Road to the Gold Coast World Triathlon Champs as a Mum

I recently represented team Australia in the ITU Age Group World Triathlon Championship Sprint distance event. I was happy to finish 37th in my age group in a time of 1hr16mins21sec.

Having emigrated to Australia back in 2011 this is something I wouldn’t have pictured, not knowing how to swim freestyle when I first arrived. Fast forward seven years and anything is possible!

This has been my first major championship event since becoming a Mum which has been a different experience with two little munchkins following my every move.

How this campaign began…

When I returned to racing after having Huw in late 2017 I hadn’t initially thought of this event as a goal. I was happy to just get some fitness back and get back out there. I was then inspired however by some friends racing the qualification circuit and I thought I’d have a go as it would be nice to have a race goal again. I managed to qualify and started training properly for the sprint distance event in late June after a trip back to the UK.

Lessons learnt racing as a mum

I’ve previously written about lessons learnt from completing an Ironman distance triathlon (prior to kids) and thought it would a good chance to reflect on the journey this time round as a mum. Here are some thoughts:

Acceptance and laughter – Along the way I had to accept that with little ones there can always be unpredictabilities. The week of the race for example, Huw developed conjunctivitis and wasn’t sleeping properly. The night before the race we discovered headlice had returned to Ethan’s blonde Afro (it was inevitable!). I went straight from the opening ceremony parade to the chemist to delice him before the big day! This is a frequent piece of adaptation that parents will be used to. I’ve learnt you have to laugh where appropriate and keep perspective.

Perspective is paramount – Being a mum this time round in a build up to a big race helped me keep a good sense of perspective. Sometimes as any athlete knows you have a bad training session and can feel disheartened. Seeing the boys for mummy cuddles afterwards always made me realise perspective. On race day Ethan was running around in my husband Owain’s race helmet which made me laugh and loosen up the nerves.

Patience is a virtue – With the reality of having a 3 and 1 year old, a solid job and a husband who coaches and races at a top level, I knew I realistically I wasn’t going to be able to fit in two sessions a day. I had to accept that a lot of my competitors would be training more and just focus on what I could do and not worry about anyone else. A saying I heard which rang true is ‘comparison is the evil of all joy’. I just kept my head down and ticked off what I could do and kept improving against myself. I believe no one has exactly the same composition or circumstances as you do so it’s hard to directly compare yourself to others. If you focus on developing your own personal bests that’s something you can track. Comparing myself to myself in a growth mindset approach, I raced a lot better in the Gold Coast than in 2012 when I raced at the world age group tri champs in NZ and came 72nd in my AG.

Teamwork makes the dream work – With Owain and I both competing at this event in separate races we had to create a schedule that would work. Owain (coach Waino) crafted this and was a great support to me. Some days I’d get home from a big day at work and once the boys had gone to bed felt like I had no energy to train. He’d always encourage me and I’d feel better for ticking off the session afterwards. The team was extended for this event with our wonderful babysitters Kya and Bri who enabled us to get the key training sessions in together on a Thursday evening and Saturday morning.

Community is key – I believe our local triathlon club, Balmoral tri had the largest amount of representatives for the world’s this year. There was a wonderful spirit of comradeship and support in the build up to the event. My favourite weekly session was our Saturday morning team brick at the beach. I really believe a sense of community is one of the big keys to happiness.

Enjoy the journey – not just the destination – From my previous experience at the World Triathlon I recalled the actual event flashed by so remembered it’s important to enjoy the journey as much or if not more than the main event. I think this is a good metaphor for life too. Instead of dreading the drive up to the Gold Coast with two little ones we decided to make it an adventure and had a great family road trip.

Back yourself – There were some comments early on around how can you fit this in and I’m sure some judgements along the way. I’ve learnt what other people think of you is none of your business, everyone is welcome to their opinions. As one of my mentors said “For me it’s about what you do and not what you say. What you do- role models to your kids – anything is possible if you back yourself…. the habit is the outcome.” I think you know what works and what is right for your family and you have to trust that and back yourself even if others don’t always think it’s the right thing to do.

Watching Ethan put on my medal while he ate his weetbix the next few days after the race morning endorsed this has been a worthwhile journey and I look forward to some more racing and family goals. Ethan started his own swimming lessons this morning inspired by watching mummy and daddy swim.

I feel grateful for an incredible experience. What I’ve learnt is, whether you’re a Mum or not, if you put your mind to something, create a plan, focus, be consistent, have an awesome support network and keep perspective then anything is possible. Go chase your dreams!

After the sprint distance race, it was very inspiring watching my husband race in the Olympic distance event and win the 35-39 year old age group coming 5th overall. You can read his race report here.

Now we’ve been celebrating success and look forward to the next adventure.

Congratulations to all the athletes that raced and wishing those chasing a dream all the very best xxx

The podcast revolution

As an avid lover of learning I’ve really enjoyed embracing the current podcast revolution.

Whether it’s on a run home from work, the bus commute, cooking dinner or a quick walk pushing the pram I love that you can learn and listen on the go from so many wisdom inspirations.

I enjoy having conversations with others around what they’re listening to and thought it may be useful to share ten podcast recommendations that I’ve found valuable.

#1 The Tim Ferriss Show

This was the first podcast I listened to and is perhaps my favourite podcast to return to. I admire the way Tim thinks and his network brings along some awesome guests.

Episode I recommend – Adam Robinson – Outflanking and Outsmarting the Competition – Note some great words of wisdom to university students.

#2 Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn interviews great masters of scale including Airbnb’s Brian Chesky which I recommend listening to here.

#3 Making Positive Psychology Work with Michelle McQuaid

I was a fan of Michelle’s work before her podcast and really enjoy her creative format including the lightning round at the end. A recent favourite episode was ‘Are you Curious Enough?’ With Diana Whitney

#4 Ladies We Need To Talk – ABC Radio

A refreshing podcast with smart women talking about issues not normally tackled on air, caution not for the faint hearted! Time to name (and shame) the mental load gave me an interesting reflection on the mental load of lots of daily items that build up over time.

#5 The Rich Roll Podcast

Rich Roll discusses all things wellness with lots of forward thinking minds.

His interview of John McAvoy, criminal turned professional athlete really gave me a fresh perspective.

#6 Don’t Stop Us Now with Claire Hatton and Greta Thomas

This was a podcast I came across more recently and loved the openness of the presenters. Recommend this episode exploring the topic of purpose.

#7 Coffee Pods with Holly Ransom

I heard Holly speak at our Emerging Leaders in Multinationals event this year and was inspired by her words around embracing our courage zones. Holly asks some great questions and has a lot of episodes related to supporting entrepreneurs, check out this recent episode with Vicki Saunders, Founder of SheEO.

#8 Deep Listening ‘Impact Beyond Words’ with Oscar Trimboli

Oscar is a dear friend and mentor and his thoughtful podcast delves into deep insights on listening with professional listeners including anthropologist Michelle Barry.

I’m inspired by Oscar’s mission to create 100 million deep listeners in the world.

# 9 TED Talks Daily

Short podcasts for flashes of inspiration from the team at TED. Next on my list is this episode- ‘Don’t Fear Superintelligent AI’

#10 Optimal Daily Living

Justin Malik narrates blogs on areas such as personal development, minimalism, finance and health.

This episode looking at decision making was impactful for me.

I hope you may find a podcast that resonates for you and provides an insight and action to help you on your life long learning journey.

Would love to hear any thoughts on these or other recommendations to spread the podcast love. Thanks to those of you who have recommended me to these, paying forward the learning.

Image citation – http://theelearningcoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/podcasts-for-learning.png

How are you managing your energy?

Today’s theme of energy management builds on the concept of identifying and balancing our different buckets which I’ve written about previously in “Getting real about trying to do it all – identifying and balancing out buckets”

I’ve enjoyed a recovery day today after a busy few weeks (including the boys picking up conjunctivitis and headlice – it was inevitable with the blonde Afro!). Or as close to a recovery day as you can with two high energy boys tag teaming with the husband 😀

The concept of recharging our energy like a battery makes sense to me. There is only so much we can give before some renewal is needed. A wellness coach I know calls it depositing in our wellness account.

Leadership coach Paul Mitchell shares tips on personal energy levels in this 5 minute video which really resonated with me (thanks Myz for sharing).

Paul opens with a powerful reflective question – Are you lighting up the room when you walk into it or out of it?

Although Paul is focused on leadership and energy levels I thought this could be extended to other roles in our lives which for me include parent, wife, friend, family member, athlete and colleague.

Paul’s three strategies for better energy management are:

#1 Diarise renewal and make it sacred – Paul quotes one of his mentors Dr Fred who talks about having your 10’s, 25’s, 50’s and 100’s in order with your 10’s being daily things that recharge you which may be 8 hours sleep, exercise and a meditation. 100 is an annual event for recovery like an annual health retreat.

#2 Balance your pies – Paul states four pie sections of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. He questions which ones have you got going in your life and which ones are missing?

#3 Make a choice to see life as a series of sprints rather than a sprint or a marathon. I love the concept of seeing life as a series of sprints with Paul sharing a mantra “go for it – renewal, go for it, renewal.”

Life as a series of sprints, reminded me of hearing Jason Fried talk about Basecamp’s 6 weeks project cycles followed by recovery in Tim Ferriss’s recent podcast.

Also, a periodic exercise program, like the triathlon program I’m on for the world age group champs with I a training cycle of 3 weeks on, followed by one week recovery.

As a parent, I reflected it’s a bit harder to have a sprint then a recovery with two active boys but I think finding ways to ensure you get some rest is highly important to be at your best. For me this involves being able to ask for and accept help which didn’t come naturally at first.

So how else can we manage of energy?

Three tips that came to mind for me are:

The power of five – Consciously surrounding yourself with people who energise you – I once heard you’re a product of the five people you spend the most time with which has stuck with me.

Reflect on what actually does renew you – I think it’s important to understand what actually recharges you. When I wore a heart rate variability monitor I learnt that meditation got me in the green recovery zone and not going out to lunch (read more here).

Letting go – What do you need to let go of to move forward? This powerful question was asked at a girls’ night out on Friday with a spiritual link to the blood moon. It really had me reflecting and I think I need to let go of needing to achieve and my own expectation. Others shared included fear of failure and guilt for the breakdown of relationships. What could you let go of?

Would also love to hear any other thoughts and tips on how you manage your energy.

Image citation: https://images.indianexpress.com/2018/07/lunareclipse_moon_1.jpg

There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings.

Dear reader,

I hope you are well. It’s been a busy and rewarding period for me since my last post including a trip to the UK for my mum’s 60th birthday and moving into a new family home.

I’ve been waiting for some writing inspiration and some came through yesterday when a beautiful friend sent me a link to a Richard Branson letter on how to be happy which you may have come across since it was posted at the end of 2016:

“Dear Stranger,

You don’t know me but I hear you are going through a tough time, and I would like to help you. I want to be open and honest with you, and let you know that happiness isn’t something just afforded to a special few. It can be yours, if you take the time to let it grow.

It’s OK to be stressed, scared and sad, I certainly have been throughout my 66 years. I’ve confronted my biggest fears time and time again. I’ve cheated death on many adventures, seen loved ones pass away, failed in business, minced my words in front of tough audiences, and had my heart broken.

I know I’m fortunate to live an extraordinary life, and that most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought me happiness. But they haven’t; in fact it’s the reverse. I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy.

So many people get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy but, in my opinion, this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being. In order to be happy, you need to think consciously about it. Don’t forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too.

Kids are often asked: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ The world expects grandiose aspirations: ‘I want to be a writer, a doctor, the prime minister.’ They’re told: go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, and then you’ll be happy. But that’s all about doing, not being – and while doing will bring you moments of joy, it won’t necessarily reward you with lasting happiness.

Stop and breathe. Be healthy. Be around your friends and family. Be there for someone, and let someone be there for you. Be bold. Just be for a minute.

If you allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment, happiness will follow. I speak from experience. We’ve built a business empire, joined conversations about the future of our planet, attended many memorable parties and met many unforgettable people. And while these things have brought me great joy, it’s the moments that I stopped just to be, rather than do, that have given me true happiness. Why? Because allowing yourself just to be, puts things into perspective. Try it. Be still. Be present.

For me, it’s watching the flamingos fly across Necker Island at dusk. It’s holding my new grandchild’s tiny hands. It’s looking up at the stars and dreaming of seeing them up close one day. It’s listening to my family’s dinner-time debates. It’s the smile on a stranger’s face, the smell of rain, the ripple of a wave, the wind across the sand. It’s the first snow fall of winter, and the last storm of summer. It’s sunrise and sunset.

There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. As human beings we have the ability to think, move and communicate in a heightened way. We can cooperate, understand, reconcile and love, that’s what sets us apart from most other species.

Don’t waste your human talents by stressing about nominal things, or that which you cannot change. If you take the time simply to be and appreciate the fruits of life, your stresses will begin to dissolve, and you will be happier.

But don’t just seek happiness when you’re down. Happiness shouldn’t be a goal, it should be a habit. Take the focus off doing, and start being every day. Be loving, be grateful, be helpful, and be a spectator to your own thoughts.

Allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment. Take the focus off everything you think you need to do, and start being – I promise you, happiness will follow.

Happy regards,

Richard Branson”

Wow what words of wisdom from Sir Richard. I have been pondering on this great thought of embracing being versus doing for the last year or so.

As a goal driven person who likes achieving it can be easy to get carried away into always thinking what’s next. I think when we create some space to just ‘be’ as Richard describes it can be really powerful to see what emerges.

I do think we of course need a balance of being and doing to help connect us to others and realise what we’re capable of. I like the thought of being whilst doing, ensuring we’re connecting to the moment and not doing things on autopilot.

Talking to my uncle on this subject, he shared how he finds it sad when people can get too wealthy, always wanting the next material good and stop appreciating the simple ‘being’ things that really make us feel alive like the feeling of catching an ocean wave.

As an avid ‘to do’ list person to help keep me accountable, I love Richard’s concept of a ‘to be’ list too. For me, this would contain gentle reminders like:

⁃ Be grateful

⁃ Be curious

⁃ Be amazed by natural wonder

⁃ Be present

⁃ Be open to life

– Be generous

I try to consciously tap into the moment each day by taking the time to hear the birds in the morning, feel the rush of the wind on my outings, take the time to be really present with the boys and laugh with them.

One thing that’s helped me this year is starting most days with this 10 minute morning ritual meditation by Jason McGrice on Insight Timer. By the end of the recording I’m always smiling and feeling connected and in a good space to start the day ahead. It also helps clarify what really matter and is a priority for my to do list.

How does Richard’s message of a human being versus a human doing resonate for you? Love to hear any thoughts.

Image citation – https://laveldanaylor.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/an-existential-idea-being-versus-doing/amp/ (worth a read on this subject)

Until next time

When were you last in your courage zone?

I’m feeling inspired after cheering on some of our local triathlon club members compete in Ironman Australia over the weekend. For those not across the sport, it involves a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42km run, no mean feat! It was especially great to see the first timers putting all their hard work into action, digging deep and stepping into their courage zones. It brought back memories from when I completed the distance back in 2014 having not been able to swim freestyle when we first moved over to Australia in 2011. A challenge I remember and draw from when needed.

A couple of weeks ago I heard a presentation from Holly Ransom at our Gartner Emerging Leaders in Multi-nationals event who talked about stepping out of our comfort zone and into our courage zones which I have been reflecting on since. For those who haven’t come across Holly before, she’s certainly a young leader to watch. Some of her achievements include being CEO of her own company (Emergent), being asked by the Prime Minister to chair the G20 Youth Summit, being named among the “100 Women of Influence”, having Richard Branson as a fan, interviewing Barrack Obama on his recent visit to Sydney and being a Board member of Port Adelaide’s AFL club. On top of this she managed a top-10 finisher for her age group in her most recent Ironman endurance triathlon. Phew! For me though, perhaps most inspiring and courageous was Holly sharing on this witsup video that she has battled depression and how she came out of it: http://www.witsup.com/video-be-inspired-holly-ransom/ An act of courageous vulnerability to help inspire others talk more freely about mental health as we do with physical health.

During her talk, Holly shared a year long fear factor challenge she did with a friend, challenging and supporting each other to do one thing out of their comfort zones everyday for a year. Holly described the early encounters as the more stereotypical things that come to mind when thinking of confronting your fears, like jumping out of a plane (blog title picture from my adventurous gap year skydive :O) or into Antarctic waters. By the end of her challenge however it was seemingly smaller things like learning to say no which can make a big difference to your life quality. This made me think that there is an opportunity everyday to do something that stretches you and pushes you into your courage zone. Whether it’s taking the route with the steep hill, making a phone call you’ve been avoiding, sharing a vulnerability or trying an new adventurous menu item.

I was inspired by Holly’s session and have my own fear factor buddy to check in with and share examples of stepping out of our courage zones. What could you do this week to step into your courage zone? Whether it be applying for your dream job, saying no to something you’re feeling forced to do, taking an opportunity to publicly speak or joining a group fitness class.

In a conversation with one of our International CEO Forum members afterwards we were saying how often something great emerges on the edge of fear. When we get too comfortable it’s easy to get complacent and not stretch ourselves and grow.

Speaking to members of my network this last week on the topic, conquering a fear of open water swimming seems to be one on a few people’s list. For those new to swimming you may find this blog by Tim Ferriss useful: https://tim.blog/2008/08/13/total-immersion-how-i-learned-to-swim-effortlessly-in-10-days-and-you-can-too/

Would love to hear any thoughts and support each other in stepping out of our comfort zones in our courage zones. For those interested to hear more from Holly, you can follow her coffee pods podcast here based on the premise that in the time it takes to have a coffee with someone you can learn from their lifetime of experience.

You can change your mind and your actions at any time

After my last post ‘Getting real about trying to do it all – identifying and balancing our buckets’ we’ve been getting into our new family routine of work and daycare. Things are going well, although it hasn’t all been plain sailing with new daycare bugs being picked up, as many working parents will relate to!

After the big transition, Huw and I had another one over the long Easter weekend, weaning Huw off the boob.

This is something I’d been thinking about for a while but hadn’t been ready to commit to. I was feeling pretty tired working, training, being mum and still feeding Huw in the night and early in the morning. It felt like time, but could I fully commit?

This experience made me reflect on the decision making process and why sometimes we commit to something and there’s no looking back and other times there are multiple relapses. For example, you hear stories of someone who has tried for years to give up smoking and then suddenly is able to just go cold turkey. I’m curious about the patterns of events that lead to this moment of irreversible insight. For me with the weaning process I reflected on the following 5 factors which helped lead to a successful commitment:

1. My own commitment – From earlier this year, I realised that Huw didn’t need mummy’s milk anymore (those who have seen him eat will understand that!) and he was using me as a comforter to sleep. I had not been committed to the change however, holding on to feeding as it seemed the easy option to help settle him to sleep and then get some more snooze time in the morning. This wasn’t useful for Owain or others when they tried to settle him. I also think deep down this transition was the reality of Huw leaving the baby stage and into toddlerhood!

2. Sense of urgency – With my mum and dad visiting us soon I had committed to weaning Huw so that Owain and I could enjoy a weekend away to celebrate our recent wedding anniversary (and so I can enjoy more than a couple of wines with my parents!). I learnt a few years ago from completing my Myers Briggs personality profile that I thrive on being pressure prompted and that a sense of urgency can really help drive decisions.

3. Support system – Having Owain ready to support me with the decision and available to help settle Huw on that first night of weaning was instrumental. He also would help distract Huw and say no more milk. This reminded me of the importance of having a system set up to support a change.

4. Inspiration – I was inspired after speaking to a friend who similarly had procrastinated for a while about the weaning process, even trying multiple times and then giving in. She was almost ready to get a night nurse in to help with the process when she had an aha moment. Like with labour she realised she needed to get through this with her toddler, without a third party. Something had clicked and over the next few days she went through the weaning process reaffirming to her son that mummy still loved him but there was no more milk.

5. Timing – An extra long weekend presented the perfect opportunity to go through the weaning process, sometimes things seem to align and you have to take the opportunity and just do it.

Interestingly, my friend and I have both found that the boys have slept much better after weaning, are less clingy and irritable after sleep / feeding times. I have since discovered this through conversations with other friends too.

So what did this teach me?

For me, I reflected I had unconsciously been making the decision not to wean Huw, even if I was consciously saying it. I hadn’t mentally committed until Friday morning of the long weekend when I had a pivotal conversation with my friend and everything aligned. I pondered, what’s the trigger when we finally make the decision to change and you feel that internal shift that means we’re committed and there’s no going back?

It made me think of corporate change initiatives and how many fail (70% according to McKinsey) through a change being mandated without taking into account people’s individual decision making processes to commit to the change. When you’ve fully committed to something in the past, what was present for you? How can you leverage these factors to help you commit to something you’ve been putting off?

In the Japanese phenomenon ‘The Courage to be Disliked’, a philosopher is having a conversation with a youth throughout the book. In the chapter entitled ‘People Always Choose Not to Change’ in response to the youth’s remark that ‘there’s no way I can just change on the spot’ the philosopher says ‘Yes, you can. People can change at any time, regardless of the environments they are in. You are only unable to change because you are making the decision not to.’

For those interested in the neuroscience behind decision making I recommend reading this Psychology Today article from a few years ago –

Christopher Bergland writes:

Understanding the neuroscience behind making a decision can be helpful when targeting new behaviors and changing bad habits. When you reach a fork in the road and need to make the right decision for your long-term health and well-being, using the brain science behind decision-making is a useful tool……

Decision-making is in the locus of your control. You have the power to break patterns of behavior simply by making better decisions. You can change your mind and your actions at any time. Even when you’re stuck in a cycle of rut-like thinking and behavior, a change of attitude and decision-making can turn your life around…….

Using mindfulness could give various regions of your striatum and prefrontal cortex time to relay the true “neuroeconomic” costs of a decision and help you make smarter choices. Mindful decision-making can derail compulsive or addictive patterns of behavior and take you down a path that’s in your best interest for long-term health, happiness, and overall well-being…..

The next time that you need to make a decision, take a few deep breaths and think about the the pros and cons of your next move in a pragmatic and mindful way. Then, do the right thing for your well-being.”

Since I started using Insight Timer earlier this year to reignite a regular formal meditation practice I have definitely found it helpful to manage decisions and change. I have been inspired to see the ripple effect of others using this app to help them better manage themselves.

Until next time, to finish with Christopher’s wise words:

You can change your mind and your actions at any time.

Getting real about trying to do it all: identifying and balancing our buckets

Last week was a big transition week for family Matthews – Owain’s six month parental leave finished, I started a new job and Huw officially started daycare after his transition program.

During the few weeks leading up to this there were some big decisions for me and I was back to my decision making compass. There was a lot going on with family commitments, social gatherings, Owain’s Ironman in NZ, my tri training, volunteering for the International Coach Federation (ICF) and LaunchPad Media business activities.

I was reminded of a thought from one of my early blogs – “You can have it all…. in the long term”.

In this post (interestingly my most viewed ever blog) I reflected ‘Can you be an exceptional parent, business leader, athlete, volunteer, friend, entrepreneur..…….?’ I said yes…. but not all at the same time.

With a lot going on, it was time to pause, reflect and review the landscape. After a conversation with a valued mentor, I drew a priority map of all the things in my world and then ranked them in priority order.

For this next phase in our journey, I reflected my priorities and key focus areas are Owain and the boys, my family and friends, work and financial stability and health and well-being.

For my activity to reflect this, I had to make a couple of big decisions and decided to stand down from the ICF NSW Branch leadership team and put my LaunchPad Media business on hold to take a great job opportunity with Gartner and build more financial stability in light of increased daycare costs.

Stepping down from the ICF NSW Branch leadership team was hard as I really believe in the purpose of helping the coaching industry thrive and the people on the team. As a natural maximiser and activator, stepping away goes against my nature but I realised the importance of foresight before having too much on and being overstretched.

Reflecting on this with my aunty was very useful who shared she has four clear buckets of health, work, family / friends and charity work. For her, all of these buckets are non-negotiable and need to have a good level in and she can feel it if one goes really out of balance. Her mantra for this year is simplify and if something doesn’t align to her buckets it’s easy to say no.

This made me reflect that my buckets for now are Owain and the boys, family and friends, work, triathlon and self care (and maybe a chilled one for prosecco?!).

I thought I’d share this thought which may help others prioritise and make key decisions. I’ve discovered change is constant and it’s good to be able to adapt and re-prioritise regularly.

What are your buckets and are they in balance? Is there an overflowing one or leaky one that need some attention?

For those interested in this area, I found Megan Dalla-Camina’s “Getting real about having it all” an insightful book which reflects on asking what this big question meant to her and sharing practical steps to achieve this.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.

Dani

Managing Technology Addiction for Well-being and Productivity 

Following my last blog ‘How do you want to remember this time?‘ I was thrilled that my mum started to use the Insight Timer app I recommended. We’re now connected and are meditation accountability buddies across the globe. My Gen Z friends Kya and Bri have started to use it too which makes me really happy. I think the benefits of focused attention training through adolescence will be instrumental for managing potentially stressful periods such as exams.

This experience reminded me of the reason I first started blogging – if by sharing my learning one person benefits then it is worth it 🙂 

Since then, one topic I’ve been asked about repeatedly through my work is what happens when we overload on technology and get addictive patterns of behavior?

With a passion for both technology and well-being this area really interests me. 

I love a lot of the things technological advances have allowed, in particular the impact it has on me being able to stay connected easily to my family in Europe, the ease of following global thought leaders and the ability to work virtually. However, when an intense focus on technology becomes an addiction, what impact does this have on health and productivity?

I enjoyed speaking to Ali Cain from SMH’s Big Idea blog on this topic which you can read here: ‘Put down the phone: Checking digital devices goes from distraction to addiction’. In summary:

So why the issue? – Whilst most people I speak to are aware of our increasing resilience on technology (especially the mobile) I have discovered: 

#1 Mobile usage continues to rise – Smart Insights shared in Jan 2017 that there are more phones than people in the world, with a 30% annual growth in active mobile users with Asia Pacific driving much of this growth. 

#2 Anxiety is on the rise in relation to being detached from our digital devices – Nomophobia – an irrational fear of being without your mobile phone is now a recognised medical problem. 

#3 Phubbing is growing at an alarming rate – a term used to describe us ignoring each other when we’re on our mobiles, particularly parents paying more attention to their phones than children. CSU are conducting research into this which I look forward to following. 

What does this mean?

When we constantly repeat a behaviour, like checking our mobile phones, it forms into a habit and the brain actually adapts and carves new neural pathways supporting this behaviour. Every time we’re distracted we lose focus and our attention has to be re-established. This has a big impact on things like our presence, relationships, productivity and creativity. 

For example, an executive in my network shared he used to be a mobile addict. The pattern was broken when on holiday with his wife – she got fed up with his addiction to the phone and locked it in the safe for the remainder of their stay. He said the first couple of days without it were like withdrawing from caffeine or alcohol. He now has much healthier technology habits, not checking his phone in the morning until he leaves the home and replacing morning emails with a meditation and gratitude ritual. He also doesn’t check his phone after 7pm.

So how can we combat this and manage ourselves better?

Like mentioned in the example above, unplugged time is wonderful to help better manage ourselves and relationships with those around us. A study by Harvard who followed a team at Boston Consulting found that no work emails for employees on evenings and weekends quite quickly led to lower stress levels, an increase in job satisfaction and no loss in productivity. 

However for me, I’ve found it’s little things that can make a big difference. Here are a handful of tips I’ve found help me try to keep a health balcance of technological well-being: 

#1 Utilise technology to support a meditation practice – As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve started using the Insight Timer app which have found fantastic – it tracks how many days you’ve meditated and you can interact with users around the world. 

#2 Turn off all notifications and try to check your emails only twice a day – Or even less frequently and set an out of office letting your clients know this (Thanks for the tip Tim Ferriss and the 4 Hour Work Week).

#3 Put your phone out of sight when you’re focusing on an important task or are in a meeting – Research has shown even seeing it can cause a distraction, even before any notifications distract you.

#4 Filter and reduce the amount you are consuming digitally –Get rid of your digital clutter by utilizing an app like Unroll.me, a site that scans your entire email accounts and puts everything you’re subscribed to in a list. You can then easily scroll through and unsubscribe easily from whatever you don’t want. From those with data privacy concerns maybe avoid this.

#5 Increase your productivity- Use your commute wisely by downloading the Blinkist app which summarizes more than 2000 bestselling nonfiction titles across 19 categories. It then reads the key points to you in 15 minutes or less.

I’d love to hear how others are managing themselves within our technology obsessed world so we can support each other to live our best lives. 

How do you want to remember this time?

Recently a few friends have said to me “I don’t know how you do it” – referring to looking after Ethan (2 and a half) and Huw (11 months), who are definitely busy bodies when they’re awake!

The truth is, sometimes I think the same, there are days where I think it’s all too much – tiring, monotonous, selfless and physically demanding.

And then I look at their little faces and think they won’t be dependent forever.

Whilst having a reflective moment on a family trip to Jindabyne the question ‘How do you want to remember this time?’ came to mind.

My friend JayRay shared this great question with me after he returned from an International Coach Federation conference in London back in 2012. Sir Clive Woodward had spoken to delegates after his role helping bond Team GB in the 2012 Olympic Games. Clive shared two questions he challenged athletes with:

“How do you want to be remembered” and “How do you want to remember this time?”

These questions struck a chord with me and I revisit them from time to time.

During this period of life with two little ones on the go, I thought I can choose to remember this time as tiring, monotonous, selfless and physically demanding.

Or I can flip it and remember it as fun, challenging and giving. As one of my mentors says “Life is a mind game”.

My husband is more natural in this mindset than me and I thank him for his ability to keep perspective well even during some of the more challenging times!

Reflecting on how I want to be remembered. For the boys, I wish them to remember me as a fun, hands on Mum who was present with them, not short tempered, impatient and too serious.

I think there will always be moments of ups and downs (like when they’re both throwing a tantrum!) but it’s how you manage yourself that makes the difference.

Key to this for me is enabling enough self care so I’m not over tired which is generally where I experience the tougher moments.

For me, half a dozen self care strategies that help me be the best version of myself:

  1. Regular mindfulness practice – My New Year’s Resolution is to meditate everyday (even if just for a few minutes) which I’m tracking via Insight Timer (thanks for the recommendation Steffi!)
  2. Daily exercise – I feel more alive when I can get in a daily dose of exercise and am enjoying having a personal goal of qualifying for the 2018 World Age Group Triathlon Champs – Thanks husband and family Thomas for enabling me to do some training whilst in beautiful Jindabyne
  3. Sleep – 8 hour’s of sleep definitely helps me be on top of my game – with Huw still feeding generally once in the night this is interrupted so I try and top it up with an extra hour or a power nap – I find a longer meditation helps bridge any sleep gap too
  4. Nutrition – Drinking lots of water and eating a good daily dose of fruit and vegetables
  5. Laughter – Loosening up and taking the time to laugh with the boys, especially playing music in the morning and dancing around
  6. Accepting help – This is something I’ve learnt to accept more readily from family and friends to get some self care time

Nothing revolutionary but hopefully a good reminder of some good habits to kick start the New Year.

Love to hear from others on how you want to remember this current period in your life and any strategies that help you that may inspire others. Some reflective questions:

How do you want to remember this time? How do you want significant others to remember you? Is there any change in mindset required? How are you showing up to those around you? What if anything do you need to implement to be the best version of yourself?

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2018 ahead.

Finishing with one of my favourite Einstein quotes which helps me remember to be present.

‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’ Albert Einstein

Lifestyle, Learning and Laughter: Making 2018 the Year of You 

I recently attended a one day workshop called ‘The Year of You’ facilitated by dynamic duo Janine Garner and Kieran Flanagan.

The event appeared at the perfect time for me, having recently made the big decision to build my LaunchPad Media Business around Ethan and Huw and not return to IECL where I had been on maternity leave.  

As soon as I arrived, I knew I was in the right room. Janine opened with a quote I love from Marianne Williamson: 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”.  

This reminds me of the following quote which helped me make the decision to follow my passion with LaunchPad Media: 


Here I reflect on some key takeaways from ‘The Year of You’ which I hope may inspire others for action: 

  1. Own the impact you want to make in your life – Both Janine and Kieran shared that they both act on intentions and don’t leave it to luck – they recommend acting now on that thing you’ve been procrastinating on to take ownership before others take over and make decisions for you.  
  2. Go with the rip and follow your gut feel – Kieran shared her passion for going with human nature and your intuition. If you’re really fighting something there’s probably a reason. The rip ocean analogy brought this to life nicely. 
  3. Come up with a mantra for 2018 – Land on a one word or few word mantra to be your guide for making decisions in 2018 – mine is ‘Lifestyle, Learning and Laughter’ – Lifestyle is inspired by Tim Ferris’s ‘Lifestyle Design’ term explored in the 4 hour work week. Learning is to support my purpose of sharing learning to inspire others to action and laughter is to live in the moment and not take things too seriously! 
  4. Wealth as much as health and self – Janine and Kieran shared how women in particular often don’t talk about finances and challenged us all to come up with some wealth goals for 2018. 
  5. There are only 52 weekends in a year – Breaking down the year in this way shows how precious time is, just 52 weekends a year. Or as Janine and Kieran put it, ‘just 52 Sunday’s or 52 phone calls with your mum, or 52 weekends of having a 9 year old.’ It’s an A4 page and a half of things to do, by having a focus each quarter, then broken down into weeks, you can achieve an awesome amount and accomplish a lot.  
  6. Design your life then build your work around it – We mapped our 2018 in a 52 week double page diary format with the key milestones and trips. It was great to pencil out the weeks for our family trips away including my mum’s 60th in the UK and think I’ll be scheduling my work around the things that really matter most.  

For each quarter of 2018 we set goals across four areas: Self, other, wealth and work. Here are four of mine as examples:

  1. Self – Qualify for the world age group spring triathlon champs up on the Gold Coast in 2018 (had my first qualifying race last week which went well and Canberra is next weekend).  

  1. Other – Support my husband with his Kona 2018 Ironman goal and then have a relaxing time in Maui afterwards and maybe sneak in a Fiji family holiday at the end of 2018.  
  2. Wealth – Meet with a financial planner and start using proper accounting software. 
  3. Work – Aim for two workshops a month in addition to one on one and group work to further the ripple effect of building an authentic digital brand.  

Our table observed that it was interesting to see which goal sections were the easiest to fill in and which ones we left until last. For me the wealth one were left until the end. Financial planning has never excited me which is why my first quarter goal is to meet with a financial planner for my business and create a 2018 plan.

For those interested, a couple of other activities included:

  • Writing down everything we achieved in 2017 
  • Writing a list to the statement ‘Dear me, 2018 was the best year ever because:’ 

A few of the quotes in our 2018 planner which resonated:

  • “Don’t dream, decide, Don’t hope, hustle,  Don’t wish, work, Don’t wait for someday, Make something happen today”. 
  •  “So play big. Do the things you want to do. Challenge the beliefs that contain you. Dream big. Do the things that inspire you.”
  • “Who says being serious is more significant then fun. That laughter is less than solemnity. That play is inferior to work. Someone silly ironically. Because fun is serious business. It makes us happy, healthier and more enthusiastic. So work out how to make the got to dos enjoyable. Design for enjoyment.”

I loved that the day was all about taking action and not making excuses. On this note, what can you do today to move your forward on one of your goals?  

My friend Jenn (pictured below) and I have committed to facilitating a Design Thinking meets Digital Branding workshop in January to help kickstart the year off. We’re meeting this Tuesday to plan, details to follow  🙂

Thanks Janine and Kieran for an awesome day, I am feeling energised and inspired by 2018 and the possibilities ahead. In the words of Janine and Kieran, Be open, Be curious, Be outrageous!

Would love to hear any reflections and any mantras that come to mind for you #theyearofyou