Tag Archives : Croft Coaching


New Year’s Resolutions

jugglingHow many of you have been in, or overheard conversations about New Year’s Resolutions, where some speak with great fervour and passion; whilst others say ‘I don’t believe in making resolutions’?  I have come to wonder how a simple date can cause many people to pause and reflect, pull over to the slow lane if you like, even if for 5 minutes; when the rest of the year, we stay in the fast lane.

So, what happens when you pull over to the slow lane or even stop? What do you become aware of?

It forces me to come up above the mental to-do list and juggling hats, as if I am looking down at myself from the canopy of the trees. From this viewpoint, I can see the roles I am playing in my life with detachment, and I can ponder over what is important to me in each of those roles. I actually dedicate time to reflect on questions similar to the ones I have listed below; as opposed to wonder if I have food in the fridge for the next couple of days, work organised, commitments on my radar so I don’t miss a vital playdate, thank you cards written etc etc!

When I get curious with people who say they are not making resolutions, 2 distinct themes emerge: ’I never keep them anyway’ and ‘I don’t even know what my resolution could be’.  Let’s tackle each in turn’.

I never keep them anyway:
Typically we don’t keep resolutions because the benefit of achieving them was not important enough to us in the first place. So, ask yourself, if I make this resolution happen, what will it give me? What will be different for me, both emotionally and practically? When you know it will have a positive impact on you, you can identify ways to keep motivated, be it through support of others, being held accountable, a reward, visions/images; whatever you know keeps you motivated. How do you know that? Press pause and ask yourself.

I don’t even know what my resolution could be:
It was quite refreshing to read the Wikipedia definition of a New Year’s Resolution: “a secular tradition,… in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year’s Day.” We can get caught up in resolutions needing to be these big statements or life changing goals. They don’t need to be (although it makes it more scary and exciting if they are sometimes!). Through answering the below questions and becoming more self-aware, you will find yourself creating resolutions and they may be just as above, an act of self-improvement.

  • What lessons did I learn in 2013?
  • What did I learn about myself, about what is important to me?
  • Where and how do I limit myself & what is the benefit of stopping?
  • What structures & supports do I need to put in place to help me remember these learnings?
  • What are my values?
  • What am I proud of in 2013?
  • What did I let go of/overcome?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • What am I saying “yes to” in 2014?
  • What am I saying “no” to in 2014?

There is a quote “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements in life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about” (Charles Kingsley). Most of us parents are enthusiastic about our children (well, …most of the time!). But, what else are you enthusiastic about? What does that look like in 2014?

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If you would like to become more self-aware so that it is easier to answer these questions and dedicate some time to ‘press pause’, then Debbie is running her next programme soon for Mums– “Start 2014 with a sense of purpose and clarity”.  Parents Club Members receive a 5% discount off the cost.


Managing Stress in Work & Life

Blooming twigStress is so personal, one person’s stress is another’s idea of a thrill, so learning to overcome and manage stress is equally very personal.

Take relocation. Some people love it, whilst others may be exhausted by it, physically and emotionally. Moving house is stressful in itself but when that move is to a foreign country, the impact is multiplied. Many people adapt quickly, yet for many others it can be an isolating and frustrating experience, where people say “sometimes I feel like I am the child, back at school.”

For many who have adapted and settled, they are now waiting to hear if they are facing early repatriation as organisations make job cuts.  For other families, accompanying spouses are seeking help as they are now looking to return to work in order to help keep the family here in Switzerland and share the financial responsibility whilst at the same time the working partner has the added stress of potentially losing a job or moving roles again. Equally, for the partner who has been out of work, there is the anxiety and dip in confidence around what job role to even look for, as it seems such a gap between being at home and working professionally.

Whatever your stress is, there are strategies and coping mechanisms that you can use, to help build your emotional resilience; so that you can adapt well in the face of adversity; and even use it as a catalyst for positive change.

  1. Cultivate friendships with hopeful people – in challenging situations, people are best able to call on their own resilience and inner strength if people around them are positive, confident and encouraging. Optimism and hope can be contagious; as can negativity. So, look at your own social circle. What do people around you tend to focus on – do they leave you energised or drained? Do you need to seek out some new groups, who consider relocation as an opportunity; who can bring some positivity and hope to stress at work?
  2. Finding meaning, purpose and growth – when we engage in an activity that calls on our favourite strengths and skills, we experience flow: “we are completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitable from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”(Geirland, 1996). This could be your time to truly explore and ask yourself:
    • When does time fly by for me; what are my key strengths and how can I bring them to this situation?
    • What is something I have always wanted to do/try and time/fear has held me back?
    • If I was in my home country, what would I do? It may well be possible to do the same or a variety of that here; and not be held back by limiting beliefs of “I can’t speak French; I don’t have the skills…”
  3. Practice positive thinking – this may seem like a stretch if this is a particularly stressful time yet it is practice positive thinking possible. Notice what is good and what you can be grateful for. What is within your control to influence? What is another perspective here?
  4. Refute negative thinking – identify each negative thought and then challenge its accuracy. Ask yourself, am I exaggerating the potential negative impact of this scenario or letting it impede all areas of my life? What is the opportunity in this situation, even if it feels like 2% opportunity/ positivity?
  5. Resilient Role Models – Who inspires you? Why? Look for people who recover quickly from hardship whom you could learn from, members of your own family, colleagues, trainers, historical figures..even fictional figures all can serve as resilient role models! What do they do? What rules do they live by/structures they put in place when they need support?
  6. Accepting challenges/stretching yourself – if you deliberately take on increasingly difficult challenges, you will gradually learn to handle higher levels of stress. Such challenges should be outside your comfort zone but not so intense as unmanageable. This inoculation principle of graded exposure can apply to a broad range of activities:
    • A person who is afraid of speeches/presentations may sign up for public speaking workshops and then commit to accept a speaking engagement!
    • A person who says “I can’t run, I am too overweight” may accept the challenge to run a 5km charity run.
    • Someone who finds themselves holding back speaking French through shyness/embarrassment, may commit to a workshop/programme and set a goal of having at least 3 conversations a day; using 2 new words a day, etc. Within days, he/she will be raising the game to more!
  7. Make physical activity part of your routine – not only does physical exercise improve your health and fitness, it also affects your behaviour and how you feel emotionally. The impact of movement allows you to see scenarios in a new light, enabling you to find a new perspective; which opens up possibilities.

Begin by choosing one or two of the above strategies that align with your personal values and beliefs; thatfit well with your lifestyle, and that resonate when you read them.

So, if you have a personal value around people/connection/community but fear has held you back, take a courageous step and identify a club you can join, something that grabs your interest so you are in a group with a shared passion. If shyness is holding you back, remember that “you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”. To make a friend, be a friend.
George Vallant, psychologist, describes resilient individuals as resembling “a twig with a fresh, green living core. When twisted out of shape, such a twig bends, but it does not break; instead it springs back and continues growing.

 

This Blog contributed by Deborah Croft, Mother, Parents Club Member & co-active coach running resilience workshops for women.   Her next resilience workshop starts in the new year.  Visit the Geneva Coach Alliance website for details.