Mental health

Are you Creating your What If or worrying about your What If?

I thought about writing an article on how to reduce stress and anxiety during this difficult time and just as I typed those words, I started to think about……... you guessed it;

stress and anxiety.

My heart started to beat a little faster, I felt my muscles beginning to tense up, my breathing started to speed up a little and I was conscious of the negative thoughts flooding into my mind. All these changes in my physical body happened in just in a matter of seconds.

I immediately stopped and thought about how I was going to frame this article so that I could make a positive and hopefully meaningful difference to those of you who read it.

So, I decided to write about Creating your Future right now. Odd, I know with so much uncertainty about at the moment.

However, having scanned the media posts on the current crisis facing our world right now I concluded that the authors of these posts fall into two camps-those who spend their time worrying about the What if and those who spend their time Creating the What if.


Creating your What If

So, I thought that I would focus on creating the What if.

How helpful would it be to use your time and energy right now to create your what if? How useful would it be to create a clear purpose for your future which could bring some clarity to your thinking right now? The thing is when you are unclear about what you want and where you are going your mind cannot stimulate strategies and actions to move forward. Instead it gets comfortable with what you are prepared to tolerate at this point, and it acts accordingly.

It’s worth remembering that scientists have discovered that by the age of 35 over 75% of our thinking and behaviour is automated-i.e. we don’t have to think about most of what we do or how we do it as we have conditioned ourselves through years of practice to behave and do things in certain ways and we replay those behaviours time after time.

So, changing a tried and tested behaviour can be difficult. There is no doubt about that. Although we have to start somewhere.

There are a number of things to consider when making personal change.


The first thing you need to make any personal change is the intention to change.

Nothing was ever created without intention. Think about it, everything that has been invented started with an intention and was pursued and followed up with action-the iPhone-the tablet-the car etc were all first ideas and the follow up action brought them to reality. Most people don’t stick to the personal change process because of the fear of failure.

 “Have you ever considered the possibility that everything you have ever wanted is on the other side of fear”?


Having a clearly defined purpose about where you want to get to in the future. What you will see, hear and feel when you get there is critically important.


“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why”.

Mark Twain



Establishing a route map with a clear focus and direction of travel to achieve that purpose is also important as it focuses your mind particularly during the challenges that you will face in pursuit of your purpose.

“Obstacles instruct rather than obstruct so keep your focus on the purpose”.


The energy, drive and determination every day (and I mean everyday) that is required to move you in the direction of that purpose.

 “Energy flows where your attention goes so be careful where you put your attention”.


The things you need to make that purpose a reality. If you have them, then use them.

If you don’t have them, then create them.

I am sure that there are things you are doing right now that you never thought you could do but by necessity you are doing them.

“Remember there are no unresourceful people only unresourceful states of mind”.




To illustrate here’s a simple challenge for you!

Find yourself a camera.

  1. Now pick an object that you particularly like (something that inspires you-makes you feel good-makes you feel inspired.)


  1. Pick just one thing, stick to it and focus all your attention on it.


  1. Be sure to keep your hand steady for at least 30 seconds as you line the camera up to take the best photo of the object that you have chosen.


  1. Now take a photo of the object that you focused on.


  1. Review the result of your actions.



Well what did you get? Did you see anything about the object that you hadn’t noticed before? Were you happy with the result that you got?

What did you learn from the experience and how would you apply what you learned to another similar opportunity if it presented itself to you in the future?


As you review the photo, you’ll probably agree that the quality of your photo was determined by a number of factors which may have included:

  • Starting out with a clear purpose about the task.


  • Picking an object that was of particular interest to you and made you feel good and kept you motivated to follow through on your intention.


  • Maintaining all your focus, energy and attention on the object.


  • Being completely committed to the task until the photo was taken.


  • Persevering and maintaining a steady hand despite distractions all around you at that point in time.


Coming to terms with today’s world

Today as you look towards the weeks and months ahead what do you see and feel and where do you see yourself for example, in three months’ time or in a year’s time?

Where is all your focus, energy and attention going right now and what results are you getting from the actions that you are taking now?

If the answer is more of what you don’t want or need in your life, then maybe creating something new is what you need.

Perhaps your life right now is filled with fear, uncertainty and anxiety and you can’t see beyond the present moment. That’s natural given the circumstances that we all face right now.

 “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go;

they merely determine where you start”

Nido Qubein

As a start have you ever considered the possibility of creating your own VISION BOARD to develop a picture of your future that you can start to grow into right now.

If you have time on your hands now this is an exercise that’s creative, inspirational and motivational and stimulates the unconscious mind (the mind that drives a lot of your behaviour) to focus on what’s important to you now and in the future. You can also get the kids involved.

What is A vision Board?

A Vision Board is a simple visualisation tool which refers to a board of any description with words-photos-pictures-quotes which simply represent your future goals and the things in your life that are important to you.

Many people use a cork board (illustrated below) (55cmx35cm) that you can buy for around £2 from the Works Stationery Shop.

 How do you create a vision board?

 Set out below is the 6 steps to creating your own vision board


Step 1  Create a list of positive goals you’d like to achieve in the next year

To visualize your goals, you first need to know what they are. Spend some time getting clear on exactly what you want in your life and what will it look like and feel like and the actions that you need to take to achieve what you want in the next year.

Make these positive-for examples turn the statement “not to be stressed” into “being calm” or “avoid conflict” into “achieving peace of mind”.

This is important as the mind doesn’t process negatives very well-don’t think of a pink elephant is a case in point-the mind has to think of the pink elephant first before it cannot think of it but by that stage it’s too late!!

Step 2  Gather some old magazines and photos that inspire you

Gather some of your old photos, magazines or check out google images and Pinterest for quotes or images that represent and are consistent with your goals.

Step 3  Prioritise the photos, quotes etc that represent your goals

Set aside a couple hours to go through the photos and magazines and cut out pictures that represent your goals in some meaningful way.  Have fun with the exercise and involve the kids. Remember chances are they will model your behaviour and start their own vision boards.

Step 4  Assembling your board

Once you have collected enough photos, images, quotes etc it’s time to make your vision board! All you need is a cork board like the one shown above and place on the board the images, photos and quotes in an arrangement that is visually pleasing to you. Keep it simple, neat and prioritise the important photos and quotes, so you are not overpopulating the board.

Step 5  Add motivational quotes that represent how you want to FEEL

Your vision of your life should also be focused on how you want to feel, what you want to see and what you want to hear. Accordingly describe how you want to feel on a daily basis-fulfilled-happy-energised etc

Step 6  Every day board revisit your vision board

To maximise the benefit from your vision board you should locate it in an area of your house where you can see it every day. I would recommend the bedroom-first thing you see in the morning-last thing you see before bedtime.

You should take a few minutes to look over your vision board at least once or twice a day. Just before bedtime is great because your mind should be starting to slip into theta brainwaves (the twilight state and the gateway to our learning memory and intuition) This is the state where you are feeding your unconscious mind with thoughts-so be sure to feed it with thoughts that inspire and motivate you.

Oxford Brogues


For those of us who grew up in the 1970s you will recall the oxford brogue.

Growing up I always wanted a pair of black patterned oxford brogue shoes with a steel tip on the back heel and one on the front. Maybe it was something about the sound they made when you walked down the marble corridor at school which I liked-perhaps the feeling of importance.

Times were tough and money wasn’t easy to come by. Mum managed to get me a pair, nevertheless. I remember the day well. She arrived with them in a plastic shopping bag. The absence of a box was a sure sign that they were second hand!

I later found out that they were from War on Want. I was delighted though as she revealed them one at a time and sure enough, they were patterned, polished and came complete with a new sole and new steel tips on the front and back heel.

Measuring them up and keen to try them on I noticed embossed on the black leather tongue they were a size 6 and I was only a size 5. They were to big!

Anticipating the observation, mum had an immediate and reassuring reply-sure you’ll grow into them son!!

The exercise of creating your vision board it really about finding a purpose that’s bigger than you and growing into every day by the actions that you take.

I hope that you have some fun with creating your vision board and above all it serves as a creative way to start thinking about what’s important in your life now and in the future

Stay safe, strong and positive!!