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How To Build Great New Habits For 2017

1024 768 Clare Evans, Personal and Business Coach

Habits Image

Yes, it’s that time of year: we’ve eaten too much, drunk too much, generally overindulged and done little exercise over the holiday period.

Whether you created one or more resolutions for this year or you decided to go ‘Dry’ in January, to stop smoking, lose weight or improve your career, what daily habits have you put in place to help you achieve them?

Perhaps you never make resolutions because, like many others, you know you’ll have given up by the end of the month.

Create a Daily Routine with a few great new habits for 2017 that will help you achieve your year’s goals to improve your career, health and wellbeing.

If you want to make a difference to your life and step out of your comfort zone use these tips when building your new habits for 2017.

“Write your goals for this year down and put them where you can review them daily to act as a reminder as you plan your day.”

1. Know what you want. Get really clear about what you want and why you want it.

  • What is your compelling reason for change?
  • What’s your overriding motivation?
  • What are the results you want?
  • How will you look and feel and where will you be in 12 months’ time?

2. Commit. Not only to yourself but tell someone what you’re doing and you’re more likely to stick with it. Write your goals for this year down and put them where you can review them daily to act as a reminder as you plan your day.

3. Create a plan to help you achieve them. Be realistic, set aside the time and space in which to do it. Develop your own routine for your success habits, whether it’s daily habits or a weekly activity. Link a new habit to something you already do without thinking or having to make time for it. E.g. Planning your day with your morning coffee or on your commute to work.

What are the daily habits that will support you in achieving your goals?

4. Start a chain – start logging your new daily habits or create a tracking checklist. If you can keep the chain going, you’ll be more inspired and motivated not to break it, especially as you see it grow.

Try one of the many apps that log and track habits or create a Habit Tracker in your diary or journal.

“Having established one good habit it can have a beneficial effect and an impact on two or three other daily habits.”

5. Team up with a buddy – you can keep each other motivated and keep going when it gets tough. Being motivated by a group or having other people go through the same thing with you spurs you on to keep going. It’s why people join slimming groups or work with a personal trainer.

Get yourself a coach. They’ll provide unconditional support and motivation and will not only help you identify your bad habits but help replace them with good ones.

6. Start small and build on your success. Having established one good habit it can have a beneficial effect and an impact on two or three other daily habits. Introduce additional habits as your new habits become automatic or part of your routine.

7. Modify, adjust, update. What works for one person, might not work for someone else. If you realise you’ve taken on too much too quickly or something’s not working for you, stop, take a step back. Refocus, adjust and modify. What can you change?

Pick one or two things to change at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed or disheartened. As one habit becomes ‘normal’ and part of your daily routine, add in a new one.

8. Keep going. Sometimes it’s hard to get started but once you gain momentum and start to see the results, it’s easier to keep going. If you stall, don’t give up. (See point 7).

Once you’ve dealt with the resistance or reluctance, taken the first step it’s easier to enjoy the challenge and feeling of achievement.

If it was always easy, we’d never get that sense of satisfaction or appreciate the effort we’ve made.

The most important thing is to start, keep moving forward, day by day.

If you’d like to get started, check your current habits with a free Time Audit. Get 50% off a personalised Time Audit feedback session in January and create your daily habits for success in 2017.


No more Miss Nice Girl

1024 682 Caroline Flanagan


Nice girls are stressed and overwhelmed. If you want better balance, perhaps it’s time to say “No” more often.

Perhaps the biggest discovery I’ve made in my life and career is also the most obvious: By saying “no” to most things that cross my desk or kitchen table, I’m focused, more productive and am rarely overwhelmed by the demands of modern life. The benefits don’t end there. Before now, it all seemed so complicated. All those projects and tasks vying for my attention and time; all that confusion about what’s urgent or important or both, and how to divide my limited time between them. Does any of this sound familiar?

If you’ve got a career and a family, you’ll be no stranger to stress and overwhelm. For years that’s how I was because despite juggling a career, kids and a busy household, I was inadvertently saying yes to everything – endless streams of emails, back to back meetings on days I had too much on, requests for favours from friends and last minute pleas from my kids to create costumes, attend rugby matches and sit through music concerts on a Monday evening. I said yes too often without discrimination and became my own worst enemy, colluding in my own stress, exhaustion and demise.

For a word of just two letters, “no” is surprisingly difficult to use. Whether talking to those we love, those we like or those we respect – not to mention those we work for – it’s not a word that trips easily off the tongue. How many times have you said yes to the wrong assignment, to a meeting you knew to be a waste of time or a family get together you’ve been dreading? And how many times have you said yes to an offer or appointment you know you can’t make just to postpone the pain of saying no?

My friend Andrea illustrated the point when we met for a coffee last Thursday. She arrived looking stressed and frazzled. “I’m exhausted” she said, her words thick with tiredness. “I’m totally stressed out. I was up until 2a.m. finishing a marketing proposal that needed to go out today. What really annoys me is that I had blocked out the whole afternoon so that I could get it done in plenty of time. But then Judy called and said she urgently needed my help with an application and could I help her out.” As Andrea took a moment to exhale, the simplicity of the problem presented itself. “Why didn’t you just say No?” I asked, as sensitively as I could. “Well I should have” she replied with resignation, “but she really needed my help and I didn’t want to let her down”.

“Didn’t want to let her down”. I’ve heard it so many times before, from too many clients struggling with their own compulsion to take on the weight of the world, and all too often in the past from my own inner critic. It’s a classic weakness, displayed occasionally by men but all too often by women who, when it comes to saying no, seem disadvantageously wired from birth: eager to please, keen to be liked and desperate not to let anyone down.


The compulsion to be nice; the fear of disapproval; the willingness to avoid confrontation – I’ve learned that whatever your motives, saying yes all the time is bad for your health, disastrous for your work life balance and damaging to your sanity. There’s simply no room to build a business empire/stratospheric career/work-family balance when you say yes to everything and everyone. The secret to success, I discovered, is selection: the uncompromising selection of only those things that matter, and a ruthless rejection of pretty much everything else. In other words, stop saying Yes all the time and get comfortable with No.

Which is exactly how it happened for me. I started saying No and I kept on going. It felt awkward at first. Actually, not just awkward. At times it was downright painful. Every time I wanted to say it, my heart rate would quicken and my breathing would become shallow. My palms would start to sweat, and though heavily disguised by the colour of my skin, I could always feel the fiery heat of shame rush to my cheeks.

But I persevered. No more constantly checking email, responding to Facebook alerts and answering the phone every time it rings. No more saying yes to small favours, and allowing myself to be volunteered by others to take on big tasks. No more feedback surveys, no more loyalty cards, no more kids birthday parties on a Sunday afternoon (Saturdays are ok) when we normally have our quality family time. No more meetings on a Monday (a bad way to start the week), no going out three nights in a row (exhausting), no kids TV in the week (anti-social). No. No thank you. No I’m sorry. Unfortunately not… I would have loved to but…

I admit that some things are hard to say no to. Like a tyrannical boss or a best friends cry for help during a serious crisis. But it’s saying no to the little things, actually, that make all the difference. All those daily ‘urgencies’ that bully their way to the top of your to do list, cluttering your head and leaving little time for the big picture stuff, the things that really matter.

As I got better at saying no to the small stuff, that constant feeling of being overwhelmed and over stretched began to subside, and so did the Fear. You know – the Fear that life is passing too quickly before your eyes? Well that Fear began to fade. And I watched with delight as small chunks of free space began to appear in my diary, space that I could allocate to the important not urgent stuff, to learning, to relaxing, to time those I cared about and even time for me.

It’s hard to convey the extraordinary freedom and control there is to gain just from learning to say No more often. You have to try it for yourself. If you’re constantly feeling overstretched and overwhelmed, forever despairing about how much there is to do and having too few hours in the day, then the solution may be staring you in the face.

Think you won’t be able to do it? Trust me, all it takes is a little practice. When you see the difference it makes to your life, there’ll be no stopping you. Until then, here are 3 suggestions to get you started:

1. Say yes to what matters – If you struggle with the very concept of saying no, why not turn it on its head? Saying no basically means you’re choosing to prioritise something else. When I say no to a meeting on a Monday morning, I know I’m saying yes to a productive week, and yes to the feeling that I am in control of my life and work. When I say no to a glass of wine on a Tuesday evening, I’m saying yes to a good night’s sleep and more energy in the morning. Focus on the benefits and it becomes so much easier.

2. Be disloyal – If you’re one of those people who likes loyalty cards and mailing lists then, it’s time to rethink. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to say no to nectar points and weekly newsletters from shops I buy from once a year. Who needs to have to carry all those cards around all the time, and who needs all that extra crap in their inbox? Isn’t it full enough already? And how many times have you bought a coffee or popped into a shop to buy something you didn’t need just because you had the loyalty card? It’s time to ditch the cards. Being loyal to organisations and brands may, in the tiniest of increments, save you money, but what about the cost to your time?

3. Get creative – saying no to a friend or family member can be really hard, so why not come up with an alternative. Saying “I’m sorry I can’t manage x BUT, I can do y” or “I know someone else who could help” allows you to say no while still showing you care. Practice coming up with creative alternatives and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is.

Even if you don’t feel stressed and overwhelmed much of the time, we could all benefit from saying no more often and clearing some space in our schedules and in our heads so we can spend more time focusing on what really matters. What will you say no to today?


Looking to make a career move?

1024 768 admin


Recently, Lifestyles4Lawyers launched its Legal Jobs board and, as part of this new feature of the site, we will have regular contributions from our partnering recruitment consultants and other experts in this field to guide you through the maze that is your career.

To kick things off, we are looking at tips for job hunting: some dos and don’ts for what is a massively important decision for your career and that impacts on your life as a whole. It’s stressful and will sometimes make you question the decisions you are making, but if done properly, will give you what you are looking for.

Do think carefully about what you want to change

Are you unhappy or unfulfilled at your current firm, or is it something deeper? Could it in fact be that you are no longer getting fulfilment from the legal profession? If this is the real issue, then moving to a new firm may not be the answer. However, before you decide to jump the legal ship, be very sure that your problem is this fundamental. It may be that you simply need a new challenge within the profession because you are not getting it where you are. An earlier article we wrote discussed the importance of keeping staff happy and it could be that what you are looking for is work that tests your abilities further.

Have in your mind the exact reason why you want the move. Is it to progress your career? Or do you want to wind down with less time at the office? Are you purely motivated money? Or do you want to specialise in one particularly area, but cannot do this at your current firm?

Have you talked to your employer or head of department about your concerns? As a valued member of the team, your boss will want to know if you are unhappy and will try to accommodate you where possible. If you don’t feel valued, then perhaps it is time to move on.

Be confident, but be prepared

Make sure your CV is always up-to-date. That might sound like a tip to always have one eye on something better, but your CV is also your record of career achievements. If too much time goes by, you might not remember that complex deal in sufficient detail to really sell what you did.

Next, make sure your CV is tailored to your potential new employers by doing plenty of research. If your skills don’t match their requirements, then it won’t matter how great you think you are. Knowing the firms you are applying to will enable you to show the value you can add to them. Because that’s what it comes down to: not what you can do, but what you can do for them.


Be proactive There are jobs boards – none better than Lifestyles4Lawyers’ Legal Jobs – but don’t wait for jobs vacancies to come to you. Not all jobs are advertised and some firms will create jobs for high quality lawyers with something unique to offer. So when you do your research, look at firms that might not necessarily have vacancies, but that you feel you could bring something new and valuable to.

Take the opportunity to do some really good networking. And by ‘networking’ we mean both social media and speaking to real people. If you have built up your professional network, there’s no better place to start than contacting people you know. While you may not want to necessarily tell people you are looking for another job, it is an opportunity to sell yourself directly with decision-makers. Networking is part of the job these days and the more you do it, the more confident you will get and the more doors may open up for you.


Don’t give up, don’t lose focus

Once you know what you want, then go for it because the right career is out there for you, whether it is in law or out of it. For those of you who just want a change of employer, there will be a firm out there that fits you. It requires you to show your commitment and desire to work there, so always be at the top of your game because employers respond to the vibe that you give off. If you go into an interview and appear too laid back, even if you really want it, you won’t give off the right impression and the people interviewing you won’t think you want the job. Go for confident and relaxed. The people on the other side of the desk know that interviews are nerve-wracking, so if you can keep your cool, but express your desire to work for them, you’ll show them you are a cool customer that can cope under pressure.

And don’t forget to show at every interview what you can do – but remember, it’s what you can do for them.


How’s Your Work Life Balance?

1024 651 Clare Evans, Personal and Business Coach

Worklife balance

Do you ever feel that your work life balance is slightly out of kilter? Are you spending more time at work than you’d like? Perhaps you’ve realised that your working day has become extended longer and longer and you often find you’re working late into the evening or at weekends.

If you think parts of your life might need a little attention, take a look at each of the following areas. Give each one a score out of 10. If one or more areas are out of balance or lower than the rest – you’ll no doubt be feeling tired, stressed and unhappy.
Health – being fit and healthy.
Are you with the optimum weight range for your height? Do you exercise regularly or are you generally active? How’s your diet – do you rely on sweet snacks, caffeine and alcohol to keep you going? When was the last time you had a health check – visited the dentist, got your eyes tested, checked your blood pressure?
Money – having enough to meet your needs.
How often do you balance your personal finances? Do you know what you need each month? What debts do you have – credit card bills or loans? How well do you manage your expenses, investments and savings? Are you financially secure?

Personal Growth – improve your knowledge and skills.
Are you able to work on your own personal development? What can you do this year to improve your own situation or to learn a new skill. Are there any habits you’d like to change?
Partner/Relationship – being happy.
There’s nothing wrong with being single as long as you’re happy with where you are? If you’re in a relationship do you understand your partner’s needs and are they a priority? How much time do you spend together and apart? Are effectively do you communicate?
Social Life – time to relax and enjoy yourself.
How regularly do you take time out for yourself doing something you enjoy? When was the last time you went to the cinema, theatre, restaurant or treated yourself? When we’re busy this is an area that often gets neglected.
Career/Business – enjoy your work.
How enjoyable and fulfilling is your work? Are you able to improve your career prospects, gain promotion or plan for your retirement? How is your relationship with your boss, colleagues and others around you?
Friends/Family – spend time with them.
Do you see your family regularly? Is there someone you haven’t spoken to for a while? Pick up the phone and talk to them today. What could you do to spend more time with your friends and family?
Physical Environment – enjoy your surroundings.
Where you live and work has an important effect on how you feel day to day. Is your office organised and a great place to work? If you’re not happy and comfortable, think about what you can do to improve it – inside and out.
If you score less that 5 in any area, focus on that area first. What action could you take to make a change? What would it take to score a 9-10 in every area?

career change

7 key steps to making a career change

1024 692 iPerform

time for change

We spend approximately 50% of our waking hours at work. If you love what you do, the happier you can be with other areas of your life. If your work is getting you down or you find you’re just living to work, you might want to think about trying something different.


Here are a few things to consider if you’d like a career change:

  1. How happy are you at work?  What do you enjoy about your work and if you could, what if anything would you change?
  2. Do you love what you do?  What is your passion and what motivates you?  Do you know your core values and does your work allow you to live them?  Use these to guide you in your work and in life and you’ll be happier.
  3. What are you good at?  What skills and abilities do you have – either something you use on a daily basis or something you don’t get a chance to use?
  4. Where do you want to go?  Are you looking for promotion, salary increase or a complete change?
  5. Work with a coach or mentor.  Find someone you respect, who’s where you want to be or done what you want to do and ask if they’ll be your mentor or give you advice and support.
  6. Keep your CV up-to-date.  Be ready to take advantage of any opportunity that might present itself if you’re looking to change jobs.  Get out and about, start networking and find those opportunities.  If you want a change, you need to make it happen.  Opportunities will present themselves if you’re open to them.  Many professionals will find new career opportunities through talking to people they know.
  7. Take control of your own career.  Where do you want to be a year, three years from now?  There is always something you can do to change and grow your career.  If something’s not working, don’t be afraid to change it.
  8. Jump!  Sometimes it takes courage to make a move – either to a new job or to do something completely different.  However, the longer you stay in your comfort zone, the harder it is to make a change.

– How could you make your work more enjoyable or interesting?

– Could you improve the relationships with the people you work with?

– Could you do the same thing but for a different firm?

Where could you make improvements to your current situation?  Training for the job or getting additional qualifications could improve your job satisfaction, your prospects and enable you to take on a new role.

Sometimes you have to start at the bottom in order to get where you want to be in a few years time.  Have your goal in mind so you don’t lose sight of what you’re doing and more importantly why!

What training is available to enable you to pursue an entirely different career?  Many people start up their own business in order to find work they really enjoy.

Work with a coach to challenge yourself, give you a new perspective and help clarify your goals.

Spend some time thinking about what you want from your career.  What does it mean to you and how important is your work to your life?  What are you good at and what type of work do you enjoy?

The security of your existing job may stop you from doing something you really want.  You won’t know until you try.  Make plans to ease the transition.

If you’d like support, motivation and ideas to help you make a career change then call me to see if coaching could help you make that change and get you a job you really enjoy.

Adam Galinsky, the Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business Management at Columbia Business School, who conducted the study, discovered that Military Leaders, CEOs and Politicians who were better at seeing another person’s point of view, generally had better results with employee engagement and in resolving issues.

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