NEW SHOES

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I have been fiercely trying to work out my version of this thing called “life” and never have I felt a greater need to find the mental and physical space to do so. 

As much as I’ve been doing some work around this in London, it’s a pretty noisy city and it’s pretty damn difficult to keep my own head quiet for 5 seconds to get a grip on the matter.

I decided that I really needed to step this up a gear, so… yesterday morning, the pup and I packed up the car and made our merry way to Norfolk.

We’re having 3 days here doing not much at all… just trying to zen the f**k out!

I’m working on this huge acceptance that I am not the same person I used to be and it was a tough pill to swallow. 

I still haven’t quite got it down but as I’m slowly releasing the belief that I have to continue doing what I’ve been doing for evermore simply because I’ve started it (and I damn well like to finish stuff I started!) life is getting a little easier and things are looking a hell of a lot brighter.

You see, the way I have been living in business and life has been like squeezing into shoes each and every day that are a size too small but which I’ve refused to take off for fear of being barefoot with unpainted toenails – I mean, what would people say?!

And no matter how pretty or sparkly these shoes are, and how many compliments I get about them, this does not make them any more comfortable and the blisters are now impossible to ignore.

I have realised that I am not failing, giving up or throwing my toys out the pram but I have simply done what all living things do, I have grown up.

I have outgrown my shoes and they no longer fit.

And that is fine because at the moment I’m enjoying wandering around barefoot, embracing my natural unpainted toenails, not minding what others think, and reconnecting with the ground I walk on.

I’ll be putting new shoes on eventually, don’t you worry about that, it’s just there are so many pairs out there to chose from.  I want to make sure that I don’t just pick the sparkly uncomfortable stilettos or settle for the boring but cosy slippers.  For this next chapter I am looking for a particularly special pair of shoes to encompass comfort, style and durability to not fall apart over the many miles I plan to walk in them.

FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE

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I have spent the afternoon hauled up in my office having a bit of a cleanup – physically and mentally. 

Well, if your physical environment is a bit of a mess then that’s no help to your mental one is it now? 

Decluttering in the physical world seemed the first step for my current existential crisis – which has been going on for some time as I’m sure you are well aware.

In random plastic bags and folders shoved away in cupboards, I’ve got a lot of history. 

Now I used to review and plan all the time.  Every month in fact, but personal stuff got in the way in early 2017 and that particular personal stuff resulted in what I now call “life admin” which has been ongoing ever since and therfore meant that I am over a year and a half late to face my monthly review.

I’ve got workbooks I’ve printed out and filled out, little notepads that I used to scribble onto on a daily basis and nicer, more expensive notebooks that I used for business planning and noted on in seminars. 

Some of these notepads I’ve used to document my hours of online research on all things from marketing and SEO to branding and PR. 

I’ve got A3 sheets of spider diagrams and messy brain dumps. I’ve got word document printouts of my mission statements, business plans, business systems  … it’s all there… dating back to 2014. 

Today I started with the notepads and notebooks.  There were 10 of them.

Over 3 hours I went through them meticulously reading through each and every page.  The business research and tips and pointers I left to the side but everything else I read and then I remembered. 

I remembered lots. 

It was like time travel.

And time travel was definitely needed today. 

When I worked from home before I got my office (and before I had my PA to deal with calls and emails) I always kept a notepad to hand so a lot of everyday business life was scrawled onto these notepads. From to-do lists and job quotes to cold call details and accounting scribbles with numbers and figures.  Today it read like a memoir and I could remember everything so clearly. 


Everything I was trying to do at the time to push my dream forward. 

I was so on it.  I was so meticulous.  I noticed how my handwriting was on point for some parts and I could tell when I was frazzled or was perhaps working with a glass in hand on others. 

These notepads I read this afternoon told the whole story.

And while my first reaction was to weep, part of me was so relieved that instead of bursting into tears I felt a sense of peace and I smiled.

I was initially overcome with sadness from seeing just how driven, how hungry, how passionate I was and how much I was pushing for my goals back then in comparison to how I feel now.

But just as the tears were prickling at my eyes I realised something or rather I accepted something. Something I should have accepted a while ago.

My path has changed.  And over time my dreams have changed. My passions are not the same as they used to be. 

I know full well I’m still that same, driven, hungry and passionate person, I haven’t gone anywhere, but what I set out to do 4 years ago has led me down a different path.  And through sheer stubbornness, I have been exhausting myself trying to follow my plan from 5 or 6 years ago which isn’t actually my journey anymore. 

I have in no way failed in anything, quite the opposite in fact. 

In a nutshell – When I set out to create a niche business alongside my own personal work, one part of what it offered grew so quickly that the entire operation changed direction and instead of going with it, I’ve spent the whole time working against it. 

I have simply been flogging a dead horse. 

Which is why it has been causing me so much pain these last few years. I’ve been pushing something that I don’t truly believe in, that I never set out to do. 

But when I saw a spark of success I chased after it.  But it was never what I wanted.  I think by the time I semi-realised the above it was too late – I had clients that depended on me, freelancers that counted on me for work, I had more responsibility than I had ever had and I had to continue at it and it’s been dragging me along for some time now as a substantial weight on my shoulders.

Instead of adapting, I was so fixated to still get what I set out to get that I failed to notice the success and ended up resenting it and this resentment has infiltrated across to all my work and my personal life.

You could say this is a classic example of not living in the moment, not being present and not enjoying the everyday.  All of which I am extremely guilty of.

The problem with projecting into the future, as I did (and I think we all do) many years ago with my ideas and my “plan” is that I failed to accept that I cannot make the future happen, it will happen on its own accord and there may be something else that the universe has to offer me and I have no choice but to roll with it when it does. 

I do not have control over what happens in the future.  Just like I have no control over the past.  I can only live in the moment, and the current moment I can’t really control either.  I can work with it or against it….

And I know which one I’d rather, but it’s not always easy to – as the addiction recovery groups say – accept the things I cannot change, have the courage to change things I can… and the wisdom to know the difference.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU

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Whilst sunning myself in Tel Aviv the other week I was devouring a pretty awesome book by Daniel Priestly and this quote really hit home for me.

“THE WORLD IS CHANGING AND SO MUST YOU.”

It was after reading this sentence and the paragraphs that followed that the penny dropped.

I realised my constant struggle and frustrations with business and life was down to one simple thing.

My resistance to change.

Sitting in any place of resistance is not only painful but bloody exhausting.

My stubbornness to continue trying to work the same way that I have been for the last 9 years was getting me nowhere and no matter how long I continue the struggle, it never will.

It’s plain and simple – Things are different now and there’s only one thing for it – we need to let go of the way things worked in the past.

Yeah, sure, learning and understand something new is daunting at first, it looks a lot like work, but after we’ve grasped the concept of whatever it is we are learning then it always enhances our lives in some shape or form. 

Because knowledge is power.

Just as 20 or even 10 years ago it seemed a simpler time to run a business, and arguably a simpler time to run your life, what we actually have now is a wealth of shades between the black and white.  Every single one of us – rich or poor, old or young – has a ridiculous amount of opportunity at our fingertips.

Back in 2000, if you did something quirky, arty, cool or a bit different (ie. what pretty much ALL businesses are doing right now!) people would have a tough time finding you. 

You’d still have to somehow fit your business into the categories of the yellow pages.

Until recently you had to work within a structure and there was little freedom.

Today, there are teenagers across the globe KILLING IT online from just their bedroom with nothing more than a phone with a wifi connection and a desire to send out a message.

There are now millions of small, lean enterprises honing in on serving individuals rather than generic markets. 

You can now have unique things that were made for “people just like you.”

The internet has connected so many.

On the internet no one can be too fussy or have strange taste, we are all part of a “tribe” as we have found others out there who think like we think and believe as we believe.

On the flip side though, there are some very stressed out business owners and entrepreneurs out there who haven’t quite grasped social media and/or are still stuck in the dark ages with all things technology.  I had one sitting at my coffee table yesterday at the end of his tether trying to get some advice as to how to continue on with the one thing he is trained to do and has been doing all his life.

These business owners and entrepreneurs are angry, frustrated and struggling to adapt to the way things are now because they think they haven’t got the luxury of a tech or marketing department and don’t even know where or whom to turn to learn all this new stuff for conducting their business online…

BUT they are missing the point.

It is not social media, e-commerce platforms or opt-in web pages that make people rich or popular.

IT’S THEIR MESSAGE.

All social media does is make them louder.

There is ALOT of noise out there, but the one thing that will cut through it all and speak to the people you want to speak to is your message, and this can be neatly tied up in the “brand of you.”

Comparing yourself to others is simply setting yourself up to fail.

If you just try to copy everyone else, imitate what they are doing and speak how they speak, you’ll get lost in the noise and won’t be heard.

Now, maybe you don’t run a business, perhaps you’re struggling on a personal level online with, Oh, I don’t know, say… online dating??

The same principles apply.  You need to be clear about your message and ensure what you are putting out there is “on brand” and that is the wonderful and unique brand of you.

When it comes to conducting your business life or your personal life, if you don’t know what you stand for or really know the message that you are trying to get across, then no amount of marketing or mentoring can help you put it out there with success – You’ll have very little luck getting noticed, and if you do, the chances are you’ll be attracting the wrong thing anyway.

We’re technically in fun times here. 

Anything goes these days – We can play by our own rules and the scope of which we can explore, create and achieve is limitless.

We’re all thinking outside the box more and more to grab people’s attention in this noisy online and offline world and in doing so our creativity is blossoming.

So relax, have fun with it because I’ve got some good news for you…

Success is no longer only reserved for the qualified or elite.  Anyone can grab a slice of the pie!

All you have to do?

Be unapologetically you.

ROUTINE RULING

checklist-blog-overwhelm

We all need some sort of routine in our lives.  It’s what keeps us on track and keeps our lives in order so we know where we are at.  It can be a comfort blanket and a safety net when things go awry because living without structure will cause chaos in the long run.

Routine is important for every living creature: from the very basic feeding and sleeping times of babies to the more complex routines of parents, entrepreneurs or even athletes. 

Depending on our boundaries and goals, our routines will vary.

But what happens when your routine starts ruling you?

What happens when your own routine that you put in place no longer serves you and in fact feels like it’s working against you?   

Instead of keeping you in order and allowing you to get more shit done certain habits you’ve added to your routing actually end up hindering you.

There are so many personal development books, youtube videos and audios out there offering us a crazy amount of ideas to streamline our days or turn our mornings into miracles ones! 

I’ve personally got self-development books falling off my shelves and have tried MANY of their suggestions to try and restore order to my life and to live and work in the most productive and enjoyable way possible.  But it became apparent a few years ago that taking on board all of these suggestions and trying to work them into a schedule was actually becoming less of a help and resulting in a hell of a lot more stress!

I’m an addictive person, it doesn’t take me long to get a hook on something and then I totally overdo it!

For example:

The gym and its fitness classes have been my crutch for the last 8 years.  I remember starting out as a makeup artist and it was bloody tough! 

I used to sit on a bar stool in the kitchen, endlessly searching on my laptop for opportunities.  I’d be emailing and calling agents (to no avail,) writing out profiles on various film agency sites, scouring the entire internet for jobs, refreshing and reloading job boards every minute, searching for photographers to collaborate with and build my portfolio… the list was endless! 

It was hard enough to get work and then when I did it was usually unpaid or expenses only.   

As much as I was driven and determined, weeks and weeks of this along with a lot of the actual work I eventually did get being of no help to advance my career, I was running out of steam and my enthusiasm was dwindling.

I figured I had to get up for something in the morning to face the same monotonous internet search and cold outreach day after day and this is when I added a morning spin class to my routine.

Getting up and achieving something, even if it wasn’t work, felt good! 

So I added to my spin classes and built up a portfolio of classes – body pump, body attack, body combat and fat burn classes.  Sometimes I would stay in the gym for hours and do 3 back to back classes just so I felt like I’d accomplished something and was moving forward. 

This is where my healthy addition to my routine become a rather unhealthy addiction.

Eventually, I did start getting decent work in but if it got in the way of my gym classes and I couldn’t go to them I’d feel like shit.  My gym routine actually soon and the opposite effect on my wellbeing and began impacting on my thoughts towards other areas of my life.

I’d lost the balance… if I ever had it in the first place!

For the record, balance has never been my strong point, it hasn’t really been in my vocabulary! 

8 years down the line and I still struggle with the same damn gym battle only I’ve added a whole host of other things to the checklist that I “need” to do thus putting me in a further state of unrest, overwhelm and pure anxiety at trying to fit it all in!

Again it comes down to CUTTING IT RIGHT BACK! 

It’s super hard in today’s world with access to so much information at our fingertips that it’s so easy to fill our heads with a checklist miles long of things we “ought” to be doing.

We easily pick up ideas from others on social media, via blog posts or out and about in the real world and then try and incorporate them into our own already jam-packed schedule.

We should be in the gym, we should be playing sport, we should be taking cookery classes.

We should be setting aside time to work on our personal development, we should be taking care of our families, doing fun things with our friends, finding the person we’re supposed to spend the rest of our lives with.

We should be taking courses, we should be expanding our minds, we should be excelling in our careers, we should be achieving in our work, we should be finding time to cook healthy meals from scratch, we should be earning good money, we should always be going the extra mile for clients.

We should be rising early to make the best start to the day and we should be putting the hours into our business long into the night to succeed.

We should be running bubbles baths, we should be having “me” time, we should be reading novels each night for downtime, we should be getting early nights, we should find time for meditating.

We should do charitable work, we should constantly be bettering ourselves and we should always be available to help others.

We should walk our dogs, we should take our kids to and from school, we should take them to the park, we should spend quality time with them.

We should set an example.

We should “have it together.”

We should be able to push everything on our minds to one side at the drop of a hat and we should be able to pick back up again exactly where we left off at a moment’s notice.

Replace the “we” with an “I” and that’s the gist of my thought process.

In a single day after ambling about online or out and about, I notice what others are doing and feel that I “should” be doing the same to be living a “wholesome and happy life” just like they LOOK like they are living.

You’d think with a to-do list that long it gives you a higher chance to achieve more but tallying up an ambitious list of things to do does nothing but completely paralyse you to actually do nothing from the sheer overwhelm of it all.

I’m not a robot or superhuman.  Neither are you.

What I fail to remind myself is that we’re all on our very own journey and have built our own unique lives based around our thoughts, ideals and goals for our future.

We sometimes let the things we see distract us from our own path.

I think there are very few times I stop to look at the bigger picture and make the right decision as to whether adding “this and that” to my routine is really right for ME and MY end goals and if it will compliment MY journey.

This is an area which I REALLY need to work on.  Like most of the posts so far it supports my current journey of going back to basics.  To find the root, to work out where the hell I actually set out to go in the first place!

So.

My mission for this week is to remember who I am and where I am going and think thrice about taking on that extra task.  Is it really going to compliment MY life?  Is it in-line with my belief system?  Is it really going to help me to get to where I am going? 

If it’s a “No” to any of those… then I ain’t giving it the time of day!

DREAM TIME

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I stopped dreaming, that’s where it went wrong.

As life picked up pace and workload and social engagements filled my calendar, my quiet thinking time got less and less. 

I stopped allowing myself the necessary time and space to dream.

I was hurtling through life and energised to build my business and get the most out of everything. 

I was on a mission to put myself out there as much as I could.

I had a one-track mind – to be the best that I could be, to do all that I was capable of and to learn as much as I could. 

I was striving for success on a daily basis, and at the time… I was loving it!

Everything was new, exciting and I was wide-eyed at the scope to utilise all my skills, explore all my abilities, learn from all around me and build something that was all mine.

I conditioned myself to say a huge fat “YES” to everything and just figure out how to do it later. 

I worked hard and celebrated harder when I pulled shit off.

I was untouchable, surfing the waves of wonder and I had completely turned my life around.

I was light years on from that broken 21 year old who spent her Christmas that year in rehab.

I was 100% not going back to the painful years I had put myself through and I had no desire to!

I finally had a vision.  I had a purpose.

I knew with every bone in my body that if I could dream it and I then believed it, I would 100% achieve it.

And I was right. 

Whatever I put out to the universe, it came back at me two-fold.

I “kept my side of the street clean” – made sure I was doing the right things and the rewards just kept coming.  Work came in, ideas materialised, I bumped into the right people and I was presented with amazing opportunities. 

I was content, I was vibrating at a high frequency and life just flowed.

Some years down the line, however, those waves took hold of me.  Somewhere along the way while I was riding my ‘surfboard of glory,’ I got knocked off.  Those waves took me under, churned me around and have spat me back out on the beach – exhausted, weak and half drowned.

I veered onto the wrong channel and I’ve certainly been vibrating at the wrong frequency for some time now.

I didn’t go on holiday for a couple of years when starting my business, I didn’t need to.  I was too excited about making shit happen here and I didn’t want to go away and miss a thing!

Mini breaks and holidays soon became a great little recharge zone for my mind and body. 

In the early years, they really gave me a chance to come away from it all, gain some perspective, work out what needs to change and what I need to do. 

I used to come back rejuvenated, with a clear plan of action and ready to put it into practice!

Over the last couple of years though it seems my mental rubbish and negative thinking has been sneaking itself into my luggage. 

I’ll gain a fraction of the perspective I used to and then have to busy myself abroad to distract my mind from whirring around anxiously with the same problems and not finding a solution.

It’s pretty shit being miserable on a beach.

I’ll recharge marginally and have some ideas but then as soon as I’m back, my familiar surroundings trigger old behaviours and thinking and I’m back staring at the same shit heap with no plan how to tackle it.

I’ve got a trip coming up to Israel in a couple of weeks which I am (now) mega excited about! 

It nearly didn’t happen. 

I was supposed to be going this week but a work opportunity presented itself and then I felt I didn’t deserve a holiday anyway so was going to forfeit the flights and just get on with things here.  THANKFULLY after a few days and a bit of soul searching I came to realise that I needed to get away now more than ever!

I’m going to be just me in another country. 

Apart from the clothes in my luggage and some toiletries, that’s all I’ll be taking from here.

3 days alone, just me, myself and I.  I will do as I feel, feel as I do and hopefully rediscover what lights me up.