Four Foolproof Financial Fuck-up Failsafe Funds.

I’ve lost my job, I think… 

My life is like the butterfly effect for fuck-ups except instead of a butterfly flapping its wings and starting a hurricane, it’s more like a hangover resulting in getting fired, a joke resulting in a lost friend or a hangover (notice any trends?) resulting in every piece of the puzzle shattering like an iPhone screen looking at a marble floor. 

The irony of the whole situation is that losing the job that gives me money is only a strain because I have no money - go figure. When gainfully employed I throw money at people like it’s last season's Manolo Blahniks (hint: don't throw shoes at people - it hurts), resulting in upturning the couch for loose change and questioning the purchase of 1,000 white silk rose petals - True story/ embarrassing story / they haven’t arrived yet / I better fucking use them when they get here.

Anyway, I digress. No Job. No Money. Action Plan Needed. First stop, find out how to stop this from happening again. Second Stop, Alcohol? - No, won't help, eh… job board? Maybe. I don’t know. I’ve got the first part figured out anyway. I think.

 

The Fuck You Fund

This place that I used to go, called my place of employment, is not somewhere I enjoy spending my time but needs must and bills must be paid. Countless occasions have passed where I’d hide in the corner crying and think to myself. Fuck them - I’m Out. And then that bitch in the back of my brain would peek out and say but we have bills to pay. So I’d suck it up and keep going.

The fuck you fund is a safeguard for this. Imagine having enough money saved to give your employer the middle finger, without the fear of not making rent or cancelling that desperately needed waxing appointment. 

The Fuck you Fund Equation

((Months Income x 3) + Enough Money for a massive blowout night out with friends.)

 

The Financially Savvy Fund

One day soon, probably last Wednesday, we are expected to be adults, women, dare I say it… grown ups. And one day, definitely in the future we’ll want to buy a house or a car, or invest in something or do something adulty with money. That;s what your financially savvy fund is for. It’s the boring money that you put away for grown up things. In all honesty, you won’t touch it, or even know what to do with it until you know what to do with it.

The Financially Savvy Fund Equation

20% of the cost of (how big do you want your mansion to be) - Oh, now all of a sudden that idyllic country cottage seems more your taste?

 

The Fun, Fun Fund

This is a good one. You know that ski holiday you’ve been planning for about 5 years or that trip to see Celine Dion in Vegas for your 30th (might be my plan, who’s askin’)? Yeah, that one. That comes out of this bucket. Maybe you want new gadgets for the house or to take a silversmith course or to learn how to strip yourself like a fiery vixen. All of those things that you always say you want to do but “never have the money, maybe some other time”. The Fun, Fun Fund makes these little, or big, expenses a guilt free reality.

 

The Fuck up Fund

So you sprained your ankle showing Beyonce via sexy hip-thrust/ ass gyrations who run the world and landed yourself in A&E. Now is not the time to decide it was a bad idea to buy the girls a bottle of vodka for the table. You have to pay the hospital and don’t need another bill coming through the letterbox to haunt you.

Put Simply the Fuck up Fund is for those unintended, unforeseen things that genuinely need to be paid for. No money in the fund? Looks like your car is getting tinted window via black bin liner until you get paid… at the end of the month.

 

 And there we have it… While I have none of these in place. They’re my top priority if I still have a job or first thing on the list of to-do’s when I get a new one because financial blunders happen, more frequently when your me and after a few confusing hours I’ve managed to pull these together. 

 

Stay Safe Ladies, you never know what’s gonna come up and you might just need one of my Four Foolproof Financial Fuck-up Failsafe Funds.

Document, Don’t Create - Thanks Gary Vee

Anybody else love the tough love of Gary Vaynerchuck? His hard-hitting home truths really pack a punch. (jab, jab, jab, right hook? anybody? yeah, thought so) 

Well, Gary helps me clean my house. Not literally but whenever it’s time for a big cleaning session I put on a playlist of his. Some are a few minutes long and others are over an hour and a half. He has a serious amount of content, so he’ll be helping me clean for a while.

Anyway, during one of these monster cleaning sessions, I heard him say “Document, don’t create”. I paused - something hit a nerve. I sat down and restarted the video. Mind. Blown.

I’ve wanted to blog for quite some time. Years. I wanted to put out content on the regular. But me being me, didn’t want to be another regurgitator. You don’t need to sit and read another article that has been copied and pasted from other peoples sites. 

So I decided that this should be a documenting blog. One that tells my story. From rags to comfortable (where I am now.) and baseline to brilliant. And his message is right. How cool will it be in a few years, when I’m living my dream to have an honest manifesto of sorts that others can read and see what I went through, in detail during each phase of building.

Just gonna put it out there Gary, I had the idea before you recorded that video, and I know ideas are bullshit but you’ve just cemented the idea so thanks.

 

Target: 100 Words

Actual: 262 Words

Image Credit: here

 

Feeling Your Way Forward

Follow the Feelings

We're all searching for a feeling, whether that be accomplishment, love, respect, growth or whatever it may be. We buy things in search of these feelings. We berate ourselves for not being people worthy of them. We act in ways that don't feel comfortable to us, in order to attain these flighting moments of emotion and yet, very rarely do we reach that point. 

Why?

During my month long hiatus, I’ve been delving into old books. Mainly, Danielle la Portes “Desire Map” and Mari Kondos “Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up”.

While on the surface, they seem like “cushy, woo-woo” that have no ties to each other they both have similar underlying principles. 

It’s all about how you want to feel. Build your life on how you want to feel. Why are we never told that?

We look at other people's lives and see their superficial success, their “materialistic trophies of grandeur” and think - I want that. So it get’s added to the laundry list of “things I want”, “things that signify success” and ultimately “things that will make me happy”.

We’ve got the whole process upside down. Start with how you want to feel and work from there. I’ve only just started into this process and already see significant changes in the quality of my life. 

So my one piece of advice for today: go read the books.

 

Target:100 words

Actual: 232 Words

 

A Month Without Writing

A good while ago I gave myself a challenge of wringing 100 words a day for 100 days. In the beginning, I loved it. Uploading each post felt like the day was complete. My number one priority was those 100 words.

But as people who take on the challenge profess, 100 words, on many occasions turns into a few hundred. You never sit down to write 800 but then it happens. These posts obviously take up an awful lot more time and so the challenge no longer seems easy. And I can tell you one thing for nothing, writing 700 words after a 13-hour shift is no mean feat. 

So today we go back to basics. 100 words per day. And wouldn’t you know it? Less than 5 minutes and I’m done. (Now to source the imagery, tag, title and publish)

 

Target: 100 Words

Actual: 142 Words

9 Areas of Your Life Worth Improving

As another new year rolls around it is once again time to start reflecting on the last 12 months and planning the changes to be made starting January 1st. If you’re completely dumbfounded then fear no more. Today I’m delving into the many different areas and aspects of your life that you can start to make a change in.

Please don't jump in whole hog, just have a look and choose 1 or 2 areas that you think could make the biggest difference

The Big Four

The Big Four are the aspects that we all know will make the biggest difference to our year and lives. Starting with these areas is definitely recommended.

Health

Arguably one of the most important aspects to keep track of. Your health and Fitness should be your top priority. Your health is your wealth, as they say, and making marked improvements in this area will no doubt bleed over into every other aspect.

Finances

I’m willing to bet that you’d love to make some form of a shift in the finance department. Maybe a job change, start a business, maybe a side project that brings in enough dolla-bills to play around with. Learning how to take control of and manage your financial world would open many many doors.  

Relationships

We all have relationships that need improvement. Maybe it’s your family, a partner, your friends, the social circle that you don’t have yet or even yourself. Relationships play a huge role in our mental health and self-esteem, and improving them will make drastic changes in the quality of your life.

Attitude

Yep, your attitude. I consider this one of your big four. There’s no point in having good health, wealth and relationships if you aren’t grateful enough to enjoy it. We’ve all heard the horror stories of those millionaires who commit suicide because they weren’t happy… Don’t be that guy.


Career

What do you do? Do you like it? Do you o your job for fulfilment or because it pays the bills? Is your current position a bridge to something better, are you filling out your C.V or can you honestly say that you like your job (but wouldn’t mind a few extra euro to pad out the paycheck)?

Education

I’m not saying you need to go back to college, you really don’t need the financial stress but if that’s what you want, work away. Maybe you’re in college and need to knuckle down. If you’re not maybe you want to learn a new skill, improve your work abilities, pad out your C.V. Take a course, watch a video, pick up a book or download one. There’s nothing to lose by expanding your knowledge and everything to gain.

Physical

Not just your appearance, although maybe this year is the year you get braces (me) or see a dermatologist or loose a tonne of weight. But I mean your physical surroundings, are the people you spend most of your time with bringing you down, is your workplace a positive place to be, is your home set up in a way that helps or hinders you to grow? Where do you spend most of your time? Is that place helping you improve or holding you back?

Pleasure

What do you do for fun? Hobbies are always a great place to start. Maybe you enjoy staying home alone and reading. It could be spending time pampering yourself, an at-home facial or blowing out with a weekend away at a spa. Take some time this year to enjoy yourself, it’s not all go, go, go enjoy the journey.

Public Service

Last, but by no means least is public service. Do you help people in any capacity? you could donate money to a cause you believe in, sponsor your friend who’s doing a skydive for charity (could be more fun to actually do the skydive). Maybe set up a standing order for one of those people who stand on the streets looking for donations. Volunteer for an organisation you believe in. I know I'm pretty alright with my public service but I definitely could be much, much better.


By no means is this a definitive list, nor is it a full breakdown of each aspect. Over the next few days, I’ll be breaking each aspect down and listing resources, action items and habits that can really make the difference.

Target: 100 Words

Actual: 740 Words

Using a Compass Instead of a Map

Each year rolls around with a fresh start and a fresh sheet of paper with a list of a thousand things I “will” or “must” achieve in the following 12 months. Now, as a self-professed self-help junkie, I can honestly say that each list is meticulously planned and thought out.  

Each resolution is a "smart" goal, aligned with my values, chunked down into smaller action items. I’ve had accountability partners, written lists and blogs, set timeframes, had weekly sit-downs, the works. And very rarely have I achieved the planned outcome.

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So this year I’m going to try a new method. I’m going to use a compass.

 

The Problem with the Map

Structure

My previous methods have held too much structure and as a somewhat fluid, messy, creative person, I find it hard to stick to the plan. But there’s another side to it. I call it life. You can’t map out your life and I’m starting to realise that you probably shouldn’t bother trying. Life is what it is and you can’t control the external happenings. You can decide you want something and life can provide you with a completely different result.

Emergent Ideas

In reality, once you start something new, you don’t really know what will come of it. You know the basics and where you want it to lead but life is messy so even the most well thought out plans, once in action will throw tangents at you. 

You see I’ve been looking at goal setting as a straight road. I know there will be potholes and roadblocks and diversions but I’ve never really thought about the people I’ll meet on the road or the ideas I’ll get struck with or the views I’ll see as I pass certain milestones. 

Emergent Ideas are this notion of something that will appear out of taking action. 

Here’s an example.

I started working out in a gym a while back and went in with this idea of it being a way to stay healthy, lose a bit of weight and build a bit of muscle. It’s what most people envision when they think of starting the gym. 

I wanted to start, make it a habit and move on with my life with the addition of working out. The things I didn’t know when I started were how good I’d feel, how interested I’d be in learning about my body and it’s capabilities, what exercises I’d enjoy doing, what goals I’d set from this new standpoint.

Basically, I set an intention to go to the gym and it opened up a whole new world of ideas and action items that weren’t on my original list of “things to do this year”. 

So what do you do? Do you shut down these tangents because they weren’t planned for? Maybe sit down and try to fit them into the already huge list of goals for the year? Do you go with the flow and see where it goes? 

 

Using a Compass Instead

 

Using a compass is a different way of looking at things, a new form of structure that I’m starting to like more and more. 

Instead of setting rigid goals and set dates for completion I’ll play around in a certain field and see how it feels, if it’s a good fit if it’s something I want to continue with.

Instead of “by March 3rd I’ll have decided on a business to start and have a domain name bought and a logo brief” It’ll be “Let’s play with ideas. What do I like? Can I think of 10 ways I could make money doing this? Does this sit well with me?”

Using a compass is more a way to feel your way forward. Instead of deciding to go from point a-h this year, I’m going to go from point a to point b and play around for a while and see where I feel like going next. 

 

Conclusion

I’m new to this compass idea. I’m intrigued to see how I’ll cope with not having a rigid plan to stress me out. But now I’m off to figure out what areas I want to play in in 2017. Wish me Luck.

Target: 100 Words

Actual: 726 Words

Why I Don’t Watch TV

We have a TV in our Living Room. Nothing big, nothing fancy. It’s hooked up to a few different things but none of them are cable TV. My 3 housemates live for the TV or the Playstation or the Xbox. 

I live in the kitchen. I read and I write and I research and I build and I plan and I think. But most of all I know if I sit in the living room, I’ll watch TV. I’ll get sucked into the drivel of the day and lose hours of creativity on menial fiction that has absolutely no bearing on my life.

It started as an experiment and is something I’ve worked with for years. On occasion, I will watch a program or a movie with friends or even my housemates but that’s a rare occurrence. I know when I sit in front of the big box, it’s not to pass the day or a few hours, it’s to watch something entertaining. It’s something I want to do rather than a habit of procrastination.

How much TV do you watch? What could you do with that time that could propel your life forward? You know as well as I do that it’s a terrible habit and those that are doing things in the world aren’t using their time to “NetFlix and Chill”.

A quote started me on the notion of no TV. I don’t quite remember it. but its something along the lines of “Why would you waste your life watching somebody else live theirs?”

 

Think about it… Do you want to live your life or lose it watching a box of flashy lights?

Target: 100 Words

Actual: 280 Words

Building vs Losing

I read an article today that struck a chord, somewhere in me. In the article the writer had her readers look at the concepts of building vs losing in regards to your weight. Her basic premise is this:

Would you rather build a strong and healthy body

Or

Lose a few pounds?

She asks you to look at the emotional response you get from you answer not just the answer itself. The answer to both in most cases is a resounding yes. But the emotional responses you get are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

 

THE IDEA

Lets look at this for a second... When you think of “building” your body, you start on a strong platform, it creates a sense of stability in you, a feeling that you could create something. You feel drawn or pulled towards it – emotionally anyway.

Now think of “losing” weight. Your energy is lower. It’s something you "should" do rather than want to. You feel pushed towards it instead of drawn to it.

Our writer creates a very compelling argument that I wholeheartedly agree with. 

 

I want to take this building vs losing concept and expand it to every area of my life. Don’t lose the “old” me...  Build on top of it.

For example:

·         I don’t want to take or remove things from my house, I want to create a comfortable clutter free home that I enjoy living in.

·         I don’t want to remove the security of a weekly pay-check. I want to build a growing, ever-expanding business that creates security but also lets me live life on my terms.

·         I don’t want to “get rid of” friends. I want to build a secure network of good, supportive friends who can come on this journey with me rather that berate me for my choice in life.

 

And this is the thing. You can chose how to create your life. When you are building you chose what bricks to put where and what mixture of cement to use to hold it all together. Just make sure that you set the proper foundations. While it is fun to change the fixtures and accessories, its more fun doing that when you know you have a sturdy, reliable structure.

 

ACTIONABLE EXERCISE

I want to do a small exercise here. I want you to think of the word “lose” and pretend you are a thesaurus. Come up with as many synonyms for “lose” as you can. You can write them down if you want but it’s not necessary. You can take this a step further if you want and actually use a thesaurus in Microsoft Word or Google.

Notice whether these words are predominantly positive or negative and pause to feel your emotional response to each.

Now do the same with “build”. What images does the word create. Check the thesaurus. Positive or negative?

 

The point I want to make here is that your words are powerful and your subconscious is even stronger. When you use a particular word your subconscious mind has a whole host of connections to that word. These connections create a feeling – even if it is only simmering underneath your conscious radar. Feelings create thoughts and thoughts create actions or in-actions.

Now take a look at your goals, dreams or ideas.  Say them out loud if it helps and notice whether the words are predominantly positive or negative. Change them if needs be.

 

CONCLUSION:

Words can be powerful or poisonous, even if only said to yourself. Make it a habit to only use positive ones in your thoughts and conversations. To begin just even be aware. When I initially decided to take notice of what I was saying, the vast majority of it was putting myself or someone else down. Still, now there is a lot of negativity to be weeded out of my vocabulary but I am getting there.

It’s still early days and we hardly need something so seemingly insignificant to ruin our plans from the get go.

Tolerations

Things you put up with. Situations that nag at you without you even realising it. Actions that are left undone because they’re too insignificant to be bothered with. Tolerations are everywhere and it’s not until you take the time to notice that you come to terms with the fact that they’re everywhere.

They’re everywhere and they grind on you every time you see them. Here are a few of mine.

The lightbulb that doesn’t work on the landing.

The lack of organisation in my drawers.

The piles of shoes that need to be re-heeled.

The camera on my phone doesn’t work.

A wardrobe filled with clothes I don’t like.

You get the point. They are mini “to-do’s” that you never get around to because you can live pretty okay with them as they are and in all honesty, you forget about them as soon as you walk away.

My Challenge for you today is to take a pen and paper, walk around your house and note down all of the things you’re tolerating. No doubt you’ll baulk at the amount of things you’re pushing aside.

Now do something about them. Put the bulb on your shopping list, bin the odd socks that will never find their other half. Get rid of all the “low-fat, low-carb, low-protein” processed shit that you never eat. Take a mini-step in the right direction.

I promise, taking care of the smaller, seemingly insignificant details will make your day just that little bit better. The annoyances, the guilt, the dread just goes away because you no longer have these tiny reminders that you’re not keeping on top of things.

Christmas on My Terms

For most people, Christmas is a time of stress. Rushing to get the right presents, far too many tipples to stay standing and a lot of overtime to afford the latest new “it” item for that someone special. All the stress is generally worth it when you get to sit down on Christmas day, open your presents, stuff your face and watch the same movies you did last year.

I find Christmas very hard, I don’t spend it with family, my routine is skewed and ever-changing and the key people in my life come in and out quite frequently. Each year I find myself upset for a good chunk of the day until in the evening, my closest friends come and spend it with me. We play games, we laugh and chat and then everybody goes home. 

I know I’m lucky, just to have that. Those few hours are great. But each year I find myself, dreading Christmas, I find it to be a very sad time of year. I stress in a selfish way. I worry about my happiness, I worry if people will be able to come, I worry that this year might be the year that I spend Christmas alone.

A few years ago, Christmas came about a month after I had hit rock bottom. I cancelled Christmas in my house that year. I never put up a tree, I didn’t buy presents and I spent the day, wishing for it to end. I cried a lot and went to bed vowing that I’d never feel that way again.

 

This might also be a good time to note that Christmas day, the 25th of December is also my birthday. So all of the above stings just that little bit harder.

 

This year, my life is in a much better place than it was all those years ago, but Christmas is still hard. Watching everybody enjoy happy, family traditions is a blatant reminder that I’m different. I’m happy for those people but Christmas and jealousy are starting to become connected by my brain. Even though I know I’m not, it;s hard not to feel like the only one who won’t have a “normal” Christmas.

So this year… This fabulous 2016, wherein I’ve made a lot of personal progress, I’ve decided to change Christmas for myself.

 

Christmas on My Terms

Tonight, I sat down with a solitary piece of paper and a pen. In the middle of the page, I wrote and circled “Christmas”. A mind map of sorts, the page is filled with things that make me think of Christmas from trees, presents and games to red, creativity and charity.

I mapped out how I want to feel. And I aligned those feelings with actions I can take to generate those emotions.  Here are a few of those action items.

Decorating

Each year, I stress about the tree and the general decor of the house. I always want it to be a special time for me and my boyfriend to spend together. Romantic. But he hates it. So I end up a frazzled mess, annoyed that he won’t help, pissed off that I’m doing it alone and hating that everyone gets to enjoy the benefits but no one else lifted a finger. 

This year the tree is for me. We aren’t together anymore so asking him to help is out of the question. I’m going to make my own tradition. I’ll wait until everyone has gone to bed, light the fire, put on classic 1920’s Christmas songs, pour myself a glass of Moscato and put the tree together for myself. When the decorations are done, I’ll snuggle up in my PJs, under a fluffy throw and read for a while by the light of the tree or pick an old-school movie and relish the time alone.

Random Acts of Kindness

Christmas is supposed to be about giving. In recent years, the kindness has gone out the window. I love Christmas miracles, and warm stories of people helping each other so For the next 10 days, I’m going to give. Compliments, notes, care packages, donations the works. 

My Birthday

My birthday is celebrated every few years. Being born on Christmas day makes it hard to create plans, people have so much to do and so little money. This year, I’m planning a birthday, everyone else gets one so why shouldn’t I? It won’t be anything grand, maybe dinner and drinks or even just drinks, something to mark the day. Something to remind myself that I’m here and that’s important. That’s what birthdays are about, right?

The Day itself

D-day… or C-Day or B-Day, whatever way you want to look at it. It’s coming whether I want it to or not. So this year, I’m going to make a plan, I’ll invite people, I’ll know in advance what my options are for the day and I can create something that will be enjoyable, regardless of how many people actually show up.

 

And that’s it so far, there’s much more I want to plan, and think about but now is not the time. For now, I’m happy with just making the decision and fingers crossed it goes well.

Ending…Fog/Fear…Beginning

Editors (!?) Note: I really need to get better at noting the writer or voice of the quotes I fall in love with. The title of this post is a quote that came from one of the many authors I follow on medium. I’m sorry I can’t tell you who and if I come across it again I’ll be sure to update this post.


Ending…Fog/Fear…Beginning

It strikes a chord and perfectly describes the experience of change. While I believe it’s true that when one door closes another one opens, I’m learning that all the quotes are missing the bit in the middle. 

After something ends and before something new begins there is this uncomfortable place. Our writer calls it fog/fear. You can’t quite see what’s coming. I’m currently in this middle bit. I don’t know if I’d quite describe it as fear. To me, it’s more an underlying anxiety that’s wearing on me. I’m not a fan of the unknown.

I’m finishing a few chapters this year. I’ve finally started making some progress towards my life goals. Ticking things off lists means I can move forward, set new goals and start the next chapter. That’s great, so why doesn't it feel the way it should?

I’m proud of my achievements this year. Happier with the changes I’ve made but this sense of the unknown is grating on me. The damn fog is hard to be in.

I’ve never been in this place before, or if I have, I’ve not been aware of it. Do you wait for the fog to clear or do you just take off in any direction and keep going until you’re out of it? I don’t know.

While I’m here in this place I don’t understand, I’m reminding myself of what I do know.

 

The Fog Will Clear - Nothing lasts forever.

Being here isn’t hard, just uncomfortable - you’re not in a bad place. You've been much worse off before.

Fog or no fog, you get to decide the direction you want to go in.

The chapter is ending, the story isn’t. It’s just the next piece of the puzzle.

Going to bed now is probably your best next step. Wake up fresh after processing these thoughts and decide what you want to do.

Dear Future Me - A Snapshot in Time

Monday 12th December

Dear Future Me,

It’s 10:30 am. It’s a dull, grey and wet day. The kitchen is a semi-mess because you semi-cleaned it 2 days ago. There’s a gold coloured full-length mirror sitting randomly beside the cooker, it’s supposed to be “champagne” coloured but it’s not. You’re gonna keep it anyway. 

It’s less than two weeks until Christmas, You’ve bought exactly 1 present. A book - for Melissa. You haven’t put up your Christmas tree yet. You’re not too sure how you feel about Christmas this year. 

In about an hour you’ll be ready for the gym. You’re about to start week 4 of 6 weeks of personal training. You’re looking forward to it and determined to eat afterwards this time. 3 weeks of rapidly declining energy post workout have been pissing you off and you know the answer is to eat. Just Fucking Do It.

You’ve been contemplating learning to code swift. That’s probably the wrong way to speak about it but… you don’t care. You have one or two very simple, but complex ideas that could work well on the app store so why not give it a shot?

December is generally a reflective time for you. Which is probably why you’re writing this post. Soon to come are the millions of posts that will look back on 2016 and its contents. You like to ponder at the end of the year and start deciding what you want the next year to hold. No doubt the next posts will include the answers to these questions too.

You’ve just missed 2-3 days of your 100 for 100 challenge. It’s bugging you but you know you’ll make it up over the next day or so.

Your startup is running slow. Finding the right manufacturers is proving a million times harder that you thought it would be. You’ve already spent a good amount on samples and they’ve all been shit. You have one more sample due in the next week and then you’re planning to leave it until the new year.

Work is probably the best it’s been since you started. You’re enjoying yourself a great deal more. College days and a long chat with your boss have aided this a great deal. I think that learning boundaries and respecting myself that bit more has really set the standard for those around me.

You’re thinking that the word for 2017 should be "adventure". While self-improvement will always be a big focus I think you’re starting to realise that there’s more. You can play and test and experiment in ways that don’t involve clean your room, make your bed and stop doing this or that.

You’re seeing, burlesque, sewing, videography, motorcycles, weightlifting, travelling to Bali, piano, coding and a whole host of other possibilities. 

Your favourite online haunts are medium, quora and youtube.

Books:

You’ve just finished reading: The Renaissance Diet

You’ve just started reading: Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

You’re re-reading: The Desire Map by Dannielle La Porte

You’re trying to finish: Psycho-Cybernetics.

Your "next to read" list includes: 

Secrets of Elegance,

The Power of Habit,

Things I wish my mother had told me

Keeping Track of a Million Goals

How do you keep track of all of your goals?

This post was originally an answer, written by me, on Quora. I’m fascinated with goal setting, making progress and becoming a better version of myself but it wasn’t until I started answering the question that I realised that I’m a tad bit obsessed with the tracking part too.

Tracking goals can be mind boggling. There are so many ways to keep tabs on everything that it can be hard to stay afloat. In saying that, a lot can be gleaned from noting down how you're doing. 

As somewhat of a fan of technology, I love tracking my goals with different apps. I’m a modern woman who has a surprisingly amazing ability to lose notebooks and paper but, let’s be honest, I never lose my phone. My process is generally similar across the board.

 

Choose your goal

Do you want to lose weight? Start a business? Drink more water? Wake up earlier? Start a hobby? Paint your house? Learn how to cook?

It’s generally good practice to have no more than 5 major projects/goals at any one time. Here’s the best link I know to pick your top 5.

 

Define Your Goal

Is it a habitual goal? Financial? A project? An activity? Each category warrants a different way of tracking.

 

Define Completion

What signifies that you have hit your goal? If you’re starting a business is registering as a business owner the end goal? Is it opening a store front? Launching a site? Being profitable? How profitable?

On the flip side with habits, the point is that you’re not supposed to stop they’re supposed to be ongoing so at what point to you consider them complete? How many times should you complete the action before it’s a habit? Is it a daily thing or a weekly thing?

The caveat here is that it takes 66 days to fully create and solidify a habitual neural pathway in the brain. Is this the point you consider it complete?

 

Map out Actions

Some things are straight forward like clean the kitchen others are more complex like renovate the kitchen. In both cases, you can chunk it down into smaller more actionable “sub-goals”.

 

Track

Here’s the fun bit and essentially the answer to the question. Many goals can be tracked using different apps. Here are some of the ones I use and a mini breakdown.

SleepCycle

Goal: Create better sleeping habits.

Goal Definition: Habit

Definition of Completion: Routine Bed Time for 4 weeks.

The SleepCycle App is a tracking tool and Alarm clock. So it keeps track of your sleep phases and patterns, waking time, bed time and movement when asleep. I initially downloaded it so I could keep track but now love it and use it continuously as my alarm.

 

Pocket Expense 

Goal: Create and Stick to Financial Budgets to increase net worth and create an awareness of spending.

Goal Definition: Habit, Financial.

Definition of Completion: Created Budgets for different aspect of spending. Sticking to those budgets for 3 months.

Pocket expense is great for keeping track of everything financial. Different accounts. How much you’re saving, creating budgets and using colourful graphs and charts to give you a birds eye view of your month, quarter year or defined date.

 

Asana

Asana is my life. It’s the bread and butter of my goal tracking addiction. It is essentially a project management application for teams to work together towards goals but I find using it alone to be great.

Inside the app you create projects. inside each project you can create tasks and each task can have subtasks, you can assign complete by dates to tasks an pin them to your dashboard to show you, by percentage, how much of a project is complete.

Alternatively you can just create lists with no end date so a project could be “read 52 books this year” Inside that task could be a list of the books you want to read and you can “tick off” each book as complete when you’ve read it.

Once a project is complete, you can either delete it or archive it for later.

Asana is a great tool with the ability to catch everything goal related. Attach files or images and write notes on everything so you can keep track.

 

Health and Fitness

For health and fitness I have an array of apps that track different aspects.

My Fitness Pal

Tracks my Macros for the day. Enter your goal macros, scan or input your food for the day and keep tabs.

Couch to 5k

Tracks everything running related. They give you a new running program each time you log on to get you to your goal of 5k, building slowly with intervals and slowly increasing. Turn on Spotify, turn on the app and your digital trainer will come over the music and tell you what to do.

It tracks, your speed, distance and the route you took on your run so you can keep tabs. This is the one I use but there are a variety of different ones. After 5k you can upgrade (if you’re up to it) to 10k and so on and so forth.

Strong App

I’ve just started my weight training in a new gym. Carrying around a grubby piece of paper with my terrible handwriting all over it wasn’t my style. Enter Strong.

You input your workouts inclusive of exercise type, reps and weight. It tracks each workout for the variables and shows you a complete graph of your progress.

Fit Journey

Keeps track of your fitness variables, weight, bodyfat % and measurements. Keeps them looking beautiful on graphs helping you visually see you move towards your goals.

 

The Blog with No Name

Depending on when you’re reading this, my blog, this blog may or may not have a name. Or a name that fits. The end of 2016 is the 3rd iteration of my many attempts at blogging and as of December, my domain name is simplyelliecooper.com

Ellie Cooper is a fictional character. She’s someone I dreamed up. My version of the perfect person. Elegant, outgoing, smart, vivacious, sexy, amicable, fun and so on. We all have that person who emulates everything we want to be. I just gave her a name. 

When I first started the blog I was intending to chart my journey from bottom of the barrel to the cream at the top. Ellie was someone I envisaged as being at the top, someone I could try to be like. I could "fake it till I made it". In tricky situations, I could ask myself “what would Ellie do?” “How would Ellie react to this?” “Would Ellie treat herself like this?”

Then I played with the idea of it being a pen name. It would be easier to divulge the hard parts if it wasn’t connected to me. Ellie could take the fall.

I don’t know. I like the feel of the name. I like the name. I like the way this blog is designed in relation to the name but it just doesn’t feel right anymore. It feels false, misleading even.

But what should I change it to? 

I know what I want this blog to hold, I know what I want it to feel like to the readers, I know the people I want to spend time here and I want a name that best represents all of that.

So, for now, the name will stay. Maybe it’ll stay the way it is forever, as a reminder of who I was when I first started. Who knows? But if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

Just Fucking Go to the Gym - It's All in Your Head

Of all the things I’ve set out to achieve this year, my biggest regret/failure has been my inability to create the habit of exercising regularly.

You know those people who say they feel like somethings missing if they haven’t been to the gym? Some think they’re mentally deluded but I envy those people. One of my closest friends is one of these magical people and I sit in awe every time she visits. She full of boundless energy, she’s happy (most of the time) and the body? Don’t even get me started. Abs of steel, a solid ass, tight muscular arms, strong legs… the works.

Mid 2015 I joined a local gym, not your average gym but a bodybuilders gym. A place with no mirrors because it’s not about staring at yourself for an hour a week but rather about perfecting your form by realising how it feels to make a certain movement. 

Life or more so my own neuroticism got in the way and I stopped going. I didn’t feel like I deserved to be there. I deserved to be in a beginners gym doing cardio and grape-vining in step classes. Now if cardio and step are your thing… work away but I’ve done my research and found that the area I wanted to play in was the free weights… and where better to learn about weights than the bodybuilders' gym down the road.

After rejoining twice in 2016 and failing to go due to my social ineptness and irrational fear of the cool kids who weight train, I bit the bullet and signed myself up for 6 weeks of personal training 3 times per week. This serves a multitude of purposes.

  • 6 weeks of regularly attending along with some mental work, is long enough to feel like a regular.
  • Personal Training sessions are appointments. While I’m not great at keeping appointments with myself, I’ll be damned if I’m going to leave my trainer in the lurch. It’s far too disrespectful to him.
  • 6 weeks is long enough to feel a difference in my body and maybe even notice a slight change or improvement. Enough to motivate me into continuing.
  • 6 weeks x 3 sessions = 18 sessions. that has to be habit forming.

 

Solid Plan Right?

Within the first 5 minutes of my first session, I was blindsided. 

After nearly a full year of joining, rejoining and failing to attend the gym, I was finally here and couldn’t answer the damn question. The only question that matters when you start.

What are our goals for these sessions?

I knew what I wanted. To be a regular gym goer. To have my health and fitness be a priority, to get to the gym and not be scared. But they’re gym specific goals. Not fitness specific. Not enough to create a plan. He literally said to me. “Well, you’re here now, so TICK”. Cue massive face-palm moment and wanting to roll around the ground laughing at how stupid my brain can be at times.

So I regaled him with the usual. I have no strength/muscle so I’d like to work on that. I’ve an extra ring of insulation around the gut that could do with being got rid of. And I want to “feel” the benefits of being healthy.

3 Weeks in and d’ya know what? 

I Fuck Up a Lot… but I’m okay with it.

The first day walking down the road, I literally had to coax myself. “It’s gonna be fine, you won’t make a show of yourself… no, maybe I should go home… no fuck it, just go.” And on and on and on until I was at the front door. May as well go in now.

 

In the last 3 weeks I’ve:

Met people I know

Met people I know and don’t like

Met “the cool kids”

Met the ex of a friend (prick)

Had someone pull down their pants to show me their socks

Fallen off one of the machines (stupid stepper) 

Felt serious amounts of pain

Felt Anxious

Felt Stupid

And then I felt like:

I was learning

I was getting better

I wasn’t afraid of the “cool kids” (still am a bit, but it’s only week 3)

I knew where things were

I could do this

 

And here’s what I learned so far

It’s all in your head- just fucking go

You’re never going to get over your fears if you don’t lean into them. Just go. Deal with each issue as it crops up. Once you get over it you’ll realise, it really was all in your head and it was easy to surmount. It took me 3 weeks to get over the fear, something nearly 2 years of thinking it out couldn’t do.

Smiling always helps - so does asking

Whether you like them or not, are afraid or not just smile and say hello. You know that awkward “eye-contact, no speech” thing just say hi. They can call you a dick for ignoring them but not for saying hello. 

 

Everyone Starts somewhere

And it’ll hurt like hell to get where you’re going. I have some of the best, most supportive friends who know how much I want to succeed at this. And as one of them keeps telling me - “Everyone has to start somewhere”. She’s right. You’re not born with 6 pack abs and an ability to bench a fuck-ton.

 

That little statement is repeated every time I go. If people are going to judge, let them. Their opinion is none of your business anyway. They started somewhere and this is where I’m starting. If I stop now, I’ll go back to square one. So let’s move past this shitty bit and get to the better bit and then we’ll see where to go from there.

 

Target: 100 Words

Actual: 972

Why Blog in The First Place?

According to Google, as of 2013 there are 152 Million (!?) blogs in the world. While I understand that not all are active that’s still 152million attempts at starting something. Clearly, there is more behind it. Why else would the number be so big? This blog, the one that has no name, is my third or fourth attempt. Although I’ve done my due diligence and removed the old ones.

But why do we blog? 

Is it to contribute? Is it to feel heard? to feel like we belong to something? To give? To learn? Understand? Grow?

To be honest I can’t answer that question and I don’t have the time to ask 152 million people. So instead of figuring it out collectively I’d like to mark it out for myself. Maybe you’ll find your reasons within. Here are a few of the reasons I deign to blog.

 

To Have a Voice

I can be considered quite odd by many. I have a million aspirations and wants for my life but very few, in any of my social circles, have the same ideals. People gel with those who are similar. But how many, business building, blogging, french-chic fascinated free spirits are there in this small town?

Sometimes blogging is a way to feel heard. Sometimes, if you don’t look at the analytics it feels like you have a voice and an opinion and someone to talk to about the things that you like. It’s your own personal space to ponder whatever the hell you want. As an added bonus, the screen doesn’t roll it’s eyes at you and say “sure you are” with an air of “here we go again”.

To Enjoy the Journey

Writing, whether it’s posted or not, helps you to look at your surroundings, your life, your goals & aspirations. It helps you see fine details, appreciate what you have and contemplate what you want. Taking stock and enjoying the journey is what it’s about. Writing about it can solidify your thoughts, formulate an opinion and enjoy the little things in life. 

To Grow

The introspection that is becoming a more permanent part of my personality has no outlet. So thoughts just roll around in my head. It’s like a hamster in a cage. Running and running but going nowhere. Sometimes writing can be the best ways to get a notion out of your head. When you have to formulate a sentence and use real words to describe a feeling or reaction it gives you space to move on or grow that thought or idea.

 

To Have a Hobby

While it’s not the most social hobby, it is something that I find interesting. I like having something to work on, it keeps my brain ticking over. It’s no longer eat. sleep. work. repeat.

To Document

I have this dream of being fifty, retired early but still working on things I love and away on holidays. While lying on the beach I can sit back and look at the blog I started years and years ago and see how far I’ve come. I’ll laugh at my own stupidity and be proud of my accomplishments, even if they are tiny. I want to have something that shows my kids (that I don’t and won’t have for a good long while) what I was like. What I thought about, what I wanted for my life, who I was because let’s face it, we all change and sometimes we forget who we were.

 

To Help

To date, this blog has had about 2,000 views. I pushed and pushed for those views. Did my writing help any of those viewers? I doubt it. 

I’m very aware at this point that my blog is quite personal but I’d like to think that as I learn new things that maybe that might help someone else out there. 

I believe that we all have the capacity to be whoever we want to be and I suppose I think that if I can do it… anyone can. If I document it, someone can come here, see how I did it, what I struggled with, how I overcame obstacles and start working themselves.

To Speak and Write Better

When you write a lot you realise that you repeat yourself, A-LOT, We each stick to a set vocabulary. I have found that writing expands my written range of words - thank you thesaurus.com  , and that growth bleeds into my everyday speech. I’d love to take part in toastmasters and maybe one day soon I will, either way, I know that my writing will help to no end.

 

 

And There we have it. A few of the millions of reasons I like to blog. Do you write or publish anywhere? Why do you do it?

Saying Good-Bye to the Dress

When it comes to Halloween I think a bit more creativity is in order. I don’t believe in slutty costumes (although I have in the past.) I believe in black bin bags wrapped around you as a cape or finding everyday items and making them something new. 

This year I took a notion that Jessica Rabbit was the way forward even though I don’t have a tiny waist, big boobs or red hair, but you know… semantics.

 

The red hair was easy… a few minutes on amazon and I had long, flowing, curly wig on route. Boobs were sorted by placing bra after bra on until I had 4, yes four, padded bras wrapped around me. Amazon also helped me find hip pads, just in case, then add that to a waist cinching corset and I had the bombshell curves… or so I thought. Purple gloves came from the auld amazon too and they’ll be kept for the future.

But the dress. You know the dress. Sweetheart neckline, low back, massive slit up the leg and glitter, so, so much glitter. Where would I get one? Where could such a thing be found? Never fear… creativity is here.(Yaaaaay)

Now whenever I get creative my house sighs, my housemates hate when the words “so, I’ve been thinking” come out because it never ends well.

 

And so it goes, a red fishtail dress was bought, two kilos of red sparkling glitter and every type of glue imaginable. After many, many failed attempts, about a weeks work, a destroyed kitchen and a broken soul, I had some semblance of a semi-sparkling, half covered dress.

It was by no means finished but I had put so much time and effort into it, it seemed a waste to give up and so I brought the dress with me. I couldn't wear it early in the night because I would have destroyed the pub so I got dressed outside the pub when the taxi arrived. A great night was had by all and the dress saw the light of nightclub.

It’s all over now and the dress sits desolate and lonely in a basket, unused. What do you do? What can you say? I want to rid my house of clutter but binning it seems so sad.  

According to Marie Kondo, clothing can be moved to the sentimental pile but do I really need a black bin bag filled with a puffy dress that I’ll take out and look at once every 5 years? No. So I’m taking her advice. Thanking the dress for its service and laying it to rest in the wheelie-bin out the front.

This post is an ode to the dress.

Thank you:

for the time I spent with my friends trying to make you.

for teaching me how to fix glitter to material.

for the laughs my friends had at the utter state of me.

for the night.

And thanks for the weeks I spent sweeping and hoovering glitter off every surface in my house. I’ve learned my lesson. Glitter projects should be small. 

 

Target: 100 Words

Actual: 521