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What is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is a term that is being used a lot at the moment, but do you know what it’s actually all about?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness started out as a practise in India about 2500 years ago. It was created as a type of mediation that allowed the practitioner to be present in the moment and to notice what was happening in their own mind. To notice their thoughts, feelings and emotions and give themselves the time and space to look at them, hear them and to react to them in a non judgemental, balanced way.

There is a direct correlation between our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Think about this for a moment..

You wake up in a great mood. ‘Today is going to be a good day’ you think to yourself. You get up, go through your morning routine and leave the house. When you get to work you see a parking space and get ready to move into it. Just as you are about to take the space someone else grabs it. How do you feel? What do you do?

Now, go through the same scenario but with you waking up in a terrible mood, convinced that today is going to be a nightmare. Now how do you feel? What do you do?

Did you get the same response each time? If you’re being honest with yourself, probably not. Yet both of the situations were identical apart from the first thoughts and emotions you were feeling. See how they can influence things?

One very effective form of therapy is CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy. It uses the same principles of analytically looking at our own thoughts and deciding if they are appropriate or not and then adjusting them accordingly. For instance if someone was suffering from OCD they may have a thought or belief pattern that makes them believe that if they do not carry out a certain action or set of actions then bad things will happen. Using mindfulness and or CBT techniques, they would learn to be able to notice these thoughts and to consider them in a balanced non judgemental way. With practice this can change and alter them into healthier patterns, which in turn, changes their behaviours.

Mindfulness is more than just this though. It is the ability to be in the moment. To fully appreciate what you are experiencing.

How many times have you not enjoyed something because you were worried about something else? Lost yourself in your fears that were totally unnecessary? Many of the clients I see as a Hypnotherapist suffer from social anxiety. This can be crippling and stop people enjoying their life, yet it doesn’t have to be the case. Simply learning and practicing mindfulness can eliminate it entirely.

In some ways Mindfulness is like a work out for your mind. It strengthens it, makes it more flexible and more able to handle things if and when they get tough. It’s like exercise in another way as well – it takes training and practice to get good at it. In this way your mind is like a muscle. You need to exercise it, to make it stronger before you have to do the heavy lifting or the marathon. You start small, get frustrated, keep at it and get better.

So, next time you think about a bit of self-care or self-improvement, you might want to consider getting yourself on a mindfulness course. Start small, practice and get stronger so that you are mentally as well as physically ready for anything life throws at you, and if someone asks you what is mindfulness, you’ll be able to tell them.

 

 

 

 

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How can I be happier?

A lot of people ask me ‘How can I be happier?’

Before that can be answered there are a few things that need to be defined. Firstly, what does happy mean to you? Then, how happy are you right now?

To me being happy equates to being content. If that is your goal I think you can be happy for much of your life. Others have told me that to them being happy is feeling joy. For people with that definition, happiness is fleeting and they will experience happiness for short periods, fairly infrequently.

Do you seek joy every moment of your life? If so, I fear that you will be perpetually disappointed. Even if your life moved from one amazing moment to another, you would quite quickly stop experiencing joy. Joy is an extreme emotion. It’s the thin end of the wedge, the edges of the bell curve. For brief moments it lights our life, but we cannot feel it all the time.

If your definition of happy is contentment, you will feel ‘happy’ much more of your life. This in turn makes you feel grateful and lucky, which leads to feeling even happier with your lot.

So, one way to be happier is to lower your expectations of what happy means.

Then we need to look at how happy you are right now. If you had to scale it between 1 and 10, with 1 being extremely unhappy and 10 being as happy as you can be, where would you score yourself? The chances are you are somewhere between 4 and 7. If that’s the case, you can probably do things to make yourself feel more happy. If you are at the extremes of the scale it can be harder to make a difference.

Obviously, if you are already on a 10, it’s going to be very difficult for you to feel happier than you are right now – there’s literally nowhere left for you to go. Awesome!

If you are at the other end of the scale, down in the 1-3 group, you are in a fairly dark place. There are lots of reasons that this may be the case. Firstly, something awful may have happened in your life. Loss of a loved one, bullying and poor health can put you in this place. All of these are things which take some getting over. Yes, there are professionals out there who can help get you through this time and support you with psychological strategies, but they are still difficult things to deal with. If you felt happy during one of these experiences, I would suggest there is other work to do.

Other reasons that people can feel deeply unhappy are anxiety and depression. These are two different issues which can be very difficult, but are also eminently treatable. With talking therapies people can work through these life limiting issues and get back to regular levels of happy – not happy all the time – just regular happy.

This brings me onto the final idea around wanting to be more happy. There is a regular level of happy. If you are happy all the time, you may have a problem. If you are unhappy all the time, you may have a problem. Even the best adjusted most balanced people experience happiness and unhappiness. It’s normal and natural. If you want to be happy all the time, you are setting yourself up for disappointment – which leads you to be less happy! There are things that steal our happiness, and we can work on reducing them, but if you love, you will experience loss. If you achieve, you will have to deal with defeat. Ups and downs are all part of the rich tapestry that is our complicated life.

My tip for today is be grateful.

Experiments have repeatedly shown that being grateful is one of the key things that makes us happy. Write down three different things every day that you are grateful for. It’s easy to start with big concepts like being alive, having a home, waking up this morning, but as time goes by you have to look for more detailed, smaller reasons to be grateful. Things like a good cup of coffee, a smile from a neighbour, enjoying a TV programme, somebody liking your blog post or even a positive comment…all of these things make me grateful, which is why I experience happiness every day.

Wishing every one of you a happy, healthy day. I’m so grateful you’ve taken the time to read this x

www.talktherapies.co.uk

p.s. If you are looking for a daily mindfulness tip/exercise follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/talktherapies 

 

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How to be kind to yourself

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February is heart awareness month and as I wrote yesterday, I’m focussing on the relationship side of this subject.

I strongly believe that you will not have the best relationships you can if you don’t have a good relationship with yourself, and unfortunately, it’s one of the hardest ones to get right as we don’t get good feedback on it.

Some people are too hard on themselves – way harder than they are on other people. They persistently tell themselves that they aren’t good enough, that they’re stupid, that they’re lazy, that they don’t work hard enough, that they’re not pretty enough, that they’re fat, that they’re ugly. Can you imagine if you spoke like that to another person? I think, at the very least, you could expect them not to want to hang around with you.  Why would you spend time with someone who constantly abuses you?

Some people don’t care enough for themselves. As a hypnotherapist I see people all the time who smoke, who are overweight, who don’t exercise. When I ask them how they would feel if their kids smoked, ate rubbish or didn’t do any exercise they are horrified. They want the best for them, but don’t appear to want the best for themselves….

Some people don’t protect themselves. They take stupid risks with their health. They starve themselves, or dramatically overeat. They take drugs. They put themselves in dangerous situations. Again, they would be really upset to think of someone they loved in that situation, but it’s OK for them….does that mean they don’t love themselves?

So how do you build a relationship with yourself?

Easy – the same way as with anyone else.

Start by being interested. Question yourself and your motives. Find out what is really important to you. Help yourself to achieve that.

Support yourself. Be kind, be understanding, but also be challenging. Stretch yourself without being mean to yourself.

Be a good friend to yourself. You can be your own inner bully or your own cheerleader. Think about what can go right, how brilliant things can be.

Stop being a hater. Don’t hate yourself – ever. Not any part of yourself. Hate is a horrible, destructive emotion and it doesn’t help anyone. I don’t care if you don’t love your thighs, or you skin. I don’t care if you don’t like the way you react in certain situations. I don’t care if you aren’t thrilled with your weight. Work out how to change it, but don’t hate it.

I believe that when you get this stuff right you attract people to you. Self confidence is attractive. That means you draw people towards you who enhance your life. It also means that you don’t need people to complete you so you stop hanging on to people who don’t add anything to your life.

So, whatever your relationship status, spend a little time thinking about your relationship with yourself. Are you being a good friend? How can you be better? What changes are you going to make? What positive effects could that have?

As ever, I would love to know your thoughts on this – why not drop me a comment?


If you’re interested, why not follow me in instagram, twitter, facebook or check out my website.

 

 

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February – Heart Awareness month

Are you taking care of your heart? When you hear that, what does it make you think?

Do you think about diet and exercise? Do you think about relationships? Do you think about Self Care?

I think it should be about all of those things. I spent December writing about self care, and January writing about diet, so this month I want to write about relationships, what they mean and why they are important. Also hopefully, you’ll get some ideas on how to improve your relationships, feel better in them and get more out of them.

Today’s post though, is how to deal with the pain of the end of a relationship.

Relationships ending can be incredibly painful. Whether the end of the relationship is caused by someone ending it, or by death, there is a grief process to go through.

In both cases there is a relationship that no longer exists and grieving is a natural reaction to that.

There are famously said to be 5 stages of grief and these need to be worked through with a relationship ending.

Often the most difficult phases is denial. I have seen a number of clients in my hypnotherapy practice who say they want to get over a relationship that’s ended, but when I speak to them, they tell me what they really want is for it to be back on again. Despite saying they want to be over it, they are still in denial that it is really over. This is a terrible limbo land that can be difficult to move forward from until they accept that it’s over.

Then comes anger. It’s only natural to lash out when we are in pain, but anger is best kept in check. Not only can it make situations much worse if the anger is taken out on another person, but it can be much more serious when the anger turns inwards and we start to blame ourselves for the situation. This way leads to self-confidence issues and has other mental health implications contributing to anxiety and depression.

Now we get to bargaining. Again it’s fairly normal to bargain with our ex in order to get things back on track again, but the best person to bargain with is yourself. You need to decide how you want to get through this and make deals with yourself to help you to achieve it.

Here comes the darkest part – the depression. You will sometimes feel sad. You will sometimes feel as though you will never feel anything other than sad again. That’s not true. You will get through this. You will be happy again. You will look back on this differently one day. And now is the time to think about the bargains you made with yourself. Hopefully you decided you wanted to get through this as best as you can and work to take care of yourself. Eat well, go out, keep clean, be around people. I know it can be tough, but it will get easier.

Eventually you will get to acceptance. You may never be happy about it – then again, you might, but even if you don’t, you will learn to accept it. If you’re clever you will learn lessons from it. Know what you want, what you are prepared to accept and what you might need to do in order to get that. Also know what you need to bring to a relationship? We often think about what we want from other people, but sometimes it pays to think what they might want from us….www.talktherapies.co.uk

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 18

Hi peeps – how are we all doing? With just one week to go to the big day, I’m hoping you’re all feeling pretty good.

A lot of what Christmas is about is relationships. If you’ve been watching a few cheesy Christmas films, you may have noticed that the heart of them all is the connection of one person with another,  and our connections to other people, whether family or friends are a significant factor in our happiness.

As with most things, what works for one person may not work for another, but those relationships are important to everyone – it’s just the numbers that vary. Some of us are happy with just a few people in our circle, some need many. The more people you have, the more work it takes to keep those relationships alive, and sometimes people get lost along the way.

Think back over the last 10 years or so. Have there been significant people in your life that have drifted away? I’m not talking about those we have lost because they have passed away (as heart breaking as it is, we have to learn to move on without them) but those we have lost to distance, time or disagreements.

Confession time – I’m not the best person at staying in touch with friends. There is a little insecurity there…a part of me believes that they’re probably not that keen on me so I don’t want to push to make arrangements in case they think of it as a drag or hassle. There’s also a little laziness…it take effort to stay in touch with people. There’s a drop of negativity…they will probably not want to get together anyway, and there’s also a little selfishness…I quite like my own company and my own home. All of these things come together in me, meaning that it’s very easy for me to lose touch with people. If I want to maintain or renew these connections, I have to make a little effort to do so. But when I do, the rewards are outstanding.

Each New Year I make a list of New Year’s resolutions. One of them that remains on the list every year is to reconnect with at least one person who has been important to me.

It can be a little scary making that first step. What if they ignore us? What if they actively reject us? What if they don’t remember us? What if nothing comes of it? Well the answer to all of those questions have similar outcomes. If they go our way great, but if they don’t we are in no worse a position than when we started. That person is still not in our lives we now just have a clearer picture of why they’re not.

So today, my self care challenge to you is to reconnect with an old friend. Write them a message on facebook, send them a christmas card, text them, email them, hell, you could even give them or call or go and visit them. It can seem daunting but a quick hello could lead to the nicest Christmas you’ve had in ages.


Social anxiety can reduce your ability to make and maintain relationships. This isn’t something that you have to live with. Please seek help from a qualified therapist to change how you feel so that you can enjoy life to the max. You really do deserve it.

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 15

10 days to go until the big day….Not long now.

Hopefully you are almost ready for Christmas at this point. If not maybe today could be a day where you get closer to it, or if you’re really organised, get ahead of the game.

I’m not looking for you to do any specific task today, but I would like you to do something you have planned in for tomorrow or the following few days.

Sometimes we can all feel that all we are doing is playing catch up. We are constantly chasing our tail or just putting out fires – whatever your preferred metaphor.

So today is your chance to get ahead of plan and feel really good about it.

As I’ve written before, when we achieve things we are more likely to achieve other things. When we complete a task ahead of schedule we not only get a greater sense of accomplishment than when we do it on time, but we also are more likely to crack on and get some other stuff done. As an added bonus, we also avoid the stress of having things overdue. Win Win.

It’s really as simple as that. I’m about to take my own advice and get ahead of the game by writing tomorrows advent post and scheduling it to be published tomorrow.

Let’s catch up then – it’s going to be a good one.

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5 ways to make a positive introduction

energy

We’ve all been there. We need to introduce ourselves and we want to make a good impression, but how do we do that?

It starts before you even open your mouth.

Decide what comfortable looks like

Firstly, you need to get your energy right. Don’t get weirded out by the idea of personal energy – it’s not some strange construct about chi or laylines, it’s just the ‘vibes’ we give out. I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking ‘what utter nonsense’, but think about this for a second…have you ever walked into a room where nobody has said a word, but you can tell that there is tension – that things aren’t right…that’s the energy I’m talking about. In reality it’s probably a combination of body language and our subconscious minds. We pick up on all sorts of small signals and they give us a feeling of right or wrong, good or bad, safe or dangerous, comfortable or nervous.

When we meet people, we want them to think certain things of us and feel a certain way about us. Unless we have ulterior motives we probably want them to like us – to feel comfortable and at ease. So how do we achieve this? Let’s start by thinking about the sort of people we feel comfortable with…are they nervous or self assured? Are they  relaxed or uptight? Are they highly strung or laid back? Are they vigilant or unaware? Generally people feel comfortable with people who seem comfortable themselves. They seen confident, self assured, relaxed and happy.

I you don’t feel it- fake it

So we want to appear to be confident, self assured, relaxed and happy. If you feel that way then you are already most of the way there, but what if you don’t. The easy answer is fake it. Most people aren’t very good at telling if someone is genuinely confident, or just pretending to be, so fake it ’til you make it. Think about your body language. Imagine someone who feels the way you want to feel and think about how they look. What is their posture like? How about their eye contact? Are they fidgeting? Do they have a prop? What are their hands doing? If you can picture it, then you can copy it. Maybe you could even imagine floating into their body and assuming their mannerisms…

What if it all went perfectly?

Sometimes the reasons we feel anxious or nervous are because we have thought about all the things that could possibly go wrong. We go over and over the situation, thinking about what mistakes we might make or all the negative things people may think about us. Unfortunately, rather than helping us to prepare, this just makes us fearful. This in turn affects the energy. How comfortable do feel around people that are scared? I know it can be easy to think about all the worst possible outcomes, but with practice you can start to think about all the things that could go well. What if they really like us? What if it goes perfectly? These thoughts lead to confidence and a positive feeling.

Be realistic

When we meet people, what ever the situation, we have some hopes about how it’s going to go. If it’s a job interview, we want them to give us the job. If it’s a date, we want them to want to see us again. If it’s a new job we want to fit in with the new team and become liked and valuable. As much as we hope it will go perfectly – what if it doesn’t? Is it life or death? Will we have another chance to change things? Being confident is not about believing that everyone will like you, it’s about knowing that you will be OK even if they don’t. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself and relax!

Enjoy it

The nicest people to be around tend to be those that just enjoy the company of others. So put your best foot forward, relax (or pretend to) and enjoy the opportunity. Who knows where it could take you?

If you struggle with social situations or have problems with confidence and self esteem there are many ways you can get help. Hypnotherapists like myself are ready and willing to help you to feel how you want to, either through hypnosis or through a myriad of other psychological tools and tricks. Don’t suffer unnecessarily –  make the change!

 

 

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Just for today….

Sometimes making changes in our life can feel overwhelming – it’s just too much. Too hard to make permanent changes, even if we know that changing will make us happier, healthier and feel better. So why not try it just for a day?

It’s a technique that people who are in recovery from an addiction know pretty well – one day at a time. It might seem incomprehensible to an alcoholic that they will never drink again. An idea of a lifetime of sobriety is just too overwhelming to consider,but a day, or an hour or even a minute may be doable. After one minute, maybe I could do one more. After one hour, the next may seem more possible. After a day, I can try another day. Success can often lead to more success, so sometimes it’s better to make small goals.

It’s a great strategy for an addict.

So ask yourself what you are addicted to. Are you hooked on self defeating attitudes? Can you go through a day without beating yourself up about something?

Not all of the suggestions below will apply to you – maybe none of them will, but maybe, just maybe you’ll find something below that you could try – Just for today.

Just for today do something you want to do, but normally don’t let yourself.

Eat the forbidden food, watch the trashy TV, say the thing you’ve been wanting to say.

Just for today do something that you know you should do, but can never get started with.

Go for a run, clean out your wardrobe, sort through your photo’s

Just for today give yourself permission to feel how you don’t normally feel.

Have a day where you stop worrying, decide that you like how you look or stop putting others first.

Just for today allow yourself to be totally in the moment.

Turn everything off. Sit quietly and notice your thoughts.

Just for today drink nothing but water.

No caffeine, no sugar, no additives, no alcohol.

Just for today be honest with yourself.

Stop making excuses, stop lying to yourself, ask yourself the difficult question.

Just for today forgive yourself.

It’s OK not to be OK. You’re human, not perfect.

Just for today don’t complain.

Think about what you’re grateful for, think about those worse off than you, think about how lucky you are.

Just for today, help.

Help your family, help your friends, help a stranger.

Just for today be kind.

Be kind to yourself, be kind to those you like, be kind to those you don’t like.

Just for today, forgive.

Let go of the anger, let go of the hate, let go of the pain.

Just for today I’ll try something new

New tastes, new activities, new strategies.

There are many things that we could all change in our lives. Sometimes they are easy, sometimes they are hard. Why not try them on for a day – you never know, you might like it. If you do, maybe try it for another day,and another, until it’s just what you do now.

If you find it hard to change things in your life, there are ways that you can make it easier. My favourite is hypnotherapy, but others are available. Try change on your own, but if at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up, get some help.

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January Blues? 5 ways to feel better NOW

We’re coming to the end of January and for some, it can feel like a difficult time of the year. Christmas is over (though the credit card bills may not be) and the new years resolutions are an uphill battle. If things are getting on top of you, here are some quick things you can do to make yourself feel better now.

  1. Get outdoors.

Yes I know, the weather may not be what you’d like, but that’s probably the best reason to get out there. We can all suffer from a lack of vitamin D if we’re not getting enough sun, so it’s especially important in the winter months to get out whenever you can. Also getting some exercise in the great outdoors has other health benefits. A brisk stroll or gentle jog will get the heart rate up, burn calories and help you fend off a multitude of problems like dementia and type 2 diabetes, so pull out your woolly hat and get out there!

2. Eat clean.

The benefits of eating clean healthy food is enormous and very well documented. You don’t need me to tell you that it’s a good idea for your body, but what you may not be aware of, is that it’s a good idea for your mind too. By taking the time to eat well and look after yourself, you will give yourself a psychological boost. Not only will you feel proud of yourself for making positive changes, but you will also, subconsciously, feel more valued and appreciated by yourself. This in turn leads to feelings of more self worth and importance. The long term affects of eating clean will leave you looking healthier and more vital, so you will also start to get that recognition from others which in turn boosts your confidence.

3. Be mindful.

Practice being in the moment. Whether your going for a walk, sitting cross-legged burning incense or peeling the potatoes, you can spend a couple of minutes every day being mindful. I heard a great phrase – Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t make them tea. Being mindful is just that. Be in the moment, allow whatever thoughts come into your mind, and release them. Don’t focus on them, just notice them and let them go. You don’t have to do anything about a thought that pops in your head.

4.Be grateful.

One of the things that happy people tend to have in common is that they’re grateful for what they have. It may be riches, friends and beauty, or it may be being alive, having another opportunity to try again and a roof over their heads. However much you have, you will always find others who have more – and you will find others that have less. You can either be filled with envy or grateful. It doesn’t change your situation, but it does change how you feel – remember, you are in charge of that.

5.Stop feeling guilty

Guilt is a horrible emotion. It makes you feel bad and it makes those around you feel bad. Whatever you are feeling guilty about, STOP IT! Change your behaviour, change your feelings, change your life – it’s in your control. Guilt not only makes us feel bad, but it makes us behave in ways that we wouldn’t normally consider. In my humble opinion it is at the root of lots of cases of depression, low self esteem and even suicide. If you are feeling guilty about something that happened in the past, do what you can to make amends for it. If you can do nothing more about it, let it go and move on. I know that sounds difficult to do, but if you’re struggling to achieve it on your own, get help. There are plenty of people who are ready and willing to help you do this, either within your own social circle or professionally, so don’t suffer in silence.

Do these 5 things and finish January feeling fabulous – and if all else fails, start planning your summer hols 🙂

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How to write an effective To Do list (and a Not to do list)

I bet you have a ‘to do list’ – maybe it’s written down, maybe it’s just in your head, but I bet you have a list of things that you want to do.

It could be a list for the day

It could be a list for the week

It could be a list of things to do before you’re 50

It could be a bucket list

We all do it, and it’s not a bad thing. It helps us to be focussed on what we want to achieve and how we will do it. Which is great – up to a point. That point is when the ‘to do list’ becomes a burden. It becomes another thing that’s stressing us out.

So what can we do about it?

Well one of the first things you can do is to prioritise it.

Split your list down into sections.

Start with 3 things that HAVE to be done today.

This achieves a couple of things. Firstly it does that focussing thing again. You will be much more likely to achieve a small list of things that are important, than a great big list of things that you can postpone. Secondly, you will feel better when you start to tick things off that list. That in itself can give you motivation to keep at it. Now I know some of you will be saying that your ‘Have to be done lists’ are much longer than 3 items long, and I’m sure that’s true, but if you really had to put just 3 things down what would they be?

Secondly go with 3 things that you would like to do today.

These are not desperately important things, but things that you would like to get done. If you make it to these things – fantastic, Well done you – you probably deserve a treat of some sort – has someone put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea? By achieving anything on this list you are doing well. You may even be ticking off things that would be on tomorrows must do list – that’s great! You are such a winner!

Thirdly have a Not to do list.

This list is just as important. Maybe the things on it are time wasters – hobby jobs that you do even though you don’t have to. Maybe they are completely unproductive like playing Candy Crush or watching rubbish daytime TV. What ever they are, they are not helping you to tick off the important things on your list. Get rid of them until your to do list is done.

Finally have a Done list.

Don’t forget what you’ve achieved. Celebrate the fact that you have completed tasks that were important to you. If you don’t do this you can sometimes feel that you’ve worked all day for absolutely nothing. If that is how you feel, why would you want to do it all over again the next day? By recognising what you have achieved and the impact that has on your goals you can feel rightly proud of yourself.

So you’ve done it – you have your list. What are you waiting for? Get on with it already!

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