Thoughts: Learn to Celebrate the Wins

I have to confess that the last few years have been quite challenging, across pretty much all aspects of my life, but as I write this, I am reflecting on the fact that I am happy. I am content.

How did I get to this place?

It occurred to me that when things in life challenge me – be they personal challenges or work-related challenges, I actually have choice around how I react to them (do I panic and lurch from crisis to crisis?) or do I respond to them (take a breath, take a step back from the situation and consider all options). I have learned to recognise when I have absolutely no control over situations. As such I have learned to accept these situations and as a result of this acceptance I lose no energy or sleep because of them.

Don’t get me wrong. Tough situations are tough. They do have an impact. They do force change upon us. But for me, the key was developing resilience – that ability to bounce back quickly to the pre-crisis state.

One thing that has helped me develop this resilience was developing a plan. Understanding that there are controls/frameworks I have to live within (long boring story) and planning for my future, taking these frameworks into account and instead of feeling constrained by them, making them work for me. Harnessing them. Allowing them to chip off the rough edges and to help me develop focus. I am a much better version of myself today than I was two years ago.

I could have been wallowing in a ‘poor me’ mental state but I chose not to.

I think that we pay too much attention to the negative. The bad things that happen. The office politics that get us down. The increased workload. The day-to-day stresses. If we pay attention to the negative, we allow the negative to increase. We start looking for the negative. We feed the negative. And the negative compounds. I suspect this is part of the human condition.

To counter this I have learned to celebrate the wins.

I now look for the little positive things that happen and I revel in them. It may be a win at work. It may be seeing growth in a colleague. It may be finally getting the roommates cat to sit next to me on the couch (this one was hard to achieve!). It is important to reprogramme your mindset and change your focus.

Recognising and revelling in the little wins is one thing, but it is important to go a step further. I’ve created a list. It is a list of goals or milestones that I want to achieve or acknowledge over the next three years or so. It’s a ‘living document’ which I add to regularly. The list items are currently mostly financial goals around saving etc. but they’re also practical goals. They’re also milestones to look forward to: A new place to live. Home ownership. Significant birthdays of my kids. That sort of thing.

And the amazing thing is, since I wrote this list at the beginning of July, I’ve ticked off three things already. There is an acceleration occurring because they’re written down. My sub-conscious and my conscious mind are working in concert to achieve these things.

So, write things down people. And when you achieve them, celebrate them with something that is occassional. For me, it’s wine, a cigar and a firepit. What is it for you? What will you do?

Good luck!


Thoughts: Dealing with Annoyance

It’s sure been an interesting time in my life.

Processing the passing of my birth mother has been a bit of a big deal for me. I was able to be in the moment as well as being somewhat out-of-body at the same time, dealing with the various stages of grief that one goes through.

And now I’m in the stage of Annoyance.

Annoyance is the feeling you get when someone or some thing makes you fairly angry or irritated.

My mother has annoyed me. Yes, it’s a purely selfish response but I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed that she’s gone. And what’s worse is that she hated to annoy anybody. Which is partly why she is now gone. She didn’t want to be a bother so didn’t call her doctor for three days when she should have. Sigh. Lessons learned.

So how have I been dealing with this particular annoyance?

Well, I recognise that the source of it is completely out of my control so all I can really do is focus on the good things. The little time we did have. The memories. The fact that I was able to meet her and that she was able to meet her grandchildren. This is pure. And it is healing.

On reflection, I have learned over the last few years that I have an incredible resilience. I don’t get stressed about things. I don’t really get angry. I have learned to keep my mouth shut and listen (mostly). And consider my response to stimuli rather than react.

Yes, I have been living through the consequences of decisions that I made in the past – owning it, accepting it, growing from it, moving forward.

Yes, I have been impacted hugely by the actions of others. But I recognise that I have no control over other people and what they do or what they say. I don’t necessarily know their stories. Their pain. Their stressors. All I can do is look for the good in the situation.

This approach prevents me from burning bridges or removing people from my life on an emotional whim. Don’t get me wrong though – I am very good at recognising and understanding when a person is toxic for me and I have no energy in my tank to continue to give to them. Thankfully this doesn’t occur very often.

Someone once told me that their approach is to ask themselves ‘Will this actually matter in five years’? It’s tough to do when you feel the red mist starting to swirl but it is worth making the attempt.

Take a step back. Breathe. And get on with your life. You only have one.


Springtime in Christchurch

I have just returned to Auckland from a long weekend in Christchurch.

I had a bit of trepidation about returning there after so many years. In fact, I was last there in 2009, so my memories of the city were pre-quake. Even now, nearly 4 years after the September 2010 earthquake, the city is still in disrepair. But what I saw was growth. I saw opportunity.

I spoke to many people. Locals that worked in jobs: hospitality, retail, trades. There is a sense of absolute optimism and resilience there. They know that the Christchurch that will rise from the ashes is going to be something special. The heart of the city still beats.

There is an understanding amongst locals that this is a long term project. Innovation such as the re:Start mall is fantastic and helps instil the vision of the future. The conversations were eye-opening. Politically there are disparate views, but there is a coming together of shared destiny. The insurance companies seem to have been absolute bastards and are involved in outrageous behaviour at the expense of the people of the City – and I am sure that this is something that will be addressed in the future.


The rebuilding of streets such as New Regent St gives hope.


Many of you know that I lost friends in the CTV building collapse, and this trip presented my first opportunity to say goodbye and reflect on the character of those lost. Seeing the 185 empty chairs installation was poignant. Seeing the memorial on the site was moving and I am grateful I was able to spend some time there.

chairs ctv

I loved seeing how in the midst of the work of removing derelict buildings, new buildings are going up. I loved seeing how random spaces are being turned into sculpture installations and how street art is prevalent. Others being turned into laneways with bars and diners, ready for when the people return to the CBD. It’s so healthy seeing how people are beautifying things that would normally remind of a desert experience. Where there are shattered pillars, there can also be colour and life.


We also visited New Brighton and Akaroa. Contrasting destinations, accessed through very different landscapes, but collectively showing that Christchurch will survive. And will survive well.akaroa1akaroa2newbrightonI’m glad I visited and stayed. It was a good time for closure. Christchurch is still a beautiful city, with amazing people. I will be returning sooner than later.

Murray would be proud and pleased to see what Christchurch is becoming. RIP.

NOTE: Special Thanks to Jeff and Naomi of Centrepoint on Colombo. Fanastic motel, and fab service! I heartily recommend you stay there!