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Sources of Negative Stress: New Year Expectations

Stress of New Year Expectations

New Year: Make it Happen

The New Year is always full of expectations.  One week into the New Year and I am noticing three things:

  • One person is completely fired up and wants to leverage this focus and energy to get her year off to a great start – she’s sick of the excuses she had throughout the last year
  • Several who started with very good intentions which have already fallen by the wayside in the face of competing demands
  • Several more who have started the year overwhelmed and not sure where to start

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5 Reasons You’re Not Reaching Your Goals

5 Reasons you are not achieving your goalsBy now, your year is well under construction whether through conscious effort or not.  Not deciding on a direction is still a decision and still a direction.  Most people, though, have goals, whether in their business lives or personal.  But actually achieving them is less common.  Whatever goals you have under construction, if you feel blocked, these are five of the main but surprising reasons why: 

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What’s the Difference Between a Coach, a Mentor and a Consultant?

The difference between a coach and a mentor

They say that all the best people get support to get them to the top and to keep them there.  It is a sign of vision, strength, and drive to want to take your performance and productivity seriously enough to invest in yourself and your business in this way.  But how do you know what kind of support you need? 

I am often asked the difference between a coach, a mentor and a consultant.  As I use a blend of these techniques when I work with my clients, I thought I would share them with you.  Whereas there is a lot of overlap, the following is my interpretation of the differences:

What is a Coach?

Coaching assumes that you have all of the answers within you and a good coach will ask questions to elicit from you the answers you seek.  They may challenge you, uncover blind-spots and develop perspective.  You can expect to learn more about yourself and develop insights you would struggle to achieve on your own. 

A coach does not need to have more experience than you in your field of expertise as they will not provide advice.  What they will do is help you make decisions and move forwards towards a specific goal in a way which empowers you.  You may be encouraged to evaluate the options available to you prior to making a decision yourself.

Coaching tends to revolve around a particular task, goal or skill to be achieved.  Examples would be leadership skills, presentation skills, productivity.

The coach will hold you accountable and the focus is on skills development and productivity.

What is a Mentor?

A mentor, by comparison, is someone who has more experience than you in a field of expertise you wish to become more skilled at.  They will be someone to whom you will ask advice on a particular subject.

A mentor will offer more guidance and will be a sounding board for any problems.  They are a person you will turn to when things go wrong for encouragement and a listening ear.

Essentially, they will be someone you feel safe with and be able to confide in.

Mentoring is much more relationship-driven without a specific goal in mind and so tends to be long-term.  The mentor will tend to consider you in the context of your work and your personal life.

The focus is on personal development.

What is a Consultant?

A consultant has specialist expertise and will look at a problem, usually on a more systemic level.  They will do research and analysis and provide recommendations for its resolution.

The focus is on solving a specific business problem which may involve several people or departments within your organisation.

The consultant may be asked to manage the implementation of the solution for you.

The focus is on problem-solving.

In Summary

If you want to achieve a specific goal and to develop your skills, coaching is for you.  If you need support and a sounding-board and personal development, then mentoring is for you.  If you want to find the solution to a problem with an expert, then consulting is for you.  My clients like the fact that I can offer support in a way which is right for them in that moment.  Sometimes it is to offload, sometimes it is to provide an answer to a complicated problem and sometimes it is to discover skills you didn’t know you had.

If you would like to find out what would be appropriate for you, why not call me on 0845 130 08540845 130 0854 for a free telephone consultation?

© Tricia Woolfrey 2014

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A-Z of Business: Z- ZEN – Can Mindfulness be Profitable?

Mindfulness in Business

When I started out in business in 1998, success to me was the achievement of a particular goal, be it profit-related, the completion of a project or the acceptance of an idea.  And while these are true, they are concerned with the what of success, not the how

Over the years, I have studied many psychological and business-school concepts.  And what is missing for most people is the application of zen principles to business.

For the purpose of this article, the term zen can be considered as the mindful engagement with your work and operation of your business (or your job if you work for someone else).  This means being purpose-ful about what you are doing and why, from a macro perspective and a micro perspective.

So, to begin with, why do you do what you do?  What purpose does your business (or job) fulfil?  I am reminded of an old parable about a man who visited a city many hundreds of years ago.  He came across two men labouring under the noonday sun.  He asked the first what he is doing “Oh, I am just doing some labouring.  It is hard work and I will not be finished for hours.”  He asked the same question to the second man who responded “I am helping to build a cathedral”.  This story beautifully describes the purpose of their work.   One saw it is a job, a means to an end, something he had to endure each day.  The second man saw it as a vocation and put his heart and soul into each stone he laid.  Which man was likely to have been more productive?  Which man happier?  Which would have inspired others?  And which went home with a sense of achievement?

Are you clear about what your business is there to achieve in terms of a higher purpose?  If you are in business purely for money, as a lot of people are, what is the higher purpose that money is there to achieve?  For example, let’s take a cleaning company.  Not the most glamorous of businesses and fraught with day to day problems.  It would be easy to get bogged down in the nitty gritty of the issues around difficult customers and unreliable staff.  So, what is the higher purpose?  This would be personal to everybody but it may be to provide a beautiful environment for your clients to live or work.  Or it may be to provide work and career opportunities for employees who have had difficulty holding down a job in the past.  Or, if you really have no passion for the work at all, it may be to provide a good education for your children so that they can be free to make more fulfilling career and life choices for themselves.

When you have an over-riding purpose, it can carry you through the most challenging of times.  It can pull you out of the mire of the day to day and into a higher, more creative, more empowered mindset.  Which is likely to create more profit for you?

At a micro level, it is about being purpose-ful in the moment.  This means applying yourself 100% to whatever it is you are doing, fully absorbed.  The ability to multi-task is seen as a skill and even a virtue.  It is something I have been proud to call a skill.  And it is.  But it is also a weakness.  I noticed myself yesterday doing something and then stopping it to start something else and then interrupting myself doing that to do yet something else.  I realised that I have become so “skilled” at multi-tasking and responding to requests and interruptions that I now interrupt myself!  So I have to remind myself and, when I do, there is a flow to my work.  A peacefulness, a quiet productivity which is enriching and rewarding.  Of course there are times when I have to multi-task and over the years of my career I have had to do this thousands of times, shifting gear at a moment’s notice, which is why it is a difficult habit to break.  However, the effort of stopping and starting and stopping and starting again reduces productivity and increases stress.  It is important to be able to do it but not to make it a way of life.

True multi-tasking is a myth as usually you are simply stopping and starting, picking up and putting down.  I recently saw a cartoon about women being great multi-taskers.  It showed a woman flying through the air with a duster in one hand to clean the ceilings and pushing a vacuum with the other to clean the floors.  But in reality it is really very difficult to apply yourself fully to more than one task at once.  Sure you can wait on the phone for someone to pick up while you file something away but in reality, you are almost always only doing one thing at once.  Doing that one thing with a sense of purpose can bring a richness to the most mundane of tasks.  Most people hate filing but if you do your filing with an intention to create order in your environment this can transform the experience and it can even feel meditative.  In addition, thinking about the piece of work that paper represents with an attitude of gratitude and appreciation can be equally rewarding.  Certainly better than attacking the filing with a feeling of resentment and obligation.

So, the concept of applying yourself 100% to whatever you are doing in the moment, thinking about the purpose of that task, brings with it a higher level of clarity and productivity, a calmer demeanour and a much nicer person to take home to the family!  This brings with it greater financial profit but also an intrinsic profit which is priceless.

And last, but by no means least remember the principles of karma – that you reap what you sow.  So, be kind in your interactions and you will be richly rewarded with deeper and more trusting relationships as well as greater loyalty with your associates, your employees and your clients.

If you would like to learn more about how mindfulness can enhance your productivity and your profits, call me on 0845 130 0854.

On this note we end my A-Z of Business blogs, which I hope have been productive for you. As we enter the new year, I hope that your 2014 business plans are clear – your company goals, business values, products and USP…and that you feel personally prepared to take on the year ahead, manage your time effectively, serve your customers and motivate your staff. For any additional support, do contact me at tricia@pw-consulting.co.uk. I wish you a very happy new year and a successful 2014!
 

 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2014

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: T – Time – Achieving More in Less

Time Management

How do you relate to time?  Do you just see the future ahead of you, cluttered with actions and goals which threaten to suffocate you?  Are you in the present moment, having fun but not getting much done?  Are you stuck in the past with no idea how to develop the insight, motivation or courage to move forward?  Or are you able to see time as a continuum with the past, present and future laid out in front of you?

If it is the latter, it means you are more able to learn from life experiences, get things done in the present and plan for the future.

“Not all hours and minutes are the same length” as Roger Black says.  It can speed by when you are enjoying yourself, or slow down when you’re not.  While we all have the same 1440 minutes every day but how is it that some people get more done than others?

It is all down to your relationship with time, how clear you are about your priorities and how everything fits in together.  It is important to prioritise those things which move you towards your goals in an economical manner.  This combines both effectiveness and efficiency so that your productivity improves.

A productive person is calm, focused, disciplined, flexible, balanced, has perspective and, generally, does what they say they will do.  This increases your reputation with yourself and so your self-esteem enjoys a good boost too.

There are four main time enablers:

  1. Perspective:      Purpose, goals, priorities and values
  2. Self:                   Self insight, self-motivation and self-management
  3. Others:              Understanding and managing others
  4. Balance:            A balance between downtime and uptime

When you have a clear perspective, with an ability to understand and manage yourself (and those others on whom you depend to get things done – or to whom you should be delegating) and balance this with self-care, you are in a much better position to improve your time management.  You will also feel more resourceful, your productivity enemies slain.

Here are my top tips:

  1. Focus on just two important items each day – this frees up your mind-clutter and gives you a sense of achievement
  2. Fill in the spaces with smaller jobs
  3. Have a power-hour once a week where you do all those little things you don’t have time for but which make you feel really good when they are done.
  4. Whatever you are doing, apply your 100% attention to as you can only do one thing at once, contrary to popular belief.  In addition, the stop start involved in not doing this can increase the time needed for each task by as much as 5 times!
  5. Limit distractions – be ruthless but respectful about it
  6. Delegate well
  7. Manage your information overload – be super-ruthless on this one
  8. Procrastinate discriminately – some things should be procrastinated but a lot of people procrastinate the important in favour of the trivial
  9. Make your to do list a reality list and keep your fantasy (wish) list separate.  Work your list with passion and fervour
  10. Keep your workspace free from clutter to give yourself mindspace to think clearly and get things done

Getting things done should be a joy, not a chore, giving you a sense of empowerment, achievement and progress.  By following these simple steps (which I cover in detail as part of my Achieving More in Less Time workshop), you will find that your productivity soars.

If you could use some help overcoming your time-management demons, why not book a session?  Call me on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: G – Goals: Your Targets for Success and a Solution to Overwhelm

One of the things which hinders your ability to achieve results, to maximise performance and to increase productivity, is a lack of clarity around goals.  Goals help you establish priorities and are the foundation for actions which lead to success.  But they aren’t enough on their own. In this article, I will share with you how to set goals which move you forward, and what else you need to do to make it all happen.

A well-known acronym – SMART – helps to make your goals more tangible.  Without this, it is simply a to-do item in a sea of competing items in your cluttered mind.  When you set well-defined goals, your unconscious mind is more able to organise itself into acting on them – you will have increased control, decreased stress and greater focus.  If you have seen it before it will serve as a useful reminder.

 

Goals should be SMART:

Specific – vague goals produce vague results
Measurable – how will you know you have achieved it?
Achievable – not based on hope but reality with a contingency built in to deal with the unexpected
Relevant – how applicable is it to your business, your life, now and in the long term?
Timebound – what time scale do you want to achieve it within?

A poorly defined goal would be “Launch product”.  A better goal would be “To create and execute a project plan for the January 5th product launch of Profit Serum to existing customers, our prospect database and industry media.”

Goal Considerations

  1. It should be stated in the positive (what you want, not what you don’t want)
  2. Identify the resources needed to achieve the goal – human, financial,  physical, etc
  3. Consider whether you can genuinely start the goal and maintain it
  4. Look at the wider consequences of the goal
    • Time and effort required
    • Do you have buy-in from stakeholders?
    • Whether anyone else is affected and how to deal with it if they are
    • Does this goal impact the achievement of other goals?  Which is more important?  What can be done to achieve both?
    • What you will have to give up in order to achieve it?
    • Are you willing to give this up in the pursuit of the goal?
  5. Is the goal is in keeping with your values?  If not, can it be changed so that it does?  If not, why do you need/want it?

Making It Happen

Finally, a goal, in itself, is nothing without a plan of action. List the steps to achieving your goal and have a system to monitor your progress and to keep you on track or adjust your course as necessary.  Last, but by no means least, factor in a celebration when you have achieved it!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: A – Appraisals


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, you may be thinking of appraisals as something you do to your staff to tell them where they are going wrong and put them on the right track.  But it is more than that and it is more than just about your staff.  Done well, it is motivational and inspiring.

Appraisals are something you can do for yourself, your business as well as your staff.  It is a way of looking at:

  • What’s going well so you can do more of it
  • What could be improved so you are continuously evolving
  • Progress against goals so you can get back on track if you need to
  • Adjust your goals so that they are relevant to changing conditions such as market, environment, competition, etc
  • Plan for the future

It can help you really stay on top of your game if you are conducting regular appraisals of yourself, your business and your individual staff members.  You first of all need a list of competencies and measures of success to appraise.

If you want to know more about how to do these well, why not book a session so you give your business the best chance of ongoing success?  Call me on 0845 130 0854 to find out more.

To your success!

Tricia Woolfrey

PS  Have you recently had a psychometric profile?  This can really help you to understand your strengths and blindspots so you can work at your very best.  Call me on 0845 130 0854 to find out more.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey

Tricia Woolfrey is a business, performance and productivity coach, helping people to succeed in their business, and for their business to succeed. She has extensive experience with clients across several business sectors, including IT, telecoms, event management, entertainment, recruitment, finance, PR, coaching and therapy, support services, legal and more, ranging from large corporates to start-ups and the solo-preneurs.

Prior to running her own consultancy, she was Group HR Director for a multi-national organisation and is a member of the Chartered Institute for Professional Development. Her integrative approach to change has had profound results for individuals and organisations alike.

“The results there were nothing short of fantastic”- Guy Apple, VP Marketing & Sales, NVT, UK

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