Time For A Spring Clean

The clocks have gone forward, spring is in the air, and it’s time for spring cleaning. This usually sounds like an onerous job, so I would like to give you a few tips for spring cleaning your life in a simple and fun way.

All you have to do is to identify one area of your life where you wish it were different – a habit, behaviour, or thought that has become outdated in your life. Most of us have several things in this category! The problem we have is that it is generally considered to be hard work to shift something which has been a part of our lives up till now. And maybe we can do it quite simply, by approaching it in a different way.


  1. Consider the outdated thing and find a metaphorical equivalent for it in your home or possessions, e.g. rowing with your partner might be represented by that ornament that your aunt gave you years ago, or slumping in front of the tv might be represented by the cushion on your favourite chair.
  2. Take the item and get rid of it – unless it is a whole room in which case you might be better to just re-decorate it!
  3. Now imagine how you want to be instead, e.g. pleasant after work, or energetic.
  4. What would represent this new state or behaviour for you metaphorically? Have some fun going out and looking for a replacement metaphor, e.g. a pair of lovely bud vases, or a new cushion with vibrant colours. By the way, it need not be anything that costs – it could just be a pretty pebble.
  5. Now ‘invest’ the new object with how you want to be: ” You are my being pleasant after work symbol”, and place it somewhere you will see it frequently.
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Changing Your Habitual Thinking

Most of us have learnt to think in limiting or negative ways. We consider problems rather than solutions, and notice what’s wrong rather than what’s right.  We do this without even realising it, and it is well engrained as a habit.

So to break it, we need to practice doing something different with our brains: noticing what’s right.

There are simple and enjoyable ways of undertaking this practice. Here are a couple for you to play with.


  1. Spend a few minutes thinking about the good points about your family, your work, and being the age you are. List at least ten good points for each category.
  2. Now think of one way you could add another point to each list by taking some action.
  3. And finally, think of a simple way you could show your appreciation for the gifts these categories bring into your life.
  4. Now decide to catch someone doing it right – your partner, child, friend or work colleague. Notice something they do which pleases you and tell them so.


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Being In The Present

Most of us spend large parts of our lives ignoring the messages we are being given, because we are not present – we are too busy thinking about what has already happened or what might happen.

The first messages to take notice of are the ones which our body gives us. When we ignore these we put our health at risk. Do you listen when your body says ‘I am hungry’ or ‘I am tired’? Most of us have learnt to work past these signals and just carry on as if we were robots.

How about taking notice of your body for a little while each day?


  1. Spend two minutes every two hours listening to your body’s messages: do you need a break? Do you need a walk? Are you stiff or uncomfortable? Just noticing is the first step to doing something about it.
  2. Before you eat, ask yourself what your body really wants right now. Does it want food at all or is it just the normal time to eat? Does it want the sweet food first?
  3. Finally, notice how your body reacts when you go to reply to someone every so often: is it comfortable with your response?
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As we start the new year, it seems appropriate to ask how we can make life a happier experience for all of us – let’s make a positive difference.

Keeping your fuel tank filled – see previous blogs – is a good start, because that will help you to be more positive in your outlook on life.

But what about those who have a negative effect on you, and seem to take that positivity away? Not only do they disturb your happiness, they also suffer a lack of happiness themselves – it is the rare person who really feels good when they are causing others to feel bad.

There are ways we can change this effect, to the benefit of all parties involved.

  1. Don’t give away your power! Remember that we choose to allow something to affect us. After all, what to one person is a disaster, to another person is an exciting adventure – they have obviously made different choices about how to react. So choose to react differently to the person. Imagine their comment or attitude as a brief rain shower which temporarily wets you and then dries up. Even better, imagine that you have an invisible shield which protects you from getting wet at all!
  2. Even more powerfully, experiment with how you can change their reaction to you, which causes them to behave in a way which affects you badly. Step into their shoes for as moment. From their perspective, what could you do differently that would provoke a different and more useful behaviour in them? We often unwittingly provoke just the behaviour we don’t like and by making a change in our own attitude or behaviour we can change theirs.


  1. Practise using your invisible shield when someone next seems to want to offend you or upset you in some way.
  2. Take a person that you always seem to have a negative reaction to. Imagine you are them, and ask yourself, ‘what would make me behave more positively with …?’ Use the answer to guide your behaviour next time you encounter them.


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Filling Your Fuel Tank

Imagine that you have a fuel tank which contains your energy and resourcefulness. Most people tend to empty their fuel tanks faster than they fill it, so the orange light is constantly flashing on their dashboard. When your fuel tank is almost empty you will never perform at your best – that requires a full tank of energy and resourcefulness.

How full is your fuel tank?

It simple to top it up. Every time you smile or feel good, you put some fuel in – it need only take a breathspace. We call it having treats and we recommend that you have hundreds of treats every day.

A treat is anything which makes you smile or feel good that you can access through your senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.


1. Make a list of possible treats for each of your senses
2. Allow yourself at least one breathspace an hour for a treat

The world is full of potential treats, so exploit the possibilities and make yourself feel good.

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This week I was having one of those weeks when everything seemed too much: everyone seemed to be making unreasonable demands on me, I had an overwhelming list of things to do and it all looked like drudgery – sound familiar?

And then a good friend phoned and quickly picked up on my mood, and responded by making me laugh – big, belly laughs that continued long after the conversation was finished. My belly ached, but What a gift!! Nothing felt quite so important or overwhelming anymore, the tension had gone out of my body and mind, and paradoxically, I set to with a new vigour on my list of tasks, and cleared heaps of it!

Laughter is such a simple thing, that we sometimes forget how powerful it is. Physically, mentally and emotionally it is a healthy way to release tensions and negativity. Laughter reconnects us to our souls, our child-like nature, to our enjoyment of life.

Laughter is proven to trigger the release of endorphins (our pleasure giving drug) into our brains, and helps refill our ‘feel good’ tank when it is empty. When our energy tanks are full again, it’s always good to share a laugh or two with others, after all laughter was made to share! In fact it is incredibly infectious! So go ahead and spread some Laughter!


  1. What do you have to make you laugh out loud? – Note if your list is short you may need to go out and buy yourself a funny treat!
  2. Help someone else to laugh this month – when life is getting them down make them laugh


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This workshop is meant to be light-hearted and fun because there seems to be this misconception that to be an ‘Artist’ one must be in angst and constant turmoil. However, wouldn’t it be great to have the same inspiration without all the hard work and emotional strife!

Well the key lies in children… When you were 3 or 4 you had the wonderful ability of singing like no one’s listening. Remember bathtime? Or watching that Disney film? There was no-one telling you to shut-up, or criticising your atonal rendition of ‘the bare necessities’ you just sang absolutely from the heart and loved every minute of it! The words and melody were of absolutely no consequence; the most important thing was to sing as loudly and as proudly as possible. Take the wonderful Bohemian Rhapsody scene from Wayne’s World – Wayne, Garth and the Wayne’s world team are in the car when on comes Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and as one they mime, rock-out and sing a long to it- this is the essence of what singing like no-one’s listening is all about!

It’s funny isn’t it, we make stars out of singers and songwriters and yet we are often discouraged from singing ourselves. The jolly scene of someone singing to themselves in the bath or shower has been the butt of so many jokes, jibes and digs that many people feel ashamed to even do it anymore..Well we at Meta say ‘bring back bathtime karaoke!’ and let’s re-learn how to: sing like no-one’s listening!

So what can we do to re-learn this vital tool of fun and creation – where can we practice our ‘sing like no one’s listening’ skills?

Well are some ideas we came up with…

  1. Sing like no-one’s listening when in your car
  2. Sing like no-one’s listening when your on a walk
  3. Sing like no-one’s listening in the bath
  4. Sing like no-ones listening in the shower
  5. Sing like no-one’s listening home alone
  6. Sing like no-one’s listening with your kids
  7. Sing like no-one’s listening when you need a pick-me-up
  8. Sing like no-one’s listening with your bestest mate!
  9. Sing like no-one’s listening at the concert of you favourite band
  10. Sing like no one’s listening to your favourite Disney films


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Many years ago, I was working with groups of young people who had been thrown out of school for ‘bad behaviour’. They were a great bunch of kids, once they decided they trusted you. Having been given that honour – of being trusted – I was curious to know what I had done to earn it.

Ade told me that two things mattered to them:

  • I didn’t talk down to them
  • I had never once seemed to doubt their ability to achieve whatever they wanted to

I wondered why that was, and then realised that I had been brought up to believe that everyone has something special about them, so that’s what I looked for in others. And whatever you look for, you find…

It is a vital perspective, if you want to bring out the best in those you work with. There was a piece of research done in the USA, where they took two mixed ability classes, but told their teachers that one group were high achievers, and the other group were slow learners. By the end of the first term, the teachers had proved them right!

The group classed as high achievers were all achieving, the other group were all being slow learners.

With beliefs, you tend, as in this example, to get what you expect. So, stop and think about what you expect your colleagues to be like. If they don’t get your point, do you think they are a bit slow or not bright enough? Or do you think that you have expressed it badly?

We can prove any belief we like to hold, so why not make it easier for you to enable people to be at their best, by deciding to believe that they are pretty special, your job is just to bring that out in them.


  1. List your beliefs about others, including the contradictions – be honest in this one
  2. Now go through your list and choose the beliefs that would be useful to you in enabling others to develop, then add some if you want to
  3. At your next team meeting, read through the ones you have chosen, and decide to act as if they are always true, for the whole of that session, and see what happens


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Do you remember this time of year when you were younger? The exams were over, the weather was glorious, and we were about to go on the holidays that seemed to last forever. The mood was anticipation, and a sense of something finished, with a break before we started the next stage, and a gentle wind-down was beginning.

Then we go to work, and there is no longer that long summer break, or time to enjoy the good weather, when it comes. But a part of us is still reacting in the same way.

So give it some permission this month:

  • Allow yourself to take a slightly longer lunch break – or maybe just take a lunch break! – on one of these warm days.
  • Allow yourself to go home a little earlier a couple of days each week, and enjoy sitting outside on a warm evening, or playing with the children for a while longer
  • Allow yourself to have a barbecue on a weekday evening, when the weather is good, rather than hoping the warmth will still be there at the weekend
  • Allow yourself to be slower at something than you usually would

This is not pure self-indulgence, it is a vital part of looking after yourself. If we don’t cater for our longings at all, but force ourselves to work like machines rather than humans, our spirits build up a resentment that can become unhealthy for us and for those around us. If you ever find yourself envying the children their summer holiday break, recognise it as a sign that you need to give yourself some permission!


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When we are young, we are greatly influenced by our role models.  As children, we learn to mimic or parents at a very young age and, in later years, whilst our role models may change, we continue to learn from those we admire.  These will include our heroes, whether fictional or real, those at school who may be brighter, better at sports than we are or those who are the most popular.

Whilst our tastes may change, as we grow older, the desire to learn and emulate others does not diminish.  At work, we try and understand what makes people successful and recognise the behaviours of the most influential.   Our own leadership styles are more likely to reflect what we have picked up from others than what we may have learnt from our own experiences.

Before we notice, others are watching us closely and seeing what works and what they like.  And if what we do does not seem to match what we say, we build suspicion, distrust and potentially lose others’ commitment to our leadership.

So I would like you to think about the behaviours that you demonstrate at work.  Do these reflect the ways of working that you are trying to encourage or are there inconsistencies.  For example, are you trying to encourage others to have a better work/life balance, but are the first to arrive and the last to leave?  Or are you trying to improve team working within your department, whilst being openly proud of your independence and autonomy of decision-making?

We are often unaware of these inconsistencies between what we say and what we do, but they are glaringly apparent to others.  So, ask yourself some key questions:

  1. What are the behaviours and ways of working that you are trying to promote within your team or department?
  2. How consistent are your own actions in demonstrating these changes?
  3. What improvements or changes in your leadership style do you need to make to ensure that there is greater consistency?

Finally, why not take the opportunity to explain to others the changes you are planning to make?  This will demonstrate your commitment, show them that you believe in adapting your own style and so encourage them to take similar actions themselves.  And isn’t that what being a good role model is all about?

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