How to change your life
We’ve all been there: rock bottom. Depression. Fatigue. Regret. That moment when we wonder what it’s all for, when we question our very purpose for being on this planet.
Truth be told, I’ve had a few of those moments and for the longest time I wondered “what’s wrong with me?”, “why can’t I be happy?”.
Last year, I hit a very different sort of rock bottom. Rather than tumbling down, eyes closed wondering when the bottom will appear I decided, in a moment, that I was there and this was as low as I was prepared to go in life. I stood tall, feeling strangely grounded at the bottom of that pit and looked up for a ladder, a hand, a tunnel – anything. I was getting out, for good.
You see, I woke up that morning and started asking: “what is it all for?”, “what is my purpose in life?”, “what will it take for me to be happy?”. Instead of slamming myself for the things I’d got wrong I started asking myself what I really wanted – I mean what I really wanted – and what I had and what I knew that I could build on to change my life forever. This rock bottom was one I faced in all it’s glory: “hello old life”, I said out loud to myself…”things are about to change” and I set about doing things I’d never done before, and saying things I’d never said before and guess what – I got things I’ve never had before.
In coaching, I have a certain number of power questions that I’ve always called on to help clients through transitions in their own lives. They look like this:
- What would you try if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- What do you want to be celebrating 12 months from today?
- What legacy do you want to leave behind?
I had asked myself them all over the years – I have a whole bank of them saved on my Mac – but the truth is they never really struck me; they never got to the pit of my stomach where my true passions stir and crash like rocks in a washing machine.
The question that did it for me was this: “What would you do if you had three months left to live?”…upon answering that question to myself I heard this follow up: “How do you know you haven’t got three months left to live?”
When my own mortality came into focus I reacted: “I’ve got to get serious about this”, I thought. That very day I set in play a chain of events that were to change every single aspect of my life. Over the next 12 months I:
- Launched IX7 – my dream business – and began coaching, speaking and writing every week
- Downsized Digitia and ultimately changed the business model entirely
- Told the woman I loved how I felt and moved to Manchester with her (a stepping stone to London, and then America, or possibly Italy or the South of France)
- Became a vegetarian…the start of a journey towards becoming vegan
- Quit sugar … but this one is more a work in progress!
- Started writing my book – Permissivity
- Quit wearing suits to meetings (nobody cared)
- Started baking (my very own form of meditation)
- Went from being £70k in debt, with a negative cash-flow to being £25k in the black with profitable accounts month on month
I have changed every aspect of my life and it’s given me a new found appreciation for what it takes to enact real change in your life. Previously, I wrote about what I read about, and what I thought would work – things had always really worked out for me – but it took a real life batch of realism to make this content more relatable. In this blog, I’m sharing the practices I developed that turned my life 180 degrees. This is how I changed every aspect of my life, and how you can do the same. Ready? Here you go…
1. STARTED BEING HONEST
I’m an honest kind of person but I realised, last year, that I was lying to myself. I covered up cracks and issues with plans and with money. It wasn’t a good idea. Cracks grew and issues became deal breakers. The plans were never compelling enough to bridge the gaps and the money ran out.
When I realised I’d taken a massive leap in the wrong direction (with Digitia and IX7) and wanted to ‘edit, undo’, I realised I would have to find another way to repay the £70k I had borrowed to make that leap (I’d taken a £30k Funding Circle Loan, got a £20,000 overdraft, taken on an £8k bank loan and used various credit cards). Don’t get me wrong, the plan was solid. It would have worked…if I’d wanted the outcome it was giving me. The trouble was I didn’t want that outcome, I didn’t want that life and I had to get honest and face up to who I was, what I wanted and what it would take to get it.
I started being honest with myself, and with other people. Sadly for my team, the Digitia dream was up. I had to let go of my team and return to the basics in order to return to a positive cash-flow and begin tackling the debt.
My biggest fear at the time was people finding out and judging me for not being able to run a business. I can run a business, I just didn’t want to run the businesses I had built. They’d become too big, too far removed from my dreams and the admin around them was tying me to my Mac 24/7. And so, I wrote about it. I wrote a blog called “Why Happiness Cost me £70,000” and it’s one of the most popular, most well received blogs I’ve ever written. It turns out a lot of people are in debt, and a lot of big businesses have had their fair share of cash-flow issues.
Being honest strengthened my relationships with clients, friends, family and even my team, some of who I now work with on a freelance basis and nearly all of whom I’ve seen through the wonderful DARETOGROW events.
2. STOPPED CARING WHAT PEOPLE THOUGHT OF ME
It’s an easy sentence to write – ‘I stopped caring what people thought of me’ – but not an easy thing to do in practice.
When I downsized Digitia, launched IX7, told my world about the debt and moved to Manchester everything people knew of me had changed…apart from one thing – my integrity. Whilst I knew there would be handful of people who judged me for what I’d done, I trusted that most of the people I knew would trust in me and support me through the change. After all, I’m only trying to find happiness for me and the people whose lives I touch.
I told my parents, clients, I told Linked In, I told Facebook, I told the people who came to DARETOGROW.
It’s hard to explain but to come out with these kinds of details – I got it wrong, I’m in £70k of debt, I don’t know what my job title is – is very hard. As a society we are obsessed with our labels, our achievements, our markers of social standing. I gave them all up, every last one of them and put myself out in the world without labels, without a mask – I was incredibly vulnerable.
The solution? Not give a damn what people think. In fact, I actually started worrying for anyone who did judge me because it revealed more about their own insecurities than mine. This quote summed it up nicely for me during the darkest days: “For those who believe in me, I don’t need to say anything. For those who doubt me, nothing I say will help”.
3. FORMED A CLUB, JOINED A CLUB
By now you probably know what IX7 is all about. It’s a networking club for people who want to change their lives. Well, it’s so much more than that – it’s a movement really – but I’m not quite sure how to explain it. I’ll be holding a focus group with loyal supporters soon to help me on that one! For now, let’s call it a networking group.
IX7 is my dream – a club that inspires, empowers and drives people to face up to who they are, take massive action and build their dream lives. At a time in my life where I most questioned my own ability, my future, my passions I founded a club that attracted other people in similar positions asking similar questions.
I quickly learned that there lots of people (of all professions, ages and backgrounds) in debt. There were lots of unhappy people, sleep walking through life. There were lots of people unhappy at home. There were lots of people who wanted more from life but didn’t’ know where to start.
Messages of support and encouragement started pouring in: “More content please Lisa”, “When’s the next event Lisa, I’m bringing my son”, “When are you bringing DARETOGROW to London, I can give you a free venue”, “Thanks for your courage Lisa, you’ve moved me to take action”, “Amazing video, I’ve just sent it to my friend who has depression, this will help”…I couldn’t believe it, I was overwhelmed – I still am.
You see, DARETOGROW isn’t about ‘customers’ or ‘clients’ – it’s about a group of people who are ready to make changes, a group of people who want to support each other – it’s a group of people who are waking up and pursuing their dreams and I love it.
More recently, I also joined a group: Manchester Orators. It’s a group for people who love public speaking, or people who want to improve their speaking skills, or build confidence in front of large audiences. It’s fantastic. Finding another network like this where I can speak my language, be myself and continue to develop my skills for my ‘new life’ is beyond fantastic.
4. CHANGED MY CUES
I’ve tried to change my life before and I’ve enjoyed some success. I think leaving a ridiculously well paid job in London aged 23 to launch my first business was the first major change that stuck. Coming out was my second and this shift in Digitia and IX7 is my third.
My life has been peppered with smaller changes too however – that bid to be size 10, giving up sugar, taking evenings off…these have been things I’ve tried but with no lasting success and I know why.
In January of this year I quit meat and became a vegetarian. It happened because I saw a video of a cow being freed from a life of incarceration. ‘Bandit’ had literally been chained up in a shed for his whole life. I can’t quite explain why but seeing the bull run and thrash about in fresh hay moved me to tears. It was in powerful contrast to those sickening videos I’ve seen of animals in slaughter houses and it caused a finite value shift in me. I gave up meat and can now barely look at it in supermarkets.
I learned in that moment that real change only comes when you change your values, when you change who you are and what you will tolerate. Anything else is a temporary shift; a fad-based response born out of the desire for the results you want. I learned that to change the outcome, you literally have to change who you are as a person or you will keep reverting to ‘type’ – your type.
What helped was a change in cues. Vincent Deary wrote in his book ‘How We Are‘ that we don’t just store memories in our brains: we store them in our environment too. He likened us to actors who don props to ‘get into character’ and said the props, or cues, around us remind us who we are and keep us in character. “Give any of us long enough in space and we will upload to it, impressing large portions of our thinkings and our feelings on to our space…Through all of these, in all of these, we accumulate a biography and write a story about ourselves. Rooms remember who we are”. He explained that this is why elderly people with cognitive afflictions deteriorate rapidly when moved into care – they lose all the props that form their biography.
When I moved out of my office in Seaham, when I moved to Manchester, when communication with people from my past slowed down I found it much easier to change my biography. The cues I had accumulated had vanished and I was left with a fresh, blank canvas to rewrite my life. Changing jobs, cutting ties with toxic people (think of the people you unfriend on Facebook because of their silly comments!), moving home – these are all incredible shifts that allow you to forget the past and forge a new future.
5. TRUSTED IN THE JOURNEY
I always remember the infamous line from Steve Jobs: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can connect them looking backwards”. How right that man was! I used to be a stickler for a plan – writing out every goal, every detail. At one point, we ran a project in Digitia to carve out every outcome for every single aspect of the business. We went too far. I went too far!
More recently, I’ve learnt to let go, to trust in my journey. I know things will work out for the best. I feel guided to that end. For example, I never could figure out how Digitia and IX7 fitted together – why I couldn’t leave the idea of IX7 alone and why I could never walk away from Digitia – it got quite awkward trying to explain it to clients, never mind come up with a workable bio for Linked In.
This weekend, it clicked and I wrote about it in this blog – “How to Market to Generation C – The First Ageless Generation“. IX7 is a business compelled to understand what drives change in people in order to help people live their dream lives. A major influence today is our constant connection to each other, to content, to fresh ideas via technology. We are using our devices to consume, share and even create our own online worlds. This content, this approach, this ‘connectedness’ is helping us to make decisions about our lives and I need to understand this in IX7. Likewise, my Digitia clients need to understand the importance of integrity, providence and honesty when connecting with their customers. They have to decide how their business will change the world and then build a tribe to help them do it. IX7 and Digitia are siblings on the same mission, with different passions. What a blessing.
HOW TO JOIN A DARETOGROW EVENT
So that’s it. The five major shifts in me that caused powerful, lasting change in my life. In summary, fundamental to the idea of change is that you yourself must change. People become attached to their story, their labels, their position. If you want to change your life, you have to give up what you know and sometimes who you know in a bid to write a new story.
Trust in your imagination, trust in yourself and start asking yourself what conditions you must set up to manifest your dream life. Accept that change takes time and stop worrying about the outcome. Just focus on becoming the person you want to be and watch everything fall beautifully, majestically into place.
Join me at the next DARETOGROW event to take the next step…
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Come along to a DARETOGROW event. See me talk live, enjoy a drink on arrival and meet likeminded people on the same journey as you!
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