Tag Archives: inspiration

Quick Fix Tips for When You’re Feeling Stuck

Somebody said something really insightful to me today. Something that struck a chord. In fact, it felt more like a clunk settling down within me as a giant piece of a jigsaw fell into place.

And, would you believe it? I can’t actually remember exactly what it was that they said. How dumb is that?

I do know that it was something to do with letting go of fear and allowing yourself to go with the flow. But much more elegantly and cogently put.

I feel a little like words are escaping me right now. I am tongue tied. I can’t express myself how I’d like. But I still have all these amazing thoughts spinning around inside. Moments of recognition and understanding. How do I best express and share them? Is that in fact what I should be doing?

Some things I know for definite. Small things, easy to encapsulate. These can be my jumping off point. My base list.

1. Drinking less alcohol is better for me. For my health, my productivity, my energy and my mood. It is totally worth cutting out alcohol midweek and keeping it to a two drink maximum at the weekend. This more than any other one change can make the single biggest and easiest to achieve difference. I need to remember this. I need to remind myself regularly until it becomes easy, comfortable habit.

2. Exercise. I’ve known for ages that exercise is a fantastic mood and energy mover for me. But try fantasize as I might I have yet to turn myself into a hungry running machine who pounds the tracks come rain or hail and regardless of whether my son wants to go to the park or not. Again, the getting started is so hard. The getting to a point where you’re hooked on the healthy behavior and will move heaven and earth to do it. Which is why the seven minute workout and five minute abs apps are so great. There can be no chance of wriggling out of doing them. Jeez, even the Pope could find seven spare minutes in his day.

3. Writing and Blogging. I’m desperate to get back into my blogging. I love it. Although you would be forgiven for imagining this was not the case given my recent blogging output or rather lack thereof. I need to start again, posting and publishing. Oiling the creaky joints of my writing skeleton. A post a day, come what may. Here or there or anywhere. As long as I write and commit to paper the thoughts and analysis that constantly whirr in my head begging for expression I know that, once again, it will get easier. I will hit my stride, find my flow and the inspiration will come again.

That’ll do for now. A three point plan to start me on the way to happiness, to shake me out of my stupor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy and I have every reason to be content. But there is a little niggle of dissatisfaction, of stuckness, of unfulfilled potential that, if left untended, could prove dangerous. Time to shake things up.

How about you? What quick fix tips work for you when you find yourself stagnating or lacking inspiration?


Scary Stuff

Yesterday I had to do some stuff I really didn’t want to. It was scary. But I had promised that I would do it. When I got to where I was going I actually walked past the door, heart pounding, mind racing through scenarios: could I lie? say I’d been when I hadn’t? The answer was no.

I turned on my heel and in the rapid, no time to think way of a jump into cold water, I pushed the door open and flung myself into the reception. With the receptionist’s eyes upon me, I had no choice but to open my mouth and start talking. It’s the getting going that’s always the hardest.

When I got to my next meeting the surroundings were even more intimidating than in the first but buoyed by my earlier success (I’m judging being brave enough to attempt something scary as success in itself here) I found myself confident enough to just push on through.

By the time I got home yesterday evening I was on a high and feeling super-motivated and inspired. I could do anything. I could take on the world.

It reminded me of why I like climbing. The digging deep we do when we really need to pull it out of the bag, when we’re facing down our fears. The fight we have to put up when flight is not an option. The hanging on because the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. Pushing yourself and how good that makes you feel. Retrospectively, at least 😉

Scary stuff. It keeps us on our toes.

Begin It Now

There’s no time like the present, as the old saying goes. And in a very real sense the present moment is all we have. The past is gone, the future not yet here and none of us knows what our lifetime ration of moments may be. So we have the present moment.

I am a thinker and a dreamer. A planner of great plans. I am also a prime procrastinator. Always put off till tomorrow that which would be better started today is my undesired but deeply engrained motto. It’s not what I would write if I sat to write a motto but sadly it is written in my veins.

There are many problems with being a prime procrastinator. Deadlines missed, fines incurred, opportunities missed. Why would you choose to do that to yourself? You wouldn’t. It is not a conscious decision. It is a behavior born of fear.

Nameless, unspecific fear. Fear of revealing too much of yourself and realizing you don’t like what you see. Fear of really going for it and failing. If you don’t ever really try you can’t ever really fail.

But if you never really try you can never really succeed either. And you can learn a million times more from an honest failure than from a cowardly act of self sabotage. And if you really try, and really allow yourself to learn along the way then eventually, at some point, success is guaranteed.

All you have to do is stop playing the procrastination game. Take your dream and begin it now.

Embracing Difficulty

Back in October I went on a rock climbing holiday in Catalunya, northern Spain. I climbed for 6 days on – the most I’ve done in YEARS. It was fab. I was happy and fit and ticking grades that are at the upper reaches for me (no pun intended).

Then I returned home to rainy weather, followed by a week of solo child-care and illness, all amounting to a month of no climbing or pretty much any exercise at all. The weight that had fallen off me effortlessly in Catalunya crept back on and the easy flow of climbing fled.

This weekend I got out on rock for the first time since then. Saturday was a disappointing slap in the face for me. I did a paltry three routes, backing off two of them before the top. Climbing grades that were my warm up in Catalunya, here I was nervous and incapable. Back to square one. I ended the day in a foul  mood.

Sunday we got out again. Again it was a gorgeous day. Climbing in a bikini top in mid-December has got to be something to smile about, right? And I decided to smile and enjoy the sensation of being out on rock again and to forget about the grades. To accept that climbing really is just hard. Even the ‘easy’ grades don’t necessarily feel easy. It always requires concentration, application and, above all, confidence.

Beating yourself up over finding something difficult doesn’t achieve anything. It puts you in a worse frame of mind and sets you up to fail. Embracing the difficulty, enjoying the complexity, getting lost in the workings of the movement; all of these allow you to forget yourself in the moment. Once you get in your flow your chances of success shoot up astronomically. What’s more, even if you don’t succeed on a particular occasion all is not lost, for this way you will enjoy the process and take the learning from it.

On this Monday morning I am sore and tired but happy. Now I am facing in to a week of work and life challenges that threaten to overwhelm me at times. But I am going to take my eyes off each end goal for now and I am going to knuckle down to the doing of their composite tasks. I will lose myself in the doing and hope to awaken at week’s end with a number of important goals completed, or at least that much nearer.

Happy Monday everyone!


A Day of Ups and Downs

What a funny old day it’s been. A day off by default as some clients cancelled on me, I decided to turn the disappointment to my advantage and to make the most of a beautiful day. So off we snuck climbing. Only when we arrived at the crag and uncoiled our rope we realised that we didn’t have a belay device with us. A rope’s no use if you can’t brake it when you need to (i.e. when someone takes a fall or needs lowering off in a controlled manner.) Despite my partner’s on-the-spot lesson in belaying via a Munter hitch (a knot, for the non-climbers or scouts amongst you) when we discovered that furthermore we didn’t have a single locking karabiner with which to use the hitch we decided that actually maybe the Universe was simply telling us that we should skip the climbing today. So we did.

Defeated and not a little demoralised we trudged off back down the hillside. Our packs felt heavier than before, the absence of that small yet crucial piece of hardware vastly over-compensated for by the crushing weight of our own stupidity. Instead of feeling energized by a day of activity in the outdoors we were feeling tired from doing nothing.

Still, at least we had other tasks that we could attend to in the locality. After we dumped our currently entirely useless climbing sacks back in the car, my partner headed off with his camera to get some shots of the various crags for a guidebook he is working on. I stayed behind in the tiny mountain village where we were parked and fortuitously struck up a conversation with a local goat herder. Fortuitous not just because he was an interesting as well as very pleasant guy but also because he wants to sell his lovely stone-built cottage in this amazingly beautiful, unspoilt mountain village.

You see I work in property and those darned clients from this morning had cancelled viewings with me because the properties I had to show them just weren’t the right kind of thing for them. Frustrating. Ah, but this property could be really interesting. A special place with a unique appeal. If this morning’s clients don’t fall for it someone else certainly will. (I’d buy it myself if I could!)

But more than that the whole interaction and chance discovery re-inspired me and reminded me how you can sometimes find just what you are looking for when you have just about given up hope.


Stories for Children

My son is three years old. (He’s also having a nap right now. A pertinent point as it explains a. why I’m here writing and b. why I might abandon this post mid-way through.) Three is a fun age to be around. He can talk well and understand what is said to him. He can remember things and make associations and extrapolate meanings. (All talents that conversely seem to be declining in me, as the train of exhaustion that is parenthood continues to plough a furrow of disarray through my life.)

He can live in a world of his own imagination for hours at a time, supplying scripts off-the-cuff for hosts of toys and random inanimate objects. It’s fun just to sit and watch and wonder. I can happily lose myself in observing him losing himself in his rich internal world. (Meta much?)

Eager to hitch my wagon to his star I thought that now would be the perfect time to fish for some creative inspiration from his shiny and brand new consciousness. If  I sound like the worst possible kind of creative vampire, please don’t judge me too harshly. I blame the pressure of trying to post every day. But there’s less than a week left of NaBloPoMo and I’m pretty sure I’ll return to my non-vampiric state once that pressure is off. Here’s hoping.

Oh, the other crucial fact of life around a three year old that I forgot to mention is that it takes HOURS to get them to go to sleep at night. Seriously. Hours. Nobody tells you that before you have kids. Or if they do you either fail to hear it or fail to understand the significance of it. This fact goes some way to explaining my current state of constant exhaustion and creative stagnation. BUT it also gives me the perfect opportunity for experimenting with sucking the creative juices from my infant’s brain  a little creative brainstorming with a three year old.

Every evening is the same. After approximately 15 ‘just one more’ story book renditions I manage to flick the light switch to darkness on the proviso that I lay down in the toddler’s bed and tell him some more tales of my own devising. It’s a special time, lying there in the darkness together and spinning a story as he (hopefully) winds down from the day and relaxes into sleepfulness.

So my plan? Ask for a little more direction on the storytelling. Request prompts. ‘What kind of story would you like to hear? What do you want me to tell you about?’ Simples. Listen to the target audience and tailor new productions specifically to their needs.

I’m not quite sure what I expected but the prompts, when they came, somewhat took the wind out of my sails. ‘Shoes,’ he said, looking at his shoe rack, ‘I’d like a story about shoes.’ Oohkay. Or: ‘A bed.’ Or: ‘I wanna story about a wall.’

Not quite the rich vein of creative inspiration I had been hoping for. But it did get me thinking about how the mundane can be so important in the fabric of both our lives and our stories. The anchors that root us to place and character. The reassurance of the familiar. The resonance of recognition.

So I told my stories about shoes and walls and beds and about a little boy called Jack who is loved so well by his mummy and his daddy and his doggie and his cat. And, eventually, I got to peel myself away from him and up off his tiny toddler bed and with a kiss on his cheek and a whispered ‘I love you’ I snuck silently out his bedroom door.

Stories can come from anywhere. The very best ones are born of love.



Putting Paid to Procrastination Through Physicality

I read something recently that suggested that a sure-fire way to end procrastination and to start you ploughing through your to-do list is to turn the next item on your to-action list into precisely that: an action. Take a task and break it down. Pick out the physical aspect of it and do that.

So, for example, there’s a niggling noise coming from your car that you really need to get sorted. You need to book it in to the garage. If you’re anything like me ‘Book car into garage’ could sit and gather dust on a list for a very long time. Perhaps if you phrased it differently? ‘Pick up the phone and ring garage.’ A call to physical action may elicit a more positive response.

You want to write a novel? Well, first you need to go pick up your pen and notepad (or laptop, natch!) and set yourself up at your desk. Open the page and get scrawling.

It may sound over-simplified, especially in my rather non-fully-informed telling of it but yet, even despite my worst efforts, there is a kernel of truth in there that remains evident. Focusing attention on a simple physical action helps to switch off the chatter of over-thinking that is the breeding ground of procrastination. We move ourselves a little bit closer to our goals without putting our minds into a spin.

Movement is the key. As we are moving we gather a momentum that carries us forward. Procrastination is born of stagnation and gives birth to more stagnation. The procrastinator is the deer caught in the headlights. Stuck. If only he can drag his eyes away from the oncoming truck for long enough to make one bound, he can leap free and gallop off through the woods.

Taking this theory a step further I, personally, find that physical movement for its own sake also has a hugely positive impact on both my mental well-being and my ability to stop procrastinating. If I get my body moving my mind will follow along behind, my thoughts gradually falling into step with my physical rhythm. Quite simply, I can’t fail to feel energised and positive and ready for action after a brisk walk.

And with that, I’m off out with the dog.