It’s a grey old day as I sit here and type. The rain has been pouring down all morning. My son is poorly and after a lot of tears he has finally relented and fallen asleep. The dog, who periodically gets up for a quick gaze out of the window to check if the rain has stopped, has now skulked back to his favorite spot snuggled up on the beanbag.
This got me thinking, as much as I hate being stuck indoors, we need the rain. We need the rain so that the flowers can grow, the crops can grow, the rivers can flow and essentially so that nature can do its thing. We need the down times to appreciate the good times.
And to take this thought further, sometimes a bit of pain or discomfort can be a blessing. Sometimes we need it to wake us up from plodding along an unfulfilling path and hopefully give us a surge of energy to propel us forward to the place we really want to be.
A lovely lady once shared a meme with me of a bow and arrow. (Search ‘an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward’ and you will find the one I mean.) The message is that when life seems to be dragging you down stay focused and keep aiming for what you want and eventually you will be propelled towards it. But for me, that is the key part, staying focused on what it is you do want, and all the good fortune you already enjoy. If you can imagine a future full of the things you want and enjoy the process of imagining that future you are more likely to find yourself inopportune places, meeting key people by ‘chance’ and discovering stepping stones that will get you to where you want to be. If you dwell on bad thoughts and feelings your focus will inevitably find more of that to inhabit your thoughts and it will keep pulling you in a downward spiral.
We need challenges to grow. There is no light without dark and there is no sound without silence or silence without sound. The saying, ‘every cloud has a silver lining,’ has just popped into my head and actually, when I think about it, is the essence of my Be Glad project www.BeGlad.co.uk. It’s all about gratitude and playing ‘the glad game,’ looking on the bright side of things especially on occasions when everything seemed against you but things actually worked out for the best in the long run. You may not have got what you thought you wanted, but in not getting that, space was created for something even better.
Some of our most fulfilling achievements that really make us proud are when we have overcome an obstacle, faced adversity and conquered it etc.
In coaching, even if something is blatantly obvious to me as a perfect solution and my client isn’t thinking as I would, I never give ‘MY’ answer, or ‘MY’ opinion (that is what mentors are for.) This is important because it would end up in a no-win situation. If my thoughts or suggestions didn’t work out for the client they would blame me, but more importantly, if things DID work out, my client would not be able to fully claim the satisfaction of the success. They would bestow credit to me and my suggested action. And that certainly doesn’t sit well with my goal of empowering people.
So my message is this, keep going - the next time the world seems to be dragging you down say a little thank you and look for the opportunity to accomplish something bigger and better beyond the current situation.
My son is awake again and I’m sure the rest of the day will be just as tediously grizzly as the morning; he’s very good at offering me opportunities to practice patience!
I’d love to know about a time when you thought everything was going wrong but in the long run, it actually worked out for the best. Maybe what first seemed an adversity actually propelled you towards something bigger and better than what you had originally hoped for.
I don’t think I have ever met a single woman who isn’t worried about her size, shape, weight or fitness levels. As Rupal mentioned in her last post on health we should all be concentrating on fitness, and being healthy is certainly more important than being slim but more often than not the two generally go hand in hand.
I am slightly ashamed to admit it but when I was pregnant I ate A LOT! And I didn’t care, well, I did a bit, but in the back of my mind I had the excuse that I looked huge anyway so it didn’t matter. I actually used to buy packets of biscuits (triple choc chip, choc dipped, calorific, Choccy Mc Chocolate Face yummyness) and more often than not I would eat them all in the car on the journey home, mindlessly shovelling them in. Seriously, a whole packet was more often than not consumed within a short ten minute drive. It always happened when I was on my own, a little self sabotage when there was no one there to keep up appearances for, no one to question my actions and keep me in check.
As with so many of our blog posts there is some cross over, this one could also quite easily sit in the happiness section. As soon as I walked out of the shop, biscuits in hand and started eating them I felt happy, sometimes even a little devious (clearly I wasn’t going to tell my husband I had been scoffing goodies without him) but more often than not by the end of the packet I would feel a little disgusted with myself but mostly disappointed they had all gone already, the pleasure factor seemed to have disappeared in a flash, clearly I would have to buy some more.
Now that I look back I am pretty sure it was nothing to do with pregnancy cravings. There have been times in my past where I have overeaten and gained loads of weight before. Thinking about it, it was probably more to do with my mental health at the time. I was heavily pregnant, I’d just moved house to somewhere I wasn’t terribly familiar with, far from friends and family to be with my husband and yet as soon as we moved in he got sent away for a couple of months on a course. In the absence of my real physical friends I allowed food to fill that gap.
For Christmas I was given a fantastic book called ‘First bite’ by Bee Wilson. Admittedly I haven’t finished reading it yet but so far it is fascinating. Our relationship with food is quite complex and I am so glad to be in a position to be reading this book while my son is weaning. I really hope I can establish a healthy relationship with food for him. The thing that really stuck out for me was when Bee explains that we crave certain foods because there is an emotion attached to them.
Have you ever noticed that you really really crave some type of food and then when you eat it, it’s not as good as you had hoped it would be? This tends to be because there is a background story in your life that relates to that food. Maybe you and your first true love ate a tasty chilli con carne one weekend while gazing into each other’s eyes, a warm fuzzy glow surrounding you in a perfect fluffy heart shaped cloud. Fast forward ten years, it’s raining, everything that can go wrong seems to be going wrong and for some reason which you haven’t even registered, all you want to do is eat chilli con carne. You stop by the co-op and buy yourself a chilli con carne ready meal before heading back to your flat to enjoy it. Funnily enough, you don’t enjoy it, and not only because it’s a microwave meal. The food on its own simply can’t recreate that lovely cosy happy time for you. A personal example of my own, when Aunty Helen sends over a plate of Sunday roast left overs along with a slice of her legendary lemon meringue pie, it is essentially the same food, it’s good but it can only fill my belly, it can’t fully fill my heart. Eating it warmed up on a plate by myself is not the same as being able to sit round the table with my cousins and any other relatives that might be about that Sunday, sharing hugs, stories and teasing each other in the only way we all know how. Reconnecting with a deeper more satisfying… well, connection. Being a social person this is really important for me, being with my family I can still be that little girl I have always been inside.
Anyway! Back to my main point. Healthy accountability. Three months after giving birth I decided I needed to do something about my weight. I hated my shape and all my clothes, teamed with the fact I had two christenings and five weddings to look forward to this year, the first being in February. I knew I was kidding myself if I tried to go it alone so I did something I have never done before. I joined Slimming World (other reputable slimming clubs are available). I knew that even though I would not be judged and only the weighing lady would know my weight, I needed that accountability of weighing in each week. There was no one to dupe apart from myself and hey, those scales were not going to lie, they were going to dob me in to myself every time. The eating plan is really simple to follow and essentially it’s what we all already know anyway. Eat plenty of lean meat and veg as well as fruit and keep everything else in check by only having small quantities each day. It’s obvious, I haven’t learnt anything new about nutrition. But what I have learnt is how much longer my happiness lasts when I am feeling pretty in a posh frock at a do. Much longer than those biscuits used to last on the way home. I have lost two stone already.
Each week we don’t only weigh in, if you have time then there is a session afterwards called ‘image therapy.’ Essentially we all take it in turns to talk about what went well for us and what held us back that week. It’s a great way to feel that you are not alone, many of the other members also struggle with similar issues and therefore each of them come up with their own unique ways of combating those issues. By sharing our stories and our solutions everyone can reap the reward – a very similar concept to Professional Spring but with food rather than business!
And for those of you who have engaged a coach or a mentor, as you will know, they are not going to do the work for you, that is up to you, but the regular contact and the fact that you have said you are going to do something out loud to a real person will go a long way towards you ACTUALLY doing it. It’s a pull on your own deep seated integrity. No one wants to be a miss match with what they say they will do and what they actually do.
I’d be really interested to hear if you have any examples of when you’ve managed to pull something out of the bag simply because you couldn’t face telling a key person that you hadn’t managed to do it?
This is a really big one for me. My head is absolutely exploding with things I would like to do, my downfall is that I am interested in pretty much everything, I’m surrounded by inspirational people and I get all these project ideas that I want to do ‘one day’ and somehow never get round to doing.
To tell the truth, I am actually in the middle of writing another blog post but because I keep getting distracted I have started on this one instead to get it off my chest!
Maybe you are like me? Collecting things READY for when you are going to do that amazing project, and when I say collect, I mean anything from buttons, beads and fabric to physical brochures, online links, events schedules, pins on Pinterest, notes on Trello/Evernote, physical notes on actual pads of paper but equally lots of old envelopes etc etc. All hanging around in your ‘pilling system’ waiting for the day you will finally utilise them.
I am also guilty of subscribing to mailing lists and then hardly ever opening an email from that guru thinking ‘When I have time I will sit and go through all of them at once and learn every bit of advice they have, all at once.’ Occasionally the odd email subject headline will catch my eye before I swipe it to the right off of my phone screen and I will open it, maybe watch a quick video or read an article (I’m more of a visual person than a reader in fairness) and be reminded of one of the many things I want to do ‘one day.’
Now that I have a son my time is so limited. I have to try and shoehorn as much as possible into his two daily nap times and depending on where my husband is, sometimes I don’t even get to do that. So as you can imagine, being crippled by distractions really does literally stop me from achieving any one thing on my to-do list. I certainly don’t think that I am ‘Slight Edging’ my way to anything. All efforts are far too diluted to count as real progress. (The Slight Edge is a fab book, by the way, read more here.)
So what steps am I taking to tackle this issue?
Some of you may have heard of a default diary? Basically think back to when you were at School. On a Monday morning, you might have had double Maths. How often did you get your Science books out and conduct an experiment in the middle of Mrs. Brauns third attempt at explaining algebra? Never. So why is it that when we sit down to do some search engine optimisation do we get sidetracked by a blogger's fantastic article on modern feminism? Or when we are trying to concentrate on writing our own blog do we ‘just quickly look at this…’ then before we know it we have six tabs open on the laptop of things which we would love to know more about. I’ve actually left my laptop turned on for days with tabs open thinking I would read the content only to have to relent and shut it down eventually, or the battery dies and does it for me. And guess what, it’s more than likely stuff that is forgotten forever, but in a good way, I clearly didn’t need to know about whatever it was straight away, although interesting, it just wasn’t the right time for that to be part of my life.
Trello has helped a lot; I now have Trello open every time I have the computer open. It is actually the second time I have started to use Trello, I didn’t get on with it straight away but a handy YouTube tutorial has helped me utilise the features far more efficiently. Now if I see some flash of inspiration that I know I can use for my business in the future I can save it in the appropriate place on Trello so that when I have double Maths I can look under my Maths board and find all the task cards I need to make that a productive session.
Next, comes discipline, now we can all create a default diary but we need the discipline to stick to it. To only have the essential screens you are working on open, the phone turned to silent so it does not ping pinging its way into your allotted time like an annoying terrier yapping at your ankles for attention which you simply cannot ignore.
The next fantastic thing you can do is have an accountability system going on. My friends Jacquie, Rupal and I use Whatsapp and the same questions are asked/answered each day.
The questions about obstacles are a great way to identify and then mitigate all those things that can get in the way. Your mother in law called yesterday, today you will have your phone on silent or on charge in another room so you don’t get tempted to answer it. That kind of thing.
At the start of this post, you may remember I said I had been writing a different post? Since then my mother in law HAS called and I subsequently ended up doing a little research on children’s bicycle seats! And so the struggle continues.
Based on her own research, knowledge, personal and business experiences to date Polly writes regular blogs based on the themes of Health, Wealth and Happiness for Professional Spring. A support and networking community of like minded business women set up by Polly and her two friends Jacquie and Rupal.