In pursuit of youth

Nora Ephron (American writer and filmmaker, sadly deceased and most famous for writing ‘When Harry Met Sally’) wrote some really enjoyable essays on being a woman and ageing. If you haven’t read them I recommend getting a copy of ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman’. These essays made me smile as they eloquently described some of the struggles and frustrations we all face as we age. The disappointment of looking at our sagging faces in the mirror and not quite believing the ageing process.

To cheer myself up I regularly remind myself, and anyone who will listen, that I am the same age as Kylie Minogue. This gives me some hope that if I put in some effort I could look much much better (although I do not have access to a team of stylists and make up artists….not yet anyhow).

I am reminded of the Nora Ephron book as I take delivery of my latest order of products from Healthspan which I am hoping will propel me backwards into youth. I am a bit of a supplement junkie, always searching for the product that will give me a boost of vitality and beauty.

This time I am trying Soy Isoflavones to replace some of my rapidly declining oestrogen (or estrogen to my lovely readers from the US). I was also hoping for great things from a tube of ‘Instant Skin Perfector’ which is enriched with phytoestrogens and is slightly tinted.

Can’t really comment on the Soy Isoflavones yet, but I am quite pleased with the cream. The effect is very subtle ( I put some on half my face and asked my husband to tell me which half… which he got right. He is a very patient man!) It makes my skin tone more consistent and minimises pores, but does not cover the skin. A good base for make up.

If I feel guilty about treating myself I remind myself of Nora Ephron who always bought her favourite, extravagant lemon bath oil (Dr Hauschka) because..well why shouldn’t she?

Big Life Tune-Up: Part 3

Future plans for income and location

When I started to think about my vision for future income and location, I realised that I have been through this process many times over the years. I have bought dozens of books, done brainstorming exercises and made vision boards. It has all been quite good fun and inspiring at the time, yet here I still am- pretty much in the same place as I was this time last year ( and the year before). It occurs to me that this is what happens to most people. We buy a new journal and a nice pen and write down everything we want and then put it away in a drawer and get on with the washing up. What makes the difference between the small number of people who make change happen and the vast majority of us who don’t get beyond the ideas stage? Well, perhaps it is the same thing that happens when we buy a new diet book ( but don’t actually change what we eat), or set New Year’s resolutions but don’t make any changes to our modus operandi.

Humans are creatures of habit. We get stuck in a routine. Having new ideas is the easy part – actually changing what we do on a daily basis is much tougher. So if I want to make significant changes in my life that lead to different outcomes (I do), then I need to form different habits. My ideas must be anchored to a specific action plan, with clear daily steps that lead me in a new direction. What is absent from most self- help books is a measurable method. Specific steps to take with tracking and accountability. I am convinced that this is the missing ingredient that has kept me stuck for all these years and has helped to keep the market in self-help and diet books so buoyant. So, using my experience of business planning, I am now building a process which will help to create new habits and hold me to account. Ideas without a plan are just dreams and the time has come to take intentional steps towards a planned future.

Bramblex

The Big Life Tune-Up: My Career 2.2

 

Well this really has been a week full of insights. Having given a lot of thought to my career, I recognise that I have been stuck in a comfortable rut for years and I have made a bold decision. I am under-stretched and not growing in my career. I should have challenged myself and moved out of my comfort zone many years ago, but I did not. So now I need to put myself under some pressure, otherwise I will have even greater regrets this time next year.

I think many people can fix their career by making some changes within their existing organisation or moving into a similar role elsewhere. In my case, I have come to realise that neither of these options will deliver what I am looking for (a real challenge, sense of achievement and greater earning potential). I have also concluded that re-training for a different career will not work for me at this stage. It will take too long and ultimately will not deliver the lifestyle I am seeking. The conclusion is that I need to develop a business rather than a career.

Within the next five years my aim is to be doing work that is part-time and location-independent, freeing up time for travel with my lovely husband and lots of reading. Life is short and I have made the bold decision to only pursue opportunities that inspire me and have the potential to deliver the outcomes I am aiming for.

My intention is to phase out all my teaching and tutoring within the next two years. I plan to go part time by July 2018, which will mean handing in my notice on March 23rd 2018. It will not be easy, but this decision has really given me a clear focus on what I will and will not spend my time on. I will devote time everyday to fine-tuning ideas for future products and mastering the new digital skills needed. Time spent on anything else that does not support my future intentions, will be kept to an absolute minimum. I will be the Princess of Productivity and have just taken delivery of my marvellous Productivity Planner from Intelligent Change (intelligentchange.com).

Now I have committed, I must deliver and not waste another second. Exciting times – big change is afoot!

Bramblex

 

The Big Life Tune-Up part 2.1

So just as a reminder, here are the bits I am tuning up:-

1. Looks and style

2. Career

3. Income and location

4. Health & Fitness

Next up…my career. Wow, this is a can of worms! This is such a big topic that I am just going to start with what is good and bad about my current situation.

The good things about my career…

1. I work with ( mostly) nice people.
I am a specialist teacher so I spend a lot of time with children, which suits me in many ways.

2. I work in a lovely environment. Two different schools, both in historic buildings with stunning grounds.

3. The school day fits around my son’s, so I can drop him at school and pick him up.

4. I get the school holidays off

So far, so perfect….however, here are the bad bits

1. There are no prospects of being promoted or increasing my income ( which has pretty much flat-lined for the last few years). I have accepted this whilst my children have been at school as the price I pay for something that fits around them. However, my eldest is now 18 and off to university and the younger one is nearly 16. I have now spent 18 years in a comfortable but essentially dead-end job and it is time for a shake-up.

2. I am not being challenged or learning much that is new. I do not feel satisfied or valued and it feels like I am taking the easy option.

3. I need to ( and want to ) earn a lot more money. My costs have increased year on year whilst my salary hasn’t. In addition my costs are about to go up again to fund my son’s living expenses whilst he is at university. Apart from that, if I had remained in my previous career then I would be earning more than double my current salary. Does that hurt? Yes. Was it my choice? Yes. Does that mean that I have to stay where I am with no earning ambition? No! But this is not going to be easy. I make no apologies for wanting to earn a lot more (even though I am British). I am fed up with people thinking that there is something worthy about accepting a salary that you are not happy with and does not recognise years of experience. Us women are particularly good at that…hence the gender pay gap.

4. It is really important to me to I feel like I am on a successful path and that I do something new. I am soon to become an empty-nester and I do not want this to feel like the end of the line, but rather a new beginning..the re-invention of me!

So I know what I want…a much better income, more of a challenge and to feel successful. But achieving that seems a huge mountain to climb ( and I am not even quite sure which mountain I should be climbing). Somehow find a way to progress in my current sector (education), move to a new sector with re-training or start my own business?

Further thoughts and decisions coming soon…good luck to everyone who is re-inventing themselves. It is hard work, but exciting too.

Bramble xx

What is style?

 

Style is elusive and intangible. What is it really? How can two people wear virtually the same clothes ( such as jeans with a Bretton top) and one looks stylish and the other looks sensible and mumsy? It is a mystery to me which is why I am the one who looks mumsy rather than sexy. Perhaps it is the small things (that I usually forget)… jewellery, interesting shoes, a stylish bag, belt, sunglasses and a little dash of attitude. Yes, that must be it. It is the salt, pepper and spices that I am missing. The one or two little extras that add some interest or mystery to an otherwise boring outfit. There are so many considerations when re-vamping the wardrobe. For me the outfits need to be practical and wearable, but how to achieve this without being mind-numbingly dull? I have all the basics…T shirts, jeans, jumpers, but the total effect is usually completely forgettable and non-descript. Fashionistas, how do you do it?
Getting stylish is the first challenge in my ‘Big Life Re-tune’ and this is going to be tough for me. Thankfully there are some great blogs out there to help me spice up the blandness of my wardrobe. Here goes….

Learning to let go

In ‘My Family and other Animals’ Gerald Durrell described his brother, Larry, as a blonde firework who explodes ideas in other people’s minds and then takes no responsibility for the consequences. This has always reminded me of my eldest son who is so full of energy and is always bubbling over with new thoughts and ideas. He is now 18 and will be leaving home in September to start university. I can hardly believe how the years have shot past and my own blonde firework will shortly be leaving home. I am not fully prepared for this change and am slightly worried about how I will cope. To preempt any possible fallout, I have decided to develop some exciting plans of my own so that it doesn’t hit me too hard- and also so that I can let him go with joy and not be a needy mother. If I am suffering, then he mustn’t see it because this is such an important and happy milestone for him with so much to look forward to. We are all responsible for our own happiness and should not burden other people with our woes. If there is not enough in my life once he has gone then it is my problem to fix. So my big summer project is to tune-up my life. This is huge and exciting and falls into four key areas:-

My looks and style
My career
Future plans for income and location
Fitness and health

So, part 1 coming up…not sure where this is all going to lead but it should be good!

Finding your life goal

 

There is a fascinating book by Angela Duckworth called ‘Grit’, which I am reading currently. Having seen her TED talk, I wanted to find out more about what it really takes to excel in your chosen field and it is refreshing to hear that it is attitude rather than CAT scores that really count. Working in education, it is saddening to see the number of children who feel like they are failing because they do not score highly in written tests, which really only test a very narrow version of true intelligence. Who is in a position to define intelligence anyway? Is being able to remember facts and write them down a measure of intelligence ( or just a good memory)? If having original ideas is valued then how is this measured in the education system? If I can demonstrate my knowledge and ideas through a conversation, but what I write is a poor version of what I know, then why is my intelligence measured by the written version? ( answer: because it is much easier to administer). Many talented people have been let down by the education system which has given them a grade which they then have to carry through life. Those who decide the grading system and the grades may be the best administrators, but they are not the best thinkers. Anyhow, I digress….education is my hobby horse. What I wanted to discuss was goals.
The key to success is having a clear goal, life purpose or mission statement (ideally just one). This then guides everything you do and all your mini and midi goals fit into the overriding goal. This seems obvious, but how many of us apply it? Not me so far, but I will from now on.
Problems arise when you either have a vague high level goal (‘ I will be rich’) but no plan to achieve it. This ‘maxi goal’ is not connected to any midi or mini goals beneath it. When I was younger I just had this vague idea/hope that I would be rich enough to retire by 30 ( ha!) but this was not backed up by a plan or specific actions. I then proceeded to get a job in marketing that, at best, would mean a reasonably comfortable life on the treadmill, but certainly would not lead to a fortune. How did I think this would ever join up to my master plan of being rich and free?
The other problem is having no clear ‘maxi’ goal and then just bumbling along doing tactical tasks on a daily basis, without any idea how these are taking you closer to your goal. They do not join up to your key purpose, so you may be busy but you’ll never get there. Maxi, midi and mini goals need to join together in a pyramid all working to take you to your one, most important life goal. This should be a long-term goal, not something you keep changing. Food for thought! Well it is for me and a very interesting insight from Angela Duckworth. Good luck with finding your life goal, it may just be the most important thing you do.