Getting back in the saddle

Getting back in the saddle

It’s been a while since I’ve been around. A lot has happened over the past year. I’ll share some of it, the rest is very personal and may well be shared through my learning experiences and comments. I’m not sure I’m wiser. I’ve just got 10 months more life experience!

Getting back on your bike

Getting back on your bike

Getting back in the saddle isn’t easy though is it? We get out of habits, we lose focus, and we can’t always see how we can do what we used to. So, with all my good intentions since the new school year, it’s only now, that I feel ready and able to get back on my bike and start the next part of my journey.

A lot of change has happened this year, which has been very tiring. I’ve also had flu which knocked me out for a few months. We all have reasons for not doing what we’d planned at the start of the year. Some of us make excuses out of the slightest knock or bump that crosses our path. I’m not saying I haven’t made some little excuses, I’m just holding my hand up and saying it’s been tough. Really tough.

A brief update of 2013:

  • We’ve moved house.
  • I think I’ve finally grieved for a person I care about
  • My eldest son has started secondary school
  • I’ve accepted I can’t affect lots of things in my life and business
  • I’ve learnt not to take on too much contract work whilst running and developing a small business

So, this week, I’m back in the saddle. Picking up the route map where I left off, and adjusting it for external factors before moving off again. I’m going to concentrate my efforts on the things in life and business I can affect. It’s going to take time in this new planning phase, but it’s always well worth spending time at this phase of a project isn’t it?

It’s good to be back. I’ve missed not sharing with you, but sometimes even the cathartic nature of writing has been too much for my emotions to cope with.

Anyone else getting back in the saddle with a project, interest or idea? Any advice you can give me to smooth my pathway?

Year End – what’s it all about?

So many people are talking about Year End at the moment, and it’s a pretty crucial part of most businesses. We’re being encouraged to top up ISAs and take advantage of offers before the new financial year starts.

This time of year, for me, is about a physical check of all my stockholding, and the opportunity to review the year’s sales and expenses. It’s a chance to step back from the business and look at the figures, as a check on the shape of the business. What’s doing well, what’s not so good. What areas need improving and developing.

I wrote 2 years ago about Taking Stock. I’d forgotten, but having just re-read it, I’m pretty happy with that assessment. I’ve been better at continually reviewing my business and my stock since then. Have you?

I’d also like to suggest that having a year end that is 3 months into the calendar year gives us a chance to properly review those goals we set ourselves at the start of the year. How do our figures match up against the expectations we set ourselves. What challenges have prevented us from achieving our goals, and what do we need to revise due to the new opportunities that have come our way since January?

A lot of us are having a break over the Easter holidays. I’m so looking forward to getting away from it all. Forgetting about the business, and personal stuff that’s happened that’s steered me a bit off course these last few months. I’m looking forward to spending time with my family, without my head in my laptop and phone for one whole week. That’s all! The world won’t end without my attention to it!

So, year end for me is about reflection, review and relaxation:

  • Review: Goals, aspirations, action plans. Review last year’s figures against expectations. Revise your goals and action plans for the rest of the year accordingly & set out your revised financial and business goals for the business year ahead.
  • Reflection: What’s gone well? What hurdles have you jumped, or fallen at? What have you enjoyed? What’s been tough? Being honest with ourselves isn’t easy, but it is important we do it. If we don’t add our reflections into our future goals we won’t achieve them.
  • Relaxation: If you can’t take time out, you won’t achieve your goals! Your body and mind need to rest and recover so that you can come back to your life and business with renewed vigour. If relaxation isn’t a heading in your weekly schedule, add it now! You work, (whatever you do as a family member, stay at home Mum or Dad, salaried job, or own business) so that you can spend time with your friends and family. They won’t enjoy your company if you’re not relaxed will they?

I hope your stock counting goes as smoothly as mine did today, and your 3 R’s help you to work towards your personal and business/career goals.

What makes you You?

As part of reviewing my life this summer, I realised that I wasn’t doing all the things that I like to do, and this was making me a little bit miserable.

I’m a giver, and love doing things for other people. I’ve always been involved in some type of voluntary work, until the last year. I guess I used the excuse of the business to stop working on the project that was taking up my ‘spare’ time. But it was more to do with not being valued as a volunteer, than time pressures. I believe that if you want to do something you will make the time to do it, however busy your life is!

But what could I do? How could I now fit something in to a very busy business and family life? Well, if I can’t give 1 hour a week to support a project, then there’s something wrong isn’t there? I’ve been given so much and so many skills, that 1 hour out of 168 in a week is not a lot to give to someone/something else.

Book reviews by childrenMy sons, particularly the eldest, spend a lot of time on computer games. He also loves sport and reading. So I wondered if I could help him learn a bit more about the internet to develop useful skills on the computer and understand how searches and websites work. After discussing my idea with school, and seeing if they’d be interested in me helping a small group of children to develop a website about book reviews by children, the project was born.

I’ve been going into school for 3/4 hour every week in a lunchtime to support a group of 10 gifted and talented pupils to create a website about book reviews by children, for children. We’re launching it to the rest of the junior school on Thursday! The project is growing, and as you know websites are never finished, so who knows where this project will go?

That doesn’t matter. In a few short weeks I’ve achieved my goal. I’m feeling useful. I’m helping 10 young people learn a little bit more about the internet, how it works and how to use it for something useful and fun. I’ve got my mojo back. And it’s only taken a small step on my part to get ME back again.

Both my boys are talking about the website every day, and their friends are excited to be able to publish their work on a website that other people can see.

In this month of talking about reviewing our lives and our businesses, just check out that you feel like YOU. What’s missing? What can you do about it? Small steps remember can make a big difference to how you feel about yourself, which has a knock on effect on the rest of your life.

Think about what makes you YOU – does it feel right at the moment?

I made a decision. Better late than never.

Liz Weston founded the New Baby Guides in late 2008 and added Weston Communications (a PR, Marketing and Social Media solutions agency) to the fold  in 2010. In 2011 she bought She’s got plans in place for growth for all three businesses in 2012 and has agreed to tell us how she’s made a decision which will enable her to put them in place.

There’s so much going on in my mind right now around “reviews”, “moving on” and “making decisions” so I hope that this blog post makes sense. I’ve made a decision that I’ve found difficult. I’ve decided to let one specific thing go, despite the fact that I’ve been festering on it for months.

The background is that someone said something, about me that was factually untrue. The problem was that it could potentially, have affected an important business relationship for me earlier this year. Thankfully, I had emails in place to show that the suggestion was not true about my approach to my work and there was no fall out from it for me.

I took it so personally though, that someone would do something so self serving, trampling on me as part of his or her attempt to climb the greasy pole. I spent time in the shower, in the car, whilst with the boys, scripting what I’d say to them, when the opportunity arose. I was ready and waiting. And kept on revisiting it, wasting time on it.

But actually, 6 months later, I’ve reviewed everything that both the team and I have achieved in 2011 and decided, that it’s time to move on. To forgive myself – not them, I hasten to add, but myself for wasting time thinking about it. I did what I did and it’s done what it’s done – nothing. A big fat nothing. Just think of the time I could have spent coming up with new business ideas, great headlines and ways to make life better for my team and my family. Reviewing it, I realise that I’ve been nuts.

It’s time to move on.  And give myself a house point for doing it. Better late than never.

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. I’m going to make sure that for the rest of what’s left in 2011, I’m going to be prepared, so that when opportunities come along, I get lucky. And then when 2012 begins, we’ll already be ahead of our goals.


It’s not a failure to move on

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reviewing recently. About my business, and about what I’m doing with my life and how I’m living it.

I guess I’m always doing it, but these last few weeks, I’ve been reviewing even more. Why? Because things need to change. I can’t keep running around at the pace I have been for the last 6 months. My motivation is flagging, I’ve been increasingly tired and irritable. And emotionally I needed to get some things sorted in my head.

And what do we do once we’ve done our thinking? Get on and do it of course! At a recent event with Winning Pitch, John Leach told us that to be successful, we needed to spend 20% of our time thinking and 80% doing. We all know that don’t we? But how much time do we really ‘do’ our plans? And how much is procastinating about how to do it?

I’m not saying that I’ve moved on in all areas of my life that I’ve been reviewing, but I certainly feel much brighter about the path ahead. The short break with the family has helped. Time away from your normal routine is always a good way to help you re-focus on your life and all its aspects.

Our lives evolve. If someone had asked me 10 years ago if I’d have my own business, and I’d be supporting other women in business I’d have laughed. Not because I didn’t think I was capable of achieving this, but because it wasn’t in my vision. My experience of bra buying when pregnant and breastfeeding changed all that!

Just because we know that our lives evolve, doesn’t mean we can’t take hold of them and direct them in the way we want them to go. Sometimes we get so wound up in what’s right, or letting other people down, we forget about what’s right for us and our families. Sometimes you do have to let go and move on.

I’ve learnt to let go of my anger about some personal stuff these last few weeks, and I feel re-energised by it. I’m calmer, and anger is such a destructive emotion, it was holding me back in other parts of my life. I needed help to do this, but now I’ve done it and feel so much better. And I don’t feel I’m letting myself down by this change. It’s a positive move.

November is a good time to review our year – have we achieved our goals? Are we happy with our life? Are we ready for the end of the year and moving on into the new year? So, this months theme is Reviewing. Some of our guest contributors are coming back to review their progress. If you’ve got anything you’d like to share, please do get in touch. The blog is about supporting and learning from others, so lets do that!

And remember – whatever feels right for you in your life and/or business WILL be right. Whoever your decision effects, just do it. Life is often far too short to dwell on things. Spend 20% thinking and 80% doing this month and see what happens!