Are You In Control?

take control

The late, great Stephen Covey said to focus on one’s “Circle of Influence”, which is the things we have direct control over. Basically, the Circle of Influence is our own lives and our own affairs, the way we react to certain situations and other people, what we think etc.

Most people give a lot of attention to the “Circle of Interest” which you could summarise as “other people’s business”. Examples include news, media, celebrities, and so forth. Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong in being interested in these things, but to put a lot of focus on them is detrimental. People who spend their time and energy in the Circle of Interest, tend to be unhappy and their outlook is pessimistic more often than not.

Why is that so? Covey explains that it’s uncomfortable and frustrating for us to invest our energy and emotions into things we have no control over. It makes us feel powerless and small, like we’re in a moving vehicle with someone else behind the wheel.

The interesting part is that a lot of the time, we hand over control of parts of our lives and don’t even notice it. We don’t just do this by following celebrity gossip or news programs, but also in smaller, less noticeable actions day by day. I’d like to examine a few of those to make them more conscious. Clarity is the first step towards taking back control.

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The big question

Examine any part of your life which you’re not 100% happy with, and ask yourself: “Who’s in control here?” The answer is often revealing.

Say you have trouble with your self-esteem and your confidence. When you ask who controls this, you may instantly think: “I do, of course”. I’d like to invite you to dig a little deeper, though, because we often subconsciously give away control without meaning to. For example, many people depend on their spouse or partner when it comes to body-image and confidence. If they even get the impression that their partner doesn’t find them attractive any longer, their self-esteem plummets.

Hands up who’s never been subject to this? I know I certainly have. It’s important for you to realise that this is fairly common and no matter how confident you usually are, it’s likely that you’ve fallen into this trap at least once in your life. There’s nothing shameful or “weak” about it; simply notice what’s going on and then gently take measures to shift control back to yourself.


Money, money, money

Finances are another area in which people give away control. Look closely whenever you feel like you can’t afford something. “My boss won’t give me a pay rise,” someone might say, or: “I just paid a large electricity bill, I can’t possibly afford xyz.” Who’s got the control, you or your boss? You or the electricity provider?

You may argue that you need a job and you certainly need electricity. But look more closely once again: Are you obliged to stay in this job indefinitely? Maybe there are other options or you could get a side job at the weekends to raise some extra cash. Maybe there’s an alternative electricity provider with lower rates. Take control and evaluate your options.

Again, I’m not saying there aren’t situations when there’s genuinely nothing you can do, at least temporarily. What I’m saying is: Don’t be so quick to hand over control. Don’t wait for someone else to do things for you. And most of all, don’t deny yourself what you really want in life because you’ve handed over control over your money, your self-esteem, or your time.


Take back control

Want to sign up for a workshop but it’s not in your budget currently? Look around for extra income or calculate what you could save in the coming month or two. If the numbers add up, then go for it and buy the ticket. You’re in control and you also control how you’ll get the money back.

Feel like your time belongs to other people rather than yourself? Take control and radically free up space for yourself. Insert half an hour of Self Care a week to start off with, then add 10 minutes meditation every morning, or whatever feel right. You can only be your best for others if you fill your own vessel first, so be relentless in your pursuit of your well-being.

The bottom line is that your life is yours to live and design. Circumstances can be out of your hands, but what you do with them is always, 100% under your control. Exercise this control and go for what’s important to you. It’s what you’re here to do.

Celebrate Life

Celebrate Life

I love watching old-timey movies from the 1940s. They’re like visions from an enchanted fairy-tale land where people would celebrate life. Women looked impossibly glamorous and men were well-groomed and gallant. I certainly have no desire to go back to the antiquated gender roles and societal inequality of those days, but I often wish I could be half as glamorous.

Of course, in real life I could never work up the enthusiasm to go to all that trouble on a daily basis. Occasionally I love dressing up and making an effort, but most of the time I have more important things to think about.

Dress and make-up aren’t the only ways to make oneself feel glamorous, though. There are many small things you can do to spice up every day. Getting things done is admirable, but I firmly believe that life’s about being joyful and excited; after all, what’s the point of all the effort if you don’t get the pleasure from it?

Here are some suggestions on how to create that tingly feeling which makes your life feel special and glamorous.

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It’s a celebration

Oftentimes, when I ask a client to tell me about their recent successes, they stumble and have a hard time coming up with anything. When I probe a little more, it turns out they threw their friend a suprise party, got their kids ready and to school on time for a week whilst battling the flu, or finished a project at work.

Some of your accomplishments will be large and some will seem small to you. The point is that everything you do and complete, is a success. Even something you don’t complete may be, if you learned from it and decided it wasn’t for you (clarity definitely counts as a success!). Look more closely and acknowledge all you do on a daily basis.

Find your successes and then celebrate the sh*t out of them. Reward yourself with a foam bath, an evening with your bestie, or that pretty scarf you’ve been eyeing. Getting into the habit of celebrating successes also sets the best example for your kids. They passed that dreaded, difficult test in school? Take them out to the movies, or simply spend a cosy evening with them at home to celebrate life.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, either – you just need to be creative. Dancing to your favourite music in candlelight can make an ordinary evening feel special. Burn some incense to make the entire house smell festive. Go out even just for a cup of coffee with a friend breaks up the monotony of the working week. Life is pretty wonderful, once you start thinking about it, so celebrate!


Glam Care

Move over, Self Care, I’ve just invented the new and improved “Glam Care”! In many ways it’s the same thing, except that Glam Care makes you feel like a million dollars. We aren’t in the habit of making an effort for ourselves, so create a special occasion, just because.

You could have a date with yourself. Got nobody to see that concert with you? Go alone, ignore any funny looks from others (I promise, most people won’t even notice in any case), celebrate life and have fun.

If you’re staying at home, take one evening to pretend you’re your own special guest. Imagine you had your best friend over or the person you’re deeply in love with. It’s their birthday and you’re making them a special 3-course dinner at a beautifully set table, bathed in candlelight and with soft music playing. If your vision includes a cake, by all means get that, too! If you think your friend deserves the effort, then you definitely do as well.



Life can turn us way too serious at times and laughter can be medicine. Try this especially when you’re annoyed about something. Obviously, if your anger is justified, do something to change the situation; but have you noticed how a lot of the time, we just steam silently and never do anything? In some cases, it’s out of our hands altogether.

Take a good long look at the situation and ask yourself how much this will matter a year from now. Then note your flustered indignation, and if you can find it in yourself, laugh at your own grumpy face. It can be a huge relief! I’ve often been able to move on from some silly annoyance after being able to laugh about it.

Again, this is not to belittle your troubles or teach you to ignore them. It’s about the things we get worked up about that aren’t worth it or are out of our control. Life’s too short to get worry wrinkles over things we can’t change, so laugh and marvel at your colourful life.

What Your Life Could Look Like

dream life

I’ve always had big dreams. When I was a teenager in Germany, I dreamed of visiting Ireland. As a university student, I spent two years in Ireland and later moved here altogether. From childhood on, I knew I wanted to see other countries, and during my 20s and 30s, I lived and worked in four different countries.

When I discovered Coaching and experienced the fastest and most profound personal growth in my life with the help of my first-ever Coach, I knew I’d found my calling. Years later, I became a Coach myself, eventually studying for and gaining a recognised qualification in Personal and Executive Coaching. Then I dreamed of having more time and space for Coaching and my other passions and made that happen in 2015.

Now my dreams include growing my business and living a more sustainable life surrounded by people I love. I’m working on it, and I’d say that judging by my track record, I’ll achieve this one, too. It’s a wonderful feeling dreaming up one’s perfect life and then going for it. Nothing quite compares to it!

What does this mean for you? I’m going to attempt to paint you a picture and help you give shape to your own dreams, so you’ll be able to look at your life a few years from now and say: “That was when I first dreamt about xyz, and now I’ve achieved it.”

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There’s nothing wrong with you

Before I continue, I’d like to make one thing absolutely clear: I believe in dreams and always having a goal, but I don’t think people are broken or that their lives aren’t perfect the way they are. Too many self-styled “Coaches” try and tell you that your life’s all wrong and needs fixing (usually, followed by an offer to fix it for you – for a substantial amount of cash, of course).

I don’t believe in making people feel bad about themselves. Moreover, it’s my belief that everything happens in perfect timing and that we’re always exactly where we need to be in order to learn what we need to learn.

What’s even more important is the insight that this is simply the way life works. Everything that lives, grows (a tree that’s stopped growing, simply dies). Sometimes, we’ll find ourselves in situations, jobs, or relationships we don’t like. At other times, we’re on top of the world.

Wherever we stand at the time, it’s always a good thing have a dream in order to continue growing. It doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t like where we are. On the contrary, a dream is more powerful if it isn’t created out of desparation but out of a feeling of happiness and gratitude for the present.


A passion-centered life

Whatever your dreams for the future are, they probably include a very happy you. In my experience, human beings are happiest when they live aligned with their purpose, and that purpose is ususally connected to their passion (or multiple passions). In order to create a dream of a happy future, I therefore suggest you paint a picture of you focusing your life on what lights you up.

What would your days look like if they revolved around your passion? What would you do? Imagine money wasn’t an object, because believe me, it never is once someone truly puts their passion front and centre. Somehow, a solution always presents itself, even if you can’t see it just now. That’s why I suggest to not concern yourself with this particular detail.

Instead, pretend you didn’t have to worry about money or a place to stay at all. See a perfect day in your life, fulfilling your purpose and doing what lights you up. How would you feel first thing in the morning, when you wake up and realise you have only fun things to look forward to? What would you say to your loved ones during the day? What would you think about falling asleep at night?

Paint this picture in as much detail as possible. When I say “paint”, I don’t just mean you should imagine it like an actual picture, but to use all your senses. Hear the sounds, smell the scents, feel what you’re touching or holding. Bring the scene to life as much as you can.

Finally, it’s time to distill the main cornerstones of your dream and put them down in writing. Out of these, you can craft your next goals and go for them. Keep doing this, because life is too short to spend it without striving for something beautiful which excites you. You’re just like that tree: for as long as you live, you’ll grow and evolve, and you might as well do this consciously, after your own planning, rather than leaving it to chance.

Do You Have Money To Spare?

money to spare

“I’d love to go travelling for a few years,” confessed my client, “but I just don’t have the money to spare.”

This last bit made me perk up. I probed a little further, and it turned out that she had this idea in the back of her head, that better-off people simply have money left over. When she thought about it, she admitted that it didn’t make a lot of sense.

I agree. On the whole, I don’t think there are many people – apart from the super-rich – who actually have money “to spare”. In fact, I’m fairly certain that if I were to do a quick poll of when’s the last time you had money left over at the end of the month, you and almost everyone would probably say: “That doesn’t really happen.”

If you’re one of the rare exceptions to this, congratulations! But even in that case, I’d wager that you’d have more money to either save or invest into your dreams if you didn’t pay for everything else first and simply took what was left. And that’s my point here: Money is energy.

Think back to the money you existed on as a student, or when you got your first job. Chances are you’re earning more these days. However, does it feel like you have buckets of cash? Probably not.

The reasons for this phenomenon are manifold. Generally speaking, we adjust our lifestyles to our income without even realising it. Once our available money increases, so does our mindset and subconsiously, our needs as well.

What this means is that you need to come up with a better system if you’d like to have money “to spare”. Fortunately, I’ve got you covered there!

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The one-pot philosophy

You may argue that you can always budget and divide up your income – necessities, savings, gifts, play money, the way you’ve seen me suggest it a number of times if you’ve been following me for a while. Maybe you’ve even tried this method and found that you didn’t stick with your budget.

Before you feel like a failure, let me tell you a story. Imagine you cook a meal – say, a stew? – for a family of five. You divide out the food and tell each of them: “This bowl, that’s your food. Look at it and remember it well.” And then you take the bowls and one by one empty them into a big pot. Each person gets a spoon, they gather around the pot and start eating.

And then you get cross when they don’t “remember” their parts and all start eating whatever hits their spoon first.

It simply can’t work that way, can it? Then why do you expect it to work with your money? If your salary sits in just one account, then all your budgeting won’t help; you’ll keep using money for other purposes than what you’ve budgeted for, and you’ll definitely never have anything left over to save or use for your passions.


Divide and conquer

The best thing to do is to create separate accounts for each purpose. With most banks in the developed world, this is free. I have all my accounts in my mobile banking app at one glance; other banks offer online banking or phone banking. It’s a little hassle to set up all the different accounts, but it’s a necessary step if you’re serious about managing your money.

Some budgets don’t need an account of their own after all, for example your rent or mortgage. My monthly spending money gets withdrawn in cash at the beginning of each month, so no account is needed for that either.

See what works for you and don’t be shy to talk to a bank advisor. If they know their business at all, they’ll congratulate you on being so well-organised. Once your accounts are set up, you can either transfer the necessary amounts each month when your salary comes in, or – if your income is the same each month – you can even set up standing orders for things like the rent.

I can’t fully explain why it works, but once the money is gone from your main current account, it’s far less likely for you to mess up your budget and use money for an expense it wasn’t allocated to.

Try accounts for necessities (rent, bills, food, haircut – ca. 60% of your income), play (ca. 5%), giving (5-10%), education/coaching/workshops (10%), saving (10%) and saving for spending (5-10%). You’ll gain peace of mind as well as funds for the things you love.

You Do Have Time (And Energy)

you do have time and energy

“I don’t have the time,” is the standard answer when I ask someone why they don’t focus on their passion more. It seems to be everybody’s story, including my own at times. It’s so common that we have stopped wondering about it.

Really, when you stop to think, it’s so ridiculous it borders on the insane: There’s something which lights you up, something you love so much it makes you forget time. And instead of making it the centre of your life, you slave away at a job, look after everyone else before thinking of yourself, and buy things you don’t need. After all, everyone else does the same thing, right? It’s just how our world works!

Well, no. Just because something is common, or accepted by a majority of people, it’s not necessarily the only way. Breaking out simply requires a bit of out-of-the-box thinking and the willingness to be seen as, well, “weird” by some of your contemporaries.

But time isn’t even the only issue; having the energy and headspace is almost as important. Almost everyone I start working with as a Coach, tells me that they’re so tired after a day in the office, or doing housework and chauffeuring the kids, they can’t possibly contemplate pursuing a passion.

In the following, I’ll give you strategies to tackle both issues. Implemented consistently, they’ll create a dramatic shift towards a life you’ll love every minute of.

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Energy crisis

Have you noticed how everyone seems to be tired all the time? It’s an issue of epidemic proportions. In order to tackle it, you need to address both the physical and the mental aspects of tiredness. I suggest you consider the following steps.

Physical tiredness:

– It seems obvious, but ask yourself if you’re getting enough sleep. You may enjoy you late-night Netflix sessions, but wouldn’t you enjoy more having the energy to do what truly lights you up? Aim for at least 7-8 hours a night.

– Try and establish a regular sleeping routine for a few weeks. In other words, always sleep at the same time and get up at the same time, even at weekends.

– Take naps if you can. Anything between 10 and 40 minutes is refreshing.

– Get off the computer and off your phone for at least two hours before bedtime. Don’t watch TV either. Read, write, have a conversation with your loved one or meditate.

– If you have trouble falling asleep, try taking a warm foot bath before bed. Four or five inches (10-12cm) of warm water in your bath tub are enough. Soak your feet and ankles for a few minutes and then go to bed immediately.


Mental exhaustion:

– Establish a ritual of transition from your workplace (or time with your kids) to your home or free time. It can be something simple, like having a cup of tea or meditating for 10 minutes. Done regularly, this will help you leave the rest of your day behind and “arrive” in your own mind space.

– Ever been almost too tired to go to a party, and then you met someone interesting there and found yourself chatting half the night? That’s because energy follows engagement. If you’re “into” something, you’ll automatically feel energetic. Use this insight by scheduling small periods of pursuing your passion. 20 minutes will do for a start. Let this inspire and fuel you.

– Move. I can’t stress this enough. Actually, you could combine movement with your transition ritual suggested above: Take a walk after work, or if the weather is bad, dance to your favourite song or do 10 minutes of yoga at home. It can be the hardest thing to kick yourself to doing this, but I guarantee you’ll feel more energetic afterwards.


What’s your investment?

The main difference between succeding at change versus slipping back into normal mode, is your investment. I don’t necessarily mean money, although it does help (one of the reasons Coaching is so successful is that once you’ve forked over the cash, you’re more likely to stick with it). You can invest in coaching, training or professional equipment. But time is just as important.

Determinedly freeing up time shows your commitment. It’s why I’m always on about prioritising passion! It’s not enough to make some time on a Friday evening; if you’re serious about being joyful, do it first thing on a Monday morning. Work the rest of your life around your passion – yes, it’s possible, I see it again and again with my clients – and watch how you suddenly, magically have time for everything.

Commit to it, schedule it, and stick with it. Life’s too short not to do what lights you up.