Procrastinating Again – Just Say Poppycock

June 8, 2010

Isn’t it funny how you can always find the time to do the things in life you really want to do, but procrastinate and put-off those jobs you don’t enjoy?

‘Poppycock’ is my mot du jour. Apparently it stems from the Dutch, meaning dung and translates into nonsense, bull, baloney. It’s proving particularly useful as I hear myself procrastinating yet again and give myself excuses for not completing my tax forms this week.

My plan was to set aside the whole day today to complete this hideous administrative task. Great plan! Unfortunately the day is fast concluding and I’ve already found lots of fun things to do to distract me. And yes, writing this has been one of them! Every time I think of the pile of paperwork I have to get through and the form filling required I feel drained of energy and irritable. But I’m a coach and love positive thinking, so surely I can turn this around?

So, I decided to coach the coach and it went something like this…

Q. What is it that’s causing you to procrastinate so much?

A: I don’t know really. I just hate the detail of the paperwork. Every time I think about it I feel drained. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult, it just takes time, and has to be checked and rechecked. I’m the only person I know who can add up the same column of figures three times and get three different results  – and that’s with a calculator!

Q. How have you felt in the past when you’ve completed a task you’ve been putting off?

A: Great! Relieved. It’s funny but although I hate this particular task and always put it way down my priority list, it never really takes as long as I anticipate and really isn’t that difficult. I’m quite good at keeping the paperwork together so it’s just a matter of getting round to it.

Q. It sounds to me as if the thought of doing the task is filling a lot of your time, draining your energy and stopping you having as much fun as you usually do, is that true?

A: Yes, definitely. I’m really not settling at anything at the moment. I feel guilty because I’m not getting on with it so can’t really enjoy the things I want to be doing.

Q. If you were to look at your diary now, how much time would you realistically need to put aside to complete this task?

A: About a day, a day being until school pick up at 3.30 anyway.

Q. Good. So when have you next got a free day?

A: Well, I have a few commitments next Wednesday but I could reschedule them to clear the day.

Q. That’s great. How would you feel if you cleared next Wednesday for paperwork and made a commitment to complete it all then?

A: It feels as if I’m more in control.

Q. How will you feel by Wednesday night?

A: So much better. Ready to celebrate. In fact I might arrange to go out with a friend to reward myself. Yes, great plan. Thank you!

As you can see, by focussing on the way we feel once the dreaded job is completed we can  feel more positive. In our head the job is behind us and we’ve got the feel-good factor again. By tapping into that positive feeling we’re in a far better state of mind to think creatively and get things done. Gone is the procrastination we felt when the task was still in front of us.

In reality, nothing on the outside has changed, but in our head, there’s a very different energy – one that will now spur us into action and produce results.

5-minute challenge

What are you procrastinating about? What are the tasks you’re putting off?

Take 5 minutes to write them down, and go through ( or better still go through with your coach or a friend ) the questions above, tweaking them if necessary to release the positive feelings that lie the other side of the task. Take time to really get in touch with the satisfaction you will feel once the job is completed. Then, and only then, turn your mind to the actions you need to take to get the other side of the task you’ve been putting off. Do you need to

a) delegate it,

b) find further information or take action before you can complete it, or

c) just get on and do it?

Choose your next step and make a commitment today to do that. The faster you are the other side of this hurdle the faster you’ll have more energy, positivity, and fun. It really is that simple when you break it down. Take that first step and gain some forward momentum today.

And next time you find yourself procrastinating, just remember, the word is ‘poppycock’!

Have a wonderful week – see you the other side of your current hurdle!

Warmest wishes


Photography by Arvind Balaraman:




Life Can Be So Unfair

May 18, 2010

Every month I have a sacred day…Ok it’s not exactly sacred in a deeply spiritual sort of way but it’s my day when I have intelligent conversation with like minded women about our businesses. We network, share ideas and tomorrow I was presenting my business to the group for the first time. A whole 5 minutes of uninterrupted opportunity to speak – try getting that at home!

But no, just as I was putting the final touches to my highly original presentation that was going to require sand and water and resemble something like a Blue Peter project if I’m honest (and was probably going to get me thrown out) one of my children suddenly had a massive headache and started to throw up. Excellent! I can almost hear the film of my day tomorrow being yanked out of the projector, the music stops before we even reach the end of the intro, and my tomorrow is already being rescheduled.

Now, the adult in me knows that this is why I work from home and have a flexible job. I’ve planned to be able to rearrange things around my children. Fine. But the child in me wants to scream  ‘It’s not fair. Tomorrow is my day and I was looking forward to it!’ ‘Why me; why now?!’ I need to stamp and throw my toys out of the pram. I need my sacrifice to be noticed.

But the coach in me is calmly saying  ‘Don’t react…. Respond’.

So I sat, and I thought, and I sat some more ( I’m only human after all) and then I thought again. In a few years time my children will have left home and I’ll wonder where those days went. The ones where they needed me to be there for them, the ones where we sat and talked, the ones where we laughed and cried. Those moments can’t be replaced.

I put away my papers, my sand and the water ( it really was going to be a presentation with a difference ) and I put them in a box marked ‘June’.
It’s not so long to wait and, for now, I have memories to make……

What Are You Doing Here?

May 5, 2010

No, I don’t mean what are you doing sitting down and reading my blog –  although that’s a very smart decision you’ve made today and I thank you for it – I mean what is your purpose in life?

It’s a deep bottomless pit, I know, challenging the meaning of the life, the universe and everything ( and everyone knows the answer to that is 42, right?), but if you were able to fast forward for a moment to the end of your life and take a good long look back, what would you say your life has been about? What has been your gift to those around you or the world at large?

Many of us are so busy leading our day to day lives we don’t take time to plan where we’re going or what we want to get out of life. Yet, if we were a company, we’d have a mission statement, goals, strategies and action plans and, what’s more, we’d be measuring our success against this criteria and adjusting our plan to ensure success.

Take the 25-Minute Challenge:

How can we answer this huge question and find our own inner purpose? Firstly we need to break the question down into more manageable chunks. When you’re ready with pen and paper, and you know you won’t be interrupted, we can get started!

1. What makes you feel energised and excited?

 Take some time to think of a time when you  really felt enthusiastic, energised and, at the end of the day felt happy and complete. This may be an experience from as far back as your childhood; if we go back far enough we all have times when we felt completely ‘in the flow’ and everything came easily and was enjoyable. For some this is achieved through task-orientated activity, others creativity, or maybe connecting with people. Spend some time quietly thinking about this and write down all the ideas that come up. Don’t worry if your mind goes blank. That’s quite normal. Persevere and something will fill the void, eventually. Now, complete this sentence: “ When I do ……………………………………………… I feel alive, enthusiastic and excited about life”

 2. What’s your unique gift?

If you were a product or service you would have a USP ( unique selling point). We all have something that makes us special and is different from other people. What’s your gift? Complete this sentence: “When I allow my gift of …………………………………………… to shine out I feel I am being wholly authentic and sharing the real ‘me’ with the world”

 3. Write down all the ideas you can think of to show  how you could weave more of your answers to question 1 into your life. These needn’t be life changing events, although if it is for you that’s fine. Just empty you head and write down everything that comes up.

4. Which of these ideas would be using your unique gifts identified in  2?

5. Using the answers above complete this sentence:

“ My purpose in life is to……………………………………………………………………. The way I will honour that is to do…………………………………………… using my unique gift of……………………………………………………….”


When we live a life where our unique selves can be authentically expressed we come alive in an amazing and powerful way, and the most wonderful thing about this is that, in doing so, those around us come alive too!


Please feel free to share your ideas and discoveries with me. ‘Your’ world will thank you for letting your greatness out!

Here’s to an amazing life!



Photography by Federico Stevanin

A Goddess, Pimples and the Eight Hour Day

April 30, 2010

As most of the industrialised world prepares to celebrate 1st May what exactly is it we’re celebrating?

Firstly, there’s the Goddess.

Flora is the mythological Roman goddess of flowers and the spring. Traditionally her festival was celebrated in April or early May, symbolising the renewal of the cycle of life. This was marked with dancing, drinking and flowers. Apparently it was given over to merriment and celebrations of an amorous nature and gained a reputation as being licentious and abandoned  – may have to re-think my traditional barbeque!

Secondly there’s the pimples:

It was a May day tradition in UK for young girls to get up early, rush outside and wash their faces in the morning dew. Apparently this would improve their complexion, getting rid of pimples, spots and imperfections…. so, set your alarm clocks early girls!


Finally, the eight hour day:

May Day, also known as ‘labour day’, is celebrated by most of the industrialised world, except for the country that initiated it!

A  resolution was unanimously adopted by the trade and labour unions in the United States to  enforce an eight hour working day from 1May 1886, on which date huge rallies and protest marches were peacefully carried out. Sadly there followed a further 2days of protesting, resulting in violent demonstrations and a bomb being thrown in Haymarket Square, Chicago where nearly 12 people, including a few police officers, died and about 100 people were wounded.

The rebels did not achieve an immediate result, and indeed many were arrested and sentenced to hanging, but slowly their movement gained momentum  across the globe. Most employed people had to wait until the early or mid twentieth century for the changes to be implemented but eventually an eight hour day became the standard for many countries around the world. ( 1938 for the United States who, incidentally,  celebrate their labor day on first Monday in September!) 1st May, or the first Monday in May, became a ‘Labour Day’ celebration for the rest of us, and is popular as a day for rallies, processions and speeches.

So, as you embark on your Bank Holiday week-end in UK, or Labour day celebrations wherever you may be, you’ll know what to celebrate. Whether you choose the goddess, pimples or the eight hour day I hope it’s a welcome break and that you relax, re-charge, and move positively into the start of a new season.



In pursuit of happiness

April 19, 2010

I believe that happiness is a state we should all be aiming for, enjoying, and sharing; but what exactly does that mean in reality?

Many of us have been brought up not to put ourselves first, to think of others and that ‘put up and shut up’ is the best strategy. But what of ourselves? You only have to skim the surface of most conversations to hear… hi, how are you… oh, not too bad, mustn’t grumble, well, you know, much the same…etc. Moaning, complaining or just keeping low expectations has become a popular past time.

Now, I’m not suggesting we should all pretend life’s wonderful. That wouldn’t be realistic or even desirable. But when are we going to realise that life is always going to have its fair share of challenges? The status quo is continually changing but all this change is normal. Our problem lies in our expectation and our mental attitude towards life.                                                                         

Let’s take life at its simplist and look at the behaviour of a baby. For the first few weeks they have the basic need for nourishment, warmth and love. If their needs aren’t met they have only one means of communication and that is to cry. They soon learn, however, to copy us. They coo in that adorable way and smile. Then ‘POW’ their world changes rapidly. The more they smile the more positive attention they get. The more positive attention they get the faster they learn and the world starts to make more sense. They develop rapidly, their smiles grow into chuckles and the cooing into gurgles. They love, unconditionally. Babies ooze happiness and spread joy. Change doesn’t bother them. Life’s an adventure and the world their playground.

Happiness is infectious. We learn it as babies, it’s free and when you make someone else feel happy, you know what… you feel happy too. Try it today and we can all make a difference.

5-Minute Challenge

Join me in an experiment this week and let’s see if we, as adults, can duplicate the happiness that babies give out. I’m not suggesting we all start coo-ing and gurgling, but if that’s your thing and it works for you then go for it! This week I want us to smile more and talk more. Here’s the challenge:

– Smile…whilst out and about shopping, at work, collecting children from school smile at people.

– Talk… say something, anything, to people you don’t normally speak to. This may simply be a sentence or two to the shop assistant or waitress; or speaking to someone you usually walk past. Make it an open-ended question so they get a chance to respond should they so wish, and keep it positive.

– Ideas… short of ideas? Well, the weather is an obvious choice at the moment but how about making it more personal and compliment someone on their jewellery, choice of colour, clothes, tidy desk. Or show empathy. I chose the grumpiest looking checkout girl at my local supermarket the other day and got her smiling just because I said ‘ looks as if you’ve got a tough day ahead of you, it’s really busy today. Hope you’ve got something nice planned when you finish’ This showed empathy but with a positive twist.

Let’s collect smiles. Let me know how many you can collect in one day and we’ll spread a little happiness…



To see this and more photos by Michelle Mickelejohn see:″>Image

Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?

April 7, 2010

This is the question that came up for me over the week-end and to my surprise the response was an emphatic ‘yes’! I was holding onto something because it gave me a sense of security and made me feel safe, but in doing so I was preventing myself from experiencing something quite wonderful.

The thing I happened to be holding onto was a physical thing, but it started me thinking about other areas of my life and how I could apply what I’d learnt.

The boundary to my garden, a thick inpenetrable tangle of brambles each of which appeared to be the width of my thigh and the length of the M5, and an entwined chaos of self-seeded trees and bushes, resembled Sleeping Beauty’s garden 99 years after the fateful spinning wheel experience! A possie of 5 poor unsuspecting Easter guests, who happened to be related to me and very enthusiastic gardeners, spent the week-end felling trees, hacking brambles and building bonfires. They opened up my  garden to reveal beautiful views of rolling Northamptonshire countryside, punctuated with spring lambs enjoying the freedom of their lush playground.

As I write this from my office I am no longer hemmed in by thick bushes bringing darkness and a false sense of security to my world. Instead the light is shining in, the views are stunning and I realise I feel just as secure as I’ve always felt.

So, it got me thinking…… again, yes, I know it’s becoming a habit!……what other boundaries do I have in my life, self-limiting beliefs and false security blankets that prevent me from letting in the possibilities and opportunities that lie beyond. Why be like Sleeping Beauty and tolerate a hundred years of inactivity when a lifetime of possibilitiy lies out there waiting?

5-Minute Challenge:

– Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted, breathe deeply and spend 5 minutes exploring the boundaries and self-limiting beliefs you’ve put up. Look closely as they’re often hidden under the guise of providing security, safety or habitual behaviour.

– What could you do if these didn’t exist. Write down 3 opportunities you could take up if these belief/boundaries were removed.

– How would that feel? Imagine your life without these boundaries and restrictions. What opportunities could you take advantage of and how would your life be different?

– Write it down. Tell someone. Make it happen….

I’d love to hear about your successes and challenges around this subject.

See the possibilities and look beyond the beauty of your dreams….

Warmest wishes,


New experiences….new possibilities…

March 29, 2010


“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the things you did do. So, throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

I’ve certainly been sailing out of my safe harbour over the last few days and its offered me amazing experiences from inspirational women to TV appearances….. oh, and what I don’t know about the workings of the bowel  is nobody’s business!

On Wednesday I attended a Women In Business Networking meeting (thank you Barbara!). The room was full of lively and enthusiastic women generously promoting each others businesses. It was a wonderfully positive and inspiring atmosphere and I can highly recommend it. Reaching out to other like-minded women really works and by the end of the day I had several contacts including help with my website, someone who could make a prom dress for my daughter, and an invitation to an NLP group (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Wow, all this in just 60 minutes.

Friday saw me following up an introduction a friend had made and I travelled down to the Taymount Clinic to meet Dr Enid Taylor to discuss coaching and to hear more about the wonderful work they do there. The clinic specialises is stress and digestive problems, offering chocolate body wraps, Reiki and massage aswell as colon therapy – I now know more than my children wished to hear over dinner about colonic irrigation! It was an absolutely fascinating meeting and produced a wonderful opportunity to co-run a Retreat at the clinic introducing a mind and body approach to handling the stress of modern day living. New experiences…new opportunities, and all from a casual almost chance meeting!

Sunday saw me at BBC Broadcasting House in Birmingham recording for the Politics Show. Ok so technically I wasn’t doing the recording but I was in the van for the live link up while my Partner was being interviewed…. It felt exciting  and who knows, next time maybe I really will be the other side of the camera! So, where was I……… lights….camera…action!

5-minute challenge:

Where’s your ‘safe harbour’ and what opportunities could you find if you ventured out and tried something new?

What groups are you interested in joining but have so far resisted because of that negative chat we give ourselves that stops us in our tracks?

This week I’d like to challenge you to do one thing that puts you in the path of new experiences… new possibilities.

Let me know what happens when you venture out from your safe harbour and explore new territory.

Have fun…explore…discover…..

warmest wishes,


For Women in Business see:

For further information on the Taymount clinic see: