To be or not to be…Self Employed

The thing about taking action, working on your priorities and making plans is that when focusing on positive stuff your mind goes crazy with so many ideas. I’ve been making lots of notes to try and focus a bit and had some really interesting results. I’ve started making sure I do one thing from my list of priorities daily even if like yesterday it was only spending 5 minutes browsing a website. That actually triggered something towards my ‘day job’ plans so was 5 minutes well spent. 

 My biggest focus seems to be what do I want to do when I grow up….I’ve been doing this for years now and got nowhere and I’ve come up with a few reasons why;

1.     In this Someday book I’m reading it talks about Fear and Faith and making a list under both as to why you want something and what is stopping you. I’ve noticed that when friends try and help my inner critic (chimp if you’ve read the Chimp Paradox) throws an absolute strop and starts telling me people are interfering, they should shut up and go away because it’s not going to work anyway. Then I’ve listened to it rather than them and given up before I’ve even tried to do something. I also recall spending a lot of time reading online articles about how hard it would be to be self employed and paid far too much attention to the negatives rather than finding some small business owners and asking for a counterpoint. I’ve definitely let fear rule me on this.

2.     My mum said a few years ago that she had never known me happy in a job. I think she said something along the lines of ‘Does any job make you happy’? I remember getting into a huff about it (truth hurts…) and well…not doing anything much except trying more jobs. Sitting an doing some honest thinking and looking at what my values are and what I would want from work the answer probably is to work for myself. However, the problem this is WHAT to do. Again I think this is why I’ve got nowhere. I’ve looked at a crafting business, a holistic business and the one that comes back all the time – my tea shop. I think that I spend so much time trying to do bits of each of them I ended up doing none of them. And the fear again I think links into this. If you subconsciously mess things up, everything goes wrong and your inner critic gets to be smug for being right. There is the possibility fo a tea shop that sells crafts and does the odd bit of crystal healing upstairs but blimey that sounds exhausting. Instead I need to pick one (I have) and make plans. My first step is to print off a blank business plan and use it as a goal planning exercise. The questions on these really make you dig deep. I’m going to use it on 2 of the ideas just in case one does turn out to be more feasible than the other. The other thing is something I took from the book which is to ‘make your project visible’. Part of that is to tell people but it also discussed a writer that couldn’t get started. She printed out a mock up of what she thought her book cover would be, pinned it up near her writing space and in no time at all had written her book. So step 2 will be a poster or similar of what I want my business to show.

3.     I need to re-evaluate what I want a business to be. I have some very grandiose ideas which really probably won’t happen. So while ‘thinking small’ can be a terrible thing that stifles people this is probably going to be a bit more realistic in this instance. It’s hard to set in motion plans which are just not going to work (to start with anyway) and again we start feeding the inner critic

4.     Yeah that inner critic really needs kicking into touch…..

So, the ideas are there now and I just need to make a few decisions to take everything forward. I wanted this year to be a year of action and so far I’ve got my wish.




Maybe it’s not my weekend

I’m a big believer in synchronicity and paying attention to signs and I seem to have been inundated by them lately. My recent blog posts have covered feeling stuck in a rut, dealing with stress and leaps of faith. I’ve recently started a book about ‘Someday’ and how we talk about doing things someday which eventually turns into not doing it at all. The book tackles doing things now; it may not be the whole dream but we can take steps.

The first step is taking stock of where we are and includes a few exercises to do this. One asked me if I was happy and to list it as a number from 1-10. Now originally I was going to put it about 7-8. As much as my anxiety is high at the moment I know why (I thought) and yet again I thought it’d be higher once my debts were cleared but it then asks some deep questions and I moved myself down to about 4-5. Now that sounds bad as I am happy within my nature if that makes sense but when I looked at what I want my priorities and values to be and what I am actually prioritising and doing on a daily basis I’m not even close. Some of that links to fear and worrying about failure or what others may think or simply using my debts as my ‘someday’ for procrastinating.

And it is an excuse I realised last night. I can’t do ….insert thing here…because I have no money until about Feb next year (earlier if I can manage it). Or putting off things that make my heart soar because I’m so tired doing things that don’t. It’s no wonder my anxiety is high when I spend 8 hours a day doing work that I don’t enjoy and have convinced myself the alternatives may never happen.

So what to do? Well I’m only 25% through the book so I imagine more changes will occur but having now a list of priorities I actually want it’s working as a starting point for change and auctioning my own leaps of faith. I spent a pleasant half hour this morning listing these priorities and brainstorming things I can do now (and not someday) to move myself forward. And funnily enough the majority of it didn’t include any cost at all.

There’s a book I read many years ago now called the 15 Minute Solution which advocates taking just 15 minutes on a task to beat procrastination. Set the timer and just ‘do’. I’ve used it in the past when I’ve not felt motivated by study or cleaning the house and it does work. If, once you have hit your 15 minutes you feel inspired to carry on then so be it. In a text conversation my friend mentioned how with her own journey she is tasked with making one small change at a time. I haven’t a different personality style and tend to be an all or nothing person so I’m re-instating the 15 minute rule to do some actions for 15 minutes per day on my priority list. Looking at the tasks I have already the majority of them can be fit into these little segments of time.

Then because positivity breeds more positivity and good news two good things happened:

1)    While checking up on my debt repayment plan one of the debts is actually due to be cleared in 2 more payments which frees up £80 per month to be divided up between the remaining ones which then means my plan of ending the year debt free (and 2 months earlier than planned) becomes more achievable

2)    A someday belief – I can’t restart my business until after my debts are cleared so no point doing anything about it. The reality epiphany: I have £73 due to me in the next few days in returned expenses. I don’t need the money for anything. The insurance is around £80-85. I can either just add £10 and buy it now and be back in business or I can use £40 of it (the remainder knocked off debts) and then add £10 a month until I get to the total. This also gives me time to refresh myself on some things and update my literature and I could potentially be back in business by the end of August. A scary (the FEAR!) but exhilarating thought.

I’m very intrigued as to what I’ll be thinking of by the time I’ve finished the rest of the book!

The title of today’s blog is taken from the song Weightless by All Time Low. This was the song I woke up with in my head this morning. Another sign. See what you think of the lyrics

Manage me, I’m a mess
Turn a page, I’m a book half unread
I wanna be laughed at, laughed with, just because
I wanna feel weightless and that should be enough

Well I’m stuck in this fucking rut
Waiting on a second-hand pick-me-up
And I’m over getting older

If I could just find the time
Then I would never let another day go by
I’m over getting old

Maybe it’s not my weekend but it’s gonna be my year
And I’m so sick of watching while the minutes pass as I go nowhere
And this is my reaction to everything I fear
‘Cause I’ve been going crazy, I don’t wanna waste another minute here

I make believe that I impress
That every word, by design, turns a head
I wanna feel reckless, wanna live it up just because
I wanna feel weightless ’cause that would be enough

If I could just find the time
Then I would never let another day go by
I’m over getting old

Maybe it’s not my weekend but it’s gonna be my year
And I’m so sick of watching while the minutes pass as I go nowhere
And this is my reaction to everything I fear
‘Cause I’ve been going crazy, I don’t wanna waste another minute here

This could be all that I’ve waited for
(I’ve waited, I’ve waited for)

And this could be everything I don’t wanna dream anymore

Maybe it’s not my weekend but it’s gonna be my year
And I’ve been going crazy, I’m stuck in here

Maybe it’s not my weekend but it’s gonna be my year
(It’s gonna be my year)
And I’m so sick of watching while the minutes pass as I go nowhere
(Go nowhere)
And this is my reaction to everything I fear
(Everything I fear)
‘Cause I’ve been going crazy, I don’t want to waste another minute here

Anxiety and anniversaries

Edit: I wrote this before yesterdays post and was debating whether to post it but after some thought it’s important for me to be able to look back at it one day. I’ve done what I said in the blog: I’ve had my me-time – I’ve finished a craft project, restarted my gym programme, made some rather nice sweetcorn chowder and finished  a book. I feel so much better than when I started to write it.

Anxieties and Anniversaries

It’s been quite a high anxiety week for me this week. It mostly seems to be on a morning and settles down by 1/2pm. There’s no real trigger for it that I could say as the exact reason but I think I know where the root cause lies.

I usually have some kind of issue between the end of January to the end of April. There are the anniversaries of 5 deaths and this is also the time period when I had my last breakdown and ended up with the debt plan. This is something I’m still getting over because until the debts are repaid I can’t seem to draw a line under it and move on. It does dominate everything.

This year has been quite mild compared to other ones. It’s not every day I’ve struggled unlike the last 2 years where my emotions constantly got the better of me. This year it seems to be a few mornings and I feel really tired. It’s not been helped by working away. I don’t sleep properly in hotels and we weren’t in the best area to be able to go out and go for a walk. I think as well spending a full week with people I don’t know really well and so lost a lot of me time I’m used to having. I enjoyed getting to know my team but it’s probably exhausting trying to spend a week away without having mental health problems thrown in.

Working an extra day also lost me some recovery time to balance myself out. I did spend last Saturday afternoon with some good friends and then breakfast with another close friend but then this week has had a few too many late nights for a variety of reasons and on top of the higher anxiety it feels like I haven’t fully relaxed at all. I also think there have been too many things to think about at work, lots of decisions to be made. All part and parcel of being a government employee but it’s especially trying at the minute

So I think Friday and Saturday will be down time days, just doing whatever selfish/self care things that jump out for me. Sunday I’m going to my first ever chocolate festival which I’ve been looking forward to for a while. It’ll be a long day but I think a fun one (as long as I don’t eat too much chocolate…)

I learnt a long time ago that my anxiety is never going to go and that I have peaks and troughs and certain times of the year where it is higher than normal. For me it’s all about self care and taking time away to do the things I enjoy; crafting, reading, baking, walks, days out until things settle again and I know they will. My grandmother died around Easter 12 years ago now and even though quite often her actual death date isn’t always at Easter it’s now synonymous with it and I find it hard. I often book that week off work to take time for myself. I know that once Easter Monday has passed my mood tends to lift and I start to enjoy the rest of Spring and look forward to Summer and the rest of the year.

These insights into myself have come after many years. I didn’t always spot them to start with but over time I’ve learnt to spot my signs and how to deal with them.

Leap of Faith

I’ve typed a couple of blogs this week that probably won’t end up being posted but allowed me to get some thoughts down on paper (trying to get back into journaling everyday even if some of it stays private. Very tempted to go back to notebook writing). The one I wrote prior to this was a long one about how my anxiety has been bad this week and it sometimes stifles my decision making. I go round and round in circles without getting anywhere. On good days I can do anything, on bad days I want to pack everything in and never work again.

My boss has just announced a big life changing event and afterwards we got to have a good discussion about the why’s and wherefores of his decision. During this I commented that he had to do what was right for himself which started a different topic. In it he said that people often get hung up on what is right and start waiting for the right time to do what they think is right and that time never comes. You just stay put in the same situation forever. He then talked about how sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.

I’ve been stagnant for the last 4 years. I’ll do this when my debts are cleared, I’ll do that thing when I feel a bit more secure in myself, I’ll look at courses/jobs when the other thing happens. The only reason I got my promotion 2.5 years ago was because I had a hissy fit about something and put the application in to see what happened. I took a leap of faith and it did change my life for the better no matter what my anxious brain has said this week.

So I need to sit down and maybe do the wheel of life exercise and see where the things are that I am stagnating (although I expect that I do actually know) and see what leaps of faith I can make. It doesn’t need to be work related, there are other ideas. I have talked about the idea of early retirement plans in blogs this year so some of my leaps may link to this but I also need to think about some short term changes. If only I could work out what they are! I’ve a ton of exercise sheets from my Life Coach days so when I have a week off in 2 weeks time I’m going to take some me time, focus on my needs and really see what I want out of life and then start taking some leaps of faith.

Weekly Gratitude – Home

I’m allowing myself to be grateful for my house and home this week. As I sit listening to my new neighbours have their evening round of Wheels on the Bus to get their baby to sleep (how I have no idea as it must be so loud if I can hear it through the walls) I am reflecting working away from home for a week.

We spent the week at a coastal fishing town. In the north of England the fishing industry has really taken a kicking in recent years and it really reflects in the town we stayed in. So run down and deprived. Every day we heard stories of violence and poverty to the point we rarely ventured more than a few hundred yards from our hotel for meals and were encouraged by both local colleagues and hotel staff to get taxis everywhere rather than walk to our temporary place of work.

It’s been such a weird experience. I’ve never been afraid of a town before and I’ve been to some poor areas and often on my own. We also, as a team, seemed to be cursed with bad luck this week. I had to deal with my broadband breaking which was fun to try and explain when you are 100 miles from where the issue is. That was actually the better problem. One colleagues baby went into hospital (all ok now), one’s daughter had difficult news after a baby scan (also seems ok now) and our boss crashed his car and wrote it off (he’s ok now too).

Never have I been so glad to leave a place and go home. I like travelling, I love meeting new people and the job we went to do was a lot of fun, however tiring it was. It’s not often I sit and think about how lucky I am to live in a thriving city where everything seems to be at my fingertips. There everything shut at 6, I have a 24 hour supermarket only a couple of miles away.

So this week I am grateful for my home and my city and all the joy it brings

The Year of Less

I’ve just picked up a book called The Year of Less by Cait Flanders as I want to try a year (or so) of spending less and saving more. I have a tendency to read the reviews on Goodreads when starting new books and I was really surprised by the level of hate for this book. It seems that people are angry because it’s not a book that gives you all the answers on how to stop spending. It’s a book about one woman’s personal journey.

For me that makes it more readable. I’m an emotional spender and an emotional eater. I’ve even been known to combine the two. That’s about 50% of the reasons why I ended up in debt. So I’m interested in how she managed to deal with some life trauma’s and stick to her principles.

My friend has been writing lately about how people are wanting everything now and not happy to have to wait. Everything must be instant access and I think the same has happened with this book. People want a quick fix and all the answers on a plate but a no spend period is personal so you can’t give all the answers.

I’m only at the introduction but there is plenty to inspire. She has listed the rules she created. I’m using this as a starting point but as I said everyone’s journey will be unique to them. So she has noted in the ‘what I’m not allowed to shop for’ list take out coffee. I thought long and hard about this and have put it on my Approved list. I actually don’t drink coffee, I have tea so that’s a good bit cheaper to start with but I also find them good for my mental health. For me then, as long as it’s factored into my budget and I don’t go over it I’m keeping that in. What I do overspend on is junk food so I’m going to work that into my ‘not approved’ list.

Another on her list is no clothes, shoes or accessories. Seeing as I’m exercises and losing weight through a diet change I will within the 12 months need smaller clothes. With this then I will agree with myself a capsule amount of what I can buy but only when it’s needed.

Her approved list includes buying 1 outfit to cover all special occasions. I’ve got 3 party dresses in the wardrobe that are hardly worn so for me that will go on a ‘not approved’ list.

I’ve seen people on frugal minimalist FB sites who make their own cleaning products. I’m toying with the idea of this however when my depression is high I can barely clean using shop bought items let alone put the effort in to make my own products.

I’m not in a place to try and start this. I’ve still some thinking to do on what I do and don’t want and to set my budgets but I’m aiming for April 1st. The other big difference is that she had previously spent 2 years clearing her debts while I have 12 months to go so whilst she could put away a certain percentage of her wage for savings I will have to choose a smaller budget for that and look at what is realistic. I was thinking about putting all saved monies into clearing the debt quicker but not having any savings when a big household item (boiler) was another reason why I ended up in debt so it makes sense to try and do a little of both.

I’d like to say I’ve no willpower however last year when I put my mind to it I started a no sugar/fizzy pop diet and stuck to it for 10 months (ruined by starting Christmas eating 6 weeks early!) so this is something that I can try and do and if I at least set my boundaries right, it will be a do-able and interesting journey. I want to try and be accountable in the blog (like she did) so I will post on her but probably not every week. Maybe a monthly update.

If you could give up certain spends for a year what would they be?

Weekly Gratitude

This week I’m grateful for Time. Time off work. Time for myself. Time to think. Time to regroup. Time to heal.

It’s fair to say this year so far did not get off to the best start. I saw the new year in with flu, then the shoulder issues that saw me spend the majority of January and February on painkillers, then last week another bad cold. I’m almost at the end of 10 days annual leave and I think it’s done me the world of good as I thought it would. I’ve done a lot that doesn’t feel like doing much. I’ve met friends for coffee and lunch, I’ve caught up on missed course work and I finished a few crafts. Nothing strenuous and possibly quite boring to some but my body needed to heal and I’ve made sure to rest and let it do so despite my natural inclination to be constantly doing something. The result being I haven’t had to have any painkillers for a week and I’ve got a lot more movement in my arm. I’m back at work next week but have 2 days in training and all day meetings which while I’ll be busy in a fashion means another two days of rest.

It’s also nearly time to be debt free (see what I did there!). My countdown app has 346 days. I’ve set it to get a little notification daily now because I am so close. This is normally a horrid time of year because from the end of January to the end of April there are so many death anniversaries. It’s also this time 4 years ago that everything came to a head and I had the breakdown over money that led to having a debt repayment plan in the first place. I can’t believe how fast the 4 years have gone when I look back on it. It’s been a struggle but the time has just gone by. Facebook memories is currently telling me about the boiler issues that played a part in that horrid time 4 years ago and this is the first year I’ve been able to re-read those posts objectively without feeling depressed or anxious. Time heals. I’m moving on and there’s less than a year to go before it all ends.

I’ve been thinking about what I’d want to do once I have my wage back to myself. The house needs a lot of work and it’s actually nice to save a few fliers that come through the letterbox knowing I can research them for the coming years and start to make my house how I want it. I’d also like a holiday. I’ve had the odd weekend away but haven’t been on a plane or anything longer than a few days since 2010 so the summer sun is beckoning me. I did once tell a friend the first thing I would do would be to buy some designer shoes that I’d probably never wear just to have them but the more I think about it the more that I take from lessons learned, take from the frugality and minimalism I’ve embraced over the last few years and I have a feeling I will actually just continue to have a peep through the shop window (Kurt Geiger) at the over priced shoes and then go buy something reasonably priced and wearable from Dorothy Perkins like I normally do. Time teaches us what really matters.

So this week I’m grateful for time, time to think about the past without upset, to heal, to reflect and time to plan for the future that is rapidly heading my way 🙂