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I had a few conversations with people about my next blog and they suggested I write 50 of my best tips for life, the universe and everything.

No idea where the idea came from, I haven’t had any relevant significant birthdays or anything like that….perish the thought!  Let’s just work on the basis that it’s a randomly selected yet rather large number.

But, in the hope that at least some of those will help some people, here goes, including links to other resources that might help.

NB – These are in no particular order – See #15.

They are also very much from my angle as a former barrister, current coach and facilitator with a lot to say about non-nonsense personal and professional development. You would probably have a different list with different priorities. Do let me know in the comments.


  1. Effective communication is purposeful – what do you want to achieve in this meeting/presentation/conversation.
  2. Great communication doesn’t happen by accident – plan how, when and what to communicate.
  3. Keep it simple eg if making a request stick to the barrister classic, “Tell them what you want and why they should give it to you.”  Then stop talking and…
  4. Listen more.  Other people might have the solution you need.
  5. Silence can be golden.  It helps with listening for a start.  But it also has a consequence.  If you’ve been putting off a conversation, instead of just focusing on the downside of having that conversation, focus just as much on what happens if you don’t have it.


  1. Have some.  Define them, state them, enforce them (i.e. restate them and then take action if they are still not respected).
  2. Unless you respect your boundaries, no one else will.  So if you’ve said you won’t take calls on that day, don’t take the call.  You are responsible for the expectations others have of you.
  3. Block time in your diary for you.  I mark mine “Safeguard for Self” and I add “Replace if booked over”.
  4. If you have a holiday coming up, turn your “out of office” on much earlier than you think you need to.  If something arrives at 2pm on your last day you will not have the time or headspace to deal with it.
  5. To take that one step further, keep the days before and after breaks as light as possible.


  1. Assess the task as early as possible.  Chances are it won’t be as bad as you think but if you leave the email (or the box) unopened, it can take on a fear factor that it probably doesn’t deserve.
  2. Block out time – include time for productive working and time for breaks.  Try the pomodoro technique which recommends working for 25 minutes and then taking a 5 minute break with a longer break after every 4 working intervals.  Adjust the time to suit you.
  3. Pauses, rest, leisure time all make you more productive, not less.
  4. Remember Parkinson’s Law – tasks will expand to fill the time available.  Give yourself less time to do that difficult task.
  5. Done is better than perfect.


  1. Get outside.  As often as possible for as many reasons as possible.
  2. Do what makes you happy, nourished, cared for, not what the latest gurus says.  If getting up at 5am and immersing yourself in cold water is not for you, it’s not for you.
  3. Keep a very watchful eye on that voice on your head.  If you wouldn’t speak to your best friend like that, don’t do it to yourself.
  4. Surround yourself with brilliant people.  This one is really worth putting the effort into.
  5. There is room for balance but remember that what you consume will have an impact on your wellbeing either in the short or long run.

Develop self-coaching habits

  1. Time spent on reflection is never wasted.
  2. If you never stop to think, you will stay on the same path making the same mistakes.
  3. Find the tools that work for you, whether that’s a Wheel of Life, a daily journal, a gratitude practice, an accountability partnership with a friend or something else entirely.
  4. Make sure that you reflect on your achievements and the things going well just as much as the things you want to change.
  5. Ask for feedback from those whose opinions you value.

The cliches that are cliches for a reason

  1. This is not a dress-rehearsal.
  2. Do some stuff that scares you – you don’t find growth in your comfort zone.
  3. The whole of life is a time/money equation – work on how you make it balance.  Digging deep into the cliché bank – few people spend time on their deathbed wishing they’d spent longer in the office.
  4. Get better at staying no to things which don’t interest you or for which you don’t have time. At the very least pause before saying yet.
  5. Ask for help – people love to help.  (Help as well – it feels great).

Things to “Be”

  1. Be curious.
  2. Be kind.
  3. Be open to new experiences and new people.
  4. Be self-aware.
  5. Be thoughtful.

Increasing confidence/Tackling Imposter Syndrome

  1. Keep a brag file, an email folder or running document in which you list your achievements.  Not only is this a mood-boost on a bad day, it can really help with pulling together a CV or an application form when you need to list your achievements.
  2. Remember that, for the vast majority of the general public out there, their opinion of you is none of your business.  Create a tiny sub-group of people whose opinions matter to you and focus on their (real not imaginary) feedback.
  3. Recognise imposter syndrome as a sign you are pushing yourself and achieving great things.  People operating purely in their comfort zone don’t experience the feeling that their achievements have come about by mistake.
  4. Use your past successes – tap into an occasion when you were confident and ask what made you so? How did you feel? Who or what helped you?  Bring all of that to this new scenario.
  5. Find what works for you: a great outfit, a strong brow or perfectly coiffed hair, some meditation or a deep breath.  More people than you can imagine look more confident than they feel.  Deploy the tricks.

Quotes to live by (taking “Live, Laugh, Love” up a notch)

  1. You wouldn’t spend so much time worrying what other people think about you if you realised how rarely they did.
  2. If you want to go quickly, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.
  3. Comparison is the thief of joy.
  4. This too shall pass.
  5. Everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

For smashing career goals and glass ceilings

  1. Don’t be afraid to mistakes.  They are one of the best ways to learn.
  2. Find a mentor, or maybe several.  Learn from the wisdom (and the mistakes) of others.
  3. Be a mentor.  It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do.
  4. Take every opportunity to build self-awareness so that you can work with your strengths and set realistic goals.  See #45.
  5. Find your purpose.  If you do meaningful work that you enjoy you will be happier and more likely to succeed.

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