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5 Tips to Survive this ‘State of Stuck’

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These are unprecedented and uncertain times; the COVID- 19 global pandemic has us bombarded daily with Armageddon type updates and seen our children and pets become our co – workers. Our power and freedom  to steer our day by  getting out and about and making plans has been removed  and we are advised to stay indoors or at best, practise ‘social distancing’. For many of us, we feel as though we are living in a state of stuck.

How do we survive this state of stuck? As 40% of our well-being can be attributed to intentional activity, there is a both an opportunity and responsibility on us to focus on how we can survive and thrive in these uncertain times. Here are our tips at Change Grow Succeed to help you achieve just that:

  1. Deal in FACTS and not FEAR

They say that the anxiety surrounding the virus can be as bad as the virus itself. Ekhart Tolle, who wrote “The Power of Now” tells us that fears are stories we tell ourselves. It stems from our mind creating an anxiety gap around something that MIGHT happen, as distinct from something that is happening right now. In effect, fear feeds off our mind living in the future.  With this in mind, stick to trusted news and media sources and aim to limit this to once or twice daily. Aim to reduce your social media/ phone scrolling activities to minimise your exposure. Our minds can cope with the present moment, mind projections cause anxiety and this certainly doesn’t serve us at this time.

  1. Schedule your time

Our routines have gone out the window and working from home (WFH) has become the new ‘norm’. For a lot of people, WFH may have been a ‘nice to have’, whereas now, it’s imperative and requires a whole new mind set (and patience as you navigate your new working rhythm). Having a designated office ‘space’ is imperative and not blurring the lines between work and home life are critical in setting you up for success (i.e. if your designated space is the kitchen table, ensure to put everything away when you’re finished!) Research also suggests that our output is greater when we work in 45- 50 minute sprints taking a bio break in between. This is something that I have certainly found to be true.

In my view, another critical factor is to schedule your down time. For me that includes activities such as reading, walking and listening to music. We don’t usually give ourselves ‘permission’ during the day, but let’s be intentional about nourishing ourselves at the moment.

  1. Connect with Your People

In an era of imposed ‘social distancing’ and ‘isolation’ it has never been as important to reach out and connect with our tribe. What’s a tribe? A modern take on the term ‘tribe’ is accessing and connecting with those people in your life who nurture you, who make you laugh, who inspire you and who accept you, warts and all! It provides us with a sense of belonging which is critical to basic human functioning.

We are all driving in our own lanes, this is the time to come out of these lanes and connect with each other as we used to; aim to call instead of texting your friends. Face time, Skype and Microsoft teams are platforms that I have found helpful for face to face connections and of course Zoom or Google Hangouts are great for multi- party connections!

  1. Give Back

Connection is ingrained in us but it also works the other way; studies have shown that volunteering makes people feel physically healthier and reduces stress. As human beings, we have the innate need to contribute to those around us. Whether it’s something small like being there for a friend or something bigger, giving back to society, it makes us feel alive. Never has there been more an important time to align and give back than now. There are many options available to us regardless of our age or ability. Initiatives to support front line workers, checking in on the elderly or vulnerable in our communities as well as checking in on friends all has a big impact. What can you do to give back today?

  1. Find Joy

Many of us are over- loading on thinking with negativity flooding our brains from the outside world. To counter that, I’m suggesting ‘Finding joy’ in simpler moments; be intentional about enjoying a walk or a book. Pause to a play board game with the children or volunteer your time or effort to a cause in need. Remember all those things you have on your to- do list that you never have time for? Or what about those other projects you wanted to research but never had the time? Now is your opportunity to catch up on your reading, your research or pause to spend time thinking about yourself, your vision, your goals. Practise gratitude to help you re- boot and re- focus if you’re feeling frazzled or stressed.

 

We may be forced to think outside the box or re-invent old ways in these uncertain times but the sense of community and ‘togetherness’ is palpable. Be mindful of where are how you are spending your energy. Find the joy in your day. Know your purpose and Have Hope! It will help to cultivate a more balanced outlook and reminds us that all will (once again) be well in our world.

 

Gillian MCGrath is a Cork based Life and Business Coach, Master Trainer and Public  Speaker. For more information, you can contact her on http://www.changegrowsucceed.com

Book Review: “Emotional Agility – Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and thrive in Work and Life”

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In her fantastic and relevant book ‘Emotional Agility -Get unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life” Dr. Susan David reminds us of the importance of pausing to connect with ourselves.

We are on this planet for a short time and study after study shows that having a strong sense of what matter to us leads to greater happiness. By knowing who you are and what you stand for, you come to lifes’ choices with the most powerful tool of all; our full selves.

When we connect with our real selves and what we believe to be important, the gulf between how we feel and how we behave closes up.

Enter Emotional Agility. This is a process that allows us to be in the moment, changing or maintaining our behaviours that are aligned with our intentions and values. The goal of Emotional Agility is to keep our sense of growth and challenge alive and is built around a 4 step process. These are:

  • Step 1: Showing Up: Becoming curious about our thoughts and emotions and facing them with kindness. Asking ourselves who’s in charge the thinker or the thought?
  • Step 2: Stepping out: Detaching ourselves from our emotion. As coaches we are skilled at supporting our clients in intentionally creating a space between stimulus and response as therein lies our power of choice. Paying attention to what we are thinking or how we are feeling is paramount in helping us to create that space e.g. I’m noticing that I’m feeling …
  • Step 3: Walking Your Why: In a world where we are expected to approach our day to day tasks like an endless ironman competition, it’s necessary to take the time to evaluate what truly matters to us, otherwise we leave ourselves victim to circumstance. Identifying and acting on the values that are your own is crucial to E.A.
  • Step 4: Moving On: The ability to make small but intentional changes in our motivation, our mindset and our behaviours that are aligned with our values can make for transformational change in how we navigate our world.

Our ability to be nimble to meet lifes’ every changing demands is important, however, if we are not taking time to intentionally connect with our priorities or even observe our own narrative, we leave ourselves victims of circumstance or more tragically, randomness!

I absolutely loved this book, being emotionally agile in our lives empowers us to be adaptable, to face our emotions with courage, curiosity and compassion and move on from them!

Are you an Imposter?

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“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it”

                                                                                                                 JM Barrie, PETER PAN

Do you ever feel like a fraud? Ever think it’s just a matter of time before you’re ‘found out’? Ever feel that your success in work has been based on ‘being in the right place at the right time’ rather than on your merit? If so, you may be a sufferer of Imposter Syndrome.

I was prompted to explore ‘Imposter Syndrome’ late last year following several (female) clients who were all well accomplished in their careers but who were distressed and anxious about “not feeling good enough”.…They felt like frauds.

Through research, I learned that the term “Imposter Syndrome” is largely a female phenomenon.  It’s a term used to describe women who experience ’imposter feelings’ and worry incessantly that they will “found out . Often, despite evidence of an abundance of workplace skills and achievements, sufferers live in fear that their peers and superiors will realize that they’re not “as good” as they had initially thought.

At this point, you would be correct to think “we all experience feelings of self- doubt or low confidence from time to time” but to help qualify this issue, it’s important to examine frequency and impact.  For example, if you are living under a constant veil of worry and self-doubt, the impact for some women is anxiety, stress, low self-confidence and even depression. Lack of confidence becomes self- sabotaging and FEAR steps in. Sufferers are afraid to explore new experiences. These talented ladies are pressing the ‘PAUSE’ button.

So how can we banish these thoughts?

Quite simply, if you want to stop feeling like an imposter, you have to stop thinking like an imposter. As Imposter sufferers tend to live in their heads, the challenge is to foster different thinking habits! Here are my tips for taking some control back over those thoughts!

  • Label those thoughts as they trickle in. Acknowledge them and create a distance. Detach yourself.

 

  • Understand the root cause: Eg. In a presentation, you might think a colleague looks so confident and get swept away with thoughts such as “I could never do that! I wish I could be like her!” When you have no idea what’s going on for that individual. It’s therefore possible that you’re making unfair comparisons i.e. you’re comparing your inside with their outside!

 

  • Reframe. Substitute “Oh My God, I have NO idea what I’m doing here” with “this is going to be a great opportunity for me to learn something new- I’ve got this” or replace “I’d say they are sending me on this business trip to test me ” with “I’m looking forward to bringing something different to the table!”

 

  • Focus on the external value or service you are contributing instead of your internal thoughts! Think about yourself less!

 

  • Journal. Identify your accomplishments to date, skills, qualifications, projects etc. Label what you’re grateful for. Over time, this will become a habit a foster a more positive and confident mindset.

 

  • The scariest strategy at all- envisage the worst case scenario! Make a mistake. Get feedback that you were incorrect! Remember being wrong doesn’t make you a ‘fraud’. It makes you human.

 

In summary, none of us chose to feel like an imposter. We all want to feel confident but unless we actively tackle our thoughts on this, progress will be limited. Know there will be good and bad days ahead but as long as you remain focused and disciplined on the thoughts you wish to change, getting yourself back on track will be easier. Over time, this will become your new way of being! Make a change. Grow. Succeed.

 

Gillian McGrath is a Cork based Life and Business Coach and Master Trainer. For more information, contact her directly at Gillian@changegrowsucceed.com

My freedom from fear

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“Fear is born of a story we tell ourselves, so I chose to tell myself a different story. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave.” Eckhart Tolle

I was reminded of what fear is at the start of the summer. You know, that knot in your stomach? That sinking feeling often accompanied by pure dread? I discovered that I would need surgery. I found a lump on my neck and was terrified. Following a battery of diagnostic assessments spanning 8 weeks (scans, biopsies, consults etc), it was decided that removal of half of my thyroid was unavoidable. I was terrified, not so much by the surgery but by what they might “find”. I knew I was handing myself over to the medical professionals fit and well and equally that I was signing up to enforced time out for an indefinite period of time, rendering me vulnerable and dare I say, ‘in need’. I am an active working mother of 3 young children. I should also add that I also had major surgery less than 3 years ago which was challenging to recover from. I could feel panic setting in.

Ekhart Tolle, who wrote The Power of Now (and whom I cited in the opening quote) tells us that fear stems from our mind creating an anxiety gap around something that MIGHT happen, as distinct from something that is happening right now. Fear feeds off our mind living in the future!  He argues that we can cope in the present moment but that it’s difficult to cope with something that is a mere mind projection!

Thankfully, my ‘inner coach’ knew that I was not about to spend the whole summer mentally torturing myself about what might happen. I couldn’t change my situation so I actively decided to focus on what I could do to support myself and a healthy mindset! I decided to challenge myself by seeking pleasure in and participating in the Now! Before I share what worked for me, I must add that there were blips and melt downs along the way- but being able to get myself back on track was the real win.

  • Distraction– A little project directed my focus from the surgery. I decided on changing our bedroom and invested time scouring through websites for ideas and inspiration.
  • Connect with people that ground me – I consider myself lucky to have some wonderful people in my life. I was so grateful for time with my children, for the evening walks with friends and the chats over coffee
  • Create comfort in my home e.g. consciously lighting a candle or popping flowers in a vase
  • Indulge in my favourite things e.g. using my favourite tea cup or spending time at the sea
  • Perspective & Gratitude – there are a lot of people who endure far worse with less. Zoning in on what I am grateful for was and is hugely transformative. And finally,
  • Have faith & Decide to be ok!

The operation went to plan and thankfully I’m on the right side of recovery and enjoying the new perspective my enforced time out has provided me with! Lastly, I love this quote by Robert Tew and wanted to share it with you:

 “Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot and you’ll survive whatever is coming”

If you’re struggling with something, I truly hope you feel better soon.

 

Gillian McGrath is a Cork Based Life and Business Coach and Master Trainer. For further information, contact her directly at Gillian@changegrowsucceed.com

Revive to Survive

“What do you mean the summer is over??!”

If you’re like me, you galloped towards the mid- year point with an equal measure of frenzy and excitement as the children finished school. The summer was a cocktail of work commitments, play dates and a fantastic but ‘intense’ overseas holiday. We’re now at the end of August, on the verge of the autumnal transition, immersed in the hive of activity that is back to school, more work deadlines and let’s throw in a bit of home decoration for good measure!

The dawn of a new season can often feel like an opportune time to trial and embrace new routines and habits, that will boost our resilience for the invariable hustle and bustle that this time of year brings. I read recently, that “what we think, we become”- if that’s the case, this ‘busyness epidemic’ is preventing us from taking a leap or doing something differently. By missing out on pausing, we are missing out on the opportunity of getting ‘unstuck’! By ‘stuck’, I mean immersed in that task list; the one that features, the things we ‘have’ to do, the things we ‘need’ to do and of course, the things we ‘should’ do.  Do you ever find yourself saying “There’s just not enough hours in the day” or “I need space to think!” or even” I need a break!!!”

Here are my tips for new habits to embrace to help you revive and survive (and they don’t involve a sun lounger!)

  1. Change your Routine– be proactive and look at clawing back nuggets of space in your day. Would you consider getting up an hour earlier? Wouldn’t an early morning walk or a cup of tea in peace where you have time to think be blissful before the carnage of the day?! See my previous blog for more on this: https://gillianmcgrath.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/visit-your-mid-year-mind-spa/
  2. Switch off and reconnect– enforce a digital detox for a morning/ afternoon or a day if you can manage it! A conscious decision to put away your phone and tablets because you want to be more present and engaged with yourself/ your family / friends can be both empowering and transformative. Our connection with ourself and our closest relationships are key in surviving life’s challenges.
  3. Do less to achieve more– multitask less – experience has taught me that this is an incredibly ineffective way to function. When we multi task, we ‘skim’- we cover quantity and not quality, and our mind is always on the next task. Slowing down can be challenging but is key to nourish and replenish yourself.
  4. Get creative– the change of season often inspires and the benefits of engaging our creativity are well documented and include relaxation and escapism! Don’t worry- you don’t need to be arty, it could be crafting, photography or anything else! Last week, I took the children to the local beach where we picked stones and painted them! (see pic. at top of blog)
  5. Declutter – for some, decluttering a space can be enormously cathartic/ therapeutic. Pick a cupboard, start small. You’ll soon see the benefits of these teaspoon size changes.
  6. Practise gratitude – helps to refocus especially if you’re feeling a little frazzled or stressed. Distill your thoughts and focus on 3 things that you are grateful for (perhaps buy a gratitude diary to write in a few times a week) This helps to cultivate a positive outlook and reminds us that all is well in our very busy world!

 

Gillian McGrath is a Cork based Life and Business Coach and Master Trainer and is founder of Change Grow Succeed. For further information, please contact her on Gillian@changegrowsucceed.com

3 Tips to make 2016 the best year ever!

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I love the beginning of the new year- It brings with it hope and excitement and a great opportunity to introduce the mind and body to some new habits! So, when a local newspaper approached me regarding my tips for 2016, I couldn’t resist the temptation of putting my thoughts on paper to share!

 

Tip #1- Ask Questions of Yourself

Great accomplishments and results begin with great questions. Questions like: “What would I like to do differently this year?” Having identified the changes you need or want to make , take time to determine the relevant actions and GO FOR IT!!

 

Tip #2- Explore Resilience

Life can be tough. There are a lot of daily demands on us, and moreover, we expect so much of ourselves. Having resilience can be a powerful ally in our day to day survival. Resilience and building resilience can mean different things to different people but it usually involves some or all of the following:

  • A shift in outlook (sometimes the way we see the problem is the problem!)
  • Recovery and learning (how we bounce back after a fall)
  • Asking for help (linking in with supports)
  • Adapting to our environment (our ability to go with the flow) and
  • Diet (healthy body = healthy mind!)

What does resilience mean to you?

 

Tip #3- Take Time out for You

The saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. So, start 2016 knowing that you are going to gift yourself with some time . Busy schedules can be sabotaging and by saying ‘Yes’ to the chaos, we are saying ‘No’ to the calm and the benefits that downtime can bring. Therefore, aim to take some time for yourself during the week- do something fun, laugh, reconnect with friends, with nature, do some yoga, go for a run, or whatever downtime means to you.

These are my top 3 tips to ensure that 2016 is great.

Make 2016 YOUR Year! Have a great one!

 

 

Gillian McGrath is a Cork based Life and Business Coach and Master Trainer. For more information, go to www.changegrowsucceed or contact her directly on Gillian@changegrowsucceed.com

Building Resilience

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I have wanted to write a blog on ‘Resilience’ for a few months now. I threw the topic “out there” with friends and colleagues and what became apparent is that this is a subject matter that seems to attract lots of different viewpoints and opinions.

I asked, “WHY do we need resilience?” Again, the response was varied as we all face and experience different stressors in our day to day, but it did come down to one thing: survival.

  • How do we survive our day to day without feeling overwhelmed?
  • How do we survive the chaos that is being a working parent?
  • How do we handle rejection? (this could be the job seeking process or a child who no longer wants your help!)
  • How do we manage tricky relationships (personal or professional) or even some challenging behaviours?
  • How do we deal with bad news?

There is no doubt that reminding ourselves on how we can build resilience will benefit us all.

 

Developing resilience involves 5 key areas:

  1. A mental shift in attitude and outlook. Changing how we think about a challenging task or situation can optimise our resilience- perhaps you’ve come across the saying “it’s not the issue but how we view the issue that can be the problem.” So, instead of sighing “why does this always happen to me”, reframe with “this is not personal, I can move on from this…”

 

  1. Adapting to your environment and being flexible. Consider a bamboo tree- even in the strongest wind, it will bend but not break. It’s deeply rooted but flexible enough to deal with adverse weather conditions. Being able to “go with the flow” while facing life’s challenges is important in building resilience.

 

  1. Sometimes, resilience is all about the recovery– how do we recover when we fall off track? Resilience comes from our ability to learn from “the fall”, restore ourselves and renew. Growth is the core message in recovery. Empower yourself. Ask yourself- what is your healthy way of coping? Make a list and review when needed!

 

  1. Ask for help!! Having awareness around when to ask for help is important in building resilience. “A problem shared is a problem halved”- who is the person that you turn to? Is it a friend? A sibling? A Partner? Maybe it’s your Life Coach or GP?

 

  1. Healthy body = healthy mind. A good diet and exercise will help to build your resilience. Patrick Holfords book “The Feel Good Factor” offers a useful breakdown of food groups and how they can benefit us. Of course exercise feeds both the body and mind, so try to get that blood flowing- there no excuse now that there is a stretch in the evening!

 

The 5 key areas listed above are my tips but I’m sure it’s not definitive, get in touch and let me know what boosting resilience means for you! Let’s share the message and stay strong for ourselves and each other!

 

Gillian McGrath is a Life and Business Coach and Trainer and founder of www.changegrowsucceed.com who resides in Cork. For more information, please contact her on Gillian@changegrowsucceed.com