When I made the decision to not return to conventional employment, but instead start a journey of living my soul purpose and designing my own life, the question of ‘Where do I start?’ was extremely prevalent in my mind, and actually the night before my first Monday, I didn’t sleep.
I often find that the best way to get motivated when feeling overwhelmed is to start with something practical. For me, 99% of the time, this will result in a snowball effect; as in once I start something, everything else seems more manageable. It’s that feeling of accomplishment (such as dragging up a book-case twice my weight up the stairs on my own…) that increases your confidence to maybe try that other thing you’ve been thinking about.
IF YOU TRY AND DO JUST ONE THING EVERY DAY, EVEN IF IT SEEMS INSIGNIFICANT TO THE ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE, IN 3 MONTHS YOU WILL BE OVER 90 TASKS CLOSER TO THE DESIRED END RESULT!
So, in my first week as officially ‘unemployed’, I kept it simple and focused on practical preparation:
- Create a work space/home office
- Meditate daily
- Make lists
- Build a routine
- Take one day at a time!
1. HOME OFFICE/WORK SPACE
Whether you are planning on working full-time or part-time at home, it is important to have a space to work that is separate from the rest of your house. We have a small spare room that I used as my dressing room, and decided this would be a prefect place to start my awesome new life! I turned my dressing table into a desk, cleared all my make-up and products away (great opportunity to throw away that hair volumising, sparkling, root lifting thing you never use), and looked up on Google the best way to feng shui a work space at home. Now I don’t know if I totally believe in the powers of feng shui, but it couldn’t hurt! I needed everything to be on my side, even potential energy flows! I found a site on Feng Shui Office Space and proceeded to arrange my office according to ‘the rules’.
I didn’t have to spend any money as I utilised things we had already in the house (including a dining room chair as my desk chair!).
One of the things I started practicing 6 months ago was meditation. I was sceptical, of course, but I think if you haven’t got anything to lose, then surely it’s worth a go. Plus articles such as How Meditation Can Benefit The Brain, as featured on Lifehacker, (I was especially intrigued by the anxiety aspect), persuaded me it was something I couldn’t afford not to try. I initially started with just 5 minutes every morning – I believed I didn’t have time for any more being that my love affair with my bed was so strong! Yet even that small amount, made such a big difference I started making more and more time for it. If I couldn’t sleep at night I would YouTube binaural meditation.
MY ANXIETY BECAME NOTICEABLY LESS SEVERE AS I LEARNED TO LET GO OF DESTRUCTIVE EMOTIONS, AND I STARTED HAVING FAITH IN MYSELF, IN MY INSTINCTS. I TRULY BELIEVE WITHOUT MEDITATION I WOULD NOT HAVE HAD THE COURAGE TO DO WHAT I AM DOING NOW.
I like doing guided meditations as there is literally one for everything you could think of, be it for depression, insecurity, anger, stress and so on. This guided Meditation For Clarity, Guidance & Inspiration on YouTube, is a favourite and one I go back to at least once a week as I always find the answers I need afterwards. I find that meditating has given me a great sense of who I am, who I want to be and where I should be heading. It was therefore important to me to set up a space in my office for me to sit and meditate. A spare king sized duvet folded over 3 times and a sarong over the top is surprisingly comfy!
There is definitely not only one way to meditate. I tried a few, and different situations call for different methods. For me even walking in the beautiful countryside brings similar results, so if you do want to give it a go, don’t put loads of pressure on yourself. You will find the best way for you. But I do challenge everyone to truly give it a go for 2 weeks. After all, what have you got to lose?
3. MAKE LISTS
I get overwhelmed easily, and one of the things that helps reduce this is to make a list of everything I need to do. It is almost like I take the stress out of my head and tip it onto the paper. And I will list EVERYTHING, including ‘buy food for smoothies’ (an actual entry on yesterday’s list). Because the more I list, the more I can cross off! And the more I cross off the more I’m tricking my brain into thinking I have achieved LOADS, and that in turn gives me a sense of accomplishment which helps to motivate me. See how it can positively snowball from just a few simple routines?
4. BUILD A ROUTINE
I would say that to have a routine will make a huge difference between success and ‘failure’ (hate that word but I really don’t think ‘misfiring’ or ‘abortion’ are a suitable alternatives – thanks anyway mac thesaurus!). I get up every morning at the same time as my fiancé for when he goes off to work. I get dressed, brush my teeth, I make myself a cup of coffee, a smoothie or some other breakfast, I then go to my office to meditate and then I am at work. And it’s funny how much I don’t feel like I’m in the same house. When I go to make a cup of tea, the living room and kitchen feel very different and I actually love being in my office. It’s for this reason that it is so important to make your work space a pleasant one to be in.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE SOMEWHERE SEPARATE TO DO YOUR WORK (IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A SEPARATE ROOM), YOU MUDDLE HOME AND WORK LIFE AND IT CAN LEAD TO BEING UNPRODUCTIVE THROUGH SHEER DISTRACTION.
I must confess, I do find it difficult to switch off. I wouldn’t trade the opportunity for anything, but when I used to work for someone else, 5 o’clock would come and I’d be firmly in ‘home mode’, ready to think about anything BUT work. Now I can’t stop looking at my emails, my Facebook page, replying to people, watching if Facebook. Because it’s something I love, am passionate about and am more anxious to be successful at than anything else I’ve ever done, because I am bleeding out my heart and soul onto these pages, it’s hard to stop. Because ultimately, this is me, not a job. What you are reading and seeing isn’t what I do. It’s who I am. And you can’t switch that off.
It’s one of those things where I really need to practice what I preach. At this point all I can say is, do as I say not as a do!
5. TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME
As human beings, living in a world where everything is instantaneous, we put a great deal of pressure on ourselves to achieve things quickly, else we see ourselves as being unsuccessful in our efforts. We often give up before having really tried because it either seems too hard or too unrealistic. A great way of not letting the fear of failure get the better of you is by taking things a day at a time. To do this, try not to look at your goal in its entirety in terms of EVERYTHING you have to accomplish to get your dream come true. It’s the journey that counts, remember. While it is important to think about what your ultimate goal is, especially through visualisation, if you look at the every single task that needs doing, you’ll invariably either scare yourself off, miss all the little things that create your success and the feeling of fulfilment it brings, or both. If you are able to concentrate simply on small manageable ‘bite-size’ pieces, instead of seeing an uphill struggle, you’ll be amazed at how much more you can do.
I stripped my first week down to the above points. Easily achievable and not too scary!
BY THE END OF MY FIRST WEEK, NOT ONLY HAD I COMPLETED ALL THE TASKS ON MY LIST, I HAD NEARLY WRITTEN THE FIRST HALF OF MY FIRST BOOK…THE ONE I NEVER THOUGHT I’D WRITE!
Had I set myself the task of writing a book at the beginning of the week, I would never have been able to get out of bed on the Monday morning…
Lastly remember that success isn’t linear. You will have good days/weeks/months and you will had bad ones. Just because you aren’t achieving something every single day or not hitting targets week on week, doesn’t mean you aren’t successful or won’t be in the future. Give yourself a break; the world won’t stop simply because you take a day or two for yourself. Remember all you have achieved, don’t focus on all you haven’t, and never forget to appreciate the things you have already accomplished, both on a personal and professional level.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.