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In Guest Posts on
April 18, 2017

How Consuming Less is Making Me More Content

By Sasha from one of my favourite blogs, The Life Notes.


“It’s nice, but not necessary.” These are the words that have kept me on track with money lately.

That top? Nice, but not necessary.

That thing you spotted in M&S when you were in there buying stuff for the office? Put it back. That’s not what you came in here for.

Last-minute invite to go out when it wasn’t in the budget? Guys, I’ll have to catch up with you another time.

Boring it may be, but right now, boring is necessary. It’s what is going to get me where I want to be, so I can truly enjoy the wants, while feeling assured that I’m meeting the needs.

And this month, more than any other, I’ve felt so in control of my finances and it feels gooooood. There’s clearly a substantial link for me between spending and the knock on effect it has on my sleep and anxious thoughts. It has a deep emotional stronghold.

But the unexpected by-product of applying this mantra to my money life, has also proved to be invaluable life advice overall.

When you strip back the fluff and the things that we actually fill our time with, how much of that is necessary, and how much of it is nice, but not really getting us anywhere. Or worse, distracting and delaying progress in other areas?

It made me contemplate how well I was using my time:

Forty five minutes on a Tuesday at my favourite gym class, away from a screen, getting them endorphins in and stresses out? Necessary.

Forty five minutes repeatedly entering and exiting the same four social media apps, because it feels like my thumb has been subconsciously trained to do so whenever I pick up my phone? Certainly not necessary. And sometimes, mood dependent, not even nice.

My main question is this: With your time, your money, your attention, your work, are you spending enough on the necessary and getting the things you need to do, done?

I think the trouble is, is that often what is necessary takes time and effort. And largely, the nice things, the things that can derail us from what we really want, we can have instantly. It takes time to draft and edit a piece of writing or get through a chunky work task, but I know that I can effortlessly procrastinate with various feeds or the lesser important tasks on a to-do list.

It takes an age to build up savings, but the way that mobile app and 1-click shopping is set up, I can spend my money five times faster than I make it.

Remember when your mum used to tell you to do your homework before you went out to play? Apply that to adult life. Pay off your debts, create before you consume, put priority before pleasure.

And it’s not that I always need to be constantly on the go, pushing and striving. Sometimes when life gets overwhelming, what’s necessary is stripped back to the absolute basics of getting up, getting dressed and eating. In part, what can get us to that state of overwhelm in the first place, is trying to do everything without order, balance or priority. Applying the nice or necessary filter to parts of my life has proved to be an excellent editing tool, promoting focus, even if only to get me through the day.

So if that means a day without social media, so be it. If the TV needs to stay off so I can actually concentrate on something else, well that’s just how it is. If I need to hit the sack at 9pm and lie in silence or say no to the event, then that’s what I’m gonna do.

Whatever is necessary, and can’t be lived without: focus on that. Make those things larger. Those things, whatever they may be, matter in your life. Everything else is nice, but not necessary.


Check out Sasha’s brilliant blog, thelifenotes.co.uk, and follow her on Instagram @thelifenotes_

In Guest Posts on
April 5, 2017

How to Overcome Perfectionism in 4 Steps

By Wendy de Jong

Confession time: I quadruple-checked each and every single word in this blog post before declaring it finished. It’s a habit that’s difficult to break. You see, even as a recovering perfectionist, I still feel plagued by my perfectionism from time to time.

 

I’m not alone in my struggle with perfectionism. I know many of you face the same struggle every day. A difficult conversation with a loved one. An impending deadline for a passion project you’ve poured your heart and soul into. Receiving criticism from your boss about a report you’ve written. Cue perfectionism.

 

There are things you can do, though, when you’re stuck in perfectionism and feel the urge to perfect, perform, and please. I’ll share these four things in a little bit.

 

But first, let’s clear up a few misunderstandings and get clear about what perfectionism actually is.

 

The truth about perfectionism

 

You might think that being a perfectionist means you’re pursuing excellence, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence.

 

When you’re striving for excellence your focus is on personal growth and healthy achievement: ‘How can I improve?’ or ‘What are my goals?’.

 

Instead, being a perfectionist means you’re focused on the other and trying to win their approval: ‘What will they think? Will they like me? Will they think my effort is good enough?’

 

Healthy striving is internally motivated and perfectionism is externally motivated.

 

Another common misunderstanding is that perfectionism is a collection of personality traits, like being type A, having a keen eye for detail, and being very organized. This is how perfectionism is portrayed in popular culture (Monica Geller, anyone?), but again, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

Let’s do a little thought experiment: do you suddenly turn into a perfectionist once you start focusing on details or show your type A personality? The answer is no. Those things happen as a RESPONSE to your perfectionism.

 

Perfectionism is a dangerous and harmful way of thinking and behaving. Perfectionism is a coping mechanism that we use when we feel scared, insecure, uncertain, and/or not good enough.

 

Those moments when you feel insecure or uncertain, like when you meet your in-laws for the first time, trigger a fearful thought pattern within you that goes like this:

 

‘If I do this perfectly or have a perfect life or look perfect, I am in control and therefore people can’t hurt me or see me for who I really am.’

 

Sound familiar? This myth of perfectionism as a collection of personality traits is very pervasive. So many women think that to let go of perfectionism means having to let go of being type A or being organized and that causes anxiety.

 

The only way to overcome perfectionism is to slowly break down the coping mechanism you’ve been using for so long. And that’s difficult. It takes time, dedication, and a lot of soul searching. But it’s possible. Here’s how to get started.

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In Guest Posts on
February 4, 2017

Why Being A “Mature Student” Might Be The Best Decision You’ll Ever Make

As Rebecca Hunter becomes a “mature student” at 30, she wonders: is being a lifelong learner the key to fulfilment?

 

I’m sitting in a classroom, next to a guy who’s ten years my junior. We’re discussing the merits of two film reviews we’ve been asked to analyse – comparing their stylistic components and their content. We’re reflecting on what we’ve learnt in previous weeks about sub-editing and crafting the most engaging of headlines and standfirsts.

Conversation turns to why we’re both here, on this Tuesday night, learning about the world of journalism. He has no A-levels so he’s here on an alternative path to university. “History and politics” are what he tells me he’ll be studying. “Boring, I know.”

I beg to differ. If I could, I’d be a professional student fo’ life, of politics and all.

Tonight though, I’m here to satiate more than an unquenchable curiosity and a peculiar love of writing essays.

I want to switch career paths, you see. When I tell the guy this, as well as the fact that I’m turning 30 this year, his reaction is one of mild shock. (*congratulates self on not visibly aging since 2005*)

I’m breaking one of the golden rules of storytelling here and definitely not starting at the beginning, so let’s rewind three weeks. I’m sitting on my bed, savouring the last of Sunday and eating the best fish and chips in London (I’m from Yorkshire, so I dare you to challenge me on this). I’m fresh from a conversation over wine and cake – AKA the very best kind of conversation – with a friend who’s one of my biggest cheerleaders. I always feel fired up following a chat with her, and tonight was no exception. I’m licking the grease from the fingers of one hand as I use the other to Google ‘part-time journalism courses in London.’ I land on one that looks decent and affordable and takes place weekly at a time that suits my schedule. And it kicks off just two days from now. Perfect.

That’s how I end up sitting next to a teenager on a Tuesday night in Lambeth, discussing the merits of being a film reviewer, playing critic myself (“‘I, Daniel Blake’ is a scathing attack on systemic injustice and a gut-punching MUST-SEE,” FYI) and taking the role of student for the first time in nine years.
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In Guest Posts on
January 18, 2017

How to Grow Your Social Media Following Without Selling Your Soul

Social media | Marketing | Blogging | Blogging tips | Success | Business | Girl boss | Entrepreneurship | Twitter | Instagram | Social

 

By Michelle Rick

 

“If you get bored with social media, it’s because you’re trying to get more value than you create.” Fast Company

Have you seen that episode of Silicon Valley where Jared, out of good intent and desperation, hires a click farm to spike his company’s user numbers? Click farms are real, and they’re a good example of how far people will go to boost their follower count. And then there are the robots that automatically like posts with certain hashtags, people who follow you just so you’ll follow them back before they unfollow you, et cetera.

But you don’t have to swipe a credit card or sell your soul to build a following on social media…

The first time I really saw a post of mine resonate with an audience was at my first social media job, when I wrote about harmful thoughts and how they block creativity.

I was stunned at number of comments I received. People all over the world were pouring their hearts out to me about the inner critics they wanted to defeat so they could keep doing what they loved.

That’s when I realized that authenticity and speaking honestly about what matters most is key to getting shared and seen. If it mattered to me, it had to matter to someone else out there.

Boosted posts and audience targeting have their place, but there’s no real substitute for human interaction in social sharing.

Jordan Dansky said it best:  “In some way or another, your story will resonate with others. Sharing our collective human experiences is the most wonderful benefit of social media in my mind.”

Plenty of people use social media get attention and collect likes, but if you’re missing the puzzle piece of authenticity, it can end up feeling like the world’s most difficult video game. Teenage Instagram star Essena O’Neill addressed this when she quit social media in 2015, and rewrote the captions on all her photos with honest but imperfect truths. This move got her more attention than her Instagram stardom ever had.

What are we really looking for when we instinctively scroll through our Instagram feeds as we wait for our morning latte? Are we really trying to see how great someone else’s life is, or do we crave the authenticity that made Socality Barbie an overnight success?

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In Guest Posts on
January 12, 2017

Why I’m Proud to Be A Job-Hopping Millennial

By Emily Rodgers

 

“Wow, you’ve done a lot since graduating!” a colleague exclaimed, after I explained how I’d spent the last few years. 

 

7 jobs in 3 years. 

 

At a recent interview, (aka applying for my 8th), I was asked why I’d changed jobs so often. Like a rehearsed answer at a call centre, I reeled off my logical reasons for leaving each one. They nodded understandingly, but seemed uncertain. Of course, I see how it could look bad to a potential employer. Or could it?

 

In a survey conducted by Future Workplace, 91% of millennials expected to stay in their jobs for less than 3 years. I’ve already surpassed that… seven-foldBut my mentality matches that of many millennials, and that is this: 

 

If I ever lose passion, or motivation behind a job, or if I stop caring, I’ll question it. And if those questions only have negative answers, I’ll start to look for a change. 

 

Our attention spans, need for instant gratification and craving to make a difference are starting to become more and more apparent in our working life – and I am a living, breathing testament to this.

 

My mantra has changed from ‘it’s just a job’ to ‘I will not be underappreciated; I will never be a cog in the machine.’

 

I’m confronted with people every day who have no idea what they’re doing in work or in life

 

I may be none the wiser, but at least I’m trying to figure it out instead of staying hidden behind a good salary and a free gym membership. I’m exploring what I like and don’t like, and I’m happy to take a pay cut if it means my mental health is in check and I’m staying true to my principles.

 
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In Guest Posts on
January 3, 2017

What Really Happened When I Quit My Job to Travel Alone

 

By Lexie Mullins

 

A few months back, I went through a break up that I can only describe as one of the most painful experiences of my life so far.

 

After weeks of feeling helpless, I decided to take a massive risk and do something I’d been dreaming of for years:

 

I quit my job and booked a one-way ticket to Australia, with stops in Bali and Malaysia.

 

The dream, right?

 

24 sleepless hours of travelling later, and I’d arrived in Bali. But what I’d given up didn’t hit me until I got to my hotel room. All the adrenaline had vanished, and there I was… alone. Alone in a country where I knew no one and had no one. I FaceTimed my family and cried for hours. The reality of what I’d done hit me, hard.

 

After a few days, I made a few friends and tried to find my feet. But when it got to the end of the day and my head hit the pillow, my thoughts would haunt me.

 

Each day, the uncertainty of what I would do, where I would go and who I would meet didn’t always excite me. Instead, it gave me an anxiety that I had never experienced before. Where was the mention of this in textbook guide to travelling alone?

 

Some days I’d deliberately sleep in until the afternoon just so most of the day was over. Others, I would find myself having experiences that words nor pictures can describe.

 

When you think of travelling, the first thing that comes to mind is those crystal clear waters and white beaches that are plastered all over your Instagram feed. Don’t worry they exist, they’re real and there really is #nofilter necessary. But travelling, especially solo, is so much more than beautiful landscapes and sunset cocktails alone. It’s not easy. 

 

Solo travelling, inevitably, forces you to spend a lot of time alone. And even when meeting people, the only person you can really trust and rely on is yourself. You’re constantly in your own thoughts and some days you don’t have a full conversation in English. The lack of communication is almost unnatural.

 

I hate to sound like one of those annoying Brits that spends their summers in English-run resorts in Spain, but arriving in Australia and hearing English-speaking people was a relief. I was finally able to hold a conversation that flowed. I was finally understood.

 

Don’t get me wrong, experiencing other cultures is something I’m extremely grateful for. But not having a real conversation affects you. It’s isolating.

 

I’ve learnt so many things about myself that I would never have learnt had I stayed in the U.K. Mainly that I am stronger than I ever thought I was. That I would rather be alone than around people who don’t help me to grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually. That I can only beat my anxiety by forcing it out the door. That there is a whole world out there that is waiting to be explored. That there are so many like-minded people, a tribe of people that are just like me, and just like you, waiting to join their tribe too.

 

In the last few months, there have been so many times where I’ve wanted to give up, book a flight home and go back to my day-to-day existence. There are times where I’m sick of my own company and so engrossed in my own thoughts that I just want to scream.

 

Looking back, would I have booked that flight? I’m not sure, but I’m here now, I’ve got two jobs, a house and some amazing friends. I’ve built a temporary life 10,000 miles away, and I’m proud of that.

 

Who knows what else I’ll discover not only about the world, but myself?

 


Follow Lexie’s story on her website, LexieMullins.com, or via Twitter.

In Guest Posts on
December 22, 2016

Why I Quit My Six-Figure Job to Be an Artist


So many of us dream of having a six-figure salary. Lots of money is #goals, right? But what happens when you get there, and it’s still not enough? That’s exactly what happened to Laura McGuigan.

Here’s the story of how (and why!) she quit her six-figure job to follow her lifelong passion for art.

 

Hi, Laura! I am seriously inspired by your story. Can you tell us a bit more about your background and what made you originally get into design?

Hey Bianca, sure thing! I’ve been a designer for the last ten years professionally, starting in graphic design and moving into interactive design and user experience. I worked in house and at small design agencies helping clients communicate their messages digitally, before taking the leap into the startup world. I was the first designer and fourth employee at my last company and built out the design practice, philosophy and the team there.

 

By the time I left, I held the position of VP, Design, sitting on the executive team of a 90 person company. I have always been a creative and hands out individual; spent all my life drawing, painting, creating. I enjoyed and excelled at classes in school that allowed me that opportunity. While painting and sculpture in high school were super fun, it was a Graphic Design class and a vocational technology school program in Design and Press Production that led me to pursue design over art; I thought I’d be able to still create art in an abstract sense and make better money than being an artist.

 

After 10 years of building a career on design and never really feeling satisfied, I determined my happiness was more important than the money and left to focus on being my own boss, and pursuing my art.

 

Your career trajectory is impressive – you worked your way up to hold senior, six- figure positions in design. What is some of the best career advice you ever received?

While there was no specific quote, what became increasingly clear as I worked up in my career was that listening to your gut is underrated. You form opinions around situations based on past experiences, and to me, following that instinct is critical. Unfortunately, in the ‘business world’ you see that not followed as much, and I found myself drawn towards opportunities and experiences that allowed for that instinctual reaction to take precedence.

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In Guest Posts on
December 16, 2016

How LA Changed Me, a Skeptical Brit, for the Better

 

I always told myself I wasn’t the kind of person who travelled.

It was difficult and stressful and unsafe and… the money. I’ll be honest: I found the idea a little scary. 

Where would I even visit?

I was single, I didn’t need to “find myself”; I’ve known since age 14 what I wanted to do, and that was be a novelist (I’d been writing, editing, trashing and rewriting every week of my life since). 

In fact, I’d been working on a novel for three years – writing from a laptop on the back seats of buses, leeching the wifi in cafes, and somehow fitting another 1000 page first draft into that time. First drafting was a joy, but editing was torturous; I realised I needed a final push, and a block of time off from my day job to finish it properly. 

But where?

After some persuasion and eventual planning, I booked a flight to Los Angeles. I’d swap British autumn for West Coast sunshine and, fuck it; allow myself two months working on my novel. 

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In Guest Posts on
December 9, 2016

What Winning Taught Me About Losing

 

Reluctant winner Agnes Bookbinder shares what happened when she unexpectedly won a writing contest. Spoiler alert: it’s not what you’d expect. 


 

Everybody wants to win. To be called a “loser” is an insult. Even though we teach children good sportsmanship when they are young, those lessons get lost as people grow older. I’m not sure why –probably a combination of fear and ego, like everything else that goes wonky in the world. When you tie a person’s sense of who they are and their ability to earn a livelihood to winning, there’s bound to be a little stress involved, and so everybody wants to win.

 

But I’m not everybody.

 

Now, I don’t mind winning. I recently got to experience winning a writing competition for the first time (the First Worldwide Flash Fiction Competition) after years of rejections and silence. I appreciate that people took time out of their busy schedules to judge the contest. I appreciate that the story I wrote connected with those judges. I appreciate that it came with a cash prize –they paid me to do something that I love, that I would do and have done for years for free! But there is a part of me that has no idea what to do with the feeling of winning. I knew exactly what to do with the cash prize… but the rest?

 

I’m more comfortable as a loser. I’ve done it so often, it’s second nature.

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In Guest Posts on
November 16, 2016

How I Turned My Breakdowns into Breakthroughs

 

There’s no denying it. Following a creative path has its ups and downs.

But does comparing yourself to others, creatively speaking, have its advantages?

Yes and no.

This year has been painful for me in many ways, particularly for my mental health.

The reality is that having a full-time job to support myself while working on my online magazine, Juliet Oscar Yankee, is exhausting. I’ve been putting in the work and making sacrifices for so long, and yet I haven’t seen many results.

I’ve been working, working, working on my creative project and nothing has come of it.

Am I even allowed to complain about it?

It’s not often people candidly talk about their struggles without a success story at the end of it, but here I am.

Let’s talk about frustration, jealousy and creative breakdowns.

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