The One Habit That’s Going to Change Your Mindset, Improve Your Confidence and Make You Take Action

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(Hint, the new habit? It’s listening to podcasts and reading books. We’ll get there in a bit. First, here’s the background.)

The New Normal

Over the past few years, surrounding myself with people who think in a certain way has totally changed my mindset and has been massively beneficial. Because of this I now believe I’m a person who can live an exciting, interesting, adventurous life.

I can leave a job I don’t enjoy.

I can move to live in another country.

I can set up my own business.

If other people out there can do it, why the hell can’t I? Whereas once before I wouldn’t have had the confidence to think like that, this kind of thinking has become ‘normal’ for me. My goals and dreams are totally doable and achievable.

And if I look back at the me from a few years ago, I realise how far I have come.

Hiding Away

At that point I was severely lacking in confidence. I didn’t know where I wanted my life to go (other than a consistent longing to fling myself from an office window- more with the desire to fly far far away than to land with a splat).

I was in a job I didn’t enjoy and hadn’t enjoyed for years. I felt trapped, lost, stuck, frustrated. I was meandering, aimless – I wasn’t yearning for a promotion or to become my boss, there was no appeal there whatsoever. I just wanted to hide away.

The prospect of a potential huge new project or important client would appear and I’d feel a sinking feeling, I didn’t want to deal with it and I didn’t feel equipped to deal with it, despite having worked in the industry for a decade! It seems incredible now but that’s how I felt.

Now things have changed. I’m much better at making decisions about what I want to do, and how I want to live my life, and going for it.

Deciding what I want, having the balls to ask for what I want, and making it happen. To have the confidence and boldness to go for it. It’s as though I’m building this decision-making muscle, which was lying dormant for many years.

The New Habit

I honestly can’t stress enough how important reading books and blogs and listening to podcasts has been in changing my mindset and building my confidence. Read more about this here.

Reading, listening and absorbing.

They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Well, through books and podcasts, I’ve been surrounding myself with people who are living bold lives, on their terms. Find out who here and here.

People who are passionate, confident, who admit to taking risks and making mistakes, but who have the drive to make it work.

People who have great, interesting lives, who haven’t let themselves be held back (by themselves).

People who didn’t know it all before starting out, who still don’t know it all, and have just learned along the way.

People who have found their own voice and are brave enough to be heard.

Sometimes I’m surprised to hear that these people are my age or younger. And they seem so self-assured and confident! But sometimes they say things which are kind of obvious. Or even a bit silly.

And I love it, because then I remember that they are just like everyone else, we ALL have the same fears and worries – there are just those who deal with them, and move forwards, and those who hold themselves back.

Taking action is key

I was listening to a James Altucher podcast yesterday and he said something I had to make a note of:

“The only way to get out of your comfort zone is to do something out of your comfort zone, not read something about getting out of your comfort zone.”

Taking action is key. It’s one thing to absorb all this information, and feel great and dream, and think big. But, you’re only going to progress if you actually start taking action for yourself.

Over to you

Think about someone you find inspiring or interesting. Have they written any books? Are there any autobiographies or biographies about them?  Do they have a website, articles, blog? Have they been interviewed for a radio show or podcast? Are there interview clips of them on YouTube? Have they done a TED Talk? Is it someone you know, or could make contact with? Could you invite them for a coffee?

Read about them, listen to them, find out about their life and see what you can learn from them. Then Take Action. What is it about them that lights you up? What have they done that you can you try or replicate? Can you channel their positive spirit? Build your tenacity? Adopt their work ethic? Try some of their daily habits? Incorporate some of their tactics in your daily work?

Please share with someone you think might enjoy reading this.

If you’d like to work with me, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me

Favourite Podcasts for Inspiration, Positive Thinking, Facing Fear & Taking Control of Your Life

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I’m obsessed with podcasts. I have been for quite a few years now. Once I find a good one, I listen to the whole back catalogue, and obsessively wait for new episodes. I listen while walking, preferably in a park or countryside, but also on busy streets. Podcasts give me inspiration, entertainment and emotional support.

Here are some of my favourites in terms of self-improvement, exploring emotions and behaviours, ambition, success, habits, changing your life for the better.

The Tim Ferriss Show with Tim Ferriss

Success tools and tricks from the world’s greatest in all sorts of areas; business, tech, writers, speakers, athletes, actors, designers, comedians…

Interviews I’ve particularly loved have been with Tony Robbins, Debbie Millman, Susan Cain, Scott Adams, Sophia Amoruso, Amelia Boone, Brandon Stanton.

If you’re looking for inspiration in terms of how to live an interesting life, and think big, you might like this podcast. I love how Tim breaks things down, getting to the minutiae of people’s daily routines and processes.

There’s always something to take away, such as Brandon Stanton‘s habit of reading 100 pages of a book each day in order to learn more and self-educate.  Or Debbie Millman‘s Ten-Year Plan for a Remarkable Life – writing down in detail what you want your average day to look like 10 years from now, focussing on the things you want to come true. And Scott Adams‘ affirmations; writing down something you want to happen, a simple sentence, 15 times, over and over and over, every day – and drawing this thing into your life. See also here.

Pardon My French with Garance Doré

Inspiring chats with cool people. Garance Doré is an illustrator, photographer, author, fashion blog creator. Her general vibe is cool older French cousin you love to chat to. What I like about her is her openness about vulnerability, insecurities; just emotions in general. Alongside interviewing people she is inspired by, Garance and her team record shorter podcasts where they discuss various interesting topics including being your own boss, honesty, healthy living etc.

I particularly loved interviews with Gwyneth Paltrow and Sophia Amoruso – which were about being entrepreneurs, leaders, being brave, going through difficult times…

The League of Extraordinary Introverts with Katherine Mackenzie-Smith

This podcast is all about entrepreneurial introverts living life on their terms, celebrating their introverted tendencies and finding success as entrepreneurs.

I really enjoyed the interviews with writer Alexandra Franzen and ‘Mindful Kind’ podcast host Rachael Kable. Alex’s tips on writing, simplifying your life, and how to say no, are motivating and inspiring. I liked Rachael’s interview on mindfulness, and how to do things your own way.

The James Altucher Show with James Altucher

This is described as ‘not your ordinary business podcast’. What it really is, is a series of interesting interviews with a broad array of people. The ones I like always seem to have a strong focus on mindset and facing fears.

The Jen Sincero interview is a good one. Here’s someone who was sick of her life, she didn’t feel as though she had amounted to much, so she decided to improve it. She now helps people work out what is holding them back, and how to get past it. She generally has a badass approach to her life.

I also, of course, loved the interviews with Tim Ferriss, this one covers lessons James has learned from Tim’s book Tools of Titans.

If you’re interested in discovering other podcasts for pure entertainment, some I have loved are: Serial, S-Town, Desert Island Discs, Saints of Somewhere, My Dad Wrote a Porno.

If you’d like to try out a coaching session (or just talk about podcasts) with me click here.

Please share this post with someone who you think might enjoy it. Here’s the link.

A Podcast Saved My Day

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So, I was having a bad day…

Sometimes you read or hear something just at the right time and it feels like a mysterious sign. A while back I was having a bad day. Up until that point, my transition to moving to Spain has been fairly straightforward (forgetting the momentary panic of uncertainty around being able to rent out my flat).

But that day I had a general feeling of eurgh. Having left my London flat, I was staying with my parents before making the move to Spain. I had a day off work, I didn’t know what to do with myself, I felt restless, I felt tired, I was feeling sensitive. I started letting in all those horrible negative thoughts desperate to creep in. Thoughts such as “am I going to be lonely in Valencia, what if I feel like this, what if I’m aimless and listless and friendless, arghhhhhhh!”

…but a podcast changed everything

Thankfully I’ve figured out the best remedy whenever I’m feeling crappy, and that’s to take myself off for a walk and listen to a podcast. It was a lovely sunny Spring afternoon, and I ended up walking alongside the river. Before long I was feeling much more myself and my mood had lifted. Partly due to the walking in the sun, partly because I was listening to a podcast which particularly resonated with me that day (episode no. 120 of She Percolates).

The hosts were discussing the book Rising Strong by social scientist Brené Brown, and the idea of ‘Day Two’. ‘Day Two’ is the point between having (metaphorically) closed one door behind you (Day One), and being on a path somewhere new (Day Three). For example, you’ve left a job (Day One) and at some point you’ll start a new job (Day Three), but you’re right in that inbetween stage. On ‘Day Two’ it’s all a bit murky and you’re not quite sure where you’re heading. You’re feeling unsettled, unsure and above all, UNCOMFORTABLE.

Day two, or whatever that middle space is for your own process, is when you’re “in the dark” – the door has closed behind you. You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light.” Brené Brown

 

Hearing the hosts talk about their experience of ‘Day Two’ really hit home as that was exactly how I was feeling that day, not quite here nor there. I was listening to someone who was sharing my experience, albeit talking about the ‘murky time’ in their business rather than a move to Spain. It made me feel better. A real ah-ha moment. And it reminded me that I’ve been through ‘Day Two’ before, and I came out of it just fine.

The transition period

When I first left my job in advertising, I went through a 6-month period thinking “what am I doing?” At the time, reading a book called Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra helped me through. She describes her version of ‘Day Two’, “Allow yourself a transition period in which it is ok to oscillate between holding on and letting go.” She talks about experimenting and trying on ‘possible selves’ as a way to progress through career change, staying fluid and open to opportunities.

For example you’re thinking of leaving your job. You’re experimenting with a side project, or you’re studying or training in something new. Or perhaps you’ve left a job, and recently started a new one. You haven’t quite reached the next stage yet, where you feel like you’ve got a bit of an idea what you’re doing. You’re not sure if it’s going to work out, and it all feels very strange. You’re not sure where this will take you.

Reading Working Identity, it was a real comfort to know that this is a transition lots of other people go through, the feeling won’t last forever and it’s just part of the process. Herminia includes case studies on people who seem really accomplished and successful, and rather than this being intimidating, I found solace in the fact that they too struggled. It helps to realise this, and puts things into perspective.

My own transition

Throughout my transition period I tried out several different roles: translator, teaching assistant, tutor, and I completed a teaching qualification. I’d thought about which areas of work interested me – education, languages, literature, and found ways to sample working in these areas. These experiences helped me to shed the skin of my previous role, something I’ve come to realise can take a long time. It increased my awareness of what else is out there and different ways in which I could use my skills and experience. When I saw my current role advertised I was in a much more open state of mind, and ready to try something new. Read more here.

What I learned from listening to this podcast:

1. I’m not the only one going through a difficult transition period. Most people will experience something similar at some point, even those you consider to be mega-successful. It’s just a process and it won’t last forever.

2. Don’t always expect to move from A to B smoothly, easily, with no bumps in the road. Things will come up, but you’ll deal with them and move on.

3. Going through ‘Day Two’ is learning process, you will come out of it clearer on where you want to go or who you want to be, and even though it may take time, you will make it through.

As for my move to Spain, there were more bumps in the road, that’s life, but I’ve kept moving forward step by step, and it’s been totally worth it!

Pass it on

I hope this post helps anyone out there feeling like this today – remember it’s just a period of transition and this feeling will not last forever! Please share with someone you think might appreciate reading this.

If you’d like my help, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me

Salsa for Beginners (or Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone)

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“Let yourself go!” he shouts. “One, two, three” pause “six, seven, eight.” “Enjoy it!” he barks. “One, two, three” pause “six, seven, eight.” My young dance partner twirls me round and somehow whacks me on the head in doing so. We burst out laughing as we struggle to keep going in time to his muttered counting. Our bald, tanned, swivel-hipped, all-in-black teacher Carlos continues his commands as we step and sway.

It’s a typical Monday night at my local salsa class. Twenty of us are partnered up in a circle in a bright, mirrored, dance class, focussed and intent. When I first moved to Valencia a year ago, doing a regular salsa class with the hope of one day being able to go to a salsa club and actually dance with people (rather than cringe, freeze, turn down the gallant dancers eager to whisk me to the dancefloor) was top of my wish-list.

I spent a month in Cuba a couple of years ago and was entirely seduced by the way people could dance there, from tiny children moving fluidly to dignified smartly dressed 90-ear olds; and particularly the beautiful, self-possessed twenty-somethings who made salsa dancing cool, in their casual denim shorts and trainers, dancing with ease and throwing in Michael Jackson style swoops in a balmy outdoor club overlooking the sea.

Being vulnerable, letting go…

My beginner’s classes started a couple of months ago, and although I had done some one-to-one classes in Cuba, this was the place for me. I’d been to a huge, popular salsa club earlier in the year, and had been too intimidated to dance. I’d forgotten how to move and felt seriously self-conscious. I needed to start from scratch.

And I am learning. These lessons are in Spanish. My Spanish is getting there but still, I sometimes struggle with the listening part. (“Preparados?” Sure, I’m ready…) Half the time I have no idea what my teacher or dance partners are saying to me. I just smile and laugh. I feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, exposed. But, these classes are teaching me to let go, to not have to be in control. To not care what I look like, how ungraceful I may look. To not worry that I don’t understand the names of the moves, and that I can’t for the life of me remember them all.

… and going with the Flow

There’s nothing like that feeling of flow, when you’re doing a move you’re actually mastering, your feet are doing what they need to without too much thought, your partner is spinning you effortlessly, you feel like you’re a dancer at the 1830 club in Havana… This may only happen occasionally, but it doesn’t matter. I dance for this feeling. And to enjoy the simple act of moving to music, feeling the beat. I dance with a big grin on my face.

I’m out of my comfort zone, I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s hard, but I absolutely love it. Is there something you’re putting off because of fear of not knowing what you’re doing? Something you think you’d secretly enjoy? Is now the time to try?

Please share with someone you think might appreciate reading this.

If you’d like my help, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me

What happens after you reach ‘Breaking Point’?

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What are we doing here?

I reached a point where I couldn’t continue. My working environment felt toxic. I was holding back the tears most days, and often not succeeding in holding them in. I went on countless trips to the bathroom, to close myself in for a moment, breathe deeply, wipe my eyes, ask myself what I was doing with my time, with my life. Back at my desk I would sit staring blindly at the screen, my throat tight with that strange feeling of holding back from crying. I would scroll through the emails in my inbox, unable to bring myself to stop and concentrate on just one, forcing myself to breathe. I’d look around at my colleagues and want to scream at them “WHAT ARE WE ALL DOING HERE, PUTTING UP WITH THIS?! We’re better than this!”

Unable to think because a colleague’s heated telephone conversation totally dominated the vicinity. I’d feel the tightness crawling over my shoulders and neck. My left eye twitching uncontrollably as it had been for many weeks. I felt imprisoned, frustrated, angry at myself. What was I doing here? I’m young, bright, full of energy; however I’m sat at this desk, desperate to be anywhere else and despairing at my situation. What do I really want to do? What do I want to be doing all day, every day? Where do I want to be? Who do I want to be interacting with? I had some vague ideas, but nothing concrete. Nothing that would make applying for another job straightforward. How can I apply when I’m not sure? How can I put myself out there?

Why can’t I take control of my life?

There is no clear definition. And I know I can’t be vague. Why don’t I know? Where is my focus? Why can’t I take control of my life? How have I been so passive in my life, letting this happen? Why have I not searched for and grabbed opportunities? I haven’t been living. Not really. Not fully.

I’ve stopped wanting to socialise. I’ve felt unable to put energy into much out of work, for fear of being overwhelmed. At the end of each day, I wanted to rush home and hide. Retreat to a place of safety and comfort. I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. I would go home, eat, and search for inspiration and solace online, case studies, other people who had suffered from staying in a role which wasn’t for them, who had made the break, who were LIVING fully. Those who had made a decision. Those who had taken control. I would bask in the moments of inspiration and comfort.

***

Taking action

It’s now February 2018 – and it is so interesting reading this blogpost I wrote two years ago, around 9 months after making a big decision which changed my life – deciding to leave my job (read about it here). I still remember those feelings so well. They’d lived with me for so long, gradually increasing until I basically reached ‘breaking point’, that point at which I HAD to do something to change my life.

Are you in a similar situation? Are you experiencing those feelings of frustration, of being lost, unable to focus? Have you reached your own ‘breaking point’? Is it time to start taking action? What’s the first small step you can take?

Please share with someone you think might appreciate reading this.

If you’d like my help, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me