Eat the ugly Frog First

So where do you start? Well that’s the point – you have to start your project and you have to stop putting off start- ing it. It’s not rocket science.

The thing is, I know (and so do most of us who procrastinate) that it makes no sense not to start doing the important tasks that need doing, so why do we persist in procrastinating and, more importantly, how do we stop it?

It comes down to the simple fact of whether we enjoy doing the task or not. When we undertake a task that we enjoy it releases endorphins in the brain and we want to do more.

No matter whether it concerns our personal lives, professional ambitions or ultimate dreams and goals, we need to know what our motivators are. When you know these you can set rewards that motivate you.

We are all motivated by our own particular wants, but some of the more common motivators include praise, popularity, security, solving problems or putting detail to a project.

It’s that old adage of eating the ugly frog first, but how many times have you found the ‘to-do’ list is only full of ugly frogs? So rather than start, you do anything but the to-do list; you make excuses and you find something else to do while convincing yourself that it is more important. You are really only cheating yourself.

A personal perspective

The last task I procrastinated over was updating my website. I had to make tough decisions, ones that might not sit well with others. As popularity is one of my motivators, I know this was why I was procrastinating over this task.

So I gave myself a deadline and knew this task would need a four-hour window broken into two, two-hour sessions. So when I found a two-hour window before the deadline, and felt in the correct frame of mind, I made decisions and phone calls, and updated my website. Job done and, yes, endorphins were released because it was a task I had procrastinated over for too long and I had finally removed it from my to-do list.

Tips to stop putting it off

Although it may not work for everyone, these are some of useful considerations I mull over when trying to rid my life of procrastination:

  • Set the end goal and a due date, but be realistic;

  • Determine all the various tasks that need to be completed to reach a goal;

  • Give each task a timeframe and stick to it;

  • Prioritise the tasks;

Identify the ‘ugly frogs’ on your priority list and try to rearrange them so that they are not all sitting in one spot as powerful collection of demotivators – too many ugly frogs together will reignite procrastination; and

If you like a daily to-do list, the clue is in the title, daily – don’t overwhelm the list with so many tasks that you know you can’t complete – this will overwhelm you and invite vacillation back into your day.

An extra tip on to-do lists: consider whether you are a words or images person and choose to populate your list accordingly. This can help to add a bit more motivation to tick them off.

My main tactic requires me to set goals and agree to these goals with my business coach; to hold myself accountable but also have someone else invested in my goals to motivate me when needed.

Of course, you don’t need to hire a business coach to ensure accountability; you could

start by setting goals with clear actions to achieve them by a realistic date. Then tell a colleague, partner, manager or someone you can trust to ask you about your progress and hold you to account.

There are also some great books available, as well as online video and articles (a bit like this one). So go on – complete the task and stop procrastinating. / February 2019

Going it alone

How do you know when it is the right time to start your own business or to go freelance? Is there ever a right time and what do you need to know before you do?

Many of us think about setting up our own business, being your own boss and being in charge of our own destiny, but just how easy is it and is it the right thing for everyone?

Is there ever a right time? When is the right time to start a family, when is the right time to buy your first house? When is the right time to set up your business? There are implications both financial and time commitments to many paths we take in life. You will need to take all of these into consideration, as setting up a business / going freelance not only effects yourself but those around you - they can be a huge support, but if you need to give them support ensure the time is right for all parties.

Step one, what is your offering? How long have you been thinking about setting up your own business and do you have a real passion for whatever the service or product is that you are going to offer.

There are many steps to follow and here are a few essentials to take. 

Write a business plan, to include your financial forecasts, marketing plan, competition.

The most important area is to have the passion and belief in what you are offering. Ensure you have the relevant experience and/or qualifications. A doctor, for example, may work on a self-employed basis but wouldn’t be able to start practicing without proof they are qualified. A Carpenter however, may not have taken any qualifications, but may have many years of experience to prove their capabilities. 

If you need a qualifications, add the timeframe to your business plan so you can work towards a launch date. If you need experience and have this, ask for recommendations and referrals that you can use on marketing collateral,

Have you a company name? Logo? Website? Email etc? Are you going to be a sole trader or a limited company?

Understand your competition, do you know how they work, their market place, their costs. If you are going to set up your own business you need to know as much detail as possible about who you are competing with.

Put yourself in your potential clients shoes - how are they looking for your product or services

One BIG thing to remember is, you are sales, you are marketing, you are finance, you ARE the Managing Director - are you prepared to wear all hats at the start? If Finance is not a strong point, look to engage an accountant, if marketing isn't a strong point, look to engage a PR company, there is a theme here - when you set up in business you are only one person, so in areas that don’t come easy or you lack skills, outsource to someone who does have them. As your business grows, you may decide to take on staff members that have these skills, or you may remain a lean core team and continue to outsource, there are plus and minus for both and you need to ensure you have looked into and planned for what is best for YOUR business and best for YOU.

I’m am a coach, trainer and motivational speaker and I love everything I do and it fits in with my husband’s business. But trust me it isn’t an easy journey but it is very, very, rewarding.

How do you know when a relationship has turned from equal to controlling? The 7 steps guide

Sounds like a strange question, because surely we do things in life to please others - so why would you question a relationship if you found yourself in this situation?

Well not so strange if you find yourself CHANGING to please others.

Changing - what do I mean by changing? Here are some tell-tale signs to know whether you are in a controlling relationship:

1. Flattered to do more:

When another human pays you a compliment, tells you you're amazing, gives praise - this is fantastic and I am in no way knocking compliments, compliments when meant in the true form are a gift but think about the “flattery” aspect - are they along these lines:

“wow - you really know how to deliver a presentation” “I could never have done that - your brilliant” they come 24/7 and with grand gestures and make you feel special, buy lunch, send emails to say thanks, texts with emoticons.

They put you at the centre of their universe

2. Over sensitive to Criticism:

When you mention that they are a little “over the top” they would respond with a wounded reply, a little like a puppy would if you shouted when they pee’d on the floor - they only did it because they where pleased to see you. This stops you from giving them feedback or picking up on things you would do different, you accept all things and in fact find yourself complimenting them on “stuff” they do.

3. Jealousy over other colleagues:

We may have left school several years ago so find it difficult to comprehend that a colleague can get jealous over another - but when you mention you had lunch with another colleague and their response is one of a jealous school friend, perhaps taken aback that you hadn't invited them or “Sorry, I didn't know you socialised with xx?” You then find yourself not lunching / socialising with them so much and when you do you don't mention it so as not to cause offence. 

4. Comment on all things social media:

So you know they follow you on Twitter / Instagram / Snapchat - you’re connected on LinkedIn and Facebook. They “like” posts, comment with positive things and “lol” “love” all things others do. Next they then also bring up in conversation about things you have commented on or liked on SM, TV programmes, celebrities you follow, fashion or trends - how did they know what you said - they didn't comment, no but they follow EVERYTHING YOU DO.

5. They worry about you:

They openly give you their opinion about others but turn all those opinions into their “Worries for your relationship” They will find fault in other colleagues, nothing that would be against company rules but things specific enough to make you question the 3rd colleague to the extent that you start to analyse them yourself and find yourself agreeing with your “controlling colleague” This then makes you socialise with the 3rd colleague less and less!

There you have it - the control has happened - they are now the colleague that you confide in and bingo - thats what they want.

6. They take control of the way you LOOK:


Are you serious?

Well it’s true, imaging you're out, lunch, after work or looking in magazines on social media and they start to say 

Them: “oh wow - you would look amazing in that, it would suit you so well, the colour, everything about it” 

You: “Really? are you sure?”

Them “ OMG - yes, I could not carry that off but I know it would AMAZING on you!”

You: card details entered and purchase made

Next day in the office others colleagues comments and you respond with “Thanks xxxx recommended it”

7. They move company and persuade you to apply for a job too:

They have left and joined the “Most awesome company ever, the perks etc”. They make the new company sound like Top 1 company to work for in the world, so much they then tell you a few days later there is an opening and you were made for the role - they get you to meet them for lunch and show you around - see point 1. FLATTERY about how the company and role was “made for you”

Next thing you know, you’re interviewed, job offered, you’ve resigned and on DAY ONE, new job - there they are, open arms, parading you around the office saying “Look at my friend, she's just started, joined here because of ME!!!!”

JOB DONE - colleague in CONTROL 

Now please, do not read this out of context and say “oh no that’s me because I bought the coat my colleague recommended”. It’s bigger than that, you need to have all the above and more to know you have a controlling relationship - I have used the word colleague but you may think of a friend, relative or partner that has had the above effects on you - this is a controlling relationship and until you look in the mirror and recognise the signs, this relationship can  turn toxic. Stand Up, you are YOU, people know you for being YOU, you have your own personality, your own name - say it, speak it, shout it.



Constructive Feedback

We are often told how important it is to provide timely and constructive feedback to people.

However, what tips do you have for providing feedback to your boss when they are behaving in a way that you find unhelpful or inappropriate?     


So the company is still the same, the team members are the same, the daily tasks are as before, however you suddenly find your job is not as satisfying as it was before - so what has changed? The Boss - yes we've all been there. How often do you hear so frequently that people join an organisation but leave a manager. Why is that? If the organisations values still marry yours and you enjoy the tasks and team you work with how can you manage your manager? It's a two way street and feedback needs to go in both directions. So how do you give feedback “up the chain”


   In a formal appraisal

   During a one to one

   Casual conversation over a coffee

   Via email

   Via social media

If you look at the options and think, “how would I like to receive constructive feedback?”

If only 7% of our communication is verbal, what does that say about written correspondence? Personally I would not like it on social media and Emails can often be read out of context, so I would always recommend any feedback be given face to face. I would prefer to receive constructive feedback at the time of the event, I don't mean interrupt what I am saying to feedback but either at the end of a meeting or in the wrap up of a presentation, especially if I have asked for the feedback. If when asked and no feedback was offered I would assume all the people involved where happy, if I them received feedback 2 or 3 days later that would suggest that the person has " brooded" on it. Now this is all well and good but we aren't talking about ME, it suits my personality type, however you / your Boss may be one of life's thinkers   / reflectors and therefore immediate feedback is not for you, you would like to hope that people have spent time to consider feedback before applying it.


Ok, I hear you, but what does all this mean? Well it means you need to put yourself in the shoes of the person you are going to provide constructive feedback too - in this case your boss. It maybe that their management style does not suit your personality type - their style of delivery you find abrupt. Either way, unless you give your boss this feedback, they won't change the way they manage you as they are unaware of what is happening internally for you. If they are they type of boss that often has meetings with other team members over a coffee, then this may be the best option to give constructive feedback, but they may have lots more one to one's so this maybe a more appropriate option. Think of the last time they gave YOU feedback - what was the situation, this I would suggest would be your best way to feedback to them. So now your asking yourself, why am I changing to their way of feeding back and not mine? I would suggest if you are ever going to be critical of someone then do so in their “territory”, it will always finish with a better result. In order to get the best out of someone - step into their shoes to deliver. That's a win - win in my mind.


Now you have decided, and need to make the meeting, later on over a coffee / one to one / appraisal, ensure your Boss knows what the conversation is going to be about - no one really likes to be surprised, don't get them to a conversation under false pretences. Ensure you are prepared on what you want to say, have facts to back up what you have said. Don't exaggerate or become to general "every time you...." " whenever you ...." "You always....." If you need to have notes then make them, take them, stick with them, the facts!


Now you may have heard of the "Shit sandwich" feedback, my suggestion is that you DON'T use this with your Boss, they will see straight through it, unpick the sandwich and leave the meeting having only eaten the bread - this could possible by why you are in this situation in the first place. Giving constructive feedback is a talent, and the more you practice it, the better you become. I’m not suggesting your start giving all your friends and family feedback, that would, become a little odd! If you're best friend told you a joke, was it funny or not, don't feedback how the punchline should have been delivered with more "punch". But do perhaps think how you would talk differently to different colleagues, senior team members in particular.


Once you have had your conversation with your Boss and it has been a 2-way conversation, think about how you can continue the feedback mechanism in the future, your Boss may be very grateful for the open and honest conversation - if handled in the right way and at the right time. You may also find other team members benefit, happy Boss = happy team = productive workforce and a great place to be.

Asking For A Pay Rise

Asking for a pay rise is one of the most difficult things an employee can do. What tips do you have for making this easier and for getting the pay rise?


So where do you start?

I think we would all agree that walking into your Bosses office and saying “I need a pay rise” is not the right way. A little like when a child tells their parents “I need more pocket money”, it will generally be answered with “Oh, ok, so why do you need more and why should I pay you more”. Let’s face it, as humans we don't like to be asked for more money, so how do you go about asking for a pay rise and ensuring you get the pay rise.

The first place is to draw up the facts on why you are worth more money.


1.      What is the current rate for your role and how do you compare. Do a comparison in the industry - it’s not always a good idea to ask your colleagues what they are paid but there is enough research already done on salary benchmarking.

2.      How much additional salary are you looking for ? Are you asking for a reasonable pay rise? 100% increase is not reasonable.

3.      What have you done since your last pay rise that you feel warrants the additional salary. Ensure you have a list of things where you have gone the extra mile, shown initiative, helped support and grow the wider team.


Things to avoid when asking for a pay rise, remember this meeting is about YOU not anyone else


1.      Justifying your salary against a colleague.

2.      Compare yourself to other colleagues

3.      Belittling any other roles / duties

4.      Threatening behaviour - e.g. “I’ll have to look for a new job if I don’t get a pay rise”


Ensure you keep your Boss on your side, so when you set a meeting to discuss your pay rise, make sure it is at a time that they will be least stressed. What does their diary look like for the rest of the day and week. If there is an impending Board Meeting or New client pitch, it maybe best to avoid that week. After all you want the right answer for you and so your timing needs to be best. If your Boss likes to know the content of a meeting then be up front about why you are meeting, they may also wish to do their homework, it may help to get a decision at the end of the meeting.


Once you have set out your request, then be quiet, it’s hard but let your Boss take in your words and digest before they respond, and when they do respond do NOT interrupt them. This is a business meeting and you want the right results.


If your Boss declines your request, then listen to the reasons why and ask for feedback, it maybe that the company is not in a position to offer any pay rise so take this on board and make a date for another meeting some point in the future. Keep your composure, a tearful employee does not give the impression of an employee deserving of a pay rise, leave your personal plea out of the meeting, they are not overly concerned about your need to buy a new car, holiday etc.


If you Boss agrees to a pay rise but not to the full level you have requested, then accept and ask for the feedback on why the full amount is not agreeable. You may have asked for more money than your job title currently allows, which will be set by HR, so accept this information.


Remember whatever happens, do not make any threats to leave if they do not agree to the pay rise. This is NOT the actions of a loyal, hard working employee.


In summary, do your research, set up a meeting, be professional and remain calm. Close the meeting with a hand shake and composure not matter what the outcome is.