Expectations

We excpect so much. Of ourselves, our parents, our friends, our cats, our children, our imaginary future.
It can add some flavour to your day. It can make you do great things and demand more of the world and get happier; get closer to where you really want to be.

It can also break you down, make you an impatient, annoying, dissatisfied perfectionist that can’t do anything or let others do anything without deeming it “not good enough”.

So ask yourself: not good enough for what? Sometimes, things are really not good enough. But most of the time, that image of “not good enough” has a lot to do with how it doesn’t match your expectations. So let them go. Be fierce in what you long for but open to more than one way of getting it. That makes it a lot easier to move forward.

Book recommendation: The Desire Map

I read The Desire Map for the first time last summer. I think I ran into the term ‘Core Desired Feeling’ for the first time several years ago, and it kind of stuck with me. Then I saw a quote on Pinterest that said ‘How do you want to feel?’ and it really got me thinking. And then I ordered the book.

And I LOVED it. I think it’s an amazing book! It taught me a lot, but more importantly, it made me think a lot and really question my goals and the way that I go about achieving them.

The premise of the book really is the question: How do you want to feel?

Danielle’s theory is that every goal you’re chasing is really because of the feeling you think you’ll experience when you accomplish it. Brilliant. Stunning thought, right?

The goal of the book is for you to find your (current) Core Desired Feelings, the feelings that you want in your life every day. These feelings can (and do) change, but they’re what you can use as a compass for what to do – daily and in the long term.

The first part of the book is about the method, about the tools and the way you do it – or the way Danielle does it. Then, the second part of the book is a workbook that’s made for some serious soul-searching in the best sense of the word.

A good thing about this book is that it’s not preachy. It doesn’t tell you how to live; it just tries to help you to find out how you want to live. And there’s a lot of focus on not judging your desires, which is refreshing.

I have to tell you, it’s probably one of the books I’ve ever read that has resonated deepest with me and definitely one of the few “self-help books” that have impacted the most on the way I live. (By the way, it’s not really a “self-help book”. You’re not broken and Danielle doesn’t think you are.)

You should read this book if:

  • You love setting goals (don’t worry, you can keep your goals) but they don’t really make you that happy/fulfilled
  • You want to be more content in your day-to-day life, not just on the ‘wow’ days
  • You want to connect more deeply with yourself and your desires
  • You want to be an overall happier human

What’s not to like, right?

The book, for me, is so brilliant because it addresses both the way you set long-term goals and the way you live your everyday life – the combination, I tell you, is magic!

Seriously, go out and find the book and go read it. It might just change your life.

On living abroad

I’ve been living abroad since September 2016. I’ve studied abroad in the UK and now I’m doing an internship in the UK, away from all my friends and family and the comfort of home.
And today I just wanted to tell you: It’s hard, it’s scary and a lot of days are lonely and difficult.

But it’s also really worth it. I’ve met people and had experiences and opportunities that I would never have gotten if I’d just stayed at home.
And I’ve developed more resilience, a stronger sense of self and a super-tuned bs detector along the way. I find it hard to get out of bed some days, while on others, I soar.

Living abroad is a crazy rollercoaster ride that no sane person would want to be on most of the time.
So, if you enjoy the kind of amusement park rides that make you feel a little sick and very, very happy at the same time?
Go abroad.

5 reasons to carry a notebook (or, stuff a piece of paper in all your bags!)

 

  1. You’ll be more creative

I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’, and I love her concept of ideas ‘knocking on your door’ and you having to accept them and making space for them. The catch is, though, that if you don’t respond to the call, the idea will sooner or later go away again. If you write the idea down in a notebook as soon as it comes to you, you have minimised the risk of forgetting it and at once taken action on the idea. Just remember not to use the notebook as an excuse not to act!

  1. You’ll be less distracted

How many times have you been studying or working on something and then been derailed for an hour by something you wanted to just quickly look up on Google? For me, at least, this happens a lot. But with a notebook within reach as you work you can simply jot down that brilliant thought/thing you HAVE to look up and go back to work, confident that you will remember to Google ‘do otters make good pets?’ when you’re done with your current task.

  1. You can come back to ideas later

On the same note, the ideas – especially the large, magical ones – get some time to mature while you’re away. When you’ve written it down, you won’t forget it, but at the same time some ideas may benefit from lying dormant for a couple of days while you do other things. Some ideas may grow while you’re gone or you might think of a better way to do it.

  1. You can capture ideas while they’re fresh

If an idea sits too long, even if you can remember it, they become stale. I recommend writing your ideas down in a flurry of excitement, just as soon as they come to you. That way, you don’t miss the spark of inspiration by overthinking or overcomplicating it.

  1. You don’t have to remember everything

– Which of course gives you more space in your head! Not having to remember that brilliant thought or important to-do-item until you get home makes it much easier to be mindful and present. I just hate the feeling of clinging desperately to a thought because you’re afraid it’ll be forgotten, and with a notebook in my pocket I can write the thought down and fully return to what I was doing, without worrying about remembering the idea later.

 

Most importantly, though, a notebook in your back pocket on a walk can mean that you actually capture that beautiful sentence you just thought of or the brilliant idea for your next lecture that flittered into your head while running. It can make you more mindful of experiences and less stressed, and I’d go so far as to claim that it can make your everyday more beautiful and creative. Just don’t overthink it – write down whatever you want, whenever you want, and don’t worry if you go weeks without writing stuff down or what you write down seems nonsensical or unimportant. The most important thing is that you carry a notebook.

So, go out and get a notebook! I personally love Leuchtturm1917 medium notebooks for daily use and the pocket size Moleskine cahiers for stuffing in my pocket when I’m out and about.

Staying in on a grey day

It’s almost sad, the way I smile when I wake up and have nowhere to go and the sky outside is grey.
When I’m not going anywhere (at least not for the next few hours) and the curtains are pulled from the window to reveal a grey day, I get a little jolt of happiness.
Those are the days to write intently and curl up under a blanket with a good book and not look at the time for hours on end.
Try to savour them, the grey days.

How to get moving on your big dreams

You might have some big dreams. In fact, I hope you have. You probably have something you want to accomplish in this world, and if not, I hope you’ll find something you want.

However, the dreams can grow so big that you feel overwhelmed just thinking about them.

Funnily enough some big dreams become overwhelming only when you start trying to plan them in order to make them less overwhelming. Suddenly, the fuzzy desire of starting a business turns into a frightening list of hundreds of things to do and learn and make in order to just get started.

And then, something all too familiar happens: You seek information (probably on the internet) and read a lot and you learn a lot but end up getting extremely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of differing information. And analysis paralysis kicks in. So you do nothing, feeling that your dream is bigger and more unreachable than ever.

But however overwhelmed you might feel, the best way to get ahead truly is to get started. If you don’t know where to start and feel overwhelmed by your big dream, here are four steps to get from overwhelmed to on your way:

  1. Make a list

Make one giant, unconquerable, messy list of all the things you need to do to get this dream up and running. Write down all your action steps, the ones suggested by one blog, the ones suggested by your mum and everything in between. Write down the huge, necessary steps and the little extras. Everything from “get business cards” to “quit day job” can be on the list.

  1. Make a wish

Go back to your original dream, the big, crazy one. Really envision it. Figure out what it is that you want to do. Get really clear on what you want, how it looks, how it feels. Make sure you include a few hours on Pinterest or make a mood board or something that can ground the vision in reality. What you need is to be able to close your eyes and see yourself clearly, living the dream in as much detail as possible. It probably should make you smile.

  1. Find a reason

Now that you have the to-do-list and the vision, figure out your why. Figure out a very specific reason why you want to have that vision. How do you hope to feel? What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to help? Answer the question “why are you doing this?” on paper at least 10 times and then choose the version that fires you up most and put it on your vision board.

  1. Make it happen

Now that you have your vision board plastered above your workspace with your why clearly visible, it’s time to get to work. Choose ONE thing on your long list – it doesn’t matter if you think it’s the most important one, just choose one – and do it TODAY.  Ignore the rest of the list for now. When you’re done with that one thing, repeat.

 

This is a sure-fire way to envision and work your way out of analysis paralysis. As soon as you get going, you’ll have a much better feel for what’s most important. And you might find that some things on your list are more or less important than you thought. In this way, you won’t see massive, organised progress at once, but at least you’ll see progress. And no matter how small, progress is progress. Plus, once you get going, it’ll be much easier to keep the momentum up.

Remember: you can always alter your course once you’ve set off, but it’s no use to keep altering your course while still in the harbour. Get to work and get underway. As Marie Forleo says: “Everything is figureoutable”.

On writing groups

Writing can be a lonely job. There’s no denying that writing does only and can only happen in solitude. You can collaborate as much as you want and inhabit a very busy office with other people – but the act of creation is solitary.
That is why, at least to me, writing groups are invaluable. Both for critiques and bouncing ideas off each other, but more importantly, for being a happy writer.
Having a group of writers around you can both validate your struggle – it always helps to have someone to chat about writer’s block with – and animate your writing. The influx of other opinions and ideas, even if only in unrelated small talk, is vital.
And, last but not least, writing groups are a great excuse to to drink a lot of coffee and talk about writing – what’s not to like?

6 quick ways to get inspired

I present today, 6 quick ways to get inspired when you’re feeling blah

  1. Pinterest

I love Pinterest! Go and look at some pretty pictures of nature, search for cute animals, or start an inspiration board full of quotes, pictures and people to motivate you. It’s worthwhile to work on this board when you’re feeling inspired so you have it available when you’re feeling blah. Or, if you don’t have your own board at the ready – or just don’t feel like looking at it – go look at other people’s inspirational boards! Search for motivational quotes or whatever kind of motivation/inspiration you need and spend a few minutes looking through the pictures.

  1. Awesome blogs

The next step up from Pinterest, in my opinion, is blogs. Go to your favourite blogs, especially ones that are centred on inspiration or motivation, or find some new blogs to read. Maybe search for something that interests you and see what comes up. You might just find a new favourite blog!

  1. Awesome people

This can be in real life or online. Call a friend who inspires you, log on to an online board you follow,  or even just go to the website of your idols and soak up the atmosphere for a while, read their bios and think about how they got successful. Chances are, they got successful by hustling. If that’s not inspiration to hustle, I don’t know what is.

  1. … And now for something completely different

This might be a weird inspirational tip, but go to Youtube and watch some clips. Clips of cats, guinea pigs, people doing stupid things, or, a personal favourite, old Monty Python sketches. Or search for your favourite inspiring movie scene and watch that! Whenever I’m feeling particularly uninspired I go watch the “makeover montage” scene from Legally Blonde – whatever excites you and makes you smile will work.

  1. Exercise

I know, I know. But you don’t have to run or even go to the gym if you don’t want to. Go for a walk or have a mini dance party in your office or wiggle your toes. Move your body in some way; it’s a great way to get out of a rut.

  1. Refocus

Read through your goal list, your bucket list, your business plan or whatever form of these you have. Do you have a journal entry about how you want your ideal day to look? A list of things you love to do? A mood board? Good, go look at those. Let the list excite you. Even if it’s the middle of November and you’re stuck in an office, just the thought of reaching your goals might excite you. If not, think of what else might excite you – and maybe write a new goal list.

 

 

 

On Big Magic and flighty ideas

If you haven’t read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic”, this is your sign to do so. It’s brilliant. And it’s also very happiness-inducing and creativity-sparking, especially for writers.
One concept in particular stuck with me: Gilbert describes the idea that creative ideas (in this case, story ideas) come to you and ask to be created – if you listen. And you can choose to answer the call and write them, but if you don’t, if you take too long to respond, the idea retreats and find another outlet.
Exciting, isn’t it? I love the concept of being visited by ideas waiting to be born. And I like the thought that if I don’t listen or if I don’t grasp it, it will float away again.
Today, remember to listen for the sound of the fluttering wings of ideas. And for the love of writing, say yes if a great idea lands on your shoulder!

25 ways to take care of yourself

As a writer (and as a person generally) it can be really easy to just whip through our days, not really taking care of ourselves because we have so much other stuff we have to do. However, this leads to burnout which is probably the most unproductive state you can be in. So to make sure you’re at your most productive, you actually need to take time out to relax. To keep yourself sane and happy, here’s 25 things that you can do to take good care of yourself:

  1. Have a cup of coffee or tea and really savour it
  2. Read a book or magazine
  3. Journal
  4. Do a completely nutty writing exercise and don’t worry about how good it is
  5. Have a one-person dance party
  6. Call a friend/your mom
  7. Take a long (or short) slow walk and just breathe
  8. Meditate
  9. Cook something delicious for yourself
  10. Drink a bottle of wine with a good friend and great conversation
  11. Watch a movie
  12. Turn your favourite song all the way up and sing along
  13. Take a warm bath/shower and really luxuriate in it
  14. Buy yourself flowers (and maybe chocolate)
  15. Go to a coffee shop and people watch
  16. Get started on that creative project you have wanted to do
  17. Read aloud to your kids/roomie/pet
  18. Tidy your room in a non-stressed way
  19. Round up and throw out things you’re not using, create some space in your life
  20. Redecorate something – perhaps spruce up your writing space to make it nicer or just make your bed
  21. Go out and get some exercise, in whatever form you actually like. This can be hiking, walking, dancing, fencing, whatever – just move!
  22. Do a mani/pedi on yourself and maybe take a foot bath
  23. Treat yourself to something you have been wanting for a long time (that you can afford!) and really savour the buying experience – get it gift wrapped if possible, then open it reverently at home J
  24. Research a dream of yours – Google a bit on that trip to Mexico or how to get a Visa to New Zealand or how to become a Sommelier… You’ll never know what that seed can grow into.
  25. Just relax! Take a nap or do one of these things, or something completely different. If mountainbiking relaxes you, fine, go do that. If the most relaxing thing you can think of is making client calls, maybe try to stretch your comfort zone a bit to actually get some rest. Whatever you do, take care of yourself!