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Goal Rush

Canary Wharf Magazine, by Aimee Latimer & Elle Blakeman, January 01, 2015

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Some people – let’s put them in column A – seem to succeed in all fields of life. They have good relationships, great careers, read novels, don’t eat sugar, call their mothers and enjoy exercising. The others, huddled presumably less attractively in column B, drink too much, save too little, inhale carbs, buy bad presents and apply make-up on the Tube. The desire to transition from B to A is the backbone of new years’ resolution – the annual mass-assumption that next year could be your year if only you made a few small changes. Unfortunately, as ambition is met with reality, many of those resolutions lie broken by the time you’ve finished the leftover Christmas turkey. So we asked five experts working in the fields of fitness through to finance, how to make positive changes this New Year for a smarter, simpler, better 2015.


how to… Get your head in the game

Landmark is often referred to as the ‘go to’ for anyone looking to make a real change in their lives, be it home or work-related. Over the course of an intensive three day and one evening seminar in Euston, the international training and development company offers a lesson in self reflection that will help you to analyse what you really want in life – and more importantly how to get it.

David Cunningham, a communication expert and seminar leader for Landmark explains that the course works, in part, by helping participants to stop having past experiences affect their future decisions in ways that aren’t productive.

“Things happen as we’re growing up, we have experiences with money, we have experiences with success, we have experiences with failure, and then we make decisions based on those experiences – decisions like ‘I’m good at this’; ‘I’m not good at that’; like ‘This is possible’ or ‘That’s not possible’ – and it’s the decisions we make that colour and sometimes limit our choices when we are out to invent a career, or take a career step for ourselves, or take on something else important to us.

“First you need to be willing to think big for yourself, to be willing to say: ‘Here’s exactly what I want’. ‘Here’s exactly the kind of job I would want’,” says Cunningham. “And then distinguish or notice every reason you’ve got why you don’t think that can happen. Then you’ve got a choice: you can either have what you want in life or you can have the reasons why you can’t have it.”

While it sounds simple, the reality is somewhat more challenging and the course is anything but easy. However, a bit of tough love is sometimes exactly what it takes – over two million people have taken the Landmark Forum, and the success stories continue to stack up, from CEOs to celebrities.

Paul Grant, who works for a large professional services firm in Canary Wharf says the Landmark Forum left him with ‘increased effectiveness without effort’.

“As I was becoming more senior at work, I was increasingly feeling more exposed,” says Grant. “I felt like someone was going to ‘find out’ that I didn’t really belong in that meeting or to be the one driving that big project because, in spite of the evidence, that was what I thought. I was working long hours and mostly thinking about work when I wasn’t there. It was exhausting.

“After the Landmark Forum, my peace of mind and confidence increased dramatically. My ability to connect with people, to be straight with people, to trust myself and to speak my piece shifted completely.”

“In the Landmark Forum, I saw that all human beings make these types of decisions,” agrees Barrister Michael Druce, who did the course in 2007. “Moments we experience failure, we make them mean something about us.

“I now form business relationships with clients that ensures repeat work and am operating at an elevated level of effectiveness in my life.”

“That’s what happens,” says Cunningham. “Once you distinguish between what actually happened versus the story or interpretation you made up about what happened, you begin to see how much of your life has been a reaction to your interpretation that you then related to as if it were the truth. When people sort that out, there’s tremendous freedom, and suddenly a whole world of new possibilities becomes available to them.”

Here are Landmark’s tips for living a more productive life:

1) Give up being right – even if you are certain that you are – and consider your viewpoint as just one possible view.

2) Be authentic – letting people in on who you really are and what you’re dealing with can feel risky, but when you’re straight with people and willing to be vulnerable and risk not looking good, that’s the kind of conversation that has people really engage and connect.

3) Be unreasonable – practice giving up the focus on all the reasons something can’t happen. When you develop the habit of looking beyond those reasons for how you can accomplish something, you and those around you get bigger.

4) Change the way you look at problems – consider that to be alive is to have problems, you might as well make sure that your problems are big enough to be worth your time.

5) Be present – living in the moment is easier said than done. But when you can recognise the running commentary that is the thoughts and opinions that constantly pop up unbidden, and then turn down the volume on that, you are able to actually be with people, yourself, and life.


how to… Stress less

Benjamin Franklin once said: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Had he had Gmail, we can only imagine ‘stress’ would have also made it onto the list. Unfortunately, day-to-day stress is unavoidable, however, you can change how you handle it.

There are two things you can focus on when dealing with stress in the short term – your diet and your attitude. When it comes to the former, skipping breakfast and poor food choices can lead to energy dips, irritability and craving coffee though a drip, all of which magnify any struggles throughout the day. Wellness specialist Akcelina Cvijetic recommends when grabbing breakfast on the go in Canary Wharf to pick up a green tea and protein pot (boiled eggs and spinach) from Pret A Manger and a ‘bulletproof coffee’ from Crussh to keep you switched on until lunch. You can also give your energy levels a boost through supplements, Akcelina recommends: amino acids, Vitamin B complex, Siberian ginseng, iron and antioxidant complex.

Secondly, there’s your attitude. When you’re feeling overloaded, take deep breaths and repeat after Akcelina: “I know this is stressing me out, but do I want to focus on my reaction or on the results I want to create here?”

In other words, when stress hits you, don’t let the first wave of emotions drown you: “When we’re in this place we can’t trust our thinking because our brain has been hijacked by our emotions and our imagination is running wild with projections of reality not reality itself,” she says, because torturing yourself on what might happen is a waste of energy that’s better spent on solving the issue.

So, the next time you feel overwhelmed, take five minutes to calm down and ask yourself whether the situation really is as bad as it feels, and then knock back a shot of Siberian ginseng. Over time, hopefully you’ll be able to differentiate what’s genuinely serious, and what’s a hiccup you’ll have forgotten about by next week.


how to… Dress smarter

A man’s working wardrobe is like Tetris, it’s just a game of trying to line up the pieces that fit, without creating any awkward layers. Fortunately Roberto Revilla – Bobby to friends – of Roberto Revilla London knows the cheats for dressing for your body type to ensure you’re set for a sleeker, smarter 2015.

As a London-based tailor, Bobby goes straight to his client to fit bespoke suits, riding through the capital on a motorbike he’s had specially modified to carry all his samples and equipment – which I think we can all agree is pretty cool.

He appreciates that professional men who – assuming they spend the majority of their time at work, and that time is typically spent in a suit – need to know their shirts and ties: “Most men default to white and blue shirts because it’s easy and there is nothing wrong with that. But, by a rule if you tan easily (which usually means you’re dark-haired and olive-to dark-skinned) ice-coloured shirts will always look amazing on you: think white, pink, blue, lavender. And, if you’re the opposite and burn faster than a vampire (usually meaning you have blonde or red hair) then pastel shades are best. Think off-white, cream, blue, salmon pinks.”

Next comes ties, Bobby advises: “White shirts suit pretty much any tie. With blue shirts, it’s blues, yellows and reds. For pink, try burgundy, navy and some lavenders. And for off-white or cream shirts, burgundy and navy are best. Plus, ties with small details that pick out the main colour of your shirts always work really well.”

If you’ve overdone it this Christmas, or during the 11 months prior, also know that you can dress yourself slimmer: “A two-button jacket will create a slimmer line than a double-breasted or three-button. If you are broad and big do not wear skinny lapels – they’ll just make you look wider. Stick to jacket lapel widths that are just short of halfway to the shoulder end and make sure your trousers are a trim cut to avoid looking ‘top-heavy’. For shirts, make sure the collar spread is no wider than your ears, else you will look, well… wider.”

If your width’s not your concern but your height is, there are tricks for looking taller too: “We always want to have your viewers’ eyes sweeping up your body. The more they have to do this the more their brains register that you are taller than you actually are, so stay away from big chunky accessories like large-faced watches, thick belts and flowery pocket handkerchiefs.

“Keeping clothing colours within a fairly consistent colour theme will also help create an illusion of height. As will weighting darker colours toward the bottom of the body.” And if your underwear has holes, please just throw them out – that’s a given.


how to… Get fit (with no free time)

Getting fit is always up there at the top of people’s to-do list, but in practice trying to maintain the motivation to fit post-work gym trips and pre-dawn juicing into an already packed schedule isn’t easy. Despite this, there are people like Tom Exton who make you feel bad about yourself by pairing working a full-time job at one of Canary Wharf’s top banks with running an online fitness company, LDN Muscle (ldnmuscle.com), which he set up with his brother and two others.

LDN Muscle appeals to the time-poor. It provides tailored fitness guides which are downloadable online, giving you a personal trainer in your pocket whether you’re in the gym or just at home. As Exton explains, if you’re short on time, efficient workouts are key: “Don’t take extra-long rest periods, make sure tempo/form is on point and try to pre-plan what you’re doing before you go in to avoid wasting time. Plus it’s important to never underestimate the importance of nutrition – you’ve heard it before, but if you’re limited on training time because of work commitments then diet is make or break.”

It is advice Exton follows – his typical workout routine is focused on time-saving: “I keep rest time short, concentrate on tempo and intensity, while utilising drop sets and supersets often, to really burn out the intended muscle group in minimal time.” The success of Tom’s fitness business means he has the added incentive to get the squats in because he has to “occasionally be scantily clad for photos.” Should you not have the same predicament, having a goal will help keep your motivation alive. Whether it’s dropping a dress size or increasing the distance you can run, a goal that feels in reach will give you a reason to not give up on the gym until you’re in the habit of going.


how to… Order wine

You’ve scored a date, you booked the restaurant, but then the wine list comes and it might as well be in French – in fact, it probably is. Tomasz Kuszneruk, sommelier at Canary Wharf’s Plateau gives some sage advice for the nervous wine-orderer and it all comes down to “don’t be shy to say: ‘I know nothing about wine.’”

You might feel that restaurants expect you to be wine-literate, but for the same reasons that you don’t tell surgeons where to cut or matadors when to get out the way, if you’re not, it’s time to trust the experts. “If there’s a sommelier in the restaurant or you’re in a wine shop, don’t pretend you know about wine – you won’t impress people. Just say, ‘I know nothing, but I would like this or that’, and the person will guide you,” says Tomasz.

“And also don’t be shy to put your foot down on how much you want to spend. It’s OK to go into a wine shop and say: ‘I have £10 to spend on a bottle, what’s best?’ At the end of the day, it’s only the super-rich or the people putting it on the company card who buy the priciest bottles. For everyone else in the restaurant or shop who’s spending his own money, they don’t buy the expensive wine and we all understand because we all do the same.”

So, the wallet’s safe, but if you’ve been dreaming of the steak all day but your partner goes and orders the fish, can you still share a bottle of wine? “You can have red wine with fish but be careful that that wine is very low in tannin. When the protein from the fish and the tannin from the wine combine in your mouth it creates a chemical reaction which creates a metallic taste. A red wine low in tannin, for example, is the Gamay or Bordelaise or Burgundy. But again, you don’t have to know it, speak to the sommelier as they know this kind of thing, that’s why they’re there.”

And, on the subject of wine faux pas, if you bring a screw top to a dinner party, will it look ‘cheaper’ than a bottle with a cork? The answer’s no; corks allow oxygen to slowly seep into a bottle, creating a slowburning chemical reaction which evolves the taste of the wine over time. A screw top, however, prevents any oxygen from entering and so is actually the packaging of choice by wine makers who think the wine is at its ideal composition at the time of bottling, and so don’t want its taste to change over time.

If you’re interested in trying some new wines in a casual setting, each month Tomasz hosts a wine club at Plateau, where a wine maker is invited to speak and guests try five wines matched with canapés for £25. Also, there’s the added bonus is that if you stay for dinner afterwards you receive a 50 per cent discount on your meal. Call 020 7715 7100 for details.

 

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