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

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Networking for You

If you are anything like a lot of people business networking is something that you avoid.

When I think about networking at an event I think we are resistant to the idea of formally presenting ourselves to others.

If you want to work a room and enjoy the experience here are some tips for you from my own experiences, those of my clients and those from experts in this area.

A good starting point is to prepare a concise 'I am x; what I do is this; what I am working with is this'. It's also a good idea to think beforehand about who you want to connect with and why so that your networking is focused.

The more specifically you know what you want out of any given event the better the outcome so think about this carefully before registering for an event.

Really think about what your brand is and what you want to portray so that you give a great impression of your brand.

When you meet a person for the first time pay attention to their behaviour and aim to match and mirror their actions, gestures, tonality and words to give them what they need in order to get them to engage with you.

Pay attention to your own body language practising confident postures, a friendly smile and perhaps some ice breaker questions or compliments.

Also prepare questions that will help you to get your outcome such as asking someone 'what are your biggest challenges right now?' that may help you to think about what services you could provide to help them during a subsequent conversation.

Above all move around and meet as many people as possible since there may be other opportunities for connections in the room.

Swap business cards and ensure that you follow up with people to deepen your connections.

Make notes about people you have met and what you have found out is important to them.

And remember that since business is all about relationships networking and meeting new people is a must...

So find a way to enjoy it such as dressing up or finding out more about other people.

If you have found these tips to be useful please leave a comment.

For support in achieving your business and/or personal goals please get in touch via www.westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk. We would love to connect.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Addressing Your Angst

Do you suffer from anxiety and fear of failure?

This blog aims to provide you with ways to cope better with the anxiety and fears that occupy your mind and impact the whole of your life.

A period of honest reflection helps.

I suggest that you ask yourself the following seven questions

  1. What am I afraid of? 
  2. Why am I afraid of this?
  3. Is this true? what evidence do I have for this fear/worry?
  4. What is this belief doing to me?
  5. Who would I be if I did not have this belief?
  6. What is the opposite of this experience?
  7. What would I like to believe instead that would be helpful to me?
You may not have all of the answers on first sitting but if you continue to reflect on these questions and others that you can think of you will come up with more positive alternatives and this will lead to your having more self confidence and enhance your self-esteem. 

Even something simple like moving from 'I cannot do x' to 'I can do x if I choose to by coming up with a new approach' will lead you to better choices, a more optimistic outlook and better results if you are hungry enough. I mean that if your intent is 100% and your attitude is positive then your will move forwards.

You could also ask yourself what you would notice [and others] if you let go of your fear/angst. What would you feel then?

Many people use meditation to address their anxiety and worries so you could sit in a calm place for say ten minutes a day focusing on your breathing and feeling the emotions that surface. This process will help you to know that your anxieties will not overwhelm you and that you can survive them simply by breathing.

Activities may also help you to address your anxiety such as meeting new people through a club of interest and of course exercise that releases feel-good hormones into your system that combat anxiety and leave you feeling more in control.

If you are resisting change or would for other reasons like help in addressing your anxieties please get in touch via www.westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk and please leave a comment if you have used and enjoyed the changes in thinking stimulated by this blog.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Eating differently in 2013

Many of us start the new year with a goal to lose weight and get fit. If this is relevant to you now then some of the tips in this blog may be useful.

If you are eating too much it's often for emotional reasons including feeling bad, feeling good or just plain bored.

To stop the old cycle and habits you need to find a better way to manage your emotions.

Step one is to recognise that emotional hunger is different from real hunger and comes on quite suddenly. Ask yourself what am I feeling right now? Name the emotions.

Step two is to to mentally press the pause button to slow down the often quick unconscious action of eating when you are not truly hungry. Pause for sixty seconds and ask yourself some questions such as 'how will I feel when I have eaten this?' It helps to record your feelings and question answers initially to increase your awareness about specifically what is happening for you.

Step three is to examine your beliefs about food - for example, do you feel anxious around food because of the conflicting information out there about what you should and should not eat?

Be curious in finding out your own truth and trust your body. For example if you have heard that it's good to start the day with porridge, fruit and nuts, try it for a week - do you notice any difference in your energy levels in the morning? If it works for your lifestyle you may want to continue with this change.

We often start the new year with a high intention of some radical diet and find it lasts a week or less.

I think that you are better off taking small steps and changing one thing at a time. And try not to suffer! For example if chocolate is your thing still eat it but go for the high cocoa dark chocolate which is richer with small amounts being more filling.

Nothing is forbidden but aim to eat mindfully - focusing on eating sat down at a table rather than watching TV or reading for example.

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

If you would like support in achieving your personal and professional goals in 2013 please get in touch via our website www.westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk where you can also sign up for a complimentary 'better work results today' coaching session.