What I learnt this week…. unplugging and self-awareness

What to do when you feel like everything is falling apart?

I usually try not to complain and be grateful for all the good things in my life and count my blessings. I truly feel blessed with the life that I have, with the people in my life and, generally, with my circumstances.

But this year is testing my resilience, my strength and often even my positivity.

What do you do when you can’t focus, can’t concentrate, can’t do anything and all you want to do is sleep or watch silly TV shows?

My 2018 so far

This year was supposed to start great. I got a new home with more space to live and do yoga. It was the perfect backdrop for my videos and had a dog, which was a bonus!

However, on my very first day there while I was moving in, I managed to miss a step, fall down and sprain my ankle, which had me bed bound for a few days. Plus, this accident really flipped my emotions into a wild roller coaster, so for the next couple of weeks, I wasn’t as productive and ‘on it’ as I was planning to be.

Then, when I was finally feeling that I was getting back on track, my father suddenly passed away. I jumped straight on the first plane back home and spent the next few weeks with my family, helping my mom find some balance. I must say that I was amazed and touched by the support, kindness and understanding from all my clients.

When everything seems to go wrong

When I got back after a month and started picking up my business again and taking steps forward, I discovered that my landlord (I was a lodger living with my landlady) is absolutely crazy. Over the next couple of weeks, she started making my life miserable with insane rules and with passive-aggressive messages. I’ve always thought that I’m a good tenant and generally an easy-to-live-with person, but not for this landlord. Everything I did (even talking with my mum on Skype) was annoying her and resulted in an aggressive response.

So after all the trauma, I found myself even more anxious and absolutely unable to concentrate. In situations like this, every minor obstacle like a bike puncture felt like the end of the world (especially when you get two punctures in a row) and I was quickly running out of resilience.

Be grateful, practice resilience and change your perspective

Why am I telling you all this? Well, life doesn’t always go the way we plan and tests our resilience. When bad things are happening, it’s easy to give up and just get sucked into all the negativity. So what do I do to fight with anxiety and depression, to stay positive and optimistic when it feels like the whole world is against me?

There are two things that make a huge difference for me: gratitude and time out of my day-to-day routine to gain perspective.

Keeping a gratitude journal or simply writing down things that I’m grateful for each day really helps with focusing on the good stuff in my life. When I started practising mindfulness, I learnt that as long as we’re breathing, everything is going to be okay. Focusing on my breathing helps me detract from other stuff and stop overthinking.

”As long as you are breathing there is more right with you than wrong with you.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

Travelling, exploring new places and meeting new people allows me to learn more about other people’s lives and this new perspective always makes me feel grateful. Being able to do all these things – travel, eat out, spend time with my friends, meet new people, have new, exciting experiences – is a true blessing and I feel incredibly grateful to be able to live my life the way I want!

The importance of taking time off to unplug (completely)

I think that I’ve managed to master work-life balance since setting up my own business. Being my boss allowed me to travel more, explore new places and meet new people all around the world while working at the same time. But work and travel still mean that I’m in the mindset of working. I’m still planning, thinking, organising, producing…

This weekend, I went down to Cornwall with a couple of my friends and because of a very poor internet connection in our cottage, I couldn’t do any work! At first, I was really nervous and was thinking about spending some time in a local cafe, but then I decided to enjoy 3 days of having a great time with my friends. No laptop, no emails, no notifications, no worries!

Being completely present in the moment allowed me to gain much-needed perspective on my life and business, get clarity on what’s important and what doesn’t deserve my attention.

Now I’m ready to kick ass!

What have you been doing this Easter weekend? Have you been working or did you take some time off like me?

P.S. Here’s some short motivation from Gary Vee:

Pack behaviour… leaders vs followers

Another interesting learning came out of my weekend trip.

While hiking through Cornwall, I was observing pack behaviour on a group of friends and I started thinking ‘What are the traits of a true leader?’. It became pretty obvious who’s the leader in our pack, who’s just pretending/hoping to be one and who’s a follower.

From my point of view, true leaders are the ones who care about their pack, who always go last to make sure no one is left behind, they have a clear vision and know how to share it with others (to make sure the rest of the pack is going with them in the right direction). Good leaders can also make quick decisions (if needed) and are ready to deal with the consequences of those decisions (based on imperfect information).

Then you have pack members who are typical followers, who can’t take care of others (can barely take care of themselves) and who don’t have an opinion about any decisions (or have an opinion, but are too afraid to share it with others). They also often lack awareness about the situation they’re in.

Manager vs leader

I never thought of myself as a leader. I’m fairly individualistic – I like being on my own, doing stuff my way and often I say that I don’t like people – but recently I’m realising that these things don’t mean that I can’t be a leader.

I used to shy away from management roles because I couldn’t deal with managing others. I’ve always been hard working and had high expectations of myself and I used to expect the same from others. I wasn’t creating the best working environment, one that productive, yet supportive.

Over time, I’ve come to realise why – there’s a huge difference between being a manager and being a leader. Both require completely different personalities and skills!

This was one of the reasons why I decided to outsource to other freelancers rather than employ people when my business started to grow. Self-employed professionals don’t need a manager. They need a leader who shows them the direction, but who doesn’t hold their hand every step of the way but gives them responsibility and creative freedom instead.

Am I a leader? If needed, I know that I can jump into any situation, quickly get my head around it, make the required decisions and work with others to make things happen. I’m not afraid of the responsibility and I know that I have some leadership skills in me, but I know that I still have a long journey ahead of me…

Book Corner

This week I started reading Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg that I got from a colleague (Thanks Sonja, it took a while, but the book arrived just in time for my Easter holiday adventure).

I’m finding it really hard to describe this book, so I’ll just leave these quotes here to give you a better idea:

“Option A is not available. so let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.”

“We plant the seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events. After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that three P’s can stunt recovery: (1) personalization—the belief that we are at fault; (2) pervasiveness—the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and (3) permanence—the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever. The three P’s play like the flip side of the pop song “Everything Is Awesome”—“everything is awful.” The loop in your head repeats, “It’s my fault this is awful. My whole life is awful. And it’s always going to be awful.” Hundreds”

“Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning in to the suck. It comes from analyzing how we process grief and from simply accepting that grief. Sometimes we have less control than we think. Other times we have more. I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.”

“Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B.”

So here we go, it’s the beginning of April, but my 2018 is just starting!