Why I don't want to work harder

The brilliant Kelle Bryan first introduced me to the term 'Work smarter, not harder' - one that has never been more prevalent since I became a mother. 

The truth is I have 'worked hard' all my life.

I pushed myself at school (always the first one to put my hand up to volunteer and generally tried to be a good egg) and did activities almost every night.

A Levels were a slightly different story as I discovered boys and booze (what a beautiful combination) which slightly distracted my focus. But in general 'working hard' is how I have rolled. 

Throughout my working life; I have done it all. Early mornings, late nights, night shifts, jobs I loved, jobs I hated, jobs that made me smell of crisps...yes I worked in a crisp factory before I moved to London. 

'Work hard and be kind' was always instilled in me from an early age. However I have come to realise this is a very subjective topic and that I don't want to work harder anymore.

Soooo what does this mean in reality:

  • I have big dreams and I want to fulfil them but on my terms and in a way that feels good.

  • I only want to focus on opportunities, collaborations and projects that I really want to do. When I do this (or stay in my zone of genius as per the book 'The Big Leap' everyone gains. 

  • I want to work on my terms. @motherpukka is amazing and her continued work for #flexappeal is bringing much needed awareness to the work place and encouraging oodles of conversations of 'Er welll maybe she could work 8am-4pm instead of 9am-5pm...we cooould just move the meeting forward' Boom!

  • I want to see my family. Yes of course, I could work every evening and get up at 4am buuuut what would I gain? 

  • I can work really efficiently these days...I have small windows of time and now I don't have time to mess about. (watching You Tube videos, scrolling ASOS, seeking out dream holiday destinations that I won't be going to for at least the next 5 years). 

  • I am tired. I haven't slept properly for 2 years and I am not a super woman. 

  • I want to grow our family. This is not going to encourage sleep. 

  • I don't want to make my token response to 'How are you?' to be 'Tired/busy/stressing/working hard'

  • There is a big, exciting world out there that I want to experience. When I live full out and concentrate on feeling good, the work I do flows better and I get more done in less time. Plus life is precious and short. 

  • I could go in a number of directions but I want to earn well for what I do (incidentally I said to my coach I wanted to earn more in the next five years than I have over the last 15 years... her response 'You don't need that long'). Growth requires my focus so I need to be super strategic. 

  • Fundamentally you don't get any prizes for 'working hard'. No gold stars, no certificates, no pats on the back. Ultimately you only reap the rewards when you get the results; more clients, visibility, money and success on your terms.

and finally.

I don't want to. That's it. That is what it comes down to.

I don't want to.

Sometimes everything can make logical sense on paper but if your gut instinct is saying something else. You have to listen it.

Like when I knew I didn't want to wear a Kappa tracksuit.

Like when I didn't want to go on an army assault course if though it would have been a good opportunity to snog boys.

Like the fact I know I don't really get sci fi.

Do you want to know how I do this and how you can great success on your terms? Find out more below. 

How to create an online course

When I had the 'career chat' at school, I said I wanted to be an actor.

The lady with the different coloured eyebrows (one white, one black- no less) asked me if I had completed the questionnaire to see if there were any other options. 

There was...prison officer. Now I love a good old police documentary but I don't think it is the same thing. 

Since the beginning of my 'proper' working life; I am not including the waitressing years wearing mustard... they do not need to be discussed, as with most of us, my career has evolved. 

I have had many career highlights but many moments I am not proud of; where I said yes when I should have said no, when I undersold myself, or did things that didn't light me up...I did them because I didn't have an alternative. Or at least I didn't think I did. 

At the beginning of 2017 I want to challenge myself; I wanted to go to the next level in all areas; visibility, doing more of what I loved and financially. 

My 1:1 coaching packages are my premium offering. But I knew I had lots of information to share so I decided to create some lower cost options. My book and audios for actors sell well but I wanted to create some more practical elements. 

Of course, at first I felt stifled by the technology but I figured it out even though I can't code, didn't have a massive budget and was scared of moving out of my comfort zone. 

But I am pleased to say everything is up and running now. I am able to help my clients and give enormous value but I don't have to be in the room.

Of course, it takes time, attention and energy to create the course and then of course to market so I can welcome new members but I don't have to be there physically AND the great thing is neither does the client. With limited time and sleeping children to look after in the evening, it can be difficult to get out. Offering your services in this way could actually be what your client is looking for...

In fact since I launched my Personal Brand Plan for Parents, I have been thrilled and comforted to see how many of us there are!

As parents we need flexibility and need to keep the money flowing...we can't just wait for one person to pay us £10,000.

For members of my Personal Brand Plan, I am going to do a Facebook Live where I am going to be answering all of questions on how I did it, how I knew what to offer and the technology I use.

Join us below or simply find out more:

Interview with Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson | Professional Declutter

What do you do? How would you describe your working life?

I am a minimalist mum of two girls 3 and 7; I play netball and I run a decluttering business. 

I spent 15 years working in the theatre before starting a family and was totally devoted to my work and to the Industry. I pretty much lived and breathed theatre so it was a bit of a shock when we started a family and I realised I had to completely re prioritise my working life! I know many people who manage to juggle theatre and family life but after two years of stressing over childcare, poor working hours and lack of money I decided to take a break. After having my second daughter I realised the spark for my previous theatre life had gone. I also began to feel very isolated and spent a lot of time feeling overwhelmed. 

Two years ago, I realised that a combination of this overwhelm and boredom had led me to leading a very cluttered and 'busy' life. Both physically with too much stuff in our house, but also mentally and digitally.

I have spent the last two years decluttering all areas of my life, slowing down and completely re thinking how I want to live and how I want to raise my girls. I’m a huge advocate of simple living, my life is richer and deeper with less. It led me to start my decluttering business where I help people declutter and organise their houses and their lives, supporting them in finding space to live the lives they actually want to be living.  

I've come to realise that there is no such thing as work/life balance. There is just life and around that there are different priorities at different times. I am the main caregiver for my girls as my partner travels away for work, so my home-life and work-life are completely intertwined. I need to be available for school and nursery drop offs, pick-ups and sick days etc. For that to work, alongside running a business, I keep our lives simple. Success nowadays is defined as how busy we are and I think that can be detrimental to our wellbeing. To avoid overwhelm and to keep myself and my family healthy and I am pretty ruthless about what I say yes to. I have stopped being afraid of saying, 'thanks, but no, that's not for me'! 

The idea of simple living and living an uncluttered life is not some kind of wish to go backwards to a kind of 'Little House on The Prairie' lifestyle. It's about being able to navigate and embrace the busy, fast-paced world we live in without burning out. 

Hannah Ashwell- Dickinson

Describe your morning routine.

I am a big routine person. It’s the only way I can cope with the demands of two children. I do a lot of solo-parenting so I need to be super organised. I get the girls’ clothes ready the night before and have usually chosen what I am going to wear too. I have a capsule wardrobe which means everything in my wardrobe fits me and is appropriate for the season. This means I don’t have to make decisions in the morning when I’m blurry eyed and I know I will feel good in what I’m wearing.

I get up at around 6.30am in the hope I can have 10 minutes to myself before the girls wake. This sometimes works but often they wake me. My oldest often gets herself and her sister breakfast while I shower and dress which is amazing! 

I write a to do list every morning so I know I will be able to fulfil my work and parenting roles without being stressed out. If I’m going to be out of the house with a client I get snacks, lunches etc ready for the girls in the morning so I know they are sorted for the day. 

If I’m working from home, I drop the girls off and either run or go for a swim before heading home. 

Where do you get your ideas/inspiration from and when do they arrive?

We live in a very busy part of East London which is full of inspiration at every turn. I run a few times a week to stay fit but also to gain headspace and banish those self-doubts that creep in!

Mostly ideas come to me when I take a break and get out of London. Having time away from the house always give me a chance to re-evaluate our living space and how we could use space better. I often have a bit of a declutter session when we get home! It also gives me headspace to address sticking points with the business and ideas of how I can help my clients more. 

Being away from home also gives me time to think the many commitments we have as a family and whether they add value to our lives. In the last year I have really simplified the girls’ after school commitments so that they have more time to play and also to be bored! School life is very pressured and I feel time out of school should be slow and full of imaginative play (also time flopped in front of the tv).

When motivation wavers, how do you get back on track?

I take a break and take a walk! I love listening to podcasts and alternate between pure entertainment to podcasts that are linked to my work.

I also read a lot. Now that my youngest is 3 I feel my brain is less mushy and I'm not so tired I can read and absorb the words!

What is the best thing about your job/lifestyle?

I love seeing the transformations my clients make in their lives! Whether it be helping them create a capsule wardrobe so that they feel good about what they are wearing every day. Or working with them to transform their living space into a calm place that they want to spend time in. Its inspiring to see a client freeing themselves from clutter and discovering how they really want to live their lives.

I feel so lucky to live where I live. We have an amazing community in the building I live in, which was built specifically for families. There are 14 kids all under 10 years old on my corridor alone, which means my daughters have playmates on their door step. It also means I have this network of incredible Mum's who offer support to each other. 

If you could do something else for the day- what would you do?

I used to have a dream of running a traditional sweetshop in the Yorkshire Dales with a cafe or B&B on the side! 

How do you overcome any challenges in your working life?

I am learning to live with fear and self-doubt. I heard on a podcast recently about there being two types of fear - the 'monsters under the bed fear' and the fear when you do something new and are stepping into a new, bigger space. The latter is when something big is about to happen and if you can lean in to that fear, then good things can happen. So, I try to follow my instinct as much as possible and know when fear is stopping me from something or when it's just not the direction I should be going in right now. 


How do you celebrate your successes?

A dance around the living room! 

Do you have any tools/resources or rituals that you couldn’t live without?

Exercise in some form is a must for me. It boosts my self-esteem and gives me clarity.

I am totally attached to my phone which is something I used to feel ashamed of. But as someone who became very isolated from the world when I was at home with small babies, it really did offer me a lifeline. When I started using Instagram I found other women who had the same values as me which was so wonderful. I spent early motherhood in a state of constant guilt and anxiety and back then (2010) there were no blogs about how hard parenting was. I found forums like Mumsnet to be pretty toxic and incredibly judgemental. Finding other simple-living families on Instagram was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. 

I am also indebted to my Dad who lives locally and does a lot of childcare for me. He loves spending time with the girls and offers them love and fun and takes them to exhibitions and on bike rides. 

Which books from your bookcase would you recommend?

The More of Less by Joshua Becker

Minimalism Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Milburn

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Podcasts- TED Radio Hour; The West Wing Weekly; Simple Families; The Mminimalists; Letters to My Fanny.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.

What are your daily essentials to make you feel ready?

Tea. Berocca. A shower. Red lipstick. I can face anything with those four things. 

What advice would you give your teenage self?

During my teen years I became quite a planner which was probably a form of control when other things in my life felt very much out of my control. This had the positive effect of me being very organised and calm but maybe meant I didn't always let go as much as my peers. We all wanted to grow up so quickly through our teens so i would encourage my teen self to just enjoy life and push the boundaries a bit more! 

Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

In five years I'll be 40 and my kids will be 12 and 8 so I plan to have a much better social life than I currently do! I would like to be travelling a bit more (with and without the kids). I still see myself living in London; growing my business; enjoying my kids. Just the simple stuff!

Find out more about Hannah and her decluttering services here

Interview with Liz Sergeant

I have always had a keen interest in food and wellbeing so I was delighted to be able to chat with Liz Sergeant.

We chatted about: 

  • Nutrition in motherhood, pregnancy and toddlers

  • Course correcting and taking small steps forward to build momentum

  • Retraining so your passion and skills are aligned

  • Making your working life work for you with a small human

Big thanks to Liz:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewellnourishedclub/
Website: www.wellnourishedclub.com
If anyone would like to e-mail me, my email is liz@wellnourishedclub.com

Latest piece for the Huff Post... a wish list for new mums

I love the Huffington Post as a platform and I am thrilled to be a contributor. Here is my latest piece... click the graphic or click here

Interview with Antonia Sanchez-Toomey- Tinker Tailor | Nicky Raby

Oooh I am so excited to share this interview with you. 

I started this series because I wanted to share stories; yes I want to provide motivational, inspiring content but also make the strategies practical and accessible. 

I do live in the mindset that you can do anything you want to if you have the right focus, dedication and support. But nothing happens overnight...

This week I spoke to Antonia from @tinkertailor and I loved talking to her...she has so much great insight. 

We talk about changing career direction, how to start a blog, the ever changing tools you need to navigate motherhood and being a freelancer. 

Grab a coffee and enjoy... thank you so much Antonia. 

Find out more about Tinker Tailor Online


Sometimes we think too much instead of just being instinctive

This happened yesterday.

The particular shot we were working was being shot on one camera. The first shot was on me and the reverse shot was of the 50 plus extras. When the cameras turned around we needed the extras to not only react in the same way as the previous shot but with consistency as a group. 

The director asked me if I would just chat to them; entertain them, make them laugh, shock them, tell a few tales... 'Sure' I replied. Without actually thinking about it. My response is always to help where I can so we can get the job done. 

As I had to make a snap decision to just decide... the words suddenly flew out of my mouth. I focused on delivering and doing the best that I could. If I had had more time than that I would have freaked out, frozen and questioned everything! 

Sometimes we can listen to the rational, emotional part of our brain... the bit that holds us back, that makes us ask too many questions, that doubts our instinct. Instead of just going for it.

My clients always need help taking the first i.e. switching modes... starting to listen to the 'Sure, let's do it' rather than the 'What if fearful side'.

Let's face it we can always find a million and one reasons why we shouldn't do something.

Where are you holding back and questioning instead of taking action? 

How to network | Part One

The word 'networking' often evokes many negative feelings and emotions.

'Scary' 'daunting' and 'intimating' often spring to mind, however on a more positive note, it is an excellent way of building connections and relationships with potential clients and associates in a short space of time.

Recently, I attended the Red Magazine Network event. Aside from excellent canapes and a rather attractive glass of Champagne on arrival, there was a large room buzzing full of powerful, creative and dynamic women which could be viewed as empowering or terrifying.

The speakers were hugely inspiring as always, giving practical tips to move forward and overcome challenges.The speakers were hugely inspiring as always, giving practical tips to move forward and overcome challenges.

Here are my top five tips to get better at networking.

1) If the word 'networking' has negative connotations for you, rename the evening to something that feels more comfortable. Set a realistic intention for yourself i.e. I would like to speak to at least 3 people I don't know.

2) Wear something that makes you feel comfortable and like you. If a power suit and sky scraper heels are not for you, then don't do it. Dress appropriately for the occasion and make it your own.

3) Think about your hands. Most networking events ask you to master the juggling act of holding your drink, taking a canapé, carrying your bag, exchanging business cards and shaking hands. So you don't have to join the circus,  plan in advance what you are going to take with you and keep it to a minimum.

4) Have your business card to hand. Make sure it is not burrowed at the bottom of your bag. This phone case is particularly useful as you can store cards inside, that way you will always have a card with you. It is important the business card represents your brand with clear, up to date information.

Moo.com never fail to impress.

5) Follow up. Take action and follow up on the leads the day after the event. In our busy lives where we come into contact with lots of people, it is most effective to make contact quickly. Keep it light, don't hound and approach people from the point of view of giving, i.e. 'Here is a link to something we discussed on Tuesday'. Don't immediately ask and approach with the intention to take. Build the relationship slowly and the two way traffic will arrive shortly.

Here’s a sentence I never thought I would say …’I am looking forward to being an astrophysicist for 3 days next week’

I am chuckling as I write this. Plus I keep having to spell check it :) 

Yep, it’s true… next week I have an acting job and I am playing an astrophysicist for three days. 

The reason I find it so amusing is because I was soooo rubbish at science. 

I was in the top set for everything but in science I was definitely at the bottom of the class, perching awkwardly on a lab stool (I was a real shorty at school (and still am) so getting up and getting comfy was an experiment in itself) spending most of the class thinking ‘ehhhh?!’

As I do lots of things; actor, coach, writer, speaker and mama, my days are varied. Due to the creative nature of my work, I never know what is going to pop up in my inbox and I find this so exciting. 

When the audition came in last week, I could have easily convinced myself it wasn’t for me/ it wasn’t worth my time/ I was hopeless at science at school so I wouldn’t stand a chance… 

But instead I smiled and thought ‘That would be fun’. I took that attitude into the casting room. The casting went brilliantly, the team were lovely and encouraging and the actors I cast with were great to work with. 

Often during my client sessions the vision is clear. The clients knows the vision. But often it is the pesky limiting beliefs that get in the way

The limiting beliefs that pop up every time‘I am too young / old / fat / thin / inexperienced / uncool / busy / tired / unqualified / shy

Sound familiar? 

FYI we all have our version of these and many of mine are still a work in progress…although I am pleased to say I have banished many of them because frankly they just get in my way. 

Another observation is that these limiting beliefs are OLD. I figured out the last time I was in a science class was May 1998. Almost 20 years ago. I have done a lot of living since then- who I was then is not a reflection of who I am now!

So my question for you is what limiting beliefs are getting in your way? Where are you playing small? Where are you doubting yourself? 

Don’t worry in my sessions, I give you practical tools to move past these so you actually do more of what you love and less of what you don’t. 

I love what I do and I love how quickly changes can be made. 

I will of course share more pictures and footage as and when I can.