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 🙂

Seven personal reflections on 2017

Even though I regularly incorporate a good amount of reflection in my life, December seems a natural point to take stock on perhaps a much greater scale.

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2017 has been pretty pants on a personal level. I’ve been dealing with a high amount of stress coupled with an abundance of personal issues. Without dwelling on the dark times too much I would rather look at what I’ve learned going into the new year.

If I had one big take away, it would be to let things go. This year has been a personal learning curve and with an exertion of time and effort, I’ve combatted stress and eliminated the waste from my life. I’ve tackled issues head first that I’d perhaps repressed over the years and have truly learned to stop dwelling on bygones. I can honestly say that I’ve left the past where it belongs.

2017 might have been a bummer and whilst I certainly wouldn’t wish the dark times again I wouldn’t change the past or live with regret. Having an abundance of time to work on myself was exactly what I needed. I believe that I’ve come out the other side feeling incredible and stronger than ever. It’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I can truly hand on heart feel incredible again.

It’s incredible to think about my mindset change over the year. I for one am beyond excited to head into 2018 with a determination on my face, plans up my sleeve and ambition by my side.

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What have I learned?

Letting go. First and foremost, I’ve learned to stop dwelling on the negative. Holding onto negative energy has repercussions far beyond the obvious annoyances. It seeps into general life and snowballs into having greater effects on the mind and body, such as tension headaches, grudges, pent-up stress, to name a few. It’s not just the extensive issues either – it’s those little everyday niggles that in hindsight should not matter. If you’re struggling with similar things a good question to ask yourself: will this really matter a year from now? Probably not. So why let it take prime time in your conscious now?

Stopping moaning. I notice a default setting for a lot of people is to just moan about anything and everything. I still find it tough spending too much time around particularly negative people because I’m aware of the potential rubbing off effects. If you’ve read my toxic people post you’ll understand that I went through a period of working out who was good for me and who was creating toxicity in my life.

Stopping being reactive. I noticed waking up feeling stressed at the number of notifications, messages and emails on my phone. In hindsight what I was doing was training my brain to be reactive and to deal with the demands of others, rather than my own. It was also feeding into my feelings of being overwhelmed which put further undue stress on my body. The way I combatted this was through decluttering digital waste (below). Now I wake up to feeling stress free.

Digital decluttering. I switched my phone onto do not disturb in the mornings and evenings and I turned my notifications off. The first and last hour of my day is my time and completely uncompromised. There’s scientific evidence that demonstrates that notifications on digital devices feed into the dopamine cycles and addiction pathways in the brain. I.e. you get that initial fix and unsatisfyingly seek more. I was surprised at the effect it was having on me. Now I reduce my brain with collateral and am more than content to engage in being more proactive and productive.

Clearing my mind. Carving out distraction free ‘me‘ time is when I am my most creative. Clarity of mind enables me to operate in my most proactive state; and taking time to really think, write or journal, enables me to reflect, plan and learn. I express gratitude, reflect and learn, which in turn boosts my happiness and self-efficacy.  2018 will include more of this and will be about getting back to being on my own personal agenda.

Seeking support. I can be pretty stubborn at times (I’m working on it!). I like to think I’m invincible and also really dislike feeling defeated, so asking for help can be somewhat uncomfortable for me. However, opening myself up to a number of people and asking for their help or patience has been one of my turning points this year. I felt  overwhelmed with love and support and incredibly grateful for having such amazing people in my life.

Writing as personal therapy. I’ve developed a newfound found love for writing, be it to do lists, journaling or blogging about things I care about. The cathartic process of writing enables me to clear my mind and gain insight into where my passions lie.

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I could write so much more about 2017 but these are a snippet of my learnings.

What have you learned in 2017?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Lianne x

Getting into the Christmas Spirit: my fave to dos

It’s a Christmas to do list!

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Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it really is good to get into the festive spirit. Aside from all the get togethers, presents (and stress!) at the heart of it Christmas should be about sharing and caring. The time of year when most people take some time out to relax and spend it distraction free with loved ones. As things start to slow down a little (mentally, not physically) some of my favourite things to get into the spirit of Christmas!

To do: Festive sports

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The perfect time to try a new winter sport. How about trying Ice Skating at a Christmas market? Somerset House in London is beautiful, but any outdoor skating rink is perfect.

To do activities list: Ice skating, winter walks, indoor/outdoor skiing or snowboarding, sledging, christmas decorating.

To go: Christmas Cities & Markets 

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Mulled wine, market food and crowds of festivities? There’s just something special about a Christmas market that brings people together. I also love to get dressed up and go out for Christmas drinks with the girls.

Top UK cities: Manchester, London Winter Wonderland, Belfast, Birmingham, Bath, Liverpool, Leeds, there are tons spread out across the UK. 

Overseas: I hear Copenhagen, Prague, Amsterdam, Berlin (or anywhere in Germany), Tallinn, Paris, again, tons spread out!

To watch: Christmas Films

I’ve already watched Home alone 1 & 2 and Love Actually. But others I recommend are The Holiday, Bad Santa and Christmas with the Kranks. Christmas is the perfect time to watch some nostalgic TV and films. What are your faves?

 

To bake: Festive treats  

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I really like the idea of making personalised treats for stocking fillers as I think it’s just that extra bit special when somebody goes out of their way to make something. Last year I made biscottis which were delicious! For the ones above I followed a standard biscotti recipe and then to make them more festive I added pistachios, cranberries and grated orange peel.

To make: Christmas DIY 

There are tons of DIY ideas out there. One year I made a wreath when I had a craft day. Other nice things to make are decorations, candy canes, potpourri, jewellery. They also make great gifts!

To practice: Self love

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One thing I think is seriously neglected at this time of year is taking care of ourselves. Year round it is so important to take the time out to relax and look after our minds and bodies, but especially at this time of the year when we become super busy, our stress levels rise and our bank levels drop. It can be hard to find free time so just remember to practice being grateful and express thanks to keep you grounded when surrounded by such abundance. Also try to take a bit of time out to unwind – visit your favourite coffee shop, read a book, have a pamper evening or take yourself to a quiet spot to clear your mind. Manchester Central Library (above) is amazing for peace and quiet.

As well as loving yourself, practice extending that love to others. Express kindness to people you meet (regardless of being cut up in traffic or in a queue :-P) as you really do not know what is going on in the minds or lives of others. Instead of falling into the trap of becoming bitter, senseless or unappreciative, just remember that everybody is feeling just as stressed out. So forget the nitty-gritty of who buys what and who owes who, and don’t allow yourself to be pulled into the dramas that crop up at this time of year. After all it’s the time to forgive and forget.

Top tips: Daily gratitude, smile at people and have an open heart. Why not donate your time to a good cause? This time of year it would be good to donate a jumper or coat to the homeless. Share your time with people and fill it with good things

..and of course to complete the list: a spot of indulgence!

IMG_2635Festive foods, party spreads and Christmas dinners. This was an incredible spread we made last year. I think we can all learn to ditch the guilt on that one day of the year (or week!). Enough said.

Have a very Merry Christmas

xoxox