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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently spoke to a friend of a friend, M, about her work. She finds her current job stressful and she can’t see herself carrying on all the way through to retirement. We got talking about what she’d always dreamed of doing – working in interiors and decoration. And seeing the way she lit up talking about it…I asked her if she’d ever consider trying to move into it. But as we talked it was obvious there were a few barriers stopping her from thinking it could ever be possible.
The barriers M put in her way are really common. I don’t have the time. Other people are already doing the work. I’d need a qualification. The courses I’ve seen are far away and too expensive.
What’s it worth?
M was interested in taking a course to learn more and had looked into a couple. But the fact that they were pricey and bit of a distance away was an obstacle. I asked if the prospect of learning more, of enjoying exploring the world of design, of meeting like minded people, could be worth it. M admitted she’d love to give it a try.
So is it worth saving up or cutting back to afford it? Is it a potentially worthy investment? Could she find a way of prioritising the time she’d need to travel there and back?
The qualification issue
Another of the most common barriers, M felt she would need a qualification in order to set up and be taken seriously. I asked her – if someone could teach you how to do something, or could do it for you (with amazing results), would you care if they had a qualification or not?
I know some careers do require rigorous training and it may be the case that a certain level of education is required to be an interior designer. But in so many careers knowledge and experience count for a lot. And there’s always the possibility of studying for a qualification alongside getting work experience or during the very early stages of starting a business. I started coaching while studying for my coaching qualification. This doesn’t have to be a barrier.
For example, say I want to decorate my house. Imagine I have a bit of a budget, but zero interest in actually doing the research and searching for items or considering aesthetics. I would totally want to pay for the services of someone with amazing taste, whose own house is beautifully decorated, and who can make the transformation easy for me.
And get this – M mentioned that a few friends had commented on her style, or hinted that they’d love her to makeover their houses. I got excited hearing this! Proof there’s a market for her and proof she doesn’t necessarily need a qualification to get started. She could get started working with friends, and see what happens with word-of-mouth.
In her free time M’s pinning decoration images on Pinterest and obsessively scanning Instagram. We agreed that dedicating even 30 minutes a week would be time well spent on exploring this potential new career. She can put that research to good use! And use the time to set up working for a friend for free, or calling to find out more about the course and enrolling, or working out what niche she’d focus on. Maybe seeing if she can interview or shadow someone local working as a interior designer. Step-by-step.
So often we put pressure on ourselves when it comes to trying something new, putting immediate barriers in place. What if I don’t enjoy it, what if I change my mind and am no longer interested? What if it’s not for me?
Well on the other hand, what if it’s amazing – and changes everything?
The worst could be that you start taking small steps into that world, and realise you don’t enjoy it. This will help you decide that its not the path for you. You’re still a step ahead. You’re getting closer to what you want. It’s not a step back. You’ve set the gears in motion for change. You’ve shaken things up and you’re showing yourself that you’re taking yourself seriously. You can build on this.
For instance M could offer her services for free and then use the results as a portfolio/case study. Go through the process with a friend/’client’ and learn from the experience. See if she actually enjoys it and if the client is pleased with the outcome (maybe following up with a questionnaire or asking for a testimonial). Was anything tricky? What could be improved? Did anything go well? Did she feel under qualified?
This could all be done on the side of carrying on with her full time employment. I’m not suggesting quitting and starting from scratch. M can slowly build up her experience, and be sure it’s a career path that appeals.
Finally, with I visited M’s home, I was struck by the fact that she’s probably got the most stylish house I’ve seen for a couple with young kids. Her young daughters’ bedroom had simple, lovely colours, kid appropriate but not garish. In one corner of the room there was a massive leafy plant in front of a big shuttered window, with light filtering through. There was excellent storage so there weren’t toys all over the place. Somehow this all changed the room from any old kids bedroom to ‘dream’ kids bedroom.
Their home was sleek, stylish and not overrun with kids stuff. It struck me – that could be her niche. How to have a beautiful home when you’ve got kids. How to achieve the stylish, zen-like look even if your day-to-day is as chaotic as everyone else’s.
Her dream is so big and exciting, and seems so far away that she can hardly contemplate it one day being a reality. But once M can get over her mindset blocks and start believing it could one day be possible, all she needs to do is start taking small steps to make it happen. It might take a while, but it’s possible.
Want some help with
Let me know if you’d like to speak to me about moving forwards with your big dreams, and dealing with your mindset. Removing barriers. I can help! I love doing this. I’ll help you to see the possibilities, and we’ll work out a plan together. Email me at email@example.com to make a booking.
I spoke to a client the other day who is struggling with overwhelm and productivity. Life is busy and stressful, and she has big plans for herself.
As well as wanting to transform her career, she wants to transform the way in which she lives her life.
She wants more autonomy in how she spends her time, more opportunity to focus on her areas of expertise, and time to pursue new hobbies or things she wants to learn.
Productivity, focus, procrastination
After talking to her it got me thinking of productivity, focus and procrastination. These are the key areas which affect getting things done aren’t they?
You want to be really focused on what you want to achieve, really productive in how you spend your time getting there. And then our friend procrastination comes along, getting in the way.
I started to look at my own situation and realised that I too feel pulled in all sorts of directions. I have all these great ideas, I put them on a list of ‘things to do’, and then before I know it I’m crippled by indecision. Where to start? Is this idea really worth the time? Should I be focusing on something else?
The teeny tiny first step
I’ve recently discovered the idea of breaking down a big old ‘thing to do’ into the very smallest possible steps, in order to actually get started and make progress.
For example, take a potentially awkward phone call I’ve been putting off. I’ll write down these three steps on my to-do list.
1. Literally just finding and noting down the phone number to call as the first task (ie a Google search).
2. Next, planning what I’m going to say, or noting down what I need to find out. Writing down a few lines to fall back on.
3. Finally, picking up the phone and making the call.
You tick each item off the list as you accomplish it. It sounds so obvious but physiologically it helps me just do stuff. What might have been pushed back and pushed back becomes doable.
Too much at once
However I’ve realised that I often start one thing on my list, just to get started. I then look at a completely different ‘to-do’ and take the first small step there. I’ll swiftly move on to another – to feel as though I’m covering all bases, making progress all round. The result is I end up with lots of half-done unsatisfactory unfinished things.
I looked to a book for inspiration. One that’s always at the back of my mind but that I’ve never fully read (what’s going on there?) isEssentialism by Greg McKeown. I read the first chapter and loved his ethos. As his website says:
“The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done.”
It’s all about prioritising. Only focusing on the essentials – not the fluffy extras that are time wasting opportunities. Your productivity will surely improve.
So I decided to pick my top priority from my to-do list – what’s the one thing that’s going to push me forwards the most? Then I’d break that task down into tiny bite-sized pieces, and work on these tasks only, until it is complete.
And do you know what? So far it is working. I highlighted the two most urgent important tasks on my to-do list, and listed all the little steps to get each done. Then I picked one, ignored the other, and solidly worked my way through the steps.
It helped that I picked something I was excited to learn about: I wanted to share a blogpost on Pinterest, where people can download my free vision board ebook.
I was so buoyed by my success that I felt full of energy and ready to start my second top priority task.
Chances are if I hadn’t applied this tactic I’d still be procrastinating, searching and reading articles about both tasks and not actually getting on with making them happen.
What you can do
So there we have it. My productivity tips:
Read Essentialism before me.
Highlight 1-3 of your top priority tasks on your to-do list.
List each teeny tiny easy step you need to complete for each one (I’m talking mind numbingly easy like 1. watch Youtube video on creating a Pinterest account, 2. sign up to create a Pinterest account, 3. watch Youtube video on creating a board on Pinterest…).
Pick one top priority task and get to work, step by step. Ignore all else until it is completed.
I hope this helps if you are feeling overwhelmed and your to-do list is out of control! Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
If you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can sign-up for a free 30 minute Skype call with me.
Today I am speaking to a life coach, and I’m so happy. Because I need it. Even though I’m a coach myself, and work with other people to uncover what they want to change or improve in their lives, it can still be hard to work on this stuff for myself.
We’ve all got our own ideas about what we can and can’t do. I’ve got my own fears and worries that stop me from doing certain things and hold me back.
It’s so good to talk to someone who doesn’t know you very well, who doesn’t know your past, who doesn’t know your personality. Someone who doesn’t base their views on the 8 year-old you, or the 24 year-old you, or the you from two years ago.
They can listen to you afresh, and objectively. They will dig deep into what you are saying or not saying. You might mention something quite flippantly – but they’ll catch on to it, and ask what you really mean. Why do you say that? Why is that an issue? Is there something deeper going on there?
We don’t stay the same
Sometimes we have age-old beliefs that we’ve held on to over the years. Such as: I’m shy, or I hate public speaking or I don’t like change. We felt like this 10, 20 years ago – it’s become a part of who we are. But the truth is, over the years we can change without realising it.
Maybe you were a shy teenager. But now you’re actually a considered, reserved, soft-speaking person who is quietly confident? Shy’s not really an accurate description.
Perhaps you still hate the idea of public speaking, but you have a lot of experience presenting to small groups of people, and you do it well. It’s not this big thing that should be holding you back.
Am I ridiculous?
It can be slightly nerve-wrecking speaking to a life coach – what if I can’t think of anything to say, what if it’s embarrassing, what if I feel they are judging me? What if my worries are silly? Am I ridiculously spoilt and privileged to say these things?
But a life coach is trained to listen in a non-judgemental way. They are experienced in asking certain questions to help you clarify your thoughts. A coach knows that most worries and challenges boil down to the same thing, fear. Fear of change, fear of what others think of you, fear of losing all your money, fear of the unknown.
Do you want to move on?
These fears are all valid. And worth addressing. It’s only when you realise what is holding you back and consider what impact that will have on your future, that you can work on moving forward.
Perhaps you’ll realise that you’re basing what you see as success on your parents’ views rather than your own. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you’ll only ever be able to do one sort of job because you spent years studying and training for it. You can’t stand the work, but you can’t ‘waste’ that education.
It could be you’ve lost your confidence and it’s stopping you from considering new opportunities. You truly don’t think you’ve got certain skills or aptitudes – but in reality you have them in bucket-loads. You just haven’t been enjoying using them, or you’ve had to apply them in ways that don’t suit your values.
A life coach listens, and then helps you to come up with a plan of action to move on. Once you’ve identified what’s stopping you, what one little step can you take to move in the direction you want to? You come up with the plan, and your coach supports you along the way.
Ask for help
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. There’s a reason those sayings such as ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ have endured. Rather than letting worries about making changes circle around in your mind – talk to someone.
If you’d like to try life coaching with me, drop me an email at email@example.com.
One day, when I was living in Paris, a friend and I made a discovery. It turned out we both had one day every single month when we would feel sad and cry for no apparent reason. We figured out that it was always the day before our period. It was quite the revelation. This ‘sad day’ wasn’t out of the blue, it was regular as clockwork. And it was all due to hormones.
But somehow I managed to forget all about this discovery. Every month would come round. I’d have a day or two feeling really sad, blue, wondering what was wrong with me. And then the next day I’d get the answer, oh yes, I was due my period.
I loosely kept track of when my period should come. I’d note in my diary a star on the first day of my period and a question mark on the day 25 days late. Even so, I would without fail forget about the ‘sad day’.
A hormone tracker changed her world
The first time I properly considered how my menstrual cycle affects me was only a year or two ago when I read an article. The journalist had just discovered a free hormone app tracker, and it changed her world.
A very brief summary is that we have four stages of our menstrual cycle. Our hormones are doing different things during each stage. These hormones affect our mood, appetite, energy levels, desire for socialising (along with other things going on in our lives, of course).
Rising oestrogen in week one (the first day of your period and the days following) gives you a surge of positivity and good feelings (having felt fairly crap during week 4). Week 2, as oestrogen continues to rise, you’re likely to feel more upbeat, confident and resilient. Week 3 you’ll probably be feeling quite mellow and sleepy (due to rising progesterone), and week 4 it’s likely you’ll feel irritated, a bit blue, generally p*ssed off at the world as oestrogen is now dropping. (I’d advise you to read up on this, I’m no scientist).
It was amazing to finally understand why some weeks I feel confident, full of energy and good vibes, wanting to socialise every night. Then other weeks I can’t bear to be around too many other people, wanting to cancel all social engagements and just lie on the sofa watching tv.
Amongst other things it also affects productivity; some weeks I’m super motivated and on a roll, others my pep is limited.
We should cut ourselves some slack
The reason I’m sharing this is so that you can learn to cut yourself some slack. We women are good at giving ourselves a hard time. Those days when there is lots to do. Your to-do list is infinite, but you’re low on energy. You just want to sleep, you’re irritated, you’re crabby, you’re uninspired – there’s a reason. It’s probably because your hormones are doing their thing (and let’s not forget diet, sleep, exercise, personal issues etc etc all play a part too).
Give yourself a break. Sooner or later the week of your cycle will come around where you’re positive, full of energy, a can-do attitude and great ideas.
If you’re going through a career change or looking to make changes in other areas of your life, it can be tough to stay motivated and focused. There are lots of emotional issues going on. There’s quite possibly a lot of negative chatter, your brain’s way of keeping you safe and within your comfort zone. And then on top of that your mood, confidence and energy are all affected by your hormones.
My advice is to read up a little on hormones, or download one of the many free hormone tracker apps out there. Build your awareness. You’ll start to figure out which week’s great for networking, contacting people, charging ahead with your plans. And which week is a good time for reflection and slowing down. You can start to make plans with this knowledge in mind.
Even with what I’ve learned, I still have to remind myself all this on a weekly or even daily basis. It’s easy to forget. Sometimes you’re feeling the way you feel, simply because of…hormones.
If you’d like to try life coaching with me, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.