This week has been a bit of a roller-coaster for me: from unexpected issues coming up requiring urgent solutions in my business, to last minute schedule changes to complete emotional vulnerability that I was unable to control. Without noticing, I allowed my energy to shift from lightness to heaviness, from enjoyment and inspiration to burden and overwhelm. By the second half of the week, I reached a point where I could no longer continue to try and resolve the issues that kept coming up because it seemed that the more issues I resolved, the more kept coming back.
I decided to try out a new solution that so far has worked like magic. It’s called surrender. I let go of all control, accepted where I am and surrendered completely. Instead of thinking about my problems and how to resolve them, I decided to focus on what I love about my life right now and what I am grateful for. One thing I realised is that it really does not matter if we are living the life of our dreams on the outside, if we are not able to love and enjoy it on the inside. The quickest way to shift this internal state to allow ourselves to enjoy our life is gratitude.
So here is my gratitude list:
It’s summer – my favourite season – and the weather has been glorious (which is not a given in England)!
I love waking up and seeing sunlight in my flat. I love how easy and effortless waking up in summer is.
I so appreciate that I can sit on my balcony every morning while I have breakfast or journal to the sound of singing birds and soothed by calming fragrance of my lavender plant.
I love flowers. I love the variety we are spoilt with in summer and I love that they are everywhere and they smell so delicious.
I love summer style. It appears that there is a real awakening of visibility and femininity in summer as women put on gorgeous outfits.
I adore summer wear and how easy and quick getting ready in the morning is. And I love that bright colours look very appropriate right now.
I love sitting in cafes outside and do my work or simply watch the world go by.
I am so grateful that I have the freedom to work from wherever I want and be in charge of my schedule.
I appreciate meeting so many inspiring women recently. It is one of the best things my self-employment gives me.
I feel deep gratitude for all the love and support I am receiving from my loved ones, my family and friends. They add magic to my life.
What are you loving about your life right now? It can be anything big or small. I would love to hear from you in the comments area below.
Oh and I forgot to mention, the so-called problems have now resolved themselves…
Recently, I have heard several people say that starting your own business is the best personal development course. Being in the middle of launching my business, I could not agree more. First weeks of working on my own were like nothing I had experienced before: full of excitement, ideas, learning opportunities and overwhelm that didn’t even feel like overwhelm. After a couple of weeks of working morning to night with little time for exercise, lunch and dinner breaks, let alone me time, I realised I was walking down a path that was taking me further away from an inspired lifestyle I committed to creating by leaving my job and setting up on my own. My first big business lesson was that working hard and working overtime does not serve me. I am sure you will agree that overworking makes us tired, less productive, less creative and sends us into stress response state (happened to me all the time in my first couple of weeks of my business launch), which is the opposite of strategic visionary state I would like to be in when I work. I was not able to learn this important lesson during my 10 years of employment in various corporate position. But better late than never, right?
Today, I schedule play dates in my work diary, no matter how much work I have. Today, I feel play time is as important a commitment in my business schedule as, say, doing my accounts.
Listening to the inspiring Arianna Huffington at an event organised by the School of Life a couple of weeks ago, I walked away with a sense of hope and optimism. I must be doing something right if a very successful women, one of the top 100 most influential people in the world, according to Time magazine, lives by the same rules.
Arianna encouraged us to create our own definition of success, which is not measured only by how much money or how much power we have, but also by how much we thrive in life. In conversation with other attendees, I came up with my own definition of success. For me a successful day has nothing to do with how much time I spend working or how many tasks I tick off my list, a successful day for me is measured by how fulfilled and inspired I felt and how much pleasure I experienced. When I look back at the past month I can see that completing a lot of tasks in one day is extremely satisfying, but collapsing tired on my bed with no other memories but those of hard work at my desk is not. It’s the balance of achievements in work and pleasure that creates fulfilment and happiness daily. Plus, I don’t know about you, but for me, my best ideas, creative visions and inspiration come during the time of fun or relaxation, not when I am crunched over my laptop at my desk.
So if you need any more reasons to take play seriously and the fact that it makes you feel great is not enough, think about how much better the quality of your work will be when you are inspired, re-energised and connected to your creativity. Then think about how being in this state can affect your daily life and positively impact relationships, lifestyle.
I hear you… You are asking how can you have more play time if you are so busy all the time! My answer is: one step at a time.
1. Choose one thing (or more) you want to enjoy at the beginning of each day
A woman I met in California recently came up with a beautiful and inspiring way to infuse more pleasure into her daily life. Every day she creates lists of activities, things and experiences she wants to enjoy that day, similar to a classic to-do list only full of fun and beautiful activities, such as slowly enjoying a strawberry or sketching or sitting outside in the grass, and there is no obligation to tick them all off. A beautiful idea, isn’t it?
Decide what it is that you want to enjoy at the beginning of your day before getting into your ‘work’ mode (instead of reaching for your phone). When you know what you want to enjoy you are much more likely to do it.
2. Have an play date with yourself once a week
If you want to go one step further, consider having a play date in your diary weekly, or, as creativity guru Julia Cameron calls them, Artist Dates. Her only rules are that you have to be by yourself and that it has to be fun. Surely, everyone has an hour per week in their diary for some fun.
3. Keep a play journal
As grown ups we are so far removed from the state of play for the sake of fun that at first it may be difficult to come up with ideas for your play dates and you may be tempted to reach for TV remote instead. Try keeping a play journal. You can make your first play date out of it: go to a stationary shop and choose a stylish notebook that will inspire you to be creative and playful, buy some coloured pens or whatever inspires you and sit in a beautiful space brainstorming ideas for your future play dates. This way if you are stuck for ideas, you can always consult your play journal. You can cut out inspiring pictures from magazines and include these in your journal too.
4. Have a “me day”
This sounds like an ultimate luxury, doesn’t it? I know women, very successful business owners, who dedicate one day every week to fun activities. This may be difficult for play beginners. I am not fully there yet myself, but it is my aspiration to structure my work in a way that allows me to have a “me day” most weeks for fun, play and pampering. This for me is an essential part of success and inspired lifestyle. Of course not everyone has the opportunity to take an entire day off just for themselves every week. Before you tell me that this is absolutely impossible, given all the commitments in your life, I will quote Arianna Huffington: “We have to let go of something every day”. What are you willing to let go of today to have more time for fun and pleasure in your life?
As I am writing this from 35 000 ft in the air on my way to Lisbon for a mini break, I am feeling relaxed and inspired. Catching up with a former colleague from my full-time corporate job days earlier today made me realise how used I have become to feeling relaxed, connected to my body and desires, inspired and simply happy. Last year, feeling this way on a daily basis was only a fantasy that I chose to believe was possible. Instead, I was feeling stressed, scattered, disconnected from inspiration and always busy. Yes, “busy” was my favourite word for a while. I almost took pride in being busy, as if it were an honorable way to live my life, always busy. Too busy to prioritise my self-care needs and sleep, too busy to reply to my friends’ messages on time, too busy to stop and think about what I actually feel or desire. Being always busy meant I was tired, overwhelmed and frequently experiencing burn outs. Sounds familiar?
Today, I know that there is no happiness in being busy. In fact, the minute I start using the word “busy” to describe my day to someone or to choose not to have the experience I desire or require – be it do Pilates, spend time with a dear friend or take my daily walk – I know I am off track and my schedule and how I prioritise things need to be reviewed.
Of course we all have responsibilities and activities that require our attention, families to look after, households to manage, jobs to do. We are not always going to have hours of free time to sit and do nothing, and perhaps life would be less exciting if we did. The kind of busyness I am describing is the one that gets in a way of enjoying on a daily basis, the one that prevents us from living an inspired stylish lifestyle (your own version of it) or is used an an excuse to not prioritise self-care or the experiences we desire.
Since eliminating a lot of busyness from my daily life, I am happier, more inspired and experience life in colour on a daily basis, I am finally loving my lifestyle. It is, however, a constant work in progress – I caught myself using “busy” easier this week, but thankfully didn’t go down that road.
These are the ways I found effective to transform my life from busy to inspired.
1. Declutter your space and wardrobe
Ruthless decluttering of your home and your wardrobe is not only incredibly satisfying because it creates a new sense of freedom and space, but also it helps to simplify your daily life, therefore eliminating some of the busyness.
I love this quote by William Morris:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
The same works for your wardrobe. I have recently got rid of 40% of what used to be in my wardrobe by applying this rule: if it doesn’t make you feel beautiful, for whatever reason (it could be a wrong shape for you an unflattering colour or simply not the right style for your personality), it should go. It doesn’t matter how much money you paid for it or how bad you feel about giving away something that is practically new. If you don’t feel beautiful when you put it on, it has no place in your wardrobe. If you feel bad about throwing it away, you could sell it online to donate to charity.
2. Declutter your schedule and make space for what you require
This one is key to eliminating needless busyness in your life, but not so easy to do. One way of approaching this task, which I found to be very useful, is to not try to eliminate busyness to create free time, as this often failed, but to replace it with activities that serve me. Start by identifying your essential requirements, these include self-care, food, sleep, time with loved ones, alone time, activities that bring you pleasure and therefore significantly increase the quality of your daily life. These are typically different for each of us. My list, for example, includes morning meditation, drinking hot water with lemon while grounding myself for the day, making and enjoying healthy breakfast, slow lunch, preferably in a stylish surrounding, daily walk in a park or tree-lined streets, 8 hours of sleep, 10 minute of stretching, smelling flowers, time to connect on the phone or in person with loved ones. Once you have identified these for yourself, make sure these are prioritised in your daily schedule. Do keep in mind this is not about perfection. There will be days, where you are not able to do everything, but the important thing is to know what you require to be grounded and happy on a daily basis and give it to yourself. Neither it is about ticking boxes. How you do these and being fully present is the important part here.
If you are still saying you have no time in your schedule (I was the queen of excuses when it came to busyness) for a 30 minute lunch away from your desk, a walk or 8 hour sleep, see where you can create more time: perhaps reduce time you spend browsing the Internet without a specific purpose, on social media channels or watching TV.
3. Remember, stylish inspired way of living is a choice
When I was always busy, I often found myself in a victim mode feeling there was nothing I could do about the way I lived my life. “Life is busy, that’s a given and there is nothing I can do about it,” I used to say. Let me tell you, this wasn’t a happy or an inspiring place to be in. Once I realised that I am in control of my life and stylish lifestyle is a matter of making certain choices and aligning my daily schedule with my requirements and desires, things started to shift. Whenever you find yourself giving yet another “I am too busy” excuse to yourself, remember that you are in control and you can life your life in a way that is inspiring to you. This small shift in perception will empower you.
4. Ask for help
This one is my favourite and required most effort from me for some reason: you don’t have to do it all by yourself, you have nothing to prove to anyone, so do ask for, hire or simply accept help. Too exhausted by your household chores? Hire a cleaner or ask your current cleaner to help with extra activities. Too much admin? Hire a virtual assistant either for a specific project or to help you on a weekly basis. Too busy at work? Learn too delegate to your team. Overwhelmed by the state of your wardrobe or shopping? Find a stylist, it will save you time and money. Feeling confused and lacking clarity on what you require or desire? Hire a coach.
Remember, help is always available if you are willing to accept it.
Feeling too busy to show up in a stylish and confident way in your daily life? Book a discovery session with me here to gain clarity on how to prioritise you and create the image that will attract the opportunities you desire in your life and career.
Sometimes I think life is a constant struggle between what we have to do and what we want to do. Or is it just me?
I have to go to work (this used to be one of the biggest ones until recently), I have to tidy up, I have to do the dishes, I have to see that friend of mine who I said no to twice and now I have to even if there is no time in my schedule.
Recently, I have committed to doing more of what I want in my life by taking responsibility for it and committing to experiencing it every day. It all comes down to making conscious choices. Having gone through some small and big changes (leaving my day job and deciding to move into a new home), I began to feel happy and free. But the oh so familiar voice telling me “you have to…” managed to find its way back into my head and took over, erasing all the good work I have done. I told myself: I am moving home, this is different, it’s ok to feel a lot of pressure and do what I don’t want to do, be stressed, overwhelmed and unhappy. But that didn’t feel right.
I don’t know how about you, but whenever I tell myself I have to do something I don’t feel excited about, my first response is procrastination. I usually procrastinate with tasks I dread until there is enough time pressure to send me into an adrenalin rush doing mode. Then I stress, get things done and feel exhausted after. And the cycle continues…
Procrastination can take many forms: from finding something else (equally important to do), to getting unwell (our bodies’ natural response to pressure), to simply doing nothing. I experienced all three last week when instead of packing, selling furniture and arranging my move, I was in bed with fever, taking care of other less time sensitive issues and feeling so overwhelmed that doing nothing seemed like the only way forward. Have you been there?
This time, however, I caught myself just in time before going into a stress-fuelled adrenalin rush, which endangers our health and well-being, and allowed myself to take a break and then deal with my tasks in a way that is enjoyable to me. I cannot take credit for this entirely though. A weekend in magical Venice (where I went last weekend) has the power to transform anyone from struggle mode to pleasure mode.
How to stop procrastinating and enjoy doing what you want to do:
1. Recognise that in most cases you don’t have to do that thing you dread, you actually choose to do it
Let’s take my example. At a first glance it looks like I have to pack all my belonging in less than two weeks and move them into the new flat. I don’t actually have to do this. I could ask all my friends to come and help or hire a moving company to pack for me or pay my cleaner a day rate and get her to do it for me. The truth is I actually want to pack my clothes and books and other personal belongings by myself. I enjoy going through my clothes, trying them on while listening to music or flicking though my books before deciding what to keep and what to leave behind. For things I don’t feel as excited about when it comes to packing, I will bring in help.
What do you feel you have to do that you don’t like? Maybe it’s going to the gym. There are other ways to feel good and stay fit. Maybe it’s going to work every morning instead of having the day to yourself. Well, you could quit, start your own company, find a job where you can work from home, find an alternative way to make a living. Allow yourself to see other solutions. Then make a choice. In some cases you will notice that what you felt you have to do is your choice. This change of perception will empower you.
2. Set daily intentions
To have, do, experience what you want, it is important to know what it is first. Decide what you want to experience each day by setting daily intentions. It’s not only about goals and what you want to accomplish. We get so focused on goals and achievements in our culture that we forget to experience life daily. This is in fact one of the main reasons why people procrastinate even with what they like doing – too much pressure coming from achieving vs. failing. Think about what you want to enjoy and how you want to feel. You can set intentions about specific tasks, but remember to focus on what you want to experience. Tara Marino, a well-known coach, a fashion designer and a very inspiring woman, has an excellent video about how to set intentions and focus on the experience.
We are so used to relying on ourselves that we forget it is possible to delegate some of our activities. Is there something you dread doing that you could delegate?
4. Be creative and find new fun ways to deal with tasks
If you don’t like doing something but there isn’t anyone to delegate it to or it simply needs to get done, think if there is a way of doing it that would be enjoyable. It is easy to get bored and begin to procrastinate with routine tasks. For example, I travel a lot, but I really don’t like packing. Looking stylish is a must so I dread the process. Last time I travelled, instead of just picking up random clothes and putting them into a suitcase around midnight (time pressure is key here), I wrote a vision for my trip where I imagine what I will be doing, how I will be feeling and what I will be wearing. I got so inspired that I managed to pack in 30 minutes (my personal record).
Going back to my move, one of the things I wanted to do was de-cluttert my wardrobe and get rid of other belongings to feel lighter in my new home and sell what I don’t wear (or have never worn). I was procrastinating listing on eBay because this did not excite me. Last week I realised that the most exciting way for me to do this would be to organise a stylish wardrobe sale party. If you are in London and are interested in attending, contact me for details.
What can you change in your routine tasks that will make them more fun? I would love to hear your thoughts.