Make This week work for you

It is very easy to get into a cycle as busy parents where we are essentially on a treadmill and the weeks just fly by.  So this Monday morning, why not make the decision to take control of your week and make it work for you?

So what is it that you would like to achieve this week?  What are your priorities?  What would need to happen so that on Friday night you can say that this was a good week?

My own starting point is to map out all the taxi sessions that will be needed (mainly for my children and I am the taxi Driver).  This has become slightly problematic in recent weeks as there have been changes to their schedules.  By all of us sitting down today and talking through who needs to be delivered where and when, who needs to be left at home and how mealtimes will be moved to accommodate all our needs means that the rest of the week will be busy but not stressed.  I have always found that when my children know what is happening they are able to deal with it much more effectively.

So my goal for my family for this week is to ensure that all their events (which include a drama exam and an extra maths class) and sorted in a planned, calm and controlled manner.  And finally on Friday night by 8.00  p.m. I will have no more driving!

So what is your goal for your family for this week?   If we have a clear goal and we communicate it to those around us then we are in a much better position to carry out all the actions that will be required to complete the goal. 

If we do not know where we are going then how will we know when we get there?  So go on take control of this week, decide what it is that you want to achieve and make your week work for you.

Have a good week!

Mary Corbett

Teenagers and College Applications – They Do Not Set out to Make Bad Decisions

This is the time of year when many 18 and 19 year olds decide what courses they want to take in college and fully get to grips with the work that is needed to achieve the results that will allow them to take those courses.  At the same time many parents sit on the side-line anxious that their young adult makes the right decision that will lead to a happy university experience and subsequent gainful employment.

In selecting a course for college there are many unknowns and there are no guarantees.   There is no certainty that they will love the course that they select or that the long term result will be a happy work-life.

So what do we know as parents?

  • We know that nobody sets out to make a bad decision.
  • We know that when we like and are interested in a subject we generally will work harder at it.
  • We know that when we are motivated from within that we can sustain that motivation over time.
  • We know that just because we are capable of doing something does not translate to our actually wanting to do it.

The same is true for our children.

  • Just because they have the capability does not translate to their wanting to take a particular course.
  • The sheer volume of courses available can be overwhelming. 
  • If they struggle to make decisions in small things, they are more likely to struggle with bigger decision like selecting a college course.
  • They may not fully appreciate the connection between their dream college course and the work that is needed to get there.

 

In the meantime we as parents may sit and stress, and worry about what will happen to our child as they move into this adult world.  I have had various conversations with teenagers, parents and young adults and the following are the messages that have come through loud and clear.

The young adult must make the decision

Where parents insist on a particular course the downstream effects can be very negative  I am currently working with a client who is changing career direction after years of stress and negativity towards their parents because they were pushed into a course. This is not the first time and I doubt that it will be the last

It can take real courage as a parent to support your child to follow their dream

Our children’s dreams can be very different from ours, their interests can be very different from ours.  I am reminded of a dedication from a young Fine arts graduate, Rebecca on her thesis “thank you to my parents for allowing me to practice who I am”

 

Change is always possible

The world we live in is constantly changing and so our children’s ability to change direction and move with change can be truly positive.   Their education, is never a waste.

What you focus on will expand

As parents, we want our children to put the work in, so that they can achieve their goals.   If we focus and encourage the study as it is done then this is what will expand.  If, in our conversations we focus on time wasting, lack of effort etc then this is what will expand. 

Stay calm

All these young adults have dreams and anxieties about what their future will bring.  These anxieties can find expression in many ways not all of which are pleasant.  And so in so far as it is practicable. They will benefit from feeding from our strength, and calmness

Stay Listening

We really benefit from keeping our eyes and ears open and recognising if they are not sleeping, eating, getting over anxious,  Although they see themselves as adults they still benefit from us adopting the parenting role if things are going a little pear shaped.

 

And finally as parents our job is nearly done – our young fledgling adults will find their place in the world.

Parenting and New Year Resolutions

As we approach the end of January, I have come across a number of commentaries on various media about the fact that most people will have abandoned their New Year Resolutions by the end of this month.  It has struck me however that as parents we have both an opportunity and a responsibility in terms of how we message New Year resolutions to our children.

If we start the New Year with great fanfare and announce to our family that we are going to loose weight, get fit, learn a new skill, become a better cook etc and then drop the resolution at the first obstacle what have we actually taught our children?

In my view we have taught them that goals are a fun thing to make but really you don’t do anything and they really are a waste of time.  I doubt that this is the message that we really want to communicate.  What the children actually see is statement of a goal with no real action.

Fortunately because we have set goals for the Year and not just for January we have the opportunity to use this goal setting to show our children that who we really achieve our goals is through work and commitment over time.

So what can we do this weekend to take the goals that we set at the start of the month and turn them into highly positive learning experiences for both ourselves and our children?

Step 1: Acknowledge where we actually are

if we have started and stopped, never got started, or only made some half-baked attempts then communicate that you are not happy with what you have done to date, and explain that you need to make some changes and achieve the goal.

Step 2 Create a realistic plan that is specific in terms of actions, effort and time requirements

This is a great opportunity for our children to see that when we have goals that the next step in the process is to look at the time and effort that we need to apply in order to turn those goals into reality.   We cannot reasonably expect to get fit by sitting in front of the TV each evening.

So it becomes more straightforward if we have told them that we will be going to the gym, for a walk, a run, a cycle etc that our children will have an expectation that we will not be at home.  If they are small then the parent being left at home may need to do a little distracting but it will quickly become the new routine.

Older children (particularly teenagers) will challenge you if the do not see you putting in the work.

This step is the process by which we show our children by our actions that the way to achieve goals is through work, effort and commitment.

Step 3 Set out the baby steps that provide us with the opportunities to succeed.

Nothing succeeds or encourages us more than success.  So if we have a big goal and we break it down into smaller achievable steps that we work towards on a daily basis then we create the opportunities to celebrate our achievements as we are going through the process and get the feedback that will encourage us to keep going.

Step 4 Communicate specifically how we need to support each other and hold each other accountable.

Encouragement matters and we all benefit from it.  We all need people around us who will, pull us up, push us from behind and travel beside us to balance where our own motivation and energy is on a given day.

If we put these fundamentals in place we  will increase our likelihood of success and in the process also teach our children the relationship between their work and their goals

Remember that the goal is for the year and not just New Years day and it provides us with the opportunity to be the best parent that we can be.

 

 

 

Must Do Should Do

 I am finding it hard to believe that it is the end of August.  Despite the fact that so much of the year has passed, I still have a number of 2013 goals that I need to work on.   Perhaps it is the Project Manager in me but I tend to discount the month of December when I am considering personal development or work goals and so, in my head I have 3 months left.  (Discounting December gives me a little contingency time).

I could give lots of justifications as to why I have made such limited progress on some of my goals this year but the bottom line is that I did not dedicate the effort, the time or the focus.  So now I have some decisions to make…

1)      Do I go flat out to still achieve them  (probably more than a little unrealistic at this stage)

2)      Do I abandon them ( that would be depressing)

3)      Do I modify them, select the priorities and just focus on those.

What is really interesting is that now that the timeline is shortened and I know just how much effort I can give, it brings my priorities into clearer focus.  Which reminds me of a number of conversations which I have had over recent weeks where different  people have spoken about the challenges that they face in trying to ensure that they have sufficient time to do all the things that they want to do.

When we are very busy, many of us will fall into old patterns of behaviour.   We may do the activities for those who shout loudest at us?  We my prioritise work over personal relationships? We may stop taking the time for self-care in terms of exercise, healthy eating and sufficient rest.

And so my challenge to you this week is to take the time to really be aware of how you prioritise tasks when you are busy.  When the number of tasks exceeds the time and energy available how do you determine where to focus your activity?  Does this approach work for you?  What can you do to make your approach more effective?  What are your real priorities?   

Many of us (and I count myself in this number) focus when we are busy on taking care of others rather than ensuring that we are nurturing ourselves through the busyness.  In the current environment many of us are very busy with lots of commitments on a continuous basis and so that underlying element of self-care becomes ever more important.  What would happen to your (and my) energy level if we took some time out from being really busy to mind ourselves?  .   I think it is time to put this to the test!

Take care of yourself this week,

Warm Wishes,

Mary

Must Do Should Do

 I am finding it hard to believe that it is the end of August.  Despite the fact that so much of the year has passed, I still have a number of 2013 goals that I need to work on.   Perhaps it is the Project Manager in me but I tend to discount the month of December when I am considering personal development or work goals and so, in my head I have 3 months left.  (Discounting December gives me a little contingency time).

I could give lots of justifications as to why I have made such limited progress on some of my goals this year but the bottom line is that I did not dedicate the effort, the time or the focus.  So now I have some decisions to make…

1)      Do I go flat out to still achieve them  (probably more than a little unrealistic at this stage)

2)      Do I abandon them ( that would be depressing)

3)      Do I modify them, select the priorities and just focus on those.

What is really interesting is that now that the timeline is shortened and I know just how much effort I can give, it brings my priorities into clearer focus.  Which reminds me of a number of conversations which I have had over recent weeks where different  people have spoken about the challenges that they face in trying to ensure that they have sufficient time to do all the things that they want to do.

When we are very busy, many of us will fall into old patterns of behaviour.   We may do the activities for those who shout loudest at us?  We my prioritise work over personal relationships? We may stop taking the time for self-care in terms of exercise, healthy eating and sufficient rest.

And so my challenge to you this week is to take the time to really be aware of how you prioritise tasks when you are busy.  When the number of tasks exceeds the time and energy available how do you determine where to focus your activity?  Does this approach work for you?  What can you do to make your approach more effective?  What are your real priorities?   

Many of us (and I count myself in this number) focus when we are busy on taking care of others rather than ensuring that we are nurturing ourselves through the busyness.  In the current environment many of us are very busy with lots of commitments on a continuous basis and so that underlying element of self-care becomes ever more important.  What would happen to your (and my) energy level if we took some time out from being really busy to mind ourselves?  .   I think it is time to put this to the test!

Take care of yourself this week,

Warm Wishes,

Mary

Changing the Scope of your Life Change Project

Over the years I have started numerous life change processes and I can honestly put my hand up and say that I have not achieved the goals that I originally set myself.   Rather I have reached very different and varied end points.  

What has actually happened is that as I have gotten into the change process, I have refined and clarified what it was that I really wanted.  In one particular instance I set out to lose 30llbs in weight – through a mixture of healthy eating and exercise.  When I hit 21llbs I realised that I actually liked my new size and shape and so I changed my goal and I now maintain that weight profile within about 2-4 llbs.  No I didn’t cop out I very consciously decided that this was the weight that I wanted to be.  The original goal was actually based on a notional idea of what I thought it would take to get to the size I wanted to be.  However the addition of the extra exercise changed how I looked and I realised that it was my size and shape that were my real motivators rather than my specific weight per-se.

The reality of projects and project plans in the commercial world is that they can change over time.  Good project managers monitor changes to the scope of their projects in order to ensure that the client gets want they want and that the expectations of what can actually be delivered within the time and the budget is kept realistic.  

When it comes to the project that is our life change it is really important to make conscious decisions about changes to the scope of our change, Like any good project manager we need to review and assess any suggestion that we change the scope of our life change and then look at the time and effort that will be required for that changed project.

Wriggle room in your life change project

When it comes to making life changes most of us don’t think in terms of “contingency” and yet for many highly effective project managers contingency is their “magic gold dust”.  Contingency is how they find that extra couple of days when something goes wrong without impacting on the final delivery date.  Contingency is how they find extra resources without impacting on the overall budget costs.  Contingency is how they bring project in ahead of schedule or under budget when the risks don’t actually happen.

So why is it that when we come to the project that is our life change do we ignore the power of contingency planning?

Why is it that we suddenly believe that we will lose the weight faster, get fitter quicker, get that new job at the very first attempt etc.?  Then when issues arise, we panic because we fall behind our won optimistic schedules.

Perhaps it would be more realistic if we created schedules and targets for our life changes that reflected the risks that can impact on our project and create a little wriggle room, a little contingency  so that we can actually reach our goals as we intend.

Now this contingency is not an excuse to push things out.  Rather it is there to assist us to stay focused when things crop up.  If we have embedded a little contingency in our scheduling, and effort levels we know that we have that wriggle room so we don’t panic about the schedule but rather stay focussed on the goal.  In this way we avoid getting distracted by the schedule and stay targeted on the goal..