What if the entire paradigm is wrong?

One of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur is the freedom.

With the children in school from nine until three, the usual routine is to work during those hours so that when they come home, it’s family time.

And mostly that works out great (although all too often, my longed for ‘family time’ turns into ‘playing taxi while one or more of them go to after-school club, netball or choir’ but I digress.)

Occasionally though, I bunk off for the day.

Like yesterday, my husband and I saw ‘Gravity’ and it was brilliant!

Going to the cinema in the middle of the day or going out for a meal, just the two of us, it feels very indulgent but hey, why not?

If I wanted to be tied to my desk for six hours every day, Monday to Friday, school holidays off, I’d go back to being a teacher. There’s far more certainty and it makes long term planning loads easier!

But you know what? I get far more done in two or three super-focussed hours than I ever did in a week as a teacher.

And I’m happier.

And I get to bunk off whenever I want to.

And I don’t have the stress of dealing with other people’s children.

It’s fab!

You were not put on this planet to live to work. You were put here to live and love and thrive.

We’re taught that we should work hard at school, go to university, get a job (hopefully one that doesn’t make us want to poke our own eyeballs out but if it does, just man up, that’s why it’s called work. You’re not meant to enjoy it!) and save all the fun stuff for the weekend (by which time you’re probably too exhausted from the work week to actually chill out and enjoy it but whatever.)

Whether you’re in a job or self-employed or something else entirely, this whole thinking about the way the world works, pervades every inch of society.

I write about the freedom to do what I want, when I want and yet still feel compelled to justify it by explaining that I work later when the children are in bed.

Or I bunk off on a Wednesday but play catch up on Friday. Get the hours in. Don’t slack off.

What if that entire paradigm was wrong?

It’s good to work. Doing work we love can bring a sense of purpose and make a difference to the people around us and the wider world. At a more basic level, it puts food on the table and warms our homes.

But it’s not all there is.

Jesus asked,

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

He was asking that while talking about our relationship with God but let’s expand that idea of soul for a moment and just think …

What good will it be to work so hard and have all the money and security and certainty your little heart desires, and yet forfeit your relationships with the people you love most and your sense of peace and happiness?

This isn’t a downer on money or stuff. Jesus isn’t saying you shouldn’t have things. He isn’t saying you shouldn’t work.

What he is asking is, what’s the point in having all that stuff, if you’re still not in a good place?

You could be the richest person on the planet but if your relationships stink, if all you do is work and work and never take time to look around you at the beauty in each new day, if every day you hurtle around at full speed, never pausing, is that really living?

What might your today look like if you stepped away from your computer and took a walk? (And I’m not talking about a quick once around the block before hitting your to-do list again!)

What if you did something today that you would usually reserve for a weekend?

What if you picked just one work thing to do and literally only did that?

What if you took the entire day off?

What if you started each new day open to the possibility of fun and joy and love and people?

What if you expected that stuff, every day?

Lots of what ifs today. Please don’t add them all to a to-do list. That would be totally missing the point! πŸ˜‰

What if you took just one, tried it for size, claimed it as your own and then took it for a test drive for the day?

Go on, I dare you! πŸ˜‰

 

 

What if what you expected was actually what happened?

A funny thing happened on Friday …

After taking most of Thursday off to help my husband celebrate his birthday, I broke with my usual Friday tradition of lots of fun and very little work and instead, wrote a (fairly optimistic) list of all the things I would get done.

It wasn’t one of those insane lists that you actually have zero intention of ever seeing the bottom of and I didn’t keep adding to it or deviating from it.

But all that said, it was a challenging list.

A challenge that I fully expected I would rise to. I believed it was all easily within my grasp (so long as I didn’t allow myself to get distracted!) and totally doable.

And the funny thing that happened?

I proved myself right!

What I expected had totally come true. Not just a little bit: totally. Down to the letter.

And that’s when this thought popped in my head and I wrote the word ‘expecting’ on my white board as a reminder for this week.

What if every day we expected specific things?

What if every day we didn’t just hope or cross our fingers but actually believed and claimed it as already ours?

The word ‘hope’ is used a lot in the bible. We talk about hope when we actually mean ‘maybe’ or think it comes down to luck or good fortune.

Biblical hope though is different.

Biblical hope is about expectation. Belief. Stepping forward. Claiming it.

What would your today look like if you stepped into it with a sense of expectation?

And do you know what you’d like to be expectant about? That piece is super important because, as the Cheshire Cat said to Alice:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to end up just anywhere! So our challenge for today is to decide where we’d like to be headed:

Maybe God has put a burning passion in your heart and that’s the thing you wanted to be moving toward?

Then step forward, one foot in front of the other, expecting that that thing you’re after, God has already written the script.

And as ever, remember, you’re not in this alone.

 

 

Read this if you’ve been waiting until you’re ready.

We’ve all been there.

Wanting to have every piece in place, every ‘t’ crossed and ‘i’ dotted. No mistakes, broken links or overlooked something.

That’s admirable and wonderful and totally understandable.

But sometimes you have to decide that it’s time and just go for it!

Imagine if Moses had waited until he was ready before going to talk to Pharaoh.

What if Joseph had decided he couldn’t do his thing until he was in a better position (like, not in prison!)

Suppose Mary had said, “I’m still just a child myself. I can’t have a kid!”

There are times when waiting and praying and resting and being still are the right things to do.

There are times when stumbling forward and just doing something is foolish.

But there comes a time when God says go. Do it. Move already!

Us faith folk can get ourselves into a right old pickle, trying to figure out if it’s the right time or not. We can’t see the big picture and yet we believe in a God who does, and really try to have all the pieces in place so that our stuff can line up with his stuff.

And that’s fine and admirable but you know what? It also causes us to spend a lot less time doing.

What if we woke up each morning and said, “hiya God. Fab new day. What can we do today?” and then, because most of us don’t have him on speed dial or iMessage, we do the very next best thing and move forward, one step at a time, trying stuff and seeing what happens?

Because sometimes we know what we should be doing next and we just don’t do it.

Sometimes we can have a thing listed as “number 1 priority for the week” and yet still get all the way to Friday and find we’re not ready.

What if you’re never ready? What if you can’t foresee every possible scenario and you will always overlook something?

What if, sometimes, it’s about deciding that ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’?

And no, I’m not suggesting you just throw stuff together and put it out there, typos and errors and all.

Read through stuff, sure.

But ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’. Every time.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Read this when you think it’s time to give up

I’ve come to the conclusion that my parents are actually pretty wise. But please, don’t tell them I said so eh πŸ˜‰

After writing on Facebook yesterday about choices, my dad replied with a comment about how sometimes that cruise liner needs to totally change direction. It’s about avoiding collisions.

And then I got to thinking about 180 turn arounds to avoid a collision versus giving up because you just kinda got scared.

Turning full circle is pretty dramatic.

How many times have you got scared and made a massive, dramatic about turn?

Or when you get scared, are you more likely to just kind of shift slightly.

Maybe let go of one or two things, gently, little by little? If you’re already afraid, the last thing your brain is going to allow is massive change and uncertainty.

Little by little, softly, gently. That’s the em oh of the frightened brain.

But how do you really know when a full 180 is needed?

And how do you know when something just isn’t working?

Not many of us get those dramatic bright light moments from God, so instead we have to listen for an inkling, an idea, a thought, and try it and see what happens.

My mum calls it pushing at doors.

You give the thought or idea a little shove, a little forward movement, and if that door stays firmly shut, you might give it another shove (or even a massive great big wiggle!) but ultimately, if you’ve tried and it just doesn’t give, maybe it’s time to reconsider.

But here’s the thing … how many of us say we’re pushing at a door and give up because it stays shut when, if we’re really honest with ourselves, deep down, we know we only gave it the tiniest of pushes with our little pinky?

We say we’re really excited about something, that the idea gives us shivers, but when it comes to pushing and shoving, we just don’t really try.

I’ve certainly been guilty of that.

Back in January I boldly declared to my friends in my mastermind group that this would be the year I put The Itchy Soul out there in a big way. It’s been two years since that now infamous weekend when my fire for this work was lit and it was now or never.

Two years of trying and pushing and shoving.

But honestly? Two years of trying and pushing and shoving with little more than my pinky!

With the usual end of year deliberations, where we all consider where we’re at, now is the time when people decide if they’re ready to call time on that project that never got off the ground.

Maybe you’re ready to give up?

And sure, maybe you should.

But before you do, ask yourself this:

Have you really given it a proper good push? Did you shove at it good and proper?

Or, like me, did you really only give it the tiniest of nudges with your pinky?

Sometimes the reason why we don’t properly go at stuff is because it’s not the right time or we’re just not really into it. That alone can be a good indication that this thing we thought was for us maybe isn’t really.

But when that thing you’re thinking about just won’t go away, when it’s a burning desire that you keep coming back to, weeks and months later, that thing really deserves your biggest boldest kick and shove.

Which leaves only one question … what’s stopping you?

 

If this game we call life is won or lost inside our heads, here’s how we might win …

I was full of good intentions last night when I set my alarm for half six. What I hadn’t banked on was being woken up at 5am by my husband putting the light on to read!

When my alarm went off, I hit snooze once but the second time I got up.

“Are you really going to get up now?” he asked.

“You’re the one who’s been asking when I’m going to start running again.” said I.

“You don’t have to do it now though.”

“OK”, I said. And got back into bed.

After lying there for little more than a couple of minutes my brain kicked in. If I don’t get up and do it now, I know I won’t do it later.

And so I got up.

Feeling very proud of myself, I pulled on my bottoms, grabbed some water and started the video. It was a strength video from my health coach Nichole and it’s a bit of a killer but ultimately worth it.

Except this morning it was extra tough.

Do you have those times when everything feels difficult?

I don’t necessarily mean just fitness stuff. There are times when, despite doing the right thing, making that small but important decision to show up, it then feels like really hard work.

And part of you might be thinking that it’s just not fair. You showed up. You did your part. You didn’t stay in bed. Why does it then have to hurt so much?

During the two minutes I was lying in bed debating whether to get up or not, I sneezed something like 5 times. I tried using that as an excuse to not get up but just got up anyway.

So as I’m puffing my way through Nichole’s workout, even just the warmup is hurting. I’ve done this one before, I think to myself. It isn’t usually this hard going.

Maybe I am actually coming down with something?

Maybe I should have just stayed in bed?

Maybe I should stop right now before I do myself a mischief?

This game we call life is won or lost inside our heads. It really is.

And this time, I was determined not to lose. But I was also hurting and not having that much fun.

So I came up with a compromise.

I knew the last circuit involved some crunches, so I pulled out my mat and did those. I didn’t complete the whole thing but I did something and I didn’t kill myself in the process!

So what does all this have to do with faith or business?

That’s a fair question. πŸ˜‰

Every moment of every day is made up of choices.

The choice to get up. The choice to smile. The choice to take a deep breath and be extra patient. The choice to say no. Even the choice not to choose!

And one choice impacts the next one, but the next one doesn’t have to be ruled and dictated to by the previous.

Making one choice does not legally bind you, on pain of death, not to tweak that choice and change course.

You don’t choose once and forever live with the consequences.

You’re like an elegant cruise liner, tweaking and shifting, choice by choice, with an eye on the end goal, sure, but going with whatever storms may come up at you, and tweaking and shifting accordingly.

Just because you shift slightly does not mean that you’re off course.

And it all starts with one choice.

And the one after that. And the one after that. And the one after that.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

 

Stuck and can’t do the thing you’re meant to be doing? Here’s how to level up …

I started and re-started this post something like three or four times.

Having gotten up early, especially so I could get some work done before the rest of the house woke up (it’s a half term holiday here for the children so time alone with peace and quiet is at a premium!) I was determined to use the time wisely.

But then I got stuck.

Maybe you’ve had this happen to you?

It’s like you have this duel switch inside your head or something. You want to but you don’t want to.

You’re determined, but you’re just not sure.

Paul wrote about this in the bible. He was talking within the context of right and wrong so it’s slightly different (context is sooo important don’t you think?) but the overall sentiment is the same.

He wrote, “I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead I do what I hate to. I do what I don’t want to do.”

Hate is a strong word.

It’s not like I hate checking my email, but having determined that checking it switches me into reactive mode, I know that it’s not good for me to do it first thing.

And yet I still do it.

What’s that about?!?

What do you do when you want to do one thing, take action on one specific dream, but find yourself a little bit lost?

The way I see it, you have two choices:

You can sit there, fighting and willing yourself to do what you decided you should do but are stuck on.

Or you can find something completely different to do, something where the very next step is easy and doesn’t require too much thought or internal debate, and do that.

If the ‘something completely different’ is also something that, ultimately, takes you a step closer to something that’s important to you, double win!

The funny thing about our wonderful, clever, beautifully designed brains is that, by shifting the focus and pressure, we magically unlock the very thing we were stuck on.

Ideas flow. Next steps become clearer. Forward action suddenly becomes easy. I have no idea why it works like that. I’m just thankful that it does!

So if you’re stuck in ‘doing what I don’t want to do and not doing what I want to do’ mode, try doing something completely different and watch how your magical brain helps you to level up.

 

Never, never, never give up

Winston Churchill popped into my brain this morning. Can you tell? πŸ˜‰

And there are times when actually, the most courageous thing to do is to walk away, to give up, to say, “no more” but for everything else, there’s Winston:

Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.

Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts.

What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?

Never give in. Never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

The bible has something to say about keeping on too. That was me saying that, by the way, not Winston πŸ˜‰

Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Never, never, never give up.

What if you were given an extra hour?

This weekend it wasn’t just a ‘what if?’

Our clocks went back and suddenly, we were gifted an extra hour in bed.

“What if you were given an extra hour?”

“Sleep!” is apparently the answer.

That’s how it’s always been billed, every year. “The clocks go back this weekend. You get an extra hour in bed. Brilliant!”

But who says that extra hour must be spent in bed? And who forgot to send that memo to the hundreds of thousands of children who got up at 6am instead of 7?

That we’re programmed to spend the extra hour in bed says a lot about our levels of sleep deprivation and inability to slow down. Every year, just once a year, we’re nationally encouraged to relax a little bit longer.

But what if each of us planned in advance to use the extra hour for something magnificent? Something that we wouldn’t usually make the time for, but something that lights us up?

What if we didn’t just spend it in bed and we actually got up and were brilliant?

What would that look like for you? What would you choose to do?

What if we play pretend and choose to do that magnificent thing every day?

Wibbily wobbly, timey wimey. We don’t suddenly ‘find’ an extra hour every autumn. Time just is and we manipulate the stuff to fit it. We manipulate the clocks. It’s a national manipulation that everyone is in on.

But what if we made a conscious choice about what’s important and manipulate our day to make it fit in?

Time is scattered throughout the bible. It started with God creating time via day and night and from there, time is used within the context of events and seasons through to the infamous ‘There is a time for everything’ speech in Ecclesiastes.

Time, according to a quick glimpse at the bible it seems, is this never-ending stuff but we’re also reminded that it’s fleeting.

So how about we treat each hour as the precious stuff it is and make a conscious choice about what we’re going to do, who we’re going to do it with and where we’re going to do it?

And I’m not talking about filling every hour with busy.

I spent my extra hour yesterday sleeping and it was delightful. It’s just about being more conscious, deciding what’s really important to us, and making sure we allow time for that every day.

You in?

 

 

If you haven’t got a dog or a child, it’s probably time to get one!

And if you’re constantly burning out, you probably need both!

How’s that for opinionated eh? πŸ˜‰

OK, so there’s a bit of a back story to this. When isn’t there?

You may have gathered by now that I love Fridays. I tend to avoid all meetings or client calls and generally aim to just have as much fun as I possibly can.

The pace slows down and bit and yes, I do some work, but I like to have that wrapped up by lunchtime. Today however was different.

Next week is half-term which means the children are home. My husband and I are also off to Cardiff on Monday and, overall, the whole week will be a lot less work-focussed than usual.

So I decided today that I needed to get lots done, maybe write a few of next week’s Daily Dose episodes and other bits and bobs that would help me get a head a little.

I was ready to attack the day at about 100 miles per hour.

But then I got back from taking the children to school and the welcome home I got from the dog was so nice, I decided to take her for a walk before settling down to work.

And it was as I was walking happily along in the sunshine that I realised how much I love being outside and the freedom to do stuff when I want to. The sun was playing with the clouds. It was just lovely.

If it hadn’t been for the dog, I’d have been head down right away. I’d have missed the pleasure of being outside and, sure, the world wouldn’t have fallen apart as a result, but my day would have been less as a result.

Children have the same effect.

It is impossible to be a workaholic and have children. Even if I go into head-down, headphones-in mode, sooner or later, someone in the house needs me.

Whether it be a dog or a child, every entrepreneur needs someone to help them lift their head up and look around from time to time.

I used to think of it as an interruption and yes, there are still times when I close my office door so that they know not to come in for a little while (and yes, they are very good at ignoring that completely if my door stays shut too long!) but what if those little people or furry companions are actually a gift?

There are times when I would love nothing more than to be able to just press a pause button for a little while. To pause the mess and the noise and the squabbling and the washing.

We don’t say it out loud but sometimes having kids around is frustrating and maddening and impossible. Add the dog and her constant moulting and clamouring for attention to the mix and it’s enough to drive you bonkers!

A gift? Really?

Really.

Today is a gift and without the addition a child or a dog, it’s all too easy to miss it.

And so here’s to our babies, whether they be human or furry. Give one of them a hug just as soon as you can and remember to thank them for being them.

 

What if we could wear resting and taking a break as a badge of honour?

Don’t tell anyone but I’m a bit of a hypochondriac.

After a day full of meetings and driving, sandwiched in-between recording a video and doing some work, by 8pm on Tuesday I was ready to sleep for a week!

Apparently it’s not normal to be tired by 8pm so of course I started Googling symptoms to find out what was wrong with me. I got myself into a right old pickle!

Turns out that there wasn’t much wrong with me other than I was just exhausted after a busy day.

For the last few days though, in true hypochondriac fashion, I’ve been keeping an eye on my symptoms and trying to be a little bit more balanced with how I work.

The result? The last two days have been fabulous!

I’ve gotten more done than I did all of last week (despite working like an idiot!) Better than that though, the last two days have been fun.

Lots of giggles and smiles. It’s been wonderful.

And so now, be warned, I’m on a bit of a rest quest – oooh, and I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it πŸ˜‰

But seriously, I just looked in the bible and, not even counting the obvious ‘and on the seventh day, God rested’ type verses, there are loads of examples of people being encouraged to chill out.

Do you remember what happened when Elijah got freaked out because Jezebel was after him? He was encouraged to rest, eat, drink, eat some more, and then finally, eventually, he got up and made his move.

Jesus too talks about how the weary and burdened should come to him and he’d give them rest.

Even Jacob is caught sleeping before his wrestling match with God.

If it was important then, me thinks it’s still important now.

You were not put on this planet to live to work. Sure, everyone needs to have some way to support themselves and it’s good for your brain to keep it active, but do you know what’s just as important as working?

Rest.

Recharging.

Smiling.

Giving yourself time to stop and actually notice what’s going on around you.

It’ll make you more productive and it just makes life more fun.