Changing My Mentors

Posted on August 2, 2015

women mentorsI’m continuing on my journey to rediscover my mojo. I’ve now learnt how to narrow down my steps, be more focused and have a closer view into what it is I’m trying to accomplish. Perhaps you can remember my last blog post, which was about changing my priorities and looking at the major areas in my life  that weighted on my persona.

My next step is to focus on the individuals and mentors that I have so candidly placed in my life without truly understanding why they were there and why have I given them the power to shape me. It’s too easy to let different characters push your life to various directions without you even noticing!

When I was younger I thought having as many friends around me as possible and sharing all of my inner thoughts and aspirations was a natural gift, and that the more people there was the merrier. But in my adult life it has became more of an hindrance than a positive tool. I found out that not everyone backed me the way I thought they would or even wanted to encourage me towards pursuing my dreams. I am not indicating that they did not care. It was that their ideas and goals where different from mine and their ability to see beyond the present was just where they were and that was fine for them but not for me.

Some may say I have achieved a lot. An Olympian, a Gladiator TV star , a business owner. But I want to maximise my potential and happiness in all areas and I should do so until I am 100 years old!

A quote from Alexander the Great.

“Surround yourself with people that are going to lift you higher.”

So with those words in my heart I have taken a massive step to categorise the people around me in accordance to where they fit in my life or whether or not they have any relevance at all. Sounds harsh, but why surround yourself with nip pickers who constantly find holes in your dreams and put a dark cloud over everything. Or force friends to listen to topics that they have no interest in what so ever.

1.  The Social group

My going out buddies, the ones I just want to have fun with. Creating  a lighthearted environment is important too. Chilling out and having a light kind of conversation. These moments are important and relaxing in everyones life.

2. The Mothering group

Weather I like it or loath it, it is what it is. I am a mother with two incredible daughters. They have  a wonderful network of friends and their parents. Understanding the dynamics of this category is important as the majority of the time I spend with this group will be based on the topic of children. So it’s important to understand its place and not to expect wrong things out of it. And not to over kill or spend all my time here.

3. The Essential people

These people are the power houses that float my boat and build the creativity drug that I crave for. Here I chose to spend as much time as possible but I have to make sure I have chosen the right people who can help me to shape my world. They are here because I want them in my life. They have something to give and hopefully I have something to give them in return. I have chosen key people  who will shape the way I think, the way I act, and the way I approach my  life goals.  They are high achievers and are ready to push all barriers.

Having a clearer understanding on how to categorise the individuals in my life has cut out so much wasted energy and time and has allowed me to feel more focused on what I want to accomplish. I’m going to treasure this and not expect all the input from wrong set of people but to focus on those who can contribute most and with whom I can build a mutually benefiting relationship.

I have always had a clear understanding that every great person who was or will become successful is down to the company he or she keeps. The right set of people will make a definite impact in our lives.

A successful network of driven people around you will always provide both inspiration and healthy competition towards achieving your life goals.

Who are your key people to push you forward in life?

Stay true to yourself and find your support.


Lucky To Grieve

Posted on July 26, 2015

woman grieve

Recently, life hit me hard in the area I least expected to be hit in. It happened, as it often does: just when my business as a Love Coach was starting to take off, my own personal life hit a serious snag.

My boyfriend of almost a year, with whom, until recently, we were talking marriage, and who had stopped drinking when we’d started dating because he’d realised that “it was not conducive to a family environment” fell off the wagon in a big way. Though I have a very forgiving nature and a true belief in people deserving second chances, I also have two daughters who I am raising with a certain high level of values. In addition, I have my own level of standards which, like I teach my clients, are ones that a woman must adhere to no matter how difficult (and it is very difficult at times).

In my family, alcohol is something that we use socially and very much in moderation. So I trusted my boyfriend’s word that he had his drinking under control and that he was in no way “an alcoholic”. In fact, for the majority of our relationship, I had no reason to doubt him. We were very much in love and the high from that, and from our passion together, and the living out our dream lives side by side was sufficient for us to not need any other high. We spoke of being together forever and of marriage in the good days, and we were flying.

But, as often happens, life hits snags. It is in how we handle those snags that the true character of a person emerges.

Around Valentine’s Day, while on a beautiful holiday for the week, we took a big, bold step together and both decided to give up our past career lives to begin anew with the dreams we’d spoken about at Christmas. He helped me to see my true calling and said that he would always support me (which he did both financially and mentally) in my start to becoming a Transformational Love Coach for women: “you have a true gift, honey” and I encouraged him in his pursuit of his dream of having his own business in financial regulation. Everything was on the road to success. Our dreams were big and our beliefs in each other even bigger.

But then, not everything works immediately. That is just life’s little way of making sure that we want it badly enough. My aims were more tangible: I wanted to help women to find the love life and life of their dreams. His were higher: he wanted to make millions. Everything was fine until the client that he had counted on – the one that would have guaranteed that lifestyle that we’d spoken of having together – didn’t come through at the last moment. That’s when disaster began to strike.

I felt instantly that pang of something wrong when I saw his face as he was telling me about it. I could feel some dark fear inside me told me that things would begin to slide downward from there. In fact, his ego was hurt, but I did all that I could to help it come back together and we seemed to thrive even after that first crisis. Seeing just how much I supported him, and the strength of our communication, reaffirmed everything that we were good to each other. We succeeded for a while, but other disasters would follow. With each one, his desire to drink would steer up a bit, though he was still able to keep it at bay. But his irritation and his doubt was growing. Perhaps he wasn’t handling it all as well as I thought he was. My business, meanwhile, was taking small steps forward. He’d been right all along: this was my calling.

And then the difficulties with my kids began, and my own doubt in him began to surface. Even though we were great when just the two of us, he was growing more irritable with my kids, and this was something that I couldn’t accept. And then there was that day – yes during the day – that he completely fell off the wagon; a proper fall and one I could not ignore or forgive or get over. It was the most difficult thing I’d done in a long time, but I had no choice than to say good-bye.

I couldn’t have a relationship with someone who was outside my level of standards, both for myself and for what I considered acceptable to be around my daughters.

And then I cried for real.

I had really loved this man and seriously considered having a future with him. He had been amazing in the good times: generous, supportive, a true gentleman – such men were not so easy to find – and let’s not even discuss the unbelievable chemistry and passion we had shared.

But would I take it back? Would I have changed time so that I hadn’t ever met him to have been able to avoid the pain of breaking up? Of course not!

The time we had together was beautiful; it was passionate; it was intense; it was filled with love that was real and deep. Does the fact that we didn’t end up lasting forever diminish at all everything we had together? It hurts to end it and it was incredibly difficult. You’d think that the fact that I chose to end our relationship would mean that it wouldn’t hurt that much; but it hurt just the same, even despite the fact that the separation made many of the cracks in our supposedly intact foundation become much more clear. The most unbelievable clarity often comes when one is separated from the object that has served to fog one’s vision.

The pain of an ending is sharp and so intensely real that it often serves to teach us the most significant lessons, if we are open to learn from the negative.

Only in the pit of darkness does the faint glimmer of light have so much significance.

I teach women to always look for that glimmer of hope to hold onto, and I held onto that glimmer for dear life. To love is beautiful – beautiful and human. To love fully and completely baring your heart: even awe inspiring. To love and lose is no less important than to love and keep forever; not if you love and feel for real. There are lessons to be learned in both, and one is no less valuable than another.

When I think of all of the people that I know and that I’ve met who avoid that unbelievable feeling of complete and total love because of the fear of the deep emotions that come with it – all because of their fear of the possibility of days, maybe even weeks, yes occasionally months, of tears that it can bring when it ends… God, if they only knew what they were missing, perhaps they would think differently…I would tell them if I could.

But the thing about describing love is that it’s like describing the feeling of sunshine on your face on that first true day of summer: you can only really understand it once you have felt it for yourself.


This is a personal guest post from Julia Keller. She is a Transformational Love Coach for Women and a DrivenWoman member. Find out more about how she works with clients on her website at

Time Management Is Not Important

Posted on July 19, 2015


Do you think you’d be getting faster to your goals if you managed your time better? Do you sometimes feel frustrated because you can’t fit everything you want to do in your day? I used to struggle with that, trying to figure out how to fit more into my day. I thought there’d be some magical method that if I discovered it, I’d be able to get much more done.

Sure, there’s a lot of tips on time management and how you can become more productive and organised, but fitting more into one’s day doesn’t mean you are becoming any more happier or more successful.

Everyone has 24 hours in a day, so that part if pretty democratic to us all. I used to believe I must cut down all ‘unnecessary’ activities such as walking in my garden and cutting flowers into a vase. Or preparing a proper breakfast. But all I got as a result was more stress and less happiness, and I wasn’t getting any closer to success either!

You can squeeze things out of your day and keep working on a lot of stuff, but unless the work you do is going to make difference (and get you to your goals) you might just as well be cutting flowers in the garden.

It’s not important to manage time. It’s important to manage work.

Let me explain. (Bare with me. The following math is simple yet important.)

Are you familiar with the Pareto principle, the 80/20 rule? This means that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Such as in business 80% of company profits will come from 20% of it’s clients. Or 80% of the world’s GDP is earned by 20% of its population. 

According to Perry Marshall everything in the universe follows the 80/20 principle. 20% of the roads carry 80% of traffic, or 20% of a tree’s branches contain 80% of its wood mass. Or even when he asked people in a seminar how many shoes everyone owned, 20% of people had 80% of the shoes owned in that room. (Most people had 3 to 10 pairs at home, some shoe fanatics had 500 pairs!)

He takes this principle even further explaining that the 20% is further divided into 80/20 and that 20% again into 80/20 and so on. Resulting that 50% of the effects come from approximately 1% of the causes.

When you apply this into your day you can see that ‘time management’ is pointless. Unless you are working on that most important 1% (or even that top 20% stuff), you can work your backside off and you are only going to get more exhausted and frustrated. And you will certainly have no time for cutting roses!

So how do I define the most important 1% (or even the 20%) then?

Most of us, if we’d just stop and allow ourselves time to think and write things down, we’d all know the answer deep down inside. I wrote earlier about the importance of separating your ‘thinking time’ from your ‘doing time’.

This is the problem, it’s much easier to be busy than to do work that matters. The latter involves stepping outside of your comfort zone, it’s the unpleasant stuff. You don’t want to make that phone call, ask for help or talk to strangers. It’s much nicer to take shortcuts, work on to-do-lists or do the work you already know well.

Brian Tracy tells us to ‘Eat That Frog‘ first thing in the morning. This means that you should identify the most unpleasant thing you have to do and get it out of the way first. The most unpleasant is usually also the most effective and the one that will make a difference. Once that junk of work is done you can be pretty relaxed for the rest of the day, there should be nothing on that day! And even if you didn’t finish your to-do-list, the most important thing has been done.

I try to adhere to these two principles in my work the best I can. I evaluate where I can get most leverage, where I can find the 20%, or perhaps the 1%, that will make the biggest difference in the long run, be it in business or in relationships or in health. It’s sometimes hard to identify these things as the parameters keep changing, but I always complete my priority task first thing in the morning and spend my time with the best people.

And most importantly, now I have time to enjoy my roses.


Are You Living Reactive Or Manifestive Lifestyle

Posted on July 12, 2015

manifestive lifestyle

Something buzzes at the table and you get a SMS message on your phone. Do you instantly drop everything and rush to see who it is? You are offered a new job with the competitor. Do you instantly get excited and see yourself signing on the dotted line? Sounds familiar doesn’t it. We easily get distracted and flattered by the attention shown to us.

But consider this. If you take up all the ‘opportunities’ life throws at you, you may not end up living your own life but a life dictated by others. You could be reacting to outside impulses rather than making sure all your daily choices are your own.

How do we ensure our decisions are based on what we want in life and our own goals?

When my kids started school two years ago I was instantly distracted by the activities all mothers were supposed to be doing at the school and with each other. There were cake mornings, PTA evenings and parents pub evenings. I felt I had to take part. But very soon I realised I had to pull myself out. Just because I’m a published cookbook author didn’t make me comfortable baking cakes for the school fair. It’s just not how I’ve been wired. So I’m sure I’ve ended up pissing some people off. I don’t really volunteer for anything anymore, but I try to do my fair share monetarily.

It’s very easy to get distracted by the daily demands other people place on us. It can come  in the form of flattering – “ah you are so good at this” – or guilt “how can you say no!“. When we don’t do what other people expect of us we sometimes end up hurting them and that feels bad. But unfortunately you can’t keep pleasing everyone if you want to live an authentic life.

Distractions come also in the form of obstacles and failure. When we hit a snag and the world says ‘no’, we easily end up giving up our dreams and reacting to the negativity around us.

And it’s not only our goals and dreams that are affected by being reactive. It’s also our health and relationships that are at risk. How many times you’ve entered a meeting room unnecessarily eating all the biscuits that were at the table even though you weren’t even hungry? Or entering a relationship because ‘it was there’ even though you knew from the start it was’t going to work?

You can think about these as positive and negative impulses thrown at you by the Universe.

It is up to you how you react to them. It’s unfortunately much easier to react than to take control and manifest your own way. You can’t be in control about everything that happens but you can decide how you react to life’s situations – the positive and the negative ones.

If you follow a reactive lifestyle you will:

- end up trying to please everyone around you (will this make you happy?)

- drop your own projects and goals to attend what other people ask you to do

- you will give up at the first obstacle (Last week I wrote about not giving up.)

- you may end up in a career or a relationship where you are not true to your authentic self

- you end up blaming circumstances around you for your situation

- goals feel impossible to reach

Following a manifestive lifestyle you will:

- make choices based on the vision you have set for your life

- learn to say ‘no’ politely but firmly (the ‘yes detox‘!)

- achieve your goals faster as you are able to focus on projects based on your own values

- feel motivated and excited to start your day every morning

- feel satisfied and happy in your journey even when obstacles emerge

Nobody’s life is just reactive or manifestive, it’s usually a mixture of both. I make a constant and conscious effort to live manifestive lifestyle and be aware of my reactive pitfalls. When you pay attention to this you can over time make a big shift.

What are your experiences of reactive and manifestive lifestyles? What has changed when you have chosen manifestive lifestyle over reactive?


Lessons Learned In An Empty Room

Posted on July 5, 2015

empty room

Let’s go back two years. It’s a rainy and dark late summer evening in Soho. We’ve founded DrivenWoman women’s network couple of months earlier and are sitting in a co-working space where we hold our meetings. We are about to start an Introduction evening and are expecting our participants to arrive. Those early days we used to offer tickets for free as we were testing our concept.

It’s 20 minutes past the start time, but no one has arrived. We sit there with Jennifer, anxiously waiting. Another 10 minutes passes and still nobody arrives. Slowly we realise that no one is going to show up that evening.

I never forget how I felt that night.

Of course I was disappointed. But more importantly I was hugely embarrassed. I was asking myself had I lost my mind. And why would they show up anyway…? Perhaps our idea of a proactive women’s group is completely stupid! Had we failed? And does anyone even care…?

The reasonable thing to do would have been to pack our things and go home. Make a cup of tea, watch a little bit of telly and go to bed. We could have concluded it was the greatest embarrassment of our lives and moved on. We could have taken it personally. We could have retreated to our comfort zone.

But we would have missed a great opportunity, a great opportunity to learn.

We decided to stay.

We sat in that empty room for the duration of our meeting and studied our feelings, we studied the pain we were feeling.

Why did we feel so embarrassed?

It felt as if someone was watching. Perhaps someone saw our failure. If only someone knew that nobody came. What would they say!

But we soon realised that no one could see us in that empty room. There was nobody else there, just me and Jennifer. Nobody knew of our momentary failure, it only existed in our heads. Our failure wasn’t a truth, it was only a feeling. If we could deal with the feeling we could learn a lot.

I’m very grateful we decided to stay in the empty room that night because we took out some great lessons about success and failure.

1) It’s likely there’s nothing wrong with your idea or you

The reason nobody showed up that night had nothing to do with our idea or us, personally. We simply hadn’t been around long enough to sow enough seeds. We also offered tickets for free and because the weather was pretty dreadful that night, people simply didn’t bother because there was no commitment.

2) The Universe is slow. You have to give it time to catch up with your plans.

Things take time. Things take much longer than you allow even in your worst case scenario plans. Luckily someone had told me that when you are building something, nothing happens in the first two years.

3) You must accept it’s difficult

Trying to get people to hear your story or buy your product is incredibly difficult. It feels bad when you have poured your heart and soul into a project and nobody shows up, but you simply have to accept it as part of the process.

4) Momentary failure is ok

Nobody can reach their goals without facing failure and feeling momentarily defeated. It’s part of the process. If you can’t accept that, you won’t succeed.

5) There’s a reason for a rejection

There’s a reason people don’t pay attention to your story and you are yet to discover it. Perhaps you haven’t packaged your product right. You haven’t made it relevant to your customers. Or you haven’t been consistent enough. Or you haven’t repeated your message enough. Or you don’t even know how to talk about it. There may be many reasons for feeling like you’ve failed. Your job is to find out what it is.

Facing rejection, an empty room, is very hard. I understand why people give up their projects and why they quit.

But they shouldn’t.

I’ve faced the feeling of an empty room many times since that rainy night in Soho. I’m now very grateful for that experience because I know what to do.

When you find yourself in an empty room feeling rejected try to do what we did that night. Stay in your pain. Just sit there and be quiet. If you can stay in the feeling of failure and rejection, if you can be still, all answers will be given to you.

But if you rush out of the room, if you seek comfort, you will miss out. You will never learn. You will return to your comfort zone, you will return to your familiar domain. It’s familiar and cosy for a reason – you already know everything. There’s nothing to learn.

You can only expand your experiences and knowledge in the area of pain. Be brave and fully feel it and you will come out stronger and wiser, knowing exactly what to do next.


Becoming A Londoner

Posted on June 28, 2015


In April 2009 I came to London leaving behind a lovely house in Amsterdam and my own business which I had set up five year prior to my move. I was a career coach and a recruiter. I had a so called portfolio career with lots of training and one-to-one sessions, interesting assignments and was working with different nationalities. As for anyone who chooses to leave their old home country behind, this was all ‘gone’ because my British husband wanted to move back to London for work.

Speaking fluent English I thought it would be no problem to start my business again as soon after I landed in London. But how wrong I was! I arrived in the middle of the recession. I was busy with surviving and finding my way around London instead of setting up my business. We were lucky enough that we sold our house in Amsterdam, found a new place to live in London so finally I could start my new career.

It was a lonely journey at the start.

I knew nobody and I didn’t want to mingle with the Dutch since I wasn’t going to be an expat who would leave in a few years.  I was a strong networker and on LinkedIn since 2005. It was there where I found some interesting networking groups for business women but also some interesting Dutch groups. At the end of the day I couldn’t ignore my identity and I signed up for some networking lunches at the Dutch Centre in the City. I built some relations through my networking but it didn’t really help my business.

I had to rethink my strategy and – again- via LinkedIn – I came across a Dutch company, just setting up in London. It would mean going back to what I did six years ago (working with unemployed people) but I had no clients of my own and no real business network so, I swallowed my pride and applied for a regular job. It was hard work, long hours and demanding customers.

The job market was not doing well in 2010 with even a lot of higher educated people out of work. I worked for 1.5 year at that company and learned a lot but when they lost the contract due to a government change I realised I wanted to work independent again. I decided to focus on expat partners arriving in London without a career and having to start from scratch, just like I had. I could help them to build their network, advice on career changes and study opportunities.

And here I am today with another portfolio career.

Besides coaching expat partners I have made a move into education; something I was already thinking about back in Amsterdam and slowly realised in London. Via my training workshops for the Charity Focus I got into contact with a career coach at Imperial College Business School. Since two years I worked there as an Associate Career Coach; beside that I am working as a volunteer at MyBigCareer coaching disadvantaged children and am growing my expat partners coaching business. I am also working at the Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce; organising networking events for Dutch companies trading or investing in the UK. Looking back at the six years I’ve been living in London I can be proud of what I have achieved.

If you start from scratch in a new country it can take a while before you get any recognition. My personal experience is “what they don’t know they don’t buy”. If you are not from the UK as soon as you have some working experience here and preferably with a British company your ability will be trusted. Without building my online (LinkedIn) and offline network and without the help of friends it would have been a very difficult journey.

My personal and professional journey will continue. I want to do more in education and help more expat partners to create the life they are after here in London.


Nicolette Wykeman is the founder of Wykeman consulting, an expat career coaching company in London.

Are You Adjusting Or Compromising

Posted on June 21, 2015

authentic self

We had a great pleasure to have Dr Priya Virmani share her wisdom on how to live an authentic life in a recent DrivenWoman workshop. I wanted to share one of the core concepts discussed that evening – the difference between making an adjustment and fundamentally compromising the essence of who you are.

What is a difference between adjusting and compromising?

We adjust when we change our plans to accommodate those of others. For example, you agree to cook fish for dinner if your guests don’t eat red meat. You dress appropriately to a wedding even if you normally only love wearing jeans. You take your partner’s views into consideration when decorating the house. You take your family to Eurodisney even though you hate amusement parks. You give up some of your demands in a business negotiation situation to reach an agreement.

Adjusting is often temporary. Adjusting is part of good manners. Adjusting is basically necessary if you want to live and work with other people.

Compromising on the other hand is much more severe. If you compromise on your values life may start to shift to a wrong direction. If you keep compromising on who you are you feel stressed and out of place. You can even fall ill if the gap between your essence and the reality of every day created through compromises becomes too large.

Compromising happens when you give into your husbands constant negative critique on how you should dress, for instance. Personal fashion sense is one of the greatest ways of self expression. You compromise when you give up on your career plans because your parents don’t approve them. You are compromising when, in the office, you agree to a working style that is against your beliefs and values.

We compromise when we let other people deny the essence of us and make us feel devalued in our purpose.

Priya described how people close to her have struggled to understand her purpose and at times there’s been great pressure for her to compromise on her essence. She has remained strong and said that for instance, she would never date a guy who couldn’t understand her charitable work in India.

A general belief is that marriage is supposed to be a compromise. We are taught that if we don’t compromise in our relationship we can’t expect to be happy. I strongly disagree. I took that poor advice in my first marriage and felt I was constantly compromising my personality, values and even my talents. I believe one can live happily with a partner only when both parties respect what the other person is about, 100%. Adjusting is necessary but a marriage should never be based on anybody doing a compromise on their personality, values and their core essence.

Do you feel outside pressure to compromise on your purpose?

Try to stay still. Don’t panic. Close your eyes and search for your bright spot, remind yourself of a moment when you felt great, a moment when you expressed your persona and used your talents in a way that felt very natural to you. And you felt really good about it. Recharge yourself with this thought and then ask yourself, are you being expected to do something against your deepest beliefs or against your passion. If the answer is yes, wait. Don’t give in. Try to think adjustment (temporary, not compromising on who you are), not a compromise.

And then wait that the storm will pass. It always does. Stay true to your chosen course.

Have a great, authentic week!



Changing My Priorities

Posted on June 14, 2015

changing my priorities

For me everything always merges into one. I start the day thinking I have everything under control. But as the day goes on I am turning into a headless chicken. I need to set a schedule and stick to a ‘no means no’ policy (or perhaps a ‘Yes detox‘!).

After writing my previous blog post about loosing my sparkle and looking at my daughter and her determination to create her world, I have decided to zone in into my own world and take action in the childlike fashion that she has adopted. I have decide to apply the 7 stages to get my ‘mojo’ back, and really take action.

In DrivenWoman we take pride on breaking down our goals for the month and focusing on realistic tasks we can achieve and accomplish. In return this makes us accountable for our promises and our results. I am going to use the same method for my 7 stages and share them with you. They will be in no particular order, just my gut feeling will take me onto the next.

This month I am going to concentrate on Changing My Priorities. By this I want to look into my life with an honest heart and see what is weighing heavily on my persona, which in turn is stopping the real Jennifer from flourishing.

I have come up with three main pointers in my life: 1) My constant lower back pain, 2) My relationship and 3) Time – sleep

I have decided that it is no longer acceptable to me to just put up with these pain points as the norm.

I have a duty to me to take care of me. All three of the above are related in crazy but strange way as I am always in constant pain either physically or emotionally. I have somehow developed this armour of resilience, which I stride forward with, no matter what the circumstances are – I just roll with the punches. It can be pretty tiring and draining most of the time and I have created this on myself.

So lets start.

1. My lower back pain

I have had this increasing pain for more than 3 years and have just soldiered on accepting it as the norm, knowing that it effects my energy levels but still leaving it low on my priority list. I know that if I spend the right amount of time healing by back it would make a ridiculous difference to how I feel and the emotional fight with my inner self would be rejuvenated.

So finally I have started a ball roiling! I have had the MRI scan (no major damaged there) and I have invested in Strength Conditioning Coach to help strengthen my back. I am now looking for a specialist to correct my chair at work and my sitting position in my car. “Action Action Action”. All so easily doable, just needed to get sorted!

2. My relationship

Hmmm. Where do I even start..!

I feel I have become the man and woman in my life. Somewhere somehow after becoming a single mother I have created this bullet proof vest. Doing everything myself never asking for help, just widening my broad shoulders to take on more of what life throws at me. Commitment scares the life out of me, protecting myself from being hurt seems to have become my number one focus.

This is very sad and if I am perfectly honest it’s quite heart breaking too because the true me is a real romantic person who would like to be pampered and have someone to protect me and to be seen with. I met a lady in the hairdressers a few days back and she was a widow in her 70s and just fell in love again after the passing of her husband. Her words to me were “everyone deserts to feel love it’s why we are here”. Incredible statement.

I have now decided to lay my cards on the table and to be true to me about what is in my heart and if the person receiving it sees the importance in me then we are on! If not, the wheel will have to start rolling into a different direction. That’s fine as I know I will be ok as long as I stay true to me.

3. My Time

I know and I preach this to the world all the time… In order to be come more successful with yourself you have to be present in your work life and social life. Trying to please the Kingdom is a receipt for a disaster. I am the world’s worst person when it comes to tasks and I always make myself busy. I spend too long in areas for whatever reason, I do not know why. I think the word for that is procrastinating – ha ha.

I need to make myself more sophisticated in my timing so that I become more efficient and start valuing me more. In return I would stop robbing time from my sleeping hours and stop the vicious cycle repeating itself. The ‘no’ word will have to surface more often and I have to be very comfortable with that.

So these are my task ahead and I am so intent on sticking to my values  - as my daughter has relit that slow burning fire in me again – to zone into myself and trust who I am and what I want from the universe.

I am looking forward to this journey ☺



Being Your Authentic Self

Posted on June 7, 2015

little girl painting

The image of that morning is still so vivid.

It was an early morning in a posh part of the eastern Indian city of Kolkata. It had been raining. Flood waters had receded leaving behind muck dotted with green coconut shells and dead cockroaches. Their corpses lay belly up. A girl walking to school was counting reflections in the puddles. Of buildings. Of street lights. Of a moon she couldn’t find. The counting stopped when she saw street children eating out of a rubbish bag. Street dogs milled about. Their barks sounded more like long shrieks. The children, unperturbed kept emptying the rubbish bag rummaging for food. An older child gave a younger one something  discoloured. The little child chewed on it. Perhaps it was a vegetable peel or a scrap of paper.

The passerby was all of four years old. That night, still unsettled by the scene she witnessed in the morning, the little girl asked her parents and their visiting friends ‘why can’t these children sit on a table like you and me and eat?’

Over a decade later that ‘little girl’ moved to the UK and over two decades later she had completed her PhD and was living a fulfilling life in the UK. But she still remembered that morning so clearly.  The image from her four year old self and other similar images had become a reel of reminder in her mind; a reminder that she wanted to reach out to children in the country of her childhood  who were severely deprived. So while working in the UK she began conducting workshops with children in Kolkata’s notorious red light district on biannual trips to India. When she saw the positive difference her workshops were making to the lives of the children, she gave up her life in the UK and returned to India with a mission to reach out to more children faced with the scourge of deprivation and abuse.

That four year old girl who grew up to bid adieu a life she loved to answer a calling that she felt was truest to herself, was me.

In India, since my return, I have often faced ridiculing questions, covert and overt rejection and disapproval of the madness to my method. How could I possibly leave a life in the UK? And return to India? And that too not to take up a lucrative job but to dedicate myself to working with underserved children? How could I ‘waste’ my PhD doing such work? Have I gone mad? These are just some of the incessant questions I’m asked when people in India juxtapose my background with my calling.

But I know my efforts and my dedication have meaningfully transformed the lives of well over 200 children. Their children will not be in the situation I found them in. And that to me is what leaving footprints is all about.

It takes an insane amount of courage to continue doing the work I’m doing. But it is my story, a story that I reclaim, each day, for myself.

Each of us owes it to ourselves to reclaim our story for ourselves.

But why is ‘this reclaiming’ or, in other words, being our authentic self so vital? It is fundamentally important because it helps you get more of what you want in life. Being less authentic helps you get what others want of you in life.

Yet we often relegate being authentic to the back because the process of being authentic might mean that at times or at many a time you won’t be conforming to the status quo. Conforming is not just about the pressure to fit in on the outside – how you dress, walk, talk, eat, socialise but the most crushing pressure is felt when there is a need to conform from within when you are not entirely in agreement with, convinced by, or believe in, what you are conforming to. This creates stress and inhibitions. It lowers self esteem. It takes away from self confidence. It clouds your clarity; your sense of direction and purpose in life. 

When we try and identify with what we are not we create a fictional self.

This causes stress because there is a constant tension between who we are and who we are portraying ourselves to be. Whereas with being authentic, though you might challenge people around you, your life path becomes clearer.

The process will bring up challenges. But life is a bag of challenges anyways so why not make a conscious decision to take on those challenges that are truest to yourself because in taking on these challenges you gift yourself the greatest opportunities for self growth; for you to author your life instead of living a life that plays to the script of others for you. The journey is yours not of anyone else to live through you. So reclaim it to make it your fulfilling journey. And as Nietzsche said, if when you dance people think you are mad, it’s just that they can’t hear the music.

To learn transformative steps to ‘practice’ making your ‘self’ awareness a part of everyday life, come along to the DrivenWoman workshop. Be prepared to have fun!


This is a guest post from Dr Priya Virmani. She’s a Political and Economic Analyst who writes for The Guardian and The New Statesman. As a Social Entrepreneur she founded Paint Our World, a Charitable Trust that uses innovative psychological workshops as a tool to heal underserved children who have been through trauma like rape, child abuse and becoming orphaned.

5 Reasons Why You Should Write

Posted on May 31, 2015

writingWriting has been one of the most profound changes in my life. The idea of writing regularly brings with it a sense of commitment and discipline that has helped me to become much better in other areas in life.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of public writing for me has been to become less self conscious. I’ve lost a fear of failure, and constant self-criticism. I know I’m not the world’s greatest author but giving up perfectionism has lead me to become kinder towards myself and to others.

But the only way to achieve this is to put your work out there for others to see. It’s very liberating!

So why write? Here’s a couple of ideas how and why you should get started.

Write a blog

I started my first blog about four years ago. I didn’t quite know why I started, and what I wanted to write, but I had a feeling I had to explore something. It was party because I felt there was a lot I wanted to learn about interacting in the digital environment, but the deeper reasons were much more interesting.

My first blog was quite professional, I was trying to appear smart and make insightful comments about branding and the visual world (that was my profession). However, only starting this DrivenWoman -blog has helped me to explore more meaningful things, to really discover myself and hopefully help others.

Writing this blog helps me to reflect on my life and my choices. It also forces me to be present and focus – a very good exercise for anyone. You can’t just write a stream of consciousness (or you can but it’s not very good), you must think about what you write and pay attention to details and grammar. Writing also helps me to clarify my thinking and get new ideas. This blog has helped me to connect with others in a new level and even get new friends.

Write comments

If writing a blog is not your thing you should spend more time on writing comments to what other people write. It’s very easy to just skim the internet and not really pay attention to the pages you visit and blogs you scroll through. If you read something that touches you, write a comment about it and the effect will stay with you. You can deepen your understanding of the subject because you start interacting with it.

Commenting on blogs have many benefits. You can expand your network. People who write blogs appreciate comments more than you can imagine. Comments are pure gold in the digital universe. High quality comments are very valuable to the blog owner and you are likely to get rewarded by new Twitter followers or even new life time friends. On a more practical level you can drive traffic to your own project or website by commenting on relevant blogs and thus expand your network.

Write ‘Morning Pages’

Morning Pages are three pages of stream of consciousness writing done first thing in the morning. Morning Pages were recommended by a leadership coach who’s training I attended about 10 years ago. His reasoning was to “get all the noise out of your head first so you can get faster to the thoughts that matter”. We often wake up with lots on nonsense in our heads (at least I do!) and those thoughts lead to action. Nonsense thoughts lead to nonsense action and starting the day wrong, wasting time on non-important stuff. Morning Pages helps you to get clarity and focus.

Morning Pages should always be hand written. They are not proper writing, they are cleansing, so there’s no need to think about grammar or spelling. Just get it out. They are also private and you can actually simply throw them out as soon as you’ve written them. The act is more valuable than the end product.

Write notes

I’m a great fan of writing notes. I quite frankly don’t understand people who don’t carry a note pad around at all times. And my biggest crisis if I forget my notebook at home. Why? I suspect people who don’t carry note books don’t value their own thoughts and ideas enough to write them down. But everyone has great ideas and thoughts about things they are passionate about!

I write down my own ideas and thoughts, often blog post ideas, product ideas or the bigger dreams and visions for the business. I might be sitting on a train drafting a work plan or a to-do list for a particular project, or just writing down what I need to get done for my kids’ birthday. The temptation is of course just spend all the travel time on social media (and yes, it is a great time to check Twitter!), but it’s also great thinking time.

And when I meet people I always hear tips about books I should read, and inspiring people I should watch on TED or meet in person.

Writing everything down with a pen and paper carries a certain amount of weight to it, a real initiative that I’m going to do something about these ideas. When ever I put things into my iPhone (or laptop) I forget them and they simply disappear in the digital universe. And what’s more, it’s been proven that you get deeper understanding and remember handwritten notes better than if you use a digital device.

And when I’m attending a seminar I never take the printed summary of the presentations. I want to write down my own ideas and interpretations of what people have said. This way I own them.

Write down your goals

Research shows that those who write down their goals are many times more likely to actually achieve them than those who simply dream the dreams in their mind. Napoleon Hill writes how “a written statement of your desire communicates directly to your subconscious mind“. (See DrivenWoman reading list ‘Think And Grow Rich’.)

So by writing down what you want in life you engrave it in your subconscious mind. This has to be done repeatedly or your desires will simply be buried underneath everything else, but through writing you can basically influence your subconscious mind.

Why is this so important?  The subconscious drives to survive and thrive your every behavior. Subconscious mind gives directions to the conscious mind, and your behaviour, and is often fuelled by limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns. Writing is a great tool to re-wire the subconscious mind with more positive thoughts and instal a ‘can-do’ attitude.

I hope I have been able to inspire you to start writing if you don’t write yet regularly. And if you do, I’d love to hear your comments (oh yes, the comments!) on what benefits you have had from writing regularly.