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NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS? Take things ‘…nice n’ easy…’

Hello Fellow Travellers,

It is that time of year again. We are all shoring up the gains and losses of the past year, and considering what changes we want to invite into our lives for 2015.

Have you ever been niggled and haunted by the New Year Resolution from the previous year that you didn’t keep? (You have? Join the club.)  The fact is, keeping a resolution is challenging, because it involves changing behaviour patterns. Since 50% of our lives consist of adhering to routine patterns of behaviour, it’s not surprising that we sometimes find creating new behaviours a major difficulty.  Of course, we all have willpower, but we have it in limited amounts, which are always subject to environmental factors (that is, personal and work pressures etc.).

It is important to respect the challenges before we get stuck into them, while simultaneously being gentle with ourselves. So like Ol’ Blue Eyes sang – ‘..take things Nice n’ Easy …’ Prepare your goals carefully BEFORE you make them.  Follow these 5 Easy Steps to Success:

Step 1:

Focus on achieving your short list of targets incrementally – avoid overloading yourself with objectives. Set yourself one goal. When you have it in-the-bag, set another one: work through your goals one at a time.

Step 2:

Make your 1st  goal a Small Smart Speedy target that you can achieve in 28 days – like taking the stairs for 1-2 floors instead of the lift.  Achieving this will boost your confidence for the next goal.

Step 3:

Learn from the best, like Stephen Covey (author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Go for a Goal that will deliver the biggest payoff. Pledging to change or create a new behaviour takes diligence, commitment and guts, so choose a resolution that has a high level of significance for you.

Step 4:

Increase the likelihood of success by honing down to the core-value behind the goal. Create a few themed questions focused on the outcome:

E.g. I want to go to the gym twice a week.

Q1 When I go to the gym twice a week what will that get me?

A1 a better physique.

Q2 when I have a better physique what will that get me?

A2 better health.

Q3 when I have better health what will that get me?

A3 a better foundation for all my personal relationships because I know I’ll be around longer to enjoy the people that I love and care about most.

‘Drilling down’ to the core-value will help to motivate you, and give you clarity of purpose.

Step 5:

Reward yourself for effort. Forgive yourself if you falter. You gain nothing but emotional bruises when you beat yourself up. You are much greater than your setbacks, so evaluate, re-evaluate and start over, if you have to.  Determination and gentleness are not mutually exclusive things, so embrace your human, fallible self.

Remember Ol’ Blue Eyes – ‘…Nice n’ Easy Does It Every Time.’


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Be honest now – it’s only me, and you know I won’t tell anyone. How often do you visit ‘ZOMBIE-VILLE’? You know that place where every new day seems just like the one before. Yes – that place that we’ve all been to at some point in our lives. The banality of our daily routine can easily create blandness and a lack of acuity, and ultimately become costly to our professional and personal lives; as we either succumb and lower our performance; or over-compensate with social excesses.  For quick and easy remedies, read on:

  1. When the alarm goes off in the morning, get up straight away – briskly.
  2. Affirm out loud: “I am having a Good Day Today!” We tend to see what we focus on. When we state this as an intention it becomes true.
  3. Pick an element of your morning prep. and do it ‘Mindfully’, that is, concentrate all your thoughts and energies exclusively on that task. For example, brush your teeth focusing on every stroke.
  4. Connect ‘authentically’ with someone who performs a service for you. E.g. greet the checkout staff before they greet you, smile and thank them warmly for their good service.
  5. When a colleague gives you the ‘How are you?’ routine, be mindful in your response. Check your physicality, relax your shoulders, look up and respond positively. Instead of ‘fine’ say – “I’m feeling great, thanks!”
  6. We all have experience of dealing with challenging people who make it their business to create difficulties for others, either through meanness, cruel manipulation or bitchiness. Ring a change in your response to them. Alter the energy: wonder at the misery that that person is in to want to create the same thing in others. It is possible to have compassion for those who would happily abuse us.
  7. Review and check your performance as you go. Look for external feedback to confirm whether you are so-so, doing well, pretty good or on top form. When you’ve reached 7/10 or above Praise yourself unreservedly, without caveats.
  8. Send a cheerful (clean) email/text to a colleague.
  9. Praise someone else ‘mindfully’ in a precise way. E.g. “I like the way that you handled that difficult question from the boss, without undermining members of the team present. You showed a lot of tact and diplomacy.”
  10. Before you hit the sack at the end of the day, check through the day’s events. Find two elements, one that you’re happy with, and one that needs attention. For the event that you are happy with go through that experience again, in a sensory way (what you saw, heard, and felt). Assess how you managed the event to make it successful, and praise yourself unreservedly for it.  For the event that needs attention, give it specific time in your intentions for the following day. Assess it objectively. What actions could you make to create a better outcome? What resources do you need to make improvements?


Most of all remember that you’re only human, so embrace yourself with kindness and acceptance.


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I Think Therefore I am.


Rene Descartes ~ French Philosopher

We are in the eye of a global storm. The world seems dense and tightly wrought with conflicts about ideas: religious ideas, political ideas and social ideas. Ideas exist at the centre of our being.

Our immediate environment is often a small-scale version of the world at large. So is it any wonder that we sometimes face internal conflicts about who we are and what we want?

Cogito Ergo Sum’ – I think therefore I am, is the Descartes adage. Our ideas of who and what we are, become the truth: simply because we conceive them, and put most of our energies into believing them. We then manifest and support these beliefs (regardless of their inherent veracity or usefulness) with action. Continue reading

Who Do You Think You Are?

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condescending older woman

I was once afraid of people saying, “who does she think she is?” Now I have the courage to say, “This is who I am.”

Oprah Winfrey


Ah … that’s easy for Ms Oprah ($2.9billion) Winfrey to say. Or is it?

We all know that people are nurtured, shaped and conditioned by their environment. ‘The fruit never fall far from the tree’ is the biblical adage. Yet Miss Winfrey defies this well-trodden expectation. She was born into poverty in racially segregated rural Mississippi, to a single-parent. She was raped at 9 years old, and became a parent herself at 14. In spite of this, she has managed to become one of the most successful people in broadcast media.

I use the word ‘managed’ in a pertinent and deliberate way. Of course I have never met Ms Winfrey, but can imagine that she has encountered more than a few raised eyebrows, snide put-downs and attempts to subdue her spirit along the way. Her response to this was to ‘manage’ herself in the face of the copious challenges. She created a vision of herself that was indefatigable, based upon her goals and intended outcomes: not on the arduous circumstances of her past.

The upbraiding remark/insinuation – ‘who do you think you are?’ is particularly searing when delivered to a woman, because we have been conditioned to please and acquiesce to the expectations of others. When it is said or suggested to you, how do you respond? What do you do to manage yourself and your environment? What stratagems are in your kit-bag that enable you to take control of your psycho-emotional state, and not be subject to it?

Here are a few tips:

  • Check the source material. Recall what was actually said, rather than implied. Only the bravest have the courage to assert a negative opinion in a forthright way (especially if they have a British passport ). If no one says what they think directly, then we may interpret wrongly. Sometimes when we think that someone has a negative opinion of us, it is just a distorted assumption that we’ve created, based upon our own fearful opinion of ourselves, wrapped up in our desire to please and be accepted by others. If this is the case, then we can take steps to re-condition ourselves to a state of acceptance and self-love.


  • Check the attitude. If you are particularly affected or confused by someone’s behaviour toward you, get clarity. Gently ask – “is everything alright?” That way, everyone gets a chance to communicate openly.


  • Re-focus attention on the person posing the challenge: It’s not a question of who you think you are, it is who does the questioner think they are to prescribe your behaviour and objectives in life? It really says a lot about a person’s character when they make it their business to limit the ambitions and progress of others.


  • We are all uniquely special. Within that uniqueness we conform to neurological ‘types’ in the ways that we psychologically process the information that we receive using our sensory acuity, chiefly through visual, auditory and kinaesthetic means. We can use this to mentally reinforce ourselves and develop our resilience by changing the pictures/soundtrack/texture of our perceived realities in our minds. Create calm within by neuro-coding the experience and your response:

Visual Representational thinkers – Turn the offender into a faded black and white picture, getting dimmer and dimmer by the second. Obscure the image with translucent filters and shrink it. Keep on dimming, obscuring and shrinking the image until it disappears.

Auditory Representational thinkers – As a sound – distort it: speed it up and muffle it; then lower the volume until it is inaudible.

Kinaesthetic Representational thinkers – As something tactile, manipulate it like play-dough. Enjoy its yielding pliability within your grasp.  Stretch it, roll it, and squash it, then fling it away with all the force and power you can.

And finally – do an Oprah. Raise your head, push out your flat/ample chest and say, with courage and conviction: “This is who I am!”

If you’re feeling extra feisty and bodacious you can even add an extra Jacquie Russell ‘rider’ – “ if you don’t like what I do or how I do it … that’s OK. You’ll get over it, and so will I.”

Thanks for reading.

Jacquie Russell

Personal Development Coach ~ Straight Ahead Coaching Ltd

(w)  (e)

(m) 07530253126

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April 2014 – Managing Our Emotional World

Hello Fellow Life Traveller!

Nod in sage agreement if this is familiar to you.

You inspect your ‘To Do List’. There are 3 targets that you should have completed on yesterday, as well as other tasks that you didn’t commit to the screen/page that are bobbing around in the back of your mind; and you know that you just HAVE to get them done – SOON. You stall and seek a bit of moral support.

WELL-MEANING PERSON: Oh dear, I’m so sad to hear you’re facing difficulties. There’s no doubt about it, you’ve got bundles of potential. You’ve just got to believe in yourself more.

YOU: (A little indignant at the slightly patronising tone.) Actually I do believe in myself. There is just so much to do! And I can’t always find the energy to do it all, all of the time.

WELL-MEANING PERSON: Yeah, I used to be like that, in the early days.

YOU: How did you get round it?

WELL-MEANING PERSON: I just worked harder.

(You roll your eyes with incredulity, and wrestle the urge to switch the ‘off’ button on the phone.)

Yes, we’ve all encountered the friend who means well, yet sometimes achieves the opposite.

From time-to-time, the best way to ‘Work Harder’ is not to try to. The concept of working harder conjures up a state of increased tension and stress, which is often un-resourceful.

Supposing that instead of leaning in harder to reach objectives in a state of tension and urgency, we Changed our State, and reconditioned ourselves emotionally.

Review your sensual appreciation of your world. Recall what makes you feel good. What images do you see on a warm spring day? What colour, shade and tone are the blossoms on the apple and cherry trees? How bright are they? What is the texture of the petals as they gently flutter to the ground?

Recall the sound of early-morning birdsong. The shrill delight of children’s voices as they play in the park, and the chime of the ice-cream van as it coasts through suburban streets.

Feel the balmy glow of the sun on your skin, and the breeze subtly ruffling branches; providing crisp respite. Feel the icy trickle of a melting ice-lolly as it traces a path down your hand.

Recreate a world that is vivid and resourceful and Associate yourself into it. Repeat this sensory world in your mind, then anchor it. By ‘anchoring’ I mean attach the psychological recollection with an action – say – rubbing your hands together, or stroking your chin. When you’re through, check your thoughts and feelings. How do you feel? Are you calmer? Are your spirits lifted? Do you feel re-energised, and more able to approach your work details with more methodological resolve?

Through these types of ‘Sensory Associations’ we can manage our world more effectively, as we exercise more control over our thoughts and emotions, and work ‘Smarter’ not harder.

Thanks for reading.

With Loving Kindness,

Jacquie Russell