Dreams v’s Goals, is there a difference?

We all daydream, we all have aspirations, but what is it that turns those dreams into goals, and is there really a difference between the two? 

Throughout the many stages of our lives we dream of what our future could be whether that be work based i.e. better office, higher salary, greater responsibility; it could be personal i.e. new home, gym success, better car; or perhaps it’s recovery after injury, university achievements or even to look after our mental health and well-being…the scope and potential of our dreams are limitless.

On the other hand, goals can be specified verbally, internally (in our minds) or in writing.  People may be very specific about their targets, actions or deadlines, but for some they are not.  For example, you might want to lose weight or get fitter. The intention alone is not enough, goals need to be SMART to be effective.

So, let’s clarify.  Dreams are based solely in the mind with no action attached to them, whilst goals can have clearly defined action plans and a defined deadline.  However, the two are intrinsically linked.  In creating your goal(s), you must first have a clear vision of your dreams; a high definition glorious technicolour vision that encompasses all your senses when you call it to mind.  Something that gives you that fire in the belly drive and ignites your passion.  Stephen R. Covey (author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) has a saying “begin with the end in mind” and that is exactly what you are doing with dreams and goals.

It is important to note that effective goal setting is so much more than simply writing in a book or telling others what you want. It takes time, effort, commitment and should follow some basic principles:

  • Take your time and focus on one or two goals at any one time to prevent feelings of overwhelm.
  • Use the SMART system (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) to help plan and set deadlines for each goal.
  • Allow for a degree of flexibility and review your planning regularly to keep on track.


“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” … Tony Robbins


What are the benefits of goal setting?

 The benefits of goal setting are many, each enhancing our lives in a different way.  I have set out some of the main benefits below:

  1. CLARITY: We live in a hectic world juggling a multitude of roles and tasks, but not all are adding value to your life. Understanding what it is you want, what’s important to you and what gives value to the end goal will help you set more effective goals.  The greater clarity you have, the easier it is to action plan your steps to success.
  2. FOCUS: Two ways effective goals improve your focus a) they help determine which task you should be completing and b) help you to say “No” to tasks which add little or no value. Your time is valuable and limited, so it’s wise to make the best use of it on the tasks that work towards your goal. We are all guilty of what I call the Butterfly Syndrome where we get distracted by other ideas / ‘must haves’ or ‘should do’s’,  so we flit about from thing to thing, generally wasting our time with each distraction.
  3. MOTIVATION: Setting shorter term tasks which are achieved in less time give a quicker sense of achievement. This is turn, keeps you motivated for the longer-term tasks.  That fire in the belly passion will keep your energy fuelled as you continue to achieve and see how far you have travelled on your journey.
  4. ACTION: ANY action is better than inaction. You can only move forward towards your goals by taking action.  Break the whole journey into small easy manageable tasks, then write down your journey milestones & work your way forward through your plan.
  5. RESPONSIBILITY: You must be honest and accountable to yourself. Accept that the results of your actions (or inactions) are yours and yours alone.  If things don’t go as planned, take positive action; so instead of blaming others, review your planning and take the necessary steps to get back on track.  Be honest about your choices and the consequences of those choices.
  6. MEASURES PROGRESS: Goal setting works to measure and evaluate your progress and achievements as your journey progresses.  You will be able to see where improvements are needed in yourself, your planning, timings etc. or if you are on track or even ahead of the plan.
  7. HELPS OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION: We procrastinate for many reasons including fear, distraction and avoidance, all of which can be either conscious or subconscious. By understanding your reasons for procrastination and in setting clearly defined goals, you will spend less time on unproductive tasks thereby keeping a focused eye on tasks with greater value and the achievement of the goal.

By making our goals realistic, well thought out and planned, we can in turn be more organised, have greater productivity, experience higher levels of motivation, and have less stress.  Even goal setting for the simplest of objectives can make us feel more in control of our lives and mental health.

So let your dreams and passions fire you up and get goal setting.




Coaching Expectations for you and the coach…

You’ve already recognised a need for change in some area(s) of your life and have the motivation and drive to work with a coach to make those changes happen.  But what should you expect of me, your coach…and what should your coach expect of you? It’s important you are aware of these BEFORE we start working together.

  • Primarily – trust, confidentiality, honesty, openness, friendliness & approachability are the essential qualities you will be looking for in your coach. Likewise, your coach will expect the same of you – if you’re not going to be open and honest with yourself about yourself, how can effective change be possible?
  • You should also expect commitment from the coach. Commitments that they will give their time and effort in helping you explore, plan & achieve the changes you desire.  As before, you will also need to commit yourself to the journey by putting the necessary time aside for each session as well as the tasks between sessions.  You commit to dedicating time, effort and honesty, working on becoming your best self.

Sessions and coaching will vary slightly from coach to coach and will be dependent on what your specific needs and desired outcomes are.  Below is a small insight into my process: –

  • Initial consultation: Some coaches call this a ‘discovery call’.  This is a free consultation either by phone or a meeting to ascertain how we might work together.  It gives both parties the opportunity to find out more about each other and whether we are a suitable match.
  • Appointments: These are carried out at a time and place to suit you, the coachee; whether that be in the home, at work, or in a quiet café over coffee; as long as you are in an environment where you feel relaxed, at ease and are happy to talk. After the initial consultation, sessions are booked in a block of 6, but can be more if necessary.  The first session is around one and a half hrs with each subsequent session being 1hr.  I follow the structure and competencies as laid out by the Association for Coaching as well as other techniques to help you explore, investigate and goal set.  We will structure the appointment frequency to suit the objectives set at each session.
  • Coaching agreement: It is important to set up a coaching agreement signed by both you and I.  It sets out the terms and conditions during the coaching process.  Once you have read the agreement, I am more than happy to discuss any queries you may have prior to signing.
  • Follow Up: After the coaching process is complete, I like to follow up with my clients a few months later to see how they are, what does life look like for them now and if there is anything else I can help with.  It’s an opportunity for you to tell of achievements, on-going goals, new challenges, how you feel, ask any questions etc.

It’s always a great privilege for me to be part of your journey and it’s important to know that it’s not only you, the coachee who is learning…I am also learning with you!  Learning never stops and we can all learn something from everyone.


Why you should consider coaching…

Hello and welcome. Yet again we’re asking the BIG question. The answer has so many positives but I’ll do my best not to ramble on too much.

The benefits of coaching are many and are far reaching. We each have points in our lives and jobs when:

  • we’re subject to feelings of overwhelm
  • we’re confused over where we are and what life really means to us
  • we have no clear focus on what we want, or how to get there
  • our confidence has been knocked and bouncing back seems a herculean task

What coaching brings is the space to spend dedicated time on yourself – investigating your options, clarifying, exploring, goal setting and planning. Let’s look at these a bit closer:

  • Commitment: Specific time set aside just for you with the support and encouragement of the coach
  • Options: Taking an honest look at where your life/job is now; what you wish to move away from and wish to move forward to
  • Clarify: The deep-seated reasons, emotions, feelings behind your desired moves … the how / what / why / when of your goals for a clearly defined way forward & what strategies and techniques will best suit your desired outcomes
  • Explore: Exploring your own self-awareness through reflection and action
  • Goals & Planning: Investigating all possible avenues as well as potential obstacles (i.e. lack of confidence, fear etc) with support from the coach using effective methods and strategies

What about financial considerations? YES, there is a price to pay but that’s the case with anything. If you have a leak you get a plumber in, the cars broken you need a mechanic, coaching is just the same, professional help to resolve a problem.  Ask yourself this – what are you worth? What is the price of your happiness, your well-being, your sense of achievement and purpose? What would it mean to take a pro-active approach to your challenges and overcome them?

Had I worked with a coach when I really needed help, I would have spent considerably less than the debt I built up trying to make myself feel better by recklessly spending on things i didn’t need just for the brief buzz and perceived uplift in my self esteem.

Life throws at us all it has; the good, the bad and the ugly, yet each event or set of circumstances do not define us or who we will become. It is up to us to make the change in our lives for the better and a good coach will make that change process a positive experience.



Just what is coaching…

Wow, we like asking the big questions here, I could go on and on with this question but I won’t; I promise to stay focussed and keep this to the point.

There are many definitions, but the International Coaching Federation defines coaching as

partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment

In layman’s terms, it’s about guiding the client so they can experience a non-judgmental space in which they can truly hear themselves plus allowing their thoughts and actions to flourish.

  • When was the last time YOU sat down and really thought about your life – what was happening, when, why, who?
  • When did you last reflect on YOUR own thoughts and behaviours – the good and the bad and how YOU would like to change?
  • Even figuring out what change is necessary in YOUR life and how exactly do YOU make that change happen is no easy task.

Phew…no wonder we all need coaching at times in our lives, there is a lot going on and getting help to work it out is invaluable.

Through coaching, we look at aspects such as realistic future goals (what you really want to be in time), self-identity, strengths, and self-limiting beliefs to name but a few.  Coaching will take you on a voyage of self-awareness, goal setting, positive outcomes and achievement whilst providing the support to allow you to acknowledge your own potential.

I must clarify that coaching is not mentoring, therapy, nor training, each is a different tool for differing needs in a person’s life.  In our consultation session, I’ll explain all these differences therefore enabling you to make a clear and informed decision.

Change is scary but it is also good, it’s exhilarating too and good coaching can help you prosper.


Let me introduce myself…

Hi there and thank you for taking the time to visit the website and coaching blog. 

 Who is the person behind the blog I hear you ask…who am I?  That’s a great question, and can be a very BIG question that I’ll be covering in the coming months as we reflect upon our own identity.  For the moment however let’s look at the simpler question…who is Mel, the person behind the blog?

 Well, despite my imaginary age still being in my 20’s, in reality I find myself a 40 something mum of 2 boys, a wife of 14 years (and I still forget our anniversary…); owner of Coco, a rather crazy and spoilt 6-year-old chocolate lab and last but in no way least, Abi, our petite and somewhat aloof 3-year-old cat.  I don’t take myself too seriously; there is always room in life for those self-effacing moments!

 Throughout my early years, I worked hard and played hard and experienced successful careers both within the global electronics industry, and in financial services.  I focused on people orientated roles either through relationship management or coaching, mentoring and training. 

 With the onset of motherhood, I suffered severely with post-natal depression and psychosis after both births and it took many years for my husband and I to fully recover from the debilitating effects of this illness.  Once I realised I was going to have to heal myself, I embraced the (at times) difficult prospect of change and embarked upon personal study of mental health, mindfulness and latterly, coaching. 

I re-trained as a coach with accredited trainers Coaching Direct based in Edinburgh using the Association for Coaching methods and competencies.  Now, I love helping others work through the challenges life puts in their path.  I am also very passionate about empowering women recovering from PND, as well as helping their partners understand the illness.

 Over the coming weeks and months in my blogs I’ll post about a variety of topics, self-reflection and hopefully provide interesting and informative posts that are jargon free and to the point.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions on the blogs, or if you wish to chat about how coaching can help you and/ or your staff.

 I look forward to working with you.



Blue Monday

So today is Blue Monday. The 3rd Monday in January which is supposedly the most depressing day of the year, but where did this idea come from? Well a bit of research reveals that a travel company created it back in 2005/2006 to sell summer holidays based on a calculation they came up with. It escalated and now we have many other companies following suit selling or promoting their products aimed at improving our mental well-being and that ‘feel-good’ factor.

Yes, there will be a feeling of overspend and debt after the Christmas splurge or feelings of failure as a parent due to lack of money. Yes, there will be a feeling of reduced health thanks to our over-indulgence of rich food and alcohol for some whilst other will experience disappointment at the lack of food. Yes, the weather is cold damp and miserable with germs abound and making things more challenging for those already coping with various illnesses. But whilst all of the above can admittedly have a negative impact on our mental well-being, for those affected by mental health issues, every day can be a blue day. It is not formula driven, it is not to be trivialised and it is not to be ignored.
Thankfully there is a flip-side to Blue Monday whereby people realising this is a myth, are working towards increasing awareness and importance of mental well-being and reducing the stigma surrounding those who suffer on a day-to-day basis. The ethos of “Don’t judge me until you have walked in my shoes” is so true…I know from experience…so today should be an opportunity to find positives in our challenging environment.

So, what can YOU do?

Positive opportunities are all around us; it’s a question of choice on our part on whether we act upon what we see. Grand gestures are great, but to someone in need of our understanding, it’s the simple things that mean the most. A few moments of your time being compassionate, caring, and empathetic is nothing compared to the lasting feelings of gratitude you will leave in someone’s heart. So, whether you offer to carry someone’s shopping to their car, take a few minutes to chat with an elderly neighbour, ask someone how they feel and really take the time to listen, or ask that mum with the two kids and the crying baby in the queue if there’s anything you can do to help for a few minutes because you’ve been in that situation…. you can make the difference between a blue day and a better day. We all have it within us to help make everyday a better day.