My journal and my life

Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

30 day Blog Challenge #Day6

OK, I fell behind with my blogs and as mentioned in my #Day5 and didn’t have enough time to truly write down my ideal day.  What I did was copy some content from a similar exercise that I did when I first launched my business three years ago.

This was the first time for a while that I’d read what I’d written and do you know what?  I’ve achieved a fair amount of those goals as many of my days actually follow the format that I wrote about!

I do now work virtually most of the time and have regular clients; I network locally to connect with business owners and potential new customers; I’m much more active online with social media and blogging (including certain challenges) and have obtained clients in this way.  I have the freedom to work with the clients that I want to and to refuse anything that doesn’t fit with my dreams – declining a job offer for example.  It felt so liberating and right to be able to say “No!”.

So onto the next stage of living my life on my own terms as my dream has changed.  Instead of owning a lovely house and garden, I want to dogs-112519_150travel, visit beautiful places, gain new experiences and form friendships.  I identified that pet sitting was one way of achieving this without launching into a round the world backpacking trip, so I’m registered with a couple of websites.

To begin with I’ve taken on assignments within a couple of hours from my current home, but by next year I’ll be in a position to travel abroad and for longer periods of time – living my dream life 🙂

http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/lifestyle-show/blog-challenge-day6

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

30 Day Blog Challenge #Day4

I guess that  I earn a living whilst being location independent as I can work anywhere with a decent wifi and mobile signal.  This morning after a breakfast meeting, I chose to stay in the hotel and work rather than coming straight home.  It was certainly much more interesting as I found myself in the midst of wedding preparations as chairs were set out, tables decorated and guests arrived.  It’s my choice where I settle myself with my laptop and my clients don’t need know where I am so long as I answer emails and phone calls and their work is done, although it may be different if I was in a completely different time zone.

But I also believe that location independent is a mindset, it’s feeling comfortable, contented and in control no-matter where you are.  Some people don’t like a change to their routine as it reduces their confidence and they function less well whilst others find a change of scenery improves their creativity.  It’s also about grasping every new opportunity and being prepared to change plans unexpectedly – some of my best days and most memorable experiences have been when I’ve changed my mind on a sudden whim.back-23788_150

What about being so location independent that you have no fixed abode?  Although I don’t have a house full of expensive furniture and the latest gadgets because they don’t particularly matter to me, I’m not sure how I’d feel not having a home to come back to.  It would certainly be an interesting test to see exactly how much I’d actually need to not only survive, but to be contented enough with.

Perhaps time to make a list – mobile, laptop, lip salve, sun block, Kindle …….

http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/lifestyle-show/blog-challenge-day4

30 Day Blog Challenge #Day3

Freedom in business means being able to choose how and where you earn a living.  Some of the time I can work sitting in the garden or my favourite cafe, even on the bus or in the car park whilst I wait between meetings.  Of course modern technology enables me to do this, it would have been more difficult a few years ago, but that’s why it’s so great to embrace all the IT available.

I’ve been offered a job recently and working for myself gave me the freedom to say “No”!  I think I’ve moved on too far to be able to settle in one office, probably being told what to do.  Every day I wake and choose what I’ll do, how I’ll do it, how much time I’ll spend working and from where – now that’s freedom to me.

What about adventure in life?  Now life’s an adventure from start to finish and for most people that doesn’t have to mean climbing Mount Everest or sailing the Atlantic!  Developing my business is an adventure for me; turning up at networking meetings at silly-o’clock not knowing anyone but beginning new friendships; teaching myself how to write a blog, then build a website – SEO’s the next challenge.

Walking my dog and getting out and about into the countryside, exploring new places; trudging through the snow at midnight; going out with friends; getting lost and finding new places; shopping for a mother-of-the bride outfit are all adventures.  Holiday adventures that I bore my friends with – missing the flight home when the hire car was impounded; grabbing someone else’s luggage from the airport carousel; getting locked into a municipal park with high gates and climbing the castle wall to escape!

It’s my ambition to travel further and experience more, but I feel I have the ability to find enjoyment and adventure in most aspects of life as little things amuse me and make me happy.

Life is good!

http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/lifestyle-show/blog-challenge-day3

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 #27 New Moo cards

I’ve ordered some business cards today.  This was prompted by a 25% discount at Moo.com.

Business Cards

I’ve been using Moo for a while because not only are the cards excellent quality with various finish options to choose from, but you can design your own cards.  As it’s possible to upload many different images, it’s fantastic for photographers, or anyone else who’s business is very visual, to feature their work.  I tried using wordles on the back of mine, until someone I met at a networking meeting said it looked confusing.

That’s the beauty of Moo, order a few cards then change the design for the next order.  A friend of mine always creates his very personal Christmas cards with Moo too.

Another attractive benefit is the infomality of their correspondence – it’s so friendly 🙂  Sign-up to Moo’s newsletter which is full of innovative ideas of how their customers design & use their

This was the wordle design of my old cards & I can’t wait for my new ones to arrive.

Lucinda Text Wordle

Post #26 Midnight Snow

Many of my posts have been about the weather & particularly snow!  However, when spending all day in front of the computer working for my clients, other than walking the dogs daily, I don’t always have the opportunity to do much else.  Much like most people I assume?  I enjoy my work & have chosen to be a Virtual Assistant as I’m a good PA, I love being organised, I have a great relationship with my clients & enjoy the variety of my workload.

Snow & Trees

Anyway, back to the daily photo – this is the snow as it was first thing in the morning.  I was actually walking in a snow storm at 2am in the morning which the dogs thought was great!  The light was bright, but I hadn’t taken my camera or phone.  The wind was blowing from the wind turbines (see post #5) & as there was virtually no traffic noise, I could actually hear the whiney, swooshy hum as they turned.  There were a few cars on the road & it was interesting to note that the snow ploughs came along in threes, just like buses 🙂

On the track, I was sheltered from the wind by the bushes either side & thoroughly enjoyed trudging through the virgin snow.  It was so exhilerating – something to knock of my bucket list perhaps?  Having a friend with mobility difficulties who’s slowly progressing towards being permanently wheelchair-bound, I always feel so very grateful when walking, fully appreciating the fact that I can.

Post #25 Snow Dogs

Dogs love snow, it sends them whappy!  Whilst it’s difficult for us to trudge through the drifts, the dogs chase snowballs & each other.

Snow Dogs

There’s always hares on the field where we walk, but they usually ‘hare’ off & are quickly camouflaged.  The dogs half-heartedly run after & then give up.  Today I could see many against the snow at the opposite side of the field which was criss-crossed by their distinctive tracks.  The dogs were snuffling in the scrapes where the hares had rested, revealing the ground underneath.

2013-01-25 08.19.41

After an exhilarating walk, I had a good day, dipping in & out of two or three clients’ work all day, plenty to keep me busy working from home. It’s Friday with more snow forecast & as I write this, it’s already more than an inch deep – more fun for the dogs 🙂

Post #23 Exhausted

This isn’t actually a picture of my exhaust, but all rusted up, it could’ve been, had I’d been able to crawl under the car to take the photo.

Exhaust

It was my neighbour who asked me how long my exhaust had sounded like that.  Sounded like what? I’d not noticed anything amiss driving around with the radio on & my windows closed.

As I do a fair amount of driving to clients & meetings & on the motorway too, I wanted to get it fixed sooner rather than later.  Well, the best laid plans were disrupted by snow, then I was panicking that driving over all the drifts would catch & pull it off.  So at the first opportunity today, I took it to the dealer.  He asked whether I was sitting down when he phoned a short while later.  Three replacement parts were required!  I had no choice, the work needed doing, so I gave my authorisation.

It’s a reliable car, but old, so bits are going to need fixing, just so long as it’s still cheaper to run than buying a newer one.  I’d love a new car, but it’s an extravagence at the moment & at least with this one, I don’t worry too much when a wet & dirty labrador clambers inside it.  One look inside & anyone can see it’s a dog lovers car.  I remember only too well my first husband’s constant anxiety about his cars.  Always wittling about scratches & damage, dust & dirt, complaining when I scuffed the wheels by parking too close to the kerb.  I guess it’s all about priorities & to me a car is a box on wheels to get me from A to B with the least amount of fuss 🙂

Post #15 Three Favourite Films

My DVDs have arrived 🙂  I spent some of my birthday present money on some favourite films, but don’t you just hate the cellophane wrapping that’s impossible to remove with a sharp implement?

Three Favourite DVDs

These are all British comedies, well yes there are some very funny scenes, but they are dramas & tear jerkers too, or perhaps that’s just me.  They are like comfort blankets, to be watched when I really need to chill & relax with something non-threatening & familiar.  All three films have a similar subject, all based in Northern England towards the end of the last century (& I’m talking about 2000) when industry was in decline & unemployment high.

Speaking of unemployment, it’s a sad day today as music retailer HMV have called in the receivers after trading for nearly 92 years placing more than 4,000 jobs at risk.  Everyone is shocked by this, especially people of my age or older as we all went to HMV for our vinyll records, casette tapes & then videos.  However price wins out & consumers have turned to the internet for better prices & convenience – I’m guilty, as these three DVDs were all bought from Amazon.

Brassed Off is set in a small mining town nearly 10 years after the miners strike when more & more collieries were closing.  Due to miners losing their jobs with little chance of finding other employment, the lack of disposable income forced other shops & businesses in the town to close.  The colliery brass band continued, but for how long?  This film was actually released before The Full Monty, but wasn’t any where near as successful, but it’s incredibly well made with some outstanding performances & you don’t need to like brass band music to enjoy it.

The Full Monty is based in Sheffield, city of steel, when the steel works were closing down.  Again, there’s high unemployment & no jobs.  Inspired by the male Chippendale Dancers, a desperate unemployed steel-worker tries to persuade some of his butch pals to form their own striptease act.  This film is funny & has a great soundtrack – no-one who’s seen it can listen to Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing’ without dancing ever again!

For Billy Elliot, we return to a mining community in County Durham, this time during the miners strike of 1984.  Billy’s mum is dead & he lives with his senile grandmother, father & elder brother who are both tough miners.  One day during his boxing class, Billy is fascinated by the girls ballet class next door…. With an excellent soundtrack, this film is unforgettable.

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