Procrastination, stalling and standing still

At first glance these obstacles to journeying all seem the same, with the same root causes and outcomes. So let’s delve a bit deeper, to help ourselves define our own predicament more clearly and see what we can do about it. To begin with I would suggest that procrastination, stalling and standing still are three entirely different states of being; let me explain why.


Procrastination is a kind of active avoidance and has a number of common causes.

  1. Overwhelm – having too many things to do, and so little insight into how to progress that you simply put off starting. This often happens with the accumulation of mess, but also with too many work related tasks, admin or accounting tasks and any project where we can’t see how to start.
  2. A chronic behavioural pattern, established in childhood, and linked to basic personality traits such as finding it dificult to focus down on something, hyperactivity and such like.
  3. Not wanting to undertake the task at a heart level – we can know we ought to do something, but still not want to do it, and may procrastinate to avoid.

Solutions for procrastination depend on the cause. Perhaps the easiest to solve is simply not wanting to complete a task that you ought to do. In this case you only have two choices: refuse outright to do it (which may not be possible), or bite the bullet and get on with it. Undertaking a task you don’t want to do (but have to) such as accounts for a self employed person, is best tackled at the time of day where you are naturally most energy rich and robust. For me this is late morning through to mid afternoon. For you it might be first thing, or if you are an ‘owl’, it could be in the evening.


Overwhelm is a malady of lack of clarity of information or vision, coupled with too much to do. Sometimes we can overcome overwhelm by a simple process of beginning with the task of highest priority and ignoring the rest until that one is completed. Then repeating for the next most important or pressing task and so on. Organising your thoughts can help a great deal, so writing a plan of action, which enables you to prioritise more easily is a good idea. Identifying what you can delegate, or what you need help with can thin out what needs to be done, as can accepting some tasks as low priority and letting them go for a while.

If you have a chronic pattern of procrastinating it is wise to seek help to work out why. It could be a condition like ADHD, that might respond to treatment or professional help, or it may be a pattern you have fallen into because of being overly busy for many years. In which case – as a habit that needs breaking – you could approach it by finding replacement habits that will help rather than hinder. Examples would be organisational habits, meditation (creates space in your mind and increaes stress resilience). and behavioural techniques like the 5 second rule.


Stalling differs from procrastination, because there isn’t usually an element of reluctance to complete a task. I would define stalling more as a circumstancial malady – “life happens” and sometimes, even when we are highly engaged with what we are doing, that causes us to grind to a halt. Stalling is a temporary cutting our of our engines, because we get hijacked by circumstance, and as such it is often short lived and relatively easy to overcome.

Self compassion is needed when we stall, becuase there is no fault involved, but it’s easy to get down on ourselves and start criticising our lack of motivation. Instead, try practicing self care (that will mean something different to each of us, but look for ways to treat yourself, and ensure that you eat, drink water, sleep and spend time outside as a minimum) and kind and supportive self-talk.

Usually, once we have dealt with whatever derailed us, we can actively remotivate ourselves towards the task that requires our attention. This happens in different ways for different people… for me it’s a case of listening to some encouraging audio, from a mentor I relate to, doing some related training, or reading something pertinent and motivational in itself


Standing still

Standing still differs from procrastination and stalling, in as much as it is usually a place that holds us for a longer period of time, often as the result of some upset or trauma. I stood still for a number of months this year after my ex-husband died, and the time was needed just to survive all that I was feeling and dealing with around me. This is a key part of standing still – it’s often a necessary part of some kind oof healing process. 

Obviously, we may still need to work or care for people at times such as this, but by standing still I mean that these are times when we are not really progressing, growing or movng forward. This is becuase our energy is focussed on dealing with something else, and that something could be something wonderful – like a house move.

The bottom line is that standing still is a necessary part of any journeying. It’s a time when we can rest and re-group with ourself, and focus intently on a particular life change that consumes both our attention and our energy. A time when we can do whatever it takes just to get through the days. A time when we can grieve, or in the case of our own illness – heal.

So, in conclusion it’s easy to see that any journey is punctuated with ‘down time’ for a myriad of reasons. We need only to accept this and to try to see exactly what is going on if we feel we are making no real progress. Then we can change what needs to be changed, and accept and support what needs to be accepted and supported. These ‘slow’ periods of life are often followed by great forward flow, so we can learn to appreciate them in the anticipation of what will follow next.

Procrastination is probably the exception, as when you find yourself regularly fighting against a stream of tasks that you would prefer not to be doing, then it’s probably better to address how you are living your one life, rather than just training yourself not to procrastinate.

Motivation and forwards flow

When we think about journeying, we tend to think primarily about making progress… moving forward. However, all journeys include times of rapid progression, rest, stalling, stopping, starting, acceleration, observation and change. All of these stages of our travelling have their own importance, and we can embrace them as having purpose; stopping to eat lunch or take in the view can be just as helpful to us as blazing ahead. However, today I do want to focus on motivation and maintaining forwards flow.


What motivation isn’t

Motivation is literally the driving force behind journeying. The push that creates momentum. Motivation is born out of a desire for something specific that you want to achieve or succeed in doing. Since motivation is so much a part of getting things done, reaching goals and creating success, it has been subjected to a great deal of scrutiny by the scientific community.

First let’s look at some popular ‘motivational’ myths. Psychology today ran an article by Heidi Grant Halvorson Ph.D. who has written a book called Succeed – How We Can Reach Our Goals. In the article she identified the following myths that are often expounded when talking about motivation.

  • Just write down your goals, and success is guaranteed.
  • Just try to do your best.
  • Just visualize success.

It might be safe to assume that any statement that begins with “just,” is going to be highly dubious when it comes to creating something as complex as success. But none of these statements actually carry any real truth. Writing down goals has been shown to have no effect (either positive or negative) on achieving success. Setting specific goals and intentions is extremely important in terms of motivation (and success), but large goals, and writing them down (or not) really don’t matter.

Encouragement to try your best significantly reduces performance in comparison to encouragement to set specific and difficult goals. Doing the latter will

“…cause you to, often unconsciously, increase your effort, focus and commitment to the goal, persist longer, and make better use of the most effective strategies.”

Of course it is important to note that there are times in life when all we can muster is our best. And we should never beat ourselves up about that or create unrealistic expectations against which to measure ourselves. Self-compassion is never wasted and it’s not about letting ourselves off the hook.

Visualising success holds some truth, but not if you just visualise effortless success and the end result you are after. This does nothing to help and simply sets you up to fail. However, visualising the work you need to do to get where you want to be, does make a difference:

“You can cultivate a more realistically optimistic outlook by combining confidence in your ability to succeed with an honest assessment of the challenges that await you. Don’t visualize success—visualize the steps you will take in order to make success happen.”


What is motivation?

So having got rid of some on the myths about motivation, what can we do to truly motivate ourselves? Probably the single biggest thing we can do is to learn to practice self-compassion and forgive ourselves for past failures. If we look at it from the opposite perspective – what’s the biggest de-motivator that stops people achieving what they want – then the connection becomes clear. As Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D. explained in her TED talk

“…in general, people have a default tendency to act based on what they expect, not what they want. What someone expects is often very different from what they want… For many people, however, not getting what they want is preferable to trying and being disappointed.

Why is disappointment such a powerful negative emotion that people would rather sacrifice their hopes, dreams, and desires than feel its sting? The answer lies in the meaning that you give to disappointment. The reality is, not getting what you want never feels good to anyone, however, the intensity to which you feel the emotion of disappointment can be exponentially magnified by your interpretation of it.”

So working with yourself to overcome globalising disappointment (“I never get what I want. Everything always ends badly for me.”) and personalising disappointment (“I don’t get what I want because I am not worthy of good things. I am not good enough.”) will move you towards a more constructive generalised view, that everyone faces disappointment at times, and that it doesn’t mean you can’t go on to succeed. Indeed, success often comes on the back of disappointment as we re-group with ourselves and grow.

All previously alluded to, motivation does involve setting specific goals and visualising the effort needed to achieve them. For instance, if your goal was to get out of bed at a specific time each morning, you would then visualise yourself doing this, and exerting the effort needed. You could visualise using different techniques, like the 5 second rule, or placing your alarm clock and phone away from your bed. You would then begin to feel what it would feel like to successfully get up on time and what could help you achieve the goal, that you can then put that into practice.

You could also think more widely about the goal and consider whether there are other goals that might work to increase your chances of success with this one. An obvious one would be, to be in bed by a specific time each night, which would allow you a good number of hours asleep.


Interestingly, meditation is also linked to motivational success, because it changes the way the brain works. Research has shown that regular meditation improves focus, attention, decision making, information processing, mental strength, resilience and emotional intelligence. It is apparently rare to meet a highly successful person who doesn’t meditate. If you need to be convinced about these benefits and more – there is an amazing article about the science of meditation here.

The business dictionary has this neat definition of motivation: Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people, to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal. Motivation results from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors such as the (1) intensity of desire or need, (2) incentive or reward value of the goal, and (3) expectations of the individual and of his or her peers.

I find this helpful because it makes sense then, that anything which increases these factors – such as accountability and support for (3) – will help increase motivation. The specific things that motivate an individual may vary depending on their passions, interests, mindset, energising responses and so on. What matters is to know what works for you and to open yourself to those things. While we can’t expect continuous forward flow, establishing flow at all, requires effort and commitment to our goals. Finding support on the journey helps considerably to help maintain flow. Good journeying…

Life is a journey – not a destination

Ask any productivity coach about the importance of goals, and they will surely tell you that without them, you are doomed to mediocrity. Doubtless, goals are important, as they help to maintain our vision and drive. Perhaps because of this, however, we often get fixated on end goals or outcomes in life, rather than concentrating on the journey. But life is a journey – not a destination, and the journey, not the end goal, is the point. 

Life is a journey

Many of us approach life in much the same way as we approach a day trip to a major city. I live in the North East of England, and to spend a day in our capital city (London), requires a train journey of around 3 hours. It’s a trek I don’t make very often, as I have a strong pull towards the open countryside, but when I do (perhaps because of its rarity value), I always see the train ride as an exciting part of the day. 


I spend the time enjoying the journey, looking at the passing ‘world’ through the window, eating, drinking – and chatting (unless I am travelling alone). The day out begins when I leave the house in the morning, and it’s all to be enjoyed, not just whatever has drawn me to London in the first place. However, I have noticed that I am a rarity in this regard, as often my fellow train travellers seem almost unaware of the journey itself, filling the time with sleep, entertainment or work. Of course – I’m making a comparison here – and fully understand that there are times when a train journey is needed as catch up time, or workday office space. 

I’m not making a judgement at all – just creating a picture of how we often approach life. How many time do we think or say – “I will be happy when…” or “I’ll deal with this when…”  and so on? For me it’s often “I’ll lose weight when…” We miss the journey because our eyes are fixed on the end goal that we hope will come along and change our life for us. But happiness and problem solving doesn’t lie in the destination, it comes through the process of embracing the journey. 

Taking a road trip

Journeying through life is more like a road trip than a train journey. I’ve been on a few extended road trips – twice overland from the North of England to Romania, and once driving my son and two of his 17-year-old friends around Europe. All were wonderful experiences, but the travelling was a fully integrated part of the whole. This was partly because each leg of the journey was simply a stepping stone to something else and also I think that any element of “Are we there yet?” would have driven us mad! The end destination of a road trip is actually home, which marks the end of the trip. So to with life; the end destination is death, which also ends the journey. 


Life is a journey where ever day has the potential for covering new ground, seeing with fresh eyes, exploring new territory, learning and growing. This was just how it felt to be on the road trips. Somehow we seem to settle into “Life – the commuter train journey”, same old, same old, all too easily. If I have one overriding goal in life it’s to maintain the road trip potential in my everyday, and that’s why I use a lot of journeying language. 

Not a destination

Fixating on end goals and outcomes, even small ones that crop up every day, can be a technique that helps us feel organised and in control. However, no human need has ever been fixed by an outcome – it is the process of choice and change within us that brings us growth and healing. And that’s why life is a journey, because without the journeying we become stuck and frustrated. 

Of course I do set intentions and goals, but I see them as sign posts or stepping stones. They help me to keep on track, or overcome obstacles, but I never let them become my destination. I want to be able to practice choice and change every day, and I want to be able to grow and evolve and all importantly, change my mind and direction when I feel that’s right for me. 

If you want to share my journey and find practical help for your own, try my Daily Insights email subscription. 

Photos public domain from pixabay

What is choice and why does it matter?

Each of us is making hundreds of decisions every day, and every decision involves at least two or more choices. At its simplest, a decision is a choice between yes or no, but most of our decisions – even the little ones – are made between several available options. It takes energy and time to make a decision and to save us from having to attend to them all, we habituate decision making so that we no longer have to choose every time. Examples of habituated choices are the brand of coffee we buy, cleaning our teeth before bed, our route to work and the order we put our clothes on in the morning. These things require no thought, they are habits and they happen automatically, because we made a choice some time in the past and are comfortable with the outcome.

Why does choice matter?

Choice is essential for our well-being, as it allows us to feel we have some control over our lives. However, managing too many choices can be detrimental in terms of time, energy and focus. There is a large body of scientific study into choice and decision making, and the route to making good choices is well signposted. We are on average 22% more likely to make the (objectively) best choice if we can see all the options at once.

However, many people save time and don’t even look for the best choice. Rather, they will set their own standards for the decision, and will measure each choice until they find one that fits their standard. Then they stop looking. They may not even have considered the best choice at all. This is a useful shortcut for making a small decision, such as which food to buy, but in terms of innovation and advancement it isn’t helpful.

If you wish to become a person who brings fresh insights and innovation to your life, work and creativity, then you will need to learn to step outside of your own ideas and consider all of the other different perceptions. That way you can begin to see possibilities beyond your own decision making process. When asked “Why?” about a decision, “Because. that’s the way we have always done it!” is not a valid response if we desire progress.


Choice should liberate, not enslave. When faced with a number of good choices it is very easy to become paralyzed with fear, in case you make a bad decision. Realistically, all choices involve a trade off – for every road that is travelled, another isn’t. We need to understand that not all of our choices will be good for us; in that regard we all fail at times. But it is only really failure if we refuse to learn from the experience. The trade off can also be a “lesser of two evils ” scenario. Do we pick the healthy avocado, knowing it was grown on land that was once a rainforest?

Choosing the life we want to live

So, where does all this leave us in relation to making good choices in the bigger decisions of our lives? Firstly, I would like to point out that, often we get used to choosing between available options. You can have 10 flavours of ice-cream on offer and still not be able to choose your favourite.  All you can do is decide between available alternatives, none of which is what you actually want! This methodology seems to fall short, when it comes to choices about the way we live our one life.

Real choice involves making a decision based on what our heart desires, and then removing obstacles, until what our heart desires becomes one of our available options. Obviously, there will always be some desires that are beyond the realms of possibility for each of us – whatever I do, I’ll never be 5 foot 8 – but most things, however distant they may seem, are actually within our reach, if we choose to pursue them.


If we don’t have any idea what our heart desires, it is good to begin by slowing down, engaging with what is going on around us, practicing gratitude and developing trust. We all have an “I just know” sensor. Some people would call in intuition, gut feeling, inner voice or instinct, but in terms of starting a business, writing a book, having a baby or getting married or setting off to walk across North America, “just knowing” comes up all the time. Learn to recognise, work with and trust your inner voice, and just as importantly, listen when you get that feeling that something isn’t right.

Let me end with a reminder that even the big choices aren’t forever. Choose for today and rally courage to support you, but don’t look too far ahead, because nothing is ever certain and today is really all you ever have. So as Dr Joe Arvai noted in his TED talk on decison making, you are not an archaeologist raking over the past, but an architect constructing a new decision. Design and build. Make it happen.

via (118) How to make better decisions | Dr. Joe Arvai | TEDxCalgary – YouTube




Nuggets from the Self Acceptance Summit

The Self Acceptance Summit is now over, and only available to purchase via the link below. I said I’d send a few more little nuggets of gold that I panned from listening. Please note that these are my notes of what was said so may no be entirely quoted word for word. Here we go:

This first quotation was used in one of the talks. It’s credited to Carl Jung, and I liked it so much that I wanted too include it here: “That which remains (in our) unconscious, occurs in our lives as ‘fate’!” – brackets and emphasis mine.

“We don’t need to feel confident to make our voices heard. We only need to recognise the voice of the inner critic, observe its concerns for our safety and well-being and decide to proceed regardless, knowing we will be okay.”

“It is the human lot to fall short. It is our job to fall short again and again, and to attend to the growth that follows.”

“When we believe – through past rejection and pain – that there is something wrong with us that renders us unlovable. That is shame. It is the flip side of our desire to be loved.”

self acceptance.

“Shame is not your fault – but it is your responsibility.”

“Shame is a universal experience, but we experience it as though we are uniquely bad.”

“There is no wrong emotion. Emotions are not good, bad, right or wrong. We need to give ourselves permission to feel, whatever it is we feel. There is no “should” – even if we feel fly in the face of social norms (eg laughing at a funeral).”

“Criticism is the tax I am willing to pay for living my own life.”

Should is always where my pain begins.”

Self-Acceptance Summit

Self-acceptance is one of the most challenging areas of personal growth—yet when we focus on treating ourselves with kindness and compassion we become healthier, more creative, and far more effective in every area of life. With The Self-Acceptance Summit, you’re invited to learn breakthrough insights and techniques from some of today’s top researchers and teachers. Join us to:

  • Hear the latest and most empowering discoveries about self-acceptance from psychology and neuroscience
  • Identify the barriers to self-acceptance and learn how to dissolve them
  • Learn practical exercises for overcoming the toughest self-acceptance obstacles—including the inner critic, body shaming, and more
  • Transform your relationships with others by healing your relationship with yourself
    • Video: Kristin Neff, PhD, on “Easy Self-Compassion Practices to Use When Life Becomes Difficult”

via Self-Acceptance Summit

Good journeying,

Ali x


Self compassion demystified

“Simply put, self-esteem is an overall evaluation of yourself, in any given moment. If I believe that I am a good person and am performing well, I will experience high self-esteem. If I feel I’ve fallen short compared to what I could do or what others around me are doing, I will experience low self-esteem. We move through our days, vacillating in response to how we are judging ourselves and how we are stacking up against others.

Conversely, self-compassion is the capacity to be kind to yourself, especially when you are struggling. Self compassion allows for mental well-being, better metabolising of stress, lower anxiety and decreased depression.” 

Leah Weiss PhD [BeWell Stanford]

What is self compassion

Self compassion is the practice of kindness and generosity towards our core self. For most of us it is something that takes effort and practice. Indeed, it is more usual for our inner narrative to be one of self judgement, criticism, insult, unforgiveness and shame. 

Self compassion
Sometimes it’s really hard to love yourself

The good news is that with practice, it is possible to change this narrative for a kinder one, and there are many techniques and habits that can help us. 

These include practices like journaling in the imagined company of a supportive and loving friend, who will hold our thoughts and words with kindness and compassion. Meditation, mindfulness (or as Brené Brown calls it, courageous presence – so much better), gratitude diary, mirror work, gentle supportive touch and soothing self talk are all habits that cultivate self compassion. 

If you are looking for somewhere to begin, start with awareness. Notice your self talk as you go about your day. Don’t criticise or judge yourself for the content of your internal narrative, just take note. The next step it to attend to yourself in that moment, when your inner critic stands up to berate you. Offer yourself kindness, or if that feels impossible, offer the intention of kindness. 

Then you might want to choose one of the practices listed above, find out a little more about it, and begin to work it as a habit into your daily life. Whatever your narrative – the story you believe about yourself – it is just one story. Try creating a kinder story.

A great question to consider is:

What would you say to a very close friend, who was feeling fear/shame/self loathing and came to you for help?

Speak to yourself is the same way that you would speak to her.

Self compassion strongly correlates with feelings of well-being, physical and mental health, happiness and kindness towards others, so it is very much in our interests to pursue it. It’s a journey of small steps and without a finish line, but the further you travel, the greater the benefit will be you you and those around you. 

Good journeying. 

Ali x

“Our greatest suffering is in the place of ‘not enough’, and self judgement contracts everything. It’s hard to be intimate, spontaneous, relaxed or even present, if we are constantly noticing how we are falling short.”

Notes from a teaching by Tara Brach

“When you feel unworthy to sit at the human table, remember the truth is: you are not capable of generating an emotion that is not common to the entire human family. Everything you feel is the measure
of your belonging.”

Notes from a teaching by Elizabeth Gilbert



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Alison Campbell
Poet, author and fellow traveller, living the life I choose.

Dream of massive oaks but tend your little acorns


How big can you dream? I used to feed a cat for a lady who really knew how to dream big. I was fascinated by the walls of her home that were covered with inspirational quotes, dreams and plans for how to create an abundant future for herself. Needless to say, I have watched her go on to succeed and be exceptional in her field, as she has realised her dreams of abundance. Yes, her dreams were of massive, but boy did she tend to her little acorns.

I’m not good at this! I am not sure why, but I struggle to envisage prosperity for myself, in my work and relationships. I don’t (just) mean prosperity in terms money, I mean abundance and success in the things that I hold dear, such as my relationship with my children, a future romantic relationship and my writing. I have a repeating pattern, in that I have always chosen relationships where I wouldn’t experience abundant love, and I often feel that I deserve to be poor.


This is one part of my life that I really want to journey in… I want to choose abundance. I am pretty damn good at tending acorns. I just never expect them to grow into mature oak trees and I rarely dare to dream. The one thing I do know is that this kind of thing tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  What we expect for ourselves is most likely the ceiling of what we will attain.

I’m even uncomfortable writing about this, in case I am misunderstood. You see, I am at heart a minimalist, who is loving living with very few possessions, in a small space. I don’t want to accumulate and own stuff, and I actively don’t want a big house or a fast car or any of the usual trappings of wealth. But yes, I do want abundance in my life. To love fully and give freely, and to nurture little acorns into massive oaks. I want to dare to dream big dreams.

So, if like me, you are uncomfortable about creating aspirational expressions of the abundant life you desire, dare to ask “why?” I say this because I want you to succeed in the life you choose for yourself, just as surely as I want the same for me! But I have a creeping realisation that I need to learn how to joyfully choose abundance, if I am ever going to fully live the life I choose.


As a first step I am going to commit to creating a Post-it journey plan to move me from A to B, where A is now and B is the place where I am dreaming big dreams and choosing abundance in my life and relationships. I suppose in simple terms I mean, I want to choose to live with an open heart and open arms to receive – and share – a plethora of good things. I want to thrive. Watch this space.

The anxiety of stalling and standing still


Anxiety and inertia

It’s been 4 months since my last post, and many times over those months, I have experienced anxiety about lost momentum and inertia. I have not only felt the guilt of ‘not doing’, but the fear of imminent failure and the possibility of ‘never doing’.

Anxiety is at epidemic levels in our 21st century, technological society, and the women diagnosed with anxiety disorders, outnumber men by 2 to 1. Sufferers often feel anxiety for no real reason, creating panic and provoking physical symptoms, without any hope of natural resolution (fight, flight, freeze or fawn).

But my anxiety had a very real cause; the fear of doing nothing! Of stalling and standing still. The Life I Choose is very precious to me; a kind of work that has meaning and purpose, a following of what my own heart desires. In the words of Brené Brown – “my arena.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…” Theodore Roosevelt

We can be busy ‘doing’, while standing still

It’s not like I was doing nothing! I was, for the most part, taming the monster that my dog care business had become. We had experienced rapid growth over the first few months of 2017, and it was unstable in terms of both procedures and new co-workers.  Once again, I realised it was sucking the life blood from my veins, like some vampirish terror that came to me at night.


I experienced constant stress and anxiety that sapped my energy and stalled other projects. More than just distraction, but distracted none the less. I’ve also been in pain. My ex-husband died towards the end of June, aged only 55. He had a very aggressive form of motor neurone disease, and went from diagnosis to death is around a year.

His death has left me emotionally exhausted. Not only have I watched my 3 young adult children lose their dad, but I wasn’t prepared for the range and depth of feelings that have ambushed me.

This is such a classic tale of how and why we do not live the life we choose. Life happens! And in the face of our struggles we can find ourselves drifting, directionless, away from our passions and desires, and the things we would actively choose (f only we had the time or energy).

How to overcome inertia

In this way our journeying through life is very much like our journeying in a car. If we stall and take no action, we can wish for momentum until the cows come home, but we will remain where we are. To get beyond our inertia we must *do* something.

And that “something” needs to be something easy and motivating, and here we probably all differ. For me, I find learning, reading, listening to motivating podcasts or lectures, TED talks or audio books, especially while I am out walking, is hugely helpful. Then I will plan a few steps forward, and away I go.

It’s my way of breaking through the overwhelm, until I can once again see the path ahead winding off into the horizon. But note, I couldn’t do anything while the dog business was chaotic, or the pain of loss was raw. Sometimes standing still is all we can do to survive.


I guess for some people it will be the help of an encouraging friend, or running, or spring cleaning the house, or taking a trip. Listen to your guts and find something that works for you. The little spark that allows you to clear the decks and ignite your passion for what your heart desires, allowing you, once again, to fan the flames.

Living the life we choose will never be a constant forwards progression. Sure, there will be times of great flow and momentum, but stalling and the anxiety that accompanies it, are also a legitimate part of the journey. Try not to panic, and be watchful for your ‘way back’, for it will surely come.

Ali x


Positive thinking – is it even possible?

There have been times over the past few years that I am sure you can all relate to; times where I have descended into despair, and the cloying negativity that accompanies it. I can recall many mornings when I have awoken to a bleak mindset, wanting only to pull the covers over my head and forget the world, others, where I just felt nothing at all. These are days when my mind sees problems, not challenges and negative thoughts run riot.

Any traumatic event or major loss in our lives, can lead us into these mind-troughs. Initially, it’s the all consuming nature of emotional pain that strips away rational thought and good intentions. But sure enough, the passage of time brings moments where positivity creeps over the horizon, like the morning sun rising over a distant hill. And it’s lovely! We begin to experience the world again, as a place where there is warmth and light.

positive thinking

But positive thinking isn’t just something that happens to us; it is an action, a habit, a quest. Any, and every day, no matter how we are experiencing the world, we can choose to be a more positive person. Choose: decide what our heart desires, and then, make it happen.

Do you need more help with this? Download this FREE pdf Tool Kit that will help you to change your mind and patterns of negative thinking

Three ways to choose positive thinking

  1. The habit model – habits are simply things that we decide to practice regularly, until they become an integral part of our lives. Many habits can increase positive thinking, such as gratitude journaling, self affirmation, encouraging others, taking a daily walk, mindfulness, silver lining spotting and yoga, to name just a few.  Set yourself small habit goals that are very specific – such as “I will email or text one person every day to express my gratitude towards them.” – and then try to piggyback them onto habits that you already maintain. The habit goal above might become something like “Every morning when I sit down to drink my first cup of tea, I will email or text one person to express my gratitude towards them.” Work with just one habit and log your success, until you are consistently maintaining the new habit. Then add in another. The habit model often works very well for people who are well organised and like routine.
  2. The quest model – a quest (SuperBetter terminology) is a small, readily achievable task that you set yourself, which, when completed will move you towards a greater goal – and which is fun! If your goal is to achieve a positive thinking mindset, you might take a few minutes each morning to choose 2 or 3 quests to complete over the course of the day, each of which will move you slightly closer to your goal. For instance, you might decide that today you will contact a friend to ask them what you can do help them have a better day, and also do 2 minutes of breathing exercises while focusing on the mantra, “I can choose…” The quest model works really well for creative, or easily side tracked people (like me!) and those who feel complete overwhelm – because you can start off with the tiniest of quests and build on that.positive thinking
  3. The voice model – this can work in any way that gives expression to your voice, you just need to find a method that makes sense to you. Remember that the goal is to progress in positive thinking, so you are looking for means of expression, where you can give your positive voice some exercise. This could include journaling, mirror self talk (can be mighty powerful looking yourself in the eye and speaking positively to your core), logging successes or achievements of any kind, agreeing to play the glad game (Pollyana terminology) with a friend – not as a one off, but as a way of life, or speaking encouragment other people. The voice method can be helpful for those who revel in self-reflection, want to overcome negative speech or tap into the positive energy of a friend.

These are just three – of many – ways to actively choose positive thinking. You can use aspects of all three together – or something completely different that you know will work for you. The important thing is to take action  – to DO something. To make a change.

I’d love to read your comments and ideas of changes that work for you, and which we all might find useful. And if you enjoyed this, and want more ideas about how you can change your mind (ways of thinking) you might like the FREE Life I Choose Tool Kit on this topic.

Ali x



The power of play and how to become SuperBetter

“The opposite of play is not work…  it’s depression.” Stuart Brown, play researcher.

We often think of play as the business of childhood. However, playfulness is not only essential for normal development (in many species, including humans), it is also an adult expression that allows for joy, creativity, bonding, problem solving, inner-healing and more.

We live in a society, where recognition of the power of play for adults is experiencing a resurgence, after a couple of centuries of decline. Thankfully, our increasing desire to listen to what science can tell us about this world and our place within it, has allowed the truth about play to re-surface.

TED talk – Play is more than fun, it’s vital – Stuart Brown

The power of play

Play is powerful, especially when we come to understand it as a process, rather than an activity. Playfulness is a way of being, the principles of which have been beautifully explored in the concept of SuperBetter.

While SuperBetter came out of the computer gaming industry and mindset, it’s core principles can be applied to any area of challenge in real life.

We set ourselves the challenge, then create a series of small quests, the completion  of which, will move us in baby step towards overcoming the challenge. But we aren’t alone, and like any great video game, we can seek out allies to support us in our quests. These are people we can share our progress with and who will support us and cheer us on.

We become the hero of our own journey, and each quest makes us stronger, building resilience that is either physical, mental, emotional or social. It might help you to give yourself a fantasy character (avatar), or to identify with a character from a book, film or video game.

the power of play
Fantasy avatar

Any quest wouldn’t be complete without baddies and power-ups. Baddies are the specific things we fight daily, as we move towards overcoming our challenge. They could be attitudes (like procrastination), self-talk (like “you never finish anything”), practical issues (like clutter), or physical limitations (like pain). They could even be someone else’s words (“you’ll never…”)

Power ups are the positive boosters that make us instantly more able to fight a good fight. They can be anything that increases positivity and well-being. Examples are: breathing exercises, walking, appreciating nature, music, connecting with a friend, a hug, a physical exercise, a simple mental challenge, smelling something delicious, eating a healthy snack, exposure to sunshine, self-care, stretching or watching an inspiring clip on YouTube.

The most important aspect of a power up, after it’s ability to improve well-being, is that it needs to be quick and easy. A power up should generally only last a minute or two.

The SuperBetter “programme” of gamefulness suggests that each day you try to activate at least 3 power ups, fight one baddie and complete 3 small quests (from your challenge to-do list). Seek out your allies for encouragement and support and work towards epic wins on your journey towards completing your challenge.

The science behind the success of this kind of real life game play is convincing. Play is indeed powerful – life changing – and SuperBetter helps us to harness the power of play in overcoming our real life challenges.