Tag Archives: ought

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

Why You Must Be Selfish If You Want To Stay Sane

You're sooo selfish...


‘Why is it always about you?’ 

‘You must always put others first!’ 

‘Never mind what you want!’ 

When I was a child this is what I was taught. 

My parents firmly believed that it was wrong to put yourself first. They were always going on about it and I learnt to believe them.  Alongside this, I learnt to feel guilty if I dared to please myself. 

Now I take a different view. 

If I always put myself last in the pecking order this is what would  happen – 

  • I’d never sit down to read, because I ought to be washing the kitchen floor.
  • I’d never stand and stare, just for the sake of it, because I ought to be peeling the veg.
  • I certainly wouldn’t be writing this blog because I ought to be… you fill in the blanks!

It’s all about balance

As a child I was taught that my needs didn’t really count. I should always put other people’s needs before my own. But that’s just plain stupid, in my book. 

I read somewhere wise, that it’s impossible to meet someone else’s needs if your own needs are not met. 

Picture this- 

Your whole day has been devoted to looking after other people… 

  • Your elderly parent, who can try your patience at the drop of a hat, and usually does, bless her…
  • Your child, who demands that you magic up a fairy costume out of an old  dress of yours and all before play group tomorrow morning…
  • Your neighbour, who asks you to spare them 10 minutes but you know it’ll be more like an hour and you haven’t got another hour to spare before you have to collect the children…
  • Your OH, who calls to ask  if you could just collect his suit from the dry cleaners, oh, and could you fill up with petrol while you’re out?

At this point you get a very bad case of Overwhelm

Jean calls it taking a ride on the Meltdown City Express. (Do pop over and read her post, it’s excellent.) 

How can you possibly fit any more ‘needs’ into your fraught day? 

Guess what! 

You can’t. 

You have to say – 

Now it’s my turn. 

You have to say ‘no’.  

Or nothing gets done properly and you simply end up frazzled and frustrated. 

You’re not superwoman/superman – not as far as I know, anyway! Let me know if I’m wrong on that one… 

The bottom line is… 

Don’t get overwhelmed because your parents told you it was selfish to put yourself first sometimes. 

Not all the time, obviously. But we all need to discover that balance. 

In my view, your needs are as important as the needs of others. 

What are you going to say ‘no’ to today/tomorrow? 

And ditch the guilt where it belongs…. in the ditch.


Filed under action, adjust, change, excuses,, expectation, plans, realistic, timing

25 Ways To Waste Time

Time wasting?

Is this a waste of time?

Been thinking about ‘Time’ a lot lately, how we use/spend it.

The whole concept of ‘Wasting Time’ is fascinating.

I don’t believe it’s possible!

Time is an invisible, free commodity.

We use it.

Like we use air, or thoughts, or feelings.

We can’t see it, or feel it. We notice the effects of the passing of time, for sure, but it’s an indescribable resource that we have at our disposal, to use as we choose.

Well, most of the time…


So, is it possible to waste time?

The idea that it is possible to waste it seems to suggest that we ought to be using our time differently.

Who says so?

Here are…

 25 Ways that  I’ve been told, over the years, that I’m Wasting My Time . 

  • learning new computer skills
  • thinking I’ll meet a man who is ‘husband material’
  • taking an interest in gardening, starting from scratch
  • buying a camera and starting to take pictures
  • discovering  my own ‘style’ of dress/fashion
  • thinking I could cook a decent roast dinner
  • imagining I could travel to China alone
  • learning to drive
  • uploading photos to my computer
  • mastering ‘Word’
  • using an i-phone
  • programming a video recorder
  • writing a decent short story
  • lighting a wood burner properly
  • training to be a confidence coach
  • using Sat Nav
  • giving a talk
  • leading a work shop
  • sitting doing nothing
  • gazing at the Caribbean sea
  • teaching Dyslexics
  • conquering a snake phobia
  • standing in the garden, listening to a blackbird
  • watching ants being busy
  • writing a blog

I have successfully undertaken every one of those 21 ‘activities’ that I was told, at some point, were a waste of my time.

And…guess what? I enjoyed every single one.


Do you still believe that it’s possible to waste time?

What are you going to waste your time doing next?












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Filed under change, Confidence Coaching, dyslexia, happiness, hope, instincts, phobia, positive, progress, realistic, risk, success

Don’t You Dare…

I read today that one in four of us never stops for lunch.

We work all day, without even a coffee break.


Is it because…

  • we think we’re indispensable?
  • we want to be seen to be snowed under?
  • we hope the boss will notice?
  • we feel we OUGHT to?

How arrogant is that!

How precious!

Why live on ‘Planet Stress’?



I knew a workaholic.

Always running to keep up.

Always rushing to finish a contract and start the next.

Always working right up to the wire on Christmas Eve.

Always working late the day before a holiday.

Always working on Bank Holidays.

Always talking about what he’d do when he retired.


And then it happened.

Out of the blue.

In our garden.

He collapsed and died, four days after he finally retired.

That man was my husband.



Filed under action, adjust, change, excuses,, expectation, goals, happiness, hope, plans, risk, timing

Is ‘No’ a No-No?

No is one of the hardest words to say.

It’s always a dilemma.

Which way to jump?



  • You feel guilty
  • You want to be popular
  • You nearly always comply
  • You worry that you’ll offend


A client of mine was on a Mencap committee.  She’d been on it for a year and now she wanted to stop. But she felt unable to say No when they asked her to stay on.


  • It would be embarrassing for her
  • She’d feel guilty
  • She believed that no-one else would want to take her place ( so… it was OK for them to say No!)
  • Mencap had done so much for her Down’s Syndrome daughter that she felt she ought to do it – that ‘O’ word again…


How do you say No ?

  • Practise with trivial choices where the outcome doesn’t particularly matter.
  • If someone asks you to do something, don’t answer straight away. if you need time.  Say, ‘I’ll get back to you’ or ‘I need to look at my diary.’
  • Perhaps sleep on it if it’s bothering you.
  • Remember, when you say No you are often protecting yourself from overload.
  • Listen to your intuition. How do you really feel about saying Yes to this?
  • Follow your No with a positive alternative. Suggest another time to meet, person to do the task, choice they could make.
  • Don’t immediately apologise for saying No. Simply make it clear that it’s just not possible.


Be prepared for –

  • a few ruffled feathers
  • tears or tantrums – yes, even from adults!
  • the person to be surprised


The Good News is

most of the time they’ll accept your decision.

And my client?

She chose to say her No on the phone having carefully prepared her script.

To her surprise and delight they accepted her decision, thanked her for all she’d done and went on to find someone to take her place.


Her confidence soared and she felt able to go on to make further changes in her life.


How about you?

What would you like to say No to?

What do you wish you had said No to?

What are you going to say No to today?

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

Discover How Honesty Brings Confidence

Today I will help you to be honest about what you want to change/achieve.

 Last week I was afraid. Very afraid.

My female readers will understand when I tell you that I’d been for a routine mammogram.  And then I had to wait for the letter to tell me all was well. Except that it wasn’t. All well, that is.

I had to go back for more tests and x-rays. Which shouldn’t have been too much of a worry except that I have had breast cancer before and I didn’t exactly want to have it again.

In fact all WAS well. They just had to double check something.  Nothing at all to worry about.


It made me really think about all the things I would have done if it had been bad news, all the things I wouldn’t have put off, all the things on my ‘I’ll do it one day’ list…

When something like that happens it can be life changing. You realise what is and isn’t important, what you’ve been neglecting, who you should be seeing more of.



  • When you think about your life,  what’s missing?

Perhaps … you’ve always wanted to take a cookery class, do some voluntary work, be a prison visitor, learn to roller blade, go up in a hot-air balloon, travel by train to the North of Scotland, tell your mother-in-law what you really think of her…oooops! perhaps that might be a ‘step too far’…

Be honest…

Choose the ‘realistic, achievable with help and time on my side’ item on your list.


  • When you think about your life, what do you have too much/too little of?

Perhaps… you think your family expects too much of you and relies on you too much, your partner criticises you in public, it never seems to be ‘your turn.’

Be honest …

Choose the item at the top of your ‘I wish/if only’ list.


  • When you think about your relationships, what do you instinctively know is wrong?

Perhaps… you give in too much, you subdue your true feelings, you don’t comment on their drinking habits, the way they speak to you in front of the children, their critical remarks.

Be honest… 

Choose which aspect you’d deal with, if only you had the confidence

Forget about ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts‘.

Just pause for a moment…

Imagine how much more confident you’ll feel once you begin to be honest with yourself…

And always remember…

Whatever matters to YOU, matters.


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Filed under action, change, Confidence Coaching, excuses,, fear, goals, instincts, realistic, success

9th Thing To Stop… and Keep The Confidence Habit

9.  Stop Feeling Guilty!

‘I’d love to do that evening course but I’d feel so guilty’

‘Every time I have 5 minutes/and hour/ a morning to myself, I feel so guilty because I ought…’

‘I just ate a whole bag of Maltesers… and I mean a BIG bag… I feel so guilty!’

Why do we do it to ourselves?

They say that women are worse than men about feeling guilty. Perhaps any men reading this would like to tell us if that’s true?

We feel obliged to meet everyone else’s needs before our own.

Our mothers did it, and their mothers before them.

It’s a bad habit. And it’s time we stopped!

What is it we feel guilty about?

  • Studying for a new qualification when we ‘ought‘…
  • Having some time to just ‘be’ when we ‘ought’?
  • Having a treat when you’re not ‘worth it’?

It’s very silly, but worst of all,

feeling guilty is very bad for your confidence.

Everyone is ‘worth it.’

We are all valuable.

We all have needs.

And if one of your needs is –

  • to study
  • to learn a new skill
  • to have some time alone

Then SO BE IT!

Today’s Task

Throw your guilt into the bin, and, just for a change, start meeting your OWN needs.

So there!


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Filed under action, Confidence Coaching, excuses,, goals, safe, success, Uncategorized