Why Do I Always Do My Tax Return Last Minute?

Well, last weekend saw me racing to get my tax returns sorted.  OK, so although it wasn’t completely eleventh hour, as I don’t like leaving things to the last minute I was feeling the pressure of it.  Every year I promise myself that I’ll be more organised, and every year I complete them in January.

I have no excuse, I’m an organised person.  I’m just an organised person with a tendency to procrastinate.  So this year I’m going to take these 3 simple steps to my accounting with a goal of having my tax return done by the end June.  Having the finalised accounts will help me with my business planning for the following year.

  • Schedule 30 minutes every week, this is to go through my diary and record my weekly miles and expenditure, number the receipts and record my earnings.
  • Place a diary entry end April to chase the additional information required.  I.e. getting tax certificates on my savings accounts, etc.  Check that I can log onto the system.  Check stock etc
  • Diarise a half day in June to pull together all missing information and enter onto system

The advantage of doing this is that all the information is fresher in my mind.  You can use this 3 step diary approach to any tasks that you keep putting off.

If you find yourself procrastinating over important tasks, get in touch with Carolyn today on 07714 216388 to take advantage of your free consultation.

P1080106copyright Carolyn Trafford (2014)

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Why Does My New Year Resolution Fail?

Why do I so often fail with my new year resolution? Are Goals and Resolutions the same thing?

Setting New Years resolutions are a bit of a tradition. I’ve been waking up on the 1st January for as long as I can remember and setting resolutions. Its something my mum first encouraged me to do.

How many resolutions last the year? Not many and that’s probably the case for most people. In fact if you start to research the topic you’ll find that stats suggest that most will be broken by the middle Monday in January. Frequently dubbed Blue Monday, this day is the accumulation of long nights, back to work syndrome, arrival of credit card bills and little to look forward to. Add to that, the fact that most people’s resolutions are about giving something up or doing something we don’t want to, then it can become a difficult proposition to maintain.

Properly formulated goals can be a very different proposition. So why are goals so different?

So ask yourself the question – Do you want to lose weight or is it that you want to feel better about yourself? Do you want to give up alcohol or do you want to live a healthier lifestyle?

Once you understand what’s driving your resolution then working toward achieving that goal is about having  positive motivation, rather than moving away from something you don’t want.

Goals should be specific. They should identify exactly what it is you want to achieve, this way you will know when you’re achieved it. This should include a quantity if appropriate and a time by when you will have completed it.

So if your goal is about getting fit, how will you know when you feel fitter? Perhaps a measure might be being able to run for 5 minutes without stopping by the end of March OR being able to walk upstairs without being out of breath.

Goals are much easier to achieve in small steps. If your goal is to write a novel by the end of the year, that’s one big task that you may put off until November and then it becomes unrealistic. Break your goals into small manageable steps, which in this case might be to write the outline by the end of January, 1st chapter by end of February and get feedback in March. Celebrate each achievement as you reach it.
And remember, don’t be hard on yourself. We all lose our way from time to time. It’s like riding a bike, the trick is to get back on when you fall off. So don’t be hard on yourself, just resolve to start again.

What’s Your NY Resolution?

If you need help with your goals this year, then having some support can really make the difference.  Give me a call now on 07714 216388 to see how I can help you make a splash with your goals.

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copyright Reflections Coaching

 

 

Learn To Take Your Own Advice

How often do others suggest we take our own advice?  What prompts them to say it? We’re probably very good at dishing out our own advice but are we as prepared to take it?

I had one of those moments last week.  You may remember about 2 weeks ago I wrote a post about The Art Of Serendipity and how Serendipitous Happy Accidents more often occur as a result of our own engineering.  If you want more of those chance meetings, you need to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time.

Its great advice.  Yet once again I found myself debating whether or not I should attend a new business group.  Not just any business group, a group of professional speakers.  I do talks, seminars and training sessions, but these people are the peers I want to have, they are the best speakers in the area.  If I want to raise my game this is where I need to be.

Yet I still debated my own advice.  The meeting wouldn’t be finishing until late and it was an hours drive.  I asked a business colleague who I knew was attending if he thought it was worth it.

He suggested that if I wanted to grow my business that I needed to make the opportunities and put myself out there (that’s not quoted verbatim but it was the essence).  It was almost like he was throwing my own words and thoughts back at me.  How daft did I feel?

So I went, I met some fantastic people, and delivered one of the best speeches I’ve ever delivered without pre-planning.  It was a great meeting and I met 10 great new contacts.

So my top tip for today is, learn to take your own advice.  Next time you’re debating a decision ask yourself:

“If it was my friend asking me, what would I tell them to do?”

and then act on it.  Its the best advice you’ll ever get.

Perhaps you’d like to share your thoughts about when you last took your own advice and it really paid off.  Please feel free to comment below:

 

P1060895copyright Carolyn Trafford

The Art of Saying “No”

Last week’s blog post – “Saying No Can Be Hard To Do” hopefully started you thinking about how difficult it can be to say “No” and why in fact you do this based on your belief system.  This week I wanted to take that thinking one stage further and start to look at how you can change your “YES” setting.

Whether you’re employed or running a business the pressure to work longer than nine to five are greater than ever.

There comes a time, when saying “No” is something you have to do.

However, if time management becomes an issue learning to say “No” with confidence and without offending anyone can be vital.  Do you find it hard to say?

It might be because you’re eager to please, perhaps you feel guilty when you say “No” or people have just come to expect that when they approach you or push the boundaries, you’ll say “Yes

Saying “No” with confidence is not difficult. Armed with a few simple steps you can learn to say “No” leaving you and the other party still feeling great.

My four steps to saying “No” with confidence:
Ground Rules –  Work out what’s important to you.  Maybe clocking off at 5pm means that you can spend some quality time with the kids or your partner.  Understanding its importance helps you to preserve it.  Consider also the priority of your values i.e. family, then health, then work.  How important is time with family and friends.  Knowing this helps you set ground rules e.g. you could accept phone calls up to a certain hour.  Should weekend be work free?

Make your ground rules non-negotiable.

Offer A Reason – When people know why, they will be more understanding because emotions are attached to the situation.

So don’t just say “No” – Say “No because……”

An example could be that “I like to get home by 6pm once a week so that I can have some family time with the kids“.  There’s no need to feel guilty about that.

And remember that saying “yes” to someone else means that you are saying “No” to yourself, your values, your beliefs.  You’re saying you don’t matter as much as the other person.

A Helpful “No” – Presenting the other person with a possible solution means that you’re still being helpful.  Probably one of the reasons you always say “Yes” anyway.

So although you may say “No” you can’t work late to finish the customer order you may be in a position to say that you can come in early the next morning or suggest a colleague who you know is wanting the extra overtime.

Seeking a win-win situation that makes the other person feel valued is important whilst maintaining your own ground rules.

Choose Guilt Free – Remember that it is the other person who needs the favour, they’re asking you to put yourself out – you always have a choice, so choose not to feel guilty.

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If you still find this quite alien, remember my “take one small step” process to goal setting.  This can be applied here. Look for little examples of where you can say “No”, where perhaps the stakes are not quite so high.  The more you practice the easier this will become.

I would love to hear your stories of when saying “No” has really worked for you.  Please share them here:

Who Is Your Worst Enemy? – That’ll Be Frankie.

Fortunately when I ask myself this question, my list of enemies isn’t that long…

Yes of course I have annoyed a few people over the years, and of course there are a few people who I have annoyed. But to class as actual enemies there is probably only one.

According to the Oxford English dictionary:

enemy
Pronunciation: /ˈɛnəmi/

noun (plural enemies)
a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something

…And its using that definition that allows me to identify not my worst enemy, but thankfully my only one. That person is often me. Why? Because its me that can be blamed for getting in the way of my plans and dreams. Its me that at times actually stops me doing things that I want to do.

I don’t set out to do it, but I keep doing it.   Almost 18 months ago I was made redundant after 24 years.  One of the small rewards I was going to give myself on receipt of my remuneration was a trip on the Norwegian Fjords.  Its not the most expensive cruise, yet there is a little voice in my head asking me if I can justify spending the money right now.  When is going to be a right time?  I don’t know other than to say sometime before I die and I don’t know when that will be.

Another example is when I spy an opportunity for my business.  Sometimes that little voice in my head pops up and says “I’m not ready yet” or “its a big step“.   That’ll be Frankie.  Frankie is the name I’ve given to my self doubt.  Frankie is the part of me that lacks confidence.

Do you have a Frankie, talking you out the things you know you ought to be doing? 

I’m sure you do, they’re hard to get rid of, although there are lots of things you can do to help manage them.

Acknowledge your lack of self belief.  That’s why I named mine.  He/she exists because they have a name.

Have a conversation with yourself – talk back to your Frankie.  When you hear him/her talking you out of doing something , create a positive persona.  If you need to give it a name.  Its not crazy only you will know you do it – unless you go and announce it on your blog of course.  Remind yourself exactly how good you are.

It sounds strange, I know, but it does get easier to do with time and practice.  And very soon your positive persona will take over and your self belief and confidence will grow naturally.

I have a wealth of experience helping clients face up to their self belief and lack of confidence.  If you would like help dealing with your “Frankie” why not get in touch with me for a free consultation.  Who knows where it could lead?

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Perceptional Stress

Is your self perception of time management skills linked to your stress levels?

For SMEs poor time management skills can impact on stress levels causing key staff or business owners to become ineffective.

I took part in a fun little quiz about time management skills and shared it via my facebook page. If you wish to have a go you’ll find a link dated 25th July 2013 here:

https://www.facebook.com/Reflectionscoaching

A conversation with a client gave me some food for thought. Her idea is that being over organised and managed can cause you stress rather than avoiding it. So whilst creating a to do list can be a fantastic means of getting this tasks organised and all in one place, placing too much emphasis on having to achieve everything on that to do list in a short space of time can be the root cause of high stress levels.

I call this perceptional stress because its your perception rather than the reality of the situation that causes the stress.

So this week’s lesson is deliberately short and sweet. When creating your to do list be realistic about what you can achieve in a single day, work out what’s really important and place a realistic timescale for achieving it. Everything else will wait.

What causes you stress and how do you deal with it?

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Woosh!! & You Missed It – Was That Your Goal?

Somebody reminded me this week that we’re half way through the year.  When on earth did that happen?

I’ve achieved lots already this year, I’ve joined a really great new networking group, I’m almost at the point of relaunching my website, supporting the Princes Trust and picked up an international client.  Some of these were goals at the start of the year – others have been happy surprises.

Either way the start of July is an excellent opportunity to review where you are with your goals and here is my 5 step plan:

  • Review Your Goals – Dig that action plan out from underneath the pile of filing, dust it off and take a good look at it – it could surprise you.
  • Celebrate What You Have Achieved – don’t be hard on your self for what you haven’t.  Write down your successes, record them in a journal, open some bubbly, share them on facebook (or in the comments below)  – it really doesn’t matter as long as you celebrate it.
  • Review What Is Outstanding – are they still relevant to you? Change some, dump some, create some and then create a new action plan for the second half of the year, but make sure its focused on what you really want to achieve.
  • View Them Regularly – its no good creating an action plan and shoving it to one side.  And if like me you find SMART goals a little tiresome, create your goals in a way that will inspire YOU. Draw them, cut pictures out of magazines, create a vision board.  I have my vision board in Pinterest feel free to take a look.  Some of the picture won’t mean anything to you but they mean a lot to me.  Having your goals in a visual format can really help them become meaningful.
  • Share Them – one of the biggest motivators in achieving goal success is to tell someone else you’re going to do it.  So share your goals with someone.  You could even share them here. I’d love to hear all about them.

© Brett Trafford(c) Brett Trafford Photography

Seeking Some Calm On A Summer’s Day?

Crikey! Its Friday already, the sun is shining and promising to do so for the weekend, I have had a busy week of clients, business meetings, committee meetings, social media and updating my website and a meeting with my mentor!

It seems as though every meeting I attend – I come away with half a dozen actions, dump my notes on my desk and shoot out for the next meeting.  Its good to be busy however I’m simply not keeping on top of my admin AND I want to spend some time in the sun.

If I’m not careful I have a tendency to end up with to do lists for my to do list.

This is a typical example of how work/life balance can become difficult for many of us, particularly SMEs and sole traders.

I saw a great speaker this week as part of the Hay House Summit, his name is Greg Sherwood and you can listen to his talk here.  I’ve not included the name of the talk and you should only listen to it if you can handle a certain amount of bad language, however I liked the idea behind his approach.  The concept being to to write down everything that is causing you stress, score them on their importance and basically say “shove it” (my words – Greg’s are stronger) to the items scoring below a 7-8.

You can choose words that you are comfortable with, the stronger they are puts some weight behind the act of “shoving them” much more than simply crossing them off a to do list.  By vocalising the act, it somehow has more meaning.

I liked the concept and am adapting it for my own use.

What methods do you use to get rid of your stress?

 

This week’s photo was taken on the recent expedition in the Lake District.  For me it represents the kind of calm I am seeking in my working day.

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Do you network or do referal marketing? – What does this say about you?

The question do you network or do referral marketing is not so much because I’m interested whether you do or not.  Its more about how you perceive others and they perceive you.

It came about at one of my networking meetings.  I was having a chat with one of the attendees.  I tend to think of myself as a networker, they felt they did referral marketing.

Personally I prefer to ‘network’ – I see this as a really positive thing to do.  Building up great relationships with great people and making sure I keep in close contact.

My fellow ‘referral marketer’ held the opposite view.  She felt that net workers were people who just did the rounds, met lots of people and didn’t have close relationships.

I’m not seeking your views here – at the end of the day they are just words.  However it is for me a lesson in being aware about the words we use to describe ourselves, how we use them and how others interpret it.  We could just be giving the wrong impression.

 

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What Can Margaret Thatcher Teach Us About Business?

Politics are a funny thing in a fickle world. I also believe they’re a very private thing and not for discussion on my blog. However what is worth commenting on is the power of a Woman that knows her own mind.

 

Lady Margaret Thatcher was an extraordinary woman. She knew exactly what she wanted to achieve and set out to achieve it in a challenging environment and in a world dominated by men.

 

What is important to understand is not what her motives were but to examine the behaviour she displayed and how we can use this as learning in our own businesses/workplaces.

 

If we are to take one piece of learning from her and bring it into the business world it is this:

 

She was a lady that had a clear vision, undeniable self-belief whilst remaining true to her own values and that of her party at the time.  I know these are three things that are critical in running my business.  She is also a great role model for women and what can be achieved with clear goals and a “can-do” attitude.

 

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

I work closely with individuals around their values and goals in their careers and business and spend time working on my own self-development to bring this into my own business.
What three things do you need in your business and how will you get them?

 

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