Creating a vision for the future – 10DBC

I love mornings – the sense of peace, the birds calling out to a new day and the fresh smell of the earth as it is slowly warmed by the sun. Today I’m enjoying the view from my bungalow somewhere in Asia. The air is humid and warm. I smell tropical flowers, rain forest and the sea. I start the day with a guided meditation, and head out for my daily run. I return invigorated and ready to face the day.

My first priority is quality time with my gorgeous, energetic and irresistible son. Our morning ritual is framed around play, breakfast and more play, before nanny takes him away so that I can focus on the work I need to do to maintain our hard won lifestyle.   

In each new home or country that we visit and stay, one of the first things I do is locate a special place that provides me with inspiration, feeds my soul and helps me remained focused on the task at hand. This could be a balcony overlooking a gorgeous view, a setting by the pool, and or a chair under a tree in the garden. In this place, I can begin my working day sustained by my environment.   

I’m very lucky to have a fully mobile business that allows me to work from anywhere in the world. I have completely systemised and automated my operating model which means that my products and services are available 24/7 to my international client base. Over time, my role has diversified – I am the face and the model for my business and charity foundation, rather than the deliverer of its services. I have a fabulous team behind me who keep the wheels turning. I’ve built up a professional and smart coaching alumni and a responsible support team that means my clients can receive quality and personal service, irrespective of whether I am online or not.

I start each day by addressing my most important actions. They are the things that sustain my freedom plan and keep us moving in the direction of success, flexibility and freedom. The rest of my morning will be filled with writing, updating program material, recording new pod casts, responding to questions or making phone calls to my team, my coaches or my clients.

After working solidly for 4 to 5 hours I’m ready to break for lunch. My son and I usually visit a favoured cafe or pack a picnic for the local beach or park. The afternoon is spent in a combination of play and learning – exploring new places, trying out new experiences and meeting new people. I love being able to show my son the many places and faces of the world, to open his mind to the realm of possibilities and to provide him an environment that enables him to become a citizen of the world.   

Our evenings are based on a ritual of enjoying good food, good company and good conversation. Dinner is always served in a setting that promotes the sharing of stories, spending quality time together and with friends and family or planning our next destination.

I count my blessings that I am able to live a full, rich and meaningful life according to my own needs and expectations. I love being out of the rat race and living a life of quality, rather than quantity. I love being able to provide my son with the opportunity to enjoy a simple, yet richly rewarding childhood – similar to the one that I too experienced as a child – and that I am able to experience the freedom so many others dream of but never achieve. 


This blog is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 3

Discovering my WHY – 10DBC

Freedom is such a lovely word – it inspires a multitude of positive feelings and memories for me. Similar to Natalie, it is also my top value. To me, freedom means the ability to experience as much of life as possible, unconstrained by social expectations, tedious routine and traditional convention. 

Over time, my interpretation of freedom has changed in response  to where I was in my life, together with my mindset at that point. Freedom has meant having the time and money to explore new places and experiences. It’s meant being able to work long and hard to pursue career goals or chase new opportunities that arose without disrupting the lives of those close to me. It’s also meant having the flexibility  to visit family overseas whenever I wanted. Right now it means taking a year out of my old life to spend quality time with my beautiful son and establishing our new life together. 

I want to live the freedom lifestyle so that I can be a full-time parent and watch my little man continue to grow and develop. I want to experience first hand the wonder of life through his eyes and actions, rather than through the stories of others charged with his care. I want to show him the world and teach him about its beauty, diversity and awesomeness. He is my freedom lifestyle WHY.

Through my freedom plan, I also want to help make a difference in the lives of women by showing them how to live a life of their choosing, how to transform their dreams into reality and how to address personal and professional challenges along the way. As part of this plan I also want to establish a pro bono program which reaches out to women in Papua New Guinea, many of whom are subjected to antiquated traditions, terrible inequality and appalling acts of violent. They are my freedom plan WHY.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 2

Finding focus – 10DBC

I’ve signed up for Natalie’s blog challenge again. I’ll be up front and admit that I did the challenge last year and didn’t finish – so it will be interesting to see what 2016 brings!  

The first topic about 2-3 things that are holding me back from living my ideal lifestyle seems particularly poignant when I read over my previous year’s responses and think back over the progress I’ve made. I’ve certainly escaped the corporate rat race – before the date I promised myself – but I don’t actually have the freedom lifestyle I promised myself. 

On reflection, I believe the two main things that are holding me back are a tendency to chase a progression of shiny new ideas, rather than focusing on my foundation concept, and a desire for perfection (procrastination) or fear of stepping out of my comfort zone. 

I’ve known how I want to achieve my freedom plan for a long time – I just keep allowing myself to be distracted! This results in very small leaps of progress with a series of large hiatuses in between my efforts. It also means that I’m constantly revisiting old ground in an attempt to get my head back into my freedom plan – hardly productive or very motivating. 

In the process of rehashing old material I find myself rethinking and reworking the stuff that I’ve already done. This constant state of trying to perfect something that’s still effectively in draft is another time and energy waster. It is also probably more reflective of my fear of putting something out there that will be rubbished and ridiculed – so the longer I polish the longer I can put off facing that fear. 

What then is the solution? Firstly, develop a car park for all my shiny new thoughts, write them down and only go back to them when I’ve finished what I started. And secondly, complete a draft version of my freedom plan as soon as possible. Once the skeletons in place I can flesh out the details. I need to just do it! 

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1

More Me Time

Right, time to get back on track with this blogging challenge! I’ve learned an important lesson over the last week – it takes real discipline to maintain a routine for tasks when there is no routine. You see, I’m on holiday for the next two weeks and to be honest my ability to maintain the daily blogs started falling apart in the lead up to getting organised for going away. It completely disintegrated by the end of 26 hours of travel brought about by airport delays and complete exhaustion. I won’t say it’s a complete disaster as I have learnt the necessity of being super organised, preparing in advance for possible problems and focusing on those most important action, irrespective of location.  

Anyway, back to today’s blogging theme – what am I going to do each day to get more me time.

This is an interesting challenge for me as I don’t  actually feel pressured by a lack of me time that I sense dominates a lot of my friends lives. Sure, life can be busy at times, but generally I control the number of hours that I work very well and, as I don’t have any family, my committed time to others is limited. I notice this more when I’m trying to schedule time with friends to catch up – I’m pretty much available at any time while my friends seem to need weeks of advance notice, and even then reschedules are common. It’s a shame actually as it removes the spontaneity out of life and sometimes dulls the occasion which has been diarised so often. 

My me time is more an issue of quality hours, rather than quantity hours, and has evolved from ingrained bad habits, poor discipline and general laziness.  In Blog 1, I committed to getting up an hour earlier to commit to exercise and set myself up for daily success. In Blog 5 I committed to breaking my bad habit of blobbing in front of the idiot box every evening. Achieving those two actions alone will give me more hours in the day than I will probably know what to do with.  So, the question becomes – what will I do with my me time to feel more energized and recharge. 

I love to learn and aim to read at least a book a week. I’ve recently taken up dancing and tennis which are activities that I am really enjoying – they keep me active and I get to meet new people that I can have some fun with. I’m also trying to teach myself Spanish but will commit to proper lessons on my return from holidays. I am recharged by adventure and new experiences. I love variety, spontaneity and being outside of my comfort zone.  And so, once a month  I’m going to pick a new place to explore and just do it. 

Outsourcing

Totally irrelevant to the business theme of this blog but I am excited to report that I took Natalie’s challenge to heart and completed my first outsourcing task within 10 minutes. I am never going to epilady my legs again – waxing rules!

Anyway, back to the job at hand, one of the things I have been struggling with is coming up with a name for my coaching program. I’ve read advice about not getting too hung up on this aspect – but I think the name can form the key element of one’s image, brand and marketing strategy. It’s difficult to transform a boring and meaningless name into an exciting offering that attracts customers and sales – and why not try and grab their attention at the outset with a great name.

I believe a name has to speak to your audience to not only help them identify with your product, as well as excite them enough to want to find out more. This is particularly important for on online environment where there is so much competition for visibility and domain names. And it’s pointless creating a great name if you can’t get the domain name to identify with it.

I’ve been playing around with different ideas for ages and everything I come up with something I think could work, someone else has already used the name or registered the domain name. I lack the imagination to keep up this constant challenge and frankly find it a bit disheartening. I also recognize that at some point this inability to name and brand my product will impede my progress. At some point I’m going to have to align my content language style, website design and marketing strategy to my brand and the sooner I get this sorted the easier it will be.

So, my one outsourcing task that I am going to follow up is to ask someone else to come up with a list of names and available domains which will suit my business needs and image. Rather than spend hours brainstorming ideas and researching names I will put together a brief describing the image I want to project and pay someone else to do the work for me. They can then present me with a series of options and possibly a brilliant name that is inspiring and available. Nothing ventured – nothing gained!

This will leave me with the time and the energy to put together a great program that will live up to its great name and brand.

Maximum efficiency = Maximum freedom

Following on from challenge 3, I am in the process of making Asana my new best friend. It is so easy to set up projects and tasks and then track them. I love the interface with my calendar as I can see everything in one view which also means I can control how much I see by selecting day, week or monthly view. This helps when the calendar is so full that it becomes overwhelming – but by being able to chunk it down brings back a feeling of control.

The one system that I am going to implement to remain in control of my business is Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). And I agree with Natalie that they are sexy because not only do they allow you to maximize efficiency, but also highlight gaps and opportunities in processes which aren’t evident unless you break everything down into the detail. By fully understanding how things are put together you can make improvements and changes.

Implementing SOPS not only ensures consistency of practice, it also means you are able to deliver consistency of service regardless of who is providing it. And consistent service can equate to an improved quality of service and happier customers.

I also like the idea of passing on the more routine activities to someone else so that I have more time to create value for my business, and my customers. It’s the reason I want to start the business in the first place and the easier I can make life for myself, the better my chances of achieving that goal will be.

Three big goals

In order to build the life I want in 2016, there are three specific goals that I need and want to achieve. All of these are tailored to help me establish my business model, commit to my freedom plan and develop the right mindset to sustain me as I translate my dreams into reality.

The most obvious goal is to establish my online business. I intend to finish developing my program and products, build my online platform, undertake all testing and launch on 1 June 2015. This is my most important goal.  It’s like laying the foundations of a new house – except in this case, it’s my new life. Achieving this goal will allow me to move forward with confidence.

My second goal is the deadline I have set myself to escape, once and for all, the corporate work environment I find so uninspiring. On 18 December 2015, I will down tools (so to speak) and simply walk away.  On this day, I will fully embrace my new career as an entrepreneur and freedom junkie. Even thinking about it send chills down my spine – I am so ready to make this move.

My final goal is to achieve a high level of physical and mental fitness. This goal consists of a number of mini goals including being able to run 10 kms three times a week by the end of March 2015, reading 52 books this year, and being able to hold up my end of a conversation in Spanish by the end of November 2015.   I want to strengthen my self-disciple, increase my knowledge and build persistence.  I believe by applying myself to these activities I will learn how to better accept set-backs and use them as a springboard to improvement, rather than a reason to give up.

Achieving these three goals will lead me to a life of freedom in 2016.