Tim O'Rahilly Life Coaching

Posts Tagged ‘Coaching’

Mindful Monday: Maturity Rules!

Fifty-somethings are the new Middle-aged.

Many artists, writers and philosophers have been inspired by the human life cycle and have presented the various states from birth to death in their own way. One such was the Renaissance artist Titian, who 500 years ago painted his The Three Ages of Man.  Titian looked in allegorical terms at childhood, manhood and old age. This was a time when old age was all about approaching death, but that is no longer the case. I believe it’s time to reassess and to insert a new stage in between ‘manhood’ and old age.

1024px-Tiziano,_tre_età_dell'uomo_01

Fifty is the new middle-age. Just a decade ago, anyone entering their fifties might be thinking of slowing down. It was time to embrace the elasticated waist and the plaid slippers as you began the more sedate Autumn of your life. Things have moved on since then and our traditional view of old age needs to be challenged. The first stage has always about you as a child. The second is the stage of responsibility, with you as a parent. The third stage was usually about you as a grandparent with one foot in the grave.

Of course you may well have reached your fifties and become a grandparent. You could, however, just as easily be the parent of a pre-school child or of a bunch of teenagers. Alternatively the kids may have flown the nest, or they may even have done that and then returned home again. The cost of living, particularly the cost of accommodation, means that huge numbers of twenty-somethings continue to live at home depending on the Bank of Mum & Dad. Cultural changes mean that you may be in a long term relationship, but you are just as likely to be on your second or third marriage. You may have chosen the single life, or you could be back in the dating game.

The biggest changes to contemporary old age are longevity and improved health. With people now living to ages well in excess of eighty, that one foot has been pulled back out of the grave with the prospect of another thirty years or more still to come. Improvements in health and social care mean that we are fitter and healthier in our fifties and now much more in control of our own latter years.

Many fifty-somethings are starting new ventures. Not only are most still working, but this age group are the fastest growing group for new business start-ups. Even in these austere times, this extended employment leads to greater spending power too.

We are swamped with information about how to stay fit and healthy as we grow older, but since we are thinking in terms of mindfulness here, it is your mental well being that I want to look at. If the first stage of life was about you being a child and the second stage was you as a parent then I think the third stage must be about you being you.

Whatever else is going on in your life, whether it involves, work, family, partner, children or business, you now need to make time just for yourself. This starts with a taking good look at all the important areas of your life so that you can see which areas need some improvement. A great tool to help with this is the Wheel of Life which I have described in detail elsewhere. Whether or not you use the wheel you should divide your life up into some or all of the following areas: Work, finances, home, family, creativity, spirituality, health and fitness, relaxation, social life/friends, love and romance. Give each area a score out of ten so that you can highlight those areas that need development.

Don’t be scared to get help with any weak areas or challenges. Call on your GP, maybe access a life coach or therapist. If you have financial worries get expert help from an accountant or even one of the financial charities. If you have relationship challenges then try to sort them out before they become a serious problem.

Make sure that you build ‘me time’ into each and every day. Get back in touch with the real you or with the you that you always wanted to be. Whether you want to grow old gracefully or disgracefully, make sure that you are doing it on your own terms.

The Value of a Smile

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sharing the joy.

Many labels have been applied to this year’s Summer Olympics, but the one which appeals to me the most has been “The Friendly Games”. Aside from all the phenomenal sporting achievements, it has been wonderful to soak up the genuine feel-good atmosphere of the games. The power source for this has been the widespread use of that universal indicator of happiness and friendship: the smile.

“The smile is the shortest distance between people.”

-Victor Borge

Genuine smiles can warm hearts, spread peace and light up cloudy days. Smiles do so much more than express happiness. A smile transmits clear messages about a person’s approachability, sincerity, trustworthiness, attractiveness and sociability.

Of course not all smiles are genuine, but fake smiles usually only involve the mouth, whereas a true smile, what psychologists call a Duchenne smile, involves the eyes also. For a long time this was considered to be the mark of a real smile but it is now known that even Duchenne smile can be feigned.

A truer marker might be the speed at which a smile develops. The fake smile (‘Botox smile’, ‘Pan Am smile’) can be switched on in an instant. A genuine smile, however, will spread across the face more naturally, appearing to draw in its recipients. Slow onset smiles are seen as more authentic, trustworthy and even more seductive.

If we use our smiles in the work or business context, does that mean that they will always be of the false (non-Duchenne) variety? Of course not. If we truly believe in what we are doing, if we are acting with honesty and integrity, if we genuinely love our interactions with other people in all their variety, then those smiles will be as warm and true as any.

Gold-medal-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis.

The so-called “Friendly Games” were truly “The Smiling Games,” with athletes, spectators, officials and the amazing volunteers all sporting winning smiles. They pulled together a careworn nation, maybe even a tired world, in celebration of human endeavours and achievements.

“Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.”

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

“Laugh and the world laughs with you; Slobber and they put you outdoors.”

– Snoopy

Much has been said about the legacy of these games. There can be no greater legacy than the memory of all those immense smiles and their continued use at every available opportunity.

 

Dance Like Nobody's Watching

A couple days ago I was doing the usual early-morning trawl through my social media feeds. On Facebook, I came upon a posting from my good friend Safaa. He is a young and ever optimistic Iraqi living in Baghdad, and he posted this verse:-

“Dance like no one is watching.

Love like you’ll never be hurt.

Sing like nobody is listening.

And live like it’s heaven on earth.

Let a smile be your style today!”

This verse is often quoted in various forms, but it came to me like a chance meeting with an old friend. I also realised that I did not know its origins. A quick online search revealed that that nobody else does either! Whatever the origin, the message is powerful. Live life for today. Smell the flowers. Soak up the sunshine. Kiss the baby. Do it all with a smile!

We get so absorbed in the search for happiness that we miss the chance to be happy. Contemporary life is filled with challenges for all of us and everyday things bring new sadness, more worry and ever more stress. Let’s just take that as read and decide to be happy anyway. Alfred D.Souza once wrote:-

For a long time. It seems to me that life was about to begin, real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles. Were my life.”

If we choose to view life from this perspective then we see that there is no way to happiness, happiness is itself the way. If we accept this and we must also learn to cherish every moment. Try to share every treasured moment with someone special. Surround yourself with people worth sharing your precious time with.

Remember that in the bank account that is your life, time is unique. You are making steady withdrawals as you go through life, but you cannot make any deposits. Time waits for no man, and your time will not wait for you. So stop procrastinating. Banish ‘until’ from your thinking. Stop waiting….

Until you finish school.

Until you go back to school.

Until you win the lottery.

Until you lose weight.

Until you gain weight.

Until you get a job.

Until you get married.

Until you have kids.

Until you get divorced.

Until the kids start school.

Until the kids start college.

Until the kids graduate.

Until the kids leave home.

Until you retire.

Until you get a new car.

Until you get a new house.

Until tomorrow.

Until the weekend.

Until Monday morning.

Until the end of the month.

Until spring.

Until summer.

Until autumn.

Until winter.

Until after Christmas.

Until the New Year.

Until payday.

Until your song comes on.

Until you have a drink.

Until you are sober.

Until you die.

Until you are born again!

Decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is the journey, not the destination:-

Sing like nobody’s listening.

Live like there is no tomorrow.

Work like you don’t need the money.

Love like you’ll never be hurt.

And dance like no one is watching!

Wealth Health #6: The Financial Journey

OK, we’ve done enough analysing in recent blog posts that you should now have an adult, realistic view of your current financial state. You will have also recognised your financial personality and should be well resourced to start your future financial journey.

Any planning exercise must begin with the setting of goals. Aspirational, inspirational, real goals.

What do you want money for?

Have you seriously thought of what it would mean to be truly rich?

Maybe it’s time to revisit the Wheel Of Life. Consider what having wealth would mean in each of those areas of your life: relationships, health, career, recreation, family, spirituality etc.

It is often said that if you wish to be a millionaire, then you should start by acting like one. That can be easier said than done, but look at those areas of your life again. Consider how you might start to create those improvements now.

In Tim Hales’ Smarter Investing he borrows from Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs to present a pyramid model for setting financial goals. Start with the bottom foundations made of current needs: earnings, savings and debt repayments.

On the next level up the pyramid we have your retirement plans. On the third level are the solid future goals around things, experiences, college, weddings etc.

At the top level we find the long-term goals, such as legacies which are further in our future. It should be clear that the upper levels stretching into the future need good solid foundations beneath them.

Try to identify the big milestones in your own financial future: childcare, house, big trips, weddings, parental care, retirement. Trying to choose a date or age in your future where these might occur.

In these days of financial constraints, one of the most worrying aspect of many people’s financial planning is how to manage changes to their pension facilities.

“The question isn’t at what age I want to retire, it’s what income.” – George Foreman

Retirement planning may not be an end goal as such, but it surely ranks high in the important stops along your financial journey. We are destined to live longer than our parents did. We must plan for that.

On average, men live for 17 years after retirement, while women live for 20 years.

During the 1960s, spending focused on leisure, houses, travel and transport.

Since the 1970s, spending has focused on health care and domestic help.

This is a huge area to consider when we will look at it in some detail next time.

Let’s be prepared – or, as Warren Buffett puts it, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

 

 

Wealth Health #5: Common Financial Personalities

How did you get on with the analysis of your financial personality last time? I promised that we would look at these personality types in more detail, so here goes:

If you scored mostly ‘1’ then you are: The Perfectionist

You have to be sure that you are always doing the right thing in the right way and at the right time. These are admirable qualities, but if you adopt a more flexible attitude you will be able to open up choices you may not have otherwise considered. Solid financial planning designed to meet your specific needs can help you towards a more prosperous and stable future, which should allow you a more free and relaxed view of life. “Watch out for being too insular and not considering enough options,” says Jo Roberts at NeedanAdvisor.com. “You could easily make the wrong decisions if you believe what the wrong person is saying. Get professional advice.”

Mostly 2: The Provider

The world would be a far better place if there were more people like you. There is almost nothing that you wouldn’t do to look after loved ones. Engage in some solid financial planning for your unique view of the world. This could not only help you achieve the things you want, but enable you to do even more for others. Be careful of an easy sale: “People know you would rather say yes than offend by saying no,” warns Roberts.

Mostly 3: The Achiever

Rely on your pragmatic streak a bit more when it comes to planning your financial future. Sound financial planning requires a patient and methodical approach if you want your money to work as hard for you as you have it. With your financial affairs sorted out you can concentrate on your hectic high-flying lifestyle. “Watch out that you don’t go for the latest must have opportunity,” Roberts adds. “Only speculate if you can afford to lose your investment.”

Mostly 4: The Maverick

The everyday world must seem terribly mundane and boring to someone like you. It’s great to have dreams, but focus some of your considerable creative energies on more mundane money matters. Mavericks run the risk of doing nothing because looking after money is boring. “If you don’t want to do it, pay someone else to do it for you,” says Roberts.

 

Mostly 5: The Analyst

It is not enough to know how to ensure that your money grows; you have to make the right decisions to allow it to do so in abundance and support you and your interests fully. “You invest reasonable amounts but not often because you spend all your time researching,” Colin Jackson, a financial adviser for Baronworth, reckons. “You want to make the sole decision on whether your investments will work, so you’ll probably head for anything linked to an index.”

Mostly 6: The Sceptic

Very little in life is certain. A well thought-through yet more adventurous investment may be worth considering. It could provide you with some of the much-needed security that is so central to your existence. “You probably take the free advice of at least half a dozen experts then disregard it and put your money in the building society,” says Jackson. Is it perhaps worth living a little more dangerously?

Mostly 7: The Adventurer

It must get very crowded in your house with so many people wanting to hang around someone as exciting and spontaneous as you. Some careful financial planning will let you enjoy life to the full, both now and in the future. “You won’t be interested in mainstream investment products for the bulk of your money but would look at something more ‘interesting’ with the potential for a greater return and risk,” Jackson says. You’ve probably crossed your fingers a lot.

Mostly 8: The Challenger

You are a natural leader with strength, resourcefulness and inner drive. But you can’t exercise total control over your environment and people around you. Taking a bit of advice from others may give you a wider perspective and enable you to improve your financial well-being. “Rather than having a portfolio of diversified assets, you will tend to have a collection of products that were good in the past,” Alex Pegley, from financial adviser Calculus, says. “You should arrange for a personalised portfolio, setting out clearly defined objectives and reasonable expectations.”

Mostly 9: The Deliberator

Money is very important to you, but your quest to achieve balance and avoid conflict could mean important decisions are delayed while you consider all the aspects. Don’t dither when it comes to your finances; take positive action for what life has in store. Pegley adds: “you tend to miss the boat and take up things too late. By hesitating, you’re unlikely to get enough money invested quickly enough to prepare for retirement, and investments could be overly cautious with restricted investment growth.

As I mentioned last time, no type is the right one or the wrong one. Pat Knightley, who devised this test, points out that we all have flashes of all of these traits, but one will be dominant, especially at times of stress, such as shopping on Christmas Eve in London’s Oxford Street. Knightley also says not to panic if you are not happy with the result. “If we always deal with our money in the same way, you will always get the same outcome. Take a step back, think through your approach and things may change.”

So far in this series we have hopefully increased your own financial awareness, analysed your financial reality, taken a close look at your beliefs and feelings about money and arrived at some indication of your financial personality. Now it is time to start your new financial journey. Next time we will consider setting financial goals.

Wealth Health #2: Financial Clarity

In this second part of my ‘Wealth Health’ series, I want to continue to focus on the reality of your financial situation. If you got through all the ‘Questions to Ask Yourself’ in Part 1, then you may have already started taking some action to clarify things. So much the better if you have!

Another way of looking at the reality of your personal finances might be to carry out a SWOT analysis of your current situation. For those who haven’t seen this before, it is a very common business planning tool which can be adapted to a wide variety of situations – including personal finances. SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. In his book You and Your Money, Alvin Hall gives the following clear example:

STRENGTHS                                                    WEAKNESSES

Good spending habits                                        Bad spending habits

Knowledge of financial situation                          Emotions/thoughts (e.g. shame,  fear, anger)

Earning capacity                                               Lack of financial knowledge

 

OPPORTUNITIES                                             THREATS

Inheritance                                                      Lack of cash

Promotion                                                       Interest rate increases

Renegotiating Interest Payments                       Possible redundancy

 

This could be written into a grid of 4 boxes (2×2), or you could use the four headings written at the top of four pieces of paper and then add your own notes and ideas. Remember that as before, this exercise is for you alone, so be true to yourself when completing it.

While working through this task, you could start to ask yourself about your attitude to money and finances. What are your beliefs about money? This will be the subject of part 3, when we will look at some of your deeply-held beliefs and feelings regarding money.

In the meanwhile you can follow my tweets for tips, quotes and more questions regarding your personal or business finances. Be sure to also follow my #WealthWealth and #WedsWisdom hashtags!

Wealth Health #1

I am writing this on ‘Blue Monday’. Statistically-speaking, today is apparently the most depressing day of the year. A major contributor to the cloud of angst hanging over the day is that, by now, you will have started to hear the heavy thud of overloaded credit card statements landing on the doormat. Christmas has been and gone, but the overspending is just now becoming a reality.

In these austere times, if we are going to remain financially solid, then we need to develop an awareness about our relationship with money. Over the coming weeks I will attempt to light the path to financial health and wellbeing. We will develop an awareness of your current financial reality, examine your beliefs about money, uncover your financial personality and then set some financial goals.

I am not a financial advisor and so will not be telling you what to do with your money. That is quite rightly the job of qualified and regulated professionals. What I hope to achieve is to leave you with a much better understanding of your finances and some options with which to arm yourself before talking to any financial professionals.

The Financial Journey

For many the gulf between their financial reality and their financial ideals is vast. When asked about ideals for the future, many people will say “financial freedom”, but do we really know what that means to each of us? Vagueness about the future often comes from only having a vague understanding of the current reality, so let’s start there.

Financial freedom starts with clarity about your current financial situation.

Ask yourself these questions, but be honest. You don’t have to justify your answers to anyone but yourself. You may have learned to describe a brand new shiny pair of shoes as “What, those old things?” and get away with it, but here you need to be honest with yourself.

1. Who takes responsibility for managing the finances in your household?

2. Can you easily lay your hands on all your financial information?

3. How are decisions about major purchases or investments made in your household?

4. How much debt does your household have?

5. What percentage of your household expenditure is allocated to debt repayment each month?

6. How long will it take to clear your household debt (excluding mortgage) at your current monthly repayments?

7. If you are in a shared financial relationship, do you hold individual investments or is everything joint or in you partners name?

8. Are you planning/hoping for an inheritance or windfall to provide for your retirement?

9. If you have a mortgage, what interest rate are you paying?

10. If you have a credit card debt, what interest rate is your lender charging you?

11. How many months’ safety/emergency money do you have easily access to?

12. If you were fired or couldn’t work tomorrow, how long could you live before running out of money?

13. What does APR mean?

14. What is compound interest and why is it so powerful?

15. At what age do you plan to retire?

16. How much are you saving for your retirement each month/year?

17. Have you ever tracked all of your spending for a month?

18. Does the thought of tracking your spending frighten you?

19. Do you ever lie about how much things cost?

20. Do you ever hide new things and pretend you’ve had them for ages?

21. Do you know the level of life assurance you should have and have you bought an appropriate policy?

22. Do you have a will?

23. Does the word ‘SALE’ in a shop window act on you like an aphrodisiac?

24. Do your purchases just seem to happen, or do you plan ahead before going shopping?

25. Do you order takeaway when you have the ingredients to cook at home?

26. Have you ever left your credit card at home on purpose and gone shopping only with cash?

27. Does the possibility of accumulating money excite you?

28. Do you keep the money in your savings account sacred and use only you current account for living expenses?

29. Do you put money in your savings account before you buy those little treats each month?

30. Have you set yourself an annual savings target and do you stick to it?

31. If you are in a shared-finances relationship, do you avoid talking to your partner about money, because “it’s too stressful”?

32. Do you expect the Government to cover all of your Health and Welfare costs into your dotage?

33. Do you think you are too young, or too old, to start contributing to a pension scheme?

34. Do you know how much those shop-bought coffees add up to every week?

In part 2 we’ll look at what your answers mean and examine your beliefs about money. If you have Twitter, you can follow all of my finance-related Tweets at #WealthHealth!

Guest Post: Jamie Dunn

I am pleased to welcome Jamie Dunn as my guest blogger for November. Regular readers will have met Jamie in my blog about inspirational young people written to refocus opinion after the September riots across the UK. Jamie Dunn is a 19yr old entrepreneur from Birmingham. This remarkable teenager is already Managing Director of his own company, called Made By Young People. Jamie is an international speaker, a Youth Ambassador and has been recognised with a prestigious Youth Excellence Award. It is well worth reading Jamie’s story on his website, from his first business at the age of 12 to his current venture challenging and inspiring fellow teenagers to succeed. In this blog Jamie highlights a void between the young people who our Media would have us believe are the norm and those like himself who I believe should be shouted from the rooftops as beacons for the future.

Frankie Cocozza + Media = Damned Generation

Posted on November 7, 2011 by Jamie Dunn, Entrepreneur.

I never normally watch X Factor, but have been hearing a lot about the progress and story of, “Frankie Cocozza.” After reading about him in the national papers, hearing about him on Facebook, Twitter and through all my friends I thought I would spend an hour of my Saturday and Sunday seeing what all the fuss is about. I’m no Simon Cowell or have any experience in picking out a talented musician but I was disgusted to see and hear that this individual had made it all the way through to live shows and get national exposure.

He isn’t a great singer, he isn’t even a great entertainer or after reading about him, he doesn’t seem like a nice guy either. Now this all could be the way that the show and the media is making him out, but it does raise a very scary thought to me, “What kind of example is this setting to me and my generation?”

Frankie comes along and within a few months he is on national TV glamorizing binge drinking, sleeping around and not even working hard to improve his musical “talent”. The media have placed so much attention on him and made him an over-night star. Good for Frankie, bad for the millions of young people out there. I’m 19 and the same age as Frankie and after watching the show I now feel like giving everything up and auditioning for some form of reality TV, get successful over-night and then release a book about something, it evidently worked for a lot of celebrities out there and is working for Frankie, why wouldn’t it work for me?

We as a country are to blame for the high unemployment rates in young people at the moment, and the situation surrounding Frankie is the perfect example of why. The media is placing so much emphasis on the likes of Frankie, binge drinking footballers and tax dodging MP’s that we are forgetting the impact that this has on our nation’s young people. We are setting the precedent that it’s ok not to work hard, to not bother and to not improve ourselves because success is so easy. We see footballer’s getting paid millions a year, great, but how did they get there? Instead of showing the flash cars, why don’t we show the other side to that, the 4/5 hours day training, the mental drain and the solid life commitment from the age of 12 to do what it takes to become professional and then maintain it? We don’t show what’s needed to get an end result, we just show the flash cars and the success. This is why young people are disillusioned and think success happens over-night, because that’s simply all that we see and we are seeing it now with Frankie.

Me and my peers are currently being labeled as the “Damned Generation” and world leaders, politicians and activists are all searching for the answer to saving our generation, the truth is that we don’t need saving, we just need to be seeing and hearing the right things and with the media controlling the thoughts and actions of the majority of teenagers in this country is it any wonder that many young people now aspire to lead a life like Frankie Cocozza?

It’s not Frankie that is failing, it’s us as a nation.

Read all about Jamie and his work at http://www.jamie-dunn.com/

Jamie’s company website http://www.madebyyoungpeople.co.uk/

Walk This Way

When we are constantly being told to take more exercise, it’s easy to make excuses about not having time or about the gym being too expensive. There is one form of exercise, however, which takes little time and does not need to cost anything. Many health experts will tell you that walking is in fact a perfect form of exercise. Not only is it an easy way to get fit, but you can do it anywhere, any time, and there is no special equipment needed.

The health benefits are many and varied. By walking you can build protection against heart disease and diabetes, high cholesterol and even some cancers. Walking will certainly help to maintain a healthy weight, boost your immune system, your energy levels and assist in managing stress.


Develop the walking habit and you will soon realise that it has become part of your daily routine. Best of all is that you will notice the benefits quickly and be feeling so much better for it. Try to walk every day for a month, or at least five days per week. Research tells us that any new activity done consistently for four weeks will result in a firmly embedded new behaviour.

My four-week plan will show you how to build walking into your everyday life so that time should not be an issue. Here I am going to add a plea to mums and dads everywhere. As a schoolteacher of over 30 year’s experience, I was always amazed at the number of children being driven to school over short distances every day. Here is a perfect opportunity for reducing the growing problem of childhood obesity as well as building great lifelong behaviours. Leave the car at home and walk your children to school. Even if you live a longer distance away, why not drive to a point half a mile from the school, and then enjoy the last part of the journey walking together? You will both be benefiting so much! If there are other children in your area why not arrange to all meet up at a fixed time in a certain place then all walk to school together. These so-called ‘Walking Buses’ have proven very popular in some schools and when well supported can have so many positive benefits. Apart from health, there are social, environmental and financial benefits too.

Do consider the safety aspects e.g. ask the PTA to fund a set of high visibility vests. In my experience, more accidents occurred among the badly parked cars outside the school gates than ever did on the roads to school.

Having covered the old excuses of time and cost, there is of course the greatest British excuse of all, the weather! Stop whingeing! I have seen octogenarian walkers in Florida where heat and humidity do deter any walking at times. Their solution was powerwalking around the air-conditioned shopping malls. Guess what? British shopping centres are warm and dry! If however, you prefer the outdoors than it has been shown that on average (regional variations apply) if you were to walk at the same time every day, you would only get rained on 10 times in any one year. So get out and enjoy the outdoors whenever you can. In fact I am writing this blog on a mild Autumn day surrounded by the beautiful multi-coloured trees in Ashridge Forest after my first walk of this new week.

 

So let’s get ready.

First of all, wear weather-appropriate clothing that is loose and comfortable. Layering can work both ways to help control your temperature. Check out your hat collection too. You need something to keep your head (including ears) warm in winter. A wide brimmed hat will protect against summer sun and keep the rain out of your eyes on the 10 days that you’re going to get wet! Walking boots are not essential but your footwear needs to be supportive, comfortable and well fitting. Trainers will do perfectly.

We should not forget safety. Reflective strips, armbands, or a high visibility vest will help keep you safe on dark nights and on winter days.

Don’t forget to keep well hydrated. Drink water before and after short walks but for longer excursions a water bottle might be useful to carry with you.

Now let’s get going.

WEEK ONE

Experts recommend that we should try to do some exercise for at least 20 min every day. Our goal for this first week is to walk for 30 min every day in addition to any normal daily activities. Either warm up first by marching on the spot for a few minutes or just walk slowly for the first 5 min. Then increase your pace for 20 min, slowing down to cool off the final 5 min.

30 minutes may sound like a lot, but it’s only 2% of your entire day. Many people spend more than 15% of their day sat in front of the TV. If you can already walk for 30 minutes without any discomfort then aim to do it every day. But if 30 minutes is really too much at the beginning then split it into two 15 min walks.

Start thinking how to build walking into your day. For example the journey to school, or to the office or workplace? How about a lunch time walk? Or a walk after-dinner. Another option might be to split your weekly shopping into several smaller journeys. Walk to the shops and back but use a rucksack to carry groceries, not bags in your hands.

WEEK TWO

Your goal for the second week will be to increase your walking time by 10% . Yes, that’s just three more minutes every day.

Try to monitor your speed. You should be walking briskly enough to breathe harder and become a little bit warmer. A good test of this speed is that you should be able to hold a conversation while walking along. If you cannot manage to talk properly you may be going too fast but if you’re singing your favourite songs out loud as you walk you’re probably going to slowly.

Add power and speed to your walk by using your arms. Bending them at the elbow and swinging them back and forth as you walk will burn more calories.

Make small changes at home. Use the stairs whenever you can. Walk around while you are chatting on the phone. How about hiding the TV remote so that you have to get up to change channels. You could also walk around during commercial breaks. When you go out how about offering to take the neighbour’s dog for a walk!

WEEK THREE

Your goal for the third week will be to add another 10% to your time but also try to build more walking into your everyday activities. Park further away from work and walk the last bit. Get up and walk to see colleagues instead of sending texts or e-mails when they are in the same building. Use stairs when you can or walk up escalators but try to avoid using lifts.How about cancelling newspaper or milk deliveries so that you can walk to the shop in the morning to collect them?

WEEK FOUR

Your goal in week four will be to add another 10% to your walking time, so you should now be walking for at least 40 min every day. More importantly, in week four, try to add some inclines to your walk. Walking uphill for short distances will add considerably to the effort needed. Not only will you burn more calories but you’ll increase strength and stamina. It has been shown that walking uphill will make your heart work harder and burn at least one third more calories than a level walk. If there are no hills around, then walking on different surfaces is better than nothing because soft surfaces like grass, sand or pebbles take more energy and will help to improve your strength.

LOOKING FORWARD

By adding just 10% to your walking time every week you will be walking for an hour by the time you get to 10 weeks. By this time you will start to lose weight too.

Check your posture, making sure that you stand tall with your chin parallel to the ground and your eyes looking ahead with your shoulders relaxed.

You also need to get your technique right. Ensure that your heel touches down first and then roll through the step from heel to toe pushing off with your toe.

Now you can also start to increase your pace for a few minutes during each walk. The length of your stride should stay the same; just try to take more steps per minute.

Now you can think about setting monthly goals. You could increase the length of time or walking speed. How about planning a challenging weekend walk or two? Of course if appropriate get the whole family involved. Also see if there are any charity walks that you could join in with.

By now you may have got the exercise bug, so you might start looking at other forms of exercise to add to your regime such as swimming or dancing.

As you continue, motivation will become really important. Try not to give up just because you have missed a few days. Vary your routine by walking different routes or walking at different times of the day Find out if there are any organised walks in your area. How about dragging a friend along with you or even form your own group of walking buddies. Of course you can listen to music while you walk too, but take care if there is traffic around!

Most of all have fun and let me know how you get on.

Guest Post: Do You Suffer From 'Pathological Altruism'?

For a while now, I’ve been considering inviting guest bloggers to contribute to this site. Today I read a post written by the wonderful Edna Murdoch, the Director of the Coaching Supervision Academy, which struck a chord with me. Edna has kindly agreed to my reproducing it here, and so I am proud to welcome her as my first guest blogger!

More info on the CSA appears at the end of this post.

 

I am intrigued to discover that this autumn, OUP are publishing a scholarly volume of essays on the theme of Pathological Altruism.  The NYT says that: ‘The book is the first comprehensive treatment of the idea that when ostensibly generous “how can I help you?” behavior is taken to extremes, misapplied or stridently rhapsodized, it can become unhelpful, unproductive and even destructive.

I thought immediately of coaches and of our naturally generous disposition – somewhere in the midst of our businesses, we are ‘helpers’.  As such, we need to keep our balance and not lapse into rescuing.  ‘Rescuing’ is a term in Transactional Analysis, which indicates that we are over-doing the altruism, going the extra mile to an unhelpful degree.  What happens as a result, is that we distort the professional relationship and lose presence, awareness and clarity.  If you want to know much more about how this works, see the superb article on the Karpman Drama Triangle by Miriam Orriss on the CSA website (Resources).

So we come back to the importance of Coaching Presence – the ability to stay ‘empty’ and present to all that is going on between coach and client – as well as attending to the content of the session. I find in my own coaching and in supervision with coaches, that the difficulty of paying attention to ‘all of it’, without over-trying, is a recurring theme. I also know that when we ‘get it’, that the essential catalyzing/transforming aspect of our work as coaches, is the relationship, we tend to take more care of interpersonal  dynamics and especially, of our part in those. Creating spaciousness in relationship, so that all parties can breathe and where the practitioner is not caught in over-helping, is an essential skill.

Research in professions akin to coaching indicates that it is not our tool kits, our wonderful range of skills, but our ‘being with’ the client that makes a difference.  If you are interested in why this is so at a biological and chemical level, do have a look at a marvellous book called  ’A General Theory of Love’ by Lewis, Amini and Lannon.

Finally, the Buddhists make a nice distinction between ‘compassion’ and  ‘idiot compassion’. An important question might be: How do I know when I am moving form the energy of appropriate compassion to idiot compassion?  What in my body/mind system alerts me to knowing that I might be crossing this frontier?  What practices support me to stay out of excessive altruism – sometimes disguised and working hard for the client! Interestingly, research shows that empathetic nurses burn out and leave the profession more quickly than do their peers who remain aloof.

Let’s protect our energy and our skills and avoid ‘pathological altruism’.

Edna Murdoch 2011

A very important point made Edna! I am reminded of some words of wisdom given to me by a good friend many years ago. Brian is an entrepreneur and self-made millionaire who was very altruistic himself but he warned against “being so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good”!

The Coaching Supervision Academy (CSA) is a leading UK-based provider of coaching supervision training and practical supervision support. They have a great website for coaches at http://coachingsupervisionacademy.com/  The CSA was formally established in 2001 by Edna Murdoch and Miriam Orriss. Both practicing coaches, they discovered a distinct lack of supervision options, so decided to solve the problem themselves. Having spent a day working with both these ladies, I hold them in very high esteem for their professionalism, friendliness and their passionate support of coaches!


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