Secrets of Life
Just when I think I’ve figured it all out, the Universe smacks me with a new lesson. I’ll tell you what…the only thing we can really be sure of in life is just how much there is to learn.
So what have I learnt in this crazy year of change?
I’ve learnt that things won’t make you happy.
I’ve always been chasing things: money, cars, dreams, the perfect body, success…happiness. You can’t chase happiness and nothing you ever acquire will bring it to you. Happiness is manufactured within, it doesn’t come from things outside of you, not even relationships. I know a lot of people who think that dream partner will make it all better but it won’t. If you’re not happy, they can’t make you happy.
For me, I always thought that when I had the dream body I’d be happy, or when I had a million pounds I’d be happy. I knew a Mercedes SLK would make me happy. Ha. I know, right?! Happiness is a personal project and it comes when you accept the things you cannot change, you work on the things you can and you stay present in the moment. Skipping forward in time or reminiscing on the past is a sure-fired way of bringing on anxiety and depression. Stay in the moment, recognise how lucky you are and smile. Things won’t make you happy.
I know that true love means being vulnerable.
I’m in love with the most incredible woman. One of the thing I love about her is her bullshit radar. She’s so honest and real that you can’t hide from her. She requires your full presence at all times. She requires your personal growth. She requires you. There is nothing I can buy her or give her that she wants. All she wants is ‘to have a good time’ and that means choosing to live life every single day.
Alice values relationships and connections above anything else and from what I’ve learnt, strong relationships and meaningful connections come from being honest and true and vulnerable. You need to let people in and share your inner thoughts with them, your secret life. This has been hard for me in the past. Moving every two years from aged three or four (military kid), and then going off to boarding school (a different school to my little bro, Jay) isn’t easy. I can’t remember the schools I went to before aged ten. I don’t remember friends I had when I was little. I don’t even really have many true friends, just a couple of friends who I love. Boo hoo, I know right?! But it is something I feel sad about and more so know because I reckon that on a subconscious level that my brain is geared up to fit in quickly, make ‘friends’ quickly and refuse deep attachments because I’ve moved so much. “Why be deep and connect on that level when I’ll never see these people again?” is a thread running deep in my subconscious. I’m working on this and the more I do, the more I realise that building relationships means being vulnerable: opening up, sharing your inner thoughts, risking judgement and being present. There’s more to it than that, I’m sure, but this is what I’ve learnt recently.
I’ve learnt you can’t promise forever.
As we grow up, we realise circumstances change, people change. I think it stems from learning more about who you are, what your purpose is and what is required of you to make it happen.
I’ve changed a lot over the last five years, the last 18 months in particular. What I thought I wanted was a big business with a big team and lots of contracts and I built two of those. I’ve realised this wasn’t what I wanted…it’s all I knew I could do at the time. What I want is to change the world by empowering as many people as I can to find the courage inside of them to uncover their passion and build their dream life. This is what I know today and this might change, it might develop. As I learn more about myself and the world and how things work, my ideas change, my presumptions disappear and my truth is revealed. But, we have to step out onto the path in order for the next stage to be revealed.
I can’t promise anyone anything other than I will continue to grow and be open and honest as I do.
I’ve learnt that tough times are there to help you grow.
Oh man do I know this. In order to change my life, I had to make some pretty big decisions. I sold one business and downsized another, taking on £70k in business debt in the process to make it happen. (The business loans I’d taken turned to debt when I no longer wanted to grow the business.)
One of the strongest memories I have is my car breaking down for the third time, at the worst time. I wasn’t just broke, I was in £70k of debt. I couldn’t afford a new car and I couldn’t afford to fix it…I couldn’t even afford the bloody petrol and I’m not joking. My dad offered to buy me a car to see me through and I said no. I told him that I’d gotten into this mess because I wasn’t taking responsibility for my life and my finances and the only way to change was to admit that and change; grow. “I won’t drive it dad, please don’t get it”. I told him five times.
Dads are dads. He bought me the car.
When I went home that night he told me and I had to look him straight in the eye and say “dad, thank you, but that won’t help me. I don’t need a new car, what I need is a new attitude to money and the only way I’ll get that is to take the lesson. I can’t afford a car so I can’t have one”. He was very upset and so was my mum. They didn’t get it at the time and even I wondered what I was doing as I took a train, two buses and walked a mile to my meeting the next day.
I can’t quite explain why I did it, but I did and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ll never buy anything on credit every again, I’ll never take a loan, or an overdraft and I’ll never take a gift like that. “The house I live in, I bought it…”. You remember that song haha? #Destinyschild. The lesson was served up to give me the chance to grow but I had to be brave and take it.
I’ve learnt that you can’t argue with mean people.
Of everything I’ve learnt in the last 18 months, one lesson in particular stands out. It was an interview with Marian Williamson and Oprah. Oprah was talking about how to react when someone betrays you. Marianne’s advice was: “You want to change it? Pray for them”. It really struck me because when someone hurts you, you begrudge them and think less than pure thoughts, right? But that’s just poison for you and unhelpful for that other person. It’s just more damage and if we are all vibrating on a frequency then what kind of energy is that to send out?
For someone to hurt you or betray you they must be suffering too. In an ideal world, we’d all be kind and generous and fair. When we’re not, we’re acting out of fear and a lack of education or understanding. If someone hurts you, they’re not behaving out of their highest, truest self. So pray for them. Pray they find enlightenment and peace and happiness.
As my blogs reach more people, the more I have to remind myself of this. I’ve had abusive emails, yes, and I’ve had less than kind comments on my posts. My first reaction is anger and confusion, which is born out of fear. Then, when I take a moment I remember the lesson and remember that person is just acting out of fear too. I don’t engage with mean people. I just thank them for their comments and move on. They won’t stop me doing what I’m doing, they just remind me why it’s so important.
I’ve learnt change takes time.
Boy is this true! How many times do we set a goal on Monday and expect results on Tuesday and so quit on Wednesday?! Change takes time. You’ve got to give yourself time to grow and to develop new habits, ideas and rituals and you’ve got to give ‘results’ the chance to build.
Louise Hay says that when planting seeds, a tomato plant for example, we expect tomatoes. That’s the end goal. But when those little leaves of life sprout from the ground we don’t trample all over them shouting “I wanted tomatoes!!”. No, we take it as a sign of progress, add more water and light and wait. The same attitude must be applied to our own personal growth. We need to take little shoots as signs of progress and keep nourishing the growth until we get the results we want. If we keep trampling on our progress we’ll never get there.
When I was paying off huge amounts of debt, each amount felt like a drop in the ocean against what was left to pay. I had serious moments of doubts and accountants suggested I explore insolvency. I said no. I was adamant I wanted to pay off the debt myself. For one, I created it and needed to clear it learn my lesson (remember the car story above) and second, I don’t want to have the insolvency conversation in the future. Les Brown says “Pay now or pay twice later” and I really took that advice to heart.
So, pound by pound, month by month, tear by tear we tackled it and the amount dropped to £67k, then £58k, then £54k etc etc and before we knew it, we were over half way.
Change take times.
It’s the same with weight. I must have eaten a lot of chocolate and drunk a lot of coffee in my attempt to feel better in the grips of depression. Ironic, I know. It just made me sluggish and, well, a little overweight let’s be honest here. My ideal weight is around 9st 8lb, size 10. I crept up to 10st 11lb, size 14. It happened so gradually I didn’t really notice. In January, I decided to make a change, and gave myself the goal of being 9st 8lb by Christmas 2016. Today, I’m 10st 1lb so I’m so bloody close and still have over three months to go.
I didn’t do anything drastic but I did give up caffeine (that took months), I gave up dairy (that is still a work in progress…again it’s taking a few months to transition) and I started eating better food. I took the pressure off to get it perfect and gave myself the time to change. Over time, I did more good than I did bad – I ate more ‘good’ food than I ate ‘bad’ food and the results compounded. There were no crash diets, no suffering.
The reason I gave up caffeine was to help with depression – I read that I should avoid stimulated peaks like that and so I did. The reason I gave up dairy was because I read that it’s ‘baby cow growth formula designed to turn baby cows into fully grown heifers’. Haha. I also read that it builds up in your digestion systems and stops you digesting all your food properly. The trick, I found, was not to ‘give up something’ but to replace it. We replaced milk with almond and soy milk and caffeine with decaf – I still have 3 or 4 decaf soy cappuccinos every week because I bloody love them…and yes I have the chocolate sprinkles on the top.
It was all for my health – I didn’t do anything to deprive myself.
What’s cool about it all is that my attitude to food and health has changed. I know drinking more water doesn’t have an immediate effect but over a few days, weeks and months it has a huge effect!! The same with good food. I’d find it hard to eat a wedge of chocolate cake now because my values around food have changed. That said, I do love chocolate Revels…damn it.
I’ve learnt that building your dream life is damn inconvenient.
We all fall victim to the ‘I want it now’ mentality, or ‘I wish it was easier’ prayer. Far too many things are downloadable now haha, but you can’t download growth as Lisa Nichols would say. Change, in my mind, is about growth. To change your bank balance, you’ve got to change your attitude to money and that means growth. To change how people treat you, you’ve got to change how you treat yourself and that means growth. To change your life, you’ve got to change who you are and that takes growth.
The trouble is, we all quite like our lives as they are. Yeah, they might not be perfect, but they’re comfortable and convenient. Sleeping in until 10am, or 11 or 12 on the weekend is lovely. Getting lost in a box set or never missing your favourite soap is lovely. Eating take aways is lovely but none of this stuff will change our lives for the better. They just keep us locked in what we already have.
I think that if we’re not willing to change, it’s because we’re not willing to step into the unknown, to inconvenience ourselves by learning something new, or developing a new skill. The truth is that even when life hurts we can think that this life is more comfortable (or convenient) than change. Change is inconvenient. Building your dream life is inconvenient…to you and the people around you. You try telling your dad you don’t want the car he just bought you – that’s inconvenient!
In my talks, I often say that success leaves clues. If you want to achieve something, find someone who has achieved it, model their behaviour and the results will come. This is inconvenient too – it takes work. There is nothing convenient at all about this stuff…except maybe the results. They’re pretty nice.
I’ve learnt the world is changing.
I can feel something in the air, can you? The world is changing. More people than ever before are self employed. More people than ever before are blogging about their truths. More people than ever before are forming clubs and groups and tribes with an intention to change the world. More people than ever before are going vegan. More people than ever before are leaving the corporate world to pursue their dreams.
As Alice told me recently: “This change is happening with or without us, we might as well be part of it”.