How to plan for success and get unstuck

Harness the energies of March and create a plan that is right for you. Drop all those useless, time wasting projects and focus on your priorities. Get a perfect plan in under an hours and start March-ing to the beat of your own desires.

March: a month of creativity and enterprise 

A few words on listening to your instincts and getting unstuck from your current “state of stuckness”.

In January we are ready for change. To turn a new, fresh leaf. In February we start to see all these great new ideas. In March we have to set these in stone. Don’t let them slip away as you may begin to lose momentum in the coming months. It’s time to plan and capitalise on all these great creative energies within you and around you.

Use the energies of March

According to those in touch with nature, we’re in a month of creativity and inspiration. March is filled with energies that will propel us forward in new directions where we can make progress towards existing goals. Have you felt a shift this month? Are you feeling the need to plan and get rid of the superfluous? I am. Never before have I felt so in harmony with my surroundings and my “gut” instinct. 

This push to really get my ducks in a row (as much as I hate that saying) started at the end of last year. Admittedly it followed the usual need to declutter and start afresh. But this year is different. Why? You may ask with a hint of cynicism. Because this time I’m actually acting on and not just listening to what my “niggling” thoughts are telling me. I urge you to do the same. Get unstuck. The time is ripe to strike forwards at your dreams and aspirations. Use the energies of March to make a real plan to make your projects real, too.

How to move forwards this year

Step 1

Figure out where are you stuck and write it all down. Which projects are taking up too much of your time? Which New Year’s resolutions have already hit the fan? Write down all the areas where you are stuck or not making progress.

Step 2

Figure out what your priorities are. We’re always really good at giving advice to our friends so apply this to yourself. Imagine your problem is your friend’s problem. Imagine they are expecting you to provide them with possible solutions as usual. Even go so far as to pretend they are coming to see you in an hour or ten minutes, so you have to get your thoughts together quick and come up with a plan for them. Write it down. Don’t waste time. No more than an hour. Stick to your priorities.

Step 3

Be creative. Even though you are being more objective because the “problem” is not your own, you can also get creative with this process and ask friends to help out. Present your proposals from Step 2 to a friend. I asked a friend of mine who runs several bars and cafes to give me one hour of her time as a consultant. Just knowing I’d have to present my position to her made me write everything out with the pros, cons, investments, projected revenue, spider diagrams, business wheels, the lot. I answered most of my questions before she arrived, but having her there resolved the stray ends and consolidated my areas of focus.

The time to plan for success is now. Take a few minutes to take charge of your life. Get a step by step system that works and that you will stick to keep. Step one: know what your priorities are. Read more...

Now it’s your turn

Don’t delay. Do the above in a day. Don’t take more than an hour to find solutions. After you have planned out your priorities you’ll finally feel in alignment with your inner values and core beliefs. If you ignore them again and continue fire fighting and spreading yourself thin, you will continue to feel discomfort, dissatisfaction and fatigue. Life is so much more of a breeze when your dancing to the rhythm of your own beat. Pay attention to your internal compass for navigating your life and knowing what needs to be attended to.

Ready for change and the good life

March is a month where you can expect the unexpected. Follow your intuition as you step into a journey or new opportunities. Your intuition will strengthen with your resolve the  more  tuned  in  to your inner voice you become.  

Turn your aspirations in actions

You’re ready for change and ready to live a more authentic life. March challenges you to bravely  move in new directions.  Any kind of forward movement is better than staying  stuck. Face up to those feelings that show you where you’re stuck or needing change. 

Work smarter not harder

Remember your new plan following from steps 1,2,3 above. Don’t be stuck doing endless chores for others or all that work you make for yourself to keep yourself busy in order to ignore the real issues in your life. On the other hand, you may enjoy what you do, but ask yourself: Am I doing too much and not doing any of my own projects the full justice they deserve? 

When I stopped to ask myself that question, I made a brave bold decision to drop half of what I do. I simply struck half of my projects off my to do list – they are on the backburner for when I have time some day in the future. Now instead of inching forwards with multiple projects, I have 3 core areas of focus that will propel forwards through my more targeted use of time.

Don’t forget to think of yourself

Please also consider all your side-hustles and social media stuff. Are you actually factoring in how many unpaid hours you are putting in? Make sure you are getting back a value that reflects the effort you put in. Whether that value is monetary or simply in terms of satisfaction and enjoyment (a spider diagram is good to assess this).

By having a plan that is clear and simple, you will no longer be working non-stop or becoming despondent that your projects are not moving forwards because you’ve been spreading yourself too thin. Now you’ll have time for some self care (a big favourite of mine) and you’ll have time to think and reflect, therefore ultimately make better decisions, both on a personal and professional level.

Structure will give you freedom

Try getting organised using one or all of the methods below (everyone has a way that works best for them). See how you can then start to free up some time for your wellbeing and how this makes you more focused and productive. Notice also how you are more satisfied and content with yourself and your work because it is moving forward. 

  • To Do List: If you’re a checklist person and like crossing things off, make a ToDo list every day so you can cross some great big fact juicy lines through your list and get a sense of satisfaction. Only include your priorities, write the “blue sky” stuff on a separate list.
  • Start using a planner – e.g. Asana or your google calendar or simply with a writing pad. Divide it into your main areas of focus. Keep a cover sheet with an overview monthly calendar so you can see when important deadlines, dates or events are looming. Keep you to do list on the top, visible at all times. Write this list every morning (or at the end of your work day) so you are ready and have direction. This prevents you flouncing around like a butterfly willy-nilly without any true direction.
  • Divide the jobs into little jobs. If you’re a real organiser like me, set aside a few hours for planning each of your main projects and subdivide them into major tasks and then subdivide those down into the smaller tasks until you can create a timeline to getting your wish list done (Gantt chart).
  • Make a pizza. Some people see it like making a pizza in reverse: you know what the end product is going to look like, now break it down into the ingredients and steps required, remembering to factor in preparation time and cooking time for each section. This is how you will approach the subdivision of your major projects into smaller more manageable tasks along a timeline that starts with your ideal or set deadline and works back to where you are today. 

By creating routines, systems, structures and processes in your life this month you’ll be creating an environment that supports change, innovation and continued improvement. You’ll be creating the framework that will give you freedom as your projects take flight.

Since it is the month for inventiveness creativity and thinking outside of the box, isn’t it time you were March-ing in time with your own rhythm?

how to get fit guide
Read this ultimate motivation guide to help you plan for success

Using Yoga to Improve Creativity

Feeling blocked? Not aligned with yourself? Can’t write? Join our inspirational Yogitivity Workshops at the beautiful Rudding Park Hotel, Harrogate where we explore using yoga to improve creativity.

The death of creativity

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved nothing more than to write. For her, it was a way of dealing with her difficult childhood and to feel safe. One day her primary school teacher tore up one of her stories and said: “We do not tolerate such fanciful ideas. Nobody wants to hear the thoughts of a silly little girl. Write a proper story”. On that day, the girl stopped writing. It took nearly 20 years before she could hear the call to write again rise in her soul. On that day she picked up a pen again.

How “shame wounds” can block your creative flow

Unfortunately this is not an isolated case. Studies show that almost 1 in every 3 people harbours such a “shame wound” in the context of their own creativity. Many of us have had similar experiences to the girl in the story – we were not taken seriously, criticised or laughed at. The result: we have internalised beliefs such as “I cannot write”, “I can’t sing” or “I’m not creative”.

The girl’s story shows how vulnerable we are when we express our inner self, but also that we have a deep natural urge to express ourselves creatively that can never be completely silenced. The deepest nature of our being is creative, and our desire for self-expression is in fact our desire to “share our soul with the world”.

But instead of being creative, many of us become consumers. We listen to music instead of singing or making music ourselves. We admire the works of great artists instead of painting, weaving, making, dancing or producing films ourselves. In extreme cases, we numb ourselves with alcohol, or some kind of intoxication, excessive sport, etc. in order not to feel the pain that our innermost being is not allowed to express itself. We feel the pressure of what lies in us like a hidden treasure that wants to escape to the outside world. This results in tension, a dissatisfaction with life and a deeply felt emptiness.

The importance of being aligned with yourself

Letting our natural creative flow dry up can even make us sick, because we do not live in harmony with our true nature. “Musicians have to make music, artists have to paint, poets have to write if they want to live in peace with themselves,” said Abraham Maslow, the founding father of humanistic psychology.

Get in touch with your creative source

Each and every one of us already has everything it takes to be creative. The only question is: how do we access our creative source? How can we tap into and find the artist in us? This is where Yoga can help us.

Create a space that is free from judgment

Creative ideas can only emerge if they are not immediately silenced by the judgmental opinions of the thinking mind. In creative self-expression, there is no right or wrong – just as there is no right or wrong yoga pose. Every body is different, every human being is unique. What is, is allowed to be; what wants to come forth, is allowed to reveal itself, without censorship. Like yoga, creativity is a path to truthfulness.

Perseverance and letting go

In yoga we know the principles of abhyasa and vairagya. We need perseverance and self-discipline to get back on the mat every day, despite all distractions and our impulse to resist. At the same time, it is important to practice yoga unintentionally and to let go of the attachment we place on the fruits of our practice. We need to replicate qualities our writing habits if we want to fully develop our creativity. It is a common misconception that one has to wait for the Muse’s kiss to be creative. Pablo Picasso explains this succinctly:

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you at work.”

Give your ego the heave-ho!

Have you ever been mesmerised by a concerto pianist? They appear to merge with the piano and music. It’s as if the sounds do not just come from the pianist. Such brilliant musicians and artists connect to a source that does not come from within them. They give their ego the heave-ho and feel like a vehicle for a force that is beyond their comprehension. When I write or illustrate my books, I feel as though I am being guided. It flows from within me somewhere and I do not and cannot stop until it is complete. I then stand back in wonder and say: “Did I really do all that?” Sound familiar?

Powerful, authentic writing stems from the ability to merge with what we write, from the fact that our ego dissolves and the words can emerge through. We are the vessel. There is no expectation of success clinging and dragging down our creative process.

The creative process

If we manage to step aside and not let out ego interfere, we enter a creative flow. In this “state”, the writing, pairing, singing, drawing all flow freely and we act as the channel. It is the same with yoga. Those same blissful moments in your yoga practice where effort and resistance dissolve and we suddenly feel that our breath is moving us, we feel as though we are floating.

Being at one with ourselves

It could be said that a trait of a genius or an intuitive with a keen imagination, is a person who seeks to be alone to feel in close touch with themselves and Nature and be inspired by this sense of balance. Already we are drawer closer to this sense of being “at one”, state that we approach through the practice of yoga. Moments of being alone, of retreat, of silence and of listening are necessary to feel how connected we are to everything. They also help us switch to receiving and open us up to inspiration – the muse’s kiss.

Silence your voice of doubt. Heal your shame wound

Both the practice of yoga and the creative journey contain blockages and self-doubt. Every so often we feel stuck again, paralysed and immobile, whether physically or mentally. And we all hear those inner voices whispering to us that everyone else is talented, better and successful – but not us. Vincent van Gogh once said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

Yoga as well as creativity is about getting moving, facing up to your self-doubts silencing those harsh judgments from teachers. Just start with a deep breath or a few words to mark an empty page, the rest will follow by itself. One thing leads to another and we get into the flow.

Yogitivity© – embracing the benefits of yoga to boost your creativity as a writer. Feel free to join one of our Yogitivity Workshops (held in the glorious grounds of Rudding Park) using yoga to improve your creativity as a writer.

Embracing the benefits of yoga to boost your creativity as a writer. Join one of our Yogitivity Workshops using yoga to improve your creativity as a writer.

Sign up for your online Yogitivity course to release your inner creative. Or join an exclusive Yogitivity Workshop.

Yogitivity© – Boost Your Creativity

Feeling blocked? Not aligned with yourself? Can’t write? Join our inspirational Yogitivity Workshops at the beautiful Well House Yoga Space, Harrogate where we explore using yoga to improve creativity.

Embracing the benefits of yoga to boost your creativity as a writer. Join one of our Yogitivity Workshops using yoga to improve your creativity as a writer.

Yogitivity© Workshop Content

Welcoming Circle – Introductions and how to open up your creative flow Yoga flow – to warm up our bodies and mind, allowing our energy to flow Guided imagery meditation

Guided Woodland Walk

A talk about the use of yoga as a writer – Using a yoga pose as a writing prompt – Exploring the creative power of oils Dear Me – A letter of self care

The importance of being aligned with yourself

Letting our natural creative flow dry up can even make us sick, because we do not live in harmony with our true nature. “Musicians have to make music, artists have to paint, poets have to write if they want to live in peace with themselves,” said Abraham Maslow, the founding father of humanistic psychology.

Get in touch with your creative source

Each and every one of us already has everything it takes to be creative. The only question is: how do we access our creative source? How can we tap into and find the artist in us? This is where Yoga can help us.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you at work.”

What is creativity? The workshop explores:

Would you consider yourself to be creative? Do you know creative people? Standard “creatives”: painters, sculptors, designers, dancers, composers

Everyday or maverick “creatives”: your child lying about homework, how you organise your shopping, your thought process for challenges, entrepreneurs – all working outside the normal parameters

Creativity driven by necessity – Prompted by extremes/external influences/change/drugs

Is creativity “on tap” possible?

  • Guided imagery sequences
  • Nurturing your physical state
  • Moving outside your comfort zone
  • The human juicer
  • Using yoga

Yoga as well as creativity is about getting moving, facing up to your self-doubts silencing those harsh judgments from teachers. Just start with a deep breath or a few words to mark an empty page, the rest will follow by itself. One thing leads to another and we get into the flow.

Yogitivity© – embracing the benefits of yoga to boost your creativity as a writer. Feel free to join one of our Yogitivity Workshops (held in the glorious grounds of Well House Yoga Space) using yoga to improve your creativity as a writer.

Sign up for your online Yogitivity course to release your inner creative. Or join our workshop on the 28th of June 2019, 10am – 2pm, just £40: cescahepton@gmail.com

Time Management Tips for Freelance Writers

Time management tip for freelance writers to increase productivity. Simple daily schedules for organizing your blogs and/or book using Kanban system to stay focused and become more efficient. Stop the overwhelm and try this strategy – it’s free!

Are you a busy freelance writer? No time to get everything done or just living in complete organizational chaos? Like all creative beings, we writers hate being confined to structure and order. However, if you want to boost your writing career, you might need to take on board some time management tips. After all, a bit of structure may help you complete projects and sell books! There are countless apps and systems for improving your time management techniques – so which one do you choose? Today we’ll look at Trello and see if this system suits your style and needs.

Improve your time management and productivity with the Personal Kanban for bloggers and writers from Trello.
Improve your time management with the Personal Kanban for bloggers + writers by Trello.

Are you wasting time scheduling instead of doing?

There are plenty of fancy task management and time management schemes out there. But beware! You can get suckered into all the pretty colors and find yourself writing endless to do lists that never get done! Or maybe spend more hours scheduling in your fancy calendars than you are actually working! Well stop. Let me introduce you to a no-nonsense system.

An introduction to the time management strategy from Trello

Trello, a free project management software, offers a Kanban concept to help writers just like you. You may have heard of Kanban, and think that it relates only to industry. And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong in your assumptions. Kanban is originally a Japanese scheduling system for improving manufacturing efficiency. Trello has adopted the principles of improved workflow and increased productivity and created the Kanban board. This is a system with several columns and colored Kanban cards. The cards contain tasks that you work through from left to right. This allows you to see what work you have to do, what tasks you are currently working on and what jobs you have completed. Below is a view of the minimal configuration. This “Personal Kanban” is a fantastic replacement for the old fashioned ToDo list.

This "Personal Kanban" is a fantastic replacement for the old fashioned ToDo list.
A fantastic replacement for the old fashioned ToDo list.

In Trello, a Kanban board in the minimal configuration only has three columns: “to do”, “doing” and “done”. Firstly, new tasks start in the column “to do”. They next move into the “doing” column before finally entering the last column “done” after being completed. This last column is then cleared from time to time. Basically when you decide to delete the task cards in this column, i.e. when they are done.

Advantage of this time management technique

The advantage of the “Personal Kanban” compared to a classic ToDo list is that you get a visual display of your workload. This makes it clear what limits you can impose on yourself. While only one card should be in the “doing” column at any given time, you can make the “to do” column of your Kanban board as wide and tall (or as narrow and flat) as it makes sense for you. For example: If you have a lot of work to do on a day-to-day basis, you may be able to cope with 20-30 task cards in your “to do” column, but for larger tasks, each lasting between a few hours and several days, you will want to keep the maximum number of tasks lower.

How to apply the time management strategies from Trello to your work as a blogger

This principle, can be easily transferred to the writing of books or blogging.

If you want to management your “production” and publishing of posts or article for your blog using a Kanban board, it could have the following columns

  1. Ideas for blog posts
  2. Planning / research
  3. Write post
  4. Revision, edit
  5. Publish

You can split columns 2-5 into “active” and “done”. This would give your board nine columns

  1. Ideas for blog posts
  2. Planning / research
  3. Planned/researched
  4. Write post
  5. Post written
  6. Under review, being edited
  7. Revised, edited
  8. Publish
  9. Published

Of these eight columns, only columns 2, 4, 6, and 8, which I marked bold in the list, are “active” columns. The other five columns are buffer columns – a cushion, so to speak.

How you then use the “buffer” system

If you have a new idea for a blog post, make a note of it on a card that appears in the Blog Post Ideas column. Once you tackle one of these ideas, it will go through columns 2-9 in turn. Each “active” column (plan / research, write, revise and publish) is followed by a “buffer column” in which the cards are collected, ready for the next step.

Just like in the manufacturing industry, you can apply the principles of Kanban for your “stock” of ideas. In other words: getting yourself what you need and stocking up on supplies is running low. Example: if you want to post a new blog post next Saturday, take one from column 7 (“revised”), schedule it on your blog (active column 8) and then move it to the final column (“published”).

Effective time management technique for freelance writers and bloggers. Using the Kanban system from Trello will help you stay organized, become more productive and efficient, so you can get your masterpiece finished!

Now, if you notice that there are no more blog posts in the “revised” column for the next week, get one of the articles in the “post written”, but that has not been edited yet from column 5, and then start editing it.

Keeping a clear overview of your schedule

The advantage of using such a Kanban board is that you can see at a glance what you should work on first. If you run out of stock in a “buffer column”, you should top it up first. Since this naturally reduces the stock of the preceding buffer column, this sometimes creates a chain reaction or a domino effect.

However, you are always on the safe side with this method and can bring forward a new, ready-to-use blog post whenever you need it.

If you also focus on different topics in your blog and you want to present these in a balanced a way as possible, you can also take advantage of Trello’s color coding system. This gives you a visual of whether you are giving to much focus on one topic if there are too many green tasks for example – or if you are keeping the balance

How the time management tips from Kanban can be applied for authors + novelists

The Kanban principle can be applied not only for bloggers, but also for book authors. Of course you can not simply transfer the system 1: 1 – one card per book would be neither helpful nor clear, especially since most authors are working on just 1 to 2 book projects at the same time.

Novelists and authors need to create a separate Kanban board for each book project.

You dedicate one card to each scene/chapter (or section, if you write non-fiction). To avoid losing track of the structure of your book, you can place the sequential number of each scene or section on each card. This allows you to sort and / or group them in the right order in each buffer column.

The columns of the Kanban board will be similar to those used by bloggers

  1. Ideas for book
  2. Planning / research
  3. Planned/researched
  4. Write scene/section
  5. Scene/section written
  6. Under review, being edited
  7. Revised, edited

There may of course be more columns depending on how many times you intend or need to edit your work. The last column contains the scenes / sections that are already completely revised, meaning they are edited to the extent that they can be considered ready for publication.

With the Kanban board you can see at a glance how far you have progressed with your book project and how much work is still to be done before the complete manuscript is ready for publication.

A bonus and relief for your creative side in all this structure and organization

   With the Kanban board, you do not have to write your book in chronological order or edit it from page 1 to 300. Instead you can jump back and forth between the scenes or sections according to your mood. Just bear in mind that if you do not write or edit your book in the order in which it will be read later, you will have to go back through the entire manuscript from start to finish to make sure that the order is correct and flows. For example, check that the transitions between the scenes / paragraphs are fluent and not choppy

Time management tips for when to schedule your work

It goes without saying that your levels of energy and therefore productivity vary at all times of the day. Personally, I like to write in the morning when I’m still untarnished from the onslaughts of the day. However, I like to do my planning and research in the late afternoon when I am feeling least creative. And finally I reserve my evenings mainly for editing my work. With the Kanban system from Trello, it does not matter if you want to write, plan or edit something at a certain time. You can simply pick out the respective chapter/section of the book you are currently working on from your Kanban board.

Don’t forget it’s a FREE time management tool

Yes! The Trello Kanban board system is permanently free of charge – and not just the minimal configuration with 3 boards, but the whole caboodle:

  • Any number of Kanban boards, which can even be organized in groups
  • The columns of the Kanban boards can be adjusted and expanded as it suits you
  • Any number of Kanban cards in different colors
  • Kanban cards can contain texts, pictures, checklists, hyperlinks and even file attachments

  So why not give it a go! You might find that the Trello Kanban method is the right method for you to finally get your masterpiece finished or stop feeling overwhelmed with your blog.

Trello has adopted the principles of improved workflow and increased productivity and created the Kanban board. The modern ToDo list. Improve your efficiency with this tried and tested method.

How to Manifest Your Dreams and Goals

Simple, gentle steps to begin to discover and manifest your dream life goals. Unleash your passion as a writer onto the world by making your dreams a reality.

A gentle introduction to identifying and manifesting your dreams and goals

Are you fortunate enough to wake up every morning with the reassuring thought that the day ahead of you will be filled with doing something you love? Or do wake with a sense of trepidation at what lies ahead of you? Perhaps, you go to bed feeling fulfilled and satisfied that you spent the day doing something that was meaningful to you. Were you able to use your skills and talents and passion? Or did you spend the day fulfilling someone else’s dreams so you slunk into bed depressed and demoralised? If it’s the latter, let me walk you through some simple steps to help manifest your dreams and goals and why it is so important you do this.

Discover how to manifest your dreams and goals by identifying what you truly want and aligning yourself with your true self

Not living and striving for your dreams and goals may be affecting your health

Too may of us are spending our days not enjoying what we do. Many surveys say it is as a high as 90% of the population. Spending our days in such a negative and demoralising way must surely have an impact on our health and wellbeing. Because if you fell disengaged and unenthused about what you do, you will experience lower levels of happiness and more stress than those lucky few who are engaged in what they do. Are they “lucky”? Or did they achieve this happiness and wellbeing by design? Find out.

What you truly want forms your dreams and goals

Step 1. Identify your dreams and goals: For those of you who have watched my ABC of your Writing Dreams on facebook you’ll know that I go on and on about discovering what you truly want. After all it goes without saying that if you don’t know what you truly want, you can’t go after it, which means you can’t achieve it, then by default you’ll be unhappy. By the same token if you chase the false dreams or imposed dreams, you’ll also be unhappy. Find out what you truly want.

Step 2. Identify your skills. If what you truly want can somehow overlap with what you are good at, your skills and talents as a writer or blogger for instance, then you are on the express train to happiness, wellbeing and a healthy mind and body.

Step 3. Ask yourself these 2 questions. When manifesting your goals, there are two questions that you should explore to help you discover what you truly want. If you answer “yes” to both these questions, you have found your dream job and dream life:

  1. Does it make you feel alive when you do it or write about it?
  2. Do you lose all track of time when you are engaged in “it”?

The “it” is your passion, align “it” with your writing skills, make this your main activity/source of income and you have a dream life.

Other ways to reveal your dreams and goals

  1. Speaking of dreams, our subconscious can help us tap into our innermost desires. Try to remember your dreams. What is the “inner” you trying to tell the awake you? Our dreams provide insights into our personal desires and passions, which can point the way to an underlying purpose. Analyse your dreams and uncover your passions.
  2. Another avenue worth exploring is free-flow journaling where you just write without stopping for 5 to 10 minutes. See what comes out. You may surprise yourself! Your dreams may reveal themselves to you!

What to do when your perfect dream life is not instantly possible

To avoid disappointment, we need to be realistic. It would be nice if your source of income was your passion, but this may not always be possible. It does not mean that it is not something you could work towards. There is no reason to shut your passion out of your life just because it doesn’t make money. That is like extinguishing your inner light. Then what is the purpose of life?

You can try to incorporate your passions into the life and job you do have. So for example, if you work in industry but your passion is saving the environment, you could start a free online blog about recycling based on the experiences you have in your sector at work? It may even get noticed and supported by your boss!

Life is too short

As youngsters we think we will live forever, we have boundless energy and the day we start our dream life is always tomorrow. But now that you are stopping to think about your life, don’t waste anymore time. It is disheartening enough to see young people wasting their time and talents, you don’t need to let yours go to waste too. The light that shines within you is critical a happy life and a happy world. We should have a life filled with vitality and freedom. When your life and work decisions are based on your passions, you feel a sense of true identity, alignment, energy, flow and vitality.

So ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What are my skills?
  2. What is my passion?
  3. Where do these intersect?

You may not think you are worth listening to, but the rest of us are waiting with baited breath. For anything borne of passion and kindled with the energy of freedom is 100% worth reading.

To manifest your dreams and goals, first ask yourself: What do you truly want? Let me know if you are living your dream life. You could inspire others. Join me on facebook for more helpful videos to guide you through this process: https://www.facebook.com/thechilledoutwriter

My Miracle Morning

Are you following your miracle morning or someone else’s miracle morning? Ask yourself, are you so busy rushing around making sure that you hit those targets, doing someone else’s routine, trying to be like that successful person that you haven’t even stopped to realize you may have already arrived?

Today I woke up and literally smelled the roses. In short, I had a revelation – not quite an epiphany. Actually, it was more of a niggling thought that had long lain dormant and ignored at the pit of my subconscious mind. What was this fantastic revelation that made today my miracle morning?

I realized I had arrived!
I had been so wrapped up in trying to be like the famous successful people, trying to follow their “miracle morning” routines that I had lost sight of what I had accomplished in my life. Until I stopped.

How did this revelation manifest itself? In a moment of self-quizzing. Why was it that I couldn’t get up at 5am and go for a run!!?? Didn’t that mean I’d never be truly successful if I didn’t….? Hang on. Hold up. Stop everything. That’s insane. It was in that moment I realized I was doing exactly what I wanted to do in my life. But I was doing it MY WAY. For instance, there is no need for me to even get up early! I’m my own boss! I don’t need to freeze my **** off in the cold rain on a morning jog. Most importantly, it dawned on me (no pun intended) I already have everything I want in life. Everything and anything from here on in is going to be a bonus.

Rushing around so much trying to be the best without realising you actually are the best! Don't wake up and smell the coffee, wake up and smell the roses!

To put it simply, this “revelation” brought me back to my roots and it made me feel stronger than ever. I did not need to follow the morning routines of others (no disrespect to the real Miracle Morning author). I needed to do what came naturally to me. And I was (am). What’s more, it was (is) working.

I realized I had arrived!

Definition of my success?

  • Loving and healthy children and a loving family
  • Blessed with close friends that are a part of my soul
  • I run my own business, work my own hours – from home!
  • My personal fitness – better than when I was 20
  • Published 14 books that I am proud of!
  • Fab website for writers that helps them realize their potential and dreams whilst boosting their wellbeing!!

The list goes on, but you get the idea. Perhaps most important of all, is the fact I am doing it all MY WAY. Following our natural choices is key to our liberation, sense of accomplishment and ultimate success. I no longer want or need to fit into the molds made and propagated by others.

Doing it your way

Do it your way!

I don’t believe for one moment that the genius behind the hedonistic hero Oscar Wilde was based on a 30-minute jog and 20 minutes of chanting in the morning. Nor do I believe that the free spirit of Virginia Woolf was the result of ritualistic self-affirmations and a nurturing balance routine. I am not mocking either side of this coin. To the contrary, I am merely pointing out that we do not all need to follow the same path to end up at a destination of personal accomplishment and sense of achievement.

Same cake, same ingredients, different methods

Firstly, the cake represents success (however you choose to define it). Secondly, the ingredients represent the steps you take to getting to your success. Finally, the way in which you choose to mix your ingredients and bake your cake is what sets us apart.

Create your own miracle morning routine and love it!

Main ingredients (same principle, different names)

  • Time to think or rather, not think – clear mind – meditation
  • Planning – defining your goals/day – visualization
  • Exercising – stretching – movement
  • Yoga – grounding/being in nature – journaling
  • You – your mantra/beliefs – self-affirmations
  • Special ingredient shared by all: repeat regularly

Have your own miracle morning

My personal morning starts how I want it to: listening to an inspiring talk on motivation, meditation, meaning of life, etc., whilst imbibing a cup of yogi tea, stroking my beautiful cat, gazing at the trees in my garden (you could equate this to meditating, but it’s not forced). My mind is either blank or I come up with some of my best ideas (like this post!).

Maybe you start your day with a refreshing and energizing walk with your beautiful dog. This is a natural way to reflect, exercise and be grounded by nature. Or perhaps you start your mornings early mucking out the horses and going for a ride. This is also a time to sort your thoughts and be in the fresh air and exercise.

These different “miracle mornings” represent the same key ingredients used by successful people, but their ingredients for success are “baked”, “mixed” and implemented in ways that are more suitable to that particular individual. All these examples include nature, contemplation and animals. They all offer the opportunity for reflection, movement and  grounding. plus, animals are a great way to slow down and connect with life around you.

Your miracle “day” checklist

Instead of cramming all these activities in the morning, you may find you already do them throughout your day. If so you can leap for joy – you’ve just gained whole hour in the morning that you would otherwise dedicate to writing, reading, omming and arring! Let’s make a new miracle day checklist just out of curiosity. At the end of your day, have you:

  • learned / experienced something new
  • practiced mindfulness or reflected on the wonder of the world, e.g. on walks
  • exercised, e.g at the gym, a yoga class, movement of some kind
  • read a great book maybe when you go to bed or when you get a few moments
  • spent some time thinking what you want out of life
  • drank enough water/fluids
  • not indulged in binge eating or wasting time in front of TV!!
  • felt thankful for what you have

If you are doing these things but not necessarily all at the crack of dawn, then you have the ingredients for success in your day. Furthermore, if you do them regularly you’ll reap the fullest benefits for success in your life. Trying to contort the start of your day to fit in a routine that does not feel natural to you is a recipe for depression and self-blame. Let’s not go down there. We want a happy start to our day!

By the way, there is nothing wrong with following what is now considered to be the perfect morning routine. For instance, some people go to the gym at 6 am after sorting out the house stuff and before a busy day at work, and that suits them. Each to their own.

At the end of the day

The most important thing is if at the end of the day you feel satisfied with yourself and your life. On my miracle morning, I realized that I had absolutely everything I wanted. My easy freelancing life as a writer is flexible, giving me the freedom to spend every day with my family or go out to see friends when I want to. For the past 15 years, it has also provided me with ample income to support my family and provide a comfortable home in a beautiful town. The golden dollar I was chasing was the dream society had imposed on me and I in turn had imposed on myself. Hard to shirk off 40 years of brainwashing. But really if there was just me and my family on the planet, I could not care less if I actually owned a private jet or a Swiss ski chalet!

At the end of the day return to yourself. You are your strongest power. The strongest power is within you. Not someone else’s miracle morning. Chase your dream, not the fake golden dollar. It is far more rewarding, you’ll produce better work and success will be natural not forced.

Quick success check: Remove everyone from the planet. Leave just you and your loved ones. And ask yourself: Am I happy with what I have? If not, why? What is missing? Define that and go after it.

Be true to yourself.

Don’t lose yourself in this latest rush of becoming spiritual, screaming “I AM GREAT” to your reflection in the mirror and journaling just for the sake of it. Do it if you believe in it.

Although Shakespeare may have said that we are all actors upon a stage, you do not need to strut your stuff to someone else’s beat. Write your own beat to strut along to. Find your roots again. Think what your mantra might be without having to label it as a mantra, and live by it.

Don't try to fit into someone else's mold. You'll contort and distort yourself. Wear your own size. Sing to your own tune. You'll be happier and more successful this way.
A tight fit will distort you. It’s uncomfortable.
Wear your own size. Feel comfortable.

There is a great French idiomatic saying:

Je suis bien dans mon peau (I am content with myself)

Literally it translates as “I feel good/at ease in my skin”.  Another way of looking at it is: don’t squeeze into a size 6 if you’re a size 12 – and vice-versa. Work out YOUR own miracle morning. Strut to your own beat. There is no disgrace in that. If you are not an early riser, make the most of the wee hours of the morning as you burn your candle in the moonlight like Charles Dickens.

We are writers. We are artists. You cannot clone us or clip our wings to fit us into regimental molds and organized time planners. Creativity is an untameable beast. You just need to know when it is you time to jump on its back and ride that baby – your way!

To sum up: Ask yourself, are you so busy rushing around making sure that you hit those targets, doing someone else’s routine, trying to be like that successful person? So much so that you haven’t even stopped to realize you may have already arrived?

Take a moment. What would your ideal morning or start to the day be like? Are you doing that? Because if you are, it means you’re living life your way. Welcome to the non-famous club of writers/freelancers/entrepreneurs who have arrived.

There actually is a “club” if you’d like to join our group of writers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/writingwarrior Come on over and tell us: What does your miracle morning look like?

Step-by-step guide on how to publish your book + get reviews

A step-by-step guide to self-publishing your book on amazon that won’t cost you a penny! Plus an easy way to get reviews.

Help and advice for self-publishers

Bring your book to life for others to enjoy.
Put your fears and doubts aside. It is easier than you think and I’ll be there to help you every step of the way along with a whole tribe of indie publishers!

 BRING YOUR STORY TO LIFE

A step by step guide to publishing your own book – very simple.
WWW can help you stay healthy, motivated and focused whilst writing yourbook, but what happens after you have created your precious baby?!

1. Create an ebook on kdp

Here are the basic steps to follow to get your book out there, for readers to enjoy – and it won’t cost you a penny.
Create an account with Kindle Direct Publishing (an amazon company). https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/ You then simply need:

  • Word file of your book
  • a jpeg of your front cover
  • 7 keywords to help people find you (use amazon keyword tool to research https://keywordtool.io/amazon)
  • blurb/summary to describe your book (a hook to get readers to want to buy your book and it should included some of your keywords)

I can help with the formatting if you are not sure (front cover and Word file). Just email a copy of your file. You do not need an ISBN number for an ebook – kdp can assign one for free for your paperback or you can just buy one.

Need help with the artwork?

I can also help you select a category and price and even do the artwork if you are struggling (fiver.com offers some low-cost options).Just let me know if you need a cover, some artwork for Pinterest and Facebook or other social media platforms where you would like to promote your book.

How to get book reviews

Book reviews can be the make or break of your book. After all, how else can readers who do not know you make up their minds about whether to buy your book or not? Here are 2 great blog posts on the pitfalls and possibilities you face:

The second one is particularly in-depth.

Get book reviews here

If you are struggling to get reviews (you should aim for 10 as a minimum), I will gladly do this for you. Simply email the title and author of the book you would like me to review on amazon. Naturally if I feel it is 3 stars or less, I will not add the review. Instead I would inform you privately. Check out my book review options here.

Organise a pre-launch for your book

Before you make your book LIVE / available for sale, it is a good idea to put it up for “Pre-order”. You can do this through http://www.kdp.com. Get all your friends and family to pre-order a copy of the book (at just 0.99 p). Ask the to review your book and it will help boost your book’s ranking in amazon and help its visibility.

There are other ways to help boost sales, but this is a free option. (You still own the rights to the book, but you can give amazon / kdp exclusive rights to the e-book/kindle version. This will help boost your sales but means you cannot offer it elsewhere as an e-book)

2. GIVE OTHERS THE CHANCE TO LOVE YOUR BOOK TOO

Paperback. You dno longer need to go through createspace. It is all done on kdp.

Much the same as above, you just need a Word file and a PDF of your cover. You can upload these on kdp – it assgins you a free ISBN number or I can show you where to get them: this is in the UK 
http://www.isbn.nielsenbook.co.uk
Again, kdp offer templates for the size of the book you want and I can help with the formatting if you need.

The front cover this time will need artwork and information for the front and back and spine. You will need a blurb/description, keywords and category. (You can use the same as you did for the e-book/Kindle version of your book).
Once the files are submitted and accepted your book will appear on amazon (whichever channels / countries you choose) for free and it will be printed on demand. No investment costs.

3. Audio with acx

Want to offer an audio version of your book? acx is an affiliate of amazon that can do this for free. Its artists (narrators) can either be paid up front for their work, i.e. a flat flee, or decide to opt for 50/50 share of the royalties of each audio copy in return for recording the content free of charge.
What you need to do.

  • Create an account: https://www.acx.com/ create your account.
  • Prepare and upload 200 words or so for auditioning purposes.
  • Create a cover – this is based off the cover of your book, slightly different formatting, showing the name of the narrator of course, but no real biggy in terms of work.
  • Listen to the auditions and choose the one you like – really simple!
  • You then work with your chosen narrator, listening to their recording and approving them or requesting changes until you are both happy and voila! you have a free audio of your book

All Done! Sit Back and Relax

After you have done all this hard work (not half as much as a publisher or agent gets you to do with regard to marketing and promoting your book!) kdp and acx simply pay you the royalties whenever a copy is sold.
It’s worth taking a few days or weeks to make your work immortal.

Increase your impact and happiness by improving your emotional IQ

Successful people all around the world are trained to develop their emotional intelligence. What steps are you taking to improve yours? All a bit confusing? Don’t know where to start? Try these 5 easy tips.

How Improving Your Emotional IQ and Understanding of Yourself Can Improve Your Performance

Successful people all around the world are trained to develop their emotional intelligence skills. Now even big companies are starting to promote the emotional IQ of their staff. Why? Could it be that they care? Or perhaps they have come to realise that the way employees are treated significantly affects their bottom-line – profit. But cynicism aside, it goes without saying that people would prefer to work in a company where they are treated fairly as individuals.  By promoting enhancing their personal emotional intelligence, companies are making themselves more appealing as employers.

As a freelancer and your own boss, you should be employing this tactic, too.

the importance of emotional IQ

Why is emotional IQ so important?

There is a general consensus that emotional IQ is the key to both personal and professional success. It all starts with the fundamental building block of a clear understanding of ourselves. By knowing yourself better you are able to recognise your

  • fears
  • ambitions
  • hurdles
  • self-made blockades
  • weaknesses
  • strengths
  • peak performance triggers
  • when you produce your best work
  • slumps
  • triggers for self-doubt

With all this in mind, you can then plan individual days to suit your best and worst times for working. Even more than this, you can draw up your entire “business plan” for your career as a freelancer: Where I want to be in 5 years time. Armed with this vital information, you will be able to support yourself and maybe at times even outwit yourself to being more productive and successful.

The importance of improving your emotional IQ

For a quick test to see just how good your emotional intelligence is now, I have listed 5 ways in which you can analyse and develop your emotional intelligence today.

Five ways of developing your emotional IQ

  1. Are you shirking responsibility? Hold yourself accountable when you make a mistake.
  2. Do you lack self-confidence? Start living by your own values.
  3. If you’re an attention-seeker, practice humility – step out of the limelight and observe for a change.
  4. Look at yourself honestly – is there room for improvement?
  5. How do you react in different situations? Do you instantly panic in times of stress? Learn to be more in touch with yourself (Increase your self-awareness)

Are you doing any of these? Take a good honest look at yourself, it can help you grow. Having an awareness of your actions and feelings will empower you with confidence and equip you with the means to take control of your writing career.

5 main areas of an improved emotional IQ

  1. Self-awareness – when you are self-aware you know how you are feeling and you understand how these “moods” are affecting the quality of your focus and the content you create.
  2. Self-regulation – you are able to “control” your emotions and actions. I don’t mean “control” in the robotic sense, more as working with them and not being overrun by your emotions.
  3. Motivation – successful motivated people tend to forgo rewards that can be gained in the short term in favour of long-term success. See the bigger picture.
  4. Empathy – your ability to understand others. We are not islands – although some of us may live in solitude with our books and hermit-like writing frenzies – we are inextricably linked with the world around us. Developing your empathy, for example, will go a long way in helping you develop characters for your novel or understand situations in the world around you.
  5. Social skills – writers are not known for their good social skills. In fact, we are often the weirdos in the corner observing tittle-tattle at parties or the social pariah that type in our PJs all day drinking gallons of coffee with our minds in a galaxy far far away. So please make a special effort here as it will help you when you network and push your work out there… without your slippers on!

Improved emotional intelligence is the X-factor in your success

Recognise your emotions, understand them and see how they are affecting your work ethic and even how you are impacting others in the world around you. Understand how you project yourself, your own personal image and what are you attracting or repelling.

Takeaway: I seriously recommend understanding yourself that little bit better through improving your emotional IQ. By working with your highs and lows, and recognising your triggers, you can become your most powerful weapon in your strategy as an entrepreneur, creative and person.

Sign up for a fun course to get in touch with your true self and live a happier, more rewarding life:

online study course to finding clarity - When you do what you love instead of what you think you should do, you do it differently AND with bigger impact!

How to Beat Stress as a Freelancer

Are you working as a freelancer and interested in how to tame the ugly beast of stress?

5 DIY ways to beat stress. Working as a freelancer can be hard as you rely on your own reserve on energy. Destress with these simple tips and you'll feel the benefits within under a week.

Read on! There is help at hand my friend!

One of the major challenges any freelancer has to face on almost a daily basis is stress. Especially when starting out.

You are never sure if you are going to make ends meet. Work is coming in but only sporadically. So you stress and worry about money.

Don't be the victim of stress - how to beat stress as a freelancer

Then your world is turned on its head and you get jobs coming in left right and centre. Now you are worrying and stressing about not having enough time to complete sooo much work!! And you dare not turn the work down, because you might hit a slump again.

This can be a juggling act for sure. Over the years it will settle down though. Bu tin the meantime, until things settle, try to keep your stress levels down and manageable.

Here are a 5 simple tips for you to think about to help beat stress as a freelancer:

1. Stay hydrated

The importance of staying hydrated to beat stress is overlooked. “Drink plenty of water”. Yeah I know, you’ve heard this before. But perhaps not in relation to stress. If you are dehydrated your body thinks it is under stress. If it's hydrated you can feel and work with a healthy mind and body!

The importance of staying hydrated to beat stress is overlooked. “Drink plenty of water”. Yeah I know, you’ve heard this before. But perhaps not in relation to stress. If you are dehydrated your body thinks it is under stress. If it’s hydrated you can feel and work with a healthy mind and body! By using the formula above (your weight in kg x 0.0333 ), you will know how much water you need to consume per day.

YOUR WEIGHT IN KG X 0.033 = YOUR DAILY RECOMMENDED
INTAKE OF WATER IN LITRES

2. Chakra Exercises

chakras centres of energy - balance your energy system for inner calm

These are exercises that open up your chakras and let your energy flow. Chakras are energy centres in your body. Through yoga, tai chi and crystals you can stimulate your chakras (specifically one by one or all of them) and remove blockages that are slowing you down. Blockages in the body all start in the psyche. That is why a stressed mind leads to a stressed body. Try some simply poses and/or routines. Join a local tai chi or qi gong club. Or try out one of my crystal grids if you are not the exercising type!

3. Make sure you are getting the right vitamins and minerals

healthy diet is key to destressing

I seriously recommend that you go to your GP and ask to have your blood tested. Many of us are low on Vitamin D because we are indoors all the time. Or you may be low on iron or vitamin B if your energy levels are sluggish. What you eat and the quality of your food intake relates to your mood, thoughts, energy, and health. I highly recommend ensuring you are eating the right sort of balanced diet and cut out processed foods

4. Get enough sleep

get enough sleep - it is vital for feeling happy and being productive and focused

Why do you force yourself to get up early if your body is saying not to? We can’t all fit into that ideal regime of get up and go to the gym or go for a jog. Treat yourself to a lie in every so often. Likewise, why are you staying awake so late just to watch a movie or series? Doing this is stressful and depletes your energy supply, mental,and physical performance. Aim to be asleep by 10:30pm. This will help regulate your sleep rhythms. If you are struggling to sleep make sure you

  • stay away from electrical devices for at least an hour beforehand. Electromagnetic stress (often overlooked, pollution emitted by cell phones, computers, microwaves, WIFI, and Bluetooth devices has quite an insidious affect on your hormonal and autonomic nervous system).
  • have a relaxing bath
  • don’t go to bed on a full stomach.
  • it also helps if you have had some fresh air and done some exercise during the day.
  • naturally you should avoid caffeine in the evening as well.

5. Chill out, listen to music or meditate

time out to relax - meditation and quiet time is a perfect way to destress

Try some meditation from the free app Insight Timer– Just take 10-15 minutes out of your day. Lie down on your bed, close your eyes, and breathe whilst listening to some relaxing music or meditative narrative. There are plenty of different types of meditation or just relaxing music to listen to, from affirmations to motivational and relaxing sessions. You decide how much time you have and then lie back and be guided to a stress-free state of escapism.

Final thoughts:

pills - no always the most effective remedy for wellbeing and destressing

Medication and chemicals – I am not here to tell you to stop taking your medication, but please be aware that chemicals in the form of drugs, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and certain fertilisers are all stressful to the body.

The points mentioned above are certainly a good place to start. If you can take steps to address sleep, diet, exercise, breathing, and hydration you will find yourself heading in the right direction.

My final word of advice and comfort would also be to remember how much more stressed you’d be in a 9 to 5 job, commuting every day, sitting in a drab cubicle or a loud, energy-sapping open plan office…Enjoy the freedom your freelance work gives you. it is one of the best perks of the job!

how to beat stress as a freelancer

The peaks and lows of your workload are a small price to pay for this freedom. Cherish it. You deserve it.

Thanks to Graham Whitehead – Personal Trainer for sharing his knowledge and helping to research this article.

Graham Whitehead Health

The Symbiosis of Writing and Yoga

Review of a writing retreat hosted by Aurora Writers

Coming away from a creative writing retreat hosted by Noelle Harrison and Vanessa Rigby, you will feel like a goddess. Set in the spa and relaxation world of the David Lloyd Gym in Edinburgh with breathtaking views of the seas, the Beltane retreat was an empowering experience fuelled by the fire of the summer sun. Based around lots of “f” words (!) the retreat expelled the fear of failure and explored the freedom to forge.
REVIEW OF THE BELTANE WRITING RETREAT IN EDINBURGH, HOSTED BY AURORA WRITERS.

                     Writing from a new angle!

yoga and writing

Want to approach your writing with a fresh take?
Empowered by Noelle’s powerful techniques for exploring your capabilities not just as a writer but as an individual from new and enlightening angles, you will gain variety and direction in your techniques. Noelle uses exercises that deftly coerce  different perspectives and thoughts from you that you never even realised you had.  Coupled with Vanessa’s masterful ability to relax your mind and body through yoga, you end up releasing words, stories, pitches and ideas that will astound and please you… and your readers!

               Get creative with your writing!

symbiosis of yoga and writing

Endless creative power through yoga

The magic does not end when the weekend ends. Perhaps the best of it all is that this retreat equips you with tools you can apply by yourself. For all you freelance indie writers out there this is like gold dust. Your own untapped spring of inspiration.
You can explore this “new” and “empowered” version of yourself in a safe and encouraging environment. Aurora Writing Retreats provide a platform for networking and self-discovery. Quite unusual bed companions! Through novel ways of approaching your writing and Vanessa’s ability to let you tap into the infinite well in your mind without the mental blocks caused by self-doubt and fear, you unfurl effortlessly into flexible literary goddess.

                     Become a flexible literary goddess

writing and yoga
Working with the seasons to capture our different moods throughout the year, Noelle and Vanessa will be hosting another retreat this autumn – be sure not to miss out on this opportunity to realise your full potential as a writer. The networking element and support from other established and up and coming authors is a further indispensable tool for independent authors. Visit Aurora Writers