Top Tips

Top Tips

Scroll down for Top Tips on everything from overcoming procrastination to boosting energy and beating stress.

Happiness

Experience a happier life

Take care of your health
If you’re tired and sluggish you won’t have the energy to pursue your passions. Take care of your body so it can take care of you. Eat a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water, take regular exercise and get enough sleep. Starting from a foundation of health will allow you to follow your dreams and maintain motivation.

Make your dream list
Take a sheet of paper and write at least 100 things that you want to do, be or have in your lifetime. Don’t be afraid to go beyond what you believe is possible today. Imagine that you have all the resources available to you to make these things happen. Read through the list every day for a week. You might be surprised at what happens when you focus your thoughts on what you really want.

Keep learning
Is there something that you’ve always wanted to be able to do? Rock climb, play the piano, speak in public? Whether it’s gaining a new talent or improving your capabilities at work, learning something new keeps the mind stimulated, provides a sense of accomplishment, builds confidence and opens doors to new possibilities in life.

Try something new
To explore possible new passions, challenge yourself to try something new every day for a month and record your progress in a notebook. It could be something as simple as cooking a new recipe or trying a different food, as fun as taking a photography class, or as daring as singing karaoke for the first time. You may discover a new interest or even a hidden talent.

Understand your energy
Identify what gives you energy and what drains it from you. It may be certain people or situations, or even the weather. Everyone’s energy needs will be different. Some people get a buzz from socialising with friends most nights of the week, whereas others find this exhausting, preferring instead more alone-time to relax and re-charge. Know what’s good for you and then work on creating the conditions in your life for your energy needs to be met.

Build your network
Connection with others provides emotional support, inspiration and learning, as well as a lot of fun and laughter. Think about the people in your life and how you spend your time with them. If it’s been a while since you got in touch, do so. If you’ve moved on from boozy nights down the pub and would rather a more sporty social life, why not suggest a bike ride at the weekend or find a local social networking website that offers sporting activities. Distance yourself from negative people who consistently criticise and instead encourage positive, inspirational people into your life.

Self belief

When you believe in yourself others can believe in you too

Your own self-belief is the key to successful life-change, achievement, contentment, and happiness. And it’s up to you. 

Top Tips - Self-belief

To help increase your belief in yourself, complete the following sentences using positive, inspirational, yet achievable statements.

I deserve to be…
I want to be…
I can be…
I will be…
I am…

Print them out and display them in a place that you will see them every day, when you wake up in the morning, when you go to bed at night.

Take time to read and visualise the statements on a regular basis. Plan time in your diary to do so or decide on a set time every day.

Imagine what you see, feel and hear when you place yourself in these statements.

Reading these statements during a state of relaxation will bring even more powerful results as your mind is more receptive to the messages.

It may feel unnatural at first but, repeated consistently over time, the messages will begin to embed themselves in your thought patterns and become a natural part of who you are.

And by altering your beliefs and feelings about yourself in this way you will release feelings of doubt and worry and move towards increased inner calm and a happier sense of self.

Confidence

Boost your confidence with these handy tips

Make a list of your reasons to be confident
This can include your talents, achievements and successes. Read them every day to remind yourself of your strengths. If you find yourself focusing on your failures, stop, and think instead about what went well. To develop further, reframe your ‘failures’ into opportunities to learn a new skill or improve an existing one.

Act ‘as if’
Or ‘fake it till you make it!’ Act as if you were already confident. How do you appear? What do you say? How do you feel? If you find this hard to imagine, think of someone you know who is confident. How do they act? Practice acting that way too. It may feel a bit scary or even false at first but over time the behaviour will get embedded into your natural way of being.

Keep a confidence diary
Get a journal and at the end of each day write down three things that you are pleased about and the reasons why. This helps to focus the mind on what you are doing well. Do this over six months and notice the impact on your confidence levels.

Change the feeling
Remember that confidence is just a feeling. And you can decide how you want to feel at any given moment in your life. Think of a time when you have felt confident, re-access that feeling and apply it to your current or upcoming situation. Spend ten minutes each day resurrecting that feeling of confidence. Over time it will start to feel more natural.

Keep things in perspective
If you have an upcoming situation or event that will require confidence ask yourself ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ When you look back years, months or even only weeks from now, how big of a deal will this have been? Instead of dwelling on what could go wrong, re-channel your energy to take action on what you have control over and minimize risks for what you don’t. And then get on with it.

Make friends with yourself
Are you your own worst critic? We often use much harsher language towards ourselves than we use with others. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break. If you wouldn’t say it to a good friend, don’t say it to yourself. Make sure the goals you set are broken down small enough to be achievable and congratulate yourself when you reach them, just as you would congratulate a friend.

Wellbeing

A report by ‘nef’ suggests five daily actions to improve wellbeing

‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ suggests that building the following five actions into our day-to-day lives is important for well-being:

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Take notice
  • Keep learning
  • Give

Connect…With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

Be active…Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

Take notice…Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

Keep learning…Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.

Give…Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

To read the full report visit the wellbeing pages on the nef website.

Overcoming Procrastination

Beat procrastination once and for all!

Plan

  • Perhaps you’re familiar with the expression “Failing to plan is planning to fail”? Making a plan is the key to increased efficiency and effectiveness. Knowing what you want to accomplish is the starting point, making it happen requires planning and follow-through.
  • Plan each day in advance, either by taking ten minutes the night before or ten minutes at the start of the day. If whirring thoughts tend to keep you awake at night then committing a few planning notes to paper the night before can help release the tension, knowing that your great ideas and areas for concern are captured on paper to be dealt with tomorrow, leaving you the opportunity to get some much-needed shut-eye.
  • Planning also provides the opportunity to cross items off your list as you complete them. How satisfying does that feel?!
  • Be realistic in your planning and consider any potential obstacles you may face, such as last minute requests from your boss or interruptions from colleagues. Decide how you will deal with obstacles so that you can keep on track. Having a back-up plan is hugely empowering and also removes the tendency to say, “Well it wasn’t my fault, so and so happened and I couldn’t avoid it”.

Focus

  • Decide on the top three things to focus on for today. Which three things will have the biggest impact? Not what is easiest or what would you rather do, but what contributes most significantly to your overall goal? Be honest with yourself.
  • Create a sense of urgency. Imagine you need to leave town for a month. This can help you to focus on what really needs to get done.
  • Create the right conditions for concentration. If you have an important report to write or project to work on, switch off your email alerts and send your phones through to voicemail for the time you need to work on it. You’ll complete it quicker and with more accuracy.
  • Don’t multitask. I know, I know, we’ve been told that women are fantastic multi-taskers, and we’re filled with admiration for people with super-power juggling abilities, but research now shows that multi-tasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and often results in longer, sloppier completion of a task. Focus on the job at hand and don’t start anything else until you’ve completed what you need to do.

Accept

  • Procrastination is often linked with perfectionism. If I can’t do it perfectly, I won’t do it at all. Or, when I have/am xxx, then I’ll do it. Recognise that it doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing’. That simply making a start and doing your best will move you on further than doing nothing at all.
  • Accept that you probably can’t do everything. Practice positive procrastination and learn to let go of less important activities. Be really clear on what’s most important to you, it will help you let go of the rest.
  • When you create a sense of urgency by imagining you are about to head off on holiday, as mentioned earlier, you will have to let some things drop. Drop them, don’t dwell on them, and move on to what’s most important.
  • If you’re facing an overwhelmingly complex task, break it down into manageable chunks, and treat each step as an action item to add to your daily planner.
  • To help capture the great, but perhaps not-important-right-now ideas, use a ‘parking lot’. The parking lot is a journal or even just a sheet of paper, or a whiteboard or flipchart, where you can record ideas to pick up later. It helps keep you focused without losing the fantastic ability your mind has to trigger one idea from another.

Do

  • Dive right in. If you have a task that you don’t particularly enjoy, do it first. Imagine how good it will feel when that’s done and you still have the rest of the day to work on more fun things.
  • Don’t over-think things. It will only allow you time to generate reasons why not to do something. Cut the mental chatter and let yourself go on automatic pilot. For example, exercise first thing in the morning before the day gets in the way.
  • Get started. If you find yourself dilly-dallying, take an easy route and tell yourself you’ll just do the activity or task for ten minutes. You may get into the rhythm of it and before you know it you’re done.
  • Make it super easy for yourself. Get your gear ready the night before, whether that’s your gym bag packed ready to hit the treadmill, or your sandwiches made so you can be sure to enjoy a healthy lunch. Being prepared makes it a no-brainer and helps to establish good habits, which over time feel natural and seem to require no effort.

Flow

  • Understand your natural ebb and flow of energy. If you have better concentration in the mornings, schedule your more intellectual tasks for that time of day. If you know you dip in the afternoon, why not head out for a quick fifteen minute walk in the fresh air – plan it in as a meeting with yourself, or even take your meeting outside and spread the benefits of getting moving!
  • Build in breaks. Anticipate that you will need some down-time to re-charge, so in your planning make sure not to cram every moment of the day with difficult tasks.
  • Mould your day to suit the activities and tasks required. For example, if you know a certain project will require several hours of strategic thinking and doing, get your meetings out of the way early on, to give yourself a chunk of time to really focus on that project.
  • Create your own deadlines to suit your natural working rhythm. One tip is to push meetings towards the late afternoon and decide that you will complete your daily tasks before the meetings start. Feeling on top of things will increase your creativity and productivity in the meetings.

Giving

Cultivate a more giving mindset and approach to life

Adopt an attitude of gratitude
Gratitude flows when you break out of the small, self-centred point of view and instead appreciate all that happens to keep you safe, healthy and happy. Create a sense of abundance by becoming more appreciative of your everyday experiences. Keeping a daily Gratitude Journal helps to remind you what you already have and so makes the act of giving easier.

Have zero expectations
If you get angry because your recipient hasn’t thanked you or acknowledged your generosity in some way, you’ll only generate unhappy feelings in yourself. The other person is oblivious to this. Instead, try to be more altruistic – to do good without expecting a reward. 

Remove feelings of entitlement
Once you stop believing that the world owes you something, you remove the stress of keeping a tally on who’s done what for whom lately and you create more opportunities for giving.

Keep in balance
Giving from the heart rather than out of a sense of guilt is a much healthier way to practice generosity. So consider also the care you need to have for yourself, for your own health and wellbeing. If you give so much that you deplete all your own energy you could burn out and be no help to anyone. This can happen around Christmas time when family obligations pull you in different directions. Be mindful of a healthy balance between what you give to others and what you need for yourself in order to function as a wholesome and healthy person.

Communicate kindly
There’s a famous yogic guide to sharing thoughts, facts and feelings with others. Before opening your mouth ask yourself if what you are about to say is truthful, necessary and kind. It may be a fact, but is it kind to share it with the other person? Does it need to be said right now and in this way or is it best saved for later. In this way even your communication becomes a treasured gift to others.

Send good vibes
Meditate or pray for someone else’s wellbeing. Start with a loved one, perhaps someone who’s not doing so great at the moment. Then have a go at wishing someone well who is not your favourite person, someone who usually irritates you, an enemy even. This can be truly transformative.

Practice giving
The more you practice generosity the better you get at it. Try giving something away everyday for a week – a piece of fruit for a friend, money to a favourite cause, a euro to a homeless person. Or give your time – call your mum, run an errand for a neighbour, volunteer at a local charity. Overtime your instinct to hold on to things will dissolve and you will expand your ability to open your heart to people.

Give when it’s least convenient
Cultivating generosity when you least feel like it or when you feel you have little to offer helps to challenge your fear of scarcity and to realise that maybe you don’t have things so bad after all. This opens you up to seeing new possibilities and generates a greater sense of ease with your life.

Make simple gestures
Smile; say thank you; hold a door open for someone; let someone go ahead of you at the supermarket. Giving doesn’t have to cost money. Such simple gestures benefit in more ways than the result of the act itself – it helps you feel connected to others and to the world around you.

Goal-setting

Take control of your future

Alice came to a fork in the road.
“Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

Taken from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Goals give your life purpose and direction. A goal can be described as a dream with a date. It is what gets you from “I wish I was” to “I am”.  When you set goals, you create clear aims and objectives towards which you can channel your attention, effort and energy. Without goals, you drift and, when you drift, you’re not in control. If you’re not in control, then someone else may be. By setting goals you take control of your own future which brings freedom, happiness and fulfilment.

Here follow my top tips for effective goal-setting.

  • Fit it to your values: make sure each goal fits your big picture and is in line with what you value in life.
  • Write it down: written goals stand a greater chance of achievement as it makes them more real and fixes them more firmly in place.
  • Review often: bringing your goal to the forefront of your mind daily helps to reinforce it, as well as giving you an opportunity to refine or adapt it as needed.
  • Share it: making someone else aware of what you are working on helps to provide a sounding board as well as increasing your sense of accountability to make it happen.
  • Be specific: a vague goal is unlikely to be realised. For example, if you want to lose weight decide exactly the weight you want to be.
  • State it in the positive: you get what your mind focuses on and the sub-conscious struggles to differentiate between a positive and a negative. So instead of “I want to stop being shy” re-phrase that to “I want to be confident” (then be specific – in what circumstances, in what way, when).
  • Use the present tense: use “I am” instead of “I will”. For example, “I am working in a job I really love”. This may feel odd to the logical, conscious mind, but the subconscious mind will have no problem with it and will focus on attaining this.
  • Imagine it: how does it look, feel, sound to have reached your goal? The more vividly you can imagine this the easier it is to move towards it.
  • Make it measureable: ask yourself how you will know when you have achieved it. For example, “I am healthy and strong” could mean when you reach a certain weight and have maintained a consistent exercise regime for a certain period of time.
  • Challenge yourself: if a goal is too easy you will become board and drop it. So dream big and then dismantle that into specific goals.
  • Make it achievable: whilst goals should be challenging in order to feel inspired, they should also be realistic, otherwise you will become disheartened and may give up. If the goal seems unrealistic break it down into smaller more manageable goals.
  • Give it a time-frame: always attach a start and finish time. And do this for each of the action steps you plan. This helps to keep focused and on track.
  • Maintain balance: aim to set goals in each area of life to ensure that you are not jeopardising family for the sake of career, for example.
  • Keep it legal and ethical: goals should be for your own good and the good of others.

 

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“All the tips can be easily adopted and immediately applied, and the benefits are tangible and quickly demonstrated”
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