Do you find it difficult to say “No”? 3 tips to make it easier

Do you often have a diary crisis?  Do you find your schedule is manic? Does it cause you stress wondering how you can get everything done in the day, week, month or year?  In today’s busy world, you are not alone!  One important way to manage your schedule better is to get better at saying “No”. So why is it so difficult to do?

In the past in my career as a Finance Transformation Manager, I have taken on too much work and this has had a negative impact on me.  I would work longer hours trying to squeeze it in, start to worry about it all which affects my sleep and my well-being, has a knock on effect to my family and it is the start of a very slippery slope.  And so I am much more careful about saying “No” nowadays.

So what makes it difficult to say No? 

Well it is usually our values or beliefs.  Perhaps helping others is an important value for you and therefore you want to do this as much as possible.  Perhaps there is some guilt about rejecting a person if you say no; a feeling that you are hurting the other person, letting them down or that they may perceive you as uncaring or unhelpful. Or perhaps you have this view that you can do it all or maybe you can play the martyr or victim because you have so much to do.

What happens when you are asked to do something that you dont really have time to do or even want to do is you may:-

  • say “Yes” when you mean “No.
  • respond ineffectively suggesting an alternative which keeps the opportunity open
  • not respond at all keeping the other person hanging on waiting for answer.

3 tips to help say “No”

If this is a problem that you face here are 3 key tips to help you:-

1. Be assertive, courteous and say “No”

You can say something like “Thank you for asking me. I’m sorry, I can’t help you currently but I will let you know if, and when, I can”.  This approach is polite, clear and also empowers you to make a different decision in the future.

2. Pass on to someone else

You can say something like “Thank you for asking me. I’m sorry, I can’t help you currently but I know someone else who may be able to help you”. This approach is helpful providing the person with another source of assistance.

3. Set the appropriate boundaries

You can say something like “Thank you for asking me. I’m sorry, I can’t help do what you are asking but I could do this instead”.  This approach again empowers you to tell the person what you are prepared to do; maybe changing the timescale or the amount or type of work involved.

All of these responses put you in the driving seat over your time and availability and give a clear direction to the other person. 

It is also good to consider this from the other persons perspective. Wouldn’t you want to be told “No” and find another way forward rather than being kept dangling or find that you are creating unnecessary pressure?  I know I would!

In the words of Steve Jobs “It’s only by saying No that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

I wonder what things you could concentrate on that are really important to you…

Tracy, Your Catalyst for Change

Do you ever read the user manual? NLP is a user manual for your brain

When you buy a new car or gadget do you ever read the instructions or user manual?  Perhaps you may read it when you can’t get something to work or maybe you find a way around it and make do.

Recently, I bought a new car (a red SEAT Arona) and it has a fancy touch screen user panel and more knobs and buttons on the steering column than I could possibly use, I’m sure.  It came with a few freebies and a user manual which I put, very carefully, in the glove compartment without reading it!

Interestingly, I have not yet worked out how to switch on the back windscreen wiper without being in reverse gear and I have not yet worked out how to turn off the sat nav volume whilst keeping the radio on.  I’m sure I could find out if I read the user manual but so far, I am working around the problems in a less than effective way but I know that at some point I will have to find out how to do these things properly because it is starting to annoy me.

And I wonder how many of you do that too?  And I wonder how many of you go through life working around problems in an ineffective way and will either continue that way or only sort the problem properly when it reaches a crisis point.

Because your brain is like the fancy touch screen user panel with all the knobs and buttons and most of the time it serves us well and other times we come across a problem where it doesn’t work so well; when we cannot seem to find out how to just turn on the back windscreen wiper or how to disconnect the noise from the sat nav when listening to the radio.

For my car, the manual is in the glove compartment ready to read (when I get around to it!) or I could check out on the internet because all SEAT Aronas are the same.  When it comes to you and your brain though it is not so simple because your brain will be programmed in a unique and individual way so how you can you understand it better?

NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming is like a user manual for your brain.  It can help you understand how your brain is wired and the programmes that you run.

  • Neuro – the link between the brain and the nervous system
  • Linguistic – the language we use, both verbal and non verbal, and how it affects relationships with others and ourselves
  • Programming – the wiring we have created based on our experiences of life

The NLP approach is to use this understand how to use our neurology and language to programme ourselves to achieve the success we want.

Once you become aware of your programming, you can use your neurology and language to reprogramme yourself to achieve the success you want.  Like a user manual for your car you know how to fix it when its broken, service it regularly to keep it running smoothly and fine tune it to give it some va va voom when needed.

If you would like experience the power of NLP, join me on my next NLP Discovery Day by signing up here or if you would like to know more, contact me here

Do you fear looking a fool or not being good enough?

How often does the fear of not being good enough or “looking a fool” stop you from doing something?  Whether asking a question in a business meeting, signing up for a new class or taking the leap to start something new?

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the expression “what if I can’t do it?” or “what if it doesn’t work?”  So often we want to do everything well the first time we try and are afraid that if we can’t we look a fool.  And yet, logically we know that the first time we do something it may not be the best but that each time we do it, we will get better and better.

When you watch a small child learning to walk, you do not expect them to go from sitting to striding purposefully in one swift step, nor do you think “oh dear they’ve fallen over so perhaps they shouldn’t try again”.  You know that each time the baby tries; they will get better and better and be able to toddle for a bit longer and a bit further.  So why, oh why, are we so hard on ourselves?

In my previous career, as an Accountant and Project Manager I used to strive for perfection in everything I did because I did not want to look a fool or give anyone the opportunity to think I was not good enough.  This really took its toll on me personally and my health as I would continue to try to deliver more and quicker even when it was not within my control.

Since running my own business, I see this trait in clients regularly and one way to help them consider this from a different angle is through my story.

When I started thinking about running my NLP training courses and other business workshops there would be the usual voice inside my head saying “what if you forget what you want to say” or “what if someone asks a question that you cannot answer” or “what if people don’t think it’s very good”.  As always that was my ego talking; I was thinking about the course in terms of how it was for me.

And yet when I took a step back and thought about why I was running the courses, I realised that it is about sharing NLP tools and techniques with others so that they can learn more about themselves and how to achieve the success that they want.  What is really important to me is that the attendees are engaged, that they learn something new and that they have fun.  And when I think of the course in those terms, it is much easier to change my approach and turn off the egotistical voice inside my head.

Yes, sometimes I do forget what I want to say and yes sometimes I do have tricky questions and as yet no one has told me that my training is not very good; on the contrary the feedback I receive is always very positive.

Next time you want to take a leap into the unknown or try something new or different and you hear that ego voice from inside your head that asks “what if I can’t do it” or “what if it doesn’t work” think about your purpose for doing it. 

When you understand the reason for taking the leap and you push through those fears, the rewards are better than you could dream of.  So when you start to hear that voice, drown it out with questions like “what if it goes really well…then what?”

If you want to know more about how to overcome your fears, then sign up at and learn how I can coach you to confidence by one to one coaching or my training courses.

Tracy Ward

Your Catalyst for Change

Do you believe in Father Christmas? 3 steps to change your limiting beliefs

Only 14 more sleeps until the jolly man in a red suit with a white beard loads up his sleigh and then he will be pulled by his reindeer across the whole world stopping off at every little boy and girl’s house to climb down the chimney and deliver presents.

What a fantastic story! We are told this story when we are young by our parents and it is reinforced by others around us and we believe in Father Christmas fora number of years, don’t we? 

And this is human nature, we believe the things that we are told at an early age and they shape our lives for the future; often those beliefs are empowering and sometimes they can be limiting.

When I was young, my parents used to say to me “those that ask don’t get”.  The intention was to stop me as a child saying “I want this for Christmas” or “I want that for Christmas”.  The impact it had was to create a limiting belief in my mind that if I asked for something, I wouldn’t get it and this influenced the way I went about my life in many ways.

Firstly, I would not ask for help even when I needed it; I would battle through trying to manage on my own and thought that if I asked for help, I wouldn’t get it.

Secondly, I would not explicitly say what I wanted or needed emotionally in certain situations (and still find it difficult); I would expect others, especially, my husband to know what I wanted and then get annoyed when I didn’t get the right response.

Thirdly, I have often found it difficult in my career and business to go and ask for what I want or felt I deserved; maybe a promotion, a pay rise or sometimes telling someone the prices I charge for my coaching or training courses.

This is just one example of a belief that has limited me for a number of years. I applied it to all aspects of my life and ignored the context of the original short comment.

And I hear this so often when working with my clients. In exploring hwat is holding them back from achieving what they want, we usually discover that there is a belief that is limiting them which they have held for many years.  We discuss where it came from and the emotions that go with it.  My clients will say things like “I’m worried what others will think and that they won’t like it”, “Life is not fair, I’ll never get a promotion” or possibly “I don’t know what to do because I’m not clever enough”

Becoming aware of the limiting belief is like a weight being lifted which is really good but the next question is, “how can you get rid of it”?   

The answer is a similar approach to the way you decided Father Christmas was not real!  You reflect and find evidence to prove it otherwise; like asking an older sibling or staying awake to find evidence to prove or disprove your new theory.

The approach I use to ditching limiting beleifs I call the 3Rs.

  1. Reflect – acknowledge the limiting belief and notice the emotion that goes with it. Think about how that approach is serving you (or more likely not serving you.)
  2. Reframe – as you think about that limiting belief stopping you from achieving, think about someone you admire and respect.  Imagine you are that other person and talk to an imaginary you. What would that person say to you in this context?
  3. React –empower yourself by finding evidence to disprove the belief (because normally we focus on the evidence to prove it) and write it down.

If you feed the negative belief, it will keep growing!  So feed an empowering belief instead through positive self-talk and positive affirmations of empowering statements and you will change that belief.  And, when that happens, notice how much more evidence you find to support this new belief too.

What is holding you back? Find out more about how to build the life you want by becoming a NLP Practitioner.  Join in me in 2019 and make it your best year yet.  Just 6 days to change your life!  Sign up here for what is truly a one-time offer.

If you want to know more about NLP and how it can help you,then sign up to my newsletter or contact me for a free coaching consultation at

See you in 2019!

Tracy Ward,

Your Catalyst for Change

A simple technique to turn dreams into reality.

How many dreams or great ideas have you ever had and…never followed through?

In memory of Walt Disney whose birthday is today, I thought I would share a simple NLP Technique called the Disney Model; it is based on an approach Walt Disney used when considering how to bring his dreams to reality – and he certainly succeeded didn’t he?

Imagine you have just purchased a cupboard of flat pack furniture; if you attempted to put it together without checking the instructions at all you may end up with bits left over at the end or something that really doesn’t look like the picture on the box.

This can be a similar problem with our dreams or ideas; if we don’t think through the different aspects we may not take the right action or may not achieve what we really want.

The Disney Strategy Model is a very simple approach.  It was developed as a NLP tool by NLP pioneer Robert Dilts who said, “Walt Disney’s ability to connect his innovative creativity with successful business strategy and popular appeal certainly qualifies him as a genius in the field of entertainment. In a way, Disney’s chosen medium of expression, the animated film, characterizes the fundamental process of all genius: the ability to take something that exists in the imagination only and forge it into a physical existence that directly influences the experience of others in a positive way.”


When Walt Disney had a plan for a new film he would consider it from 3 perspectives; the Dreamer, the Realist and the Critic and he would use each of these 3 styles one after the other.

Habitually, we will muddle the 3 levels of thinking and therefore this creates confusion, doubt and therefore often limited or no action.  This approach helps to clarify thinking whether for an individual goal or whether for a team and each role should be done in a separate space or location within the room and sequentially.

Step 1 – The Dreamer

This is the first position; the creative position.  Usually creative ideas start with passion and excitement and then are quelled by problems.  In this position though, it is only creative ideas that are brought to the table.  Let your imagination run free, imagine how it will be when achieved and the benefits of doing it.

Step 2 – The Realist

Move to a second position where you consider what needs to happen to turn the dream into a reality.  The aim is to find ways to make it happen and, again, do not be put off by considering blockers, just focus on what has to happen and generate a high level plan to make it happen.

Step 3 – The Critic

Move to the third position and act as the Constructive Critic.  Here you test the plan and look for flaws and loopholes that mean the plan may not work. In Critic role you only interact with the Planner – not with the Dreamer.  Search for weaknesses in the plan and how to pre-empt problems to ensure success but leave the resolution of these to the Planner.

Step 4 – Step Outside

Step into a fourth position and review what you have done so far and how well you are approaching each role.  Are you really challeging yourself in each role? Some roles are more naturual for us than others so consider whether there are any improvements to be made.

Step 5 – Recycle

Depending on the complexity of the goal you may need to recycle through the Realist and Critic stages until you are certain that the plan can be achieved.  The dream need not change, just the way to achieve it!


As a NLP Coach and Trainer using this technique works with in different client settings.  It helps with the process of generating creative ideas and translating them into reality by providing a greater clarity of ideas and making the dreams more achievable rather than feeling overwhelming.

How will you use it?


If you want to know more about NLP and how it can help you in your perosnal life or your business, then sign up to my newsletter or book yourself on one of my courses at

Tracy Ward,

Your Catalyst for Change


“Have you got around to it yet? Or are you still putting it off?”

Today, I weeded the garden.  Not a big deal you might say but I’d been putting it off and putting it off.

I didn’t want to do it and the weeds were growing bigger and bigger and the problem got bigger and bigger in my mind too.

Each time I left the house or came home, I would see the weeds taking over the front garden and when I looked out of the kitchen window I would see them strangling the flowers in the back garden and I would get annoyed with myself that I had not tackled the job.  I would say things like “I really should pull those weeds out” or “I must do that weeding soon”.  And yet saying these things were not motivating me to do the job!

3 tips to doing those jobs you don’t want to do.

  • Focus on the outcome. I was thinking about the problem; the job of weeding and I was putting pressure on myself to do the work by saying “I should” or “I must”.  When you change your thinking to being outcome focussed, then the job is not so difficult.  I focussed on how it would be when I was able to look out of the kitchen window and see the flowers flourishing and how it would be to notice the plants when I came home rather than the weeds.  When you think about the outcome, there is more motivation to get the work done.
  • How can you make it easier? It was a lovely sunny day so it would be far more enjoyable spending the time in the garden today rather than another day when it is cold or wet.  So I decided that it would be worth getting some Vitamin D and play some music while I was doing the job.  Both of those things made it a more enjoyable task.
  • Who can help or keep you company? If you can find somebody to do the work with and keep you company; that makes the job easier too.  I suggested to my hubby that we could get it done twice as quickly together and then we could go and do what we wanted.

In the end, it really didn’t take very long.  It was actually the thought of doing it that was worse.  Once you take the first step, it’s not so bad.

What are you not doing?  What are you putting off? Use these 3 tips to focus your mind on getting those things done that you haven’t got around to doing yet!


Do you want to find out how to take control of your life and take responsibility for what you really want!

If you would like to understand more about how NLP can help, sign up to my website or come along to one of my events.  Like riding a bike, you can learn how to do it by reading a book, you can listen to a webinar but the real power of NLP is in experiencing it for yourself.

So come and give it a go and Discover the Power of You!


Tracy Ward

Tracy Ward; Your Catalyst for Change


“Golf – A game of mindset; just like life”

Whilst watching the Ryder Cup over the weekend, I thought “Wow, golf is a game of mindset” and I thought about how it is a metaphor for life in general.

With most sports you don’t have time to think, it is about reacting in the moment. It may be that the ball is moving or your opponent is moving and so this impacts on how you play the game. In golf, your opponent’s successes or failures may influence your choice of shot in a match play situation but you always have plenty of time to focus on what shot to play and how to play it. This is one of the reasons golf is a very difficult game to play because you need to handle the pressure, your emotions and manage your mindset.

I learned to play golf 30 years ago and the first time I played on a proper course with other people, my first tee shot was a real shocker; it landed on the 18th green and people were putting on it! That would not have been so bad except there were lots of players waiting to follow us and there were a number of “tuts” from those around me. My confidence was completely knocked and since that time, I would be very nervous on the first tee and whenever I did a bad shot I would imagine “tuts” from others and I would question whether I was good enough to be on the golf course.

This would then spiral into other negative emotions where I would start to curse, maybe swear, maybe even throw my clubs around and then I would get very angry with myself and my bad behaviour. It almost became a ritual. It seemed that I would have to go through that negative process before I could start to accept that it was just a game and a bit of fun and then I seemed to play better.

So how can you manage your mindset and your emotions on the golf course?

Here are 3 tips to manage your mindset on the golf course which are just as valuable in eveyday life

1)     Reduce the tension. If you are carrying tension in your body, particularly the top half, it is very difficult to connect with the ball in the correct place and at the right angle. So focus on taking a deep breath before you step up to take your shot and shrug your shoulders and then push them down and purposefully relaxing any tension in the shoulders.  Such simple actions with a huge impact and notice how much cleaner you strike the ball.

2)     Focus on the target; fairways and greens. So often I hear my golfing colleagues say, “I always go in that bunker on this hole” or “I can never get it over the water”.  You may think “I keep slicing it”. When you comment on the hazards, it draws attention to them so they are in your mind and your unconscious will focus on going in the bunker or the water (the same for your slice). So keep your attention on the fairways and greens and visualise the flight of the ball and where you want to pitch the ball. Your unconscious will aim to deliver that through the correct physical swing.

3)     Concentrate on the present. Once you have a done a poor shot (and we all will!) it is important to change the attention to what you can control at that moment. Firstly, your emotions by controlling your breathing and walking tall to keep a feeling of confidence. Then, you can focus on what you can do with your next shot. I always have a few sayings to myself such as “This looks like a good skills test” as that helps me to focus on what I have to do.

So when your game is a bit awry ask yourself “What can I do about that?” The more you are able to let go of the mistakes you have made, forget the impact that may have on your score and focus purely on the present the stronger your game will be.

The person who can maintain their thoughts in the present throughout the 18 holes or the competition is the one who is likely to rise above the rest.

And it is the same approach to take for life in general.

If you want to know more about managing your mindset, please contact me

Tracy Ward

Your Catalyst for Change



Changing your habits and behaviour – make it easier by asking yourself these 3 questions


by Tracy Ward, Your Catalyst for Change

What would you like to change?

We all have things in life that we would like to change whether it is what we eat, our fitness regime or the way we shout at the kids when they press that button.  Yes, you know the button I’m referring to!

Change is such a simple word and yet sometimes it can be the hardest thing to do!  When a habit is ingrained or one that you have followed for a long time, it can be very difficult to change that behaviour.

Think about when you get dressed which sock you put on first or which leg you put in your pants first and then try and do the other leg.  It seems so alien doesn’t it?  That’s because it’s a strategy that you have been employing for a long, long time.  When it comes to other behaviours it can be even more difficult.

All of our behaviours serve an important purpose.  You may not understand what they are and they may be outmoded but there is always some form of benefit to us; a deeper emotional benefit.  To be able to change behaviour, it is not enough to logically say “I must go to the gym” or “I’m going to stop eating cake” or “No more shouting at the kids” we need to find the emotional trigger to support you to change and ensure that the original purpose is still met.


Before you embark on any change ask yourself these 3 questions to aid success:-

  1. Why do you want to change? Ask yourself what is the reason or purpose to change.  You may think that it is obvious to want to be more healthy (the logical reason) and then we miss the real emotional attachment for change.  So think about how you will be when you have made this change – what will you see, what will you hear and what will you feel?  How will you know that you have made the change successfully? What will others say to you?
  2. What does the current behaviour do for you? Ask yourself what do you enjoy about your current behaviour that you won’t be able to do? How could this current behaviour be of benefit to you or others around you? What are you not doing that you don’t want to do and would have to do if you changed your behaviour?
  3. How can I make the change easier? Ask yourself what one step can I take towards this change? What small steps can I take on the right path rather than a complete overhaul? Who can keep me accountable?  Or even better, who can keep me company?

Once you have answered these questions carefully and honestly and once you embark on the journey of change, it is important to remember the 3 P’s:-

Patience – We are a culture requiring instant gratification and so if we cannot change immediately we may give up.  Remember change will only happen at the pace that is right for you.  So be gentle on yourself and have compassion if there are a few slip ups on the way.

Persistence – If the change is worth doing, it is worth persisting.  It can feel uncomfortable and when it feels like that, focus a little more on those feelings and you will be amazed what you can learn about yourself which will actually help you on your change journey.

Perseverance – It is natural for there to be setbacks and in those times notice the progress you are making rather than focus on the setback and consider your personal change as being about continuous improvement and moving cloer to your goal every day.

So what do you want to change? What have you tried to change or have put off because it seems too difficult?

Remember, changing behaviours can be easy.  There is no magic wand but with the right purpose and motivation you can put change in motion and once you start and you notice the benefits and reap the rewards, it becomes easier and easier!

Tracy Ward, Your Catalyst for Change