Lets Take Some Time Out

I’ve just had a lovely slightly longer than average weekend.  A really good friend came to stay, a friend who I probably see 3 or 4 times a year.

I’m sharing this with you because, having my friend in the house meant that both myself and my hubby who also runs his own business, switched off our computers, and put down our tablets for 3 whole days.  I don’t know when this last happened other than over Christmas.  Even when we go on holiday we take a tablet each and seek out the wifi.  Its almost as though facebook would fail without us, let alone our businesses.

I don’t know if it’s the fear that if we don’t get back to someone straight away that a business lead will simply go cold, or our absence from social media means that we lose our presence. Either way those thoughts are unfounded.

The weekend is now over and there are no lost clients, just a bigger than average inbox to go through.  We have however had a lovely relaxed weekend that simply wouldn’t have been achieved had our guest not have stayed.  I even managed to try my hand at making crumpets, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

So the moral of this story?  Just once in a while, either with friends or on your own – switch off your social media – its one sure fire way of getting some balance back in your life.

If from time to time you find balancing home and work difficult, using a coach to help you make personal boundaries can make a huge difference. Give Carolyn a call on 07714 216388 today to make an appointment for your first free consultation – what do you have to lose?



What Is Stopping You?

We all had so many good intentions at the beginning of January, for most of us now, we’ll be finding some of those goals a bit of a challenge, especially those of us with weight loss, or ‘giving up’ type of goals.  Even those of us with achievement goals, i.e. ‘I want to start a business’ may have found obstacles in the way.

So what is your biggest obstacle?

Have you ever considered the answer to that question could well be “Me”.  The one thing stopping you achieving your goals could actually be you.  Psychologically we do this all of the time.  Those voices in your head that say “I can’t because……”, and it may be about money, or time, or family life.  The truth is these are just excuses you have made up for yourself.  If you  truly wanted to achieve something you could, if you stepped out of the way.

SO push aside those negative thoughts and instead of thinking why you CAN’T do something.  Think about all the reasons why you CAN.

If there’s something you want to achieve and your thoughts of CAN’T are taking over, give Carolyn a call today on 07714 216388 and book your free consultation.  Together we’ll get you thinking CAN.

P1080123copyright Carolyn Trafford 2014



Comfort Zone Leap Part III – Gaining Context When It Doesn’t Go Your Way

Well, I’m about half way through the comedy challenge now and like most things that start well, there’s a point you reach when things are losing momentum or not going as well.  And that’s where I’m at.  Fortunately I’ve still got 2 weeks to get out there and iron out these niggling problems.

There were 2 things this week.  The first was at rehearsals.  Having made good progress last week, I hadn’t needed to tweak my routine that much.  Many of the others had, so really my material was old hat to them.  As a result the laughter wasn’t as rich.

Secondly the day after rehearsals I visited the local comedy club here in Leek and the sudden realisation of how good they were and how amateur I am hit me.  I also experienced how hard the 2 middle acts had to work for their laughs. These are the new comedians on the scene who are still forming their material.

For me this a great metaphor for life.

How many times do we compare ourselves less favorably to others and have unrealistic expectations of ourselves.    So here is this weeks learning point:

  • Be realistic – who should you compare yourself to?  In my case it would be better to compare myself to my peers who are learning comedy with me, and we’re all doing OK, some are better at delivery, others have better material but we’re all improving each week.


If you apply too much pressure to be something you’re not or to achieve other’s standards, you could set yourself up for failure.  As a coach this is common with my clients, so if you’re giving yourself an unbelievably hard time and need some help taking the pressure off yourself, give me a call on 07714 216388 to see how learning some personal development techniques could help you.

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.


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:

How To Create A Perfect Life/Work Balance

What does your life work balance look like?  How do you decide whether its working for you?

I’ve had a bit of a stressful week this week.  It started on Monday which tends to be the day I tackle my admin so that the rest of the week is clear to do what I really do for a living.  Something went wrong in the process and then suddenly I’m behind for the week, because I had a diary full of appointments and meetings.  By Friday I felt quite stressed.  With absolutely no plans for the weekend, one option would have been to clear my admin over the weekend, but actually I took the completely opposite choice to do absolutely nothing to do with work.


   P1060155        There’s nothing quite like a good hill walk and an appreciation for your surroundings to clear your mind.

……..because for me, my work life balance is one of the most valuable things I have.  It allows me to chill, refresh myself, prepare myself for the next busy week, take stock of everything and remember what is important.  My private life, spending time with my hubby and Ziggy dog and going to visit my Dad (and Mum) but it was father’s day after all.

My tip for this week is simple:

Whatever it is you do in life, whatever your routine, take some time out to work out what’s missing from your week and schedule it in.  It is as important as any meeting, client, social media, planning session etc etc

P1060493In clearing a bit of time, I managed to get Mum to show me a new crochet stitchfrom which I made this lovely flower. I’ve been knitting and crocheting for about 18 months now and find it very relaxing until I’m learning something new.  I have a goal to crochet a lovely summer top but have a few stitches and skills to learn first.

What are your life rocks?

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand

I don’t know where this originates from, I think it may be Steven Covey, but you may have heard the story of a teacher who presents a glass jar to his class and asks:

“If I fill this jar with 3 large rocks, will it be full?” 

After looking at the jar they conclude that the rocks will indeed fill the jar.

The teacher takes the large rocks and places them in the jar. Then he takes out a box full of pebbles. and again, asks:

“If I add all of the pebbles to the jar, will it be full?”

And again the class conclude that the jar will now be full.

The teacher adds the peoples to the jar. They fill the gaps around the rocks and he then reaches for a bag of sand:

“If I add this sand to the jar, will it be full?”

Of course they can see there is room. The teacher continues:

  “Now that I’ve added the three rocks, the pebbles, and the sand, is the jar full?”

Looking at the jar filled to the brim, the class agrees that the jar is now full. “There’s no room for anything else in the jar,” say the class.

So the teacher takes out a cup of water, and pours it right into the glass jar. The water easily falls into the jar down between the rocks, pebbles, and sand:

“Now it’s full,”

f3911425copyright C Trafford

The natural conclusion is that no matter how fall your life you can always fit something more in.  In actual fact, the real lesson is the order in which you put them in matters.  If you put the big rocks in last they’ll never fit, so its important to know what they are and put them first in life.
My business is important to me, but my rocks are my home life.  What are the rocks in your life? And do you put them in your jar first?
Your life/work balance matters!

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.







Who Is Your Inner Voice?

Do you have a negative inner voice?


Two months ago I discovered that an ex-colleague had cancer.  A lovely lady that I originally met in my first public facing role.  We parted company many years ago but until I left earlier this year still worked for the same organisation and I would run into her on occasion.   Her cancer was very progressive and when I met her in May she was reliant on a mobility scooter, but otherwise looked really well.

Last week I ran into her husband in town and asked after her.  It was one of those awful moments as he realised that I hadn’t known that she has passed away.  I was shocked that we had lost her and the whole situation was horrible with neither of us really knowing what to say.  He moved on very quickly and I wanted the ground to swollow me up.

I’ve just spent the whole week being annoyed with myself for asking how she was.  How could I be so inconsiderate of his feelings?

As I type this I know that’s a really stupid thing to say.  Having left the organisation I have lost touch with a number of people including the good old gossip grapevine. How could I have known? Yet all week that little voice in my head has been telling me I’m stupid.

I’m frequently having conversation with clients about their strategies for dealing with the voices in their heads.  Dialogues vary immensely from little green devils on people’s shoulders to wobbly pink talking jellies in the pit of a stomach, they can have names such as Fred or Horace, yet they have the same affect on us, they change the way we see ourselves.


Now that I have identified my negative inner voice, now I can develop my strategy for dealing with it.  I’ll start by persuading it to look at things in a positive light.

What does your inner voice look/feel/sound like?  And how do you deal with it? Please share your thoughts here:

Redundancy – 2 common responses and how to deal with them.

“I’m sorry but your team is being relocated!” – these were the words I heard – and I knew then that meant for me leaving the organisation I‘d worked for for 20+ years.

I’ve heard different expressions “your role is being deleted”, “you’re redundant” being amongst the worst.  It’s a fact of life.  With a struggling economy and worse happening in Europe, companies are being forced to make cutbacks and there is rarely anything personal when managers make such decisions as to who stays and who goes.

Its very easy to sit here writing a blog post and making that statement. Its quite different when you find yourself in that situation.

Two common responses are:

“Why Me?”.  This is a natural response to any kind of change.  The Reflections Coaching Change Curve © demonstrates the responses we go through when we face a change and is useful in understanding the range of emotions that go with it.

 “I’m redundant”.  Frankly this statement stems from what we choose to say, or what others have wrongly phrased it.  Redundancy is not about you or me its about a financial decision being made about the role that you currently do.  The individual (you) are not redundant – in fact quite the opposite.  You have a huge range of transferable skills and knowledge .

But here’s the real conundrum – right at the very moment you need every ounce of confidence, someone has possibly dealt you one of the biggest confidence knocks of your life.  And right at the time when you should be investing in YOU – someone has removed your financial safety net.


Coinage (Photo credit: Simon Greig (xrrr))

If you’re looking for another job, getting some help with CV writing and interview skills is a must.  Times have changed and as I’ve discovered recently CVs need to be much better and good networking skills a real must in finding work.

Whether you’re looking for work or thinking of starting a business then networking and confidence skills are paramount too.

I’ll be covering more of both networking and interview stuff in  future blog posts, however if this has sparked your interest then coaching could help too.  Why not visit Reflections for more information.


Merry Christmas 2011

I just wanted to wish you all a very

Merry Christmas

and a

Happy New Year. 

I will be back in 2012 to help you with all those goals.

Many thanks for being with be during 2011.


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