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How to stay focused on what’s most important



What a beautiful country. Before I even visited it, I was seduced: the food, the wine, the history, the style, the language – what’s not to love. I’ve long harbored fantasies of speaking fluent Italian in Italy, freely conversing with Latin intensity and big hand gestures, making even the most arbitrary conversation sound like a passionate call to arms. I’ve downloaded and used two different language apps. I’ve bought and listened to half a dozen Italian language audiobooks. I’ve watched Italian movies in Italian. But I still can’t speak it. Life is busy – there’s always something getting in the way and preventing me from really progressing with my Italian language learning.But that’s precisely the point. If learning Italian was truly so important to me, it would be Italian interrupting my usual pursuits, not the other way around. That may sound obvious, but the day I admitted that to myself I was freed from a significant amount of anxiety and mental stress – not because my apparent inability to learn Italian was such a major factor in my life, but because I realized the extent to which this was a pattern in my general behavior. Like most people, I have a long list of interests and “I’d-love-to-do’s” – things that I want to achieve because they seem interesting, fun or fulfilling. Everything from learning how play the piano to walking the 88 Temples of Shikoku. Learning Italian has always been on that list, but getting honest about what is most important to me right now and into the foreseeable future helped me focus on what’s truly valuable to me.

The 21st century human is subject to unprecedented amounts of daily distraction. Managing this distraction requires conscious effort and focus – a critical part of improving productivity. By when I speak of focusing on what’s most important, I don’t only mean in the moment. I mean long term focus, the kind that keeps you committed to the most important goals in your life.

Here are 5 tips on how to do that:

  1. Get clear about what’s important

One of the pleasures of being alive in the 21st Century is that everything seems possible. The digital revolution and advent of elearning makes it possible to learn almost anything online. Our exposure to foreign cultures and tastes has been made easier and more immediate through the effects of globalization and relative reductions in the costs of travel. And if we need help achieving our goals, we can even access world-class coaching without leaving our chair. Suddenly, it seems, we can learn more, do more and see more than ever before. So, we try to do it all. We create wishlists and bucket lists and end up dispersing our attention across them: work, exercise, surf the net, spend time with friends and family, plan the next holiday, learn a language in the grocery line, play a game while waiting for the bus, dabble with guitar when we have 10 minutes free at the weekend. The trouble is we end up doing a lot, but not achieving very much, which has a negative impact on our long-term happiness and sense of self-worth. Results are only achieved with sustained focus and commitment on the things that matter, even though what matters will inevitably shift over time.

So, what’s truly important to you? My favorite system for answering this comes from über-investor Warren Buffet:

  • Write down 25 things you want to achieve on the foreseeable future. Don’t overthink it. Go with your gut.
  • Now identify the 5 most important things. These are not necessarily the most urgent.
  • Those 5 things are now your exclusive focus, not your ‘I’ll focus mainly on these and work on the other 20 in my spare time’. No. You spend all your time and attention focused on achieving these 5 goals until you’ve ticked one of them of the list, then you can add a new one in its place.
  • Regularly remind yourself of these 5 goals and why they are important to you. Keep them visible so that you see them often. Don’t just focus on WHAT achieving these goals will look like, connect to WHY you want to achieve them – what is the deeper meaning for you and your life.
  1. Get clear about what’s not important

Spend some time identifying where your extra time and attention have been wandering to. What has been pulling your focus away from achieving these goals? Be honest with yourself; if you have an illicit Candy Crush addiction, own up to it, no-one else needs to know. Do you watch TV series 5 episodes at a time? Are you hitting the snooze button every morning? Are you secretly inventing extra things to do so that you can justify skipping gym? Whatever it is, add it to the list.

This list is now a powerful weapon against distraction and procrastination. Don’t be ashamed of what’s on there – we all have our vices. Rather, use it to help you spot those times you are wavering from your top goals, and then recalibrate. Every time you do that it will become easier the next time.

  1. Stop multitasking

Despite how good you may believe you are at multitasking, it is not technically possible. The human brain is only capable of processing tasks sequentially, one after the other, not concurrently. Yes, it may feel like you’re doing 5 things at once, but you’re actually just flipping between those tasks really quickly. That flipping radically depletes your brain’s energy resources, leading to lower focus, easier distraction and less emotional stability. And, the more often you multitask the worse these effects get.

Pick a task and commit to focusing on it for a specific period of time eg. one hour, followed by a short rest before changing tasks. If you know that you have a bunch of small tasks that need your attention, then set aside specific time just for that and refocus on a single task later. Always do your most important work earlier in the day when your willpower and energy are highest. And get to know your working patterns. Come up with your best ideas at 4 in the morning or 10 at night? Keep time aside then for creative work.

  1. Get to know your anxiety

Important tasks can often raise anxiety, either because we know we’re not getting to them or, when we do commit to them, we are endlessly distracted. If left unrecognized, this anxiety can stimulate further anxiety.

Learn to anticipate these uncomfortable emotions. If possible, get curious about them, but at the very least acknowledge them, label them and know that, even though these feelings are just trying to protect you in some way, you are well and capable of achieving success.

  1. Improve focus

Easier said than done, but very possible. This actually has two parts: improving your faculty of focus and reducing distraction. Focus is like a muscle which is strengthened with regular practice, the most effective practice by far being mindfulness, which improves your ability to pay attention to what’s happening in the moment and make better choices about how to use that attention. Intelligent energy management is also key.

Distraction is constant and the only way to manage it effectively is through taking action. Have important work to do? Serious about getting it done? Silence your phone, close down email and close your door if you can. If this is difficult, start with 10 minutes at a time, with the aim of working towards one hour pockets of distraction-free work. The results will astound you.

Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com


Presence – the greatest gift a coach can give you


In her now legendary Ted talk of 2012, Amy Cuddy explores the suggestion that your body language may shape who you are. While it has long been understood that our non-verbal communication, like posture and other forms of body language, affects the way people see us, Cuddy and her colleagues focused their work on exploring whether our non-verbals affect how we think and feel about ourselves. Our minds change our bodies, says Cuddy, but can our bodies change our minds? Her TED talk answers this question by showing that the physical assumption of high or low power poses significantly impact an individual’s sense of what is possible.

Basically, what you present is what you become. If you hold the posture of a powerful, confident person, you begin to assume the power and confidence that you associate with that type of person. The same is also true of the inverse: if you adopt a low power, low confidence pose, you automatically conduct yourself with less confidence and personal power. Cuddy eventually distills this effect into one word: presence. In this context, presence refers to the ability to physically access one’s latent confidence, authority, passion and enthusiasm, and Cuddy selected the word as the title of her 2015 book, Presence – Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.

Watching Cuddy’s TED talk for the first time I was struck by her zeal and sincerity – this topic clearly meant more to her than its academic interest. Towards the end of the talk we discover why: in the summer after her sophomore year in college Cuddy wa its involved in a major car accident which left her with a traumatic brain injury. She was told that she would never finish college, but through hard work and perseverance she not only finished college, she went on to complete her graduate studies at Princeton and land a job at Harvard Business School. Despite these accolades, Cuddy struggled to shake off a nagging voice in her head that said, ‘I don’t belong here.’ How she overcame that voice and arrive at her philosophy of ‘fake it till you become it’ is a moving personal story that draws the viewer closer to her.

Then, approximately 18:30 into the video, while sharing the account of a desperate student that approached her one day with the words ‘I don’t belong here’, Cuddy falters. She is overcome with emotion and needs to pause her presentation to regain her composure. In that moment we all feel what Amy Cuddy feels: the struggles, the fear, the hardship, the hard work, the pain and the triumph. We drop into a place of empathy and compassion that visibly impacts the live audience listening to her. We are connected to her and somehow to each other. In a talk about physical presence, Cuddy’s testimony and vulnerability give us an unscripted glimpse of a deeper, richer type of presence. Being able to access this kind of presence is what makes good coaches great.

Though the veracity of Cuddy’s scientific work has been criticized in recent years, it continues to point to an important aspect of deeper presence: the body. The Harvard teacher’s TED talk and subsequent book famously advocate the use of certain postures to achieve better behavioral outcomes, but there are, in my opinion, even greater rewards to be achieved through presence. And the body is a good place to start. The yogic traditions of the east have for centuries used the body as a gateway to specific states of mind. Mindfulness meditation – the art of training the mind – rests on the body as a primary tool, with foundational practices like Breathing Meditation and the Body Scan. Even the Navy SEALs use breathing practices to calm their nervous systems and bring themselves back into the present.

The key here is embodiment. Presence is not something you think about, it’s something you manifest. At its deepest and most authentic it can only happen when you are right here in this moment, not thinking about the past or future. In a coaching conversation this is critical. If your coach is planning your next steps while you are still busy talking or, even worse, trying to remember what’s for dinner, they are not fully present. And, because all coaches are human, all clients have experienced this before. Whether you’re aware of it or not, presence feels different. We can all sense when someone is not genuinely tuned into us – even if they are making all the right noises and gestures they are somehow not connected to us. Hopefully, however, you have also experienced what it is like when a coach is fully present. Everything changes. When a person listens to you with full attention you feel heard beyond just your words. You feel understood, safe and capable of great degrees of trust. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.” In such conditions your potential for change and development soars. This capacity is called Coaching Presence and is one of the ICF’s Core Competencies, but coaches’ abilities in this competency naturally vary.

As a client, presence is one of the first things you should be looking for when choosing a coach. Use your free coaching intake session to get a feel for the coach’s level of ‘here-ness’. Is she listening to more than just your words? Is he showing up fully for the process or is his mind elsewhere? Do you think she has the potential to sit with you in difficult moments without flinching? Without a coach grounded in presence and authentic attention you may not achieve the results you deserve.


Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

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Why do you work?

Feeling disillusioned with your work? Other than the money, not sure why you pitch up at work every day? You’re not alone. Reflecting on their recent State of the Global workplace report, Gallup indicates the 85% of employees around the world are not engaged, or are actively disengaged at work, representing an estimated cost of $7 trillion in lost productivity. The majority of these employees are ‘not engaged’, which doesn’t make them the worst performers in their organizations, but it does suggest that they are indifferent to the organization’s work or success. As Jim Harter points out, this does not equate to employee laziness. The far more probable cause is a lack of recognition of, and investment in, employee motivation and engagement. The result is employees who show up to work and offer their time, but not very much more.

This type of data is more often interpreted from the organizational perspective: what can the business do to increase employee engagement in order to improve results? This is an important question, but there is another obvious perspective that is less often tapped into with real depth: what about the individual? What impact does it have on a person to be spending the majority of her waking hours on work that is not engaging or meaningful to her? What would become available to a disengaged employee if his work became a source of satisfaction and purpose? These questions underlie – consciously or unconsciously – the career moves that many experienced individuals find themselves negotiating. Of course, everyone wants to be paid well or, at least, what they are worth. But beyond that is a more fundamental human drive: to be seen, to be appreciated, to feel of value. Work can either kill that drive or liberate it.

But, as anyone who has experience of holding an ungratifying job knows, changing the game is not as simple as recognizing that you’re unhappy (though, for many people that recognition is itself a major eye-opener). A balance is required between interior reflection and action in the world. Most self-help programs focus on one or the other. In working with clients in such situations I have found it helpful to draw on Ken Wilber’s four quadrant analysis. Essentially, we are all continuously engaged with four quadrants of reality:

  1. Our own individual interior: eg. thoughts, feelings values. As you read this post, for example, you are having some form of emotional and intellectual response that is entirely personal and invisible to anyone around you.
  2. Our own individual exterior: eg. body, actions, physical energy. For example, right now you are involved in the action of reading, but your heart is beating, you are holding a particular posture, neurons are firing in your brain.
  3. Our own collective interior: all humans – even hermits – form part of some kind of collective. And every collective has shared values, cultural norms or common feeling. As you read this, you have a cultural context of which you form a part. You have a perspective on what I am writing that is partly based in your social values.
  4. Our collective exterior: we are all embedded in systems and meta-systems greater than ourselves. As you are reading this online, you are connected to a technological system called the internet; outside your window you witness the manifestation of weather and climate, and in some way or another you are currently paying for data, thus playing a part of a broader economic system.

Though you will have a subtle bias towards one perspective – a ‘native perspective’ – none of these quadrants is more important than the others. They all arise concurrently and with equal value. So, in deciding how to engage with a significant topic like choosing a new career direction, I ask clients to pay attention to all four quadrants. Part of this process requires an evaluation of what is important to that client – basically answering the question ‘Why do you work?’ – and another aspect will be the commitment to action.

Here are some suggestions if you find yourself seeking work that will pay you well enough and provide you with meaning:

  1. Consider the types of things that you are passionate about, the pursuits that energize you or that increase your wellbeing when you are engaged in them. Basically, identify what kind of activities make you happy – don’t think in terms of ‘jobs’, think in terms of enjoyment and gratification. For now, don’t eliminate any of them for being ‘unrealistic’ – this is an exploratory exercise and every contribution is valuable.
  2. Make a list of jobs or work that incorporate these activities or draw on skills or aptitudes that you use in these activities. If you think of a job that correlates with a personal passion but requires a skill that you don’t currently have, identify that missing skill, write down what would be required to acquire it, and find out where you can learn that skill at what cost.
  3. Talk to friends and colleagues who are happy in their work. Ask them to share how they found that work, what guided them to it and how they would go about finding a new job if, for some reason, this one came to an end. Also look back at point 2 and check whether anyone in your current network is involved in one of the lines of work identified in your list. And expand your network by connecting on social media with new contacts in your target areas – LinkedIn, facebook and twitter are great places to start, though each of those platforms have more or less relevance depending on your industry.
  4. Determine how much money you need to make, consider your work experience, explore market opportunities, and come up with a plan. This plan will partly include the steps above as your refine and repeat the process of honing in your dream work and build on network connections. Most importantly, build an image of what your life will look like when you have work that satisfies you and offers you the lifestyle you desire. This vision is your compass – create a physical impression of it if that helps you – and can act as your anchor in the bigger picture as you deal with the practicalities of career change.

This process may sound simple, but the challenges involved are many and unique to every person. It will not always be easy, which is why I always recommend working with a coach or mentor of some kind, but I truly believe that happiness at work is your right. Claim it.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

The happiness factor


My youngest child turned eight yesterday, and the unbridled joy that poured from her on her birthday was infectious. It was an understated but close family celebration, and she reveled in being the center of attention for an entire day. From presents to cake to games to photos, my daughter smiled and laughed and danced. It occurred to me that she was happy – spontaneously, effusively happy. It also occurred to me that the difference between children and most adults I know is not principally whether they are happier or not, it is that they don’t try to be happy. Happiness is a powerful emotion. It has been associated with having a healthier heart, a stronger immune system and a longer life. But the main reason we’re attracted to it is because it feels so good. That’s the reason it is the final objective of almost the entire bookshelf of the self-help industry: stronger relationships, more money, greater sense of purpose, higher success, a more desirable job – in one way or another these make us feel happy, at least for a period of time. It is also the reason that the self-help industry is worth more than $11 billion a year in the US alone, and the global depression drug market is poised to surge to $16.80 billion by 2020. Everyone is after the happy kick, whether they find it in a book, a podcast or a pill.

This is in the context of global increases in depression and anxiety, and what seems to be a growing aversion to not feeling good. We have come to regard emotions like sadness, anger and loneliness as ‘bad’. Undoubtedly, they don’t feel great, but just like all emotions they contain information that can be used to make better decisions. Writing off ‘negative’ feelings eliminates a large portion of the human spectrum of emotions, leaving us chasing a one-dimensional ‘happy’ version of life. And the chase itself is damaging, because in our achievement-obsessed culture happiness is frequently sold as a goal that needs to be attained. If you’re not attaining it and everyone else is – as appears to be the case every time you log onto social media – you must be a failure, which is generally how you end up feeling after an hour of looking at your friends’ holiday photos on facebook. And Martin Seligman – who’ll we’ll meet later – identified the risk of this constant sense of failure in his depression-related theory of Learned Helplessness: after enough conditioning in pain and suffering, human beings will begin to believe that they have no control over what happens to them, and will begin to assume helplessness.

Rather than a goal, happiness is a state – a composite of psychological, neurological, physiological and even spiritual elements, the blend of which varies from person to person and time to time. But, as Dr Rick Hanson proposes in his book Resilience, this changeable state can be made more of a habit by utilizing the brain’s dependent neuroplasticity. Proactively engaging in positive behaviour supports the creation and reinforcement of neural pathways that generate higher levels of wellbeing. Proactivity is an important part of this concept. As Stephen Covey points out,

‘[Proactivity] means more than merely taking initiative. It means that, as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behaviour is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.’

It’s an attitude that directly counters Learned Helplessness, which is why it is the cornerstone of Martin Seligman’s other great contribution to mental wellbeing: positive psychology. In his work on depression Seligman came to the view that modern psychology was too strongly focused on pathology and mental illness, and not focused enough on mental wellness. Basically, mental health practitioners were spending most of their time analyzing what was wrong, and not really looking at what was right. When Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association in 1998 he used the opportunity to promote a new approach to psychology, one based on the positive, the uplifting and the inspiring. Sounds great, but what about the painful and the sad? Life isn’t just unicorns and rainbows. Positive psychology agrees, intentionally embracing the more difficult aspects of human experience, but granting them the weight they really deserve. Yes, things can be bad and it’s important to acknowledge that, but things are seldom as bad as we make them out to be and that’s important to acknowledge too.

Seligman’s perspective has become widely popular, not because it’s another feelgood fad aimed at denying the challenges of the human condition, but because it lends itself to practical and accessible long-term change. Rick Hanson’s work reveals that the cumulative effect of small habit changes can be profound and, to echo Viktor Frankl, the capacity for positive change resides in all humans. Yet, this is not the same as chasing happiness – this requires a willingness to be self-compassionate and accepting of what is, not an obsessive attachment to what could be.

Click here for a list of simple practices that help build emotional wellbeing.

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash


Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Why Your Inner Critic Is Your Worst Enemy – And What To Do About It

IMG_0035by: Bevan Rees, Koach.net

Why Your Inner Critic Is Your Worst Enemy – And What To Do About It
A long time ago, when most of our species were living in caves, survival was generally more difficult than it is today. So, responding to the almost constant threat of death at the teeth of wild animals, the human brain made some intelligent adjustments. It began to prioritise negative judgements, because they kept us alive longer. Let’s imagine, for example, that your troglodyte ancestor stepped out of the cave one morning to stretch his legs, and saw a brown shape behind a nearby bush. If he thought that the shape was a rock, but it turned out to be a sabre-toothed tiger, it would likely be the last mistake he ever made. But, if he thought the shape was a tiger and it turned out to be a rock, he might be a bit embarrassed, but he could make the same mistake a hundred times and not suffer any major consequences. Which is why humans developed the negativity bias: the brain’s tendency to react more strongly to negative stimuli, or even the expectation of negative stimuli. It’s why the amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for managing the fight-or-flight response – dedicates two thirds of its neurons to negative experiences. And it accounts for why we are so adept at fearing the worst, despite the lack of concrete evidence for doing so. In Mark Twain’s words, ‘I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.’
For millennia, this programming did an amazing job of preserving human life, but as civilized life has become safer and more predictable, it is no longer as necessary. Yet, the negativity bias prevails, as does the voice of the negativity bias: the inner critic. The inner critic’s job is to talk you out of risk and threat, even if that threat is only failure or embarrassment rather than death. We all know it because we all have one. It’s the voice that tells you that you’re crazy to apply for that new job post, or start a new business, or move to a new country. It’s the voice that tells you that you’re not intelligent enough, qualified enough or brave enough. And it’s powerful. As Ilene Gregorian, mindfulness trainer for US Special Forces, says, ‘You can take yourself down with your thoughts faster than any enemy can.’
Overcoming the inner critic and its seeds of self-doubt is one of the biggest challenges on the path to self-development, and one of the earliest you’ll encounter. Though it can be subtle, it usually kicks in as soon as you try to shift from the status quo and is a big contributor to a resistance to change. Many strategies for dealing with it are combative and rely on willpower to defeat the repetitive self-assassination (ignore that voice in your head!). But this is often a superficial approach that fails to address the underlying causes, because even though we all have an inner critic, the degree to which it affects our lives varies from person to person, and time to time. It peaks when we are feeling unconfident and is quietest when we feel success, and is a function of the unique psycho-emotional matrix of every individual. So, what can be done about it? Here are 3 suggestions:

Yes, you’ve heard this one before, because everyone seems to be punting the virtues of meditation. And that’s because it works. The more research is done on meditation – especially mindfulness-based meditation – the more evidence there is for its multitudinous benefits. Among them is a deeper familiarity with the habitual processes of the mind. Through even 10 minutes of consistent daily mindfulness practice, you will become acquainted with the seemingly endless internal chatter that fills your mind, as well as the quiet space that holds it. You will be able to identify the voice of the inner critic and view it as an object of your awareness, allowing you to see it for what it is: a limited survival guide trying to keep you safe, rather than a speaker of the truth. Creating this distance and perspective during meditation grants progressively stronger ability to do the same in the normal run of your day, allowing you to make more intelligent choices. To get started in meditation, join the worldwide community, download the free app and use the guided meditations at Insight Timer, or sign up for Headspace’s fantastically accessible meditation program.

Ask for help
One of the problems with the inner critic is that it is so difficult to catch in action. It could be the primary reason you are blocked in trying to transform a particular aspect of your life, but you might not be aware of it. A conversation across the kitchen table with a friend or partner could make you feel better and see the way you’ve been sabotaging yourself, but if you’re feeling genuinely stuck you might need to enlist some professional help. This is the service provided by most coaches and mentors, though for stalled growth due to longstanding psychological difficulties it is advisable to see a therapist too. Overcoming your own internal monologue requires insight and awareness, as well as action-oriented plans and practices – coaching can help with both.

Be compassionate
When things are challenging and stress is high, our inner critic is usually in full flow, making it very clear why the world is bad and everything is going to go wrong. At such times, compassion may seem like a strange attitude to prescribe, but it is the antidote to an over-activated negativity bias. The 2016 State of The Heart Report – a global EQ study of 100,000 people in 126 countries in different professional sectors, revealed that emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion are on the decline. A significant factor in these findings is the global rise in stress levels. It makes intuitive sense that the more stressed we are, the less compassionate we are. But this relationship also works in reverse: the more compassionate we are, the less stressed and anxious we feel. Compassion, particularly self-compassion, can be trained, and allows us to integrate anxiety or stress while remaining more open to new experience. In practical terms, this means acknowledging the inner critic and accepting it, while still being positively engaged in your life. As a start, use Dr Kristin Neff’s 5-minute self-compassion break to connect with this powerful approach.


Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com




How do you know when you need a coach?

There’s a fine line between ‘I’m not having a good day, I’ll be ok tomorrow’ and ‘I don’t think I can meet my goals without expert guidance’. Knowing at what point to seek professional support through the help of a coach is crucial.

Coaching is for those who recognise they have wandered off their path and need to realign themselves again – be it in business, life or relationships. It is not counselling, mentoring, therapy or training. What a coach does is listen to your aspirations and goals, recognise the obstacles that are standing in your way, and provide actionable solutions to enable you to fulfil your ambitions in a measurable, simple and successful way.

Seeking a coach demonstrates that you wish to improve and that you recognise that you need an expert to guide you. Every great sports person has a coach to thank for pushing them, motivating them, encouraging them and supporting them in their journey…life and business coaches do exactly that too.

So how do you know when you need a coach?

According to Alexis Meads, there are ten tell-tale signs that you need a coach in your life.

1. Your friends and family are tired of listening to you

It’s wonderful to have a support network around you, but don’t exhaust your friend’s kindness by going over the same thing every time you meet them. A coach is a professional listener who isn’t worried about telling you how it is – but not only will they listen, they will also give you a concrete plan to follow in order to overcome the struggles you are facing.

2. You over-analyze everything

There is such a thing as over-thinking things and if your mind is full of questions and no answers then it’s time to seek professional help from someone that can untangle the tangled knot of questions inside your mind.

3. Your relationship problems are making you ill

Mental strain has a physical affect on the body. If you aren’t happy with your relationship then you need to find a way to handle that – and ignoring it or repeating the same mistakes won’t help. Through the help of a coach you can find clarity and confidence again.

4. You’re not happy with your weight

Health and life coaches can advise on weight loss, fitness, nutrition and exercise plans but most of all they can give you the motivation you need to stick to your plan and reach your goals. Everyone knows that having someone by your side when trying to get fit is easier than going at it alone!

5. You’ve lost your identity

Whether you’ve recently moved abroad, had children, changed as you’ve got older or inexplicably lost confidence – coaching can help you feel like the old you again. Or alternatively, help you reinvent a new happier and more positive you.

6. You have Imposter Syndrome

On the outside you’re rocking it, but on the inside you’re crippled with self doubt, insecurity, worry and anxiety. A good coach can alleviate that stress and empower you with the skills to feel just as good on the inside as people believe you are on the outside.

7. You’re not at the point in your career you thought you would be

It’s nobody’s fault but yours, but you don’t know where you’re going wrong. Do you lack confidence to seek alternative employment? Or do you need to improve on your leadership skills and communication techniques? Our coaches will recognise the obstacles standing in the way of your success and give you the tools to ensure that you reach your career goals.

8. You’re stuck

Your life is in a rut. You’re bored. You’re wondering if there’s anything else out there for you or if this monotonous treadmill you call life is as good as it gets. Don’t worry, it can always get better, you just need a push in the right direction by a life coach that will understand your concerns and show you the light.

9. You have no social life

It’s not just the work and family life balance that a coach can help you wish, they can also assist with helping you find the all important ‘me’ time. Hobbies, mindfulness, interests and fun are just as important as family and earning a wage.

10. You worry about what others think

This is all too common in an age of over-sharing, but this form of thinking can be paralysing and in the long term affect all areas of your life. In order to reach your goals you need to be confident, fearless and positive. Coaching can help you value your self worth while providing ways for you to protect yourself from the opinions of others.

So if any of these points sound like you then you may benefit from coaching. Coaching is not a last resort, far from it. Coaching is a way of reigniting that internal spark that makes you want to be a better you. So get over your first obstacle and get in touch – we may just change your life.


Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

7 ways expats struggle more than most

The life of an expat may seem like a glamorous one. Many expats move abroad for better job opportunities, or for the lifestyle, or even for the fantastic weather and to enjoy a big adventure. From the outside, life seems full of possibilities and excitement…but being an expat is fraught with an array of unique problems that those remaining in their birth country may never understand.

Here are seven ways expats struggle more than others.

1. Communication barriers

Most expats speak English, but that doesn’t help when you are relocated to a country where they don’t. Even if you speak English at home and at work and you are doing your best to learn the host country’s language, it takes time to settle in, and in the meantime you are left struggling with issues that would normally be a walk in the park. Simple things like letters from the doctor’s office or the council; your television not working but not understanding the message that pops up on the screen; calling a company on the phone and not understanding the automated recording or what number to press – these tiny little inconveniences can lead to a sense of frustration, anxiety and in some cases anger or feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.

2. Culture

One of the many reasons that expats look for work abroad is to submerge themselves in a new culture, but the flipside of that is that some cultures are hard to integrate into and difficult to align with your own customs and expectations…no matter how hard you try. Coupled with the communication barriers, it can sometimes feel very isolating and frustrating, you may feel cut off from your community and confused – or even worse, regretful of your move.

3. Losing your identity

Most expats move abroad for work – but if you move as a family, what about the other partner? What are they expected to do? Even though in a lot of cases one partner has moved the family because their new wage justifies the life change, the second partner is left to carve out a new identity for themselves. Do they embrace this change and start a new career? Train in something new? Reinvent themselves? Or will they be left feeling inferior, lost and unsure of their new role? These feelings of uncertainty, and sometimes resentment, can have a negative effect on the entire family and put pressure on the marriage. Without the usual support network around you, this shift can be even harder to manage.

4. Relocating family

It’s hard enough to move abroad and start afresh by yourself or as a couple, but what if you’re also trying to settle your children into a new school and a new way of life? Although children are pretty adaptable, and the children of expats probably more so than most, the knock-on effect of an anxious child can put pressure on the parent and affect marriages and alter the family dynamic.

5. Feelings of isolation

It takes a long time to create a community around you and to make friends. As a child, making friends and connecting with people is a normal part of life – but as you get older if becomes more forced and harder to do. When you are busy at home with family, and at work, how do you go out there and force yourself to get involved in your community and seek alliances with others?

An expat life can be a lonely one at times. It’s difficult to be separated from good friends and family, and it’s hard to live without emotional or practical support at hand, which is why some expats lose confidence or suffer from anxiety issues which they may previously not encountered.

6. Uncertainty

With the current political and financial climate, no job is a guaranteed job for life. So what happens when you experience feelings of uncertainty but you are abroad and dependent on that one job that brought you there? What if you are unhappy but there are limited options outside of your current role? When most people don’t like their job they are free to seek another nearby – but for an expat, that move is likely to be a huge one, one that affects the lives of the entire family including the children’s education, the partner’s job and the family’s lifestyle. When you feel like you lack choice in your career, it can lead to feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, stress, depression and ill health.

7. Lack of confidence

What makes us feel confident? The decisions we make in life, the encouragement and support of friends and family, our sense of worth at home and at work, and our own definition of who we are in society as a whole. So what happens when we are stripped of all of that? How do we feel when we are in a foreign country where everything we know, and everything that we feel defines us, is no longer the same? It takes on average a year to settle into a new country, and in that time you can experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

Being an expat is not all negative, far from it, or millions around the globe wouldn’t be jumping from country to country chasing exciting new job opportunities – but it is challenging.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com





How to set goals and reach them


By: Koach.net

Every year, on the first of January, millions of people wake up convinced that life is going to get better. With heads full of resolutions, goals and targets, we tell ourselves that this year is going to be different. This time things will change because we’re going to try really hard. Then by February we’ve given up.

Why is that? Why is it that statistically 92% of people struggle to meet their goals?

The answer is simple – we are too vague.

‘I need to lose a few pounds.’

‘I have to find a better job.’

‘I need to stand up for myself more.’

These statements may have good intentions behind them, but all your mind is going to do is agree with you – ‘yep, you’d be happier if you were healthier, with a job you enjoyed and everyone treated you better.’ Well that goes without saying, wouldn’t we all be happier with that?

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The elusive work-life balance – Is it really attainable?


By: Koach.net

We all want it, but few of us have found it…the elusive work-life balance. You’ve probably heard this expression mentioned a lot, especially in terms of coaching or therapy, but what does it really mean?

Wikipedia says this:

Work–life balance is a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation). This is related to the idea of lifestyle choice.

The work–leisure dichotomy was invented in the mid-1801s. Paul Krassner remarked that anthropologists use a definition of happiness that is to have as little separation as possible “between your work and your play”.

So how does this affect you?

It’s a sad fact of life but if we don’t work, we don’t earn money. And if we don’t earn money, we struggle to live the life we want. So it stands to reason that many of us struggle to find the balance between dedicating time to our job (which for most people amounts to where they spent 70% of their waking hours) and ensuring we still have the time and energy to spend with the ones we love, and doing the things we love to do.

In a Harvard Business School Survey (as reported by Forbes magazine), it was discovered that “a whopping 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week”. With the introduction of technology making it easier for us to be accessible 24hrs a day (and making it harder for us to escape) and thanks to the worldwide recession adding uncertainty in the workplace, it’s no surprise that people are struggling to not only find the time to stop working, but also to not feel guilty when enjoying themselves out of working hours.

So what can you do to find that inner peace?

We all have 24 hours in a day – so how can you best utilise your time?

 1. Look after yourself:

Your busy life may feel like you are lurching from one emergency to another, a perpetual cycle of ticking things off your To Do lists, but to keep that lifestyle sustainable you need a healthy mind and body. So as much as the adrenaline of a hectic schedule may be giving your short bursts of energy and a buzzy high…the reality is that you will come crashing down or worse, get seriously ill and burn out, if you don’t look after yourself.

How can you do that?

Drink lots of water and less alcohol and coffee (which in the short-term may calm or speed you up, but too much of either won’t help in the long-run).

Eat well and eat slowly, make time for your meals and add them to your schedule.

Go to the gym or to exercise classes, or even a short run every morning. Not only is keeping fit important, but it clears your mind and floods your brain with feel-good endorphins.

Rest your mind. Aim for 7-8 hours sleep a night and practice mindfulness – whether it’s ten minutes of deep breathing and visualisation each morning, or a guided mediation session a few times a week, your mind needs to rest sometimes too.

 2. Don’t expect perfection:

One of the biggest obstacles to getting through your work day, and the reason that many people stay on at work beyond their contracted hours, is because they want everything they do to be perfect. Stop!

Executive coach Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, author of The Office Survival Guide, says, “The key to avoid burning out is to let go of perfectionism. As life gets more expanded it’s very hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going.”

Puder-York adds, “ the healthier option is to strive not for perfection, but for excellence.”

3. Disconnect:

Technology has made our lives easier…but it’s also ensuring we stay ‘on’ at all times. Have you ever found yourself checking work emails at a friend’s wedding? Or scrolling through Facebook, locked in the toilet, while the kids are outside asking for you? Maybe you can’t even go for a meal with a loved one without leaving your phone on the dinner table. This constant need to be connected to everyone, at all times, means that we struggle to be present doing the important stuff. It also means that our attention spans are affected, making it harder for us to focus on the job in hand.

So in order to get full satisfaction from whatever it is you are doing – disconnect from technology! Leave your phone turned off and enjoy the people you are with, really live in the moment. By departmentalising your life you will benefit a lot more from every aspect of your day.

4. Stop wasting time:

If you are struggling to get all your work completed within the allocated hours, are you really concentrating 100% on your job or are you wasting time?

Focus on the people that reward you most. If you don’t want to spend your evening at after work drinks, don’t…go home and rest, or spend it with the family. Likewise don’t arrange meetings with people that don’t fit your life goals if your time is better spent elsewhere, you will only come away feeling frustrated and pulled in too many directions.

5. Change your life structure:

If your day is too stressful and you don’t know how you are going to manage to get it all done – step back and look at how you structure your day. Making one small change, like having a shorter lunch or turning off notifications at certain times, can free up your time and help you prioritise the areas of your life that you feel are lacking. Reorganise, prioritise, delegate and ask for help.

The perfect work-life balance may be elusive but it is attainable.

Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.


Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com