On celebrating ourselves: I made it into a magazine!

I’ve never been particularly vocal about success or one to enjoy self-promotion, and inherently I have tended to downplay my achievements at risk of being perceived as self-important. I was taught to be humble and let evidence speak for itself, hence I let my actions speak louder than my words and I let the proof be in the pudding. To this day, this virtue remains incredibly important to me, and you’ll never catch me shouting about something I cannot evidence!

I’ve always been completely turned off by arrogance and consequently I think I’ve had a fear of coming across as self-absorbed. I’m sure you will relate to knowing that person who has the upmanship attitude (*eye roll*). Who always talks a damn good talk but seldom has accolades to match; that annoying person who always has to do one better than you, been there more times, achieved more or even on the flip side, has it completely worse than you. I was always too aware of the draining effect of those people to ever want to be perceived as one! I often wonder whether downplaying our success is part of the nature of being British? As a nation we are  generally modest and tend to depreciate the positives (and arguably amplify the negatives; there’s nothing quite like the good old moan about British weather)

Since embarking on a journey of self-development I’ve learned that you can be both humble and self celebratory. Being proud of yourself should not be perceived as  showing of – we should lift each other and fully celebrate our achievements and accolades. On reflection I really have achieved a lot of great things in the past that I should have been so much more proud of myself about.

To cut a long story short, I recently went on a work related trip where I was interviewed by Bosnian lifestyle magazine Gracija about being female in a male dominated technology field. The intention was to publish this on their website as part of a wider project, but little did I realise they would love the interview and publish it as a double page spread in their actual magazine – which just so happens to be the largest print media in the Western Balkans! Such a big deal and somewhat pinch me moment. So you know what…

I am so damn proud of myself!

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Alas it still feels somewhat alien to me to self-congratulate, self-promote or be proud of myself. But I am. Not for the article, but for the work I do & having the balls to do the interview in the first place (I was pretty nervous!) and for generally speaking out as a woman in a male dominated field. To let my female voice be heard.

Here is the article, if you happen to speak Bosnian! (I am currently waiting for the translation) 🙂

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It feels good to celebrate myself and I urge you to all do the same!

Over and out.

xx

 

Why I didn’t made any resolutions this year and feel better than ever

Every January I get swept up in the New year New me hype and consequently end up making some ridiculous resolutions along the lines of cutting back or banning certain things. Last year it was sugar-free and whilst I generally did feel great for the mini detox (especially after a typically unhealthy December), I needlessly turned down a lot of social events. Which was tragically out of pure stubbornness for not deeming myself a failure! Ultimately when I fell off the wagon I fell hard. I ended up bingeing on that much junk food I made myself ill. Funnily enough I never had an issue with sugar (or weight!) beforehand, and totally cringe looking back.

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As you may know, I’m always looking for ways to self-improve so a lot of my resolutions have been in this vein. But in hindsight, resolutions (‘rules‘) are sometimes so overly rigid that they can drive me crazy and dominate my thoughts. I tend to adopt an all in all out attitude and probably still think like a child in the sense that if you tell me NO then I now want whatever it is, x 100. Aside from being healthy, I’m not even sure what I was realistically aiming to achieve by going cold turkey when I could have probably just implemented a few small changes whilst maintaining my sanity. It’s true that small good habits really stack up in the quest for behaviour change.

Like me, I think a lot of people are swept up by the New Year resolution hype. Feeling as though they should be aiming to improve. Why? Because everyone else is.

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Have you made resolutions this year?

The big ones seem to (as usual) be along the health and fitness realm. Whether that is  giving up all aspects of a social life because everyday is #gymday or total elimination like #dryjanuary, or saving so much you turn into full hibernating squirrel. Or perhaps you now feel the sudden need to read a book a week, or become a full on yogi by February,  master meditation, create a 10 piece capsule wardrobe, or throw everything out because you read about #minimalism.

I think we are all guilty of this.

I look around me and see people adopting the same self destroying resolutions as previous me. It doesn’t work because it’s never good to jump straight into the deep end. To create a perfect 10 item wardrobe and become completely minimalist when you previously hoarded everything and the kitchen sink? Or the biggest meat-eater now turning vegan for the month. What it does is make you sick of the very behaviour you’re trying to adopt. Sick of cutting meat & dairy out when in reality you needed to do it slowly, make the small changes into habits and manageable behaviours. This way it becomes easier, meaningful and you become much more mindful over the new behaviour.

This year I proudly said a firm No to resolutions and I honestly feel a sense of relief. Note to self:

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Don’t make resolutions

..and of course rules too. Formulating rigid rules can be detrimental to success. Going cold turkey is hard, and making restrictions or rules so overly rigid will serve as a mental hindrance.

Ban should and shouldn’t language

Stop saying these words. Simple but effective. Psychological research supports this too – when people say they could rather than should do something, they are more likely to follow through with that behaviour.

Don’t jump straight in

I see so many people fall off the wagon because they attempt to go from 0 to 100 (or 100 to 0!) right off the get go.

  • Never been to the gym before? Don’t jump into a 7 day weight lifting program!
  • Struggle to drink water? Then you’ll struggle to drink 2 litres a day at the start. Perhaps incorporate an extra glass before one meal and once you’ve conquered that do it for all meals
  • Find reading hard? Then it seems you are wasting your precious time. You can get the information in so many other forms, audio books, Ted talks, documentaries, TV shows. You sure as hell do not need to pressure yourself into doing something you take no pleasure from!
  • Veganism? At least aim to adapt a vegetarian lifestyle first and foremost
  • Feel overwhelmed about cutting so much out? Whatever it is, make that first step small, then build on

It’s the little things we do daily that amount to who we are. Little by little these small habits stack up and contribute to a bigger change or goal.

I would love to hear if you made resolutions this year & whether you stuck to them 🙂

Hope you enjoyed reading and have a great day!

x

 

Do you have phone addiction? My thoughts about a digital detox

On average we check our phones 150 times a day and either swipe, tap or click over 4000 times a day. Since the introduction of smartphones over the last decade research shows that our attention spans have reduced to being no greater than that of a goldfish. 

I for one am not suprised by these statistics. Unfortunately the times that I feel I truly have somebody’s undivided attention seem too few and far between these days. Social events can somewhat be the opposite sometimes when people are attached to their screens, frantically responding to notifications (or pops of ‘’pseudo-pleasure’’?) or anxious about curating the right picture to highlight the night. It’s a bit of a paradox when social situations become more antisocial than being on your own and following the night through updates. Instead of being spoken to you’re forced to engage with a sea of blue foreheads who are probably and ironically checking in/posting about having such a good time with you/uploading that perfect photo of your evening (because if they didn’t Instagram/Facebook it, it didn’t happen, right?). Sound common?

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But is it really our fault? Companies and scientists use powerful behavioural and psychological techniques to make their apps addictive. With these techniques becoming more subtler and sophisticated. Why? Currency. Time on their platform equals revenue.

On a more sombre note, the phone addiction epidemic is damaging us at all angles. It has shown to be damaging to brain power, reducing attention span, eliminating capacity to think deep or creatively and affecting mental health. These platforms are creating an environment that predicates on vulnerable people, breeding a generation of unhappiness or eating into sleep. I cannot stress the  importance of quality sleep enough.

Low and behold even ex Facebook/Google (etc) employees who help to design and develop these addictive like qualities are pushing back and recognising the problems. I mean, the very person who designed the ‘like’ button has removed Facebook althogether now. I absolutely love Tristan Harris’ Time well spent movement. As an ex google designer that used to work on products that aimed to keep your attention he now advocates spending time well as opposed to merely wasting spending time. He is essentially aiming to establish a new ethical community that realigns technology and our best interests.

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So do you feel addicted to your phone?

I can hand up say I was probably addicted (on some level) to my phone. I spent a lot of filler time scrolling and subsequently reading about the lives of others, especially people I would never come into contact with nor did I care about. There is a lot of research that demonstrates links between absentmindedly scrolling and feeling worse about yourself, and on a more signficant level between heavy social media use and mental health issues. I certaintly felt the negative effects, making undue comparisons and eroding my self worth but on reflection the issue I am most annoyed about is the time wasted that I am unable to get back. Just 25 minutes of Facebook a day is worth 2 years of your life!

Digital detox?

All those hours wasted following others’ lives yet not truly living my own? I understand I am not totally culpable because these apps designed to do this to me, but no more. About 6 months ago I felt it was time for a detox. I deleted Snapchat, I switched my notifications off and I did a cull of Facebook and Instagram *friends*.

Committing to culling my digital life has given me back time I did not realise I had. Don’t get me wrong, I found it difficult because my muscle memory would put me on autopilot to check my phone first thing in the morning, automatically open my social media apps when stuck in a queue, or feel a sense of urgency/anxiety when my phone buzzed with a notification. Remember the days when we didn’t have the two blue ticks to say your message had been read, people left voicemails and actually waited patiently for a response? Or being out to dinner without a screen in sight?

Bring those times back.

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Fast forward 6 months …

I rarely check social media because I don’t need to

I switched my notifications off (this is bliss)

I don’t feel an urgency to respond to messages right away, nor am I apologetic for responding to a message *late*

I don’t check my phone first thing in the morning or late at night

And what have I noticed?

It’s been somewhat of a process for me but changing a bad habit is a slow endeavour. Totally worth it though. After my first post back in September about wanting to take a step back, I spoke about the changes I wanted to make and part of that was this digtially cutting back. What a huge difference a few months have made. I am now back to living on my own agenda and fill my time with things I want to do. I am rightly putting my brain back into proactive, productive and creative mode. I don’t feel as though I am spending time at the demands of others. am starting to notice the time gained enables me a greater capacity to think more creatively and freely, and I for one have increased my productivity and I now operate more effectively. I also enjoy real conversation much more now and prefer phone calls to texts.

🙂

My 2018 motto

The words below were written on the back of a sugar packet in a cafe I found in Spain last Summer.

el tiempo no se detiene mi espero por nadie, asi que no detengas tu vida por pequences, sigue adelante porque en este momento eres lo mas viejo que puedesser y lo mas joven que nunca volveras a ser jamas

It essentially means that time stops for nobody so you shouldn’t let the little things bother you. Enjoy life because at this moment you are both the oldest you can be and the youngest you’ll ever be. I found it when I was going through a tough time and it really stood out to me. It also reminds me simple things I love about life: good coffee, sunshine and embracing culture, and of course being surrounded by people I love.

So it’s going to be my motto for 2018.

What’s yours?

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Three simple tips to make 2018 your best year yet

As 2017 comes to a close it’s natural to reflect and begin planning the year ahead. Personally I’m not really into making solid new years resolutions but I do like to take stock on things going well and reflect on areas that I want to improve. I definitely don’t wait until January 1st to make changes though – reflection is something that should be incorporated into your life continuously. Read about my 2017 reflections here.

A majority of New Year’s resolutions are made post-Christmas binge and spending extravagance, so it’s natural that a majority of these reflect a feeling of wanting to save money, be healthier or lose weight. Easy to do when you feel like you’ve overindulged, but once the initial Christmas week bloat has subsided those good intentions go straight out of the window.

With that in mind I wanted to share three simple tips on how to have a great year. No resolutions, no restrictions, just some easy to implement self-development approaches that can help you to make small but longstanding changes.

Reflect

What went well this year?

Reflecting on both the good and bad can help you consolidate your self-worth, steer bad habits and build on good behaviours 

This can usually be broken down into a few areas such as work, personal life, social life, relationships, etc, depending on where your priorities lie. Did you achieve something that you didn’t think was possible a year ago?

Reflecting on your year may seem a daunting task but all it really requires is taking time out. You don’t need to be a top analyst to stop, clear your thoughts and think about things in a reflective and reflexive manner. However you choose to reflect try to do it when you have some real peace and quiet in order to really listen to your inner voice. Trust that. If you feel that you find it easier to dwell on negative things and less inclined to praise the positive, then this reflects a state of mind that is automatically attuned to focus and on the bad. It’s a bad habit and I bet you’ll also find it easier to remember negative events, situations where people have wronged you or hold on to grudges. If this resonates with you then I would perhaps consider focusing on changing this bad habit. It serves no good purpose.

Over the period of a year there should be one or two (if not more) highlights, but if they don’t jump out make sure you reflect even when you do not feel there is anything to particularly stand out. What are the positives of your year? What moments were you truly happy? How did you feel in those moments? If all else fails, ask yourself What are you grateful for?

Next, think about the behaviours which underpinned these positives. These are the behaviours, habits and activities that you want to build on and keep incorporating in the new year. As for the lowlights, or the things that didn’t go to plan, how could the situations be improved going forward? Those behaviours are things you want to inject in your life more.

Project

Where do you see yourself in a years time?

Write yourself a list, letter or goal of something you wish to have achieved by December 31st 2018. 

This is your north star and will essentially guide you in your behaviours for the new year. If it is a specific goal then break it down to it’s constituent parts and plan to incorporate small changes or steps that amount to the larger goal. Remember to set goals that are SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and Timely) as these are the most achievable. For example, if losing weight is your goal then set a SMART goal and break it down into a number of steps or smaller goals. i.e. drinking 2 litres of water a day, or taking the stairs instead of the lift. Start small to build the foundations and consolidate with congruent behaviours. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unattainable goals as they’re likely to have a rebound effect.

If you write about something less concrete such as ‘being healthier or happier’ then again break this down into actions and/or behaviours that you can incorporate which will subsequently amount to the overall aim. E.g. smiling at people, letting go of the need to be right or reducing toxic people from your life. Read my post about that here.

Prioritize

What activities do you already undertake and what behaviours/habits do you have nailed down? List as many as possible – for example, going to the gym twice a week, having a weekly catch up with your friend, or a 10 minute meditation session every morning. List these in order of priority so that when you feel overwhelmed, too busy or stuck in a rut, look at your list of actions or behaviours that are the most important to you. Continue with the most important and prioritized activities at times when you are overwhelmed and cut the rest.

If you would like me to write more in detail about goal setting and behaviour change let me know. 🙂

Do you make resolutions?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Do you have toxic people in your life?

Unfortunately toxic relationships affect us all at some point in our lives. When it comes to relationships we seem to be pretty well attuned to spotting this toxicity yet let it slide with others. We can verbalise reasons why a relationship didn’t work – selfishness,  lack of understanding, not able to be yourself, and list goes on…

So why do we allow these traits or situations manifest in friendships?

To live our most happy lives we must be surrounded by those that lift us up. Since we are supposedly the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time around, it’s imperative to  choose wisely! It can be difficult to spot negative and toxic traits, especially when you’re in the thick of it. I’m certainly guilty of being oblivious at the time then looking back and spotting and reflecting on negative traits and situations. Captain hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?

Reflecting on those traits in my personal experiences as well as talking to others I noticed a few key traits and commonalities.

Negative energy

I think this might be the biggest for me. I tend to absorb people’s feeling quite easily and  always notice a negative vibe straight off the bat. Some people are just terribly pessimistic and their glass is always half empty and whilst it’s not necessarily your problem it’s definitely not nice to be around. If you notice that you come away from being with someone always feeling negative, pulled down or a bit bleak, perhaps that person has had an effect on you. Maybe you cannot put your finger on it. I’d suggest re-assessing your time spent and the situation with them. Everybody goes through a bad patch from time to time and if it’s a close friend you might not mind spending a bit of energy trying to lift them up, but nobody needs to be around a constant stream of negative energy. It might start rubbing off on you. Not nice.

Lack of respect

An unwritten rule of any friendship is a mutual respect for one another. A lack of respect can come in many forms from you feeling used, your values not being respected or feeling pressured into something. On a more subtle note, is the person actually listening to you? Do they sit on your phone whilst you’re talking, do they talk over you or do you feel like you have to hold back for fear of offending? Do they constantly take and never give? In reality we all have differing options but you should never be made to feel as though you’re tiptoeing around someone or as though you’re not able to be your true self. True friends accept you for who you are.

Emotional abuse

The word abuse is such a loaded term because it can have serious implications, which makes it difficult to acknowledge. Over time, emotional abuse really impacts on your self-esteem and self-worth which is why it is important to cut it out of your life. It might be that you’re constantly put down, criticised or ridiculed by that person. Other signs to look out for are snide comments, being made fun of or not being listened to. These factors can seriously hurt and affect the way in which you view yourself and can lead to serious self-esteem issues.

What signs do you notice?

Lianne

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Motivational Monday: Kick start your morning for a productive day

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Morning is probably the favourite part of my day as it sets the tone for what is about to come. Kicking off in a positive way carries good karma for the day; whereas a bad start definitely does not result in a productive day. There are so many self sabotaging bad habits, whether these are unhealthy for your body, cluttering your mind or just generally overwhelming yourself.

Habits are a funny things. Bad ones are easy to get in to and hard to break… whereas good ones are difficult to maintain and easy to break.

However, since I have adopted the following positive habits my life has improved ten fold. I get more done in the same amount of time, I have a healthy mind and body, meaningful connections and live a more fruitful life.

RE-HYDRATE

Water! Whether it’s hot or cold or flavoured with cucumber, lemon or lime. Whatever way you have it, aim for around a pint before doing anything else. It’ll wake you up, start your digestive system and get your body ready for the day.

I also recommend a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar to improve circulation, detox your body and really get your digestive system fired up.

MOVE THAT BODY 

Exercise, gym, dance. Whatever you like to do, don’t over think it, just move.

There are countless reasons to exercise and it should be a priority to get a regular amount of exercise. Most importantly to protect your heart, but also to wake you up (the extra oxygen in your muscles) and to boost your mood (endorphins released from exercise absorb extra serotonin, the feel good chemical).

Some people see exercise as a chore but it doesn’t need to be. I believe there is a form of exercise for everyone but it may just take time to find something you enjoy. Whether it’s the gym, yoga, a dance class or simply walking the dog.

I personally cycle to work because it wakes me up and gets me motivated for the day, or I’d pop to the gym for a quick class. Don’t have that luxury? YouTube! These can be done anywhere, anytime. My personal favourites are The Body Coach, Blogilates or Yoga with Adrienne.

DITCH THE SUGAR & NOURISH YOURSELF

Eating something high in sugar first thing is probably the worst thing you could do from a health perspective. It reaps havoc on your blood sugar levels, causing you to peak then crash soon after. Ever wonder why you’re starving at 11am or craving sugary or junk food all day? Probably because you ate the wrong breakfast, probably laden in hidden sugar or fat. It’s time to ditch the cereal, granola and fry ups.

It is essential to eat a good balance of macronutrients at breakfast! Aim for a good source of carbs, protein and good fats. Slow release carbs (e.g. oats) provide sustained energy, protein keeps you fuller for longer and good fats will fill you up and prevent overeating. Oats, eggs on toast, avocado, fritatas, full fat/greek yoghurt with fruit are all great options. If time is not on your side it’s not an excuse PREP the night before. Overnight oats, yoghurt and berries are such easy options, or have some hard-boiled eggs ready to go with some toast. Probably taking the same amount of time as pouring that cereal.

DISCONNECT 

STOP scrolling your Facebook feed, DONT check emails and DONT respond to messages!

Mindlessly reading updates on social media is an unproductive activity that merely fills your head with other people. On others, not you. Focus on you and your goals by starting your day with a clear mind. Empty your mind in the morning and start with a blank slate for a positive and fruitful day. I personally have do not disturb on my phone in the morning (and night!) and I sure as hell am not checking emails or messages until I’ve got to work. My morning is purely for me.

TAKE A MINDFUL MOMENT

Connect to yourself and your body. Take 10 minutes to stretch, do a bit of yoga or listen to some feel good music. 10 minutes is probably the same amount of time you spend on social media, so you do have time. Even just 5 minutes of gratitude, meditation or clearing your mind can work wonders for your motivation and productivity for the day. How you feel in the morning will have a knock on effect for the rest of the day, so make sure you de-clutter your mind.

I like to take a moment to live in the now, read about why here.

TAKE ACTION TO PREVENT PROCRASTINATION

Action comes before motivation!

Just because you might not feel motivated to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Just do it anyway. Procrastination evokes a huge feeling of boredom which has been shown to decrease happiness, satisfaction and productivity. Don’t put something off that you’ve been meaning to do.

Write a quick to do list! What are three things you can achieve or need to get done today. Don’t think, pick the easiest and just do it. I’d also recommend listening to motivational ted talks/podcasts/upbeat music, recognising and replacing negative self talk with positive mantras, and/or standing in a power pose like this.

What are your morning habits?

Lianne