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Unfinished business image

Unfinished Business

1024 678 Stewart Brown

Unfinished business image

I woke up early this morning, my head heavy with the memory of last night’s dreams. I must have been tossing and turning for some time, as I felt exhausted. Something was troubling me.

Reluctantly, I started delving back into my dream to try and work out what was going on. Strange images swirled in the mist of my mind. Making sense of my thoughts reminded me of opening the Christmas decorations box earlier in the week and attempting to untangle the mess of the Christmas lights that lay within.

“As I lay there, I decided to try something different. I had read about an approach to problem-solving by an American philosopher and psychologist called Eugene Gendlin.”

I smiled and then gave up trying to decipher the dream.

But still that unsettling feeling remained. As I lay there, I decided to try something different. I had read about an approach to problem-solving by an American philosopher and psychologist called Eugene Gendlin.

Gendlin’s research found that his clients’ ability to realise lasting positive change in psychotherapy depended on their innate ability to access a nonverbal, bodily feel of the issues that brought them into therapy.

Gendlin called this intuitive body feel the ‘felt sense’. He published this book Focusing, which presented a six-step method for discovering one’s felt sense and drawing on it for personal insight and development.

As Gendlin explains: “When I use the word ‘body’, I mean more than the physical machine. Not only do you physically live the circumstances around you, but also those you only think of in your mind. Your physically-felt body is in fact part of a gigantic system of here and other places, now and other times, you and other people – in fact, the whole universe. This sense of being bodily alive in a vast system is the body as it is felt from inside.”

I thought I would try it out this technique to decipher what issue lay behind my dreams. So, I closed my eyes again and relaxed. I noticed how I lay. I felt the various parts of my body against the mattress. I just let the various thoughts and sensations swirl around my head until one loomed large.

Slowly, I zoomed in on that sensation and a phrase popped into my head: ‘Unfinished Business’.

“I looked back over my legal career and recalled similar patterns of behaviour, where I had ignored stuff that I should have sorted. That had never been a successful strategy, only resulting in minor issues morphing into major problems.”

I took these words and turned them around in my head, much like examining a three-dimensional object in my hands. What was this ‘Unfinished Business’ that was troubling me?

I started the process again: clearing some mental space, keeping the sensations general and then allowing the sensation to come into focus in my body.

This time, a more detailed image came into my mind. That was it! I realised that I had failed to pay a disputed bill from over a year ago, preferring instead to ignore the matter, hoping it would go away. The realisation struck me forcefully – it felt a bit like I had recalled the name of someone that I had been struggling with for a while.

Tension dissipated as I allowed a new sensation to emerge – that of determination and motivation to sort out this unfinished business.

I looked back over my legal career and recalled similar patterns of behaviour, where I had ignored stuff that I should have sorted. That had never been a successful strategy, only resulting in minor issues morphing into major problems.

In this present case, conflicting emotions of anger about the dispute and an innate sense that one should pay bills on time had resulted in anxiety. And that anxiety had resided in my unconscious for some time until it had leaked out in my dreams.

As the sun started to rise, I resolved to sort out this problem, and indeed to flush out other sources of anxiety and other unwelcome sensations. There is always time to make a fresh start.


Five Simple Tips For A Stress-Free Holiday

940 529 Clare Evans, Personal and Business Coach


In a few weeks or maybe even days, many of you will be heading off for a summer break.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed In the time leading up to a break as you try to clear your workload, manage multiple projects and head off with a clear desk and your handover completed.

Avoid the stress of last minute panic, working long hours and general chaos in the last few days by following these five tips.

Plan ahead – What needs to be done over the next few weeks and when are you going to do it? Plan 2 to 3 weeks before your holiday so you have to time to organise your workload and schedule accordingly.

Keep the week or 2-3 days before your last day in the office as free as possible. Avoid overbooking your diary with too many meetings in this week. You may not have enough time for all the follow-ups and actions needed or expected before you leave and you’ll end up with even more to handover.

Prioritise – the ‘important’ things you need to work on before you leave. Don’t leave them to the last day or your last few hours. If you’re pushed for time, what are the priority tasks you need to complete to keep things moving while you’re away? What can wait until you get back and is there anything that’s likely to slip through?

Set time limits on tasks. You’ll get things done quicker and be less distracted, especially if you only have a limited amount of time available.

Delegate – What’s going to happen to your business or workload while you’re away? Who’s going to answer calls, respond to emails, look after your clients, customers and projects? If you need extra resources, ask in good time.

Remember to switch on your voicemail and/or ‘out of office’ message (and switch it off when you return – make a note in your diary).

Handover – Set up a handover meeting(s) with your team or direct reports a day or two before your last day in the office.

If you have the right systems and processes in place it will be easy to provide status updates and keep track of projects and expected actions while you’re away.

Communicate – Let your team, customers and clients know when you’re going to be away and for how long. Give them and yourself plenty of time if you’re expecting work from them or need to get information, updates to them before you go.

And finally …

You holiday is meant to be a break from work – unless you’ve specifically booked it as a working holiday and your family or friends are in agreement, avoid the temptation to work while you’re away. While a cursory check of emails may be needed or you might be contacted in an emergency – focus on your family and friends first.

If you find you often spend the first few days of your holiday feeling unwell, exhausted or ill, you way be suffering from adrenal rebound. It will take you longer to relax, unwind and enjoy your holiday.

If you’re in the habit of spending much of your intended ‘holiday’ working, it’s an indication that something’s missing or needs to change. You need to look more seriously at your time habits, your boundaries and priorities.


On your return:

• Don’t overload your first few days back at work.
• Allow time for planning and catch-up on your first day back.
• Book handover/update meetings with your team.

If you want to enjoy a stress-free holiday and be more in control of your workload but don’t know where to start – give me a call or book a time for us to chat and make your next holiday even more relaxed and stress-free.


Weekends can be long if you know how to use them

1024 576 Caroline Flanagan


I’ve never been on Instagram. Until recently, that is. I promise you it wasn’t intentional. I accidentally clicked on a link at the bottom of a blog I was reading, and there I was, looking at Mark Bustos’s Instagram page. And it caught my attention.

If it hadn’t have been the weekend I don’t think I’d have bothered. But compared to most of my friends and families my attitude to weekend is pretty unusual. Far from being the time when I just sit back and relax, it’s the part of the week when I strive to be focused, efficient and highly productive. I get up early and I write an action list for the day setting out what I hope to achieve. In other words, it’s a bit like work only I don’t get paid.


Mark Bustos is a hair stylist in one of New York City’s high-end salons who, for the past two years, has spent his weekends cutting homeless people’s hair, and so working without getting paid. He takes pictures of his ‘clients’ and posts them to his Instagram page, which has now attracted quite a following. There are two things that delighted me about Mark Bustos’s story: (1) his compassion and generosity in using his skills to help those significantly less fortunate them him; and (2) the fact that he makes his weekends count.


The first point needs no explanation, but there is a lesson for us all in the second, and it interests me because it reflects a principal I’ve started applying to my weekends only very recently: that life can be more fulfilling and balanced if you treat your free time with the same respect that you do your work time. In other words, prioritise what’s important, plan what needs to be done and keep distractions to a minimum.


Most people I meet complain that the week is too long and the weekend too short, that they don’t have enough free time, or that they are always snowed under at work with little time to fit other stuff around it. It’s the all too common problem of the Too Short Weekend, a weekend that is over in a flash in a life that seems to be all about work.


The solution I found came as a result of looking at my own behaviour and that of others around me at the weekends. Hardly anyone I asked approached the weekend with the deliberate goal of making that time count. The number of hours willingly surrendered to email, TV and social media, all in the name of ‘relaxing’, and to unrewarding tasks that could be inexpensively delegated to another (it is, in my view, a crime against humanity to spend precious hours of your weekends ironing) was surprisingly worryingly high. Surprising, because it’s amazing how easy it is to clock 10+ hours watching TV in a 48 hour period; worrying because we do it without consciously choosing to and barely any recollection of having done it.


Approaching my weekends with a ‘work mind-set’ may sound counter-intuitive, but in the last three months it’s made quite a difference. Planning, prioritising and saying no a bit more often means that I somehow manage to squeeze in exercise, reading, fun time with the kids and some social fun into one afternoon. This past weekend I even managed an afternoon nap (no small feat with 4 young kids in the house!). When I plan it, it seems to happen so much more easily.


Two days a week is not very much time to fit in the things you love (a passion or hobby), the things you need (catch-up sleep, exercise) and the things you want (fun and time with loved ones and friends). If you are in the habit of working weekends, the time available is even more precious. But time is an illusion, the speed of its passing being so dependent on what we are doing. Which makes it all the more important to seize the time you have (however little) and make it count in the ways that enrich you most.


“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.
Life is long if you know how to use it.”


So said Seneca, the Roman Stoic philosopher, entreating us not to idly flit away what precious little time we have on the insignificant and the unimportant. I think of this as I look at the smiling faces on Mark Bustos’ page with their freshly framed features, and I feel sure that at least for Mark Bustos, the illusion of time is bent in his favour.


How do you use your weekends? Are they long or short?


I look forward to reading your comments.


Caroline Flanagan is founder of, where you’ll find inspiration, advice and resources for the career woman who wants it all.

ladies gym

Developing Integrity

1024 765 Vita Burton-Davey, Working to be better each day


This January I have had the pleasure (and sometimes the pain) of reading articles, blogs and posts concerned with New Year’s Resolutions either directly or in general terms. Is everyone on a diet? The aim seems to be to ‘Spring Clean’ or ‘Start Afresh’ and whilst I have no objection to this sort of thing in principle, it seems rather a wasted opportunity when people often say “I make the same resolution each year…it usually lasts a couple of days” (or something similar)!


Rather than wishing to be other (thinner, fitter, a better parent/colleague/friend…) we might use the period at the beginning of each year to look inward and focus on our individual integrity; by which I mean the state of being whole and undivided.

Re-grounding ourselves as the light comes back into our hemisphere and the seasons unfold, brings a coherence of purpose which will naturally lead to the right changes in our lives. So rather than focus on personal details we are able to develop solidarity with who we really are and though we may wish to implement changes, they will lead to wholeness rather than struggle.


In  practical terms, I would say January is out, so far as real change and progress go. Most people are worn out after Christmas and New Year and many are depressed at the prospect of squeezing themselves back into the routine of their daily lives. Give yourself time to settle again before undertaking a thorough non judgemental self evaluation.

Non judgemental self evaluation is a way of getting in touch with who you are and where you in your life. It can help you move towards a healthier and more fulfilling way of being in the world and help you notice the things that are truly important to you, notice the gifts you have and appreciate the moment.

You will need to find a place to relax and where you will not be disturbed, so that you can give yourself the time you need and deserve. Ask yourself a series of pre-defined questions such as:

  • Who am I?
  • What did I want to be as a child or teenager?
  • What and who do I want to be now?
  • What current traits have I developed that I wish to let go of?
  • What positive traits do I wish to develop?
  • What issues are weighing me down the most?
  • What things would I like to change?
  • What topics or memories do I avoid because they are too troubling?
  • What are my dreams and wildest fantasies?
  • Which cause a sense of guilt, embarrassment or shame?
  • If I could make a difference to my life, what would it be?
  • What will be my first step to transformation?


Setting oneself up with a series of insurmountable hurdles is not the point of this exercise. Choose one change to begin your journey

towards integrity and focus your energies on your first steps. Your goal might come from the answer to a question you have asked yourself, or you might feel your way to your right path.
Reaching your goals will only follow as you blossom into the fullness of your true self. You may become thinner, you may become richer but one thing is certain; you will be a happier and more fulfilled person once you are following your true path!

Join a weekend workshop tailored to small groups or individuals and centred on walking, sailing, drawing, writing and healthful reconnection.

If you would like to attend a workshop, please contact Vita:


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?

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