Monday, 31 October 2011

How Do I Change When I Have 'Failed' In The Past?

Making a change in your life I think is predominantly down to 2 interlinked factors.

The first is your motivation and the second your confidence in terms of whether you think you will be able make the change you are looking for which in itself is usually impacted by your previous experiences.

For example, if you want to change the way you look and feel - and possibly what people say to you - by losing weight.

You may have attempted this many times before but ultimately you have always ended back at your starting weight or perhaps even heavier.

Your confidence is therefore low in this regard because previous experience tells you that you 'have failed' and as a result your motivation to change is also at a low.

So what do you do? Ignore the thing you want to change - your weight in this case - and continue to be dissatisfied and disrespectful of yourself?

Unwittingly, this impacts other areas of your life. For example, you wear clothes that are 'frumpy' and this negatively impacts your self-esteem.

This then impacts your work - perhaps how you communicate - such as holding back at meetings, not asserting yourself and so on.

The good news is that if you are reading this then you are demonstrating some real commitment to positive change.

More good news...

You can strengthen your commitment to change by strengthening your intent.

We know intent.

Think of a time when you said you were going to do something, such as, go to the gym, and this time you meant it and you did it.

And you can strengthen your intent so that this current change you want to make happens.


By following a strategy put forward by leading life coach Anthony 'Tony' Robbins ('By standing on the shoulders of giants and success leaves clues') which has worked for others and I think includes the following 4 key criteria for success:
  1. Exploring in full what is driving this change you want to make and asking yourself questions including:

    What will happen if I do make the change? What won't happen if I don't make the change? What will be so much better when I make the change? If I don't make the change what will be the impact on my personal, work and social life?

    You know you are making progress when the prospect of not changing is so uncomfortable that you feel that you must and will change.
  2. Having a positive, specific and measurable goal that is realistic, sustainable and set over a practical time period. Aligned, if possible, with a key event that you want to achieve your goal by, such as, a key work or family event
  3. By imagining yourself having achieved your goals and seeing your success as a realistic possibility.

    For example, it is February 2nd, 2012, the day of x work event and I have reached my target weight of 12 stone.

    As I wake I feel fantastic because I am seeing people this evening that I haven't seen for some time and I know I will feel great when they say how healthy and well I look.

    As I get dressed in front of the mirror I see a person who looks after themselves and I'm absolutely delighted to be wearing a fitted suit which flatters my physique. I give myself an approving smile as I stand tall and look confident...........
  4. There is an old adage that every journey begins with the first step. This is the biggest step the step of any decision.

    My message here is to go at your own pace, taking a small step each day such as....

    Day 1: Get a pedometer and track the number of steps I take
    Day 2. Beat yesterday's steps by 300.

    Many people try to do it all at once and end up failing. Aim to make changes that you can sustain and build into your life without having to do something that you will resent, such as, taking a formal gym programme
So have a go at this strategy and let me know how you get on. Of course, if you want support in achieving your goal we are 100% committed to help you so do get in touch via our website West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Small Business Coaching - Back-to-Basics Business Development

Does the idea of business development fill you with dread? Something you would prefer to leave well alone whilst you focus on what you do well?

If you answered "Yes" to this question - you are not alone.

And yet, business development (BD) can make a business while a lack of it - or the wrong type - is often a key reason for business failure. So...we have to do it.

With this in mind, I think our aim must be to enjoy BD and we can do this by focusing on getting the key tools and techniques right.

The aim of BD and marketing is to get maximum return - or paying customers - for minimum expenditure.

Therefore, it pays to first consider the free BD you can do before actually spending a penny.

The first thing to do is make a list of everyone you know and tell them about your business.

If appropriate, you may consider giving them a sample / complimentary service with the proviso that they tell say five other people about you.

It also helps your family, friends, work contacts if you let them know what your ideal customer / client looks like and the key problems you fix or services you offer.

Telling your network is the simplest and easiest form of marketing and it's free.

Other free sources of marketing for small businesses include a card in your Post Office, offering to do a talk about your business to local groups and developing (and then printing at low cost) your own flyers to distribute to your target market.

If you're targeting a particular market and calling prospects would be helpful then you will need a cold-calling script. For some great tips visit

If you do go down the cold-calling route expect to have to approach prospects about 8 times before getting a "Yes" to your proposition.

Someone once told me that customers need to see us in at least 3 places to buy our services - so bear that in mind when you are planning your BD and marketing strategy.

If you want to try an advert in a local paper, start with something small and see the advice on my previous post called Small Business Coaching: Back-to-Basics Marketing relating to this.

When you do start advertising in your local paper do negotiate. For example, ask for 12 months advertising with 2 free months and then get this in writing.

Why not ask for an advertorial so you get to tell readers about your business. For example, outline successful examples of your business in action or come up with a case study as both work well in this type of marketing.

Is it necessary at this stage for you to have a website?

Many successful small businesses have no brochure or website and are just as successful by simply using business cards and word of mouth.

If you do want a website make sure it fits in with the type of business you are offering and then shop around for good website designers who are competent at Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as this will help to ensure you site is visible on the first page of search results.

Business Development (BD) can be enjoyable and reap rewards if you focus on getting the basics right.

If you have found this blog to be useful please let me know or get in touch via our website West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Small Business Coaching: Back-to-Basics Marketing

Marketing your business now surrounded by all of the economic doom and gloom is a great idea because your competitors will be cutting back on their marketing budgets.

Not only will it provide you with a clear field ahead of you, the cost of print, media and advertising space will also drop and be very negotiable on price.

Making a profit from advertising is about buying advertising space cheaply. For example, if you can halve the cost of an advert and double your response you have quadrupled your profits.

Here are 5 simple ideas to help you to make the most of your marketing and advertising campaigns:

  1. Remove white space, make your logo smaller and get more of your sales message into the advert
  2. Make the font smaller and close to that of the paper that you are advertising in. If you have a strong headline and sales message people will read it
  3. Focus the advert on your compelling offer and a call-to-action
  4. Offer more response option, for example, include your telephone number and website address. The more ways you give a customer a chance to respond, the more responses you will get
  5. Go for a small advert which is just a headline to entice your audience. For example, a benefit or a hint of a solution accompanied by a website address where you can give them the rest of your story

Every advert you put out there must give people a reason to respond. Aim to offer one specific thing, something they want and need and will respond to.

Let me know how you get on with this by responding to this blog and if you want help please get in touch via

Friday, 21 October 2011

Executive Coaching: Acquiring New Skills For New Roles and Challenges

I was inspired to write this blog post after a session with an executive client today who is in a new role with fresh challenges and needs to develop their skills to make the most out of this opportunity.

My client wanted to work on acquiring these new skills one-to-one because:
  1. There was no training course that offered her the specific skills she wanted in one programme
  2. She wanted an 'expert' to focus solely on her to speed up results
We discussed how we would use our 2 hours together by first focusing on what she would leave our session with for it to have been considered a success.

We developed a goal and objectives for the session which focused on skills for developing a productive team and addressing current conflicts.

For example, I shared with my client a tool for providing feedback which builds motivation, helps to develop staff and improve their performance.

We then chose to role-play using the tool in practice. First, I acted out her role for demonstration purposes and then she followed by acting out her own role.

This reminded me how well one-on-one coaching works for executives who acquiring new skills which are not always easily labelled or neatly boxed into a traditional training course.

Perhaps you can use this blog to practice new skills with a trusted colleague. Please let me know how you get on.

If you would like support in this or any other area of personal and career development please get in touch via our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling - Executive Coaching.

Monday, 17 October 2011

How To Be Happy: Enjoy The Simple Things In Life...

So you have set some goals and you are working on them but there is something missing...what happened to enjoying today, now, this moment?

So I am writing this blog to remind you to keep a list of the things that make you happy now - just ordinary everyday things which you may have overlooked for a period like the view from one of your rooms, sunshine, a great meal...

Think about what you already have - Even better list these things in a journal and keep going until you have a full list of all of your blessings.

If you find this hard, think about what you do not have and do not want. Add these to your blessings list.

You may notice that the acquisition of things brings happiness but this is ephemeral. Numerous studies have shown there is nothing sustainable about acquisition - even for high winning Lottery individuals.

There is also something researchers call the Hedonic Treadmill which is when you say "I will be happy when...I have lost weight / got married / started a family / got my face lift etc".

The trouble with this outlook is that once you get used to the next level of status you reach a new norm which in itself becomes unsatisfying - in essence more wants more.

Happiness is not a destination... it's a state of mind. So recognise what you have, smile, enjoy what you are doing today and at the end of the day write down what has gone well in your journal - small things do count.

After all, big events and achievements happen less often.

And remember that whilst it is great to have goals and action plans, it is most important to live in the moment as this is all we have. Life is fragile and short.

If you have found this blog to be useful please let me know and/or get in touch via our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Relaxation By Yourself - A 10 Point Plan For Relaxing

You can read the following 'relaxation by yourself' instructions and after a few practices you will have your own in-built relaxation habit which you can use daily to reduce stress and anxiety.

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair or lie on your bed. Ensure you will not be disturbed by other noises. If you become aware of sounds ignore them. Make sure the whole of your body is comfortably supported - including your arms, head and feet.
  2. Close your eyes. Feel the chair/bed supporting your whole body - your legs, your arms, your head. If you can feel any tension, begin to let it go like releasing a clenched fist. Take three slow and deep breaths, and let the tension begin to flow out imagining it like sand in an egg timer.
  3. Become aware of your head - notice how your forehead feels. Let any tension go and feel your forehead become smooth and wide. Let any tension go from around your eyes, your mouth, your cheeks and your jaw. Let your teeth part slightly and feel the tension go.
  4. Now focus on your neck - let the chair take the weight of your head and feel your neck relax. Now your head is feeling heavy. Let your shoulders lower gently down. Your shoulders are wider, your neck is longer.
  5. Notice how your body feels as you begin to relax.
  6. Be aware of your arms and your hands. Let them sink down into the chair. Now they are feeling heavy perhaps limp.
  7. Think about your back - from your neck to your hips. Let the tension go and feel yourself sinking down into the chair/bed. Let your hips, your legs and your feet relax and roll outwards. Notice the feeling of relaxation taking over.
  8. Think about your breathing - your abdomen gently rising and falling as you breathe. Let your next breath be a little deeper, a little slower.
  9. Now, you are feeling completely relaxed and heavy.…. lie still and concentrate on slow, rhythmic breathing….
  10. When you want to count back from 3 to 1 and open your eyes. Wiggle your fingers and toes, breathe deeply and stretch. Pause before gently rising.
If you have found this blog helpful and relaxing please leave your comments. If you, a friend or relative would like help with reducing their stress and anxiety please get in touch via our website West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Managing Stress Through Helpful Questions

When you find yourself on the 'tipping point' of becoming stressed with all the dreadful feelings and behaviour that usually ensue STOP and take a deep breath.

Now, ask yourself the following questions (they work for me and I truly was a big stress-head!):
  1. What am I reacting to?
  2. What is it that I think is going to happen here?
  3. Is this fact?
  4. What's the worst (and best) that could happen? What's most likely to happen?
  5. What would I like to happen - my outcome?
  6. How helpful is it for me to think this way?
  7. Am I getting things out of proportion? 
  8. Is it worth it?
  9. How important is this really? How important will it be in a month's time? 
  10. What meaning am I giving this situation?
  11. Can I see that this meaning is inflexible?
  12. Am I overestimating the threat?
  13. Am I underestimating my ability to cope?
  14. Have I got my ‘stress-head’ on?
  15. What do I look like to other people? How am I affecting them?
  16. Am I mind-reading what others might be thinking?
  17. Am I believing I can predict the future?
  18. Is there another way of looking at this?
  19. What advice would I give someone else in this situation?
  20. Am I putting more pressure on myself?
  21. Just because I feel bad, doesn't mean things really are bad.
  22. Can I do things any differently here?
  23. How much can I control in this situation? What is outside of my control?
  24. What changes (however small) can I make to those things that I am able to control?
  25. What do I want or need from this person or situation? What do they want or need from me?  Is there a compromise?
  26. What would be the consequences of responding the way I usually do?
  27. Is there another way of dealing with this? 
  28. What would be the most helpful and effective action to take? (for me, for the situation, for the other person)
  29. What could I gain/lose?
  30. What will I do?
If this blog has been helpful then please do leave a comment. If you, a friend or relative would like support in managing your stress or anxiety please get in touch via our website West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Stress Management

Do you ever think now 'I can't cope...this is too much' about work, personal or relationship issues?

Do you feel anxious, angry or depressed or perhaps all three?

Do you notice your heart racing, tense muscles, headaches, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, restlessness, irritable bowel, sleeping disturbances, eating more or less, drinking more alcohol, upset, shouting, arguing...?

The first step is to identify what is making you stressed and then you can then either remove the triggers or change your response to them.

Say for example, it's your career and you are stressed about possible redundancy and the financial implications of this.

In this case you are not in control of removing the trigger - the redundancy threat - but you are in control of how you to choose to view it. 

You can stress and feel sorry for yourself or you can take action by updating your CV and use your network to identify job opportunities.

No one is saying that life stresses are always easy to handle, however, there is often a solution if we stay calm and in control.

What tools are useful for staying calm and in control? Here are ones that I have used, some of which I continue to use:
  • Mindful extended breathing
  • Relaxation CD with progressive muscle relaxation
  • Focus fully on an activity
  • Pampering e.g. aromatherapy massage
  • Exercise - especially yoga
  • Help others
  • Be with others - i.e. your friends and family
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Have a regular enjoyable hobby, interest
  • Prioritise
  • Say no - Not for now
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings
  • Positive self-talk/affirmations e.g this is temporary and will pass
  • Healthy eating
  • Cut down on caffeine and alcohol
One of my clients has each of the above tools written down on slips of paper in a box and each day she picks one out (like angel cards) to focus on.

I think that I know a bit about this because I used to stress about the smallest of hitches and now I definitely 'don't sweat the small stuff' or even bigger things that I cannot do anything about, for example, the economy, job security, impact on pension...

I do take action though when things don't go as I expect and I do make a plan. After all, we must recognise that worrying is futile. 

We are better off thinking about our outcome and planning a way forward.

So, if you are currently worried about losing your job update your CV, share it with your network and make a plan to find another employment opportunity.

We are currently working with a number of clients on helping them find a way forward following redundancy or helping them to prepare for redundancy. If this is you please get in touch via West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Changing Your Role in Life

Are you fed up with your current role in life, feel that the same things keep recurring and the same behaviours keep repeating themselves? 

You may have reached a point where you feel really uncomfortable - even desperate to change things?

Perhaps you have set some goals and taken some action but you haven't actually changed your deeper beliefs, rules for life and you feel incongruent - like you are living someone else's life almost.

Perhaps you have been doing it all for someone else to make them happy - a parent or spouse - to meet their expectations or what you think their expectations are.

For years my role in the script of my life ran along the lines of doing a job that would make my father proud of me and for years I felt like a square peg in a round hole.

'That's just stupid' I eventually thought. Perhaps you can relate?

I went through a transformation from old to new role in the script where I eventually felt that I was being my authentic self.

My old beliefs were that I would never be good enough - 'I will have to work really hard because I am not clever and on my own because I cannot rely on others, to prove to my Dad that I am good enough and lovable'.

My new beliefs are different - I am and always have been good enough and I can reach out for support whenever I want to.

I prioritise and balance my life so that I am working hard enough and I do something just for me every day - for me it's usually exercise and preparing a fresh meal that make me feel good.

Above all, I remind myself that I am doing good work helping others and that I earn my oxygen, that people respect me and that I am loved just as I am.

My new beliefs have given me peace of mind. 

So, what new beliefs can you start to have that will help you to change your role in your life?

  • Know that everything is happening for a reason and everything is as it should be even when you think this could not possibly be true. Believe it and ask for the strength and courage to be able to see it as true.

  • Aim to change the things you can, accept the things you cannot change and know the difference.

  • Stop beating yourself up for anything you feel you have 'failed at' - failure is only failure if you let it keep you down.

  • If you do things in life sometimes you will fail - learn from it and move on.

  • Be flexible and prepared to let go of the battle to have things your way all of the time.

  • Be honest about the depth of your anger or depression and take action that is helpful to your health and well-being.

  • Be kind to you. Know that we are all flawed, imperfect and spend some time getting to know the real you again - maybe go for a walk on your own at least once a week and do some soul searching.

  • Enjoy the journey, what is happening around you now - the sights, the sounds and enjoy the fact that you are alive, awake and here to experience life on your path at a lovely pace that is just right for you.

  • Expect obstacles on your path and curve balls will continue to be thrown. By expecting these problems you can handle them as best you can whilst still focusing on everything that you are grateful for.

  • Offer gratitude even when you want to do the opposite - moan, complain, cry. When you can connect with a true feeling of gratitude, even when you’re in the midst of massive pain it helps.

  • Find a form of meditation that works for you and aim to just be, letting any thoughts pass without analysis.

  • Let your new role evolve in a time that is appropriate for you - transformation can take years because it is a journey.

Please let me know your thoughts and feelings by writing a comment on this blog and please get in touch via our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling