At Canary Coaching we often support clients on goals, from setting realistic ones, to putting in milestones, to achievement…and setbacks.

I am always looking for strategies that successful achievers have, which I can share with those experiencing setbacks. Most recently I asked a previous client who had lost half of his body weight over the past two and a half years, going from morbidly obese to a healthy BMI, “what advice would you give other people attempting to achieve that goal?”

His answer was a brilliant, easy to share strategy for setbacks. He explained that he still ‘fell off the wagon’ having the odd binge, but instead of thinking ‘I’ve ruined it now, there’s no point’, and giving up (and worse, punishing himself for doing so), he decided to get back on the wagon the next day. Simple.

He concluded by saying that the cumulative effect of all the days ‘on the wagon’ far outweighed the setbacks, and therefore no binge, or break in training is worth deleting the goal for. He is happier now than I have ever seen him.I love this outlook and have talked it through with clients who have a variety of goals, be it to ignore social media during working hours, run the marathon or do internet dating. Initially we talked about going to bed being the ‘re-set’, to ‘start-again’ the next morning. But then I brought it forward, what if you ‘re-set’ straight after the set-back?


Food for thought…
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If you’ve got a goal that you’d like some coaching and support with in order to achieve, contact us.



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Er...isn’t it a bit early for this?
It may seem that way to some people –resolutions are very often formed out of the carnage that is Christmas – hastily made plans to convince ourselves that all that has been done can be undone now that a fresh new year is upon us.

Let me ask you a question. How many of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 will you have achieved by the end of December? How many have been let slide for various excellent reasons?

OK...so what am I supposed to do?
A bit of planning is all. The reason that so many resolutions get shelved is that they’re either not that achievable in the first place, or they didn’t take into account the various aspects of life that tend to get in the way. They were ‘dreams’ rather than ‘plans’.

That makes sense...so talk me through it.
Well here’s a quick tool you can use to make your resolutions a lot more likely to happen. Write answers to each of these sections.

  • Positive. Talk in terms of what you do want rather than what you want to give up. I want to play the guitar, I want to be a size 10, I want to be a non-smoker, I want to speak Italian.
  • Evidence. What will be evidence that you’ve achieved the goal – what will you see and hear? ‘I’ll see my family singing along with me, ‘I’ll hear people say ‘you look well!’. List as many as you can.
  • Context. Frame the context in which you want to have these things – ‘I want to play the guitar in the evenings with my family’, ‘I want to be a size 10 in July and for the rest of the year after that’.
  • Self-Achievable. This is probably the most important. If you’re relying on the behaviour of someone else, then you don’t have control over whether you do it. So rather than ‘I want to have a published novel’, how about ‘I want to have finished writing my novel’. 


  • Advantages and Disadvantages. Consider these carefully. What will be the benefits of being able to speak another language? What will be the drawbacks of training for the marathon – especially in the winter months? Considering these and acknowledging them means you’re much more likely to achieve as you’re going into the goal knowing about the hurdles you may face.
  • Worthwhile. A final check. What will achieving do for you? What will it help you to avoid? What are the benefits?

And you really think this will work?
Yes. Using this tool makes ‘dream’ seem real and turns it into ‘well-formed outcome’. You might want to go on from this into making a more solid timetable or timeline and get buy in and support from members of your family and friends. Why not have a think about next year now, while you’ve got time, before the Christmas craziness is upon us – that way you can know what you’re looking forward to. 


If you'd like some coaching to get you ready for the new year, or even to handle the stress that Christmas may bring,  feel free to get in touch.


We are offering a *Resolute Resolutions* coaching package - a great gift for you or a loved one to ensure you reach your goals in 2013. Click here for more info.



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There’s been a lot in the media the last week about this, with some typically sensational and misleading headlines such as the Daily Mail - "Working more than eight hours a day raises the risk of heart disease by 80%".  All the noise has resulted from the publication of two studies, one in the American Journal of Epidemiology focusing on working hours, and the other in The Lancet concentrating on general job strain and not ‘feeling in control’.   

Having looked at the excellent explanations on the NHS Choices site, the general conclusion seems to be that, even when other factors are taken into account, workplace stress can have a significant effect on a person’s risk of having a heart attack. However, this effect is less significant than other lifestyle factors such as smoking or lack of exercise.

So, what can you do about workplace stress?

Take a hard look at what’s causing your stress.  If you’re working long hours – could you improve your time management or are you doing it just because everyone else does – and is that a valid reason?  If you feel you’re struggling with the tasks you’re asked to do, 

look at what additional skills might help you to  
cope better and look at training options.  If you feel bullied, or you have no control, check how your colleagues are feeling and consider approaching your boss with a  proposal on how to change things.  If none of this works, then look hard at your values and consider whether you are in the right job – or at worst do everything else you can to reduce your risks.

What else can you do to reduce your risks?
There’s plenty of advice around – smoking is the No 1 risk factor.  Maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your alcohol intake within the recommended limits and taking regular exercise are all very important.  Easier said than done?

Need a second opinion?
Sometimes when you’re in a situation, it can be really difficult to see things objectively and you just keep trying to sort things out and it doesn’t work.  NLP coaching can help you take a fresh look at what’s going on for you, whether you need a career change or just some motivation to improve your lifestyle.


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Currently hemmed in due to the Olympic torch coming through Southwark, my thoughts have turned to the Olympic legacy. One of the government’s aims is that the Olympics will enthuse more people to get involved in sport and thereby increase the health and fitness of the nation. There is however a big difference between doing sport and watching sport – supporting your national or local teams...often by shouting at a TV in a pub, celebratory (or commiserative!) pints in hand.

Lucy Mangan quoted a survey in Stylist Magazine this week stating that 99.99999% of school age girls in the UK had been put off exercise by bad experiences of PE lessons and school sports. Can watching super-fit athletes (sponsored by McDonalds) on the telly really change such long held beliefs – beliefs formed on muddy pitches whilst being shouted at by over-zealous instructors and perved on by acne ridden boys?

There must be some truth in the inspirational effect of TV sport however – every year during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, my local courts are completely full of people failing to get balls over nest and grunting loudly. For about three weeks. 

Stylist magazine also challenged eight of their team to take on sporting challenges they’d aim to complete by the first day of the Olympics. Only three succeeded. Various reasons cited for the failure of the remaining five included not choosing the right sport, laziness and fitting it in around work.



So what is the answer? How can the nation beat growing obesity with such little will-power and commitment? In my humble NLP based opinion, the answer is threefold:

1.       Tackle the entrenched beliefs you may have about sport and exercise that were formed at a young age. Ask yourself questions such as – When was the last time I did sport? What exactly was it about it that I didn’t like? Is that still relevant today? Is there a way of doing it differently that would mitigate that thing that I don’t like? 

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2.       Set well-formed, achievable goals – before committing to a sport and a schedule that is completely unsuitable which will only serve to entrench your beliefs about you and sport, look at it from a different perspective: How much can I realistically fit in with my workload whilst maintaining a social life? (If the answer to this question is ‘none’, I suggest a good look at work-life balance!). What sport best suits my needs? What milestones can I put in to review my progress? (Expecting yourself to become an Olympic athlete within three weeks is not a reasonable milestone!) What could get in the way? How can I plan to handle these obstacles?

3.       Motivation – Look at your motivation to achieve your goal. What are the effects on your health if you don’t exercise? What if you continue not to exercise for the next five years? What will you think about yourself? What will other people think about you? What if you do achieve your goal? What will that do for you? How will people’s opinion of you change? Asking these sorts of questions will clarify and amplify your motivation to stop ‘laziness’ becoming a factor.  

Health and fitness goals are often blocked by poor planning and ‘stuck’ thinking. To really achieve you have to have the right frame of mind. A few sessions with an NLP Coach can help you address any limiting beliefs, set well-formed goals, and address your motivation to make sure you achieve.



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