2014 January

I feel so guilty… And how to get over it

01 26 2014

A little pre-warning: this isn’t the most upbeat post you’ll have read for a while.  It is somewhat lacking sparkle, so I apologise.  It is, however, me sharing a truthful, from-the-heart account of this week’s mummy juggle…

I write this a little frayed around the edges.  Remember last week I talked about the importance of planning my week?  Well, as they say, ‘the best laid plans oft got astray’.  Louis has been poorly again – I’ve now logged a 3/4-weekly pattern of ‘off weeks’ (which I’ve shared with the GP!) which start a chain of events which go as follows: the sick days themselves, the week-plus of unsettled sleep that follows, a week of ‘normal’ routine and then round we go again.  All three of us are sleep-deprived, short-tempered and fed up.  For me, it comes with another tummy-punch: GUILT.

I feel so guilty…

I feel guilty because I feel I’m missing a trick or doing something wrong which is causing Louis’ immunity to be taking a bit of a battering.

I feel guilty because I am FED UP of surviving on 5-6 hours of broken sleep each night.

I feel guilty because I’m not giving my best during the daylight hours: I’m in survival mode and taking the easy options where I can.  Baby group?  Yes, that’s ready-made entertainment!  TV?  OK, just one more episode of Thomas and Friends while mummy takes a breather!

I feel guilty because this not-so-little pregnant belly is getting nowhere near the TLC it did the first time round.  Rest, relaxation and ideal baby-growing conditions are a pipe dream.

I feel guilty because I’ve done little more with my time this week than “getting through” the routine and then slump in a heap with a book and bed.

I feel guilty because I’ve not much left to be a good wife or friend….

I feel guilty because time is ticking ahead of Baby Two’s arrival and I’ve made very little progress this week.

The irony is, as a friend or a coach, my instinct on hearing this tirade from someone else would be to go into nurturer mode.  I’d listen, I’d ask questions, I’d shed a new light.  But, when it comes to being a friend or coach to myself I’m rrrrr-rubbish!  So, during nap-time today, I decided to get up close and personal with my guilty feelings and wanted to share the steps with you in case you’ve got a dose of the guilts too:

  • Let it all out: Don’t stew on the feelings, it’s a complete waste of energy.  Instead, let them out by writing them down or getting an understanding friend to listen.  Vent and then breathe.  Take a few deep breaths, breathing out the guilty feeling and let the emotion drift away.
  • Look for the clues: What is the guilty feeling really about?  Feeling guilty is usually a distress call from another emotion, such as sadness or anger or frustration.  You might wish you’d done something differently, done more.  For me, when I’ve looked back on the week, the guilt really was showing me that I wish I’d made other choices.  While I can’t change what’s been and gone, I can see that maybe I might do things a little differently next time.
  • Give yourself a break:  So, I wish I’d acted differently BUT I have to remind myself, I’m human.  I’m not a robot.  Putting yourself (at best) second starts to wear a little thin after a while.  Remember to be forgiving of yourself – you’re doing the best you can.
  • Do you want a hug?: What would make you feel better?  How can you give yourself a hug?  Is it a hot bath?  Is it a bar of chocolate?  Is it as simple as an early night?  Or, a night out with a friend?  Find a little thing that makes you feel loved and cared for … and make sure it happens.

Have you had the mummy guilts?  How do you deal with them?  I’d love to hear from you in the Comments below – as would all the other mummies out there!

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How to create daily habits for success

01 19 2014

If there’s one thing that’s made a difference to how much I achieve in a week, it’s my Sunday evening ritual of planning the week ahead.  The weeks that I make the time to plan, when often I feel like the only thing I want to do is to soak in a bubble bath and read a book, run so differently to the weeks when my Elemis Milk Bath and iBooks win out.  Planned weeks are so much more efficient and productive and, while that might sound dull, it makes me so much calmer and happier.  A planned me is a better mummy, a better wife, a better me all-round.

When I look admiringly (and sometimes enviously) at someone who I think has her stuff together – professionally successful, nurturing mummy, the cool, calm, collected type – I have to remind myself that each of us has the same 168 hours in a week.  She might just choose to spend her weekly allowance a little differently to most.  How are you spending your time?  Is it getting you closer to the life you want to be living?  

[Tweet “Each of us has the same 168 hours in the week. Successful people just choose to spend their weekly allowance differently to most..”]

Simply put, my weekly planning needs to become habitual. I want this to be my slight edge, as Jeff Olson calls it.  In his book of the same name (which I would highly recommend if personal development/growth books are your thing), Jeff champions making “daily choices that lead you to the success you desire”.  It comes down to two choices: you’re either on a trajectory towards your goals and visions or a trajectory away from them.  By default, making no choice means you’re heading away, say adieu – if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.  And so, once I’d worked on my plan for the year, I’ve made sure that I’m keeping in mind the daily and weekly habits that I know will give me that slight edge…  and I’m sharing them with you below:

Family:

Date night: It got to the point late last year when we were both so busy, Jack and I were often eating separately and having hurried conversations and ‘quality time’ was non-existent.  Friday night is now our night.  It’s pretty unlikely that we’d be able to go out each week BUT simply having dinner together, candles and chats is a treat in itself.  And, I’ve made sure we have a few real dates lined up before Baby 2 is due in April – not least a night away!

Memory days: In the Christmas build-up I’d arranged a family day out on the Santa Express.  Louis loved it and we both enjoyed seeing his eyes sparkling at the choo-choo’s and Father Christmas that I decided then and there that we needed a memory day like it each month.  So, my weekly habit is to get my thinking cap on to find new and exciting places for us to visit.

Creative play: I don’t know about you but the novelty of Father Christmas’ festive delivery is already wearing off.  Louis is such a creature of habit that he’d happily read the same books and play with the same small selection of toys each day.  Though we’re often out and about, I want to put more effort into creative play on the rainy days at home.  My fave resource for ideas is the Imagination Tree so I’m going to make my way through these ideas – first up, 4-minute play dough!

Meal planning: This sounds sooo domesticated that it makes me a little uncomfortable BUT with two (sometimes three) different meal-times to accommodate, I find it so much easier to plan some yummy dinners for the week ahead rather than leave it until the day arrives.. as I can guarantee we’d end having the same 2/3 dishes in our repertoire on rotation for ever more!

 

Business

Writing time: I shared last week my plan to keep things simple and consistent this year.  Using the Pareto Principle (aka ‘batching’), my weekly habit is to set aside a chunk of one of my working days to write both The Glitterati newsletter and my single, weekly blog post.

Daily priorities: As well as weekly planning, and in the theme of simplicity, I’m turning over a new leaf when it comes to my daily plan.  I got completely overwhelmed with all I should be doing and, with the help of my business coach, I’m clear on my biggest priorities and I’m focusing on just 1-3 actions each day.  This is totally new (and uncomfortable) to me so it’s going to take a bit of getting used to!

 

Wellbeing:

Yoga: I LOVE yoga.  It makes me feel like me.  I can be a different person before and after my time on my now-shabby-looking yoga mat.  So, why is this the thing that gives?  Weeks can go by and I’ll not have made any time for even a short yoga session – I always think there’s something more important to ‘get done’.  Rather than over-face myself with the challenge of finding time daily, I’m promising myself that I’ll find at least 20 minutes three times a week.

Daily meditation and journal: Just like yoga, when I’ve been in the habit of practising meditation regularly, I’ve felt like a better me.  And so far, so good: I’ve found 20-minutes each day to just switch off and ‘be’… though I must admit it’s often been the last thing I do at the end of the day, once I haul my weary bod to bed!

Nurture night: Oh how I love Sunday night now.  It’s dubbed nurture night!  I realised that simply having a bubble bath (one without bath toys and with candles and my skincare goodies instead) or taking time to give myself a manicure/pedicure, makes me feel like a ‘girl’ again.  And so, Sunday has become the night that I emerge from my busy mum chrysalis and feel like Emma again.

 

Play:

Dates with Jack and nurture night aside, I was making very little room to do the things that make me happy i.e. the things I used to spend my spare time doing.  Like, playing hostess.  Or, having brunch with one of my friends.  Or going to the cinema / to a gig / to watch a comedian.  Clearly, I/we don’t have the same freedom as we used to but, by being a little more organised (and planning), I reckon Jack and I can both find some ‘time off’ to do things we love, either together or individually.  I realised I had to make re-charging our batteries more of a priority… And so finding ideas/planning time-out made the ‘weekly planning’ cut.

 

I’d love to hear from you in the Comments below.  Do you plan your week?  What 3-5 habits can you commit to each week?  

 

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Tips to prepare your business for big life adjustments… like a baby!

01 15 2014

In the months leading up to the birth of my son, I read any book, blog or discussion forum that shared insights from other working mums on how to ‘babyproof’ a business.  I still have my scribbled notes and my hopeful and idealistic ‘plan’ of how I might manage the age-old work/family juggle.  Knowing what I know now, when it comes to newborns, the rules are: there aren’t any rules.  Now, with the arrival of Baby Two imminent, I am reminding myself of the lessons I learned the first-time round.  

This week I’m sharing my tips on preparing your business for big life adjustments over on Design Sponge:  click over to read my post here

If you’re preparing to take a break from your business, I’d love to know what steps you’re taking to ‘baby proof’!  Let me know in the Comments below…

 

 

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Behind the Scenes of 2013… and my vision for 2014

01 12 2014

You already know that I LOVE hearing about how other women have created businesses that sparkle: how they got started, their highs and lows, the secrets of their success, the real insights on what’s challenged and inspired them.  I always learn a little something.  During my hiatus over Christmas and New Year, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the year that was and planning for the year ahead, and I thought I’d share my own peek behind the scenes in the hope that I can, in turn, help someone else starting out…

My 2013 highlights

Connecting with inspiring entrepreneurs: 

As a self-confessed introvert, I can happily spend hours working away on my own: writing, creating, planning, I’m one happy lady.  But, in 2013, I loved connecting with women entrepreneurs that have inspired me to share their stories in the Secrets of my Success and Behind the Scenes interview series.  I’ve featured almost 30 women business-owners in a variety of creative industries from photographers to designers, from stylists to health coaches.  I have been so proud to feature these women who are living out their sparkle and making an impact in the world.  And, the cherry on the cake has been hearing from YOU, hearing what has touched and inspired you.  You can look forward to more to come in 2014…. And if there’s someone you would like me to feature, let me know.

 

Growing the Glitterati community:

I’d set myself the challenge of ‘getting the word out’ last year.  I spent time therapeutically blogging in my own little digital corner, but I also challenged myself to write for other blogs and magazines that I admire.  I was a happy lady to achieve the goal I’d set and more, including Huffington Post, Under 30 CEO, Design Sponge and Women Unlimited.  You can see the full roll-call here.  And my efforts have been rewarded by seeing the Glitterati community grow this year… it’s doubled in size and is now represented by 24 countries.  It makes me really proud to know there’s a Glitterati Girl on every continent!

 

Finding my groove:

The more I shared my ‘voice, through blogging and guest-posting, the more I began to find my groove.  All advice I’d read and heard was to find a niche and, in the early part of 2013, I think that held me back.  I felt hesitant about taking the next step because I hadn’t magically ‘discovered’ my niche… I knew for sure that I wanted to use my skills in success-mindset coaching to support women in awakening to their fullest potential but, as the year progressed, it became strikingly obvious which group of women I specifically want to help.  Mums!  I was in my first year of motherhood myself and experiencing some pretty big life adjustments: my whole world changed over the course of the year in unexpected ways.  I truly believe that there’s a lesson in everything and my experiences gave me a taster of the challenges I’d heard so much about: of being a mum and having an identity, a career and a life of your own.  Not an easy juggle.  It became obvious: I can support ambitious mums who feel overwhelmed, have lost their sense of identity and direction to get reacquainted with their inner sparkle so they can nurture their dreams and ambitions as well as their family.  And a niche was born!  My advice: don’t wait to have everything perfect before starting, take baby steps and you’ll find your path.

 

Personal highlights:

  • Learning to enjoy being a mummy: Yep, you read that right.  It took me time to adjust to being a mummy, I certainly wasn’t one of the women that had an instantaneous moment of clicking into mummy mode as I’d heard about.  I was anxious and, in honesty, a bit of a hermit in the first few months of Louis’ life BUT then I started to get out and about more, tried to worry less and began to appreciate all the magical moments.  I’ve loved to see my little baby learn to sit, to eat, to crawl and now, to walk and talk.  He gets funnier by the day and I love our bond, made all the more special now I appreciate how very precious it is.
  • Family celebrations: I am at my happiest when I’m surrounded by my big, loving, crazy family.  We shared some special times in 2013, from Louis’ christening, my Dad’s 60th, Jack’s 30th, Louis’ 1st birthday and lots of little occasions that I’ll add to my ‘memory bank’.
  • Finding time for me again: In my flailing new mum mode, I completely lost my sense of identity, the real Emma.  With a few ‘date nights’ and some well-earned ‘me time’ to enjoy the things I love – reading, yoga, baking and a little pampering – I started to feel like me again.
  • Listening to my intuition: 2013 was, for me, a year of resilience.  When the going got tough, I kept going, all the while listening to what my intuition told me and with the support of my amazing family and friends.  And my intuition has taken me down an unfamiliar path, one that is less safe and secure than is my usual style.  I took the leap into my business, into self-employment, and I’m continuing to listen to the whispers and see how it all unfolds.
  • And last but by no means least… We found out we’re expecting another addition to our little family this springtime.  It was at one of the family parties that, quite out of character, I didn’t fancy my glass of vino but I was hungry like never before … and the penny dropped.  An unnecessary number of First Response pregnancy tests confirmed it, the stork is on its way and we’re ready to adjust once more….

 

The 2014 looking glass

With the juggle of one and soon two babies to look after, I know this year will, again, have its challenges.  I also know that I’m super-lucky to have the opportunity to live out my ideal… being a mummy that’s around to enjoy my babies while they’re little AND to pursue my passion in life: to inspire and empower other mums to nurture their dreams too.  With time (and energy!) at a premium this year, my business goals are short and sweet:

Simplicity: To April, I have around 15 hours of ‘work’ time a week.  And then, when the baby arrives, I’m allowing myself at least the first 6 weeks of our newborn’s life to indulge my maternal side.  After that is anyone’s guess.  I will have to learn a new rhythm, find snatches of time to work around the needs of my family.  And so, my keyword is simplicity.  In the final months of 2013 I was putting loads of pressure on myself to do everything: webinars, videos, create new programmes, social media, blogging, newsletters, workshops and speaking gigs…. Argh!  I got totally overwhelmed with all the things I felt I should be doing.  In 2014, I’m going back to basics.  My goals are:

  • to create just one new VIP programme where I will be working with a handful of women through private coaching and a small community.
  • to be selective in writing guests posts for a small number of blogs on a regular basis.  I’ve had a breadth of exposure on different sites, now I want to focus my energy on building a stronger presence with the ones that fit most with my community and my direction.
  • to build my community through the Glitterati newsletter and one blog post per week.

And that’s it.  Anything more will be a bonus.  The biggest challenge for me is how simple it is.  I feel like I should be doing more.  Instead, I’m leaning into a new simplicity: “success lies in doing simple things consistently” – it’s my new mantra.

 

Consistency:  Overwhelm brought a plus-one to the party: distraction.  In 2013, on reflection, I was doing lots of everything and not very well. With my renewed focus on simplicity I’m committing to consistency.  My focus will be on keeping my 3 big goals in mind and, without fail, seeing that they happen.  I will:

  • Write one blog post every week. I love writing so i could happily blog daily (time permitting) BUT I realised I’m not a blogger – I’m running a business.  I’d rather write one high-quality, high-value blog post each week than churn out below-par thoughts more often.  If the mood takes me, I may write more (it is my hobby after all) but I’m committing to one and one only.
  • Connect with my community every week:  This was on my goal list in 2013.  I intended to send out my newsletter weekly.  Sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn’t and I feel like I let myself down… and my community.  The truth is I took too much on (see above!), AND there was a lot going on in my personal life that served as another distraction.  In 2014, I want you to be able to rely on me when I say, I will share with The Glitterati community every week.  From today, on hearing from you busy ladies out there, the newsletter will go out on a Sunday evening (UK time) as I hear that, for a lot of you, this is when you’re ‘getting your head back in the game’ after the weekend and are most looking for inspiration and motivation for the week ahead.  Sunday night, me and you… it’s a date.

 

Getting help: By nature I’m fiercely independent but the past year has taught me that I can’t do it all alone.  This year, I’m going to be a big girl and ask for help more: to create space and time to work, to make sure I’m giving my best to my family, and to make sure I have a little time to recharge the batteries.  I’ve also made an investment in working with a business coach to keep me on the straight and narrow: she’s my very own cheerleader as I work towards growing my business set against my unique set of family boundaries.

And that’s it… 

 

Now it’s over to you. I’d like to know:
– what were your 1-3 biggest successes of 2013?
– what’s your one big focus for 2014?
– if “success lies in doing simple things consistently”, how can you make things more simple and consistent in your life/business this year?

 

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