Can you see you are already living the dream?

I was feeling a little low last week. Very unusual for me. I think I am shedding a skin and there will be an up-levelled version of me emerging very soon. This can be a tough time because I think there has to be a death of sorts to allow the phoenix to rise again.

It’s very easy to fall into the depths of despair at this point; the old ways no longer serve you but the new is not yet in place. It’s a bit of a void. Things are no fun anymore, the ‘gloss’ has worn off much of life, and it’s all a bit, well, tedious.

And yet…..on reflection, you have much to savour, to bask in, to enjoy. But you struggle to feel that. Things are falling away, to make way for a life anew.

I’ve been here before; there have been many levels of Me. It’s a dark night of the soul for sure, but I know the light emerging will be brighter than ever.

And still, life must go on. Thanks to my mother, the phrase “you can’t stop the world to get off” forever rings in my ears.

This may be true. the world still turns whilst I stew in my existential crisis. But… I can slow my world down. I can stop and breathe, take care of myself, and observe this new era unfolding.

So…. back to practicalities, ‘real life’ as we call it. How does one cope with a personal transformation?

Well now… not everything during a transformative phase will ‘go’. You need to know that you are already ‘living the dream’. I remember many years ago being asked what my life would look like once I was wealthy, successful, happy.

I recall I thought about the morning I would have. How I would get up when I wake up, and not when the alarm was set to ring. How I would drink coffee in my own time and contemplate my day. How I would go for a walk whilst listening to music or an inspiring podcast. How I would then settle down to work, in my own home, with my own schedule, spending my days helping people to create their dream life.

Now hold on….errr that is my life! Wow!!! I was living it but hadn’t seen it.

I hope that, like me, you look up one day, and realise you are living your dream life. Maybe not completely. But you do not go from zero to hero in one day. What would your ‘dream day’ look like? Could you do at least some of that today? Don’t wait for the perfect moment to eat that perfect breakfast, live that perfect morning or sleep well at the end of that perfect day.

Choose something today, right now, that represents your dream life. Live the life now in some way. Just make sure you notice it, acknowledge and appreciate the joy you alone have created.

What to do when you lose your nerve

We all lose our nerve. All of us.

We can go merrily along, getting on with it all, even feeling like we are in the flow. Business is going well, and we are on the up.

But then….paralysis.

And it’s just happened to me.

I attend a daily ‘power hour’. I totally recommend them. Partners with our company run them at various times of the day. As the name suggests, they run for one hour. At hours we focus on ‘rainmaker’ activity; that is, the activity which actively grows our business. We might do calls, online meetings, outreach etc.

As many of us also have a day job, these sessions are a boon for several reasons. Firstly, they take away the guesswork of “how do I fit this in?”. This particular one works for me as it’s around lunchtime so you can squeeze it into your working day. Others are held in the morning, and there are other ones in the evening. There are some at the weekend too.

Secondly, the learning that also takes place is priceless. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a talking shop. We have a brief chat at the beginning and the end, and we share our learning. In between we ‘crack on’.

Anyway I digress. At the end of a call today, I had lost my nerve. I had pushed myself out of my comfort zone during the hour and tried some new skills. I started confidently, but by the end I felt as though I had accomplished very little. Because it was a new thing, I was slow and clumsy. I felt truly stretched outside my comfort zone

I listened to the results of a fellow partner and felt as though my business was slow, whilst their’s seemed to be flying faster. I couldn’t compete.

All of which was nonsense. Business results are based on several things, one of which is ‘flying hours’. A full-time person will clearly put the hours in faster than a ‘part-timer.’ Business results are a reflection of several factors, all of which can be improved upon.

I reflected on my hour and why I felt the way I did. When you feel this way, you can do one (or all of the following):

Speak to your sponsor: Tell them what you are doing, what your results are and how you feel. Usually the thoughts rushing around your head need an outlet.

Skills pay the bills: Are you short on skills? Do you need to learn something new? Or revisit something that you feel rusty on or unsure about?

Practice makes perfect: Do you need to ‘do the doing’ and become more accomplished by doing more of the same?

For me I did all three!

I spoke with a mentor, got the thoughts out of my head and rebaselined my plan. I went onto our training portal and booked on a course to refresh my memory and I did an hour of impromptu training there and then. I then ‘set to’ and just did the work.

There is always a solution and a way forward. Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t go into ‘witness protection’ and disappear when you are struggling; there is always someone to talk to. And don’t stop ‘doing the do’.

Keep some momentum, any momentum, and keep in touch with your network. We all falter, and we will all help you.

Basking in ‘epicness’

Well don’t I feel good today!

I have a full time job, a part time business and my spare time. I thought long and hard over Christmas about my happiness in all of these domains. Don’t get me wrong, I am innately happy and joyful. As I always say; I have good days and bad moments.

But one thing I cannot stand is anything pointless. I get very VERY bored with that, and when Anita’s bored, shift happens!

At one time in my life that could only mean one thing – rapid, drastic action. I have lived to tell the tale of those times, but my life is different now, and I realised that what I was missing at this time was a sense of contribution.

So I set to. From now on, everything has to have a meaning. Sounds intense eh? I guess what I really mean is that, for me, everything should have a purpose. Doing nothing has a purpose if it’s giving my brain and body a rest. In fact, all my best ideas and inspiration come when I stop and smell the roses.

So I am actually choosing less busyness, and a more meaningful daily life. Now, not everything we do has a point. There are plenty of things I see being done in day jobs that are a waste of everyone’s breath. Everyone knows it’s pointless, but we carry on with the hamsterwheel of mindless bureaucracy. Those kind of things definitely see me silently screaming, and frequently mutter a ‘FFS’.

But this week has been epic. Every day I have gone to bed having done good. I’m a helper. The world is full of us. Clarke Kent types. But the difference is with us, we don’t hop into a phone box to slip our knickers over our leggings and don a cape. I for one, could not manage without my reading glasses like Superman does.

I received the ultimate reward for that this week. I responded to a call for help on a Facebook Group. A lovely lady, at her wits end, through no fault of her own. I took some action (nothing spectacular, all part of the day job stuff, so to speak). A resolution has not yet been reached but good progress has been made.

For me, the greatest benefit is that I was able to provide not just practical but moral support to an already strong women who had been beaten down by systems (you would have been too). The result was lifted spirits, which raises the energy and that is where the magic lies.

The ultimate reward I mention above is that this wonderful lady made a charitable donation to the Red Cross as a thank you. Of course this made my eyes leak!

Today, further progress has been made and I am confident the resolution is in sight.

So I end the week on a high. A bit of community spirit and the hand of friendship goes a long way. You may not be high profile, but if you do good within your own sphere, you are changing the world (your world) for the better.

So keep your glasses on, and your underwear firmly tucked away out of sight. You are still an epic superhero, and all the more so for being somewhat invisible.

I know you are out there, and I salute you x

Contribution Is The Key To Happiness

I’ve had a change in perspective. I don’t know if life is forcing us to look for real meaning amongst the limbo, chaos and uncertainty, or it’s a natural phase I am progressing through (could be my age!), but I need to make daily life count more than ever. Instead of me thinking “How can I get the best of today” I want to know what I can contribute, to myself and to other people. I’m really happy with this new ‘ambition’. Seems like I am not the only one, I am hearing this more and more. It’s a wonderful thought that alongside some very dark days, frustrations and losses that many people have faced, and are still facing, that our human spirit shines through. I have faith in humanity, and sometimes we must experience things we don’t enjoy, to feel the contrast and rise up to be who we really are. My childhood mantra of “I can do this all by myself” no longer stands. We are in this together and the experience is all the better for being a shared one.

Don’t Give Up The Day Job! (The Power of Part-time)

One of the first things to do when you start a home-based business is understand your why. For some people the answer is very simple: to sack the boss ASAP. Many people are in very unfulfilling jobs, vastly overworked and underpaid and they need to get out.

With the enthusiasm that comes with a new venture, those people soon get on a roll with their part-time business, and not much later quit their job and go full-time as a home-based business owner.

And then……they fail. The pressure of suddenly relying on their efforts to bring in the money before the residual income really kicks in is too much. I have seen this happen time and time again.

Periodically I have wanted to do exactly that. However, what I now know is that for me balance is everything, and I actually enjoy the ‘day job’.

For me, the difference that having your own business makes is choice. When you have a choice of keeping the day job or not, the choice for me is to keep it. You may ask why.

Because I love what I do. For a while I thought it had to be one or the other, largely because I am ‘all or nothing’ when I am committed to a path. Over the years however, I have engineered my whole working life to give me what I need: A sense of contribution, a good income, flexibility and choice. And for me, that means working from home.

The last couple of years has been a godsend for me because of the sudden acceptance of home working. Much of the stress of the day job came from the daily commute which was often two hours drive each way. I can now give 100% of myself to my very fulfilling day job, then, with no travel involved, can switch off from that and commit 100% to the side hustle. I still have dinner with my family, and I am not working myself into the ground. I am in fact, ‘doing the doing’ of how I want to live.

As Jim Rohn said: “Work full time on your income and part-time on your fortune”. These days, that can also be “and have a life at the same time”. This way of life is more possible now than ever before, and it’s time has now come. I’ve had a long wait, but as with most things, everything happens in perfect timing, and that time is now.

Why We Can All Be Part Of The Problem And How We Are Always Free To Choose

Reflecting on the year:

Booked to go to Prague in August. They wouldn’t let us in as we had just returned to Germany from the U.K. So we had a German staycation, part of which was spent in Berlin.

Everyone should go.

The connection with recent historical events runs through your body at every monument. Once you have the bullet marks pointed out to you, you can’t unsee them they are everywhere. When you stand above Hitlers bunker you realise this sh1t was real.

And you feel the unease and horror in your soul.

We visited this memorial.

The second picture gives a sense of sensory deprivation when you walk through. Suddenly you see and hear nothing; not the traffic, the people or the other usual sounds of a bustling city.

You have been removed from society.

If you turn to walk another way along this grid of ominous monoliths, the path this way is an undulating one. You are forced to walk in a particular way, whether you want to or not.

Your behaviour has been forcibly changed. Feels very unnatural.

At the other side we discussed our experience. All felt something uncomfortable although we couldn’t all name it.

Our brilliant guide put things into context: whilst this was a memorial to Jewish people it was also a way to permanently remind people to not forget that this happened, because it was really a statement of what can happen when normal people let things slide, inch by inch, until atrocities occur.

And that can happen to anyone. It happens when we (maybe unwittingly) take the “I’m alright Jack” approach and conveniently turn a blind eye, or where through fear for ourselves, feel we have no choice but to say nothing.

The Holocaust was created by everyone was his key takeaway bombshell of a message. He was a wonderful guide who brought past events back to life in our hearts and minds. If you go to Berlin, do the tour.

“First they came . . .”

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

— Martin Niemöller

Winter is here: Make of it what you will

I love this time of year. To be fair, I love every time of year (amused giggle). Now feels pretty magical though. It shouldn’t do. Whilst yesterday there was glorious, dazzling sunlight flooding into my office, today is grey, grey, grey. There is rarely any wind here, and so today, that is somehow adding to the greyness. There is nothing to blow it away. Yet the absence of light in the garden makes the autumn colours glow. The reds and the golds of the leaves simply ‘pop’ from the backdrop of the leaden sky. It really is very beautiful and peaceful. Today is a serene day.

Now, on the face of it, the world is dying back, fading, decomposing. Life appears to be ebbing away. There is a discernable drop in the energy around me. And I am sleeping like a good ‘un. This is a very welcome change after a hectic if joy-filled few weeks running up to my wedding. I need the rest and recuperation from longer sleeps. But the light levels have most definitely dropped and mornings are slow to get going.

I really welcome all of this because I know what’s coming. And so do you.

Green shoots. Both physical and metaphorical. My morning coffee in bed is taking a while longer. And during that time, I reflect. Not just in the dark mornings; I do this every day during the year. But in these darker seasons I take longer. I savour the slower pace, I count my blessings, and I hatch my plans.

Plans for the long term, and plans for the day. I have enjoyed my day in my head before I even think about poking my feet out from the duvet to point towards the floor.

If you permit yourself time to stop, observe and reflect, you get to see your own seasons in life. I think ours are multifaceted though. Each decade, year, month, week and day can go through ebbs and flows. We have times that flow, and times that ebb. Neither way is better or worse than the other. At the height of a growing season, the sunflower is already on its way to going to seed and returning to the earth. The break up of a relationship, a job we walk out on (or lose) can feel like life is on the wane, when it can also be a step towards a much improved life.

The sunflower has more certainty than ourselves. It knows its lifepath. We, however can choose ours. Maybe not the facts around it, but how we respond to the ebb and flow of our lives is in our gift. I have seen people triumph in the most tragic of circumstances, and I would never take away the enormity of the pain gone through to get there. Nor would I say that their circumstance was necessary for their growth. I wish a joyful life for everyone. And we are all different. A minor inconvenience for one is a disaster for another.

When winter comes, whenever it comes, there are green shoots somewhere. We can’t often see them, and we don’t need to nurture them. The sun will return, the beating heart of the earth will warm again, and life will spring forth, renewed, and ready to welcome the light returning. We can be sure of that regardless.

Why You Should Forget the Goal and Love The Process (And The Pain!)

So I watched THE most amazing video today. Quite lengthy but well worth it. It’s all about dopamine. Now, I am a student of dopamine, as it recently came onto my radar during my regular research about why I do or don’t do things. Why can I work through the night tirelessly to produce great work, but don’t send that message I really need to, or pay that bill, or make that phone call?

Seemingly, dopamine is the key, and I have determined that I have a particularly low level, which means I don’t do ordinary very well. In fact, doing ‘normal’ can literally be both mentally and physically painful. Complex and fascinating I have all the energy in the world for, whereas basic skills can be a trial.

So I am a student of brainhacks, neuroscience and neurodivergent traits, many of which I wholeheartedly see as mine. I need structure and routine, but I hate some structure and routine. The mere thought of doing the same things day in day out sends me to sleep.

So I try to make the mundane magical, and the routine a ritual (Ritual sounds more exciting don’t you think?)

I really encourage you to watch the video (link below) and see it through. It is truly fascinating as well as practical. One of the main messages though, is worth raising here. He talks about the problem with goals (aka ‘rewards’). The theory being that undertaking a process to work towards a goal makes that process painful in the striving to get to said goal.

Now there is a theory that would argue that there is no ‘pain no gain.’ But we are hard wired to avoid pain so we don’t do the thing. In work and business, that could mean we don’t pick up the phone, a crucial part of building relationships, which is the lifeblood of any endeavour. Furthermore, based on my connections with others who struggle with the mundane as much as I do, picking up the phone is just one thing we won’t do. And we keep it on our to do list forever.

So how do we get beyond this? Making calls is a barrier for many so I’ve been thinking about what I do (and still need to work on) to make this a daily ritual. Andrew Huberman says that if we disengage from the goal, and do the ‘thing’, eventually we will raise our dopamine by only doing the thing, and we then feel good doing the ordinary stuff, without which we will never reach our goals anyway.

So here are my thoughts on ‘doing the thing’, whilst disregarding the goal (specifically in relation to making phone calls):

  1. Just get the file out. You just need to start. Make the first step an easy one. Pick up the file, open the email, pick up the phone. Aim for the first step in the process. Actually I have found that not picking up the phone and calling using my airpods is easier and more enjoyable.
  2. Name the person and purpose. If a person is involved in the task, name them. Don’t just schedule ‘make calls’ in your diary. Instead, schedule ‘call Wendy Johnson to arrange their annual review’
  3. Schedule the calls in batches. It can be really difficult to keep chopping and changing between tasks. It is for me anyway. I find it very disorienting to flit about from task type to task type. So I use ‘time blocking’ in my diary. Although I have several electronic diaries for different purposes I still bring it all together in a written paper diary. I found these brilliant erasable highlighters and I have allocated different colours for different tasks. Calls and virtual appointments are in purple as that is the company colour. Yellow is family and fun. Blue is work meetings, and green is work activities. By making an appoinment to make calls, I stop the task before at the allotted time, have a five minute break (I use the Pomodoro Technique), then will only make calls during that next 25 minute slot.
  4. Shut down distractions. Unless you are making calls on WhatsApp on your laptop, put your laptop lid down! Turn notifications off on your phone. Allow nothing to get in the way.
  5. Set a timer. As I say, I use the Pomodoro Technique. Broadly speaking, this means I work in 25 minute segments with a five minute break inbetween.
  6. Enjoy the friction. Note the discomfort, and acknowledge it (even welcome it). This is your opportunity to grow – fantastic! Resist the urge to take the pain away with a dopamine boost like a sweet treat, social media scrolling session, or yet another cup of coffee. Without friction (resistance), there is no traction, so you can’t propel forward.
  7. Do it again the next day
  8. Do it again the next day
  9. Do it again the next day
  10. Keep doing it until you feel good doing it

Let me know how you get on. Can you do this every day for a month? The results of those small, yet painful steps will be quite something.

Cat got your tongue? Why it’s good to talk

I get a fair few requests for information via social media. Now, if we are going to work together, we will, at some point, need to exchange at least a few words. So my approach is to very quickly suggest we do just that. Very few take up the offer of my time to get to know each other. That’s fine with me, it saves us both time, and I can focus on the right people. It’s an interesting stance though, and one that continues to surprise me.

Picture the scene: You apply for a job, and are invited to interview. The job requires someone personable, and the interviewer quite rightly expects to meet those applicants before offering the role. All new starters require investment to get you off on the right track from the get-go.

You want the role. It’s interesting work, pays well, and you feel that this is a good company to work with. But you won’t meet the interviewer. You still expect a job offer though.

Ain’t going to happen is it?

So we need to meet – at least have a phone call. I am prepared to put that time in for you. I want to know what you want, then we can see if this is a match for us.

A key skill in building any business is being able to connect. Some call it networking; I call it making friends. I spend a good deal of time connecting, being a friend, and seeing how and where I can help. No agenda, just a catch up to see how people are. More and more people are working from home now, either in their business or a job. I will ‘meet’ them for coffee, virtual lunch or general chat. I have shared many a poached egg on toast by zoom.

Try it. Get into the habit of offering connection. Find out how people are. Make it a daily ritual to make someone’s day with a real conversation. At the end of the day, work and business is really about enjoying conversation, being interested in people, and helping them out. Reach out to someone who may have an opportunity for you. Rather than asking for info, say “can we talk”?

What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t ‘click’ and that’s fine. But maybe you do. Whether you become a member of the team or not, you may have just made a friend.

So, can we talk?

Will The Real Anita Please Step Forward (How To Beat Imposter Syndrome)

So, this has been a real barrier for me. Well, I say ‘real’, but it isn’t is it? It’s actually been a script running through my head. And just like the latest Bond movie, it’s a complete work of fiction.

When I was growing up, it was very common for me to hear “Who does she think she is?” This was not about me, but usually in reference to someone else who was not being met with approval. It could have been because they had a nice car, maybe a new piece of object d’art in their front garden, could even be just a new haircut, or looking good in a pretty dress for no reason at all.

There is a reverse snobbery in some circles, whereby people are looked down upon because they are seen as thinking themselves to be better than their peers. Except, that again is fiction. I always thought it strange that someone could be brought down by wanting to make the best of themselves and their lives, but as I say, it felt like a common occurrence.

So when I started to want to grow in my life, I met with resistance. Of course, it was purely internal, but once I felt that friction, I then saw it reflected back at me in life. So in my mind I would be an outcast for succeeding, which then made me lose heart, and I lost my nerve.

But my gut knew different. My gut knew that the better you are, the more you can do for others. My gut knew that when you are doing good, you shine, and that light inspires other people to also do well.

But let me tell you; even though my gut would not budge in its resolve, it was outnumbered by my head and heart. It was two against one. This manifests in the world too. When the majority believe one thing, it becomes the dominant view. But even if a million people think one way, it doesn’t mean they are right.

Knowing this to be true is one thing, staying true to your own beliefs and living in accordance with them is another. But you must. Despite the feedback from the world, you must do the right thing. For You.

So, who do you think you are? You might know that you are capable of wonderful things, but who you think you are (because you were told, over and over)will dominate.

Let me also tell you this: The mind lies. It’s only doing its primitive job, to keep you from perceived harm. So thank it for that.

Then completely disregard the story. Despite the script, go with your gut, resolutely be you. Live YOUR life, not someone else’s view of what that is. Wear the good shoes. Build a great business. Fearlessly and joyfully enjoy the fruits of your labours. Other people are watching, and you could just be the catalyst that frees them to do the same.