My journal and my life

Archive for the ‘Self Development’ Category

30 Day Blog Challenge #Day5

Due to a sudden commitment and life in general, I missed Day 5 of this challenge, which is a shame as I would have loved to sit down and write about my perfect day.  No matter, I’ll do this sometime soon for my own purpose.

However, when I first began as a Virtual Assistant, I signed up for a training course and had to do a similar exercise, so thought I’d quickly copy that description rather than missing a day of the challenge.  Here is an account of my perfect day from spring 2010, which isn’t at all a bad way of spending a day at work:

It’s a sunny day and I wake up at a reasonable 7am – gone are the days of leaving the house at 7.15am to commute into the city and I feel a sense of relief. It’s a lovely sunny day and I’ll enjoy walking my dog to her favourite pond in the local woods as it’s so great to have a flexible start to my work. I turn on my PC as the kettle boils and sit with a cup of tea and cereal to quickly check my emails and be sure there’s nothing needing immediate attention. Yes, there’s contact from my clients, but nothing that has to be done straight away so I mark all the emails as ‘unread’ so I don’t miss them later. The dog is getting impatient for her walk so we are in the woods by 8am.

I can hear the faint sounds of traffic, but I’m not affected & I think that thankfully it’s not me commuting to work as I stroll through the dappled light listening to birdsong. I think how scared I was when I first launched my business, how much courage it took not to fall into the trap of accepting a full-time job, although I was tempted to. I am proud of what I’ve achieved. I knew I could do it and ensured I had the necessary Hayley dogtraining to educate myself into thinking like a business owner. Most people I knew didn’t know what a VA was and I had to find the determination to continue. I surrounded myself with positive people who could encourage me and boy, did I grow. I knew I deserved to be paid my worth and no way would that have happened if I worked for an employer! I mouth my power words that kept me going “BELIEF”, “CONFIDENCE”, “SUCCESS” and “FREEDOM”.

It’s going to be hot day so with a weary wet dog, we return home. My house has tall spacious rooms & my office is downstairs at the back overlooking the garden. The old fashioned French doors are open and I can hear the bees buzzing on my lavender plants in my herb garden just outside. A quick sweep of my hands over the flowers releases their scent to add to the smell of fresh mown grass. In the distance there’s the sound of a lawn mower as my gardener cuts the grass. I can also hear the birds singing in the trees. Indoors there’s the faint sound of a vacuum cleaner as my cleaner goes about her job. I feel contented that I don’t have to do these tasks myself, it gives me more spare time and is a measure of my success that I can now afford to employ people “to do” for me, this is real luxury.

My office is decorated in cream, taupe & duck egg blue, my favourite restful colours with a large soft cream rug. There’s an open fire-place too as I have a real fire in winter when it’s icy outside – how fantastic that I don’t have to leave the house to work in inclement weather, no commuting – bliss! The furniture is a mix of old and new as I sit on a comfy swivel chair which supports my back – gone are the tension knots in my shoulders (helped in some part by the regular massages I have). With my team of Associate VAs, I have a very good income and I could probably even reduce my hours, but I’m a workaholic, always have been, although for a long time expending my energy into someone else’s business and success. Now I work full-time, but can juggle my hours to enjoy time out too as I’m able to knock off early then complete work into the evening or weekend if I choose. Choice, that’s it! I could work 9-5 if I wanted and some weeks I do, but to be able to choose not to without any loss of income – wow.

The computer is humming as I sip fresh coffee and re-check the emails. There’s some ongoing work to do for regular clients and also some new enquiries. A radio plays quietly in the background. My phone rings and it’s a regular client with a query I can resolve quickly and easily. I feel satisfied and even a little smug – this is the life! My clients are mostly sole traders and charity CEOs and I manage diaries and emails; organise meetings and travel; format and proof read reports; produce presentations and newsletters; update websites and undertake research; process new orders and send out invoices – all tasks I can do with my laptop, phone and access to an internet connection.

For lunch I’m looking forward to a fresh salad of seasonal veg, ham and cheese from the food boxes I have delivered from a local producer. I’ve a steady days work to do, then later I’m having my hair done at my regular hairdressers before meeting friends for a meal at our favourite restaurant. There’s a new car parked outside – something economical, eco-friendly and trendy and I’m so relieved that I can now afford all these things without planning, scrimping and worrying. I earn more than I did in any of my paid employment and my income steadily increases as business is good. This means that I can make impulse buys, treat myself to luxuries and go out on spec (work commitments allowing) without having to consider whether I can afford it or if something breaks down and needs repairing or replacing, I have the money to immediately do so. I have savings in the bank, can save regularly, pay my insurances and towards a pension so I can have an income during the quiet times or if I’m ill and be certain of affording a comfortable retirement.

Tomorrow I’ve an early business breakfast meeting, but it doesn’t scare me any more as I’m more than confident in myself, the success of my business and my good reputation to really promote myself without fear. I can even stand up and give a longer speech if necessary as I know what I say is worthwhile and informative. I’m more than happy to talk to people just starting out and it’s such a satisfying feeling to help them along their own way to success. The VA community was excellent for promoting this – where else do you have a network of like minded professionals dedicated to collaboration and sharing? I’m so proud to be a part of it.
http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/lifestyle-show/blog-challenge-day5

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30 day Blog Challenge #Day2

If I woke up tomorrow and were free to do anything you wanted with my life, what would I do and who would I be?

The easiest part of the question above to answer is that I’d still be me!  Yes, I’ve made some blunders in my life and with hindsight, like most of us, I’d do a fair amount differently.  However, I try not to live with guilt or regret, I accept what happened and move forward, hopefully a better person from from what I’ve experienced and learned.

So who am I?  A business owner with an ambition to become 100% virtual and as a Virtual PA, I’m on my way.  Before I discovered The Suitcase Entrepreneur, I’d decided I wanted to travel the world, a decision which was prompted by a big change to my lifestyle.  I’d explored Virtual Assistance for a while as my husband wanted to live abroad and we would still need to earn a living.  Then my marriage broke down and my husband moved out two weeks after I was made redundant.  Left with a mortgage, I could have looked for another full-time job, but took the decision to sell up, split the proceeds and use the savings to become self-employed and start my business.

That was more than three years ago and I’ve grown so much, have improved in confidence and learned an incredible amount.  I like who I am and wake up every morning looking forward to working with my clients.1043964_10201469838176661_48724744_n

I had toyed with the idea of using my savings to buy a round the world ticket and travel, when a random internet search revealed pet-sitting sites and there was my solution!  Pet loving owners around the world need someone to care for their pets in their own homes from a few days to months on end.  I’ve started to do this in the UK around my on-site client commitments, but am looking forward to travelling further afield, meeting some fantastic people and exploring the area where they live.

Even if money was no object, I can never imagine not working and in that instance would most probably volunteer, but I’m happy with who I am and where my life and ambition is leading me – what about you?

http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/blogchallenge/blog-challenge-day2/

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Post #22 Gratitude Stone

Prompted by a book I read over the weekend (see post 21), I watched The Secret for the first time yesterday & had a moment of clarity when the gratitude stone was mentioned!  Something which I’d not thought about in a long time, but which I’ve carried in my handbag for years – my own favourite stone.  This is a gorgeous polished & smooth piece of Snowflake Obsidian, bought because it immediately felt right, that it was mine.

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Nearly 10 years ago I had attended a Mind & Spirit event at the local town hall with a spiritual friend of mine, more in support of her, than of any interest myself.  I’ve always been open minded & found everything fascinating & even had my first Reiki session there.  I can honestly say I’ve never felt so relaxed & at peace during my treatment as the noisy hall, busy with visitors just faded into the background.  It was definitely an enlightening &  memorable experience.

Whilst browsing the stalls, I was drawn to the polished gem stones as I love tactile, smooth objects.  I remember that each stone had a meaning, but chose this one because it just felt right for me.  It rests perfectly in my hand, on my first two fingers with a soft curve just perfect for running the ball of my thumb up & down.

Apparently Snowflake Obsidian is a stone of purity, it will calm & soothe, balance mind, body & spirit.  It teaches the value of mistakes as well as successes & helps to recognise stressful mental patterns.  That’s all good as it’s now my gratitude stone & never far from my hand.

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Post #21 12 Lessons

Social Media is wonderful.  It certainly opens up a whole wide new world that would otherwise remain undiscovered.  Through a friends post on Facebook, I came across a book from a new writer, immediately downloaded it to my Kindle & began reading.  I knew from the blurb that the plot was about a woman who reluctantly attended a psychic reading which revealed much more about her life than she anticipated.  The readings – 12 lessons – help Stephanie learn more about herself, help her cope with the changes in her life to then rebuild it & evolve through to a much richer existence.

12 Lessons

Bought on impulse, I hadn’t realised that it was a story woven around the Law of Attraction.  Not that I minded at all, as it was an easy read & actually helped me understand the principles much better.  I was also prompted to download & watch The Secret for the first time.

Since I’ve been in business for myself, I’ve accessed coaching & training which has encouraged my curiosity & opened up a whole wealth of knowledge & information.  I’m aware of visualisation & affirmations, but haven’t really put any energy into the exercises.  This blog is the first goal I began at the beginning of 2013 & I have others written down, both for this year & long-term.  As I’m open to new opportunities & experiences, it’s not surprising that I found this book at this time in my life & that my life is good 🙂

12 Lessons is written by Kate Spencer, the Life and Soul Coach, who began writing from her kitchen table hoping to create inspiring, empowering & entertaining material for women all over the world.

Post #12 Guide to Blogging

I have my own business with website & blogging page, but haven’t really blogged on there.  Although I have a passion for paperwork & a fondness for forms, I can’t see that organising admin & managing diaries is fascinating to anyone else.  So, in order to become comfortable with writing & hopefully release some ideas, I began this personal blog to blather on about anything that’s been important to me during the day.  I don’t expect many readers will find these posts riveting, but getting my thoughts down online is improving my confidence & less than two weeks into my one-post-per-day challenge, I’m much faster at composing each one.

I’ve had blogging in mind for the last couple of years, even more so since I heard Erica Douglas speak at the National Virtual Assistants’ conference in Spring last year.  She gave an interactive & lively presentation, projecting her enthusiasm to the room & promoted her Blogging Guide written with business partner, Antonia Chitty.  A successful team, they’ve made a career from blogging, have many websites, share their knowledge & provide free e-courses to encourage newbies to have a go!

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I immediately purchased the book & did read it, but since beginning to write, I’ve just completed a re-read. It was well worthwhile, gave me some essential details, but as not everything was relevant to me right now, it will be an invaluable reference during my blogging adventure & progression.  Now it’s time to re-connect with Erica & Antonia’s excellent training at Ace Inspire too.

Post #11 It’s Friday!

6pm Friday night & it’s been a good week.  Work from clients has been steady with no stressful deadlines or any crisis so I’ve been able to spread the tasks & take a break to walk the dogs whilst still daylight.  I can relax & just look – an empty house – I’m chilling already 🙂

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It’s been lovely to spend some time with my husband & both dogs this last few days, but he doesn’t live with me & has taken Max & Hayley back to his house when I left for work this morning.  So as I now live alone for the first time, I’ve been able to step through my front door this evening with no demands waiting on my time or energy.

I thought I may have been afraid – you know, switching on all the lights, not daring to enter a room in the dark, cautious of unexpected noises, but no. From the moment I viewed the house it felt right, comfortable & my home.

I love being here.  I’d decided where I wanted to live, the area, even the street, based on practical considerations such as rental cost, access to public transport, proximity to family, view & options for good dog walks.  This was two years after my husband moved out, when we sold the family home & I moved in with my son & his fiance.  That was hard, although Rob & I had struggled to live together, I missed him, missed the close contact & having someone to hug & hug me.  My confidence was low & I was scared of the change.

Living with my son was difficult at times as the dynamics had changed.  Instead of me being able to decide decor, room layout & what to watch on TV etc, he owned the house & it was his choice.  I sat & cried the day we moved in.  Instead of feeling liberated & free with so few responsibilities, I couldn’t cope with the loss of control.  I was adrift & had no motivation.  It was a very low time & at that point I would’ve struggled to live alone as I’d never been on my own, but two years later, I was ready.

I set up viewings of three houses on my chosen street & this was the one I just knew was right – my gut told me so & it’s great when I come home, there’s no dirty dishes or an empty fridge & I can relax without interruption.

Blog #9 Parking Ticket

I got a parking ticket! Last night I came out of a great Yes! Group meeting to this:

Parking Ticket

It’s totally my own fault, I was aware that it was a metered area when I parked, but it was dark & pouring with rain as I dashed across to check the times on the meter.  My eyes are getting worse, I’m long sighted so only need glasses for reading & close work which means they were in my bag.  Too idle to faff about in the rain, looking for the case & taking them out etc, I peered at the notice & was sure it stated 8am – 6pm.  Wrong! I should have known it was more likely to be 8pm & for the sake of £1 or £2, should have paid to be on the safe side.

Anyway, after hearing a couple of fabulous speakers in the meeting, I was buzzing with positive thoughts & ‘chose’ not to let this bother me.  I hadn’t been caught speeding, fined with points on my licence, no-one was in danger or hurt.  I’m fortunate enough to have a car & be able to afford to run it & wasn’t stood in the rain waiting for public transport, & of course, the local council needs the income, don’t they?

Now my son had reason to feel angry when he received a ticket. He lives close to the town centre & has to purchase a permit each year.  Applying for his new car, he was issued with a 15 day temporary pass whilst the council received his registration documents & proof of insurance.  Just one day after the temporary permit expired, he received a parking ticket.  The warden had obviously noted the expiry date & deliberately come back. I feel that this was highly unfair as it’s obvious he lives local, had paid for a pass & wasn’t just parking up to avoid paying in the town centre.  He contested the decision, but unsurprisingly it wasn’t upheld. Poor lad, he can only afford a house in a cheap area of town with no garage & then has to pay for the privilege of parking outside on the street.

Blog #6 Happy Birthday

Well today’s post couldn’t be about anything else really as it’s my birthday 🙂

Birthday

It’s not a milestone this year, but I’m not far off celebrating the big 50!  I don’t feel my age at all, not mentally anyway – I know more
than I ever have & I’m still learning, especially keeping up-to-date with technology & social media.  I’m big on self-development which is a
result of being in business for myself as I believe if I was still an employee, I doubt I’d have had the same opportunities to meet so many
fabulous people at networking meetings etc. & I wouldn’t have the same need for email marketing, to tweet or blog.

In my mind I’m still 29, an age when I was happy with my life, my decisions & super-confident in myself.   I cannot remember really thinking before then either, whereas now I tend to over-think the consequences of everything & agonise about every  decision, but that still doesn’t stop me making mistakes either! However, I live with them – they’ve made me who I am, I’ve learned from them & I refuse to dwell on the ‘what ifs’, ‘if onlys’, ‘should have’ or ‘shouldn’t haves’!

There’s lots need doing & many things I still want to do with my life, so before long, I’ll be making a list of what I’d like to achieve
this year.  I fell in love with these colourful workbooks from Leonie Dawson & have made a start on creating my incredible life & business.

The Christmas decorations & cards have now been taken down freeing-up room for my Birthday cards & I’ve spoken to lots of my family &
friends today whilst this evening my son & his wife are coming to visit after they both finish work & I’ve promised to cook my favourite
lasagne. It’s been a good birthday 🙂

Blog #4 Eat That Frog

Today I’ve been working from home with a lengthy list of tasks from one particular client. I was asked to call one of my client’s customers to resolve a particularly complex but sensitive issue.  Not feeling overly confident of the background to this problem, I was nervous of both making things worse & looking incompetent.  Of course I didn’t want my ability to be doubted, but as a very conscientious Virtual Assistant, I’m 100% committed to all my clients’ businesses & certainly didn’t want to put their reputation in jeopardy.

After working on other tasks all morning, anything to put off making the call, I went through all the details once again, took a deep breath & dialled out.  The person I needed to speak to was in a meeting!  Not good news as I would have to call back later – oh no!

Then I couldn’t settle.  Anxious & clock watching, I was unable to concentrate on my work.  Finally, I had to grit my teeth & pick up the phone again….

He was lovely!  We had a friendly conversation, made progress on the way forward & parted on good terms.  I felt fantastic, really buoyed-up & confident – feelings which lasted for the rest of the afternoon.  Now if only I’d have made this call in the morning, I would have basked in the glow of success, for longer & motivated for the full day.

I should have eaten my frog!

(To continue with the theme of one photo per day, I was going to scan in my copy, but cannot find it as I must have loaned it to a friend.   The Amazon image is the actual format of my book which is not the latest version)

Eat That Frog Book from Amazon

This is an excellent little book, doesn’t take long to read & I obviously need to familiarise myself with it again.  Brian Tracy defines the ‘frog’ as a particularly unpleasant or challenging task which you really don’t want to do.  Something you keep putting off, but as it’s on the rest of your mind all the time, it actually affects your productivity.

If you had to eat a big, ugly, slimy & warty frog every day, how would you feel to see it sat there on your desk all day?  Could you concentrate, or would you spend all the time dreading it?  However, if you ate the frog first thing in the morning, how great would you feel to have completed such a difficult task?  All other jobs would pale by comparison – they’d be a doddle & you’d fly through your day, coping with everything.

So go on, stop procrastinating & Eat That Frog 🙂

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