Massive change requires reinvention of Brand-You

Massive Change; an event that has such a huge impact on your life, every moment of it, how you live it and how you define yourself, that you are a different person than the one you were previously.  It can happen to anyone at any time and is not because of karma, or due to some terrible thing they have done to “deserve it”. What goes around very rarely comes around, and accepting this is often the first stage in coming to terms with the person you are becoming.  Accepting that you need to re-invent yourself allows you to start to create a new future, a new picture of positivity and a reason to continue that can, initially, seem impossible.

When I was twenty six, I had a bad car accident which resulted in me being a wheelchair user for more than a decade.  I couldn’t possibly have predicted or prepared in advance for such a massive change.  I had to re-invent everything I had assumed would be my life and re-invent who I was going to be if my life was to continue in a positive and worth-while (in my view) way that I could be proud of and happy in.

It took every ounce of courage, support and a massive learning curve of ups and downs to get out of that wheelchair; I achieved it only because I decided to embrace the situation, make a new life for us as a family and re-invent myself.  I took a promotion at work of seven grades – no small steps up a ladder for me now, I was flying up the ramp!  I travelled all around the world, organising conferences and looking after important clients.  It was a job I adored and it proved I could DO so much, despite my dis-ability.  It taught me I could be this new, re-invented Dinah, a woman who overcame the restrictions of a wheelchair by taking on a job that required her to travel thousands of miles a year, without buying into limiting beliefs.

When I had my series of heart attacks in my mid forties, the same re-invention of self was required.  I had reached a place where I was confident and credible in my work,  I had established a reputation and was in the position where I could choose whom I worked with.  And then another massive change decided to shake things up again.  I had to stop. Not just rest a bit and take a short break. Stop completely for two years.  No work, no stress, just getting well and giving my heart a chance to recover from surgery.  Massive Change.

This June is was four years since my surgery; the physical scars healed much faster than the emotional ones. The emotional pain can still come to the surface if I give it the space.  I am not a fan of regrets or looking back, and this can be one of the great challenges of massive change.

Here are my top tips for getting through the first twelve months after massive change:

1) Give yourself time.  More time than you think “everyone else” would take.

2) Comparing yourself to others, or to the You before your massive change is not helpful and this is a great time to stop this habit.  I know it’s not easy, nothing is easy when you’re going through something this huge, so suck-it up and just drop the self-deprecating “I’m not good enough” crap,  it won’t help, ever. You need to be disciplined about this one. More than anything else, when you repeat a negative message to yourself, you won’t be able to make the step forward required to actually believe in the change yourself.  All the positive outward “I am fine” stuff is pointless if you’re telling yourself it’s not true.

3) Anger is hugely negative when you bottle it up, particularly when the person you are angry with in these situations is often yourself.  You have every right to feel anger and, in a society where we’re taught anger is a negative thing, something we have to control at all costs, it can be hard to let it go.  I used to go somewhere that I could have a good, loud shout when I was first in my wheelchair.  I was spotted more than once in Richmond Park on a cold morning shouting at the ducks!  It worked though, and allowed me to release what might otherwise have consumed me.  Holding in your anger is dangerous and, while appreciate letting it out can be too, I’m suggesting you look for a SAFE way to express it, without that impacting anyone’s wellbeing.  Including your own.

4) Stop looking for the answers.  “Why did this happen to me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” and “If I had/hadn’t done …. do you think this wouldn’t have happened?”  There is no positive answer to any of these questions, and looking for reasons will often leave you more negative and self-absorbed.  What matters when massive change impacts us is not so much why it happened as what we do about it when it has.  When our daughter was very small, we knew it was important to let her express how much our massive change had impacted our lives;  we had one day a month where the whole family talked about how unfair it was that I was in a wheelchair.  We talked about the fact that I was the only mum who couldn’t take part at Sports Day, and that it was really hard to go shopping together because I couldn’t get my chair into some of her favourite stores.  We called it our “Why me day” and it allowed all of us to express our frustrations at living with the impacts of massive change.

5) Let yourself change. I sounds simple enough, but accepting a new “you” is a huge challenge for most of us.  We may believe we avoid labelling others, but there are many labels we give ourselves to define who we are.  Often leaving a job we’ve held for a long time can be an example of that feeling of not knowing who we are anymore; when I couldn’t wear my corporate “badge” anymore, I was lost about how to introduce myself.  It can feel frightening to see that you are a new person, that perhaps you’re going to be seen differently by others.  Once you allow yourself to change and start to feel comfortable with the new person you’re becoming, you’ll find the changes become easier.

Have you had massive changes in your life that have required you to re-invent the person you thought you were?  I’d love to hear your techniques for re-inventing your life after massive change.

Dinah

Make Changes not Resolutions

I have never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions; it strikes me that January is about the worst time (especially in the Northern Hemisphere) to start committing to enormous goals and making sweeping promises about our consumption, or denial of, certain pleasures from alcohol to sleep.  It is cold, dark and miserable for a large part of the time and this is not a great way to motivate yourself,  indeed the simple lack of Vitamin D we suffer at this time of year has a significant enough impact on mood to almost guarantee challenges.

In addition, I have a sense that Resolutions are not for the long term.  They are announced to our small community of friends and colleagues, often on Social Media, with much sincerity and complete belief that we are going to do “it” this time.  Who are we making these announcements for?  Who are we trying to convince that this year, this time, we really do mean it and really will do all the things we didn’t bother to finish the last time we set this challenge for ourselves.  Some kind of self-punishing cycle we perpetuate year after year that, often, results in little being achieved other than a confirmation that “I never finish anything” or “I am a quitter”.

When I work with clients who feel trapped in this cycle, we look at things with a view to making change; change that is a long-term commitment to doing something in a way they have not been doing them consistently until now.  Perhaps you’ve experienced that initial feeling of belief and commitment that comes with the new year, and set yourself the challenge to change a pattern in your life that has become a habit with a negative impact for you.  It can feel overwhelming, so here are my top tips on making real, lasting change without running out of steam before it has a chance to make the impact you want:

  1. Set yourself up to succeed, not to fail.  The easiest way to make change difficult is to make the goal so vast that you believe it is beyond reach;  don’t get carried away by other’s stories of success or the “amazing” results promised by programmes or courses.  Set your own, realistic and small targets that allow you to celebrate lots of small successful steps towards constant change.
  2. Change one thing at a time.  Yes, there is time.  No, you will not achieve more if you change everything that is wrong at the same time.  Small, single and repeated change makes you stronger and more able to make the next change, and the next…..
  3. Wipe the slate clean; every day. And then wipe it clean again.  When we constantly hold ourselves up to measure against what we used to do, or what others do, we are focussing on things that we have no control over.  If you had a bad day yesterday, wipe it out.  You can no longer change yesterday.  We can certainly learn from our past, but when you start to use the past to create excuses to  block your own success, it is time to wipe it clean and start with a positive mindset.
  4. Surround yourself with your “why”.  Lots of Coaches and Mentors will help clients find their true motivation, the reason they do what they do, the real “why”.  And often, once we’ve identified what we’re doing it for, we forget to focus on this.  When the hours we’re putting in seem crazy, or we’ve got another weekend scheduled, it’s helpful to have photos, written goals and successes on view, where we can reconnect with our motivation and let go of the resentment that can undermine our success.
  5. Create accountability.  This is where we often go to Social Media and “announce” a goal we’re setting.  Great idea to share, as this creates accountability.  However, I would advise caution here; sharing with a wide audience, who may not understand your personal motivation for change, can be the quickest road to being talked-out of change.  Perhaps wiser, as a first step at least, is to share with a person (or people) who you know will help and encourage you and understand how important the change is for you.  Ask them to help you stick with your goal for change, especially when you ask them to stop!

Making change that lasts is never a straightforward process; there will be twists along the way you could not control or predict, and your ability to see these are bends in the road instead of an excuse to give up, is what makes the most impact on lasting change.  I have changed my entire lifestyle to accommodate changes to my health and every day, in some small way, I have to adapt what I thought I had now got :the way I want it:.  Be open to the possibility that some of the twists and turns, and challenges, might also be opportunities to see a different option; change is flexible and a work-in-progress.

What changes are you most proud of from the last five years?  Think about how you achieved them and what your motivations were behind them.

Have a great day

Dinah

Is being ‘fine’ costing you business?

Do you really know anyone in business who isn’t finding times hard at the moment? Is there any business that has not been touched by rising costs or falling demand – or both. Yet, when we meet fellow business owners and ask how they are doing, we often get the standard reply: “I’m fine”.

I often wonder what that really means. I know what a fine day looks like; I know what a fine wine tastes like , but I have no idea what a fine person looks like, or how they feel. This programmed response, delivered without sense or feeling, has become a badge of honour which threatens the sanity and success of every business owner. One recently asked me during a mentoring call, “If everyone else is fine, is it just me who’s getting it so wrong?”

Working with businesses on their credibility means that I get to explore their real values with them and how they apply these to every aspect of their lives. Not surprisingly, integrity and honesty are key values that many of them claim are key to their success and vital to their business. Honesty must surely include a genuine response to questions about them and their business; yet you can guarantee they are “fine” when asked about themselves and you can bet that their business is “fine” too.

What keeps us back from sharing the true picture? I think there are many reasons for this auto-response, including:

1) Fear of failure – we believe that admitting that all is less than “fine” might make us look like failures. My personal experience of this has been quite the opposite – a business person who is working hard to improve their business during tough times gains respect and support from their peers who will often go out of their way to find them referral opportunities in hard times.

2) We don’t believe people actually want to know – small talk and polite conversation has developed into noise; people ask questions and don’t wait for or listen to the answers. We have become so accustomed to this, that it is almost considered impolite to say anything other than “fine thank you” when asked about our health, our day or our business.

3) We think everyone else is thriving – partly, of course, because nobody is admitting they are not fine. Our own insecurities are easily given a louder voice as we hear others sharing their success stories. The idea of admitting we are actually less than “fine” becomes an impossibility.

These programmed replies might make us feel comfortable in the moment, but in the longer term they could well be costing us business. Why would I go out of my way to help you if you are “fine”. I have so many people in my networks, I want to ensure I am connecting people and helping them grow their businesses all the time. I focus my attention where it is needed the most so that I can be effective. The people who are “fine” are not on my radar.

Taking the first step to admit all is not as good as it could be feels a bit like getting naked at a networking event; and like this feeling, it is not a good idea to do it in public! Take small steps, with the people you trust first. When we confide in the people we value and trust, we pay them an enormous compliment; remember that when you open up and ask for their advice and opinions.   We often hear the expression “a problem shared is a problem halved” and often as we hear ourselves talking through a situation, we start to see the solutions for ourselves.

The relationships that develop through this honesty will become the strongest in your network and real referral partnerships are built on trust and mutual respect – credibility. The first time I asked someone I valued for help, admitted all was less then “fine” they smiled from ear to ear and said “me too. We’re having a really tough year”.  We now refer business to each other on a regular basis and work on marketing and media opportunities for each other.

And who ever wanted to be “fine” anyway? Wouldn’t you rather be fabulous, or wonderful? Flying or soaring? “Fine” and “OK” are two places I don’t want to be again and with the help of my networks, I am never going back.

I originally wrote this blog for Virgin.com during my time as on of their regular contributors (VIB)

 

Croeso i Myddfai

imageimage can it really be three months since we arrived In Myddfai, in our little piece of Welsh heaven? The time here seems to work on a different schedule at a slower less stressful pace. There are days when it’s suddenly ten o’clock and all I’ve done is feed the birds. It’s wonderful.

it is also hard work; no, no, stop the derisory laughter, it really is! We’ve made the move to a ‘slower pace of life’ only to find that, in truth, it’s an attitude change and not a change of pace that we’ve chosen. Many days since we’ve been here John and I have worked harder than we have in years; I’ve certainly seen a significant improvement in my stamina.

We’re up with the birds at first light, partly because we don’t want to miss a minute and partly because the sound of birdsong makes it impossible to sleep-in. We’ve got so many birds visiting our tables that we’re producing our own, home-made ‘bird cupcakes’ made from suet, seeds and mealworms. This morning we had two woodpeckers at the same time and we think they’re looking for nesting space.

once the birds are fed and the coffee is made, it’s time to light the Rayburn, which I’m very proud to say John has restored to it’s original purpose as a wood-burning stove. I Love cooking on it and we’ve called it “Freeda” as it’s our free source of cooking, hot water and two hot radiators!

Much of John’s day is taken up with establishing our new vegetable garden, dealing with our coppice of Hazel and Birch trees, collecting and chopping wood for the fire and Rayburn and doing the 101 jobs that come with a nineteenth century Welsh longhouse that’s been somwehat unloved for the last 25 years. I should point out at this point that the vegetable plots had been turned into overgrown flowerbeds and lawns so he’s had to create them from scratch during the Welsh winter. The coppice sounds glorious, almost perfect until you see that also has been left to it’s own devices and the result is an over populated acre of scraggly trees that need plenty of tlc.

My time is being divided between my writing projects, the work I do for my daughter, Hannah’s company – AmethystPA, baking, planting seeds for all our vegetables, making things for the house which had not been decorated since the 1970s and working in our garden.  There was so much nicotine on the walls, we had to leave all the windows open for our first month due to the smell. We’ve found problems with the hearing, electrics, roof, gutters, floors and even carpet….

It’s amazing. We love it here. We haven’t been this tired and happy at the same time since becoming parents.

‘what made you pick Myddfai?’ The locals we meet usually ask us. ‘it was the Feeling of the balance of our private space within a real community, the views that took our breathe away round every corner and the people” I reply, “everyone made us feel so welcome”.

Making mood choices

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“Don’t be so moody” a much-repeated comment from mothers of teenagers, partners (of both sexes) and many long-suffering friends.  Yet is strikes me that this is a strange remark;  we are constantly moody.  All our actions (or lack of action) can be influenced by our mood.  Every conversation or interaction will be impacted by our mood.  Every decision we take, choice we make, every moment of our day is moody.  Whether it is positive or negative is surely the real issue.

I do remember being grumpy in my teens; I was angry a good deal of the time.  I chose to let the world know it by reflecting it in my mood and my appearance.  I gave off a huge vibe that said “back off, unless you’re ready for an argument” and it worked.  I achieved what I set out to achieve.  I annoyed the grown-ups so they left me alone and I fascinated people of my own age who believed I was brave, anarchic, different.  My mood dictated my surroundings and my interactions with others.

I live in constant pain.  It’s part of a condition I have called EDS. It means I start my day, every day, by feeling the pain spread through my joints as I sit up.  Some days are easier than others.  The prospect of certain tasks could fill me with dread and allow my mood to plummet into a negative place.  So, knowing this, and knowing that the mood I choose to start my day with will have a huge impact on it, I start every morning by declaring my mood for the day ahead.  This morning, after a challenging night with the third dislocation in as many days, I chose caring as my mood for today.  Caring for myself as well as for others.  Caring about how I sit, to make sure I’m not in pain.  Caring about eating regularly and giving myself plenty of breaks from the keyboard to rest my arm.

Seeing that I have the choice, that I can decide my own mood has been key to my ability to battle the odds in my personal and business journeys.  I’m not suggesting that it’s always easy and indeed there are times when I feel the morning’s conviction slipping away.  That’s ok.  That is my signal to stop and observe.  What am I doing that is causing this change in my mood?  Have I slipped into an old habit or way of approaching something that has a negative impact on how I feel?  I often have conversations, out loud, with myself at these moments and ask myself “ok, so you recognise this right?  What did you do to create this?”  Seeing the mood-habits we create, and asking ourselves why we choose to repeat them is a big step on the journey to owning our mood, our ability to chose it and take back ownership of it.

If you’re finding yourself going up and down on the mood swing, here are my top four tips for influencing my mood:

1) Start your day by choosing your mood and declare it.  If you keep a diary, write it in there and you can look back and decide which were your best mood choices.

2) Take ownership.  Stop saying things like “I’m in a bad mood” or “I’m moody”.  Reinforcing these messages becomes an excuse.  Own your moods and decide that you are able to change each one of them, at a moments’ notice.

3) Acknowledge your positive moods.  It can be easy to focus on the negative, to remember the impact a bad or low mood has had on our day.  Start looking for the positive moods, the uplifting or successful moments.  Acknowledge these, and give no time to talking or thinking about the “moody” moments.

4) Take a look at your environment.  As more and more of us work from home, we become isolated and this can have a huge influence on our mood.  Is the space you are working in a positive one?  Do you look forward to going into your office, or dread it?  You don’t have to redecorate to change the feeling a room creates.  Simply putting up pictures, cards, favourite quotes and knick-knacks can make it an environment that lifts your mood.

Take that “I’m moody” label off today – it really doesn’t suit or serve you.  I’d love to know what positive moods you observed.

Dinah

Choose positive language

Create a positive message not a melodrama

As I looked at my Facebook timeline today, I was so disappointed to see how many people are posting messages with negative rather than positive language.

They include a commonly used sentence on these posts now “I know 99% of you won’t re-post this….”  What a strange choice of  language;  If they choose to focus on negative language, then many people – like me – will indeed choose not to re-post their message.  If they choose positive language I, and many more like me, are sure to engage in a positive way.

So why would they choose this approach?  Why start by assuming people will not respond, be moved, care enough to share something that matters to you?  I believe they are hoping this comment will work in several ways:

1) If none of us re-post their message, we help them reinforce the negatives in their head.  Those voices that tell them “you are not worth it” “people don’t care about you”.  By setting us up in this way, we can prove they are right in their minds.  They would, of course, deny this is the case and would probably attempt to make your lack of response all about you.

2) Emotional blackmail.  They somehow hope to make us feel sorry for them, to believe that we are the 1% who will post it and prove they do matter.  This approach may get some people to share – once.  They are, however, likely to get bored of the “victim” approach pretty quickly.

3) They enjoy the attention.  When you see a post that contains this phrase, the first thing that comes to mind is often “oh dear, sounds like they’ve been let down in the past” or “they are obviously having a tough time”.  There is a chance you will contact them and simply say “hope you are ok” and bingo, they got your attention.

What response do you think you could create with positive language instead?  I would suggest more people will engage, more people will want to share your posts, more people will take notice.

Today, choose positive language and let me know how people respond.

Dinah

Choose not to “Try”

Choose to DO not Try

 

“I’ll try” – what do you really mean when you say these words?  “I probably won’t”   or “I’m sure I won’t be able to”?  That’s a choice.  A choice you make regularly and without thinking.  “I’ll try to stick to it this time” becomes your mantra and your choice to accept failure, before you’ve started, pre-sets your outcome.  Today, choose not to try – choose to do.

I often wonder what “try” looks like – you either do something or you don’t, how can there be a third option?  There really isn’t; trying is not doing something, it is quitting without being honest enough to say “I’m not going to do that”.  We kid ourselves with “try” and say things like “I did my best, I really tried hard.”  The only person we’re fooling is ourselves.  And by being less than honest with ourselves, we can reinforce our own negative language – “I tried and I failed”  “I tried my best but it wasn’t good enough” messages that confirm for us our lack of worth.

Choosing not to try and choosing instead, to do or not do, is an equally easy habit to get into – you just have to make that choice and start actioning it today.  Will this be easy?  If you choose to make it, yes.  It’s a habit – and you’re already great at plenty of those!  Add a new, positive habit to your repertoire – and if you’re thinking “I could give that a try”…….

Language is key to our results, and adopting a language that is positively reinforcing rather than negatively so takes practice and patience.  No quitting, just doing it, every day – reminding ourselves constantly with positive stimulation like a favourite quote on the wall above the desk, a picture of the dream you’re working towards or simply sharing what you’re DOING with a friend or colleague will all assist you in leaving the trying behind you.

Have a fabulous Thursday

Dinah 🙂

Choose not to fall

I loved this video from Daniel Ilabaca speaking about parkour and how it allowed him to see his choices and the power he had to embrace them.  Embracing our choices and taking responsibility for where they can lead us is demonstrated beautifully.  Enjoy.

Choose your view

I work in an office room with no natural daylight, tucked away downstairs in our home.  It is a large room, with plenty of space, just no view.  I love my office as it is my private space to create, to focus, to give clients my full attention and I have created my own views, without windows, to enhance the space.

Here is my “Thank You Wall” –
  a wonderful reminder that people    
  appreciate what I do and the difference it  
  has made to them.  It is a  positive view
  and lifts me up every day. 

 

 

 

And this is my fabulous Simon Bull print that brings the sunshine into the room
it brightens the space and makes me smile.  
I love this view.  

 

 

 

 

 

  This beautiful, heather heart from Jayne Cox
  creates a loving view above my telephone and
  reminds me to smile before I answer every call.  It
  puts a spring in my step and I love this view.

 

 

 

 

What will you choose to enhance your view?

Have a wonderful Friday and enjoy the long weekend

Dinah 🙂 

Now that’s my kind of choice!

It is important to remember that choices can be fun, light-hearted and a joy to make.  I started my day with my usual choice – Lavazza Rossa or Lavazza extra creamy?  That’s my kind of choice! 😉  The second big choice of my day landed in my lap as I sat with my coffee to start #thebreakfastclub duty on Twitter – Pickle decided she wanted a cuddle and I had to choose whether to be a couple of minutes late – that’s my kind of choice!

When we acknowledge how many choices we make in a day, often on auto-pilot, we start to see how good we are at making them.  Yesterday I had a seriously tough choice – a scone with jam and cream or a chocolate cup cake – which should I choose to go with my afternoon cuppa?  I admit, the chocolate won (well, of course!) and I thoroughly enjoyed the choice.  I made that choice and I lived (happily) with the consequences.  So, surely other choices should be easy to make.

When we label a choice as “tough” or “challenging” we are making a choice to make it that way.  Looking at choices and seeing they are ours to take, at the long-term impact they will have for us and for others and at how easily we make choices which benefit us, we can choose a new approach. Every time I am presented with a choice, I say to myself “now that’s my kind of choice!” it instantly lifts my spirits and reminds me of the amazing results that are in my life because of past choices.

Enjoy your choices today

Dinah 🙂