Making the very best of 2017 (Expert advice from eight leading coaches)

On the day of the presidential inauguration and a week after the announcement of the Brexit plans in the U.K., it’s shaping up to be an interesting year already.

Like many people who summon motivation upon the turning of a New Year you may have made resolutions to squeeze more out of 2017.  If those resolutions or commitment to change are going well for you, bravo – keep at it!

For those who could do with a little help, we’ve got you covered. The team here reached out to a number of experts from the field of coaching, neuroscience, business and health, to get their simplest and most effective approach to making the best of 2017, no matter how rough the ride might get.

We hope you use these tools, tips and views to create more of the desirable experiences in this year and many more years to come. And please leave your comments below the blogs so that we can provide more of the same.

Choosing an attitude to the year ahead

As we steam roll ahead into another year it seems that 2017 needs no invite to hit full force with equal challenge and opportunity.

Only two weeks into this year and I’m aware of two unrelated groups of friends who are dealing with terminal illness in their families and another who recently faced a family loss. One of my friends decided on January 2nd that he finally had to call bankruptcy on his company after a business partner made some dubious/illegal investment decisions in 2016; and another close friend wants to also call it a day on her eight year marriage, despite their young daughter being fresh into the world.

All this as America gets a seemingly pubescent-minded sociopath at her reigns. 2017 could well be a real bitch of a year.

Of course, the opposite class of events is also taking place across the globe. A colleague of mine has already made more revenues from only 3 clients in the first week of 2017 than all of his dozens of smaller clients combined throughout 2016. Friends and colleagues are thriving in multiple ways and the welcome rain has come to California, to finally quench the parched earth. Bright minds and bright smiles continue each moment to light up the world, and all this as a brilliant, business savvy, disruptive diplomat gets his hands on the American reigns.

That last line was, for me at least, hard to write; I should probably wash my fingertips now. I’m attempting to make a point in my addition to this selection of tips and techniques for making 2017 your best year. That point is that we can always choose to view ourselves, our world and the various events taking place each moment through an optimistic, positive, desirable, useful and motivating ‘filter’, or we can choose the opposite.

Facts may be facts when it comes to the hard sciences, but not when it comes to our own attitude and approach to the day-to-day challenges that life may bring. In that, there is flexibility at all times.

I lost count of the various memes on social media that claimed 2016 to be a hellish year. In many cases due to the loss of numerous musical maestros who allowed our spirits to soar through their particular form of art. Personally, I choose to view losses of seemingly immortal greats as an important reminder that we all live on borrowed time and that if you’re not living a life that suits your values, desires and creativity, you better get on with reorganizing before the tick-tock of your own heartbeat stops. Death is one unavoidable aspect of life that you can choose to view as scary, morbid, depressing, or, a blessing that guides us to love and live as fully as possible. Or, you can view it as one of an infinite number of alternatives.

I suspect a few more birds of paradise will fall off their perches this year, natural catastrophes will likely take place, economies will rise and fall, presidents will polarize nations and facebook will find more ways to divorce us from the real life bonds of friends and families (or is facebook now, what real life means?). And in all of it and more, we always have the choice to apply and attribute whatever meaning we want. As an eternal optimist and activist in the challenges of my own life I’m choosing to see the possibility for all the good things about what comes in 2017. In fact I’m going to live the entire year echoing the words of my favourite mystical guru,

‘It’s snowing still,’ said Eeyore, gloomily.
‘And Freezing’.

‘However,’ he said, brightening up a little,
‘We haven’t had an earthquake lately’.

Mike Weeks is the founder of Un-Train Your Brain and co-founder of Frontline Mind.

Attaining selfless success

What stops most people from achieving their desires is admittedly too complex to pigeon hole. However we can observe that focusing on our own desires is unlikely to get us what we want, because doing so is self-referential, in that when we think about the things we want, we are often only thinking about ourselves.

There is nothing wrong with this per-se, it’s just that thinking about the self may add less value to the world. Sure you can achieve some things on your own, but most desires are met through receiving something from the world and all desires are more easily achieved in partnership with others.
To receive from the world, we’re best giving to the world.

This is a seemingly obvious statement, but it’s surprising how much time we spend ignoring it. In fact, our entire culture supports this. As one example, at job interviews, we think mostly of ourselves. “Will I get this job? What is the salary? What is the benefits package?”
It’s not our fault.

We’re constantly being inculcated into a mindset that is self-referential. It’s all around us: media, news, film, and commercialism. The modern world is thick with narcissism and individualism at the expense of our tribes.

In 2017, if you want to receive from the world then it might be the year to shift to an outward oriented attitude and consistently take actions that generate value for others.

Ultimately it’s only a choice to live each day of this new-year thinking about and acting for ourselves or others. Just hold in mind that the latter, paradoxically, is how we actually achieve the most for ourselves. If you’d like to upgrade your orientation so that you are creating value (and thus raising the chances that you will get more of what you want), then ask yourself these two simple questions every single day:

  • Who will I serve today?
  • What will I create today?

Asking these questions is a good start. To set your life ablaze with opportunity, answer and then act on those answers every day. By 2018, you may have transformed your world and that of others.

John P Morgan

John P Morgan

Living Beyond The Now

A widespread and enduring philosophy of at least the past 3500 years is an appreciation of the benefits of being present. If you’re going to adopt just one approach to the rest of 2017, being present may well be the approach to give you the most reward for your efforts.

Mindfulness practice, yoga, breath work, tantric practice, meditation, prayer in all major religions, qi gong, and more recently writers like Eckhart Tolle, appreciate the benefits of mindfulness, being present, and ‘the power of now’.

So what exactly is ‘the now’? How long does ‘the now’ last? And what is the other stuff that is ‘not the now’?

Here’s a simple thought experiment that invite you to take part in:
Remember a time and place from your past when you were enjoying yourself doing something you are madly passionate about.

Immerse yourself in that memory, reliving the moment as if you were really there.
See events through your eyes (not looking in on yourself).
Check that you are recalling your memory in colours that are representative of the experience you were/are in.

Hear the sounds you heard again. Replay external sounds; were there voices? Become aware of sounds near and far. Are there any internal sounds?
Do you hear your own voice with a commentary, or is there inner quiet?
Experience the sense of movement in your body.
How did you feel?
What is your breathing like?
What were the smells?
Did you have a taste in your mouth?
Now return to the present.
Get up, move around and literally shake that memory out of your body for a moment by jumping up and down, shaking it out and vigorously moving for ten seconds.
Now direct your attention to a time in the future, when you could enjoy the activity that you are passionate about again.
Create an imagined experience which is similar to the previous memory.
Check that the images, sounds, body sensations, smell and taste are all present? Deeply immerse yourself in this created experience.
Now return to the present.
Get up, move around and literally shake that created memory out if the body for a moment.
Now compare the two experiences.

For most people whom we coach, there is no discernible difference between the two experiences. Neither is any more ‘real’ than the other. For the minority of people who do experience some small difference between the past memory and future created experience (for which we now have a memory!), we find that it usually only takes a few minutes of coaching to match the experiences precisely.
So…past and future experiences are identical as far as the human sensing system operates at the level of self-awareness. What then, is the now?

Neuroscientists have measured the time is takes for consciousness to rattle around the body and brain, and it’s about 2 milliseconds (0.002 seconds). So let’s assume then that being in the now is a fleetingly brief experience, which almost immediately becomes memory. Actually, that’s partially true. The pursuit of being in the now is really more about being present without conscious awareness (interference is possibly a better term) – it’s the same thing that is so compelling to elite athletes and frontline performers – the access to what is often termed, ‘flowstate’ where time is suspended, 2 milliseconds feels like eternity, and there is an absence of conscious thinking.

What does all this mean?

  • Being in the now is fleeting, and immediately becomes memory.
  • Memory and created immersive experiences are practically the same.
  • Memory is malleable and experiences can be re-experienced with different meaning.
  • We live entirely in a created or re-created ‘reality’.

This being so, in 2107 and beyond, there is no excuse for not having just the sort of experience you desire, moment by moment. Emotions like happiness are 100% created internally and have zero causation from events in the external world.

These principals are at the heart of the way that we coach elite athletes, company CEOs, people recovering from trauma, depression or anxiety, or frontline performance under pressure in our Frontline Mind resilience programs.

As people discover their own innate creative process for how they experience past, present and future, performance naturally lifts, conditions like PTSD disappear and future peak experiences can be rehearsed authentically, in preparation for future demands.

So yes, as another year churns into gear, by all means ‘be in the now’, and also remember that you can immerse yourself in the future to engrain effective behaviors in preparation for peak performance, or access or re-imprint the past in useful ways for the purpose of learning and creating the life you most want to inhabit.

Prof. Ian Snape is co-founder of The Coaching Space and Frontline Mind

Dr Ian Snape

Your Focus Creates Your Reality

This short maxim in the title of this blog encapsulates a simple yet powerful and pragmatic idea – in any given moment, what we are focusing on and how we are focusing on it will dictate our personal experience, along with the actions that spontaneously emerge from that experience. These actions, in turn, dictate the results that we get in life.

As 2017 kicks in, are you in creative flow?
If the answer is yes, you are focused on what you are creating and, moreover, you are focused on it in a way that creates your particular creative experience. Are you procrastinating? If so, your focus may well be on the thing you ‘need’ to do, but in such a way that creates an ‘away from’ experience.
Or your focus may simply be being drawn elsewhere (Facebook relies on this!).
The human brain is amazingly rich in processing power, and clearly has effective multi-tasking capabilities. However for the best performance we want to ensure that our focus is on one activity only  in any given moment until we yield our desired results. For upping your game in this area, the first rule is, “choose your focus, or it will end up choosing you”, and this is where it serves to develop particular mental capacities, habits and tools.

The most basic tool is the focusing question – a question that directs attention and focus in a particular direction and in a particular way. Really effective questions are personally tailored (undertaking this tailoring with a coach who has expertise in this area can be useful).
Personally speaking, in terms of work productivity my most powerful focusing question is “what am I choosing to create right now?”

Again, this is not just a question, it is a self-coaching/focusing tool. Depending on the context, other choices might be “what needs to happen right now?” or “what’s my next step here?”
These simple ‘hacks’ can be extremely useful especially when internalised enough times to become a habit.

Coming to see the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of your focus in any given moment is a truly valuable and game changing habit to develop, because most of what is occurring for us focus-wise unfolds entirely outside of our conscious awareness.

As we become better witnesses to our unconscious processes we become  better positioned to effectively direct them. This is the true power of the legendary advice inscribed at the Temple of Apollo – know thyself.
2017 is a great year to do that and more.

James Tripp is a leading coach, trainer and hypnotist. 

Mighty Resource Metaphors

“Metaphor mediates the interface between conscious and unconscious process.”
David Grove (Originator of Clean Language)

Studies show that some people use metaphors as much as 4-6 times a minute and that those metaphors are often embodied, meaning if someone says ‘It’s like I’m on the edge of a cliff ready to leap into a new future’, to some very notable degree their body will physically experience the correlating sensations. Likewise if a person says ‘There’s an unbreakable core that goes through the middle of me’, they will embody the perceived strength of this metaphor.

In Clean Language we use precise questions to find our own resource metaphors.  You can do this by asking yourself (or be get someone else to ask):
Q.  And when you are at your best, you’re like what?
A.         It’s like I’m a ship on the sea, free to explore new lands.
Accept whatever resource metaphor you get. Then investigate it with the following Clean Language questions and a curious attitude, by doing so your unconscious will reveal what it has in mind:
Q. And what kind of … ?
And is there anything else about that … ?
And where is that … ?
(The ‘…’ are your exact words, and the questions can be asked in any order and as often as you like.)
Q:        And what kind of ‘ship’?
A.         Sturdy with good navigation.
Q.        And is there anything else about that ‘free to explore’?
A.         I know I’m able to weather any storm.
Q.        And when you’re ‘free to explore’, where is that ‘free’?
A.         It’s deep in my heart.
You can further embody your unique metaphor by drawing it on paper and placing it somewhere you will see it regularly. It is useful to notice how it evolves over time and how you change as a result.
To ensure you get the best out of the New Year, learn to trust your metaphor and let it guide you. An empowering metaphor may last more than a year and in many cases, it will last a lifetime.

James Lawley and Penny Tompkins,
Authors of Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling

Planning for success in business

Starting a business is sometimes more like going to war. Everything in business is, or ought to be decided in the preparation and strategy, only at the last moment leading to engagement.

If you think that you can just start a business in 2017 on a great idea and become tomorrow’s Google, you’re not just deluded, you’re also likely to be poor and deluded, just after you’ve blown all of your or an investors investment money.

If you’re considering starting a business in 2017, then the old adage, ‘time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted’, should become your mantra. Having worked with thousands of start ups over the last decade, my advice to you is exactly the same that we give to our accelerator members at Expert DOJO: PLAN, PLAN, PLAN and then before you spend a single penny, PLAN some more.

As an example of what to plan, you should know what your desired revenue or user outcome is by the second quarter of 2017 and then track back your activities, noting what you need to do now to hit those targets. Seems obvious right? But we see so few people undertaking even this basic level of preparation. You’ll need to know how many blogs, podcasts, cold calls, SEO activities and other marketing related activities are required to stay on track and then also have the flexibility to pivot as you adapt your strategy to the bumps that will arise in this new year. Through planning for complexity and reconnaissance, good generals know the likelihood of winning battles even before the first boots are on the ground. Make 2017 the year of being a general of your own force. Preferably one that delivers great solutions to the battle field of life.

Brian McMahon is the founder and chief coach at ExpertDojo

Brain Changes

Neuroplasticity: “The ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury”.

One of the most exciting things that happened in my field of expertise last year is that the Oxford English Dictionary accepted the term ‘neuroplasticity’ as a word. This confirms that neuroplasticity is now a mainstream concept and an extremely exciting one at that. In essence, neuroplasticity means that under the appropriate conditions we can re-learn what we thought were fixed aspects of our thinking and behaving.  This is even presenting as true in extreme contexts such as brain injury, which gives this writer hope that anything is possible in the fields of learning and change.

Neuroplasticity verifies that none of us is restricted by the belief that our brain is limited and unchangeable, or worse yet, unable to regenerate.

I met a family whose father had lost the ability to speak after a stroke. They didn’t share with him the full extent of the aftermath of the stroke and he believed that he would speak again. The original MRI showed that his speech center was damaged but after months of him believing that he could speak again and practicing everyday using children’s books, another MRI revealed that he had developed a speech center in another part of his brain where it wasn’t meant to be. What a beautiful example of neuroplasticity at its best.

For many years we’ve believed that children and young adults were the only ones that learned new things, embarked on new adventures with an inquisitive mind, and that older adults go through a cognitive decline as they age and forget more to become set in their ways. Research has now turned that belief on its head and under the right circumstances, with the right stimulus, the power of neuroplasticity can help adult minds grow, even into old age.

Knowing that we are not limited by the hardware of our neurology, the question that arises is, what software do we most want to upload?

Put another way, what do you believe about yourself is stopping you from achieving more of what you desire in 2017?  Because that belief is only a belief, and not a genuine limitation of biology, genes or similarly limiting notions.

Michele Paradise is coach, wellness expert and havening practitioner.

Michele Paradise

Sleeping It Off

For millions of people, New Year is about health and weight loss. In both cases the approaches that work best are also those that cause the least disruption to our work and home lives. For weight loss and well being, if it takes too much effort or time to achieve our intended goals, it’s unlikely to be a long-term option.

So what better aspect of weight loss and health to pay attention to than that which requires the least effort or time commitment, that being, sleep.
Many of us can make do on 6 hours sleep each night, but for optional function it has been shown that we are better when we get closer to 8 hours. Managing your time to ensure you get a number of early nights mid-week is one of the quickest ways to feel great and restore your metabolic health. So quit watching Netflix late at night and go to bed before 10pm as often as you desire to feel good the next day.
You will also benefit from training yourself to ‘sleep faster’.
To maximise the full benefits of sleep means falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow and staying asleep until the sun rises.

To support this you can follow these guidelines:

  • Eat carbs at night. Contrary to the old wives tale that carbs before bed makes you fat, the opposite is true.  Pre-bed carbs have been shown to make you leaner because they can help promote deeper sleep and better relaxation. Our clients eat their carb intake later in the day and have a breakfast of higher fat and protein, for example, steak and eggs. Oatmeal is a favoured supper option for more of our clients than it ever is for breakfast.
  • If you choose to exercise close to bedtime, use supplements that help calm the nervous system afterwards. Magnesium and Phospatidylserine are two excellent options, and most people should at the very least be supplementing with Magnesium every night as part of their pre-bedtime ritual.
  • As soon as you climb into bed follow the simplest of breathing exercises whereby you slowly count (in your head) to ten on both the exhale and inhale.  We all have worries that play on our mind and stop us falling to sleep. The best way that I have found to deal with problems that dog my sleep, and therefore make the problems seem worse than they are, is to have them all squared away to address another day. The obvious solution to this is to prepare your schedule or diary the night before, that way you can get everything off your chest and sleep easy in the knowledge that it will be addressed the next morning.
  • Turn your bedroom into the bat cave. Kill all lights, including standby lights, make it as dark and quiet as possible. If there is a noise that you can’t get rid of (my old house in Spain had an intermittent buzzing noise that only I could hear that drove me mad when trying to fall asleep), try a white noise machine as they can work wonders for helping you to switch off.

Nick Mitchell is the founder and CEO of UpFitness

Comments are closed.