I Didn’t See The Signs…

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If you live in the UK you could share in one of my particular frustrations: the sheer volume of signs on our roads. It’s like we have made an industry out of producing and erecting them, often clustered together within just a few meters of each other.

Even when driving at a steady pace, it’s difficult to take them all in, or remember and apply the information or instructions they convey. (Just to clarify, I do recognise speed limit signs – I don’t want my license revoked thanks to this blog!).

The signs are there to protect both road users and pedestrians, and I have no issue with the notion of protecting ourselves. But there is a danger that the more signs we see, the less we pay attention to them.

We sign to say we have read and understood the terms and conditions, when in fact we’ve done neither. There are too many of them to read, so we don’t read any of them – researchers in Norway found that, on average, it would take over 31 hours just to read the terms and conditions associated with the most commonly used smartphone apps.

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Are We Losing Trust in Trust?

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Our trust has been broken so many times that we no longer trust “trust”. What do I mean by that? Well, if someone says “trust me”, we’re becoming more inclined to respond sceptically or defensively.

The tele-sales rep tells us “I’m not trying to sell you anything!” because if they said they were trying to sell us something then we would not trust a word they said. Even though we don’t trust that they are not trying to sell us something… because we know that they are!

Politicians have broken our trust so many times that we no longer trust them. As a result there’s a surge in popularity for “rookie” candidates – the person who’s new to politics, the person without political experience. One reason, perhaps, that so many are finding Donald Trump an appealing candidate for the US Presidency.

Businesses have broken our trust. They’ve lied to us too many times. Banks have fixed rates, sold us products and services we didn’t want, weren’t eligible for, or didn’t even know we were buying.

Newspaper companies hacked phones… TV shows rigged telephone votes… the list of examples goes on and on…

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The Hardest Part of An Easy Life

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Not doing something is often all too easy. Like not making a difficult decision. Or postponing a difficult conversation.

Or not writing a new blog post in six weeks. That’s easy; I just don’t do it.

Not exercising is easy. Not dieting is easy. Not prioritising your goals and dreams is easy. Being a passenger in your own life is easy – sit back and just enjoy the ride. See where life takes you.

Anything for an easy life!

The problem is that it isn’t easy, in fact it’s hard. The weight of your inaction presses down more and more on your mind, and it can become unbearable. Because you do have dreams, you do have goals, you do want more…

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A Bad Influence

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A familiar phrase that you’ll have heard, and probably used at some point, is that someone (or something) has been a “bad influence” on you. Usually we refer to this “bad influence” when we’ve made a decision that we’ve come to regret.

We’ve all made choices we regret. Some of those regrets may relate to momentous situations and some may relate to smaller choices. Some may involve your career, health or relationships. Some may involve chocolate, pizza or tequila.

When we refer to this “bad influence”, what we are really saying is that we outsourced our decision making to someone else, as though the choice was taken out of our hands…

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The Attraction of The Highly Unlikely

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Last year the UK’s National Lottery organisers changed how the game worked and, in doing so, they decreased the odds of winning from 1 in 14 million to 1 in 49 million. They took this decision as, over the course of some years, ticket sales had been on a constant decline.

But the decision to increase ticket sales by decreasing the odds of winning seems counter intuitive to most. After all, why would people be more inclined to buy a ticket if they knew their chances of winning had significantly decreased?

The truth – one that the National Lottery’s organisers factored into their decision – is that we tend to be more attracted to bigger wins, even if the odds of winning are increasingly unlikely. As the odds of winning decreased significantly the amount of “no win” jackpots leads to bigger roll-over draws and much bigger prizes.

It seems that the attraction of winning 1 or 2 million pounds is not as big a draw as winning 30 or 50 million pounds, regardless of the odds. Perhaps these days people dream more of being a billionaire than a millionaire!

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The “Five Ones”

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If you’re like most people, you’ll probably have a lot of things going on in your life and work right now. As a result you’ll doubtless be facing a variety of priorities. I’ve written before about how challenging (and ridiculous) it is to have more than one priority at any given time.  Nonetheless, the reality is that you will likely have more than one important thing to do right now.

It can be difficult knowing where to start; how do you focus in on the most important priority and move forward?

The first thing to do is to get all your priorities, and the ‘things’ you have to do, or want to do, and reduce the list down to five items. That may seem impossible to those who have a list of priorities that might run to hundreds of items, all of which MUST be done. But trust me, it can be done…

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Choose and Leap or Fail and Fall

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When you slip and fall gravity pulls you down.

It’s the knowledge of that awesome and consistent power that generally keeps us from leaping off a cliff edge into an abyss. Sometimes we have to make a change in our lives, either of our own choice or when a situation forces us to do so. In such circumstances, despite our knowledge of gravity, we choose to leap anyway.

When we are faced with these decisions, it can feel like standing on the edge of a real cliff. An abyss extends beneath us. The fear is real. Will you fail if you follow your heart? What if it goes wrong? What will I do if…?

Of course, we don’t know what will happen, even though our mind can convince us of a variety of outcomes – good and bad. And yes, sometimes you go for something and it doesn’t work. Many of our goals wiill not be achieved on the first attempt.

Sometimes we fall…

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Painful Truths

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The truth can be painful sometimes, it’s why some people avoid it. If you’re unhappy with your weight, the painful truth is that your weight is a direct result of your actions. If you’re unhappy with your job, the painful truth is that you are choosing to be there; your work place doesn’t hold you prisoner. If you’re unhappy with your lifestyle, the painful truth is that you can make better choices.

If you want to change something about your life, the painful truth is that you can, but you have to choose to do it. Yet, all too often, we would rather accept a lie than the truth and this permeates so many aspects of our society.

Car emissions were not as low as advertised. TV energy ratings were not as efficient as stated. The painful truth is that the manufacturers lied to us.

Only 2% of the tuna caught around the world is ‘Dolphin Friendly’; the demand for tuna far outweighs the amounts that can be caught using pole and line. Regardless of what the labels say, the painful truth is that the tuna industry still kills dolphins.

Confronting painful truths is not easy. It might force us to stop, to assess, and to become mindful of our impact on our bodies, our lives, and the world around us. Most of us want to ‘make a difference’. We want to feel like we care. It’s why we want energy ratings on TVs, labels that state ‘Dolphin friendly’ tuna, cars that are branded ‘eco-friendly’. But the reality requires us to get more involved than we have been in the past. Reading a label isn’t enough. We all have to become more active, in our lives and in working on making the world around us a better place.

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Situational Confidence

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Speaking in public regularly tops the list of people’s greatest fears – higher even than the fear of death. It would seem that speaking in public is a common fear; many people don’t naturally have the confidence for it. On the other hand, I love to speak in public; I still get nervous, but I get a thrill out of it. However, if you put me on a dance floor I freeze like I’m playing musical statues. I hate it. I have no confidence to move around on a dance floor.

Confidence depends on your situation, and whether the situation is something you feel comfortable with. It can be the case that we let the situation determine our confidence, which can be limiting to our future potential. Growing your confidence is worth nurturing; it’s not only an attractive quality to have, it is also essential for pursuing the life you want.

Building confidence is crucial when starting to follow your dreams, because it takes confidence to have a dream in the first place. There are many people I’ve coached over the years who don’t know what they want to do, who don’t have a dream. There’s nothing wrong with that, but often their lack of a dream stems from a lack of confidence.

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Choose Your Words Carefully

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Our use of language, and the words we choose, reflect our thoughts and motivations. That’s why it’s so important to choose your words with care, to be mindful of the language you use. Becoming conscious of the words you use, and then changing them, is the first step to adjusting your mindset and taking full ownership for all aspects of your life.

Many years ago I began to eliminate the word “need” from my vocabulary and replaced it with the word “want”. The word “need” suggests an external pressure and perhaps a lack of motivation; by changing it to “want” I found I could take full ownership for whatever it is I’m aiming to achieve.

So the phrase “I need to exercise” becomes “I want to exercise”. In a work setting the phrase “I need to achieve my targets” becomes “I want to achieve my targets”. The phrase “I need to spend more time with my family” becomes ” I want to spend more time with my family”.

This very small change in language can trigger an incredible change in attitude and outcomes.

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