Here's the thing: creature comforts

Little things: my favourite coaster, and favourite mug
Little things: my favourite coaster, and favourite mug

Every Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

There have been lots of big shifts in my life recently: how I work day-to-day, how I get paid, how I manage my time and – not insignificant – where I work.

Working for a big company, even one as lovely as notonthehighstreet.com, is a very different environment to working from home, on your own, every day. There are things I really love about it, like being able to listen to my own music, and having the windows open as much as I like.

There are other things that have been an unexpected challenge. And it’s not just about my desk and chair and temperature.

I’ve discovered that, for most of my adult life, I’ve ignored some of the basic needs of my body while I’ve been working. And I know I’m not alone in this.

It sounds (very, very) silly, but when you’re working in fast-paced environment, sometimes it’s easy to “forget” to go to the loo, because you’re about to head into another meeting or you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone important who never replies to your emails, so you just have to talk to them now.

And you eat the cake and chocolate because it’s there. And you forget to go outside because you need to do five more minutes of work. (Okay, I’m still guilty of that one.)

Now that I’m out of the office environment, and broadly in charge of my own time, I’ve been trying to notice what my body needs, and when it needs it. Like eating when I’m hungry, resting when I’m tired, drinking when I’m thirsty – not exactly complex stuff, but it can be so hard!

One of the things I achieved last week was buying a pair of shoes that actually fit. I’m really not a shoe person – I never wear heals, and I’m pretty fussy about what I like – but it wasn’t until the weather got a bit warmer and I couldn’t bear to wear my worn-out heavy trainers for my daily walk. Last Friday, a new pair of Birkenstocks arrived, and finally – finally – I have something I can wear that doesn’t rub my toes or squeak or leak.

And doesn’t that seem silly? But I know, I just know, that I’m not alone in dismissing the need for new shoes, or a tidy workspace, or a loo trip, or a glass of water, or (god forbid) a lunch break. We can all get caught up in being busy or thinking that we matter less than keeping other people happy.

But that’s just not true.

So here’s the thing:

We’re not robots. We need food, air, light, comfortable clothes and surroundings, and regular loo trips.

Your customers, clients, suppliers, colleagues, staff, friends, and family need you to be looking after yourself. If you’re not giving yourself even your most basic needs, how can you give them the creativity, quality, responsiveness, love that they deserve – that you want to give?

Today, this weekend, next week, listen to what you really need. Refuse to allow yourself to get too thirsty or too hungry. You might need to plan in some time to take proper care for yourself, maybe even setting an alarm on your phone as a reminder. Or you might simply need to do one thing right now.

It doesn’t have to be huge. Take two minutes to listen to what you need. Then go and get it.

I’d love to hear what your creature comforts are, whether they’re things you do every day, or something you just discovered right now – let me know in the comments!

Take care x

PS I found time this week to set up a testimonials page! If you’re interested in what it’s like to work with me, have a read.

Here's the thing: my first client

My 1st clientEvery Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

Over the last month, a number of people have asked me if I take my own advice. After last week’s post in particular, my boyfriend told me he was going to make me read it when I was worrying about not being good enough. Touché, Ryan, touché.

So I wanted to write this week’s post to say yes, I take my own advice, but yes, I also sometimes struggle with “is this okay?” and “what if it all falls apart?”

And I thought the best way to do that would be to tell you about my first ever client.

My first client is someone I’ve known for a long time. She’s inspiring, determined, fickle and stubborn. She’s a born introvert, but loves being around like-minded people. She’s more successful than she thought she’d be at this stage in her business. She’s wondering how she can keep that up.

[Spoiler alert: Before anyone gets into thinking “oooh, I wonder who she’s talking about,” or “oh god, she’s talking about me,” – I’m not. Keep reading. It’s okay.]

Here are some of the things we’ve said to each other:

Her: “Hi Jenny, I’m about to launch this new website, but I’m suddenly not sure it’s what I really wanted. What if it’s rubbish? What if no-one likes it? What if there are 50 billion mistakes in it and people think I’m stupid because I didn’t fix them?”

Me: “You’ve worked really hard on your website, with a really talented web designer who gets what you’re trying to do. Did you really know how it was going to turn out at the beginning? Not really, because otherwise it would have been that way. And you know what, here’s the secret of running your own business: if you don’t like it a month from now, you get to change it. It’s a process. This won’t be your website forever.”

Her website launched, people really liked it. But more importantly, she saw that, for her launch, it was absolutely the right thing.

Another example:

Her: “I have too many ideas and not enough time. What should I concentrate on?”

Me: “What’s going to make the biggest difference to your business today, this week, or this month? Do that first. Then do something that has long-term value – write down your ideas, flesh them out, so you can come back to them. Then, back to the first question. Repeat ad infinitum. And remember – you’ve got good intuition. You’ll know the best things to do.”

So have you guessed it yet? My first client is, well, me.

A very wise woman introduced me to the idea of thinking about it like that, knowing that I would struggle with a lot of the things all small business owners struggle with. And it remains true. I do read my own blog posts, my own notes, and I have open, honest, slightly ridiculous conversations with myself. I also seek guidance from people who get it, who I know I can trust.

So here’s the thing:

If you were your first customer, what would you need or want? Would you like your products? Would you buy them, have them in your home? Do they resonate with you?

And while you might be your first customer, you’re not going to be every customer. You will need to think beyond your own preferences at some point. Just because you like it, doesn’t guarantee other people will.

BUT making sure you’re happy with your work is the route to sanity and happiness. If you’re spending all day designing, crafting and making products you don’t even like and have maybe started to resent, well, I hope this blog is a little nudge towards creating something new that you really, truly love.

So today, this weekend, over the coming week, pretend you’re your first customer. Don’t try to second-guess yourself. Just you, your preferences. What are they?

 

PS I can’t believe it’s almost a month since I became self-employed! Time has flown by. My 25% off launch offer ends on July 31st. If you want to work together at the reduced rate, get in touch before then (even if we don’t start work together until way later).

Here's the thing: comparison

Comparison is the thief of joyEvery Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

I am a massive Pinterest fan. It’s my happy place, and I particularly love hanging out on my Mantras board. Full of bits of wisdom I’ve collected, I quite often scroll through finding something that resonates today, something I need to hear.

And this quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” by Theodore Roosevelt is one I often come back to.

It’s also something that’s come to mind this week as I’ve been working with my mentoring clients. Almost everyone has told me that their anxiety, worry, distraction comes from getting stuck in the spiral of doom on social media, thinking about what everyone else is doing. And wondering if they measure up.

It’s a catch 22 of human nature. We’re genetically programmed to learn by watching others. That’s how we learn to talk, walk and exist in the world. In the business world, there’s a good argument for keeping on top of trends, checking out ideas, and being part of the collective.

On the other hand, we all have this annoying thing called shame, which tells us we’re not good enough, we’re not keeping up. Here are some of the things I’ve heard from clients:

“Oh, they’re so much more together than me”

“They’re always bringing out amazing new products – how do they do it? They must be better than me”

“Should I be doing that? Everyone seems to have a plan”

And it becomes a spiral of doom.

You see someone else doing something you’d love to do, or you see them doing what they do really well. And you worry that you’re not doing it “right” or doing enough. And you get caught in the crippling fear – once you’re in the spiral, the good ideas don’t come, you can’t concentrate, you’re too afraid of doing it wrong.

Because the thing about the spiral of doom is that it takes you away from what you’re doing. Because, in many ways, if you’re running a creative business, your work can’t be compared to others’. You’re doing something unique. You can’t be compared.

And you also don’t see the other side of the story. Out there on social media, no one documents the months of prep, or the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, or the 27,000 bad ideas. When you’re seeing what other people do, you’re seeing what they choose to show you – it’s often authentic, they’re not trying to pull the wool over your eyes – but it’s the good bits. The curated collection of their lives and businesses.

So here’s the thing:

You don’t need to compare yourself to others. It will steal your joy, happiness, and creativity.

Today, this weekend, next week, consciously disengage from the spiral of doom. Instead, make a list of all the things you’re proud of, or all the things you’d just love to do. Pin this quote. Come back to your creativity, your inspiration, your business and life.

Protect yourself from the thief of joy.

Extra note: If you want to learn more about shame, the spiral of doom and how to live with it, I heartily recommend starting with this TEDx talk from Brené Brown.

Additional extra note: Do you like my watercolours? So fun! If you fancy having this (shaky, imperfect) piece as a reminder to avoid comparison, drop me a note in the comments.

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