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

Getting healthier: Eating even MORE plants

I realised I had more I wanted to share about whole-food plant-based eating immediately after writing and publishing Enjoying veganism: How to eat more plants. So, welcome to Part 2: Getting healthier: Eating even MORE plants

LiLi Kathleen posing about to eat a plate of mango, a tall glass of smoothie awaits devouring too, clearly all about the veganism Green smoothie in a jar and a glass LiLi Kathleen wrapped up warm under the winter sun

Getting healthier with plant-based veganism

How to eat a whole-food plant-based diet: People have different ideas about what’s healthy, but this is the only diet scientifically proven to prevent and reverse many causes of premature death and disability.

Because of that, this YouTube playlist only includes videos of whole-food plant-based nutrition and recipes. That means vegan, and with no added oils, sugars or salt. Plus, the food has to look and sound totally delicious, because that’s really important too.

Useful and free resources

Some accompaniments that aren’t YouTube videos 🙂

Recommended book to buy

I’ll add to this list as I find others. There’s so much available for free online that I rarely buy recipe books any more though.

I’d love to know your thoughts, please leave comments on Instagram. Thank you ❤

Enjoying veganism: How to eat more plants

For new vegans, vegan curious people and anyone who wants to eat a healthier diet and enjoy veganism.

I’ve been vegan for around 10 years and so people tend to ask me for recipes, recommendations and so on. I thought I would collect together some of my experiences with veganism and share what I’ve found useful.

LiLi Kathleen posed under a pink polka dot umbrella, wearing a pink and black scarf, holding a commuter cup beverage LiLi Kathleen posing about to eat a plate of mango, a tall glass of smoothie awaits devouring too, clearly all about the veganism LiLi Kathleen posing IN THE SUNSHINE with a hot drink in a takeaway cup

My experience of going, and staying, vegan

When I joined The London Vegan Meetup Group on 8th January 2008, there were 100 or 200 members. 9 years later, there are 6700 members. It’s getting easier to become vegan all the time. However, being healthy is becoming more of a challenge if you like cakes, chocolates or ice-cream, because more products are coming out all the time. Just because you’re vegan, doesn’t mean you’re healthy, but… here are some of my tips for how to achieve that. 🙂
High-powered blender piled how with berries, blood oranges, beetroot, linseed,romaine and bananas, the resulting smoothie is also shown, it is a deep reddish hue Close up photo of indulgent overnight oats, including goji berries, nuts and seeds, blueberries, cherries, pear... oh, and oats 😂 Green smoothie, next to a high powered blender piled high with the ingredients that led to the smoothie, including nectarines, kale, chia seed, linseed, mango and ginger

Left and right: Smoothies make it so quick and easy to get lots more fruits into my diet

Middle: Bircher muesli or overnight oats mean breakfast is always sorted with minimum fuss, and ensure I’m getting berries, nuts and seeds, oats and spices every day

Where to start with veganism

It's breakfast time! Under the cascade of berries is porridge and cooked apple Basil and nutritional yeast tops a plate of baked beans and mushrooms Upping the antioxidants with my second and third servings of berries today. Probably best porridge I've made: Oats, water, mixed spice, goji berries (soaked first), blueberries, couple of stray soaked nuts too. The gojis made it super sweet with no added sugar, result!

How to continue with plant-based nutrition

Made salsa fresca / pico de gallo / fresh salsa Yeah, so the brunch I made myself is incredible 😍 Potato, spinach, sliced wholemeal bread, peppers, mushrooms, courgettes all piled attractively in a large chocolate brown dish All the greens in my delicious lunch. Fancy wholemeal pasta in a light tomato sauce with lots and lots of kale.

What to stop eating for a healthier life

Transitioning to a whole-food plant-based diet


I like to focus on healthier things to eat, rather than trying to avoid less healthier things. However, I do find it helpful to think about this sometimes, and you might too.

Foods to eat, foods to avoid: Summary of Dr Michael Greger’s food list
This is a really good summary sheet on plant-based nutrition that is a good introduction to using the Daily Dozen app I mentioned in How to Continue above.

If this inspires you to become a plant-based nutrition geek like I am, you might be interested to check out How Not to Die and other reputable sources of plant-based nutrition, make sure anything you’re reading cites sources of double-blind research studies and any conflicts of interest or funding sources. (Nutrition Facts always does.)

Black beans in a tomato gravy, mushroom & leek & spinach sorotto (buckwheat risotto) and brussel sprouts on a bed of baby leaves A copy of the book How Not to Die by Dr Michael Greger with Gene Stone Achievement unlocked: Made a buckwheat risotto with chard and spinach. It's red onion, leek, mushrooms and greens - if a pearl barley risotto is orzotto, maybe this is sarotto???

I’d love to know your thoughts, please leave comments on Instagram. Thank you ❤

And now, check out Part 2: Getting healthier: Eating even MORE plants