The Mental Rehearsal

Ready to prepare for the worst? We’re told again and again how bad worrying is – but what if you could put that anxiety to positive use? Whatever you’re feeling anxious about facing, the Mental Rehearsal is a sure-fire technique to calm your nerves and help you succeed.

anxiety

“Mental rehearsal” is a technique athletes, musicians, doctors, soldiers, and astronauts use to prepare for the worst—and perform at their best. Read more: Lifehacker.

RIH Drinks

A healthy cocktail? That has to be a contradiction in terms, surely? Well, a CÎROC Pineapple Colada may be just exactly that! Created by CÎROC’s Master Distiller Jean-Sebastien Robicquet, CÎROC Pineapple has been crafted from fine French grapes that are five times distilled for supreme quality, before infusion with delicate natural flavours of freshly crushed pineapple. It’s the taste of summer, bottled. Add coconut water, a twist of lime and a little fizz and you’ve got yourself one seriously, seriously moreish cocktail. Cheers to summer!

ciroc pineapple

1.5 oz CÎROC Pineapple
1 oz coconut water
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup (optional)
Splash of soda water

Mix all ingredients over ice except soda water and pour into highball glass over ice. Top with splash of soda water and garnish with lime wedge

Long Term Love

Almost half of marriage end in divorce these days – the odds aren’t stacked in favour of long term relationships, let’s face it. And yet a lasting relationship seems to be what we all yearn for – so what’s the secret to making it work?

lasting relationships

Science says lasting relationships come down to – you guessed it – kindness and generosity. Read more. The Atlantic.

Alternative Therapies

Therapy might seem like a big step for some of us. If we’re just feeling a little down, slightly overtired or a bit stressed, is therapy really the best option? Created by the always-marvellous School Of Life are three rather cool mobile sites/apps: Books as Therapy, Art as Therapy and Food as Therapy. We’ll let you guess which is our favourite…

books as therapy

Simply select your current malaise, and suggestions will be generated for you in terms of reading matter, artworks or recipes. Food as a therapy for boredom? Why, you need to whip up some Salsa Verde – described as “the gourmet equivalent of a roll in the snow after a hot sauna.” Would you like to feel more grounded? Some easily-made, super-delicious soda bread (made in under 12 minutes) is just the ticket.

art as therapy

Perhaps you find a lot of people annoying, but you don’t want to be lonely… The book you need to read is Anna Karenina – and of course, there’s a very convincing SoF explanation as to why! Art-wise you could be perusing Pieter de Hooch (your job is banal),  David Hockney (you can’t bear the rain) or Diego Velazquez (you think that everyone but you is having fun). So before you resort to the therapist’s couch, maybe it’s time to sit down with a good book – or cook a batch of strawberry jam!

Taking Notes

How does it feel to be you at different times in your life? Of course you’ll remember, won’t you? Keeping a notebook doesn’t have to mean writing a diary, but jotting down thoughts and feelings will help you to get to know yourself a little better.

journal

List the things you think you’ll never forget. List the things you say often. Get to know yourself better. Read more: Psych Central.

Don’t Wait

Pearl S. Buck is one of those writers that I keep meaning to read and never quite get around to. My mother raves about East Wind: West Wind, and friends sing her praises but I regularly forget her while browsing Amazon. So, her name remains on my list of books and authors to investigate, which is a sorry state of affairs given that it is one of this great lady’s pearls of wisdom that I consistently invoke when I’m feeling unmotivated and just can’t be bothered.

pearl s buck

The words of the prolific writer, Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winner, and political activist that never fail to get me off the sofa are:

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that.
Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”

Even as I write this, I have Pearl to thank – I didn’t much feel like writing today, but I heard her words ringing in my head as I put on the kettle this morning and so went to set up my laptop.

latop productivity

The thing is, I love writing. And I’m guessing Pearl did too. But it sounds like she, like me, often found herself not “in the mood” to sit and type. At least not at first – once I’m here and the old Earl Grey is kicking in, I am in “flow” and totally absorbed in what I’m doing; my mood changes. But I know that if I waited for my mood to change in order to start I would wait all day.

The same is true when I look at my to-do list. I don’t much feel like doing any of it: find a place to get watch repaired; complete tax declaration; organise my computer files. Hard to get excited about these tasks when the box set of season 2 of 24 beckons to me from the other side of the sitting room (yes, I know, I’m way behind but I’ve only recently discovered the joys of the show having resisted for years thinking oh-so-wrongly that I wouldn’t like it). But I know that if I wait to be in the mood to look for a good jeweller to fix my watch, I risk turning up late for every appointment I make for the foreseeable future. So, I think of Pearl and get on with the job in hand.

watch

It’s a little like the famous “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Pearl’s nugget of wisdom is “feel no motivation whatsoever and do it anyway”. I like the way she doesn’t even suggest you try to motivate yourself or pretend to be inspired. It’s a gloriously down-to-earth and brutally honest way of accepting that sometimes we just can’t wait to feel ready before we have to get stuck in.

I have found ways to help myself, of course, as I work towards achieving Pearl-esque productivity levels. I operate a rewards scheme: tick three things off the to-do list and you can have a cup of tea and one hour of the long-suffering Jack Bauer; or, return three phone calls and then you can have a piece of cake. I also break tasks down: this morning, I’ll pull out all the necessary documents for the tax declaration, this afternoon I’ll do the calculations, tomorrow morning, I’ll do the online return.

yoga

It also helps to sweeten the deal: get onto the yoga mat for half an hour, but put the radio on while doing so; have an old episode of Sherlock on the TV while clearing out a cupboard. Pearl’s discipline mixed with Mary Poppins’ spoonful of sugar is a force to be reckoned with.

Emotional Intelligence 101

Gaining an understanding of emotional intelligence is an often overlooked aspect of career success. Here, nine short steps give you the tools to master emotional intelligence in the workplace.

emotional intelligence

What makes a great leader? Knowledge, smarts and vision, to be sure. To that, Daniel Goleman, author of “Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence,” would add the ability to identify and monitor emotions — your own and others’ — and to manage relationships. Read more: The New York Times.

Heads Up

For the first time since 1987, a film directed by a woman will open the Cannes Film Festival. La Tete Haute (Heads Up) is actress and director Emmanuelle Bercot’s fourth full-length film. La Tete Haute follows a juvenile delinquent’s journey as he grows up, with a social worker and children’s judge trying to keep him on the straight and narrow.

It’s also Bercot’s second film starring legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve, following her 2013 release Elle S’en Va. It’s great to see a female-directed film occupying the opening slot at Cannes – let’s not leave it almost 30 years next time eh?

 

Taking Stock

The benefit of regular clear-outs is a fact universally acknowledged. Or at least it is in my house. My husband was stunned by the joy I felt when they installed massive clothing donation bins at the entrance to the metro nearest our flat; and I challenge anyone not to feel freer, lighter and more in control after taking a bag load of I’ll-never-read-these-again books to Oxfam.

clearouit

But what about moving the stock-take from the back of your closet into your mind and soul? When it comes to having a good sort-out, there are many areas of our lives that would benefit from a little light dusting and polishing, not just the kitchen cupboards. Coaching offers a wealth of great tools to do just that – take stock of your life and see where your figurative house needs to be put in order. While it is always more helpful to do such exercises with a qualified coach, it is also possible to use them on your own and glean some helpful insights.

The Wheel of Life is a simple way to identify the various major “bits” of your life, assess your satisfaction with them, and start coming up with a plan to raise that satisfaction level.

The Wheel of Life aka Not so Trivial Pursuits

Draw a circle on a piece of paper and divide it into wedges like the pies in a game of Trivial Pursuits (number of wedges is your choice – starting with six is pretty manageable). Assign a theme to each wedge. Themes are areas of your life that you wish to take a look at – or indeed, they can just be areas that spring to mind. In this exercise, your subconscious is a good guide.

taking stock

A few examples: one wedge might be “family”, which for some might mean “me, my partner and our kids” but for other people might mean “parents, grandparents, siblings” – and those people might choose to put “partner/love” and “children” into separate wedges on their own. What you mean by each of your themes is your business, as long as you are clear about how you load the word you choose. Other wedges might be “money”, “leisure”, “health”, “career”, “spirit”… it’s a very personal choice.

On your marks…

Once you have your themes, take some time to consider each one and to rate your satisfaction with this part of your life from 1 to 10 – draw lines in each wedge so that 1 is a line near the interior of the circle, and 10 is the further edge. Like so:

wheel of life

You’ll probably end up with a very bumpy wheel!

Get set…

The next step within a coaching session would be to discuss each area and the mark attributed to it, and to choose one or two to work on. On your own, you can take your time to look at each one and think about what makes your health an 8 but your love life a 4 – talking to a friend can also help. Then, taking each one in turn, think about what it would take to turn that 4 into 5. Consider specifics: spending more time with your other half? Eating dinner at the table rather than in front of the TV? A monthly date night? A daily lunchtime phone call? More cuddling? What would it take to bump it up to a 6? And then a 7…

kuiss

The idea isn’t to go from a 2 to a 10 in two weeks flat, but to identify areas for change and improvement that will eventually harmonise the levels of satisfaction across all your wedges. A wheel with lumps and bumps cannot roll. But the challenge of trying to turn a career “3” into a 10 can simply be paralysing. Concentrate on the areas that naturally attract your attention and list small, actionable changes.

And Go!

Once you have some action ideas, consider which you can actually put in place, and, crucially, which you want to put in place. It’s no good choosing “go for a weekly run” if you have absolutely no desire to go running. Yes, it might bump your “body image” score up to a 7, but your “time for fun” score might take a hit. I advise kicking off just one action per week and taking a moment at the end of each week to see what’s working for you.

fitness

Take your time. Your Wheel of Life is ever-changing. Even if you managed to take all your wedges up to a perfect 10, at some point you might decide to buy a house, move abroad or have a baby, and new wedges will appear for you to work on. The idea isn’t to strive for a perfect circle, but to use the exercise to see where your pain points are, and what you can do about them.

One last thing…

Don’t forget to take a moment to celebrate in the wedges that are looking pretty damn good. If your “friendship” wedge is a healthy 9, why not make a list of all you’re grateful for in your relationships? If your “work” wedge is flying high, why not acknowledge that by taking in some Friday afternoon pastries for your charming colleagues? Work on the low numbers, enjoy the success of the high ones.

What’s Good Enough?

We’re taught to aim for the best and with thanks to our current obsession with FOMO, the idea of going for ‘just good enough’ probably doesn’t really appeal. But how about if opting for good enough would actually lead to a happier, more positive existence?

fomo

How settling can make people happier and more satisfied than gunning for “the best”. Read more: The Atlantic.