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Dare to Dream

Dare to Dream

Do you have dreams?

I always used to feel silly if I got caught ‘daydreaming’ – staring into the oblivion, living in another wonderful, imaginary world.

I’d quickly shake it off and ‘get back to reality’, which was usually something rather mundane and uninspiring!

And yet, those are important moments when our dreams come and gently nudge us, reminding us that they exist.

And instead of listening to those dreams whispering to us to take hold of them and turn them into reality, we brush them off … tell them to go away because we have more important things to do, like going through the motions of our daily, monotonous lives.

Some of us were always told growing up to ‘get our head out of the clouds’ and into the ‘real world’ – a world where you just had to do what you had to do to keep your head above water and keep silly, fanciful ideas at bay.

Or else, we’re afraid to raise our hopes because what we secretly dream about seems so far fetched and ridiculous.  We’d rather live mediocre, uninspiring lives because we’re afraid that if we give our dreams a go, we’ll be disappointed.

But what do you have to lose by giving your dreams a chance?

I think the saddest thing is to reach the end of your life and die with your dreams still inside of you, never having seen the light of day.

Isn’t it better to try and fail rather than not try at all?

So, what is your dream?

Maybe you have to spend some time getting back into dream mode.  There’s always reminders around you, if you open your eyes to see them – reminding you of that seed of potential you have deep inside you, just waiting to germinate and flourish, if you give it enough attention.

There’s a quote I love by James Allen:

“Dreams are the seedlings of reality.”

And instead of starving that little seedling and letting it wither away and die, you want to nourish it and let it grow!

So get dreaming again!

In my Born to Flourish® planner-journal, there is a whole section dedicated to Dreaming – crafting your vision for your life and setting goals that align with that vision.

Dreams give us hope, a vision for the future – something to aim for and work towards achieving.

Dreams enable us to live with passion and purpose because we’re not aimlessly going through the motions each day – existing instead of truly living.

How to define your dream

If you don’t know where to start, I find this method the very best way to get back in touch with my dreams and what I want to achieve.  It’s simply asking yourself the following three questions:

1  |  Who do you want to BE?

Of course, this doesn’t mean being someone else!  Rather, it means what sort of traits or characteristics do you want to have?  You are perfect as you are right now, but we humans are geared towards expansion and improvement, towards growth, we can always improve on who we were yesterday.

If you close your eyes and picture yourself in 5 or 10 years’ time – your ideal self – what do you see?  What traits do you have?  Commitment?  Compassion?  Discipline?  Integrity?  Courage?  The list goes on.  If you make a conscious choice to be these things, you are more likely to ask yourself each day how you can demonstrate being committed, compassionate etc.

2  |  What do you want to DO?

Do you have a bucket list of all the things you’d love to do during your stay on this planet?  If you don’t, make one today!  As I write, I am creating my own ‘summer bucket list’.  I’ve discovered that over the years, when summer rolls round, I announce all these things I ‘really want to do this summer’, and then, of course, summer comes and goes and I haven’t done any of the things!  That’s because they are thoughts floating around in my head and I never get round to actually making them happen.  You probably have ideas floating around in your head for all the things you would like to do but until you get them down on paper and then make plans to make them happen, they will always just be thoughts!

Have you always wanted to speak a language fluently?

Learn how to make perfect macarons?

Volunteer for a couple of hours each week for a charity close to your heart?

Take 6 months off to travel the world?

Start that side hustle?

Instead of telling yourself you’ll get to it ‘some day’, write those things down TODAY and start thinking of ways to begin taking action on them!

3  |  What do you want to HAVE?

These are all the ‘things’ – both tangible and intangible.  Write ‘em all down – whether that’s your dream house, car, relationship, qualification, job, business … or the intangible things, which are often of far more value – time freedom, peace of mind, joy, for example.

Once you’ve written down all the things you want to BE, DO and HAVE, that’s a pretty good blueprint for you to start working on!  When I first asked myself what my dream was, it was a little difficult to describe in words and using this method was a great help in putting the puzzle pieces together.

Work backwards

Once you have your list of all the things you’d like to be, do and have, another great thing to do is to then work backwards.

If you look at all the things you would like to have, what would you need to do to get those things?  For example, if you want to take 6 months off to travel the world, what are some things you would need to do to make that happen?  Take a sabbatical from your job?  Save money to enable you to travel for 6 months without having to work?  Start planning your travel itinerary?

Once you have a list of the things you would need to do, you can move onto who you would need to be to make your dream of travelling for 6 months happen.  You would probably need to be financially savvy to save money, you would need to be disciplined too.  To start planning your travel itinerary, you would probably need to be organised, perhaps also creative or resourceful?

By keeping this list of all the things you want to be, do and have, you can then keep this as a live working document and keep changing it as you need to.  By seeing this written down, you no longer just have vague dreams floating around in your head but definite dreams that you are going to make happen!

Of course, dreaming is one thing.  Taking action on those dreams is another.

If you’d like a system to use to keep you taking daily, consistent action towards achieving your dreams and goals, whatever those are, then take a look at my Born to Flourish® planner-journal.  I created it for myself to get all those dreams out of my head and onto paper and formulate a plan to make them a reality.

So, the next time your dreams come nudging you, don’t chase them away … listen to them.  Grab hold of that dream seedling and nurture it.

Life is too short to live an unfulfilled, dreary life – you were born to FLOURISH and be all you were destined to be!

The power of lessons learned

The power of lessons learned

“The real trick in life is to turn hindsight into foresight that reveals insight.” ~ Robin Sharma

I find so much wisdom in those words. There is nothing like hindsight – the past – to teach us valuable life lessons and help us improve our present and ultimately our future. This is why a major component of The DREAM DO LEARN system® – a system I created over the years to keep me laser focused on my goals and heading in the direction of my dreams – is learning. If we don’t learn lessons, we will keep making the same mistakes, falling into the same pits we always fall into and just go round in circles.

So how can we stop going round in circles and making the same mistakes?

Taking time out to reflect and review

If your remedy to achieve your goals after not quite getting the results you were after is to grit your teeth and try harder and faster, then maybe it’s time to press the pause button and take a little time out to learn some lessons before forging ahead at full speed. I promise, it will be time well spent!

So how can you apply the principle of learning lessons to your life?

In my Born to Flourish® planner-journal, it begins with the LEARN section (followed by DREAM and then DO) because it’s key to learn those all-important lessons before you set off on the next leg of your journey, so that you can avoid the mistakes you made previously.

To learn lessons in your own life, you can simply set aside some time and grab a notebook and pen – or use my Born to Flourish® planner-journal which is a hybrid planner-journal that covers a 12-month period (undated) that you can start at any time of the year – preferably the beginning of the month. The LEARN section will take you through a review of the last 12 months – the ups, the downs and everything in between. You get to look at each life area and note down your lessons learned in each. The whole point of the LEARN exercise is to take some time to look back at the last leg of your journey and reflect on how it went – whether you veered off track and why, and how you can change that in the future.

If you’re not using my Born to Flourish® planner-journal, you can simply make some notes in your own journal or a notebook – or on your laptop / tablet – wherever you please!
Some prompts for your very own lessons learned exercise

Here are ten questions you can use to ask yourself to get the juices flowing as you go through your lessons learned exercise. The period you’re looking back on depends on your own preferences – it could be the last 12 months or the last 5 years or beyond.

“On a scale of 1-10 how did the last [12 months] go in comparison to the intentions I set?”

“What were the highlights of the [last 12 months]?”

“What were the lowlights?”

“How could I have done things differently?”

“Was I the person I needed to BE to reach my goals? If not, why not?”

“Which life areas did I excel in and which did I neglect? How can I change this going forward?”

“What are the top ten lessons I’ve learned over the last [12 months]?”

“How can I apply each of these lessons to my life going forward?”

“What could I have done more of in the last [12 months]?”

“What could I have done less of in the last [12 months]?

Those are just a few questions to get you thinking and reflecting. Pondering over these questions may well prompt you to ask yourself other questions that aren’t listed here but are important to you and your individual circumstances.

Observe yourself as an outsider

I sometimes like to look at myself and my life as an observer sometimes, it’s so much easier to see things objectively. It’s easy to give someone else advice because we’re an outsider looking in and can remove all the emotion involved. It’s a great idea to do this for ourselves – look at yourself and your lessons learned as an outsider would. This is also because outsiders are often much kinder than we are to ourselves! We look for all the bad things and forget the good. So, try to be objective, like an outsider would, when reflecting on lessons learned from the past.

Remember to learn from the good

Equally, don’t beat yourself up for mistakes you may have made, this is not the point of the learning lessons exercise – the point is to look at these errors and ask yourself how they might have happened and how you might avoid this in the future so that it doesn’t happen again. And remember – it’s not just about looking for the negatives to learn from, but also the positives. What successes did you experience? What made you succeed? How can you build on that going forward to experience more success? How can you translate what you did into other areas of your life that you might be struggling in?

Businesses learn lessons and so can we

Businesses often carry out lessons learned exercises and whilst I witnessed this in companies I worked in, I did think to myself this would be so helpful if we, as individuals, applied this to our own lives too. Instead, many of us just plan out what we want to achieve, then take action, and then evaluate our results, maybe readjust the plan, and keep taking action, without properly taking out the time to reflect and review the actions we took and then adjust the plan accordingly. Reviewing and learning is often seen as a waste of time and not really necessary but you really can’t afford not to learn lessons from the past to improve the future!

Learning lessons is a regular activity

And it’s not just once a year you should be learning lessons. I carry out a review on a daily basis, as this is built into my Born to Flourish® planner-journal which I use myself every day to keep me focused and on track with my dreams and goals. Every morning I set intentions for the day and every evening I review my day to see whether I followed through on my intentions and if not, why not. It’s just a short paragraph but it’s really helpful for me to nip any issues in the bud straight away and adjust things for the next day, rather than wait for a December 31st review only to find I’ve veered so far off track I have no idea how to get back on track! As with the daily review, I also do a weekly, monthly and quarterly review (also in my planner-journal), so I am always reviewing my progress, learning lessons and adjusting course as I need to.

Are you ready to learn some lessons?

If the answer’s yes, then get into the habit of taking just a little time out every day to reflect on and learn from your day. If you’d like an easy system to help you do that regularly, then have a look at my Born to Flourish® planner-journal which is designed to help you learn lessons where you need to as you journey towards flourishing and being all you were destined to be!

How to stop comparing yourself with others

How to stop comparing yourself with others

Do you ever find yourself falling into the trap of comparing yourself with others? Whether it’s your achievements, your looks, your social media followers or whatever the case may be, it’s all too easy to bring yourself down by comparing yourself, usually unfavourably, with others.

I love to look to nature to learn life lessons and I thought to myself one day, whilst admiring a beautiful bed of flowers I was passing: these flowers don’t compare themselves with their neighbouring flowers. Can you imagine these flowers thinking “oh my gosh, she’s purple and I’m red, maybe I should be red too?” or “Why are there so many leaves on her stem when I’ve only got two? There must be something wrong with me.” Or “Why has she bloomed far bigger and brighter than I have? What’s the point in me even trying, I might as well quit.” No! Of course, flowers don’t have brains to think these thoughts to begin with and that’s why they simply just do their thing – they flourish and bloom into all they were meant to be – whether they were meant to be blue, pink, short, tall, a huge spray of flowers or one elegant blossom. They don’t have that inner critic whispering in their ear all day, pointing out their faults and telling them that they don’t measure up to the others around them. Meanwhile, us humans do! We are blessed with faculties that allow us to think, feel and choose but we often use these faculties against ourselves by entertaining negative self-talk and focusing on the wrong things.

Here are my top three tips to stop the comparison monster rearing its ugly head in your life:

1 | Focus on your own journey

An important thing to remember is that each and every one of us is on a completely different journey to the next person. So many different factors come into play and we often fail to take those factors into account when we look at ourselves and then compare our progress or results to others who seem to by just doing everything right and getting ahead effortlessly. I remember trying to build my business around my full time, really stressful job and would constantly beat myself up for either being too exhausted to do anything when I got home at the end of the day or for moving at a snail’s pace compared to others who built the business of their dreams in one month alongside their full-time job. Well, good for them if they made it work! Maybe they didn’t get home feeling like they’d been in a boxing ring all day as I did and they had the mental and physical energy to work on their business throughout the evening. I didn’t! Instead of looking at someone else’s journey – of which I could only see the surface and not the underlying factors – I needed to instead focus on my journey. How far had I come overall if I looked at the bigger picture? If I was spending a fraction of the time building my business around work that others were spending, that was good progress for me given all the things that I had to contend with in my life. The next time you look at someone else and think ‘wow, they’ve got it all together, I must be a complete moron’, just remember that you cannot compare your chapter 1 with someone else’s chapter 20. They are at their own stage in their journey while you’re at yours. Give yourself credit for where you are and what progress you’ve made. How do horses win their races? By wearing blinkers – the blinkers block out the distraction of what the other horses are doing and how fast they’re going compared to them. The blinkers mean they are 100% focused on their own journey and making it to the finish line. By all means, look at others as inspiration and learn from them, but remember that their circumstances are not the same as yours, your journey is unique to you!

2 | Change your perspective

One quote I love by Wayne Dyer is ‘Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.’  I’m a huge believer in the power of thoughts and just changing your perspective on the way you look at things can make a huge difference in your life. I worked for a long time in the engineering industry alongside some really brilliant engineers and sometimes I would find myself feeling inadequate around them, after all they were so smart and solving some of the world’s biggest problems and I, well, wasn’t. But then I would stop myself and tell myself how ridiculous it was for me to compare myself with these people who had clearly mastered what they did for years, some for decades, to get where they were. Like the saying goes, you can’t compare apples with oranges, they are different! Apples are good at being apples and oranges are good at being oranges! I am pretty sure there are things I can do well that an engineer can’t do! Just by changing the way you look at things can change its effect on you. The next time you find yourself comparing yourself with someone else, ask yourself ‘does this make any sense? Is there another way I could look at this?’ Try and be that outside observer – what would you say to someone else who was making this comparison? We often dole out good advice to others but are really hard on ourselves. Be your own cheerleader and stop to look at things from a different perspective the next time you start comparing yourself to someone else.

3 | Focus on your strengths

Where your focus goes, energy flows. So, what’s going to happen if you keep choosing to focus on your perceived shortcomings? They’re just going to be magnified, you’re going to look for more shortcomings and you’re just going to end up feeling really terrible about yourself. Not exactly helpful, is it? Instead of looking at the half empty part of the cup, look at the half full part. What are your strengths? What makes you special? Write them down. And you don’t need to be an Olympic level athlete or be able to sing like Mariah Carey, there are so many strengths that we all have that we often under estimate – maybe you’re great at organising and planning, or you’re an excellent listener (very hard to find these days!) or you’re good at writing. Focus on and build on those strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses and feeling bad about them. Build on your strengths and improve in your weak areas without thinking you’re inferior because you have weaknesses – everyone has weaknesses that they need to improve on, you just don’t need to feel bad about it! Another spin on focusing on your strengths is to focus on the progress you have made. When I look at the space of a month I often feel really bad about the lack of progress I’ve made – and often there’s a valid reason for the lack of progress. But if I step back and look at the bigger picture – if I look at the last year or two, I can see that actually, I have made good progress overall. Pat yourself on the back for the progress you have made and keep going. Taking a tiny step forward today is progress that you need to celebrate because all those tiny steps soon add up.

In addition to these three top tips, I really recommend working on personal growth, daily if you can! Read good books, surround yourself with positive people who encourage you and lift you up rather than bring you down. A book I highly recommend reading is ‘Worthy’ by Jamie Kern Lima, I did a review of this book which you can read HERE. It’s a great reminder that every one of us compares ourselves to others, it’s perfectly normal – we are all human after all, but the most important thing to remember is that you are worthy just as you are.

You don’t need to be someone else or somewhere else, you are exactly who and where you need to be right now.

Why you need to master the art of being patient

Why you need to master the art of being patient

Patience is something that has never come easily to me. When I want something, I want it now! Or at least, pretty quickly. And yet, when we’re trying to achieve our dreams and goals, the one thing we need to have is patience because in most cases, it’s going to take some time and effort to achieve those goals. It’s a journey we have to make and there are simply no shortcuts! There’s going to twists and turns in the road, we’re going to go off track sometimes, we might hit a dead end and have to backtrack or we might be completely rerouted.

It’s funny how we can learn life lessons from our every day experiences, if we look for them. The other day I was putting together a pretty basic footstool from IKEA which comes flat packed to be assembled (as most things from IKEA do!). “This’ll take ten minutes.” I thought. Ha! And I’m usually pretty good at putting things together. Well, I struggled more than I expected with this darn stool! After screwing in a few screws, I realised one of the sides of the footstool was actually facing the wrong way which meant I couldn’t progress with the next piece because nothing was aligned. Arggh! So I had to unscrew all the screws on that side and basically do some major backtracking to make sure the side of the footstool was facing the right way and then retrace my steps again with the screws. I paid more attention to the instructions now instead of assuming a footstool is really easy to assemble and I can probably do it without instructions! I succeeded in the end 😊… and also learned some priceless lessons in the process.

Be in it for the long game

Firstly, I learned not to underestimate how long it would take to achieve a goal and I tend to have a bad habit of doing this and then end up getting frustrated when things don’t happen quickly enough! Underestimating how long a goal will take to achieve is just setting yourself up for failure from the word go, not to mention frustration. You’ve got to be in it for the long game, whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. If it’s worth achieving then it’s worth doing properly, even if it does take a bit longer than planned!

Things rarely go as planned

Secondly, as with our own personal journeys to getting to where we want to be, there will always be obstacles and challenges to overcome, there will always be some mistakes made and some backtracking to be done. Just as assembling my IKEA footstool took longer than planned and turned out to be a little more complicated than I expected, we also need to cut ourselves some slack when things don’t go as we meticulously planned. Ask any successful person about their journey to getting where they are and they’ll tell you they hit many unexpected roadblocks along the way!

There’s a season for sowing and a season for reaping

Whenever I feel impatience rising within me, I remember wise words by Jim Rohn:

“There’s a season for sowing and a season for reaping, but you can’t do both in the same season.”

After diligently ‘sowing your seeds’ by putting in a lot of effort towards your goals, its all too easy to then expect your harvest straight away. “I’ve been working so hard! Where’s the fruit of my labour?” But what we’re expecting is to sow and harvest in the same season. We forget that as with al nature, there are seasons. We can’t sow AND reap straight away in spring. Neither does autumn/fall follow spring, there’s another season, summer, in between. A season of patiently nurturing those seeds you planted and watching them grow and flourish. What ends up happening is, you plant your seeds, see nothing happening and then give up in despair and go sow more seeds elsewhere. Shiny Object Syndrome, anyone?! Then you end up sowing all these seeds in all these different places and without you being there, patiently nurturing those seeds to help them flourish, those seeds wither away and die. Meanwhile, you’ve worked yourself to the bone planting seeds all over the place and getting absolutely no harvest!

This is where patience comes in.

When you physically plant a seed, you don’t see any activity for some time. But something is happening. That seed is germinating and getting ready to start growing. You just can’t see it. But if you stick with it patiently, you’ll soon see signs of growth – a little stalk peeping above the soil, then a leaf, then two. It’s no different when we work on our dreams and goals. We put in lots of work, and then instead of getting discouraged, we stay the course. We keep going. We nurture what we planted. We start building momentum. And as momentum builds, we start seeing results, maybe teeny tiny results to begin with but again – you don’t see an enormous oak tree spring from the soil, do you?! No, it starts off as a tiny little seedling and then keeps growing over time.

The strange thing is, we know this is true when it comes to assembling IKEA furniture and growing plants in our gardens and yet we expect this not to apply to us! When things don’t happen overnight, we get discouraged and feel like giving up. When one tiny stalk begins to show its head, we think “is that all, after all that effort I put in!?” and we abandon the little stalk that was about to start growing into an eventual oak tree.

Look at the bigger picture

Looking at the bigger picture allows you to step back and see not just where you are at that moment in time in isolation, but where you are along your entire journey towards achieving your goals. Whenever I do this, I realise I am actually a lot further along in my overall journey than I think. It hasn’t been wasted effort, things are happening (just like the seed germinating underground), sometimes you just don’t see it. Just keep going and know that every little step you take is taking you another step closer to your goals.

Pause and reflect

Spending time on meditation and reflection is a great way to pause and reflect on things and master the art of being patient. This allows you to tune into your bigger vision and see yourself taking each little step towards accomplishing that vision. It also helps you to realise and accept that things might not always go the way you expect them to or the way you planned but that’s ok, it’s all part of your journey. Journalling is another great way to regularly reflect on your journey and explore any feelings of impatience. If you haven’t already come across my Born to Flourish planner-journal which is personal growth focused and full of prompts to help you set intentions and reflect on and review your progress, you can find out more about it here.

Here’s a great quote by Benjamin Franklin, I’ll leave you with:

“He that can have patience can have what he will.”

Have patience friend, and you can make anything happen!

5 reasons you should keep a journal

5 reasons you should keep a journal

I have kept a journal on and off since I was a teenager – I always loved to pour out my thoughts and ideas onto paper (it’s a shame I lost those teenage journals, I would have loved to read them today!). Journalling is now a firmly engrained habit in my life and I never go more than a couple of days without journalling.

Do you keep a journal? If not, here’s five good reasons you should!

1 |  It’s therapeutic

Whether you can barely get the words onto paper fast enough in excitement, or tears flow onto the page as you write down how you feel about a painful experience, journalling can be really therapeutic and it certainly is for me. There’s something about being able to get those thoughts and feelings inside of you onto paper that immediately lightens the load within and can also help to create more clarity. Some people don’t feel comfortable talking to someone else about their deepest, darkest thoughts or else don’t have anyone to talk to and so journalling is a great way to be able to have an outlet to express what’s on your heart. Even if it’s just a log about how your day went and what you hope to achieve over the rest of the week, it’s still therapeutic to get it out there onto paper. Research has indicated that keeping a journal can help to relieve stress and anxiety as you’re getting your feelings out onto paper which is another great reason to get your pen out. I have had some occasions where I’ve been really annoyed, ok, even angry! – and writing my annoyed, angry thoughts down helps to dissipate those angry feelings and stops me from saying things to people in haste that I might later regret. It often makes me see things in a totally different way, like ‘this is actually silly and not even worth getting angry over!’

2 |  Improve your productivity

Journalling has always been one of the foundation stones of starting my day – by journalling, I am setting my intentions for the day ahead and deciding what to focus my attention on rather than letting the day throw whatever it wants at me. As Jim Rohn once said ‘Either you run the day, or the day runs you!’ Throughout the day I know what intentions I set earlier and I make a conscious effort to ensure all my actions align with those intentions. Sure, sometimes other things come up unexpectedly but generally, it’s good to be in control of your day! Even if it’s just a short paragraph, journalling can help you organise those thoughts and ideas swirling around in your head and start taking action on them. If you’re journalling regularly too, you can see how you’re following through on the intentions you set from day to day, which leads me onto the next good reason to keep a journal …

3 |  Document your journey

Keeping a journal is a wonderful way to document your journey whether its personal or professional or both. I keep both a personal journal and a business journal and document my respective journeys in there. By getting the words out onto paper, it really does feel like a journey because each day I am taking another step and experiencing new things. The great thing is going back and reading your journals – this is something I only recently started doing when I realised that I really did need to properly review my past journey to learn lessons and reflect before continuing the next leg of my journey. By documenting your experiences and then looking back, say six months, or a year later, you realise how far you have come and how much you have grown as a person. And … you are literally writing the story of your life, how amazing is that?

4 |  Become more self-aware

Socrates famously told us to ‘Know thyself’. Journalling is probably one of the best ways to get to know yourself. It’s a great opportunity to do some deep self-reflection and self-discovery. So many people simply rush through each day without giving a moments’ thought to why they are doing what they are doing, or where they are actually going in the long term – they just go through the motions each day. By taking time to pause momentarily and write down your thoughts and feelings, you become much more aware of your real self, your ‘higher’ self, and the things that really matter to you. When I journal, I often feel as though I am observing myself as an outsider, this gives me a fresh perspective on things and allows me to almost coach myself, if that makes sense! Seeing what I’ve written down on paper makes those thoughts real and makes me far more aware of who I really am and what I need in that season of my life.

5 |  Improve your creativity

Finally, journalling allows you to unleash your creativity onto the page. There are no hard and fast rules for journalling, some people are short and to the point and others waffle on forever (yep, that’s me, although I do restrict myself nowadays!). By exploring your thoughts, feelings and emotions, you’re allowing your creativity to unfold and work its magic. We all have creativity within us, we just have to give it space to emerge and journalling is a great way to do that. I sometimes get random ideas pop into my head and I capture those ideas in my journal with a little lightbulb image next to it!  At some point, when I need some inspiration, I’ll look back for all my little lightbulb images and notes and viola – creativity starts to flow again!

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of journals out there and I’m sure there is at least one that suits your needs – from bullet journals to write as much as you want journals, and everything in between.

Because I love using planners to stay organised and love to journal too, I created my own bespoke ‘planner-journal’ called the Born to Flourish ® planner-journal. It combines all the practicalities of a planner (with planning and organising aspects) together with the all-important ‘mindset’ elements of a journal. It has a strong focus on personal growth with plenty of daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly prompts and reflections to keep you focused on what truly matters to you. I use my planner-journal every day and now share it with anyone who wants to use it in their own journey to flourishing and being all they were destined to be!

You can check out my Born to Flourish ® planner-journal which is available in printable PDF and Digital formats (to use on your iPad / tablet) << RIGHT HERE! >>

Do you keep a journal? What do you love most about it?

Recommended reading | Atomic Habits by James Clear

Recommended reading | Atomic Habits by James Clear

My last blog post was about how to develop good habits (if you haven’t seen it, you can check it out HERE).  Life becomes so much easier when you make it a habit of doing the things that need to be done!

A book that really helped me to take practical steps towards building good habits, as well as stopping bad habits, was Atomic Habits by James Clear.  I have always known the power of small, incremental changes – the compound effect – and this book reminded me of this.  By starting with seemingly minor actions or behaviours, these minor actions soon turn into deep rooted habits, hopefully good ones!  James Clear personally experienced the power of ‘atomic habits’ – tiny changes that compounded into remarkable results – through his personal journey from sustaining an awful injury at college and his journey to full recovery and beyond, going on to achieve amazing things.

One thing I particularly love about this book is how the author talks about not only the external stimuli that tend to affect our behaviour (and hence habits) but also our internal states – our thoughts, feelings, emotions and how these affect our behaviours and habits.  If you know me, you know that I’m all about the inside out approach.  If we want to truly flourish, we have to first master the internal game for it to reflect externally.

He starts by explaining ‘The Fundamentals’ and then goes into his habits framework, ‘The 4 Laws of Behaviour Change’ which align with his four-step model of habits – cue, craving, response and reward.

The Fundamentals

Here the first fundamental discussed is the impact of ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’ – a philosophy of searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything we do – is explained, using the example of how this approach was applied by a new performance director of the British cycling team (Dave Brailsford) to help the team improve their somewhat dismal cycling performance.  By finding literally hundreds of teeny, weeny improvements to make – things like teaching the team to wash their hands properly to prevent catching a cold – the compound effect of all these teeny, tiny improvements eventually ended up having a remarkable effect.  The British cycling team went from not winning the Tour de France in 110 years and only winning an Olympic gold medal once since 1908 to winning 178 world championships, 66 Olympic or Paralympic gold medals and winning 5 Tour de France events in the space of TEN years.  Woah!  For me – gobsmacking. I was all ears (well, eyes) after this!

I also love how James believes in systems versus goals. I am all for systems to make life easier!  As he explains, goals are about the results you want to achieve while systems are about the processes that lead to those results.

The second ‘fundamental’ is how our habits shape our identity.  James tells us that the most effective way to change our habits is to focus not on what we want to achieve (our desired results), but on who we wish to become.  Again, music to my ears, I am totally aligned with this way of thinking, I 100% believe that to make any change in our lives, we need to first BE the type of person who can make that change happen.  Focus on being, as opposed to having the outcome!  The outcome will naturally follow!

The 4 Laws of Behavioural Change

Most people want to know “How can I create a good habit?” or “How can I break a bad habit?”  James Clear’s habits framework, which he explains throughout the book, is a simple set of rules to help you create good habits or break bad habits.  I personally LOVE using this framework because, as always, I find it so much easier to create systems to use in my daily life so I can use most of my energy and brain power on other things!  Using this framework really simplifies things for me when I’m trying to create good habits or get rid of bad habits.  I simply go to this set of rules and run through how I can apply them to whatever it is I am trying to achieve, whether that’s developing a good habit or stopping a bad habit.

The 4 Laws of Behavioural Change are as follows and below each law is the recommended strategy James recommends to use for that particular Law.


1 |  Make it obvious by

– Setting implementation intentions “(I will [behaviour] at [time] in [location]”
– Using habit stacking “(I will [desired new habit] after [current habit]”
– Designing your environment (make the cues of good habits obvious and visible)

2 |  Make it attractive by

– Using temptation bundling (pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do)
– Joining a culture where your desired behaviour is the normal behaviour
– Creating a motivation ritual (do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit)

3 |  Make it easy by

– Reducing friction (decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits)
– Priming your environment (prep your environment to make future actions easier)
– Mastering the decisive moment (optimise the small choices that deliver outsized impact)
– Using the Two-Minute Rule (downscale your habits until they can be done in 2 minutes or less)
– Automating your habits (invest in tech and one-time purchases that lock in future behaviour)

4 |  Make it satisfying by

– Using reinforcement (give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit)
– Making “doing nothing” enjoyable (when avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits)
– Using a habit tracker (keep track of your habit streak and “don’t break the chain”)
– Never missing twice (when you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately)

HOW TO BREAK BAD HABITS (this is the inversion of the above)

1 |  Make it invisible by

– Reducing exposure (remove the cues of your bad habits from your environment)

2 |  Make it unattractive by

– Reframing your mindset (highlight the benefits of avoiding your bad habits)

3 |  Make it difficult by

– increasing friction (increase the number of steps between you and your bad habits)
– using a commitment device (restrict your future choices to the ones that benefit you)

4 |  Make it unsatisfying by

– getting an accountability partner (ask someone to watch your behaviour)
– creating a habit contract (make the costs of your bad habits public and painful)


Hopefully the 4 Laws and their associated strategies above are self-explanatory but I highly recommend reading Atomic Habits which explains each Law and strategy in great detail, also providing loads of examples.  I use many of these strategies myself with one of my favourites being ‘habit stacking’ – I simply think of a habit I currently do and then ‘bolt on’ my new desired habit onto that, for example, ‘I will drink a large glass of water after I wake up.’  Or, ‘I will take my supplements as soon as I finish eating my dinner.’  I find this strategy works really well and saves me having to try and carry out the habit on its own at some other time!

So if you’re wondering how to create a new habit, then try using these 4 Laws. Simply ask yourself:

1. How can I make it obvious?
2. How can I make it attractive?
3. How can I make it easy?
4. How can I make it satisfying?

And if you’re trying to figure out how to break a bad habit, ask yourself the inverted version of the same questions:

1. How can I make it invisible?
2. How can I make it unattractive?
3. How can I make it difficult?
4. How can I make it unsatisfying?

Like James Clear says in his book, “your habits are shaped by the systems in your life”.

Use this framework to create easy systems in your every day life because all these little habits you practice every day, over time, will amount to a big result – and you want it to be a good result!


P.S. You can download my FREE HABITS TRACKER below to write down the habits you want to develop and track them over a month (just print out a copy each month) – you will see patterns and trends start to emerge and know immediately where you are doing well and where you need to improve (by implementing James’ Laws and strategies!)