Success habits and the power of a morning routine.

We’re nearly two weeks in to 2018 and you may be going strong with those resolutions or they may be starting to slip. The thing with resolutions is they require motivation and the thing with motivation is that after a while, it starts to wear off.

Just 5% of us actually stick to our resolutions.

So what’s the answer?

Jim Rohn, personal development guru has it here-
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

The good news is it takes approximately 21 days to form a new habit so if you get started today, latest tomorrow, you can be well on your way to success by the end of the month.

What new habits do you want to acquire? What makes the biggest difference to how you feel and therefore how you perform during the day? For me it’s always exercise and meditation. These are what underpin my well being in body and mind and give me the resilience to deal with whatever the day brings. I use a habit tracker stuck to my fridge and tick it off every time I’ve taken action. I’d recommend starting small, with one or two habits, until you build your confidence and motivation and include a few more.

I read the brilliant Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule this summer. She encourages us to take action before we have had time to overthink: 5-4-3-2-1 ACTION. It’s also a great one for getting out of bed 5-4-3-2-1 and get up, without thinking or hitting the snooze button. Then get dressed and set your intentions for the day ahead.

Why first thing in the morning? I’m not naturally a morning person. I still feel that I have years of sleep to catch up on having had 3 children! But I am absolutely converted to the power of a morning routine-
If you take action first thing, NOTHING can get in your way. Exercise is done- no excuses. You’ve set your intentions for the day so that you can choose your focus, before people and e mails start to pull you in a hundred different directions.

Another compelling reason is that your will power decreases throughout the day. That’s why we’re more likely to be snacking on biscuits in the afternoon or our good intentions to exercise can disappear as the day goes on. But if you take action first thing, you can spend the rest of the day safe in the knowledge that you’ve taken care of yourself and you are ready for whatever the day brings.

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod offers a new and compelling structure to the morning routine using 6 aspects: Silence (Meditation); Affirmations; Visualisation; Exercise; Reading; Scribing (Writing). I’m a fan of all of these disciplines but previously they were scattered randomly across my morning routine. Now I get up at 6, dressed for exercise; do my routine and by 7 I’m ready for action and whatever the day brings. The kids are mostly compliant and generally leave me in peace until 7AM although my seven year old marched in this morning to inform me that I was doing my yoga pose COMPLETELY wrong!

So I’d love to hear from you, what is your morning routine? What habits do you have to ensure your day gets off to a great start?

 

 

Set yourself up for Success

2017 has been a game changer for me. In June I qualified as a Personal Performance Coach with The Coaching Academy and in November I gained my Coaching in Education qualification with distinction. I’ve set up my business and had the privilege of working with some wonderful clients.

I’m not saying this to blow my own trumpet but to encourage you to believe that change is possible. I’ve been a secondary school teacher for 16 years, I have three small children, and perhaps like you, I’ve spent the last decade focusing on survival as frankly there wasn’t time for anything else.

But this year, I’ve changed my beliefs, my attitudes and my daily habits and had an incredible year- I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone, made some amazing friends who have held me to a high standard and I’m energised and ready for more growth and challenge in the year ahead.

So what can I share with you?

Consistent action gets results and massive action gets massive results.
Have a plan and chip away at it every day. Be braver than you feel and take risks. Don’t be scared of failure- (FAIL is an acronym for First Attempt in Learning)

Get up early. For most successful people this means getting up early and setting intentions for the day before other people’s agendas take over. I get up at 6 and the first thing I do is write in my planner to record the things I’m grateful for and set my intentions for the day. First thing is when you’re likely to be most productive too. I’ve had to train the children to stay in their rooms until 7AM- we’re mostly successful with this and it means I have a bit of time to think and plan before I start meeting their breakfast orders!

Take care of your health. It’s so tempting to say we don’t have time to exercise, sleep or eat properly but getting those habits in place is so important to support mental and physical health. It’s super tough to exercise during these cold dark days but there are some great, free resources online. Check out Fitness Blender, The Body Coach, Yoga with Adrienne. Having a challenge or goal really helps keep me motivated to. In December I completed the 5K every day and excepting a couple of dangerously icy days this got me out every day, when I otherwise would have made excuses to stay in!

Get your daily habits sorted. Whatever it is that you need to do, commit to it on a daily basis. Whether it’s drinking enough water, exercise or getting control of your finances, commit to doing it on a daily basis. Use a habit tracker- mine is on my fridge or an app such as HabitHub.

Find your cheerleaders. Make sure you seek out the people who will cheer you on. This will keep you on track and accountable. I have business buddies to keep me on track, my coaching circle I meet on a monthly basis and my lovely school mums who keep me on track with exercise. Also investing in coaching has been an incredibly powerful way of identifying what holds me back and holding me to account.

Be future focused. Take yourself forward in time five years. What do you want to be doing? How do you want to be living? What do you need to commit to now in order to achieve that?

What are your goals for 2018? What are you prepared to do to make sure you succeed?

If you are ready to make a change get in touch to book a free discovery call coaching@sarahbramall.com

 

Top Tips For Busy Mums

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Never a dull moment.. this week we’ve been hit by the dreaded sickness bug and have been juggling a little more than usual. Christmas is fast approaching and rightly or wrongly much of the organisation falls to us so it’s more important than ever that we prioritise self care and make sure that instead of being frazzled, we can enjoy this special time.

So how can we make more time for ourselves?

We have busy lives: children, jobs, partners etc and we quite like to squeeze in a bit of a social life and exercise routine. Yet there are only 24 hours in the day- how can we make it work?

No magic bullets here but a few tips to make time for yourself and stay sane….

Get up early. Yes this is painful and maybe a step too far if you’re still up with tiny children in the night. But go to bed early and get up early. It’s worth it, I promise. 6- 7 AM is golden time for me. The children are supposed to stay in their rooms until 7. I get up, without looking at my phone, find my planner and write down my intentions for the day and what I’m grateful for. That’s it. I start the day in a positive frame of mind and clear about my MITs (Most Important Tasks). Check out Mel Robbins’ The Five Second Rule for more on this.

Next is exercise– You Tube is my friend and at the moment I’m doing HITT with Joe Wicks or Yoga with Adrienne. Anything else is then a bonus- Important footnote here- no 6AM starts at the weekend unless you really want to. Give yourself a break.

Responsibilities- this is tough. You probably have too many. Write a list of everything you can think of. Firstly what can you lose- will the kids survive on beans on toast mid week so you don’t have to cook? Whatever corners you can cut, do, for the sake of your sanity.

Next, delegate. Periodically if I present my husband with a list of all the to dos he generally has no idea how much there is to do and will generally raise his game in response. Similarly we’re always amazed that the kids can do way more than they let on and miraculously, when bribed with pocket money, can do all sorts of useful domestic tasks- woo hoo.

Cut the crap– whatever form this takes in your life- get rid. Cut out the rubbish TV (Not Motherland though!) and unfollow the negative voices on social media that drain you. Use the Pareto principle and write down the 20% of people who really matter to you and go all out for them but you don’t have to be all things to all people.

Remember that as a working mum you can’t do it all perfectly. Accept that good is good enough. Make sure you slow down and give yourself permission to focus on what really matters- your health, your relationships and your children.

Please share if you find this helpful and comment below: How do you make more time for yourself?

Bring Your People With You!

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Maya Angelou is my favourite poet. She was a great teacher and poet who had lived a challenging life as an African American woman and suffered all kinds of challenges and hardships. But as she went through life she accumulated wisdom and shared all that she had learned. By the end of her life Maya Angelou was a highly respected figure in the US and spoke at Barack Obama’s inauguration. She was also great friend and mentor to Oprah Winfrey, who spoke at her funeral.

Maya Angelou left us a lot but one key message I got from watching a BBC documentary about her life was this: Bring your people with you.

Think of the people who are no longer with you, those who have supported you or been kind to you. Carry the spirit of those people on your shoulders. When you walk into the room, carry them with you and that will imbue you with great confidence and self assurance. Anyone who has ever been kind to you, anyone who has ever believed in you, bring that with you in to the room.

What a powerful message.

November is a month of remembrance. As Catholics at the beginning of the month we celebrate the feast of All Souls. Later this week we will take part in remembrance services to commemorate those who died in the service of our country.

I’ve been very fortunate in my life as I have yet to experience significant bereavement and I know that many of you have experienced significant losses of a parent, a partner or a child so your understanding of this will be greater than mine. What I have experienced is support and kindness from amazing grandparents and friends who have now passed away.

Two of these people are my grandmother, my Nanna who passed away three years ago. Nanna had an incredible gift for making each one of us feel special and I know this feeling is shared by her five children, their partners, her grandchildren and great grandchildren. As well as setting an incredible example through her faith and love, she made it clear that she was incredibly proud of us and gave us the belief that we could do whatever we set our minds to.

The second person was a dear friend and colleague who also set an incredible example to others through the way he served and cared for the most vulnerable children in a large and challenging secondary school. I have had the privilege to work with many incredible people in my teaching career but Steve was exceptional. He was a great supporter and letter writer and would tell me and my colleagues in the early days of our careers that we were a force for good, that we must shine our lights brightly and that without doubt we made a difference to the children in our care. If everyone had cheerleaders like this we’d have no trouble retaining our young teachers.

When I’m coaching people to reach for their goals I ask my clients to dig in to their strengths, examples of past successes and the support and resources they have to give them the confidence to reach for their goals and the resilience to persevere in seeing it through.

And this is something you can use: think of the people in your life who have been kind to you, who have believed in you and bring your people with you.

Please share and let me know- whose spirit do you carry with you and what did they teach you?

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Let it Go!

Saying yes to happiness means learning to say no to things and people that stress you out. Thema Davis

At this time of year, the trees are shedding their leaves to make room for new growth in the spring. We need to do the same so where do we start?

Firstly let go of negative relationships. Stop spending your precious time with people who put you down, don’t support you in your dreams or drain your time and energy. Make the choice to walk away and invest your time in people who support you and lift you up. Obviously, I’m not advocating walking away from friends or family members who are going through a hard time. I’m talking about walking away from toxic or one sided relationships that don’t serve you.

Secondly look at the media you’re consuming. Unfollow the whingers and the haters on Facebook. Unsubscribe from the e mail clutter and don’t watch the news just before you go to bed if it leaves you feeling upset and drained. Do we need to engage with what’s going on in the world and contribute as global citizens? Of course. But not just before bed, if that doesn’t work for you.

Let go of stories from the past. I failed that exam so I’ll never be able to… And, while you’re at it, let go of whatever rubbish you picked up from your teachers or parents as a kid- you’re selfish/ lazy/ disorganised. Change that to a new positive belief and start gathering evidence to support it.

We’ve talked before about the inner critic- that little voice that plays inside your head, holding you back and putting you down. Silence that critic right now, and as Tara Mohr, suggests in her brilliant book, Playing Big, get in touch with your inner mentor and let he or her guide you instead.

And finally, responsibilities- make a list of them and identify any you can let go. Where can you lower your standards to make more time for the people and things that really matter?

You have one precious life. Find what no longer serves you and let it go.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you want more of? What are you willing to let go to make space for that?

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Connection, not perfection!

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So we’ve reached the end of half term and the children are back to school tomorrow. At the beginning of the week I vowed to focus on connection with the children and to let go of the quest for perfection, which, to be honest is just as well!

Ten years ago I was heavily pregnant with my eldest, deeply indoctrinated in the need for exclusive breast feeding, home made baby purees, baby signing and cloth nappies. And I duly set out to do my best, not forgetting the opinions of Gina Ford, subjecting him to baby Einstein etc.

This pressure for perfection starts early and as a first time but I fell for it: hook, line and sinker. Thankfully my youngest is now 3. I have three children, a job and a new business. The quest for perfection has long since left the building and let’s be honest, we’re all the happier for it.

But this pressure on parents to get it right is real and it affects us and our children. We are seeing an increasing crisis in our young children’s mental health and the reasons for this are complex but we know this has come alongside increasing pressure on our children to achieve the highest grades, make the ‘right’ career decisions very early, as the prospect of graduate debt looms over them, accompanied by the pressure to create and maintain a perfection on social media, in many cases 24/7.

As parents we contribute this by the desire to give our children the best by over scheduling them with sports clubs, music lessons and after school tuition, which although well intentioned, can lead to frazzled children who lack resilience because they don’t have the time they need to relax, get bored, figure things out for themselves and to play outside without adult supervision.

So what can we do?

I, as much as anyone, am a work in progress. Quite possibly the best thing I can do for my children is to chill the hell out and let them be.

In addition to that I’m trying to work on connection with the kids by talking to them and trying to actually listen. The wheel below is good for this:

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How many have you done in the last 24 hours? Each time your answer is ‘yes’ you have helped boost their confidence and made them feel secure.

Getting the children involved in making vision boards and using a gratitude jar has been great too.

And finally, helping them to identify their strengths and offering feedback when I catch them being good.

We’re far from perfect here- the boys are fighting over the remote and my daughter is pulling every trick she can think of to get another biscuit but I can say that after a week at home together without too many plans life is a little bit calmer and happier.

I love to hear what you think- what works well in your family?

 

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Vision Boards

Last Friday I was joined by some lovely ladies as we got together to make vision boards.

 

What is a vision board?

Essentially a collection of images and words or phrases of things you love in your life and would like to attract more of.

Why vision?
It’s so easy to keep moving from day to day without stopping to reflect on what’s really important. We can find ourselves caught up in others’s expectations of us and find that what we’ve spent our lives focusing on the wrong things, or as Steven Covey says in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,

“It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall.”

The Law of Attraction
What you focus on you attract in to your life. So you want to make sure your focus is on what you want and not on what you don’t want. If you focus on feeling tired, ill etc, that’s what you’ll attract. If you focus on positivity and connection you’ll get more of that in your life.

Visualisation
We started with a visualisation of our ideal day, focusing on who we were with, what we were doing and the things that brought joy into our lives. This helped us to connect with our core values and purpose and formed a basis for what we wanted to focus on in our vision boards.

Vision Boards
We then used a variety of magazines to find images and text that attracted us. The process of sitting and creating is in itself therapeutic. Gradually the images were selected, collated and arranged on the page.

As the vision boards came to life I we could see a visual depiction of our individual hopes and dreams but there were definitely some common themes: to be great mothers and do our best for our children; a focus on health and well-being and career satisfaction. For some this is career change, a move in a new direction, a desire to give back and make a difference in the world and a desire for greater challenge and to fulfil potential and achieve career aspirations which may have been put on hold while caring for our children.

The most powerful part of the evening was the conversations that took place once the boards had ben created: our hopes and desires and finding the confidence to make a change and to live out our purpose.

My vision board is now hanging on my office wall and I know it will continue to inspire me, nudge me in the right direction and keep me going on days when I lack motivation and conviction.

This would be a great activity to do with the kids over half term or in the time between Christmas and New Year to reflect on what’s important and set intentions for the new year.

Some images below if you’d like to see….

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Love After Love

Love After Love….

The time will come
when, with great elation, you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, at your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

Sit. Feast on your life….

Derek Walcott

The past

Some years ago with two very small children, one house move too many, two returns to work to unfamiliar jobs, and a husband who worked insanely long hours, I had lost myself. I loved my husband and adored our two boys but my sense of self had gone.

I loved my children but… the days were long.  When older and wiser people informed me that it passes in a blink, having been up all night, and on not enough sleep, I struggled to believe them.

I loved my husband but… the long hours and nights took their toll.  I struggled to find the strength to support his career: Army Major to junior doctor to hospital consultant via three gruelling sets of professional exams.  It became a standing joke among friends and family who never saw him, that he was indeed a figment of my imagination.

Having had children ahead of the curve, my friends struggled to understand and gave their patient understanding as I declined yet another night out as I was essentially sole care giver to our children.

Last year I sat in a training course at The Coaching Academy and was asked to take myself back in time five years to when my tiny children were 4 and 1, and our youngest daughter was not even thought of. It was emotional. It took me right back to a time where I knew I was incredibly lucky to have a lovely husband, our little boys and supportive family and friends. However, it also took me back to times of frustration, exhaustion and resentment at my loss of identity and what I had sacrificed to support my husband’s success.

The exercise

Moving forward five years and into the present day I saw a different picture- my husband had been right: life had got easier and we are now blessed with our little girl and a much more balanced life. As I sat in that room, probably for the first time, I took time to think about what I really wanted.

Teaching had been my life for the past sixteen years, in fact, the awful events of 9/11 occurred in my first week of teaching. For me it is a vocation, a strong desire to make a difference and it never occurred to me that there would be anything else.

And the exercise took me again five years into the future, in which the first thing I saw was my tiny children now 14, 11 and 6. That in itself took my breath away. And I didn’t see myself, as I had previously imagined, working full time as a teacher, with an unsustainable workload, desperately trying to clutch on to time with my fast growing children, who all too soon would be gone. Instead what I saw was that I had re-trained as a coach, chose the hours I work and the people I work with and the energy and passion I have always brought to my work being brought to fruition.

The future

Coaching has helped me to focus on what really matters, listen to my inner voice and to let go of what others expect of me. No doubt the next five years will fly but I no have the courage to follow my heart and find my love after love.

Footnote-
Derek Walcott’s poem Love after Love is here.
Oprah Winfrey also claims this as one of her favourites in her wonderful book What I Know for Sure.

If you would like me to send you the exercise I described, please get in touch.

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