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Motivate me

Do you find yourself watching other people progress in their careers, set up their own businesses or change their careers?

Do you find yourself waiting for inspiration to strike?

Do you love hanging out on the sofa after work, tucking into your snack of choice, reassuring yourself that you’ll get some exercise/tidy the house/call your friend tomorrow when you feel more like it?

It gets tiring pretty quickly to wait for life to happen, and over time squashes you, the you who shines on your best day, until you’re barely recognisable. You need to start getting back into the drivers seat of your life. Cliche and cheesy and true.

Motivation is a lie. Motivation is simply the result of taking action.

Motivation. What a beast. Sometimes it feels like motivation is there in droves and other days it feels like it’s left the building. What if it isn’t motivation that’s holding you back? What if it’s as simple as you not taking action?

Mr Motivator is a slightly mad, Lycra-donning fitness ‘guru’ of sorts who shot to fame on a TV breakfast show in the U.K. back in the 1990s. The idea of a Mr Motivator is brilliant – somehow having someone there with the promise of being motivating you takes the pressure off you to be responsible for your own decisions and your own lack of action. Now all you have to do is wait for Mr Motivator to show up and you’ve got it sorted. And for personal fitness it can work amazingly well. It’s like having someone on your side to keep you accountable (dare I say it, like having a coach cheerleading you on).

Except of course two people can watch Mr Motivator and behave completely differently. The first person, let’s call her Sally, watches our Mr Motivator and enjoys laughing at him leaping around while tucking into her bowl of crisps/bag of chocolate buttons/popcorn (delete as appropriate). At no point does she choose to join in and experience the action. Person B, let’s call her Ellie, watches and immediately jumps up and joins in with the exercises.

The Oxford Learners Dictionaries defines motivation as: ‘the reason why somebody does something or behaves in a particular way.’ What if your reason for ‘doing something’ or behaving in a particular way was as simple as ‘because you chose to’? That’s all. You choose to say ‘yes’ or you choose to say ‘no’. That’s it. Wow, simple.

Action is simply a choice. Motivation is irrelevant.

What happens when you take choose to action, and you take it, is that you create momentum. Yes, it turns out my teachers were right and physics is useful after all. Any action you take towards a goal creates momentum. You choose whether to ride the momentum, like a ball rolling down the hill, and keep choosing action over inaction. One small step at a time. More action continues the momentum which makes you feel motivated. Inaction, and the choice you make not to take action, will eventually cause the momentum to stop and you’ll stop feeling motivated. Until you choose to take another step forward.

Don’t wait for motivation. Keep it small and start.

I get stuck in the inertia of inaction more times than I would like to admit. The truth is that I choose not to. I give myself reasons and excuses why ‘now is not the right time’, ‘I don’t feel like it’, ‘there are other things I should be doing’. None of those is wrong, and they are reasons I’m creating to support my lack of action.

Take my last blog post. It chose not to write that for a long time. There was always a reason. And often it was the excuse of not having enough time. Then I reminded myself of the idea that breaking big goals down into small steps can help you sneak past your brain’s fear centre (the dear old amygdala). So I set an alarm for ten minutes. When it went off I was already in the thick of writing so I reset it for another ten. It took me two lots of reset timers and I was done.

Action led to more action. It created its own momentum. Motivation was simply a choice.

Are you stuck and feeling unmotivated? Here are 3 things you can play with.

1. Choose. Choose to take one tiny action. Make it so small you actually want to laugh. If your goal is to go outside more, just open a window and stick your head out (safely, hold onto something and don’t lean too far). If you’d like to get a phone call out the way, get the phone number. Or just dial the number. It’s only a choice.

2. Get someone in your corner. Find someone to keep you accountable. Tell them of the choice you’ve made and the steps you’re going to take. Brainstorm the steps or the first step if you find yourself getting stuck in overthinking. Find someone who can support you, and challenge you. And start to notice what you tell yourself.

3. Do something. Doing anything differently will shake things up. Make the choice and do it. My favourite Yoda quote is ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’ Say ‘yes’ and do it. Lean on the support you’ve created for yourself in step 2 to get you over the line.

All great journeys begin with a choice and that one first step.

Have fun – consciously choose to act today in one very small way.

Louisa x

PS When you’re ready for transformation and change, let’s talk about the ways I can help you build your confidence, create your vision and increase your impact on the world.

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4 Ways to Uncover Your Gold

You let yourself play small because deep-down you think that’s all you deserve. So you settle for less than is actually possible.

You compare the ups and downs of your messy and chaotic life to the highlights reels of other people. You feel insignificant and incapable, so you stop seeking opportunities to grow.

You are so worried about making the right decision you end up stuck like a rabbit in the headlights, choosing nothing and watching the days tick by.

If you are tired of playing small, playing the comparison game or being stuck in the headlights of analysis paralysis, then you need to start changing the way you think about yourself.

Don’t wait for the right time. The right time never comes.

You grow most at the very edges of your comfort zone. Staying small and safe doesn’t serve anyone. Least of all you. If you want to stay safe, paralysed by the thought of what other people might say if you step out into the unknown, then go ahead. You can stay there, safe, in your low-risk, low-impact life. For ever.

And you get to choose.

I know what that feels like because it’s also been my story. I’ve played small too because underneath it all I worry whether I deserve more – am I enough? Will I have enough to offer? What will people say?

I’ve fallen headlong into the trap of comparing my journey in life to other people’s journeys. I see their highlights, not the lowlights, and fool myself into thinking I’ve so much less to offer the world than they have so I may as well not bother. At least then I won’t look like an idiot when I fail. (And yes, I often think in terms of ‘when’ for failures – and ‘if’ for success – anyone else?)

I’m also the self-professed Queen of Must Make the Right Choice. I forget there is no right or wrong choice. Only options.

But, I also know I get to choose whether I stay stuck or move forward, risking messy failures and screw ups. When the opposite is to stay small and live with the thought I would never know what would happen if I tried, if I really played big and reached for those gloriously proverbial stars, it’s a no-brainer on paper.

It’s a harder path – and the journey is a LOT more fun.

Here’s a little story to inspire you.

The historical story goes that a beautiful monastery in Thailand was at risk of attack from the Burmese army. This monastery was home to a beautiful giant golden statue of Buddha. The monks covered the giant golden Buddha with clay to protect it from plunder by the army. The army saw only a giant clay statue and left it alone. Over time the story of the covered statue had been lost until finally all the monks in the monastery believed the statue to be made of only clay.

Several hundred years later in 1957 a group of monks was in the process of relocating the monastery. One day, as they moved the giant clay Buddha, a monk noticed the clay was cracked. When he investigated more closely, he saw gold light appearing at the place the clay had broken. He chiseled away at the clay until he uncovered the truth. The statue was, and had never been, clay – it was made of solid gold.

I am like the golden Buddha statue (albeit I am much, much smaller). I am not clay. I am gold.

The biggest layer of clay covering the gold of who I really am has been all my own work. I’ve piled on layer upon layer of my own limiting and negative thinking over the years – most of it totally unconsciously. Comparing myself to others has not helped. Other layers of clay have been added by other people (teachers, family, bosses, society, the media, organisations) and too often I lose sight of the gold of who I am when I’m being myself on my very best days. That gold is me.

YOU are not clay either. You too are solid gold.

When I’m standing in the truth of who I am it makes taking leaps and risks and facing challenges easier. It creates new possibilities. I can play bigger without fearing what other people will say. This is true for you too.

It’s not easy to chip away at the clay to find your gold. Using a hammer and chisel is hard work, and careful work to avoid damaging the gold underneath. And it is simple. Start chipping away at the clay.

Here are 4 things you can do.

1. Ask. Ask other people what your gold is. Don’t literally ask them that or they’re going to look at you strangely. DO ask them what are my biggest gifts? What is it about me that lights up others? What’s unusual or unique about me?

2. Rediscover. Remember what you loved to do when you were growing up. What did you spend all your spare time doing when you were 5, 10, 13, 16, 20? Spend some time trying those things out again.

3. Get curious. Take action and notice what happens when you do. Action comes first. It was the action of chiselling the clay that revealed the gold statue. Try a new way of thinking, a new course, a new route to work, a new way of behaving, anything. Follow your curiosity.

4. Apply. To transform your life and uncover your gold, you must apply what you learn. Information alone is nice and not enough. Experiment with what you’ve learned. Ask yourself how you can use what you learn, and then use it.

Chip away at your clay. Uncover your gold.

Have fun – you only get one go at life. Make it a good one!

Louisa x

PS When you’re ready for transformation and change, let’s talk about the ways I can help you build your confidence, create your vision and increase your impact on the world.

Story of the Golden Buddha, from the movie ‘Finding Joe’.

Direction

How what you complain about might be costing you – and what to do about it

It’s Friday night and you’re down the pub with your mates, or you’re hanging round the coffee machine with your co-workers, and you’re in moaning mode. I’ve been there, you’ve been there. Glass or mug in hand, putting the world to rights and letting everyone know why something isn’t as it should be.

Let’s face its a pretty common scenario. Movies and TV shows replicate reality and repeat this phenomenon over and over again. It’s a part of life. Letting out our frustrations and complaints is helpful on many levels, and arguably better for your mental health than holding it all in. I’m not going into the pros or cons of complaining in this article. I’m more interested in the fact that you’re complaining at all, and what it might mean for you.

Your world is not the same as my world

A complaint is, according to the dictionary, a statement that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable. I’m going to add in a bit to this. A complaint is “a statement that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable…according to you and your view of how the world should be.”

What’s unacceptable to you may be totally acceptable and reasonable to the person listening to you. Of course they won’t often admit that, and yet there it is. Your interpretation is not the only interpretation that exist. Remember that example of the dress that pops up all over social media from time-to-time? Do you see a black and blue dress or white and gold dress? It’s crystal clear to you that what you see is exactly what everyone else sees too. The idea that other people might be telling the truth when they say that they see a dress in a totally different colour seems bizarre at best, even wrong.

I reckon you don’t even notice how your complaints and your way of thinking about your situation and the world around you keep you stuck. I’ll go further and bet that those complaints you make give you a kind of payoff that means you keep reinforcing the same cycle of behaviour. Over and over, again and again the same pattern repeats itself. You moan about the same old stuff day in and day out. It might be connected to different situations or people and it’s the same creature with a different mask. Your payoff might be feelings of safety, or certainty or something very different. It doesn’t really matter what your payoff is, it’s real to you and it keeps you treading endlessly on the same wheel.

But what’s the cost?

Not recognising the pattern you repeat in how you behave, and what you complain about, costs you deeply through the loss of your vitality and energy, loss of open and honest connection with other people, loss of fulfilment or achievement, and the loss of being able to stand-up and express yourself as the person you really are when all the rubbish is stripped away.

In contrast, if you notice your patterns of behaviour, you can choose to interrupt the cycle. You can do something differently. Like not blame your bad mood on the traffic, and instead know that you’re very tired and need to get some sleep. Or rather than moaning about how your boss treated you, ask yourself (or your boss) what you could do differently next time that might make everyone’s life easier. Or decide not to moan about why your school failed you and thats why you’re in a job you hate, and instead start doing something about it.

The more you interrupt the cycle, the easier it will be to do it next time. Rather like pushing the pedals on a bike, the first few pushes from standing still are tough and it takes a lot of effort and focus to get moving, then when you’re off you build momentum and before you know it you’ve travelled a long way and arrived at a very different place.

Start noticing

What do you keep on complaining about, and what is it costing you? It’s not an easy task to unpack the cost of your old habits and behaviours, and it’s all the more valuable when you’re brave enough to show-up and notice it. Where else does that behaviour show up in your life? Give yourself permission to notice when and where it pops up.

When you do, you’ll know what it’s costing you, and knowledge is powerful. Once you know the cost, you can make a choice. You can choose to leave things as they are, in full knowledge of the cost – and that might be absolutely OK for you and where you are right now. It doesn’t have to be that way forever.

Or you can choose to interrupt the pattern, to make new choices and do something different when you notice the pattern repeating. Don’t make it a make or break moment. Habits are hard to kick, and if you jump onto your bike expecting to be able to conquer the race and change instantly you’ll have a hard fall. Be kind to yourself, and do it little tiny pushes at a time. Even kids don’t learn to pedal a bike on the first try. They try and fall, and get back on and fall again, and try again. And they celebrate when they hit tiny milestones, and you can too. Then one day they realise they are finally doing it all by themselves, and they are no longer stuck.

Get a partner

A supportive accountability partner or a coach can be an immense help in encouraging you to identify patterns of behaviour, and in taking action to break the patterns and create a new path through keeping you accountable to making change, and asking those big, challenging questions to break you out of your old mindsets.

Commit and pedal forwards

Once you’ve noticed your patterns and committed yourself to making a change, get on your bike and slowly start pedalling. Who knows what might happen when you do, and you’ll have one amazingly fascinating ride.

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Keep it small

There is only one thing that stops you making a significant change in your life.  You.  There is nowhere else to lay blame or fault.  If you aren’t living the life you want, do something about it.  Don’t do nothing.  That is the absolute worst thing you could do.  A fat old nothing.  I know, I’ve been there.

It’s totally possible to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, going over and over all the “what ifs” and stay firmly stuck in what a wise friend once called the crazy-thought loop.  You can turn to chocolate, wine or a good TV series.  And the next day will roll around and there you will be, in exactly the same place as the day before.

Or… or you can tell yourself that enough is enough and you can do something about it.  You can take action.  Action is exciting, terrifying and hopeful.  It can be a huge death-defying leap or it can be a tiny step like the tentative first step of a baby starting its journey as a toddler.  Action is beautiful because action leads to more action, just as one step leads to another, and another and another.  And before you know it you’re not in the same place, you’ve changed direction and you’re on your way.  You may not know the destination yet, and that’s OK.  Sometimes the destination won’t make itself clear until we’ve started out.  And we need to start.

Too often we stop ourselves from taking action because we make it too big.  We make it about the huge leap and not the baby step.  So my advice to you is to keep it small. Find one thing that you want to do differently today, just one thing.  Maybe you’ll take a different route to your workplace, or drink a different kind of coffee, listen to a new artist, make a call you’ve been putting off.  What it is doesn’t matter as much as doing it.  Whatever change you want to make, start somewhere.  Keep it small.  Baby steps.  You’ve got this.