The Radical Mono-Tasking 1-Day Challenge


An open mind can hold an extraordinary amount
So, we’re not actually designed to multi-task. Our brains go all over the shop and we do everything worse than if we did it with focus.  You know when you’re having half a conversation with someone and you don’t really engage, and they get irritated or disappointed, and words from the conversation end up randomly in your poorly drafted email? That. So I’m giving my mind a break, to see what it’s really capable of.


Here are the rules.

Rule 1: Do one thing at a time.
Rule 2: If in doubt, see Rule 1.

In practice, this will look like:

  • No using my phone while doing anything else – this includes eating, talking, riding on the train, watching TV, waiting for the kettle to boil. Anything. I will only use my phone when I sit down specifically to do so.
  • No reading anything unless sitting down specifically to do so.
  • When watching my daughter’s activities, just watch.
  • When eating – just eat.
  • When drinking – just drink.
  • No radio on at home, while exercising, or in the car. Listening to music means really sitting down and listening to it.
  • When doing chores, just do them. No getting distracted.
  • When playing with my family, just play with them. No getting distracted.
  • When talking – stop anything else, and just talk.
  • When listening – stop anything else, and just listen.
  • When resting – just rest.

Can you think of anything important I’ve left off the list? I think Rule 2 covers most things. I’m also thinking of doing a longer challenge (perhaps a week?) which would involve relaxing some of the rules. For example, I think I’d let myself have music on while doing other activities, or read a book while eating, or work on my laptop on the train. But for the sake of a hard core exercise, I’m going full bore.

I’ll do this tomorrow (Wednesday, April 24) and will report back! Why not give it a try – whether tomorrow with me, or later – and let me know what you discover?


Understanding your mental timeline can be very powerful

How do you mentally picture time?

We all have a timeline that we use to organise our ideas about the past, present and future. We sense the past as being in one direction and the future as being in another, with “now” somewhere in between.

Stop and think for a moment. Where is yesterday? Point in that direction. Where is tomorrow? Where is now? Until we think about this consciously, it’s one of those things we take for granted and assume is the same for everyone. In fact, people’s timelines can vary amazingly.

Our minds work with symbols and it is powerful to become aware of how we are thinking about time. It seems ridiculously simple, but re-arranging our mental timelines can make a huge difference to our perspective on things.

Trouble can arise when our timelines are set up in a way that’s not working for us. For example, I had a client who was fixated on a particular event from her past. It turns out for her, the past was directly behind her and the future was in front… So far so good, BUT she had “now” about an arm’s length in front of her, and in between her face and “now” was the event. It was blocking her view and making it impossible to see her future. We did a visualisation to move the event to behind her. She then felt a rush of lightness, and optimism about her future. I don’t know the exact mechanism for how this works – but I know it does.

Timelines have come up with quite a few of my clients recently and it is always great to be able to help them to get clear and functional about how they are organising their thoughts about their past, present and future. If it seems like it would help you to work on this, let me know or sign up for a Get Brilliant session.

Until next time, enjoy your brilliance.

Image courtesy of ntwowe at Free Digital Photos.

To get to courage, you’ve got to walk through vulnerability. Period.


Yes, my love affair with Brene Brown continues.

The title of this post is something Brene said during her recent interviews on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Super Soul Sunday.

For the next little while, the full episodes are available to view here and if you’ve got some time, I highly recommend watching them. Not much new material from her books, if you’ve read those (and if you haven’t – do it), but very powerful and lots of great reminders about how critically important it is to learn to be ok with who we really are. Ahhh, that feels better.

Also, my FREE offer of 30 minute phone sessions ends this week (the window to sign up ends, although you can then schedule your session for a later date that suits you). I’m offering this 30 minutes as a chance to work together to get clarity on ONE thing you can do to take you closer to where you want to be. If you – or someone you know – could benefit from that, the details are here.

Boxed in: On our relationship with stuff

Rethinking our purchasing

Today I came across an interesting New York Times article by a guy called Graham Hill. He writes about how he bought lots and lots and lots of stuff in his twenties, and now lives much more minimally and happily without it.

His circumstances are quite particular, which he acknowledges. He bought his stuff when he made lots of cash in the internet boom – not exactly the parallel experience of most of us. And he now lives an extremely materially sparse (but well funded) life that also wouldn’t work for many of us – particularly those with kids. In fairness, he doesn’t propose that everyone live like him. But – he does offer a provocation to re-consider how our stuff is affecting us.

I think the experience of accumulating, accumulating, accumulating is common to many of us. Certainly to me. And our motivations for doing that accumulating are often unconscious. Is it for security? Status? The brief emotional fulfillment of the purchase? Genuine functional need? Deep aesthetic attachment? What?

Just over a year ago, we moved from a very large house to a very small flat, to save some money. Because we have precious little storage in the new place, our garage is filled with furniture and boxed up items that we wanted to hold onto for when we eventually move back into a larger place – an unquestioned assumption of its own! The interesting thing is that with a few exceptions (like winter coats), we haven’t used or missed any of that stuff. I went in there just yesterday and looked at the boxes, wondering what on earth was in them. They could all go to the tip and we would never miss them. So why are we holding onto them? The things that we need – or love – are in the flat with us. The rest… I’m not so sure.

Most of my clients want to make changes in their lives that allow them to be more fulfilled. And very, very often, one of the main things holding them back is the fear of losing their stuff.

Now I’m certainly not suggesting that money doesn’t matter. Of course it does, in our society. I also love beautiful things and don’t expect I’ll be living in a simple room with a cot and desk anytime soon. But if we – and I certainly include myself in this – can re-wire our relationship to money and role of the things it can buy in our lives, I imagine we would suddenly feel a whole lot more free.

Look out, garage. I’m coming for you.

[Image courtesy of Craftyjoe at]

Shine like it does


Anyone who has spoken with me much over the past year or two will know that I am a bit in love with the work of Brene Brown. She researches and writes about vulnerability, courage and shame. It’s more uplifting than it sounds, trust me!

From darkness into light

The people that I work with mostly want to find the courage to live full, expansive lives. Brene’s recent post is a great meditation on the famous quote from Martin Luther King:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Her post is here. It’s short, and I highly recommend it.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking about things I’ve done (turn up late, forget a birthday, fluff a meeting) with disgust and shame out of all proportion. When I remember, I take a few moments to identify the part of myself that is feeling the disgust and shame, and I imagine it dissolving into soft, warm love. It doesn’t make it OK to forget someone’s birthday, but it does make me more likely to want to do something constructive about it rather than just avoid the pain.

Are you directing fear towards something you want to overcome in yourself? What would be different if you directed love towards it instead? What about towards someone else?


Hello, 2013


How have your holidays been?

I’ve had a lovely time. A couple of weeks visiting my parents, and then a trip to Tasmania where I competed (ok… there was no competing, but I ran) in my first half-marathon. It was ace. I finished in about the time I thought I would take. I’d never run that distance before (21.1 km) so was concerned about getting exhausted and dropping out, so I really paced myself. But, I finished feeling fresh. That means I could have pushed myself harder and got an even better result. I’m happy with my result, since my goal was to finish, but it got me thinking: where else do I set my goals too low?

Hmmm, something to think about.

Marathon Feat

By the way, if you haven’t been to the gorgeous island state of Tasmania (or live outside Australia and have never heard of it), I HIGHLY recommend it. We just scratched the surface in a week, there is so much more to see. Check it out:

So, since I have pretty much spent January on holidays, with more to come, this is a short post. I hope all is shaping up beautifully for you so far this year. See you soon.

A different kind of new year’s resolution

being present and having fun

Do-be-do-be-do. Around this time of year, there are a lot of people planning what they’re going to do in 2013. Goals tend to be about taking action. And true enough, things don’t get capital-D Done unless you take capital-A Action to make them. We hear a lot about goals needing to be “SMART”:


But things can also change without do-do-doing. You can change how you’re be-be-being.

I would suggest that those inner mindset shifts actually lay the groundwork for more graceful and fulfilling outer behavioural shifts, anyway.

So, what are you going to be in 2013?

Here’s my list:

  • Loving
  • Open
  • Compassionate
  • Committed
  • Present.

I’m going to print this list and have it visible in my office. I’ll also have it saved as my computer background. I want to stay gently mindful of these words through the year.

How about you – what’s your list? How will you keep it real?

Let me know! Brilliant.

Holiday Season

I’m taking a decent, long break from technology, from today, to be with my family over the Christmas season. Here in Australia, it’s high summer and I’m hopeful there’ll be plenty of swimming, playing under the sprinkler, barbecues and long lazy days reading books. I’m back on deck on January 7. If you’re having a break, I hope it’s a great one. Here’s to 2013.

Found this interesting or useful? Share it with others! Make sure you let me know your success stories, too. Post ‘em in the comments section, email me or tweet me at @real_brilliance.

C’mon, Get Happy

But first, get grumpy.

Go on. Do what you do when you’re having a real scowly grumbly grump.  Frowning? Mouth turned down? Shoulders crunched forward? Mood darkening? Good.

Now, get a pen or pencil and stick it in your mouth sideways, like this:

White sports socks with black business shoes are optional.

Now stay grumpy.


Hard to do, isn’t it? My bet: as soon as you put the pencil in your face, you felt your shoulders loosen, you sat up straighter, your forehead un-furrowed and your mood lightened.

We all know that our mood affects our physicality. We slump when we’re disappointed, sit bolt upright when we remember something startling, soften our faces and smile when we’re happy.

But we forget that it works the other way, too. Our physicality affects our mood. Powerfully.

The pencil trick is based on an experiment from 1988 (and repeated many times since). People were told it was a study about adaptations in people who’d lost the use of their hands, so they wouldn’t pre-empt the results. And then they did the pencil thing. That activates your smiling muscles, which triggers a biochemical response throughout your whole body. The participants who “smiled” were then a whole lot more positive about some questions than the control group.

This doesn’t mean you should fake smile your way through genuinely sad situations. But it is interesting to remember how a simple shift in our expression or posture can shift our mood. Next time you’re feeling melancholy, bored, irritated – and want to change it – try shifting your physical state to cheerful, excited, expansive. It won’t solve your problems, but it will prime your body and brain up to approach them from a much more resourceful and switched-on place.

For a great TED talk about your brain on happy, check this out.

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts. Share in the comments section. And if you know people who might find this useful or interesting, I would surely love you to share it with them. Thank you.

The 5 Stages of Change – Part 2


Last week we had a look at the five stages of change. This week, I’m bringing you some thoughts about how to move through them. And a FREE worksheet to download and keep so you can coach yourself along to success!

The coffee’s not bothering me at all: Denial

Here’s the thing. As I was writing this post, I realised that to do a decent job I would need to make it super long. And that really, a worksheet would be even more useful for you than just a blog post. So, I made a worksheet and I’m making it available to Real Brilliance subscribers. It’s got more information and lots of questions that you can use to coach yourself along the process. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up here and your Cha-Cha-Changes worksheet will be winging its way to you in no time. Outstanding!

And for your convenience (convenience is very nice), here are some quick pointers…

1. PRE-CONTEMPLATION. Go sailing on a river in Egypt. It’s called Denial.

This is where you don’t know or believe that your problem is anything to do with you. Your favourite aunty Zora who insists smoking makes her healthier? Pre-contemplation. The thing is, you can’t bully someone out of this stage. Ever tried telling Zora she really should quit? Right. Zora’s got to come up with it herself. If she’s receptive to the conversation at all, you could try asking her what would need to happen for her to know that smoking is a problem. She’ll come along when she’s good and ready… which may be never.

2. CONTEMPLATION. Hmmm, this sucks but I’m keeping it around, dagnabbit.

In contemplation, you’ve started to think about making a change but you’ve got misgivings. I’m pretty much here when it comes to giving up sugar completely. I know I’d be healthier for it, but I’m not really planning on changing any time soon.

The goal here is not to give up sugar. It’s to move into the “Preparation” stage. Ways to help that along include exploring what I’ll gain and lose by giving up sugar, and what I’ll gain and lose by keeping it in my diet.

Again, you can’t bully or cajole or reason someone out of Contemplation. They will use every resistance trick in the book to stay where they are. People will move along when they believe the pros of changing outweigh the cons of staying the same. The worksheet includes some pointers to help you weigh it all up.

3. PREPARATION. Let me make a list.

You don’t need a rocket science degree to know what Preparation involves. It involves preparing to change. Here, progress to Action is about

  • Noticing what works
  • Really believing the benefits compellingly outweigh the costs
  • Understanding what obstacles are in your way
  • Building a plan to overcome them

4. ACTION.  I’m on a mission, yeeha!

In the Action phase, you are starting to see the benefits (and yeah, the costs) of change. It’s normal for many people who get here to stay a while, or even take a trip or three back along the earlier stages before they really make it a part of their regular scheduled program. Here, moving into maintenance is all about:

  • Celebrating your successes
  • Noticing what works
  • Noticing what can lead you astray, and planning around that
  • Celebrating your successes (yes, again).

5. MAINTENANCE (AND DEALING WITH RELAPSE). What? This rockin’ life? It’s nuthin’.

Maintenance means you’ve made a habit out of your new way of operating. It’s just part of who you are and what you do. Sure, you might slip up now and then, but that’s part of being human and you’re back on track in no time.

So, if you’d like some more detail in the form of a juicy worksheet you can use to get you moving, sign up here. You’ll also get regular (weekly, or thereabouts) updates and early/discounted access to new resources as I make them available.


Found this interesting or useful? Share it with others! Make sure you let me know your success stories, too. Post ‘em in the comments section or tweet me at @real_brilliance.

The 5 Stages of Change – Part 1

Close up of The Thinker

If I don’t start exercising soon, I’ll never get moving.

So I had a friend* who consistently got into romantic relationships that ended after about 3 months.

She had no idea why. At first her mind boggled at her atrocious bad luck.

Then she had a sense that it might have been something to do with her, but to the extent she thought about that, she imagined it was something innate in her that was unable to make anything stick. Not the happiest of thoughts – so she banished it from her mind and kept on doing the same thing with the same results. Nothing changed. Until it did.

There’s a really useful model for understanding the five stages we go through when making a change (developed by Prochaska in the 1970s).

It’s called The Five Stages of Change.

Funny, that. And we know change isn’t a neat “Hello, chaps! Two weeks per stage then onwards, tally ho!” kind of a thing. It’s normal to move up and down along the model and spend all sorts of different amounts of time at each level. AND if you want to move forward, ask yourself what can help to get you ready. Really ready.

1. PRECONTEMPLATION. Go sailing on a river in Egypt. It’s called Denial.

In precontemplation, you don’t know what you don’t know. The possibility of changing doesn’t even enter your universe, or you’re in denial that it has anything to do with you.  My friend thought she had very bad luck. A manager blames her team members for bad results – no consideration given to what she might do differently. Someone miserable in his job trudges in every day, wishing the culture at his company was different, without a sense of his own ability to contribute to something better. Someone super unfit might have tried and failed to get moving so often that she’s completely given up. Or she denies that it’s affecting her health at all. At this stage, if you’re thinking about it at all (which you’re probably not), you say things like:

  • It’s not my fault, anyway.
  • It doesn’t apply to me.
  • I’m fine.
  • My situation’s different.
  • I can’t control anything so why bother?

If you’re reading this with a particular issue in mind, you’re probably not in pre-contemplation on that issue. Needless to say, nothing gets better in precontemplation.

2. CONTEMPLATION. Hmmm, this sucks but I’m keeping it around, dagnabbit.

In contemplation, you’ve started to think about making a change but you’ve got misgivings. You’re afraid of what you might lose and you’re weighing that up against what you think you’ll gain. That cosy sense of certainty you get from staying stuck is something you’re holding on to. And with good reason. Making a change can be, and usually is, pretty emotional. So you go to safety. You notice all the barriers (uncertainty, expense, time, fear, effort). I call them the “yes, buts”. They are the enemy of change. In your clever brain, you can see the benefits of changing, but the “yes, buts” aren’t in your brain. They’re in your guts or heart and they are winning out. Here, you say things like:

  • Hmmm, maybe it’s me.
  • I know I need to change, but …
  • I need to know for sure before I do anything.
  • It’s just all too hard.
  • I’ll take another look at it later.

3. PREPARATION. Let me make a list.

In preparation, you’ve realised it’s up to you to change. You start to get ready. You collect information and you might make some small changes (my friend reads some books about noticing your patterns, the manager reads a book about management techniques she might use to influence her team, the unhappy worker starts researching other roles in his industry, the unfit person buys a pedometer). These are really experiments that start to build your momentum as your commitment grows.

In preparation, your feelings of optimism and control grow. You say things like:

  • What else can I do?
  • What other options are there?
  • This could actually work.
  • Other people do it. I could too.

Preparation is interesting. The ‘yes buts’ are still there. Whether you move into action, get stuck in preparation for ages or move yourself backwards depends on getting your sense of optimism to outweigh, outsmart and outshine the ‘yes buts’.

4. ACTION.  I’m on a mission, yeeha!

Action is where the magic happens. You’re doing it and you rock. You’re making a real difference. My friend shifts her filters for who is dateable and starts a relationship with – shock – a lovely guy. The manager starts meeting with her team members to build the relationships and ask for their feedback on how to help things. The unhappy worker talks with his manager about re-arranging his role so it includes more of what he loves and less of what he doesn’t. The non-exerciser gets out of bed and out for a walk 3 days a week. You see results – and so do other people. And that feels AWESOME.

5. MAINTENANCE (AND DEALING WITH RELAPSE). What? This rockin’ life? It’s nuthin’.

Maintenance means making it real. Swapping the “new and exciting” for “this is just what I do and who I am”.  It’s pretty normal for people to spend a bit of time in Maintenance and then cycle through various other parts of the process for a while before they lock it in for good. That happens when you start to see the inevitable slip up (hitting snooze and skipping the workout) as just that – a temporary slip up – and not a sign the whole project’s failed or is just too hard. It becomes part of your hard-wiring and living in this new way becomes effortless.

And THAT is brilliant.

So, which stage do you think you’re in? And what helps you progress? In my next post, I’ll look at some strategies that can help you move yourself through the stages.

*OK, it was me. And yep, we’re happy as can be 🙂

Found this interesting or useful? Share it with others! Make sure you let me know your success stories, too. Post ‘em in the comments section or tweet me at @real_brilliance.