‘Back to school’ – the art of re-focusing and smashing your goals!

It happens every year! You work towards a well earned summer holiday, some time to relax, unwind and actually do nothing. You’ve worked hard all year and deserve it!

For families the summer break can seem endless. Routine is well and truly out of the window.

When September comes it almost feels like January – the start of a new chapter, re-focusing and the chance to re-invigorate your work and your mindset. Great in theory, but not as easy as it sometimes appears!

You may be facing challenges in your professional life, starting new projects that have been postponed or facing some tough targets that have to be completed.

How do you find that motivation for your mind and body after what can already feel like a very long year?

Below are a few suggestions from experts in the field of re-focusing and creating a positive mindset to help you smash those goals:

In ‘The Art of Stopping’, David Kundtz explains why finding time to stop is more important than it has ever been to give us the ability to focus on what’s important to us. David calls these ‘still points’ and it can be for as little as a few minutes per day.

What you give your attention to is what you are feeding – is this positively feeding you or causing you a problem? Briefly stopping gives us the power to say no to things that aren’t going to contribute to growth and yes to the things that are. Your mind will naturally reflect and recover in these still points and de-clutter.

In Rob Harnett’s ‘It’s All Possible’, he suggests that with the correct mindset, even the most lofty of goals are completely achievable. He developed a 4-step model and practical guide to help you believe in possibility not limitation. How to become awake to possibility:
Nothing is possible without a positive/growth mindset. It can change the way we see a situation.
Try surrounding yourself with positive people – this will have a positive effect on you.
When you find and pursue your real passion, you will find it much easier to succeed. Take time to plan out your path to getting to your goals.
Once you have a goal, develop a solid strategy to get you there. Take each step at a time and don’t try to conquer a mountain at once.

One of the many brilliant High-Performance podcasts with Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes is with author and key speaker Alan Stein, who has taken his learnings from elite sport. He discusses starting with the basics; Be brilliant at the basics. Show up. Be the best you are capable of as consistently as possible.
Alan suggests there are three key ingredients; work hard, work smart and be consistent. Repetition is the best way of being brilliant at anything and the best never get bored with the basics.

From the Live Happy camp, I always have deeper conversations with my Clients in September to re-focus their energies in the gym and in the kitchen. We discuss that it’s time to put yourself first, clear out the cupboards and fill them with foods that will positively nourish and fuel your body.

It’s time to think positively about your abilities in the next few months, before Christmas. We set achievable yet challenging goals, and re-visit why they came to see me in the first place.

So to smash your goals and re-focus once the kids are back at school

Use ‘still points’ to refocus on what’s important to you
Use a 4-step model to become awake to possibility
Be the best you can at the basics and it will help you achieve greatness.

It’s September, it’s all about you now. Go smash it!

What employees want! The Wellness Generation.

This is a changing world and the world of work is no longer what it was even 18 months ago. COVID has highlighted underlying concerns and sped up the process of employment changes and our relationship between work and play.

“Now more than ever, people are evaluating their lives and how and where they invest their energy – and they want an employer that supports the lifestyle they aspire to.”*

Having met and discussed this viewpoint with employers across a range of industries the responses are not always favourable! I’ve often received quite controversial answers from the older generations trying to understand the mindset of their younger colleagues! But regardless of whether you agree with Gen Y and Z or not, it is an opinion that’s not going away.

The global pandemic has greatly exacerbated this opinion and there are a staggering number of reports indicating that mental health concerns in particular have leapt up across the working population:

“This need to improve wellbeing has never mattered more. Worldwide, employees’ daily stress climbed to 43% in 2020. The findings in this report indicate that we are in the middle of a global mental health crisis that will only intensify without broadscale intervention.”*

It’s also not a case of simply providing a ‘token gesture’ to employees and hoping that’s enough! It often requires a cultural shift and this needs to come from the senior leadership team. For some organisations this will take a monumental effort and a period of time to adapt and adjust but for the majority of modern organisations it will be constantly improving, tweaking and reviewing what is already in place.

“Today, workplaces that want to compete for talent know they can’t depend on the status quo: Employees now expect a real commitment to supporting thriving lives from leaders. That is, it’s imperative for leaders to not only care for but also actually improve their employees’ wellbeing.”*
If you feel your organisation needs some help with bringing their offering in line with the changing workforce, we are here to help! Talk to me about our Wellbeing Audits to help you embed health and wellbeing in your culture.
*source: Gallup, August 2021

It can be lonely at the top. Combatting C-suite loneliness.

My Clients come from a real mix of businesses and range from Grads to CEO’s and every management level in between. I always promote open conversation with them – the mental health of my Clients is just as important to me as their physical health. 

 I say this all the time, but my intention is for someone to walk out of their session with me feeling better than when they walked in. I’ve observed it’s often the most senior of my Clients, the people that are on the top of their game and have professionally reached the pinnacle of their careers, that struggle the most. 

Apart from with their immediate family they rarely have the opportunity to talk through personal concerns with other people. It can be lonely at the top. People always turn to you, but who do you turn to?*

Data compiled by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence revealed 53% of executives are struggling with mental health issues, compared to 45% in the wider workforce. The study also found it was the C-suite that were finding it most difficult to adapt to the virtual way of working (85%) caused by Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

Mental Health Awareness Week’s key focus this year is ‘Loneliness’. Purely from a professional perspective, it got me thinking about what this actually means to the senior people around me. 

It’s a big topic to cover but I’ve summarised some useful tips below that I hope you find useful: 

Surround yourself with positive people

This may seem like a slightly ‘left of field’ philosophy but when you are faced with negativity in your team and your peers constantly, this can make you feel very lonely.  Consider the type of leader you are and if it might actually be you causing the negativity – is it stemming from the top of the organisation? Are you controlling and micromanaging – not allowing your team to flourish by inspiring and trusting them.** If you aren’t sure, ask them for their honesty!

 Is it possible another member of staff is causing negativity amongst others? If you can get to the root cause of the negativity and create a workable strategy to combat this, you are very likely to find your loneliness improves as you are surrounded by positive, like minded people when you are at work. 

 Find a suitable peer group

Having a professional peer or support group around you that you can rely on, trust and respect the opinion of will certainly combat loneliness. It doesn’t have to be a group of people in the same industry as you or of a similar age, in fact the most inspiring groups to learn from are those that have a different perspective. 

Using the wonders of today’s technology, your peer group doesn’t have to be in the same geographical proximity to you either. But as per the first suggestion, ensure this group is a positive influence on you and you feel fully supported and listened to. 

 Create a new challenge

This can be in the workplace or personally, but coming up with a new goal for yourself, your team or your industry can be highly rewarding.  As part of a team you create comradery with others that isn’t just due to your position in the workplace. It could be anything from kicking off a company football team, to organising a fun away day where the whole team (including you) get to learn some new skills. It could also be something more long term where you can really build on your challenge and engage others. Creating a new challenge will give a wider purpose over and above ust the role you perform and involve others in a positive way.

 Surrounding yourself with positivity, interesting people you can learn from and find support in, and creating a worthy challenge you could involve and excite others in as well, will help to combat loneliness at the top. 

 *Please also see another of my recent blogs entitled ‘The oxygen mask principle. Helping yourself first.’

** Reference to Stephen M.R. Covey, Trust and Inspire.


The oxygen mask principle; Helping yourself first.

If you’re a leader of your business, I am sure you view it as a massive part of your job to ensure your staff reach their full potential and there is cohesion and collaboration between teams. And that your teams feel healthy, cared for and engaged. This promotes increased productivity and a happy workforce. Doesn’t it?

But what if you are trying to do this and it’s just not working? There are many factors that could be in play, but have you considered that if you aren’t happy and healthy, your staff won’t feel the same way either? I have many conversations with business leaders across many different industries and sizes of company and this principle always rings true. Lead by example;

You must help yourself before you are able to help others.

“Just as an airline asks you to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others, you cannot be effective in raising those around you if you don’t work on yourself first.”
Stephen M.R. Covey, Trust and Inspire.

I was reminded of this in the front seat pocket when I was on a flight last. I always wondered why this would be the case. If the mask did fall down I would instinctively try to attach it onto my children first. This would be a very short-term fix though. If I lost consciousness because I didn’t fix my own mask first, I would longer term be useless to them.

It is very similar when attributing this to health and wellbeing in the workplace. Company leaders are keen to help their staff (quite rightly) but as an Inspirational leader they should start with themselves. Promote being healthy by showing others the correct path. Go first and show them it is possible, then give them the tools to be able to follow you down the same positive path.

How do you do this though?

Here are a few ideas that you can adopt that will allow you to help yourself and promote this:

Honesty is the best policy:
Be open and honest with your team/family/friends/peers as to your intensions. If you externally express what you are doing then not only will you feel you are being held accountable, you will also have a starting point in which to demonstrate your progress. You will be very pleasantly surprised as to the positive encouragement this will bring.

Set a specific, measurable, timely goal:
As a leader, you will be very used to doing this with your team. It doesn’t have to be something outrageous like an ultra-marathon when you haven’t even been running before, or to become a fully qualified councillor when your degree is in accountancy. Just something that will challenge you enough and you believe is achievable over a set period of time. Add in milestones as well – in this way you will know you are improving. An example could be; committing to a yoga session each morning from 7am – 7:30am before starting your working day.

Efficiency is key:
‘I don’t have time though’ – the biggest excuse I hear on an almost daily basis! This is the most challenging part of turning your lifestyle around and getting into a sustainable, improved routine. Like a meeting that you would schedule in your diary and not miss, schedule it all in; Your fitness sessions, what you are going to have for your lunch (don’t skip it!!) and time to relax and reflect on your day. This all doesn’t have to take long – this whole list could take just 30 minutes. You can spare 30 minutes.

Helping yourself first will show others what is possible, then how to do it themselves, then to see your results, then to start to see their own results. Let’s see what this does to the company’s results!

Biz X Experience 2022

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited by the wonderful @markvanrol to this year’s live event for Action Coach ‘Biz X’ – quite an experience to be at an actual event as opposed to a virtual one! My goodness I was in for a treat. I absolutely love these type of events – a real chance to take a step back, meet new people, learn something new, feel inspired and motivated to push further and higher.

It was a two day event with an awards ceremony at the end of the first day. Held at the impressive International Exhibition and Conference centre in Farnborough, it was an emersion into the world of business and self improvement as a business owner. The keynote speakers were all incredible! I was actually quite star struck by a few of them! So many useful points to take away, my head was swimming by the end of the two days.

To name a few particular highlights, the very lovely and super savvy Sarah Beeny. The wize snippets I picked up from her were;
Love what you do! We do our jobs for such a long time of our week that its going to be a much more enjoyable life.
Can you summarise your business in a few words? – if a child can understand it then everyone else will be able to. If you can’t then it’s too complicated.
Ensure your company works independently from you – it will be a healthier company if you don’t have to personally hold everything together.
Know your weaknesses and delegate – don’t try to do everything, it wont work.

The delightful Ian Woodhouse (I highly recommend trying to get to one of his talks, he is so positive you can’t help but smile throughout the whole thing) discussed the cause and effect of joy and spreading a little happiness;
If you have to do something, try to find some fun in it. Even if it is a seemingly mundane task.
Before entering your house at the end of the day, just take a second to check your mood and ensure you remain positive for the people the other side of that door, even if it is for a few minutes. Discuss positive things first before any hardships. It will boost your mood and the others around you.
Be a positive force in life and you will start to notice it will rub off on the people around you and your stress levels will decrease.

My particular favourite was the esteemed Stephen M.R Covey, taking us through the key points in his latest book ‘Trust & Inspire’. He was just so practiced and perfect at delivering his messages and made topics that could be very complex and dry into something fascinating and practical.

The wise words of ‘provide the right conditions for your people to flourish, be the gardener’ and ‘trust your team and inspire your team to do well’ resound in my head. I look forward to reading his new book with a highlighter and notebook next to me and putting some of those wise words into action over the coming weeks.

I also look forward to next year’s event and perhaps even entering Live Happy in for some awards! Any excuse to wear a ball gown!

Dogs, cats and cobra’s – top cool down stretches after your workout…

Cool down and stretching after your workout is very widely known to be just as important as the main exercises you do in your workout. When asked which stretches I like to do, which is tough as I like all of them, I narrowed it down to my top five.

I take influence from Pilates and Yoga and for me it’s all about the animal names 😉

1. The Pigeon – this is a particularly strong stretch and a more advanced position but it is a fab one! It is mainly to stretch out your glutes and groin area and is also very good for alleviating sciatic pain. Great after lots of lunges and squats.

2. Downward Dog – a genius stretch for almost every part of your body and the standard ‘go to’ pose for Pilates and Yoga. Great for releasing tension from your spine, opening up your hips and shoulders, stretching your whole leg, strengthening your arms and can help improve digestion – fab for someone who has a gluten intolerance!

3. Cat stretch – this stretch just feels so relaxing and is a great stress reliever. This one will stretch out your spine and neck nicely.

4. Cobra stretch – another pretty strong stretch and you do need to be fairly supple in the first place to perform this one to its fullest potential. It really stretches out the muscles all the way down your abs and a less intense stretch in your shoulders and chest. It is also a pretty good exercise for strengthening your arms and shoulders as there is quite a bit of weight that goes through them both to keep you in this position.

5. Butterfly stretch – I have quite tight hip adductors (a muscle found in your inner thighs near your groin) and although I find this one quite challenging, it is very useful for stretching out an area that is pretty tough to target. Plus you do have to watch your posture with this one ensuring you keep your back fairly straight. Quite tough to get your knees on the ground as well – one for me to work on 😉

You don’t even need to have done a workout to feel the benefit from a good stretch. If you spend a long time sitting at a desk try breaking up your day with a quick five minute stretch mid afternoon and your body will thank you for it! Check out some of the quick routines on the Live Happy App for more inspiration.

Top Five Tips to Avoid Hybrid Working Burnout

COVID-19 has changed the way we work forever. Once a lifestyle for a very small number of people, hybrid working has now become the norm and employers have had to make a very quick adjustment to ensure this works commercially for their business and also for their staff.

But when it comes to looking after your employees when you aren’t anywhere near them and ensuring their mental and physical health isn’t suffering, how easy is this and how can you empower your staff to help themselves?

Below are a few suggestions to benefit employees, or yourself if you are a newly established hybrid worker:

Get your steps back up:
When you don’t have a commute any more, you may be walking less, moving less around an office and on screen based Team’s calls as opposed to moving to physical meetings. The steps you would usually walk naturally in your working day have likely been reduced, so the first thing to do is schedule in time in your day to increase your steps back up. Add in a walking telephone call with a colleague, add a walk with the dog into your lunch break and walk to the shops to get your lunch ingredients as opposed to just having everything for the week in your fridge already. Increasing your steps each day even by another 2,000 will add up pretty quickly in a week.

Use your ‘commute time’ efficiently:
If you have gained time back because you don’t need to commute any more, use it wisely. If you get up at the same time as you used to when you had a commute, then you can use this time for a little exercise, some mindfulness to prepare you for the day ahead or or food preparation for some delicious, nutritious, homemade meals as opposed to expensive processed take-aways.

Look after your food:
As we have been working often right next to our fridges, it has been very easy to just eat what and when you want. When you are in a routine, you tend to eat the same sorts of things at the same time. But from home, there has been a tendency to consume more. If you can be more mindful of what you are eating, track it a little more so you are aware of the amount and ensure that you are eating the right balance of food groups. You will feel more energetic, more productive and more in control.

Be Social
Don’t forget to embrace the world outside your home office and make time to connect with people face to face. Zoom fatigue can quickly set in so make time in your working week to meet with friends and loved ones and don’t just leave it for the weekends. Take advantage of the light mornings and try an early morning walk or lunchtime coffee. This is especially important if you live alone and don’t have the benefit of a partner to download your day too when your working day has ended.

Schedule home to work transition time
Don’t underestimate the physical act of travelling to and from an office. That time spent sitting in traffic or on the train was invaluable for your mind to process your day and make the transition from work to home. If you find yourself incapable of switching off in the evening or struggling to motivate yourself in the morning try to incorporate a physical or mental transition. This could be as gentle as a short yoga flow, a swift walk round the block a few times or step it up a gear with a 5k run, HIIT class or bike ride. You’ll find yourself refreshed and ready to face the working day or able to ease back into home life without the distraction of work continually running around your brain.

Top 5 equipment pieces for your home workout

The closure of gyms due to COVID has meant the demand for home gym equipment has sky-rocketted! Sales of weights benches alone grew by over 4000% from March to July 2020* with many frustrated gym lovers unable to get their hands on even the most basic of gym equipment.

Gyms may be open again now (thank goodness!) but if you don’t want to or can’t go back in, what is the best equipment to purchase for a home workout? We asked our equipment partner, Technogym, their opinion on their top 5 pieces to invest in to give you an all round workout, without breaking the bank, here’s what they said:

The Kettlebell – An absolute favourite, this compact and versatile piece of equipment gives you the advantage of building strength, stability, coordination and power all in one. If you pick a midweight bell for your ability, this will last you a long time as they are very durable.

Dumbbells – The most classic piece of gym equipment you can buy! A great starting point and you can perform countless workouts with them. They are a great way to add some weight to your standing and floor based body weight workouts. We would suggest at least a couple of sizes (lighter and heavier) to target your different muscle groups and to encourage progression.

Resistance bands – these long bands have handles attached to each end to ensure they are easy to hold. For such a small, light piece of equipment, they are very versatile and you can work all the major muscle groups with them. You can also pack them up and take them with you wherever you go, to increase the intensity of your body weight workout.

The Technogym Bench – if you have a little more in the budget to spend, then this piece is a fantastic way to house and use a wide range of equipment without needing a large workout space. It combines a set of dumbbells, smaller ‘knuckle weights’ resistance bands and a gym mat all within a useful bench you can sit, stand or lie on.

The Skillrow – if you have a little more space at home and want a more substantial piece of equipment, you can improve your rowing skills, cardiovascular fitness and total body power with the Skillrow. Unlike some other cardio equipment, the rower is firstly a little more slimline and can fold away neatly, secondly it is more designed for a total body workout, it clearly shows and tracks your performance data and you can easily select the level of resistance for a more challenging workout.

For further info about any of the above pieces of equipment, please contact us at hello@livehappy.app and we’ll be happy to introduce you to our lovely Account manager at Technogym! If you’re a Live Happy member you’ll also enjoy a 5% discount on any Technogym equipment.

*Statistica 2021