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

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


Stressed out? Toughen up! (by easing up)

Wouldn’t it be liberating to discover we can toughen up in our lives and at work by easing up on ourselves? This idea may be completely at odds with our current interpretations of resilience.  We’ve heard resilience is about toughing it out, flexing our muscles, ginning and bearing it, faking it till we make it, getting down and dirty, no pain no gain, going one more round….and the clichés go on!

But think for a moment what you experience when you try these approaches. Are you more emotionally volatile, less able to think clearly and find it impossible to wind down? Do you get impatient with the kids? Or try to sleep but end up tossing and turning? Getting less done, not more? In truth, toughing it out leads us to stress, overwhelm and burnout. Possibly feeling like you are on the hamster-wheel of life and not enjoying it!

Here’s the issue with this approach. We never recover. Overwork and exhaustion are the opposite of resilience. It’s the lack of recovery which holds back our resilience.

Resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure

The good news is that resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure. The key to resilience is trying hard, then stopping, recovering, then trying again. We recover by taking short physical and mental breaks. By “oscillating” our energy between work and recovery, we restore our equilibrium – and our brain’s ability to function efficiently, and sustain our wellbeing.

Rest and recovery are not the same thing. Stopping does not equal recovering. What we need is periods of low cognitive (thinking) activity. When our brains are not full of information or pre-occupied with to do lists. When we are not on Facebook, Instagram, or reading articles on our phones.

How to recharge in short-sharp bursts

So, what’s the best way to recover then? For us busy mums, we need to find ways to restore ourselves as part of our normal routine – rather than making it one more thing to find time for. Here are some ideas. We challenge you to choose at least one of these to incorporate into your day!

  • Every 20 minutes, take a 2-minute break. Stand up, stretch, or a quick walk around the office (and will improve, not slow your productivity). Use an app like Mindfulness Bell, which plays a gentle bell regularly to remind you
  • Switch tasks or projects at work at least every 90 minutes – varying activities uses different parts of your brain. Take at least a 5-minute break between activities. Work from home? -Hang out the washing or collect the mail. At the office? -Head to the water cooler for a leg stretch and chat
  • 5 minutes outside will boost your mood. Even better take a walk with someone around the block. By “taking your brain for a walk” you also increase your ability to retain information and think creatively
  • Take a mid-day break of at least 30 minutes every day. Do not have lunch at your desk. Have it with a friend or colleague, or go outside and look at some greenery while you eat
  • Find your Zen – this doesn’t need to be a long and involved process! Apps like Breethe have 10-minute guided meditations. The 7 Second Meditation app helps you take just moments of mindfulness and breath (surely, we can find 7 seconds?!)
  • Take a break by calling a family member or friend
  • Take the stairs at work instead of the lift (and don’t look at your phone!)
  • Schedule time daily unplugged from your smartphone! Apps like Unplugged can help you automate this if your willpower is low!

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Resilience is like a muscle that we can strengthen

The truth is, we can’t eliminate stress from our lives, but we take short breaks from it and build our resilience to cope with it. Resilience is like a muscle that we can strengthen. But like any muscle, to grow it must be used, then given time off to heal. By taking short but regular mental breaks during the day we recover, ready for our next tasks. We’re more efficient, enjoy our work more, and have more energy for our lives at home too. Remember, life is not a marathon, but a series of sprints!

With love

Flourishing Mothers

Flourishing Mothers were inspired by the work of Sean Achor, Tom Rath and Jim Loehr