Category: Overwhelm

Am I really allowing this?!

By , July 10, 2010 4:59 pm

“I’m stuck in a rut. The walls are so high, I don’t know how to climb out. I work long hours, when I get home the kids are often already in bed. I’m tired and usually stressed out! All I do is eat junk food and sit in front of the television in a coma! My wife isn’t very pleased with me because I’m always putting things off until tomorrow, later or next week. Of course, I’m too tired when ‘later’ comes around. Everyone wants something and I just haven’t got the time. It’s not my fault!”

Andrew, a coaching client.

I believe that we directly cause things to happen by our actions or inactions. In other words, we create or allow them to happen!

Now…this wasn’t what Andrew wanted to hear.

He wanted me to reinforce his belief that he was a victim of circumstance. After all, that’s just the way things have to be if you want kids, a wife and a successful career right!?

It’s sometimes hard to come to terms with the results we are producing in life.

We don’t see it because we are sucked into busy-ness – too busy reacting to the chaos around us. As Andrew says, we get stuck in a rut and the walls appear too high to see a way out.

Unwittingly we also allow things to happen simply by our inaction to do something:

  • Not dealing with the damp issue in the kitchen – now it’s spreading into the dining room
  • Not  making time to develop your leadership skills because you were too busy doing the job. You’ve just been passed over for promotion
  • Not getting around to getting the car repaired and now it has broken down
  • Not discussing that disagreement with your colleague and now it has escalated to your manager.
  • Not speaking up in the meeting about your idea. Someone else mentioned it and got the praise!


Because the thought of taking action makes us feel uncomfortable and out of control. So we take the path of least resistance. We just stand by and let things happen. So we:

  • keep the peace by saying nothing
  • pretend not to see it
  • hope it’ll just go away (close our eyes, fingers in ears!)
  • say yes when we meant to say no
  • settle and survive

Here’s the thing…

By holding the mirror up to Andrew he was able to see that he was the one who was creating his own life and maintaining it the way it was.

He recognised that he was in the driving seat of his own mind and how he showed up. He’d got lost in the busy-ness and overwhelm. So he decided to claim his power back and choose a different approach.

Here’s how:

  1. You get to choose your actions. Act in ways that gets you more of what you want. Recognise that you are not the victim here.
  2. Pay attention to your warning signs – We all get them (and often choose to ignore them!). Listen your internal alerts:
    1. Gut feeling
    2. Intuition
    3. Suspicion that something might happen/might not happen
    4. A sense or fleeting thought
  3. Be proactive – Don’t wait for the other shoe to fall off!
  4. Learn to be uncomfortable – Face the situation, don’t hide from it. Work through the discomfort one step at a time.
  5. Take 100% responsibility for your actions and inaction.
  6. Everyone needs support – Don’t be frightened to ask for help. Talk to like-minded people. A coach can really help you to recognise what you are allowing into your life and whether this is what you really want.

Become Your Own Events Manager

By , May 17, 2010 7:56 pm

“I’m struggling meeting my commitments to myself. Every time I plan to have some ME TIME I get really busy or something comes up and I end up staying back at work or helping someone else out!”

This was a conversation that one of my clients, Jenny, had with me recently. She was frustrated because her ME TIME or personal time, was always leaking off her agenda.

Did you know that you actually can’t manage time? We all have the same amount: 168 hours per week. There is no more time. So time management is actually about managing events in time. Some events we feel in control of, others we don’t.

Jenny’s frustrations were resolved as she learned how to become the Events Manager in her own life!

It’s easy to let busy-ness hemorrhage into Me Time because you have so much to do. You become reactive to the chaos around you. Me Time becomes the poor relation getting ignored as your working day becomes longer and you start to feel out of control.

Sometimes we decide to work longer hours to get things done. This is perfectly okay providing that you feel that you are making this decision from a place of choice rather than it being imposed upon you. If you feel that the decision is imposed it can lead to pressure and stress.

Here’s how you can become your own Events Manager in your life:

  1. Decide what you can control and start to control it – Consider what is in your own circle of influence. You have control over more than you think. For example, you control the time you get up, what food you eat, whether you exercise or not, what job you do etc… Take responsibility and ownership for what you can control.
  2. Set clear boundaries for your working hours – Make a clear distinction between your working hours and time for YOU. Plan in advance how long you intend to work each day. Sometimes the unexpected happens, but if you don’t know when you intend to finish work, it’s easy just to carry on. See Stepping Out of the Do-Do Part #3
  3. Give yourself the night off – Set an alarm to remind you to leave work on time one night a week. Make an appointment with YOU instead. Switch off your Iphone/Blackberry and laptop when you finish work. There is life outside the inbox! See device addiction.
  4. Create some ‘Me Time’ – How much time per week do you actually give yourself for personal time?  Often we say to ourselves: ‘I’ll go to the gym next week.’ Next week ends up being as busy as this week, so the gym never happens. Learn to value and schedule your personal time in advance. Show up for your appointments with YOU. YOU are worth it! It’s where you rest, restore your batteries and ‘live.’ Allow a little Me Time every day.
  5. Learn to say no – Be realistic about what you are able to achieve. Sometimes we say ‘Yes’ when we should be saying ‘no’ because we already have so much work to do and we’re frightened to let other people down. “Give me more work. Look I can do it all!” So your employers, families and friends increase their demands upon you.

Who’s the Events Manager in your life?

Just what are YOU waiting for?

By , April 15, 2010 10:37 pm


I was working with a client. Let’s called her Jenny. Jenny is really making some changes in her life. She admitted that she has been putting off telling her parents about the career decision she has made, because she is worried about their reaction. Jenny doesn’t think that they will understand or approve.

She is now procrastinating about this ‘difficult’ conversation and has played it in her head many times including their anticipated negative responses. The more Jenny thinks about telling them, the more she procrastinates. Here are a few of the scripts that are currently being played in her head:

  • ‘Why do you want to leave your well paid job?’
  • ‘You can’t just pick and choose what you want to do!’
  • ‘You’re lucky to have a job!’

These scripts feel real. They are beginning to affect her judgment.

So she’s waiting…

There have been many times in my life where I have chosen non-action over action, because I was frightened of the potential response that I would get from my parents, partner or friends even though I was clear about my intention or goal.

Here’s what I was waiting for:

  • approval
  • judgment
  • criticism
  • disappointment
  • understanding and acceptance
  • to be rescued from the dis-comfort

What I learned about waiting:

  • Waiting drains your energy.
  • Waiting distracts you from your goal.
  • Waiting compounds the situation because you start to believe the voices in your head.
  • Waiting dis-empowers you.
  • Waiting causes you to question your original choices.
  • Waiting robs you of your power and can make you defensive.
  • Waiting can kill your dreams because you want everyone to be happy with your decision before you step forward.

In my experience, waiting inevitability leads to the realization of my ‘self fulfilling prophecy of doom.’ The ‘difficult’ conversation is ultimately played out because I’ve already rehearsed it so many times in my head.

Waiting makes us feel that we have to explain, justify or defend our decision and this behaviour increases the other person’s disappointment or criticism.

Stop waiting!

Here’s how:

  1. Step into your own power – focus your energy on your intention. Get clear about the decision you have made and why you made it. Restore your power by giving YOURSELF permission and approval.
  2. You don’t have to explain – take personal responsibility for your decisions and the actions you take. You have the freedom to make choices. Trust your own intuitions and instincts. YOU get to make the choices in your life. You don’t have to explain them.
  3. Face the reality that others will be disappointed – You can’t please everyone all the time. Sometimes we pay too much attention to other people’s opinions of our choices. This blocks our creativity and we settle for less because we reach for a compromise rather than listening to our deeper self. Learn to accept that people won’t always agree with your ideas or decisions. This isn’t a reason to walk away or change your mind. It’s okay for others to be disappointed with your decisions sometimes.
  4. Stop playing the movie in your head – We often label a situation as ‘difficult’ because of how we have framed it in our own mind. The more you play the imaginary scenario, the more uncomfortable you become. How you think, affects how you feel, which ultimately effects how you behave. Therefore, our thinking and feeling fuels our actions and outcomes. How do you want to think, feel and behave during this conversation? If you were to think and feel this way, how will it make you act? What results could you achieve?
  5. Stop waiting for the ‘difficult’ conversation – I learnt to stop waiting in anticipation for the ‘difficult’ conversation. When I stopped waiting for it, the difficult conversation didn’t manifest! Because I didn’t get hooked into the old negative patterns of trying to ‘please people’ or ‘please understand me.’ Instead, I was confident and clear. I wasn’t sucked into the drama or the disappointment of others.

So what are you waiting for?

Stepping Out of the ‘Do-Do’ – Part #2

By , March 23, 2010 12:28 am


Note: This is Part 2 of a mini-series. To read Part 1, click here.

Living reactively is exhausting because you are constantly living in chaos and waiting for the next crisis to happen.

Here’s how this used to be for me:

The yammering voices in my head never stopped telling me what I must, ought or should be doing. They made me work longer hours. Sometimes they’d wake me in the middle of the night to remind me about something I’ve forgotten to do or to give me something else to worry about. Sometimes as I woke up the next morning I’d get a flat feeling as all my to-do’s rushed through the mental fog to great my consciousness. I’d begin my day by freaking out over my workloads before I got out of bed!

I’d get more tired and desperate to succeed as I ignored self care and continued to push my body to the limits by working all hours. My energy tanks were emptying quickly and I wasn’t replacing them. There got to a point where I was living on ‘empty.’

That’s when I realised that I’d reached overwhelm.

Energy is our life force!

Here’s a good place to begin…

1. Listen to your body!

I worked with a coach who once asked me two important questions:

  1. Are you tired?
  2. Are you hungry?


What did this have to do with anything?

“I haven’t got time to focus energy on this because I’ve already got too much to do. Don’t give me more to think about!”

It had EVERYTHING to do with how I had unconsciously allowed myself to become exhausted and overwhelmed!

Sleeping and eating are usually the first things to suffer when we get sucked into the ‘Do-Do.’ Busy-ness loves it when you’re hungry and tired. We get locked into doing and forget to eat and sleep properly under the false illusion of saving time to get more things done!

We ignore the signals from our body and wonder why we are so tired, emotional and overwhelmed.

Short-term this is okay because our bodies are very forgiving and have an amazing ability to heal.

If this continues, exhaustion gets a tighter grip because we are physically and mentally weaker. It’s harder for us to concentrate and to be effective.

Listen to the signals from your body. Your body is VERY wise.

Important Note: You can’t complete your To Do list if you don’t have a body!

2. Slow down and allow time away from the ‘Do-Do.’

Okay…the last thing you instinctively want to do is to slow down! You haven’t got time to slow down because you’ve got too much stuff to do right?

The first thing that you need to do is to restore your energy. You can only do this by slowing down and resting. It is not easy to do especially if you are so used to living at a constantly reactive pace.

I started by introducing a few Circuit Breakers into my daily life. These really helped restore my energy and focus.

Here are some examples of Circuit Breakers:

  1. Close your laptop, turn off your phone and physically walk away for 30 minutes!
  2. Finish work on time at least one or two nights a week
  3. Go to bed before 9.30 pm at least one night a week
  4. Take a proper lunch break
  5. Eat regularly (and not just when you remember to!)
  6. Eat healthy food – not junk that fills you up with sugar and fat
  7. Drink plenty of water throughout the day (most people don’t drink enough water)

Try one or more of these activities as evening or weekend Circuit Breakers:

  1. Take a nap when you feel tired (listen to your body!)
  2. Have a relaxing long bath
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Read something funny or light
  5. Sleep in
  6. Sit quietly and do nothing for 15 minutes (Really…it’s okay to do this!)
  7. Listen to some uplifting music
  8. Allow yourself a ‘Day off the Do-Do’ one day a week

I’ve just added a Free Gift on my website! You can download the recording of my awesome tele-seminar: ‘Are You in Business or Busy-ness? Four Ways to Get Your Life Back on Purpose.’ This is packed with extra tips. Check out the box at the top right hand corner of this page.

9 Reasons WHY YOU Should Have a Coach…

By , March 11, 2010 5:23 pm

“Learn as if you were going to live forever.ManHelpingHand
Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”

Mahatma Gandhi

I love this quotation for two reasons:

  • I love learning and I love life! This sums up my passion and energy.
  • I clearly remember when and where I first read these words and why self-investment is hugely important to me.

These few words changed my life on many levels!

Here’s my story…

The first time I came across this quotation was on a little business card placed upon my pillow as part of the turn down service at the Mövenpick Hotel & Resort, Beirut, Lebanon. It was the evening of 12 July, 2006. For the previous two weeks this amazing hotel had been my home and workplace while I trained groups of managers on various leadership programmes. I’d also been blessed to immerse myself in the culture and friendliness of the people. That night, I went to sleep to the sound of a firework display at the resort. The next morning I left the hotel and flew back to the UK.

I returned home to find that I’d actually flown out of Lebanon just in time because a few hours after my flight there had been Israeli airstrikes across Beirut destroying the airport, lighthouse and four bridges along the coast road. The same road I had walked only a few days before, where I’d watched families playing on the beach. A war had begun there. The bombing continued to destroy the city and surrounding areas for many days. Those fireworks were actually gun fire in the hillside outside Beirut! I had been very lucky to get out that morning (others were stranded, caught in the cross-fire for over a week before aircraft carriers came to their rescue).

My thoughts instantly turned to the welfare of the people that I had trained. I frantically sent emails to check that they (and their families) were okay. Fortunately they were all safe and had taken refuge outside of the city. Danger, uncertainty and fleeing to the hillside were a normal part of their life. It certainly wasn’t normal for me and this experience created a shift in my thinking. For the first time, I’d witnessed the fragility of life and the importance of really living On Purpose. I remembered the little card that I’d enjoyed reading only the night before:

“Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”

This quotation became my mantra. I still have this card and carry it with me in my wallet every day, wherever I travel.

What’s THIS got to do with coaching?

It’s ALL about self-investment. Do you value your life enough to invest in yourself?

I LOVE being a coach and being coached!

Why do I need a coach?

Here’s how I see it. Yes, I am a certified, practicing coach. It’s really not about having the qualifications, more importantly, it’s about demonstration of the qualifications in terms of how I show up and actually help my clients to move forward and make the changes they want to experience in their life.

Having qualifications doesn’t mean that my learning is done!

So, I will always have a coach.

Here’s 9 reasons WHY YOU should have a coach:

  • I value me – enough to invest in myself. I’ve learned that if I wait for someone to come and rescue me or the organization that I work for to develop me that I could be waiting a VERY long time. I have learned to recognize the value of me enough to know I’m worth investing in. I’m passionate about learning and growing, it is an important part of my life because it helps me to Live On Purpose. There is something really powerful about investing in YOU.
  • It’s hard to go it alone – I’ve learned that I can’t do it all alone. Sometimes we need help and support. A coach always provides that beacon of light in the darkness. A lighthouse in the storm, so that you can safely navigate back to port. She is always there for you. She holds your hand and walks with you. She helps you navigate back to your centre and find your way home.
  • Help with your clarity – A coach helps you to get clear and say what you really want. Even when you think that you don’t know! She helps to clear away the noise and distraction.
  • A coach believes in you – A coach has the wisdom to see a BIGGER and GREATER you. She has vision to see your potential and ability even when you can’t see it and you’re stuck in your shrinky-ness. She sees you already there, being successful and Living On Purpose. She’s not interested in dwelling in the past. The focus is the present and how you can take steps to move forward and grow. She helps you be authentic and true to yourself. It’s a partnership.
  • Holds you accountable – A coach keeps you accountable. You have someone to answer to. She helps you to make and keep promises with yourself. This stops procrastination and creates discipline, persistence and motivation and you achieve your goals!
  • Celebrates your successes – Whether it’s saying ‘no’ to someone at work, getting out of bed in the morning and actually going to the gym or developing a successful kick ass coaching programme, a coach will recognize and reflect back your successes. She’s there to remind you of the baby steps you’ve taken and the growth you’ve achieved. This drives momentum and makes you want to achieve even more! Bring it on!
  • Is your mirror – A coach has a 6th sense (I swear mine has!). A coach is sensitive to your emotions and moods. She recognizes and understands the negative mindsets that block your thinking and helps you create new patterns of thinking that align with your intention. She reflects back your leaky language when you’re playing small and helps you turn it around. You get to experience “what is it like being on the receiving end of you?” in a safe and creative environment.
  • Makes you feel great – A coach will make you feel better about the situation and yourself. I’ve witnessed this reflected in my client’s faces. They come into a session full of stress and pressure, looking tired and pale. They leave relaxed and the colour has returned to their face. They’re ready to kick ass and make things happen. They take back the control of their situation. A coach makes the un-doable become doable!
  • Having a coach helps you to BECOME a coach – Experiencing being coached is an awesome gift. Knowing what it’s like to be coached helps you to be fully present for anyone you interact with. You become committed to them in the same way as your coach is to you. You’re living and coaching from the inside- out and helping others to do the same.

Me? I’m going to “Learn as if I’m going to live forever” because I believe that my learning and growth will NEVER be done.

What a GREAT investment to make!

Do you value your life enough to invest in yourself?

Do You Suffer From Device Addiction?

By , October 20, 2009 2:58 am

Busy-ness manifests itself in many ways. Here are three of the most common:

  • Device Addiction
  • Deception
  • Distraction

Today’s post explores first one on the list…

Device Addiction

Here’s how Device Addication can unconsciously weave its way into your life, from my own experiences (and the experiences of my clients)…

Device Addiction

24/7 Connectability…

Have you noticed that the World is getting a smaller place? We now have 24/7 connectability. I can contact my friends around the World instantly. The technology is amazing: it’s portable, flexible and easy to use and…everyone is connected!

DANGER – Everyone is connected ALL the time!

There are lots of devices to help us keep in touch whilst going about our ‘business': Mobile/Cell phones, lap tops, Blackberries, IPhones – to name a few! These devices help us to maintain our connectability and YES! they are very useful.

They can also hook us into busy-ness.


  • We have potential information overload at our fingertips.
  • Technology can be addictive.

These devices can be invaluable, but we can unconsciously over use them. Here’s an example from my own experience:

I wanted to be really successful at my job. I used to believe that effort = success:

The longer I worked + The more effort I put in = Great Success

Surely a recipe for success because my superiors would think highly of me and I’d get promoted? Nope! It was actually a recipe for busy-ness and ovewhelm!

I worked Monday to Friday every week. I used to keep my work phone ‘on’ over the weekend just incase… And sure enough, people started to call me or email me because I unwittingly taught them that is was okay to contact me because I’d be working! I set these expectations through my actions. All because I believed that effort = success.

Working at weekends soon became a habit. The more I did this – the more imposed it felt: I no longer had a choice, so I started to work longer hours as a result. Less time for my family, friends and myself. Having the technology enabled me to extend my working hours under the illusion that I was ‘getting a head’ both in my career and with my workload.

In reality, I was surviving and trying to keep up with my self imposed extended workloads!

Status and Massaging the Ego

We all like to feel needed and useful. We can sometimes unconsciously use technology to massage our ego and inflate its importance: to satisfy our neediness, to be liked, accepted and part of a group. When this is over-done, that’s when busy-ness creeps in because some of the following statements can become habitual:

  • How am I doing?
  • Let me check that you’re doing it right…
  • Do you still like me?
  • Do I look important enough?
  • Am I still popular?
  • Look how valuable/important I am everyone!
  • I’m still important

I sometimes train people who struggle to put their phones away because the have become so important to them (sometimes people are ‘on call’ which is fine). Delegates on workshops use a variety of different ways to conceal their Blackberries during training sessions so they can still check them!

During one workshop the whole group would collectively switch ‘on’ and check their blackberries in silence every break time! It’s interesting to watch the ‘Mexican wave’ of phone checking move through the group. Checking the phone actually became part of the group culture. Sometimes individual’s feel they have to check their phone to because everyone else is, even though they are not expecting to be contacted by anyone!


Device addiction can cause obsessive behaviour. This is where someone is constantly checking their phone or lap top even when talking to friends, family or colleagues at work. It becomes an unconscious habit: One that is often noticable and frustrating the the other person!

After all, it’s so easy to multi-task if you have an Iphone or Blackberry because you can check emails even when watching TV or whilst out dining with friends. We become hooked. We can’t put the phone down, because we have to constantly check and re-check. Here are a few examples:

  • Checking emails whilst talking to someone
  • Constantly texting whilst talking to someone
  • Answering every phone call – because you can, not because it’s more important that the friend you are spending time with
  • Constantly checking Twitter or Facebook (both are great tools but we can get hooked!)
  • Checking ‘stuff’ – nothing important it’s just ‘stuff’ but it’s there so I’ve got to check it!

I was recently coaching a woman who was overwhelmed with her working hours. She was struggling to manage her workloads because she hadn’t set any boundaries about work, which often leaked over into her personal time at the weekends. I call this work-extensions. She would regularly sleep with her Blackberry under the pillow and would check her emails during the night whenever she woke up (which became very frequent). This was a little frustrating for her partner, who would often wake up being blinded by the light, as she typed away on the key pad!

We sometimes become hooked because we forget to set clear boundaries and can’t let go or darn’t let go of our workloads. Work leaks into our leisure time and can ultimately affect our relationships and health.

Computer games can also be addictive. Have you ever lost a weekend to playing PSP or Wii? We label this as ‘escape’ time. Yet at the end of it we feel tired and exhausted, because we’ve been sucked in to addiction: ‘just 10 more minutes!’

Are you the person who says that they are just going to check their emails for half an hour and you re-appear four hours later after surfing the internet?

TV channel flicking can be another cause of device addiction. This is where we flick through hundreds of channels looking for something good to watch. When we get to end of the range, we begin at channel 1 again, because ‘surely there must be something worth watching now!’ Rinse and repeat!

Do you recognise any of these symptoms in your life?

What are YOU addicted to?

Are you in Business or in Busy-ness?

By , October 10, 2009 5:17 pm

Arizona 1009 043

I’m writing this post in Scottsdale Arizona after delivering a Keynote Speech at the 4th Annual NICU Therapists Development Conference.

The title of my talk was:

“Are you in Business or in Busy-ness? 4 ways to get your life back on purpose.”

After the speech, we hung around chatting about busy-ness and overwhelm and how it creeps into our lives. Busy-ness seems to be everywhere!

Today, the pace of life seems faster: we all have so much to do, ‘plates to spin’ and so many roles to play. Sometimes we feel that we are just settling and surviving. We become too focused on getting things done, rather than actually living life and enjoying it.

I found this quote recently and it really got me thinking:

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I live just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

Diane Ackerman

I don’t just want to live the length and width of my life, I also want to live the depth of it. I see this as developing my wisdom, my inner self and listening to that deeper voice within. I know I can achieve this through conscious living: living on purpose. Life isn’t just about ticking boxes and getting stuff done!

What is busy-ness?

  • It’s the unconscious stuff (‘do-do’) that I focus our time effort and energy on, which serves no value or purpose, except just to keep me busy!
  • It’s when I’m living my life unconsciously and not on purpose.
  • It’s never getting around to those things that are important to me, that I value.
  • It makes me work longer hours just to get things done.
  • It’s anything that takes me away from the true ‘business’ of the day: what you I’m trying to achieve.
  • It’s when I’m too ‘busy’ with being busy to focus on my important relationships.
  • It’s doing everything for everyone else and nothing for myself.
  • It’s when I’m just settling and surviving.
  • It’s when I’m waiting to be rescued from all this ‘stuff’ (Where is that knight in shining armour?).
  • It’s when I never get any time or space for myself.
  • It’s when I feel out of control in my life.
  • It’s when I often neglect my own needs (health and well-being).
  • It’s when I’m avoiding making some important decisions in my life. I add more ‘stuff’ to try to fix the problem instead.
  • It’s when I notice that I don’t laugh as much as I used to.
  • It’s when everything is a crisis in my life – I’m constantly reacting.
  • It’s when I spend most evenings just watching TV to escape my busy life.
  • It’s when I have so much that I want to do, I don’t know where to begin, so I don’t begin.
  • It’s when I know there’s more to life – I’m stuck with what to do about it.
  • It’s saying ‘yes’ when I really want to say ‘no’.
  • It’s when I’m tired of rescuing everyone else all the time. I want to be rescued too!

Do you recognise any of these?

Busy-ness really doesn’t care. It looks for the cracks and fires out its tentacles to weave it’s way into your life and takes control.

So… Are you in Business or in Busy-ness?

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