Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Tag Archives: The 10 Things Challenge

So now what? How to live this extraordinary, ordinary life

extraordinary, ordinary lifeWe have recently been winding our way through a series covering a range of different life skills and character developments including being proactive, listening well, prioritising that which matters most including how to seek mutual benefit in relationships, and the importance of regular self renewal.

If you read all the way through this recent series on The Seven Habits, and my musings thereon, first of all –

thank you.

It means a huge amount to know that people not only read, but seem to digest and consider what I write.

Secondly –

well done!

There were an awful lot of words…… I really like words, and putting them together. But I can get carried away, especially on subjects that are close to my heart.

And thirdly, and most importantly,

Now what?

As you consider what this year has in store, what is the life you want to be living? How do you want to spend each day this year of your extraordinary, ordinary life?

Because no-one else can determine how you live your life.

You cannot control the external things that happen to you. But you can control your responses.

Do you feel that your life controls you, but you would love to learn to be proactive and take control of your time, decisions, life, stuff? To be in charge of who you are and be confident in that freedom?

Have you lost sight of WHY you are doing what you are doing? You feel caught up in the day-to-day treadmill of WHAT you are doing, but without a clear sense of purpose and direction? Your life feels far more ordinary – stuck, mundane, joy-less – than extraordinary.

Is your perspective more “I have to….” rather than “I get to….”? Are you unsure of who you are and what you have to offer, and the opportunities open to you? Perhaps you feel that your self worth and self esteem have taken a bit of a nose dive? But life is for living to the full, and embracing and enjoying being the unique and wonderful individual that you are.

And how about that old thorny issue – taking time just for you, to care for yourself? Be it your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual well being – how much time during the week is spent on what restores and re-energises you, so that you can live an extraordinary, ordinary life alongside the people you share it with?

If any of those resonate with you, now is the time to take action!

Life coaching can shift you from overwhelmed to free, from stuck to fulfilled, from burned out to bursting with life.

The best way to do this?

One to one coaching gives the sustained, powerful and personalised support and accountability to help you achieve what you want. Try it for free!

Or, get started immediately, in your own time, with carefully directed short daily challenges via email and a lot of fun by doing The 10 Things Challenge.

Either way – don’t stay stuck being ordinary or living an ordinary life.

There is so much more!

Do you love a list?

Do you love a list?

Do you love a list?

I love a list.

And my nearest-and-dearest know this about me because for Christmas, I was given a new list book. It is such a thing of beauty, inspiring me to list-writing greatness and new dizzying heights of ticking-things-off joy. Here it is in all it’s glory – four different colours of pull-off wee marker tabs, and three different sizes of list – one complete with boxes to tick. My happiness knows no limit, my joy is complete.

Ok, that might be overstating it a bit, but I suspect it is not just me that loves a list. You perhaps?

Here’s a separate, but related question:

Do you love a good old read of a self help book?

Maybe like me you enjoy standing for hours in a good bookshop poring over the pages of the latest manual or volume that is no doubt going to change your world view/eating habits/body shape/priorities/relationships. All good, all important. But maybe also like me, you tend to put the book back on the shelf and walk away because buying it means that you then perhaps have to read it …. and then, deary me…you might have to Do Something About It.

Sometimes that seems too hard, too much work, simply setting yourself up to fail. Not a cheery thought at the start of the year, despite the plethora of new self help books available.

Which leads me on to my third question:

At the beginning of a new year, would you like to gain more understanding of yourself, and confidence in who you are and what you are doing?

Imagine getting to the end of this year and having much clearer priorities, more direction in life, doing more of the things that are really important to you? Having been encouraged, stretched and challenged out of your comfort zone/procrastination/overwhelm into making positive changes to the way you live?

Now, that is a thought. So – if you ticked yes to all three questions (I did say I like a list) I have a tool for you.

All the fun and satisfaction of a list with the benefits of a self help book, and the individual encouragement and support of someone alongside you cheering you on as you join up the dots of your own life. Yippee!

It’s called The 10 Things Challenge. Pat Marsh, an Author and Retreat Leader, recently completed the challenge, and this is what she said about it –

This exercise has helped me in ways above and beyond anything I could have imagined. In the analysis section of the challenge it was so helpful to see all the aspects of ‘me’ written out in front of me and quite amazing to suddenly be able to see underlying threads and patterns that I had not previously made a connection with.  It was tremendously insightful and a real catalyst for change. Your final coaching conversation was absolutely great, giving me much encouragement and many pointers for a way forward.  It has been a privilege and a joy to work with you.  The whole process has been enormously helpful and I no longer feel the sense of overwhelm which led me to you in the first place.”
How would you like a piece of that?
Think about your life now – your life this time last year, and the year before…. Stuck? Scunnered? Needing clarity and focus?
The 10 Things Challenge combines 30 lists about YOU (worry not – one a day!) with questions that make sense of it all, and a coaching session with me to draw out themes, ideas and pointers for moving forward. Don’t want to give too much away, but the lists vary from ‘favourite places to visit’, ‘ways you could care for yourself more’ to bigger questions like ‘what you want to be known for’ and a whole host in between.
Intrigued? Want to start off the year with a new way of making a list? Find out more and sign up here.

Accepting compliments means accepting yourself

Receiving compliments wellHow well do you receive compliments? When someone comments favourably on something you have done or are wearing, or your new hair style, how do you usually respond?

Many of us seem programmed to bat away such compliments, with a dismissive remark such as “it was nothing really”, or “what, this old thing?”.  The effect of this can often be to shut down the complimenter and actually make us feel worse about ourselves – the exact opposite of the intended effect.

Why do we do this? It is seen as terribly un-British to accept compliments for fear we might become big-headed or arrogant. This seems especially so amongst west coast Scots.

I was at a wedding a few years ago, and was complimented a number of times on my dress. My response? To tell everyone that I got it for a few pounds in a local charity shop. I could just have smiled and said a gracious thank you to my complimenters. Partly, I was gleeful about my purchase as I love charity shops and how much more do I love a bargain. But on a deeper level, it was easier to deflect the attention away from myself and onto the unlikely provenance of said dress.

I read an interesting article on the psychology of receiving compliments recently in the free health and beauty magazine of a large, well known store. You can read the original here – it is a simple wee article, not rocket science, but it made me think. The link is made between learning how to receive compliments well and graciously, gaining self esteem, and becoming more generous in giving compliments. The Complimentee becomes a more willing Complimenter.

One observation I have made in my work as a life coach is that those who are least confident in themselves and least self-accepting find it hardest to receive compliments from others. Not a radical observation I know, but stay with me.

If you are not aware of your gifts, strengths and unique purpose, compliments might come as a surprise, and not sit well with you, and therefore be argued against.

If your self-esteem has taken a battering, the Complimenter is likely to be met with a verbal barrage of negative, self-deprecating remarks. The Complimenter’s motive is good – to build up the self esteem of the Complimentee. But it serves to have the opposite effect, and can drive complimenters away.

Those who struggle with addiction to The Comparisons Game – “I’m not as….as…./I wish I was more….like….” will deflect the compliment off themselves onto someone else, thus further entrenching their own negative self view.

This makes me sad.

Not because I am the pillar of self contentment and acceptance, and am brilliant at receiving compliments without having the ego the size of Cumbernauld.

But because I believe strongly and passionately that each of us is an amazing individual with a unique set of strengths, personality and purpose, and it is a joy to be able to affirm and encourage each other in this.

I met with a friend yesterday who is a very generous-hearted listener. Another friend tells fascinating and very engaging tales of life that I love to hear. Someone else makes me laugh like no-one else can. Another is very thoughtful at finding just the right gift.

These qualities about these precious friends are gifts that they uniquely give to those in their world. And I love to affirm and appreciate that, and to have them know how much they are valued. It can be as simple as that.

So how do we get there?

When you are not sure of what you are good at, what your strengths are, what your life achievement are and what your life experiences have taught you, how do you start to receive compliments well?

Well… I have a tool for that. It is called The 10 Things Challenge, and is a simple, and very freeing way to invest in yourself and gain more awareness and confidence.

You get to the end of the Challenge with hundreds of individual items on your lists that are all about yourself – imagine that! – but in an achievable, affirming way.

You gain a much clearer view of who you are and what you can do, so when someone compliments you on something you have done well, or an aspect of your character that they appreciate, it is easier to simply thank them. Your confidence grows, and you share more of that part of you with others.

Everyone wins. Yippee!

Imagine that for yourself – well you can do more than imagine it, you can take up the Challenge and find out more here.

Grow in your acceptance of yourself, receive compliments well, and have fun complimenting others!

Introducing The 10 Things Challenge

So – here it is:

The 10 Things Challenge


I wrote it as a way to encourage My Beloved (MB as he is referred to here) to gain a more positive and forward looking view of himself and his life, as a way of moving on from depression. You can read the story here.

But as I wrote it, I realised there was potential for The 10 Things Challenge to be so much more:

The 10 Things Challenge is:

  • A tool or programme – call it what you will – that enables anyone to gain greater self-awareness and confidence in who they are and what they can do no matter what their starting point
  • A fun and challenging way to consider future goals and purpose, both big and small
  • A great way to make lots of little lists but in so doing, create something much bigger (and lots of us like lists!)
  • Easy to do and realistic to achieve in a busy life
  • Habit forming in a good way
  • Great to do as a couple, as a starting point to growing and developing your relationship
  • A wee bit different from anything else out there, I think

It is NOT

  • A treatment for depression
  • For someone in the midst of depression – to do The 10 Things Challenge, you need a degree of emotional stability and to be starting from a relatively stable place. MB was no longer depressed, but in that vacuum of not knowing who he was or what was next

But you know, don’t take my word for how it works or what it does. Some trusty friends road tested The 10 Things Challenge for me in the early days, and some recent clients have also completed it. Here are some of their comments:

  • “It has given me more self-acceptance and enjoyment of myself, and I am inspired to believe in myself more. It doesn’t take much time to do, and is fun and enjoyable.”
  • “Made me ask, what do I want to do and what am I about.”
  • “It gives you a deep insight into yourself and where things have gone wrong, and gently helps you rebuild who you are. Very cathartic, and gave me courage and conviction to keep going.” (This from a client who was also moving on from depression)
  • “Catriona’s positive and insightful approach helped to draw out the important issues for the next step forward. It has whet my appetite for more coaching!” (in relation to the coaching session at the end).
  • “The 10 Things Challenge was really useful in helping me to be kind to myself, by encouraging me to focus on the things I can offer to the world. It has brought a sense of clarity and direction as I try to move forward in my life and set some goals.”
  • “It is a simple clear, structured way of discovering more about who you are, and just how exciting life can be when you’re equipped to make the most of it.”

What are you waiting for? At the beginning of this year, would you like a bit of this?!

So  – what do you do now?

To watch a short video of me talking about The Challenge, and read a little more about how it works, and sign up, click here.

Sign up to get started on The 10 Things Challenge!

Putting our Black Dog on a leash

Last week I started talking about the Black Dog in our marriage – the depression that my beloved (MB) has suffered from for many years, and the impact of living with it. How do we learn to put our Black Dog on a leash?

Putting our Black Dog on a leash

Putting our Black Dog on a leash

Or – to put it another way – what happens when you are not depressed anymore, and how do you move forward?

As MB came out of his most recent spell, he found himself in a limbo state of not being depressed – he has concurred that sometimes he chose this as his identity – but also not knowing who he was, what he could do, and what was next.

In my experience of being alongside others with depression, I have seen this pattern before. There is a divide between living in a depressed state, and living as a person who understands and is content with who they are

and is secure in that new identity.

But getting across that gap on your own is too much.



And very scary.

So what to do? How could I use my skills and my role as MB’s other half to help him across that divide?

Whatever I came up with, it needed to be

  • manageable in a busy working schedule
  • have the potential for a small achievement each time but without an overwhelming sense of failure if that step or that day was hard
  • provide some pattern and structure
  • be easy to do
  • be practical and forward looking
  • provide gentle but realistic encouragement
  • and ultimately form lots of little stepping stones across that divide into a new identity.

And so The 10 Things Challenge was created.

The 10 Things Challenge is a tool that I have written that can change the way you see yourself and your future in 30 simple steps.

It was written for MB to give him a gentle, practical, structured way to gain greater understanding of who he is, what he can do, how to care for himself and learn to see himself in a new, more positive light.

It is recognised that gratitude, exercise, caring for yourself, being more outward looking, simplifying life, time and discipline all help in putting the Black Dog on a leash and moving forward into better health (as outlined in this wonderful WHO video about the Black Dog, and this one about living with someone who is depressed).

Now MB knew all that, but putting it all into practice, whilst doing a very busy and often demanding job, was too overwhelming, so nothing much would change. But providing the external motivation that is part of The 10 Things Challenge, coupled with it’s simplicity and practical aspects, seemed to enable him to start to take those small steps towards a better outlook.

The 10 Things Challenge is a way to create a much greater end product of self awareness, self confidence and future direction that is significantly bigger than the sum of it’s individual parts.

It was written for someone moving on after a period of depression. But this is by no means it’s only focus. It is a tool that allows whoever is doing it to gain greater self awareness, clarity on future goals and direction, more confidence and fulfillment in life whatever their life stage. It certainly is not a tool to treat depression.

It is simply a practical response to a need that was right there in front of me. But as I wrote and developed it, I started to see it’s potential as a forward looking coaching tool.

Next week I will introduce you to The 10 Things Challenge, and the experiences of others who have completed it. For MB and me, it has been a way of putting our Black Dog on a leash and stepping gradually into life of greater communication, understanding and freedom. What might it do for you?

Our Black Dog. Or Living alongside Depression.

We have a large black dog in our marriage.

Our Black Dog

Emotions and lack of in living with our Black Dog

For more than two decades, this Black Dog has played a role in our lives and impacted on our relationship, communication and emotional well being. My beloved – or MB for short – has suffered from depression for a large chunk of his adult life. And I have lived alongside him and his depression – his Black Dog – struggling to get to grips with how to do this well and maintain my own sanity.

Sometimes, the Black Dog has been right bang in the middle of our lives, with not much room for anything else. MB’s depression has been the dominant force, hugely affecting us both. Him – trapped, bleak, hopeless, emotionally numb. Me – lonely, isolated, frustrated, torn between loving support and angry resentment about the impact this illness has.

Seeing MB so distant, unavailable, unable to enjoy or enter into much of life, still functioning but going through the motions and with little energy left for anything other than self-preservation. And battling my own feelings of being cheated of the engaging, funny, creative and inspiring man that I know is in there somewhere.

There have been other prolonged periods when the Black Dog has made himself pretty scarce, and there has been more freedom, hope, communication, enjoyment and optimism. And these have been times of learning and self-growth for us both. We have sought to understand the origins of this Black Dog, or at least diminish it’s power to return forcibly to our lives, and to break negative cycles of communication that inevitably we fall into when things are bad.

I have never experienced prolonged depression as an illness. And therefore I have no insight into what it is to live in that dark place. The closest I ever came to having a glimpse of understanding was a short spell of bleak low mood as a result of a traumatic life event. MB came home from work and I was under the duvet not wanting to come out (unheard of for me during the day).

“I feel like I’m in a black box with a heavy lid and I can’t get out, I can’t lift the lid to get out.”

He looked at me and very gently and simply said:

“That’s what it feels like to be depressed.”

This occurred well over a decade ago, yet I have never forgotten that, or how I felt – quite stunned at the horror of living in that oppressive black box and that being your norm. I am by nature quite a practical, problem solving enthusiastic optimist who can generally talk or work my way through a challenge or difficult situation and come out the other side.

So this very brief experience of not being able to get myself out of this black box was shocking to me.

Now I know that there are lots of different types and facets of depression, and I can only speak of my own, very personal experience of our particular breed of Black Dog. What I say here is simply that – my own reflections. I cannot speak to the experience of others, whose depression has taken different forms and degrees of severity.

And so to MB. We seemed to live in a cyclical pattern based on the varying dominance of the Black Dog, but didn’t seem able to take more than a sticking plaster approach to addressing surface level issues.

How to break that cycle?

Being the practical fix-it sort of person that I am, what use could I be to him to help him move beyond depression?

How could I use my skills and experience to help him put his Black Dog on a leash? That’s where we will go next week.

For an incredibly helpful short video about the Black Dog and it’s impact, watch this WHO video of the book ‘I had a Black Dog’ by Matthew Johnstone.