Gratitudes for 2016

They say all business is personal. LinkedIn is a tool for networking, for making connections. Real, worthwhile relationships – including business ones – are made between humans. And our LinkedIn profile is just the tip of our human iceberg.


“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward.

So here is some of my iceberg of gratitude for 2016.

I sit in the ‘sun’ room (I use that term loosely), two days into 2017. A time for reflection on the year that has been. Last January, I wrote a letter to myself from 2016 promising challenge that would carve our characters. She delivered in spades. I am proud of all of us. But mostly grateful. It’s an appropriate time to reflect on the challenges, how we overcame them and to express my gratitude to the people who have inspired me to be better than I thought I could.

  • To Anne-Marie – for being you. Unflappable, the personification of love. Moving a family to another country has no chance if you’re not a team. We still have a chance. If you are lucky enough to know someone who supports and loves you unconditionally, then treasure every one – wherever they are. Invest in them.

There are spaces in our fingers so that another persons’ can fit between them.

  • To our children for reminding me you can only be happy right now – not in the past nor in the future. As we continue to re-adjust to Ireland, it is simple and reassuring to know that the only time to be happy is this moment. To Ava, for always caring for your siblings and cousins. To Erin for reminding us to look after the less fortunate – at a time which, although beautiful, we found a little excessive. To JJ, for reminding me about jigsaws and not caring what you look like when you dance.
  • To my folks for, well, I don’t think we have time do we? I realise now the energy needed to be a good parent – passing on lessons and values to help your children. Without your character I wouldn’t be here. I can never say it enough – I love you. To my siblings and relatives, thanks for keeping the rope turning while we were away. (Let’s skip!)
  • To my old pal Andre, for making it seem like we never emigrated, for reassuring us that we’re in the right place and that it’s OK to feel unsettled. Better than knowledge, you have wisdom. To my old Sydney friend, Ken for the “hug that will last a lifetime” and for reminding me to always be positive and grateful.
  • To Australia, for being a great place to become yourself, make lifelong friends and take opportunities aplenty to work, learn and grow. I will always love you but I need to look forward now.
  • To Ireland and her people, for welcoming us with open arms – mostly. And for providing challenges we anticipated and some we didn’t. Our characters are being carved.
  • To Ciara at the Irish Times, for coffee – and the opportunity for myself and other emigrants to travel together and to share our stories along the way. This world needs more feeling, stories and real connection.
  • To the coaches at Performance Therapy Ireland and to Sarah M. for helping me replace some of my Australian lifestyle habits with new ones – and teaching me to get comfortable with uncomfortable.
  • To Ergo Services, Fingal LEO and Fáilte Ireland for re-introducing me to education, work and contribution in Ireland – so important for well-being and security. Welcome Ireland indeed!
  • To the people I worked with or met who inspired me this year – you know who you are Brenda, Ian, Damien, Eamonn, Tony, Andy, Bob.
  • To Zeminar, for allowing me to play a tiny part contributing to the wellbeing of Irish people. It helps to be part of something bigger, to get some perspective and remind me how lucky I am.
  • To the Wild Geese of Malahide – that hardy group of ocean swimmers at Low Rock. For living on the sunny side with the right attitude in the face of – frankly – terrible swimming weather!
  • To the group who, in January, took the initiative to invest in themselves and Kickstart the year in fine style, thank you. You don’t realise what you’ve started.

2016 was a tough year but one to be proud of. Perhaps they go hand-in-hand. A final thanks to my fellow life navigators from all parts of the world who shared your feelings and experiences. I tried to reply personally mostly or through my articles. It is good to know that, while we all struggle on our climbs, we can see fellow climbers all around. As my Dad often says ‘no point in reaching the top, if you’ve nobody to enjoy the view with.

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Is evening your most important time of day?

The thing about the evening is, I’m generally tired – after a great day. So I should be if my morning routine is working well. So my evening is more gentle and reflective. I like to think of the word ‘evening’ as the time for levelling off. I am at a pace that allows me to wind down – I’ve learned much from my children’s bedtime routine. To create my routine I used Stephen Covey’s 2nd habit. I think about what I want from each day in life and build my routine to provide it.

“Begin with the end in mind.” – Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Rather than a list, here is an image of the sixteen things I do to enable me to be healthy, happy, present, positive and contributing.


“How you live is how you die.”

Have a lovely evening everyone!

P.S. What are the things you do in the evening that help you live a better life??

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My Left Foot…changed my life


Do you struggle to establish new habits? Does your willpower get you started but the fade before the habit is established?

Most people fail to maintain new habits for two reasons. First, they just don’t remember. Second, they don’t allocate the time.
Think about something you do or somewhere you look every day. Here’s some examples of how it works. I will describe the intention, the mental trigger and the result.

[1] I want to meditate. I leave my phone at my bedroom door. When I rise, it’s the first thing I see – I meditate 20 minutes twice daily. I am less stressed and more focussed. Tip: start small, say 2 minutes daily.

[2] I want to practise gratitude. I place a red notebook on my bedside locker. When I go to bed, I write 3 things I’m grateful for. My view of the world changes. Good things happen as I walk on the sunny side.

[3] I want to sleep better. Ironically, my kids help. Their bedtime triggers my evening routine. The TV goes off; I dim the lights, read and begin to wind down. I’m asleep by 10. I am fresh and pro-active every day.

[4] I want to rise early. I place my alarm under a warm top at my bedroom door. I wake and have to walk to stop it. Now I rarely need the alarm to rise at 5. I have 2 hours to myself to think and create each morning.

[5] I want to eat healthily. Each evening, I place some food containers on the kitchen counter. In the morning, I make a green smoothie and healthy lunch. I am nourished and feel strong.

[6] I want to ‘de-vice‘. I place a small box inside the front door. When I come home I drop my phone in. Remember the phone in the hallway? Nostalgia. This is difficult. But mostly I spend undistracted time with family.

[7] I want to relax once home. I place a sticky note saying ‘You’re home now’ in my wardrobe. When I unpack and change, I am reminded to stop thinking and I relax. The family have fun together.

[8] I want to hydrate. I place a water bottle at my work desk. I feel refreshed and energetic.

[9] I want to stand-up more. I place a sticky note saying ‘Stand-up!’ on my computer. I move around a lot more and am not worried if sitting is the new smoking. My thinking is clear and I have more focus.

[10] I want to get more fresh air. I have lunch every day – just like most! It’s my reminder to go outside. I am driven by energy and not by time.

[11] I want to plan each day. I have a coffee each morning – away from work. This is my reminder to write my Will Do list. I never react to a day.

[12] I want to start positively each day. I write GEM on my left foot. When I shower I start with Gratitude, Enthusiasm and Mindfulness. (I also write C on my right foot. I have a cold shower to experience the rush of positive chemicals). I feel happy and friendly.

[13] I want to avoid email. I place a sticky note on my keyboard to remind me to jot down tomorrow’s meetings before I go home. I don’t open email until 12. I am not distracted by other people’s priorities each morning.

[14] I want to work with focus. I set a desktop shortcut to automatically start the app I use to make my day productive (Evernote, music, pomodoro timer). I am clear on my goals and build unstoppable momentum.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

You can make this even simpler. Forget all the above. Whatever new habit you want to start, just grab a pen and write it on your foot. One of two things will happen…

  • You will be reminded every day. You will refresh the ink until you successfully adopt the habit (99% of the time). Then you will clean your foot, or
  • You will be reminded every day but do nothing. You will allow the ink to fade and let the habit go. You will successfully realise it is not a true priority for you.

If the latter happens, you may make excuses, e.g. ‘I don’t have time’. I can translate for you – ‘it is not a priority for me’. Be honest with yourself.

So what is your single most effective tip for new habits? I would love to hear from you.

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Eight before 8

Every habit has what I call the four R’s. First, the reason – your why. What motivates you to build the habit? Second, the reminder – the trigger so you don’t just talk about it, but remember to do it. Third, the routine – how you guarantee it is part of what you always do. Finally, the reward – the benefit you gain from maintaining the habit. Sometimes the habit itself is the reward – others it is a means to an end?

img_6105Here are eight things I did this morning before 8am

[1] Quality sleep from about 9:30pm.

Sleep rewards me with energy, enables clarity and focus, increases my productivity, helps me feel happier. It also contributes to better health and a stronger immune system. Here are the top 5 benefits of sleep.

[2] Rose early (4:53am!).

Early mornings allow me to work on side projects. I get an enormous amount of stuff done and achieve things I never thought possible. Most of this originates from that single hour of creativity in the morning. I also spend 15 minutes planning so I never react to a day.

[3] Meditated for about 20 minutes.

A few years back, I started meditating for just 2 minutes a day. It has fundamentally changed my life. I now focus on what matters to me, not others. I create more value with less effort and little stress. I am happier and more useful to others.

[4] Ate healthily

This morning I had a green smoothie of OJ, banana, spinach, kale, pineapple, spirulina, mint and protein. I feel strong and vital and don’t have energy slumps like I used to.

[5] Spent time with family

Maybe it was the loud blender but the kids were now awake. I had a good laugh with my two youngest racing me down the road as I began the cycle to work. I never regret any moment with family. Loving others is why we are here. Spending time with loved ones doesn’t just happen – you need to prioritise it.


[6] Exercised

I cycled to the beach. I saw this sunrise. I stretched then had a dip in the ocean. I cycled to work plugged out of all devices. My mind is uncluttered and I have focus. I will meditate and go outside around lunchtime to re-set.

[7] Took a cold shower

I took deep breaths as the cold water hit my skin. This is a new habit for me. Here are five surprising benefits of cold showers.

[8] I created something of value

img_6104I grabbed a coffee and – this particular morning – went to a favourite spot to write. I created a draft of this article. I hope what I write might help someone. Writing is therapeutic and this ritual of reflection allows me to continually improve. Creating something of value is as important in life as being happy.

I felt grateful for an awesome start to the day. I know all mornings won’t be like this. But most days, I can get lots done before I even think about ‘work’. I didn’t create any extra time. I just watch less TV and have an evening ritual that sets me up for a great day tomorrow.

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