Joy

  • Want more Joy, Clarity and Peace?

    What would it be like to end 2020 knowing how to achieve more joy, more clarity and peace? Pause for a second. Breathe. Just what would that feel like for you?

    It feels 2020 has taken these from us.

    I’ve been rescheduling Haven Retreat days in response to changing COVID all year – and knowing that you were keen to join one. 

    I’ve had enough. You’ve had enough. 

    I want to invite you to invest in yourself and join me at a virtual version of my Haven Retreat. I’m going to host five daily workshops and a longer masterclass for you to create your own unique approach for greater joy, clarity and peace.

    And I’m making it free to attend, as well as recording the whole week. I want as many women as possible to benefit from the workshops, my coaching and from connecting with other women to grow our support team. 

    Sound good? Read on. 

    Lady offering Joy sign

    We know women have been hit harder by COVID, lockdowns, working from home, homeschooling and additional caring responsibilities. Many of us have missed out on our usual replenishment activities, whether that was our gym class, catching up with our friends or a break away.

    Many of us rediscovered our connection to Super Woman – one of our disempowering, unsustainable archetypes – but she feels different. 

    No longer is she about being perfect leader of high performing teams as she gliding from project to project, immaculately turned out, after making the most imaginative packed lunches.

    Rather Super Woman has learnt to lead from afar over her laptop screen and keep delivering despite the chaos and uncertainty, juggling PE with Joe, making tasty meals from her online shopping substitutes and hiding her exhaustion as she pushes on.

    She can’t go on and nor can you. 

    Join the Haven Retreat week.

    Lady slumped over her desk exhausted

    Together across the week, we’ll explore how your time is being used and whether that is moving you towards or away from your values, finding more joy at home and work, tools for spotting storms on the horizon and to better care for yourself filling your vessel to give to others. You’ll get to experience some of the a-has my clients get working with me, as well as being part of a wonderful community.

    And in the masterclass, we’ll focus on setting yourself up for success and progress, focusing on joy, clarity and peace to bring 2020 to a positive end.

    Here’s your invite, my gift to you: join me for Haven Retreat week, Monday through Friday 7th to 11th December at 1900 UK time and invest in your year-end.

    RSVP here, pop the workshops in your diary and I’ll be in touch with how to make the most of the week, as well as the logistical whatnots.

    PS Know a girlfriend or colleague who could benefit from a compassionate, helpful hand? Please share my invite with her.

    Lady offering a gift
  • Invest in yourself

    Autumn is a season of change, leaves and conkers fill the parks, gardens and paths around my home. Squirrels dashing about gathering stocks for winter. Countdowns to Christmas and now in the UK, lockdown 2. Oh, and let’s not forget Brexit and the US election.

    Change can feel exhilarating, energising and thrilling, something to run towards.

    It can feel downright overwhelming, scary and oppressive.

    It would be easy to write this year off, with its disappointments from a global pandemic, lockdowns and all the challenges they brought – isolation, juggling work and home schooling, anxiety for vulnerable loved ones, toilet roll stockpiles(!) and having more to do.

    We could just push on, keep going and ignore the warning bells that we’re living our days in Super Woman; she who can do it all whilst standing alone, keeping everything on track, driving her team to succeed, packing the best lunches and never forgetting to post that card or send flowers.

    Super Woman is a killer – quite literally. She runs on adrenaline and cortisol. She is unsustainable and can result in serious physical and mental health issues. Trust me, I know – I’ve got the hip to hip scar to prove her impact on me; she’s a menace.

    Just pause for a second. When was the last time you actively took your attention to your needs and what you’re prioritising? When was the last time you invested in you?

    Woman walking up stairs smiling

    Self-care is one of the essential ways to ensure we meet our basic needs and leveraging our Lover Powertype is how to engaging our senses in replenishing our life force or vitality. How are you bringing your attention to your Lover activities during this time of change?

    Not just for your basic needs, create your list of deeply nourishing boosts: a favourite eat or drink that excites your mouth, a song that helps you mentally detach from the world to connect on a higher level, something that makes your skin tingle with pleasure and so on. What sets your senses alight and leaves you on a buzzing high?

    Yet, we need to step into action. We need to deliver, wearing our many hats. We need to lead, by investing in ourselves first.

    Empowerment through joy runs through the Warrioress archetype. Her commitment to her cause or mission is legendary, yet she finds a way to make even the most mundane or challenging task fun. She boogies her way through the ironing. She kicks piles of leaves as she goes from A to B. She plans her days to include fun. She’s an expert at gamification.

    I’m bringing my attention to bring Warrioress’ action taking and her ability to do it with fun built in – as well as to Lover’s nourishing self-care to invest my time and energy in just 3 things:

    • Design the Haven Retreat to maximise the outcomes for you,
    • Ensure I have the vitality and resilience to face lockdown effectively,
    • Create extra joy to lift my soul and serve others from a full vessel.
    Woman debating which stairs to climb

    I’m added time in my diary for movement and mediation, as well as calling someone each weeknight for a quick catch-up. None of these takes more than 20 minutes to boost my energy and vitality whilst boosting my emotional resilience.

    I’m concentrating on my research and development of our Haven Retreat week together and I’m deprioritising as much as I can. I use a Passion Planner to coordinate the fixed items like client appointments, assignment deadlines and urgent important tasks; now I’m adding an extra layer by scheduling my self-care activities, dance breaks between meetings, end of the working day walks and cooking bright vibrant food.

    By bringing my attention to my needs and priorities, I’m investing in getting radically clear in order to think ahead and make small achievable steps. I’m setting myself up for compassionate progress, filling my vessel to lead from joy.

    How are you investing to create your own small steps to leading from joy? 

    (PS Can I make one small investment in your clarity, priorities and actions easy for you? Click here to get your seat at the Haven Retreat “live” and pop an hour in your diary at 1900 Monday 7th to Friday 11th December for the 5 workshop sessions.)

  • November Shares

    Welcome to this month’s musings, inspirations and ideas and what a month ahead we have. The nights are drawing in, year end beckons at work and kids are counting down to Christmas…..it’s going to be a month to dig in, draw upon our strength together and seek out the pockets of joy.

    Joy through inspiration and connection, and by heeding our attention towards positive, nurturing people, situations and actions that make us feel safe and cared for.

    Whatever the month brings you, I hope my musings on attention help.

    INSIGHT

    “Where attention goes, energy flows”

    Have you heard this quote? It is often used to summarise the impact of our Reticular Activating System (RAS). This part of our brain filters the billions of inputs our senses take in. It looks for what’s not important so the important stuff gets through.

    With lockdown looming and lots of information coming at us from our governments, health bodies, employers, and more, we need to be conscious of what we’re asking out RAS to focus on and filter out.

    Where we put our attention sets our RAS into action looking for people, information, support, connections and whatever else it can find to confirm our thinking and assumptions – aka confirmation bias.

    My invite to you this month is to use your journalling, mediation or your runs and walks to consider:

    • where is my attention focused?
    • What meaning am I attaching to what my RAS is filtering in?
    • is that helping my mental health right now?
    • where am I willing to focus my attention next?

    Often, with my coaching clients, we use a tool called trigger tracking – a kinda diary to it helps identify what our RAS is filtering in and then explore what our attention is being drawn to. Several have used these (or similar) questions to help their partners, kids, friends and colleagues process where their attention is and help shift the feelings that aren’t enabling them.

    Pebble saying "stay safe + be kind"

    After this weekend’s celebration of vampires, ghosts and monsters, November may well require us to continue to face our fears in challenging times at home and at work.

    What does courage look like when we’re afraid?

    1. We act despite feeling afraid – our Queen Powertype reconfirms our vision for the people we serve in our Realms, taking advice and counsel from experts, and building confidence in our teams.
    2. We trust in our hearts – this relates to the Sorceress Powertype and our belief that we hold inner wisdom supported by Source’s powerful connection (God, Mother Nature, The Universe, whichever you call Source).
    3. We persevere in the face of adversity – our Warrioress boldly moves towards the accomplishment of our goals and causes.
    4. We care for ourselves – recognising that holding fear depletes our ability to give to others, we invest in replenishment through sleep, self-care, exercises, mediation, sex and nutrition. We meet our basic needs to allow us to support others with our Lover Powertype.
    5. We nurture others so they feel heard and safe – Mother provides unconditional care and nurture, easing the fears and anxieties of those at our Hearth to enable them to be courageous in difficult times.

    I doubt I’m alone in admitting being concerned, sad and at times, anxious about the spread of COVID, the impacts of another lockdown and whether I’ll get to be with my nearest and dearest for Christmas. Perhaps you feel a bit the same?

    I’ll be leaning into my Powerytypes and deliberately bringing my attention to each of them to ensure they support me each day, whether in leading my team, leading with my clients’ progress and in leading myself, my physical and mental wellbeing.

    (I even go so far as to colour code my diary with the Powertyype I need to bring to make it even more intentional and my actions more consistent.)

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    I’m making a bigger commitment to end 2020 by “going local” – November is the month that Black Friday occurs and our inboxes gets stuffed up with deals to entice us to buy. Usually, it is the “big” retailers with offers that probably aren’t even that good or genuine.

    But what about the little guys?  

    With one eye on Christmas and the other on COVID restrictions, I’m putting my attention into exploring interesting small businesses, artists and creatives based in the UK.

    My favourites include: 

    • Wear the Stars – I love a good hoodie and Nicola does the best style advice on her Instagram for those of us who could live in our hoodies.
    • Peace with the Wild – perfect for your eco-friendly gifting and also for your own bathroom and kitchen too.
    • Rosie Hay Ceramics – I’m drooling over her speckle collection for soothing cosy hot drinks over the winter months.
    • Face Theory – vegan, ecologically made and packaged goodies for your face and body. I swear by the under eye cream and Vitamin C facewash…….hmmmmm smells amazing.
    • The Bristol Artisan – I miss living in Bristol but love the home decor shop. I always think, when I grow up I want a house full of things from here.

    I’m also using the two local grocery and veg shops, rather than the busy supermarkets and making the most of my local bulk store for healthy dishes from the Green Roasting Tin book or Mildred’s Vegan book – both by British teams. I’m choosing brightly coloured, nutritious, plant based foods this month plus the odd treat.

    One of my life values is nourishment, stemming from what I consume, as food, as inspiration and as community. I’m using that value to bring attention to my choices this month.

    Where are you putting your attention this month for your shopping and eating choices?

    Stack of books

    With a month or more of lockdown ahead of many of in the UK and Europe, I wanted to share this poem with you.

    In the Company of Women by January Gill O’Neil

    Make me laugh over coffee,
    make it a double, make it frothy
    so it seethes in our delight.
    Make my cup overflow
    with your small happiness.
    I want to hoot and snort and cackle and chuckle.
    Let your laughter fill me like a bell.
    Let me listen to your ringing and singing
    as Billie Holiday croons above our heads.
    Sorry, the blues are nowhere to be found.
    Not tonight. Not here.
    No makeup. No tears.
    Only contours. Only curves.
    Each sip takes back a pound,
    each dry-roasted swirl takes our soul.
    Can I have a refill, just one more?
    Let the bitterness sink to the bottom of our lives.
    Let us take this joy to go.

    Who can you reach out to and share a coffee with this month? Someone who lifts your spirits? Someone, you’ve not spoken to recently like a former colleague? Or an elderly relative or neighbour who’d appreciate a catch-up? Who needs to be centre of your attention?

    We’re apart now so when we get together later, we’re all there.

    If you’d like a zoom brew, I’d love to connect and have a chat x

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Imbuing something with love, affection and care can serve as a source for joy – especially when you gift it to another. This month, I’m bringing my attention to what I’m calling “doorstep acts of kindness” and I’d love to invite you to join me in delivering these small wonders to people you love, people who are ill or alone, people who you don’t even know – just pop a note on them with a wish for happiness, recovery, calm, whatever you feel appropriate.

    So what am I delivering? Small plants or flowers to fit a jam jar. Baked goods – who doesn’t like scones or brownies? Some extra video content for those looking for career changes, by choice or due to redundancies. Inbox delights such as a poem, photo of a memory or fabulous quote. Voice messages instead of text messages – including the odd burst into song (I sing soooo badly, I’m hoping it’s so bad, it’s good!)

    And lastly, I’m brewing up the best possible Haven Retreat and masterclasses to share with you all in early December. My post-it notes, of ideas, thoughts, content, exercises, are getting a bit crazy but I’m so excited and inspired by the ideas you shared in last week’s blog.

    I’m also filling my 2021 planner with dates for the next round of group coaching and, hopefully, face to face Haven Retreats back in our gorgeous Georgian Coach House.

    Please do keep sharing with me what you’d like me to cover in December’s Retreat or here in a blog – its all joy making for me as I playfully bring attention to this new way of working with you to say “YES” to joy.

    How can you bring your attention to joyful acts of kindness this month?

    And that’s my shares for this month. I hope they spark a thought or help create new personal insights, or inspire you to do something different in your leadership – whether that is for half term with your kids and family or at work with your team and clients or for yourself to meet your needs and thrive by saying “YES” to joy in your leadership.

    Have a safe but fun month!

  • One step forward, two steps back

    I’m learning to forward flex with more ease – 2020 has given us all cause to cry, get angry and feel like we’re stuck unable to say “YES” to joy in so many areas of life.

    This week, I should be doing the last bits of preparation and communications for the “upcoming” Haven Retreat in the super cute, cosy Georgian Coach House I use to host them. A day of connection, nourishment and joy. I’d got a brightly coloured menu planned, I’d outlined the sessions with a mix of deep dives, reflective practices and movement.

    All to provide women like you the opportunity to pause, take stock and leave with a new set of skills and approaches to lead empowered by joy, as well as a deeper sense of yourself and what your baselines are.

    Frankly, I’m gutted.

    I so enjoy these days.

    I thrive on connecting with other women who want to achieve their full potential and are doing the work to grow and develop themselves to change the world around them – whether that’s in business, in public service, in environmental change, in the home or for causes they believe in.

    Ballerina stepping through her routine

    And the tears, a-has and laughter as each of them discover a new understanding of some experience, hits upon a realisation of a personal blocker or limiting belief and formulates how they can lead more impactfully.

    Setbacks and disappointments have been rife this year.

    The sadness and challenges for those who fighting COVID and their families – both the ill and the medical teams caring for them

    Jobs becoming uncertain or simply disappearing.

    Pressure on relationships, childcare and families cooped up at home, unable to “take a break” or limited connection with their friends and support networks.

    Leaders unable to deliver a sense of confidence or vision for how we move forward.

    Yet, some have taken these setbacks and used them as an opportunity to flex, pivot and change their way ahead.

    I know how powerful my Haven Retreat days can be.

    I’ve used up reams of stick flipchart paper coming up with different ways to deliver for you a Haven Retreat experience without being physically together.

    And I think I’ve cracked it.

    Across the week starting Monday 7th December, I want to invite you to join me each day for an hour of Haven style interactions and then on Monday 14th and Thursday 17th December, I’ll run two longer masterclasses to deep dive into two themes.

    Right now, I’ve in full planning mode and I’d love your inputs – what would you value being part of the Haven Retreat week? Here are some ideas I’m playing with:

    • Create your joy makers toolkit
    • Realign with your values for joy
    • Communicate your “no” with more ease
    • Beat procrastination to find more joy
    • Spot the storm on the horizon
    • Lead from your values
    • Using breathwork to step out the eye of the storm
    • Leverage your Powertypes as a leader
    • Step out of your own way

    (And don’t worry, if any of these don’t make it into the week or masterclasses, they will find a home in something else I do for you!)

    My invitation is to let me know in the comments below or email me at sarae@saraepratt.com what do you want to learn about, explore or experience in the week or as a masterclass to help you lead empowered by saying “YES” to joy.

    PS if you want to be sure to get a seat in the Haven Retreat online – reserve it here now.

  • Running on empty

    Mum nodding off as kids run around making noise

    2020 hasn’t exactly been the year we’d been hoping or planning for. Many of us are experiencing greater anxiety around job security or home working.

    Add to that, homeschooling and grocery shopping, lockdown and a sense of uncertainty in the future, this year has increased our workloads, reinforced many of society’s expectations of us at home and work, strained our relationships and well, frankly, left us running on empty.

    It’s knocked our self-belief and momentum to achieve, as well as making many of us question our values and aspirations. It turned up the volume of our Imposter’s voice as it speaks more harshly to us.

    Did you know women are 60% more likely to burnout then our male counterparts as we rely on adrenaline for our Super Woman heroics? 

    I know how easily I can justify to myself prioritising deadlines, saying yes to a friend’s ask or going that bit extra on a client deliverable or making space in my diary for someone else. 

    All those things make me feel good about myself, valued and valuable.

    But it comes at a cost.

    Eating ready meals or snacking on chocolate biscuits as a quick fix. Skipping an exercise class or run. Ditching date night. Falling asleep during bedtime stories or on the sofa. Not having time to shower or wearing that “messy bun” again. Patchy sleep, waking with a spinning mind. Snapping over nothing. Catching every cough or worse that’s going around. 

    Life living in Superwoman is unsustainable and her 3 friends are never far behind. Oh here they are. Hello Bitch, Martyr and Victim.

    Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

    ELEANOR BROWNN, AUTHOR

    Leveraging our empowering Women’s Powertypes can help us manage our boundaries from Queen, feel connected through Sorceress with Warrioress delivering on all fronts and Mother supporting those around us who are struggling with the ongoing impacts and uncertainty of COVID. All helpful in some way to manage your exhaustion.

    None of these will enable you to show yourself radical self care to fill your vessel to overflowing.

    I mentioned last week that one of the blockers to achieving greater consistency is not meeting our needs. We need to lean into our Lover Powertype to replenish our spirits and our bodies.

    Lover delights in giving and receiving pleasures – yes in the bedroom, but also through our five senses. She tends to our physical, psychological and relational needs – our nourishment, our exercise, our mental wellbeing, our connection to others. Food is enjoyed with mindfulness of the colours, textures and tastes. Dance and movement has Lover revelling in how unique and special our bodies are. Indulging in self hand massage whilst waiting for the next zoom call to start brings vitality to her. She enjoys a quiet aromatic cup of tea, whilst letting her mind drift and step out of the storm.

    Each action filling or refilling our empty vessels to give us the capacity to serve others without depletion.

    One of my coaching tools is to create a simple one pager of our needs and how we serve them daily, weekly or monthly. I invite coachees or workshop participants to explore and trial new ways to meet their needs, as well as build consistency around them to fill and refill their vessels.

    Replenish before you pick your battle was one of my consistency tips last week. 

    Today, I invite you to reflect on one small action you could add from Lover to your day by pleasuring your senses. One small action you could commit to without guilt or cost. 

    Then apply the nudge theory from October Shares – put it in your phone reminders, put a post-it note on your mirror, place the hand cream on your desk, pop your journal and pen next to your bed, set yourself up for success and consistency. 

    Pick your battle and do it every day.

    Let me leave you this other less well-known quote from Eleanor Brownn. I wonder if it might help us radically care for ourselves a little easier as we refill our vessels.

    The OTHER Serenity Prayer: Grant me the serenity to stop beating myself up for not doing things perfectly, the courage to forgive myself because I’m working on doing better, and the wisdom to know you already love me just the way I am

    ELEANOR BROWNN, AUTHOR

    Women enjoying fresh cup of tea in peace
  • Finding consistency in an inconsistent world

    Stepping stones across a brook

    Why can it be so damn hard to be consistent?

    We are capable women. We know our responsibilities. We make our plans. We set out with all the right things in place then BOOM! We drift. We get sidetracked. We get asked to do something off track. We adapt and flex. We end up lacking the energy or oomph to fully engage or make the impact we’d like to.

    Then comes Superwomen’s emotions of crushing self-doubt, feelings of failure or not being enough, exhaustion and frustration. Oh, and there’s her mates, Bitch, Martyr and Victim on the horizon….

    STOP!!

    You are all smart women reading this – you know success doesn’t come from hard crazy work and killing yourself to complete things, rather it comes from consistently showing up. For your family. For your team. For your mates. For your community.

    And for you – yes, I’ll say it again, consistently showing up for you.

    So why is it so damn hard?

    My sense is we stop saying “YES” to joy. We measure ourselves on others’ expectations and needs. We push our power, our souls and our values aside. It depletes us. It wears us down. It kills our potential to lead in all aspects of our lives.

    I would so love to give you a magical secret formula. Consistency is a choice. It is a commitment to yourself. It takes courage and support. It takes knowhow and it needs to come from joy to stick.

    Step 1: replenish yourself first – before you consider embarking on getting consistent. Go to bed early, take your vitamins, move your body, cry, shout, laugh, get a hug, give a hug, get outside, see the osteopath, meditate, see your doctor, meet or call a mate, take a bath, whatever your body and mind need. No one has ever been a consistent leader if their physical and mental health is suffering. (Not sure what your needs are to get to an equilibrium or even an excess of wellbeing, let me know)

    Step 2: set your intentions for future you. What does future you look, sound, feel like. You may have one or several. They may be related or stand-alone. Capture them all.

    Simon Sinek is on to something in his work. Step 3: know your why. Get clarity on your values in the area you want to shift in – for life, love, work, money, wellbeing. (Not sure how to elicit your values, let me know)

    Step 4: pick your battle – again language is important. Note my language: Battle, not battles. Where do you want to create consistency first? What will create the biggest shift or outcome for you? Would consistency in one of your intentions solve or improve your consistency other intentions? 

    Don’t take it all on at once. You already know that, cos that’s what you’re probably already doing, multitasking the heck out of things. Consider the route to consistency as needing a snowball effect. Once you’re rolling with consistency in one area, you can pick another and allow your new consistency to flow over into the next one.

    Step 5: schedule your actions and nudges. Looking out as far into the future to when you achieve your intentions, work backwards to diarise any reminders, motivations and milestones. (PS Nudge theory? See October’s Monthly Shares.)

    Step 6: get accountable – who is there to support, nudge, celebrate or pick you up? This is when to call upon your boss, your best mate or your coach – let them hold a hand out to help you be consistent.

    Girl helping up her friend

    Step 7: as my mentor says, “Now, Sarae. JFDI”. Seriously, just f**king do it. Even when you really don’t want to. Do it. You will feel better for doing it, even on the most crappiest of days.

    Step 8: note down your successes and any synchronicities, luck or acts of fate that helped you out. It is all valid in you getting more consistent. Then express your thanks and ask “for this or better” from your Source (I say Source, you might say God, Buddha, Mother Nature, the Universe, that’s cool, use what’s right for you) 

    Make it part of your workday wrap up or your day end just before bedtime. Why? You’re creating greater flow – a flow of self-recognition building your consistency muscles, a flow of positive action into the next day and oh my – it is a flow of joy in ourselves and our progress.

    And at all times go easy on yourself if you do need a sidestep, to skip or simply forget. The unexpected is to be expected. You will need to catch curveballs and sometimes deal with them ahead of your intentions. That could be good leadership in the moment. Keep the faith – you’ve got this, replenish and step back in. You are enough. You are amazing. You are supported and held. You are moving towards greater consistency and success.

    I’m very conscious as I write this; I may be making this sound trivial or like I’ve got consistency cracked. It isn’t and I haven’t. It’s hard.

    Some days I do. Some I have to JFDI it. Some I completely forget. Some I get caught up in what seems urgent or necessary to meet others’ demands or needs from me. I’m human and I’m perfectly imperfect.

    That said, I know that surrounding myself with people who want the best for me, have knowledge that can enable me or can help me connect more deeply with my intentions and values is key.

    I meant what I said above – you are enough, and you are held. It’s one of my business values to be a committed stand for you. I’ve got your back. You can be more consistent from a place of saying “YES” to joy. 

    Drop me a message if you want to know more about intention setting, values and needs work using the positive Powertypes and please, do share your tactics for being more consistent across your life to inspire another woman in our community.

  • October Shares

    Welcome to this month’s musings, inspirations and ideas. My hope is that each element provokes reflections, actions and enables us all to say “YES” to joy more as we lead through this month, at home, at work and beyond.

    Let’s dig in……..

    INSIGHT

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, something my family and friends know too much about and something I would encourage you check in with.

    Did you know that Pilates (and other exercise activities) can help reduce the risk and improve your outcomes of breast cancer? Rebecca Trowbridge, of Catford Pilates, is generously doing a month-long series of free online Pilates classes to support Breast Cancer UK – sign up here.

    Early detection is another key factor in improving outcomes. Not sure how to check your boobs? Coppafeel has made this handy video to help and if you’re ever in doubt, go see your GP.

    Breast cancer signs

    Often, deep down, we know what is good for us and what isn’t. Somehow that isn’t always enough to be bold or brave or sometimes “sensible” to create habits that support us. (Hello, digestive biscuits!). Resistance to change is a normal human reaction; it is there to protect us from jumping off cliffs and into hot waters.

    Professor Richard Taler (University of Chicago) tells us we do better if we build in micro-interventions, or nudges, into our decision making when it comes to trying or keeping a new habit. They help us re-wire our thinking and thus our behaviours.

    Thinking about your needs in October, what nudges can you create to increase your outcomes? (A timely one for this month – did you know breast checks are best done the week before you ovulate as your estrogen levels are on the up)

    For me (apart from the book check), it’s about keeping a bedtime routine in place to enable me to switch off properly from the day and get better quality sleep. My October is shaping up to be one for juggling work and life without creating depletion.

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    Choice is a wondrous thing. We know autonomy and control are two things that can trip our brains out. 

    Not only does the potential outcomes weigh upon our minds, but our emotions and the emotional reactions of others also impact our willingness to give it a go, dive in or stay frozen to the spot.

    These emotions help us navigate social decisions (such as is this joke appropriate for this setting?) as well, as potentially restricting our liberty (for example, I’m scared of flying so I can’t get take the promotion with international travel).

    What if we could identify and sit with our emotions without judgement to make decisions that positively impacted our ability to lead? 

    Consider:

    • what if prioritising rest didn’t make us feel guilty or that our productivity and commitment might be questioned?
    • what if overworking wasn’t a way to feel self-worth?
    • what if avoiding acknowledging and meeting your needs wasn’t hidden behind “I’m too busy”?
    • What if you removed the emotion and did what you need to do in order to be a better leader?

    Find time this month to journal on these or discuss them with a mate to identify emotional allergy patterns that prevent you from making the right choices for you, your team, your family or your clients. Share your a-has in the Haven or in the comments below.

    During this year, I think it is safe to say we’ve all craved something different – a holiday with sun, sea and laughter, a hug from a distanced loved one, a chance to escape our “four wall” and experience life, sports, art or work with others again.

    We crave connection. If you’re in the Haven, you’ll have caught me sharing my insights from the How to Academy’s recent evening with Julia Cameron and Elizabeth Gilbert. Morning pages, soft play dates and gratitude practices are a part of our connection with ourselves.

    Over the last few months, I’ve seen an increase in bookclubs – we read alone and share together the passages that spoke to us, or the twists we didn’t expect, or the choice we’re inspired to make.

    Did you know we’ve just had Independent Bookshop day? Here’s a few I’ve enjoyed or am looking forward to reading and sharing:

    • Dr Peter Lovatt’s “The Dance Cure” – I’ve followed Doctor Dance, as Peter is also known and his research on how structured and unstructured movement can impact our emotions, our memory and diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s 
    • Charlie Makesy’s “The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse” for little uplifting moments
    • Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic, Creative living beyond fear” – a re-read for me, prompted by hearing her speak.

    PS got a favourite independent bookshop to share? COVID has hit independents hard. I love Persephone Books for women authors, Daunt Books for the atmosphere and dreams of being far away, and Clapham Books who are almost on my doorstep and no ask is ever too much.

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Autumn is here. The Harvest moon and equinox have passed, nights are drawing in earlier and it has got properly chilly. Nature is shedding the old, ready for the new.

    For me, I’m finding my kicks in the changing colours around me. Leaves turning golden yellows, rusty oranges and burnished reds. My fruit and veg shop’s displays of squashes in all shapes and sizes and inspirations for cosy fruity bakes.

    Where are you finding your joys in October? For me, it definitely feels like a time to connect with the natural world through our senses and bring its wisdom into my leadership. I’m ready to shed and make space for the new.

    I invite you to wrap up and step outside – first thing, with a coffee, with your earphones for a walking meeting or after the kids are in bed – jump in puddles, kick fallen leaves, find a conker and feel into Mother Nature, as she evolves into the season. 

    I’d love to see how the changing season brings you joy and impacts your mindset and energy in leading in all aspects of your life in the Haven – share a photo or video and inspire another woman like you.

    Autumn leaves

    And that’s my shares for this month. I hope they spark a thought or help create new personal insights, or inspire you to do something different in your leadership – whether that is for half term with your kids and family or at work with your team and clients or for yourself to meet your needs and thrive by saying “YES” to joy in your leadership.

    Have a fabulous month!

    PS if you only do one thing from my October shares, please please please check your boobs xx

  • Saying “YES” to joy

    Sarae laughing

    Hello, I’m Sarae.

    I don’t know whether you are here out of curiosity or because life has thrown you a curveball and you’re looking for some support. Or maybe you’re here because you’ve seen something about me on social media and wanted to find out more.

    Whatever the reason, you’re welcome! I’m glad you’re here.

    Let me tell you a little about me.

    I’m no a stranger to curiosity. Or curveballs for that matter. I may even have thrown a few myself!

    As a child I was the archetypal ‘good girl’. Did well at school. Got good grades. University beckoned.

    And then I threw my first curveball.

    “You want to be an engineer?” they said. “But that’s for boys”.

    “I’ll show you!”, my 17 years old self replied.

    I loved the creative design. I loved scoping, exploring and solving challenges.

    I loved being an engineer.

    But when I joined the world of work, I learnt that even though my degree was the same as the mens’, I was the one expected to make the tea.

    I was the one mistaken for the team’s PA.

    And I was the one who – as I stood on a platform with my arm, shoulder-deep inside the wing cavity of a Eurofighter Typhoon jet – was told to “Step away from the plane.” Turns out they thought I was a cleaner.

    And you know what? I did it. I made the tea. I ran the errands. I stepped away from the plane. And eventually, I stepped away from engineering altogether.

    It was just too hard to be a ‘good girl’ and prove that I was just as good as them.

    I retrained in Human Resource Management.

    I worked hard.

    I rose through the ranks quickly.

    I lived and worked overseas.

    And I said “yes” far more often than I said “no”.

    You want someone to sit on a new Committee? Sure, I’ll do that.

    You need a new volunteer for your charity? Yup, I can handle that.

    You want someone to look after your kids, your elderly parents, your dog…….Of course. Count me in.

    My friends and colleagues saw me as selfless.

    I earned praise and admiration for my ability to handle it all.

    And no matter how complicated things got, how tired I was, I just kept going.

    Until something stopped me.

    And as I lay on a hospital gurney having a tumour the size of a grapefruit being removed from my pelvis, I wondered if that tumour was the physical representation of every “no” I should have said.

    I took a long hard look at me and how I was living. It was painful. It was hard. I had to ask for help to find inspiration, expertise and support to nurture me back to joy.

    I realised that whilst I looked like I was succeeding from the outside, I had lost my joy.  I had lost sight of who I was. I couldn’t have told you what my favourite meal or film was. I was constantly fatigued, critically anaemic, completely burnt out: a great example of Superwoman! Cape on. Flying off to give her all for everybody and everything, but herself.

    Through reconnecting with myself and help from some wonderful experts, I recovered.

    Today, I’ve said “YES” to joy. On my terms. In my work. In my home. In my community.

    I still throw the odd curveball and life still throws them at me from time to time. But now I hold my boundaries with grace and whilst I’m no longer always the ‘good girl’, I lead authentically and sustainably in my work and in my life. I’m clear on my values, and why time replenishing my vitality is essential to my energy and joy.

    Maybe you think that all sounds too rosy to be true. What happened to Superwoman and her cape? Oh, she and unhelpful friends, Bitch, Martyr and Victim still hang out, just not with me. I see them around every so often and wave them on.

    Why am I sharing this story with you? I want you to know wherever you are right now, I can walk right alongside you.