Track the journey.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was starting up again with my health and fitness regime after a period of slow but steady weight gain. I have been reading up on success strategies with following through after setting goals because that’s where most of the challenges seem to lie.

Setting goals is easy as we all know deep down what we want and what we feel will improve our lives. Once they are set, everything is exciting because we feel we have made some major progress. However, the reality is that just setting goals is not going to make any difference at all until we start to take action on those goals.

So how do we start to make progress towards our goals? One thing that I have really responded well to is tracking your results and getting some accountability even if you are being accountable just to yourself.

I use a website called irunurun.com. This is site is excellent for this activity. It creates data for you and tracks your progress using a points based system.

This has really helped me to stay on track and to keep streaks of activity going for far longer than usual. I have used it so far to track my eating habits, my physical exercise and writing on a daily basis.

Another big tip is to make the action you want to build into a habit very easy and build up to a higher level over time. Don’t set a daft goal that is setting you up for failure. Keep consistent with an activity until that level feels really easy and then raise your standards with the same target.

I’ve done this with my training to great effect. I have wanted to start the habit of daily cardio for years but could never get myself to do it. I solved this by slashing the time of my cardio down to 10 minutes a day to start with. This felt easy to do, attainable, and something I could turn into a habit and I have. So far I have completed my cardio session for 18 straight days with two planned rest days. I have also raised my cardio up from 10 to 14 mins already. The trick is in the consistency. The 14 minutes feels exactly the same as the 10 minute session did I when I started. I will gradually raise my time up to around 25 minutes and keep up the daily frequency. This would be a huge increase in daily cardio output, but is easily attainable with this approach because the habit would be well and truly formed by then. I try to do my cardio at the same time each day and have dragged myself out even when I haven’t felt like it or I have been very tired.

If you want to form a habit or make a change in your lifestyle, these skills are transferable. Find a way to track and monitor your efforts in some way. You also need to try and set an action that seems easy to start with and focus on consistency. Once the consistency is there, then you can ramp up your output and quickly accelerate your results.

Tracking the journey is a skill and habit of the successful. Adopting this idea might be the missing piece in your habit forming puzzle that allows you to make any action you would like to develop become a permanent one.  I am sure that it will if you execute these ideas properly.

I wish you the best.

Appreciate WHO you have

If you are reading this, you are awesome! You’ve taken the time to write something that I have written and you are going to take it all in and hopefully apply it (aren’t you?)

smiley face

I clearly appreciate you, and I am making the choice to tell you that. Why is that so important? Here is what I think.

When I read people giving advice on gratitude, they always talk about being grateful for what you have. This is hugely important, but it can sometimes make people forget about showing gratitude for WHO they have in their lives.

I heard this morning that Rio Ferdinand, ex Manchester United footballer, had lost his wife to Cancer. He must be absolutely devastated, and no words will fill that hole in his life for a long time. In such times of grief, it is so obvious to see how much people mean to us.

I remember when I lost my good friend Ziggy in such tragic circumstances. He was great friend to me in Liverpool for many years, and when he died , I was crushed because of what he meant to me. I was also devastated because when I looked back, although it was so obvious, I don’t think I had ever said to him how much of a friend I had considered him to be.

Each one of us is completely unique and special. No-one will ever be able to replicate who you are and the impact you have on others. All too often we forget that it is the relationships we have in life that make us truly rich.

In a consumer driven nation in a time where consumerism is promoted on a regular basis, I wonder if at times we lose touch with the human connection that really gives life true meaning. I have seen people who are so in love with their new phone that they miss the world around them.  We need to do better. I have been guilty of this myself at times, and used  to play a lot of computer games when I should have been spending that time with my wife. None of us are perfect, but we can all be more aware. I see training programs online that try and appeal to people’s dreams with visions of fancy cars and huge houses. Good things to have, no one would argue, but make sure you have your priorities in order.

Is it worth working to the bone for a family you don’t spend time with and see?

Is it worth getting to the top of the career ladder, if you kicked everyone else off on your way to the top?

I absolutely want success in my life and that does include some selfish consumerist type goals and targets (I’m a victim of my times ) but I also want to have rich and deep relationships with my friends, my family and anyone who works with me in the near future.

When I lost my father, for years I almost denied the impact he had on my life, but looking back at old photos reminded me that we spent lots of time together in my formative years, and spent countless hours when I was older talking in the car, and listening to hours of amazing music that my dad was into. There’s no wonder I am such a lover of music today.  I miss him, and I miss our relationship because I will never be able to replicate it with anyone ever again. That’s how special your connections with others are. Because we are all unique, each pairing or group is unique as well due to the collective of people in that group.

Appreciate who you have in your life and let them know you appreciate them. How will they ever know what they mean to you unless you tell them? I need to take my own advice here because there are people in my life who make my life better and I haven’t really told them that.  It won’t take much, and it doesn’t have to be over the top, but it will be meaningful to them. That, I can guarantee.

Life’s too short to take for granted the important people in our lives. Appreciation is the currency that we as people thrive on because we realise the impact we are having on people is helping them.

You could do this by sending them a message, giving them a call, going to visit them or just telling them every now again if you see them on a regular basis. Be clear about why you appreciate them. Big them up they deserve it.

Thanks for spending some of your time to read this. I appreciate your time and I am so grateful that you read this far in my post. You are helping me achieve my dream of spreading good ideas that help people reach their potential and improve their lives.

I wish you the best.

The happiness menu

The happiness list

Can you name 10 things that would make you happy instantly?

This idea I took from the Chimp Paradox. It is a way of giving yourself options in order to raise your happiness instantly. What small things could you do at any moment to raise your level of happiness?

I chose things such as

*Being outdoors.

*Listening to some of my favourite music.

*Reading a great book.

*Counting my blessings.

*Smiling

Knowing what things can make you happy instantly is powerful because it allows you to be in control of your state and to choose what action you are going to take in order to feel better. We can be far more active in our level of happiness and sometimes feeling happy requires on our part.

Once you have your instant happiness list, you can also create a list of things that you could plan that would raise your happiness. Again, the point is to include simple things that are easy to do and that you will look forward to in the near future. Things like having a meal with friends, date night with your partner, or going out on a trip with your children. Once you have established what those things are that truly make a difference in your life, then plan for at least one of those things to happen.

Taking the time to know what activities will make you happy allows you to plan these things into your life. I see the instant happiness list as a way to boost my mood if I am struggling to stay positive or I am annoyed about something. We all have those moments, so it’s good to have a trick up your sleeve when you need it.

I would suggest going away and really thinking about how much effort you put into making sure that you are happy.

Have you ever considered what the simple pleasures are in your lives that make you happy?

Are you making time for those things?

Remember a good life is a balanced one. Your happiness and state of mind is just as important as a good career and good physical health.

I wish you the best.

The real reasons I gained weight and the real solution to it.

The real reason I’ve struggled with weight gain

For the last year since my daughter was born, I’ve watched my weight steadily increase. I’ve been disappointed about this and annoyed, but in the cold light of day I cannot be surprised. People often come up with lots of weird and wonderful reasons why their weight has increased and how puzzling it is to them since they hardly eat anything.

I for one am not that naïve. I know exactly why my weight has been creeping up and up. There are two main reasons.

  1. I used to rely on exercise to help keep my weight down and I don’t have the time to exercise for as long anymore.
  2. My diet has been inconsistent.

It really is as simple as that. I have been blissfully unaware of how poor my eating habits had gotten, thinking to myself in a state of grand delusion, that I could just stop and start dropping weight whenever I wanted.  The only problem with this thinking was that it was not true. I was eating so much that I was craving the feeling of being really full. Every time you go for that you have to eat that little bit more.  A twelve inch pizza becomes a 14 inch next time. A 50 gram bag of crisps becomes 100gr and so on.

I was completely in denial as well. I had deliberately not weighed myself thinking that would make things easier to cope with, but the body never lies. I could feel that I was heavier, and my clothes all of a sudden felt like they had been shrunk.

I could have gone blissfully unaware but eventually, I had to face reality. I braced myself and faced the music. The results were not pretty and I underestimated my weight by a few pounds as well, but it was the reality. I felt better knowing exactly where I stood and what would be needed to make improvements to my weight.

One thing I have learnt to do during this time is accept myself for the person that I am. My thinking has shifted from you will be happier when you are a particular weight to be the best you can be on this day at this size. I’ve realised that I will only get to live this day once, so I want to make the best use of it that I can. Stressing over what has been or what may be is a waste of energy that could be put to better use.

Focussing on being the best I can be for that day makes sticking to healthy habits easier. I have found that setting large goals in the past has been difficult because I get daunted by the journey and worry that I might not be able to make it. Instead of that, focussing on the present moment and the day breaks the goal down into small manageable chunks. Setting the goal and working towards it daily feels like a good approach. You need the long term vision to see the overall direction, but then need to become adept at winning each day as it comes.

So what tactics am I going to use in order to get my health back on track?

  1. Consistent diet.
  2. Regular strength training.
  3. Daily movement and general physical activity.
  4. Lots of water
  5. A good dose of micronutrients daily (vitamins and minerals)
  6. When possible, get earlier nights for better sleep and reduction in stress.

I’m sure it will work if I remember to focus on each day as it comes and win enough little victories to create consistent healthy habits that last years.

I wish you the best.

How to master the mind.

The Chimp Paradox

Ever wondered why you sometimes do things that don’t make any sense?

Do you ever catch yourself saying “Why did I do that!”

I have just finished listening to the Chimp Paradox for the third time.  It is a phenomenal book that I would recommend to anyone who has ever  wondered how the mind works and how to get the best from it. Steve Peters has the fantastic ability to take a hugely complicated subject and transpose it onto a clear working model.

The characters that he created also make the model memorable and unique. The basic premise is that your psychological mind is split into three parts: The Human, The Chimp and the computer. The Human is who you really are. It is the logical, positive accepting part of your psychological make up. The Chimp is also part of your psychological make-up, but is not you. The Chimp is very emotionally driven with a tendency towards catastrophic thinking, black or white decision making, sabotaging your efforts and other unhelpful behaviours. The computer is where all your programmed reactions and behaviours are stored. Both the human and the Chimp can store things into the computer. These things then become your default reactions to certain environments and situations.

The most powerful parts of the book for me were the working model of the mind, creating my own stone of life, a new way to create goals, a powerful and true distinction between goals and dreams, and a new perspective on confidence that really resonated with me.  I will briefly share some insights from each part, but in order to get the full picture of your “psychological universe”, you really need to read the whole book for yourself.

*The working model of the mind

D.r Steve Peters describes the psychological mind as a universe with different planets. Some of the planets also have stabilising moons. This was so valuable because it allowed me to see all the aspects of the mind that D.r Steve Peters considers important. It allowed to highlight which planets I had been neglecting and some that I were never even aware of.

*The Stone of lIfe.

This document is so important that if you gain nothing else from the book, you will learn how to make your own Stone of life. I read mine every day and it allows me to really anchor my mind at the start of the day and keep in mind the thoughts and ideas that make managing your mind-set so much easier. Your stone of life consists of your truths of life, values, your understanding of your own mindset, what is truly important to you (60 sec deathbed activity) and who the members of your troop are.

  • Goal setting

I realised that my goal setting formula was fundamentally flawed after reading this book. I was only considering the human when I was setting goals and neglecting my chimp. This is almost guarantees sabotage and frustration. Learning how to get the Chimp onside was really powerful information that I will apply when I next review my goals. It also highlights the importance of using visuals and having something to measure and track.

Goals and Dreams.

This really made sense to me. You need to understand the difference between goals and dreams to ensure that you are not setting setting your dreams as goals. This is not very helpful for you or your chimp.

Dreams are defined as something that you want to make happen that is not totally in your control. It is something that you would love to have happen but other factors and circumstances can control the final outcome. A goal is something that you have complete control over. Goals make dreams more likely because they are the actions that get you closer to realising your dream.

Example: Dream : To win a race. This is a dream because you cannot control the performance of the other runners in the race. Therefore the end result is not 100 % in your control. What you can do is create goals to get you closer to your dream becoming a reality.

Dream: To win a race.

Goals to support the dream: Regular training, excellent diet, practice with a coach.

Focussing on what you can control, what is in your circle of influence as Steven Covey describes it in the ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, allows you to feel confident that you have prepared as best as you can, and allows you to accept the outcome a little easier as well. If the dream was also your goal, there is so much pressure to achieve, that the anxiety could hamper your performance.

  • Confidence

I really resonated with this section because my confidence was very Chimp based and this was very draining psychologically. The key to your confidence is your perception. How you perceive your efforts makes a huge difference to your confidence levels. What most people (including me) do is we link our confidence to being able to complete a task successfully. So if you were placed in a situation where we felt we could not successfully complete the task, then our confidence would be low. I had always based my confidence on this reasoning. It made sense to me. I couldn’t see any other way to measure confidence. However, there is an alternative.

D.r Peters recommends basing confidence on doing your best. It’s simple but a massive shift in thinking. In every situation, we can focus on doing our best on that day for that particular task. By taking your focus away from performance outcome, you allow the human to stay in control of the performance. If you feel anxious and pressured in a situation, the chimp takes over and this can sometimes lead to you not performing at your best. This thinking has allowed me to realise that there is a way to be more confident in all areas of life. By allowing yourself to focus on doing the best you can, you can get satisfaction even when the outcome was not exactly what you wanted or planned for.

There is so much more fantastic content in the book. I have found it to be amazing for my understanding of how my mind works, and how others can feel when facing their own challenges. I now understand that the Chimp is a part of me, but is not the real me. I now also understand that the Chimp isn’t good or bad it’s a chimp and will act accordingly.

Read the book, master your mind, understand and work with your Chimp.

smiling chimp

Mine is called Austin.

I wish you the best.

Unleash your Power!

superman

One of my goals for the new year was to find an outlet for my singing. I was blessed to find a gospel choir in my local area  http://hcgchoir.org/   I have been attending the choir since February, and it has been an amazing source of spiritual energy in my life. What I love about it, is that when we sing songs about God and Jesus, the power of the belief and spirit shines through us all as a collective voice. I feel so inspired to sing my best and really bring through the emotions of the songs we are singing. To me, it feels like my weekly worship. I feel a connection to God when I sing these songs and a deep sense of satisfaction.

I also love the power the choir has when we sing in unison. During the very first week, when we started to sing in harmonies, I realised that it was the perfect place for me. Everybody there is so warm and friendly and I instantly felt at home in the choir’s atmosphere.

Doing this has reminded me that our lives are anything but 1 dimensional and we have to try and honour the parts of us that want to be expressed. If you are an musician at heart, you must find a way to express your musicality. It is part of who you are. Without honouring that part of your life, you will not feel complete. That completeness was missing from my life for years because I wasn’t using one of my gifts.

Sometimes, because something doesn’t pay the bills or is not a source of income, we can dismiss that passion as unimportant and not productive.  This is a mistake. Expressing who you really are is what gives life its true richness. Burying aspects of your character will never make you happy, even if you have all the money in the world. What is the point of chasing just the material form of success? It won’t make up for the joy you would have felt doing whatever it is that lights you up and awakens your power within. This is what inspires people the most and is a way you can give back to the world.  It also puts you in a better place psychologically which can only help when striving for success and building your personal empire!

It’s taken me years to realise that the people I admire the most don’t fit the mould of normal. They are all unique in their own way as everyone in life clearly is. The difference though was their willingness to embrace who they were fully without apology and without concern for popularity. This is still one of the biggest challenges I find in my life. It is challenging to be myself when it is so much easier to just put on a mask and embrace the rat race lifestyle.

I wouldn’t call myself an anti-conformist, as I’m not that extreme about it and this isn’t a black and white issue. I have taken the time to sit down and write what my values are, and I use these to make decisions and work out the path of my life. Without my own values, I would be relying on others to give me values and that is a scary proposition that I do not want to entertain. No government, boss, family member or friend is going to decide my values for me. This is my life, and I need to be responsible for my own decisions and actions. This, I believe, is a true expression of personal power.

Are there any goals, dreams or little actions that you have been holding back from doing?

What gains (financial, spiritual, intellectual, love, happiness, peace, health) could this action bring?

Isn’t it worth trying if it makes your life richer?

I tried just one, and it has made a world of difference.

Show the world who you really are and claim back your power!

I wish you the best

Look within. Wisdom from Kung fu Panda

I have been lucky enough this new year to spend lots of time with my family and friends. One particular morning, my son and I watched Kung-fu Panda. I have never seen it and thought it was a great movie that had some key principles that we could all try to apply to our lives. One which jumped out was the revelation of the secret ingredient.

This scene demonstrates beautifully the idea of belief. If we can generate a belief and hold onto it strongly, it can inspire us to greater things. The external search for that one missing thing to stop procrastination can never compensate for the internal feeling to act generated by belief. The realisation that Po (The Panda) makes is that he is good enough to fulfill his own destiny. He has everything he needs within and he just needs to bring it out.

A new year is a new chance for us all to aim for goals and dreams we have in life armed with the belief that we are good enough to attain it. Yes we will have to learn and make mistakes along the way, but those mistakes help us to grow and develop into the person we want to be.

No amount of hacks and special tricks from ‘gurus’ can compete with what we have within. We are all special and unique. Kung fu panda reminded me that belief in ourselves is an amazing source of power inside all of us.
Go for what you want today and claim your personal power!

Wishing you all the best for 2015

Shaun

Want to learn the skills of the world’s greatest persuaders?

Do you find yourself banging your head against a brick wall when dealing with other people? Maybe you would like to learn how to persuade people that you have a good idea. It might be that you want to convince your child that going to bed is a good idea, or trying to convince your boss that you are the right person for the promotion.
This book could save you many headaches. This book will provide you with many solutions if you follow it. I honestly believe that this book if studied and applied could give you the skills to negotiate any issue or situation that involves dealing with other people. The book I’m talking about is the classic novel ‘How to win friends and influence people,’ I’ve not been re-reading it for long, but there are some principles that just ring true with how things should be with your relationships with others.
You will find this book to still be relevant even though it was first published way back in 1936. Human nature hasn’t changed that much. I plan to produce a much longer study of the book in future posts, but here are some of my main takeaway points so far. If these sound like ideas you would like to explore further, then I strongly recommend you read or listen to the whole book.
Principle 1: Criticism is useless. This is a massive concept and a huge challenge to normal thinking. People revere critics and are encouraged to take on board criticism and take responsibility for mistakes. Carnegie argues that people very rarely blame themselves for anything. Now this isn’t the ideal, we are dealing with reality here and 9 times out of ten, wouldn’t you agree that this is true? The book explains an alternative to criticism. Hint: it starts within.
Principle 2: People only do something because they want to do it. This idea is so simple, and yet so true. We can be forced to do things in the short term and through aggression and fear. True leaders create great enthusiasm through the way they treat their employees. If you would like to learn the secrets of these great leaders, then this book has the answers.
Principle 3: Become genuinely interested in other people. This principle explains the uncanny ability some people have to gain rapport with others very quickly. If you would like to learn how these things are done, then you might want to have a look at this book.
I know I’m probably preaching to the converted here, because most people who seem to read my blog are interested in their own personal development and growth. If you want some fresh new ideas on how to really get people on your side, in a genuine organic way, then read this book. I absolutely love it and am trying to bring some of these key principles into my life right now.
Be awesome.
Shaun

Love, crazy work and accepting my body. What a week!

Reflection is so important. It allows us to spot patterns, replay important events and take stock on our life. Reflection allows us to also show gratitude for what we have as well as giving us pointers to reach the goals we want in the future. Each week I am going to quickly reflect on my week in different ways. Gratitude, achievements, health, and life.
good-relationships-quote-love-quotes-pictures-pics-sayings
Gratitude.
My wife and I had our date night this Monday. Every month on the 10th, my wife has organised for us to do something together that I have no idea about. This has been to celebrate the 10th year of our relationship. In that time we have more fantastic memories than I can count. So my main area of gratitude this week to reflect on is the incredible journey my wife and I have been on so far and all the ways that she has helped me to become the person I am today. I love you Annemarie.
Achievements.
I managed to keep on top of my workload in a very intense week at school. I had an observation, a load of paperwork to get in, a book scrutiny, and on top of that, I actually had to do some teaching. Despite the work schedule, I managed to keep on top of my stress levels and had a good week. I also really wanted to keep posting on my blog and I have managed to do that as well.
Health
I’ve been trying to work on my perception of what healthy is. I have written about this quite recently.
https://sbrowne83.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/what-is-health/
Due to this, I have started re-reading the Gabriel method. This is a fantastic health book that takes a much more holistic view of being our best physically. The author Jon Gabriel revolutionised his own health and sorted out his psychology as well as his body.
My perception of my own body has always been slightly warped. I have realised that there have been not many moments in my life when I have satisfied and happy with my weight. So at the minute, fat loss is not important to me. I have to work on self acceptance of my own body at any weight. So my health goal is one I can imagine many can relate to. I want to have a healthy image of my self. I’m going to work on becoming happy with my body. This is so important because it will impact not just on me, but on my children too. If they see daddy constantly unhappy with his body and subtly putting himself down, they will think it is normal to do themselves. I want to address this not just for me but for the sake of my children.
What have been your main take home points from this week?
What are you looking forward to next week?
They are the main things floating around in my head as I prepare for another week to begin. I hope you all have an awesome week.
I wish you the best
Shaun

Choices choices…..

Plan B
I was planning on doing a pretty intense Kettlebell workout tonight. I am in week three of five of the 10,000 swing challenge that I have already mentioned. It turns out my Daughter Ava had alternative plans for the evening. In between writing these sentences, I am keeping a close watch on a little girl who has been crawling for about a week. She is lightning fast and keeping me on my toes. I’m not going to have the energy to do the workout planned for tonight.
This is where the beauty of a plan B comes into play. I have got a quick 12 minute workout that I do in place of my original plan so that I keep the consistency going. Doing something is better than doing nothing and sometimes life does get in the way of your great intentions. I could have worked out this morning, but Ava (A.K.A M.s non sleep) had us up at midnight and then 4. Safe to say, I wasn’t feeling like knocking out 500 swings.
So having flexibility with your plans is important. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment or inconsistency with an all or nothing mentality with your workouts.