I love the mid-way point in the year almost as much as I love the start of a brand new year. It feels like the perfect opportunity to check in and make sure I’m still heading where I want to be going.
It’s easy to set big goals at the start of the year and forget about them by February. Life gets crazy and our priorities change. So I actually like to do these reviews every 3 months. But the mid-year one feels significant… kind of like a fresh start!
Here’s how I do my mid-year review:
Review the first half
First, ask yourself these questions:
what went really well? What are you proud of?
what was challenging?
what lessons did you learn?
what are your favourite memories?
were you living up to your values? Were you being the person you want to be? If not, what was lacking?
It helps to look back at your calendar / diaries / journals… anything that will prompt your memory about all the things you’ve done so far. I always find it astounding to realise how much I actually achieved.
Review your goals
Where are you up to with your goals? Some of your goals might have been completed, while others might be habit goals that will continue throughout the year. Think about what’s been going well with your goals, and make sure you’ve celebrated any achievements.
Set the tone for the next half of the year
Think about the following questions:
What values will you live up to in the next 6 months?
What tasks do you need to complete?
How do you want to feel?
Who do you need to be? What kind of person do you need to be?
Reset your goals
Re-write your goals, leaving behind any that no longer feel important to you, and adding any new ones that light you up.
You might like to break them up into project goals (which can be completed in a certain timeframe) or habit goals (either making new habits or breaking old habits).
You also might like to consider each different domain of your life to make sure you’re not missing anything important:
friends & family
significant other / romance
fun & recreation
How did you go?
If you follow this process for a mid-year review, I’d love to hear about it! What did you uncover? What are you most looking forward to in the next 6 months?
Previously, when I’ve worked with people with disabilities, it was part of my job to help my clients define their goals and what it was going to take to get there. We’d look at things like what skills they already had, what skills they might need to learn, and we would break the goal down into achievable parts. And there was always one key question that was important to ask: Who is on your team?
It was such a natural question to ask someone with a disability. Who do you need to support you in this goal? What kind of supports do you need? We would look at what kind of support friends and family could give first. And then we would look at other supports in the community, such as groups, clubs, classes, etc. And finally we’d look at other ‘formal’ supports that people could pay for, such as support workers, therapists, etc.
I now work primarily with women who work in the disability sector. I ask them this same question: Who is on your team? Who do you need to support you in your goal? And 90% of the time, I get the same answer: “Oh, I just need to do this myself.”
But you are not alone.
You are allowed to ask for support in your goals. You need to ask for support in your goals. There are people in your life who want to see you succeed.There are people who want to help you. So let them.
Have a think about that big dream of yours. Who else would be happy to see you achieve that? What would achieving it mean for the people around you?
I want you to think about how they might be able to help you get there. It could be through holding you accountable, or giving you some encouragement when you need it. It might be something like watching your kids while you have an hour to yourself to work on it.
Now think about what other supports might be in the community for you. Are there groups or clubs of like-minded people that could help you get to where you want to be? Is there a class that would give you the skills and confidence you’re looking for?
And finally, consider any paid services that might help you achieve your goals. Maybe it’s outsourcing some responsibilities every now and then to free up some time. Or maybe it’s more directly related to your goal, such as a coach or dietician.
You can continue to tell yourself that you just need to do this on your own. But if so, I want you to ask yourself how that’s going for you so far, and be honest with the answer.
We all need a little help sometimes. We are so used to providing the support for other people, that we forget it’s okay to ask for some support ourselves.
I encourage you to just try thinking about what supports could help you get to where you want to be. Even this alone can be challenging, so if you’d like to talk it through, jump on a free call with me and I’ll help you map it out.
If you’re constantly battling with your lack of self-motivation, I want you to think for a minute about your energy levels.
We’re talking physical energy, emotional energy, mental energy. I know this is an area where I can really struggle, and it just makes EVERYTHING so much harder.
There’s a very good chance that your lack of motivation is not some personality flaw, or some major weakness, but simply a lack of energy.
And the best news about that is that it’s something you can improve.
Here are some questions to think about:
Where do you get your energy from?
Do you love being around other people and feeding off the energy of big groups of people? Or do you prefer quiet time by yourself? For me, I get my energy from having quiet but productive time to myself. I like to have time to really clear my head and then map things out, setting goals and plans and visualising the future. BAM – big energy boost for me. But everyone’s different. So ask yourself, where do you get your energy from?
What saps your energy?
For some people it might be following the same routine day in, day out; whereas for others, it might be unexpected disruptions to their routines. Maybe it’s large crowds or too much alone time. Maybe it’s too much brain work, too much physical work, or having to make too many decisions. For me – it’s too much human interaction. Don’t get me wrong – I love my people. But if I don’t get that quiet time, but batteries run really low. Identifying what saps your energy will help you to work around that.
Where can you save your energy?
What are you doing that’s unnecessarily draining your energy? This might look like modifying some routine tasks, picking your battles, or even dropping some things that aren’t that critical.
How can you sustain your energy?
With all these highs and lows in our energy levels, it’s no wonder our self-motivation is all over the place. What can you do to improve and maintain your energy levels? This might mean introducing more of those things that bring you energy into your daily or weekly routine. It might also mean things like improving your diet, your sleep, doing some gentle exercise, decluttering your physical spaces, trying out a meditation practice to improve your mental energy, taking some vitamins… all those healthy habits that will help to naturally boost your energy.
Energy is one component of self-motivation, but it’s a really important one.
So I encourage you to go back and really think about those questions and work out where you can make changes to improve your energy, and therefore improve your self motivation. Here they are again for you:
Where do you get your energy from?
What saps your energy?
Where can you save your energy?
How can you sustain your energy?
If this is something you’d like some help with, book a free initial coaching session with me today. I’d love to chat with you about what’s going on in your world, and how to take things to the next level.
Until next time, keep being the best version of you that you can be!
If you have a goal that feels a little vague or uninspiring, try setting a target number to it. I used this strategy last year to build a meditation habit, and not only did I achieve my goal, I kept the habit going well beyond the target number.
I’ve written before about my love of wine, and the benefits I discovered when I gave it up for a month. But despite all the benefits, I still found myself slipping back into old habits. So this year, one of my goals is to reduce my alcohol intake.
I know that I feel much more energetic, mentally switched on, and productive when I don’t drink at all. But I was still finding it hard to commit to a reduction. I guess because I’ve tried making ‘rules’ for myself before (such as, only two drinking days per week), but then haven’t stuck to them, for a variety of reasons.
So I had to think about other ways I could make this goal achievable, have fun with it, and gain the benefits all at once.
Set yourself a target number
Rather than having a vague “reduce this” goal, I wanted something I could really measure. Having to do something every single week (eg. A certain number of alcohol-free days per week) means I can’t actually achieve the goal until the end of the year, and even if I mess up only one week, I’ve ‘failed’ the goal. This didn’t feel motivating to me.
So instead, I’ve set myself a target number. This year, I’m going to have at least 200 alcohol free days. And I’m excited about it! Because now I have a target I’m aiming to achieve, rather than just depriving myself of something I enjoy. And I have all the flexibility I want.
Here are the reasons I know this strategy will work for me (and might work for you, too)…
The number is achievable, but challenging and meaningful – 200 days in the whole year is less than 4 days per week. But it’s also more than half of the year. Play around with your number until it feels a little bit scary but still achievable.
I can achieve it sooner than the end of the year if I want. If I decide to do 200 days in a whole streak (unlikely, George), then I can tick this goal off and be done with it. Give yourself options to speed up or slow down your progress depending on what else may be going on in your life.
Giving myself a gold star for each day that I’m alcohol-free feels more like I’m moving toward something, rather than missing out on something. Focus on what you are gaining or moving toward if you’re giving something up. If the ‘something’ feels too vague or un-measurable, focusing on the number can help until you start feeling the other benefits.
Apply this strategy to other goals
The best thing about this target number strategy is that you can apply it to just about anything. What goals have you set yourself this year? Are they measurable? Do you feel confident about achieving them?
Here are some other examples of how you could apply the target number strategy:
Target Number Strategy
Read 12 books
Pack my own lunch 100 times
Go to the gym 50 times
Get a new job
Apply for 30 jobs
What other ways can you think of to apply the target number strategy to achieve your goals?
Set yourself free from needing people to understand you. If you’ve tried once and they don’t get it, allow them to be wrong.
YOU don’t need to keep explaining yourself. You don’t need to convince them otherwise. You don’t need them to change their opinion. You just need to accept that sometimes people will be wrong about you… and that’s okay.
So the person who hurt you with their harsh words? Allow them to be wrong. The person who might think you’re not trying hard enough? Allow them to be wrong. The person who sends judgmental looks your way? Allow them to be wrong.
And the best thing? You can still love them while allowing them to be wrong about you.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how you can make a big difference for something you believe in without being a jerk. I like to think that I’m the sort of person who really stands up for what I believe in. But when the big issues come up in the media (and mostly social media), I find myself staying silent. Not because I don’t care, but because I care too much to risk stuffing it up.
It’s so easy now for people to share their message, which is a great thing for people who have an important message. But unfortunately it also makes it easy for people to share aggressive, pushy, condescending, dangerous and plain ignorant messages.
I don’t wanna be that person. So I consider the alternative views and do my research, but then things get so complicated, and I realise, this is not a message that fits into a meme, or a short angry Facebook post. And to try and make it fit just makes me look like the ignorant jerk I was trying not to be. So instead, I stay silent.
And then I find myself wondering if my silence is weakness. If I’m truly standing up for what I believe in if I don’t have the tendency to try and persuade others to see the same views. So I decided to ask a friend, who I consider to be the most gentle and effective advocate of important causes.
The gentle advocate
I met David Addison through a previous job. I didn’t know a lot about him, except that everyone liked and respected him. Over time, I overheard snippets of conversations and realised that he would he would probably despise me if he knew me.
This is a guy who only puts his wheelie bin out twice a year because he simply has no waste – meanwhile I’m bringing my sandwiches to work in cling wrap and throwing the whole lot in the bin when I get a craving for a kebab instead. (Please note, I don’t do this anymore… mainly because I don’t work near that amazing kebab shop anymore)
But the proximity of our working space meant that I got to hear more about David’s views over time, and I was surprised to discover that instead of continuing to feel disgusted in myself or to think that he was just some higher being, I actually wanted to understand more and change some of my own behaviours.
And the interesting thing was, I didn’t hear more about his views because he was pushing them on anyone; I heard about them because people would ask him questions and he would answer openly. He would just speak about things in his own life as if they were totally normal, and while he didn’t pressure anyone else to do the same thing, he gave enough positive information that they wanted to. He’s selective about the information he shares on social media too, so that it is impactful but factual.
When I asked him how he does it, he gave me the following points.
How to advocate for your cause without being a jerk
1. Stop and think why someone said or did something before reacting – everyone has a story
2. Reflect on your own mistakes before judging someone for theirs
3. Give people the benefit of the doubt and focus on behaviours rather than assuming their motives – but always stand up for what you believe
4. Play the long game – every interaction you have with someone will shape your next interaction with them
5. Try to think about the pressure others might be under when they act badly – not to excuse it but to understand it
6. It takes a long time to build trust but 5 seconds to lose it
7. Find excuses to compliment and thank people
8. Listen and observe more than you talk
9. Forgive – others and yourself
10. Laugh – mainly at yourself….
I love all of these points, but number 4 and number 8 really resonated with me, particularly when it comes it making change in a thoughtful and powerful way.
Stop being a jerk
Sitting behind your computer screen and sharing post after post of angry or hateful material just to make your point is not working. The people who you most want to understand are instead switching off to you. You’re only gathering more angry and hateful people on your side.
And you can kid yourself by saying you’re not being hateful, but when you’re harshly judging those who disagree with you instead of trying to understand why they disagree, you’re just generating anger. You’re saying you are right and they are wrong. And maybe they are wrong, but you aren’t going to help educate people by getting them offside.
So here are my tips on how to be more like David and make an actual difference in the world:
Just be a good person yourself. People will be drawn to you and will want to understand your views, and maybe they will change theirs in the process. This is what I see as ‘playing the long game’.
Always consider the other viewpoint. Even if you don’t agree with it, try to understand it.
Share (actual) facts and less emotive rubbish. Sure, emotion sells, but with so much emotion flying around the internet, your message can lose credibility. Do your research and present your information in a thoughtful and factual way. If the facts are powerful enough to generate an emotion on their own, that’s something you can build on.
Use your neighbour’s wheelie bin so you only have to put yours out twice a year (just joking).
What do you think?
I know there will be plenty of people who disagree with me and feel that having a loud voice on important issues is critical to making change. Please get in touch and tell me what you think. I want to understand your views on this too. I think it’s a really interesting thing to think about. How do you make a difference in the world?
You’ve been officially “an adult” for a few years now. Your friends are starting to settle down in serious relationships and some are even having babies. You have this ideal picture that you’ll be a mum well before 30.
So when he comes along and asks you out, of course you agree. He’s so masculine and so into you! Something about him makes you feel like he will protect you and you find him kind of exciting.
He’s so into you that he shares some of his vulnerability with you. His troubled childhood, his damaged heart. By this stage you’re pretty into him too, and your own heart aches for his painful history. You silently vow to protect him from ever feeling that pain again. You will love him and make sure you don’t hurt him.
So when he starts getting jealous about the time you spend with your family and your friends, initially you stand up to him and tell him he’s being unreasonable. He loses his temper and things get pretty scary. He points out how you’re just like all the others who have let him down. For a brief moment you’re stunned by how crazy he’s being. But eventually he turns on the tears or the remorse, and you realise that he’s not crazy, he’s just damaged. You decide you’ll be more sensitive in the future. So you limit the time you spend with your family or friends. Or you at least limit how much you tell him.
Some of your loved ones start expressing their concern. They’ve seen some behaviour or had some conversations that have raised alarm bells. They warn you gently and you brush it off. They don’t understand the complexity. And then they warn you more vocally and it actually kind of pisses you off. Things are good right now. Sure, it got terrifying a few days ago, but he’s sorry and now things are good, so don’t mess with it! You’re sure they’re totally overreacting – you are not one of those poor suckers in an abusive relationship. Are you…? Don’t be ridiculous.
And then it starts again. He’s angry at you. He needs to make you understand that it’s you who has the problem. Just like all the others! “You think you’re something special!” he belittles you. Despite his otherwise quiet nature, he’s really a very competent communicator when he needs to overpower you.
In a struggle to retain some of your self-worth, you might tell him what other people say about him. After all, in this moment, you entirely agree with them. You tell him that you should have listened to your mother. She was right – he is an abusive no-hoper who isn’t worth a minute more of your time.
And then he really loses it. Because not only have you enraged him with someone else’s criticism, you’ve proven his point. All those other people you love cannot be trusted. They’re all trying to turn you against him. And not only that, you’ve now hinted at the possibility that you may not stick around. So now, out come the big guns. Maybe literally.
Things calm down again, either because he’s sorry or because you’re afraid. Now that you’ve shared that other person’s judgment, you really need to be careful. His hatred for them has escalated and you don’t want him to be reminded of what they said, so you might distance yourself a little bit further.
Maybe you try leaving. But his anger or his sadness makes you return. He’s really very good at making you believe that it’s all in your head and you’re overreacting. He’s good at making you think it’s going to be different in the future.
And the cycle continues…
At some point you come to believe that it’s too late to leave. Maybe it’s because you think you’ve committed too much time to this relationship and you’ll have to settle for it to fulfil your “kids by 30” plan. Maybe it’s because you have no one left to go to for support because you’ve cut everyone off. Or maybe it’s because you’ve realised that he will not allow you to leave.
It’s not too late
By the time I was around 26 I had decided that having children was no longer an option. But neither was leaving. After 8 years of trying to learn how to make this the relationship I wanted, I realised it was never going to be that. But I also believed (after having a loaded gun aimed at me) that he wasn’t going to let me leave alive. So I grimly accepted that this was my life now and I just had to learn how to manage it in a way that would keep me safe.
From then on, I tried to stay out of his way and kept my head down when things got nasty.
I decided that if I was going to live this very lonely life, I was going to have to learn to love myself. Which was pretty hard, considering by this stage I believed I was worthless. I was lucky that there were quite a few people still in my life who believed in me and never wavered in their support of me (spoiler alert: I actually ended up marrying one of them). So I studied, and I did a lot of self-reflection, and I tried to improve myself – not for anyone else but for me.
Eventually, three years after my decision to accept that I was going to stay forever, I did make the decision to leave. Partly out of courage and conviction that there was a better life out there for me; and partly because I didn’t care anymore if I didn’t make it out alive – all I knew was that I couldn’t keep living this way.
I’m not going to lie. It was terrifying. For a long time. Still is, sometimes. But so was staying.
A plea to the woman who is back in the early stages of my story
If you have the personal alarm bells… if your family is expressing concern… if you are starting to change your behaviour and your other relationships to keep him calm… if you are trying to keep some innocent details a secret because you know it will upset him…
Please, please, please, seek help.
Your life plans may look a little different, but they’re different now anyway, right? This was not the life you planned, and deep down you know it.
Reach out to your family or friends. Reach out to local support services. Visit 1800RESPECT.org.au or phone 1800 737 732 for 24-hour confidential information, counselling, and support. Call 000 if you are in danger.
My life now
I am now happily married in a respectful and loving relationship. We disagree sometimes. We irritate each other plenty. Sometimes we fight. But it’s never nasty, it’s never disrespectful, and it’s never about power. We have a beautiful little boy and good jobs. I offer personal development coaching because I have seen how learning to love and respect myself could lead to such massive change. I want to help other people live the life they want.
Sometimes I still wonder if it was all in my head like he said… but some of those memories I couldn’t make up if I tried. You know as well as I do that it’s not you. Please seek help.
What are you putting off? What dreams and achievements and tasks do you just keep putting aside because everything else feels more important? Because everything else feels so damn hard, that you can’t even imagine pushing yourself that little bit harder?
What if someone out there is waiting for you to do that thing? What if they’ve heard about your idea, or they’ve seen a snippet of what you can do, and they want more? Maybe they don’t even know you, or know anything about your dream, but they need what you are going to offer. Perhaps they are just waiting for someone like you to produce the thing they so desperately need.
You are depriving someone by holding yourself back. You are depriving the world.
I know everything else feels hard. Believe me, I know. But push yourself that little bit harder and find your flow. It’ll be worth it.
What is it that you’re holding back? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. And if you’re looking for some coaching to get you started, reach out and let’s chat!
P.S. Thank you to the beautiful reader who let me know recently that she was waiting for my next post. It was the nudge I needed. More will be coming soon. Xx
I want to challenge you to find the truth in your thoughts. Oh, but all your thoughts are true, right?
Nope. Your brain is one tricky little manipulator that makes you think your thoughts are true, but they’re not.
In times of stress and anxiety (like now, with COVID-19), we tend to spiral. You hear someone else’s fear and anxiety, and you start to think scary thoughts too. Then your anxious feelings start feeding your anxious thoughts. You begin to catastrophise and look for the worst case scenario. But you forget that you’re just imagining and start to believe that it’s all true.
Our brains do this because they like to know what’s going to happen next. But here’s the problem: believing the no-so-true thoughts can lead us to create the truth from them.
Our thoughts create our feelings.
For example, “I’m going to lose my job and not be able to pay the mortgage” makes you feel anxious, worthless, demotivated, and scared.
However, “I’ll need to work hard to make sure I can maintain my mortgage” might make you feel motivated and determined.
Our feelings lead to our actions.
For example, feeling anxious, worthless, demotivated and scared might lead to inaction, procrastination, time wasting.
But feeling motivated and determined might lead you to work hard and really show your value. You might start setting up a side business. Maybe you’ll revisit your budget and start cutting non-essential spending, or putting more money away for your mortgage while you can.
Actions lead to results.
If you spend the next couple of months not doing much because you’re so caught up in your thoughts, then your employer may not remember your true value when it comes time to make those tough decisions.
But if you take this time to set yourself up and show your value, you’ll be in a better position regardless of what happens.
Finding the truth
So next time you’re having a thought that feels scary or creates any kind of distress, I want you to pick it apart. Be really critical of your thoughts and decide whether they are entirely true. Even if they’re just a little bit untrue, make sure you modify them.
For example, are you really going to lose your job? Or is it just a possibility? Change the thought to “I might lose my job”. Already, that feels different. Because it creates an alternative. Yes, you might lose your job. But also you might not. Now you can explore that truth too.
Will you really not be able to pay the mortgage if you lost your job? Or will you just have to modify your spending? Maybe you’ll have to talk to the bank to see what options you have. Maybe you’ll have to get another job, and sure, it might not be your dream job. But you’ve at least now identified that you’ll have options. And that’s already more empowering, isn’t it?
Need some help?
This is tricky work. But it’s so worth it. Forcing yourself to work out what’s true gives you the power to deal with things a bit more rationally. But finding the truth in your own thoughts can be hard. Even just identifying what your thoughts are can be really hard!
This is where coaching comes in. If your thoughts are getting out of control and you’re having a hard time, I can help you break it all down.
I’m currently offering FREE coaching, so it’s a great time to try it out!
Get in touch and let’s start finding the truth in your thoughts.