Mar 252014


Build a business while holding a day job

I received a beautiful e-mail from a reader who is building her business this week. She described her vision for her  business which was so clear and inspiring. She also spoke of her struggle to find the energy to build a business while holding a day job.

She’s not alone. So many of you want to build a business building a business while still holding a full-time job. You need the job to pay the bills, and yet the job is killing all the energy you have to build a business that will set you free. The less you work on your business the more days, months and even years you have to spend in your full time job. It’s catch-22.

I wanted to share with you a few strategies to help you create more time and energy to build a business that will set you free

1. Use your best time for your business

When are you at your most focused, productive and creative? Is it early morning, lunchtime or afternoon? Or perhaps you’re a night owl.

How are you currently spending this time? Most people who are at their best in the morning spend it checking e-mails. Those who are at their best in the evening spend it watching TV. This is a huge a waste of brain power. This time needs to be spent on your most creative and challenging work if you want to make the most of your abilities.

So instead of waiting till the end of the day to work on your business, find out when you’re at your best and work on your business then.

A friend of mine wrote an entire PHD using this tactic. He would wake up an hour earlier and spend that hour writing. Within a year his PHD was complete. Did I mention that he has 2 kids and runs a global, award-winning business? He does.

If you can’t possibly wake up earlier than you do, could you negotiate a later start at work? If you peak at lunchtime, how about spending half of that time working on your business?

2. Get into the right frame of mind

If you’re a night owl, and your best time IS after work consider getting into the right mindset before you start work by using some of the following tips.

–       Leave your favourite tasks right till the end of your workday.

Working on something you enjoy gives you a sense of satisfaction and boosts your energy. Leaving work in this state will make it easier to work on your business when you get home.

–       Think of 5 things you’re proud of having accomplished that day.

This is a great way to give you a boost of confidence and energy. Do this on your journey home. Besides making you feel good, this strategy will also stop you from ruminating from all the things that went wrong during the day, which is a complete energy sucker.

–       Spend 10 minutes meditating when you get home.

Meditation has been shown to improve depression, reduce stress and even increase creativity. Read a good article about this here. Take 10 minutes to meditate before working on your business and you will be rewarded with more energy, clarity, creativity and focus.

3. Use micro-actions

This tactic is so brilliant it deserves (and will have) a whole post dedicated to it. In the meantime here’s a quick summary of what it is and how it helps.

Usually the biggest barrier to getting something done is starting it. The enormity of the task is off-putting and so you keep avoiding it.

Consider telling yourself you will only work on a particular task for 10 minutes. That’s all. Sit down and start, with the intention of stopping in 10 minutes’ time.

After 10 minutes, you can decide whether you wish to stop or keep going. It’s OK to stop if you feel like stopping. Do this every day and by the end of the week you’ll still have at least a whole focused hour that you’ve spent working on your business.

Chances are you’ll find that you’ve spent more than 10 minutes each day on your task. Once you’ve broken the ‘starting’ barrier it’s easier to get into flow. For this tactic to work, don’t punish yourself for actually stopping after 10 minutes. Instead celebrate that you’ve spent 10 more minutes building your business.

To make the most of this tactic make sure you have a clear idea of the task you want to work on and the action you will take before you start.

4. Create a habit

Habits are extremely powerful in that once they’re formed you tend to do them on autopilot. While it takes time and practice to create a habit, once a habit is formed you’ve literally hit a home run. You’ll have no more resistance to doing the habit. It becomes as easy as making that hot brew in the morning (which by the way is another habit).

Regardless of which strategy you choose, work on making it a habit.

Try to create one habit at a time. Less is definitely more when it comes to this. Do too much at once and you’ll get overwhelmed and give up.

A great piece of advice from Leo Babauta of zenhabits is this: Don’t miss two straight days. Leo suggests that if you do miss a day, treat it as “emergency status”. Let all sorts of alarm bells ring in your head and make sure you practice the habit the next day. You can read the full article here.

So there you are, 6 practical tactics you can use to help you find the energy to build a business while holding a day job. Which one will you choose? What other strategies have worked for you? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Here’s to making a living AND a difference doing what you love

photo credit: kern.justin via photopin cc

Self-Employment: 10 Lessons Learnt From Following a Big Dream

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Jun 192013

Self-Employment: 10 Lessons Learnt From Following a Big Dream

As I sit in the lobby of a bank’s headquarters, waiting to deliver a talk, it’s just hit me that this month is my 3rd anniversary of leaving full-time employment.

Escaping the land of jobs had been a big dream of mine for at least 5 years before I actually took the plunge. It was one of those dreams that I’d packed away into a ‘nice but too scary’ box and left it there until the effort of staying in employment was literally making me sick.

In my last year of employment I ended up in hospital no less than 5 times. It sounds so dramatic until I explain that 3 of those times were due to a sore throat (!) and the other 2 were due to suspected appendicitis. Despite the benign nature of my maladies, it was clear that my immune system was sending me huge signals that something needed to change.

My escape started by taking a year off to travel, which soon turned into 18 glorious months of exploring this beautiful and crazy world of ours. It was the experience I needed to set me free and the fulfilment of another of my biggest dreams.

Upon my return to London I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do but I was very clear that I was going to be self-employed. I’d just fulfilled my big dream to travel and decided I was on a roll, I’d check off the next big dream – self-employment.

The first few months were a mixture of huge excitement as well as serious bouts of anxiety. I had a rough plan of doing freelance work for my ex-employers, but I had no guarantee I would earn enough to pay the rent.

Although it was scary, this very clear departure from the land of jobs meant I focused my energies on making it work, rather than on whether I should do it or not.

It turned out that the risk paid off. I’ve worked less, earned more and had a lot of fun doing work I love. No Sunday Blues, no stress and best of all no hospitals.

Better yet I’ve learnt some valuable lessons along the way. Here are my top 10 in no particular order.

  1. Worrying about the future or the past, is all wasted energy. Focusing on what you can do about it is what helps you get through.
  2. Action rather than planning is what gets you results.
  3. Surround yourself with like-minded people and what you’re doing becomes the norm rather than the exception.
  4. Keep investing in your learning and growth.
  5. There are days when you just need to give yourself a break – that’s ok.
  6. It’s important to stop and consider if you’re being a lousy boss to yourself.
  7. Don’t let the paperwork pile up.
  8. When we say ‘yes’ to things we don’t particularly enjoy, we’re also saying ‘no’ to opportunities that might be a better fit.
  9. You don’t need to do it alone. Teaming up with someone makes the whole project easier.
  10. Following these ideals is tough, but it’s worth the effort.

What lessons have you learnt from following a big dream?


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How to succeed when you feel like giving up

 Follow your heart, Get out of your own way, Make it happen  Comments Off on How to succeed when you feel like giving up
May 132013

English: Small plants grow in the blazing Carr...

How to succeed when you feel like giving up

Let’s face it. Following a big dream isn’t easy. It involves a lot of risk and effort nicely combined with a huge chunk of uncertainty. While we often read of inspiring achievements and fantastic results, we rarely hear about the sleepless nights, the bouts of confusion, the knock-backs and the anxiety.

The truth is, if it was easy to make a big dream happen we’d all do it. There are  many would rather keep on living in the ‘land of blah’ than put themselves in a situation that involves so much discomfort. Others try but when things going awry, give up and revert back to the safe old ways.

So what is it that pushes others all the way, what helps them achieve what they want regardless of what gets in their way?

Enter Salvatore Maddi, a psychologist who spent 12 years studying what helped people thrive in a difficult environment and we get our answer.

While we might think that success in a tough environment is related to intelligence or experience or luck, Dr. Maddi discovered that it is related to something different. All the people who thrived in a tough environment had one key thing in common and that key thing was RESILIENCE.

With resilience there’s some bad news and some good news.

People who have faced a lifetime of adversity show higher levels of resilience. This is probably why we often hear of super-stars who attribute their difficult childhood to their determination to succeed – Oprah Winfrey is a great example of this.

The bad news is that if you’ve had an easy life so far, chances are you may need to work on your resilience.

The good news is that resilience is a SKILL that we can all learn and develop. It’s not something that we’re either born with or without but something that we can nurture and grow.

So here are some quick tips you can use to help you feel more resilient when the going gets tough.

Resilience-building tips

Identify your resilience-killing thinking

Are you telling yourself that you can’t cope or that you’ve got everything to lose? Write these thoughts down and check whether you’re being realistic or a tad dramatic.

Replace them with resilience building thoughts.

Consider someone you know, or know of, whom you think would deal with this in a resilient way. (Richard Branson always works for me). Channel this person and think of what their thinking would be in this situation.

Take control

Focus on 1 action you can take to help you move forward and go do it. When it’s done focus on 1 more action and repeat.


This is especially important if you’re feeling isolated. Talk to someone who you know can make you feel better. Join a group of like-minded people and ask for support. (Incidentally I have created a Facebook Group for people who are following big dreams – e-mail me at if you’d like to join and I’d be thrilled to add you to the group).

I hope you find these tips useful and I’d love to hear how you’ve used them.


What other strategies do you use to stop yourself from giving up? Share these in the comments below – you might make a huge difference in someone else’s life.



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Jan 162013


My current office view. In Bueng Pai Farm – Pai, Thailand.



For the past 5 days I’ve been living another long held dream of mine. I’ve escaped the British winter and am spending the next 3 months in Thailand. I’m thrilled and I hope this escape will be a yearly occurrence. Making this happen has taught me something crucial about helping us stick to our promises, goals and dreams.

The decision to leave London did not come without risks and I have to admit I’ve had quite a few sleepless nights when no one showed an interest in sub-letting our flat. I was also quite anxious about leaving London when I was getting great coaching and facilitation work as an associate of one of the best training organisations in the UK. Would they keep on giving me work on my return?

Despite this I had no doubt about my intention to get my @ss to Asia. I booked our flights over 6 months ago knowing full well that whatever it took, I would make it happen.

It got me wondering where all this certainty and confidence came from. I mean there are some things I’ve wanted to achieve for ages, what had stopped me from being this gung ho about them?

Case in point, as I was packing my belongings I came across 2 HUGE stacks of ‘when I lose a dress size’ clothes. I’ve had them for 4 years – they’re out of fashion but I cannot bear to part with them. I’ve been meaning to lose a dress size for ages but somehow I’ve never really bothered to make it happen.

So what was different about my Asia goal? What made me willing to take such a high level of risk? I’m not an unshakable, unflappable mountain of strength after all.

I think it boils down to 1 thing.


My goal to get to Asia is something I really WANT. I’m extremely connected to my desire to make this happen. I’m very clear on the WHY and the benefits I’ll get from this goal. When our subconscious is this connected to our desire we’re literally pulled towards what we want and taking action becomes a lot easier. It might still be scary, it might still give us heart palpitations but something deep inside wills us to keep going.

I’ve realised that some goals I’ve set myself in the past (like losing a dress size) are more about things I think I SHOULD be doing and therein lies the problem. SHOULD motivates no one. In fact, if you’re a little rebellious like me you might even take pleasure from laughing in the face of SHOULD and doing the exact opposite, like putting on a dress size for example (oops).

Does this mean that we can just give up on any ‘SHOULD’ goals? Not necessarily.

Armed with the knowledge that it’s the WANT goals that we enjoy making happen it might be worth looking at our SHOULD goals from a different perspective. How could you turn a SHOULD goal into a WANT one?

So while ‘losing a dress size’ does nothing for my motivation, ‘Vitality, Lightness & Energy’ might just get me to keep away from the carbs and eat my veggies.

See I’m already eating more protein…at Taling Chan floating market Bangkok

How about you? Is there something you’ve been putting off for ages? Is it a WANT or a SHOULD type of goal? If you did achieve it, would your life benefit in some way? If the answer is yes it may be worth exploring how you can turn it into a WANT goal.

What benefits get you excited and motivated? How can you remind yourself of them on a daily basis?

And when you’ve turned your SHOULD goal into a WANT goal, I’d love to hear about it.

With love

P.S. Yes I did manage to sub-let my flat, and the Training company even gave me some work in Singapore & Dubai! It always works out in the end,

and if it hasn’t worked out yet, it’s not the end…..

On getting things done

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Feb 142012

These past 2 weeks have been an illuminating experience on how great I am at ‘illusionary busyness’.  Whilst Paul and I are in the in-between place of visiting family and settling down since we got back from our travels we also want to get started on building our businesses.

Since my mornings are usually free, I’ve been sitting religiously at my laptop to ‘work’ on my website. I have spent hours in deep concentration, jumping from one website to another reading about all sorts of things that I’m convinced will make ALL the difference to building a successful business online. In between I’ve checked my e-mail a thousand times, and every time I see a little number next to my Facebook tab I have to go and check what’s happening in my social world lest I miss anything.

I’ve spent precious hours in front of this screen and sure I now know what SEO actually stands for and the meaning ‘Google keywords’ but not one thing has changed on my website. Nada, Zilch! Oh dear!

So today I’ve started the day with a different tactic.

I’ve actually written down 5 things I will get done. I’ve left my Facebook closed, resisted clicking on that great looking article my friend sent me via e-mail (I still haven’t managed to avoid my morning e-mails yet) and I’ve given myself an hour to write this post.

When I wrote down my goals I used the 80/20 rule to help me choose which things will make most difference to my website so that if I stick to my guns and get the things done today, I’ll have accomplished quite a bit.

The thing is, I know about all sorts of productivity techniques, I even teach them to others for crying out loud! Not that anyone needs to learn how to be productive. Deep down we all know how to do it.  BUT there’s a sea of difference between knowing and doing.

For me, that sea is made up of awareness. Seeing how little I’ve done over the past 2 weeks isn’t a pretty sight but it’s jolted me into being a little bit more productive this morning. I think it also had something to do with a great quote I came across yesterday:

“Next year you’ll wish you started today”

I’m curious, what project comes to mind when you see that quote? What would you start today if you were guaranteed a successful outcome in a year’s time? What would you accomplish if you spent an hour or so a day working on your project for the next 365 days?

For me, it’s this website. What about you?

With love



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Photo is by Sergiu Bacioiu

Oct 072011

I spent my first year as a psychologist working for a manufacturing company. It was an interesting year where I had to work hard to convince the managers that what I did wasn’t ‘fuzzy wuzzy’ stuff (their words not mine).

I could tell you the long process that goes into creating an o-ring but fortunately I left with a far more interesting lesson.

Continuous Improvement. In manufacturing they don’t wait until they’ve perfected a process to start it, they do it the other way round. First they start the process and then they improve as they go along.

When it comes to doing those big things we dream about we often do the exact opposite. We wait for the right time, we wait till we’ve got  all the answers, we wait till we’ve checked out out all the risks, done enough research, spoken to enough people. We wait and wait and wait. Chances are we’re still waiting.

In the spirit of practicing what I preach I’ve launched my site today, I got a twitter account, and published a couple of posts. Sure there’s a zillion things I still need to do, and I’m sorry if some of it is not too easy on the eye. But at least I’ve started, it can only get better along the way!


P.S. What would you start today if you stopped waiting for the perfect time?