Each month I pick one easy thing we can do to simplify our homes, diets and lives. This month, it’s planning for the life you want.
This month’s Monthly Simplify was something I decided quite last minute, but it makes perfect sense with where I am in my life and what I’m working on this month. Most of you will have seen on Instagram or on here that I had a pretty dark March – I was experiencing a lot of stress and negativity at work, my mind was so chaotic and I felt completely out of control.
You may not know but in my day job I’m a Marketing Manager for a global children’s brand. I work on content, branding, social, web, but a lot of my time is taken up with project management. What I’ve struggled with recently is how out of sync with my own consumer habits and beliefs my job is. I’m all about shopping small, supporting local makers and using our powers as consumers to fund a varied and wholesome marketplace. Filling the coffers of corporations doesn’t sit well with me morally, nor does it light my motivational fires.
So I feel March was my time to experience and process all that angst, but from April I really deal with it. I don’t have to put up with a life I don’t like, and I’m starting to plan for the alternative future. In my Hello to Spring post, I spoke about new starts, although I later realised that it sounded a lot like a pregnancy announcement was imminent! To clarify, I’m not having a baby. Not a human baby, at least.
But I am growing an idea inside me. Through Simple & Season I’ve quietly taken on a little consultancy work with start ups and creative businesses, and that has given me back a little of my raison d’etre. This month I’m working on my business plan with a view to launching full services and courses soon (note that I’m not putting a date on it..😬). You will see a little of this trickle through to the blog with newsletters (to help me out with this skip to the end of the post) and some more creative marketing content.
The reason I’m writing this longer-than-expected post is because I don’t think I was alone in my March blues. From those I’ve spoken to I feel there was a lot of dissatisfaction and chaos around, so I thought I’d pull together some of the things I’m doing to get back on track in the hope that you can too…
Do a personality test
I am a huge advocate of the 16 Personalities Myers-Briggs test, and always re-take it when I’m going through a period of flux. Myers-Briggs personality types tell you what drives you, how you work, how you interact with the world and generally why you are the way that you are. This Being Boss podcast explains it much better than me.
16 Personalities is great because the post-test insights are so spot on and useful that when you’re reading you just think ‘even I couldn’t have written a better description of myself’. This process, for me at least, is invaluable for confirming that your gut instinct about your life is correct, or confirming that you’re already on the right track, or even opening up something that you’d never considered about your life. It’s a great point at which to start your change and quieten the noise.
Plus, there’s something satisfyingly reminiscent of teen magazines about doing a personality test, right?
I’ve never been really into podcasts as I’m much more of a reader than a listener. However a few things coincided (Sara Tasker launching Hashtag Authentic and me starting to listen to podcasts to get through the working day) that has opened them up to me. I am far from a font of all knowledge on this, but I started listening to Jen Carrington’s Make It Happen for the stories of inspirational ladies who have done what I want to do, then Jen got me on to Being Boss, which is not only super inspiring but full of really great advice for creative entrepeneurs.
Get your sh*t together
Part of my bad March was just being completely chaotic and disorganised. Blog deadlines were whizzing by me, emails were going unanswered and I had no idea where I was. I don’t think I opened my paper planner for the whole month (because it’s just so far away from the sofa).
I downloaded Asana to organise my blog tasks after we trialled it at work and I felt the weight lift off my shoulders and a let out the most almighty sigh of relief. I separated all my projects, and created boards for all the things I had to do in each project. Seeing it laid out like that helped me to process and prioritise it, and now I have my daily tasks to focus on it stops me freaking out about everything else. I love lists SO MUCH, and Asana is all about the lists (and ticking stuff off).
Use your network
As I mentioned earlier, hearing that other people were having similar feelings to me in my Instagram circle was really reassuring to me. There’s a reason I used the word ‘network’ here and not ‘friends’. I love my friends dearly, but, and this might just be a me thing, I don’t feel I can talk to them about this stuff yet. They are too close to me, they’ve lived through all my phases, they know my history. I feel like we couldn’t have an objective conversation about it.
My network of Instagram friends, on other hand, don’t know the historic me. They know the me I’m trying to be, and they aren’t bogged down with who was at 17, or even last year. The conversation is more neutral, more practical, not so emotive. These conversations help things feel real and do-able, not just something I’m shooting the breeze about.
Plus, your network of people you idly chat to on social media are all like minded people in similar situations. They may know someone at a magazine you want to write for, or be going to a cool craft workshop, or may have some tips about getting paid. People love to share knowledge and to give a helping hand, so give them the opportunity!
Thank you for sticking with me on this – writing it has been cathartic, and I hope it helps you to think about the life you want if you too had a black March.
As mentioned above, I’d love your help to form an email newsletter. What sort of thing would you find useful and/or enjoyable to receive from me? Would you like a monthly challenge, how to’s, resources, or something completely different..?! I’d really appreciate your feedback in making it the best it can be.
If you’d like to hire me for creative marketing consultancy and coaching, email me for pre-launch rates 😉