Are you "living the dream"?

Have you ever imagined how your life would be if everything was perfect? ...Where you have a job you love, a fulfilled life and are looking forward to your bright future? What would you be doing? Where would you choose to put your energies? How would you live and where? Who would be in your life?

Big questions, we know! However, how can we “live the dream” unless we know what our dream looks like? ….You need to know what success and happiness at work and in your life means to you.

Now, we can’t predict the future, or anticipate random opportunities that come our way, or avoid life’s red herrings that send us on other tangents. And our dreams can and do change.

But having a vision of our “best possible life” gives us a reason to strive, and a direction in which to travel. Our vision can be clear. Or clear-ish. Or it can be fuzzy for now, becoming clearer over time. The main point is to be able to start aiming somewhere.

Having a vision of your “best possible life” will give you a reason to strive and a direction in which to travel

And not coincidentally, when we have a vision for our dream life, we’re “primed” to notice opportunities, and then take action, that will help lead us in the direction of our dreams. Our path becomes more smooth. We attract what we wish for. Things start to manifest for us.

So, how can you plot out what “living the dream” means for you? Here are 3 exercises you can try, to build a picture of your “best possible” life at home and work.

1. Skite sheet

Understanding what you love about your current work and life gives you clues for what you may wish to continue or do more of in future.

  • Note down the developments in your life that have given you the most joy (e.g. your kids? doing half marathons? your promotion?….)

  • Write about your passions. What makes your heart sing? (e.g. causes such as climate change? hobbies like rock climbing? innovating a new product? .…)

  • Think about what you could not do without in your life (e.g. your 20 minute commute? working in a team? your yoga class? .…)

  • Catalog the successes and achievements you’ve had at work to date. What work are you most proud of? What types of tasks or projects gave you a real buzz? What are you doing on your very best days at work?

2. Irritations inventory

Understanding what is currently frustrating you gives you an opportunity to avoid or circumvent these in your vision for your future. Knowing what you don’t want also helps you figure out what you do want.

Catalogue a list of irritations in your life and work right now. What do you not like about your work? What parts of your day make you frazzled? When do you feel out of control? What gives you a feeling of dread when you wake up each day?

3. Letter from the future

This is the ultimate tool for creating future positive possibilities.

  • Write down a free-flow letter to yourself, from yourself, at some future date - 1 year, 5 years, 10 or 20 years from now.

  • Describe what you've done and have achieved as a result of your life turning out exactly how you wanted.

  • What are you thinking, feeling and doing?

  • Describe the things that brought meaning and joy in your life or at work.

  • Don’t limit yourself to what’s likely or realistic - in this exercise, let your imagination run wild!

Once you’ve done these three exercises you start to make explicit (clear) what might have been implicit (less obvious or even unconscious) up to now. Getting clearer about the hopes and dreams you carry around inside you is a starting point to making plans for the future. From here, you can start to set some more concrete goals for yourself, with the confidence that you’re moving in the direction of your dreams.

We’re in your corner,

Debra & Kate

 
 
Live The Dream
 

The Busy Trap - What's really behind your ToDo list, and how to take back control

Have you bumped into a friend at the supermarket and had the following conversation?

You: Hi! How are you?

Friend: I’m insanely busy! You?

You: I’m crazy busy too!

You wouldn't be alone! A strange cultural phenomenon has led us to wear “busyness” as a badge of honor. This also extends to our kids - they’re often scheduled to within an inch of their lives outside of school with extracurricular activities.

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Somehow we’ve normalized — and even praise our busyness. But are we really doing ourselves any favours? The truth is, our insistence on staying busy can have damaging effects on our mental well-being: more stress, exhaustion, burnout, and an inability to focus on the present. And our kids come home at the end of the day as tired and stressed as we do.

So, what’s the deal with being busy? Why are we doing this to ourselves?

Here are a couple of home truths to ponder:

We spend a lot of time doing things we should do, or that society expects of us, or that everyone else is doing. Our houses should be spotless, we’re expected to have manicured toes and no greys in our hair, everyone else is sending their child to extra sport/music/drama/tutoring! No wonder we get a sense of overwhelm from all the things we do, compared to the far smaller quantity of things we’re actually capable of doing with the time available.

And perhaps deep down, a lot of us are using busyness as a way to hide from ourselves. Who would we be if we weren't busy accomplishing stuff? What truths about ourselves or our lives would we have to face that we can avoid facing when we’re crazy busy? Are we reassuring ourselves about our worth by making a link between being busy and being important and valuable?

We recommend coming out behind your “ToDo list” and taking back control of your life.

Here’s how:

  1. Ditch the “shoulds” and do the “want to’s.” Prioritise your ToDo list by the most valued tasks. Anything that’s not truly important to you personally, delegate to someone else, or just ditch it! What events have you committed to over the next month? Which of these are less meaningful, or events you feel you should go to (but don’t really want to)? Find a way to graciously relieve yourself of these commitments.

    When we pursue goals that we want to do, because they’re important to us, we have a recipe for high levels of wellbeing.

  2. Reframe success. Turn your “ToDo” list into a “TaDa!” list. Instead of being overwhelmed with everything you haven’t ticked off your list, at the end of each day write down what you have achieved. Then sing “TaDa!” and do a happy dance.

  3. Detox from your busyness addiction. When we’re on the urgency treadmill, it can feel excruciating to slow down – but you may end up getting more done if you try. Experiment with doing nothing at all for 10 minutes between tasks: the harder that feels, the more you may need it!

  4. Be the change. Reverse the cultural narrative around the pride of busyness. Resist the urge to compete with the “busy bees” or engage in one-upmanship. Your schedule does not make you important.

The truth is our busyness is self-imposed. It's in our control because of the choices we make. Instead, we encourage you to enjoy what’s important, be present with your loved ones and savour the moments.

We’re in your corner,

Debra and Kate

Two confidence zapping words you should never use!

Have you ever planned an exciting party for your child (or yourself) and despite the fact that planning is going well, doubts start to creep in?  

What if no-one comes? What if it rains? What if people don’t have fun?

Then on the day of the party, people turn up, fun is had, guests were undeterred by the light rain showers and you all finish up with big smiles. “See?” you say to your child, “it all worked out, no need to have worried”.

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When my kids start with the “what if’s”, I say to them “what if your moustache was made of spinach?” This is so completely ridiculous it helps remind them of the futility of worrying about something that may never happen.

As adults, we’re guilty of the “what if’s” regularly in life and at work.

When we finally get our dream jobs, doubt can kick in. What if they realise I’m actually not that good? What if I stuff up? What if I don’t like the job as much as I thought I would? What if I don’t belong here?

These thoughts are normal and we all have them. But when we let them take hold, they zap our confidence and make us anxious. They get in the way of bravely exploring the possibilities in our new roles, and impede our chances of success. “What if’s” are just not useful.

The French philosopher Michel de Montaigne once summarised this truth when he quipped:

“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened”

If you find the “what if’s?” undermining your confidence at work or in life, here’s what to do:

  1. Be your own cheerleader. Back yourself. Imagine things will go well. Allow enough time at work to do things well.

    At the end of the day take a minute to reflect on what went well and give yourself a high five.
     
  2. Bring your best self to each day. Get enough sleep, look after your health.

    Know your strengths and make sure you get the opportunity to use them every day. Make sure you can use your strengths in your job (Hint: if you don’t know what your strengths are, see a strengths-based coach!)
     
  3. Reflect on the worst-case scenario. If the “what if?” actually came to pass, what would you do? Write your answer down in this format: “If (insert the worst-case scenario), then I would (what you would do?)”.

    If you get derailed, knowing what your intentions are gives you the confidence that if need be - you’re capable of rising to the challenge and coping with the event. This diminishes the power the “what if” has over you.
     
  4. Change your perspective. Reframe your difficulties or even failures as an opportunity to learn something worthwhile. What you learn will help you set the right direction next time, and improve your performance in the future.

    In the end, you can only grow by moving towards challenges, not away from them.

We recommend you banish the confidence zapping, party pooping words that are“what if?” from your vocabulary! Those two words only rain on your parade, and chances are, they’ll never actually happen.

In the unlikely event they do happen, don’t let them undo you. Rather, be confident you’ll be able to cope and even grow from the challenge. And then you’ll succeed in at work or in life.

We’re in your corner

Debra and Kate