Its All In The Choices You Make

You know the answers, really you doI wanted to write about choices today. Mainly because I have been reflecting on this following a couple of recent conversations.

I’m sure you have heard & read about life being a result of the choices you make? And whilst that may sometimes seem harsh, or difficult to fathom, in realty if you look at smaller things you can see how your choices impact you

For example, today I am feeling tired. Yet it is entirely self-inflicted. I had a late night and got up early! I didn’t get enough sleep, end of story. End result is tired, need more sleep. I could have gone to bed earlier or got up later, I had a choice.

Take it back one step, well actually easier said than done. Where I am its hot in summer and I have a dog, so I need to be up and out and walked by about 9am. OK I don’t have to, but it’s more comfortable for both of us if it happens.

Plus last night I was hosting an event, I could have left much earlier and gone home. Fact is, I was the host, it’s my group, I don’t like to leave until it’s down to the last few people, and I was having a lot of fun! Was I worried about getting up in the morning? At the time, of course not.

Where am I going with this?

Well, here’s the thing. I could have slept in, I didn’t because of the dog, I chose to have dog, I chose to live here , I chose to walk when it’s comfortable, I chose to get up even though I felt tired..

I chose to run a social group, I chose to have the event, and I chose to stay til the end. I didn’t have to do any of those things.
Do you see? Lots of choices but my feeling tired today is nothing to do with anyone else, the Universe, the weather or whatever.

These things are cumulative and build up over time, lifestyle is affected by the choices you make. Whilst you may not see the path or the many choices you made over time, in the end you did choose the things that led you to where you are, whatever that may be.

And you can now choose how you deal with it, how you feel about it, and what you do about it

If you do nothing you’re still choosing, even though you may choosing to let others decide by not actively deciding something yourself.
I guess there are two things to take away from this.

One, to be aware of your choices as far as you can, even though you may not be able to see the future cumulative effect

And two, to take responsibility, by acknowledging that yes you did make choices that led you here, even if you didn’t realise at the time

What do you think?

Things Will Always Get Better

Things will always get better - Julia McdaidI think it’s fair to say that however well life is going, at some point its likely we will hit a down patch. Or maybe that patch has already happened.

I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t had some low time in their life. You may well have done and you may well be past it now.

So what do you do when you hit the low spots?

Often they creep up on us, we may have had some idea things weren’t going so well. Often though, even with fair warning the reality can come as a bit if a shock.

And isn’t that the problem? When something happens that is causing us upset, distress, grief or other feelings it can knock us for six.

I know it has me in the past.

When something “bad” happens, and I’m hesitating to use that word, it can affect all areas of our life.

It can drain your energy, make you inattentive and even depressed and even not caring about things we would otherwise pay attention to, which can have a knock on effect on other aspects of your life
How often does someone experience a bereavement or illness in the family and end up with financial worries for example.

When unexpected things crop up its easy to take your eye off the ball, often without realising.

So what do you do when things get rough? How do you pull yourself through?

I know when I was younger, and less aware, I used to get very down about things I wasn’t happy with, and get stressed. And I think with hindsight some of that was because I didn’t take action to change things as quickly as I could have done.

For example if you don’t like your job change it. Don’t wait for things at work to change, it just gets worse and you get more unhappy. I have watched a friend get seriously ill from refusing to leave a job she was really unhappy in. And all to get a slightly higher pension.

Believe it will be OK

I am natural survivor I think, though I prefer to consider myself a creator these days. Way way back since my divorce I always thought at some level that things will work out. I have had some tough times, a few years ago after a particularly stressful year on the personal/family front, I was helped and supported by friends. Even then a few months later I was in danger of bad problems elsewhere, yet at very last minute things changed and “saved” me. Also I had made some decisions which eased life a lot, so one way and another I turned things round and gave myself the space I needed

A big part of it was choosing not to get bogged down in the stuff, not giving it too much energy. Yes you have to know the reality of situation and accept it, and if there are practical things you can do, then do them, but that’s it , you don’t then need to worry all night, you do what you can and leave it, until next time you need to have a look.

That’s has certainly been my experience, in many areas. When I find myself starting to focus on things that might happened and starting t worry, I actively move my focus elsewhere, and taking the energy away takes the power out of it. Which means whatever I could have been worrying about no longer dominates my thoughts or my life, and on the whole I’d say causes me a lot less grief than it might have down.

Don’t be alone

When things get rough don’t tough it out on your own, seek support both practical and emotional. Often there are people around who know things you don’t and know ways to shift things in way that makes life easier that you weren’t even aware of.

I’m not trying to make light of rough times or the circumstances you may find yourself in at all. I would just like t say that there is help and support out there and also that a little belief that things will work out alongside some active choice of focus goes a long way.

Live your life for you

Live your life for you - Julia McdaidI have been reminded several times over the last month or so of the importance of living life to the full. Several people in my circles have either lost someone or discovered illness unexpectedly.

Unfortunately it is at times like this that most of us feel reminded to get on with life and do the things we always wanted to do, be with the people we want to be with and get out and make the most of things
Yet really they should always be our priority, why would you not make the most of your life? Why waste time with people you don’t like being around or who don’t inspire you, or doing things that you don’t enjoy?

And even worse if you find yourself in circumstances not of your choosing why keep the pain and hurt inside?
Yet it happens so often.

The natural response when circumstances around us become painful or uncomfortable is to shut down, often we are either conditioned not to show feelings and emotions or we are scared to or we feel uncomfortable letting it all out.

So what happens? It gets bottled up inside. We take refuge in keeping busy, using other activities to distract us. Some people become health freaks, always exercising, others become workaholics, all in an attempt to keep busy to keep the pain and hurt at bay.

And to what result? Usually this bottled up pain, hurt or resentment finds a way out somehow. And all too often it is through illness.

So then you have to stop, your body has forced you to. Those who are wise, or aware, listen and rest and look at how they came to be here.

Those who are not, or don’t want to face it may still carry on, trying to push through.

I have known people who always bottle up feelings and emotions and who always put a brave face on things, never showing how they really feel. And usually they are angry, there is bitterness underneath. And it is fake too, I have noticed how it feels fake when someone is always pretending, and I’m sure you have too.

I know it can require vulnerability to share pain or hurt, and many find this too hard. Yet being vulnerable is such an amazing strength. Sometimes we just need to change our perception to feel more comfortable.

So I guess my call to you today is to focus on what is important to you. And if necessary take steps to move things you don’t like out of your life, or at least away from you on a day to day basis. Whatever you can do to take your attention away from the things that get you down, annoy you, worry you etc has to be a good thing.

And also look at being more open, ask for help if you need it. Share how you feel, especially when something is getting to you. Be honest with yourself even if you don’t feel up to telling others.

I know I was brought up in a family that kept feelings and emotions hidden. I didn’t have role models who talked things out, it was all British “stiff upper lip” way of coping!

I have learned myself as life has gone by and I have grown as a person. And I feel very lucky to have been exposed to the people and situations that helped me become more aware and change into a much more open person. I know who I am now is a million miles away from who I was 30 years ago.

And one of the main things that has changed is that I do choose to do things for me, I generally don’t care what other people think, and I don’t let stuff get to me. It doesn’t mean nothing ever annoys me, or gets to me, of course it does. I just decide not to hang out there for too long.

Life is too short, and the most important person in your life is YOU.

When Asking For Help Is Hard…..

asking for help can be hard in business. Julia McdaidIt’s one of the things about being a solopreneur, and even more so if you are single as well, you are on your own. Not only are you running your business you are also entirely responsible for keeping a roof over your head, food on the table and all of your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.

Now I know you may argue that we all are, and I do agree, it’s just that when there is nobody else there at all it can feel very hard sometimes. It’s something I have seen and heard a lot with women entrepreneurs.

As women we are used to helping others, its instinctive, but what about those times when you feel overwhelmed, or down and you don’t know which way to turn?

What do you do when you know you want to reach out and you don’t know who to call? And what do you do when it seems the only way to get help is to pay for it and you don’t have any budget for that, especially of you are in the early days of your business?

Because asking for help, showing vulnerability can be a very scary thing.

At the same time I’d say we all know the value of working with others and the benefits it can have for a business owner, and at least in theory we know we work better with support.

Help may be support in moving forward and growing your business, maybe with a coach or mentor, or a buddy you work with, or it may be of a more practical nature where you are delegating out some of your tasks. It may be appropriate for you to do both, in the long term it almost certainly will.

For some its easy, they have a support network in place and know exactly where to go. For others its harder, they recognise the need to reach out and don’t feel anyone in their circle is the right person to reach to. They may not be confident in who to ask. It’s hard, you are used to working alone, and as I said earlier if you are single it’s even harder, yet that’s most likely when you most need the support.

Having the awareness to know it’s time to reach out is a great place to be, its a big thing to get that level of self knowledge.

To then take that last step and ask for help often feels very hard though. We fear sharing our vulnerable side yet actually it’s an attractive quality and a strength. How often have you found yourself drawn to someone who is totally open and honest.

I know friends who have reached out on Social media and have received an amazing response, they were publicly vulnerable and support came. And if you have a private social media profile where you know all your contacts then maybe its a way you could go to reach out, I know some people prefer to just put it put there and let serendipity take care of finding the right person.

And if that not for you, and it won’t be for all I know, ask your inner guidance for help, for pointers about where to turn. Or ask a friend for a recommendation for the kind of help you need.

Its not uncommon to feel stuck and nervous when it comes to asking for help. In reality you know that if you don’t get help you are likely to end up in a bit of a rut and may even become anxious and stressed, or overwhelm kicks in and overtakes you. When you have reached the point where you know help would be good, you know that if you reach out you will move forward more quickly.

And it’s worth building up a support network so that you have people you know and trust around you. Then when you need to call in help it will become obvious who to turn to.

Inspiration in action

Let your inspiration flow and guide youAs I sit down to write this blog it’s worth noting that today I had already planned to be working ON my business, no clients just writing and developing new programs.

And first thing this morning, when I was out walking the dogs I started getting ideas and inspiration. Words, ideas for programs, snippets to make up parts of the program and areas to focus on. I was actually dictating on my phone when I was out. What a great way to kick off the day!

Here’s where life happens though. Do you ever find yourself in the same situation, absolutely buzzing with thoughts and ideas, feeling you need to capture them before you lose them?
I bet you do.

Make it happen
Its more than just making a note of them though, its creating space to implement them. And when you have planned a creative day honouring that decision for you and your business. That gives us momentum, time working on the business is just as important as client facing time. Otherwise what happens when your current projects run their course, when existing clients are at the end of their agreed work with you? You end up starting again almost.

Stuff gets in the way..
This is where distraction is the big risk, because it oh so easy to just do those little jobs that need doing. “I’ll just do x,y,z then I’m free for the rest of the day to follow up my ideas”

NO!

This is what happens so often in our lives, and I know I fall for it, that was my challenge this morning, I had a list of jobs that need attention, “things to do” . Some admin, some money coming in to the bank to check, some bills to pay. It would be very easy to do them first, but I was very aware that had I done so it would have distracted me big time, the chances are in my case I wouldn’t have stopped doing odd jobs before lunchtime.

And by getting distracted like this it would have taken all the excitement & energy away, I wouldn’t have had the same buzz if I put the ideas aside to pick up this afternoon. In fact I may not have gone near them today at all, and then they would be relegated to the future “to do” list.

You have time
The bottom line is there is time later on, enough time to do the odd jobs, later on in the day. As long as I get to it during working hours I can check the bank and do payments this afternoon, the world won’t end if I do my admin tomorrow.

This is about taking inspired action, following your heart and staying in flow. And staying with your plan.

Act on it
So here is my message and call to action for you today:

Act whilst you have the inspiration and energy, act before it fizzles out.

As Nike says Just Do It!

If you are struggling with prioritising and would like to schedule a Strategy Session just send an email to ss @ ae8.biz to arrange a complimentary chat.

Wednesday Wisdom

A few words of wisdom on this Wednesday for you:

“One enlightened thought can change your whole day. One thought of appreciation, joy or blessings can change your whole internal state. One enlightened thought can turn a half empty glass into a half full glass, a challenge into an opportunity, and a stranger into a friend. One enlightened thought can open your heart and clear your vision of the future. So why not think one, just one, go on!”

Top Tips For Running A Successful, Purpose Driven Business

Top Tips from Julia McdaidToday is the day you can hear my interview on the Soulfully Successful Women Telesummit.

One of the things Kelly and I talked about in preparation for the Telesummit were my top tips to build a successful business from your passion and purpose. After thinking about this I came up with these, and I thought you might find them useful.

Firstly is follow your heart. If you are not familiar with the phrase, learn to understand what this means. To me it’s about doing it YOUR way, BEing you, being authentic and in integrity. Following your heart is about doing what is true for you, what you wnt deep down inside when yu stop listening to all those doubts and questions in your head! Its not what is expected or what you know. In fact I can’t emphasise enough, don’t just do what you know – unless it really is your passion and purpose.

The next thing I would say, which really follows on from the first is to connect with your intuition, and use it. It is your intuition which will guide you and tell you what is true for you, this is what allows you to follow your heart.

Another thing that many of us as women need to learn, because we are not very good at it, is to learn to receive. We women are naturally givers and often find this hard to do. Again this may need more explanation and understanding, I know it would have meant little to me when I started out. Here I’m referring to allowing your feminine side out, to allowing things to come to you, to be graceful and gracious and open in the way you interact. When you start thinking about attracting the right clients and people to you it pays to know how to receive (not dismiss things without thinking!).

I think it is great to remember to keep things balanced too, although this is enough to be a blog in itself and I have written about it before. Part of this is knowing you are number one, put you first. Then also think about masculine & feminine energies in the business, and in you; about having time for the non work aspects of your life, the people and things that are important to you.

And a couple of more practical tips for you:

Get the right support network around you. This will allow you to play to your strengths. so look at advisors, mentors, peers, the people you interact with and look to for help. Plus your business structure, you can set this up so that it works for you and your lifestyle, delegating where appropriate and so on – learn to delegate well. This one is still on my “must do better” list I will be honest, I find it hard sometimes.

And when it comes to using people outside of the business to help you, especially if you are paying them, don’t use advisors who only have corporate experience, because they won’t get you and they won’t understand the peculiarities of small business, whatever they might say. This is one I learned the hard way.

And finally, this kind of ties into where I started, do let go of the “shoulds” and “ought to’s“. If you are running a purpose driven business it’s about your passion, your purpose, you and your clients, it’s not about what somebody else who doesn’t know those things says you should do. Yes there are some things you have to comply with legally, every business does, outside that its your business, your way, always.

I hope you find some of these tips useful and if you have any good ones, please do share them 🙂

Stay Inspired With Great People

I was at an event recently which got me thinking. It was a very timely reminder of the inspiration you can get from mixing with positive people.

Mix with upbeat positive peopleIf you are in business on your own, even if you have staff, it can be a very lonely place. And when you don’t always see other people regularly it can mean getting despondent sometimes. One of the best ways to keep yourself positive is to mix with positive people, and also to spend less time with those people who always get you down. You know the ones – the people who tell you things will never work, the ones who always feel sorry for themselves, never have a good word to say.

As we move into this year, find ways to gently ease out the negative people, and actively seek out the positive people.

Remember you can network on the internet as well as in person, as I’m sure you do. There are some great discussion groups around who are hugely supportive of each other. Seek out the ones that resonate for you.

And keep some time for live events, for networking or learning, nothing beats real life connection!

Appreciate the Small Things

jar of gratitudeIf you are on Facebook you may well have seen this idea doing the rounds. I think it’s well worth revisiting.

For those who haven’t seen it, the idea is to write down any good things that happen every day on a small piece of paper, and to save them in a jar. Then at the end of the year you can read them all and remind yourself of all the good things that have happened.

Because I think all too often we forget the good things that happen and get too busy beating ourselves up about what we didn’t do, or don’t have.

I have started doing this for 2013 and I’m having great fun with it already, and we’re only on day 2!

For example today I received a cheque in the post, received an unexpected present and had a new client sign up. So I have been back three times to add a note to the jar. There is no way by 31 December I would remember any of that without some record.

It’s also giving me a feel good factor as I make a point of noting down good things, I find I am more aware and more appreciative. Which can only be a good thing, so that is an added benefit.

 

Have you done anything like this? What do you think?

 

And for those who would appreciate a free gift to start things off, I am offering a Business Focus Breakthrough Session every day throughout January. Normally I limit them to just a few, so take advantage 🙂

To book yours just fill out your details on the Contact Form today stating you are claiming a free session

Inspiration from the Paralympics

Yes it was months ago, but isn’t it worth remembering?

Back in the summer I found myself watching the Paralympics one weekend. I’m no avid TV watcher and no avid sports fan, but I did turn it on this particular time when I sat down to eat, and ended up leaving the TV on in the background for the rest of the evening.

Inspiration from the ParalympicsAnd what an eye opener it was. These guys are nothing short of inspirational, they don’t stop and say I can’t I have no legs, they just say “give me my prosthetic legs” and off they go! They compete like any other athletes.

Not just the competitiors

I was also amazed to watch the show afterwards, a chat show hosted brilliantly by “disabled” presenters. I mean who needs to have your arms and legs just so to sit behind a desk and commentate? Any TV presenter is sitting behind a desk presenting for those kind of shows, it doesn’t matter how many legs they have*.

These guys have personality, make great comments and it was highly entertaining viewing.

Controversy

Something else which I found amazing was that they were commenting on a tweet made by a guy who had said that the word “disabled” is now outdated.

And watching these athletes they are as able as anybody and I find that amazingly true. Clearly there was a lot of controversy over a comment like that and it was interesting to see and hear the views. It wasn’t the disabled people who got offended, they saw it as it was meant , in acknowledgement of the athletes, a positive way to say don’t separate these people.

Seeing beyond

Alan Carr was a guest on the show too, and had apparently been attending the Games for the previous days, he made another interesting comment saying the first couple of days he looked at the disabilities then after that he just saw beyond that to the athletes.

Isn’t that how it should be? Isn’t it great to just recognise talent and determination and other inspiring human beings?

Inspirational

I actually found it all very moving, including writing this piece. At the end of the day these are people who are very determined, very successful, very committed, people who put the rest of us to shame the way they get up and go. They don’t say I can’t, they just get up and do whatever it is they have chosen to do.

How many of us can say that we really honestly act like that? The whole thing was truly inspirational, truly amazing and I would never have watched it if it wasn’t in London. Generally I don’t have the interest, I don’t watch TV I’m not a big sports fan. I’m truly glad that I didn’t let that stop me on this occasion.

What do you think? Were you inspired?

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(*Disclaimer: These are my own thoughts and no comments are intended to offend or upset anyone, please read in the spirit it was written, as an appreciation of these amazing, inspirational people)

Believing

Achieving success is as much about what goes on in your head as what you do.
Your beliefs can take you to the greatest heights or they can completely sabotage anything that you try to do. It’s all about your mindset.

Listening to someone else instead of yourself
We all have a set of beliefs that we use to help us make decisions. They come from our experiences, and what we have been taught in the main. And this means that they are often somebody else’s beliefs that we have picked up along the way, our conditioning if you like.

Think about it, when you were growing up how often did you hear things like “money doesn’t grow on trees” or “money won’t make you happy” or “you need money to make money”?
And how many of those kinds of comments do you still say now?

All of these negative thoughts are commonly described as self limiting beliefs. They are beliefs that you hold that are causing some kind of block to you getting what you want. They stop you from having the success that you want and deserve. It may be something you do out of habit without thinking, or it may be a reason you have, where you say “I can’t ….. because…”

So what can you do about it?

Put simply, replace the negative belief with a positive one. Yes it sounds easy, and in theory it is. In practice it may take some effort, at least to start with until you get used to it.

It isn’t easy at first to learn to control your thoughts but it’s a lot like learning a new song. To start with you don’t know the words but the more you hear them and repeat them the more comfortable you get with singing that song.
So when you catch yourself saying something, whether out loud or in your head, that is negative, stop for a second and think about what you could replace it with, then repeat this new thought instead.

You may be surprised at the results!

Here is a short story which illustrates the point in reverse;

A MAN LIVED BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD … AND SOLD HOT DOGS

He was hard of hearing, so he had no radio.
He had trouble with his eyes, so he had no newspaper.
But he sold hot dogs.

He put up a sign on the highway, telling how good they were.
He stood by the side of the road and cried, “Buy a hot dog mister!”.
And people bought.

He increased his meat and bun orders, and he bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade.
He got his son home from college to help him. But then something happened.
His son said, “Father, haven’t you heard on the radio? There’s a big depression on. The international situation is terrible, and the domestic one is even worse.”

Whereupon the father thought “Well my son has gone to college. He listens to the radio and reads the newspapers, so he ought to know.”

So the father cut down on the bun order, took down his advertising signs, and no longer bothered to stand on the highway to sell hot dogs.

His hot dog sales fell almost overnight.
“You were right son”, the father said to the boy.
“We are certainly in the middle of a great depression.”

In the current climate how could listening to others’ beliefs affect you and your success?