite of fear in a different way, I’d like to share two messages that inspire love, courage and hope.

You may well have come across the one or both already.  Here is the first, translated from the original French. It was posted on Facebook by a man called Antoine, whose wife was killed last Friday in the Paris attacks:

On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t have my hatred.

I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know – you are dead souls. If this God for which you kill indiscriminately made us in his own image, every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound in his heart.

So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.

You want me to be afraid, to view my fellow countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my freedom for security.You have lost.

I saw her this morning. Finally, after many nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago.

Of course I’m devastated with grief, I admit this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will accompany us every day and that we will find ourselves in this paradise of free souls to which you’ll never have access.

We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.

I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”

The second is a broadcast by “The Project” host Waleed Aly. It is an eloquent, impassioned broadcast. I think it is important because it reduces fear and offers hope that each one of us can make a difference, very simply. I believe that it is well worth 5 minutes of your precious time to watch this:

The opposite of fear

I’ll end with Waleed’s words:

“We all need to come together. I know how that sounds, I know it’s a cliché. But it’s also true, because it’s exactly what ISIL want”

I agree with Waleed that “what we need is more love”

I’ll finish this week’s Inspire by repeating the quote in the image accompanying this week’s post, from the late, great Wayne Dyer:

“There are only two emotions: Fear and love. Go with love”

This is a mantra that accompanies many of my coaching sessions – and is one that helps me in every area of my life.

 

How to get everything done?

By amandaalexander | Time Management

“How do I get everything done?”

Last week, following the publication of her brand new book “How to be Really Productive: Achieving clarity and getting results in a world where work never ends”, I interviewed Grace Marshall for Psychologies Magazine’s Life Labs blog. I wanted to drill Grace for her BEST tips on how to feel more in control and how to avoid overwhelm in the run up to Christmas.

Grace is brilliant at helping people how to feel more productive and more in control, teaching them ways on how to get everything done without expecting them to become super-humans.

Here are the 5 top tips key points from my interview with Grace to stop you from ’going under’ with stress and feeling overwhelmed at this very busy time of the year!

1. The myth of getting everything done

When we talk about productivity, people think the question is, “How do I get everything done?” That’s the wrong question.

The everything myth is that we have to do everything. We have to be all things to all people. We have to get everything done. We can’t let anything slip. It’s a myth because we can’t do that. As human beings we can’t get everything done. The problem with the everything myth is, actually, when we try and do everything, all we end up doing is spreading ourselves thin and diluting our impact and missing out on the things that matter to us.

2. Distinguish between concern and influence.

Not everything that we worry about is within our control. If you made a list right now of all the things that are worrying you and that you think you need to sort out, stop and reflect: How much of that can you actually do something about? How much of it is a genuine action that you can actual complete now and how much of it is just a vague nagging worry?

Taking Christmas for example. Christmas is not an action. Christmas is a worry! We worry about things like who’s coming to Christmas dinner, about family tensions or how we’re going to do all the present buying and card writing. So start to distil that worry: Ask yourself “What’s the thing that I could do something about here? There’s a difference between the concern, the stuff that worries us, and where we can actually do something about it, our influence.

3. Distinguish between fake work and real work.

Being busy is not hard. We live in a world where work and “stuff” never ends. There is always more work and stuff we can do. There are always more presents we can buy, more trimmings we can add to the turkey. But we need to remember they are just ideas. Sometimes we take those ideas and we think, “Oh, I’ve got to do something about that.” Last year’s meal plan wasn’t good enough.

The problem with that is sometimes we can set ourselves up with such high standards that we just forget to enjoy it along the way and all we feel is exhausted. Fake work is the work that keeps you busy and gives you very little in return. Real work is the stuff that actually gives you meaning and purpose and joy. It takes you forward. It gives you a sense of progress, a sense of achievement, a sense of satisfaction.

If you apply that kind of thinking to your work, your projects that you’re trying to get done before Christmas at work, the question there is, “Okay, what here is fake work? What’s actually not going to give us much return? What’s the real work here that’s going to give us the most return in terms of what we’re trying to achieve?”If you apply that to Christmas, home life and stuff, you need to think in terms of shat’s the stuff that actually doesn’t matter? What can you let go of and what will you focus on? Productivity is as much about saying no to things so that you can truly commit to what you really want.

4. Harness the power of the pause

Sometimes when things are really busy, the default position is to just get on and do it. JFDI is a good motto to have, but sometimes we can get so caught up with doing that we forget to think. However, when there’s a lot going on, actually what we need to do is give ourselves space to think, because thinking can make the difference between a really productive, satisfying day and a day when you just feel like you’ve been so busy but you’ve no idea what you’ve actually achieved. Giving ourselves the power of the pause, but actually permission to stop and think as well. It’s almost like a guilty pleasure.

Often, the most productive thing you can do to take a break, go for a walk, or stop what you’re doing, turn your emails off, your phone off, and get some clear thinking – “what is it that I need to do here?” On a bigger scale as well, that power of the pause in terms of our recharge time, our recovery, is really important. Our ability to make good decisions and do good thinking is a depleting resource. It’s like a muscle. The more decisions we make throughout the day, the more that muscle will get tired. Yes, we can train our muscles to handle more, but at the end of the day, it’s still going to get fatigued.

The same thing happens with our minds. We get decision fatigue. That’s why at the end of the day, you can go home and think, and get to the point where somebody asking you, “What’s for tea,” is like the question that breaks the camel’s back. It’s like, “I can’t deal with that anymore.”Ask yourself: “How can I give myself a break? or “How can I give myself one less thing to think about?”

5. Reframe it

One of the chapters in Grace’s book is about our mind monkeys and our lizard brain. It’s about what goes on in our head that causes overwhelm, procrastination and exhaustion. Overwhelm often comes from that conversation that’s going on inside your head. Quite often it’s our mind monkeys saying, “Who do you think you are? How are you going to get this done?”

More often than not, we play the conflict or the situation or the problem up to be bigger than it is, or maybe playing ourselves to be smaller than we are. If you find yourself thinking, “I HAVE to do this. I HAVE to do that.”, start playing with those words and maybe change them to, “I get to.”

So instead of, “I have all these things I HAVE to do.” it’s actually, “I GET to do this.” So, from “I have to organise Christmas presents for my family” to “I get to organise Christmas presents for my family” orfrom “I have to finish this report before next week” to “I get to finish this report before next week”If nothing else, it will make you smile!

If these 5 tips are freeing you up to think more constructively about “having to get everything done” in the run up to Christmas, then you’ll love Grace Marshall’s book. It’s a goldmine of strategies and common sense.

You can get the first chapter of How to be Really Productive FREE here: http://howtobereallyproductive.com

How to Feel Fabulously Confident at Work even in the Toughest Situations

Next week in The Academy, I’ll be welcoming Sherry Bevan, author of “The Confident Mother”.

Sherry will be teaching you “How to Feel Fabulously Confident at Work even in the Toughest Situations”.

In November’s masterclass, you wil learn:

· How to project confidence in the way you walk and talk
· How striving for perfection is a killer for your confidence
· Why it’s so important to give yourself permission for self-love
· How to boost your confidence by understanding your strengths and limitations
· Why it’s essential to journal your achievements at work to reinforce your identity

Our masterclasses are delivered by webinar an you can join wherever you are in the world, by your computer or by phone (we even have freephone numbers for most countries). Or you can wait until the recording is uploaded to the members’ area, watch it on demand or download the mp3 audio version and the slides and listen to it whilst you’re driving, cooking, walking or on taxi duty!

The Academy is a blended learning platform with support, self-development, masterminding and coaching for women, beautifully packaged within an online membership area that you can access 24/7, from anywhere in the World on any of your devices.

I’ve designed it to be flexible to different learning needs and varying time commitments (which for most of us that means not much time!). My big driver is to support middle to senior management women who are busy “doing it all” with very little support. I feel that these are the women who really need more support – and blossom when they get it!

Sometimes you just need a boost, sometimes you need a bit of coaching, other times you realise there’s a gap in your personal skill set that will help you achieve your personal and professional goals. This is where the Academy’s masterclasses come in. Each month, we have a guest expert who delivers a content rich webinar. But there is so much more to The Academy than the masterclasses. Take a look and discover all the benefits

There are 2 special offers for new members until 14th November, so now is definitely the best time to join! Click here to get the details

How to be more confident at work even in the toughest situations

By amandaalexander | Confidence

Coming Monday 16th November at 12.30pm GMT in The Academy for Talented Women

How to be fabulously confident at work even in the toughest situations

In this masterclass, you will learn:
· How to project confidence in the way you walk and talk
· How striving for perfection is a killer for your confidence
· Why it’s so important to give yourself permission for self-love
· How to boost your confidence by understanding your strengths and limitations
· Why it’s essential to journal your achievements at work to reinforce your identity

Want to join us? Join the Academy NOW. You’ll get the recording and downloads even if you can’t make the masterclass live on Monday! 

Our masterclass expert, Sherry Bevan…

Sherry Bevan runs The Confident Mother which is all about celebrating and loving life as a woman and as a mother. Everything she does is to help women feel confident as a woman and as a mother. Sherry believes that confidence comes from these five elements: work, wellness, contribution, family and the feminine. How you balance those elements is unique to each woman and changes at different stages in your life. Get those five in balance in the way that’s just right for you and you WILL love your life and get to know how to be more confident at work as a woman and as a mother. After more than 25 years working as a senior technology manager in professional services, coming back from an almost fatal head injury on the race circuit, two bouts of severe postnatal depression, retraining as a breastfeeding counsellor, two promotions while on maternity leave, then redundancy, Sherry set up her own business in 2012 to have a more flexible working life and more quality time with her children. She is an action-taker who knows exactly how to move women beyond the confidence blocks and inertia that holding them back.

Sherry is the author of The Confident Mother which was published in September 2015. For more details and to read a sample chapter, visit http://theconfidentmother.co.uk/book/

Feel free to connect with Sherry prior to the masterclass:
Twitter @SherryRB and @NCTMum
LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/sherrybevan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheConfidentMotherUK

Want to join us? Join the Academy NOW. You’ll get the recording and downloads even if you can’t make the masterclass live on Monday! 

How to talk about your achievements (without feeling boastful)

By amandaalexander | Confidence

“We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”

You probably recognize the quote from Marianne Williamson. Here it is in full..

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

A few weeks ago, I interviewed one of the finalists of today’s Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards in the Midlands. The finalist is a lady I nominated for the Awards. Her name is Grace Marshall and she is also one of my extraordinarily proud-making clients.

The interview came about because, during our coaching call, Grace wanted to get to the heart of something she was uncomfortable about: Self-Promotion. All finalists of the Forward Ladies WIBA are encouraged to shout about their achievements as finalists.

And yet, it’s easier said than done, to shout about our achievements, isn’t it?  And Grace was exactly the same as the rest of us – she had “little old me” syndrome! 

In the interview, Grace and I talked about:

  • How Grace initially felt that she wasn’t “worthy” of being nominated for an award compared to other women who had overcome huge life challenges
  • The problem with comparing ourselves to other people – and how to stop!
  • What “personal branding” really means – and how it actually allows you to embrace your weaknesses as well as your strengths
  • How to “get over yourself” and tell people about things you are proud of achieving, without feeling that you are being boastful or self-indulgent.
  • And, as Marianne Williamson said, how, when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same

This was part-interview, part-coaching and when you listen to the recording, you’ll love how Grace’s wisdom pours out as we unpick her resistance to allowing herself to shine. I think you will thoroughly enoy this interview and I hope that it will give you permission to shine.

Here are 4 of the key learning points from the interview, in Grace’s own words:

  1. By  learning to acknowledge your own achievements, you give others the permission to do the same

Grace said: “If we are acknowledging our successes, if we are promoting ourselves, a way that we can feel more comfortable, more at ease is by promoting others as well, celebrating other’s success. The more that we can celebrate our own success, the more we feel competent enough to be able to celebrate others for their particular unique qualities because we are happy in our own skin… And if as a result of me being a finalist, other women decide that they can put themselves forward as well because they are more deserving, that is a good thing.”

  1. Self-acknowledgment is key to helping you to build momentum

Grace said: “I think every time I sit down and just go through the motions of acknowledging what I’ve done and what I’ve achieved or what I’ve overcome, there is a transformation that happens in me that goes from so I guess it goes from dismissing or overlooking or just kind of normalizing to just properly acknowledging. And I get a sense of satisfaction, I get a sense of completion, I get a sense of achievement, I get a renewed sense of momentum for what comes next as well.”

  1. Self-acknowledgement is a brilliant personal productivity strategy

Grace said: “There are some things that don’t feel productive, that feel self-indulgent or lazy or pointless. But actually some of those things can be the most productive thing that we do. Things like giving us all the time to think. Things like recharging. Things like getting a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes taking a break can feel unproductive. It feels like we are not doing the work but actually if that helps us to be at our best, it helps us to do our best work, therefore it’s productive. And the same thing goes with celebrating achievements. Sometimes it feels like well, I’ve got so much to do, it feels way too self-indulgent to stop and celebrate what I’ve done because I’ve got to get on with what I need to do.”

  1. You don’t have to be a star, but you can be a light

Grace said: “I think there’s a difference between being a star and being a light. So I think we would look at people and go oh wow they are like a star and they are shining brightly like they are amazing. But actually the best stars are the ones that shine their light on other people. And you know for me, if I think about being a star, look at me, you know that doesn’t sit well with me. But if I think if I had actually all I want to do is be a light, I can be a light for other people.

So I can shine a light on the pathway of other people. Also when you are a light you reflect back to people what they are doing. And where they are strong and where they are shining. So a light is always about looking back at the people that you are shining on. And so I think you know for me it’s about being a light rather than being a star. So it’s about being able to illuminate other people but in order to do any either of those you have to shine. So you have to be willing to shine in order to be a light for this.”

And that is a beautiful metaphor to conclude – shine your light so that others can be illuminated too. There’s nothing boastful or self-indulgent about that!

Listen to the Interview

Do you have a bucket list?

By amandaalexander | Uncategorized

“I don’t have a bucket list. But my f****t list is a mile long”

I watched a programme one evening this week called “Before I kick the bucket”. It’s about Rowena Kincaid, who has stage 4 breast cancer. She’s single and 39 years old. The documentary examines the concept of having a “bucket list” and how the issue is forced when, at such a young age, Rowena discovers she has only months to live. It was a thought-provoking documentary, made by a courageous and spirited woman.

We’ve all heard of a Bucket List: Described by Google as “A number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.”

But SHOULD you have a Bucket List?

Here are the conclusions made by Rowena, me and a couple of wise women, on why we think you should KICK your bucket list!

1 – Nobody in this World will ever be able to do/see/experience everything, so choose what’s really important to YOU, rather than all those things you have convinced yourself you should do, because someone else said so.
Stop comparing your life with other people’s lives. Just get on with living your life though the lens of your own values.

2 – Quality beats quantity when it comes to experiences.
Have you ever seen Japanese tourists on a whirlwind tour of Europe? I often notice them in Grasmere, perhaps the most famous village in the Lake District (it was William Wordsworth’s home). These hapless tourists never get the chance to walk up the fells and soak in the amazing views above Grasmere. Instead they are herded on and off coaches to speed off to the next place. Whilst they are ticking off plenty of places on their itinerary, they never get to fully experience the beauty and wonder of those places.

3 – People who are dying invariably regret the people they didn’t spend time with far more than the experiences they missed.
Life is about people and love rather than things or even experiences. I remember a coaching exercise I did some years ago. The idea is that you ask yourself a series of questions:

“What would I want to do if I knew I had only 10 years to live?”
“What would I do if I knew I had only 1 year to live?” and so on down to just a day to live. Focuses the mind!

What you’ll find – it will be no surprise – is that the shorter the time period, the more you’ll focus on people, not places or experiences.

4 – Having enriching experiences doesn’t mean you have to streak naked through the town centre or jump out of a plane every day. It simply means appreciating the little moments of joy we ALL have in each day. Need I say more? Live in the moment as much as you can!

5 – Kim shared this: “You don’t know how long you have left, and that’s only genuinely driven home when the reality of that actually hits you for real. It becomes a wake up call rather than a set of words we all joyfully bandy about. Don’t therefore live each day as if it were your last, but instead live each day to its fullest and with joy, love and gratitude for the people and the world about you, and the opportunities that they bring for love, laughter, work, beauty, and for doing the things that you love doing.

6 – And finally, this, from Lisa, is brilliant: Instead of a “Bucket List”, choose to have a “Lived List”. “We should be living our lives and soaking up the treasured memories they will give us. Not worrying about when we will die and ticking things off a list. Just live and enjoy your lived list.”

So, kick your bucket list, soak in the view, enjoy each precious moment of your weekend!

Warmly
Amanda x

This week’s ramblings..

This week I discovered banana pancakes. 2 ingredients – 1 banana, 2 eggs. I added a little vanilla extract and cinnamon to the ‘batter’. Simply blend and pour small quantities onto a griddle. The flipping is the trickiest bit. I have since been advised to grill the top side to avoid flipping altogether.
They were, quite simply, delicious. I ate mine with blueberries and coconut chips. Highly recommend you try them if you haven’t done so already!

 

Useful Links

3 secrets for overcoming self-doubt when you’re “on show”

By amandaalexander | Uncategorized

If you get nervous about networking, imagine HOSTING a networking event! That’s what I did this week when I hosted the monthly “Power Business Breakfast” in Manchester for  in my new position as their North West Regional Director.

These are the thoughts and feelings that came up for me on Wednesday:

 I noticed slight nerves at the beginning.
 I noticed the uber-confident woman and how she made me feel. My thoughts: “Wow… I wish I was as confident as her” and “Yikes”.
 I noticed the shy, nervous women. My thoughts: “I want you to feel comfortable and confident. I want to do everything I can to help you succeed”.
 I noticed how I felt when I did the introductory and welcome spiel: *”Am I waffling? Do I appear calm and confident? Do they think I’m being ‘salesy’ telling them about Forward Ladies?” Now, there’s a limiting belief I’m still battling with!

All I could do was show up as myself – with all my imperfections, insecurities and quirks – and trust that I am good enough. That’s all we need to do, but often easier said than done for most of us when we are stretching outside our comfort zone.

So how can you do this, in practical terms? Here’s what works for me:

 I tried to learn as many names as possible and as much as I could about a few people I had longer conversations with.
 I marvelled at how different we all were – and yet how we all shared that common bond of quietly wanting to “look good” on several levels. Even the uber-confident lady!
 I did my welcome spiel – even daring to suggest that some of them might consider the fantastic  for our forthcoming Women in Business Awards! 🙂
 I thought that the meeting had probably gone well, but you never know, as people are generally polite when they leave! But I didn’t chew it over. I trusted that I’d focused on the lovely bunch of women who had invested their time to come to the meeting, rather than on my “performance”
 I put my focus on being ‘of service’. This works most of the time for me as a Coach. In fact it is something I often share with coaches I mentor: Focus on the person you’re serving and forget about whether you’re being a “good” Coach. It works a treat for nervous new coaches!

In short, these are my 3 very simple secrets for overcoming self-doubt when you are on show:

1. Be gently curious about what’s going on in your head. Be very kind to yourself. It’s about simply noticing the inner dialogue without getting attached:

“Interesting….I’m feeling a bit intimidated”. _ 
“Interesting.. I’m worrying about how I look”_

Simply be interested. The thoughts will come and go.

1. Be of service. This means focus on others, not yourself.
2. Be yourself. You ARE enough. Honestly. Cross my heart and hope to die!

And of course, remember that everybody else is probably too busy worrying about what you think of them to be judging you!

This week’s ramblings..Helping Migrants

Like most people, I feel shocked and appalled by the increasingly desperate and complex refugee crisis. I don’t have all the answers and I know that we can all argue until the cows come home about which injustice or horror “deserves” our attention more. But debate rarely saves lives.

I’m a bit of an action woman and I believe that any type of action makes a difference. Doing something, however tiny, is better than doing nothing and shaking our heads. And it only takes a TINY bit of action by many individuals to make a BIG difference.

One thing we can ALL do is donate a tiny bit of our money. I discovered a wonderful charity today – MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station).

MOAS was started by the Catrambones family after the 400 migrants drowned near the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2013. It is dedicated to preventing loss of life at sea by providing assistance to migrants who find themselves in distress while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe vessels. To date they have saved 11,124 lives. I love this – it’s getting on with doing what needs to be done.

I have donated and if you like the ethos of MOAS and their very practical and immediate intervention, maybe you would like to join me and donate just a little bit of money to help them too? Any action is better than no action. Even £1.. it might seem an insignificant amount, but when many people donate £1.. BIG impact!

The Catrambones family hope to dispel Pope Francis calls the “globalisation of indifference”. I read a quote today about indifference: “The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.” It’s harsh, but it makes you think, doesn’t it? The positive flip side is that when we care in a practical way, we are acting with love.

If you’d like to donate a tiny amount to MOAS, you’ll be making a difference.Here’s the link to their donate page

Useful Links

“Inspiring Women Interviews” – Amanda’a Podcast on ITunes 
“Inspiring Women Interviews” – Amanda’a Podcast on Stitcher 
“Inspiring Women Interviews” – Amanda’s Podcast Episodes and Transcripts on her website 
Get Amanda’s FREE “Imposter Syndrome Quit Kit” – Take the test, get strategies to increase your self-belief. For women who feel as if they are going to be “found out’ – and it’s FREE! 
Amanda Alexander’s Facebook Page 
Connect with Amanda on Linked In 
Connect with Amanda on Twitter 
Amanda on Forward Ladies 
Migrant Offshore Aid Station

Revealed! The 3 Core Essentials to Getting The Life You Want

By amandaalexander | Uncategorized

revealedOnce upon a time, there was a young woman who had a career as an IT Project Manager and that was fine. She earned a good salary, travelled quite a bit, experienced some exciting times and some miserable times. She achieved some stuff and she failed at some stuff.

Then one day she became pregnant. When she was 5 months pregnant, her husband was made redundant. Two weeks later she too was threatened with redundancy. Her life was most definitely in transition!

It was as if a Pandora’s box of self-doubt, fear and uncertainty had been opened in that young woman’s life.

One day, amidst the uncertainty, she stumbled upon the concept of life coaching. She hired a Life Coach and this is what she wrote to her new Coach before they spoke:

“I am very worried that my life from now on will just be a struggle.”

“I am due to go back to work in October, and I am dreading it.”

“We cannot afford for me not to work, or for me to take a job on a much lower salary.”

She didn’t sound very happy, did she?

She told her Coach what she most wanted:

1. To find a way of making money that I am passionate about, and that allows me to have time to bring up my son – to achieve that work/life balance
2. To have the courage, energy and tenacity to go for whatever I do.
3. To feel good about myself – instead of constantly being dissatisfied with myself.
4. To stop worrying and enjoy today.

The above was copied word for word from the original document, in case you’re wondering….

Fast-forward almost 14 years. A lot has changed in that young woman’s life. For a start, most people would not call her “young”! 😉

However, she is in a very different place and has achieved what she most wanted:

She has plenty of courage, energy and tenacity.
She feels good about herself
She is bringing up not 1 but 2 sons
She still worries occasionally, but MUCH less than she used to.
She is able to see the gift in each day, even when there are challenges.
She knows how to live in the present.
Even though she is always too busy, she relishes her life and actually has a pretty good work life balance.
She rarely “disses” herself now. She is much kinder to herself. She is clear on who she is and what makes her unique… even though she still can’t express what differentiates her from other Coaches in 5 seconds!

No prizes for guessing…You might have suspected that this young woman was me.

I am sharing this very personal glimpse into my own life all those years ago because I want to reassure you that, you too can have what you want, be who you want and feel good about yourself. No matter what your situation.

And you can start getting the life you want now, and this is how..

Revealed! The 3 Core Essentials to Getting The Life You Want

1. Really knowing yourself and being yourself
2. Trusting yourself
3. Understanding what’s most important to you – your core values

And the great news is that I’m going to coach you around these 3 core essentials…

Introducing SELF-DISCOVERY 101

I’ve created this FREE 3-part video “coaching” programme so that you can start with these core essentials and get the life you want, right now. You can start with the first video TODAY.

When you enroll on Self-Discovery 101, you’ll get access to 3 video coaching sessions with me. You’ll also get FREE interactive workbooks to accompany each session. And by the way, the workbooks are GORGEOUS! Just sayin’… !

Coaching, not Telling

In each video, I’m NOT going to tell you what to do. But I AM going to coach you. And I’ll tell you why I’m taking this approach – Because coaching you is much more effective than telling you. Coaching is much more powerful than 5 Top Tips, 3 Sexy Secrets or 7 Super Strategies.

This is what my coach approach in this unique 3-part video programme will do for you:

1. Give you space to do some quality thinking.
2. Hold up a “mirror” so that you can see yourself clearly
3. Get you pondering on via a series of incisive questions that will prompt you to access your own inner wisdom (yes, it’s in there!)

Coaching is based on the principle that you have the answers within you, and this is why I am so excited and delighted to bring you this unique programme These questions are designed to help you to:
KNOW YOURSELF

Once you know yourself, I will ask you questions to help you to start to: LIKE YOURSELF

And once you start to like yourself, I will ask you questions to help you to: ORIENT YOUR LIFE AROUND YOUR CORE VALUES

Once you’ve done this, the final piece of the “self-discovery” jigsaw is self-belief. Which is why, in Video 3, I’m going to coach you through my 10-step process so that you begin to:
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

Self-Discovery 101 will get you to hop off the treadmill and get a clearer perspective on what a successful life mens to you. Starting with who you are and what’s important to you. In turn, this will help you make informed decisions about your life and your career. Self-Discovery 101 is where it all starts…

Click here to enroll NOW on Self-Discovery 101 (it’s FREE!)

Please spread the word about Self-Discovery 101!

As you can probably imagine, Self-Discovery 101 has taken time, effort, thought and money to create. By putting it out there, I’m building my authority by sharing my skills and giving people a small taste of what it’s like to be coached by me.

You can do something marvelous that will “pay it forward”, add great karma to your life and that will “thank” me with one simple action. Please share with your friends and colleagues. It’s fast and easy:

You can either:

1. Share this link for Self-Discovery 101 with your social media channels
And/or…
2. Forward this email Thank you! 🙂

Sign up for Self-Discovery 101 here

p.s. You can access Self-Discovery 101 video coaching programme for 3 weeks only, so do enrol now.

***

Random Ramblings

This weekend I’m hoping to improve my bushcraft fire-lightning skills, roll a Cuban cigar, meet Cerys Matthews, throw an axe, learn the essential parts of a pig, skin a rabbit and listen to Ben Fogle around a campfire.

But most of all, I’m hoping that I can erect our tent by myself this evening.

We’re heading to “The Good Life Experience – a Weekend of Fun and Discovery with Music, Books, Food and the Great Outdoors”

I’ll let you know what new skills I’ve learnt next week!

***

On being yourself

By amandaalexander | Confidence


onbeingyourself

Being yourself – one simple phrase. But what on earth does it actually mean to be yourself? And do you really know who you are? And what do you do when being yourself means being vulnerable?

Because let’s face it, if you truly ARE yourself, then some people won’t approve. Some won’t like you. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, after all. And what if “yourself” is “not good enough”?

What if you feel you have to “act” more formal, more funky, more corporate, more arty, more senior, more SOMETHING to achieve success? What if you are worried that “you” just doesn’t cut the mustard?

Believe me, this is something that I have battled with many times in my own personal growth journey! I’m going to briefly share with you what I’ve noticed this week. I’ve had conversations with a handful of the UK’s most influential women in business this week, with many more to come.

I have experienced self-doubt on many occasions during these conversations. With some of these women, I ended the conversation with thoughts like these nibbling away at me:

“Did she like me?”
“Did I come over as professional?”
“Did I waffle?”

to name but a few of the thoughts! Isn’t it fascinating, how much we question ourselves?!

Of course, some of the women I’ve spoken to and met this week may well think that “me” is a bit too enthusiastic, not refined enough, a bit too “whatever” for their taste.

However, others will feel the opposite. We connect with some people, more than others. I came off some of the phone calls buzzing, feeling as if I’d really connected with a like-minded soul. And that made me believe MORE in myself.

As the week has gone on, I have kept daring myself to be ME, more and more. And life has brought me several opportunities for that dare, but more about that another time.

This is the point: Daring to be yourself takes a heck of a lot of courage. Because, as we both know, some people won’t like you! But guess what, some will!

Here are a few coaching questions to ponder:

What do you worry about when you are interacting with people you don’t know?
Do you notice that there are certain friends or colleagues with whom you “put on act” when you are in their company?
Who are the people that you can be absolutely you, no holds barred with? Hint: There are likely to be very few!
What if you dared yourself to show a bit more of the true you to those people? Do you dare?

If you’d like to really get to know yourself and you are willing to play, I’ve got something so utterly brilliant coming up, that you’ll need to wear sunglasses because you’ll be so dazzled!

Next week, I’m launching a 3-part video coaching course. I’d go so far as to say it’s unique. I haven’t seen anything like it before.

You’ll get me coaching you over the course of 3 videos.

You will sit quietly with the questions, hitting pause on the videos as required.

And you will experience just a tiny element of the power of coaching.

Here’s what I am going to coach you on in these videos:

1. How to Know Yourself, Like Yourself and Be Yourself
2. How to Understand What You Want
3. How to Trust Yourself

This is important, essential and powerful stuff. And oh so necessary. Too many women are afraid of being themselves. Yet it’s the golden key to success, fulfilment and balance. Too many women don’t know what they want or what they are about because they have been so busy focusing on helping others. I’m on a mission to change all that!

Oh, and I almost forgot. The video coaching programme is going to be 100% FREE!

[Firstname] I strongly suspect you’re going to love it. I haven’t decided yet what to call the free video coaching programme, though. If inspiration strikes you for a title, please drop me an email!

Yours, excitedly, adventurously and authentically
Amanda x

Useful Links