Be more effective! Creating meaning, improving mood & achieving goals

Last Friday, I sat down to refocus on my goals and priorities. Something I presented in a Recovering Energy hack and tell I shared at work last month prompted me; I’ll get on to that shortly. I took a lot of time and self-compassion to do this recentring work – a day of collaging, thinking and writing. It was hugely rewarding because by the end of it I had an extremely clear picture of the priorities in my life and what I wanted to do next. Now, I can be more effective!

Existentialism has held a special place in my heart ever since I learned that it’s all about creating meaning in your life. That’s pretty much what I was doing. What could be more important?

Headshot photograph of Kathleen smiling, with apple blossom in the background, text overlaid reads 'Creating meaning in my life by an Agile Companion with a Wellbeing Agenda'

Setting goals with a focus on priorities

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

I like this quote from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because it neatly illustrates why goals are important. I needed to refocus on my priorities to be able to set weekly and daily SMART+ goals for myself, one for each of my priority areas. By doing this, I’ve improved my personal effectiveness and every day I’m moving forward in the areas that are most important to me. That feels pretty great.

Recovering energy, the other pieces of the puzzle

Re-evaluating goals and priorities is just one part of recovering energy.

Last year, Anna Obukhova gave an excellent meetup: Coaching for Agile Energy – Wake Up Your Team. This was the inspiration for the Hack and Tell I delivered at work. In her presentation, Anna introduced me to the agile energy phase components. I’m calling them the burnout recovery triangle. Because I learned that you need all three things to recover from burnout, which reminds me of the fire triangle. (The fire triangle illustrates the necessary ingredients for a fire to start and continue).

Likewise, to recover from burnout and get energised, individuals and teams need to:

  • Slow down
  • Get support
  • Re-evaluate goals and priorities

The burnout recovery triangle features 'Slow down', 'Get support' and 'Re-evaluate goals and priorities' at its points

Slowing down

I can summarise this in two words. Radical prioritisation, which means saying no to anything that isn’t a priority. Understanding your priorities and other people’s is essential for radical prioritisation. If your priorities align with those around you, being transparent about what you’re working on will help too. Practising assertiveness is useful if you find it hard to say no.

Getting support

Where to get help

If you’ve been feeling down for more than a few weeks, if it’s affecting your daily life or if you think you might be depressed, please see your GP.


You may find these websites helpful:

How to feel better

You can learn life and coping skills with The Living Life To The Full website. It includes mood tests to help you track your mood over time, which is a good prompt for seeking support. The course is available in a variety of formats – books, booklets, a DVD and narrated slides. The beginning of the course and some worksheets are available for free.

You can get practical self-help for better understanding depression and taking steps to recover from The Mood Juice Self Help Guide for Depression (NHS Scotland).

You can learn about which foods help improve mood and mental health with Nutrition Facts.

Useful books

  • The Upward Spiral  📕  Alex Korb
  • The Power of Habit  📕  Charles Duhigg
  • The Depression Cure  📕  Tai Morello

The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time by Alex Korb (front cover)   The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (front cover)   The Depression Cure: The 11-Step Program To Naturally Beat Depression For Life (Anxiety, Stress, Meditation, Mindfulness) by Tai Morello
These are the best books I read last year.

You can preview The Power of Habit on Google Books.

Useful apps

  • One Moment Meditation (Android & iOS), especially great if you used to meditate and stopped, or if you’ve never done it. I use this app many times daily. Check out the intro video
  • Calm (Android, iOS & web), best of all, this has bedtime stories that help me fall asleep when I’m worrying or feeling anxious. I have the free version at the moment. You can follow Calm on Twitter
  • 7 Cups (Android, iOS & web), pretty good for prompting you to use it every day and gives you points for using it. I like the variety of the different exercises and approaches. It has a forum and listeners for support as well.
  • Bliss (Android & iOS) helped me get back my journalling habit. I use Workflowy and Google Docs though, because I want to be able to search entries. I like Bliss’ focus on daily gratitude.

Nurturing resilience, how to cope better

When I was collaging, I remembered a website by The Wellbeing Project, which I used at wellbeing training in my last job. You can use My Resilience for free to check 5 different areas:

  • Energy
  • Flexible thinking
  • Future focus
  • Inner drive
  • Strong relationships

So, I checked my resilience, and it helped me to understand areas for improvement. You can buy stuff on their site, but I looked online instead. I searched for “how to improve flexible thinking” and found lots of help.

Photographs of people bouncing, one in the air upside down above a large trampoline and one jumping in the air holding an umbrella. The words 'Resilience' and 'Bounce-back-ability' appear over the top of the images.

I’d love to hear from you

What do you do to feel better? How do you get motivated? Want to talk about wellbeing? You can get me on Twitter @gobrightly