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

Why you shouldn’t use a life coach

If you are thinking about working with a life coach but aren’t sure if it’s what you need, or if this is the right time, this is for you.

I spoke to someone recently about coaching. She was considering whether or not coaching would be a good idea.

She had left a really good job working for a big corporation around 6 or 7 years ago, pregnant with her first child, and ready to stay at home to look after her baby.

Since then, having had two children in total, the youngest has now started school, and she’s seriously considering what to do next. She wants to do something, she’s just not sure what. She’s totally overwhelmed, totally blocked, and feeling stuck. She’s lost her confidence, and she feels lost.

We decided that working together wasn’t the right thing for her, for now. Why?

Because coaching isn’t what she needs right now. 

She has issues with self-esteem, of self-worth. She’s not yet ready to move forward. She knows that there are things from her past that have affected her, that are holding her back. Things that have been lying dormant for years. Things she has to deal with.

What she needs is counselling or therapy. Uncovering things from her past to find a way to move forward in the future. 

Coaching is about looking forwards.

And coaching is not about looking back, working out why something happened and why it affected you. It’s not about events that took place during your childhood or adolescence.

It’s also not about someone giving you all the answers, telling you what to do, giving you a fool-proof step-by-step guide to sorting out your life.

Coaching is about looking forwards, planning and taking action. And the ideas all come from YOU. A coach helps you to unearth ideas, passions, opportunities and the next step that’s right for you.

You’re ready.

You’re ready to work with a life coach when you’re determined and excited to make changes. Maybe you feel nervous, apprehensive, scared. You might be stressed, burnt out, worried. You might not be sure exactly in which direction you want to head.

But you know that you have to do something to help yourself move forwards. Maybe there’s a little glimpse of excitement when you dare to imagine yourself in a different situation.

And you are ready to do the work. 

You are ready to ask for help, to share what’s going on, and to be open to new ideas. You’re ready to really examine what you want from life, and how you can go about getting there. You need support and someone to push you along.

You’re willing to move out of your comfort zone, knowing that in doing so you’ll make big leaps towards something new

You’ve got to be all in, ready to put lots into it and take action.

Are you ready? Sounds like you? Contact me at joaopoku@gmail.com and we’ll have a chat about coaching and what you hope to achieve.

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

My to-do list is out of control! Dealing with procrastination and productivity – 5 easy steps

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.

Indecision

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?) is Essentialism 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.”

Essentialism

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.

It works

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:

  1. Read Essentialism before me.
  2. Highlight 1-3 of your top priority tasks on your to-do list.
  3. 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…).
  4. Pick one top priority task and get to work, step by step. Ignore all else until it is completed.
  5. Feel smug.

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 joaopoku@gmail.com. You can sign-up for a free 30 minute Skype call with me.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Why talk to a Life Coach?

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 joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash