This Year Will Be Different

This year will be different‘. How many times have you told yourself this? On New Year’s Day? Your birthday? On your work anniversary? On a random rainy Tuesday morning as you’re bleakly staring out the bus window on your way to work (the last place you want to be heading towards)? 

This is the year where I work out what on earth it is I want to do. The year I finally get a job I’m great at and that I enjoy. This is the year I stop doing what everyone else thinks I should be doing, and I go for what I’ve secretly been yearning to do.

This week I read an email sent by someone I’ve admired for a long time now, called Monika. She’s the author of a book called This Year Will Be Different. It’s a book I read at a time when I was desperate for change.

She’d written an email to thank the people who’d helped her when she got started as a freelancer. A few key people had taken a chance on her, given her advice, or seen something in her. These people had changed the way she thought and they supported her way of working. 

I wanted things to change

I got a bit misty-eyed reading it. Because her books have had a big, positive influence on me and inspired me so much. When I read This Year Will Be Different it was exactly what I needed at the time. I wanted things to change and I didn’t want a repeat of the previous year, and the years before that.

In This Year Will Be Different Monika interviewed women who were doing interesting work, living unconventional lifestyles. Freelancers, women with portfolio careers (doing a few different jobs), designers, travelling translators. They talked about personal branding, finances, working for themselves, their life philosophy. 

You can’t be what you can’t see

That was far from my reality, working for a big corporation, shlepping into an office every day, doing work I didn’t care about. I’d vaguely dreamed of having this kind of lifestyle, feeling freedom, having a portfolio career, travelling, working for myself. Not going to an office.

Reading this book was a massive dose of inspiration. Hearing these women’s stories lifted me. I saw that you can choose to work and live in a way that really suits you. They had worked out what they enjoyed doing and were being paid to do it. They all had lifestyles that suited them. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? Why can’t you?

There’s a saying – you can’t be what you can’t see. It’s important to find your own inspiration. Examples of people who are working and living in a way that excites you and inspires you and makes you feel happy.

I hope you find something that touches you in the same way, and inspires you to make the changes you want.

If you liked this post, I’ve written more about surrounding yourself with inspiration here: The One Habit.

If you’d like to find out about life coaching sessions with me, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

8 Things you need to know about moving abroad

A former client and friend asked me for my advice on moving abroad. As I started thinking, I realised that elements of this advice could be applied to all sorts; career change, starting something new, a side project. I hope it’s useful. Here’s my advice:

1. The fear. Once you take action, it gets better. Waiting is the worst.

The period before you make the move is the really scary part. That’s where it’s all unknown, vague, you can’t quite imagine how it’s going to be or what you’re going to do.

All your biggest fears come to head – will I be lonely, will I make any friends, will I end up homeless, will I hate it, will it all just be too difficult to cope with? I had all these fears before moving to Valencia.

Even things which are usually relatively simple or straightforward like opening a bank account or finding a place to live seem insurmountable.

Know that as soon as you get there and start ‘doing’, this particular fear will drop away as you’ll be so busy taking it all in and taking action.

2. Relax

So you’re there, you’ve been there a little while, and you might be thinking “what have I done, what have I done, what have I done…”

Give yourself time. Time to readjust, take in your new surroundings, learn how things work. Chances are the start might be a bit rocky and emotional, as you become a novice and just don’t know stuff. With time, you will.

3. Meeting people and making friends. Keep busy, ask for help.

Get out there. That’s all you can do. Say yes to as much as you can, try everything, talk to people. Keep your options open.

It can be daunting but you’re only going to meet your people by meeting lots of random people, and keeping going until you feel that click.

If big meet-up groups aren’t your thing and the thought of some big expat community makes your skin crawl, look for ways to meet people one on one. There are smaller localised Facebook groups which can be really useful and supportive.

I used an excellent ‘Conversation Exchange’ website as soon as I arrived in Valencia – where you arrange to meet people who want to practise speaking your language and vice versa.

So whenever I wanted, every night if I so wished, I had someone to meet for a drink.

I could enjoy being out and about and having company. And – it’s an excellent way to learn about your new home city or town, you can ask loads of questions and even get help or advice.

4. Explore. 

One of the most exciting parts of being in a new city. Make a massive list of all the things you want to do.

Plan trips/visits. Do all the cliches. Eat all the food. Watch films, sit in a cafes. You’ll get to know the city really well, you’ll have fun and you’ll be out and about.

5. Language learning.

Once you start making progress, marvel at it. Each new word you learn, sentence you formulate, question you understand, is a massive success. Use every opportunity to converse and persist. Immerse yourself in TV, radio, film, talks.

6. Celebrate your successes. 

Bank account open – great. Coffee date set up – amazing. I think we could all do better at this in everyday life – acknowledge when you’ve overcome something tricky, however small it may seem. You’re doing a good job.

7. Make a plan. 

Imagine how you want your life to be in a month, or 3 months, or 6 months. Then set goals. For example, in the next 3 months I want to: 

  • Meet at least one or two friends. 
  • Go on x number of dates.
  • Visit x, y, z.
  • Improve my language skills by attending/doing x every day.
  • Find a decent flat. 
  • Try x, y, z.

It helps you focus on what you want, and keep track of your achievements as time passes.

8. And remember

Even if it doesn’t seem to be working out as you imagined;

a) Give yourself time, you never know what’s around the corner. 

b) You can be proud that you’ve done something so many people dream of, and never do. You took that massive step and went for something you have wanted for a long time. It takes courage.

You’ve been brave enough to follow your heart, follow your dreams. 

Finally…

My main advice when moving abroad?

Enjoy yourself, enjoy the feeling of freedom. Along with all the practicalities and organisation, have fun. Do all those things that you dreamt of when you dreamed of your life in Paris. 

Every once in a while you’ll look around and think, am I really here?

If you’d like to try a coaching session with me, contact me at: joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Léonard Cotte on Unsplash

Do less. It’s simple.

Simple grey typewriter with lots of green plants.

I recently read an article I loved, called Why ambition is overrated. In it the author admits that she has a few simple pleasures in life, and only wants to do the work she needs to in order to enjoy these things.

For example, things such as eating good food, reading books and watching a films. Simple.

Her aim is to work enough – and not much more.

“I am constantly amazed by the blasé professional assumption that everyone should work an hour later than they are contracted, and take ten minute lunch breaks at their desk (if at all).” – Megan Nolan

And I think that’s a pretty good aim. Most of us just want to enjoy the simple things. But we get sucked into social pressures, feel that we’ve got to work harder, keep up, not get left behind.

As much as I’m interested in self-development and improving things in your life you’re not happy with (job, living situation, morning routine), I’m actually a big fan of a more ‘slacker’ attitude.

Slow down

Part of the reason I moved to Spain a couple of years ago was that I wanted a simpler life. I was reacting badly to London life. I wanted less stress, less pressure, more sun, a better social life.

Things are slower here, on a smaller scale. My social life is simpler and easier. Here I have friends available to meet for a coffee or wine at a moment’s notice, never further than a short walk or bike ride away.

What’s important for you

Of course moving to another country isn’t for everyone, and, it’s not the only solution when things aren’t going well in your life.

But working out for yourself what you want in life IS important.

And that article is a good reminder to take note of what you’re really aiming for in life. For me this means:

  • I don’t have to have the big corporate career, a job title that impresses others and to fit in to what’s often considered as success.
  • It’s about working out what’s important to you, and finding ways to integrate those things into your life.
  • Creating a lifestyle that’s right for you.
  • The ideal is doing work that you enjoy, that feels of value and that support you financially.
  • But equally important is actually having time for your home life, your social life, time with friends and family and hobbies and just not doing.

It’s up to you

I hope this post helps if you’re feeling the pressure, feeling dissatisfied and wanting to make changes to your life.

I love it when someone reminds me that doing less isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So here we are. Do less, do what YOU want, do what suits you. Make changes, one step at a time.

If you’d like to book a coaching session with me, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Shelby Miller on Unsplash

Autumn Reset Tips – Social Media, Nutrition & Finances

September is the perfect time of year to reset. Back to work, back to routines.

You may have fallen out of your normal routine over the holidays (like me). Now’s the ideal opportunity to take a look at how you’re spending your time and what you changes you can make. What do you need to reset?

As I’ve started back at work I’ve been keeping an eye on some of my habits. In particular:

  • How I spend my time online (internet, social media, mobile)
  • What I eat
  • Saving money

Here are some ideas and tips on simplifying and being more aware of how you’re spending your time. I hope it inspires you!

Computer

Having had a break from work, my computer, even my mobile, I’m looking at things afresh and aiming to streamline everything.

On my laptop I’m backing up files onto Dropbox or a USB stick. I’m deleting files and folders I no longer use, or reorganising so they make more sense. I love decluttering and keeping things nice and organised. 

Mobile

Two weeks away with my boyfriend staying with various friends and family (heaven!) meant that I had limited time for Whatsapp – and less inclination to scroll through out of boredom. I looked maybe once or twice a day.

I struggle with the pressures of Whatsapp. The obligation to reply quickly, getting into a conversation when it’s not good timing, being added to groups…

So I’m trying to stick to the holiday vibe. Keeping notifications off – and resisting the temptation to sneak a peak when I’m bored (trying to, anyway).

I aim to wait until mid-morning for my first look, and to stop looking after 9 or 10pm. Hopefully I can stick this one out.

Which leads to…

Social Media

Instagram

Over the summer I’ve gotten out of the habit of looking at Instagram when I have a spare couple of minutes or am feeling bored. I want to keep this up.

As soon as I start scrolling I start feeling frustrated/overwhelmed, and I can’t stop! And this is even with my tightly curated feed of only around 10 accounts, designed to inspire me.

There are a couple of people I follow who share interesting round-ups of what’s going on in the world. I really enjoy them and learn from them. So I may venture back on and cull even further – only keeping people who are genuinely adding to my day.

Twitter

As with Instagram, I’d gotten into the habit of looking whenever I wanted a ‘hit’. What’s going on in the news, any articles to read, what are my favourite Twitter people saying (mainly authors and journalists).

But I end up scrolling without stop – saving article after article to read – clogging up my ‘to read’ bookmark folder.  

To be honest – this is a hard one to shake, it’s still a nice little break between work tasks. But I’ve started setting a timer. 10 minutes only, to save me from the wormhole and to save my eyes from the scrolling.

Nutrition

I’ve learned these past few months about eating in sync with your hormones. It’s so interesting. There are certain things you can eat more of to aid your body and mood as your hormones are going up or down depending on the week of your menstrual cycle.

For example I’ve read that when you are menstruating it’s good to include more iron from sources such as spinach, lentils and dried prunes. It’s such a no-brainer yet it’s not something I’ve been consciously doing.  

I’ve written myself a list of good foods to eat each week of my cycle. I’m aiming to add what I can to my meals or snacks each week. A couple of websites with information on this are Flo Living and Moody Month.com.

I’m also being more aware of what exercise is most suitable for each week of my cycle. Some weeks I’ll benefit from more high intensity workouts, other weeks my body will suit calmer, more soothing exercise such as yoga. Read more here.

Saving Money

Apart from a smallish contribution to an ISA each month and private pension payments, I’d gotten into the habit of only saving what was left in my bank account at the end of the month. Which is often unimpressive.

My new thing is to transfer a realistic amount to savings at the start of each month. I then have to plan my budgeting around that, rather than vice versa. I’ve realised that if you want to regularly save it has to take priority.

Get that notebook out and get planning

So those are a few things I’m trying which I think are going to improve my every day.

What are you doing to reset at this time of year? Is there something that’s been nagging at you, that you can solve, improve, stop?

Is now the time to finally sit down, have a think, and work out what to do? Do you need to set up a few small steps to get there? Do you need to just get started?

PS If you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Other people’s routines

I’m the sort of person that loves routine. I enjoy my morning routine, it sets me up for the day, leaving me feeling awake and ready to get to work. And I like my daily work routine, my coffee break mid-morning, and my lunchtime stroll in the park.

If for some reason I can’t follow my normal routine, everything feels in disarray. For a day or two, it’s fine, it’s a novelty and I’m having fun travelling or staying with a friend. But after two or three days out of my routine, I miss it.

I crave walking on my own, long walks listening to podcasts. My body misses the stretches of morning yoga. I long for 10 spare minutes to listen to a meditation. My writing goes off kilter, and I realise on Friday morning that I have no blogpost to publish.

More than anything, I need a bit of time on my own, no chatting, no listening, no voices. Just me getting on with my stuff.

The pressure of being productive

This week I was reminded how in the media and online there’s an intense pressure to be the most efficient you can be, the most productive, the most calm and unflappable. All around there are examples of morning routines, productivity hacks, other people telling us what works for them. Things you must do to get x result.

I’ve written before about information overload and how I’m always trying to strip things back to the bare essentials in terms of consuming information. Ironically, having recently written a few posts about productivity and efficiency, I realise I could be adding to the noise.

If hearing about other people’s lives leaves you feeling bad, or that you’re not doing enough, it’s probably healthier to dial down the noise and concentrate on doing your thing.

No routine

The thing is, I love hearing about how other people work, how they spend their days and what their morning or day time routines consist of (for example here). I find it fascinating what works for one person and doesn’t for another. Or rather, what appeals to me and what doesn’t.

Other people’s routines can seem pretty dull and strict. Chanting for 30 minutes upon waking then drinking hot water with lemon doesn’t appeal to me. Nor does waking at 5am to walk on a treadmill whilst checking emails and catching the news headlines. It sounds like a punishment rather than a great way to start the day.

What I really like is reading about people whose routines are totally different to mine, and which sound fun. Perhaps they don’t have any fixed routine. Maybe they wake up and write for 2 hours straight, only drinking coffee. Or they roll out of bed as late as possible, grab a croissant and coffee to go and put their makeup on in the tube.

Get inspired

And learning about how other people go about their lives can be helpful. You might uncover something that hits a nerve, and makes you see things differently, do things differently.

I remember reading about someone working in publishing who would snatch any moment throughout the day they could to read – getting through a staggering amount of books a month – and that made me prioritise reading more.

Sometimes it’s good to refresh the routine you’ve settled into and consciously aim to make your day more enjoyable, or relaxed, or easy.

What works for you

I think the most important point is – find out what works for you.

If you love a bit of unpredictability, no set routine and going with how you feel in the moment, brilliant. Perhaps a bit of chaos gets the adrenaline going. If like me you feel overwhelmed by lack of routine, and like things to feel a bit ordered, that’s fine too. But it probably does me good to mix it up every once in a while and not be too set in my ways.

The main thing is to find what suits you – and go with it.

***

If you’d like to book a life coaching session with me, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Kenny Luo on Unsplash