Spring – the dreaded hayfever season

Written by Donna Roberts, Master Practitioner of NLP, TLT & Hypnosis, Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Seichim Practitioner, Advanced Soul Realignment Practitioner and Miriam’s admin guru.


Spring has sprung of late – although with the recent downpours and gale force winds, one may be forgiven for thinking winter was still here! That said, there are signs of new life blossoming all around us, and with these beautiful blossoms comes … pollen which is the biggest trigger for allergies. When these tiny grains are released into the air by trees, grasses, weeds and flowers, they can get into the nose of someone who is allergic, and send their body’s defences haywire. The immune system mistakes the pollen for a dangerous substance, and releases antibodies to attack the allergen, leading to the release of histamines into the blood. These then trigger the runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing that will be all too familiar if you have allergies.

It is important to remember that pollen can travel for many kilometres on the wind, and the pollen count tends to be much higher on breezy days. Rainy days, on the other hand, wash the allergens away.

Diagnosis of an allergy is usually done by a skin test, where a tiny amount of diluted allergens are placed on to the skin, and the skin pricked with a needle. Alternatively, a tiny amount of the diluted allergen is injected under the skin. A small red bump (a wheal or hive) will form at the site of the allergens that the person is allergic to.


Treatment is usually via anti-histamines, which reduce the amount of histamine in the body, or via decongestants, which shrink the blood vessels in the nasal passageways to relieve congestion and swelling. Some products will combine both of these mechanisms. The issue with these treatments is that they are short acting, and need to be taken regularly to keep the symptoms at bay.

Other advice for managing allergies includes staying inside when the pollen count is high, keeping doors and windows closed; making sure air filters are regularly cleaned, and keeping corners in bookcases and the like, as well as vents where pollen can collect. Washing your hair after being outside is also useful, as allergens can get caught there. Vacuuming regularly, but wearing a mask, can also assist.

The big question is “is there a long term method that can help me with my allergies, rather than just treating the symptoms?” And, the answer is yes! There is an NLP process that can significantly reduce the symptoms of allergy, and in some cases, remove them completely, although for this to work, it is important to know the trigger for the allergy.

If you would like some help with your allergies, make an appointment to see Miriam today!

Feel crappy in Winter – could it be SAD?

Written by Donna Roberts, Master Practitioner of NLP, TLT & Hypnosis, Soul Realignment Practitioner and Miriam’s admin guru.

Get ready for winter 2014

This winter has been particularly cold and wet, apparently the coldest and wettest in 30 years. Each year we all go through a natural process of semi-hibernation or withdrawing from all usual activities. However, for some people their experience of winter goes beyond the normal pattern of withdrawal and becomes something worse. For some people, winter is hell. They find themselves feeling really low and flat, unhappy and irritable. If this is something you have experienced this winter and even in past winters, you may be suffering a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

What is S.A.D.?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a sub-type of depression, which only affects people during the winter months. It is also known as Winter Depression, and generally the sufferer starts to feel better in the Spring, as the days warm up, get longer and nature blossoms. It is more common in women than in men, and onset typically occurs in young adulthood.

What are the causes of S.A.D.?

The exact cause is unknown, however, depression is more common during the winter months, and at higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, leading doctors to believe that a lack of sunlight creates altered brain rhythms, leading to depression in some people. Generally, it is less common in Australia than in the sub-polar countries.

Most doctors think that a number of factors trigger S.A.D. including

  • genetic responses to sunlight – some animals such as bears hibernate during winter, and research suggests that reduced levels of sunlight also affects humans, with some people more susceptible than others
  • circadian rhythm – this is the “internal body clock”, located in the brain, and helps the body to regulate sleep/wake cycles. This regulation is dependant on sunlight, and so in some people, the shorter days of winter may disrupt their circadian rhythm and alter their brain function
  • altered brain regulation – melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain and body, and triggers sleep. It is produced in response to reduced light, and daylight switches off the production. The shorter hours of daylight may encourage greater production of melatonin, which in turn may trigger S.A.D.. Melatonin is also responsible for jetlag.

What are the symptoms of S.A.D.?

  • depression – which could include low mood, feeling sad, a sense of hopelessness, low motivation, irritability, low tolerance
  • anxiety – can manifest as irritability, which can in turn have a negative impact on relationships
  • lethargy – a lack of energy and enthusiasm
  • dietary changes – an increased appetite for carbohydrates, which would include lots of lovely, stodgy, winter puddings perhaps! Treacle sponge, sticky date pudding, bread and butter pudding …. Mmm yum! Don’t forget the custard!
  • Weight gain – damn those carbs!
  • Hypersomnia – the need for more sleep than normal
  • Loss of libido
  • Withdrawal from others – the human form of hibernation
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • The pattern follows the seasons – symptoms start in Autumn, get worse in Winter ease in Spring, and are completely gone in Summer

What treatments are available for S.A.D.? 

Self help options

  • Increased sunlight exposure – try to get outside every day, particularly if you work in a windowless place, even if it is only to eat your lunch. You can also increase the amount of sunlight that enters your home – keep the curtains open during the day, cut back bushes that block the light entering, and if possible, install skylights
  • Get some exercise – if it’s not raining, rug up and get outside for a walk. Regular exercise is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety
  • Look after yourself – make sure your sleeping and eating habits are good, and avoid excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Money and time permitting, a holiday in warmer climates is an option, although the UK is generally not a good choice!

Light therapy (phototherapy)  – this is the controlled use of artificial light that mimics the light spectrum. Daily sessions may range in duration from 20 to 60 minutes depending on the severity of the symptoms. Exposure to light therapy in the morning, around 6am,  seems to be the most effective in resetting the circadian rhythm. For most Australians, however, an increase in exposure to natural sunlight is relatively easy to achieve, and this should be tried before resorting to light therapy.

Medication – antidepressant drugs are an option, although they can take 2-3 weeks to get into your system before symptoms are alleviated, and for some people, the side effects are quite awful. Try the self-help or light therapy options first before considering if you need this option, and always talk to your GP when deciding which is the best course of treatment for you.

The 7 Keys to Boosting Confidence

When I was a child, I was incredibly shy. My mother, a primary school teacher, said I was one of the shyest children she’d ever met. It baffled her, given she is quite an outgoing, gregarious character. My shyness made primary school very difficult – I found it hard to make friends, and given I was both tall and a bit chubby, I also got teased and bullied a lot.

At about the age of 10 I decided I’d had enough of feeling left out, alone and scared of everything and everyone. So I made deliberate efforts to overcome my shyness. From the age of 4 I had been learning to play the piano, and as I became more proficient I performed in a number of concerts which started me on the path of overcoming my anxieties. I would go on to finding several ways of increasing my self-confidence and get to the point where I was easily able to make friendships and even enjoy being in the spotlight.

Today I regularly presented to small and large groups, and I have found I’m much more comfortable in my own skin. In early March this year, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Women in Leadership Summit in Adelaide for the public sector. I was asked to speak on the topic of building confidence, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to share what I’d learned. The Summit’s theme was “Things I Would Tell My Younger Self”, and I thought it was the perfect theme for what I had to share.

This blog post comes from the content of my presentation to that fabulous group of trailblazing women, in the hope that you might also benefit from my personal experience and learnings from years of studying various psychology-based disciplines. This is where the 7 Keys to Confidence comes in.

Wherever you are in your journey to being your confident, authentic self, you are bring with you a number of things on the road:

  • Skills and knowledge
  • Experience and wisdom
  • A Vision of what’s possible for your future
  • Values and a sense of who you are (Identity)
  • The Past – the good, the bad and the ugly
  • Anxieties, doubts, worries, and fears

These things all play a part on how confident you feel about yourself and your capabilities. If you were to take a moment now to give yourself a rating out of 10 (1= not at all confident, 10=completely confident) how confident you think you are, what score would you give yourself?

Ok, now how did you come to decide on that score? What influenced your decision?

So, whatever you scored yourself in that little test, I’m guessing it probably wasn’t a 10. If you’re not totally happy with your confidence, read on to find out how you can improve it and be your best self.


Confidence Key #1 – Know Yourself, Be Yourself

How can you feel confident when you’re not being real? It’s all too common for us to become someone we’re not, just to fit in or please other people. But you know what? That’s just a recipe for dissatisfaction, resentment and even depression. Get to know who you are. Your strengths, limitations, boundaries, values, wants, needs, desires, hopes, dreams, passions, interests….the list goes on. Know who you are and BE TRUE to it. You’ll not only feel more confident (especially once you realise that being your real self feels so much better and frankly, who cares what others’ think?!), but you’ll feel HAPPIER.

Confidence Key #2 – Mindfully Manage Other’s Opinions

Do you get criticised a lot? Do you need others to give you approval or affirmation? Do you overly care what other’s think?

Leading on from Key #1, comes some simple wisdom about what other people say and think about you. Firstly, what other people think of you is none of your business AND please stop guessing and assuming what they think is bad. Even if it is, what does it matter? Confident people aren’t uncaring about others but they do care less about what others think and care more what they themselves think. Confident people give themselves approval, affirm themselves and give themselves permission to feel good no matter what others say or think.

When other people give you advice or their opinion,  consider what’s been offered and take what’s useful and leave what’s not. If you’re being given feedback from someone about your behaviour, ask yourself “If I take this on board, will I become a better person?” If yes, integrate the feedback and thank the person who gave it to you. If no, thank the person anyway and let it go.

Confidence Key #3 – Be Optimistic

Research has shown that optimists (people who can see the bright side of a situation) live longer, are happier and more resilient than pessimists. And they tend to be more confident. What is the main differences between optimists and pessimists?

According to research from the field of Positive Psychology, it’s all about the 3 Ps. Pessimists see adversities as Permanent, Pervasive and Personal. When something “bad” happens, they see it as going to affect them long-term, ruin or affect everything in their life, and that it was personal (their bad luck, fault, a deliberate attack on them). Optimists, on the other hand, see “bad” things as Temporary, Specific and Coincidental. That is, they know what’s happened won’t last and that they can work through it, that it’s a small thing when compared with all of life (the big picture) and that it wasn’t personal, it simply happened. Optimists can see opportunity in any situation, and easily find the “silver lining”. Optimism is a skill, a way of thinking, a perspective. It can be learned. And by learning it, you can increase your confidence, knowing that whatever happens you can deal with it, bounce back and get on with your life.

Confidence Key #4 – Be Comfortable in the Spotlight

Ok, so people looking at you – how do you feel about it? How do you feel about a lot of people looking at you? When you have a chance to do some public speaking, do you run for the hills or grab the opportunity with glee?

Confident people are ok about being the centre of attention. It’s not that they need it to feel good, but rather they don’t mind people looking at them and listening to what they have to say. If you’re a leader in any capacity, you’ll definitely want to become comfortable in the spotlight. And even if you don’t consider yourself a leader, there are going to be times you are in the spotlight and if you can relax and be ok in that situation, you’ll benefit immensely and feel good about yourself.

So, how can you overcome the nerves of having to perform in public, or overcome your anxieties or insecurities about being in the spotlight? Well, it depends. My first piece of advice is the more you do it, the easier it gets. Find ways to put yourself in the spotlight and teach yourself to relax. Be prepared (it helps) and focus on your message. Put to the side your worries about what others are thinking of you (see Key#2) and do your best to enjoy being listened to. Oh, and remember to breathe!

Confidence Key #5 – Nurture Relationships and Rapport

Being confident is not being arrogant or isolated. I’ve come to know the value in having supportive people around me – to have those people, their love and support, I need to give it to them and nurture my relationships. Confident people know the value of networks. There’s a difference between “pleasing others” and being in a healthy, nurturing, mutually beneficial relationship. Good relationships are energising, not depleting. Having rapport with others (and knowing how to create it quickly) is an invaluable skill. This is why NLP has been so useful to me and to all those who learn it – at the core of the training is the skills to build rapport with anyone, anytime and to use effective communication to keep people on side.

Confidence Key #6 – Embrace Change

When you think about change, do you like it or find it singularly unappealing?

Just like death and taxes, change is inevitable. And because it’s inevitable, it’s better to embrace it than fight against it. Now, I’m talking about the kind of change that you have no control over. Resisting change which you cannot control is a recipe for being left behind and being resentful. Confident people see change as an opportunity. It’s a chance to grow, develop yourself and experience new things. Confident people are adaptive, which helps them be more successful and more flexible when it comes to uncertainty.

Then there’s the kind of change that you realise is necessary to be happier, healthier, more successful etc. Personal development is always a worthwhile investment. Create the life you want. Change the habits, thoughts and behaviours that hold you back. Be willing to expand and stretch your comfort zone. It’s totally worth it. Plus it reminds me of that great quote from Mahatma Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Confidence Key #7 – Seek Your Happiness

Is it any surprise that the more confident you are the more likely you are to be happy, and vice versa? So, it goes without saying that if you want to be more confident, work on being more happy.

Happiness is a state, and research has established that a more measurable, sustainable term is Wellbeing. So consider happiness and wellbeing to be very similar and relatively interchangeable concepts. So, what brings a greater sense of happiness and wellbeing?

Here’s some evidence-based ways to be happier:

  • Engage in meaningful and enjoyable work
  • Have a sense of Purpose (which could be a spiritual concept, or something like being the best mum possible)
  • Connect with others, be socially engaged with people who make you feel good
  • Set and achieve goals
  • Do fun things – engage in pleasurable activities that you enjoy; laugh
  • Learn new things, be a lifelong learner
  • Be engaged in the present moment (mindfulness practice is excellent for this, plus many other things)
  • Connect with and be in nature
  • Have good self-care (regular exercise, healthy nutrition, quality sleep, hygiene etc)

Wherever you are in your confidence journey, there’s always room for improvement. My 7 Keys to Confidence are just as much about the keys to happiness, fulfilment and health. And the reason? It’s all connected.

Consider what you’ve learned and explored in this article and set yourself 1-3 key goals to help you increase your confidence. And if you have any questions or would like some extra help or support, you can contact me at miriam@miriamhenke.com.

Decluttering the physical environment and how it can help clear your mind.

Written by Donna Roberts, NLP Master Practitioner and Miriam’s Admin Guru

I don’t know about you, but I have certainly noticed that there is some weird energy going on at the moment! This is partly to do with the eclipses that are happening this month – we’ve just had the solar eclipse on March 8/9 and are in the midst of a 2-week portal before the lunar eclipse on 23 March (which also happens to be my birthday!). This energy is helping us shift old ways of doing and being that no longer serve us, and some of you may have noticed a desire to clean out closets and declutter your living space.



Physical decluttering has been shown to have a clearing effect on our inner environment as well as the obvious clearing in the outer environment. How can this be? you may ask. Well, if we take the perspective that our outer environment is a reflection of what is going on inside, we can start to see how chaos may be present in both, and that letting go of the physical stuff – the old clothes that we no longer wear, ornaments that sit collecting dust that we’ve had for years and years – allows us to let go of the emotions and feelings that may be attached to those items, bringing us greater peace of mind.

So, what are the best ways to go about decluttering, given that the size of the job may be overwhelming if you look at everything you need to go through. There are a couple of methods that can be used, the first is one is quite ruthless and emotionally detached and focused on removing items we no longer need or use whereas the second is about only keeping those items that bring joy and positivity to our lives.

Method 1 – pick one room to start in and obtain several large boxes or baskets. Label these boxes

- “tip or bin”, for rubbish, stuff that is broken and cannot be used

- “recycle”, for stuff that can go into the yellow recycling bin, such as paper and cardboard

- “op shop”, for items that are still serviceable that you no longer want or need

- “other rooms”, for all the things that belong in another room – the idea is to remain in the room you are working in, and not get distracted!

- “sentimental stuff”, the things you’ve had for a long time, and aren’t sure where else they might go right now

- “other”, this is for the items that are possibly useful and you’re not sure whether or not you will use them in the future.

The objective is to sort through everything in the room, and add it to the boxes as appropriate, keeping only the stuff that is meant to be in that room, and that is used regularly, organising it as you go.


Once this is done, you have a week to take the first 3 boxes to the appropriate places – putting stuff in the bin can be done immediately, of course! The items that are in the “other rooms” box need to be returned to their appropriate locations.

For the last 2 boxes, it gets a little trickier and this is where the ruthlessness comes in! We now need a further 5 boxes, this time labelled “1 week”, “1 month”, “3 months”, “6 months” and “12 months”. Items in the “other” box are then sorted into these 5 boxes according to when you think you are likely to use them – remembering that if you do not take them out of that box in that time frame, they must be disposed of either by binning, recycling or taking to the op shop. You are NOT allowed to move them to the next box!

Do the same for the items in the sentimental box, asking yourself, “do I really love this item and what it represents?” Applying method 2 here may help!

Method 2 – this is the KonMari method developed by Marie Kondo, the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  A fabulous blog post http://theartofcharm.com/empowerment/the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up-how-to-clean-up-your-life/?hvid=1N91y6 sums it up perfectly from the author’s perspective.

The basic principles of this method is that every item you have in your personal space – home, work, life/relationships – should bring you joy. The method starts with gathering together all the items in one category – books, clothes, utilitarian items – and going through all of them, asking yourself “does this item bring me joy” (the author of the above blog suggested substituting “gratitude” for “joy”) – if the answer is ‘yes’, the item stays, if the answer is ‘no’ then the item is placed on the ‘discard’ pile (which can then be sorted as per the 1st 3 boxes in method 1 above). By the time you have been through all the items you own, you will only have those things around you that bring positivity and joy into your life, allowing that feeling to permeate all aspects of your life!stopholdingmakeroom

So, how does the energy of the eclipses tie in with this? Solar eclipses are energetically about endings and new beginnings, leaving behind one chapter of your life and starting another. This year, the eclipse season is about shifting to a new paradigm of doing and being, leaving behind the old ways. This can, in some cases, also mean ending relationships that no longer serve us, so that we can build new relationships that are grounding in the new paradigm we are creating. So, do the deep emotional work, clear the “old crap” and get ready to ride the waves of the new energy that is bathing us now!

And don’t forget to apply this ‘rule’ to new things you purchase too – if it doesn’t bring you joy, don’t buy it!

Mindfulness-based Programs for Fibromyalgia

On June 5th my research into mindfulness-based programs for chronic pain condition, fibromyalgia, was published in the International Journal of Wellbeing.

Here is the Abstract from the paper, and below is a link which takes you to the full text version of the article if you’re interested in reading further.


Miriam Henke, Anna Chur-Hansen


Objective: Research into and the clinical use of mindfulness as a therapeutic intervention have increased in recent years and the results have been promising in a range of illness populations. One area in which mindfulness has been trialled is fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition currently with poor treatment outcomes. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions on physical symptoms and psychological distress in patients with fibromyalgia. Methods: Systematic review: PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase and Scopus were searched for randomised controlled trials and prospective and retrospective studies. A quality assessment and synthesis of the quantitative data (based on guidelines from the Joanna Briggs Institute) was completed on studies using a mindfulness-based intervention with patients with fibromyalgia on outcomes related to physical symptoms and psychological distress and wellbeing. Results: Ten studies met the inclusion criteria. All included studies used a mindfulness-based group program design. Although outcome measures and data presentation varied, making statistical pooling impossible, the narrative synthesis resulted in overall positive evidence for the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions for patients with fibromyalgia on a range of physical symptom and psychological distress outcome measures. Conclusion: Mindfulness is a favourable treatment option for patients with fibromyalgia. Whilst demonstrated efficacy was generally positive, the number of studies addressing this topic is small and there was wide variation in outcome measures and data presentation. More research is needed, particularly large-scale randomised controlled trials with consistent methodology, outcome measures and sufficient follow-up time periods.


mindfulness meditation, fibromyalgia, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, systematic review, mind-body therapies
Read more here:

Super Stressed? Is it a Breakdown or Breakthrough?

The Cycle of Human Change

Has there ever been a time when you felt like you were having a Breakdown? Or a personal Crisis?

Maybe you’d had an overload of stress. Perhaps you’d recently experienced a significant trauma, or been going through a difficult period in your life. Or possibly you’d just become very bored with the mundane in your life.

As the old saying goes, “life wasn’t meant to be easy!”

You may be asking, “And why not?!” Why does life have to been so hard sometimes?

If you’ve ever pondered the question “Why is life so hard?” before, maybe it was because you have been, like most other humans over centuries, wondering the same thing.

Some religions may preach the answer is that you’re paying for all your sins, or for not having enough “faith”, or disobeying the “laws”. Philosophers, as well, have offered many varied answers over the years. Some of these answers have been better received than others. But no matter what is offered by way of an answer out there, we seem to be dissatisfied, and just keep on asking the same question, not really expecting to ever get an answer that will satisfy.

Now, I have my own, private opinion on this question (as most of you will). And today, I’m not here to preach my own beliefs. Today, I’m here to go back to WHY we’re even asking the question. And HOW we can look at life differently, and possibly make the problem even completely disappear! Sort of like magic, but a lot less mysterious. More like going on a safari through the jungles of the human mind. Today we’re here to observe the untamed animal that is the belief “Life is hard”.

Let’s start with a simple tutorial in Linguistics from the field of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Here is the premise: “Life is hard”.

By the nature of the language in this statement we have a few presuppositions (elements that are presupposed by the language itself). The first is the existence of “life”. The second is the presence of an adjective “hard”. The third is the complex equivalence (X = Y) that “life” = “hard”, which is tipped off by the word “is”. Finally, we also have a universal quantifier assumed by this sentence which is “if something isn’t easy, it always means it’s hard.”

So if these things are presupposed, that means that in our minds, embedded deep in our collective human consciousness, is the (strong) belief that life is hard. Yet, instead of just completing accepting that belief for ever and ever, we challenge it. It’s like as though we know it’s not true somehow. We don’t really deserved this, do we?

Now, I’ve studied a fair bit of psychology in my time. The dead giveaway of this is the smorgasbord of certificates plonked all over the bookcases and walls in my office at home. One thing (of many) I’ve come to learn is that if we believe in something (whatever it is) we somehow seem to select information from our external world that confirms our belief. We feel comfortable about this, feeling a sense of secure – we have something “figured out”!!

If we’ve figured something out, then we go on autopilot with that belief and don’t need to give that “thing” much more conscious thought. Thus, we conserve effort and energy that can go into trying to figure something else out. And so on, and so on.

So then, how is it possible for us to change?

What would our world be like if we believed something different? Can such deeply rooted beliefs even be changed? And if so, will the new belief bring with it a new reality?

The original question has changed. We have gone from continuing to assume that our belief that “life is hard” has been figured out, to doubting the truth of this old belief. And now we’re asking a lot more questions.

The key question has gone from being “Why is life so hard?” to “How is change possible?”

Now, if you’re anything like me, when we are faced with such doubts and questions we are taken out of our comfort zone and into unchartered territory. This can be quite…uncomfortable. Unpleasant. Even downright depressing. Why? Because we don’t know what the answer is. “If I do not believe life is hard anymore, what do I believe instead?”

Without the answer we’re in a sort of no-man’s land. A crisis;  a breakdown. There’s no turning back to how things used to be. We try though, don’t we? And that doesn’t work. We realise there has to be a way forward. We are forced to make a decision, and change something deep inside ourselves in order to get out of our crisis.

This is our invitation to break through to a new level within ourselves.

Something about that decision, that way forward, that leads us out of the dark time and we break through into a new place. This place is a new level of our being and it’s exciting! We are energised again! We’re similar to how we used to be, yet definitely different somehow. Better. How we see the world has changed. And with that change in perception comes a different observation of the world around us and how we function within in.

What I am describing I like to think of as The Cycle of Human Change. It is a 2-D cycle because once you have reached your new level, it’s only a matter of time before you become comfortable, and the cycle begins again. Truly though, it is more like a 3-D Spiral. Because you reach a new level of your being, the comfort zone is different and a bit “higher” than the old comfort zone.

So, have we come full circle? Has the question we’re asking changed somehow?

Is life really hard? Or are we beginning to challenge an outdated belief and possibly replace it with something more useful?

You tell me… :)

How to Become Magically Motivated


Ever struggled getting motivated?

Of course you have! We all do from time to time. In fact, it’s natural for people to swing from motivated to unmotivated states, sometimes several times a day!

There are many factors that can affect our levels of motivation and thus our productive output. Our emotional and physical states, energy levels, stress, self-beliefs and social support all play a part in how motivated we feel at any given point. On a deeper level, our values, upbringing and personality also greatly impact our motivation at any given point.

So what does it mean to be motivated?

In a general sense, it means having the drive to take action and maintain this until a goal is achieved. It’s also associated with the investment of effort, which can be why getting motivated can prove a challenge for most of us. Yes, we human beings can be lazy at times. But take heart; it’s may be due to an innate instinct to conserve energy and take the path of least resistance. Does this mean we’re off the hook with getting going? Of course not! It just explains why we struggle from time to time with being motivated.

Finding out what gets us motivated is a key learning journey throughout life.

When we’re children, our parents motivated us through promises of rewards (like an ice-cream), or with the fear of punishment (i.e. time out). You’d think as we get older our motivators would have become more sophisticated, right? But in truth the simple reward-or-punishment model appears to last a lifetime.

Consider it in a business context for example.

Employers learn what rewards motivate their staff, and create programs like bonus schemes, pay-for-performance, or team social activities. Similarly, employers also enforce policies that clearly outline and provide punishments for poor productivity and quality. And why do they do this? Because when used well and in a balanced way, it can help businesses get the best out of their people, maintain morale and increase profitability.

Now this is all well and good in a business context, but what about you in your own life today? What have you found has worked in the past to motivate you? Think about it for a moment. Was it an eventual reward? A sense of satisfaction? Recognition? Whatever it was, ask yourself why that outcome meant enough to you to push you into action and achieve your goal?

A real story of turning failure into success.

Here’s a story about one of my clients, Sarah*, who was desperate to lose weight. She had tried many different diets, exercise, and therapies to lose weight. Whilst each time she made some changes in the short-term, she wasn’t able to sustain them long-term and then reverted back to her old habits. The only additional thing she gained, along with all the weight back, was a sense of guilt and failure. Can you relate to Sarah’s experience?

Through her coaching program, Sarah shifted her focus from needing to be slim to make others happy, to having the love and respect for herself to create a healthy and fit body, her motivation levels dramatically increased and she found it easy to maintain her new lifestyle habits of healthy eating and exercising regularly.

There is no magical button to being motivated.

But the great thing about tuning into yourself, focusing on a goal and sparking motivation is that it creates momentum. I believe strongly in taking small steps forward, rather than setting big goals with high expectations and setting unrealistic timeframes. This is a formula for disappointment, and instead I encourage my clients to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic, Time-framed) goals.

The key to goal achievement is breaking down the goal into small, simple steps.

Small achievements, those steps forward, all add up and even if you’re moving slowly, at least you’re moving! I encourage you to write them down on an action plan, and tick them off as you achieve them. The powerful ‘tick’ is a strong symbol of achievement and success, and is not to be underestimated. Ticking actions off your plan will continue to motivate you!

Visualisation is also a powerful tool.

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), there is a set of tools that use the power of recalled memory to produce a state within the body. To give you a chance to experience this simple yet powerful tool, can you remember a time when you felt a really strong positive state? Like being really excited, empowered, joyful or loved? Good, now as you think of that time, imagine being back into your own body, see what you saw, hear what you heard and remember feeling those strong positive feelings. Once you’ve tried this, check in with yourself. How do you feel? Feel good?

Now consider the potential: what other states you can induce in yourself using this technique? Happiness? Confident? Motivated? Absolutely!

*Name changed for privacy reasons