How Successful People Banish Negative Beliefs and Why You Need To Do This Now

Negative or limiting beliefs are what we believe about ourselves that holds us back. Beliefs like, I’m not good enough, not educated enough, I get everything wrong, I’m not likeable… These beliefs stop you feeling good about yourself, cause time-wasting, angst and unhappiness.

Your personal belief system is what it is, as a result of your previous knowledge & experiences. Beliefs develop from an early age and are often acquired from parents, teachers and other influential people in our lives. Having strong beliefs gives us a sense of why we exist and where we are going in life – our beliefs underpin our sense of purpose and influence our values and behaviours. Some beliefs we hold about ourselves may not actually be true but because we believe them, they are our reality.

For instance, one client of mine who was told ‘once’ when she was a child that she was stupid and that she’d never “amount to anything”, has always deep-down, believed this even though there is absolutely no evidence to prove this. She owns and manages a very successful business. Yet, believing deep-inside that she was stupid meant that she was always pessimistic about the future prospects of her business and she worried all the time that her business would fail. This belief adversely affected her decision-making abilities and, all that worry became a habit that started to affect her relationships and her own happiness.

After working on this negative belief and finding the evidence that it was NOT true, then changing her self-talk to the positive “I am intelligent and make wise choices”, she was able to make certain decisions she had been putting off for a long time. She repeated to herself at least three times every day the following phrase: “I am intelligent and make wise choices”. This helped her well-being and her life enormously.

She said that that this was like a weight being lifted from her shoulders. She felt able to take action on the stuff she had been afraid of.

  1. She promoted one particular employee to be her #2, thus giving herself more family time and crucially – time to take action on a long-held dream of hers, to visit India.
  2. She dealt with some health issues that she’d been putting off for some time as she always chose work first. A wise choice, by an intelligent lady.
  3. She went on a long overdue trip to climb in the Himalayas, spent some time exploring that part of the world, finishing up in a yoga retreat in India.

And all because she banished one single negative belief.

I wrote this blog because I have seen time and time again the huge benefits that come from banishing negative beliefs. It seems so simple that you may wonder if this can really work. Well, it has worked for me and I see it working with clients on a daily basis. Why live life with those negative niggles going round in your head, causing you stress and driving you crazy. These negative beliefs can be banished with just a little effort – boy, it is worth it.

You are not alone in having negative beliefs. Most, if not all of us have experience of negative beliefs that worm their way into our psyche and cause us stress. We must get rid of these beliefs to get things done and to succeed in life. Good news is that there is one very simple tool that you can use, starting RIGHT NOW to banish your negative beliefs.

If you take one thing from this blog, it is the power of positive affirmations. You must design the right ones for you and you must use them daily – it doesn’t take time from your day. Find the one that works for you, then it’s just a matter of repeating this daily until you believe it. Your beliefs have been yours for a very long time, it will take discipline and positive reinforcement to change negative for positive beliefs.

So, how do you change the way you have always thought about yourself—your long-held beliefs?

Firstly, acknowledge what you believe. Name the biggest culprit here – the single most powerful negative belief that holds you back. Is it that you’re:

  • not likeable, so you’re afraid to socialise and meet new people?
  • that you believe you won’t cope if you fail, therefore don’t try stuff?
  • Could it be that you believe it’s weak to ask for help so become overwhelmed trying to do everything yourself?

Be honest with yourself, as this is the quickest way to change those beliefs that aren’t working for you. And, realise this — very small changes can deliver big results. Changing your beliefs about reality is a powerful way to change the reality that you experience, because what you believe to be true is what you create to be true.
Below are some questions which will help you determine your biggest limiting beliefs and replace them with positive ones. Answer these to find out

What are the biggest problems face in achieving your goals and desires?

  1. Identify three long-held beliefs that may be limiting you, that is, that contribute most to the issues. For example, do you believe you don’t deserve love, happiness, or success? Do you believe you’re not likeable? Do you believe that unless you work longer than everyone else you don’t deserve to succeed? Writing down the answers can be helpful.
  2. What’s the implication of having these beliefs? If you’re self-limiting belief is that you’re not good enough – write down how this serves you, what is this belief stopping you from achieving? If you believe you can’t ever win an argument, what effect has this on your relationships and your life in general? Write down the effects on your life for each negative belief that you hold.
  3. We all choose how we behave and are also free to choose what we believe about ourselves and the world. For each of your three negative beliefs listed above, next, identify what you would need to believe to be true for each one, for you to change them from holding you back to helping you get what you want? For example, if you believe that failure is only bad, substituting that belief with, “Failure is a learning experience and makes me stronger” or even “Failure gives me funny stories to tell” is much more useful and can help you make that essential change to get what you want. I’m guessing that if you believe you must work harder than everyone else to succeed, you probably spend more time in the office than everyone else, to the detriment of other areas of your life—right? Swapping this belief for something like, “I am productive and deliver my work on time” can actually help you do just that. They’re your beliefs, so use your own words to formulate your new set of positive ones. If you’re finding it difficult to replace long-held negative beliefs with positive ones, try this:
  4. Search for the evidence. When we look for evidence for those negative beliefs, there rarely is any to be found. In swapping your negative belief for a positive one that’s meaningful to you, search for the evidence. An example would be if you believe you’re not good enough to go for a promotion in work, remind yourself how you succeeded when you got your job in the first place. What did you do well? What belief did you hold that got you to that interview? There’s the evidence that you can do it. If you don’t believe you have what it takes to scale your business – what beliefs did you hold about yourself that gave you the confidence to set up your business in the first place. Recapture how you felt, what you believed back then – this is your evidence.

To embed the new beliefs in your being, to really feel that new belief, it’s crucial that you actually believe it. The benefit of answering the questions above is that you identify the belief that’s holding you back, find evidence in your life for the opposite to be true then you’re perfectly positioned to swap the negative belief for the positive.

How to make your new, positive beliefs stick:

There are a number of ways that help to embed the new positive beliefs in your psyche so that the positive becomes your new reality.

  1. Focus on these positive beliefs daily. Repeat them every day as positive affirmations. For example, “I am great at interviews” and “I am kind and loveable.”
  2. Many find it helpful to write them down every day – then read them to yourself.
  3. Visualise yourself as whatever you believe. For example, if you would like to be a powerful public speaker, imagine yourself on that stage, speaking to an enthralled crowd, to huge applause.
  4. Test the new beliefs. For example, if you now believe you’re productive at work, give yourself the task of getting your work finished by 5:00 p.m., feeling good about it, and getting out of your workplace to have some fun.

Choose the method of embedding these beliefs that works best for you. You may choose more than one.

Final tip,

So, you have your new positive beliefs now right? But you forgot to say them today, forgot to read them. Hmm… They’re not going to stick are they? The single best way to remember is to give yourself a trigger – for example, if you drive to work, why not say your positive affirmation each time you close your car door. Use the door banging shut as your reminder. You could say it each time you open or close your front door at home – or every time you drink a coffee. You may like to set a daily reminder on your phone. Choose the trigger that works best for you. If you like to look in the mirror a lot – what better trigger than that! Have a look at yourself in the mirror and say “I am good enough!” or whatever affirmation you have chosen that will work best for you.
Wishing you confidence and success with your new positive beliefs.

A Powerful Question to Help Get to Those Things You’ve Been Putting Off For A While…

One Powerful Question to help Quick-Start Positive Change in your Life

When I was first asked this question, I found it instantly helped me to think differently about certain aspects of my life. As I wrote down the answers, it very quickly became clear to me that if I acted to sort out the parts of my life that I was just putting up with, life would be better, certain relationships would improve, I’d have increased focus, less stress… Ask yourself this one question:

What am I tolerating in my life right now?

What is a toleration? Quite simply it’s stuff you’re putting up with that bothers you – this can be something seemingly minor like a cluttered corner of your house or office that you know needs to get sorted, and it can be something rather large, such as a colleague who is so negative, they drain your energy. Tolerations are things that without which, your life would be better. These can be eliminated with huge benefits to you such as decreased frustration and stress, clearer thinking, more time, better health and energy – a better life.

The first step in eliminating tolerations is to name them. Ask yourself now: What am I tolerating in my life right now?

See listed below some examples of tolerations to help start your thinking process – everyone’s tolerations will be different as everyone’s view of life is unique.

Examples of tolerations include:

  1. A long commute to and from work
  2. The milk being left out of the fridge after being used
  3. The clutter under your stairs or on your desk
  4. The shoes you trip over every time you enter a certain room
  5. A colleague who moans and never ever says something positive
  6. Another colleague who presents you with problems – never solutions
  7. Missing your exercise class for various reasons
  8. Your family member who depends on you for absolutely everything
  9. Your friend who always cancels at the last minute
  10. Your wardrobe that needs a clear out
  11. Your coffee habit that adversely affects your skin – and maybe your sleep
  12. Your boss who constantly puts you down or overloads you with work
  13. That stack of personal paperwork that’s on your mind yet you’ve done nothing about it
  14. Your employee who doesn’t pull their weight
  15. Drama and gossip
  16. A nagging family member
  17. Your lack of confidence
  18. Being too busy
  19. Poor sales results from your team
  20. Your perfectionism
  21. Someone else’s perfectionism
  22. Lack of personal responsibility
  23. Guilt
  24. Sadness
  25. Worry about “what might happen”
  26. Not making time to meet your friends
  27. Dishonesty
  28. Poor habits like always being late, biting your nails, eating too many cookies
  29. Excuses
  30. Boredom
  31. Too many social commitments
  32. Unhealthy relationships
  33. Staying up so late, you’re always tired the next day
  34. Inaction
  35. Procrastination
  36. A “to do” list that never gets finished
  37. Fear of speaking up
  38. No time to think
  39. Too much debt
  40. Lack of fun and laughter in your life
  41. The neighbours dog barking all night
  42. The printer that keeps breaking down
  43. The employee who always misses deadlines
  44. The pile of books you really want to read but haven’t
  45. That friends weekend away that has been planned for years but hasn’t happened yet
  46. Your hairstyle that needs updating
  47. Your car that needs washing
  48. Your garden that’s a mess
  49. That unwritten book you know you want to write
  50. Those “thank you” cards you need to send

When making your Tolerations List, aim for as many as you can. Try for a minimum of 10 and up to 20 for a more complete picture of what you need to eliminate from your life.

When you have completed your list, I suggest eliminating the easiest ones first. Some people like to tackle the biggest tolerations but I have always found that de-cluttering the actual tolerations list gives me a great sense of satisfaction and motivates me to tackle bigger issues. You can look forward to your clearer, less-frustrated life where you have more time, energy and joy. You can use a page and plot it out like the example below.

My Tolerations What am I going to do about them?
1.     My office is a mess I will tidy my office this coming Friday from 9-11am
2.     Too many social commitments I will prioritise and cancel the least important/enjoyable. I will consider all invitations more carefully in future and will accept only those that are fun/important.
3.     etc




5 “Must Do’s” When Launching Your Beauty Brand Into Retail

Recently I’ve been writing blogs about beliefs, confidence, purpose and focus. All really important to build your foundation for personal and business success. Today’s blog has a business theme – I’m writing this really because, I was chatting with Samantha Kelly earlier this week and she suggested that as I know (and love) the beauty business so well, I should share my tips. I hope you find them useful.

As a retail pharmacist, pharmacy owner and later a wholesale distributor in the health and beauty sector, over the past 20 years I have worked with quite a number of beauty brands. Successful brands like St Tropez, Neal’s Yard Remedies, OPI, Proactiv, Sanctuary Spa, Smashbox Cosmetics – and many others. Also, with some not so successful brands, which even though they didn’t work out at the time, provided hugely useful learning experiences.

One of my favourite success examples is about when I was running my wholesale sales and marketing business. With every brand we worked with I always wanted to do the very best we could. I tell this story as it covers all 5 “To Do’s” when launching a beauty brand into retail.  This all started with a feeling of connection—on my part. We imported many leading (sometimes not-so-leading) health and beauty brands from all over the world into Ireland, selling into pharmacies, department stores, beauty salons, travel retail, online stores and grocery. My company looked after all the warehousing and distribution, sales and marketing. It was a challenging business (as all businesses are), yet really exciting. The part I enjoyed the most was travelling to conferences and meetings around the world, looking for new “wow” brands, meeting people I wouldn’t normally meet, and being in places I wouldn’t otherwise be. Also, I just loved when a sales pitch went well – you know that feeling?

Early in 2007, I attended a conference in Monaco and came across a new natural face and body personal care brand called Yes to Carrots. I hadn’t heard of it before. I only discovered the brand on the afternoon of the very last day when they were getting ready to pack up and leave. I didn’t have an appointment to see them, and they didn’t have any availability to make time for me. But I just knew our company would make this brand a success in Ireland. I wanted to do this. This brand had instant high-impact and, initially, seemed to tick the boxes of my company’s requirements for a new launch. We had identified a gap in our portfolio for a natural, well-priced, impactful skincare range that had mass-market potential. All that remained, from my point of view, was to meet the people behind Yes to Carrots to see if we connected well and could work together. I’ve never succeeded with a brand or project where the people involved didn’t connect and engage well with one another.

I’m decisive by nature—some would say impulsive—and I made a decision there and then that I would not let this opportunity pass me by. I didn’t even have the opportunity – yet, but I still wasn’t going to let it pass me by. I mentioned Yes to Carrots to an American colleague at the conference, who had actually met one of the founders of the company at a previous event. I pestered her to introduce me and managed to get a very quick meeting with him and their team just as they were packing up to leave on the final day. I told them about my company, said we’d be a perfect fit, and let them know I really wanted to work with them in Ireland. I remember being so excited about the brand, the products, and the potential for huge success in our market. I later found out that Ireland, where I operated from, wasn’t actually on their radar as a launch market—too small.

It took seven months to get them to agree to work with us in Ireland, the longest time it had ever taken my company to reach a deal. I phoned every two to three weeks and emailed in-between calls. After a couple of months, their international representative (reluctantly) agreed to meet with me. I planned for this meeting like never before. The more I worked on the detail of an Irish launch and strategy, the more I believed that this brand would be hugely successful in the market.

The planning was worth it. Because of their timeline (which was slower than my ideal timeline at the time, but which turned out to be for the best), we had time to plan our launch and sales strategy in detail. I invested in quite a lot of inventory, more than ever before with an unknown brand. We immediately made a huge impact with this already impressive brand. Our sales strategy was perfect; PR and promotion worked really well. We even sponsored a big horse racing event and gave the horse a prize of a carrots hamper! We had fun with it. The brand won lots of awards. The result? Net wholesale sales of more than €1.25 million in the first year of working with a previously unknown brand in a small market. The best part was, this really was a job well done. It wasn’t easy, yet the goal was clear, because the brand (and products) was a great one. This gave us the confidence to take action. Interesting, also, was the fact that this success and the learnings from it gave me and my team further confidence in other areas of our work and business. Result!

So, to sum up the 5 “Must-Do’s” when launching a beauty brand into retail:

  1. Your product/product range must be the best it can be. It’s a good fit with your current company portfolio and your personal/company vision. Also, all cosmetics and beauty products must be registered for sale in accordance with EU regulations.
  2. You know your target customer inside out – both your retail and your end-user customer. You have done your research and you know your product will benefit them & how.
  3. You’re clear on your numbers. Your profit margins work – for you and the retailer and you have prepared a straightforward, accurate cashflow. This is key.
  4. You plan in advance:
  5. Pre-selling in advance for maximum impact is an under-utilised yet really effective tool. Pick a launch date and start to sell to retailers at least 3 months beforehand. It often takes more than one meeting for the retailer to say yes and to agree elements like margins, positioning, marketing plans, window display…
  6. Your PR and marketing land at the same time as your products hit the shelves. Use social media to build awareness & interest beforehand as well at launch, along with using other relevant media channels. Enter your products into every beauty award competition.
  7. Your retail point of sale lands with the stock so your brand makes a big splash in-store.
  8. You have a detailed sales plan with targets which you monitor daily, weekly & monthly. Crucially you are clear on who will deliver these targets and how.

The beauty business is a lovely business to be in – that doesn’t mean it’s easy however. But if you implement the 5 tips above you’re off to a great start.

5 Things You Can Do To Help You Focus And Get More Done

I’m often asked by people, how they can be more productive, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some learnings on the subject of consistency.

Ever have off days, where you just can’t focus? Consistency is key to maximum productivity yet most of us have days where we just can’t summon the oomph to be at our very best. In the past I’ve struggled with being consistent. There have been days when I did the work of three people and there also have been many days, when unfortunately, I just didn’t make any worthwhile progress on my to do list.

Quite some years ago, knowing that in business, the numbers always tell the real story – indeed numbers can provide clarity in most areas of life – I decided to calculate my “off” days. I calculated over a period of 6 months. Hmm, the results certainly gave me enough clarity for me to actually do something about it. Indeed I was shocked into making the changes necessary to – sort this out.

During that 6 month period, there were 15 Tuesday’s, 2 Monday’s, 3 Wednesday afternoons, 4 Thursday afternoons and 3 Friday mornings where I just didn’t do enough with my time to be as productive as I needed to be. That was 22 full days out of that particular period where I didn’t focus enough to feel I had done my best. That extrapolated to 44 off-days in a year – 20% of available productive time! I just could not let that continue. The numbers absolutely shocked me. This was during a time where I really felt over-worked. I was overworked – yet not working as effectively as I needed to.

Well, in business the numbers always tell the story. At this time, our goal was to grow sales by 10% whilst maintaining margins – how could I help deliver that if my own productivity needed improving by so much. It was my business after all. I really needed to be 100% focused if I was to reasonably expect my team to deliver.

The other interesting discovery was the pattern – what was with those unproductive Tuesday’s? I almost always started Monday being positive, had exercised over the weekend and felt positive about the goals I had set. However, most Monday’s were spent at my desk where I snacked my way through the day, drank too much caffeine which ended up disturbing my Monday night’s sleep. Result – tired Tuesday’s.

The very moment that those numbers shocked me was the moment that my focus became more consistent. I had already known the theory of what should be done – I had read lots of self-help books, time-management and other business books and articles but just hadn’t yet taken the decision yet, to sort out my consistent focus issue.

My research to date and implementation of the following changed my habits for the better. This is what I did. It worked. It works for my clients and can work for you too.

  1. Control your mood – don’t let it control you

On the days where your brain is telling you to do the opposite of what you need – take a short break, walk outside for 20 minutes (this is the absolute best solution as exercise releases those feel-good endorphins in your brain), go sit in the sun (if it’s sunny), call or meet someone you know motivates you, do anything different for up to an hour that will result in you being more productive for the rest of the day.

  1. Get enough sleep

We’re all better after a good night’s sleep – we have more energy, think more clearly, are more positive. So, do whatever it takes to give yourself  the best chance of a great night’s sleep – drink less caffeine, less alcohol, exercise more, go to bed earlier – whatever it takes.

  1. Design a routine

I have spoken to a lot of very productive, successful people and every one of them has designed a routine that works for them – that delivers success. Big businesses work because their processes are automated, they don’t rely on willpower to succeed. Diary in your most important tasks and projects – including exercise, massage, peer group meetings or whatever other well-being support you need to get you to your most productive state.

How do you design your own personal process? Back to the numbers again – apply some “80/20” thinking. Ask yourself:

  1. What few activities are responsible for the highest number of my successes?
  2. What handful of activities completely diminish my productivity?
  3. Re-organise your to-do-list to do more of #1 and to eliminate #2 as much as possible.
  1. Prepare the evening before

This really makes sense – starting your day using your brainpower to move you towards your goals instead of having to rush around deciding what to wear or wondering how you’ll spend your day means you’re starting your day in a much better frame of mind to focus.

Decide your one to three most important to-do’s the evening before. Studies show you’re more likely to follow through if you’re specific and if you write your goals down.

Research also confirms that this has another benefit: writing down what you need to do tomorrow eases anxiety to help you enjoy your evening and to sleep better – multiple benefits.

  1. Eliminate distractions & Delete unnecessary to do’s

I love Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism where he recommends doing less, but doing it better, so you can make the highest possible contribution.

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’. It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.

Finally, ask yourself this:

A question that always helps me focus. A very wise lady once said to me – “if you put all the energy you put into wondering whether you’re doing the right thing with your life, into your business – even until the end of this year, what would happen? A very good question… How about you answer it too?

Why Meditation Is Great For You – And A Lovely Guided Meditation To Help You Relax

I’m a great believer in building a life-toolkit – tools I can use when necessary, simply to make life better. Looking after one’s own needs is not selfish as many of us have been brought up to believe. A happy person, one who doesn’t live life by sacrifice & denial has more to offer family, friends, colleagues. A martyr who always puts themselves last; does everything for everyone then constantly complains of being worn out, is no fun at all. A happy mum, dad, colleague, boss, friend is a lot more fun to have around. Meditation can help hugely with well-being – and it’s not as difficult as you may think to build up a beneficial, enjoyable meditation habit.

A great read is The Mindful Brain by Daniel Siegel. Dr Siegel uses scientific research and stories in this informative read to reveal how to transform the brain and to promote well-being. I suggest you take five minutes each morning to begin to meditate, then, build as you see the benefits. I know that most of us rush through many tasks every morning and time is tight. Believe me, it is worth getting out of bed ten minutes earlier than normal to take yourself to a quiet corner of your house, hotel room, wherever you are – outside if it’s available to you and weather permits. At night before going to sleep is also a lovely time to meditate.

Find a quiet, comfortable place and sit with a straight back. You may prefer a chair or to sit with your back against a wall. Think of something nice – I say this to my daughter a lot and actually it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. Notice as thoughts come and go. And they will. Try not to latch on to the thoughts, just let them float by. Be gentle with yourself as you explore a meditative practice. As you learn to let the thoughts go, your brain will become calmer and you will find that your mind eventually clears and you are indeed meditating.

I have shared with you below a lovely Chakra Meditation practice that I find wonderful, especially at night. I have used it myself and also, with my daughter to help her sleep as well as with clients for relaxation. It’s beautiful and works well for adults and children. I find that rubbing a child’s forehead whilst gently talking through the meditation helps them sleep. When your children sleep, they are happier and you get more time to yourself. Actually, it can be a “two in one” solution as by the time you have guided your child to sleep, you become calm and very relaxed too!

Chakra Meditation

Find a comfortable space, either with a straight back or in bed – wherever suits you. Close your eyes. Take your brain to somewhere that you really love – a place where you are perfectly contented and happy.  Be in that place for a moment. Appreciate the space. Be happy there. A little smile may come to your face as you enjoy being there.

As you experience that lovely place, you notice an archway that you have never seen before. You are curious. You wander slowly there and walk through. Through the archway you have arrived in the most beautiful meadow filled with red flowers. You see red roses, poppies and tulips. The earth beneath your feet is red. There are red apples growing on trees. The warm sun is setting and the sky has a reddish hue. You have never seen such a beautiful red space in your life. As you walk barefoot on the soft red earth the red gives you energy. You feel happy and contented in this wonderful place.

You come to a gate. You would like to see what’s on the other side of the gate. You open the gate and walk through. You are now in an orchard filled with orange trees. You have never, ever, seen so many oranges in one place. The scent of oranges fills the air. You breathe in the lovely fresh aroma of the oranges. Orange tulips are growing at the base of the orange trees and the earth beneath your feet is covered in orange petals. The sky has turned a magnificent orange colour. You notice a picnic blanket with orange cushions and orange juice laid out there. You drink a glass of orange juice. It’s the most delicious orange juice you have ever tasted. As you drink the tasty juice and look at your beautiful orange surroundings, you notice an archway. You wander slowly there.

Through this gate is a field of yellow with a bright yellow sun shining down. You have arrived in a field full of primroses, sunflowers, tulips, daffodils, yellow lilies – every yellow flower you can imagine. You see your favourite and walk towards there. The ground beneath you is covered in soft yellow petals. There’s a scent of lemon in the air. You look up and in the distance you see a lemon grove. You feel clear-headed and contented as you wander slowly through the field of yellow. Now, you see yet another archway. You walk towards it and through to the other side.

You are now in a huge green field with long green grass growing there. You are at the top of the field which rolls gently downhill. You sit down in the long grass and breathe in the fresh green-grass scent. You have an urge to roll down the hill, through the grass like you did when you were a child. Off you go. You feel young, free and ecstatic as you roll down the hill through the green grass.

You land on a fabulous beach with a twinkling blue sea at your feet. The sky is so blue you can’t make out where the sea and sky meet. The sun is shining in the clear blue sky. It’s deliciously hot. You decide to go for a swim. As you float free from care in the sparkly water, you enjoy being there, surrounded by blue sea and blue sky. As you swim along, you notice a shimmery purple light coming from a cave in the rocks. You swim to the cave.

Inside is the most amazing formation of bright purple stalactites and stalagmites lit by a wonderful purplish light. You stand and gaze in wonder around the cave. The purple light gives you a calm, relaxed, sleepy feeling. You would like to lie down and snooze.

You notice a patch of pale, soft sand underneath a hole in the top of the cave through which shines a gentle white light. The sand is warm from the white sunlight shining down upon it. You lie there. The white light surrounds you, gently heats your body. As you breathe in and out in the white light, you start to gently doze. You are calm and relaxed.

Are you relaxed yet? Nearly there?

When going to sleep and also at intervals during the day – try smiling. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, just make the movement. There’s so much research that shows how actually smiling even when you don’t feel like it, helps improve mood.

Please share this meditation with others if you like it and find it useful.

Do You Really Believe Your Comfort Zone is on The Sofa?

Well, January is the month when we all tell ourselves we’ll make those changes, eat healthier food, do more exercise, tidy our desks, move jobs, start that business, be nicer to everyone and so on. These are indeed great intentions and often many of us really get off to a good start. But it’s never easy – the (very easy) Christmas eating and drinking habits are hard to break, weather can be cold, dark and wet depending on where you live, energy levels low. The good start is sometimes just that – a start, and often doesn’t last to become new habits.

Yet, the benefits of instilling these new habits are huge. It is so worth getting out of your current comfort zone. I view the traditional meaning of “comfort zone” as the place in life where habits and routines are designed to minimise worry and stress. This can feel like a place where you’re cosied in front of the TV drinking wine and eating chocolate. Sounds great right? Nice to have as few worries and as many comforts as possible. However, would a better “comfort zone” be – actually living the life you really want, earning what you need, being in a career you love, having lots of energy instead of staying put, never making change, and just worrying about it all the time. How fabulous would it be if you could upgrade your current comfort zone to a much better one – imagine the advantages of that.

  • Instead of worrying about giving that presentation – you’d get energy from it.
  • Instead of being depressed every time you look at all your wobbly bits in a mirror – everything you wear would look great on you.
  • Instead of not being able to afford the nice family holiday, that meal out, that car upgrade – money wouldn’t actually be, a major issue.
  • Instead of being the most out of breath person in the gym class – you’d feel comfortable there and even find you can train effortlessly (when this happens you can decide to just enjoy that feeling or enrol in a tougher class!)
  • Instead of hyperventilating at the thought of yet another business networking event where you’re worried you won’t be interesting enough and nobody will speak to you – you’ll have developed a modus operandi to enable you to feel totally comfortable and seize the opportunities such events offer.
  • Instead of being afraid of experiences that deep inside you want to have, like travelling to Bhutan (you want to go but you’re afraid you won’t like the food),cooking for your foodie friends (you’re worried your cuisine won’t be up to their standards), challenging your boss/colleagues about certain issues (you have lots of concerns about the fall-out from this) – you’ll find the strength to tackle what’s important to you and the benefit will be that you’ll worry no more about all of this stuff. You’ll have upgraded your comfort zone.

So, how do you upgrade your comfort zone?

  1. Firstly – make the choice to get out of that comfort zone and decide you want to. Pick one thing about your life that bothers you and list for yourself the benefits of changing this one thing. Be sure to make the right decision for you.
  2. Find friends, colleagues who are already successful at doing what you want to do, and who have a positive attitude – spend as much time as possible in their company. Stay away from the naysayers.
  3. This is important – write down the necessary steps it will take for you to reach “comfort zone” status with something that’s currently far outside that space, yet deep down you know you want to feel comfortable doing it.
  4. Keep on going – if the discomfort is tough at the start, try again the next day. Take small steps. Doing almost anything a few times, makes it easier. Practice, practice, practice.
  5. Stay calm – if you’re starting to panic, take yourself off to a relaxing space, whether that’s a walk, a coffee with a friend or a short snooze. Breathe deeply a few times. Science shows there’s an optimum challenge level for peak productivity – too little and nothing happens, too much and negative stress levels happen. If things seem too overwhelming, break down your actions into smaller steps. Take things one step at a time.
  6. Remind yourself of the benefits – constantly. If you can remember a particular time when you felt on top of the world, really happy and successful – remind yourself of how that felt. Recapture the positive emotions associated with that success.
  7. Reward yourself when you succeed. This is my favourite part. Be kind to yourself – so many people are kind to others, reward others for so many reasons, yet don’t give this kindness to themselves. Choose to reward yourself too for a job well done.

Getting out of what we know as our comfort zone even for a short while each and every day, is when achievements and excitement happen, when the changes you wish for begin to materialise.

When you look back on your life, I’m sure your favourite memories are not those when you sat in front of the TV for hours – maybe they are for some people, (really?), but for most people, the factors that make your life great are the exciting times that involved some element of a challenge that you, overcame. That may have been the time you gave a presentation that resulted in praise being heaped upon you, it may have been the time you know you looked fabulous for a particular occasion, when you had eaten well and worked out for a month or two beforehand. It may have been a family holiday where you made the effort to jump in the cold waves with your kids and surprised yourself with how much fun you had – or even a sales target that you smashed, loved it, and got that bonus you richly deserved.

Whatever “comfort zone” habits are holding you back – imagine your life where your comfort zone is just in a better place, you’re comfortable in many more situations – an upgraded comfort zone. Your fears are eliminated, your attitude is more optimistic, your life is full of fun and opportunity. It’s what a lot of us wish for – and the only way to get there is to upgrade your comfort zone to a place where you view your challenges as opportunities and not as things to be afraid of.
You deserve to live the life you want and the only person holding you back is you – time will pass by either way. Upgrade your comfort zone and enjoy!

Confidence – Essential for Your Success

Each one of you is here, reading this post for a different reason. Yes, so many of us are interested in confidence and success. But we are all unique. We all come at this from different angles. Different factors are contributing to any perceived lack of confidence we may have in whatever area affects us most.

What is confidence anyway and why do we need it?

I like the definition that “Confidence is the belief that we will succeed at the things we do”. I also think that confidence is a feeling – when we feel confident, there’s a comfortable feeling associated with it.

Lack of confidence is an absolute pain in the ass, at best. A waste of valuable thinking time, what a waste of energy… A lack of confidence absolutely means that you are not making the most of your life – how could you be when your productive time and energy are taken up with “lack of confidence” thoughts?!

We need confidence to:

  • Get things done & succeed
  • To feel happy
  • To engage with our world enthusiastically
  • As a framework to deal with difficult conversations
  • To lead and inspire
  • To motivate teams
  • To know that we are enough
  • To solve problems

We need confidence. That’s a truth.I’ve worked with a lot of people for whom confidence was an issue. From public speaking, to socialising, to going for that promotion, taking a business to the next level; so many people live life believing that they are simply not good enough. This is quite simply – wrong.

Like everything, it is possible to practice being confident and with practice comes the skill.

In my twenties I started researching confidence, happiness, reaching your potential, how to live a better life. Until a few years before that, I hadn’t really thought about confidence or lack thereof, really. Now, years later, I have found that when I practice something I’m not good at, no matter what that is – business planning, speaking, negotiating – I get better at it and with that comes confidence…

So, confidence is the belief that we will succeed at something we do. Makes sense right. If we don’t believe we can do something, why try it in the first place. If you truly believe you can do something, then you will. I don’t play golf, but I have heard it said that the furthest distance on a golf course is the distance between your two ears.

And, also, confidence is that underlying feeling that comes with believing you are good enough at something – the positive, confident thoughts running around in your head that come with the belief that you will succeed. This can happen with practice.

So many people have had some successes in life so far, and because of this, there’s evidence within you that you can harness, to help you ‘believe’ that you will succeed at other things you do. For many this belief is challenged daily, hourly even, by lots of the 60,000+ thoughts we have each and every day. That’s 3,500 thoughts running through your brain every waking hour – estimating about 7 hours sleep. Having confidence is undermined by negative self-talk. Imagine if even half of the 3,500 thoughts per hour are negative!

As CEO’s, leaders, managers, team players, even as part of a family, it can sometimes be lonely; you often just have yourself to talk to – this means it’s more important than ever that this self-talk is positive. Enough other people will be the naysayer – there’s no need for you to be!

It’s OK to feel this way sometimes. Most people do. The good news is – again – having confidence/being confident is a skill that can be learned, like everything else, with practice.

Below is a plan to help you understand what confidence means to you and a starter process to help develop your confidence, and to know you can do something about it.

Below is a 4 step process that you can use and practice, to build your confidence:

1. Decide that you will be confident.

You know the feeling of relief you feel after you have made a decision? Brain science shows that making decisions calms the limbic system, reducing worry and anxiety — as well as helping you solve problems.

Yes, making decisions can be hard, and how can you ensure you make the right decisions – the decisions that serve you best? Neuroscience research says to ‘make a good enough’ decision. Don’t stress to make the absolute 100% best decision. We all know being a perfectionist can be stressful. And brain studies back this up. Trying to be perfect overwhelms your brain with emotions and makes you feel out of control. Good enough is nearly always good enough.

So, when you make a decision, your brain feels you have control. And a feeling of control reduces stress and increases pleasure.So, make a decision to be more confident right now.

2. Show yourself some Kindness

For many people, confidence is about being better than others, about achievement. Kindness or self-compassion is just that – treating oneself kindly. Treating yourself as you would, a good friend. Forgive yourself. Often when we make a mistake, confidence flies out the window and we become self-critical. We are all worthy of forgiveness, and before confidence, must come, forgiveness and kindness to ourselves. It’s OK and we deserve it even when we have done something we regret or didn’t achieve as well as we set out to.

Researchers at the University of Texas have shown that people who show themselves kindness have been shown to exhibit significantly less anxiety and depression, plus, show more happiness, optimism and other positive emotions.

Often, people who are confident, can have set-backs when things go wrong. Maintaining confidence and resilience requires you to forgive yourself when this happens and to show yourself the kindness you would perhaps reserve for others.

When you get in the habit of being kind to yourself, of knowing you intrinsically deserve respect no matter whether you achieve or not, then you are on the road to being more confident, less dependent on the opinions of others and less shaken when things go wrong.

For example, imagine being in a potentially embarrassing situation; scoring an own-goal, totally losing your train of thought during an important presentation, crying in front of the bank-manager (which I once did many years ago). One particular study required participants to imagine situations such as this. Results showed that self-compassionate participants, the people who said things like, ‘these things happen’, ‘I’ll know better next time’, were more likely to maintain their confidence than those who beat themselves up about it.

There is also evidence that kindness to yourself even makes you less likely to procrastinate. It also boosts happiness and reduces stress.

This research has shown something that you may well instinctively agree with: you’re often far harder on yourself than others. Why is that? Part of it comes down to neuroscience. Your brain is wired to care for friends in need. But that same system doesn’t take effect when we beat ourselves up. It takes practice to be kind to yourself – the benefits, though are increased confidence, happiness and positivity.

3. Know who you really are and what you believe about yourself and what you care about – realize your value.

It may seem silly to say ‘know who you are’, yet many of the reasons for lack of confidence come from not really knowing yourself, how what you believe about life affects you, and clarifying for yourself, what really matters to you. Take some time to reacquaint you with you – Remind yourself of how smart you are – your strengths. Know what’s important to you.

For example, if you lack the confidence to put yourself forward for a job promotion, what is the belief that is stopping you? Often it can be simply, ‘I am not good enough’. It may not be true, more than likely is not true but if you believe it, this will affect your confidence in a negative way.

A really effective start in the quest for confidence is to substitute your negative beliefs with a positive statement ie ‘I am good enough.’ Believe it, repeat it regularly.

It’s important for our positivity, confidence and success to regularly remind ourselves what we are good at. It’s also crucial that we use these strengths in our daily lives, at home and at work.

Also, take some time to write down what matters to you, it’s a reminder to you of what’s really important. When you live your life acting according to what’s important to you, it gets rid of self-doubt, helps with decision making and increases confidence, happiness & positivity.

Now answer this – how committed are you to doing what it takes to be more confident?

4. Prepare and Practice

Worrying about lack of confidence can help you identify potential problems, but it shouldn’t stop you coming up with solutions. If, for example you’re worried about an upcoming presentation or meeting at work, then prepare for it. Prepare, prepare and prepare some more.

When I used to deal with leading global beauty brands like St Tropez, Smashbox Cosmetics, OPI and various others, at the start I felt quite intimidated going to meet the people there. These were huge, global corporations and I ran a much smaller company company in a small country. I knew however, by then, which confidence tools to use, so I prepared for each and every meeting meticulously. I knew the numbers, made multiple copies of each presentation and went to every meeting with potential solutions to every challenge we faced in the marketplace.

After a few meetings, some of the people I met didn’t bother to prepare for these meetings at all. They depended on me to have everything to hand that they needed. I usually left the meetings with the marketing support I needed – plus often a few extras. Then the recession came and negotiations were more difficult but I had practiced enough by then. I started to feel really confident about the quality of my work. I tell you this story, really, to illustrate the benefits of preparing for situations in which you may not feel confident. Prepare and practice until you actually feel confident.

No matter what you practice in life, you will improve at it. You repeat certain procedures at work every day until they become second nature. If you go to the gym every week, you learn how to use the machines. The good news is, when you practice being confident every day, you will become confident. Malcolm Gladwell’s is famous for saying that with 10,000 hours of practice, you can excel at anything – well, it shouldn’t take that number of hours for you to gain more confidence. Thankfully, you can expect to reap the rewards much sooner than that.

Purpose – The Magic Ingredient for Personal Success

Research shows that companies with purpose are more successful than those without. Why is this? So, do people with a personal purpose statement live better lives? I believe so. We can all learn from the purpose statements of successful people who share their purpose with us. A purpose statement is your helpful guide in life, comes from knowing what you believe in, realising what’s important to you, being clear on what you want from life – and what you would like to give to the world. It’s a promise to yourself about how you will live your life.

When I discovered, some years ago in the course of my work the benefits of formulating your own purpose statement, the pieces of my life just fell into place. I couldn’t believe how straightforward things became afterwards.

So many well-known, successful people have formulated their own purpose statements. Has this helped them – I think so! Some are listed below:

Oprah Winfrey’s purpose statement is: “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” This is a short, clear statement – and she certainly delivers on her purpose.

A purpose statement can be fun too. Richard Branson’s is “To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.” Again, this is a brief sentence, with few words, yet it communicates a big message.

Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream, that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” He certainly worked towards realising his purpose statement during his life.

Shaping your future, guided by your own purpose statement can help deliver success for you – and deliver it with more ease.

To live to your purpose in life, I believe the best place to start is to know what you’re passionate about – what energizes and drives you. Then focus on your strengths, what you’re best at. It’s a fair bet that most people don’t feel passionate about stuff they’re not good at. Fine tune your strengths and be the best you can.

To really live to your purpose requires some planning, it won’t happen accidentally. Whether you’re passionate about health, career success, teaching or having as many adventures as you possibly can – whatever drives you – the results you want will come easier to you with purpose as your friend and also an actionable plan.

The Power of Positive Affirmations

When I turned 25, I decided to move from renting an apartment by myself, to shared accommodation. The first newspaper I looked at (long time ago!) had an ad for the perfect place – a castle in a part of Dublin I loved, beside the city centre, near the sea – not so near my work but I didn’t mind that. I called immediately, made an appointment to meet the girl renting the room and went to meet her. Something happened, she couldn’t make it but the minute I saw the place, I decided I would move in anyway – she had sounded nice on the phone. So I put the cheque for my rental deposit in the letterbox and arranged a date to move in. There were to be three of us living there, all girls around the same age.

I moved in, everything went well. We had great fun, and as we got to know one another, started opening-up to each other. Confidence became one of the many things we discussed. Even though we were having fun, enjoying life, there were some areas where we didn’t feel fully confident. I was running my own business (two retail pharmacies); I found the responsibility somewhat overwhelming.

There were of course, other times, like when we were dressing up to go out and we didn’t feel we looked quite well enough to land a date with whatever guy we currently fancied. We explored the reasons why we sometimes lacked confidence; realised that part of the reason of the Irish cultural habit of never bragging, always being modest, had landed us with these inner thoughts that meant we felt we were never quite good enough.

But at that time, we were good for one another. We praised each other and came up with the great idea that we would look in the mirror every morning and every evening and say to our reflection – “I love myself.” We laughed at this possibility, practiced it in front of one another – embarrassed and guilty at first. We checked in with each other every day to confirm that we had said the “I love myself” that day – and we always said it to ourselves before a night out!

Were there any benefits? Well, sharing our thoughts and coming up with this plan, helped to start us on the road to having more confidence. Of course there were more ups and downs, in our lives after that. I don’t know about the others, but I have remembered those days and that positive affirmation at times in later years when things maybe weren’t going so well – when I needed it.

The first step towards having confidence, feeling confident inside is actually believing that you can. A really useful exercise to do is to choose the one negative belief that holds you back from feeling confident. Ask yourself what causes you to feel this, gather the evidence to the contrary (there is always evidence to the contrary!) Next, write down what you would need to believe about this for you to feel better about it. For example, if you believe people don’t like you and this affects you socially, you worry about meeting new people – list the friends or colleagues you have, who like you and why they like you – it may be because you’re fun, loyal, kind, generous, supporting. Deep inside, you will know the answer to this.

Next, use that answer to formulate a positive affirmation, that you can use every day – one that works for you. It may be ‘I am loyal and likeable’, or it may be something else. Use a short statement, in the present tense, based on whatever makes you feel good about yourself.

It’s easy to forget to say your positive affirmations, yet nothing will change if you don’t actually say them and preferably write them down too. So, set up a routine that will help you. For example, you could write it down at breakfast and before you go to sleep. You may prefer to say it out loud each time you look in a mirror.

A good one, that I use is this: I say my positive affirmation when I get in and out of my car – I use the noise of the car door banging closed as a reminder. Believe me – say something often enough and it becomes your reality. Repeating positive affirmations for even a few weeks can kick start your confidence and banish those pesky, annoying negative beliefs that aren’t even true anyway! The potential increase in self-confidence is well worth it.

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?