How is Your Task Manager System Working?


How often have you felt like you might fall down from exhaustion by Friday… and you just can’t wait for the day to be over so you can kick back, put your feet up and say, “TGIF… another week is over!”  You’re not alone AND there is a way to help alleviate this feeling – it’s about assessing or reassessing your Task Manager System.

I’m not referring to our computer’s Task Manager System, although that was the inspiration for this blog post.  I was having difficulty with my computer one day and got fed-up after getting a continuous –“MS Word not Responding” message and e-mails that just wouldn’t send (probably a server issue), only to realize that all of the times I hit “send”, the e-mail I thought wasn’t “sending” has actually been sent 4 times!  So, I pressed the notorious, Control-Alt-Delete and pulled up the Task Manager –and it was as though my computer was screaming “Hey, I’m doing my best… relax already!  Oh, and by the way… you have a thousand processes running on me already.  How can you possibly expect me to keep up?!”

In that moment, it suddenly donned on me that we have our own built-in Task Manager System, running at all times. The question is, do we pay any attention to it?  What would it mean to call attention to our own TMS?  What would the benefits be?  So here’s what I have been thinking…

The Task Manager System on a computer measures or tracks how much Memory is being used, the Applications and Processes that are running at any given time, the computer’s Performance and plenty more information that I have no business explaining.  That said, what I found incredibly interesting, in that moment, were the similarities I discovered between our computer’s TMS and our own internal TMS.  What if we checked in with our capacity level?  How many applications and processes are we running at a given time?  How is my performance?  What might we discover?

It got me thinking about when I am running around, trying to finish off a task, then get pulled into or distracted by another project.  Or the phone rings and I answer it.  It’s not just the shiny object.  It’s not just the obvious inability to resume a task after being pulled away.  It’s the inability to resume a task because my brain is completely full to capacity with absolutely everything which is going on – not just the task at hand!  So what happens when I try to “Upload a Task” or “Start-Up an Application”?   I no longer have the ability to do so… my processors are maxed out and my brain is “no longer responding!”

So what is my Task Manager System?

I have a tried-and-true way of managing tasks, the shiny objects and other distractions.  It’s called – No More To-Do Lists… Block Off Time and Do It Now!  I know, I know… you’re saying, well, I’ve heard that before… really Heather?  This is your big secret?  Yes.  Often I have clients who are so busy and can’t seem to fit anything else into their day.  Yet, they say they are not accomplishing much, they’re not getting done what needs to be done.  They’re not making the money they want to make and they’re not finding time to follow-up on leads they have.

So what gives?  In order to figure out what is happening, I have them walk me through their day with an exercise I like to call, “A Day in the Life of —-”.  Often what they discover in this exploration in “A Day in the Life of —-“ is how much time they spend: on Facebook, in helping family members, having lunch or coffee with friends which is all good stuff and speaks to who you are.  The $64,000.00 question is, “how is this serving you and your business?”  Many of my clients are of the sandwich-generation, they’re helping out aging parents and their grown kids, by picking up or looking after grandkids.  They tell me it’s hard to say “no”, to which I respond –“I understand it’s hard to say “no”.  What about saying, ‘Not this time.”  Because the fact is, it’s imperative that you set clear boundaries.  When you say “Yes” to everyone else, you’re saying “no” to you, which isn’t serving you – you’re not getting the results you want.”  I ask them, “What would happen if you were to say, I will help you out when I’m able to.”

Case in point, my husband and I have three children.  My husband commutes 90 minutes each work day, both ways and is gone for 14 hours a day.   I run a business, so I understand busy!  It’s taken some doing, but I have had the conversation with my children, that even when I do work from home, I am working from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm.  That means no interrupting me while I’m in my office – set clear expectations.  Having said that, do I go and watch their basketball games?  Go to see them accepting an award at school?  Attend a Parent-Child school activity?  Go and watch them on Track & Field day?  Absolutely!  I wouldn’t miss these activities for the world AND I plan for it.  It’s part of the freedom and flexibility of running your own business.  My children and my husband also understand that I may need to make up that time later on.  We all work together for the greater good and it’s working well.

What’s the lesson here?  It’s not about taking time away from your business to live your core values and do what is important for you.  It’s about managing life and business holistically.  Yes, stay connected with your friends and family, live a healthy lifestyle AND run your business effectively – set clear expectations in your life and in business, so that you STAY in business!  You want to know what the really cool thing is?  Your friends and family will understand and they will respect you for setting boundaries and clear expectations.  You will be happier and you will be more successful.

In summary, here are three things to remember in terms of your Task Manager System:

  1. Be aware of the Applications you are running. Be sure that you are not overloading your system.  Have your day planned the night before, whenever possible, and highlight the 3 most important tasks.   Everything else is a bonus.
  2. Be aware of your Processes. How are you operating?  Are you chasing a shiny object or easily distracted?  If so, how do you find focus?  Perhaps you need to turn off all Facebook, e-mail notifications, flip your phone upside-down so you aren’t looking at it every two seconds, refrain from picking up the phone each time it rings… let that beautiful thing called voice-mail do its job – so you can do yours!  In fact, I always suggest that in your voice-mail message, you set the expectation of your policy for returning phone calls.  You may even give them an alternative to leaving a message – like visiting your website for more information, registering or signing up for a course, etc.  Also, there is a golden rule in business, which is spend the first couple of hours in your work day, achieving money-making activities – I absolutely agree with this!  Whether it is following up on leads, sending out a marketing e-mail or post, or sending out invoices to collect money. Whatever it is, do these tasks first and notice how accomplished you feel!
  3. Be aware of what is important.  It’s a fact that those who are successful in business, take care of themselves first.  They make time for exercise, they eat regularly, they eat healthy and they take time for reading, educational seminars, workshops, overall learning and fun-for-them hobbies. Get rid of your to-do lists –and get in the habit of scheduling all important, must-get-done tasks into your daily agenda. That way, you won’t book yourself so solid that your to-do’s get bumped and you get stressed. Be sure to set blocks of time aside for checking e-mails, responding to phone messages, working on projects, taking lunch and coffee breaks and STICK to those time frames, as though you were punching a clock.  It will serve you well – I guarantee it!

Written by:

Heather Wilson





Spring Cleaning

Wow, it’s April already?  Although it is officially spring, Mother Nature in Central Ontario has not been gifting us with the typical rain and warmer temperatures, which brings hope for the season to follow. No, in fact, with the recent ice storm, we now have an extensive amount of clean-up to do. The picture you see in this post is a snapshot of our backyard and gives you a sense of the workload ahead for us and others in our neighbourhood.  My husband and neighbours who have chainsaws have been working away a little each night.  Let’s just say we will have firewood for at least a year!  There are limbs hanging down all over the place and pieces of trees everywhere – it will take weeks to get everything cleaned up.  Then there’ll be the regular spring yard clean-up and thatching and aerating of our lawns.  So many things already on the ‘To Do’ list and the list keeps growing.  How will we ever get around to doing it all?

This got me thinking about what happens in the business world.  We have seasons of sorts as well, we just label them differently.  Peak-periods, Black-out periods, Quarterly taxes, WSIB, CPP and EI payments and submissions, Quarter-end, Year-end and Fiscal Year-end.  These are times when businesses or corporations hire people for short contracts or leverage their existing staff to: pack up, label and catalogue year-end files, finalize T4’s for a few examples. 

This usually means all-hands-on-deck to meet important deadlines. 

Despite the importance of meeting the deadlines, there’s always all the regular duties and responsibilities to stay on top of.  This is where strong leadership and solid communication skills really come into play.  In order to meet the deadlines; such as the continuous demands of our customers, the market, technology, social media -the list is endless – communication is key.   For many businesses or professions, deadlines can be regulatory and/or compliance driven.  Whatever the case may be, meeting specific deadlines requires discipline, good policies and procedures, and having a solid strategy in place.  Accountability is essential.

So, again… when do we find time to do that necessary clean-up?  Often year-end being in the fall or in December, forces us to do our taxes.  What about everything else though?  What I have found is that as a small business owner and as a professional coach, I have other cleaning that needs to be done – workshop materials that need to be catalogued and filed away properly, client files need to be reviewed and updated, and a home office that needs attention.  Spring Cleaning is a must AND it can be challenging to put aside time for it.  Here are a few tips that I find helpful to ensure that Spring Cleaning actually happens and secondly, that it is productive and successful.

5 Steps to a Productive and Successful Spring Cleaning:

  1. Mark your calendar with an official date and a “DO NOT BOOK” note in your calendar. My official Spring Cleaning date this year is the last Friday in April.
  2. Put an Out-of-Office message on your email and your telephone voice mail the night before. This will help prevent interruptions AND let people know you are unavailable and when you’ll return to the office.
  3. Be sure to have a list of 3-5 tasks that you want to accomplish in front of you.  Schedule the most important tasks first, then go in order of importance from there. Preparation is key if you want to make the most of this day.
  4. Be sure to have on hand, a few bankers’ boxes to pack up any files you wish to store and which will go a long way to decluttering your office. You might be surprised as to just how much you will get rid of.  Be ready and open to at least pack stuff up and you can decide what officially goes where later.
  5. Take scheduled and timely breaks throughout, to eat, drink and get some fresh air. This will ensure you stay motivated, nourished and energized throughout the day.

After your Spring Cleaning is done, step back and take a look at all that you’ve accomplished.  You’ll be amazed at just how great it feels to spend time sorting, filing and thinning out the herd.  Pat yourself on the back and I’ll (almost) guarantee that you’ll want to do it again next year.  That’s how it all began for me.  Enjoy!




Focus and Be Intentional

Do you suffer from ‘squirrel-syndrome’?  Are you having trouble staying focused?  Here are 3 Steps to being more focused and setting the intention:

  1. Use your agenda wisely – replace those to-do lists with blocking the time off each day, for important tasks and ‘sticking to the plan’.  For example, you might check your emails first thing in the morning -block off 30minutes, then close down your email.  Book a meeting and be sure to secure a time frame that works for you and the other party.  In fact, it’s best to set the expectation up front!  If your meeting is at 1pm say, “I am looking forward to this meeting and I have until 2pm.  Does that timing work for you?”  Then stick to it.
  2. Start saying no – how is it that society has made this a bad thing?  Take a look at the most successful business men and women, they are selective about what events and meetings they attend and how they spend their time.  Be more selective about what meetings you attend.  This is something I have been learning over the last couple of years and it’s working well (for the most part) is to ask yourself, “What do I want from this meeting?”  It’s not about making the sale -it is about figuring out how you want to spend your time and energy.
  3. Practice good self-care – this is part of emotional intelligence.  Self-management is so key to increasing your overall wellness and how you ‘show-up’.  Taking time for you, whether it’s a walk around the block at lunch, a long run first thing in the morning (my personal favourite), or meeting up with a friend for coffee.  Practicing self-care and taking some quality down time during your busy work week will go a long way to helping you manage stress, stay focused and make good decisions.

Follow these quick tips over the next few weeks and you’ll be amazed at what happens for you!

Written by: Heather Wilson


5 Ways to a More Harmonious Life


These are some questions which come up regularly when I work with clients.  “How can I find more balance in my life?  I need to have more balance or I am going to lose it!”  They often ask, “How do you do it?  How do you find balance while you’re growing your business?” For those who know me well, they say, “Heather, you have three young children, a husband, you volunteer, you run three times a week – how the heck do you find time to run your business?” Wow! Even writing that reminds me of how crazy life gets!

The answer is simple.  I actually 1. Schedule Everything into my day-planner.  Yes, everything – from my clients, to business meetings, to my own workshops, to business networking events, my children’s activities at school, extra-curricular activities, family outings – you name it, it’s in my day-planner.  It keeps things simple. I don’t miss meetings or activities – it just works!

I have also learned to check myself by asking, “Okay, who am I kidding?” I am learning, the art of saying “no.”

  1.   The Art of Saying “NO”. Saying no though, is more about “not now”.  It’s not that I don’t want to do something or that I don’t want to see someone or that I don’t want to attend a particular networking event.  It’s about deciding what is possible; what can wait; and/or what I must actually have to say ‘no’ to.  It’s not that those people, events or things are less important, it’s more about putting family first (or god forbid), getting some much needed rest or some “you-time”, that is MOREimportant in that moment – it’s about practicing self-love and self-care.
  2. Practicing Self-care. Yes self-care. I ask my clients, “What is most important to you?”  They say, “Well, my business or career and my clients or customers are important, but my family is MOST important.”  To that, I may respond with, “What about you?  Where are you on the scale of importance?  Without you, there is no business or clients.”

Practicing self-care is critical!  It is not selfish, by the way.  In fact, in my opinion, it is as important as exercise, drinking water, eating healthy and BREATHING!  How many of you (myself included) forget to breathe sometimes?  How many of you reading this right now, sometimes forget to eat?  Hours go by and you’re still sitting at the computer or running around, and you forget to eat and take in fluids.  By the way, if you are reading this and you haven’t eaten or had water in a few hours, do that now – this blog post will still be here when you get back!

The irony in all of this, is that the very things that we feel are important or is preached to us as BEING important for survival, (food, exercise, water and air), are the very things we put off.  In fact, in doing so, we are moving into a state of imbalance every day.  This can create all kinds of health issues.  Our bodies and brains are starved for nutrients and water, which can cause us to become agitated, lose focus and ultimately become far less productive than if we take frequent, short breaks.

  1. Work-Life Balance!Recently, I spoke on this very topic at a Women’s Wellness Conference.  It was just two years ago that I made the biggest career change of my life – I resigned from my dream job.  Why, you ask?  I was forgetting to breathe; I was neglecting my family with all of the travel; I wasn’t eating properly, I wasn’t exercising. My doctor informed me, when I saw him for yet another respiratory infection in December 2013, that my asthma had worsened, so much so, that he needed to put me on a Steroid puffer, to better manage it. You want to know something though? It wasn’t the puffer that I needed.  What I really needed and wanted, was space, freedom and flexibility to live and to be with my family – I needed more work-life balance.  You know how I know this?  I have not used that Steroid puffer since April 2014!
  1.   Set Clear Expectationswith everyone around you. The last layer is to set clear expectations. This includes your spouse/partner, your children, your friends and extended family, colleagues at work or business associates and clients.  Most people respect your expectations and boundaries; they just want to know that they can count on you, or in the business world, they just want a response with 24-48 hours.  My husband and I and our children have a very solid communication base, sitting down for dinner together as a family, most nights. We are in contact throughout the day as well – keeping current with comings and goings.

In business, something that I am an advocate for, is a Service Level Agreement (SLA) set up on my voice-mail system.  In my voice-mail message, I specify the time-frame in which one can expect to have response from me.  As business owners or in the world of business, we spend a great deal of our time away from our desks, networking, drumming up new business, preparing for meetings and meeting with clients.  It is so important to set clear expectations and let others know when they may expect to hear from you.

Here’s hoping that this story will enable you to have a more favourable, and fulfilling life, into which you will also be able to weave your career, or grow your business, in harmony with you and your loved ones. Namaste.

Heather Wilson

Owner at Spark Your Vitality



How to crush doubt… fast!


Doubt. It’s something we all experience, dare I suggest on a regular basis in many aspects of life and business. A client recently said to me, “I was having a great couple of weeks, feeling amazing… then out of nowhere, I woke up the other morning and felt deflated and began doubting myself. “How do I stop that from happening?” You can stop the doubt, but it’s about adjusting your mindset.  When doubt creeps in, you recognize it immediately. You start to question your abilities, your belief-in-self falls to an all-time low and you often feel hopeless… and before you know it, the negative thoughts start to shake your confidence.

So how do you crush doubt?

Studies show that there are somewhere between 65,000 and 85,000 thoughts flowing in and out of our minds every day! So how do you filter all of these thoughts and focus on thinking positive? It’s about retraining your brain to be more positive.The most powerful way to think and feel more positive, is to practice positive self-talk and is to write out positive I-messages that resonate for you. Some examples of positive I-messages are: “I am talented and I have the ability to do anything I put my mind to.” Or “I believe in myself and know that I can accomplish anything, if I am prepared to do the work.”

Do you second guess being able to cook a meal? How to drive a car? Create a spreadsheet at work? Process entries or put together a presentation? Not usually? How come? It’s simple right? These are tasks you learned to do. You may not even recall a time when you didn’t know how to do these things, because in time they become second nature. So why do you doubt your ability to, for example, launch a new business or start a new career? Chances are, it’s because you are moving from doing something you have been able to do with success and ease. You have been provided the tools, processes, and resources along the way, you had the skills to perform your job and do it well and you received guidance and feedback from a manager and/or team to know that you were on track. There was always a system or metrics in place with which to measure success. When you felt doubt creeping in, you could ask for feedback or support to get through each step of the way.

Now you going down a different path, taking a new direction. Whether you are working on a new task, starting a new career or opening a business, you are going to go through some level of change. You will be doing something that requires new…well, new everything? You may be in a new environment, drawing on existing skills and potentially having to learn new ones. You will be learning or creating new processes, policies and procedures.You will engage with new people and networks. Everything as you know it will change or be different. What are you feeling now? Overwhelmed, stress, tension and most likely DOUBT!

So, how do you crush doubt? Here are what I believe to be 5 simple steps to crush doubt fast:

  1. Think of doubt as a compliment to your persistence. In other words, doubt has arrived because you are about to do something extraordinary and doubt feels the need to distract you or get in your way.
  2. Acknowledge it. When you acknowledge doubt, it doesn’t mean you’re giving into it or allowing it to overtake.  You are simply looking at it and acknowledging that it exists. Often you can remember when you have felt self-doubt before. This is when you recognize that doubt isn’t so much a thing, as it is a feeling, an emotionally charged feeling, fed by past experiences, negative input from others and/or an inability to see the vision clearly. Once you are able to acknowledge doubt for what it is, a compliment to you and your persistence and that doubt will visit you from time to time, you can use it as a stepping stone and move past it.
  3. Identify what is at stake. There is a temptation to accept doubt and allow it to consume you. The key is to understand that doubt is simply part of the process of any change. Once you acknowledge this, the vision or goal usually becomes clear. Doubt was simply there to distract you temporarily and when you no longer want to dwell in a place of doubt, you start to replace negative self-talk with more positive self-talk. For example, you may say to yourself, “I am doubting myself and having negative thoughts because I am trying something new or more challenging than usual. I am doubting my ability right now, but these negative thoughts and feelings are not serving me. They make me feel lousy. What I do know, is that I can move past doubt, because I have done it before. I am able to achieve this goal.”  So, what is at stake?  What’s at stake is that self-doubt is distracting you and taking you further away from your goal.  Once you identify what is at stake, you will crush doubt and your goal will be clearer and attainable, and you will be more focused.
  4. Say goodbye to doubt. Yes bid doubt good-day and resist the temptation to give it space in your head or heart. Again, self-doubt is driven primarily by your mindset and negative self-talk. You only have room for one thought in your mind –will you think a positive thought or a negative thought? The more you can override that negative self-talk with positive self-talk, concentrate on believing in your ability to achieve your goal, doubt will have great difficulty existing in your mind.
  5. Decide what you want and move to action. In fact, once you have completed the previous 4 steps, deciding and writing down what you want next is the best way to overcome doubt and move to action. It is not a tangible thing that stands in our way. Doubt is a mindset and can only thrive, if we give it energy. Instead, focus on emitting positive energy and imagine yourself deciding to move forward to that desired change.

What does this look like?

I recently had a situation where I was doubting my ability and I asked myself “When was the last time I had felt this way or experienced doubt?” I went through these steps, first recognizing that doubt was a sign that I was pushing myself to new heights or going for a bigger opportunity. I then acknowledged that I was feeling doubt which actually helped me to identify what was at stake… which was, “If I stay in this state of doubting my ability, I will be so disappointed that I didn’t give this opportunity for new business a real shot!”  That was a pivotal moment for me… I would be so disappointed. It was then that I realized, not only did I want to “say good-bye to doubt”, but I would crush it by giving this opportunity everything I had. That’s what I did, pushed doubt aside, listed everything that I bring to the table and decided I was going for it and moved to action –and you know what? I did it. I sent off the quote and they accepted.

Once again, doubt is all about mindset. Doubt exists or creeps in when you allow negative thoughts and feelings to override your strengths and abilities. Want to overcome these feelings? Breathe, lean into your strengths and follow the above 5 steps. You can crush doubt –believe in yourself, trust your abilities and move to action. Notice what happens!

Written by: Heather Wilson of Spark Your Vitality





Effective Leadership: more than a title, it is a way of being

It’s the age-old question, what makes a good leader? I think we have all experienced both good leadership and poor leadership. I have asked and been asked this question many times over the years in conversation, in workshops, in coaching and here’s what I’ve discovered. It doesn’t matter whether you are a leader in an organization, whether you are leading a team or a leader in a community, it all comes down to a few key attributes; being a good communicator, being approachable, supportive, versatile and being accountable.

So let’s start with communication. When it’s all said and done, being effective at keeping your team in the loop, facilitating two-way conversations, being a good listener, asking questions and taking a genuine interest in your team members are absolutely key to strong leadership. Even when a leader needs to have a crucial conversation, lending an ear to listen, being open, showing you care and demonstrating interest, will not only promote more two-way dialogue, you will gain their trust and confidence.

Being approachable is always at the top of the list when I ask others what makes a good leader. Many commented that a manager who is approachable offers unlimited support, they not only offer positive and constructive feedback, but they ask for feedback and are actually open to receiving it. This is a great segway into being supportive and versatile.

Being supportive goes hand-in-hand with being versatile. Versatility is about managing one’s emotions and helping others manage their emotions. When stakes are high and there’s a lot on the line, it can be very easy to fly off the handle and potentially “throw someone under the bus”. Everyone has bad days, so as long as it doesn’t become a habit, being supportive in these instances goes a long way. What is also key, is for a leader to recognize patterns or situations where a team member may lack skills or an ability to cope, in a given situation. It doesn’t mean they are not good performers, it simply means they appear or feel that they cannot perform under the circumstances presented. These are great coachable moments and a place where both strong support and versatility play a vital role as a leader.

supportive leader will stand behind their people and even co-handle putting out fires if need be. Once the fire is out or at least under control, the leader will take the opportunity to debrief the situation with their team or team member. They may ask questions like, what did you notice? What went well? What didn’t go well? How come? What would you do differently? The goal being to help gain a better understanding about where things went wrong and even where they went right, celebrate the good and coach the team/team member on how to better manage this type of situation in the future. The key is to help others see the gaps and look for ways to fill them. The role of leader is not to highlight the gaps.

Funny enough, accountability is probably the most critical piece to being an effective leader. It’s always interesting to hear others describe what accountability means to them or who should be accountable and what that looks like. Often people mistake leadership to be hands-off and simply a role of overseeing-of-others or as we have heard it called in the corporate world, the top-down approach to management. What being a strong leader is really about, is being able to acknowledge, own and stand behind your decisions, mistakes or a misstep. It’s getting behind a cause, keeping your word or backing someone up where appropriate.  Being a bit exposed and vulnerable has its ups and downs, but in leadership, it can mean the difference between gaining and eroding trust.

To bring this all together, the really cool thing about this is that anyone can work on themselves and increase their emotional intelligence. Whether you are a Leader or not, as you may have gathered, enhancing these skills can help us in business and in life.

Here are 5 simple steps to being or becoming a stronger leader in any capacity:

  1. Be Self-Aware –pay attention to how others react to you
  2. Self-Regulate –breathe and ask yourself, “What just triggered that emotion?”
  3. Ask for feedback -constructive feedback, if you’re open to it can be a huge personal growth booster!
  4. Be curious –during conversations and meetings, ask more questions
  5. Listen more -lending an ear and maintaining eye contact are great ways to show interest and be supportive… and we learn so much more as well!

Being aware of others around us and noticing our own behaviour is the first step in understanding what to work on.  It is really up to each of us to make that happen.

P.S.: if you’re interested, other words for Leader are Front-runner, Trailblazer, and Spearhead, all of which represent a way of being. Think about it, when we apply for a position, although we must present substantial evidence on paper, that we can in fact do the job from a functional standpoint, it’s usually during the interview process that our behaviours, how we respond in the moment, how we manage ourselves that typically stands out and either gets us the job or not.

In reality then, it’s only after demonstrating key behaviours and proving ourselves, that we in fact earn a title. All the more reason to improve our communication and increase our emotional intelligence, wouldn’t you agree? After all, providing guidance and being a good example will be key to grow our next generation of leaders.

Written by:

Heather Wilson, ATC




3 Tips to a Holly, Jolly Holiday Season

Yes, ‘tis the season to be jolly… fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!! It’s true, we are less than two weeks until Christmas Day and if you’re like myself and many others that I’ve been talking to recently, things are busier than ever this year. You might saying, “Where did November go?” or “How did it get to be the middle of December already?” Many of the folks I’ve have been speaking with say, they are feeling a bit stressed about the holidays because they haven’t had time to finish their shopping or they haven’t even had a chance to decorate their house yet.

This is the time of year when we all want to enjoy some quality time with our loved ones, a little Christmas Cheer, some turkey and hopefully a bit of relaxation too. It is a time for reflection, to look on the past year, celebrate successes, remember our loved ones and cherish fond memories. It is a time to bring about hope, peace and joy, as we ring in a new year! What???

Okay, now… let’s fast-forward to reality now! So, how do we “turn work off” for a few days so that we can actually enjoy the holidays? I have tried a few things over the years, and here are a few tips that I find work really well, along with breathing…

  1. Book time off during the holidays. People do expect you to take time off. Don’t be the martyr and allow everyone else time off, but yourself. Especially as a leader or a business owner, be sure to take at least a day or two in addition to the holidays. People are watching you and you are a role model for others. How often have you and your family paid the price when you have worked right through the holidays? Take a day or two and notice how great you feel!!
  2. Make time for some holiday spirit. You’re thinking about it and so is everyone else in the office! How about you announce that it’s Holiday Potluck this Friday!! Everyone bring in a dish for this and we are going to enjoy a team potluck lunch! This allows everyone to enjoy some of the holiday spirit, have a nice lunch and spend time chatting with each other and it’s a great team building exercise with food –its win-win!! The other great incentive for people to stay jolly this holiday season is to grant an hour or two of shopping time or let them leave an hour or two early for their children’s Christmas Concert. You and your team are thinking about these things, so make sure you make time for what is important. The work stuff will get done -always does!
  3. Take time to reflect on your achievements. It’s around this time of year, when we start to reflect and look back on the year we have had. As I sat and reflected just the other day, I realized just how many cool things have happened this year. How many shifts have happened with me and my business? I also realized just how many challenges I have overcome too. I am grateful for the good, the great, and the not-so-great things that have happened -so much to celebrate!  Be sure to do this. Take time to reflect on what has gone well, what you have accomplished and write it all down. You will be amazed as was I, at just how far you have come. Be sure to celebrate the wins, the challenges and the learning that you have experienced and reward yourself for all that you have accomplished. I just picked up a really nice bottle of wine to celebrate!

If you follow these 3 simple steps, you will find it changes your perspective and how you feel going into this holiday season. You will feel more energized and better prepared for the New Year too!


Heather Wilson




5 Steps: Go from Overwhelmed to Productive and Calm

How are you feeling these days?  It’s September now and summer is officially over today –it’s the first day of fall.  If you have children, they are back in school, you probably feel like you are getting back into your routines and hopefully ready to welcome fall and all it has to offer…cooler temperatures, spiced lattes, the leaves will change colour and so on.

That said, how many of you are feeling a bit anxious about ramping up?  How is your commute?  There are children to watch for, school buses stopping for children and have you noticed, with summer vacations over, there are so many more people on the roads again?  Perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything that is coming at you, at home or at the office, even if it is new opportunities or as a business owner, new business?  Perhaps you are approaching your company’s fiscal year-end or other deadlines?

Well, I can safely say, that you’re not alone AND the good news is, you can transform that overwhelmed feeling into feeling more productive and calm.  How?  Here are 5 simple steps and a few gentle reminders that I shared recently in a Transformational Tuesday Workshop with my colleague and friend, Jessy Morrison.  These steps were well received by our participants and they are real easy to practice each day.

  1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling – this is the first step because it’s the most important step. Until you acknowledge what you are feeling, you will have a tough time moving forward.  Take a few moments and quietly honour what you are feeling and where you feel that overwhelm.
  • If you feel tension in your head (you may experience headaches or sinus pressure) when you’re stressed.
  • If you wear your heart-on-your-sleeve, you may feel pressure or tightness in your chest, have ‘trouble breathing’ when you’re stressed.
  • If you are a gut person, you may experience an ‘upset tummy’ or ‘achy feeling in your gut’ when you’re stressed.

These are all very real sensations and individual to you.  Pay attention to any of these signs… they are real signals that you are feeling overwhelmed and your body is stressed.  You will not be productive in this state.  Alleviating or releasing your feelings can come in various forms; write in your journal, express emotion solely or with someone you trust, talk and/or vent with a friend or partner.  Listen to music, do a meditation or yoga, go for a walk or a run.  This is a critical step.  Recognize your feelings, acknowledge them and give yourself permission to allow your feelings come out.  This is healthy, very normal and will serve you well.

  1. Talk nice to yourself – you are so nice to others, you give them the benefit of the doubt, and you make excuses for why they didn’t finish something or arrive on time. However, when it comes to yourself, you are cruel, you call yourself names and beat yourself up.  You start to doubt yourself, your abilities and your strengths.  You may even have self-destructive thoughts and feel negative towards yourself.  One of the best ways to begin to transform the feelings of overwhelm, is to practice positive self-talk daily, throughout the day.

Sample Positive Message: I am able to get stuff done.  I can achieve my goals because I am good at what I do.  I have the power to say “no” when needed and am worthy of putting myself first, to ensure that I can perform at my best.  I deserve abundance and to be happy.  I will set aside at least 1 hour a day for me – it’s not selfish, it’s self-care.  I know that self-care is important to continued personal growth and success!

  1. Refine your to do list – you are great at creating stress and putting added pressure on yourself each day. Right?  How?  Well, let’s see… you conjure up a list the length of your arm, of what you’ll do before work, during your lunch hour, after work, before you even get home to cook dinner… and convince yourself that you have to get it all done.  What happens?  You become paralyzed by these unrealistic expectations!

How can you overcome this?  Create your list (the night before whenever possible), highlight or put a star beside the Top 3 (yes, just 3) tasks you would like to or need to accomplish each day.  Review your top priority tasks with a coffee or tea in the morning and once complete, check them off or draw a line through it and celebrate your success, you deserve it!  We’ll go into more depth on this in Step 5!

  1. Be focused – we all love the idea of ‘multi-tasking’. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you are not built for multi-tasking.  When you multi-task, you often give up effectiveness for efficiency.  When you multi-task, you use it as a method of coping with all the stuff you need to do.  The truth is, humans are not meant to do multiple things at one time.  We have one set of hands, one set of ears and one set of eyes, all of which need to work together to accomplish a task.

Think about it.  Next time you go to answer the phone, try to respond to an email or file some paperwork and pay close attention.  You will find yourself typing the conversation you’re having, causing you to back-space and re-write your email or worse, having to retract it!  You will also be on the phone twice as long because you will ask the person on the other end to repeat themselves over and over.  Likewise, even if you’re just trying to catch up on some filing, you are more likely to file incorrectly and have to repeat the task again later.  My point?  Focus, breathe, be in the moment and stay on task until it’s complete.  You will be much faster, more satisfied and feel amazing when you cross another task off your list!

  1. Keep up the Momentum – once you have refined your to-do list and you are focused, be sure to keep up the momentum and celebrate each success, great or small along the way. It is so gratifying to complete a task or a project!  So go ahead, celebrate or reward yourself and watch your productivity increase along with your motivation!  Remember, rewards may include: enjoying a hot cup of tea in the afternoon and/or reading for 20 minutes, taking a walk.  Practicing self-care is great because it doesn’t have to cost anything and it’s good for your health!  Other benefits include: feeling accomplished, increased productivity and best of all, you will feel calmer.  Try it, you’ll like it!

Give these simple steps a try, they do work, if you pay attention and follow through.  You are a human being, not a human doing.  You feel before you think, so doesn’t it make sense to pay attention to how you feel, take care of yourself, so that you can think and be productive?  I believe this 100%.  What are your thoughts or feelings about this?  We love hearing and interacting with you, so be sure to leave a comment below.

Written by:

Heather Wilson, ATC




5 Reasons to Write Down Your Goals

There are so many ideas out there about goal-setting and I have a few ideas of my own. I am a firm believer in having a solid format in which to go about setting goals. Process is very key. What I have also come to firmly believe in and probably the most important part of setting goals, is your mind-set, your belief in self and your ability to achieve your goals. You have to be crystal clear on what you want, what you value and that you truly have the skills, the strengths and the resources to make your goals happen.

Let’s take a simple task that we can all relate to, like going grocery shopping. Have you ever gone to the grocery store without a grocery list? How did that work for you? If you are task oriented person, you probably picked up a few necessities, but you likely forgot some of the items you, your spouse or your partner really wanted causing you to go out again, spending more time and money. Or, you will wonder aimlessly through the store buying everything you see on sale, you start to get hungry, so you pick up way to many goodies and carb-filled items, only to get home and forget the one thing at the top of your list –MILK!! How could you forget the milk?? Well, if you had your list with you, chances are you would have gone up and down the appropriate isles, you would not have all kinds of extra items that, let’s face it, you probably don’t need and you would have shopped in half the time.

Well, it’s kind of like going through life or being in business without having clear, specific goals. You may find yourself saying, “I need to lose about 20lbs, but I just don’t have time to exercise.” Or, if you’re in business, “I really need to start making more money, or I’m going to be in some trouble and I’ll have to go get a job –but how? I don’t even know where to start!” These are all things I hear from people all the time. Something many people don’t want to hear though, is that there is a specific process, an important link to, going from thinking about doing something or wanting to do something… to actually making it happen!!

There is a whole psychological connection to starting projects, but never finishing them, getting a gym membership, maybe going for a few weeks, then you stop going or in business, that you don’t go after that big account. Want to know what it is?

No, it’s not that you get busy and don’t have time. It’s not that it isn’t important to you or that you don’t want to. The biggest reason that you don’t finish that project, that you stop going to the gym or that you don’t go after that big account is because… you haven’t written all of these things down. You may be saying, well I can’t write down everything I want to do… that’s ridiculous Heather!! Is it ridiculous?

I am going to challenge that thought or mindset by sharing the 5 reasons why writing down your goals will help you accomplish more than you ever have before.

  1. You will get very clear and specific about what you want. The very act of writing down your goals will help crystallize the desire. You will begin to see you yourself having what you want and you will be so in touch with what it looks like, that you will be able to describe it in great detail to others.
  2. It helps you see where your strengths are. Once you write down your goals, you will understand what you bring to the table and what you are missing. You may realize that you need to bring in an expert for advice or support, you may need to purchase something or engage with a process in order to make it happen. That said, having written down your goal and being really clear and specific on what you want, you will then be able to determine what you can do and exactly what additional support you will need. For example, when I realized that I wanted to take my running to the next level and run longer distances, and set a goal to run a half-marathon, I quickly realized that I could do the running, but I needed a running coach to help me with a training plan to make it happen. I started working with my coach in August 2014, got serious about running and ran my first half-marathon on March 1, 2015!! I have recently hired a new business coach as well, for similar reasons. I really want to take my coaching & training business to the next level.
  3. Writing your goals down makes them real. When you see what you want written down, it becomes so real. Trust me, when I first wrote down recently with my business coach, what I want to accomplish for 2017 –let me just say, it got real!! But in a good way… you know the kind of real that almost takes your breath away, if it weren’t so darned exciting, exhilarating and exactly what I want.
  4. You will come up with more than one reason to accomplish your goal. This is the real clincher. When you write down your goals, it’s not selfish. It’s about moving forward, stepping outside your comfort zone, modelling the behaviour of a driven, goal-oriented individual to everyone around you. For me it was, when I accomplish in 2017 what I have written down, it will benefit my family, my amazing husband, because he will be able to follow his dreams AND it will definitely benefit me and my business. Now that feels incredible!
  5. You will want to finish what you started. How many of us start on a journey and for whatever reason we don’t get to our destination. We get distracted, we find other things to do, things come up that are either more important or we make it seem that way. When you write down your goals, attach a value or benefit to completing them and keep those written goals in a place that is visible to you regularly, you will want to accomplish them. The even better part, is that once you are fully engaged with accomplishing your goals, you will automatically start to create a plan as to how you will accomplish your goals. That is a fact.

What have I noticed? Often I find that people are afraid to write down their goals. It’s happened in my workshops, it’s happened with clients where they are afraid to write down the thing they want most.  It’s very natural to be afraid to write them down, because what I have learned is that there are two things we all fear most –fear of failure and/or fear of success. What is truly interesting is that psychologically, once you write something down, your subconscious mind actually begins to go to work on how to make this happen and why it would be a good thing! It’s true. Your body, mind and spirit naturally want to work together, it’s all of the energy that we allow in (often negative energy or thoughts from others) that clash with our body, mind and spirit, start to dampen our trust-in-self and manipulate our belief systems, causing us to shy away from our dreams.

How to respond to this? Again, the act of writing down your goals, what your strengths and values are, how the goal or goals are aligned with them and why it would be beneficial to achieve the goal(s), you can overcome the negative energy and thoughts. Replace them instead with positive affirmations, positive self-talk and take a step everyday towards your goal.

Final thoughts… I encourage you to start. Write down what you want most, follow the above 5 steps.  You have the power within you to accomplish everything you want. The choice is yours now. Are you ready to make 2017 your best year yet?

Written by:

Heather Wilson, ATC




Accountability: Does it start with the Leader or the Team?

There are so many aspects to being a leader within an organization or running a business with a team.  There are also a few challenges that come with being in a leadership role and probably one of the challenges I hear about most often from leaders I work with, is accountability.  First of all, how many of you out there, find it’s like pulling teeth to get your team to be accountable?  How many of you feel, that accountability should come naturally, they should just know… shouldn’t they?  Well, let’s dig a little deeper into this.

We all have our opinions on how leadership should be and our own experiences with leaders, but what is the deal really?

Here’s what I believe.  As a leader, if you want to be successful in leading your team, there are three key components that promote accountability, setting clear expectations, good two-way communication and trust.

  1. Set clear expectations.  If you set clear expectations from the beginning, you and your team know where you stand, everyone is clear on their roles and responsibilities and what needs to happen.  It’s also a good idea to revisit the expectations regularly to ensure they still make sense.  As things change and evolve within your team, your business or organization, you may want to or need to make some changes.  Again this is why it’s so important to have them AND be sure your team understands them in the first place.
  2. Two-way communication.  This means staying connected, asking questions, giving them opportunities to ask questions and sharing regular feedback AND asking for it as well.  As leaders if we are all about giving feedback, but we are not open to receiving it, you will (if you’re self-aware), start to notice a decline in productivity, you may have people leaving your team or seeking other opportunities.  This is a clear sign that communication is not open and honest and soon trust begins to erode.  Nobody wants to work for someone who does not ask for or cannot accept feedback.  You may have heard the saying, People don’t leave their job they leave their manager.  Again, open, honest two-way communication is absolutely key.
  3. Trust.  Team members typically trust their leaders, they’ll do what is asked and believe what you say is correct…until you give them a reason not to.  As leaders, we need to demonstrate a level of trust with our team members as well.  If you as a leader do not feel you can trust them to do what you have asked of them, then there will be little to no potential for accountability because they’re not sure of where they stand.  In fact, in not allowing your team to take on a task (low risk of course, when the task is new) and fail or succeed, then you are also not allowing them to learn how to be accountable.  It’s in the trying, failing and trying again that you learn best, would you agree?  How good were you at managing your team when you started?  You had to learn, you probably had some set-backs, but ultimately someone took a chance on you, trusted that you had it in you to manage, to lead your team and now you are succeeding.

So back to the question, does accountability begin with you, the leader or your team members?  Consider this, accountability is not something you can hold, teach or something you do.  Accountability is more of a behaviour, it’s something you feel and understand.  Accountability is based on our own personal values, morals and beliefs.  So where does this leave us?  When looking for qualities in someone, what are you seeking?  Skill or Will?  We can teach people how to do something, but teaching people how to be someone, that is different.  There must be a compelling reason for us to do something, want something, to excel.  We all go to work wanting to do a good job, but what determines a “job well done?”  It’s in hearing what we did well (specifically), that it matched the expectations and accomplished the goal.  We can only know this when we hear it and trust the source.

When it comes to accountability, the truth of the matter is that it’s both the job of us as leaders and our teams.  That said, as leaders, you start the process of building accountability through these three components; setting clear expectations, good two-way communication and trust.  These are what I believe to be the pillars of accountability and it is the job of the leader to model behaviours you want to see in your team, to lead by example and to set clear expectations, promote good two-way communication and build and enable trusting relationships between you and your team.

Heather Wilson, ATC