New Year coaching template

New Year coaching template

It’s here!

Welcome to 2017. New year, new energy, new opportunities. Woo hoo!

To say thanks for being my subscriber (I know I don’t always get it right and you’re still here so thanks!) I enclose a free visual coaching template to help you get 2017 off to the best possible start.

To use the visual coaching template simply print a copy, grab your favourite makers and  fill it in according to the instructions below.

1. How I Want To Feel This Year.
What words immediately come to mind? Jot these down. Have fun with it. How do you really really want to feel in 2017? The plans, the actions, the tasks are often rooted in a quest to feel a particular way. We want those shoes because we feel amazing in them; we want lots of money to feel successful, connected, contributing etc..

2. Thoughts, Words, Deeds That Feed My Soul
How often do we make plans without tending to these important aspects of our lives? To achieve our goals I believe we need support, guidance and fun along the way! Make sure you feed your soul in 2017 with that which sets you alight.

3. Aims, Goals, Desires
Ok, let’s get into the juicy details here. Choose one area of your life, or really go for it and jot down everything you want to achieve in 2017. Don’t worry about the how for now, just get it all down and make sure you write in the present tense. Don’t overthink it, ink it!

4. New Habits I Want to Cultivate
If your goals include streamlining your finances (for example) a new habit may be doing your accounts on a monthly basis. Want to feel fit and fantastic every day? A new habit may be to get up 20 minutes earlier than usual and go for a walk. What new habits do you need to cultivate to support your goals?

5. Purpose
This is a big question! When I filled out the template I instinctively left this as the last section to fill out. It can be a word, a sentence, even a song title. Get something in there that’s a nod to your why, your reason for being here. What feeds your drive, your heart, your spirit?

Good luck and I’d love to hear how you get on with the template so do drop me a line to let me know.

Here’s to your best year yet!

Oh, and if you love the idea of visual templates and want to learn more do join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics on September 5th. It’s going to be an amazing group!

The Spanish guide to graphics

Last year I spent the month of July living and working in Spain.

Before I went I thought I’d better learn some Spanish, so I took some classes and hoped for the best.

At the end of the month I was surprised to discover my Spanish had not improved greatly.

I came back to Edinburgh and bought a book called ‘Fluent in three months’* (a girl can hope). I began to see where I had gone wrong.

I also began to see the similarities between learning Spanish and using graphics for the first time.

So here it is, my Spanish guide to graphics:

1. Find your passion.
Before I went to Spain I thought learning Spanish was a sensible thing to do. Now, having experienced life in Spain and made friends there I have fallen in love with the language. I really really want to get better at it!
The same goes for learning graphics. Where’s your passion? What’s your hook? Find it, and there’s your motivation to learn.

2. Apply a triage system to your learning.
One day I just had enough with the whole ‘esto’ ‘este’ ‘ese’ ‘eso’ etc. business. Why can’t it be as simple as ‘this’ and ‘that’?! Being frustrated with the language wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I cornered my flatmate and asked her to explain it to me till I finally got it.
Where are you getting stuck when it comes to using graphics? Are you having difficulty drawing people, using colour or coming up with icons? Spend some dedicated time working through your sticking points, and feel oh-so satisfied when you break through those barriers.

3. Have a ‘no English’ rule.
I came across a blog recently called ‘A year without English’**. It’s written by two guys who spent 3 months each in Spain, Brazil, China and Korea. They were so determined to learn the language of the countries they visited they decided on a ‘no English’ rule. Amazing!
How about sticking to a ‘no words’ rule to help you improve your visual thinking? Try to explain something to a colleague without using any words or text, just by drawing out what you want to say. I can see this being quite a fun exercise.

4. Get specific.
When I started learning Spanish my goal was ‘to learn Spanish’. No wonder I wasn’t progressing when my goal was so vague. Since my return from Spain I have made much more progress as I am now clear on my goals and my timeframe.
When I train people in graphics I always encourage them to get specific with their goals and their action plans. And by the way, ‘Practice’ is not an action plan, which leads me to my final point…

5. Speak/Draw before you are ready.
I thought I would learn as much Spanish as possible before I started to speak it. That way I would be ‘ready’ and know what to say. Not only was I not ready, I would be never be ready. In fact the more I told myself I needed to ‘be good at’ Spanish before speaking it the less likely I was to actually speak it.
The same goes for graphics. You will never be ‘ready’. You need to just do it and learn as you go along. Because learning from the comfort of your office and then trying to explain that you left your passport back in the flat (with your keys) are two very different things!

I hope you have found this guide useful on your quest to use graphics. Feedback, comments etc. welcome as always.


* Fluent in Three Months, by Benny Lewis. See 


So you think you can’t draw?

So you think you can’t draw?

The first time I saw one of my Dad’s drawings was last September. We were visiting my brother’s house and my niece was gently encouraging (i.e. pestering) him to draw on her blackboard.

He drew a tree and a boat. At that moment I realised I had never seen my Dad draw before. It was quite a strange feeling. Much like when you see a friend’s handwriting for the first time, it was a curious insight into his personality, his uniqueness.

This human element, this insight into someone’s personality is one of the key reasons I love hand drawn graphics so much.

You just don’t get that with those stock images you see in many PowerPoint presentations and websites. (My personal bugbear are the photos of  glossy ‘office people’ with big teeth and headsets. Who looks like that? Not many folk in Scotland anyway!)

The human element is just one of many advantages of using hand drawn graphics. Yet despite the multiple benefits people often resist picking up the marker and giving it a go. Why is this?

That’s right, it’s because people believe they can’t draw. They don’t see themselves as artistic.


Do you know what response you would get if you asked a child of 4 whether they think they can draw?

They look at you like you’re mad (I’ve tried it.) ‘Of course!’, is the typical response.

What happens when you ask a child of 7 the same question?

They don’t immediately say yes. It’s often ‘maybe’ or ‘sometimes.’

Is this because a child’s drawing ability has dramatically changed between the ages of 4 and 7?

No, it’s because by the age of 7 early conditioning will have set in. By this age we’ve often been labelled as either ‘good at maths’, ‘sporty’, ‘artistic’, ‘musical’ etc. It often becomes a label for life.

So perhaps you can draw? Perhaps it’s time to revisit your confident 4 year old self.

The truth is if you can draw a line, a circle and a squiggle then you can draw. It’s all about building on key elements.

After all research has shown that a drawing only needs 30% of reality for it to be recognisable.

Kinda takes the pressure off!

So it really doesn’t matter if your house is a square with a triangle on top, or your stick man looks like he’s had one too many. People will get it. That’s the main thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect to get the message across.

Graphics isn’t art. In fact people with a background in art often struggle with graphics because it is so quick, so simple, so in the moment. There is no room for egos when you’re working live with a group of people. Thank goodness for that.


At the end of every graphics course I run I ask the delegates for some feedback. At the back of my office door I stick up all my favourite comments. This is currently number one:

Found out I can draw!

Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics in Edinburgh on September 5th 2017 and discover what you can do.

Right Brain exercises for getting in the flow

Do you ever feel bombarded with messages that tell you you should be fitter, happier, eat more ‘superfoods’ and use coconut oil instead of shampoo?

It’s quite possibly the worst cloud under which to make plans, set goals and y’know, be a better person.

And the thing is, goals don’t really work if we only use one half of our brains. Typically we set goals using purely the left side of our brain – the side that works with logic, planning, structure and so forth.

Sure, all that is important but if we really want to set goals we are aligned with and feel excited about then it’s important to tap into the right side of our brain – the side that speaks to our creativity, intuition and imagination.

Here are a few fun exercises to wake up the right side of your brain:

* Draw a picture of a loved one, family member or pet without looking at the page you are drawing on (I can see that one turning into quite a fun dinner party game come to think of it).

* Stand up, reach behind your back and grab your right ankle with your left hand. Now grab your left ankle with your right hand. Alternate between the two until you begin to fill dizzy. (If you’re unable to do this simply imagine your left hand touching your right ankle etc. It will work just as well)

* Impress your friends with your new juggling skills. Yes, that’s right, you too can juggle with the aid of a friendly satsuma. Your task here is not to look at the satsuma but to stare at a fixed point in the distance whilst maintaining a sense of calm and dare I say it, smugness.

Exercises like these help us get into the flow of creative thinking. It’s when we’re in the flow that we get our best ideas. It’s one of the reasons I love drawing so much. It’s so absorbing and refreshing to be using the right side of the brain, especially when we live in a society which is oh so left brain orientated.

Give these exercises a go, and as always, let me know how you get on!

Want to learn more? Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics on September 5th 2017.