Is it just me or does time have a habit of evaporating? One minute you’re waking up on a Monday morning with gusto ready to give the week it’s the best shot, the next you are closing the doors on a Friday evening, wondering if you are a character in a movie where someone has stolen your days.
My favourite song at the moment is Ellie Goulding, Sixteen. I’m a huge fan of Ellie’s voice, I love its warm tone mixed with a cool, contemporary edge, but she wins my heart because of her extraordinary songwriting skills. She has a ‘knack’ of capturing relatable situations and turn them into chart-busting songs.
In Sixteen, Ellie reflects on the relationship she had with her best friend at school, and how over time her relationship dissolved. There is one line though which really strikes a chord with me
“Time, suddenly, we got no time, we’re so busy doing life”.
Boy-oh-boy does that sound familiar! I pride myself on being very good at time management and do my best to squeeze 100% out every day, but no one has the power to turn back time, not even Cher.
If we look around, I think lots of us are “busy doing life”. It’s like a juggling act, work, business, kids, dogs, gym, spouse/partner, family, friends, hobbies and the list go on and on, everyone wanting a piece of us, sometimes life can just be completely overwhelming.
But, like everything I believe we have a choice. We can continue being caught up in the washing machine of life, getting pushed and pulled around until we a worn out and run down, or we can draw a line in the sand and create a new path.
In 2016, my lovely husband Neil, prompted by a routine medical appointment decided enough was enough he was going to make changes in his life (thankfully, it was not dumping me). Neil decided to live a healthy lifestyle, he is a lateral thinker, so for him, the strength lay in creating a strong plan. Weight Watchers was his first port of call as it offered an eating structure which was easy to follow with classes and an app to keep him on track. When his weight started to reduce, he bought an elliptical and canoe to bring exercise into the equation to sustain weight loss and increase his fitness levels. Over the period of a year, he saw 8 stone weight loss, which he now maintains and this year he completed the Devizes to Westminster canoe race, and 24-hour endurance paddle.
You would think that living with Neil that some of those good habits would rub off and I would have become thinner or healthier over the last 3 years, wouldn’t you? The answer is yes and no. Although Neil no longer tracks his Weight Watcher points, we still eat daily, freshly cooked meals from their recipe selection, which are honestly tasty and delicious, it’s not all about eating lettuce leaves and carrots.
But mostly my lifestyle choices have remained unchanged. During the period of Neil’s weight loss journey, life has been hectic, I was busy writing Secrets of Successful Sales, looking after my children, running the company, working with my team, training teams all over the world – yes, you’ve got it:
“I was busy doing life!!”
A while back, I was fortunate to be given live stints on BBC Breakfast for three consecutive weeks. Doing TV work had never hit my radar, I’m a bit of a Gogglebox, but never in a month of Sunday’s dreamed I would ever be exposed to the other side of the camera. It invigorated me, I loved the whole experience and feedback from producers and viewers was great, I had found a passion I wanted to pursue.
During Neil’s weight loss journey, he had never once put me under any pressure to join him. We have been together for 25 years and he loves me for being me, not who he wants me to be. I get infuriated when people use gaslighting techniques with their partners to make them feel they are not good enough, thin enough or smart enough, but I’ll save that for another blog.
They say the TV adds 10lb, so it was vanity that initially prompted me to join the weight-loss bandwagon. Every time I visualised myself on the small screen it gave me the strength to carry on and I managed to drop a couple of stone. Things were going swimmingly from all angles, I was lined up to do a slot on a large BBC TV show until last minute they decided a Dragon would be more suited for the role. The email landed in my inbox like a stake my heart and as the hope of a tv show faded, so did willpower. I reverted back to eating and drinking what I wanted, and the pounds slowly started to creep back on.
Fast forward, to the start of this year and a TV opportunity again came knocking, this time for a new BBC business show who were looking for a business expert to help give on-camera advice. As the Entrepreneur’s Godmother, it would have been perfect from me not only because the advice I give is accurate, current and edgy, but it would have been a great showcase for my TV talents.
This time, instead of jumping on the scales and looking to fast track the weight loss in preparation for filming, I did something which in reflection was just completely irrational. Because of the previous correlation of TV and weight loss, I decided if I focused on weight loss it would jeopardise getting the show. I KNOW!! Who does that???
Actually, lots of people! Not necessarily around landing a BBC TV show, that is quite extreme, but self-sabotage around relationships, jobs, promotions, achieving goals and making sales is very, very common.
I recently wrote a blog on CBT and how it can help you unpick your thoughts, feelings and behaviours to create positive actions.
Thoughts create feelings
Feeling create behaviours
Behaviours reinforce thoughts
Thoughts – The last time I lost weight the result was I didn’t get the TV show
Feeling – Oh well, I’m overweight any way, what difference does it make. F*** it!!
Behaviour – One more cream cake, more wine and repeat, repeat and repeat again
Reinforced thoughts – I’m never going to get it anyway because I’m overweight
Thoughts – The last time they chose a Dragon over me
Feeling – I’m not good enough
Behaviour – Screw it I’m going to stop trying
Reinforced thoughts – Stop trying, you will only get another knockback and get hurt
On the grand scheme of things not getting a TV show is a crater on the moon compared to a lot of situations people face in their everyday lives, but the same principles apply to lots of situations and in my opinion, the feeling of not being good enough can be a catalyst to mental health issues.
But, how do you overcome these issues?
Well, 28 days ago, I decided to make some changes. My first action was to separate and compartmentalise my weight loss journey for my TV ambition. THEY ARE NOT LINKED, only my internal voice is telling me they are.
Sometimes being “busy doing life” creates a cycle and we look for ways to reduce the pressure, or to relax, or to relieve the stress and switch off. For me the thing which flicks the switch to do this is wine. Mmmm even as I type the word, I can taste a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on my lips. I love wine, sometimes more than my own children!! It’s not even so much the feeling the wine gives me but the actual taste of the gooseberry mixed with the grapes, I find utterly delicious.
I don’t know what it is about being Scottish, but alcohol seems to be integrated into our culture. Maybe it’s the dark nights in the winter, who knows. Not only does it feature highly in lots of things we do but frequently it is at the centre of the activity, we don’t need any excuse to open a bottle of two. Lots of us practise hard and have done for many years, we are usually “good” at drinking. We can consume a lot before the effects kick in and early morning starts aren’t a problem because our bodies are used to the pattern. Often this is referred to as a ‘high functioning alcoholic’.
For me, drinking was more or less an everyday occurrence and had been since my teens, with the only breaks being the pregnancy and feeding periods of my 2 sons. But my baby is now 17 years old, so that would mean it would be 17 years since I had a break from regular consumption of alcohol, gulp!!
The wine had become a constant in my life, 6 pm, pop the cork was out, well actually the lid was off since they created screw tops, the audio noise is not quite as effective!!
I LOVE A CHALLENGE!! As soon as I say I can’t do that, it just spurs me on to go for it. As a dyslexic, I thought I couldn’t write, it was that feeling that carried me through writing Secrets of Successful Sales my Amazon #1 and WH Smith top 10 business book.
My inner thought was I could not stop drinking, I had been doing it too long I NEEDED it. Then a little advert popped up on my Facebook feed for One Year No Beer. I laughed out loud, it was like people doing Stoptober and Dry January. Neither had ever hit my bucket list, who on earth would put themselves through that pain. Plus, I can’t do that, I need my wine to fix every day.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I pulled my credit card out of my purse to sign up to take the 28 days no alcohol challenge!!
Here I am on day 28, not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips. I’m not going to say it was easy, my worst day was day 6 when I distracted myself by buying our team Christmas jumpers in June!! But the trick with breaking any habit is finding something to distract you, find a new passion, something you enjoy.
In addition to 28 days no booze, I have re-signed up to Weight Watchers and am on week 4 of Couch to 5k. Running has helped me focus my energy on getting fit and losing weight. So far, I’m 10.5lbs down and running more than I did when I was a fit 20-year-old. I’ve even booked the date in my diary for my first park run in September, so I have a goal to aim for
What are my top tips to help make changes and avoid “being busy doing life”?
- What CAN’T YOU DO? It’s a great place to start to give yourself focus and goals. It will help you be more productive as you will add structure and times to your day.
- Use CBT to help analyse how your think and how it affects you. You can also use it to create positive vibes
Thoughts – I am going to stop drinking for 28 days
Feeling – If I stop drinking, I will have more energy to do new things
Behaviour – I’m going to take up running to get fit
Reinforced thoughts – Bingo Bango, I feel like Paula Radcliff, I am the Queen of Running, I am smashing this and feeling AMAZING!!
- Don’t fight the tech!! One of the crucial things which has helped me is my iPhone. I have the BBC radio and Couch to 5K app, I listen to music I like and have Jo Wiley giving me instructions on when to run and when to walk on C25K, it really helps me stay on track.
- Don’t go it alone. I have not been an active member on the One Year No Beer Facebook group, but on the days, I struggled, it was helpful to read the comments. No matter what habit you are trying to kick, bet your bottom dollar there are other people going through what you are you just have to find a community to support you. We all thrive better in a group.
- Timing is EVERYTHING. If Neil had suggested I join him on his journey, it probably wouldn’t not have worked. It’s the inner voice that needs to tell you it’s time. Like me with TV, there may be something which is linked you breaking a habit. Separate them, they are probably not linked and when you de compartmentalise it will make it easier to make a plan.
- DON’T MAKE EXCUSES!! I thought I couldn’t write because I was dyslexic, couldn’t stop drinking because I had been doing it so long, lose weight because I love food, run because I was overweight. SCREW IT……… you can do anything you want to, the only person stopping you is you. What do you want to do?
- BE BRAVE. How easy do you think it is to bear my soul and love of wine to the world. Some people may judge, but more people will relate and support.
So, back to my buddy Ellie Goulding.
You only get one life, it’s precious and it’s important you are happy.
I am not committing to giving up alcohol for ever, but I have decided to extend my challenge to 60 days. Why? Because I honestly don’t think I can do it, and that is the reason I am going to try.
Don’t be busy “doing life” be busy “doing you”. Make time for the things you want to do, the things you love, and be happy.