Rise and shine to success

I’ve heard that for some of the most successful people in our world, people like Oprah, Obama, Sir Richard Branson, rising early is the key to success. In fact, some studies have shown that 90% of executives wake up before 6am on weekdays, and nearly 50% of self-made millionaires wake up at least three hours before their workday begins!

I was intrigued. What if I tried this? Could I do it? Could I fight the urge to hit snooze 10 times before I actually started my day? Intuitively, something was telling me that I wasn’t getting the most out of my day. I wasn’t flaking but I wasn’t peaking either. I was status quo. I knew I needed to change to achieve a productive edge.

Reading Hal Elrod’s ‘Miracle Morning’, turned out to be a game changer! He preaches the SAVERS principle. In summary, you are to wake up an hour earlier than usual and practice activities; Silence, Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing. Sounds like a lot right? Nevertheless, I committed to waking 5:30am everyday (yes, even on weekends!) to test his theory. Here’s what I discovered.

How’s the serenity?

No longer was I racing out the door to dash to work. I woke with a sense of calm knowing I had time on my hands. A silent coffee, sitting outside, watching the sunrise, set a beautiful tone for the day. Waking to beauty, also cultivated an incredible sense of gratitude.

Hello endorphins!

Swimming for half an hour everyday not only ignited the body, mind and soul, but gave me time to set up my day. I got a head start, before distractions and obligations arised. I would set a mantra as I swam up and back. It became meditative and everyday, I got the after workout buzz, and I floated into work.

Straight to the drivers seat

Everything felt in order. I felt a sense of control. I was playing in offence and no longer reactive. Everything began to flow. Decision making was clearer as I set intentions, focused, visualised and compartmentalised all areas of my life. Things became achievable not daunting.

The mind switch

I cultivated a growth mindset. Scribing the previous days events gave time to release, reflect and then project forward. Writing down events and progress brings an intense sense of moving forward, acknowledging the little and big wins on the way.

A happy little Vegemite

Being an early bird definitely boosts the mood. You feel calm, collected, and accomplished. When you wake up early, you have more time for planning, strategic thinking, and getting organised. My days were more productive and I was definitely thinking sharper with a skip in my step! You also seem to have more time, allowing you to mindfully connect with others which absolutely feeds the soul!

A coupla cons

The earlier you get up, the earlier you seem to go to bed. Sometimes, I’d be going to bed before the sun! But you’re virtually flipping your day on its head, and getting your usual night time activities done in the morning. It’s a change in mindset and it takes time to adjust.

This also may not suit everybody for whatever reasons, family, work, health. But it’s also not a fixed idea. It’s a theory that can be tailored to whatever works for you.

The verdict

Yes, I’m officially a convert. In fact, I’m writing this at 4:30am. Millions of super people can’t all be wrong. If it could work for your lifestyle, even adding just a couple of the practices, I say go for it, stick with it and the benefits have the potential to be life changing.

Disclaimer – Sometimes you think everyone is up when you are. Turns out their not. My biggest lesson is to not contact people at 5am just to chat!

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Tips On How To Tap Into Your Intuition

You are already intuitive. Allowing your mind to be conscious to this fact is where the development begins. At times, we find that we are in battle with heart and head but forget we have this powerful tool within us that can help us make the right choices without the ego or feelings getting in the way!

What is intuition exactly? Intuition connects us to who we truly are. It’s a range of experiences including the five senses and even our sixth sense, the one of feeling. Intuition can be that all-knowing feeling that something is wrong but you cannot figure out why. We’ve all had that feeling, but often we don’t trust it or listen even if it is screaming at us!

Here are some tips on how to tap into your instinct.

Remove your blocks

Go inwards when something ‘off’ arises, where you may not have been before. Do not see this block as a problem but an opportunity. If your mind is stressed, why is that? Slow down, feel, take your time and work through it.

Less ego

Our ego tends to appear when we are feeling vulnerable, insecure and not good enough. Your ego holds your opinions and judgements. As you catch your ego early, you can become less opinionated and judgemental. You will be less reactive and present when making your decisions.

Start small

Use your intuition to make small decisions first. That way, you have nothing to lose and only something to gain. Take it one step at a time. For instance, you could assess your food choices and what you intuitively know is a better decision. Practice small for the big decisions such as career, relationships and life changing choices.

Make better decisions and keep them

Everyday we are making innumerable decisions both consciously and subconsciously. Becoming more conscious of ourselves and decisions, we have a better opportunity to make better choices that align with our true self. Making decisions aligned with who we are, instantly help us make the right ones, which make us feel better, in turn encouraging us to keep doing them.

Listen to your gut, honour your intuition. Trust yourself.

Decisions, Decisions

It seems, the older we get, the more decisions we have to make. There are the easy decisions, should I wear that dress (yes!), have another champagne (yes!), walk the beach (yes!) or go the gym (probably)? Then there are the hard ones, should we stay in a relationship, leave our job, sell our house, move or have a difficult conversation? Big decisions can make you feel sick, bewildered, lost, confused and unsettled. But you can’t make progress without making decisions. Fact. So how do we make them? How do we know if a particular decision is right or wrong?

A Choice Point

Russ Harris, medical practitioner and leading authority in stress management, teaches a strategy called ‘A Choice Point’. A Choice Point is a moment in time when you choose between values consistent and values inconsistent behaviour. It is a practice in which you step back with your critical mind and evaluate whether a decision or behaviour will be moving away or towards your values and the person you want to be. Understanding your values, who you are and where you want to be in life, is vital when making choices. Is your decision going to enhance your life or will the decision mean you are turning away from what you value and who you are? Have you ever made a decision and the internal conflict has continued? If so, that is a sure sign you have made the wrong choice and going against your true direction. The right choice often gives a sense of relief as you align with who you really are.

Head versus heart

It’s hard to know what to do when your head and heart are in battle. Your head can often be screaming at you to make a certain choice, and your heart screams just as loudly for you to go in the opposite direction. So which one do you listen to? We, as humans, actually have access to an extraordinary tool that we often forget to use. Our gut. Our gut instinct is the most powerful voice we have. Gut instinct is a natural ability that helps you decide what to do or how to act without thinking. What a powerful gift right?! Yet so many of us choose to ignore it. Have you ever stayed in a relationship or job, which you inherently know is not good for you? Then years later, after you have left the situation, you look back knowing you ignored the red flags and your gut instinct, in hope that it would get better. Listen to your intuition, it’s there to guide you!

Pros and Cons

What are the pros and cons of making a certain decision? Get as much information as possible. What will you gain, what will you lose and who will you impact. What is the worst case scenario? Is the decision permanent? What’s your Plan B? It helps to write pro’s, con’s and options down. You may find that one list will overshadow the other and the decision can become glaringly obvious. This process can be a huge reality slap, as you confront a decision that clearly isn’t working for you.

When both options are terrifying

Have you ever had a decision where there doesn’t seem to be a good choice? What are you fearing? Make time to sit with it and make space for the answer to come. Be calm. Never make permanent decisions on a temporary emotion. Don’t base your decision on fear or guilt. Give yourself time. So many times we make a decision in the heat of the moment based on emotion, but good decisions take time and effort and healthy, intelligent reflection.

Talk to someone or yourself

Often we are so engrossed in our decision that we can’t see the facts and options clearly. Engage with a professional, family member or friend. Others can see a situation with a clearer perspective and sometimes provide more options guiding you to make a better choice. If you feel you can’t open up to someone about your choice, talk to yourself like you would a friend. Play devil’s advocate and consider what you would likely say to a friend if they were asking you on your opinion on the matter.

Give yourself a break

Are you finding all this analysis overwhelming and just confusing you more? Step away from the situation. Allocate time for when to think about it and when to have a break. Overthinking can make the situation worse and can confuse you even more! Catch up with a friend, go for a walk, and step away so when you decide to think about it again, you can with a clearer head.

Lastly, it is important to remember, that sometimes the hardest thing, and the right thing are the same.

“Don’t ever make your decisions based on fear. Make them on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t” – Michelle Obama

Be your own best friend

There are times we can feel a little broken and can be incredibly hard on ourselves. Sometimes we feel we aren’t good enough or can’t seem to do anything right and we spiral thinking we are alone in this feeling. Everyone else seems so together right? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get myself together?

There is a concept that some of us know but don’t apply enough and the truth is it can be incredibly effective. That is, be your own best friend. But how do we do this when we feel low. How can we love ourselves just like we love our besties?

You said what?

How are you speaking to yourself? Would you say these things to your best mate? I’m certain some of your self talk i.e I’m not worthy, I’m too fat/skinny or I am not good enough, would not fly if you were saying it to your best friend. Think kindness, non judgement, and be loving in the way you speak to yourself. Tell yourself ‘it’s going to be okay’, ‘I’m here for you’ and ‘you’re not alone’. No more hate talk. You wouldn’t say it to someone else so don’t put yourself down.

Self care baby!

What would you do if you were with your best friend? What makes you feel good? Self care is all about doing things just for you. And no, it’s not selfish! Take yourself for brunch, have a bath, go to that movie, get a massage, walk the beach, go to the gym, cook a healthy meal. Do anything you know is good for your body, mind and soul. It is a sure guarantee to lift your mood and a much better alternative to sitting home stewing over how much you feel like you are failing.

What’s my good qualities?

Now this can be a hard one but try and acknowledge your good qualities. What would your best friend say about you. Try saying it to yourself. List five, maybe, ‘I’m caring, intuitive, determined, funny and resilient’. It’s also important to realise sometimes what we see as our bad qualities can actually be our best. Okay maybe you feel you’re too shy, too reactive, too sensitive but try and reframe these positively. Perhaps you are instead independent, passionate and empathetic. Feeling fat? Hey, curves are sexy. Talk to your body and acknowledge what an amazing vessel it actually is!

Being your own best friend can be one of the best skills you can learn. At the end of the day we are all living with ourselves and our own thoughts about who we are. Wouldn’t it be cool to just love hanging out with yourself, completely content knowing you were never alone, as long as you had your fabulous self to rely on.

Be you’re own best friend and you will shine.

Life Interrupted | Life in a psychiatric facility #2

I noticed by week five in the facility I started to do odd things. I was moulding into the beige, peeling walls. Everyone knew me and I was forming some attachments. I longed for progress but honestly felt like I was drifting more into insanity.

I would circle the hospital, pace and critique every artwork and ensure it was straight. There were endless prints of Monet. Those damn water lilies. Sometimes I would make each piece crooked and straighten them again on my next lap, just for something to do. I was bored. I’d wave at the cameras. I knew I must look insane. Was I?

Life in the facility had become monotonous. Wake, eat, medication, eat, group therapy, eat, pace, eat and then again after more medication, eat. I was getting fat. I would wobble more as I paced. And, every day was the same. Every day was vanilla.

I would sort through the health brochures and chuck those that were out of date, just to be helpful. I would change signs that were spelt wrong, just to be helpful. I would take my blood pressure and that of other patients, just to be helpful. I sorted through DVD collections, and placed them all in genre and alphabetical order. I was aware I was losing my mind. My mask was dropping. I started not to care.

One night I watched a couple of patients play Chess in the dining room. I had no idea what was happening, I didn’t know the rules but just sat and stared. It was something to do. One of the men looked rough, upkept, dangerous. He smelt of stale whiskey and smoke. He carried a tin, I didn’t know what was in it. I asked him where he learnt to play.

“In jail”, he replied.

I didn’t bat an eye lid. I picked up my ham and cheese sandwich and waddled to my room.

What was in his tin? It didn’t matter. I realised I had reached the point. I was desensitised.

I am currently working on a book regarding this topic. Any comments on this piece would be greatly appreciated. I’d love to hear from you.

Life Interrupted | Life in a psychiatric facility #1

I remember the day my brain broke. It was sudden, explosive, and just like a teacup falling onto a hard, stone floor, I shattered hitting the ground. I came to, now lying on my bathroom floor, staring at the ceiling, fragments of my former self, comatose.

My mind waved its tired white flag and I decided it was time to check out of life.

January 22nd, I was admitted into a psychiatric facility. Pillow under one arm; I wheeled my little purple suitcase through the front door. I looked around; beige walls, a dead plant to my left and people slouched, shuffling past the nurse’s station. Everyone looked so sick. I caught my reflection in the window.

Oh, that’s right, so am I.

I was shown to my room. Ward 28. No TV, small windows, starch white sheets, hard hospital beds. A room full of nothingness. It was perfect; a place to swallow me whole.

I stared at my case on the bed. I would only unpack a pencil, some paper and a toothbrush. I decided not to unpack too much. Perhaps I just needed one night. Perhaps I would leave tomorrow.

Nurse ‘Perky’ sprung into the room and handed me a ‘Next steps to returning home’ brochure. I had only just made it here! I looked at her bemused, took it from her and said thanks. Then she left, with what felt like knee kicks and jazz hands, singing ‘Here if you need sunshine!’

Sunshine.

I sat on the bed, turned my pencil, aimed it at the door and then with perfect trajectory, I threw it at life.

I am currently working on a book regarding this topic. Any comments on this piece would be greatly appreciated. I’d love to hear from you.