WHAT if someone told you that this time next year, life would be just perfect?
You'd have achieved your dreams of a better life, you'd be slimmer, better off, happier and, at last, be in a better job.
You'd ooze confidence, attract admiring glances and have embraced a "new you", the person you'd always hope you'd become.
Yeah . . . RIGHT.
For short of winning the National Lottery, the closest most of us will probably get to achieving the ideal life is getting through the month without our bank balances going well into the red.
But fear not. For Edinburgh is a city brimming with clever people who can help turn around our miserable lives, shape our figures and boost our confidence, who can help us get the ideal job, improve our looks, our minds and even our sex lives.
And we've asked them to let us in on their top five secrets of success so we can all do it . . .
Former GMTV life coach Dawn Breslin runs Consciously Female workshops in Edinburgh aimed at improving women's confidence and self-esteem. But she says her top tips apply to both sexes.
1. STOP TRYING TO CHANGE WHO YOU ARE: Give up wanting to be someone different and play to your strengths. Accept the stage that you are at in your life. Make the very best of yourself each and every day. List all of the compliments that people have given you and make them your daily mantra.
2. EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS: Joining a new club or class can open up our world and boost our self-esteem dramatically. Be aware of the voice in your head that can block you from embracing new opportunities. Give yourself the chance to make mistakes and learn not to take yourself too seriously.
3. SPEAK UP: Learn to say no. Make a decision to set boundaries and this will begin to give you some control in your life. Your life is important, don't feel you have to do what others want you to do. Gently speak your truth and this will give you control in your life.
4. STOP WORRYING: When we worry about the future we miss out on life. Most of what we fear never happens. Remove yourself from the negative input in your life and begin to focus on what is great.
5. REDISCOVER YOUR CONFIDENT SELF: Some people think they are past it or no longer the person they once were. This is not true. If you have been something once, you can become it again. Focus on what is great about you and your life you will begin to have feelings of confidence once again.
Margaret Middlemass runs Corstorphine-based FearlessMe, and specialises in career advice.
1. BE PROACTIVE: What is your next career move? What would you like to do if you had the opportunity? Consider the gaps, make a list and take action now. Do one thing every day that takes you closer to your goal. Don't wait for something to happen
2. DEVELOP A NETWORK STRATEGY: Even if you're happily employed, it doesn't mean you can't network. You never know when circumstances may change and who can help you. Build your contacts, such as joining or creating a networking group, or use business social networking.
3. IDENTIFY YOUR SKILLS: What are you really good at and like doing? What examples do you have? List them and say them out loud, this will help with your CV and interview practice too.
4. REVIEW YOUR CV: Does it present a compelling "hire me" story? Be clear about the skills and qualities you have to offer. Substitute the "buzz words" for substance, such as "good team player" to "member of a team who won the industry Outstanding Business Team award in 2010". Always relate your experience to the advertised job description.
5. BE POSITIVE: Change is not easy but is constant. One of the biggest obstacles to improving your career can be your own negative thoughts. People, including hiring managers, are drawn to positive people.
DIET AND FITNESS
Joanne Jamieson has just launched Reshape Scotland at the Wellness Centre in Tranent, offering diet and fitness advice and support to individuals and groups.
1. SET REALISTIC GOALS: Always set yourself a realistic goal and give yourself a deadline, whether it be a specific dress size, weight or just a certain piece of clothing that you want to wear.
2. BREAK IT DOWN: Have a deadline and keep a food diary. Have a weekly weigh-in to check achievements and record measurements - neck, chest/bust, waist, hips, thighs, arms, body fat, if possible.
3. EAT SENSIBLY: Eat at regular intervals (every three hours to keep the body working and reduce the storage of fat). Have breakfast, lunch, dinner and three supplement meals such as protein shakes/fruit. All meals should contain protein to subside hunger and promote feeling full. Drink plenty of water.
4. GET INTO EXERCISE: For general weight loss, combine cardio for at least 45 minutes and weight training. Always alternate weight work with cardio to promote fat burning and long-term residual calorie burning, through increase in lean muscle mass. When cardio training, use large movements as big movements mean big calorie burn.
5. REWARD YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS: Reward yourself with something special, something you would not normally get for yourself. Remember, self-love and acceptance goes a long way.
07792 580 742
IMAGE AND LOOKS
Judith Campbell runs Feel Brand New, an Edinburgh-based image consultancy.
1. TURN ON THE COLOUR: People who wear colour look more interesting and more attractive. Do the colour test. Sit in front of the mirror and hold the garment under your chin. If the colour makes your face look like it is lit from underneath, your skin appears fresher and your eye colour more enhanced.
2.ACCESSORISE: We all put on a few pounds over the holidays so detract attention with a scarf, a great brooch or a fabulous pair of earrings.
3. GET THE PERFECT FIT: Understand your body shape and dress to accommodate it. If anything nips, pinches or makes you feel uncomfortable, it is probably a bad fit.
4. KNOW YOUR STYLE: Your personality pulls your look together and dictates your style. By making sure your outfits reflect the real you, you can mix and match with ease.
5. PREPARE: Match your lifestyle to your wardrobe and then you will never feel you have nothing to wear. Look at how you divide your time, such as hours spent at work, at home, or socially.
Margaret Smith, from Morningside, is a relationships counsellor.
1. COMMUNICATION: Make time each day to really talk to your partner. Personal relationships are built on self-disclosure. Talk about your feelings as well as events. Be open and honest as being understood on a deeper level allows your relationship to grow.
2. CONFLICT: All couples argue at some point. It is important to think about what you say and how to repair the damage. Try not to criticise your partner and avoid being defensive. Try to bring up problems gently and do not go on the attack. Use phrases such as "please let me finish, we are going off the topic" or "that hurt my feelings".
3. QUALITY TIME: It is important for couples to spend quality time together. Book in a "date night" once a month and organise a babysitter if you have children.
4. AFFIRMING WORDS: All relationships have to be worked on, so do not take each other for granted once the honeymoon period is over. Remember to tell your partner you love them and how much they mean to you.
5. TEAM WORK: Relationships are successful where the couples work as a team. Knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses allows you to manage your relationship well. Remember to have a united front when dealing with the children.