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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.


Turn Your Resolutions Into Habits

1024 576 Clare Evans, Personal and Business Coach


At this time of year many of us have set New Year Resolutions – you want to lose weight, get fit, eat more healthily, earn more money, learn how to do x, y, z.  Sometime around the middle of February, if not sooner, most people will have given up their gym membership and fallen back into their old ways of working and living.
If you’ve managed to stick with your Resolutions so far, well done.  If not, don’t give up, it’s still only January. Get yourself back on track, re-commit to what is you want and keep going.
It takes between 20-30 days or repetitions to develop a new habit. Keep that in mind and don’t be too hard on yourself. Each successful day brings you one step closer to creating those new habits.
Create new habits
You’ve had a life-time of learned behaviours and developed habits to get you where you are today. Some of those habits are good, some not so good or don’t serve you so well.  You can’t expect to change engrained habits overnight.
Remember how long it took you to learn how to drive a car or ride a bicycle. It was hard work at first and took several attempts to get it right.  But you kept at it and now you don’t even think about what you’re doing.
That’s what happens with habits, they become second nature, you do them without thinking. They become automatic, ways of thinking, being and doing.
What would you like to think, be or do differently this year?
Create a routine
When you have a routine it makes it easier to develop and create a new habit.  Associate the new habit with an existing pattern of behaviour or something you enjoy doing.  By linking the two together it’s easier to remember the new habit.
Do your daily planning with your morning cup of coffee.
Exercise when you get up, before you have lunch or as soon as you get home.  Put out your exercise kit the night before. Plan time for it in your diary so there’s less excuse not to do it or for something else to creep in or work to take over.
Create a fun aspect around your new habit.  Listen to a favourite piece of music or a podcast while you work on a task.
Replace one activity (like watching TV or surfing the net) with reading, exercise or finding time for that hobby you ‘never have time’ for.
What new routine will you develop that will make it easier to create a new habit?
Put a structure in place to support you
If you’re going to achieve your goals through creating new habits, you need have a plan, routine and structure in place to help you.  What steps do you need to take to achieve your goals and objectives?
Even if it’s just a simple one-page plan or checklist – it gives you a structure to work with.
Checklists are great – I use them all the time and I’m achieving my new habits for 2016.
a) They act as a daily reminder
b) You tick them off as you go and get a sense of satisfaction as each day builds a new habit.
c) You see your progress and you’re more likely to keep going.
Create accountability
Share your habits and objectives with someone.
Team up with a friend, colleague, coach or mentor – they can help you stay focused and keep you motivated. If you have shared goals, you can support each other to keep going when you start to go off track.
If you keep them to yourself, it’s much easier to let yourself off the hook or make excuses. There’s no impact if you don’t achieve it, although you might feel you’ve let yourself down if you don’t and then you beat yourself up about it or label yourself as a ‘failure’.
When you tell someone else, you make a commitment, you’ll be much more motivated to stick with it. Share a similar goal with someone and you can motivate each other to keep going.
There are several apps available – where you can share your health and fitness goals, challenge your friends, get reminders and track your progress.
Create a financial reward or penalty for when you achieve your goal (depending on whether you respond better to the ‘carrot or stick’).
Sign up for a challenge – you’re far more likely to get fit if you know you’re running a 10k or raising money for charity and have something to aim for.
Take small steps
You’re more likely to succeed if you make small changes and take things slowly and gradually, rather than trying to change too much all at once.
Start with one small thing.  Once you’ve got into a routine with that you can add the next habit.
Start a healthier lifestyle by changing just one thing – stop eating biscuits, cut out/reduce sugar, chocolate, swap your morning latte for a black coffee or green tea. You don’t have to adjust your entire diet all in one go.
Start with 10-20 minutes of daily exercise, a brisk walk or jog around the block and build up from there. You don’t have to jump in to an hour in the gym.
Once you’ve made one or two adjustments and see the benefit, the more likely you are to want to do more.
Remember – there’s no quick fix – habits and new behaviours take time and effort.
If you’d like to make a significant change to your habits over the next month, get in touch and find out about the 31 Day Challenge or commit to the full 91 Day Challenge and see the difference taking daily action will make.



Networking: 10 Reasons Why It Should Be Your No.1 Priority This Year

1024 682 Caroline Flanagan


You already know that networking is one of the most important things you need to be doing to further your career. But just because it’s important, doesn’t mean you’re doing it, right? Chances are it’s competing with all the other important stuff on your to do list. But this year it’s time for a change of strategy. It’s time to make networking your No.1 priority. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. Networking helps you know more people
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. It is not enough to keep your head down and do your job. Even if you’re doing it spectacularly well. While you are quietly ferreting away, others around you will be forming relationships with people who have the power and influence to catapult their career forward.

“The employee should realise that their professional network is one of the key assets that can boost their long-term career prospects,” says Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn.

2. Networking helps people know more about you
It’s not only who you know, it’s who knows about you. Don’t expect other people to notice you by chance. It’s your job to put yourself out there and become known for what you do. That only happens when you get up from behind that enormous stack of papers and start building relationships. It means talking to others about the high profile project you’re working on and about the client who was singing your praises just last week so that everyone knows who you are and what you’ve been doing.

3. Networking gives you a Plan B

‘When you need a network, it’s too late to build it’
– Lois P. Frankl, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office

Career progression isn’t the only reason you need a network. What happens when your company is taken over and you find yourself on the hit list for redundancies? What happens when your new boss is the tyrant from hell and has made it his or her personal mission to destroy your career? Or when the culture of your team or department becomes so toxic that the only thing you can do to save yourself is to head for the exit? At times like these having a strong network may be the only thing that saves your career.

4. Networking brings you moral support
“It takes a village to raise a child” so the saying goes, but what about to build a career? Sure you can go it alone, but that route can be lonely and treacherous and littered with diversions and distractions. When you have the moral support of others and people who are looking out for you the journey is completely different.


5. Networking will help you find a sponsor
If you don’t have a sponsor and you’re serious about a promotion or a pay rise, it’s time to get one. A sponsor is someone in a more senior position who agrees to champion your cause. It’s someone who’ll endorse you, let you piggy back on their credibility and open doors that might otherwise remain closed to you.

6. Networking will help you find a mentor
You don’t have to have a mentor, but they are useful things, and networking is how you find them. Remember when you were at school or university, there was that one teacher, that one assistant, that one tutor who really got you? Who saw your potential when you doubted if you even had any, and who encouraged you to step outside your comfort zone so you could learn and grow and reach your full potential? A mentor is that person. The person who believes in you. If you’ve never had that person in your life, it’s never too late to find one.

7. Networking will help you meet a role model
When it comes to progressing your career, role models are really helpful. Seeing or, better still, knowing someone who is living your dream is such a great motivator and can massively influence your career choices. The main reason I left my first law firm was because when I looked up to the top I couldn’t see any role model whose life I wanted. Where was the female partner who was (still) married and had kids (who she got to see)? What I didn’t know then but I know now is that I could have looked much further afield. There are people out there living your dream, even if they are not in your organisation. Networking will help you find them.

8. Networking will help you find clients
Let’s not forget we are here to work. If you want to make a mark and advance their careers you need to do more than just show up at their desk every morning. You need to start thinking like a business owner and find ways to attract clients. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that clients choose their lawyers because of the firm’s name alone. Take a look at any successful partner at your firm and you’ll realise that clients go to him or her because of their relationship, a relationship that is built and nurtured overtime through regular networking. Here’s LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman again:

“The employee ought to tap their own individual network to advance their employer’s business because who they know…can be just as valuable as what they know”.



9. Networking will help you work with people you like
We all want to work with those we know, like and trust. Whether it’s the partner or colleague you’re working with, or the client you are working for, work is so much easier when there is trust, respect and a human connection. We’ve all been there – working for someone we don’t like or we think doesn’t like us. While you don’t always have a choice about who you work with, you can influence who knows likes and trusts you, and that’s going to make them interested in working with you.

10. Networking will help you babyproof your career
The opportunity to work flexibly is great, isn’t it? Especially if you are an existing or future parent? Well it would be if you had the courage to ask for it, and if you had a reasonable chance of a ‘yes’ when you do. The problem with flexible working, in particular that which involves working from home, is it requires a whole level of trust and letting go of control that many partners and law firms as a whole just aren’t ready to give. There is this unhelpful presumption that if you want to work flexibly you are no longer committed to your career or you just want to slack off. One of the ways of shaking this assumption is through building trust, not only through your actions (your track record matters, of course) but through your relationships. And if you know you want children one day, however far in the future, you need to start building those relationships now.

“We all need the support that good relationships bring. When you are a working mother you’ll need people in your life who are going to push you forward, open doors, champion your success and catch you when you fall.”

– Caroline Flanagan, BabyProof Your Career: The Secret to Balancing Work and Family So You Can Have It All

When it comes to career progression and preparing for a day when you might one day be managing career and family, the relationships you build with colleagues, seniors, clients and others in your industry might just be your most important asset. Every day that goes by when you are not building relationships is a wasted opportunity. Isn’t it time you put networking at the top of your list?


Are you 1% away from being the best lawyer you can be?

1024 683 admin

Best Lawyer

Since the Tour de France departed from the UK in 2014, there has been a huge increase in the number of people getting out on their bikes and taking a keener interest in all things cycling. Never before have there been so many conversations in this country about Le Tour, or so many cyclists on our roads than when Le Grand Depart set off from Yorkshire that day in July.

In the UK, the most famous cycling team is undoubtedly Team Sky. Headed up by Sir David Brailsford, with two British winners in two consecutive Tours (Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome – Froome went on to win again in 2015), Brailsford was also the mastermind behind Great Britain’s largest ever medal haul at the 2012 Olympics.

Much has been written about Brailsford’s methods, but probably the most translatable into the working world is that of ‘marginal gains’. As Brailsford described it first back in 2010: “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

Brailsford believes that any suggestion that something can be done better should not be looked at as insult to the existing way of doing things “because we should always be striving for improvement, for those 1% gains, in absolutely every single thing we do.”

Brailsford took calculated risks that were deemed necessary to make Team GB that little bit better. He took this thinking into the Tour de France and improved every element of Team Sky’s preparations. Small improvements, like pillows and mattresses, the food that they ate, and even the lighting, seating and music on the team bus.

That is not to say that brutally hard work did not contribute to this success. When Victoria Pendleton retired after the 2012 Olympics, she spoke of the philosophy within the camp: “You have to be somewhere between exceptional and phenomenal. That’s tough. It’s difficult to maintain those standards. Chris Hoy manages it but I found it hard.”

However, all Olympic athletes work exceptionally hard, but to reach those highest heights it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

So, how can this be translated into your working life? Take a look at your working day and think about the tiny changes you can make that will improve the way you work. They are usually things that you don’t do because you imagine they are an added burden to your already busy day. Consider one element – for example, having a tidy desk. Now take the emotion out of it – the thought of how long it will take you – and just do it. You’ll realise that the job only took 3 minutes to do and you have a clear space to work from.

How often do you convert your WIP into invoices? Clients expect to be billed, so find 15 minutes each day to run through your list of clients and make sure that none of them has built up what would a very large final bill when they were expecting smaller interim bills. And don’t be afraid to chase unpaid bills. Set your stall out from the start and let clients know the terms of settlement of your invoices. Businesses run (and your progress in the firm depends) on invoices paid, not invoices sent.

bike to work

Think about your appearance. Take pride in how you dress because clients will notice and it will impact on how they look at and think about you. When it comes to convincing people that you are a great lawyer, the first thing they will notice before you even open your mouth is how you dress. First impressions count, so always aim to be the best-dressed person in the room.

How involved are you in the firm’s business development? How often do you make BD-related calls? Simply doing the work that is put in front of you won’t see you rise through the ranks. The best lawyers are rain makers and are always looking out for new clients and new opportunities. If you’re a junior lawyer with ideas, take them to your head of department. They will appreciate the effort you are making and more than likely help you bring them to life.

What about the end of your day? You have finished amending that contract, emailed it to your counterpart, so you close the file and head out the door. But why not take 2 minutes to list the jobs you have or want to do the following day while everything you have done today is still fresh in your mind? Those 2 minutes will have no bearing on the time you get home, but it will mean that the next day you can get straight on with work.

How about setting your alarm five minutes earlier in the morning, so you’re not quite so rushed? Or taking a look at your diet and eating healthier lunches so you don’t feel so tired in the afternoons? Or switching your phone on divert when you are working on a matter that requires your full attention so that you don’t get distracted?

We can all take a few minutes to think about how we can make improvements to our working day, but most of us don’t because we are too rushed to help ourselves become more effective in what we do. But the best lawyers are always looking for ways to improve because believe they can always do better. And those lawyers become the best in their field.