Inspiring Advice From Inspirational Women

One of the main features of this blog is the interviews that I love to conduct with other professionals on the topics of careers, wellbeing at work and work-life balance. I've been lucky to interview some wonderful people and always enjoy learning from their trusted advice, motivation and encouragement. Among them have been some truly inspirational women who are carving out unique paths in the working world and who have offered some thoughtful wisdom that has certainly helped me and I hope has also inspired you as readers. So today, as it is International Women's Day, I thought it was about time to reflect back on some of my favourite tips and pull them together here to provide continued creativity, imagination and determination for all of us in our working and indeed our daily lives. Without further ado here are a few of my very favourite interview snippets!

 Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

1. ON VALUING YOURSELF AND KNOWING YOUR WORTH

From Business and Personal Coach Kim Morgan at Barefoot Coaching

When it comes to your career what’s the one piece of advice you wish you could go back and give your younger self?

That’s a great question but it’s hard to choose just one piece of advice as I think I made so many ‘mistakes’ along the way! If I had to have just one it would be - value yourself and what you are offering. That means:

  • Deciding on your fee structure and sticking to it
  • Resisting the impulse to over-deliver (giving away your time)
  • Believing that what you are doing is making a difference
  • Not discounting your skills and recognising all of the time, energy, training and investment you have put into being able to do what you do.

Read The Full Interview Here: Discussing The Power Of Positivity And Everyday Coaching With Kim Morgan

 

2. ON FINDING HAPPINESS AT WORK

From Happiness Consultant Samantha Clarke

Are there any key points that people reading this right now can consider to help them find more happiness in their own working environment?

  • Identify what’s authentic - take time to distil what really matters, what you need. Educate yourself or your team on your core values to make sure you are consistently embodying and aligning yourself accordingly. When things feel out of sync pay attention to it, interrogate it and hold yourself accountable to the changes that you need to make to put things right.

  • Build the right support framework around you - once you have clarity on your goals, there is no shame in reaching out and connecting to get help to take you closer to where you want to be. Either by getting a consultant into your business or investing in your creative learning or growth, perhaps on a retreat or workshop. Also look to see how you can help others, it’s a two-way street.

  • Don’t be scared to challenge the status quo - without innovation, your work life will become stagnant and not a true representation of the evolving individual or your company. Embrace change head on and any challenges to seek new opportunities.

  • Know your goals - map out the vision you have for your work/life. Is this path you are on taking you closer to, or away from these goals? How much progress are you making? Focus on noting down your wins and successes towards this goal as well as identifying where you might need to pivot, readdress, get creative and move through the friction and resistance that comes with change and action.

Read The Full Interview Here: Finding Happiness At Work With Samantha Clarke

 

3. ON STAYING MOTIVATED AND FINDING THE RIGHT SUPPORT

From the Founder of The Business Girls Network, Amanda Ayres

What is it that really drives and motivates you on a daily basis and how do you keep this momentum when feeling under pressure?

I'm a firm believer of supporting women and giving women opportunities. I think it's something that is naturally inbuilt in me and I do a lot of charity work too which supports this theory.

When I'm under pressure I go and exercise, just take some time out or reach out to the number of different people that support me. I think it's important to have a support network where you can get some coaching.

Recently I was so overwhelmed with the volume of work I nearly gave up. I think I had ‘start up fog’.  Nothing made sense to me. I took some time out and hey presto everything seemed to fall into place! 

Read The Full Interview Here: Amanda Ayres Discusses The Importance Of Supporting Women In Business

 

4. ON MAKING MISTAKES AND STEPPING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

From the Founder of letterbox florist company Beards & Daisies, Jo Lambell

How do you set about conquering your biggest fears and setbacks in your working life?

When I was working in sales there were always scenarios that took me out of my comfort zone, whether it was a project, a meeting or a presentation. It would be easy to play it safe when you have your own business as there's no one to push you or challenge you other than yourself. It’s cheesy but at least once a month I try to force myself to do something which takes me out of my comfort zone or makes my stomach turn with fear. For example going to a networking group where I don’t know anyone. ‘Living in fear of making mistakes, is the only mistake you can make’ is a great motto to live by.

Read The Full Interview Here: From A Passion For Florals To A Blooming Beautiful New Business

 

5. ON WELLNESS, BALANCE AND LOOKING AFTER YOU

From the Co-Founder of Work Well Being, Louise Padmore

If you could give one piece of starting advice to someone trying to find better balance in their lives what would it be?

My single biggest piece of advice to someone trying to find balance within their working life would be to trust your instincts and remain firm and courageous in your need for space and time for wellbeing.

I know that this is often much easier said than done but, for me personally, now that I look back there were lots of little warning signs pointing me to the conclusion that the path I was on wasn’t working for me. I wasn’t eating well, didn’t feel particularly engaged around those I love, was incessantly scrolling through my phone often even without any real sense for what I was searching for, wasn’t sleeping well and just generally had a sense that all was not right. I do think that perhaps if wellbeing during the working day had been made available to me, then things could have been different. 

Read The Full Interview Here: Discussing Work Wellbeing With Louise Padmore

 

I hope that the great advice from these very inspirational women sparks encouragement and a sense of support within you this International Women's Day. If you're after more motivation take a look through the many other What Now interviews to get some more top tips for work and life here: The Interview.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Louise

 


The Value Of Loving Your Leisure Time

HOBBIES, LEARNING NEW SKILLS AND BUILDING YOUR OWN TERRARIUM!

When was the last time that you tried something new? Or even just indulged for a while in something you truly love that doesn't involve work or day to day life chores and admin?! Hobbies, trying out new pastimes and learning new skills can be a beautiful thing and an incredibly important asset for our stressful, busy lives. They provide a way to pass the time that can greatly improve our health and wellbeing. Yet they so often fall by the wayside as we grow up, fill our lives with all sorts of other necessities and forget to make some time for a leisurely activity that we truly love.

Terrarium Building Class

Recently I was invited to spend an evening immersing myself in trying something different via a new online resource called Obby.co.uk* and so I took myself along to the beautiful florist Grace & Thorn in Hackney to learn how to build my own terrarium! Now I'm a real fan of all things green, especially succulents and cacti. Readers of this blog will probably be aware of my previous efforts to encourage people to bring green into their workspace as it can greatly help to create a healthier environment in which to work day to day. So I was more than keen to take the time to learn how to build and to better look after the greenery in my space from the experts.

Want to embrace the benefits of bringing green into your workspace? Learn more here: 3 Quick Ways To Create A Healthier Workspace

Terrarium Building Class

During this two-hour evening class we learnt a little about the history of the terrarium before going on to build our own using all of the tools provided; including an array of beautiful succulent plants, moss and other welcoming green goodness! Cue the passing around of copious amounts of gravel and soil over a glass or two of prosecco, whilst chatting to new friends and pimping our plants. We swiftly created a little haven of peace and prettiness in the beautiful glass bowls that we got to take home containing our creations at the end of the evening. We were also guided in the care of the plants and took some time to look around the florist itself which was a very cool space in which to spend an evening. 

Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class

Whilst I don't anticipate building many terrariums on a regular basis, (I'll quite possibly have trouble keeping this one alive as despite my love for what should be very low maintenance plants they still seem determined to whither on me!) this was nonetheless a really fun way to spend an evening in London and a great way to meet new people and experience something very different. Obby is a great new site that enables Londoners to discover classes just like this that they can go along to and try out for themselves. Whether it leads to a new longer term hobby or just provides a welcome break from the stresses and strains of everyday life, Obby offers a platform from which to get started. From terrariums to cooking, to welding and spoon making, there really is something to suit all tastes and interests and their easy online booking system makes finding and planning your newest passion all the more simple and exciting. Plus they are quickly adding new classes and interests on a regular basis. 

Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class

If, like me, you have a love for all things green and fancy building your own terrarium - or if you just have the urge to try something new and completely different, whatever your taste and interest, then Obby have kindly offered What Now readers the chance to retrieve 10% off of any class booked on their website. Just head on over to Obby.co.uk, take your pick of the exciting classes that are on offer and enter the code WHATNOW10 when completing your booking.

If you do decide to take a class then I'd love to know how you get on and hear all about your experience so make sure you share it with me via Twitter or by leaving me a comment below. 

I'd also love to know how you spend your leisure time? What are your favourite hobbies and pastimes or have you just started something new and exciting that you never thought you'd so enjoy making the time for in your life? I love to hear your stories so be sure to let me know!

Louise

 

*I was very kindly invited to try this class out on a complimentary basis. However, if I hadn't of enjoyed the experience I wouldn't be sharing it here with you on the blog today.


The Arts Meet Meditation And Mindfulness: An Interview With Emma Mills

HOW POETRY AND THE ARTS CAN CONNECT AND CENTRE US IN THIS HECTIC WORLD

It's been a few months since the last interview here on the blog so today I'm excited to finally share a brand, shiny new one with you! An insight into the world and work of teacher and writer Emma Mills. With her expertise in psychology and training the field of mental health, Emma has uniquely combined her own passions for creativity, the arts and poetry with her continued work in wellbeing, meditation and mindfulness. With the world seeming like something of a turbulent place at times, I thought it would be a nice moment of peace to learn a little more about Emma, as well as pick up some advice on how to build a more peaceful foundation within our working and everyday lives. If this is an area you're interested in, or something you certainly feel that you need right now, then read on ...

 Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Hi Emma, could you begin with an insight into your training and career to date as well as what it is that you do now?

From a young age, I had an interest in spirituality. During my school years, I was also particularly interested in politics, and psychology. I would read a lot of psychology books and go to political rallies and protests keen to find out about how life worked and how to improve it. I studied both politics and psychology and worked briefly at the Houses of Parliament before deciding that psychology was the field that allowed me the best chance to offer and understand something good. I took a degree in psychology and then began to work and train in mental health at the charity Mind.

At Mind, I trained in several therapeutic mediums one of which was the use of poetry and classic literature as a wellbeing device. I'd always been a bookish person, but this was the beginning of my love affair with poetry which deepens every day and keeps on getting better. During this time I set up my own private practice in the city of London and began working with people sharing what I had learnt in group classes and one to one sessions; I also began blogging about my experiences and ideas. Now I consult, write and teach on the topic of meditation, working with companies and organisations, with individuals and in small groups as well as sharing written articles with magazines and publications.

 Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

You're an expert in the practice of meditation how did you train in this area and what is it about meditation that you love that you feel can be so beneficial for us all in our working and everyday lives?

During my time working in formal psychology, I had my own private interest in meditation and spiritual life. I was also studying with a very lovely teacher. I found during my years in mental health that meditation wasn't accepted or admired and so I kept it just as something I did outside of work. Things have changed now, and it’s all the rage, but back then it wasn't du jour! Whilst running my private practice I found myself increasingly encouraging people to meditate and to explore the inner world.

I felt that meditation, and most importantly what meditation points to - the experience and exploration of our nature, to be something that was quite in line with both my interest and my work with people. I still love psychology and think it's beautiful, a lot of my work is informed by the work I did in that field too. Meditation helps you to understand who you are and how you work which makes it fitting and helpful in many corners of life.

 Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

How can mindfulness help people - especially in the workplace?

I think meditation and mindfulness have great effects on a persons' orientation to life, and as work is part of life, it transfers over quite nicely. Stress is a big factor at work, and meditation and mindfulness can help a person to cope with that stress and make choices that are to their benefit. Aside from stress, meditation is tremendous for creativity, new ideas and innovation. If we imagine our work as a something we are putting out into the world it can help us to make that contribution great. 

 Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

 Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

How can people with hectic lifestyles make time and space for meditation and mindfulness so that it can be a helpful tool rather than just another item to add to the to-do list?

If the person has the enthusiasm to do it, then I find they usually make time for it. Because the enthusiasm or interest is natural and spontaneous, they find the time. Not in a regimented way, each day, unless of course that's what they find themselves doing and they enjoy it. But they do it here and there. They find within themselves a natural turning towards those sorts of things, a book here, a little workshop there, a little practice at the weekend. Also, if people start doing it and it feels good and they see benefits, just like with fitness, this usually brings its own motivation, albeit in waves.

 Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Where did your love of poetry and writing come from and how does this passion connect in with your work?

Poetry is literatures answer to meditation. I cannot invite enough people to explore poetry. I have always loved to read, but whilst working at Mind I was sent to study with Professor Jane Davis in Liverpool, to study this therapeutic application of literature. I then came back and set up a therapy system in Essex for Mind. We ran for several years, it took while to get going, as poetry is a bit niche, but eventually we won a lot of money, expanded the groups and served a lot of people. The people who came, as well as myself, benefited hugely from this type of work. It’s phenomenal.

I have carried this use of poetry into my meditation work because it fits well. Poetry, or certain poems, talk explicitly about the inner world, and those well-articulated poems offer people a route to understanding - a way of putting words around their own inner experience. Some poems offer wisdom, others are more about life, the bare bones of life. When it's hard, when it's ecstatic, and I find these honest poems help us to feel connected, part of life, to know we aren't an isolated person on our own.

What is it that you love most about the work you do and what motivates you on a daily basis?

I love to connect with people, to share and share life, improve our lives together. In myself, I find the expression of the creative spirit makes me very enthusiastic. I have an interest that I follow, and the following of it feels good, and that brings its own motivation. For example, there are a few poets I really like, and I want to go and sit with them to understand their work better, so I email them and ask, and try to meet them. I’ve not got any intentions really, for it to go anywhere specifically or become something pre-defined. I just feel drawn to do that, and thrilled at the thought of spending time with them talking about poems. It brings its own motivation. You just keep following the thread - like this poem: The Way It Is by William Stafford.

 Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

For readers interested in learning more about meditation and living more mindfully do you have any tips, tricks or resources that could help them to get started?

On my blog Emma Mills London there are over two hundred articles along with helpful videos and audio which you can begin using and exploring at home. Alongside that, I also have a new book entitled Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. In it, we explore meditation over the course of a typical working day. It has a section called ‘at the office’ where we explore work, creativity, co-workers and finding balance. I hope that sharing meditation in this way will make the insights very usable and relevant to our lives. I would also recommend reading books, visiting teachers you like and connect with, following your own path and interest in the subject.

When it comes to looking after your own work-life balance and wellbeing how do you like to unwind after a busy day and make sure you feel refreshed and refocused for the rest of your week?

I like having a bath or two, reading a book, going for a bike ride, doing a little yoga and being with my loved ones.  

 
 Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Photo Credit: Emma Mills London

Thank you to Emma for sharing an insight into her career and her brilliant work. I hope you've found it as fascinating and inspiring as I have. As a lover of the arts I can totally understand the connection between creativity and our wellbeing. If this is a passion of yours, albeit an alive one or a lost one, I hope that this interview sparks in you the desire to seek out that creative, artistic side and in doing so, find greater expression, peace and understanding. For more motivation and ideas you can also find Emma over on Twitter and on Instagram.

Thanks for tuning in lovely people and see you again very soon.

Louise

 


Finding Your Hygge In The Workplace

EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT HYGGE BUT HOW CAN YOU HOO-GA AT WORK?

So here I am, jumping on the bandwagon, but there's a word that seems to be steadily making its way into mainstream consciousness lately and given its relationship to happiness and wellbeing, topics I love to discuss here on the blog, it would be foolish of me not to acknowledge it! Hygge is the latest Scandinavian concept to have found its way to our door, and being a huge fan of the autumn season and all things cosy and warm, I for one have been mightily happy to embrace the idea of hygge from the outset. 

 Image Source: Unsplash

Image Source: Unsplash

WHAT IS HOO-GA AND HOW CAN IT ENHANCE OUR WELLBEING? Hygge, pronounced hoo-ga, derives from the Norwegian word for wellbeing, but is ultimately an idea that has been most embraced by the Danes in Denmark, a country that consistently takes the top spot as the happiest country in the world. It incorporates certain concepts and ideas all of which contribute toward helping you feel more hyggelig (hygee-like) in your daily life. These concepts include: atmosphere, presence, togetherness, comfort, gratitude and harmony and there are various ways in which the Danes in particular, make sure that they bring this into their everyday lives, be that through lighting, clothing, interiors or simply a steaming hot drink and a good old piece of delicious cake shared with friends and family.

SO WHAT IS THIS HYGGE AND WHY EXACTLY DOES IT MAKE PEOPLE SO HAPPY? "Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down." - Meik Wiking author of The Little Book Of Hygge, The Danish Way To Live Well.

SO HOW ON EARTH CAN I BRING HYGGE INTO MY WORKPLACE?  Well, it can be done! It might take a little thought, plus it does depend on your working environment and possible limitations or restrictions, but here are a few simple ways that you can embrace this cosy concept when at your desk during the daily 9 to 5. 

 

FIVE HYGGE FRIENDLY WORKPLACE TIPS

1. Keep Cosy With Hygge Friendly Wardrobe Extras: You can embrace that feeling of cosiness and comfort by making sure you have the right added extras at your desk ready for when it starts to feel a little chilly and therefore not very hygge. Have a cosy jumper, fleece or a warm scarf to wrap up in and sat ready and waiting on the back of your chair. Plus one great tip from the Hello Hygge website is to pop a spare pair of socks in your desk drawer. I'd never really considered this before but what a blessing if you've suffered a particularly soggy walk to work on colder, wintery days. Definitely a top tip to embrace asap!

2. Move Around Your Space: Does your entire working day really need to be bound to the confines of your desk? Take every opportunity to move around and mix it up a little. Perhaps you can hold a meeting in a slightly cosier and more relaxed area of the office? Or instead of pinging emails around all day from department to department, why not head upstairs or downstairs to said department and chat to that person face to face. Giving yourself a physical break and some healthy human interaction!

3. Make Sure You Enjoy Your Lunchbreak: I'm going to say it again, even though I say it all the time on here! Make sure you get away from your desk during your lunch break. Plus during that break, switch off from technology, enjoy your lunch and whatever you're eating and maybe use this time to embrace some more 'in real life' contact and connection with your colleagues. Wrap up warm and take a walk with someone from your office. Bond, connect, move, eat and enjoy. That's the hygge way!

4. Snack Well: Sometimes you just gotta snack in order to get you through a busy day. But choosing the right nibbles will help in a positive way, banishing those deskside blues and annoying afternoon slumps. If you want to snack smarter during your working day then try putting some of these treats together to take with you and keep in your office drawer: Snacking Smarter. Don't fall foul to that 3pm lull - here are some tips for how best to avoid a very non-hyggelig feeling on a cold and grey afternoon in the office: How To Beat That Annoying 3pm Slump.

5. Use Lighting To Create A Hygge Atmosphere:  Lighting plays a key part in the hygge way of life. Now I'm not stupid, I know that changing the lighting at most workplaces is going to be a difficult task. However, you may be able to increase that feeling of warmth and stave off the drawing winter nights with an additional lamp on your desk. Pick lamps with a warm and slightly orange light to give that candlelit kind of feel and a soft and calming glow. You could also use light to help start the working day in a more positive way. There are many lamps on the market now, like these ones from Lumie, that help you wake gradually to a soft pool of light. Instead of being woken rudely by your iPhone to the cold, stark darkness of a British winter morning!

 

I hope this helps you find a little hygge in the workplace during the autumn and winter months. Let me know your tips for creating a warmer, friendlier working environment during the colder season. I'd love to hear your ideas as well.

Louise