How to engineer yourself a great day: Three simple steps

adeolu-eletu-134758-unsplash.jpg

We’ve all heard the concept of getting out of bed on the wrong side. In fact, it can often be used against us by someone who, in a moment of irritation, may not like what we are saying or doing. We often hear the question in a snide tone ‘Oohh, did someone get out of bed on the wrong side?’ And perhaps you’ll agree, if you are feeling in any way below par, stressed or challenged, the last thing that is going to help matters, is that question!

The truth is, whichever side of the bed we rise from in the morning, we are not guaranteed to feel good, and equally, we are not always destined to have a great day. The good news is though, we can cleverly engineer our mornings (and evenings) to become great staging areas, like a green room at just the right temperature setting, filled with comforts and goodies, with an exquisite ambience, giving us a much better chance of bringing to life days full of greatness.

No matter what preliminary preparation we partake in though, we will still likely be faced with challenges, interactions we prefer to not have, long commutes, missed deadlines or grumpy children; but with a better handle on the basics, aka how we feel inside, it changes everything, and we instantly begin to emanate a different vibe and then, the way we experience the world shifts for the better. By following these three steps we can begin to positively impact our day by effecting our own inner state which is made up of the contents of our inner world, like for example our thoughts, emotions and mood.

Before you say it, I know first-hand the reality of busy mornings, filled with responsibilities and maybe lack of sleep, but something to have in mind and maybe aim for over time, is waking up early enough so that you can set the tone of your day before your responsibilities kick in. I’ll leave the logistics to you, but please understand the transformational capacity of this small adjustment. There is something extremely powerful about getting yourself in check before the demands, hurrying and interactions of the day begin, and I believe you will come to love and cherish those moments once you get used to them. 

Mornings matter

It was drummed into us as kids that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this couldn’t be more accurate.  Although not always easy, let’s say that a nourishing breakfast, or at least some kind of breakfast is being consumed already. On a side note, this may be a great opportunity for you to re-asses your morning choices, perhaps smoothie could be a replacement for the coffee and croissant or muffin on the go? We know that nourishing our body is important for a great day, but what about the rest of the components that make up our state?

The main area I will focus on here is the mind, since it is pretty much the CEO, COO, CFO and CMO of your life, all at the same time. Glance back to what happened this morning when you first opened your eyes. I’m imagining that soon after waking, your thoughts began to flood into your awareness. On days where the mood is positive upon waking that’s not too much of an issue, but, how often does that actually happen? Thoughts that involve the to do list, the long arduous day ahead, anxieties or the remnants of issues left over from the day before are usually running the show. We want to aim to take control of our unruly mind, before it takes control of us, and in turn, our day.

When you feel yourself waking up, or when the alarm first goes off, try to wait a few minutes before opening your eyes. Relax into yourself and let your breath fill your body. Do a quick body scan to check where you may be carrying tension and allow yourself to soften and let it go before rushing into seizing the day or letting seize you! It can help to read a few paragraphs of an inspiring book or listen to inspirational or motivational audios for a few minutes before jumping out of bed or even while you apply makeup, shower, iron your shirt or make the kids breakfast. Another powerful way to flip on your greatness switch is to run through a few things in your mind that you feel grateful for, starting with simple things like a hot shower, or cuddles in bed. It is near on impossible to feel anything but great, when you are feeling sincerely grateful.

Take back your power

We are in the height of the information age and it is truly amazing, I feel. Business meetings can be set up within minutes between people in different cities, and news can travel around the globe, to and from the most remote places in the world, exactly as it is happening. We can keep in touch with our friends and family daily and instantly and we can know about the latest trends and dying fads in real time. News, whether positive or negative is found not just in our newspapers and on our T. V’s but also on our social media feeds, which is where we are spending most of our time, when we are online.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above. Keeping in the loop, keeping in touch, sharing, connecting and communicating; but the instant, fast paced nature of our time can often leave us feeling anxious, depleted, unhappy and lost. Any behavior that we carry out by default without either being aware of it or the reason behind it, can become a strain, creating toxicity within our mind, emotions and in turn physical body. Taking in new, unexpected, stressful or negative information before we have recalibrated our state in the morning will likely wear us out before the day has started.

Check in with your current morning ritual and notice what you carry out daily, that you believe you need to kick start your day, that could be swapped out for a five-minute mindfulness meditation, gentle stretching or an express power workout instead. Anything that is outside of us, that we are reliant on to feel good, has a definitive hold over us, and that is stressful because we become a slave to it. Maybe your caffeine or Facebook fix is the only way you feel you can start your day, and granted it takes effort to coax ourselves from old habit to new, but I assure you, there’s value to be found in trying a different approach. Experiment, explore and above all take back your power. The rituals we carry out daily matter most, so once they are in check there’s plenty of fun to be had on weekends and vacations, although I imagine once you get used to starting your day in an empowering way, you’ll become so addicted to feeling good you’ll be reluctant to revert for too long.

The night before the morning of…

The morning matters, but so does the night before. Imagine going to bed in the clothes you wore for the entire day, sliding into bed with a full face of make up on, or bringing your coworkers, gym buddy, kids, employees or cab driver into bed with you each night. How we prepare for a night of slumber isn’t just about showering and getting into our comfiest attire; it is also about cleansing, decluttering and discarding the gunk of the day that isn’t visible on the outside. The mental, emotional, physical and spiritual accumulations that we gather throughout our days from conversations, meetings, interactions, problems, other people’s moods, and our own inner struggles can weight heavy on us. In fact, we often can chug through an entire day not feeling great and not knowing why.

Rounding off the day clearly and concisely allows for not only sleep that is restful and rejuvenating, but it also means a much bigger scope of opportunity to wake up in a less tense, more happy state. Taking some time to process emotions of the day, identify negative thoughts patterns, judgements, fears, or irritations that arose, is like taking the trash out at the end of the night and sorting through the recycling while doing so. As well as dealing with issues at hand, we can be faced with people and situations who rub us up the wrong way. Understanding these triggers is invaluable to us learning about ourselves, and our past experiences that have affected and hurt us, that are still interfering with our success, freedom and happiness in current life.

By allocating five, ten or fifteen minutes each night before bed, to lay everything out on the table and sort through it, write in a journal, and or sit in stillness and silence, to allow the mind to calm down, means we will less likely become triggered or affected by occurrences during the days. During mediation, our mind, body and emotions settle down, like the sparkly snow in a snow globe gently falling to the bottom, revealing the true image of the scene. When you have time to descend back into yourself, small grievances, unfounded fears, self-righteous outlooks and imprints of other people’s stresses and negativity melt away, leaving you feeling more centered, self-aware and ready to make it another great day. 

Sky Rocket Your Productivity with these Three Simple Steps

apple-business-computer-4158.jpg

I’m always preaching the ‘do more’ ethos with regards to growing a business, empire or creating more success in a chosen area. Things cannot and will not change unless there’s action. More action, different action and often mind numbingly repetitive action form the foundation of most successes. Depending on the goals or desired outcomes, it’s very likely certain things will need to be carried out, day after day, week after week, month, year and decade. There will also be periods that will require a bigger surge of extra energy and time expenditure than others perhaps with the launch of a new project, new health regime, acquisition of a new role or department, responsibility, up level or client.

There will be times when you won’t feel particularly motivated or focused though and certain times of the day, week, month or year when distractions are high and efficiency is lower. They’ll be stints when you can’t even catch your breath from the weight and responsibility of your to do list. It’s during these times that productivity can suffer most. It’s not the end of the world if this happens now and again, but if this is an ongoing pattern, it will negatively impact on your outcomes, successes and results and it’s simply not necessary for this to happen. Here are three of my not so conventional tips for productivity enhancement. Couple one or more of these ideas with the traditional approach like to do lists and changing environments, for a new and improved level of competence, efficiency and production. 

Intuitive Hour

Stop filling your days with back to back commitments and activities. Allow for those spontaneous moments of inspiration to lead you into a burst of aligned activity and productivity. We are generally governed by our mind which can become easily overwhelmed and stuck. When you press the pause button and give the mind a moment to be still, it opens-up space for flow. Start by blocking out an hour in your diary per week and label it intuitive hour. When this hour of the week arrives, stop and feel into what you feel inspired to do. Allow your inner guidance to lead you into what will be the best use of that time to maximize in the long run. It could be taking a walk outside to refresh, a power nap to rest, clearing your desk to declutter, writing up your business plan, next training course or sending that overdue email to generate a feeling of empowerment. Once you begin to get used to this way of working, increase the hour to a few times per week and then perhaps once per day.

Maximize

Check that what you´re trying to be productive in is in alignment. Are you trying to force yourself to be or do the impossible? Are you trying to be productive in an area that you’re either not passionate about or skilled in? While it’s great to get stuck in and develop new skills, and by no means is this an invitation to avoid, it pays to asses whether it’s a good use of your time? Maximizing your strengths and delegating the tasks that others can do quicker and better than you, are a supersensible approach and will instantly sky rocket your productivity in areas that you excel in because you’ll be far less likely to procrastinate on something that you are good at and enjoy. Congruency is key in keeping you moving steadfastly forwards. Carry out a little inner exploration, check the authenticity of your path and choices. It may be that you’re uninspired, unstimulated or misaligned and not a lazy procrastinator after all. Use explorative questions often to check in with yourself and course correct when needed.

Change Your Mind

When we develop a mindset that supports our limitless nature, we increase our potential to do and be more. It doesn’t matter who you are, how or where you were raised and what line of work you are in, it’s likely that right now you are operating somewhere below your peak. Is that a bad thing? Not if you’re happy no! If you are seeking to upgrade and progress in one or more areas, personally and professionally though, hovering in the mediocre zone will cause you a myriad of issues. The great news is, this can be transformed with some intention and attention. Begin spending time each day affirming your competence, proficiency and strength. Acknowledge any beliefs that are in misalignment with your desired outcomes and goals, and create a set of power statements that describe the traits and habits you desire to develop. Over time you will re-wire your brain’s neuropathways to think, be and act in absolute alignment with what you want. As you begin to see physical evidence of these inner changes manifesting as tangible results, your confidence in your ability to perpetually produce at heightened aptitudes will strengthen, which will then breed more of the same. 

For more information, or enquiries about coaching, speaking, training or consulting please email maria@upgradewithmariak.com  

Six Reminders for Effective Leadership

ian-schneider-66374-unsplash.jpg

They say we teach what we need to learn and learn what we teach! This theory was put to the test for me recently when I was heading a team for a large project. It turned out to be spot on! Each day, week and hour can be an opportunity to develop, but if we are not ready and willing accept that there’s always room for more, then we will be cutting ourselves off from not only our own limitless potential, but also that of the individuals, teams and companies we are leading. I’m sharing these simple tips here as a reminder to us all that there’s no such thing as the perfect leader, only an evolving one! I’d personally be proud to don that label any day. Anyone who’s actively growing and upgrading and is not afraid to own it out loud, is likely to be a strong leader.

1 - Leadership has nothing to do with leading

Having a leadership position does not make you a leader. Connections and relationships do though. Good relationships with people are the foundation of leadership and solid leadership is one of the foundations of a successful company or establishment. Good relationships are built upon good listening, emotional intelligence, empathy and kindness. Being willing to be present on a more personable level with those you are leading will sky rocket the influence you can have on them by default. People sincerely appreciate generosity of time and attention, and when people feel appreciated and seen they are likely to give you the very best of themselves and their very best work.

2- Motivate through momentum

The most common route to problem solving is to thrash it about it until everyone is sick of the topic. As a leader, being able to guide and motivate your people to the solution or outcome through action rather than a ton of planning and talking will mean they are actively doing, picking up momentum and gaining instant real-time feedback which provides the chance to quickly course correct, move things around and develop and apply the best solution in a fraction of the time and with the least amount of frustration. Encouraging a solution seeking mindset rather than problem solving one will raise energy, reinstall and reinforce self-esteem and confidence.

3- Lead by example

By our nature as humans we are naturally wired to do less. People tend to do what they see and if you are not truly maximizing then it can be difficult to expect the people you lead to be doing so. Get to know the most conducive conditions for your own peak performance, it will give you insights into how your team can do the same as well as highlighting the desired standard with a tangible example rather than just words or a scripted manual. Who you are is who you attract and create on your team. Self-awareness is a key component to most things in life and business but to be a successful leader it really does start with you. Develop your ability to unravel and piece back together a situation based on your understanding and emotional intelligence. Are you willing to admit when you miss stepped? Are you self-aware enough to own when your state, emotions or attitudes are hindering you from being the best leader you can be in that moment? When we can let down our guard and drop our ego, we give others permission to do the same, thus providing a space where it’s ok to not be perfect but it’s equally not ok to pretend that you are.

4- Grow your company by growing your people

Personal development has never been more ‘in’ than it is now. Many think it’s fluffy, frivolous and rather a waste of time. It’s quite the opposite though. Imagine a group of people who are stagnant, stuck and never growing. Year after year they remain the same. Now imagine those people as the building blocks of your team, establishment or company. Doesn’t sound desirable does it? Building individuals up to be the best they can be is a wise and practical move. If outcomes like profit and growth have been questionable then perhaps a personal development and soft skills drive will provide surprising ROI figures. People are the essence of a culture and an in-house culture that is driven by a collective growth mindset is going to be visible in the outward façade and structure.

5- Leadership is a never-ending process

We’d be foolish to believe that we can nail being a great leader within a particular time frame. We, never really get done because each case, team and person is in a constant state of flux and will require different approaches and have different needs at different times of the day, month, year or project. This can be a tough one to swallow as at time it can seem like a bottomless pit of learning. Being flexible in your approach and rigid in your desired outcome will yield the results that you want. If our goal is to be a great leader and get the very best out of an individual or situation then we must show up daily. Since this is a relationship based system, we do well to approach it as if we are showing up for a family member, spouse or partner.

6- Vulnerable leaders are strong leaders

You don’t have to share your innermost to be an effective leader, in fact that could be to your detriment, if you share too much especially if it leaves you feeling exposed, However, there’s a difference between being real and TMI! (too much information) Finding a point of commonality or connection is a wonderful way to form bonds and links with others and being vulnerable to a point provides this space. Practice being vulnerable first with yourself, then your loved ones and then when you feel ready, within your work environment. If it’s not your default it can feel uncomfortable, so be easy with yourself. Start with the simple, everyday stuff like chaotic mornings at home with the kids because of a rough night’s sleep, or spilt breakfast over your work clothes. When you can be authentic with your people, you allow for a deeper sense of trust and respect and provide them with an opportunity to be vulnerable with you too. In that space of vulnerability. You’ll have the chance to get to know your people in a way that really matters.

For more information, speaking, consulting or coaching enquiries please email maria@upgradewithmariak.com

Three Hacks For Optimal Performance & results

adeolu-eletu-38649-unsplash.jpg

Wanting to become better and upgrade to the next level is a natural human trait, we are constantly seeking improvement. Since we are evolutionary beings, the deep desire for progress and advancement already resides naturally within us. Perhaps you can identify moments where you genuinely felt pulled towards something different or intensely inspired or excited by a new idea or project?

We already have inbuilt within us the first step in the process of actualizing a desire, project, idea or goal from its inception, so with the right bespoke strategies, systems and specifics in place we can utilize this innate condition to maximize our results, outcomes and successes. With these three simple hacks you can begin to get more of what you covet while ensuring you are progressing in the areas you want and need to.

Mind your mind

Your mind is the hub of your world, it truly impacts on the unfolding events and circumstances that you are or are not living. If your thoughts are not in alignment with what you want to achieve, you’ll likely encounter obstacles, delays and drama. Spending ten minutes a day to hone your mind and bring it into alliance with your desired outcomes will ensure your thoughts and focus are where they need to be. Observe which thoughts are in opposition of what you are building or changing, flip them on their back and bring them to the fore of your mind often throughout the day. Words are a powerful representation of what’s residing within your mind and this exercise will ensure that it is working for you rather than against you.

See yourself succeeding

Become super clear on what it is you want and even clearer on ‘why’! Spend a few minutes with eyes closed or open, bringing to life the image of your desired outcome in your mind’s eye. While you watch the movie playing out of you succeeding, achieving, hitting goals or targets, step into the scene, notice details like where you are, the expression on your face, who else is there, the tangible positive improvements and what it feels like in your body. Bringing it to life in this way gives your mind additional material and evidence to back you up when times get tough, doubts creep in or things aren’t going so well. Doing this exercise as soon as you wake up, before properly starting your day is an optimal choice as it works well when done in a relaxed, fun and playful manner and most importantly before the mind fully wakes up.  

Deliberately create

Have you noticed that things run more smoothly when you are in a better mood? Your mind is quicker, you are not so overwhelmed and your performance is higher. To generate optimal results, we must be in an optimal state. Your state of being is made up of your mental, physical and emotional condition. The happier, less stressed you are, the higher you’ll be in state. By spending a few minutes in the morning and afternoon carrying out some simple mental, emotional and physical activities, you can create a higher energetic and balanced state of being that will keep you on course and support you through trying or stressful moments without depleting or setting you back. A little goes a long way e.g. two minutes of conscious breathing after lunch can boost your energy and recalibrate your focus for the rest of the day.

Aiding change & success with Self-Awareness

self awareness corp.jpg

Self-Awareness is the bedrock upon which steadfast successes and positive, lasting changes are built upon. Developing an ability to observe yourself with the inquisitiveness of a detectiveis no longer a fluffy, only for the uber spiritual or 1%-ers kind of activity. The ability to understand your emotions, recognize your feelings, observe how they are interconnecting with your environment, the people in it and your results or outcomes, is like permanently flipping the on switch to the mega super powered flood light. Self-awareness is now a necessity if you want to succeed and thrive so the activities that assist us in becoming more self-aware are no longer considered luxurious or indulgent. 

With an illuminated terrain ahead, any impediments, damage or hindrances are instantly visible to you, and if handled accordingly can no longer cause havoc and drama. Furthermore, living in close quarters with your inner self will allow you to receive accurate real-time feedback about yourself, people and life decisions, enabling you to continue to move step by step closer to the awesome version of you, your relationships, business and life.

So how do we enhance the communicative relationship we have with ourselves? How can we best develop and utilize the inner satellite navigation system that we are all born with to aid change and success? Here are five tips to get you started. Please don’t worry if you don’t like any of those activities. These are simply prompts that you can use to become inspired. Find what feels good for you. If the activity assists you in disengaging from day to day life, is fun or relaxing and allows you to integrate back into yourself you’re on the right track.

 

1-  Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the observation of oneself, one’s thoughts, emotions and feelings in any given moment. It can be carried out anytime, anyplace and developed and integrated via everyday activities like cooking, gardening and driving. It is helpful to engage in practices such as meditation and breathing techniques though to deepen the experience of tapping out to tap back in. Whichever the option, being still and silent often provides the space for true feelings, thoughts and inspiration to rise to the surface to be felt, noticed, pieced together and understood. Mindfulness is massively on the rise in schools and corporations as a means of unlocking potential and performance abilities.

2-  Movement

Simple movement encourages the slowing down of the thought by shifting attention from mind to body. Engaging the body is a powerful medium for increasing awareness of self and to boot, is a super potent and pretty instant natural mood and energy booster. Activities such as walking, running, dancing, swimming, or anything that snaps us into the moment is a good option, even a quick full body wiggle or shake on your bathroom break can help to click you back into feeling mode. Physical activity forces us to reconnect with our breathing, and helps to recognize and then release tension which is usually a form of stuck, unhelpful emotion.

     3- Writing

Journaling, jotting down your thoughts or even typing a few bullet points in the notes section of your phone is a good way to get an insight into your current state. It can often be better than speaking to a friend because your journal will not interrupt you when you’re in the flow, is unbiased, and you can re-visit the text to explore when you have some spare time. An effective exercise is to set an alarm several times per day on your phone as a reminder to pause, close your eyes and write down what your main thoughts and emotions are in that moment. This will provide you with a bank of information from which to gather insights and clarity, learn how certain situations affect you and which environments and people allow you to thrive over others.

4-  Nature

Being outdoors in nature instantly drops us into a peaceful state. Peace, tranquility, serenity are all majorly conducive states for self-awareness. The act of breathing in fresh air, soaking in greenery or the sound of the ocean is like plugging yourself in to be recharged. Depletion and exhaustion often hinder us from connection. If we are running on survival mode, trying to get through the day, numbing ourselves with alcohol or artificially boosting ourselves with caffeine, there’s very little time, link to self, and energy left for tackling the inner emotional stuff. Time in nature can revive your capacity to feel and observe. Also, taking in the beauty of nature or the animal kingdom is an instant mood booster. We are more likely to feel inclined to be present with what is if we are feeling balanced and replenished.

5-  Creativity

Creative expression is not only good for the soul, it is also an excellent teacher. Any form of creative output will show you new insights about your true nature or the reality of a situation. Creative activities which are not limited to arts, crafts or painting by the way, are not only calming, relaxing, but will also very quickly reflect to you your current state and any elements of your mindset or patterning that are perhaps hindering your growth and success moving forward. Cooking, music, dance, writing, and of course traditional arts are all creative outlets which provide beautiful space for your inner self to shine through and the cool thing is, you’ll likely see the revelations in your creations as well as notice clearer feelings, sensations and emotions being evoked during the process.

Three Simple Steps to Getting Started

started.jpg

If you’re ready for change or want to start a new project, entrepreneurial business or any type of focused activity, then we need to address something. Why have you not started yet? No, really? It’s important to delve beneath the surface of this if we expect to get unstuck and in motion any time soon. There are many unique and individual reasons why we suppress our desires, box our dreams up aka delay starting. Many of the reason often have debilitating effects on our progress, our success, freedom and happiness, cause us much suffering and furthermore, hold us back from fulfilling our purpose and potential in life. Once we can begin to understand what is truly beneath the lack of launch and momentum with regards to new endeavors and or beginnings, we can take empowered steps both inner and outer, to turn things around for the better. Here are a few pointers to get you started on getting started!

1: What will people think?
The only opinion that matters is your own, however, the bigger the dream, change or goal, the more likely they’ll be doubt and fear knocking around in your feelings. It’s rare to find someone who has never struggled with this on some level, so don’t beat up on yourself. The best thing we can do during these times is to cocoon and self-protect. You are likely to be vulnerable due to the changes, extra load and the inner re-wiring required to undertake such a feat. Yes, it’s a mammoth task to create lasting and joyful change whether you are practiced or not, so putting yourself out of reach of negative words, judgements or influence is paramount. The last thing you need, is someone fueling all of that and causing you to second guess yourself, or offer you temptation to quit or not start in the first place. Prep yourself and your environment through self-care, mindset training and anything else that is needed. Organize your inner circle to include people who uplift you and support you and finally let go of those who don’t share your vision or drive for success and positive change.

2: I’m not ready
Regardless of how strong the desire, inspiration or even desperation to change something, or up level in life or business, there’s a lie that most humans have been fed since birth that has been adopted as truth, and it’s killing dreams all over the planet. The fact that there’s a certain state of perfect readiness required before you start lead to beliefs like, “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t’ have enough qualifications”, “I don’t have enough money, equipment or time”. If we take all those social innuendos at face value we would never progress or bust ourselves out of a bind, ever. Maybe for some who do not have freedom or health as a luxury, we must offer the benefit of the doubt, real life happens and it can for some be debilitating. But, in your own heart, you will know how honest you are being with yourself. In truth, we wait around for conditions to be perfect before we begin because we are afraid of chaos or imperfection. Progress is born purely out of chaos and right now you have never been readier to take the first step towards change or upgrading. Start where you are at, with the recourses that you have with the time that you can segment each day. Blocks and obstacles are crushed through action, so what small piece of action could you take today to get started?

3: It’s too complicated, I feel overwhelmed. 
The reason we get overwhelmed is we try to run before we can walk and that keeps us stuck and debilitated. Our mind races ahead and wants to have all the details and results on the table before we start the meal. Changing our approach and simplifying the plan will instantly relieve pressure. There’s no room for perfectionism if you can’t even start in the first place. Look at what you want to create or change and check in with your ideas or plan. Is there a way you can break it down? Could you unravel it and make it stupidly simple? Success isn’t measured by the best business plan, diet and exercise regime or workout gear, the most impressive tech set up or website. Success is measured by the results, and if you have not even started then, results are not going to happen any time soon! Fancy logos, intricate training systems, outside investment, shop fronts or websites can take time and more importantly a certain mindset and inner strength to bring into fruition. Momentum breeds momentum, so Starting with the minutest of steps, even if it may bug you for being basic, will provide you with clarity, inspiration and motivation for further steps in the right direction.