Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Exams looming?

It is that time of year again for those at school, university or college with exams looming in May and June.

If this is you and you are somewhat anxious about what is ahead, that is a normal response.

Some anxiety, reframed 'anticipation nerves and conscientiousness' is good and can drive us harder and with better results than peers who have none of these feelings.

However, for some of us exams have caused a high level of disabling anxiety where symptoms include 'brain shutdown' - I sat in an exam at school once and could not seem to think at all for some time. Luckily for me I regained composure I think through deep breathing and my results were only slightly impacted.

Sitting exams like giving presentations can be very fearful situations for many due to what is perceived to be at stake. High stakes - opportunity losses or embarrassment - often increases our anxiety. Some students describe it to me as 'immense stress' and 'feeling completely overwhelmed particularly as other students panic around me'.

Symptoms at the high anxiety end of the scale are often multiple and varied.

One of my existing clients is suffering with perceived bladder control issues, another is unable to sleep in and around exam time. Still another worries about the sheer volume of revision study.

Some of you will have tactics and strategies that work some of the time with varying degrees of success.

5 practical tips to try from me to you include say 8 weeks in the run up to exams

  • practising relaxation and meditation techniques
  • eating healthily, avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • recording achievements and positive feedback that relates to the exams which you can read each week to keep your confidence at a good level
  • scheduling in then thinking about activities to enjoy post exams
  • knowing your optimal productivity and taking breaks after peaks
I work with my clients on other conscious and subconscious techniques prior to their exams which help with concentration, focus and revision motivation.

In particular I teach all of my clients how to overcome their anxieties by helping to change their thinking at a deep level using a tool from CBT as well as helping to change those negative self-beliefs.

I would like to personally wish you every success in your exams and hopefully through using this blog you will steer through them with a calmer course.

If you would like to work with me to leave those exam fears in the past please get in touch via our website www.westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Having a Job You Want

You know that you spend a considerable amount of your life at work and realise that having work that you want to do is one of the most important priorities in your life.

But where to start?

I was reading recently that an estimated 70% plus of people are more often than not unhappy in their work.

If you think that you are part of this 70% then read on.

Step 1: start sketching out a career strategy - what images or words or feelings do you have when you think about the work that you would like to do? 

Would tweaks to your current role work or do you need do do something more radical?

Step 2: get work experience in the areas that you are interested in and look within your existing organisation  as well as outside.

If you cannot do this in work time then use weekends, evenings or holidays. When I was training myself to become a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist I took a weekend course whilst working as a management consultant during the working week.

Step 3: consider lifestyle adjustments particularly if your new work will pay less than your old work.

There are lots of good free resources available such as money manager tool from the banks which will make transparent income and outgoings so you can decide where to cut back and save.

Step 4: get action planning and network - who do you know that may be able to assist you. Add to your skills - by acquiring those that provide a gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

Do your research well and you can save time and money.

Above all ensure that your plans allow you to be authentic. Sometimes that big pay cheque/promotion comes at a cost to your happiness. If you love client contact and a promotion means losing that you may decide to turn it down.

Step 5: review your work happiness every quarter and work out what you need to do at that point to make you feel more fulfilled.

If you have read this blog and put the steps in place let me know how you get on.

If you would like support in making changes in your work life please get in touch via www.westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Are your People Management Skills up to scratch?

If you are running a business with people working for you then your level of success will largely be down to your people management skills.

The short test I write here for you will help to point you in the direction of opportunities to improve your people management skills and in turn improve the profitability of your business.

1. Is your knowledge appropriately passed on to others through the best level of delegation?

2. Do you organise and run your team well with aligned goals, clear behavioural and role requirements and specific objectives?

3. Do you manage people empathically?

4. Is your management style calm?

5. Does your team sometimes socialise together to engender team spirit?

6. Does your team have complimentary strengths with a balance of personalities - some drivers, some creative thinkers, some people and others task focused analytical thinkers?

Your task now is to identify the one area from this short diagnostic where if you were to address it would have the single most positive impact on your people management skills and hence the profitability of your business.

Ask yourself what ideas you have for achieving in this area.

Perhaps use some criteria to assess which idea to action such as cost and time.

Now prioritise your actions and do each one in turn over a realistic time period.

If you have found this blog to be useful please leave a comment for me.

If you would like to improve your people management skills please contact me through

pam@westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk or 01761 237400.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Do you want to be more successful?

If you want to increase your success in work and in your life as a whole then please read on.

I think that you need to set aside an hour of your time in the next week and reflect on the questions that I pose to you below.

1. What does your best self do? When was the lats time that you felt totally congruous with what you were doing and how you were doing it? This is your best self. You will want to do more of this in order to increase your day to day successes. Think of another time and another if you can so that you build a detailed picture of what you are doing when you are your best self.

Take time to reflect on these powerful questions because they will help you to get more of what you want in your life particularly in terms of your relationships.

2. Do you spend a lot of time negatively introspecting about your past - what I should have done/said, what I shouldn't have done/said? This is one sure way of creating negative thought patters that lead to anxiety, loss of your intellectual control and high jacking of your intellect leading to your subconscious emotional mind taking over - yes, your inner seven year old.

3. Do you spend a lot of time negatively forecasting the future, often whilst in bed or otherwise on your own during the day? Typical thought patterns in this case are 'this won't go well for me, I won't be able to do it, I am not good enough to present, I will always be on my own and so on.This is the second behaviour behind negative thought patterns that lead to your experiencing anxiety, loss of intellectual control and your emotional seven year old taking over.

Now whilst seven year olds are great they are not good at solving adult problems.

Numerous studies have shown that people who live their lives focused on right now, the mindful people, focusing all of their attention on what they are doing right now, are happier and more successful and earn more than those who worry about the past or future.

Your challenge is to live a week just focusing on the here and now. If you need inspiration watch children.

When you have mastered this and feel calmer and more in control, you can start to positively plan for the future, all the time remembering that plans often have to be flexed and changed and hence the saying 'god laughs at our plans'.

That's it from your thinking coach this week.

Do let me know how you get on by leaving a comment.

I am here to serve you by helping you with your unique personal and professional development needs and to get you what you want via www.westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk or if you prefer to call I can be reached on 01761 237400. I offer face to face and/or telephone support if you live at distance. Yours, Pam Madden