Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

The Different Hats We Wear

Do you ever get up in the morning and wonder what to put on? Usually our dress is determined by what’s happened outside – is it hot, cold, wet dry? Easy decision. But when we walk out of the door, or even when we stay inside, we have many occasions to decide what hat to put on! Of course I mean that metaphorically but most of us have areas of responsibility that vary greatly and we need to choose our hat carefully and appropriately or our efforts just might not produce anything useful!

Of course I am referring to communicating with people in our lives. As parents, we fall into a pattern of behavior and style of communication that is almost bred into us. Not to say that it always is effective but we do realise that we are there as guides as well as carers, sometimes as friends and often as supporters for our children. But what about the people at work, our clients or co-workers, our team? When do we know what hat to wear to best suit their needs?

Some of the common head gear in our working lives when we have influence over others includes that of teacher or trainer (let’s call it educator), the expert, the mentor and the coach. At times all of these roles are going to be relevant. But where do we get the most value? I read recently a great description of what we call the “coach” role as being a “Potentialiser”! By asking the right questions, we can unlock people’s ability to be grow, to learn, to create – or just to be amazing! Many of the other roles involve us taking on the responsibility and the other party  being somewhat disempowered. So they may be necessary but are they desirable? I think we can be “potentialisers” in anyone’s live – even our childrens. Why don’t we look for more opportunities to ask those crucial questions that help people think, gain insights, gain control, grow and become energised?  

Acknowledgement – Tighe & Gray, 2013.

Things that Trip Us Up

When we work with people around lifestyle changes, one of the main areas to focus on is the potential hurdles that get in the way and prevent our success. These come in many shapes and sizes and very often people mention things like lack of willpower, too little time, no support, insufficient knowledge, competing priorities etc. One that is rarely recognised and identified yet often becomes evident in our coaching sessions, is the sheer amount of “clutter” that exists in our lives! Now this may be physical clutter – ie can’t find my running shoes, clothes or hand weights in all the mass of belongings in the house, or it may be mental clutter where our minds become too full of things to remember to really make a plan that we can stick to.

I was interested to read that there is now a professional organisation who governs a new industry of professional organisers and was struck by how closely related our work would be. In today’s overwhelmingly complex life full of materialism and choices, people become frozen by indecision or lack of clarity around what they want, why they want it and how the heck to get started. And most of this is simply because their lives are full of excessive “stuff”. Hanging on to useless possessions can indicate that someone is not coping and can really bring a person down. Many times we have worked with people who want to lose weight and helped them create a plan to get their past five years tax returns lodged – before they begin to sort out the pantry!

So when you think about your unachieved goals, ask yourself? Is there any area of my life that is creating a potential block in letting me move forward? It may not be the obvious, time worn obstacles to change.

Whether you use a Wellnesss Coach, a professional organiser, or both, change takes time and energy and an impartial third party can be just the ticket!

Creating Sticky Habits

When we look at our lives, as if from a great height (always easier if you are travelling by plane strangely enough) we sometimes see patterns of behavior that we would like to change.  After every long haul flight I do, I arrive home with a renewed sense of purpose and usually a bit of a plan for change!   Whether these changes occur or not relates directly to how I go about putting the plan into action and how engrained the old way of doing things is.  Life is made up essentially of things we choose to do and things that happen to us that we have no control over.  If we put our energy into making the former reflect our values, our desires and our ambitions, instead of worrying about the things we can’t change, it would be better use of our time.  Agreed?  So how do we create habits that stick?

Firstly, how long it takes to create a new habit depends entirely on the nature of the behavior. 21 days has been thrown around but that is really just an arbitrary figure.  Some habits are complex and are made up of any factors, things we do, things we think and situations we are in.  A good thing to keep in mind is the very reason for changing the habit.  Never lose sight of “why” you wish to change and what the positive outcomes could be.  Research has shown that this kind of “big dreaming” can help make the new behaviour stick.

At the other end of the scale is the step by step approach.  Depending on how big the change is, start very small with a day by day “quota” of small steps. This removes the feeling of overwhelm and gives us chance to succeed.  Think big, act small isn't a bad way of looking at it.  

Avoiding throwing in the towel – many times when we are struggling to create  new routine or way of being in the world, we are tempted to simply give up at the first sign of a frustration.  The way round this is to think ahead to what precedes that feeling and come up with a simple action to make the change as structured as possible and eliminate the opportunity for too many options!  Choice is good, too much choice leads to confusion.  Eg “When I come home from work I will go out for a walk for 30 minutes” is better than when I come home from work I will try and do something active”.  

One final warning.  We want our lives to be full of productive, satisfying routines that are automatic and do not require too many decisions.   But we need to be flexible so that we don’t turn into robots who find change impossible because we are used to doing things a certain way!  

Click here to read more - “The Science of Building Good Habits” Gregory Ciotti, 

Having a Higher Purpose

Understanding Happiness

Wellness, happiness, fitness.  We all want these things in our life.  Some more than others. But that middle one is the hardest to define and also to chase. There is so much written on the subject of happiness by so many people and as I have said many times, wellness seems to combine both the mental and physical positive states of being.  But have we got too caught up with wanting to be “happy”?  I sometimes quite dislike the word. 

I love the description of the measure of unhappiness (discontent) in our life as being directly proportionate to the difference between our expectations of what life can offer us and what we actually do get.  It raises some interesting points.  So here’s our athlete, primed and ready and in peak condition, yet they just can’t achieve that elusive time, height, win.  End result?  Unhappy, fit person.

Maybe the secret is in setting our expectations to a realistic level. Ie we would love to find peace, joy , fantastic relationships and financial wealth.  But do we get all those things all the time?  No.  Does that make us happy? Not if we are “all or nothing” people. Highlights how silly we can be doesn't it?  And how we are masters of our own mental state most of the time.

And then that also raises the issue of how easy it can be to become self absorbed and reflective to a degree that verges on narcissism.  

I am writing some material on this subject for our Level 3 training and some of the questions I want to get students thinking about include:

  • Are we hard-wired for happiness?
  • If we are always wanting happiness, does that suggest that we are “wanting” or “lacking” something?
  • Should we be focusing more on “we” than “me”? 
And finally, who sets the bar for wellness?  Who defines the concept and the target for the individual? Would love to hear your thoughts on any of these!

Ways to Achieve Mental Wellbeing

Today we celebrate World Mental Health Day, bringing greater public awareness to mental health education, awareness and advocacy. In the world of Wellness, if we believe wellness is the combination of physical and mental well being, then we need to address both to really live life to the full. 

There is a great deal of information out there on how to be physically well. We know that we have to eat correctly, exercise regularly, keep stress to manageable levels, get sufficient good quality sleep and hydrate.  Simple? Perhaps. Of course it’s never that simple because knowing what we have to do, is not the same as actually doing it. But at least we have an idea.

But what contributes to mental well being? 
The positive psychology movement with Dr Martin Seligman at its helm is all about answering that very question.  Five elements of well being have been identified and they include:

  1. Positive emotions – we need to experience at least 3:1 positive to negative emotions in day to experience a sense of well being and ward off the black dog.
  2. Engagement – we are engaged in whatever we do in our lives – be it personal or professional activities. Ie not bored or switched off or disengaged.
  3. Relationships – the most important factor in good mental health is having supportive, positive relationships in our lives.
  4. Meaning – we understand why we do what we do and have a sense of meaning around our daily routine
  5. Achievement – everyone gets pleasure and satisfaction from occasionally achieving something. No matter how small the achievement, it adds to our mental well being.
If you read that list above, how do you score on each factor?  It can be such a great awareness tool to do a “stock-take” and see if anything comes up for us that says “improvement needed here”! 

Workflow takes on a whole new meaning

I watched a segment on television recently on The Project which was looking at the very topical challenge of Work/Life Balance. There were some interesting comments made and it certainly seemed that many people knew they spent perhaps excessive hours working, but didn't really seem to worry about it!

What wasn't mentioned was the fact that work is no longer the drudge that it perhaps might have been in the past when people performed services for a wage and came alive when they clocked off.

To explain why work is often more appealing than it used to be, we need to  look at the concept of “Flow” and what it means. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (try pronouncing that before breakfast) describes flow as meting the following criteria:

  • An activity that absorbs you
  • You find it challenging but not too challenging that it becomes stressful
  • You are not aware of time passing
  • When you finish, you ac knowledge that you thoroughly enjoyed what you were doing and would like to do it again – soon!

That’s a simplistic version and if you think of activities in life that fit the bill, it will often include creative pursuits or perhaps sporting activities – maybe involving nature such as surfing, running, cycling etc. But what is happening more and more, is that we experience flow during the course of our working day. If we’re lucky!  And if we truly do love what we do for a living, we are tempted to continue and chip away at the time we might spend doing other activities, with family, friends or at home.  

The more time we spend in “flow”, the better mental (and physical) health we will have – or so the research tells us. 

So suddenly, working long hours becomes good for us? I would say, yes – if you love your work – but if it deprives us of other measures of life satisfaction such as good relationships, perhaps we should look at how we divide our time?

When our kids become our role models

When we become parents our position in the world shifts.  We become responsible for the rearing of new people to add to our population. We become vulnerable through loving them so much and wanting the best for them.  As they grow older, the decisions become more complex and we devote time and energy into ensuring they get the best start in life so that they end up "happy". (We're often not sure what that means but let's assume we are sensible enough to know that they will have good days and bad days and that they learn to enjoy the former and build strength to deal with true latter.

Then one day something happens and we realise with a shock that our kids can have something to teach us.  And that can be quite confronting!  Whether it is hearing them express a different point of view (which has been carefully thought out rather than just a reactionary teenage phase), or when they make a comment on something that they have learnt and we realise that they are in fact more knowledgeable than us on the subject.  But the real magic moment is when they express something that sounds remarkably like wisdom - that may provide clarity around an area that we did not have before they spoke.    Whatever the moment, our world can shift again and we realise that we are passing on some degree of responsibility for our world to our children.  We may share it for hopefully, many years to come, but it is time to realise that we're not the ones "in charge". 

I have had the joy and learning experience of trying to use coaching skills on my kids - sometimes with success, sometimes to be met with, "We know what you're doing, Mum".  Now I realise that I may on the receiving end of someone trying to help me understand a new way of thinking even though they may be 30 years younger than me and I helped them learn how to talk and walk

Who is in Charge? Why we all need Coaching

With the busy world we live in, we all want fast results and quick fixes.  If something is not working,then let's do our research (quickly), seek out the right expert and get the solution. Now.

Now this might work when it comes to working out an IT issue, booking a trip, or buying a present, but when it comes to making major changes in our life, this approach will always lead to failure.

A paradox exists in our communities. There has never been more time devoted to healthy lifestyle in the media.The awareness of what we are doing wrong and what we need to do is growing by leaps and bounds. Yet there are more over nourished people in the world than undernourished. The future issues faced by the public health system are frightening.  Yet we still want someone else to tell us what to do right now.

Everyone wants to be well and in control of their health and to feel good.  But is is so much easier to get someone else to do the work, give us the blueprint for how to live, tell us what to eat, yell at us to get moving, sell us the magic pill. But while this goes on, all we find is that our confidence gets lower. And the message that is sent is "You aren't in charge".

One of the greatest drivers in life is the need for autonomy, self determination - call it "control". Yet we often hand over our biggest asset - our health and wellness to the latest gimmicky diet, exercise equipment, or surgery that comes out. A shift is needed.

Coaches build confidence in their clients. They help an individual tap into their deepest values and create the motivation to make change. Together they build a plan and move slowly towards improvement and the achievement of sensible goals  They ask us to take charge.

Top 4 Business Essentials

Getting started in business is a big step that involves a whole new set of skills, knowledge and way of thinking, way beyond the service or product that you’re offering. 

And if you want to be successful in business, there are four things that are an essential part of your growth platform:

  1. A passion for/belief in what you do
  2. A clearly defined niche (your specialised market)
  3. A business plan 
  4. Systems and processes to deliver your targeted products/services to your niche.

Why passion? 
If you read my blog about being authentic in business, you’ll see that being truly passionate about what you do has a cascading effect in all areas of business. It builds trust in your customer, it proves you as a strong role model who leads by example, and it ensures your commitment and dedication to ongoing learning and client satisfaction (to name a few). 

What’s a niche?
A niche is a special part of the market that you occupy; an example of a ‘market’ is a toy shop.  A particular type of customer goes there – usually children.

A niche within the ‘toy shop; market is a shop that specialises in second-hand board games. A specific type of customer goes there, such as an older person who collects memorabilia.

Why is it important to define a niche?
Because you can more clearly define or identify:
  • the needs of your customer 
  • the messages and images that will attract that particular customer
  • where your market is (local, international, within specific clubs)
  • whether you can charge a ‘specialty’ price
You can also set yourself apart from competitors more easily by offering a unique service (by the way, ‘personalized service’ is not a niche).

Why plan?
This is ‘Coaching 101’. Achieving success starts with a vision (what you want and why) and a progressive series of SMART goals to get there.

Think about treating your business like you would treat a holiday.

Option 1: you could just suddenly pick up ‘go on holiday’ because it seems like an exciting idea, then you wander aimlessly about….or
Option 2: you could plan your holiday: work out a destination (your vision), figure out which season to go in, organise time off work/school, book a flight, pack the right clothes, find a dog-sitter and get a friend to collect the mail.

Which is going to work better for you?
Systems and Processes – what are they?!&
Imagine you are a standard size 12 in clothes, and you want to buy four of the same dress in different colours. 

When you try those dresses on, you want them to all to fit you, right?
How frustrating would it be if one dress was too small in the bust and another too broad in the shoulders!

How would you feel about that brand – would you want to buy it again? Would you recommend it to others? Would you trust it?

Systems and processes are simply standard ways of doing things. 

Just like the pattern for a dress, systems and processes offer a way of: 
  • creating consistency and accuracy in your business
  • training staff so they do things the same way/deliver a replicable product 
  • increasing your customers’ trust in you and your services/products
  • delivering value for money avoiding costly mistakes.
Some business owners have a good understanding of these aspects. 
But about 90% of businesses don’t have a business plan. If you need help getting started, our Business Mentoring service may be of assistance – contact us for more information.

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