Shiawase2020シンポジウム –  Online, Japanese, Co-facilitation!

Early in 2020 I decided to support the Points of You® Japan Tribe by volunteering to be a facilitator at the annual Shiawase2020シンポジウム. I was excited to co-facilitate and introduce Points of You® to a new audience of people and to talk about happiness. And to do all this with a monolingual Japanese team would be a new challenge for me as I often work in a bilingual environment.

Of course, in early March we got the announcement that the session would move online. Points of You® is very much about creating full body experiences. We use sight, sound, smell and touch (maybe taste in the snacks on a longer session?!) How would we bring that to 80 minutes online? It was time for rapid prototyping and innovation.

Analogue and Digital set up! Remember to raise your camera to show your whole face

I had already begun experimenting with online sessions using the Points of You Online tool running sessions about resilience so had some sense that the human connection could still be made and powerful coaching works online. Through open communication within the team of facilitators, a great idea emerged to really make a simple, clear and powerful workshop to work online. It was amazing to see the attention to detail, the commitment and devotion of the team

We surprised ourselves with 3 core ideas of Points of You®:
Breaking patterns with quick skill development
Open hearts for learning and sharing
Creating a sense of belonging in our virtual team and virtual workshop

Whilst I love the use of all the senses at a F2F workshop, we really created a powerful journey online to talk about happiness. Very refreshing in these challenging times! I could feel my ikigai reigniting as I connected with the people in the virtual room!

COVID-19: Flexibility, Resilience and Action for the BCCJ

This content originally appeared on the BCCJ Website – Written by Written by Sterling Content March 27, 2020

Leadership and executive coach Jennifer Shinkai has shared tips on coping with the COVID-19 crisis—both personally and professionally—in the second webinar hosted by the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ).

In a lively Q&A format chaired by Graham Davis, BCCJ senior adviser, the expert on change management and communications discussed the need for individuals and organisations to adopt flexibility, resilience and action in the face of the current global pandemic.

Shinkai explained that this approach is important because people are feeling the strain of the crisis, with immediate concerns relating to health, welfare and family as well as wider concerns about the economy and the future. Such stress can result in many different reactions and coping mechanisms, of which not all are healthy.

Acceptance and solution

Taking a moment to grieve the loss of business, professional opportunities or former work situations can be helpful, she said, but it’s important that the next step is forward-thinking; remaining stuck in a negative mindset is damaging.

She called on members to be strong and reminded them that anyone can be resilient, even those who think it is not their inherent trait. “Resilience is a muscle,” she said, and “having the ability to bounce back is a practice.”

Organisations can play a critical role in helping their people on this journey of grief to being constructive.

“As a leader, realize where you are—in terms of acceptance and solution—and accept that everyone is working through it at their own pace. Think about how you can shorten the time of that change curve and move people into action as soon as possible,” she said.

Embracing technology

Shinkai said businesses and individuals should make the most of online software-as-a-service solutions to help maintain productivity, motivation and engagement while working remotely.

Online conference provider Zoom, for example, features video webinars, online meetings, conference rooms and breakout rooms to suit all kinds of needs. There are also chat and comment functions so activities can be interactive.

While she admitted such meetings require more rigorous facilitation, to ensure input is balanced across participants, she said they can result in “really good engagement and interesting conversations.”

Technology can also be used to stay connected informally. Shinkai suggested anyone feeling isolated should consider inviting a colleague for a virtual coffee—and not feel guilty about it. These kinds of interactions play an important role in helping staff do their work well.

Additional benefits to working remotely include greater productivity and the opportunity to boost connections online.  As an entrepreneur, Shinkai has found using online tools to connect and talk to people has expanded her professional network over the years, helping her to have a “better global view.”

“When I was working in corporate, I was very mindful about how I was building my network within the organisation and local community,” she said. Now, she is mindful of building her network online and called on members to do the same, particularly at this time.

Disruption and opportunity

Noting the importance of innovation for business success, the BCCJ’s Davis asked if the COVID-19 crisis presented opportunities for organisations to be disruptive and stimulate new ideas.

Shinkai suggested that it was a good time to experiment, albeit with some caveats. Firms should “reduce the perception of risk and reduce the scale,” she said. For example, start something on a small scale and with a low budget, and use it as a learning activity.

“Applying a design-thinking mindset can also be great,” she added.

Staying structured, connected

For Shinkai, experimentation today is both an opportunity and a necessity. As her clients shifted their priorities from training to crisis management, her short- and medium-term sales pipeline dried up in late February, leaving her to look at other options.

Her passion was to continue helping people to integrate ikigai (life purpose) into their work, so she created Make March Matter, a free online community of professionals seeking to maintain productivity during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Piloting something new freed me from being a perfectionist,” she said, explaining that she created and launched the project in one day because she had no fear of failure. “Once I made the decision [to launch], I had an amazing change of energy and clarity to help me produce [the content],” she added.

Make March Matter aims to offer accountability, connection and inspiring action via three online sessions per week. Participants get regular check-ins and structure, which helps with their motivation, energy and mental health. The community also encourages and inspires each other, while evolving organically to adapt to user needs.

Shinkai will continue Make March Matter in April under the theme of “Action in April.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/makemarchmatter2020/

“I’m glad that I’m being useful at a time when I thought that I couldn’t be, and I encourage everyone to find a moment to think where they can find opportunity,” she said. “It’s a serious time, but also a time for play because everyone is changing, and the rules are changing. Start small and see what happens.”

Agile and open

Shinkai advocated flexibility, a “default-to-action mindset” and openness during this time of crisis. Entrepreneurs may be more agile and better equipped to adapt to new challenges, but corporate staff can also play their part in helping organisations be more agile.

When asked what lessons can be gleaned from the crisis, she said organisations should take time to realise the extent of what can be done online, celebrating what they were able to shift from in-person to online. “When forced to do it online, we’ve made it happen,” she said.

With many organisations also embracing change and disruption to keep their operations moving, it’s also a great opportunity to practice inclusiveness during troubleshooting, creation and decision-making. Engaging more staff not only improves morale, it also guarantees more ideas and therefore better results.

“It’s a great opportunity to hear different perspectives and different ways of doing things,” she said. “As each opportunity comes, we should be listening to different voices because they are seeing the world in a different way.”

#makemarchmatter

Found yourself with an empty book of business due to the Coronavirus? Join this free online community of entrepreneurs , freelancers, and professionals focused on accountability and action to make March 2020 meaningful to future success. Sessions are in English and based on Tokyo time – all are welcome!

Join the Mailing List or the Facebook Group

Accountability

Commit to delivering one of those “to-dos” you have been putting off. Make March 2020 the month that you update your website, write that book or streamline your processes

Connection

Regular Zoom calls support community. Gathering diverse professionals gives a chance for innovation, collaboration and new ideas for your business

Inspiring Action

Support each other to make things happen and get a regular dose of inspiration to support your resilient mindset in these uncertain times.

Join the Mailing List or the Facebook Group

How will we connect?

Accountability Kick Off

Monday mornings means Accountability Kick Off!

How will you #makemarchmatter?

What do you need from the group this week?
What do you bring to the group this week?

Monday Morning Accountability Kick Off Schedule

Monday March 2nd, 2020 8:30am to 9:30am JST
Monday March 9th, 2020 8:30am to 9:30am JST
Monday March 16th, 2020 8:30am to 9:30am JST
Monday March 23rd, 2020 8:30am to 9:30am JST
Monday March 30th, 2020 8:30am to 9:30am JST

Mid-Week Power Hour

Wednesday Afternoons means Mid-week Power Hour
We will use appreciative inquiry as a way to get new perspectives on our challenges and fire up through hump day!
We hold this early afternoon as 2:07pm is the sleepiest time of the day. Brainstorming in our community will leave us energised and ready for action!

How will you #makemarchmatter?

Bring a specific challenge or opportunity to discuss and get insight for the group to move you forward!

Wednesday Mid-Week Power Hour Schedule

Wednesday March 4th, 2020 13:30 to 14:30 JST
Wednesday March 11th, 2020 13:30 to 14:30 JST
Wednesday March 18th, 2020 13:30 to 14:30 JST
Wednesday March 25th 2020 13:30 to 14:30 JST

TGIF (Or Thursday!) Week in Review

We made it!
Wrap up the week with a review – brags, failures, new ideas and inspiration.
TGIF! (although sometimes this will happen on a Thursday due to my schedule and the National Holiday!)

How will you #makemarchmatter?

TGIF (or TH) Week in Review Schedule

Here are where things get a little complicated and subject to possible change!

Friday, March 6th, 2020 17:00 to 18:00 JST
Friday, March 13th, 2020 11:00 to 12:00 JST (Schedule may change )
Thursday, March 19th, 2020, 17:00 to 18:00 JST (Friday is a National Holiday)
Thursday, March 26th, 2020 17:00 to 18:00 JST (Schedule may change)

Find out more?

Join the Mailing List or the Facebook Group

My Ikigai Journey: from slipped disc to jumping out of bed

So how did this lass from Bury, in the north west of England, become so interested in this Japanese concept of Ikigai?

Of course, moving to Japan in 1999 with proximity to the culture would be a simple explanation but I did not become aware of the concept until 2017. It was only after I discovered my Ikigai that I discovered Ikigai.

I wish I had known about it in 2015. It really was my “annus horribilis”.

The year began with me laid up in bed with a slipped disc. Agony whatever I did, unable to lie comfortably or move around, unable to take care of my family or commute on a crowded train to Tokyo to go to work. I could not sit or stand.  Lying down was not even that much respite. I endured some terrible physio that probably made the issue worse before I asked around locally and finally found someone who could help.

But during these weeks as I struggled with pain and felt let down by my body for the first time in my adult life, I started to sink into depression. I cried when I could not carry my infant son, or even do simple jobs around the house, I could not play with or comfort my daughter. There were no more impromptu dance parties, tickle fights or circus skills. I was never a great cook but now the act of shopping, cooking and cleaning up was more than I could handle.

Who was I as a mother?

So to my husband. He had to take on all the caregiving, as well as his full time job. As a Japanese salaryman, even at an enlightened company, the fact that he could not do overtime every day was beginning to take its toll. And as for intimacy…well, that was very far from my mind.  And not only in the physical sense. I had no energy to listen to his troubles, no fire in my heart to support and cheer him on. I was locked in my own suffering and frustration.

Who was I as a wife and partner?

And then my work. Truth be told,  I was glad not to have the commute. Something had shifted in my engagement and satisfaction. I had been with my company since 2004. They were challenging but enjoyable years. However, after my second maternity leave I came back to a different job, with a different boss. And to be frank, I was underperforming in my role. I had no fire in my belly for the work. More importantly  for the first time in my career I did not feel a sense of belonging and camaraderie with the people on my team. I could not see where the role would take me.

Who was I in my career? What was my role in the firm?

In the key places where I defined my identity,  (mother, wife, professional),  I felt a failure. I felt I had nothing to offer.

There were a few bright spots.  I had an incredibly supportive network of women through my leadership of a Lean In Circle, a peer to peer networking group, that I founded in Tokyo. I also had the camaraderie of my local running group although obviously running was off the cards during this period.

With perfect 20:20 hindsight, I see that the slipped disc was a great way of getting me to slow down. I was forced to take stock of my life and what I valued. 

The slipped disc was certainly a real issue. I have the MRI scans to prove it. I can’t help but think that I was sending myself a warning. Something had broken inside me and I could not get out. Be warned, gentle reader, that I will talk a LOT about listening to your body. The signs that our parasympathetic nervous system sends us are an incredibly valuable message.

Then slowly, slowly, the pain relief started to work. I was able to return to “normal” life and pick up all those roles again. But the seed had been planted and the nagging thought in my mind was there.

“Without these things, these roles that I thought defined me, who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose?”

Big questions with no easy answers. And as a harried working mum with a young family, they were questions that were easy to ignore.

Around the time that I started to recover, I had dinner with a friend, Renee. 

“How are things?” she asked. 

“Not so terrible” I said, trying to reframe my current situation, to put it in perspective of my #firstworldproblems. I wanted to remind my self that in the great scheme of humanity that as an Oxford educated, white woman in a white collar job in Tokyo with a healthy family, a lovely house and many options and support, things were indeed not so terrible.

“But darling, Jen! Not so terrible is not the goal. You deserve more. Everyone does!”

And then it hit me, that I was settling. I started to think about how it was possible to give myself permission to ask for more. It wasn’t greedy or self indulgent to want more and by aiming only for “not so terrible” I was holding myself back. By settling in a role that I wasn’t engaged in, I was also becoming a drain on resources in my firm. I was transforming into the very type of colleague that I most disliked: The safe, the bored, the clock in/ clock out, the ranks of the disengaged. 

Was this the limit of my potential?  Why am I here? What is my purpose?

Around the time of this dinner, a couple of other moments of clarity came to me. Once we start to pay attention, the messages start coming thick and fast. Perhaps that is why you are reading this now?

Realizing that I had been sent a wake up call in the form of a shut down of my body, I had decided to take action. I was working with Anne Good,  an executive coach,  and drilling down on these questions of purpose, strengths and life design. On our regular Skype calls, we focused on creating possibilities for potential next steps. I developed awareness of my unique strengths. I met fabulous people with really interesting jobs through informational interviewing. I clawed back the agency and control that I had lost over the last 12 months. I found that I was improving relationships within my team, meeting inspiring people with interesting stories and leaning into what I loved.

I attended a speech by Dr. Bob Tobin, author of “What do you want to create today?” and he asked the room “What is your dream?” And in that question, I had the saddest realization. I don’t have a dream. I can’t see beyond the hamster wheel of my work and family life. I am coasting, waiting for things to happen to me. I could not believe it but the truth was staring me in the face. I had given up on the idea of hopes and dreams for myself.

And yet, and yet… I started to see something, a power and presence in me that emerged when I was facilitating the LeanIn Circle. There was a monthly moment of flow. It was during those meetings that I felt the most energized.  The most useful. The most me.

From these insights about strengths, possibility, dreams and flow, a new perspective emerged. There might be something else out there for me that could work!

I announced in a session that I wanted to return to L&D and to pursue options in facilitation and coaching. Anne, my coach asked me, “What if you stay in this job and spend the next 6-12 months studying to be a coach?”  

Shudder – it was a  visceral reaction, the churn in my stomach. I may have even been a little sick in my mouth! Overwhelming feelings of dread at the thought of showing up every day and becoming a little more broken each month. 

But then, the practical side of maintaining the status quo held me. What would I do instead? How could I make a living? I was terrified of that too. 

This is where I realized the importance of all those informational interviews. Meeting diverse people who can suggest options of how to live or choices to make that you did not know were possible. I met with Ted Agatsuma, an experienced HR professional who was now working as a consultant. I bemoaned the jobs which I had seen on the market in L&D and Training. 

“I want to be a practitioner, Ted. I want to be in the room with people and see the aha moments with them!

“The only way that is going to happen is if you set up your own company and freelance,” he told me in a very matter of fact way. And just as the words “I can’t set…” started to come out of my mouth, I stopped myself. What if I could? What might it look like?

And from that moment on, it was all systems go. With the support of my family and the promise of paying my half of the mortgage for a year from my husband, I set about planning the launch of my sole proprietorship. 

I had dinner with Ted on February 26th, 2016. Resigned in early May and the business was launched on June 29, 2016 with the help of the first professional I hired, Yasuko Mori, who remains my wonderful and supportive Tax Accountant. 

Looking back on my personal experience,  I see how useful it would have been to use the Ikigai framework. Once I had a clear understanding of what I loved, what I was good at, what I could be paid for and what the world needed, I was able to take action. Once I worked out what would make me jump out of bed rather than battle the pain of a slipped disc, I was able to start moving forwards.

So as I said, It was only after I discovered my Ikigai that I discovered Ikigai.

Need Inspiration? Pop to the loo!

We were absolutely stumped on one of the missions in the Tokyo Metro: The Underground Mysteries over the new year. The four of us just could not work it out. The kids got gradually more crabby and we could see the sun getting low in the winter sky. Finally we admitted defeat and opened the page with the answer.

Which I will not reveal – NO SPOILERS!

It was so frustrating not to be able to work out how the answer was reached. Even though we knew where we needed to go next we didn’t know why. (reminds me of my post on when hitting goals feels like failure!) There was a niggling annoyance and disappointment. But time was ticking and it we needed to get moving. Oh well!

Before we got ready to leave the cafe, I popped to the loo. As I was washing my hands, suddenly I had a flash of inspiration. Could it really be that simple? Was it possible that that was the answer?

“Hey, DH, you know the thingy does it have a whatchamacallit on it?!” (I told you no spoilers!)

And, yes, it did! We understood how to solve the puzzle. I felt so light and happy!

We all know, in theory, that when we are stumped by a problem we need to create some distance, allow the brain some time to access it. Last week was a really perfect example of this unconscious processing in action.

“Unconscious processing” is the third step in James Webb Young’s 1965 classic “A Technique for Producing Ideas“. And we’ve all experienced it! You know the feeling of the Eureka moment- having our best ideas in the shower, whilst taking a walk, doing something completely different to just let the brain do its job without things being so hard. It really questions the point of brainstorming in meetings and exposes why it is so hard for teams to be innovative in those environment.

As a side note, I recently heard Emily Aarons on James Wedmore’s podcast talking about why that whole water on the head in the shower is such a great way to have ideas – an interesting idea of the power of chakras if that floats your boat! I’ll take the magic and the science – whatever helps!

How to apply Unconscious Processing in daily life?

What ideas are you finding tough at the moment? Where have you been working hard but not seeing any new connection or inspiration?

It might be time to step away from the whiteboard, post its or screen and create some space for unconscious processing.

With no scientific proof, here are five simple ideas to make like Elsa and let it go!

  1. Find water – take a bath, jump in the shower, sit on the loo, walk by the river, go for a swim, wash your hands – Find flow!
  2. Take a hike!… or a walk, or climb the stairs, go for a run – get some exercise endorphins to move your brain into a new state
  3. Get your hands dirty – sketch, colouring in for grown ups, play with modelling clay, legos, play a musical instrument – focus on some different parts of your body to forget about your conscious brain.
  4. Pause – ah yes, the Points of You® favourite for transitions, shifting energy and opening up to inspiration. Mindfulness, meditation, or just sit and listen to some music.
  5. Why Don’t You? take inspiration from the 1980s UK classic TV show “Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?” chat with a colleague about challenges in their business, talk to someone outside your company/ industry, go to a new exhibition, read a magazine or listen to a podcast from an area you don’t know anything about. Innovation and inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places.

Would love to hear your ideas about unconscious processing in the comments!

Want your team to discover unexpected but precise connections? Points of You® Experiences are great places to unlock new perspectives and innovate in an inclusive environment. Take a look at some of the corporate workshops (including finding your individual and corporate ikigai) or contact me to set up a meeting to create a custom made workshop for 2020!

2020 Reading Challenge

At the second half of 2019, I set myself a goal of finishing 26 books. I didn’t quite make it but I really enjoyed the process and the accountability of announcing it publicly, posting on SNS (Facebook and LinkedIn).

Someone suggested that I start using Goodreads and I put it off until this year so I could start clean! So here we are – 40 books in a year. Watch this space for my progress with quite a few to come in the first few weeks as I have several books on the go near completion!

Let me know what is on your reading list in 2020!

2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge

Jennifer has read 1 book toward their goal of 40 books. hide 1 of 40 (2%)view books

Lonely old men and ikigai

In November I attended the Mashing Up Conference again. I really love this event because it’s “cool”. It has a casual vibe and is just a bit edgier than your average D&I “empowerment” conference. The team do try to bring some different ideas to the stage as well as some local legends.

I was happy to join two discussions where I could listen to the wry and laser sharp insights of one of those legends, Chizuko Ueno, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo who used her entrance ceremony speech as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the reality of institutional gender discrimination in Japan. Ueno sensei has an amazing delivery style where she challenges with the sweetest, most innocent question that just stops other panelists in their tracks. It is magic to watch!

In the first session, Ueno sensei talked about the family structure – here is the info from the Mashing Up website.

家族のカタチ2019 – 家族 is the bestという呪縛Family Diversity – Time to Reshape the Family Structure「家族末永く仲良く=素晴らしい」。そんな価値観が強い日本社会で、家族とのつながりに苦しんでいる人がいるのも事実。おひとりさま問題、介護問題、夫婦別姓問題も含めて、家族とはどうあるべきか。そのあり方を問い直します。

“Families that get along forever = wonderful.” This value is strong in Japanese society, but it is also true there are people who are suffering due to their family relationships. What should families be like, including people who are alone, people caring for family members, and husbands and wives having different family names? Those things will be reconsidered.

One idea in particular struck me in relation to my work on Ikigai and creating long and healthy lives worth living.

Talking on the subject of 介護 (elder care), Ueno sensei mentioned that she is hearing many adult children say

“I will look after my mother because I love her. But my father?! No way! I can’t stand him.”

It struck me as such a sad and terrible view. I thought about all the fathers who have been focused on their companies with no time for their families. The result is fathers who are so focused on financially supporting the family that they become alienated from the lack of relationship.

Men’s ikigai and their role in the family

A few weeks ago as part of my Ikigai research, I met with Dr. Akihiro Hasegawa, Associate Professor at Toyo Eiwa University and an ikigai researcher. He told me a similar story. Japanese men who live in multi-generational households with their sons after retirement report a decrease in their ikigai. Dr. Hasegawa explains that this is because their ikigai was so tied up in their self identity as the breadwinner, the head of the household, that when the generational roles shift, they lose their sense of self and purpose. Dr. Hasegawa’s research shows a strong link between having an ikigai and better health, slower onset of dementia and so on.

(As a side note, I asked if there was any impact to living with adult daughters and the answer was no. It seems that the father’s ego can survive that relationship into old age!)

Again, this idea of isolated fathers struck me as so sad and yet also so avoidable if we can change the working style and support people living different types of partnerships at home with an emphasis on family first. Glen Wood is doing a lot to raise awareness on パパハラ(Papa Hara – paternity harassment). It isn’t easy for men to ask for permission to break from the サラリマン salariman stereotype and spend time with their families. But the social and personal costs of isolation in old age for these types of people are no longer sustainable.

What do you think?

How can we start to address this problem? Some efforts are being made at the policy level but what can private enterprises and individuals do to support a healthier and happier second life and what might be the positive impact on society from that.

The fragility of systems and getting back on the horse

I remember learning early in my career that it takes 21 days to form a new habit (although that myth may have been busted). I think we can all agree that it takes much less time to break one.

Over the period of the Rugby World Cup my sister and her family visited us. Absolutely amazing experience for us all and I had a whale of a time! With an extra 5 people in the house, and a packed schedule of sightseeing, eating Japanese food and drinking beer and sake, it did not take much to get me out of my morning ritual.

I usually wake up around 5:30-6am  and then either go running with my running club or do yoga at home. Wake up the kids at 7 and they are out of the house for 8:10. In the evening, depending on the day, I pick up the youngest around 6pm, dinner at home, bath and bed by 9pm. We have days clearly defined for screen ok and no screen days.

Well, a staycation with kids at school, threw all of that out of the window.

And I really felt the difference.

Whilst we were certainly getting our daily steps in, and I did have an amazing time the fragility of my system became clear. So this got me to thinking about some of the ways that work for me and my coaching clients to get things back on the habit horse. There is no size fits all so use this list as inspiration!

And if you want to look at habits more deeply in your team, contact me to set up a Four Tendencies Workshop. Great for individuals and people managers alike.

Getting back on the Habit Horse

  1. Make it the default – eat the frog and do it first. It is not about a choice but like tooth brushing something that you do without fail. 
  2. Prepare the night before – this is about creating ease. For example, last night, I laid out my running clothes, plus my clothes to wear for the day. I was intentional in my choices after a week in casual sightseeing wear to want to be “coordinated” and colorful.
  3. Don’t break the chain – similar to the default above but there is a great feeling of seeing the days add up on the calendar. Get visual about it and you might be able to see the impact. And there is something great about saying, “Wow, I did X everyday for Y days”. Take a look at Outrun Cancer for an inspiring take on this.
  4. Make it easy – going to the gym requires too many steps for me! Registering initially and then getting out the door, to the gym, possibly joining a class. So I workout at home, and just choose the most recent session. I love doing plans like Yoga with Adrienne: 30 days of Yoga (coming up live in January every year), or one of the Nike training courses where you get told “do this today”.
  5. Make the activity a reward in itself – very much of the idea of Be Kind to Your Future Self. How luxurious to spend time doing this task! How wonderful will I feel when I am finished! How clear my mind will be!
  6. Multipliers  – I came upon this in a Lean In Circle meeting which focuses on how you can combine multiple activities into one. This is not the same as multitasking but about thinking about bigger goals or values that you have and how you can combine your activities to support those goals. For example, my goal was to find ways to refresh my energy during the workday, stay fit and connect with my friend (also a colleague) so we arranged a weekly lunchtime run on a Friday. We could talk as we ran, felt energized from the endorphins after even a short 20 minute run. Think about a couple of goals and values that are important to you and work out ways that you can combine 2 or more together in an activity. It is easier than you think.
  7. What is the MVP? Minimum Viable Product is a lean startup term that helps us to consider what the minimum feature set required to get feedback from customers is. Having an MVP for your habit might be doing 3 minutes of mindfulness instead of 20, limiting coffee intake to the morning instead of quitting completely, committing to calling 5 customers instead of 10. Whilst your real goal and regular activity level might be more lofty, you will gain from the quick win and instant gratification of doing something. This can be a powerful motivator to exceed your goal and do more. If not, at least you started and an MVP is always about iteration. Just Ship It!
  8. Count to 5 – this is Mel Robbins 5 second rule It has worked very well for me about getting out of bed in the cold winter mornings. I even changed my alarm clock to 5:55 (Go, Go, Go! in Japanese) to reinforce the message.

Be kind to yourself

It’s easy to beat yourself up when you let a habit slip and I know that I did. But shame is not a helpful energy or emotion to drive growth. Instead, analyze the why and think about how you can most easily put one of the habits back into place today.

Even if it not a “full” display of your habits, even if it is not a perfect version, your first action is to ship it. To climb back on the horse. Get started!

But maybe I don’t want to anymore

Everything happens for a reason right? A slipped habit might be a good time to check whether this habit is still necessary. They might not even be useful or important to you anymore.

So when you find yourself feeling at sea and that your rituals and habits are no longer anchoring you it is good to ask yourself the following coaching questions.

  • What makes this ritual or habit important to me? What goal is it supporting?
  • Is that still important to me? 
  • What would happen if I stop? How does that feel?
  • If you feel lighter, released, then it might be time to say goodbye or to reframe this habit!
  • Still want to continue? What can I do to reintroduce this habit? What will make it easy to do? What is the MVP I can start with today?
  • When will I check in with myself to track my progress on reintroducing this habit?

Want to learn more about how you and your team can create Habits? I deliver a 90 minute to 4 hour workshop on Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies Framework. Fascinating with great takeaways for individual and people managers about motivation, communication and how to get stuff done!

What do you think?

How do you get yourself back on track? As always, would love to see your comments and ideas below!

Talking Ikigai and Gaman in my podcast debut

Whilst I’ve done plenty of public speaking and a couple of YouTube videos (Thrive Tokyo and about the Wor Watthana Muay Thai gym in Thailand), I’ve never been on a podcast! I’m always talking about the importance of getting used to hearing your voice as other people hear it but hadn’t recorded myself recently – time to walk the talk.

So I’m delighted to announce that I’ve just been featured on the Transformations with Jayne Podcast. You can find it over on iTunes Episode 58 or over at Anchor with lots of different ways to listen. It was a great experience to talk informally about a whole host of topics. Jayne was a member of the Lean In Japan Entrepreneur Circle that I ran from 2017 to 2019 so it was great to catch up with her as well!

In this episode we talk about:
The  recent typhoon and flooding
How Jennifer came to be in Japan
What is “ikigai”
Points of You® coaching
Hope you enjoy the discussion and there are some useful ideas for you!

If you’d like to be featured in my book about how you integrated your ikigai, please contact me through the website to share your story!