If you want to  plan for pleasure you have to plan with pleasure. Welcome to my guide to goals for goddesses… 
 
goals
It will soon be time to wish you all a Happy New Year. You might already be thinking about the year ahead. Maybe you will want to remedy the excesses of Christmas, maybe you want to get fit and stay in shape for the whole year, maybe you’re ready for a lifestyle overhaul, or maybe you want something completely new? – a big change in your life, your income or your career?
Whatever you would like to plan, to action and to enjoy for the New Year and beyond, here are some of my Top Tips for setting, sticking to and achieving your goals for the future, instead of falling half heartedly off track before Spring has even sprung.
You can apply and adapt this strategy to any area of your life, and you can also use it for regular reviews to fine tune your goals and plans on a monthly basis.
#Review 2016
Before starting anything new, it’s always a good idea to review what came before, just the same way you would start your new year business strategy with a review of the previous year’s performance, you can adopt this approach for yourself too.
1/ Begin by Celebrating Your Successes – yes take a moment ( or an hour ) to pat yourself on the back for what went well, where you performed well, where you achieved what you set out to, or where you acted resourcefully in the face of challenges.
One very useful and interesting fact about our brains and emotions, is that when we remember events from the past, and really associate and connect into the feelings, we actually produce the biochemistry of those positive emotions all over again – the brain does not know the difference! – all the neurological pathways of chemical and electrical messages get sent around our whole bodies once more. Connecting in to positive emotional states is always useful!
2/ Next step is to Acknowledge What Didn’t Work – without getting stuck into lamenting mistakes and mishaps! – do this succinctly to allow you to move on to point 3
3/ Now Reflect on what Lessons you have Learnt from the above. Note what you will take forward and use for the future.
4/ Let the rest GO! Yes just set a clear intention to let it go, the least useful thing you can do is to hang on to old emotional clutter. When you carry frustration and resentment forward with you, it shows. And more importantly you unwittingly send it out as an unspoken message. Every emotional state has a vibrational quality to it, and you will be broadcasting out your message, whether you intend to or not! ( if you don’t want to take my word for it, refer to Albert Einstein – more on that later! )
#Start with a Dream
Getting creative is important. When I work with my clients on specific goals, projects or problem solving, I walk them through the ‘Disney Strategy’ ( I won’t cover this in full here ). Walt Disney was a man who knew the power of dreaming, and conjuring up ideas…so much so he built it in to his business strategy. In fact he put so much emphasis on creativity he spent whole days or even weeks intentionally immersed in a creative, fluid mindset which he ensured was unhindered by being too practical, logistical or problem focussed.
So I would encourage you to do the same, here are the rules to adding ‘Dreaming Time’ in to your goal setting success strategy:
1/ Only dreams and ideas are allowed – schedule in your ‘Dreaming Time’, and when you have set the time aside, this time is only for IDEAS. Do not start criticising them, or checking them for practicalities at this stage. Just let the ideas flow, and make a note of them.
2/ Ask yourself this – ‘If I could guarantee it would work out, what would I do?’ – this question can help you start the flow and be more imaginative.
3/ Relax – we are at our most creative in relaxed and slow brainwave states – our brains are constantly sending out electric waves of information to other parts of our brain,  to our bodies, and to the space around ( including other people ). Brain wave frequencies affect out thoughts. The busy brainwave state that we are in most of the time is called Beta, it is fast, analytical and logical – the opposite of what we need for creative thinking! To help us be at our most fluid and inspirational, we need to slow down. You can easily do this by setting an intention to relax, slowing down your breathing, and engaging your peripheral vision.
#Reality Check– get practical, draw on all your previous experiences of ‘making things happen’ and seeing projects through to the end, and decide what your goals or intentions for the year will be.
#Be Specific – the more specific you are the better, this will help with all of the following steps. So you will be wanting, dates, colours, locations, people and all manner of details ready for your goal. It’s important. Make it real and make it personal to you.
#Understand the Power of the Inner Experience
Step in to the future, to already having achieved your goal. Now notice how you feel inside from having done it already. Notice your external environment, people, settings, notice how you look, and really get in touch with your inner experience of this, feeling how good it feels. Your brain will be forming neural connections for you, which will already be aligning you with this future by helping you to form a sort of ‘perceptual filter’ through which to take in messages. Most important of all is this inner experience of emotion.
This will be some sort of positive feeling; maybe pride, satisfaction, contentment, happiness, joy, confidence. Whatever it is, really make a note of it because this is what you are going to be motivated TOWARDS. Using this emotion will help you to express what you WANT in POSITIVE language. Most of the time, left to our own devices, we talk about our goals and futures by telling ourselves and others about what we DON’T want or about some PROBLEM we are trying to solve…..eg, get out of debt, stop feeling anxious, get away from an ex, move on from a bullying boss etc.
When we express ourselves in this language we are setting off all those neural pathways in our brains and bodies associated with the problem, and we are also triggering our emotional response to that problem too eg, fear, frustration, anger, sadness. OK it may be a diluted response, but still we are sending it to every cell of our bodies, and because emotions have a molecular structure, they also have a vibration. If we vibrate negative emotion we attract it back in, just like a human tuning fork, we resonate with other negative vibrations. Now this might all sound a little ‘woo woo’, but actually it’s science, back to my previous mention of Albert Einstein, who put it like this:
“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy, this is physics.”
So there you have it. Connect with the POSITIVE EMOTION that reaching your goal will bring you. And immerse yourself in that emotion as often as you can.
Put another way, if you are feeling sad, lonely, fearful and desperate to reach your goal – all you will send out energetically is that negative emotion, and it is highly unlikely you will align yourself with your positive future.
As Albert puts it, you have to match the frequency of what you want FIRST, in order to achieve more of it. THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE WHICH MAKES THE DIFFERENCE TO YOUR SUCCESS STRATEGY, and it’s the key to all Coaching & Therapy.
You have to begin feeling good, OK and positive BEFORE you reach your goal, and each step of the way as you take your actions to reach your goal.
If you are relying on reaching your goal as your only way to feel OK, you will find the path to success much slower and bumpier ( this is where professional help can come in very handy, as some people do need to work through their negative emotion before they can really begin to make progress )
#Say it out Loud – summarise the specifics of your goal, and how you WANT TO FEEL – and say it out loud. When we use language and speak ( out loud, or in your head ) we light up specific neural pathways in our brains, the more positive neural pathways we light up in connection to what we want, the more solid the foundations we are laying, and the more familiar our brains become with what we want, and the more branches of other positive pathways are likely to spread out across our brains.
The good news is that our brains are plastic, the term ‘neural plasticity’ explains how new neural connections are made as our brains learn. With the right information and intentions, we can feed our brains, we can mold and shape them in new directions, away from old stuck patterns and into new territory.
#Write it Down – same principle, different pathways – writing down information lights up different areas of the brain.
#Build a Dream Board – get visual – same principle, different pathways – visualising lights up different areas of the brain, and is one of the most powerful ways to fire together new neurons in the brain, so that they wire together. Putting lots of images and key words together in a board can help you to keep reminding yourself of the visual information and connecting up with your goal in a way which will change your brain.
#Chunk it Down – to reduce a potential sense of overwhelm that can come from having lots to do, chunk down your steps into bite size and achievable chunks which are set against REALISTIC timescales. The last thing you want to do is be beating yourself up for not having enough time! Diarise what you are doing, it can help to use a colourful, wall planner which again appeals to the very powerful visual senses which are equally useful when planning as they are when imagining.
#Find an Accountability Partner – tell someone else your plans, and ask them to hold you accountable, to check in on you. Give them key dates when you will be doing certain things and give them permission to chase you on where you are up to. Accountability makes us much more likely to meet our deadlines. We only have to compare our productivity and focus at work with our bosses and line managers with the way we are at home to know that!
#Be Flexible – I’m all for having a strategy, for formalising steps and actions and being specific about goals and outcomes. However, in the spirit of connecting up with positive emotion, of matching the frequency of what we want ( back to Albert ) and of communicating useful energy to our selves, our cells, to others, and to the universe at large – I would encourage a sense of fluidity and flexibility in every approach.
Firstly, if you are not working with a professional coach or therapist – setting rigid goals and action plans can tend to pile on the pressure and have you stressed out, tired and stumbling around in clouds of brain fog. Fact: Stress fogs your brain and switches off your clever, creative and resourceful functioning!
So remember, it’s all about ‘Progress NOT Perfection’. Always find time and ways to de-stress to cultivate your most powerful inner platform to succeed.
Secondly, through staying fluid and flexible, we might actually find we start to get drawn towards another, even more brilliant and suitable route than the one we had planned. When we stay relaxed open and positive we can begin to attract and engineer all kinds of amazing opportunities, possibly quite different to what we had in mind at the start of they year.
I hope you enjoy the process, and your year ahead, and make a note to be to be kind to yourself along the way. You now understand both the power of positive emotion, the huge part it plays in successful living AND you appreciate the mechanics of how those toxic negative emotions really will slow your success down!
To view a FREE VIDEO INTRODUCTION to a ‘Daily Meditation, Relaxation & Self Coaching Programme’ called SHINE, to help you succeed and thrive in your year ahead – click here: SHINE FREE VIDEO
Lisa Bardell is an Executive Coach, Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Accredited Meditation Coach and Creator of SHINE Meditation. She runs private Coaching Practices in Central London and Cheshire, Corporate Coaching Programmes for businesses in Manchester and London, regular Meditation Workshops in the UK and Transformational Retreats in Ibiza and Bordeaux. More information can be found on her website: LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk
 

Some of us wear Stress like a badge of honour

stressStress has become such an overused word in our day to day language, and this normalisation has distracted us from the inconvenient truth about its physiological, psychological and emotional toxic load. It’s time to wake up…..Ignore this at your peril!
 
I wrote this article for National Stress Awareness Day last year, 5th November 2014. It presents you my take on the modern Science of Stress – and the latest research which supports how a practice  which has been around for centuries is increasingly being seen as ‘cutting edge’  solution….
 

What is Stress?

Stress is caused by the activation of the Stress Response also known as the Fight or Flight Response, it is designed to get us out of danger – it can be thought of as a turbo boost of energy, like the body going into a different gear to prepare us to have the strength and energy to fight, or to flee from threat. Our ancestors would have used it to survive from predators or danger. It revs up the body like this:
 

  • Increases heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dilates blood vessels to muscles to pump through sugars and fats
  • Kickstarts the respiratory drive so we start to sweat to keep ourselves cool
  • Thickens the blood
  • Pumps out inflammatory chemicals to activate our immune cells ready for tissue repair if we get wounded in fight or in escape

It is a major physiological, neurological, immunological and metabolic event! It effects changes throughout our whole system.
Clearly, it is an evolutionary adaptation designed to help us respond to a clearly perceived present moment threat, to save our lives….

So what’s gone awry?

Well put simply, as modern humans we are too ‘clever’ for our own good. Now what happens on a weekly, if not daily basis, is that our cognitive function works against us. Our ability to think, to analyse, recall the past and predict the future is what causes us stress.
Our everyday thoughts cause our stress. They do so in a way that physiologically is as ‘real’ as if we were genuinely having to escape a wild, hungry tiger, an axe wielding intruder, or a high speed bus with failed breaks…

What drives or produces our stressy thoughts?

Let’s look at some Psychology. If we break the human experience down into very simple terms, we have three important ‘need systems’ which we are driven to meet.

  • 1/ Safety – This is the drive to feel safe and secure in order that we can experience peacefulness.
  • 2/ Satisfaction – This is the drive to seeking rewards in order that we can experience contentment.
  • 3/ Connection – This is the drive to seeking attachment in order that we can experience feelings of love.

These three need systems and their respective drives influence our behaviours in two ways….Firstly ‘avoiding’ behaviours so we can avoid pain, harm and danger. Secondly ‘approaching’ behaviours so we can illicit rewards and pleasure.
If one or more need system is not being met, we activate the Stress Response.
We might consider the constant activation of the response as a modern violation of the evolutionary model, where the Stress Response was designed to come in short bursts. Today, sadly it has become a chronic and ongoing reaction.

So how does this effect us?

Well the emotional and psychological effects are broad ranging, any of the below might be what you would notice in yourself or others:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Poor decision making
  • Creative blocks
  • Worrying
  • Negative thinking
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of motivation
  • Frustration and irritability
  • Tearfulness

We have all been there!
Physically there’s a whole other batch of symptoms, due to what science terms the Allostatic Load, this is the bodily wear and tear that becomes a burden on our physical as well as mental health due to our natural ‘Adaptive Responses’ to external perceived stressors getting worn out, and simply shutting off.

  • Aches and pains
  • Muscle tension and teeth grinding
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Allergies and skin irritations
  • IBS
  • Weight gain
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Dizziness and palpitations
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss due to shrinkage of the Hippocampus
  • High blood pressure

All in all it’s rather unpleasant, but more importantly in the long term this toxic load causes inflammation in our internal environment, and taxes the immune system very heavily meaning we succumb to illness and chronic disease as the body’s self healing mechanism gets switched off.

Please say there’s some good news!

Indeed there is….What science has now shown us, is that once we learn how to switch off the Stress Response, when it is not necessary, we can reverse all of the effects of stress right through the body, at a cellular level, and throughout the brain as well.
The major breakthrough in this understanding came from Herbert Benson MD, who discovered that the body has a capacity for an opposite response to the Stress Response, which works as an antidote to it, it is called the Relaxation Response.

Ok, how do we do it?

There’s a really simple solution which will only take 15-20 minutes of your day, and it has been around for over 2000 years! Meditation is the answer
Scientific research into people who meditate discovered there were dramatic physiological changes versus non-meditators:

  • Decreased metabolism
  • Quieting of the body
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Slower breathing rate
  • Slower brainwaves

All of the above are integral to the Relaxation Response, and these studies allowed it to became recognized by science, it was measurable, predictable and reproducible.
MRI scanning has allowed science to look at the brain in a way which was not possible previously. Modern research has looked at how meditation changes the structure of the brain, something which it has always done since it’s origins, but which had not been measured until the last decade.

What goes on in the brain?

The amygdala is the part of the brain which produces the Stress Response. Recent research by neuroscientist Dr Sarah Lazar, Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, and associate researcher in Psychiatry at Massachusetts Genera Hospital, has shown that with regular meditation, the amygdala gets ‘turned down’ and shrinks, it gets quieter in a way which is consistent with decreased arousal and greater feelings of peace.
What’s interesting is that in the study the external life of the participants had not changed at all, it was simply their response to their external ‘stressors’ which changed. Reducing stress is not about changing your life, it is about changing your relationship to your life. Simple!

Mind Calm Meditation

If you would like to learn Mind Calm Meditation with me, get in touch. It is a simple, modern and highly effective technique created by best selling author, acclaimed meditation teacher and award winning trainer Sandy C. Newbigging. I have been trained personally by Sandy to teach this method and I offer it as One to One coaching or in Group Workshops.
Take a look at these pages of my website for all of the information you will need. Or book on to one of my UK Mind Calm Workshops which take place most Saturdays all over the country:
Workshops – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Events
Retreats – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Retreats
Mind Calm Information and Testimonials – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Meditation
Corporate Coaching Programmes – LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk/Corporate
Lisa Bardell is a Performance Coach, NLP Master Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Modern Meditation Coach running private clinics in the heart of the City of London ( Liverpool St ) and Cheshire, and Corporate Coaching Programmes for businesses in Manchester and London. Lisa leads regular Coaching Workshops and Retreats, tickets and details can be found in the Eventbrite link:
– LisaBardellCoachingLtd.eventbrite.co.uk
 

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