Feb 15

How Laura Changed Her Life Without Changing A Thing!

By amandaalexander | Confidence

When we started work together, Laura was not in a good place. In her own words: “Phrases/vocabulary such as “fear of failure”, “not good enough” & “trapped” reared their ugly heads on a frequent basis”

She felt that she had lost her way, lost touch with who she was and it was negatively impacting her enjoyment of life and her relationships with the people she loves. She hated her job, she was worried about her relationship and she didn’t like herself.

For most of her life, Laura told me she had given credence to her negative beliefs by engaging with them regularly and allowing herself to believe them. When we started working together, despite desperately wanting to break the negative cycle and habits that she’d formed over the years, she still really doubted whether she could truly believe in herself again.

However, she has well and truly conquered that well-worn voice of self-doubt.

I decided to film a video to share Laura’s transformation with you. She has given her full permission to share all of this information, but I don’t go into full personal details, and incidentally, Laura is not her real name!

In this video, you’ll get a “coaching” version of a before and after snapshot. You’ll be amazed at the changes!

Maybe we should call it mental Botox?! ☺

In our review session, I asked Laura to reflect on the lessons she’d learnt over 4 months.

She thought about my question and replied:

“It’s about a confident approach. It’s about a positive outlook. It’s about personal growth.”

Laura told me that she’s more engaged with every area of her life, more fulfilled and that the flatness that she felt – almost depression – had just disappeared.

Her new philosophy is:

“Life is out there for grabbing and for living”.

One of the most important things we did was getting her to identify her values and her needs. We started gently, working on shifting her perspective in one area of her life, implementing easy and fun habits, and this resulted in a rapid knock on effect in EVERY area of her life.

She’s gone from a vicious circle of feeling like everything was grey and broken, to a virtuous circle where everything is brighter and whole, even when it’s not perfect.

Here are Laura’s top two tips:

1. “You have to take a leap of faith and get your head round the fact that you just needed to put in some hard graft to create new positive habits to replace the old negative ones.”

2. “Don’t try to fix your whole life. Take baby steps every day: I loved the daily use of positive mantras such as “today is going to be the best day yet” and “I am awesome” – I’ve even given each day of the week a positive name (Marvellous Monday, Terrific Tuesday, etc.). This didn’t come easily at first as I simply didn’t believe it, but it’s amazing how powerful practice and repetition are.

I use this positive vocabulary with my son and the impact has been astounding – he believes it and I believe it. The rewards from taking those baby steps, both on an emotional and a career level, when I’m full of confidence AND when I have some self-doubt, adopting the “what have I got to lose” approach, have been nothing short of life-changing…..”

If you haven’t already read my recent post on daily habits and downloaded the free workbook, here’s a large hint!! Go do it! It’s life changing!

Laura concluded:

“Now I can say with confidence that I love myself unconditionally, I value what I have to offer, I am enjoying life more, so much kinder to myself, living in line with my values, have more motivation, I am brave, have stopped waiting for people/situations around me to change and accept them for who/what they are and separate myself from them if necessary.”

Watch my video blog, get inspired and get started with your own transformation! Whether you want to take one area of your life ‘up a notch’ or you feel that your whole flippin’ life needs an overhaul, all you need is to take a deep breath, garner your courage to do the work and then take the first tiny step forwards.

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Feb 15

Beyond Your Comfort Zone.. Join me for a Facebook Live

By amandaalexander | Uncategorized

I’m fascinated by the thoughts, feelings and resistance that comes up when we move beyond our comfort zone.

I’m doing a “Facebook Live”at 6pm GMT today 27th January 2017, about moving beyond your comfort zone. I’d like to invite you to come and join me if you’re free, but if not, you can watch it afterwards on my Facebook Page.

For me, this week has been – and will continue to be – about moving beyond my comfort zone, so I figured “In for a penny, in for a pound”, big deep breath – why not do a live chat on Facebook about moving beyond your comfort zone? Whilst being way outside of one’s own comfort zone. 😉

Walking the talk! 🙂

The Facebook live will be based on the post I wrote last week that you might have missed: “What happens when you really go for it? Stepping outside your comfort zone”

Since writing that post, I’ve continued my exploration of the “journey beyond the comfort zone”. I’d like to share some insights – most of all, I want to inspire you and dare you to keep pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.

Because we all know – a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there!

Here’s a little picture to demonstrate my point:

If you’re trying to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, I think you’ll enjoy this Facebook Live.

How to…
If you’e never watched a Facebook Live before, all you have to do is visit my Facebook Page at 6pm GMT and you should see me there! You have to click on the video to get the sound.

Hope to see you over there at 6pm GMT !

Feb 15

What happens when you really go for it? Stepping outside your comfort zone

By amandaalexander | Courage

It might be career related, business related or something else.

What is that thing you really want?

I’ll start, shall I?…

I want to take “me” – which means my business – to a much bigger audience. I want to get, FAR more women, to stop doubting themselves and start living more daringly. I want to see them achieve things they never thought they could.

Why? Because this brings me FULFILMENT. It’s my way of making a difference in the world.

I do it with my weekly posts, my occasional videos, my coaching programmes, my workshops – and it touches a few of you. I want to touch more, on a bigger scale.

I also want my fabulous business to support me and my family in my journey towards financial freedom. A few more zeros on my end of year accounts would be grand, as well!

So I have my vision, I have my why – both on a macro and on a personal level.

But what’s next, after we’ve dared to utter what we really, really want?

Well, as you know, I’m a great believer in taking baby steps to achieve big goals. You may have already read my post on the magic of daily habits and downloaded my free Daily Habits Workbook last week. Daily habits are indeed a big part of the equation.

Assuming we’ve got clear on what we really want to achieve and we’ve started taking baby steps, with the aid of our daily habits, what else do we need to do?

Well, at some point, if you have a BIG goal, the pace is going to increase, the stakes are going to rise, things are going to get REAL.

At some point, you’re going to have to hold your nose, take a deep breath and jump into the zone of discomfort!

Winston says:

“There is always much to be said for not attempting more than you can do and for making a certainty of what you try. But this principle, like others in life and war, has it exceptions.”

Here are 4 things you can expect when you step outside of your comfort zone

1. You’ll have to work very hard

If your thing is big – as mine is – then you’re going to have to work very hard indeed.

I always think that the phrase “hard work” hides a multitude of sins. I remember people telling me, when I was expecting Max (now 14), that labour would be “hard work”. Well, I can tell you that the phrase hard work bore no relation to the actual experience of hard work when I was in labour.

Real hard work towards your big goal is a bit like childbirth. You have no idea what it means until you’re in the throes of it.

In other words, it’s not real until it’s real!

I’ve been putting the hours in these past few weeks, on a steep learning curve wondering frequently “How on EARTH am I going to achieve all of these things?”

Winston says:

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

2. You will doubt yourself

At multiple points, not just once, when you are working hard, it will be so hard you’ll think:

“I don’t know if I’ve got what it takes”
“I’m not clever enough”
“I don’t know if I have enough time/energy/motivation”

This self-doubt can be debilitating and wastes a lot of energy, meaning you have to catch up on more of that hard work!

By the way, if you haven’t seen it already, I’ve got a free webinar next week about how to deal with this self-doubt. Click here to sign up to “Doubt Yourself and Do It Anyway” or see details at the bottom of the post!

Self-doubt and I battle it out frequently. I have been experiencing self-doubt a fair bit this week whilst trying to shoot a video to promote Doubt Yourself and Do It Anyway. I lost count of how many takes I did – it must have been at least 40! There was a lot of swearing, a lot of self-criticism and according to the bloke, a lot of body dysmorphia.

Winston says:

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

3. You’ll feel like giving up, more than once

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But what if you’re not tough? Please refer to point 2 – self doubt!

When you start working hard, you will inevitably come across things you don’t understand, things that you don’t like doing and things that you want to give up on.

My story: Facebook Ads. Oh. My. God. Trying to figure out the Facebook Ads “Power Editor”, even with a step by step video guide, took me right back to being a kid who didn’t understand maths. I just wanted to GIVE UP.

Yesterday evening, I cancelled my exercise class and told the bloke to go without me. I carried on working through – for another 3 hours. It was painful as in childbirth pushing stage painful! I wanted to give up, more than once.

Winston says:

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

4. You’ll feel scared

When you are “upping your game” and stepping up, you are going to have to step outside of your comfort zone. And it’s called “comfort zone” for a reason. It’s comfortable – not scary. Ergo, being OUTSIDE your comfort zone means – you are scared.

You will feel as if you’re in a light aircraft, all kitted up with a parachute, waiting for the plane to get to the correct height. You know that very soon, it’s decision time. Your instructor will open that door, position you at the edge and count down.

This is the point at which you have a choice. You can decide NOT to jump. The great thing abut this is that you’ll be safe, because you haven’t taken the risk that comes with jumping out of a plane with some silk strapped to your back!

But if you make that choice, you’ll never know what it would have been like to leap from that aeroplane. You will never feel the achievement of having faced your fear and doing it anyway. And you will probably beat yourself up for not having had the courage to step up (or jump!)

At this point, if you decide you ARE going to jump, you will be terrified like you’ve never been terrified before!!

Thoughts like this will race through your head…

“Why did I EVER embark on this journey? What on earth was I thinking?”
“Am I going to fall flat on my face?” (Or worse if you ARE actually jumping out of a plane)
“What if all of this is for nothing?”
“What am I going to do it I fail?”
and
“I WANT MY MUMMY!”

When you jump, you really jump. And there’s nobody else with you. That moment of decision is yours and yours alone. There will be cheerleaders, supporters – before and after – but the only person who can make the jump is YOU. And that’s the really scary bit. That’s the bit where you have to screw your courage to the sticking place and just do it.

I can tell you, I feel as if I’m free falling right now. I keep reminding myself to breathe. I keep focusing on the sky instead of the ground. I am waiting for that chute to open.

Winston says:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

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Feb 15

How to Get Better and Better, Every Day, in Every Way

By amandaalexander | Goals

This article is NOT about goal setting!

It’s about DAILY HABITS. A daily habit is the step you take on a CONSISTENT basis that will improve your life, in any area.

Improving your life might mean that you want to:

  • Quit your job and work from home, or feel better about your daily commute
  • Run a 5KM race, or run an ultra marathon
  • Sleep 8 hours a night, or quit sugar
  • Improve your overall health, or address a specific health concern
  • Declutter your home, or take control of your finances
  • Have more courage to speak up at meetings, or become a public speaker and get paid for it

It doesn’t matter what it is that you want to change – daily habits are an easy and powerful way to get there.

You can use daily habits as a way of achieving your goals, but you don’t have to get hung up on the word “goal”. If you don’t want to set a specific goal, that’s fine. Just ask yourself:

“What would I like to be different in my life or work?”

The next step is to brainstorm ways that you could move closer to your desired change by a small, forward-reaching daily habit.

Daily habits keep you focused, motivated and positive. They support you via baby steps to make permanent shifts in your behaviour that will dramatically improve your life.

And they really WORK!

Do you know the original positive affirmation?

“Every day in every way I’m getting better and better”

The originator of this quote was a French pharmacist called Emile Coué, who, in 1920 introduced a method of psychotherapy that made use of frequent repetition of this sentence. In fact, the original quote was, of course, in French!

“Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux”

Coué would ask his patients to repeat this phrase again and again each day. His theory was that this method of auto suggestion would help people to overcome their issues and achieve more success by working on their unconscious thought processes as well as their conscious will (e.g. willpower, getting it done, battling on through!)

I believe that Coué’s “every day in every way” mantra and other such mantras or positive affirmations work, thanks to the part of our brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS).

The RAS is a bundle of neurons at the base of our spine through which nearly all information, apart from smell, enters the brain. The RAS acts like the gatekeeper of information that lets information into the conscious mind. Our RAS selects the information that is most important for our conscious mind to pay attention to.

So if we are reminding ourselves 20 times a day (as Coué prescribed to his patients), that “In every day in every way, I am getting better and better”, then we are more likely to be aware of opportunities for actually GETTING better and better.

That little mantra might lead us to smile rather than scowl, breathe more deeply, respond rather than react, drink an extra glass of water, say no to that cream cake… And all simply because, from a very small, easy habit, we are helping our RAS to help us. Let’s dive into how we can adopt small daily habits that actually WILL help us to get better and better, every day, in every way.

I have a fantastic “freebie” for you to accompany this article. You can download the daily habits workbook to help you to choose habits that you’ll keep. In the workbook , I also share with you the free app that has made a BIG difference to my own daily habits. One of the BEST ways that I walk my own talk as a Coach and develop myself continuously is via small, consistent, daily habits. Each of my daily habits takes a maximum of 15 minutes and a minimum of a few seconds.

I chose each of my daily habits to support me with goals and a lifestyle that are based on my values. Many of them are related to my health and wellbeing, but others support my finances or my business. Occasionally, I will add a new daily habit if I have a short-term goal (see habit no. 9 in the post). Daily habits can help you to achieve your goals, because they break down huge projects into manageable bite-size and CONSISTENT chunks. They are SO powerful.

Here are my current daily habits, in general time of day order – and how you can create your own habits that fit in with our day.

1. Meditate – 15 minutes.

I’ve made meditation my number one priority and my ‘must do’ daily habit. That’s why it’s top of the list and it’s the very first thing I do when I wake up, even before I get up. I just sit up in bed and do it! This habit has changed my life. The benefits of meditation did not suddenly jump out at me one day; the impact has been subtle. Ask The Bloke and he will tell you that it has made me much calmer, much more resilient and generally easier to be with! Having a meditation practice has not made my life perfect and it doesn’t stop me from getting knocked down. But it DOES help me to bounce back again. The benefits to my resilience have been enormous. There are occasions when I have to get up very early to travel. This is almost the only time that I don’t meditate first thing, but if for example, I’m travelling by train, I’ll meditate on the train instead. I was up early on Wednesday to host my monthly Forward Ladies Business Breakfast and my train was delayed by 25 minutes. So I walked back to my car and meditated for 15 minutes – much nicer than standing on a freezing cold station platform! What is your number one daily habit? What is one habit, above any other, that will make the BIGGEST improvement in your life long term?

2. 30 Press Ups and Pull up Practice.

I have a goal that I wonder if I’ll ever achieve it, but I’m moving forward regardless: I want to be able to do 10 proper military style pull-ups. I can do 3 on a good day, but only if I touch my feet on the floor between each one! So I do a bit of push up and pull up practice every single day in the hope that one day, I’ll get to 10! I usually do these whilst my coffee machine is grinding away! I can get to about 20 whilst the first shot is brewing and then it’s the home straight of the last 10 with the second shot, with a few seconds left over to start unloading the dishwasher! You can fit some daily habits into pockets of “waiting’ time. What could you do to kick-start your day whilst the kettle is boiling each morning?

3. Take collagen

This supports my personal vision of “glowing with health, young looking and vibrantly healthy”. You can read about the benefits of collagen here. It’s so easy to achieve as a daily habit as I mix it into my coffee every morning. When the bloke is around, it’s even easier, as he makes my coffee with collagen every morning whilst I’m meditating. You see – you can even get other people to help you tick off your daily habits! 🙂

4. 15 Minutes of Book Writing

Having tried and failed to write a book for many years, this is the ONLY strategy that is working for me. My book is being written in tiny chunks of 15 minutes first thing in the morning. I have created a little rule – in order to enjoy my morning coffee, I have to be sat at my desk doing 15 minutes writing or research for my book. Similar to my morning meditation, book writing is important. But it’s never urgent!  Which means, if book writing doesn’t happen first thing in the morning, it never happens. My life, just like yours, is busy and packed. Book writing is a “nice to have” in my day and it certainly doesn’t shout the loudest. It doesn’t put food on the table (yet) and as it’s such a long-term project, it doesn’t give me much of a feeling of achievement (yet). So the only way to do it is first thing, and to create a little write-reward link between coffee (which I love) and writing. I couldn’t do my early morning writing without my coffee by my side! If you have a goal that keeps getting postponed, create a daily habit that moves you towards it. It’s the only way to achieve that “important but not urgent” stuff!

5. Take Vitamins

I take Vitamin D, because it’s one of the most important vitamins and it’s very difficult to get enough of it in the UK from sunlight, even in summer. I take Vitamin K2, as it works in conjunction with Vitamin D to support bone density and keep the calcium balance right in my body; Vitamin B is my “stress armour” (who doesn’t need some of that?!) and Magnesium, because it’s one of the most crucial minerals for our overall health, but one which we’re very deficient in nowadays. Taking my vitamins takes a few seconds. What’s one beneficial daily habit you could practise that takes less than a minute?

6. Five Minutes of Admin/ Paper Killing

A necessary habit, because when paper comes in that needs actioning, I do NOT jump with joy and get on with it! I suspect that possibly 0.1% of people never have any paperwork waiting to be dealt with. I’m not in that 0.1%. Ugh… little by little. One day I may hit nirvana and get to the point where my household and business inbox is empty and 5 minutes a day keeps on top of it. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away in baby steps. The benefits of this habit are that I can tell myself I AM getting better every day. I’m doing something. It serves to remind me that there’s no such thing as a perfectly neat, tidy and ordered life, but as long as we take small daily actions, we’re always moving forwards. If you have a daily habit like this, focus on how you will feel AFTER you’ve ticked off that habit, and what it will achieve in baby steps over many weeks.

7. Do ONE Thing to be a Great Leader to my Money

This might be checking a bank account, paying a bill, looking at my sales forecast or reading a money blog. It can take anything from a minute to 15 minutes. For me, this “loose, choose anything” habit is about being consistent with my long-term goal of financial independence. If you have a long term goal, then creating a habit that puts you in alignment with that goal will not only help to keep it top of mind (remember the RAS!), it will also help you to discover new ways of achieving it.

8. A 5-minute share on social media

A tiny marketing type activity that is important for me with a business. This is probably one of my weakest daily habits. Some days it’s easy, but other days, when I’m in my “introverted extrovert” mood, I simply don’t want to be on show in any way! But having it written down as one of my daily habits reminds me to do something and means that I’m 70% successful. Without it there, that percentage would drop considerably! Is there a daily habit that you know will make a difference to your work if you did it consistently? Make it as small and easy as possible. 

9. Plank Challenge

Finally, this is my temporary daily habit. Unlike my meditation habit, that happens every day, this one is just for this month, because I’m taking part in a “January Plank Challenge” with my British Military Fitness buddies. The challenge is simple 3 minutes of plank each day, with a 1-minute rest in between each minute. Taking part in a group challenge is a good way to kick-start your daily habits, as it naturally keeps you accountable to your tribe. It’s easier than ever to set your own challenge now, thanks to the wonder of Facebook groups. Maybe you could start your own challenge, invite some friends and strengthen your habit from the start.

Over to you

So now you’ve got some inspiration and ideas for the kind of habits that help you get better and better, every day and in every way. Which habits would you like to start with? Ask yourself what your life might look like if, one year from now, you continued with one particular daily habit. Would it help towards your happiness, fulfilment at work, wellbeing or wealth? Don’t forget your freebie  – my “Daily Habits” workbook.  Just use the link below! 

Dec 23

What’s Your Story This Christmas?

By amandaalexander | Uncategorized

People keep asking me “Are you ready for Christmas?”

Well, the house looks festive, – there’s a beautiful Christmas tree in the living room, a wreath on the door and sparkly lights outside the house.  I’ve ordered a goose (not a turkey fan) and I seem to have bought enough cheese to feed all the mice in the village. And their cousins. 

But overall, the answer is no, I am NOT ready for Christmas.  Hopefully, by the time you receive this, I might be more “ready”, but at the time of writing (Thursday evening), I  most certainly am NOT!  I haven’t wrapped a single present, I still have a fair bit of food shopping to do, I’ve done no “get ahead” cooking and I definitely don’t have a bl**dy plan for Christmas Day (or any other day). Nor have I  “packed away” work for the Christmas break.

I’ve spent today working hard to resolve stuff that wasn’t even on my urgent important list, but which overtook the urgent important stuff.  Hmmmm… It’s as if somebody is testing me to see how much I can take!  I doubt it’s all going to magically fall into place just in time for when the bell strikes midnight on Christmas Eve, like it does in the Christmas movies!

But hey ho (ho ho).. it’s just stuff.

Christmas can  be a time of love, joy and togetherness. It can be a time when we get to slow down (after we’ve bought and cooked the goose!), ditch the healthy eating (goose fat roast potatoes?) and indulge ourselves (make mine a large Baileys on ice). It’s also the time just before New Year –  a fresh start, a new leaf – so it’s also a time for reflection, gratitude and planning. 

And part of that reflection, for me, has to be about others.

There is so much pressure around Christmas to get it all done, have a good time and “be happy”, Whilst I don’t want to be a killjoy –  many  love Christmas and are excited about it –  I think that it’s important to think about what a tough time of year it is for many people.

Time to address the elephant in the tinsel decorated room:

Many people are grieving;  many are worried about their marriages;  many are worried about money;  many are ill;  many are alone….

Even in my own little World, I can think of at least 5 of my friends who have suffered a bereavement this year.  In just the last week, my oldest son Max told me about the battles some of his friends are facing  –  it made me weep.  I feel so much for those poor kids facing very difficult challenges in their young lives.  

I love this quote:

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle: Be kind”

It reminds me that each of us has our own story at Christmas.

So my Christmas message to you is not a phatic “Have a great Christmas”! It’s a message from one human to another to say  – I see you, I acknowledge you, I’m with you.  In some small way, across the miles, even though we might not know each other,  I send my heart out to you, whether you’re feeling upbeat or a bit battered, joyful or sad, healthy or in pain. 

Whatever your Christmas story, I send you my love.

p.s If you want to reply in the comments below or even drop me an email in answer to the question I posed in the title, I’m here and I’m listening. ​Really! 

Dec 16

Stop overthinking! 2 practical ways to quieten your busy mind

By amandaalexander | Uncategorized

Are you suffering from a busy mind that has got into a habit of overthinking? If so, then you’re not alone – women tend to overthink more than men.

In her book “Women who think too much”, Dr Susan Nolen-Hoeksema says that the evidence for women’s tendency to overthink points towards social and psychological roots. Noelen-Hoeksema says that the more stress a woman is under, the more she tends to overthink. Not earth-shatteringly surprising, is it?

To put it simplistically, most women are under stress because they are doing too much and thinking about too much and trying to find a way to be in more control! Trying to be more in control of our lives is something I hear frequently from my clients; unfortunately “being in control” is a constant journey of discovery for most women, with no final destination!

Nolen-Hoeksema’s research shows that even though women are busy pursuing careers in the same way as men, women still bear the lioness’s share of managing the household. In an attempt to feel more in control of having too much on their plate, many women fall into overthinking. Women literally try to think their way out of a tangle of conflicting priorities.

At this time of year, probably like you, I have a to do list as long as my proverbial arm! I still haven’t written my Christmas cards; there is still a pile of paperwork that needs wading through and there are always clothes waiting to be put away. As for the cobwebs, I’ve given up the battle for dominance and bowed in defeat to the spiders!

There’s a lot to think about! As a business owner, I’m thinking about plans for the New Year, cash flow and stretch goals. As a mum, I’m thinking about Christmas presents. And with Fred’s 10th birthday on Wednesday, I’m thinking about his celebrations. And on it goes.

​Some of this may sound familiar to you!


But what do you do when, even though you are managing to keep it all ticking over so well on a daily basis, it’s still not enough and you find yourself in a chronic state of overthinking, trying to figure out how you can get it all done, just get that little bit more ahead of the curve, in control?

And what if you find yourself waking up at night, continuing the inner dialogue from the day? You can fall into a vicious cycle of overthinking and exhaustion.

I don’t want you to get exhausted and overwrought, particularly at Christmas, so in this post, I’m sharing my 2 favourite – both practical and highly effective – ways to quieten your busy mind and reign in your overthinking habit:

1. Do a graphical brain dump

You’ve probably heard or even given advice about “get it out of your head and down on paper”? It’s a great strategy when you’ve got a lot on your mind.

You might be an avid list writer, but I’m not talking about writing a list here. The problem with lists is that they are linear – it can certainly help to write a big list when you’ve got a lot on your mind, but it won’t give you a big picture of all those buzzing thoughts.

Enter the mind map…

Mind mapping helps your thinking process by enabling you to structure thoughts in a graphical, visual way. This will help you to “see the big picture”. I’ve created the bare bones of a “what’s on your mind?” mind map in this post to show you what a mind map looks like.

All you need to do to start mind mapping, is get a piece of paper (the bigger the better) and turn it so that it is landscape layout. Draw a circle in the middle and label it “thoughts” or “brain dump”. You can use an online mind-mapping tool as I have done for the purposes of the example, but I actually recommend you use pen and paper; there is something scribbling down on paper that facilitates the creative thought process better than any computer software.

You can structure your mind map however you want – there is no right and wrong and you’ll start to see a pattern as you write on it. Just brainstorm anything that comes to your mind and then allocate it a category. The categories will become your primary branches directly linked to your centre label. You can see in this example, I created 5 categories: Home, work, Christmas, Fred’s birthday and miscellaneous thoughts. The latter category can be used to scribble down anything that has been racing through your head, which doesn’t seem related to anything in particular. AS you brainstorm, you’ll easily be able to see which category the thought fits into.

Your mind map is NOT a to do list – it can and probably will contain things you need to do. But it might also contain random thoughts, worries, quandaries, decisions you need to make and ideas. It is simply a graphical brain dump.

The great benefit of mind mapping to stop you overthinking is that everything is in one place, on one sheet. You don’t have to go looking for one particular thing – it’s all there ‘at a glance’.

2. Get unstuck from your groove

If you’ve fallen into a rut of worry, create a mind map with the title “worries”.Another great benefit of mind mapping to help you stop overthinking is that, if you keep your “worry” mind map and then look at it in a year’s time, you will invariably find that most of the things that on it have been and gone without the fanfare of impending doom that you’d anticipated. In fact, most of the worries will have never materialised in the first place. It’s a great exercise to remind yourself how fruitless worrying is!

Sometimes when we overthink, we focus on the darkest possible scenarios over and again. It can be so difficult to change our focus. Think of a record player (if you’re old enough! If not, Google it!) Sometimes, the needle will get stuck in a groove of the record, playing the same sound again and again. The only way to fix this would be to skip the track, by physically lifting the arm with the needle and placing it after that “stuck” groove.

When you’re stuck in overthinking, your mind is similar to the stuck record. The best way to get unstuck is to physically do something different – i.e. lift your own needle and put it somewhere else!

If you find yourself lying awake at night with a racing mind, try focusing on your breathing. Lie on your back, put your hands on your belly and silently say, “breathe in” and “breathe out”, focusing on your breath. Look up “Yoga Nidra for sleep” if you need something more than focusing on your breathing. You’ll find some great recorded sessions specifically designed to help you relax, clear your mind and get back to sleep.

If you STILL find yourself drifting back into overthinking, drastic action might be needed – get out of bed and curl up somewhere cosy with a good book – preferably a non taxing novel that will let your mind switch off, rather than a book on “How to change the world in 90 days” or “How to have 50 great ideas in one hour”

When you’re overthinking during the day, the same rule applies for getting out of your stuck groove. Lift that needle! And I swear by physical activity EVERY TIME! There is a strong correlation between your mind and your body – when you change the state of your body, your mind will almost always follow.

If you’re at work – step AWAY from your desk! Find somewhere you can move your body without getting strange looks from your colleagues. Maybe you could head out to the stairwell if you’re in an office building.

Now – let’s get physical! Do a set of lunges, squats, jumping jacks or simply run on the spot (take your heels off!) You’re giving yourself a mini impromptu exercise session. Do your chosen exercise until you’re out of breath and feeling the burn! You’ll soon find your focus has moved away from your negative thought patterns to the burning sensation in your thighs as you approach your 50th squat!

This will really help you to quieten your overthinking – you’re getting out of your groove and resetting yourself – and raising your endorphin levels to boot!

Do you ever overthink? When do you tend to overthink? And what helps you to quieten your busy mind? I’d love to know what works for you. Share in the comments below! And if you enjoyed this post, please share with your overthinking friends!

Dec 10

A Cure for Women with Bonkers Christmas Brain

By amandaalexander | Time Management

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering if you can pull it all off again with your insanity intact – Christmas, that is.

The madness in the run up to Christmas starts much earlier than December, but now we’re properly in Advent, the pace steps up to bonkers level.

Here are just a sample of the things racing around my own Bonkers Christmas Brain:

  • What the heck am I going to buy 2 boys who don’t play with toys any more and whose entertainment comes from screens of various sizes?
  • And Santa wants to know what to put in their stockings. What shall I tell Santa?
  • How am I going to fit in a school Christmas fair, a Christingle service, a school performance and all the other extra Christmasicular events that are in the diary for the next 2 weeks – and still get my work done?
  • When am I going to get the Christmas tree? I think there’s a window of opportunity on the 17th between 4 and 5pm?…
  • What are we going to eat on Christmas Day? How can I make it simple, yet sophisticated? Elegant, yet effortless? Child friendly, yet adult enticing?
  • What am I going to wear for the Christmas do tomorrow?

Whoa! That’s a very Bonkers Christmas Brain.

But at this point, I have disappointing news – I know of no cure Bonkers Christmas Brain. Neither yours nor mine.

Sorry about that.

It’s all a cunning ruse to get you to read… let me tell you what this post is REALLY about.

You’re ACTUALLY being invited to become a member of a secret Christmas blog to champion women around the World this Christmas.

You’re invited to join this secret blog that’s been written for women, penned by Mrs Claus herself.

Enter the Secret World of Mrs. Claus

Nov 25

What You Need To Do To Get Flexible Working

By amandaalexander | Business , Career , Childcare , Productivity , Uncategorized , Work & Life Balance

My latest Inspiring Women Interviews Podcast has just been broadcast on iTunes and Stitcher. This episode is an interview with Tina Freed, founder of E2W and a champion of flexible working to support talent retention and attraction.

Tina has been helping highly talented women in the city to continue with their careers since 2002, when she and her husband formed E2W, a company with this objective as its primary driver.

Tina’s philosophy is:

“Flexible working is not an obstacle, it’s an opportunity – and we can prove it” 

Before setting up E2W Tina worked in the city within financial services for over 15 years. When she had a baby, she realised that the choice, then- 16 years ago – was to either have a child OR have a career – not both. But she didn’t think that was right, so she did something about it.

She saw a gap in the market –  the opportunity for people like her to continue working in the city AND to fulfil her aspirations as a mother were nonexistent, so she started her own business.  E2W was created so that Tina could be a mum without sacrificing her career.

She knew that she wasn’t alone in wanting this balance, so she set out to find a way to offer flexible working for women who wanted to develop their hard-earned careers and still be a mother.

She also felt that the city-based firms that she’d worked for could benefit from the experience of such women, and potentially it would be a much more cost-effective way of using these talented women.

Tina sought to tap into the big resource pool of mainly women who’d left the city when they were excluded from financial institutions, because those firms couldn’t offer that true work-life integration. E2W set up offices where the women lived, as opposed to where they were working. This obvious solution helped women to overcome the challenge of juggling the daily commute with childcare.

Tina understands that flexibility means different things to different people. Some want to work short days, some want to work 3 long days. For others, an ideal flexible working week might be a traditional 9-5 day, simply because they are currently working 6pm -11pm.

Whatever people’s definition of flexibility, the point is that there are may different patterns that companies can put in place to enable women to continue to work. It starts with thinking creatively.

 “Some of our employees work 9:30 to 2:30, and they do as much in five hours as they would if they went into the city and worked eight hours.”

Many women in middle management face career stagnation, not advancing because of a fearful mindset about the scarcity of opportunities for professionals that also advocate flexible working patterns.

These talented women feel that they can’t leave their current company or seek promotion, because they won’t be able to retain the same level of flexibility they’ve enjoyed.  There is a commonly held belief that flexible working patterns are only offered to those who have served their time and proven their loyalty.  This results in many talented women staying in roles that they have outgrown, simply because they see it as the lesser of two evils.

Challenging a limiting mindset is one of my favourite things to do as a Coach, and it’s also a big driver behind me launching the Inspiring Women Interviews podcast. I want women to learn from role models who have proven that it IS possible to combine a great career with having a life!

I’ve coached many such women over the years and I know that the only way around this is to challenge them to be courageous. Often easier said than done, of course, especially when well-intentioned family and friends reinforce the fearful belief.

My clients frequently tell me that their partners or parents urge them to keep their head down and make the most of it –

“You’ve got a good thing going here, it’s not that bad – don’t rock the boat”.

We need to actively support and encourage more women to challenge the status quo, perceived or otherwise. Ultimately it is up to them. This requires courage and often a suspension of disbelief, but also confidence in their abilities.

Tina agrees: She encourages women to thinks about what they can offer, how they might be able to support a new company, and to position themselves from this perspective.

“It’s about saying, ‘Look, I’m valuable. I have lots to offer. I have lots of experience that you would benefit from. For me to be able to do this, I would like to work in a flexible way. Flexibility to me means … Whatever it is’.”

I encourage the women I support to change their internal language from:

“But why would they employ me and offer me flexible working?”

to

“Why wouldn’t you employ me? Because I can do this role and make a valuable contribution.”

Attracting and retaining middle management women is crucially important to filling the leadership talent pipeline. There’s an onus on companies  to give these women explicit permission to  step up and fulfil their potential. This means that employers need to be open-minded and creative about flexible working and communicate this position loudly and clearly.

But equally as important is the onus on women themselves.  They need to take a deep breath, screw their courage to the sticking place and step up.  Try this for a career affirmation…

“Flexible working is not an obstacle, it’s an opportunity – and I can prove it”

And then… go and prove it!

Keep reading . . . now that you know what you need to do to get the career you want AND flexible working, I’ve created a fantastic, 3-part video coaching programme to help you with the confidence you’ll need.
Career Confidence 101 will help you get clarity on your strengths, focus in your career direction and the self-belief to achieve your goals.  However, the full Career Confidence 101 coaching programme is available for a VERY limited period. Within about a week, it will be shortened and you’ll get part 1 only. If you want to get all 3 coaching sessions of Career Confidence 101, sign up now!
CLICK HERE to sign up for Career Confidence 101
Career Confidence 101
Nov 18

The Best Gift for Women Who Are Trying to Get Things Done

By amandaalexander | Guilt , Home , Inspiration , Resilience , Self-Belief , Stress , Time Management , Wellbeing , Work & Life Balance , Worry

Have you seen any of those provocative memes on social media that warn people not to mention Christmas until 1st December?

I don’t comment that I covertly started buying my first Christmas presents in October, when I happened to see an advert in a paper for toys that I thought my nieces would enjoy.

When my youngest son mentioned an author he likes, I checked Amazon one evening and pre-ordered his latest book for Christmas from shhh.. you know who. Also in October.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those incredibly organised people who finishes all their Christmas shopping by 1st November and who has written, addressed and stamped all their cards ready to be sent on 30th November.

But I AM a woman who is mum to two boys and aunt to three girls.

And I am also a woman who thinks about what we’re going to eat every evening and who plans, shops, cooks.

I am a woman who suddenly remembers, smack bang in the middle of my working day, that my youngest son mentioned his friend’s birthday party next Saturday. Who emails the boy’s mum to ask for details, because the party invitation has gone astray.

I am a woman who makes packed lunches every day and constantly reminds them to pick up their towels, make their beds and clean their teeth. I am a woman who drives her eldest son to football practice, with 15 minute notice, because he’d really like to go.

And as well as all that, I am a woman who runs a business full time.

In short, I’m a woman who is constantly trying to get things done.

So when I see those social media memes that tease people who start thinking about Christmas in November, I quietly wonder if their life might be a little less jam-packed than mine!

I suspect you will get this completely! Whether you start thinking about Christmas in November or not!

Because for so many women who are always trying to get things done, particularly at this time of year, the dial is turned up high on freneticism.

The danger is that you constantly feel as if you are falling behind or that you have not done enough.

You might feel that you are somehow not efficient, fast, smart, disciplined, organised enough. You may have a running commentary in your head at the end of the day chiding yourself for what you DIDN’T get round to.

The multitude of amazing mini achievements that you DID clock up are mentally ticked off without a second thought. You probably rarely stop to acknowledge yourself.

The cumulative impact of feeling like you’ve never quite come up to scratch is insidious. Mental self-flagellation becomes a painful habit. It’s as if you are fighting the same battle day in day out, that always ends in defeat and despondency. How can you ever catch up? Get it all done? When will you ever be enough?

So I wanted to give you, as another woman who is always trying to get things done, a little gift in this week’s post. It’s actually a very precious gift.

It’s called “enoughness”

I’m giving you explicit permission to tell yourself that, whatever you did, or did not achieve this week, it was absolutely enough. And that most importantly, YOU are enough.

Let me repeat that:

You have DONE enough.
You ARE enough.

Here is one of the most comforting, reassuring and empowering quotes I have ever read for busy women like you, who achieve so much each day. It’s from Brene Brown. I’ve printed this out and stuck it on my office wall. I read it at the end of every day. I am sharing it to remind you of the gift of “enoughness”:

“Wholehearted living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. it’s about cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough”

Enjoy your gift of enoughness at the end of today. Give yourself a pat on the back and ​tell yourself: “I have done enough today. And I AM enough”

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please use the social media share buttons to pass on the gift of enoughness to all those other busy women!

Nov 11

Three Things You Can Do Now to Help the World AND Be Happy

By amandaalexander | Inspiration , Worry

Before writing this post, I sought advice from a few wise women.  I did this because I felt compelled to “speak my truth”, but I wasn’t sure if I SHOULD!

One of those wise women was Heather Bestel, founder of The Happiness Garden.

Heather said:

“I think you have two choices: share your truth or don’t share your truth. It’s that simple. If you share your truth, you will lose subscribers and you may get trolls.

If you don’t share your truth, you will feel that you haven’t stepped up and been courageous when you believe you should be.

Whatever you do needs to be right for you. You already know the consequences. So, now it’s a question of choice. If you go one way, you’ll need to be prepared for other people’s feelings. And if you go the other, you’ll have to be prepared to deal with yours.”

 

Why I’m sharing my truth

“Get naked with your truth, offering the world your greatest gift: your authentic self.” -Gabrielle Bernstein

I’ve made my choice: I’m sharing my truth. I’m doing so because I want to inspire you to step up, be courageous and to speak YOUR truth. Because your services to this world are required!

I urge all my clients to live purposefully, not accidentally, but we can’t do that whilst being complacent and letting other people do the scary stuff that makes a difference. Living purposefully does not come with a guarantee that everybody will like us.

We can’t step up whilst keeping our heads down. And when we do step up, we’ve got to keep going: We can’t step up and stay within our comfort zone – we’ve got to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We can’t change the world, live our life purposefully or step up into our brilliance by doing nothing, keeping our head down and saying “it’s not my bag”.

And we can’t tell our kids to be brave and “go for it” whilst shrinking in fear ourselves.

 

Let’s get the truth speaking out of the way!

Like billions of others, I am reeling from this week’s US presidential election results. I am aghast that so many people have voted for a man who has such blatant disregard for PEOPLE. I am intensely concerned for the World we live in;  worried that the racists, bigots, misogynists and haters have been granted carte blanche to come out of the closet.

I have spoken my truth! But this aside, let’s make no bones about it – the World is volatile and uncertain right now. Which means that we need talented men and women to stand up and get their talents out into the World.  (I wrote about this on Wednesday in my guest blog for The International Coach Federation – “Coaching in a Volatile and Uncertain World”.)

 

So here are three things you can do now – and from this day forward to help the world. AND be happy whilst you’re at it!

 

Three Things You Can Do NOW to Help the World AND Be Happy

The world needs you in all your uniqueness and with all your talents. The world needs you to step up, live your best life and embrace it more than ever. Here’s how you can help the world AND be happy:

1. Speak your truth

“What if you had the courage to speak up?”

Speaking your truth is about being in alignment with your core values and standing up for what you believe in: It does not mean shoving your opinions down other people’s throats – you can speak your truth kindly and elegantly. The distinction is assertive versus aggressive. I hope you’ll notice that in this post, I have spoken my own truth succinctly and resisted the urge to rant!

As you’ve also read, it’s flippin’ scary to speak your truth – as my friend Heather says, you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences: “The haters are gonna hate”.

You’ll need courage, but if you don’t speak your truth, if you leave it to someone else, then what? How many people are also “leaving it to someone else”?

You’ll find an excellent short article on speaking your truth on Oprah’s website .

 

2. Live your life fearlessly

“Do one thing every day that scares you”

Living fearlessly is not quite what I mean: We all feel fear, but we need to keep practising feeling the fear  – and doing it anyway.

I want you to live your life fearlessly, because fear is the biggest baddy of them all: Fear trumps Trump.

Fear endeavoured to stop me writing this post. Fear endeavoured to stop one of my clients from picking up the phone to speak to a recruitment consultant this week. Fear endeavours to keep us small, quiet and complacent. When good people let fear win, bad things happen and lives are never fully lived.

 

I had to make a difficult phone call earlier this week. I sat with my finger poised on the dial button of my phone for several minutes. The little voice of fear inside my head gave me plenty of excuses:

  • You can do this tomorrow
  • You won’t get a good reception. Wait until you’re in a better area. Tomorrow.
  • Send an email instead. Tomorrow.

But I made the call, because there’s another voice in my head that I’ve trained well. Eventually that other voice piped up: 

“FFS! Amanda, get your big girl knickers on and MAKE THE DAMN PHONE CALL”

So I faced the fear head on and made the call.  And the fear disappeared.  

You don’t need me to tell you that the only way to live fearlessly is to face up to fear. But the only way you can do that is practice. So keep practising and you’ll notice the fear melt away. It won’t ever completely go, but you’ll be able to dance with it rather than shrink from it.

 

3. Practice random acts of kindness every day

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do”

 

Many “ordinary” people feel powerless in the face of World events and politics, but we are NOT powerless.

In a volatile and uncertain world, we have a choice: We can either give up and become victims, subject to the whims of those in power. Or, we can do what we can. When many people take many small positive actions, change happens. And what could be a simpler way to change the world in our own little way than through random acts of kindness?

  • Have you ever let the person behind you in the supermarket queue go before you, even when there was more in their trolley than yours?
  • Have you ever sent someone a card to tell them how much you appreciate them and why?
  • Have you ever picked up litter and taken it home?

These are just a few examples of random acts of kindness. Performing random acts of kindness is one of the best ways you can help the world AND feel on top of the world at the same time!

On Wednesday, I did something I’ve never done before: At the end of my Forward Ladies business breakfast meeting in Manchester, there was a lot of food left over – about 40 freshly baked bagels with cream cheese and prosciutto. I asked the manager if we could wrap them up in individual packages so that I could give them out to homeless people. He was so kind – he helped me to wrap them and gave me a plastic vegetable basket to carry them. I ventured out with the basket of goodies into the city centre feeling a bit nervous. I was actually nervous about other people looking at me, and I didn’t know what reaction I’d get.

I needn’t have worried. Each of the homeless people I offered those bagels to accepted and thanked me graciously. This little exercise made me put my own fears about “the next 4 years” into perspective.  I am so fortunate – I have never been in a position where a stranger has offered me their leftover sandwiches wrapped in tin foil. I might have created fearful thoughts about what the future might hold, but I am not homeless. My fear was all in my head – the people I spoke to were living the fear.

Be the change the World needs by bringing your gifts into the world, facing your fears, speaking your truth and doing what you can.  

 

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