The Sunny Side

Fingers of GodI’ve a new policy since I returned to Ireland. “When the sun’s out, I’m out”.

There will be plenty of rainy days when I’ll be stuck inside.

It could be a metaphor for living. Our brief starburst of life on this planet is like a break in the clouds. We should make the most if it. Being brave does not come naturally to me nor to most of us. Putting ourselves out there to fail. Being vulnerable. We unlearn it as we become more self-aware.  But it’s a promise I made to myself at the start of this year – and a daily challenge to keep it. In Australia, being in the sun puts you at risk of being burned. But you go out anyway. You take precautions and go because it’s a risk worth taking. Being vulnerable has immense rewards. The alternative is staying in – and that’s no fun. In this life, don’t stay in.

Going out is risky – but worth it

I got a shot of nostalgia when the first knock on our front door the day after moving to Ireland was a neighbour’s child asking could our girls come out to play. Remember that? We should all get out to play more. Take chances. Make connections. Risk something. Fall and hurt ourselves. Learn. Lose track of time. Live in the moment. Grow. Make lifelong friends. Have fleeting moments. Break rules. Have fun. Experience joy, pain, fear and love. But look forward to going out every day regardless. Go back to childhood.

When you’re out, seek the sunny side. I was waiting to meet a friend for coffee one of my first days back. The sun was shining across the road from the cafe. I walked across and sat in the sun to wait. Some tourists stopped to take pictures of the building behind me. Oscar Wilde’s birthplace. It’s amazing what you might miss if you don’t seek the sun over the shade.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ― Oscar Wilde

We always have a choice

I sometimes picture myself as a Life Navigator – but an amateur one. I have a MAP but no path I take is completely sunny. Each has sunny and dark sides. We get pushed from one to the other. But when we have a choice, we should choose the sun. On the sunny side, we will find vulnerability, risk, fun, tolerance, optimism, hope, connection, love, contribution and being. It’s only across the road or outside that door.

Every single day you wake, you get to choose. Decide you’re sad and your God will give you plenty of reasons to justify it. Or decide to be happy and your God will give you the same number of reasons to justify that.

Ironically – given I moved from Australia to Ireland – I choose the sun.

So when you can see the light through the clouds – the fingers of God – seek the sunny side. I’ll see you there.

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A Dozen Essential Unfinished sentences

candle-both-endsDo you find your life – your life – has become too crowded? Too much to do, to consider, to worry about. Too many priorities.

I am currently reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s main theme is that most of what we do is irrelevant. It recommends we do less, better rather than spreading ourselves too thin.

The Essential You

I’ve been experimenting with this concept. To avoid burning the candle at both ends, I am starting to reduce my focus from two opposite ends of the spectrum?

  • Discover the Essential You. This is generally what aligns with your values. Finding it tends to be an exercise in self-discovery, reflection and honesty. There are lots of tools and tricks to do this.
  • Another approach – if you have not yet discovered the Essential You – is easier to start. Omit the trivial. Ditch the things that – in your gut – seem unimportant.

As my meditation teacher says:

Trust your innate wisdom, follow its lead and enquire – Kari Hamele

If you finish something today…

…travel to the future and finish this dozen or so sentences and discover what means little and what is essential for you. I’ve started with one of many of my own answers – while I’m here!

  1. I can’t believe I never tried…meditating
  2. I can’t believe I didn’t start…work on that idea that I had.
  3. I can’t believe I wasted time on…checking stuff (TV, Facebook, phone)
  4. I can’t believe I neglected…relationships for work
  5. I can’t believe I accepted…the status quo
  6. I can’t believe I tried to beat…my inbox
  7. I can’t believe I was distracted by…other people’s priorities
  8. I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming…my regrets
  9. I can’t believe I worried about…what other people thought
  10. I can’t believe I believed… success came before happiness
  11. I can’t believe I expected… improvement without reflection
  12. I can’t believe I hung out with…nice try. No negative talk!
  13. I can’t believe I always tried to finish…

In personal life or in business, knowing what it essential, prevents decision fatigue and allows you to say no gracefully. Your visions and dreams will become achievable and your life will have better quality.

So what answers did you some up with? And what sentences would you finish in years to come to find the Essential You?

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A MAP to Navigate

inner-peace-yoga-meditation-truthinsideofyouDo you know your purpose? Are you living it daily? Are you healthy and content? Do you feel like everything is in flow?

Every good navigator needs a map. So I created my own map to guide me. MAP comprises meaning, attention and principles and is a framework that anyone can use to enjoy life’s adventure.


Most people seek meaning in their livesa mission or purpose. To matter to someone. To make a difference in the world. For who you are to be valued or for what you create to be relevant.

What does happiness means for you? Do you find happiness in what you do and who you are?

We should value what we create but not let our happiness or worth be defined by it. Be happy regardless of how others perceive it. This is difficult when you try to create something that has meaning for ourselves and others. But it is worth striving for.

Meaning can be found at any level – from family, friends and colleagues to community and the world. I seek meaning at the intersection of what I love, what I am good at and what the world needs and values.

Ask not “What do I want to do?” but “What kind of life do I want”?

Attention Areas

Without attention, meaning is lost. Your meaning is reflected by the areas in your life to which you give attention. Areas can include health, learning, relationships, connection, contribution or a special venture.

Give attention with your head, affection with your heart and action with daily habits and you will find meaning daily.

Principles and Priorities

Principles are rules we live by and do not compromise on to support our meaning and attention areas. Without being guided by principles we struggle to attend to what is important to us.

Most of us, if asked, have aspirational values and priorities. Our actual values, principles and priorities are how we behave every day. If your behaviour doesn’t match your aspirational, then change something.

Show me your calendar and I will show you your priorities.

That’s MAP in a nutshell. Easy to learn, difficult to master, always evolving. I keep it close to guide me. It allows me to wander freely knowing I will not get lost.


Of course, every good navigator needs a compass to find their way. I also created a GPS – Goals, Prioritisation and Systems to build and maintain focus and momentum.

How do you link what you do every day to your mission? What are your biggest challenges and how do you deal with them?

If you want to learn more, I provide workshops using the MAP framework for individuals or teams. See this flyer for more details or contact me here.

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Baby Steps to Big Dreams

young child climbing stone steps with a lot of effort

Last night, flicking through channels (a habit I’d like to break!), I came across a program about a family who had moved from the UK to a remote Pacific island to live a better life. During one of the conversations the presenter mentioned ‘coping with life’. The father immediately interrupted.

‘I don’t want to cope with life. I want to live it.’

Approaching Christmas – a time of giving and receiving gifts, the timing was apt. Whatever our beliefs, this life is a gift. We should grateful for it and make the most of it.

So I am asking myself “What am I going to do with it?” First, I am going dream more. Then I am going to plan and set goals. I am going to establish habits to support those goals. And I am going to start, even if only baby steps. All this will be anchored in the core principle of being over doing.

Only now, writing this and looking back on 2015, I realise how much I achieved. Even in the last six months. Strangely, I didn’t start with any new year’s resolutions. I gave that up a few years ago (that’s failing fast!). Rather, during the year I introduced daily habits that built a momentum that seems unstoppable. My family made big life decisions. We made significant (thankfully positive) changes. I purposefully changed role. I wrote my customer value proposition. I set up a website. I wrote my first articles. I explored what is important to me. I gave myself more direction and focus on what I want. I started moving towards it. Baby steps led to a mountain conquered. Six months.

The difference between busy and productive is prioritisation. Part of prioritisation is saying no.

This taught me one major lesson. Start – even if it’s baby steps. In fact, small daily habits rather than big goals are the best way to implement change. It worked for me this year.

You cannot steer a parked car.

In 2016, I will expand my circle to dreaming. It might be the year I can make resolutions I keep. So this Christmas, apart from spending time being with family and friends, I will dream for 2016 and beyond.

I want to contribute once more before the year is out. Twelve seems to be festive number so here are 12 Baby Steps you can take right now to set yourself up for 2016. They worked for me.  I am determined not to add to your To Do list so the second six are things you should do less of.

  1. Draw your line in the sand. Decide one thing you will change. Give yourself a deadline. Diarise it. Share it with people.
  2. Put aside 2 minutes per day to meditate. Link it with something you always do as described in Embedding Habits.
  3. Buy a book about positive psychology. I recommend the Happiness Advantage by Shaun Achor. My wife recommends Thrive by Arianna Huffington.
  4. Schedule now, from January onwards, 15 mins to set-up your day and one hour each week. Commit and respect planning time.
  5. Dream: Pick a nice time and location and lock it away to dream about 2016 and beyond.
  6. Jot down your top five most important areas in your life. This is your Life Canvas which I will write about soon.
  7. Less distractions by switching off electronic devices from 9pm to 9am, i.e. phone, email. I dare you to try it.
  8. Less checking stuff for days, e.g. email, phone. I dare you to try that!
  9. Less trying to read the entire internet, e.g. fakebook. It’s impossible. Better yet, uninstall them.
  10. Less eating while doing other things. Be Mindful.
  11. Less footwear
  12. Less saying yes to things that don’t align with your 5 Life Canvas areas.

Merry Christmas!

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Lose the Shoes – How to LUNCH your way to Wellbeing

FeetI’m just back from lunch, which I generally eat outside. I was watching people, hopefully in a not-too-creepy way. It was interesting to observe. Most on their own, reading a device. Some reading the newspaper. Others reading a book. Many in groups having a chat and a laugh. Who do you think will be the most productive in the afternoon?

I learned some new fascinating things about us humans this week. I think we can use them to LUNCH our way to be more relaxed and productive.

  1. Leave the building: Sunshine is good for you so use the time to get outside and connect with nature. It takes no longer than staying in.
  2. Unwire: Leave all devices behind. I’m not explaining this one. You know already. Switch off and be mindful. Do nothing else. Recover from your morning and replenish your energy.
  3. Neutralise: Did you know that we are electric and we can walk barefoot – also known as grounding – to enhance our health??!
  4. Chill: Meditate or even just focus on your breath to relax. The benefits of meditation are many.
  5. Healthy options: I was about to tuck into my weekly treat today – a double curry with rice. Then ‘H’ made me switch to more nourishing chicken and vegetable mix. It’s not perfect but we’re all learning!

And there you have it. The no-excuse acronym to help use your breaks to replenish.

It’s not the fastest who wins, it’s the one who recovers better.

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