Stress less is something I think we can all agree is a good thing.
I don’t know about you but stress has a few very specific obvious consequences for me and a whole heap of little silent but deadly consequences too.
When I am overwhelmed, stressed and managing it poorly my body lets me know with brutal efficiency. I get migraines, clench my jaw, my time of the month is more painful, something else I do is eat more not to mention distancing myself from my friends and family. Making more mistakes and poor choices to do with my life and health is also a sure fire sign that I am self medicating for stress through quick fixes and that can lead to all manner of issues further down the line.
I can’t lie to you and tell you that starting, building and growing a business is entirely stress free and I definitely don’t have a secret formula for the stress free life. What I can share is some things that cause me stress unnecessarily and ways that I choose to stress less about them.
Here’s the thing. As you build your business there are going to be pressures and stresses that come from a multitude of sources. Some necessary and they will drive you forward, keep you safe and ultimately lead you to where you need to be. Others are more damaging and need to be cared for. I wrote about endurance and how that supports your business, here’s some more tips to help too.
Stress less and drop perfect
Perfectionism is a typical trait but it can be paralysing. A common phrase in my house is done is better than none. When I have the time, the capacity and the wherewithal of course I aim to be the best I can. To do the ‘thing’ to the best of my abilities but I truly believe that a great way to stress less is to pick those battles well. Is this thing you’re holding onto or feel behind in a ‘must be perfect’ scenario or should it really be team ‘done is better than none’? If you are paralysed by perfection then I am firmly in the get it done and deal with tweaking later.
Stress can be like referred pain. All those hours and minutes you’re wasting putting the P in perfect for that project will have an effect. Your capacity will reduce. You’re ability to deal with change will be tested. Your patience and confidence will plummet. Focus on putting the P in progress instead. As you outgrow perfectionism and begin to really grow your business you may find that you feel guilty more and more.
Guilt can be an unnecessary stress
Guilty that you love what you do when so many others don’t. Guilty that you have less (or more) than others even though you’re working for a better future.
We all waste time feeling guilty that we are doing to much or too little of something. That we have more or less than the next person. Somehow that we aren’t woman enough, mother enough, good enough. That we are too lazy or too busy.
Truth be told this is not something you can switch off but if you reach into that feeling everyday it can become a weight that is tough to carry. So set boundaries on feeling guilty. What is acceptable to drive you and what is wallowing and wasteful for your energy? Another side effect of guilt and perfectionism has to be the damage it does to your sleep pattern.
Sleep is the Stress less secret weapon
Your basic human needs should always be a priority when you’re building your business. Eat regularly and well, drink plenty of water, look after yourself when you’re ill and get the best quality sleep you can. Healthy habits will take you’re business further than any ‘overnight success’ because it’s what will drive sustainability. It will also enable you to manage the necessary ‘driving’ stresses better.
You can see immediately how stress from lack of sleep affects you. Snappy. Unfocused. Clumsy. More prone to mistakes. If simply getting to bed when you’re ready means avoiding all of that why wouldn’t you? I truly believe that one of the best ways to sleep better, do more whilst working less is all about ease.
Cultivate healthy convenience
As people we have a tendency to have big ideas and little execution. Take going to the gym 3 x a week. The plan is great, the reasons sound and then there’s the practicalities. You choose the swanky gym that is 30 minutes from home because it has all the mod cons. The problem is, it’s not convenient so building in the habit of going becomes a chore that adds time, energy, extra planning and forethought onto your day when you just want to go.
Think of this as the ‘logistics’ stress. Choose things that are more convenient, easier, quicker but support your wellbeing and enable you to stay committed to your boundaries.
Boundaries fo’ life!
Stress less is a principle rooted in firm boundaries. With yourself and with others. As a recovering people pleaser (who am I kidding – I am a people pleaser) the thought of turning down an invitation, a request for help or the over extension of my time, abilities and capacity is like nails on a chalkboard.
It goes against the grain, it feels grating and hard. That being said am I really helping people well if I do a half hearted job? or drain myself to the point of illness? Or resent the time I’m giving those things? Sometimes it’s healthier for all concerned for you to create and hold firm boundaries, they are no less important for being firm with yourself than they are with others. Sometimes you have to create a stress less environment by building in more space to think. I talk openly about my boundaries with my email subscribers – want in? Subscribe.
Switch off to switch on
Over stimulation is a real thing in this day and age and I highly recommend commit to stress less by giving yourself tech free time. Time with less noise. Less imagery and the energy draining that can come from it. Not only will this help you focus more but curating your tech time will help you physically (your eyes and body will thank you) but it will free up the mental space you need to generate ideas, process what’s going on with you and in the world at large and just generally make you feel freer.
An added bonus with less tech time is that you relearn the skill that it is to be present with your loved ones. Maybe it’s about talking about the day over dinner, together as a family or it could be a walk with your dog (one of my favourites) whatever tech free time looks like for you make it count. Let it recharge your batteries, ignite your curiosity and lead to those break throughs that you so desperately want.
Understanding how money can impact your stress levels is fundamental to building in better habits and reducing the harmful types of stress. I’m talking both in business and personal terms. This might mean breaking things down. Creating a budget or even seeking help. Another great thing to do if you’re in a relationship is to talk through your money goals with them and start working on them together but by far my biggest saviour has been knowing I have some savings to fall back on. There is a lot of great free content out there, here’s an article I like to get you started. 5 Easy ways to save money
Make March your best month yet using these top tips.
1 – Set a weekly goal
Often we get stuck in the bigger picture goals and that can become overwhelming. Why not set a smaller tangible goal each week for your business? Take the sting out of the bigger picture goal and break it down into 1 bitesize chunk each week and make this your non negotiable bare minimum. When you get it done it will motivate you further!
2 – Prioritise your to do list
If you think you already do this, think again. Write down your to do list (no more than 10 items for the week) and rank them honestly in order of priority and then, do them in order of priority. Most important gets done first.
3 – Practise creating motivation
Motivation is a finite reaction to circumstance. Practice creating the motivation you need by doing the following:
- Look at the month ahead and schedule days off each week (I have Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays) but choose at least 1 day every single week and make sure it’s in your diary, your friends/family and clients know.
- Make sure you have created the right environment to work in: are you comfortable? is everything you need available?
- Create playlists for while you work
- Take note of when and why you feel motivated and do more of that!
4 – Get help to reach your goals
As a mentor (check out my services here) I highly recommend seeking help. After all, help rarely finds the person who doesn’t ask for it. If it’s not a mentor you’re looking for maybe it’s another form of help. Go for it. You deserve support and there are so many resources out there to suit every budget and every need, if only you commit to asking for it.
5 – Show up
When it’s all a bit overwhelming (and the last 12 months have definitely been that) it’s easy to hide from life, from your work and from your ‘audience’ but take small steps this month and commit to showing up in whatever ways you can. This could be being visible online or it could just be showing up for your client work. Start small and show up a little more each day that you can.
6 – Remember why you started this
Everyday remind yourself why you started doing what you’re doing. Write it down. Stick it on your mirror. Say it out loud. Do whatever works for you but this month remind yourself everyday that this work you’re doing has a purpose.
7 – Pay attention to your attitude
The way that we react to circumstances beyond our control or the work that we have to do is so important when it comes to your ability to reach your version of success. Pay attention to what brings out the self saboteur and when you start understanding this you will start seeing that your reaction to these circumstances is what is within your control. Make March your best month yet by learning the art of self assessment.
8 – Train yourself to adapt to change
You can adapt to change. Change is inevitable. This disruption can be hard to manage because we don’t always see it coming. But you’ve got this. Look at change head on and repeat the mantra ‘I adapt well to change’ then go ahead and see what that means for you today. You can do this.
9 – Be willing to accept bad days can happen
This has such an effect on your attitude. No matter how much you do, where you’re at or what strategies you have in place some days can go a bit wonky. The moment of bad today though, should not cloud all the rest of your tomorrows. Journal it out if that’s your thing. Cry if you need to but set yourself up for a reset. I’ve been known to have another shower at 4pm and ‘start afresh’. Don’t forget that age old saying ‘This too shall pass’
10 – Health is wealth
Whatever your health physically and mentally you can always care for it and look after yourself to be the healthiest version of you. Make March your best month yet by paying attention to your needs. Everyday in March ask yourself if you can do something today that will benefit your health. Drink an extra glass of water. Take those vitamins. Make that doctors appointment. Say no to the processed ready meal (or say yes to it if that’s what’s healthy for you today) but whatever you do, prioritise being healthy over being productive. One carries you through life, the other is a result of being healthy enough to do…
See behind the scenes of how I do this myself in March and subscribe to my mailing list!
Catch you later,
P.S. I am running a 4 week program throughout March ‘Mission March – The Motivation Miracle’ click the link to find our more!
Life and work can be tough. Some days the motivation just isn’t there and this week wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been asked “what do you do when you don’t feel like doing anything?”
It’s undoubtedly been a weathering year. Do I need to tell you about all the crazy twists and turns that have had us all getting a little lost? The start to 2021 was a bit bumpy for some too, particularly when it came to marrying up your emotional wellbeing and your business progress.
The January blues hit hard.
One of my favourite ways to begin to get through this is to give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling.
After all, what do you do when you don’t feel like doing anything? We feel bad about it and about ourselves and that often just makes it worse. Let’s agree to nip that self shaming in the bud and just give ourselves permission.
So what if you wallow for a moment?
Just a moment though. A day or a weekend maybe. Wallow, lean in and accept that things can feel shite and be about to get better at the same time. Good and bad can coexist. As well as that, the very act of giving yourself permission becomes a little bit of a rebellion. Reigniting the embers of action.
What it also does is it let’s your mind and body process. We have stepped so far away from the art and skill of processing that sometimes it really does get a bit much and believe me it really is a skill set!
So here are my quickfire recommendations for – What do you do when you don’t feel like doing anything?
- Give yourself permission to wallow and process those feelings
- Be honest with those around you about how you’re feeling and what you need right now
- Do kind things for yourself like drinking water more than coffee, eating food regularly, getting some fresh air
- Get curious about something unconnected. I like history so find myself down that rabbit hole often!
- Ask yourself what the smallest thing you can do today is
I wrote about some of what can hold us back in my post How to lose the weight of things that don’t serve you – check it out if you have a chance.
Catch you later,
P.S. I’d love to see you on my mailing list just click SUBSCRIBE
Moving your business forward in 2021 feels like something you should say in a hushed voice.
I suspect, like many of us all around the world you may have experienced a change or two in your personal and professional journeys this last year or so. I know I have and I know that every single client I’ve worked with this year has too.
Trying to figure out what to do right now in order to get where we want to be or get what we want out of it can’t really be done in the same way as before. We need to think and be in a manner we are not used to.
We need to work and think differently.
It’s a pretty innocuous word all things considered and yet as a species we always balk at being different. In fact it’s one of the many fears that I believe hold us back in money, love, profession, physicality. That fear of what being different really means. Being abandoned and left out, laughed at or disgusted by.
Business has become odd since Covid. Millions of businesses have struggled, many people have faced employment or business hardship the likes of which we may not have seen before. It’s enough to put the fear of God in you about starting or expanding your own business/work.
For all the hardship there have also been people and businesses that have thrived. Though it all feels like you’re up against it, there’s also nothing to say you can’t do it either. Adaption is after all the key to evolution.
6 things to think about when moving your business forward in 2021
If you are just thinking of starting a business really paying attention to where the relevance of your business is within the business world will be key. It’s about understanding needs and demands. That’s not to say you have to have the same idea as someone else in order for it to be relevance. You simply need to know that there is a need for it right now and who and where that need is.
If you’re a potential start up or already an established business then refreshing yourself on this will be a useful tool. Take a look at the industries that are thriving now and will continue to be able to thrive and evolve ‘if’ things revert back.
Can your idea fit into one of the thriving industries? Can you pivot or expand to utilise these areas of growth?
Health & Care
For you and if you have them, employees and even for your clients working in a safe way is key, particularly in light of coronavirus. But this is more than just that too. This has been a great eye opener about how we care for our most vulnerable in the workplace as a whole. Now is the time you can think outside the box to protect yourself, your clients and your team.
Mentally, physically and not only in line with regulations but taking it further. Making a work environment and culture that changes the world of work for the better, for all.
Whether you’re starting up or levelling up money is crucial to your success. You SHOULD understand your income and expenses. you SHOULD take responsibility for these in as much as being able to be savvy about your outgoings, understanding the base running costs of your business and what you will need to invest in or remove from your business for it to thrive financially.
Track your money in and out, pay your bills on time and don’t have unnecessary bills. Seek to pay for value rather than convenience.
Finding the gaps financially will stand you in good stead whatever the weather and most importantly, do not be afraid to seek professional advice.
Clients / customers / beta testing
I don’t often tell people to work for free but sometimes it’s essential as part of your research and fine tuning.
You need to understand things from the end users perspective, make sure what you are offering actually is something people want and to fill in the gaps of the things you may not yet know. For instance you may offer mentoring like me but want to change up your offerings.
I regularly offer slightly different mentoring packages that run for a shorter time (for free or significantly reduced) to see whether they work with what clients actually want. It has meant I have honed my packages to 3 simple offerings instead of the 10-20 that I started with and that makes everything simpler!
Alternatively you may provide a hard copy of a resource to a select few people and ask for their feedback having used it. This will give you great insight into the words they use, the way the use it and that feedback can be priceless.
Social Media Marketing
If you don’t have the budget for ads and a team of experts then you need to become that for yourself. Social media offers a prime opportunity to market your business for free the trick? To focus on becoming awesome at one before worrying about using multiple platforms. Learning what you can and taking regular action.
Social media is used every day by millions of people. Understanding which platform the people who would most likely buy your product or service are in is important and there are so many free resources to learning about them too.
Check out the industry, what’s working well and what isn’t. Figure out what kind of voice and imagery you want to use and create eye-catching graphics with easy to digest content. Even if you feel weird posting or even if you feel like you’re that annoying person posting do it anyway. No one is going to knock on your business door if they never really know it exists. The judgement of others (which is pretty minimal tbh) will not make a successful business. Being known, seen and thought of will.
It can be a slow and steady progress. That’s incredible.
If you’re looking for more in depth and regular advice on moving your business forward in 2021 then subscribe to my mailing list and I’ll be sure to help you out.
Catch you later,
The new normal – I was surprised to realise we were already in it.
I was speaking with one of my closest friends, Kirsteen over the weekend. We’d made a plan to catch up on Saturday at 2pm because we live in different parts of the country, it’s a pandemic and we are not only friends but peers and colleagues too.
As 2pm drew closer I sent her a text asking if she was still up for our call, wonderfully she was. My hair still wet. I had no makeup on. Worse, I a kind of hollow look because I’d been poorly the week before. I really couldn’t face watching my own face for what might be a lengthy chat and I realised.
“Are we Zooming or shall we go ‘old school’ and just phone?”
The new normal
We went on to chat on the phone for two whole hours and it was in this chat we realised something. We have already accepted the new normal.
Zoom calls have long been a part of my business life and they work brilliantly. Face to face is a great thing as it builds trust and understanding (it’s why video content works so well!).
Zoom client calls. Zoom trainings. Webinars. The list is endless.
I read an article by Sue Perez called ‘Feeling a bit Zoomed out?’ and she articulated so well how we all pivoted and how virtual video calls had become the norm.
But Kirsteen and I realised as we were talking that we no longer prefaced Zoom with an explanation but in fact did so to other forms of communication. Like the ‘old school’ call.
It dawned on me then that our language has changed and incorporated this new way of life and in doing so we see that we have now accepted that change.
What was no longer is
More surprisingly to me (long time loather of phone calls) was that I no longer associated phone calls with work as I had in corporate and as such they have regained some of their pleasure. Zoom unfortunately has become my ‘I really don’t want to do/use it when I’m not actively working’ tool.
I realised that I had turned down or cancelled many a personal zoom call over the last few months and with hindsight it’s because I felt it blurred the line between downtime and worktime. Have we then accepted that this new normal has in fact well and truly been accepted?
It’s the pleasure principle. When I’m chatting to my friends for pleasure if I’m on video call I feel tethered to my work desk. But, as I have learned to love the phone again I have found myself having lingering chats full of depth.
I potter while talking and it is blissful. They get my attention and I get to make a brew whilst hearing about their families. I lay with my head on my partners lap as he pokes the tip of my nose whilst we talk about what we miss most in lockdown.
It’s intimate again and I for one appreciate that I don’t have to do my hair. Or worry about whether there’s something in my teeth. I’ve even been known to pee whilst on the phone to a close friend. Kirsteen you lucky thing!
Somehow, the new normal has made the written word more valuable to me too. Writing letters, emailing news and with that re-acquired joy in simple communication I think I’ve found a new normal happy place.
Want to chat about making the most of our new normal? Get in touch.
Catch you later,
Why looking inwards to create outward success in life and business works.
Oh freedom seeker, it’s time to feel whole again.
Going freelance, becoming self employed and starting a business can unearth a lot of a lot of things about ourselves that we forgot about.
Over the course of a lifetime and over a career it’s pretty normal to soak up what’s going on in your environment, other peoples opinions, beliefs about who you are and who you should be and oftentimes we find ourselves packing small bits of us away until we have 2, maybe 3 outward dimensions. Mine was:
- Customer Service expert
- Nice approachable Amy
I didn’t really feel that there was a space for the other elements of my personality and I certainly didn’t feel like the many facets or dimensions of me were encouraged. Definitely not in my corporate career.
After all, they need a specific set of skills and that’s what I was hired for.
In 2018 when I left my lucrative career and became a self-employed virtual assistant (check out my about me if you want to know more) the biggest challenge I faced was the realisation that I had outgrown myself.
I had shrunk myself into a tiny percentage of who I was and so began perhaps the biggest journey I have been on in this freelance life. In this life in general.
Looking inwards to create outward success
If you’re considering starting a business, going freelance or are finding it difficult to ‘level up’ or get to the next stage (whatever that looks like for you) I would ask whether you have begun to challenge your preconceived notions about yourself. Those identities you were led to create and then embellished for yourself?
The thing that you can never truly see from anothers journey is the level of personal awareness and growth you must take to build a life and career that gels together so well. You can’t see the mental battles that carry on when the people who inspire you aren’t sure what to do next, when they make a mistake, when they don’t have the skills required. And you definitely don’t see the change they make in themselves.
Unlike a diet and exercise regime we don’t recognise hard inner work on the face of those we admire but I hands down believe that the biggest, most inspirational success to you will have at the very least, started on this work.
I don’t write this as a qualified psychologist (because I’m not) but as someone simply talking from my own experience which I am the most qualified expert in.
The greatest growth in life and business that I have had, has been since I started unpacking all the pieces of me that I boxed up and put in storage for a later date. Either because I believed it wasn’t valuable to one of my 3 dimensions or as a way to keep it safe from scrutiny. Often these things are connected to the deepest roots of ourselves and we bury them. But what if we didn’t?
I don’t want to ‘little box’ myself. Do you?
I believe it’s time to stop looking at your work as a disconnected ill mannered part of your being.
Necessary for survival but the antithesis of love, happiness, joy.
I’ve been learning how to unleash myself and build a business that supports, excites and evolves with me. Once that embraces my many dimensions and it’s all brilliant, I’m really building a business that works for me.
Do you want to build something that takes all of you and all of your life into consideration too?
Do you want your business to work WITH your life instead of against or in spite of it?
I have got your back.
Subscribe to my mailing list here and I will share the processes, the unpicking, the failures and the glories because maybe I can help you live the whole life, whole business dream.
Catch you later,
P.S. If you’re interested in ways to work with me, here are my best bits.