My DrivenWoman Journey

Posted on April 26, 2015

two benches 2

Ever since I can remember I’ve found it difficult to cope. An erratic childhood paved the way for some very wild teenage antics, which in turn fast-tracked me into at times chaotic adult living. Years of self-harm via the pharmaceutical route were coupled with a furious drink problem taking its toll in every aspect of my life. Realising this half way through my 30s I managed to kick the drugs and reduce the boozing to what I thought was an acceptable level. But I still didn’t feel like I was living my life. In fact, I knew I wasn’t.

And by the time I turned 40 I realised I’d failed and that the only person who was missing out, was me.

A few months on I learned about a brand new woman’s networking group – over a perfectly innocent coffee with a girlfriend. ‘A network to enable women to be the women they want to be.’ “Really?” It sounded exactly like what I needed!

I found out it was, right at the first ever ‘Driven Woman Introduction’ session. My new journey started that night in a stark white, no-frills meeting room above Ed’s Diner in Soho where this small group of women of varied backgrounds had gathered.

The format was well thought out and straight forward. Introduce yourself, say why you’re here and what you wanted to change, (this is where the rest of the group could give feedback). Followed by an exercise and a brief discussion. After that we were to write down ‘where we were at now’ and ‘where we wanted to be,’ both long and short-term. Lastly, we wrote down five easy tasks that would help us achieve our short-term goal. These tasks needed to be achievable and they were to be done by the next month’s meeting. We managed to get this all done in a little over two hours… not a bad way to spend your Monday night.

The months rolled by, I attended without fail and steadily worked the program. It was emotional, I was emotional. I swung from deliriously happy in one month to abject terror the following. I burst into tears once and the rest of the time rambled on heroically. All the time the group listened on and told me what they thought. They questioned my motives with care and consideration and in turn I questioned my beliefs. There was no sympathy, just good advice to enable me to do better. They handed me the tools, guided by the exercises we were doing, and I began to help myself. I was not allowed to procrastinate and any excuses I came up with were met with comments such as “if you want to do it you will, we’ve shown you the way, you cannot go wrong if you try”.

Everything happened rather quickly, and naturally. My ‘change’ became noticeable and people started commenting: “you’re so good at that” and “I wish I could do that”. I started to do things well, and I was getting things done. I was astounded. And best of all it was fun!

From early on, one of my ‘to do’ tasks that would allow me to reach my short-term goals had been to reduce my drinking. I’d been writing this down for eight months before I plucked up the courage to actually do something about it. Finally I did — and managed to slow right down from being drunk most days to a few glasses of wine a couple of times a week.*

This was ‘living my very own miracle’, we’re talking biblical proportions here.

So where am I now, two years into my own personal DrivenWoman program?

Well I’m sober for the first time in three decades. I’ve started kick boxing as I always wanted to do a martial art ever since I watched the ‘Monkey’. My business is gathering momentum, I’ve got repeat orders. I’ve started creative writing which had always been a secret passion. Finally, and this is the big one, I’m looking to find a long-term relationship with someone I truly love.** This would not have been possible before as I could never have shared the life I was leading with anyone!

If someone told me two years ago that I would become the person I am now, I would not have believed it. But here I am… so much can happen in two years!

I can’t imagine what the next five or ten years will hold in store. Anything seems possible with a little help from my DrivenWoman girlfriends!

~ Jane, a founding member of DrivenWoman, a women’s network that celebrates its 2nd birthday next month

 

*Giuliano Sacchi, who practices Japanese acupuncture has been my therapist for the last year.

** with the help from Julia Keller, Love Expert (also a DrivenWoman member)

Because I Like It Very Much

Posted on April 19, 2015

me time

“I should reap some benefits from working as a freelancer.” said Mel, a freelance journalist and a DrivenWoman member, sharing the news that she’d just booked a little cottage for the month of August to spend with her children. She wouldn’t normally dare to take such a long break. Working as a freelance journalist she felt she had to put in the effort at all times to ensure her income and to keep her connections. But the children were getting older and she wanted to spend some proper time with them, away from the daily circles.

She’d normally just talk about it, it would be a day dream. “One day…” she would say. But this time she decided to act without a delay. She booked the cottage the very afternoon. And now that the holiday was paid for and in the calendar she felt comfortable she could get year’s work done in just 11 months.

It’s funny how our minds work like that.

As soon as we give ourselves a permission to do something or make it a priority we will find a way to accomplish it.

How often do you have a feeling you’d really like to do something for yourself, but for one reason or another you end up putting it off until it’s too late, or simply end up forgetting about it? The every day life takes over and busy circumstances push our own dreams, no matter how small, aside.

I believe we women are especially prone to put our own wishes last.

Is it so selfish to want to do or have something just because you like it? I don’t think so. We only live once and it’s good to be selfish sometimes to make life worth living. Do you agree?

Women put themselves last because there’s always more work to be done. Or we are so used to helping others that we can’t justify doing something just for ourselves.

Perhaps we feel we are not worthy unless we are always working, not worthy unless we make sacrifices.

I’ve also been very guilty of this. I used to think unless I work really hard and constantly tire myself out I’m a bit weak. I’d feel guilty taking a break during the week to go riding. I’d rush into the yard and get out as quickly as I could barely enjoying the experience. But then I realised that what’s the point of all of this if I can’t enjoy a selfish moment every now and again.

The only person who’s judging me anyway is myself!

So I’ve decided to collect life’s little pleasures, things I can do simply because I like them very much.

So here’s an example, don’t laugh! (Or go ahead then…)

When I’m in Miami Beach I like to paint my toe nails as often as possible. Oh yes, I choose to do this because I like it very much. I can have a different nail polish colour every day! It’s a little bit effort but I’ve noticed I get a lot of joy out of it. Possibly because it sounds so useless and vain. It serves no-one but me. Ha ha! So I’ve now given myself a permission to indulge in different nail polish colour every day, if I want to.

Another little selfish pleasure is making fresh juice every single day. This is a bit more useful and also serves the whole family. But it still requires time (15 mins) and effort. It would be so easy to drop this as mornings can be very busy, but I always make sure I have time for juicing. I simply get up early or drop other things if I have to.

What little or big pleasures you’d like to do more of? What are the ‘vain’ activities you keep dropping because they don’t sound worthy enough?

Remember, the only one who’s judging is you. If you find pleasure changing your toe nail polish once a day, then so be it!

So girls, let’s exercise some self-love and take action. Here’s what I want you to do, right now. Yes, right now or else life’s pleasures will get pushed to one side, yet again, by daily circumstances.

Step 1) List ten things you really like doing for yourself.

The more selfish they feel the better. Don’t self-sensor your list or be overly realistic. Try to think about things that make you genuinely happy you don’t do often enough.

Step 2) Then pick three things that you can realistically fit into your daily/weekly/yearly schedule.

It’s time to giive yourself a good, clean permission to be selfish, and do couple of things that really delight you.

Step 3) Write down the parameters.

Write down when, where and WHY you get to be selfish. For instance, I only indulge in changing my toe nail polish daily when I’m in Miami. In London I don’t make time for it and I would actually consider it a waste of time. In truth, it is a complete waste of time, but that doesn’t stop me from doing it in the Sunshine State!

Step 4) Make it a habit.

From now on, you always rent a cottage once a year, or you ensure you have 15 minutes for juicing every morning. Make it a habit to take out the decision making and increase your wellbeing and happiness!

At the end of the day, your selfishness is going to benefit everyone around you.

What are your three selfish pleasures? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

~ Miisa

 

Life Lessons Learned Erasing My Hard Drive

Posted on April 12, 2015

hard drive

This week will go down as one of the most stressful ones. I’m writing this blog post looking out to the ocean sitting on my deck in Miami Beach, not exactly the most nerve wrecking environment! But on Monday I finally decided to do something that was long overdue, to deal with my poor technical set up and a super slow computer. I erased my computer’s hard drive.

DrivenWoman is about finding your passion and becoming happier and more successful in your chosen set up, so you might wonder, what has a computer hard drive have anything to do with that?

A lot, actually.

At the beginning of the year I set myself three development goals, one of them was never to be in a hurry. I wanted to stop rushing and start fully enjoying what I’m doing. To be more present. I’ve noticed is that the more I pay attention to the way I arrange my setup, the better I can get rid of all distractions, the more I can focus on what I enjoy doing. And the more I enjoying doing what I do, the more I get done. And the more I get done the more satisfied I get with my progress. And so it goes on.

Computer is no different to your mind, your relationships or your wardrobe. The more cluttered they get the more stress they generate. Having a great set up is means you have a great foundation to build on.

Over the years computers – like minds, relationships or wardrobes – get cluttered with stuff we no longer need. In my case, this had resulted in the fact that my computer was hardly functioning. It kept crashing and it was slow.

If your mind is crammed with stuff, it’s unorganised and you keep hanging onto things you don’t need the same thing will happen.

You will hardly function, you keep crashing and the progress on your projects is slow.

We all have a limited amount of capacity. The way I see it is if I use my capacity on unnecessary relationships, scattered thoughts and pointless emails, I get nothing that matters done. The problem is that most distractions are so small that we can hardly take them seriously. It’s easy to think “well this will only take me 1 minute” but all of a sudden you have 100 of those little things in a day and, huh, your day is gone. I call these distractions ‘time robbers‘.

But now to the story of erasing my computer’s hard drive.

I had tried the quick fixes. I spent money on installing a program that was supposed to get rid of the unnecessary clutter and dublicate files. It did’t work. Looking back, it was like wishful thinking, expecting that someone else would fix my problems. I didn’t want to face my technical problems.

The magic pill. I know it doesn’t exist so why did I think it would this time?

I had not been able to get an appointment at the Mac store in London, the Genius Bar appointments were always full. But, had I really tried hard enough? Did I make this my priority? Probably not. It’s so much easier to just carry on with your life and try to ignore the growing problems hoping a simple solution will magically present itself. Instead, you keep digging yourself deeper into the hole.

So here in Miami I finally managed to secure myself an appointment at the Genius Bar and on Monday evening I drove down to the Aventura mall Mac store with great anticipation. I backed up my hard drive, just in case. Of course I knew deep down that I’d be desperately needing my back up but I was still hoping for another solution.

The guy at the Genius Bar was called Steve. He was smart and friendly and I felt a bit like going to a dentist. I’m afraid of going but once I get there and discover the dentist is nice and gentle I relax and start trusting him. I decided to be brave and do what ever Steve would suggest. After all, I had already tried all of my own tricks, none worked.

Steve explained that the only real solution was to erase my hard drive. I only had 17 megabites memory left! He could look into the hard drive and try to find the items that were clogging it, but it would be unlikely to make much of a difference. What I should do was to erase it all and then put things back selectively from my back up files.

This sounded like a sensible advice and I agreed to pull the trigger. I was calm and I thought everything will be ok.

Back at home I started panicking. I realised I had lost all programs such as Microsoft office. I also realised the backup wasn’t bullet proof and I couldn’t find my passwords. Setting up email accounts was painful. But I decided to feel the pain and examine it rather than run away and rush into pushing all of my files back into my computer from the backup. I discovered that my computer was simply old and Steve had not been able to instal the latest operating system which resulted in the problems carrying on I set out to solve. (Most websites and virus prevention programs require 10.8 or higher but the highest Steve could go with my machine was apparently 10.7.)

I learned a lot about myself whilst calmly sitting in that pain. Instead of rushing into solutions (my default reaction) I decided to become a little internal spy quietly noting the feelings inside of me at this very stressful moment.

I decided not to act, but to observe until all solutions would come to me.

This is what I learned.

1) I was addicted to my computer

We can make ourselves important through the work we do. I’m not my work, I keep telling myself, but now that my computer was not functioning I felt super uncomfortable. I realised how addicted I had become to posting on social media (for work and for pleasure) and to working on something all the time.

I decided to see what will happen when I can’t do that for couple of days. I knew that the most important things would automatically raise to the top. I knew the work that really mattered would naturally come to me and I would find a way to do that bare minimum even with reduced resources. And that’s exactly what happened.

Now I know most of the work I think I should do is not important.

2) Erasing everything liberates

I wasn’t able to set up all my email accounts immediately. And rather than panicking, I decided I will use it as an opportunity to clean out email accounts that don’t serve me. (Well, to be honest, I did panic too.) My emails were still working on my mobile phone so for a couple of days I followed my email accounts to see what I could live without.

Also most of the files I’ve created I no longer need. Most of the photos I’ve taken are no longer useful. Most of the music I have I no longer listen. Most of the things I’ve collected simply don’t service me anymore. Letting go of thinking ‘maybe I need this one day’ has been very liberating. I enjoy the feeling of being able to go back to my back up hard drive to retrieve something if I really, truly need, but so far I’ve picked up two files. I also realised that those files will no longer be relevant next week so I will make sure to delete them.

3) Clutter keeps you from attending the real issues

Because I was so busy doing stuff (we all are), attending the everyday business, I thought I had no time to fix my computer. Most of us are guilty of this. It’s much easier to keep going as usual, attend small little problems and worship the nonsense rather than erase the noise and let the real problems come to the surface. But if we don’t let the true difficulties come out we can never find solutions to them and they will never go away.

No program you download from the internet, no book you read, no women’s network you join is going to solve your problems. At the end of the day we all must take the advice and then figure out our own solution that works for us and then put it into practise. We must take our own pill, not expect a magic pill.

Steve didn’t solve my problems but he gave me a kick in the back side to go and deal with what had to be dealt with.

4) Becoming hyper critical

Erasing my computer hard drive has given me much more than just a faster computer. It has given me a lot more mental space. I’m not going to let anyone or anything re-clutter it again. So I’ve kept unsubscribing from email lists (about 50 so far!) and I will make sure I always click the ‘unsubscribe’ button on all but the most interesting email lists. I will be hyper critical who can have my email address, what questions I will answer and what meetings I will take.

Protecting my time and my space is going to be a priority if I’m going to get to my goal of focusing on what matters and enjoying my work without stress. From now on all distractions must go!

5) Don’t be afraid of erasing everything

People hang onto old relationships, old jobs, old business relationships, old plans, old clothes, old eating habits, even old nail polish colours that no longer suit them. We cling onto the past because its familiarity gives us false security. But this false security creates nothing but clutter and prevents you from enjoying your work and doing things that matter.

When everything is erased you can build a foundation, a really powerful set up that will allow you to focus, get lots done and enjoy it every day.

Steve helped me to see my true tech problems. The fact of the matter is that my computer is simply too old and I need a new one. I have now bought a shiny new Mac which has the latest operating system. I’ve decided to become more tech savvy and not shy away from really understanding how I need to set up my work. It’s no longer ok to say ‘I’m not good at this’!

Do you have a nagging situation that is slowing down your work and happiness? Have you tried the quick fixes hoping they’d solve the obstacles standing in your way to your goals? Don’t wait for the miracle. Don’t be afraid to eraise your hard drive from the noise and cut out old toxic projects and people. And finally, find your ‘Steve’, a person who can help you to get to the bottom of the mater that needs solving.

I wish you a clutter free week,

~ Miisa

 

I Started My Own Business With No Clue What I Was Doing

Posted on April 5, 2015

break free

Back in November 2011, I started my own blog, Live Healthy Simply. I had no clue at all what I was doing and didn’t tell anyone about it for about three months.

What would people think? Would they judge me based on the pictures and stories I was sharing? Surely, I couldn’t be a good enough writer or photographer to have fans. I even considered never sharing it with anyone!

Over time though, I relaxed a bit and shared it with friends and family. Everyone was incredibly supportive, and to my surprise, they shared it with their friends, who shared it with their friends.

My audience started growing, and once I hit 1,000 unique visitors daily, I knew I had a true hit on my hands.

At the time, I had a full time job and I was working on the blog on nights and weekends. Although it was popular, that wasn’t translating into income at all.

As I continued growing my following, I learned everything I could about business models that make blogs financially successful. And eventually, I started making a nice profit for all of my hard work.

While it felt as though I was working two jobs, I soon would be working three.

See, other friends and bloggers started coming to me, asking for advice on how to make their websites successful too. They had seen what I had done with Live Healthy Simply and they wanted to know my secrets.

The truth was that I didn’t have secrets.

But I did work really hard and kept my standards high, making sure everything I posted was a beautiful reflection of my brand.

So I started coaching friends and bloggers on how to grow their websites’ audiences and turn them profitable, and I found my true love. Coaching was a revelation for me. I loved making a difference in other women’s lives.

One of the best parts about coaching was that I could continue blogging and writing, only I started doing so about my new coaching business, rather than healthy living. In fact, I was writing more than I ever did as a blogger!

Within six months of starting to coach women on their online businesses, I was earning enough money that I knew I would soon be able to quit my day job.

For the second time, though, I questioned myself. Could I really earn a living working on my own? Why would anyone choose to work with me when there are a ton of coaches out there?

For the second time, I ignored those nagging questions in my head. I took a leap of faith, hired a business coach, and shortly after, quit my corporate job. Within a few months of that, I had eclipsed my former salary and was soon earning more money than I ever had before.

What I realised after doubting myself but doing it anyway was that fear was getting in the way of going after my dreams.

I was keeping my plans and even my life on hold, afraid of making a mistake or a wrong decision.

Fear was the reason I stayed in my day job way longer than I needed to. It’s the reason thousands of women put off starting their own businesses and making the leap. I know now how wrong I was. Not only did my dreams and plans come true, they surpassed my wildest imagination!

So if you’re thinking about taking a big step for your career, I have a little advice based on my own experience. Get out of your own way.

Make the leap. Take a chance. Make the call. Decide. Commit. Show up for yourself.

What are you missing out on if you don’t take a chance and at least try?

~ Jessica

jessica nazarali

This is a guest post from Jessica Nazarali, the coach who inspires women create coaching businesses and build beautiful, personal brands. Find out more JessicaNazarali.com.

What I Learned About Becoming A Wealthy Woman

Posted on March 29, 2015

money

Not an evening goes by in London these days when you can’t check in to some kind of event, seminar or lecture aimed at improving some aspect of your life. In addition to attending events in person, there is no shortage of life hack-ery online, in the magazines we buy and in the big piles of 10-step self-help books that, I for one, have accumulated over the years.

But if that’s the case, why aren’t we all model human beings? The answer is simple: because we don’t put the advice into practice. Not really. Not in any long-term way that gets results. Our attention is quickly taken up by the next new thing. So, having a small group of driven women get home last week after a Wealthy Woman Workshop session with wealth coach Terhi Majasalmi and immediately turning advice into action is pure gold.

This was Terhi’s second session with DrivenWoman, the first mainly looked at attitudes to wealth and how our adult behaviours are, more often than not, shaped by our parents attitude towards money. The result, as I am sure many of you will recognise, are often unconscious feelings of guilt,  unworthiness, or just simply a fundamental belief that we are unable to manage money.

In last week’s session, Terhi got down to the business of saving. In the financial advice classic  The Richest Man in Babylon, George Samuel Clason says one of the fundamental rules of wealth is to save 10% of your income. Terhi advises the same. Ok, so where’s the magic in that, you may ask?

The magic is in the mindset.

This is saving for investment. Not saving for a holiday, new outfit, a new bathroom or anything else that sees your savings go or depreciate once the thing has been bought.

Terhi was talking about saving until a critical mass is reached when you can put those savings into investments. The investments then generate income which you re-invest. That generates more income and so it goes on. It’s the conveyor belt effect; once that critical mass is reached and with some sound investing, it can’t help but move you forward, snowballing as you go. It’s likely to be a long journey but if you don’t start, how will you ever get there?

Next up was asset classes and asking the question, where should I put my money?  Terhi covered stocks and funds, commodities, property and business and managed to so in a way that was easy and accessible for the uninitiated. The answer turns out to be a personal preference based on how much time you have, how liquid you want your funds to be, your approach to risk, your investment timelines and mainly, what it is that spikes your interest. I went into the session with an idea of which asset class might suit me best and came away more convinced than ever.

Terhi says wealth creation is 20% strategy and 80% mindset. And she should know, she’s been building her wealth for two decades.

Do I wish I started thinking about financial security and freedom at seventeen? Yes, of course, but we can only start from where we are which is why it is important to start today.

By the end of the session we were all focused on our financial future with a sense of optimism. What had been daunting to many, myself included, now felt a lot more achievable.

And to keep our motivation topped up, Miisa and Jennifer have decided to hold quarterly DrivenWoman ‘Wealth Club’ -sessions so we can report back on progress and collectively hold each other to account.

I know from other areas of my life that this accountability will give me the extra motivation I need to stick with it and deliver results. I know it’s early days, but I certainly feel 2015 is the year that I turn a corner on the path to wealth and financial freedom.

~ Adzowa

Adzowa is a DrivenWoman member. She took part in the Wealthy Woman Workshop on March 19. 2015

How to Un-Label And Learn To Explore Beyond Your Current Identity

Posted on March 22, 2015

jam jarsDoes this sound familiar? You know you can get stuff done but the new goals you’ve set for yourself don’t seem to be coming any closer and weeks turn into months. Your friends talk about you as the ‘doer’, the one that makes things happen. So why is the new path you’ve decided to explore still greatly undiscovered?

After leaving my corporate career 8 years ago I had drawn up a vision to build a more flexible life where I would be in charge of my own time and able to shift easily between work, family and hobbies. The vision was clear but I had no idea how I would get there and what would be the work that I’d end up doing.

The biggest thing standing between me and my vision was the way I viewed my own identity and who I was.

I had labelled myself. I believed I was my work.

It’s so easy to do this. If you do something successfully for 15 years it’s easy to believe that that’s who you are. Forget that you were born a girl with plenty of facets, interests, values and talents. Then overtime it all got narrowed down under one sticky label, an identity.

To be good at something, be praised for our work, become useful or even indispensable may become addictive, a comfort zone. It doesn’t matter what the work is we end up doing over a long period of time or the environment we surround ourselves with, it often turns into one’s identity, a label. ‘A mother’, ‘a lawyer’, a ‘consultant’.

It’s easy to feel safe behind a label.

And to think that this is who you are because this is how all your friends know you. This is why your collegues praise you. This is what your partner expects of you. This is how your parents see you. This is how anyone who’d come to contact with you would talk about you. And this is what it says on your CV. Full stop. A label. No room for change. Or is there?

The stronger our current identity is, the more difficult it’s going to be to change it. To un-label.

The label stops you from dreaming

In the worst case the way we see our own identity stops us even dreaming about something new, something different, something more exciting. Because you do exactly what it says on the tin! And if the new adventure is not mentioned in the label how can one go about exploring it?

I remember when I left my big job and was free to do anything I wanted I wasn’t able to embrace my freedom. It terrified me. I kept referring back to who I was rather than boldly drafting ideas based on who I wanted to become.

This seems very typical, a lot of DrivenWoman members want to explore new avenues but find themselves almost paralysed unable to open new doors. It’s easy to fall back to old routines without even noticing. And how could we refer to something that may or may not exist in the future? But if you keep referring to your current identity it stops you from changing and keeps you stuck.

The label stops you from taking the first step

Can’t go on a mountain climbing trip because you aren’t that sporty (…yet). Or you can’t start a food blog because you are not a good food writer (…yet). Or you can’t go to a programming course because you are not that good with a computer (…yet).

You see my point. The labels are all in our own heads. The self-limiting identity keep us from even exploring something new. ‘What would my kids think if I went on a programming course, I can’t even use Twitter‘, you think.  And to feel satisfied with our day it’s best to keep to the activities we are familiar with, the ones we are good at and know we will be praised for by people around us. Keep performing to our label, make it to stick even harder.

When one’s identity is very strongly linked to one thing, to one’s work, it’s extremely difficult to start moving away from it.

Don’t re-label, add a sticker

Perhaps you’ve arrived to the point in your life where you think, right, new something else. I need to move on from what I’ve been doing as it doesn’t fully satisfy me anymore. It’s easy to get paralysed by thinking you need to completely re-label yourself, become something new, something different.

180 degree changes are very difficult to pull off and unlikely to work. Our past is part of our future. Change is a gradual process, not an overnight sex-change!

Try to think of it as adding a sticker next to the current label. “NOW WITH ADDED VITAMIN-C!”

This is what I did. My first step outside my ‘brand consultant’ label was to write a cookbook. So I added a sticker. A brand consultant who’s also passionate about food. Ok that works.

Writing the cookbook freed my mind to think that I can actually do anything I want. The next step was starting this network, which on the outset wasn’t really related to any of my previous labels (and was super scary for that reason!). But I just knew I had to go through that fear and simply see what’s on the other side.

What I found was a complete freedom to do anything I want. I don’t have to label myself anymore. And certainly I’m not my work.

I still love brands, but I’ve now got lots of labels sticked to my forehead, in no particular order. A brand lover. A women’s empowerment gal. A selfish mother. A design geek. A wanna be fashionista. A crazy friend. A super wife. A self proclaimed foodie.

And I have no intention to stop here. I’ll soon be working on couple of more prominent stickers to add to my collection!

I wrote a cookbook but I didn’t turn into a food writer. Just by taking up a new interest or exploring a new avenue doesn’t mean that you  will have to become that for the rest of your life. It’s simply just what it is, an exploration.

Do one thing that scares you this week. Something that no-one will praise you for. Something that your kids/collegues/friends will tell you that you are mad! Sign up to a course you know nothing about, go do a sport you’d never normally consider or finally start writing that blog you thought about for a long time.

What ever you are up to, have a great week!

~ Miisa

Why So Many Women Are Single

Posted on March 15, 2015

single woman

I must admit that since I’ve decided to “own it” and commit to being a Love Coach full time, I’ve met some very interesting people and heard some fascinating stories which bring new light to why so many women are single.

Just the other day, I was at a theatre event, with my boyfriend, that was preceded by some mingling time for guests. As I teach my clients the importance of chatting to people and mingling at social events (including skills for “working a room”), I decided to put those techniques to use in this real-life situation. So, after turning to a couple beside us and ensuring that my boyfriend was happily in conversation, I walked off and eyed the room for interesting people to speak to. Immediately, I caught sight of a woman who I thought was cute, but, from her energy and look, I figured was definitely single. She was standing beside another woman looking rather uncomfortable, her mobile clutched in her hands nervously as if she’d turn to it the minute that her friend found someone else to converse with. This happened pretty quickly as the friend was greeted by someone she knew with whom she began an enthusiastic conversation. As I expected, rather than looking for someone else to speak with, this woman began instead to scroll nervously through her phone.

I decided to rescue her. Walking in her direction, I met eyes with and smiled at a man I’d never met who was clearly eager to chat with someone. I introduced myself to the woman on the phone with an admiring line about her handbag. She seemed extremely relieved to have someone actually approach her and we immediately began to converse. She seemed very sweet and I liked her energy. Upon discovering what I do, she launched into a hurricane of just how difficult it was to meet men in London and how “she’d tried everything”. I listened attentively but didn’t offer any advice, as I would have normally a year ago.

My very supportive boyfriend encouraged me to follow my dream of helping to empower women to find love, and paid for me to be coached by a well-known “Supercoach”, named Judymay, who coaches other coaches on how to get themselves out there and succeed as coaches. Judymay explained to me the importance of “not giving free advice” to people I meet. Clients value much more what they pay for and will actually put that into action. It was true. My parents, who are therapists, had always told me that “if someone wants professional advice, they will pay for it. If they won’t pay for it, they don’t really want it or aren’t ready to hear it”.

Thanks to Judymay’s advice, I was able to avoid telling this woman that she would easily meet someone if she would just mingle rather than looking at her phone. At that moment, the man I’d exchanged a glance with came over and began speaking with me. The woman by my side was just about to shrink away and scroll through her phone again when I introduced her to this man who seemed very keen to chat. I noticed my boyfriend looking at me a bit warily, so I came over to him, gave him a reassuring pat and introduced him to another group standing beside us that I’d never even met before. He easily began to converse with the man in the group, so I moved on.

This time I spotted a woman sitting on one of the chairs to the side of the room reading a book. Yes, that’s right: she was actually sitting and reading a book during a mingling event. I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and consider that maybe she was married and didn’t want to meet anyone (though I think we should all be meeting new people all the time regardless of our couple situation). I sat down beside her and asked a question about the book, remarking that I’d heard the author’s name (I hadn’t) and wondering what she thought of it. She seemed pleased to have someone who actually came over to speak with her and spoke animatedly about the various books the author had written and how much she enjoyed his writing style. When she discovered that I was a Love Coach, she right away said, “oh gosh, I could sure use one; I haven’t had a date in years”. “Yes,” I thought. “That might have something to do with the fact that you are sitting and reading a book rather than taking the opportunity to mingle while at an event loaded with available men”. I said nothing but instead began asking her more questions about her. In fact she was easily engaged, very well spoken, and had a fascinating life. I was captivated and saddened by the thought of this fascinating woman not being able to find a man.

Just then, a man with an cute white doggy sat down beside us and I immediately went to stroke him and commented on how adorable he was. From my many dog-owner friends, I even knew some of the key questions to ask to keep a dog conversation afloat. The woman beside me was just about to launch into her book again when, instead, I introduced her to the man with the dog (who I’d never met before). As it turned out, she too was a dog owner and the two easily chatted about the funny things their two dogs did (that wasn’t so hard). Considering my job there done, I noticed the woman with the mobile phone was once again back on her phone as the man I’d introduced her to had moved on.

I was about to return to rescue her again when a man with a lovely knitted scarf beside me caught my eye. I smiled and commented on his scarf. He told me that his daughter had knitted it and we began a lively conversation about how lovely it was that children were being taught how to knit in school (my daughter’s school had a knitting club and she was eagerly knitting a scarf for her little sister). At that point, I noticed my boyfriend looking like he needed rescuing, so I introduced the man with the scarf to the woman with the phone. By the time I walked over to give my boyfriend a warm squeeze, the man with the scarf had moved on and the woman was back on her phone. Luckily, the performance was just about to start so we were all called to sit down.

During the intermission, the woman with the phone approached me eagerly and asked me if I knew the two men that I had introduced her to. “No, I just met them,” I replied. She seemed shocked. “But how did you talk to them so easily?” she asked. “It was like you’d known them for ages!” “Actually, that’s one of the things that I teach my clients,” I replied, shamelessly giving myself a plug as Judymay had instructed. She quickly asked for my card. I apologised that my new logo wasn’t ready yet, so I didn’t have any cards, but promised I’d email her if she gave me her email address. The woman with the book approached me as well at the end of the play and thanked me for introducing her to the man with the dog. It turned out that she and the man were almost neighbours and the two had a dog-walking date planned for that coming weekend. She was nervous, she said though, as she hadn’t had a date in years. I said that I’d be happy to guide her as “that’s one of the things that I do with clients”, and she gave me her card.

My boyfriend meanwhile had made a good work connection. There was a queue for picking up the coats on the way out so I took the opportunity to chat with a couple that was waiting beside us. We found out that all four of us were going to be at the same art exhibit the following weekend so we exchanged numbers saying that maybe we could grab a coffee there.

At the end of that event, I walked out with two perspective clients and some possible new friends. My boyfriend had made a good business connection; and a date between two complete strangers was arranged. All of that was made possible by some simple mingling.

So why are so many women single when it’s just a matter of an easy conversation? I asked some of my shier single friends that question. “Maybe we just don’t feel confident enough to try,” one told me. Or maybe they just don’t know the techniques for mingling in a social situation.

~ Julia

Julia Keller is a Love Coach, speaker, writer, and Driven Woman member. She helps women on mingling and how to get the love life that you desire.

There’s No Women’s Equality Without Proactivity

Posted on March 7, 2015

grow leaves

In Finland (where I’m originally from), all kids go outside on a break at school. It’s usually already quite chilly in October so hats are compulsory and teachers supervise to ensure rules are being followed rigorously. It was a surprisingly warm autumn day early October in 1981 and the sun was shining. I felt wronged to have to put on a hat, and decided to do something about it.

The process was cumbersome in those days. I had my mother type a letter with a typewriter and my dad to make copies at work. The ‘non-hat-wearing passports’ got quickly distributed at school and the next day many children presented a document declaring that they didn’t have to wear a hat until it got cold. Signed by one of the parents it announced that the child had enough understanding when to put a hat on. Oh boy was I in deep trouble!

I was only 11 years old back then, but to this day I’m proud of that day. I didn’t change the world or end poverty, but I stood up, raised my voice and did something to improve my situation and that of those around me. I didn’t take circumstances as given, I wanted to challenge things.

I wanted to share my childhood memory today, on the International Women’s Day. This memory was one element in me that inspired us to start the DrivenWoman network. The idea of proactivity is a corner stone of what we do.

Without proactivity women will never be equal.

To celebrate this important day of equality, I wanted to write about DrivenWoman’s role in the wider arena of women’s empowerment and feminism.

We believe that women should pick up their own reins and start pushing themselves forward. Yes the world is still very unequal in many places and there’s a lot to be fixed! The workplace runs on men’s rules. Women are not represented on the board level as they should. Women leave the tech industry in droves.

I’m so happy that things are slowly changing thanks to many wonderful organisations and individuals who fight for women’s voice to be heard and educate organisations and communities to minimise prejudice and sexism. I’d like to introduce you to the ones we’ve have had a pleasure to be in contact with, either in person or via Twitter.

Take the Lead Women‘ is an organisation that prepares, develops and inspires women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025.

30% Club‘ aims to have 30% women on FTSE-100 boards by end 2015.

Gender Economics Lab‘ builds gender diversity capability within organisations interested in attracting and retaining the very best talent.

We work with a bunch of wonderful, empowered women who are on the same mission. They help women take their equal place within the organisations and take charge of their own wealth and confidence.

Voice At The Table‘ helps companies and the women who work there liberate untapped talent by empowering women to take the next step without fear, which builds their confidence and strengthens their voice at the table.

Wealthy Woman‘ aims to build a community of 10,000 wealthy women. Founded by Terhi Majasalmi, she helps women change their attitude and learn how to improve their personal finances, and even reach financial independence.

Roxanne Hobbs‘ is on a mission to transform the workplace via inclusivity. She believes women have their own natural feminine style and works with women to help them identify this authentic voice and make a step change in their careers.

Be Dynamic Coaching‘ works with both individuals and organisations to help women increase their self confidence and walk a little taller.

Most women’s networks and forums generally focus on building your career within the male dominated corporate environment and fighting to change it.

At DrivenWoman, we want to take a proactive approach here and now, regardless of the unfairness of the circumstances we face.

Rather than waiting for the world to change we want to challenge women to see how they can change themselves.

What can you do for yourself, right now? What does success truly look like for you? How can you start improving your skills and confidence? What small steps can you take every day to start moving towards the kind of environment you want for yourself?

For us the first step on the road to equality is not to be against anyone (the system, men, society etc..). It’s about empowering ourselves to take the time to know what we want and then act on it.

All of these campaigns such as ‘He For She‘ or ‘Ban Bossy‘ are very important in raising awareness and changing the everyday sexism culture we still live in. Government initiatives for helping women start up businesses is fantastic. The discussion and facilitation of change is paramount but nothing will change unless we women take a chance and change. It’s us who need to go an grasp the opportunity.

DrivenWoman’s mission is to build a global network where women can explore what success means to them both in life and in career and proactively make things happen.

It is a honest and friendly forum where women can be proactive about their own success. Women overcome fear of failure and everyday obstacles with the help and support of other like-minded women. It is a safety net and a team of your own cheerleaders that will push you to your goals. It’s a ‘personal trainer’ that helps you to implement those little everyday changes that you know in your heart has to be done but are often the most challenging. It provides accountability and structure for your journey.

A driven woman will not blame the circumstances and the imperfections of the universe but she will do her best within the current structures or she will start creating her own environment. If the corporate culture doesn’t understand her talent, she will seek to change her career or build something of her own. She will use the resources she has now and work hard to build more resources. She will take small steps towards a bigger goal and educate herself with new skills along the way.

Driven woman is ready to challenge her current status and strive to build something that’s better suited for her as a whole. She wants to live a fulfilling life and be happy, not only with her career but also with her family life relationships and within herself.

So while we wait for the structures and corporate culture to change we will not stand still. No board room quota or a government grant will guarantee us success. It is us women who have to build our own self confidence and be proactive to grasp the opportunities of success that are now offered to us in this increasingly changing world.

I’m so happy that I haven’t lost that 11 year old girl in me who’s ready to put her hand up and change things. I want to make her even stronger and silence any voices of self-doubt. And I know that together we can make ourselves stronger and find a way to get through the difficulties.

Join us celebrating The International Women’s Day and promise yourself to make your journey a more proactive one. What small things can you start changing today that will make you happier and thus more equal in your life?

~ Miisa

 

Stake A Claim On Your Self Confidence

Posted on March 1, 2015

feeling good

This is a guest post from personal development coach Donna Hubbard.

When I look back at my life I can see a clear pattern between how I was feeling about myself at the time and the type of events taking place for me. Focusing in on certain moments where I was feeling good and waking tall, I can see how good opportunities just seemed to appear. Compare this to times where for whatever reason I had lost my sense of self, and the opposite was true. Life just felt harder.

Life’s a journey and we’re all (including us very human & imperfect Coaches…) on a continual road of self evolvement. Something I’ve come to realise through my own personal experiences and hearing those of my clients, is that how we feel about ourselves is not only a result of what we experience in our life, but actually a huge contributing factor.

The Pendulum Effect

Challenging events can and do chip away at our self confidence. However the pendulum swings the other way too. If we don’t take the time to rebuild a positive relationship with who we are, then external events will continue to control us.

Reflecting on some of the more challenging times, I can see that the real problem was not in what was happening to me, but in how I was responding. Instead of taking care of myself, I turned on myself with self criticism. Instead of focusing on making me feel good about me, I looked outwardly for approval. Rather than staking a claim on my self confidence I abandoned it, I left it outside in the rain. Only when I began to invest time and energy into building a better relationship with myself, did things begin to improve.

Is it Time to Reclaim Your Self Confidence?

We usually receive warning signs when our self confidence needs some attention, such as worrying too much about what other people think of us or holding ourselves back in some way. When those signs are there it’s time to act. Phase one, ‘Feeling Good’ (below) is all about shaking up how you feel within yourself on a daily basis, so that this shift in your physiology can begin to open up a better outlook for you. Phase two ‘Making Waves’ will follow in my next blog coming soon.

Phase One: “Feeling Good”

Step 1 – Regroup

First things first, take some time to regroup with yourself by doing the things that make you feel good about being in your own skin. I have seen with my own eyes the dramatic difference jumping back on his bike (literally) made to one cycle mad client, it transformed him. It helped to bring back that spring in his step that he had lost. And that’s because doing the things that make us feel awesome changes our mind set dramatically. The physiological changes these type of activities evoke takes our minds from a place of “No I can’t” to “Yes I blimin can” almost instantly.

What things lift you to a place of “Yes I can”? Can’t think of any? Well ok let me ask you this…What one thing, if you started doing it on a regular basis from today, would make you like who you are more? Would make you respect yourself more? Whatever just popped into your head, go do it and keep doing it. Notice how you start to feel as a result.

Step 2 – Be On Your Side

Life is a lot easier if we can find a way to be our own biggest supporter. And not just when things are going well for us, but especially when the chips are down. The times when we make a mistake, fail or feel afraid, are those when our attitude towards ourselves can quite literally make or break us.

So how can you support yourself more? Is it a case of changing what you say to yourself? Is it giving yourself permission to not have to be perfect all the time? Start to notice when you are not being ‘on your own team’ and choose to think and act in a way that supports you. This way as long as you have you, you will never be alone.

Step 3 – Turn Up as the Real You

Do you ever find yourself not quite being the real you in situations? If you do, then you know how awful this feels. There is probably no more a draining and highly disempowering state to find yourself in than ‘situation acting’. When we do this we are hiding behind an edited version of ourselves because we have decided (whether accurately or not) that those around us won’t like or accept who we are. This coping strategy is incredibly corrosive to our self confidence because every time we do it two things happen;

1) It gives us further ‘proof’ that we’re not good enough – “How come everybody else can just be themselves?”

2) It feels fake and so puts us slightly on edge, making us less effective and more likely to experience a negative outcome.

How can you turn up as the real You more often? What small changes would make a big difference? Would standing in a way that is more natural to you help you to relax? Would it help you to be the real you in that next ‘scary’ meeting if you imagined all of your friends sat behind you rooting for you? The more you practice showing up as the real you the easier and more rewarding it will become.

Your Best Life Enhancement Tool

So what advice would I give to the me of yesteryear when she would lose her way occasionally? Most likely; “Press pause, do all things that make you feel good about You, and then when you’re ready, retake the reins.” In other words (and this is for you too) stake a claim on the best life enhancement tool you have – your Self Confidence.

~ Donna

Donna Hubbard is a Certified Coach and the founder of Be Dynamic Coaching, a coaching company who help individuals to increase your self confidence and walk a little taller. 


The Mind & Body Confidence Event, Sat 7th March, Hampshire

This March we’re celebrating International Women’s Day 2015 by hosting The Mind & Body Confidence Event. If you would like to take a well deserved day for You and focus on cultivating your self confidence, then come and join in the fun. Why not bring a friend and enjoy the day together? For more information or to book your place at this exclusive event, please click here.

The Record In My Head

Posted on February 22, 2015

the reconrd in my head

Do you ever catch yourself planning out your life, in your head? Do you try to imagine all possible scenarios in advance? Do you envision, with certainty, all possible consequences of your potential actions?

I catch myself listening to the noisy record of my thoughts every day and it’s driving me mad!

In the beginning of this year we all created ‘concepts’, our three guiding words, for 2015. Looking back, I really meant every word, but a recent event at one of our DrivenWoman meetings hit home one concept in particular. One of our members referred back to her three words and so eloquently explained why she wanted them to guide her every choice and movement in life. The word that stuck into my mind was – Present. In my own New Year’s planning I had used a different word – Focus. It was light years from where I wanted to be and so the idea of being fully ‘present’ really hit home.

The end on February is fast approaching, before we know it it will be June and we will be kicking ourselves for not accomplishing what we so diligently started out to do. Were those three words just words, or did we really summoned them to guide our everyday actions? And our thoughts?

So what stops us from fully appreciating and embracing our ambitions and plans, for this year or for life?

Here’s my BIG discovery.

I don’t think I can actually say when there has been a moment when I have been completely and fully present in myself.  I am the type of person who would constantly dress rehearse life before it even happens. I would create scenarios, characters, thoughts. I’d build the whole scene in my mind eyes long before it might happen, and to be fair, would never happen.  I must be potty! What a complete waste of time and energy.

I would work myself up without any proven facts or actions to back my silly thoughts and scenarios. My heart would race, I would be muttering to myself thinking, yeah and if that happens I would do that and if they said this I would react with this. Whole discussions, final results, relationship dramas. They could have made a whole series of soap opera from this material! And if there was a fly on my wall in the shower or in my car I would get the number one ‘nut job’ sign, for sure.

But the way this one member explained her goal, to be fully present, it really brought home just how significant it is to be present, to enjoy the here and now. Bath yourself with now, appreciate the moment and make all your decisions and choices based on the reality that is, rather than the scenarios in your head echoing what might be. And know wisely why you are here, look around and draw yourself back.

And this, my dear ladies, is the fact that most likely stops us from achieving what we set out to do this year. Not being present but wasting time and energy in useless scenario building.

I am going to try with all my might to stop myself with running away with my thoughts. At the end of the year I want to look back and commend myself for being present.  I want to deal with situations now and let the results take care of itself.

To achieve this I’m trying out couple of techniques to help draw back and stay fully in the present.

1. Counting meditation to quiet the mind. Count to ten slowly and breath calmly, especially when in an anxious or stressful situation. The breathing helps to bring your body into the moment. I have found this so effective.

2. Using an item to bring me back to the present moment. Some people carry an item in a pocket or wear a piece of as jewellery, so when anxieties rise or the outside world gets a bit too harried and distracting, touching and focusing on that item brings them back to the present moment. I carry a rubbing stone which I find quite relaxing.

3. Music. I recommend this to everyone and I am sure it’s done without a second thought. Playing your favourite music. The song that makes you smile gives you back that lost energy and creates warmth that fills you up and makes you form more positive thoughts.

I’m experimenting with these tools and it has help to quiet my mind. Staying in the present moment takes practice. Conditioning yourself a few moments each day is all that is needed to establish your mindfulness practice. Before long, you’ll notice that you’re much more aware and appreciative of things around you. And the best of all, it stops those silly future scenarios running wild.

Referring back to my sporting life “if you take care on now the end will take care of itself“.

Do share your experience here. What do you do to stay present?

Let’s be present ladies.

~ Jennifer