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No Past Possibilities and No Future Truths

Did you know, Entropy Emma has moved to its very own website? Check it out: Entropyemma.com!

 

The change of scenery was very welcome I thought to myself, as I sat down to breakfast. A two day residential course at a beautiful and quintessentially English training site, with 30 foot ceilings, red velvet curtains and paintings of 18th century admirals and merchants framing the walls. I’d gone for the full English and midway through a Cumberland sausage I caught eyes with the most beautiful human I had ever seen. Bright blue eyes, striking jaw and mop of mousy brown hair, stood towering over the coffee machine with his broad shoulders, I could have easily mistaken him for Jude Law.  I found his apparent character quite comical, chatting to his acquaintance and gesturing enthusiastically using the Financial Times like it was a conductors baton to emphasise his point, orchestrating his conversation with grace, a symphony that I couldn’t overhear but imagined was titled something like: ‘Reasons in Invest in Far East Stock Markets – in e Minor’.

I felt compelled to speak to him and immediately stood up, no wait that was stupid, I sat down. I couldn’t just interrupt his conversation with my unsolicited mumblings, I don’t actually know anything about him. Maybe I need some coffee, yes absolutely I need some coffee, I stood up and strolled in his direction, cup in hand and upon discovering it was already completely full (having only filled it 5 minutes before) I discretely tipped the coffee into the espresso machine overflow and pulled down the tap to refill it.

Jude: ”Are you going to the event tonight?”

Not Jude: ”Oh to the dinner? Nah, it’s the wife’s birthday and we are…[blah blah blah boring coupley stuff].”

My mind compiled the only relevant information; Dinner and Event. Hum…scanning the room I spotted a billboard propped up by the entrance:

“Trafalgar Day Silver Service Dinner Ball Tonight!

Members Only.

Dress Code: Black tie.”

With a large diagonal sign dictating with certainty: SOLD OUT!  It looked so exciting, if I were attending I would certainly get a better opportunity to say hey to Jude. Except of course that it was:

Sold out.

Starting in 10 hours.

For members only.

Strictly black tie.

Why is it, I thought, always the times that you don’t pack your ball gown that you need it? I laughed at how ridiculous it was to give myself such a scolding for not bringing my ‘travel ball gown’ like one would a compact iron or a set of foam ear plugs. My smiles quickly turned into a frown when discovered I was actually scolding myself via my overflowing coffee cup. My reactive swearing was heard within a 10 meter radius of my position by a soiree of suited professionals and I could feel myself blushing from my eyes to my ear lobes as I scuttled back to my seat.

It seemed impossible that I would be able to attend and to find out I would have to ask lots of awkward questions and speak to strangers which sounded kinda hard and uncomfortable. There is not much that thrills Future Emma more than successfully tackling an apparently insurmountable challenge and I felt immediately guilty for my complicit attitude. ‘Fine’ I huffed out loud, unintentionally frightening the person next to me, it was decided; I shall go to the ball. After all if me and Jude were going to live happily ever after it really would make things much more difficult if we were never to meet.

.-.

Back in the great hall, lunch tray in hand, I circled tables of professionals like a vulture for more than a few minutes before spotting my opportunity and swooping in. It was with apprehension and sweaty palms that I asked to sit with the strangers, casually inquiring what this silver service dinner thingy was they were talking about. Thirty minutes later I had the phone number of attendee Alvin Chipmunk (after mishearing his actual name twice and adhering to social etiquette to pretend the third time was a charm), directions to the closest retail outlet, a taxi number and the office location of the event organiser.

.-.

Released from my lectures some 90 minutes before the event I found myself loitering outside the office branded ‘Accommodations Supervisor’ with a racing heart my fist poised ready to knock. Reviewing my memory banks for any previous experience in negotiation and reciting the methodology ‘WIIFM’ or  What’s In It For Me? from a book I’d once read. What was in it for them? What would make them want to sell me a ticket to a sold out event? Maybe they could stick an upturned bin on the end of a row and I could eat from a spare fruit bowl with my hands? The door swung open unexpectedly, leaving me frozen like a maneki-neko cat.  ”Hi, I heard you had a cancellation for this evenings event. I know you have sold all the tickets, but I’d love to attend, are you willing to resale me the ticket so that there are no seats left empty?” I didn’t know if there had been cancellations – I was taking a punt, relying on my knowledge of non-attendance statistics, but it paid off, the ticket was mine as long as I was able to get a member to pay using their account. ‘Yeah no problem’ I said confidently as I walked off.

This was insane. I didn’t know anyone. Except my new acquaintance Alvin Chipmunk of course, could I ask a complete stranger to fork out a small fortune on my behalf? Borrowing money from strangers, it’s just not cricket! Knowing Alvin was in lectures for the next hour I had a decision to make, thumb hovered over the green taxi-call button, I hesitated, was I really about to pay for an hour round trip to an unknown shopping centre, to buy a ball gown that I wouldn’t have time to try on, for a event that I wasn’t even invited?

Future Emma thought this was a great idea.

Apparently it wasn’t ball gown season and the best thing I could find in a 6 minute Supermarket-Sweep style shopping trip was a black knee length evening shift dress. Back in my accommodation I opened the complimentary sewing kit and made haste with tacking my smartest black work skirt to the hem of the dress. Pinned up my hair into curls with some paper clips and applied some water to my tooth brush to use as makeshift clear mascara, before presenting myself with trepidation to the full length mirror for its feedback. Wow, I actually looked pretty decent.

Walking over to the great hall in my dress/skirt monstrosity, I watched in awe as men in bow-ties and woman in glorious sequined trail dresses with extravagant hair pins accompanied each other with laughter and jesting, arm in arm up the steps into the main doors. The sound of music gently building in the distant background. I still didn’t have a ticket and as I watched the porter collect them at the door I still wasn’t ready to give up. I closed my eyes and after a deep breath I called Alvin. He was more than enthusiastic to help me attend and as he handed the ticket over to me at the base of the steps he bent his arm in friendly invitation and we walked, arm in arm, up the stairs to the great hall, laughing and jesting.

.-.

Turns out Jude was married. But I had the night of my life, 100’s of grown adults singing sea shanties and passing port in flat bottom decanters clockwise around the table, trading stories and dancing, oh the dancing. And I met a new friend, Alvin. Which I still call him, he doesn’t know why.

A mentor once told me: ‘there are no past possibilities and there are no future truths, there is only now’. In other words, time only moves in one direction, you cannot influence anything that has already happened and you cannot guarantee anything is yet to take place, so the only time in which you can live with impact is right now.

There are many times that we find ourselves, ready to knock on the door, dial the taxi or improvise with a sewing kit. We hesitate and we miss out,  become complicit in our life and goals and stop living intentionally because we are too frightened to try.

I was left feeling immensely empowered for putting myself out there, to feel a bit scared and to try anyway.


Reminder of 2018 Relationships goal:

By the end of 2018 I will.. be spending meaningful time in the company of people I care about.

  • I am not distracted by my next appointment or my phone whilst in their company. I am not ‘too busy’ to support people when needed.
  • I schedule free weekends that will allow for spontaneous fun.
  • I am living my best life, I spend time in activities I enjoy and with people who are like minded, meaning I can attract the type of intimate relationships I want.

Stock Take: First Quarter 2018 goal achievements
Relationships:

Spending time with people – For me, relationships are a joint venture of mutual investment, education and growth and when I am afforded the privilege to be in the company of people I care about, I want to be there, with them. This goal is about being present. In the last few months I have been actively asking myself, where am I right now? Not allowing myself to be hijacked by the future (like worrying if my house will ever sale) or by the past (cursing myself for turning up to my niece’s birthday celebrations an entire 24 hours too late). This is a progressive process and the more often I bring my attention back to now and the joys of the moment, the happier I have been – WIN!

Free time and spontaneous fun –  I plan my day in advance to wake early and get my best work done in the morning, this gives me a free ticket for the rest of the day, I continue to do at least 1 thing for my goals each day and make sure I am clear about when I am clocking off for the day. In the last three months I have scheduled downtime every day. I feel generally more relaxed and joyful – WIN!

Intimate relationships – We have Romanticism to thank for the ideal that bumping into the love of our lives at the coffee machine is a realistic and moreover an expected reality. Although we don’t necessarily have any control over chance encounters, we can create an environment that will give us the best opportunity to attract intimate relationships by living our best lives.

For me this has been being true to myself and what I want to do, when I feel inspired to do it. I’ve lunched with my family, hiked with friends and gone to festivals. Spent time digging at the allotment with my grandmother and helped my sister move house. I’ve been swimming, climbing and roller blading; watching the surprised reactions of bystanders is hilarious, this is not a regular activity in the UK, but I don’t care, I am going to do it anyway – double WIN!


For many people their primary intimate relationship with another person is the most challenging one they keep. Though I think that the most challenging relationship we have is often the one which we have with ourselves and is usually the first thing that is affected when life becomes chaotic.  Which leads me to an interesting question, how do I continue to invest high energy in my relationship goals whilst not compromising self care…?

 

How did I get here? Read my previous blogs for insight into Entropy Emma:

Best to Start at the Beginning.

Best to Start at the Beginning Part Two

Queen of Sorting-My-Shit-Out

Today I…

Winners Adapt

The Forge

Photo credit to Kevin Yang

 

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The Forge

Did you know, Entropy Emma has moved to its very own website? Check it out: Entropyemma.com!

‘Ding!’

I’d reached the ground floor of the Cairns International Pullman Hotel. It was mid-October and just rolling into summer in Queensland, I stepped over the threshold into the main foyer and was hit by an abrupt cloud of air conditioning. I was early to rendezvous with my sister (an incredible novelty for me), wondering through the reception a grand space with a marble floor, luscious soft furnishings and dangling, meters-long chandeliers. I eventually sank myself into the plush seating and winced at the sun reflecting on the blue and white balloon-arch, leftovers from the Scottish International Rugby team ‘welcome party’ the night before.

There was of course a high chance that at any moment a buff rugby-playing Scotsman would wonder directly past me and not being one to miss an opportunity I proceeded to try to find the ideal seating position to make myself look naturally stunning and effortlessly beautiful, draping my hair over part of my face and twirling the curls with my finger to make them stand out. Smiling sweetly at nothing, resting my arm gracefully in an unnatural position and dropping my sunnies down to rest on my nose, just too low to allow them to be functional.

‘Wow, check out that beautifully tanned and svelte hottie in her Gucci sunglasses’ I imagined the players saying to each other, giggling and blushing as they walked past. Shortly after I caught a brief glimpse of myself in the rotating door and cringed at just how ridiculous I looked. ”Emma you’re such a nob” whispered my internal dialogue in a mocking tone, I caught the eyes of the Porter across the hall, a raised eyebrow and slight nod in my direction confirmed that he too thought I looked preposterous.

In an attempt to conceal my embarrassment I shifted to a hunched over position, pushed my sun glasses (that are not required indoors) to the top of my head and decided to loose myself in a random glossy magazine on the side table next to me.

The magazine that I happened upon was called ‘Forge’, an Australian economic and entrepreneurial publication. I devoured it. Pausing for the longest time on a  review of a book entitled ‘Get Rich Slow’, by Sarah Riegelhuth. Which helps millennials to focus on pursuing sensible investments, the key message being start small with ventures that have low barriers to entry. Now that I thought about it, it wasn’t the first time I had been inspired by the idea of slow-build income, I had recently listened to a podcast interview of entrepreneur Nikki Groom by the Woman’s Side Hustle Society with Gina Fresquez. I reminded myself of her description of gradual progress as ‘Turtle Energy’, no need to jump off a cliff (an analogy for quitting ones job) to make headway, build slowly and progressively and you can eventually spend more time doing your side hustle and less time in a traditional trading time for money role. I wanted this. More immediately, I wanted Forge.

When I left the hotel the next day, suavely leaning in a graceful yet awkward position against my suitcase, twisted curled hair partly over my face and my sunnies towards the end of my nose, I directed my sweetest smile at the concierge and we agreed that I could borrow the hotel-owned magazine on a more permanent basis.

It’s now on my bedside table.


Reminder of 2018 Financial Freedom goal:

By the end of 2018 I will.. not need to work full time, allowing me the opportunity to pursue other goals.

  • I will have set up passive income streams that bring in a cash flow equivalent to my current wages. I will be able to manage these streams in less time than my current full time employment, aspiration is 2 days a week.
  • I will have set up the infrastructure for a scalable business idea to be implemented in 2019

Stock Take: First Quarter 2018 goal achievements
Financial Freedom:

Before embarking on my two finance goals for this year I have been removing my anchors. Becoming more frugal and minimalist has been the biggest shift in my perspective in the last few months, aside from my annoying need to preach about my new virtue, I have made great progress. I have completely changed my spending habits (no more subscription coffee), reduced my belongings by 2/3s (no more 140 pairs of shoes) and raised >£1000 selling my stuff – creating physical and mental space to pursue my creative business ideas. WIN!

Scaleable Business Idea – I have come up with some but am going to keep this under wraps until later in the year. Watch this space.

Passive Income Streams – Timothy Ferriss in his book ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ suggests that having too many options kills decision making and ultimately revenue. My main learning from the 5 income streams below (not going to lie – its dry reading, numbers aren’t sexy people) is that I can’t focus on all of these businesses – some are going to get my top priority in quarter 2 and others are going to be tackled down!

1. DROP SHIPPING Down 

This income stream essentially involves setting up an online eCommerce shop, establishing a niche and targeting those people through Facebook marketing. When they buy something, you order it from the supplier and deliver it directly to the customers home so you don’t need to hold any stock. You can then enjoy the benefits of the income from the orders with very little risk of stock holdings or sale the businesses once it is successful for a lump sum.

Achievements – number of sales: £0! Membership costs -£20.64 Learnt a lot about the process.

Lesson – this didn’t really go anywhere for me, I didn’t commit the time to getting it off the ground and realised that I wasn’t really all that interested in it, I didn’t want to be importing cheap products when I feel so strongly about needless consumerism (see above re: preaching about new virtues). I may come back when I have a niche/product that aligns with my values.

2. SHUTTER STOCK (link) Up 

Stock photo portfolio consisting of 79 images that I have taken during the last decade. Upload high quality images and if approved wait for people to download your images, payment per download. Simples

Shutterstock (2)

 

Achievements – number of sales: 4! Equalling $1.00 (About 70p) No costs to set up or fees WIN! I was shocked by how much content I had at my finger tips that I could upload. There is something I find flattering (read narcissistic) about people all over the world purchasing my photos. I have another $34 to go before I can claim any of this money, slow burn indeed.

Lessons – I need to invest some more time in creating good metadata so my images can be found – example, there about 171 images for ‘white dripping swan’. I also need to consider taking photos specifically for their most requested content to get more regular downloads.

3. TEE SPRING (link) Up 

Upload your designs onto a tee, towel or canvas. As long as you get a minimum order quantity then Tee Spring do the rest of the work, printing and posting.

_20180416_014808.JPG

Achievements – number of sales: £0! Advertising: -£4. I’ve learned how to upload designs and to edit them which is very straight forward.

Lessons – In my example here, ‘Beat’ is part of a series of original watercolours that portray the feelings of being dog-tired and exhausted, captured in beautiful moments of defeat. Though that’s not capturing the imagination of my audience. My investment here has been minimal, other than that I need to find out why my product doesn’t sell.

4. STOCKS and SHARES Up 

Achievements – I have made a small investment into shares, which are currently slightly less than I bought it for, PFFT! I don’t mind, the investment is small and well within what I could afford to lose; I am in this one for the long haul.

Lessons – I will make more investments, research research, research and then take some informed risks.

5. EMMA FRANCES BOUTIQUE  (link) Down 

Etsy shop, to sum it up: ”Emma Frances Boutique is the hub of Limited Edition handmade home furnishings and accessories. Always UK made, with love.”

Achievements – number of sales: 4! Equalling about £9.78 after P&P, labour and materials. Costs for advertising -£40.

Lessons – time to let this one go, it’s a bit of a pointless endeavour. I am mainly selling off stock from a previous business, once it is sold I will not be making anymore so its a fair bit of effort for a limited return. Despite good engagement no one bought anything from the marketing, all purchases were direct.  I sought some feedback from other sellers who suggested its probably a combination of my products and the quality of my photos. I am going to discontinue this avenue, sell the stock in bulk to a liquidation company and free up my time.

 

Whats next?

  1. Finish removing my anchors.
  2. Focus initially on a narrower slice of passive income streams and build slowly.
  3. Pursue other avenues to build a more diverse portfolio. 
    • Selling ebooks on Amazon – short stories or poems.
    • Uploading classes into Skill Share.
    • Create a podcast.
    • Consider renting out rooms when I move to facilitate going part time.
  4. Plan for 2019 business idea.

‘Getting rich’ to me simply means both having enough to live by financially and being time rich. This is what my passive income streams focus on – not trading my time for money, because there isn’t an amount I would trade for Sunday lunches with my family or summer days hiking across the Quantock Hills with my friends. Which leads me to an interesting question, how do I manage my time in building financial freedom whilst achieving my other goal of investing in my ‘A’ relationships…?

 

 

How did I get here? Read my previous blogs for insight into Entropy Emma:

Best to Start at the Beginning.

Best to Start at the Beginning Part Two

Queen of Sorting-My-Shit-Out

Today I…

Winners Adapt

Winners Adapt

Did you know, Entropy Emma has moved to its very own website? Check it out: Entropyemma.com!

One morning last week I made my usual trundle down the stairs, wearing my pyjama substitutes (an old painting top and some oversized joggers), filled the percolator from the boiling water tap, spooned in my favourite blend of subscription filter coffee and walked to the bathroom. As I washed my hands I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror only to be genuinely surprised by my appearance.

Was that really me?

Wild bunned hair, puffy empty eyes and pale skin, I didn’t recognise myself. I felt strangely detached from the other very familiar, but certainly different, person in the mirror. A sudden observer in my own life, it reminded me of a music video by Avicii and Nicky Romero. A woman, stuck in a monotonous routine, wakes up every morning, bruises her alarm clock with her fist, brushes her teeth begrudgingly in the mirror and proceeds to submit herself to the same day. Watching as the dates on the calendar seem to fall away meaninglessly, like a self-induced groundhog day.

I was brought back into consciousness by the sound of the violently boiling percolator, I drank my coffee with cream in my usual spot on my staircase, got dressed for work in my usual shirt and chinos, arranged the scatter cushions on my bed – in the usual way and went about my usual day.

This epitomises my last couple of months and my lack of blogging, three months have passed and I have barely been awake and present to notice. Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus describe this phenomenon as ‘the career trap’, making a clear distinction in their book: ‘The Minimalists’, between a ‘job’, a ‘career’ and a ‘mission’. On careers:

“..if you are this person, then you are the least likely to change…you feel satisfied enough to keep on trucking, and maybe “someday” before you die you will be able to retire and live a more meaningful, enjoyable life.”

Some sobering stuff.

I’ve opened with this narrative because I wanted to highlight the utility and importance of taking stock. Pressing the metaphorical reset button and sticking your head above the parapet to recognise and celebrate the progress that has been made and identify any learning opportunities.

Over the next few weeks I will be reflecting on each goal in turn, blogging about them, both the successes and the challenges and quite possibly (hopefully) standing aghast of the amount that can be achieved by doing just one thing for your goals, for Future Emma; every day.

The easier option to introspection would of course be to default to feelings of overwhelm by the perceived or real challenges of getting to success. I could hide back within the safety and certainty of my 50 hour work week and suggest that I’m just a bit too busy submitting to my usual day to reach my potential after all. But that’s not the commitment that I made to myself, and that’s not what I am going to do.

Winners adapt.


Reminder of 2018 Mission goal:

By the end of 2018 I will.. have removed anchors; anything that is holding me back. Relationships, belongings, beliefs.

  • Have moved house, to a nicer area that is larger and closer to my family and transport links.
  • Have decluttered my entire house, leaving only the things that I love or need.
  • Be spending less time engaging in relationships with people who don’t build me up.

Stock Take: First Quarter 2018 goal achievements
Mission:

Mel Robbins, author and motivational speaker, champions the idea that the only way to start a new chapter is to close out the old one. This is why so much of my energy for my mission is directed at the removal of anchors and the things that are holding me back.

House – I put my house on the market, had an offer accepted on a larger cleaner house in a nicer location, a monkey-shits throw from my family and within walking distance to town. WIN!

Getting my house on the market was no small feat. Doing so meant haphazardly re-plastering my front room, wet plaster balanced in one hand and YouTube instruction video in the other. Completely redecorating 3 rooms, on a shoestring after 10 hour work days. Amongst many other trivial but time consuming activities e.g replacing a loft ladder – according to the instructions minimum two person job. Instructions 0:1 Singledom. Though, the challenge is not over, the market is slow and the viewings are few, if i don’t sell I’ll be going nowhere.

I received a message from the daughter of the elderly man who lived in my property for 40 years, he passed away last year and having seen that the property was on the market, she wanted to see the house for one last time. She arrives later today for a cup of tea and a tour, whilst I too start my own goodbyes to this house; I’ve started ‘re-purposing’ boxes that I’ve swiped from neighbours recycling piles. And one day, hopefully soon, I will by pressing my hands flatly against the walls of the house and thanking it for the joy it has brought me, as I close the door for the last time upon this chapter of my life.

Clutter – I raised £890 for my unwanted items and created an Amazon wish list to make sure I get future gifts in keeping with my new lifestyle. WIN!

Selling retro furniture through auction houses, vintage goods through online recommerce businesses and clothing items through consignment shops; reducing my clothes count from ~900 items down to ~200. I love everything in my wardrobe and getting ready in the morning is now an absolute pleasure.

I’ve found not only financial benefits to this activity. Asking my family and friends, ‘what do you need?’ and gifting expensive and new items, watching the joy the new ownership gives has bestowed me a wonderful sense of well-being.

An item that brought me a tremendous amount of joy in selling was a collection of 1940 Air Reserve Gazettes, the buyer contacted me yesterday and said:

“Talking to my brother a few days ago, he mentioned that he had been given a pile of Air Reserve Gazettes as a small boy. Aged 8 (would have been in 1948) he came home to find that his Grandma had used them all to put under the stair carpet that she had just had laid. He was mortified and it still resonates with him. I decided to search for them and found yours. So they will be on there way to my brother in New Zealand for his 78th birthday! He will be over the moon!”

Air Gazette

Relationships and Beliefs – I’ve joined support groups that will help me work towards some specific goals and I examined some long held beliefs. WIN!

Two of these groups being ‘Shopify Newbies’ to help me in creating passive income opportunities and learning from others and ‘Frugal Minimalists’, to help me decide how to continue to remove my anchors and live more meaningfully with less.

As for relationships, this is a tricky one as ultimately I’ll be spending more time engaging with relationships that are ‘on the periphery’ then with my ‘A’ people until the point at which I am living my mission. There’s numerous times of late that I’ve missed special time with people because I was too emotionally exhausted from work. Though I have committed to working from home one day per week – 7.5 blissful hours without having to sacrifice emotional energy for others is great news for an introvert.

I’ve let go of the belief that I have a super power of being able to intuit the intentions of others without asking. Now, I practice humility. When I meet a situation where I feel upset about the actions or words of others I look to understand from a place of genuine curiosity if I have understood their intentions by asking them directly.

It’s painful how often I am wrong.

Whats next?

I have given myself until the end of May to have let go of everything I own that I do not need or does not bring me joy. I have set a similar deadline for the sale of my house, if this does not complete I will look to understand how I can make my current house less of an anchor – sprucing it up during the last month made it surprisingly nicer to live in. I want to continue to be aware of how I spend my emotional energy as a finite resource and answer the question, how do I balance this with my desire to free up time to focus on developing financial freedom?

Today I…

Did you know, Entropy Emma has moved to its very own website? Check it out: Entropyemma.com!

This is Future Emma:

emma6.png

This is also Future Emma:

emma8.jpg

The only thing that separates the two, are the actions and decisions that Today Emma makes (that’s me!) in servitude of her sole beneficiary: Future Emma.

Okay, so it’s daft, but I very often talk like this, to myself and about myself, in a third person narrative, for two discrete reasons:

1) There is absolutely no risk that odd-balls will take the seat next to me on the train; they are frightened of me.

2) I can pretend that Future Emma is a very dear friend of mine whom I care about deeply and who will be directly impacted by my actions, both positive and negative.

It’s sometimes hard to be kind to yourself, but you would do almost anything for someone else who you love, right?

.-.

It was the 2nd of January and I was packing my bag for work, reminding myself of the catastrophic state of my workload, that I had mentally abandoned after the first glass of Christmas party Prosecco, some two weeks before. My apprehension was not of getting back into the thick of it, but the memory of the exhaustion that followed every work day. Exhaustion tempered only by sliding down the sofa every night with a glass of Laphroaig Single Malt and watching re-runs of Star Trek Voyager. *Shudders*. Quite a pitiful insight into my secret-single-behaviour. Especially because I lied, I don’t have a sofa, I sit on the stairs.

During the last two weeks whilst on annual leave I had been, quite frankly, absolutely killing it. Starting and finishing long outstanding DIY in an afternoon, digesting entire audio books on mindfulness whilst working out, and obliterating the daily niggles section on my to-do list entitled: ‘Triggers’.

Super Woman stand aside; I’ve got this.

For me, ‘Triggers’ are the irritating, slow-burning niggles that grate on you. It’s usually something you have the privilege of walking past every day as you think to yourself, ‘ah, I really must get round to dealing with that little nuisance’, like a gremlin tugging ferociously at your trouser leg. One such job was sorting out the contents my desperately over-flowing pantry room, the daily arguments with which were undoubtedly going to send me bat-shit crazy; eventually. There are only so many times an ironing board can fall on your head before an outright tantrum ensues with very unfriendly expletives filling every corner of the house, like a dystopian bird song. In fact, just thinking about it now being completed fills me with a warm relief – akin to finding your wallet, after a frantic 30 seconds of not being able to locate it at the bottom of your handbag.

I’d made substantial and tangible progress in key areas. I wasn’t sure how I was going to maintain a level of commitment to my goals when back at work, the desire to continue ‘batting one out of the park’ on an hourly basis was going to have me crawling the walls.

This got me thinking, if I can’t keep up this level of commitment, what can I do? Would it make a difference to do just one small thing for Future Emma every day?

I grabbed the reem of Post-Its next to me and every day wrote with the heading of ‘Today I…’ in my five goal areas.

  1. Mission
  2. Financial Freedom
  3. Relationships
  4. Health
  5. Growth

It compounded. It didn’t matter what it was, how big or small, it was something, by the end of week two I felt like I was still making meaningful progress. Surprised at how much the little things are everything, I felt enthused. I could do this.

The true test of taking action however, comes not from feeling like you have forward momentum, but from tangible outputs. What could I do in a month, in two? Would the progress be enough to see my year-end goals achieved? I had wanted to become accountable to myself, and now I was…

.-.


2018 Goal Specifics:

These are the specific goals I have for 2018, the promises am I going to make to myself, to future Emma.

Mission:

By the end of 2018 I will.. have removed anchors; anything that is holding me back. Relationships, belongings, beliefs.

  • Have moved house, to a nicer area that is larger and closer to my family and transport links.
  • Have decluttered my entire house, leaving only the things that I love or need.
  • Be spending less time engaging in relationships with people who don’t build me up.

Financial freedom:

By the end of 2018 I will.. not need to work full time, allowing me the opportunity to pursue other goals.

  • I will have set up passive income streams that bring in a cash flow equivalent to my current wages. I will be able to manage these streams in less time than my current full time employment, aspiration is 2 days a week.
  • I will have set up the infrastructure for a scalable business idea to be implemented in 2019

Relationships:

By the end of 2018 I will.. be spending meaningful time in the company of people I care about.

  • I am not distracted by my next appointment or my phone whilst in their company. I am not ‘too busy’ to support people when needed.
  • I schedule free weekends that will allow for spontaneous fun.
  • I am living my best life, I spend time in activities I enjoy and with people who are like minded, meaning I can attract the type of intimate relationships I want.

Health:

By the end of 2018 I will.. have made incremental improvements to my health in a way that is sustainable

  • Have tailored my diet to reduce my intake of foods that I have an intolerance to.
  • Have built a relationship with a counsellor and be getting longer-term independent support to manage the complex challenges that come about through being a human on this earth. Reminding myself that I am not the finished article, nor should I aspire to be.
  • I get fitter every day, as I have the energy and time to take part in the regularity and variety of physical activity that I want.

Growth:

By the end of 2018 I will.. have continued to grow as a person; I will have not let a day go by without learning something new and have the courage to continuously challenge my core beliefs, assumptions and values, where needed.

  • Regularly take part in active learning by seeking to understand things that I do not know, in a wide variety of subjects, there are no boundaries.
  • Have read a book a month, either fiction or non-fiction.
  • Finished painting the 60 x 40 cm picture that I sketched out during my annual leave. A visual representation of the challenges of life working in a corporate world, entitled: The Career Trap. It will be framed and hung on the wall, in my new house, as a daily reminder in 2019 that I am doing the right thing.

Queen of Sorting-My-Shit-Out

Did you know, Entropy Emma has moved to its very own website? Check it out: Entropyemma.com!

Seven years ago I attended a talk called ‘How to Make Money from Property’ with Martin Roberts; the host of Homes Under the Hammer. He’d invited a guest speaker, a chic-ly dressed woman with a blond bob, who had a radiant aura and owned the stage with the confidence of a west-end tenor. She spoke about how she’d courageously quit her six figure day-job and embarked on a financially treacherous journey into property development. Brave. Her story was interesting but somewhat disingenuous, with the undertone of a used car seller. That is until she reached a slide where the expression on her face subtly changed. She looked suddenly, vulnerable. The slide was a mood board with pictures of her and her family, a house and other random snippets. She paused for the longest time in front of these private images, before explaining the strength she had harnessed from creating visual representations of what she wanted from life, something she could wake up to every morning and have no uncertainty about where she was heading.

What struck me was that throughout the turbulence, precariousness and consistent failure she described, this was the one thing that was unchanging, an anchor, a metaphorical guiding star. Everything she did was in service of these goals, all else was caste aide; like jetsam.

A droll talk had been explicitly articulated in four clear pictures, the images themselves imprinted on my brain, never to be forgotten. My eyes glazed over and I pondered, if this womans dreams could be made so profoundly clear to me, within a few short glances of a PowerPoint slide, couldn’t I use this concept to pursue my own goals just as ruthlessly? I should do this.

The room rumbled with movement and I awakened to realise that we had been released for lunch, I went to enjoy some creamed coffee and complimentary cucumber finger sandwiches and promptly forgot about the idea all together.

.-.

Six years later, I found myself begrudgingly flying to Edinburgh for a work visit. The news that the Hilton I was staying at hosted a swimming pool had cheered me up somewhat, nevertheless I still treated myself to a work-trip pacifier in the form of an ‘Ideal Homes’ magazine, that I bought from the airport shop. Oh lovely jubbly.

I came across an image of a house, a beautiful Edwardian mansion with copper pans on hooks and an island in the middle of the kitchen, this house was mine, I felt sure of it, it was like bumping into an old friend. Seeing this image took me back to a seminar I’d once attended with a pretty blonde bobbed lady, who had talked about the power and impact of imagery. It stirred-up in me a kind of yearning, to live with freedom and the life I truly desired, a feeling I had not felt for probably about six years.

I put my hand in the crease and pulled out the page with rigger, starting the first image of a larger collection of scraps for my mood board. A pile of papers that today holds a strange sort of currency, a currency that I suspect only a true hoarder like me could understand.


My Freedom Mood Board 2018

This is my commitment. To myself. To pursue tirelessly the life that I want. To leave myself in no uncertainty about where I’m heading. To remind myself that the only thing holding me back from the life I want, is myself.

And probably a shit load of fear.

Which is all in my head. So yeah actually only myself after all.

I have five goals:

Goal 1: Health.

I am naturally healthy, exercise often and enjoy many sports. You won’t find me at the gym; I don’t need to. I’m too busy hiking in Ilfracombe or cycling to Paris.

I have invested in my mental health, both through external therapy and active self-love and introspection. I have the energy and courage to challenge my core values when needed and always remember (as is written on my bathroom mirror) that ‘winners adapt’.

I look after my body like it’s my most treasured possession, because it is, and it’s the only one I’ve got.

Goal 2: Mission.

I do something great for the world and I spend most of my time in pursuit of it. I have created a service that improves the lives of many people or solved a problem. Perhaps in an area where people are vulnerable, or minority groups.

I do not necessarily get financially rewarded for my work.

I jump out of bed every morning not because I have to but because I really want to*

*subject to coffee.

Goal 3: Financial Freedom.

I have a triple story double fronted grade two listed mansion house on the outskirts of my hometown. Trees line the driveway and my kitchen has an island, copper pans, a walk-in wardrobe and sports annex. It’s my favorite place in the world, my nest.

I have passive income that means the hours I work for cash in a week are minimal and I can pursue my mission and support the lifestyle that I want, I have freedom.

Goal 4: Relationships.

I spend meaningful time with my family and my ‘A’ relationships (the most important people).

I hang around with networks of entrepreneurs and like-minded people because it feeds my soul. Margaret Heffernan, Brene Brown and Danielle LaPorte are my role models.

I have groups of very close friends who I go on hikes with, we eat baked camembert and marshmallows by the fire and do 1000 piece+ puzzles; because we feel like it.

I have an intimate relationship, with someone who wants to invest in me and has a similar code of morals and ethics.

  • Macho enough to go to the doctor when they have a strange rash thing: good!
  • Remarks that the transgender lady down the street has ‘big hands’: bad! BAD!!

Goal 5: Growth.

I learn everyday.

I read often, in a wide variety of topics and most importantly I have time to learn.

I know some languages and travel the world, grounding myself in the unique and wonderful existence of others.

I have the freedom to visit breathtaking places. To swim in the Jellyfish Lake in Palau, a lake partitioned from the sea and predictors since time immoral. Such that the jelly fish are plentiful, placid and harmless. Or to witness the migration of the Trilobites in late May on Delaware Bay, one of the oldest living dinosaurs, whose coagulating blood is being researched as a potential treatment for cancer.

.-.

With an attractive use of colours and visual aids, I was pretty much ready to crown myself Queen of sorting-my-shit-out, before I reminded my ego that pictures don’t make for tangible goals, and it doesn’t tell me what I need to do over the next year to achieve them. What I really needed was specifics…

Linked posts:

Best to Start at the Beginning Part Two

Best to Start at the Beginning.

Best to Start at the Beginning Part Two

Did you know, Entropy Emma has moved to its very own website? Check it out: Entropyemma.com!

I got on the train and bagged myself a four seater with a table (winning), waving awkwardly through the closed window at my friend in the layby; waiting dutifully to make sure I caught the train after our late departure.

I dump my bag at the same time as letting out a long sigh and guiltily look forward to commencing with my incessant habit of Facebook feed scrolling. An activity that normally lasts for many hours until the shame of non-productivity floods over me, usually about the point I realise I have ‘caught up’ with the Economist posts I read yesterday.

When I unlocked my phone it presented the last app I had visited, Pinterest. The page refreshed with a new post and in big bold letters said:

”Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 day book. Write a good one.”

Wow.

Wouldn’t it be odd if you did write a book and some of the pages were completely blank? I was on the first page of my book, today, was I going to take action and make it a good one? Or was I going to leave it blank?

.–.

Over the new year I had been reading two books:

Minimalism Leading a Meaningful life by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus

And: 18 Minutes, Find Your Focus Master Distraction and Get The Right Things Done by Peter Bregman.

I’d bought them both in Australia in October on my way back from holiday. I suppose in hindsight this should’ve been a key red flag for my forthcoming existential crisis. Alas, by New Year’s Day they were well thumbed, strewn with sticky notes and written all over (sinful) with my multicoloured Biro.

After weeks of digesting these books and a sudden realisation that I was supposed to be taking action every day, pieces of a larger puzzle seemed to fall into place for me. I took out my multicoloured Biro and in the next three hours, as the train trundled with exhausted movements through the Welsh countryside, I came up with five key goals that I wanted to achieve in my life.

The train had been stationary for about 10 seconds before I realised it was my stop, I gathered up the table full of papers in the haphazard way someone would a pack of dropped playing cards and I rushed home; this was going to need a mood board…

DSC_0090.jpg

Best to Start at the Beginning.

Did you know, Entropy Emma has moved to its very own website? Check it out: Entropyemma.com!

I woke up one morning last week with a banging headache. Except it wasn’t morning, it had slipped into the afternoon and I was late to get the train back to Bristol. It was the 1st of January 2018 and I had spent the weekend hiking muddy paths and sitting by a roaring cottage fire with my closest friends eating cheese and playing Absolute Balderdash. I couldn’t want for more. Except for, of course, an answer to the general underlying discontentment I felt with all aspects of my life.

Simple right?

Thinking back, my existential crisis started last October when I was enjoying a glass of wine at a monthly goal setting event with my woman’s support group. I thought about talking about my recent holiday to Australia and how it had helped me to reach my fitness goal, or how I had reached my goal of redecorating my house when suddenly I blurted out: ‘I’m not enjoying my job!’.

I suppose it’s not uncommon for people to fall out of love with their jobs, but you see I didn’t think that I had. In fact, I thought I loved my job. What was even more unnerving was the response from my group, ‘Thank goodness! We’ve been waiting for you to realise that for ages.’

Oh. Was I the only one who didn’t know?

This is the day my mission really started. A mission to work out what I really wanted, what was my purpose? My values? And well, I was surprised to find that I wanted to change almost everything, but let’s get to that later.

After a couple of months of reflection and asking other people how they found their purpose and what they felt their values were, I gave myself the challenge of working this all out during my 2 weeks of Christmas leave, except I didn’t have any eureka moments. Until I got the train home that is….

Confessions of the Singles Table

Did you know, Entropy Emma has moved to its very own website? Check it out: Entropyemma.com!

I once confessed to a friend of mine that I felt slightly envious of her. Unlike her and the rest of our friend group I had never been given a plus one to a wedding, even when I had been in relationships with long term partners they had met and was serious with.

 

Instead, I take my usual exiled spot on the outcasts table, saved only for those who are too young, too drunk or too socially inept for general circulation, but have to be invited nonetheless, for fear of upsetting a distant family member and uprooting long repressed family politics. I pay the bride/groom my tearful respects, and people-watch for the only one or two people I actually know at the wedding; who are normally elusive bridesmaids or restricting their company only to that of their partner (well, he’s been at work all day, and tonight’s normally curry date night, and I’ve missed him, and actually we’re gonna leave early).

 

Her response to my admission was to reassure me with the genuine smile of a friend imparting vital advice, she placed a hand on my arm, squeezed it gently tilting her head to one side and told me not to worry, that I would get the plus one’s; once I was married.

 

Pushing aside the flutter of irritation of the inference that only those who are married have relationships worth recognising, it made me really sad that I have known her since I was 10 and she didn’t acknowledge anything I’ve ever said about how I feel about getting married.

 

In short, I don’t want to be married, I don’t feel it would reflect well the type and constructs of the relationships I wish to have in my life, it wouldn’t bring me happiness and for me, I would find it meaningless.

 

But I took something from this.

 

Every time I now go to a wedding, in my specially bought dress, shoes and clutch I place the £50 Wedding Present on the gifts table, knowing I’ll never receive the same celebration of my relationships. I meekly wave back to the creepy drunk man (or is it a woman?) undoubtedly destined for the outcasts table and prop myself up at the bar to indulge in a £6.50 single gin and tonic and I think about how accomplished I feel to resist a heavy, life long and increasing social pressure to conform and do something that is not right for me.

 

And that makes me smile. 😀

EE

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