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…

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


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.


I have recently read ‘A Shed of One’s Own’ by Markus Berkmann – a brilliant description of life from the point of view of a self professed ‘middle-aged’ man. Incidentally labelling yourself as ‘middle-aged’ seems to come with many limitations, but that’s for another blog.

In chapter five there is an interesting observation regarding a ‘Guilt Gap’ between men and women. 

Like Virginia Woolf, most women need a room of one’s own, but even when they have it, they cannot quite escape the guilt that they really should be doing something else. (Dishes to wash? Lawns to mow? Walls to grout?). Whereas men, I believe, feel no such guilt. We know that the women would like us to feel guilty, but we just can’t. So to make everyone’s life a bit easier, we pretend that we are doing something sensible and productive in that shed, to conceal our lack of guilt that we aren’t’.

Ring any bells?! Assuming that the quote above is largely true (though I’m sure that there are many exceptions to the rule) - why is it that women tend to feel guilty more of the time than men?

The causes are presumably numerous. I’m sure that history has something to do with it. Women have fought hard for the right to have equal opportunities in careers and work in the same way as men, but have almost forgotten to add the caveat that this should mean a 50-50 split in all other tasks – household, child-raising etc. Many women have merely added ‘bread-winning’ to their remit, whilst not having removed anything from it. In the current financial climate, many families cannot survive on one income – for most women, working is no longer a choice, but an expectation...there is a lot to do!

Regardless of the causes, what is the solution? Surely it’s healthier to have the ‘male attitude’ rather than punishing ourselves with guilt when we are supposed to be having a lovely time?

“But if I don’t do it, then nobody will!” I hear you cry! 

Ultimately it’s a matter of priorities – how important are you? Where do you see yourself and ‘you time’ in the pecking order? Perhaps everything but ‘You’ gets automatically labelled urgent without considering whether doing the washing up tomorrow (in the vain hope that someone else might do it) would result in the sky falling in, or not. What would more likely result in the metaphorical sky falling in would be you reaching the end of your tether, unhappy and grumpy a lot of the time, collapsing exhausted at the end of every endless day - still 

with a myriad of things left on the infinite ‘to-do’ list...etc. etc. The reason men feel less guilty, more of the time – particularly when they are

taking the time out to enjoy themselves, is because for them they are a priority. They have earned that time to enjoy themselves, and after all, that’s what life is about...isn’t it? Many men believe that time out to enjoy themselves is more urgent, and more important than most other things. I think they’re probably right.  

Here are some top tips to keep the guilt in check:
  • Use Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix – rather than having an endless list, divide your ‘to-do’ activities into a grid - with urgent and not urgent at the top, and important and not important down the side. Make sure that, depending on the level of necessity, “you-time” is in one of the top two boxes. The bottom two boxes tend to fall away anyway.
  • Accept that there will always be something to do, so unless you prioritise ‘you-time’ over other things, you will never get to it at the bottom of the list.
  •  What’s the worst that could happen? When you label things in your mind automatically as urgent, question it. What would happen if you didn’t do it? Is it that bad?
  • Delegate. It sounds harder than it is – clear communication on division of labour in advance can mean everyone gets to make time for themselves.  

NLP Coaching can help you with time management and reducing guilt feelings.