How to Turn a Frustrating Day into a Great One

Do you have days when you are rushing around, getting loads done and you finish tired but happy?

How about busy days where you are rushing around but by the end of it you feel nothing productive has been accomplished, you just feel tired and frustrated with lots of unfinished things to do? On those frustrating days your motivation and mojo have left the building.

Frustrating days happen to all of us now and again.  It might be the energy around us on that particular day, it might be there is so much to get done it is too much for any 24-hour period or it could just be one of those inexplicable things.

So when you are having one of those frustrating days how can you turn it around and have a great one instead?

Managing frustrating days

I’ve found the following works even when things are pretty messy and complicated:

  • Firstly, when you get an inkling it is going to be one of those frustrating days stop, sit down and break down what you wanted to get done into small individual tasks. List or write them down physically and prioritise them from 1,2,3…etc.
  • Secondly lower your expectations for that particular day. I don’t suggest this often but for these frustrating days stop thinking towards your end goal.  Even better forget that you have any specific goal in mind and just look at your prioritised list of tasks dispassionately and without seeing how they link into each other.
  • Take your priority you have labelled number 1 and put on your desk/screen anything you need for that task alone. Close anything else down or move it out of your eye line and hide the rest of your prioritised list in a drawer somewhere.
  • Refuse to be distracted by anything else while you concentrate and tackle this one and only task. Short of a bomb being dropped on your head work within the parameters needed to finish the task.  Push down any emotions or worries about anything else or the next task/stage of work and if a colleague or call comes in that has nothing to do with the task in hand say you’ll get back to them later.
  • When you have finished this 1 thing put it to one side either completed or ready for the next phase.

Get your list back out of your drawer, cross off the task you have finished and, without scanning down the rest of the list, take priority number 2 and begin the process again.

Focus for frustrating days

Narrow your focus on frustrating days

Be singled minded and make your actions deliberate, step by step ones.  Keep it up until either it is the end of the day, you’ve got to the end of your list or you feel your flow returning and you know you can carry on happily accomplishing things without getting overwhelmed or frustrated again.

Before you finish for the day have a look at your list again.  Notice how many items are crossed off.  You should be able to see proof of how much you have managed to accomplish on that day and can enjoy your evening feeling satisfied with a job well done. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself so you end the day on a positive note.

The next day you will either be back in your flow and whizzing along again or you will just have to repeat the above process.  Whichever it is you will have headed off that tired, fed up feeling.

You do not need to let frustrating days overwhelm you if you shift and narrow your focus in this way.  After all tomorrow is another day and anything can happen.

Are you genuine and authentic?

genuine and authentic

Being genuine and authentic are much under rated qualities in the modern workplace however they are the foundation and essential to everything that underpins every success story.

I recently had the pleasure of delivering a keynote talk, the remit for which was to inspire people to change, create change and be open to change, in the field of inclusion and acceptance of others.  The fact that such a talk was required highlights the realisation that such humanity is required but perhaps has been given lip service before without much action to bring it about.

genuine and authentic connections

Throughout my adult life I have been unable to act in any other way.  Yes, it has sometimes left me exposed to machinations or being taken advantage of by others however I still prefer to remain the way I am.  I treat everyone I meet as though they do too and are being genuine and authentic with me in return.  It is with some sadness that I admit perhaps this is not always a universal truth.  However, what does gladden my heart is that there appears to be a shift back towards these ideals and the honest desire to now promote individualism and caring towards people as human beings, certainly within the financial sector I work in.

As one of my audience members put it: “The sharing of your experience has been truly authentic and this is not something that people can fudge. You have to be an authentic caring individual to have the desire to put your personal experience at the service of a wider community, to give people reassurance, strength, and hope. You have made me smile and cry in short distance and I felt very much alive!”

Being genuine and authentic is a strength

And there is the crux.  Revealing your genuine and authentic self is not a weakness, it is a strength.  It is not something to be feared but something to be celebrated.  Humanity comes in all shapes and sizes and exposing your true self can be scary but the more you do it, the more ‘human’ you are, the easier it gets and the more people will respond positively towards you.

The next time someone asks you; ‘how are you’ don’t just reply ‘fine’.  If it’s a good, or indeed bad day, tell them and why that is.  More importantly if you are the person asking listen to what the other says and if it’s appropriate perhaps offer a cup of coffee or a shoulder to lean on.  Take the time to appreciate each other as people and see them as a fellow human being with the same feelings, problems and desires as yourself.

We all want to be ‘successful’ (however you may measure that term) but sometimes it is forgotten that being genuine and authentic is actually a short cut towards that goal.

Acknowledge Your Feelings and work with them

trivialise feelings important quote

I am always a little dismayed when people come up to me at an event and relate a trial or tribulation story of their own to me, though perhaps not for the reasons you may think.  Without exception somewhere during their recounting they will say “of course this is nothing compared to what you have been through”. They feel as if somehow, they need to trivialise feelings they have about their own challenges.

Firstly, I would like to say here and now that I am always flattered that someone feels comfortable enough to talk to me about their troubles.  I may not be able to help directly, though I may be able to suggest places/people who can. However, perhaps just being able to share their concerns or woes with a person who is not directly connected with them or their lives is of some comfort.  The first step, I always feel, to them finding the help they need and, as I’ve talked about before, I always like to give them my undivided attention as I recognise what a brave step they are taking.

However, that phrase “of course this is nothing compared to what you have been through” is something I wish would disappear. Why do people trivialise feelings that are important to them?

trivialise feelings

When you trivialise feelings through comparison

It is so easy to compare ourselves to other people and then use that comparison to trivialise what we are experiencing.  Stop it.  Each of us is special, unique and important in our own lives.  Our thoughts and feelings are just as valid as anyone else’s and you should never be made to feel that you should apologise for who you are or what you are going through. To you it is important and that is all that matters. The only difference between what you are facing and what I did is that they are exactly that, different experiences, neither being more or less than the other.

No wonder that so many people feel their troubles are something that should be hidden from others or they think that everyone else is such a “sorted out” person and they are alone in being a mess.  It’s the old imposter syndrome showing itself again which should be banished from our thinking. In my experience, that “sorted out” person has plenty of issues they are dealing with. It’s just they may be better at hiding them than you.

That’s not to say that there won’t be days when you feel more, or less, confident, feel more, or less, able to tackle challenges standing in your way. The trick is to pick your time to confront them, keeping to the times when you do feel strong, able and confident.

Acknowledge rather than trivialise feelings

I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish half the things I have if I hadn’t learnt this early on.  Even now there are some days when I am a bit wishy-washy.  I recognise the days when I am a little indecisive or don’t feel sure of my ground and on these particular days I simply defer making any important or big decisions and always leave myself wriggle room so I can re-group and work on my confidence to get my equilibrium back.  The last thing I do is trivialise these feelings; they are an important indicator of my ability to manage my workload and cope without burnout.

One of my favourite films is called The Help.  In it a maid called Aibileen is seen talking to her young charge and says “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”.  Even if you don’t truly believe the first two believe the last as it is so true for each and every one of us.  So, rather than trivialise those feelings, acknowledge them, work with them and don’t go comparing yourself to others. You are unique and important.

The Value of Positive Regard

positive regard and genuineness

Do you have positive regard for your colleagues and friends? It seems to me that today’s world is very good at tearing people down.  Everywhere I look if someone is doing well for themselves there are plenty of people looking for ways to destroy what they have.  Rather than saying ‘haven’t they done well, I am pleased for them’, there seems to be a concerted effort to dig up dirt from their past, decry what they are doing or attack their achievements.

positive regard not negativity

Praise rather than Criticise – Positive Regard is empowering

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is limited to the tabloids, celebrity or public life.  I hear and see very similar attitudes often expressed in workplaces, networks and boardrooms.  Luckily for me not arenas that I have to put up with for long periods of time.

We really need to think about utilising positive regard in commerce and our lives.

Positive regard surely has to start with having it for ourselves.  I appreciate how easy it is to slip into a negative attitude about our own self-worth.  We may hold back from expressing ourselves because we feel we’ll look an idiot or come across as an imbecile.  We don’t wish to lose face in front of our circle, colleagues or bosses.  And why?  Because we don’t want to open ourselves up to being attacked. Instead we snipe at others, but this is a negative way to achieve power. When you express positive regard rather than negativity it is empowering and usually makes you feel good!

However, the antidote to others negativity and feelings of low self-worth, and best shield I’ve found, is just to be your genuine self.

positive regard

Genuineness allows positive regard to flow

Genuineness is the ability to express our own feelings, thoughts and ideas irrespective of our insecurities or fear.  Genuineness is being direct, open and honest.  It doesn’t mean shying away from difficult conversations but it does mean dealing with them in an honest and open manner.

Sure, there will still be people who will take a pop at you or try to undermine you however you can trust me that being genuine always carries the day and at least helps you ride those particular waves of negativity. It is very difficult to be negative when faced with someone who is being genuine. It often triggers a positive regard as when you are genuine you tend to generously praise those who are doing well and that flows back to you.

And from genuineness comes genuineness reflected back.  If people feel safe and can trust your genuineness they soon open up their own to you.  And when this happens I’ve found it leads to better co-operation and a united front when trying to achieve things.

And the more of us that really take positive regard and genuineness into our daily lives perhaps that will have a knock on effect.  Imagine if corporations, governments, industries and financial constructs adopted similar traits how much nicer the world we inhabit would become.  Ok I’ll admit that’s probably a stretch at this point in time, but there is no harm in dreaming and I, for one, know how huge change can be influenced by the actions of only one person. Expressing positive regard rather than negatively knocking success celebrates the good in life.

So, go and take a good look at yourself in the mirror, repeat; “I am a worthy person who will show my genuine self” and then go out and be so.

Share Your Vision

Part of my job now is to sit in on business leaders’ meetings with their teams to observe how they come across and interact with their colleagues.  I am not there to criticise or to nit-pick, I am there as an impartial observer who can then pass on my tips as a speaker as to how they can improve their presenting style to get their teams motivated and buying into the company vision or goal.

One of the most common omissions I keep seeing made again and again is the failure of properly sharing a vision, the goal, the target being aimed for. This then makes it much harder for others to aspire to the vision and put their full effort into making it happen.

As the great Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”

Do you have a properly defined vision?


vision puzzle

You may have a great, huge, wonderful vision of what you want to strive for but if you cannot share and articulate it properly no-one else is going to buy into it.  Or, as I suspect may be the case for the majority, you may not have clearly defined what your vision is apart from knowing that you need to do more of something to get more of something else which is simply too vague for anyone to get on board with.

It’s the basis of every talk and workshop that I do.  I paint a picture as to what I am going to be sharing and that provides a clear end result as to what I am trying to achieve with that particular engagement.  Everything else, the rest of the content, the steps, the tasks all fall into place from this one vision.  The result is that my audience buys into the overall vision from the start, they are inspired and motivated to act to achieve what it is I have set out as the ultimate goal.

Always start with your vision

When you think about it it’s the same for writing an article such as this.  Without having a clear vision as to the point you are trying to make and get across, the rest will be extremely hard work, confusing and may completely miss the target.

define your vision

Every business meeting, brainstorming session, discussion or general planning chit chat should always start with the vision.  The vision must be something that you have sat down and thought about prior and then be able to clearly see it in your mind’s eye.  You should write down exactly what that vision looks like, feels like, even sounds and smells like.  Don’t worry about how it is going to be achieved just define it precisely and then share it with your team/colleagues in such a way that they too can clearly see it.

In this way you build enthusiasm towards achievement and have a team that it pulling with and for you rather than fragmenting or pulling against you.

Maintain Motivation – Sustaining the Change Motivation

maintain motivation accept change

My 2 preceding articles have explained what the rationale and history of Motivation is and how to shift from a Reward Motivation mind-set into a Change Motivation mind-set. But how can you sustain your new found Change motivation mind-set when you get there?  How do you stop slipping back into the more blinkered, conventional Reward motivation way of doing things? To maintain motivation and shifting your mind into a change way of thinking can be tough at first.

I refer to this part as the check and rebalancing.

maintain motivation embrace change

Maintain motivation with your change mindset

It is easy as time goes on to forget new ways of thinking.  When things get tricky or complicated we often default back to our old ways of doing things.  This is where you need some refocusing to maintain motivation. Don’t beat yourself up about it, it is a perfectly human thing to do, just make sure you recognise you have done so and start again.

Just think back to when you might have decided that you were going to exercise more and go to the gym or take up yoga. Or it could have been something as simple as you deciding to read a really good book regularly.

You start off with those good intentions but, quite naturally as everyday life creeps back in, tasks and work continue to grind on or mount up, your good intentions can begin to wane.  Before you know it your times at the gym or reading that book lessen and eventually fall away.

This is where regularly stopping to check and rebalance comes in.

When you’re starting off changing your mentality into a Change motivation you have to take a few minutes, every single day to check that you are accepting, embracing and encouraging change and you’re doing it with a sense of joy and excitement.  If you are not, then you need to re-balance so that you are.

The good news is, is the more often you do it, and the longer you do it for the more habit forming it becomes until the Change motivation becomes your new default.  Once it is your new default position then the checks and rebalancing won’t have to be done so often. You will find that you can maintain motivation and sustain the new change way of thinking.

What I’m advocating here is subtle but, trust me it’s powerful.

The Change motivation helped me in lots of ways. My life now doesn’t always follow the conventional pathways. I tend to be doing four or five things all at the same time and success has come again but more importantly, I’m having fun while I’m doing it. I am finding that it is enjoyable to maintain motivation when this new way of thinking brings such unexpected opportunities.

Ever since turning away from the Reward motivation and adopting the Change motivation, new ways of thinking acting and doing have emerged. New strategies tools and methodology have developed from my unique experiences which have made any task I now take on easier, less stressful and far more effective in reaching my objectives and goals.

And, more good news, being subtle also makes it relatively easy to accomplish.

When you can maintain a Change motivation it gives you a competitive edge

Imagine that everyone else that you’re competing against will still be rushing around with that old Rewards motivation.  They will easily become disheartened or discouraged because the pace of change keeps fluctuating and moving, and they won’t be resilient enough. They will find it hard to maintain motivation while you do not.

However, there you will be striding through with your new Change motivation actively seeking it, exploiting it, moving on and achieving your goals just quicker and often bigger and better than it may have been otherwise.

maintain motivation change motivation


Understand your motivation and the fact that change happens.

Accept Change.

Embrace Change.

Re-train your mind away from the old Reward motivation thinking and shift into a Change motivation mindset taking care to keep checking and rebalancing until the Change motivation is your new default.

Shifting your Reward motivation into a Change motivation

Change Motivation Embrace

In my previous article I explained how, currently, 90% of people are working within a Reward motivation concept.  In order to survive and succeed within the fast pace changes we are now facing a Reward motivation alone will no longer be enough.  A Change motivation, the ability to be motivated by change itself, will be the one that wins the prize.

So, what’s the trick to moving from just a Reward motivation mind-set to a Change motivation mind-set?

How to move to a change motivation mindset

For me it was brought about by the train crash.  I lost everything I had built up in my life up until that point and yet I can say, in many ways, that train crash is the best thing to have happened to me precisely because it made me re-evaluate what my motivation was going to be.

Before the train crash I was considered a successful businesswoman. I had my own company, I was earning what was termed a high net worth income, I went on 5-star holidays, I was able to change my car to the latest model every year, Champagne was my drink of choice. I had my life all planned out. There were new ideas in the pipeline and my motivation, which was to make money, was definitely working back then.

Change Motivation Second Chance

Then, in the blink of an eye in those few minutes, the train crash tore to shreds all the plans I had.  I lost my company, I lost my marriage, I lost my health. I ended up in a coma for three weeks and when I awoke I found that my whole life had changed.  It would never be the same again.

I realised pretty quickly that I was going to have to adapt and adapt quickly to my altered circumstances. If I wanted to survive and continue into a future I had to alter my reasoning behind my very existence, my motivation.

And that is when my motivation changed.  It changed from a money or Reward motivation into a Change motivation.

I wouldn’t want any of you have to go through something as traumatic as a train crash to find this out, so I’ll explain as simply as I can.

Firstly, you have to understand the concept behind why we become motivated and that, at the moment, most adopt the Reward motivation way of working. Once you get that, the second step is acceptance.

Acceptance that change motivation is natural

You need to truly accept, to the very marrow of your being, that change is totally and perfectly normal.  Change is our status quo.

Change is one of the few guarantees we can rely on will happen, as has been proven when we look back over our history, and it will always shape our future.

Furthermore, it is going to happen whether we like it or not so the intelligent thing is to accept it.

Once you have really accepted change the next step is to embrace change.

Welcome it.  Expect it.  Look for it.

Turn your attention to welcoming change when it happens. Go out and look for it. You should begin to encourage it in yourself at home and at work and also encourage it in other people around you.

And when you find that you’ve hit a hiatus? If you get to the stage where you think ‘this is quite smooth sailing’ your Change motivation should push you into deliberately creating change because that’s how you leap forward.

You should even, as I found, look forward to change and you’ll spot and enjoy the new opportunities it will present because the negative aspects (fear, worry, anxiety, stress) diminish to imperceptible levels.

You’ll also find when you’re encouraging this embracing and accepting attitude towards change you’ll adapt quicker and adapting quicker puts you several steps ahead of your competition.

Ever since I’ve adopted this Change motivation my new life, my second chance if you will, has opened up in surprising, unexpected, but ultimately rewarding pathways. The Change motivation mentality has led me back to success again but has also opened up avenues to new opportunities and potential which I have learned to exploit.

You too can steal a march on exploiting change for your own benefit. Embrace the Change motivation.

A Challenging Year – Maintaining Professionalism

Stormy Seas

Have you found this past year more of a challenge than usual?  I certainly have and many people I have spoken to over the course of the past twelve months seem to have experienced the same.  I have no idea as to why, or what powers have been aligning themselves, but negative things appear to have been intruding into many lives and 2017 seems to have been a challenging year and a struggle for many. How do you manage challenge and maintain professionalism?

A challenging year personally can impact your business

Mine has predominately been on a personal level but that has had repercussions on my business life making that more of a challenge than usual.  This is often the case and it can be tricky managing a business and personal challenges. I have written before about work-life balance, but when life feels like a shipwreck, how do you handle your business?

From the beginning of the year I have been faced with a succession of things going wrong, deaths and illness. Starting with a PTSD depression episode which always brings everything to a grinding halt for a while.  This was quickly followed by the death of a much-loved pet, then actual flu, followed soon after by the illness and death of my mother. The grief associated with this manifesting into me being on the edge of a nervous breakdown (which luckily my doctors managed to prevent but it meant me slowing my life and work style down). To top it all, I have recently managed to break my foot!  As my psychologist has pointed out there has not been a point after each event where I have had time to recover and get back on my feet before the next thing has hit.

Handling a challenging year professionally

Throughout all this I have had to maintain my presence professionally, managing my bookings without letting on about my fragility, marketing, attending meetings and helping out with other projects that rely on my input.  I have just about managed to do this (by the skin of my teeth) but have had to become far more ruthless at prioritising what really needed to be done and putting to one side things that can wait. I have also noticed, that helping others when you are feeling low is a great source of strength, but needs to be balanced against your own needs.

I know I am not alone with the buffeting that has been going on.  I am hearing tales from others on similar personal lines with similar ramifications at work.  When you are constantly being pushed down by events, one after the other after the other it is hard to stay focussed and resilient.

However, I am still here, still going, feeling positive and optimistic. 

I am focussing forward, not backward and am hopeful that this year of rotten luck is merely a blip.  That is not to say I am forgetting this year – again it has taught me how much is out of our hands and our control.  It has reminded me that even if you feel like a punch-drunk boxer on the boxing-ring floor you do have the reserves within you to force yourself up onto your feet even if you are a bit wobbly standing.  That is provided you can admit that when you are weak or in trouble there is always support and help, out there, if you are willing to ask for it and intelligent enough to use it.

For any of you for whom this article is resonating, please take heart and keep going. We are human not automaton’s so bad things will affect us, allow yourself the room to have whatever feelings arise.  Remember life is short and precious and even from our grimmest experiences we are reminded of how much we can bear and how strong we are.  Tap into your resilience and remember, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and you are tougher than you think.

Staying Motivated – part of the Success Compass

Staying Motivated

The first point on the success compass is motivation.  I have written about motivation before but not in terms of how to maintain it.

Staying motivated is crucial to success

If you do not have the motivation to keep on with your strategy (or with anything in life for that matter) you will ultimately fail.  Even if you start off with the best intentions in the world it will not be long before your enthusiasm for the project will fade, you’ll slow down, lose heart and then give up.

Motivation gives you a strong reason to act or accomplish something and without it you’ll never reach your goal. Staying motivated requires a shift in mindset towards always thinking of your goal.

To use a simple analogy – think about it in terms of trying to lose weight.  You’ve got on the scales or noticed your waistband is rather tight and decided that you want to get back down to a weight you feel happier at.

You start off with good intentions – salads for meals, cut out the crisps, chocolate and desert, increase your exercise and resist the glasses of wine.  You feel good – you feel on track – you want to succeed.

You get on the scales the following week expecting to have at least lost a few pounds and, horror, you’re still the same weight or may have even put on a couple of pounds!  You are crest fallen and your motivation begins to decrease.  If this pattern continues over the coming weeks and months your motivation will disappear altogether and you’ll probably stop trying to lose weight and go out to buy bigger clothes.

Staying motivated in the face of setbacks

This is exactly the way that ordinary, every-day life works on our motivation when we set out to achieve our big shiny goal.

Now, we can’t stop life.  There are things, work, family, responsibilities, and commitments that cannot be avoided and as these continue they sap away at anything new we are trying to achieve and will supplant any good intentions or motivation that we may have started off with.

So how do we maintain motivation to give our Big Shiny Goal strategy the best chance?

The simplest, quickest and most effective way I have found to do it is to have a vision board.  It is an idea that has been around for a very, very long time yet very few of us bother with it.  Yet the reason it has survived the test of time is…because it works! It is an important tool in staying motivated- reminding you of why you are aiming for your big shiny goal.

Find pictures, sayings, items, material, anything really that you can pin to a board that captures the elements of your Big Shiny Goal.  It can literally be anything, but it has to be a facet or part of your ultimate target.

Pin these to a board and then hang this board in a prominent place where you must look at it every morning.  Then, every morning, walk up to it, stare at it, take in each item in turn and concentrate on what that will feel like to you – then state to yourself that you are already there and have all those things.  It doesn’t matter that you don’t – this easy action will encourage your motivation and help to strengthen it as you carry that image and feeling around for the rest of the day.  If you ever feel your motivation wavering, then go back and concentrate on your board again.

I have used vision boards ever since my recovery.  They change over time but mainly because I’ve achieved what was on them and am ready to move on to the next stage of my life.  And in case you don’t believe me – here’s my current board that hangs within eyeshot of my desk:


You can stay motivated, but it has to be something you aim to do, each and every day on your journey towards your big shiny goal.

NB: if you haven’t read the first part of this Success Compass series- go HERE

The Success Compass – Honing your softer skills for success

The Success Compass

In the past few weeks I’ve given you the strategies and tools on how to work out your purpose, target your big shiny goal and how to plan the tasks to accomplish your dream future.

Why you need softer skills to succeed

There are other ‘softer’ skills that you need to have and/or develop in the background if you want to stay on track with your main strategy and these I am going to deal with in the coming series of articles.  I call this the Success Compass.

Just like a compass there are 4 key skills which, when joined and used together, make you almost unstoppable in anything you choose to accomplish in life no matter what the situation or circumstances:

  • Motivation
  • Resilience
  • Patience
  • Positivity

These softer skills combined are key to successfully navigating life’s tricky waters. Sometimes you may need one of these at a time or, as most often occurs, there will be an amount of overlapping to make you truly remarkable and let you stand out from the crowd.

Sounds simple?  Well it is, and it isn’t.

Softer skills need developing

We may think we have these softer skills within us already (and many of us do) but you never truly know to what depth they run until you are really tested.  Take it from one who has been tested to the extreme, you are not going to appreciate how much of each you have within you or how crucial it is that you can bring them to the fore and use them in the most difficult of circumstances, until the situation where you must call on them arises.

I discovered that though blessed with all four points in my compass there was work I had to do on each to hone them to the level where they really helped me move forward, upwards and onwards.

Just like an unused muscle that is suddenly called upon, the stamina you have in each of these softer skills can be pretty feeble. However, if appreciated now, while they are not needed to any great level, and exercised regular you can develop each skill into strong, resistant, life enhancing and, even life-saving, skills.

I am going to take each of the Compass skills in the following articles and suggest some simple, non-time-consuming ways in which you can develop them, so they stand you in good stead in the future, whenever you decide you need to apply them.