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7 Morning Rituals To Raise Your Game And Achieve Your Goals

We’ve just passed the midway point of the 2017, and it’s an ideal opportunity to assess how you’re doing against your goals for the year. If you’ve already smashed your annual goals way ahead of target, it’s an opportunity to set more or bigger goals. On the other hand, if there are any you haven’t met yet, it’s time to question what you need to do differently in order to make them happen.

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One of the big factors (and game changers) I’ve found both with myself and my clients that determines whether our goals become reality or not, is the state of energy we’re in. When we’re in our optimal energy physically and mentally, everything flows more easily. We bounce out of bed more easily, we face challenges more easily, and our well of patience and compassion is fuller.

There are many components to great energy, and one of the most fast acting changes to implement for enhanced energy is optimising how we start our day. Until around 18 months ago, mornings for me were all about waking up at the last possible moment, jumping straight in the shower and running out the door around 7 minutes later, often without breakfast. For some time, I was eating all three meals in the office Monday to Friday.

One day, I was rushing through Grand Central on the way to my office in midtown Manhattan in New York City, and I decided I didn’t want to start my days like this anymore. I didn’t want to start them frantic and rushing. I wanted to make mornings more intentional and relaxed, to have time to gather my thoughts, to connect with what I really wanted, and to start as I meant to go on.

I started experimenting with a more conscious morning routine.

I had started listening to the popular podcast “The School of Greatness” by Lewis Howes, and had picked up some great pearls of wisdom on starting the day the right way. Including, first and foremost, being sure to always make one’s bed, even if you were the only one to see it.

Following are a few of the morning rituals I’ve found work best for me, and that many other successful people rely on. But I encourage you to experiment with different habits and timings to work out what feels right for you; everyone’s different and there’s no shame in that. An important consideration when planning out or experimenting with your morning ritual is to avoid comparison at all costs.

1. Aim to rise at the same time every day

And get up as soon as your first alarm goes off. Get a vibrating alarm clock if you need to, or one that emulates sunrise and birdsong for a more natural experience. Although if you rise at the same time every day, and you’re getting adequate sleep, you may find that you don’t need an alarm at all.

2. Make your bed immediately, no matter what.

This may seem trivial, particularly if you live alone, but beginning your day with intentionality and attention to detail sets off a powerful ripple effect that permeates your entire day. Take it from a Navy Seal Commander: “It’s good to start off with a simple task that moves you forward.”

3. Drink a glass of water with a slice of fresh lemon in.

Lemon water aids with digestion, detoxification, rejuvenates your skin and body, boosts your energy and mood (without the caffeine crash of coffee), and provides a great vitamin and immune boost. Lemons also contain pectin which helps to stave off cravings and help you feel fuller.

4. Meditate for 5-15 minutes.

The benefits of meditation are numerous, in including relief from stress and anxiety, decreased blood pressure and increased production of anti-aging hormone DHEA(!!). You might decide sitting in silence works best for you, just tuning into your breath and noticing any thoughts come up and letting them drift away, or you might prefer to use an app like Calm or Headspace. I have found 5-15 minutes to be the sweet spot, much longer and I can find myself feeling a little too relaxed, but if you’re particularly stressed longer can be beneficial, and you may prefer to meditate in the evening either instead or in addition.

5. Go to the gym or for an outdoor workout.

Getting exercise done first thing in the morning means you can avoid potential procrastination later, both because there tend to be less distractions earlier in the day, and because we tend to feel more tired as the day goes on. Personally, I’ve also found my mind is more proactive but less noisy first thing in the morning, so all those rational reasons that come up as to why it can wait until later or tomorrow or why it’s less of a priority than other urgencies are much quieter. If Obama could make time to work outwhile serving as President of the USA, we can all make it work. Bonus points if you listen to an inspiring podcast or classical music while working out.

6. Make a green juice.

Feature fresh leafy greens in your juice and eat some high quality proteinsuch as beans, eggs, fish or white meat. This will replenish your system, assist with muscle repair and give you a great energy boost, without the subsequent crash a carbohydrate heavy breakfast can lead to.

7. Eat some frogs.

Mark Twain famously said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Focusing on your least enjoyable yet high priority tasks first thing in the morning not only makes excellent use of the fresh well discipline you find yourself with at the beginning of a new day, but it can also reap a multiplier effect because the quality of your attention is stronger, and there are fewer distractions trying to pull you in other directions. Decision fatigue also sets in later in the day, so you’re much more likely to find yourself either struggling to make a decision with regards to a challenging task or project, or feeling the urge to delay it until tomorrow.

Developing a consistent and nourishing morning ritual has been a huge game changer for me.

It has amplified my physical and mental wellbeing, productivity, creativity and energy enormously. The key is to be open to experimentation and to paying attention to what works for you TODAY.

If something stops working for you, forget about analyzing why, just stop doing it and try something else. Your routine doesn’t need to be the same forever, and you don’t necessarily need to hit it in the same order or every item every single day, but conscious intentionality is key. Daily consistency also has the added benefit of breeding automatic habits that require less discipline to continue enforcing. Establishing an optimal start to your day is a commitment to yourself, to your productivity, and to those in your life to be your best self.

Other resources that will help you to establish positive habits that work best for you:

The Power Of Habit by Charless Duhigg

Tools Of Titans by Tim Ferris

Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

What does your ideal morning look like? What have you tried, and what are you inspired to try? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Why everyone needs a coach

Check out this Facebook Live I recorded last night on why everyone needs a coach. I’d love to know your thoughts! Have you had a coach? What did you notice?
Ore you thinking about getting a coach? What’s holding you back? Comment below.

Questions of consequence

The art of being engaging is the art of asking compelling questions.

Learning this principle during coaching training changed the dynamic of every single one of my relationships almost instantaneously. I have been further inspired by books such as “A More Beautiful Question” by Warren Berger, as well as my interactions with friends, mentors and fellow coaches, both during my training and beyond.

Many say that the single most important skill of a coach isn’t telling people what to do, it’s asking them provocative questions that inspire them to dig deep and find the answer within. The same applies far beyond coaching.

Here are some questions to stop asking IMMEDIATELY. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re with. One of my visions is to play a role in this being taught in schools.

“So what do you do?”
“Where do you live?”
“Where did you go to school?”
“How do you like London/New York/[insert city you’re in]?”
“What did you have for lunch?”

Every time I hear someone asking one of these questions a small piece of my soul dies, and I redirect the conversation, as politely and quickly as possible to more fertile territory.

We’re not on this earth to have inane conversations, we’re here to inspire each other and to excel.

Here are some better questions, that will inspire far more interesting answers and deeper engagement. Ask any of these questions and you can almost see people’s neurons firing like crazy as they’re actually stimulated to dig deeper into their consciousness for a meaningful answer.

“WHY do you do what you do?”
“What’s exciting for you right now?”
“What’s your biggest lesson in life so far?”
“What did you learn from your trip to Outer Mongolia?”
“What was your favourite thing about bungee jumping off the Auckland Bridge[/insert other awesome activity you find out they’ve done]?”
“What gets you fired up?”
“What would you like to see be different in the world in 5 years?”

Questions like these will not only get your audience AND YOU more fired up, they’ll enjoy talking to you more, and they’ll want to come back for more. If you want to be magnetic in life and business, this is essential.

If you haven’t already, try it right now with someone nearby or on the phone. You’ll quickly get addicted to the results. Like anything, once you start treading the path you’ll find yourself walking it without even consciously thinking about it. But what you’ll always be conscious of is how much bigger and better the view is.

Not getting a paycheck is really weird

But directly bringing in every dollar and pound is A-mazing. It gives me tingles every time.

There’s so much that’s different when you become an entrepreneur. Things that can be a shock to your conditioned system, but there’s no good and bad, just different. Lean into the novelty, the disparities, without judgment and that’s where the magic happens.

I recently did an interview with my friend Marlyne Pierce for her Modern Mogul series talking about the journey from corporate employee to entrepreneur, where we talked about this and a whole lot more. Stay tuned for the link!

A bugbear

Coaches who go on about how much they hated their corporate job. zzzzzzzZZ

I loved my job. I just loved coaching more.

When people admit they spent years doing something they hated, it grinds my gears. How can you expect your clients to have full confidence in you, to believe you’ve got winner DNA, if you didn’t stand by your convictions and leave a job you hated straight away? Leaving a job you love for something even greater – that’s courage.

What do you think?

Evolution

Do you ever stop and recognize just how much you’ve evolved over the last year? Never mind two years, five years, ten years, but in just one year?

Sometimes it takes a photo captured in time to help us appreciate our own growth. Timehop is a wonderful tool for charting your progress as well as reconnecting with fond memories (either online or via their app).

This time a year and a month ago I was sitting at my desk, doing a job I loved, with people I loved, but noticing a growing desire to help people in more personal, intuitive, creative and ultimately more profound ways. Even though I was incredibly grateful and passionate about my job, I was getting intuitive hits that would manifest physically in recurring hollow, sinking and twisting feelings in my belly when I was in the office but not elsewhere.

This was in part because I was already midway through my life, business and health coaching training (which I had immediately discovered I had an even greater passion for), and was getting incredible insights into the entrepreneurial world through my volunteering with House of Genius. But while I dreamed of it, I still hadn’t quite imagined entrepreneurship to be realistic for me yet. I just quietly noticed the fire in my belly returning every time I was in training or volunteering engaged in coaching or entrepreneurship.

I also noticed that in order to be successful in my job, I had to spend a lot of my time in the hyper-logical, efficiency focused part of my brain, and that this not only felt like more work, but that it was at times challenging to switch it off in my personal life, which meant my relationships were less fulfilling than I knew they could be. In contrast, I could feel that these newer activities were engaging many more parts of my brain on a much more holistic and exhilarating level, as well as my gut and heart. I noticed too that in turn all of my relationships were becoming more and more energised.

Much like during yoga and meditation, I could feel myself losing my sense of separateness between myself and others, and even losing awareness of irrelevant external stimuli as I began to experience flow state with ever increasing frequency. I begun to feel more alive, stimulated and purposeful than ever before. Everything just came more naturally.

I quickly found ways to incorporate my new coaching skills into my corporate position by taking a new approach in all of my meetings and relationships as well as by running wellbeing workshops at lunchtimes to have a greater impact on my colleagues. After just a couple of these, I realised there was a profound need for this work in the world and that I had to make this a full-time venture ASAP. A year later, here I am running my business full-time!

What didn’t seem possible for you this time last year that’s now a reality?

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Me a year ago

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Me on Sunday. My wardrobe has definitely evolved alongside my visions of what’s possible for me and others!

 

Below are a few of my other “on this day” Timehops. I’d love to see yours!

I’m also curious, if you could go back in time and tell 6 year ago you one thing, what would it be?

I’d tell 6 year ago me, instead of trying so hard to make everything work, to just let go of anything that didn’t feel good and move on. Challenges are amazing and important, but within reason. I firmly believe now if it doesn’t feel good it’s not what you’re meant for!

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2014: My first Winter in New York City. At Panna II Indian restaurant in NYC with my friend Diana. It has Christmas lights covering every inch of it year round! I was still cultivating my network in NYC but every day I woke up tingly with excitement to discover new people and adventures.

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2013: A few months before I moved to New York for my dream job! I’d also lost 40 pounds, bought my first home and started following my “definitely definitely or no” principle.

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2012: I got a LOT done, but I was very stressed and didn’t have a lot of patience…!

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2010: Before I learned the art of taking care of my needs first. And of saying no. I was very overwhelmed and anxious. There was much to be discovered!

 

 

Be a simplifier in a sea of overcomplicators

Sometimes we over complicate things needlessly. In work, in life, in love. In reality, simplicity is beauty, and far more memorable. More likely than not, you’ll be remembered more for that hilarious one liner, exquisitely crafted tagline, or powerfully succinct one pager, than for that 30 page report. Go against the grain and stand out powerfully by being a simplifier in a sea of over-complicators.

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs. Sometimes simple takes longer (notably in engineering), but not always. Radical simplification can actually make life a lot more efficient.

The art of simplification also ties in with the concept of essentialism, of which I’m a huge fan, inspired in part by Greg McKeown’s book “Essentialism”. Essentialism is all about “the disciplined pursuit of less”, something I’ve been striving for since 2012. In McKeown’s words, “the way of the Essentialist involves doing less, but better, so you can make the highest possible contribution. Essentialism isn’t one more thing; it’s a different way of doing everything. It is a discipline you apply constantly, effortlessly. Essentialism is a mindset; a way of life.

This brochure stand (which I passed walking near Senate House in London) is a great example of the effects of applying an essentialist mindset to reach the simplest possible outcome. And it works right? How many times do you walk by a brochure stand and actually want to pick a brochure up? Would you be more likely to pick one up from here?

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One of the things I help my clients achieve is intense clarity and the ability to radically simplify their decision making processes for more happiness, impact and freedom in all areas of their life and business. Click the pink button to book a free call with me.

Let’s talk about shopping

It’s Cyber Monday. Check out this replay of a video I recorded this afternoon for a timely message about shopping. This is part 1 of a bigger conversation about the power of experiential spending! If you’re mulling over what to buy in the sales taking place this week… push play to hear some nuggets from my own story that translate into handy tips for getting really mindful and deliberate when planning shopping for physical goods to reap your desired emotional benefits.

An ode to discomfort

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this is a story about being simultaneously thankful and uncomfortable.

I’m thankful with every atom of my being to have had the opportunity to spend a mind blowing two years deeply immersed in what I experienced to be a vibrant, optimistic and forward thinking culture during my two and a bit years in NYC / America. I could go on for pages about everything it taught me, but that’s for another post.

I returned to London via Australia two and a half months ago now, and while I haven’t talked about it very openly because I always prioritise the positive (which there is so much of!), the challenges posed by reverse culture shock upon returning to your original culture after being an expat are very real. And I believe in the value of talking about our challenges openly, of being human and real together, and not just pretending everything is rainbows and butterflies 24/7.

Even a few months on, while I have a deep affection and gratitude for London and all that it offers (and I know with absolute certainty that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now!), there are still days when my soul yearns for New York. For ridiculously talented buskers spreading good vibes on the subway; for unparalleled efficiency, conciseness and dedication; for pure, unashamed, unadulterated self-expression and excitement; for strangers who converse openly with one another.

The bewildered:happy ratio when a friendly stranger talks to another stranger feels like it’s roughly 80:20 in favour of bewilderment in London, even for me, though of course those I hold dear are surely amongst the 20, whether I’m around or not! In contrast it felt, as long as you weren’t on the subway during rush hour, more like 20:80 in the opposite direction in New York for me. Nevertheless, I do recognise that it’s possible (as many of my New Yorker friends suspected) that I got special treatment in New York for my English accent, so I’m curious to know what any New Yorkers reading reckon the NYC ratio is, especially any who’ve also been to London!

During my first few weeks back in London, while it was incredible to be back in my own home again after 2 and a half years (and after switching residences almost every night in Australia!!), and there was so much about the extra tranquility and home-ness that was regenerative, the sheer disparity in my environment triggered intense reverse culture shock. There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed I felt so alien. I craved sugar and dairy constantly (which I hadn’t for a long time) and found I needed 9-12 hours sleep most days, physically and emotionally exhausted for no apparent reason.

There were days where just getting up felt like a hike up a mountain. Days where my heart both emotionally and physically ached for the people and energy of NYC. More than a handful of moments where the last thing I wanted was to mingle with what felt like a population consisting of 80% aliens (and NOT by the American definition wherein aliens are tourists and immigrants!) but in the sense that I felt like they just didn’t get life. Didn’t get joy. Didn’t get what was really important (getting shit done, talking to each other, having an amazing life) and what wasn’t (complaining, taking forever to do things, being grumpy and unfriendly).

But each day I reminded myself that these feelings were part of the relocation territory. I experienced a similar sense of fatigue and overwhelm during my first few months in NYC after all. So each day, I hauled my ass out of bed, focused on all that I am blessed with and thankful for and showed up in London in my own quirky third culture way, bridging the gap between English and American, adopting my favourite habits and phrases from each to create my own Engl-ican style.

Much to my amusement, I’m continually confused for Aussie by almost every person I meet in London, English or otherwise. Where my English accent made love with what I call the American “bounce”,  a hybrid was born that somehow turned out to sound a bit Australian, even before I arrived in Australia this summer. This confusion I’m told also stems from my sheer level of confidence and openness as compared to other Londoners, traits that rubbed off on me in New York that are a lot more alien (and in some circles truly frowned upon!) here.

While some judge, most people enjoy this novelty, and each day I hold faith and trust in the power of my own ripple effect and of the increasing numbers of people cultivating these traits worldwide. They are, after all, traits that contribute to a more empowered and aligned existence, which has knock on effects on both physical and psychological wellbeing, or the alternative – malaise. I know I didn’t feel as mentally or physically healthy before I became fully expressed during my time in America.

Meanwhile I’m also more attuned to the many admirable and adorable traits of English culture I took for granted before, because I’d never known anything else. To experience two cultures so deeply is something many do not get to, and I count myself immeasurably fortunate. I also count myself lucky to be continually challenged in so many interesting ways. I am so much more adaptable than I was before I left for New York, precisely because I have been in so many situations that were so far outside my comfort zone and found ways to thrive regardless.

I have a level of serenity I just didn’t have before, and the unshakeable confidence that comes from knowing I can deal with any situation or pressure, no matter how unfamiliar or alien. This is one of the many benefits that practising the art of relocation helps you achieve – indeed the art of travel too.

As the last two months have gone by, I’ve also found it fascinating and compelling finding ways to integrate my newer beliefs, values, and identity into my “old world”, and even, creating a new world in old territory. It’s really quite magical seeing London with such different eyes, and particularly as the culture shock has faded I’ve been able to recognise ever growing quirks and perks and opportunities I never saw when I lived here before. I’ve been seeking out and attending events on a par with those I gravitated to in New York, connecting with people I never would have dreamt of before, and seeing possibilities I never envisaged. And sure enough, each day London has felt less and less different and alien than New York. For the past few weeks, getting up has started feeling a lot more natural again and I’ve felt more and more at home.

Culture shock is real, but it does get easier.

Here are four of the morals I’ve learnt along this journey that I want to share with you:

1) Every culture has its benefits, perks and quirks. The sweet spot lies in questioning what you’ve been conditioned to believe and do, and integrating your favourite bits of each culture you experience to create your own personal stamp. The feeling of freedom this will afford you is incredible. It might make you more likely to feel like a bit of an alien occasionally, but that’s ok, you’re a super-alien!

 

2) If you have the opportunity to live and work in another culture, I recommend seizing it with both hands. It’s terrifying in moments and full of challenges but few things will give you more opportunities, more potential for growth or impact you more. You’ll realise that fear is totally negotiable, and that if you give it a new name, like excitement, you can turn it into a powerful, magical force. This premise alone will blow your mind and expand your entire perception of life. You’ll also notice how much more arbitrary geographical boundaries feel, and become able to appreciate any culture without freaking out, because you no longer see in black and white. OMG look at that beautiful rainbow!

 

3) Whether or not we are aware of another’s turmoil, we’re all working through something. I’ve noticed it’s a lot more common and socially acceptable to talk about struggles openly in New York (it is the home of the phrase “the struggle is real” after all), while there’s more shame attached to doing so in London/England. Wherever you may be in the world, never assume that you are alone, or that you are weak for feeling discomfort or for expressing it. When we talk openly, more often than not our experiences are validated and normalised in powerfully healthy and healing ways. And most likely, the more discomfort you are experiencing, the more you are outside your comfort zone (whether you’ve consciously pursued it, or whether it’s been thrust upon you), which is essential if you want to achieve exponential growth.

 

4) It’s possible to be intensely grateful, thriving and outwardly successful, and really really uncomfortable AT THE SAME TIME, and it’s totally ok. Discomfort is not only ok, but when we start making peace with it, and combining it with positive emotions, rather than having a black and white happy/sad mentality, whatever discomfort we may have been feeling actually starts feel more comfortable. The key is in what we’re telling ourselves mentally about the meaning behind it, what we choose to take away and how we decide to make it part of our growth trajectory. We don’t always get to choose the situation, but we do get to choose the meaning. And we must be kind and patient with ourselves, not just each other, always.

Seeing the light

When I was in Australia, I stayed in some really magical places.

I also stayed in some really awful places. I even managed two nights in a hostel, which for someone who used to be scared of traveling at all is a pretty big deal!

One rainy night in Palm Cove, I trundled up a hill in the dark to find my hotel for the night. The reception was closed, and I had to buzz through to the back room. A man came out and handed me a key card, and told me to go down a long dark path to the very end.

I reached a room that was up two flights of stairs with no elevator (“is this real life?” My inner New Yorker asked), lugged my suitcases up (ugh) and entered. I was immediately hit with the smell of stale marijuana and damp. There was also something really iffy energetically that made me frightened, though I didn’t quite know why.

I took a deep breath and decided to go in search of dinner. I was ravenous, plus these things are always easier to handle after a good meal, right? I walked down a dark alley to the promenade and ordered a thai green curry, something that always warms my bones and soul no matter how I’m feeling. Not fully thinking, I ordered it to go. I changed my mind after placing the order and asked if I could stay. The server said it was too late, because the pricing was different, and told me I had to leave.

I found a picnic table on the beach front in the pouring rain, eating this green curry, laughing to myself at the ups and downs of travel and life, and what they were here to teach me (- to be serene and optimistic no matter what!).

When I was done, I attempted to find my way back to this hotel. It was pitch black, the rainstorm was still powering on, and I got completely lost. I was shivering and genuinely scared at this point. I managed to find my way back to the beachfront and ran into the nearest hotel and asked if by chance they had any rooms left.

A warm and vibrant lady asked me what my budget was. I explained I’d already paid for a room for the night elsewhere, but that it was awful, and I really didn’t want to stay there. She had one room left. She asked me what I could afford. I told her. She explained that she too was a traveller, and she felt for me, and the room was mine. She even went so far as to drive me to the grimy hotel in her own car, helping me collect my luggage and returning me safely to my new room in this beautiful beachfront establishment. I was blown away.

When we returned, the rainstorm was still going strong, and I was still wearing flip flops from the sunshine earlier in the day. As I lugged one of my suitcases up the steps into this beautiful little abode, my flip flops fell off my feet through the steps and into the bushes below. Neither of us could stop laughing at the perfect imperfection of this quirky and serendipitous evening – we cried with laughter. We ended up talking for three hours while she manned the front desk, alternating between profound existential musings and pure laughter.

A couple of days later, we went to a yoga class together. On the way back, she told me to jump on her bicycle handlebars so we could go for a ride. I laughed and hesitated for a moment, before deciding that there was something so magical about this girl that she might well be able to suggest I jump off a cliff with her into the ocean and I’d at least consider it.

We rode along the promenade just absolutely loving life, laughing uncontrollably while tourists looked on in amusement. We went on to share a truly epic thai dinner (clearly well earned from yoga and cycling), and a couple of days later she came with me further down the coast for a mini-adventure in Mission Beach as I prepared for my skydive.

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A few weeks later, I was ready to return to London. I hadn’t seen my kiwi goddess since our Mission Beach adventure but we were flying in and out of the same airport on the same morning. Actually I was supposed to be gone already, but there’d been a cock up with my flight, so I got held up. As fate would have it, we were at the airport at the same time. We got to share a coffee and a hug and we both had a feeling we’d see each other very soon, though we didn’t know how or where.

We just knew and trusted, just like we trusted in each other’s energy when we first met.

We kept in touch regularly and four months on, this lovely lady just arrived in London and is now my new housemate. We knew back then that we had more adventures coming together, we didn’t know when for a while, we just knew. And now she’s here! We’ve been laughing about our Aussie adventures and are now looking forward to sharing London adventures together.

Do you have a story where you followed your intuition and something magical happened? Or a sticky situation out of which an unexpected friendship blossomed? Do share!!