The perfect excuse to slow down

So this is what happens when external events give you the perfect excuse to slow down.

At the moment we are dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak, with many public events cancelled and there’s even a question mark as to whether socialising with friends is a good idea.

I’m veering on the side of caution.

This means I’ve been working from home all week, and my weekend plans of a coffee date, dinner with friends and meeting to play squash, have been quashed. I’ve now got some extra time.

Silver Lining

And you know what?  

What’s going on is quite scary, and there’s lots of uncertainty. It’s not exactly a fun time. But, I feel that you can look at it as a silver lining. 

All I ever want is more time to read, watch films or TV series and cook delicious recipes. Here we’ve all got an excuse to, as a good friend said, ‘slow down, go back to basics and enjoy the simple pleasures’. 

We’re all so busy, even those of us like me who actively try to not commit to too much. Who hasn’t felt the rush of relief when there’s been a cancellation just when we’re feeling a bit overstretched and overwhelmed.

The Perfect Excuse

So this is the perfect excuse to use the extra time to catch up on sleep, take things slow, and enjoy not rushing. I’ve got a million books to read; enticing looking films, documentaries and series lined up, and recipes selected. I’m looking forward to getting on some podcasts and cooking. A few strolls in the park or time on the bike, and I’ll be happy.

And if you’re looking to change career and in a funk about that – it’s a good opportunity. Take time to read some inspiring books or listen to interviews, or do some writing activities to really find out what you want from your next career (lots of free resources can be found online). 

Or – do nothing.

Here’s to having a good rest.

If you’d like to sign up for life coaching sessions with me, sign up here on LinkedIn. Or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash

Always in a rush?

I’ve realised something about myself recently. I always seem to be in a rush.

I put these self-imposed time limits on myself.

I’ve particularly noticed it happening in the mornings. I take it slow to start, ease myself into some Headspace meditation, then some yoga. I breathe, I’m slow, I’m basically waking up.

Then – action stations! The next few minutes are a blur of kettle on, shower, tea, dress, make-up, breakfast. I rush through it. Eating my breakfast I try to slow down and take my time – I hate rushing while eating.

But I realise I’ve got into the habit of rushing unnecessarily.

Now, I know mornings are a rush for most people. Busy people with jobs to get to, kids to get ready for school, commutes to make. Trying to get as much sleep as possible is the priority, so we get up the very latest we can and then rush through getting out the door.

But, a few years back I deliberately designed my morning to not be a massive rush. I made the decision to get up earlier, just so that I didn’t have to rush, and could have an enjoyable read while eating my breakfast. 

But slowly the habit has crept back. 

And it’s not just the early mornings. When I leave the house I then rush to my co-working space (I do enjoy the 30 minute walk, but it’s at a good clip). I burst into the cowork space, head down, no time for chit chat. I need to get my laptop on, pronto. It’s a vaguely stressful start to the day to be honest.

No ambling in for me, making a tea, having a chat. Taking my time to sort out my stuff and sit down.

This needs to change. I’m causing myself unnecessary stress.

At the weekends too – I sometimes wake up anxious. All I want is a slow, leisurely morning, reading in bed while eating breakfast and drinking tea. But I have a constant checklist of things to do, reply to that friend’s message, make a plan for later tonight, do the food shop, clean the flat, wash my hair…

I compress time in my head, I need to do everything, NOW! No matter that this is kinda typical at the weekend, I always have this stuff to do, and I get it done. It shouldn’t be a big deal. But somehow I’ve learned to make it stressful. 

So, now it’s time to break the old habits and make some new ones. Here’s my plan:

  • The only time I’m allowed to rush is when I’m actually running late, when I have 5 minutes in which to leave the house or I’ll be late. Anything other than that, and I need to chill out. 
  • I need to forcibly slow down when I feel like I’m rushing, and breathe. Do what I need to do calmly and slowly. 
  • Finally my plan is to leave for work 10 minutes earlier, to give myself time at the other end.

How about you? Are you a rusher? Are you feeling stressed? Or are you pretty zen in your day to day?

If you’d like to download my morning routines guide, do so here: 3 easy steps to a morning routine you love!

And if you’d to sign up for a life coaching session with me, sign up here on LinkedIn. Or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash

Hibernating (but how can I change career if I spend all my time hidden under my duvet?)

Hibernating. I love it. I think I’m actually a bit obsessed with the idea of hibernating in January. Partly I think my introvert side relishes the chance to do what comes naturally. Also, I just so enjoy the whole not doing much/watching films/eating chocolate/reading loads vibe I get to enjoy over the Christmas period, that I don’t want to let it go. 

I want to celebrate the joy of hibernating. Going along with nature, seeking out staying warm and cosy. Naturally using dark days and nights as a chance to take things slower, rest, recuperate from generally very busy lives.

However, on the surface this goes against my general advice when it comes to doing stuff like sorting out your life. Keep taking action, be productive, don’t spend too much time ruminating and not doing…

So how do the two tie together? Hibernate, spend as much of your spare time as you can watching films and eating chocolate. But at the same time focus on your goals and keep the momentum up? Well – I do think it’s possible. 

You might want 2020 to be the year you finally change career.  You’re kind of feeling pumped that you’ve made the decision to go for it. But also kind of overwhelmed about where to start, and generally a bit knackered from Christmas and feeling January meh-ness. 

Well, the main thing is to keep taking tiny steps forward. Plan out a series of small goals for the month. Things that are achievable but that are going to keep propelling your forward in your search. And consistently do them. 

So for example every morning or evening, set aside 10 minutes to focus on your career change goals. One email to enquire, get advice, ask a question. One 10-minute bit of research. 10 minutes completing a job application. A few minutes contacting people on LinkedIn who might be able to answer some questions about their industry. 

Try to make sure you are actually taking action during the 10 minutes, not just reading and day-dreaming. Make contact, create, or open opportunities for yourself.  

Once you’ve got into the habit of taking action every day (that’s the aim, anyway), you won’t feel bad about the whole ‘taking it easy’/pretending it’s still the Christmas holidays vibe I like to eke out. 

You’re still taking action, but you’re not adding to what can already be a slightly depressing, difficult month, by putting loads of pressure on yourself and berating yourself for not dedicating all your time to figuring things out.

Be nice to yourself, set some goals and make them happen, and enjoy hibernating with the best of us.

If you need some help with the whole goal setting thing, or in taking first steps to change your career or life, get in touch for some coaching sessions. You can also sign-up for a one-off 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching call – designed to get you taking action straight away. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com. It’s what I do for fun.

Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

January blues: Why I love January and how you can make it the best month

I’ll let you into a little secret… I kind of love January. I know that January in Valencia, where I live, is a little different to January in the UK where I’m from. The sun here means that January is a month where you still actually want to leave the house and do stuff. Whereas in the UK January is sort of the month that doesn’t exist. You put your head down and survive it. It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s miserable, you’ve eaten too much, you have no money, you’re off alcohol, there’s no Christmas to look forward to…You stay indoors and you endure.

But a few years back, still living in London, I had a revelation. Thinking about it, January is basically the same as December. So why do we love December and despise January? The weather’s the same. Why does the mood go from twinkly and pretty and full of expectation and high spirits to awfulness and despair? Is Christmas Day that big a deal? Is it all about that?

I realised that what I love about the Christmas season is resting: ideally a week of no work, spending time with people I love, getting cosy, brisk freezing walks in the countryside then the relief of getting home and flopping on the sofa. Eating loads of delicious food and chocolate, and dessert every day. Films, reading. Playing games. Doing less. Lazing around. Chilling. Especially the days after Christmas Day, which have lower expectations, so you can go into full on relax.

Enjoy all the good stuff

Why should January be any different? Can’t I still make delicious, warming dishes? Eat apple crumble? Go for brisk walks? Watch films? Read? Enjoy twinkly lights? Appreciate being inside when it’s tipping it down outside? Yes! Ok so there’s the small matter of trudging to work every day in the freezing cold and dark. It can be really hard. But – the mornings, evenings and weekends are still ours. 

Here’s to January being the best month! The month to nourish and hibernate. To relish in watching a film every night. Continue eating massive delicious healthy meals. Get out and about and love coming home again. Take time to be quiet and reflect. To dream and make plans.

I’m lucky. I don’t really have anything to complain about. So for those of us that can, let’s appreciate what we’ve got.

What if we chose to love January rather than dread it. How would that change things?

***

If you’re up for taking some time to reflect and plan for the year, check out my post on this: The perfect time for writing, reflecting & planning.

And, if your big plan this year is to change career but you’re feeling stuck and lost, I’ve started running 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching calls. Designed to get you taking action straight away, after a 1-hour call with me. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to arrange.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

The perfect time for writing, reflecting & planning.

This time of year, the days between Christmas Day and the New Year, I naturally turn to reflecting on the current year, and on the new year to come.

How do I feel about the year that’s about to end? Generally a good year? Not so good? Did anything go well, and what could I have done differently?

What plans do I have for January? Do I want to change how I go about my day-to-day routines? What big plans do I have for the whole year, what do I want to achieve?

I love to write it all down.

I find writing cathartic, whether it’s a blogpost, the day’s to-do list, big plans for the future or simply getting down on paper how I’m feeling. Reflecting in this way is therapeutic, getting it all out of my head, and down on paper. It’s a way of processing my thoughts.

There’s such freedom in writing. Random words, imagined conversations, massive crazy dreams. Writing down how you really feel about something, and would never dare tell anyone.

Also it can help you come up with solutions. Getting down all possible options, making a massive plan of all the steps it will take to do something.

Here are a few writing exercises I’ll be doing over the next few days, that you might want to try.

Reflection

1. When reflecting back over the past year, a really nice exercise is to think of and write down all the things I’m proud of. What did I overcome, or survive? When did I do something that took courage. What did I find a solution to? Was there a situation I dealt with well? Who did I help? In which moments did I cheer myself on and get something done?

Those times you’ve felt nervous, or unequipped or unqualified, you’ve struggled with imposter syndrome – but then you did it and it was fine? That time you were assertive when usually you’d give in. That time you tried something new and loved it.

It can be hard at first, but if you push yourself to list every little thing you’re proud of, most of us can come up with quite a list.

Brief moments

2. It’s also great to consider moments of peace, contentedness, happiness, or joy during the past year. It doesn’t have to be something big, like an amazing holiday or event. Rather, those brief moments.

For example a lovely unexpected exchange with someone you didn’t know. A time you chose to do what you wanted over what someone else expected of you – and you relished in the moment. That time you took a few minutes from your busy day to sit on a bench in the sun and close your eyes, enjoying a feeling of peace.

If things aren’t going particularly well at the moment, thinking back over what you are proud of, and those little moments of joy, can help you get perspective. It wasn’t all doom and gloom – there were great moments.

3. Compare how you feel right now, with how you felt this time last year. How have things moved on? What are you pleased about? What are you frustrated at? If things haven’t gone as you’d like, you can spend some time reflecting on what you need to do to bring about change.

Future first

4. And on to what’s to come. What are my immediate plans for January, what do I want to get sorted at the start of the year? What’s bugging me? What practical things do I want to sort out, or what changes can I make to my routine?

(Download my morning routines guide here: 3 easy steps to a morning routine you love!)

5. Equally important – what do I want to enjoy or try in January in order to start off the year well? January’s the month where I like to hibernate, so which films do I want to watch, which books do I want to read, which recipes do I want to try cooking?

6. Longer term – what big plans do I have for the year, work wise, health wise, financially, personally, emotionally? However big or however long I think they might take to fulfil, I write it all down. I’m a big believer in being clear on your goals and what you want to achieve, and writing it down. For more help on this, see my vision boards guide here: How to create a vision board.

So there we go, a few tips on taking the time to reflect, reassess and plan. I hope these tips inspire you.

If you realise you need help in making this year different, I’ve recently launched my 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching calls. Designed to get you taking action straight away, after a 1-hour call with me. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to arrange.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash