Chocolate Is My Kindness – What’s Yours?

I love chocolate when I’m working at the computer – I am way more creative after a mid-afternoon cuppa and some good dark chocolate, maybe with orange pieces. Today’s delicious dark chocolate inspired me to finally write this chocolate blog.

There are so many times when a little dark chocolate tastes so delicious – for chocolate lovers it’s a great idea to always carry some with you. It can stop you reaching for that big cream bun – it is after all the healthier option of the two.

Many of us in our quest for health and happiness try really hard to eat well, exercise and be generally healthy. I am one of those people. Sometimes, when people try too hard however, and deny themselves chocolate (or other little kindnesses like fresh air, time to oneself, the odd massage etc), this can actually cause stress. Consistent self-denial can result in unhappiness, anxiety, anger, depression and a host of physical ailments. Always making sacrifices for the good of others may not actually result in helping others. “Others”, being family members, friends, colleagues are happier dealing with happy self-fulfilled people rather than martyrs who are stressed from self-denial and behave accordingly.

Some years ago I was running a business that was particularly stressful and in order to keep on top of things I convinced myself that I had to be 100% healthy to have the focus and energy to succeed (through the recession). I denied myself sugar, including chocolate during most weekdays, only allowed at weekends. I was very stressed which I put down to business pressures – however, it was also the denial to myself of any little kindness whilst allowing the business to consume my thoughts and actions that also contributed to the stress. In the intervening years, working on my own self-development and also with clients as a coach I have come to know that being kind to yourself as well as to others, not only decreases stress but improves confidence and really contributes to life’s happiness & enjoyment.

My little kindness to me often comes in the form of chocolate – what’s your kindness to you?

Values and a Sense of Purpose – Fundamental Building Blocks for Creating Meaningful Goals

Values and a Sense of Purpose – Fundamental Building Blocks for Creating Meaningful Goals

Many of us have verbal and often written goals to work towards in adult life – both personal and career goals. The basis of a healthy relationship with goals is keeping in mind that the key intention in setting and working towards them is to be aware of how you want to feel when you achieve them.

Where my own goals are concerned, some have been achieved, many were not. Whilst it is always quite satisfactory to cross an achieved goal off a list, the real feeling for me in the past was often more of a sense of relief than exhilaration at reaching the goal. With the un-achieved goals on lists over the years, on reviewing these, I sometimes managed to convince myself I didn’t really want to achieve that goal anyway, because if I had, I would have carried out what was necessary to achieve it. I justified to myself that there was a valid reason why I didn’t make it and often changed the goal to something else. Recently I examined my feelings on goals and realised that because I hadn’t articulated my own sense of purpose prior to setting goals that perhaps I wasn’t setting the best goals for me i.e. goals that would result in me feeling how I wanted to feel.

Goals, because I worked on them before I articulated my beliefs and became clear about my values frequently did not have a sense of purpose that resonated with me – often felt to me like something I “should do”. Goals can be an ego trip for some people. Goals that seem important pump up our self-image. Whilst having goals is useful, I don’t believe it’s the first place we should start when planning life, happiness and reaching our full potential in our personal and professional lives. Pursuing goals without meaning saps energy. Goals are wonderful when backed by clear values and a sense of purpose. To quote Danielle Laporte author of “The Desire Map” “Shouting goals at yourself deafens your truth – goals with soul will energise and keep you on track”.

When working on goals, I would suggest taking two steps back and firstly, working out what you really value in life; how your daily actions honour these values, and next, when you are clear on your values, articulate for yourself a purpose statement that resonates with you, makes you feel great and that you fervently, happily believe in.

 “Purpose” is defined as the reason which something exists: the reason for doing something which gives meaning to actions. Purpose is unique and personal, we don’t measure it, yet it hugely influences goals which we measure all the time. Purpose is felt in the heart.

To find your true sense of purpose, you need to take time, giving yourself the space to get in touch with how you really, honestly feel about your life; what you believe in and value and crucially how you would like to feel on a daily basis – what makes you feel great. Give yourself permission to find what’s authentic within you to allow yourself to progress through life.

When we are crystal clear on what we value most in life, then we have in our hearts what we need to define our sense of purpose. Clarity about what you value is essential to develop a healthy relationship with your goals. Don’t censure or disapprove of what you want. Don’t resist the feelings.

Fulfilled, successful people and businesses in life are those with a purpose – a clearly defined purpose. Goals with meaning are goals that are achievable – the only type of goals to have.

Coaching, My Experience – From Skeptic To Believer

Welcome to The Coaching Equation Blog. I am a Business & Executive Coach & Mentor and view Coaching as your catalyst to success. When I started to study Coaching I was at a bit of a cross-roads. I had been in business for many years and had just taken a year off when I began the Advanced Diploma in Personal & Executive Coaching at Kingstown College, Dublin. When I left my previous business I was absolutely shattered physically, mentally, emotionally and needed some recovery time. I had read some coaching books over the years, surfed the net on Coaching, used some of the techniques on an ad-hoc basis – Coaching makes big claims. I couldn’t really decide what to do next and figured I would give it a go.

I knew I would really enjoy the experience; felt certain it would further my self-development. I wasn’t sure whether it would be my next career but what the heck, I needed to do something and I chose Coaching.

What was great was, that from the first moment I entered the college, there was a friendly atmosphere full of positivity. When we started learning the basic Coaching tools though, they seemed so straightforward and simple, I wondered how such uncomplicated techniques could produce the huge positive changes they claimed.

I had taken a decision to embrace Coaching, whether it became my next career or not. So, I read a lot, practiced on various willing (and not so willing) volunteers. I changed some of my own habits. Early in the course we worked on our own beliefs, values and sense of purpose. I became very clear about my own sense of purpose. When I decide (daily) to honour this purpose, everyone benefits. I am more patient with my husband and daughter; more focused and more productive at work. I have really interesting, positive, fun conversations with lots of different people. My creativity which had practially disappeared, is back with a bang and I have great energy. All well and good, I thought but I still wondered how a few short sessions with people who were very busy, stressed, probably over-worked and tired, would result in big changes – fast.

Before meeting my very first client I was really nervous. Even though I had practiced with a lot, I wondered how I would get on with a real client. I decided that all I could do was trust the process and believe that by really listening, using relevant tools and asking relevant powerful questions, the client would find the answers that were already within. I prepared well also. Would you believe – it worked! Using a pre-designed methodology, the client by getting to know herself and how certain beliefs were limiting her; taking some small actions, arming herself with appropriate tools, actually made huge changes. The transformation was incredible; the client was thrilled. I became a firm believer!

Time has passed and working with clients now; seeing the way, after a very short period of time, big change can happen by taking small steps is actually amazing. You don’t have to take your life asunder to benefit. I wonder how my own career would have gone, had I worked with a great coach early on. Whilst, Coaching is forward-focused, if I was to allow myself one single wish for the past, it would be that I had used coaching. Also, given that I personally, in all aspects of life and work, like to see results quickly and simply, coaching delivers a lot. Little changes have a big impact. One client likened it to a big tanker at sea – a 2 degree change in direction puts it 40km off course.

A particularly useful tool I use is the “Yes/No” question, ie if I say “No” to something what exactly am I saying “Yes” to and vice versa. This is a great tool for decision-making . For example if I say “No” to an early morning run or yoga, I am saying “Yes” to a day that’s not going to be 100% productive. If I say “Yes” to a late night cup of tea or coffee, I am saying “No” to a good night’s sleep, therefore to tomorrow being productive.

I love Coaching. Coming from various businesses which although exciting at times were very stressful and where I did not feel I added value to people’s lives, to a life where powerful questions lead to breakthrough insights; revolutionary tools combine with powerful strategies, all to deliver increased productivity whilst balancing life’s demands is amazing. I have always believed that if you want something badly enough, you will find a way to make it happen. Often that road whilst delivering the end goal was torturous. Now, I know that there are straightforward, effective formulae to actually get rid of the torture and make reaching your potential enjoyable too.

Why Chase Happiness?

What is happiness anyway? Is it worth striving for? Psychology Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book “The How of Happiness” describes happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile”. Makes sense right?Happiness is subjective. For each and every one of us, the things that bring happiness will be different.   For me a good night’s sleep followed by an early morning run or yoga set the dial to happiness every day (a snoring husband can sometimes interfere with this so I keep a good stock of earplugs at the ready!).

Family, friends and work all benefit when I stick to this plan. For someone else, it will be coffee with friends on a regular basis or reaching sales targets at work, maybe just getting some alone-time each day.  We are all unique and our happiness formulae are too. However, the benefits of happiness along with the tools we use to be happy will be the largely the same for all of us.

I have listed my Top 10 below:

  1. DECIDE you will be both happy and successful.
  2. Be THANKFUL every day.
  3. SMILE a lot.
  4. KNOW what makes you happy. DO more of it.
  5. Write down your Top 5 VALUES.
  6. DO something every day to honour those values.
  7. Create your own PURPOSE statement. Say it every morning.
  8. Be KIND to yourself and others.
  9. EXERCISE, preferably outside.
  10. Be interested in others – LISTEN, SOCIALISE.

The benefits of happiness are enormous – better health, more fulfilling relationships, decreased stress and improved coping mechanisms; increased productivity and creativity, more fun. The list goes on…

Worth the effort? Absolutely.