Tag Archives: habit

How To Customise Your Christmas and Cut the Stress

Do you sometimes feel it’s all too much?

Do you feel caught in a Christmas trap?

I used to. I worried about every aspect of the approaching ‘Festive Season’, feeling far from festive. And then my son, who knew how I was feeling said this:

‘Mum, why don’t you choose the parts of Christmas that you like and leave the parts you don’t like? You don’t have to do all of it!’

I was reminded of when I bought my new Mini.

I knew the colour I wanted but that was it. The salesman had to talk me through how I could customise my new car. He explained which features came as ‘Standard’ and then presented me with choices for all the rest of the spec. Bit by bit I built up the picture of the car I wanted, choosing fabric or leather seats, interior and exterior colours, automatic or gear shift and so on.

The Mini I collected bore very little resemblance to the one in the brochure because I’d chosen how I wanted it to be. I’d ‘customised it’.

You can do this with the Christmas holiday.

 There are no rules apart from the fact that we all celebrate (or not) on the same day. You do need to be positive and assertive (not arrogant) but with a bit of practise, you can do this!

What comes as ‘standard’?

  • A day for giving gifts
  • Food
  • Decorations
  • A tree
  • Cards
  • Family time
  • Parties
  • Carols

You will want to add more to my list but let’s look at the first three.

How to customise.

  • Gifts.

You need to get ahead on this one, if you’re going to change from the ‘standard’ requirements. If you want to change who you buy for, perhaps only for children and not for adults, let people know your intentions well in advance, to avoid embarrassment or upset. It’s not easy to change a long-established routine but it is possible to do it if you are sure that’s what you want to do.

You could write down what you’ll say and even practise saying it until you’re confident.

  • Food

Ok, so the turkey roast followed by Christmas pud, mince pies, large amounts of cream and custard, is fairly ‘standard’. But you can customise!

Christmas food should be special. That get’s hard to do when we have the ridiculous amounts of ‘special’ food in the shops all year round.

One way to customise your Christmas food is to choose your favourites. If you love fillet steak but it’s a rare treat, or your mother is coming and her favourite is steak and kidney pie then that’s what you have! Try to have the food that’s a ‘treat’ for as many of your guests as possible.

If you choose to spend the day with your OH then it’s easy to have your favourite food but it can still be done with the family. Not everyone wants turkey when they can have it on any day of the year.

  • The family.

Not so easy to customise but not impossible. Here are a few suggestions:

Decide, well in advance, where you and your family want to be for Christmas. At home? On holiday? At your parents? Your parents at yours? Once it’s decided, stick to it. A few feathers might be ruffled but there’s no rule that says you have to do what you always do. You can change the habit, if it’s a habit you don’t like…

Do you spend much of the holiday driving your children to see step – parents, grandparents, divorced parents, so much so that everyone’s bad-tempered and the children hate it? If it’s what you want to do, and most importantly, if it’s what the children want to do, fine. If not, decide how to customise.

It’s about forward planning. It’s about taking the ‘I ought’ out of the equation and replacing it with ‘I’m happy to’.

I was delighted, and still am, with my beautiful blue Mini. Every time I drive it I smile. (Except in snow.) It suits me fine but I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s choice.

You can customise Christmas, to suit your capabilities, needs, emotions and stress levels.  It’s not selfish in a bad way, it’s simply deciding what you can cope with. As my son said, so wisely, you can include the parts you love and leave out the parts that concern you. That way, you might even enjoy it!

How do you deal with the varying ‘obligations’ of the Christmas season?

Are you changing things this year?  

 Have you ‘customised’ Christmas?

Do pass on your hints and tips.


Header by cursedthing, post image by the mullett, on Flickr.



Filed under action, adjust, anxiety, change, expectation, fear, hope, plans, positive, progress, success, timing

4 Frequently Asked Questions About Self-Esteem (And Some Answers)

Like to turn this

I'm hopeless...


into this? 

Hey! I'm as good as anyone else!


Self-esteem, or lack of it, is a subject often raised by my clients. 

They want to know: 

  1. What is Self-esteem?
  2. Why did I lose it?
  3. Where can I find it?
  4. How do I keep it?

Here’s how I answer these four questions- 

1.   What is Self-esteem? 

Self-esteem is about how you value and respect yourself and your capabilities.  

If you’re aware of your strengths, achievements and skills you’ll have high self-esteem. But if you constantly put yourself down, don’t believe the compliments you get and set unrealistic goals for yourself, your self-esteem will suffer. 

2.      How did you lose it? 

Your self-esteem probably started highish’, like all the other children in the class. But a creeping series of events gradually caused it to shrink, over the years. 

Perhaps you found school life hard. You believed that others were more lively, sporty, musical, numerate than you. You might have been shown up in class by a thoughtless teacher. You might have been bullies or humiliated. 

Perhaps your family had too high expectations of you and compared you unfavourably to your brothers or sisters.  

In other words, you got ‘negative feedback’ and after a time, you began to believe it was true. 

3.   Where can you find it? 

The good news is it’s not lost for ever.  Here are some suggestions about how to find it: 

  • Start small.

Set a goal that you know is realisitic 

e.g. stop smoking for one hour 

learn some simple recipes before moving on to more complicated ones 

sort out one part of your garden. 

  • Give yourself some positive feedback: a reward.

I know it sounds silly but, trust me, it works! 

A reward might be: 

an hour to yourself, 

an afternoon to read a book you’ve been looking forward to for ages, 

some retail therapy, 

whatever means a reward to you. 

  • Start to banish negative thoughts.

It’s not easy to do this when negativityis a long term habit but when you hear yourself say, 

 ‘I could never do that…’ 

‘I always get it wrong’ 

 ‘I’m a hopeless cook/mum/person/dad/’ 

try to turn it around to, ‘ 

‘I think I could try…’ 

 ‘I’ll get it right this time’…  

I’m sure you get my drift. 

  • Practise giving compliments.

See how the person beams at you when you compliment them. Notice how they react. Try to do this several times a day (OK, once if you like…). You’ll enjoy it! 

Then – next time you receive a compliment, 

don’t say,  

‘Oh, this old thing? It’s only from Marks and Spencer. It’s quite old.’  

Just smile and say ‘Thankyou.’  

It gets easier the more you do it. 

  • Follow your intuition.

Do this, all the time and you won’t go far wrong.  

If it feels right, then it probably is. 

If you think you can achieve a new goal, then go for it. 

Your intuition always acts in your best interests. 

4.   How do you keep it? 

It won’t all happen over night. 

But if you get into the new habits that I’ve described, it’ll become part of the way you naturally behave. 

The secret is, consistency.  

Every time a negative self- belief lurks in your mind, banish it with a positive one. 

Every time you think, ‘I can’t’, remember this: 

You started out the same as everyone else. They’re not better than you, simply different, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

If you really want to… you can. 

‘Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.’  



Header image by abyreed, post photos by starbooze and Dawn Ashley, all on Flickr. 


Filed under action, adjust, change, excuses,, expectation, fear, goals, instincts, persistence

Are You Naughty?



‘I’ve got a whole day to myself!  

The children are out, no obligations, no cooking to do. 

I can do whatever I like… is that really naughty?’ 


My friend found herself unexpectedly free.

And guess what? 

She went straight into listing all the things she should do, none of them fun. 

 When I suggested she should devote the whole day to herself she looked a bit worried. 

‘Oh my word! I can’t do that!’ 

I asked her why. 

‘Well, it would be selfish, wouldn’t it!’ 

‘So is being selfish always a bad thing?’ 

We chatted for a while and she went away, saying she’d reflect on what we’d said. 

Next time we meet I’ll ask her how she spent her day… 



As you know, After reading Christine’s post about ‘Improving time’ I’ve been musing on the ways we look at the concept of time.

It’s so easy to think that we must always come last in the pecking order.  

It’s a habit we should try to avoid.  

What we need is a balance, between others’ needs and our own.  

I hope my friend enjoyed her day and changed her mind-set that it was naughty to give herself some time. 

‘It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is -what are we busy about? ‘ 

Henry David Thoreau 

You have a free day.

How will you spend it?


Filed under action, change, excuses,, expectation, fear, happiness, instincts, plans, positive, safe, success

Why I’m…

giving them away!

Ladies will recognise this scene… not so sure if you men will…

I stagger up the path with a bulging green plastic bag.

I’ve been shopping.

No… not to Sainsbury’s…

To ‘M and S’!

I hurry upstairs to my already bulging wardrobe and start sorting out my new purchases. It soon becomes obvious that I haven’t got enough hangers…

I know what I have to do  –

ditch the old to make room for the new…

I sit down on the bed, take a deep breath, swallow hard and begin.

I take everything out, piling it on the bed and for each item I ask myself these questions

  • Does it fit?
  • Does it flatter?
  • Does it show the true you?

And if the answer is any of these…

  • No!
  • No!
  • No!

…the offending item is stuffed into the empty M and S plastic bag.

Then, before I can lose momentum I deposit the now bulging bag in the boot of my car, ready for the charity shop.

Back in front of my wardrobe I admire my new outfits and can see how much of what I had would ‘go’ with what I’ve bought.

It’s the same with you and your new Confidence Habit.

You’re leaving behind your old habits of …

  • feeling guilty
  • beating yourself up
  • shutting people out

and the rest of the

9 Things you’ve Stopped to Keep Your Confidence Habit.

Those old habits –

  • don’t fit
  • don’t flatter
  • don’t show the true you!

And this applies to you men out there too! I even managed to persuade my OH to sort his vast shirt collection the other day…

Get rid of those old, destructive habits.

Show the true, confident you with your new Confidence Habit because

  • it fits
  • it flatters
  • it shows the true you.

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Filed under change, Confidence Coaching, progress, success, Uncategorized

Stop Beating Yourself Up… and Keep Your Confidence Habit

In this series, I’m alerting you to some of the things you should

 STOP doing if you want to Keep that Confidence Habit.

Ready for Number 5? 

5. Stop Beating Yourself Up!


Do you do this?

You look in the mirror.


Who do you see?

What do you say to your reflection?

I bet it goes something like this –

‘Who DO you think you are, to think you’ll get that job?’

‘You’ll NEVER  find a loving partner, you’re not even pretty/attractive!’

‘If only I’d done/not done/decided/not decided/chosen differently… ‘

I think you get my point!


The truth is, you’re not ‘set in stone’!

There are some aspects of ‘you’ that you’d like to change. Everyone feels like that at times.

But you’ve already decided that you can’t.

Change, that is.

You constantly beat yourself up about all the things you should’ve, could’ve, ought to’ve done. 

 And guess what?

You feel hopeless, miserable and a waste of space.

Silly, when you think about it, isn’t it! 

And destructive.

 So what can you do about it?

Here are a few suggestions.

  • Look in the mirror and before you do anything else,  stop frowning!
  • Look at your reflection (make sure there’s no-one within earshot first…) and tell yourself all the things you like about ‘you’ and wouldn’t want to change.
  • Now decide that you will

apply for that job

start that course

join that club

write that story

give that dinner party

make that phone call

invite that person for coffee.

  • Now smile into that mirror, pull your shoulders back, and choose one aspect of ‘you’ that you can and will change- 

your hairstyle…         

your plans for the weekend…

saying’yes’  instead of ‘no’ to an invitation? (re-read number 4)…

choosing to plan a holiday instead of staying home…

You have a lot going for you.

Don’t waste it!

Next time you look in that mirror, smile and give your self a wink. 

You’re looking at the emerging, confident ‘you’!







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Practise and Get the Confidence Habit and Keep It

‘Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.’

 Robert Collier

They say it takes 3 weeks…

3 weeks to get a new habit…

I’m working hard on getting and keeping the Blogging Habit but it’s not easy.

This is how I’m doing so far –

  • I set aside at least an hour of my time each day for writing a post
  • I take my notebook everywhere and write everywhere
  • I’m always noticing ‘stuff’ to write about
  • I read ‘How to’ sites  as much as I can




When your mum told you to practise? And you hated it?

When you were learning to drive and you had to practise those 3 point turns? And you hated it?

When you wanted to turn a cartwheel? And you had to practise?

Well, guess what!

The 5th Way to get the Confidence habit and keep It  is…

I think you know…

So you’re getting the confidence habit-

  • You want to stop being a People Pleaser.
  • You want to say ‘No’ sometimes and mean it.
  • You want to be consistent with your children.

I know there are lots of areas you want to be more confident in.

So… what must you do?

Practise… in small ways, insignificant situations, when the outcome isn’t  important.

Like practising those 3 point turns in a quiet cul-de-sac until you were confident to do them where it did matter.

Think about your priority area for feeling more confident.

Now write down small ways you can practise your growing confidence skill.

 Then, when you’re ready, you can do it for real.


If you enjoyed reading this post, why not Click 

‘ Yes please!’

 in the IT’S FREE! box.



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Filed under Confidence Coaching, persistence, progress, success

Make Mistakes and Get the Confidence Habit and Keep It

Picture this-

 I’m working hard on my latest writing project. In fact I’ve been busy on it all day. I’m getting tired now.

I press the wrong key…

and the screen goes blank.

I try everything to restore all that hard work, but nothing works.


Because I didn’t save the document!

I almost dissolve into tears of frustration.

I almost find someone else to blame.

And then I stop.  Sort out my pile of notes.  Accept that I made a silly mistake.  And start again. 

The 4th Way to get the Confidence Habit and Keep It is –

Make Mistakes … and Learn

Without mistakes no-one would learn anything.

  • Think back to when you were learning to drive. How many mistakes did you make in the process?
  • What about when you were learning to play an instrument/swim/skate/play a sport? Your mistakes were simply important stepping-stones on the way to success.
  • With every ‘blip’ came a skill learned.

Because I  lost that document, I’m far more vigilant.

Acknowledging our mistakes and accepting that we will make them, is very important in reinforcing our confidence.

What about you?

  • So… you didn’t get that job? You need to sit down and work out where you went wrong. Could you have prepared more thoroughly? Was it the right job for you?
  • You got a speeding fine? Like me!  Accept that you were the one driving and you got it wrong!
  • You upset your OH with hurtful words? Accept it and do something to put it right.

Accept that you will make mistakes. We all do. And then learn from them. Your confidence will grow. Promise!

‘The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.’

Elbert Hubbard


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Filed under Confidence Coaching, progress, realistic, success, Uncategorized