Friday, 31 October 2014

Why is Change So Difficult?

We all do it. Promise ourselves we're going to change something in our lives, work at it for a few days, or weeks, or months. And then stop.

Change is so difficult, some of our best attempts are bound to fail, because life doesn't follow the imaginary smooth path we all picture at the start of our efforts.

But some people manage it. Some people struggle through the diversions, the detours, to finally reach their change goal. Losing weight, going from unfit to winning triathlete, running a profitable business, getting their first paying gig.

If they can, then we can. Because change may be difficult, but it's not impossible. And we can cope with difficult. We do that every day.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

What's The Secret of Healthy Ageing?

It's official - a British study conducted over the past 35 years shows that those who walk at least 2 miles per day and keep their weight at a healthy level will live longer.

Step forward my Kleeneze business - I walk at least 3 miles a day every time I either deliver or collect catalogues. Some days, I've walked more than 9 miles.

Looks like I've found the perfect way to live longer and get paid to do it.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Why Do We Do This?

Why do we strive for more? Why do we juggle all the aspects of our existence? Why do we bother?

We do it "because". Because it's our dream, not because it pays the bills; because we know it's what we should do. And best of all, because it matters.

Maybe it matters just to us; enough so that we keep a tiny flame alight in the deepest recesses of our hearts, sheltered from the persistence of those who can't see what we can see. Maybe our best and beloved spot the reflection of that light when we talk, just for a few moments, with the suppressed passion that only comes from the strength of what makes us, us.

When you can articulate the answer to this, nothing will stop you. As long as you give your self a chance to get there. Because that's what matters.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Forget the Quick Fix, We Need a Better Solution

It's endemic. The need to take the quick route, to success, to achievement, to money. Fed by the endless TV programmes that suggest you can be the next big name after 6 weeks dance practice, 10 weeks singing or 8 weeks living somewhere unpleasant. Not to mention the books and DVDs that promise you maximum gain for minimum pain

But the universe doesn't work like that. We are all interconnected in ways that aren't visible to most. If you don't take the right path, karma will let you know about it sooner or later. That goes for our choice of path to greatness.

We grow by taking the thousand mile journey, whether it's the path to fitness, creativity, or business success. That journey, with its mountains, valleys, flash floods and sunny days, with its seasons of both mists and mellow fruitfulness, is what shapes us into the person who is capable of enjoying both the travelling and the destination.

All it takes is the discipline to avoid the shiny distractions; that's a pretty big "All" as I know very well. I'm an expert in disappearing down side paths as well as spending too much time thinking the mists and the valleys are all there is to life.

But occasionally, like today, I get to climb up above the mists and the darkness and I catch a glimpse of the sunrise behind the mountains ahead. And it's beautiful.

Monday, 27 October 2014

How to Earn An Extra £50 Per Week

You know me by now - an endless curiosity and desire to learn. That doesn't naturally translate into an easy way to make money from my interests.

Yet the British press is enthusing about making an extra £2400 per year from your hobby, if you're a photography buff, and more than £3700 per year for other craft-based hobbies.

In other words, if you've got the right hobby, the right attitude, the spare time and the spare space in your house, garage or shed, you can earn between £46 and £71 per week extra.

Of course, another way to earn an extra £50 per week is to invest your time and money into improving your work-related skills, building your self confidence and finding a job that pays you another £2000 - 4000 per year.

Then there's the way I and many others in the Direct Selling industry have chosen - to invest a small amount of money - as little as £25 for your first instalment - in a business which can earn you over £50 per week in your first month of trading, with training whilst you're earning.

If you want to know more, get in touch. I'm loving what my business is helping me with - holidays, home improvements, new skills.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Fed Up With Being Paid Less?

Bad news all round - many private sector jobs are still not providing pay rises in line with inflation, women's pay is still less than for the equivalent male employee in many industries ... and now there's bad news about self-employed income - if you're a woman.

According to official statistics, between 2007 and 2012 over 50% of self-employed businesses were owned by women, yet the average income for a self-employed woman was under £10,000 per year, almost half of the average male self-employed income.

That could be because of the type of business that women choose, or it could be due to the need to manage a business around children, family, elderly parents, etc. It could also be due to the rise in zero-hour contracts as well as the increasing number of temporary jobs.

Whatever the cause, one thing is certain. The gender pay gap needs to go.

This is where a business like my Kleeneze business comes in. You can start it alongside whatever other business you're running, and everybody, male and female, is on the same earnings plan. If you're interested, ask me for more information.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Input, Reaction and Outcome

Bullying has been the thread underpinning a lot of my conversations today. Watching some stand up to being bullied, watching others avoid the bullying by leaving Facebook groups, talking to people about coping strategies.

I have way too much experience of bullying and its after-effects, be it my own childhood, my children's experiences, work, domestic violence ...

Bullying has changed me. I'm still the stubborn protector of others that I was as a child, but I have an awareness you can only get from traumatic experience.

That awareness could have poisoned me, weakened me, made me less human. I am blessed that I found another way to deal with it, although I struggle still with post-traumatic stress in some areas of my life.

I taught my children that they could control their reactions to the bullying, that how they chose to live their life was what was important, not what others might say or think. Turns out I taught them to defend others by my own example, to the point where, when my daughter saw children walking to school being bullied, she ran home to get me to come and protect them.

The one thing that makes a difference isn't easy. From personal experience, if you forget to do this until you're embedded in the bullying cycle, it's well-nigh impossible to do without somebody you trust being there to remind you. But it does work.

Whatever the input - ridicule, bile, physical attack, to name a few - you need to remember that the input is outside your control. You cannot undo a hurtful comment before it has been said, let alone afterwards. No matter how safe you try to be, you cannot always avoid a physical attack, especially not from somebody close to you.

You can control your reaction. It's not easy and it may be impossible to control the initial reaction of pain or physical defence. That's instinctive, not rationalised. But you can control the subsequent reaction. You can choose to stand there and quietly, assertively state that you are no longer prepared to tolerate their behaviour. You can choose to turn their ridicule into a joke. It doesn't have to be stated out loud, you can talk to friends you feel safe with afterwards. You can walk into a solicitors' firm and take out an injunction.

Because it's the combination of their input and your reaction that determines the outcome. You can make a better outcome for yourself. I know you can, because I've done it, over and over again.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

What's REALLY Important?

The Internet can be a scary place. So many people think that their way is the right way, whole conversations can turn nasty very quickly.

For those of us who keep our own counsel, this mob dynamic can be extremely intimidating, no matter how strong we are. In fact, the stronger we are, the worse it is, because sooner or later we know we'll stand up for somebody else and draw the wrath of the mob down upon us.

There's a wider problem here. If you see off all others on a forum or Facebook thread, you run the risk of entrenching the belief that you alone are right. That then reinforces your behaviour in other social encounters, be it a water-cooler conversation, your performance appraisal or the way you interact with a customer or potential team member.

So, next time you're in a conversation, ask yourself:

What do I REALLY want here? Do I want to reach a mutual understanding, or do I just want to prove that I'm superior by showing how inferior the other person's view is?

You never know - that question could give you the Eureka moment it gave me, no matter how uncomfortable the truth is...

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Walking with the Black Dog

I've lived with depression for a long time, not just my own, comparatively mild version, but that of my eldest son, my partner and a number of friends.

Trying to support others through their depression when you are being taken for a walk by your own black dog is an interesting experience, and leaves little emotional or physical energy for anything except basic existence.

I always know when I've become overwhelmed because I stop wanting to be around others. Times like those, I could do with a desert island. You don't get many of those in Warwickshire.

Learning to cope is different for all of us and I cherish the Aha! moments, particularly when they come from my fellow dog-walkers.

My eldest son has coped with severe depression since he was 10 and was taking medication through his early teens. Watching his journey towards inner equilibrium is not easy, but I will always be there to help and support him through it. He has wonderful friends who are there with the nests when he needs them, too.

My partner's life has been so eventful with depression triggers that I sometimes wonder if he upset an Ancient Chinese sage in a previous life. His is not an easy path to walk and his black dog is large and scary, but he knows I am here for him, always and forever.

All three of us find exercise helps, at least for a few hours. My eldest son is now singing in the showers again for the first time in a few months, thanks to a friend who is insisting on 3 gym sessions a week together.

So I've started back on my own exercise program and for the first time in weeks I'm feeling energised past lunch time. If I can keep this up this time, I may find I'm taking my black dog for a jog...

Monday, 13 October 2014

Cause and Effect - The Small Business Perspective

2 out of the 3 main UK political parties have pledged to raise the income tax threshold to £12,500. That means that, if they go through with it, anybody on minimum wage under 21 won't pay tax and anybody over 21 will need to do over 37 hours per week before they do.

And that's the problem right there. If my friends and family's experiences are anything to go by, it's well nigh impossible to get a minimum wage job that guarantees more than 30 hours per week. That's not enough to survive on without benefits in many cases.

Then there's the self-employed. How does the income tax threshold affect them? It differs depending on whether you're a sole trader or a director of a very small limited company.

But what many of us in network marketing will point out is that running a business in parallel with your PAYE earnings is a good way to minimise your tax burden, as well as netting you that extra money to drive down debt or just save up for a new holiday/car/washing machine/whatever.

And if you're unemployed, then there are benefits that you can claim whilst you're getting your business up and running.

Let me know if you want more information. I'm here to help.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Want Your Kids To Leave Home?

Then help them build their own business. Because according to the latest figures, house prices in the UK are going to rise by an average of £14k per year for the next five years.

That puts a home out of the reach of every first-time buyer couple on less than a combined income of £70k per annum. Even those couples would  need a deposit of around a year's salary.

So what's the answer? Most small businesses take at least 3 years to break even, let alone make a profit. My business, on the other hand, can help you pay off debt or save for a deposit from the first sale, with many new distributors breaking even within the first 4 weeks.

Take a look at my business page for more details - you know it makes sense.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

How to Retire Before You're 50

The UK press reported today that the UK government would like to increase the retirement age by 6 months per year until the minimum point where you get your state pension is 70.

That must qualify as one of the least surprising press releases for some time.

Coupled with another report that the Bank of England wants to make getting a mortgage even tougher, because it's expecting thousands of families to be unable to pay their existing mortgages once the rates start going back up, and you'd expect hard-working mortgage payers like me to be somewhat upset.

I'm not.

I'm happy to be building a business outside of my full-time job that will ensure me more than the state pension just from my customer base.

Team leaders in Kleeneze can earn my full-time salary after a few years building their business. And I'm just inside the 40% tax bracket.

Looks like a solid opportunity to retire before you're 50. Assuming you start before you're 40, of course. Nothing lasting and worthwhile ever happens overnight.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

There's A Reason For This

It's amazing how two random articles can lead to the same point. In the first, 63% of all new US jobs are with small businesses, and 60 million are employed in US small businesses. In the second, it turns out that most of those jobs are not only part-time, they're so flexible as to be impossible to rely on as a constant source of income.

We're seeing a similar pattern emerge in the UK. Two of my sons started their work lives with minimal hour contracts, 7 and 9 hours respectively. Neither could live on their own for less than 40 hours per month on minimum wage. Both have been lucky, the sort of luck that comes from having a solid work ethic and a determination to work hard, but one is still on less than 30 hours per week and the other is being made redundant after 6 months.

That's where being self-employed in your own Kleeneze distributorship pays off. When your choice of new jobs involve minimal or zero-hour contracts, then running your own business with a defined commission plan and minimal overheads becomes the better option. For those who are considering self-employment, a network marketing company with a solid history and popular products is an excellent introduction. Who knows, you could end up with a 5-star holiday, all expenses paid...

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Greatest Superpower: Consistency

My sons are all gamers. That's my influence - Final Fantasy VII has a lot to answer for. From video games, they've expanded into tabletop RPGs, board games and LARP. If you know what the initials mean, great - you're already part of our Tribe. If you don't, let me know in the comments and I'll tell you. You'll need to tell me when to stop!

There's a concept in a lot of video RPG games, called grinding. It refers to the laborious activity required to level up your character in one ability or another. Game companies understand that they need to encourage players paying attention to the minutiae of the game, so they reward the players with titles, in-game spending points, and so on.

 Today, one of my boys got awarded a new title in a game - Up and Comer. The next level is Go-Getter. Both titles are described as showing that the owner of the title is not afraid to do menial tasks to get on in life.

I can't think of a better description for people who are serious about building their business.

Consistency has got to be one of the better Superpowers to have. Although I think it's likely to be sometime before we hear, "Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No, it's MenialTasksMan!"

Monday, 6 October 2014

What Do They REALLY Think?

You can tell when there's a British election in the offing. People with a vested interest in getting others to agree with them get very prolific on social media.

It got really obvious during the Scottish Independence campaign, where the Yes team got positively nasty, long before the No team warmed up. Of course, as soon as the No campaign started to gather pace, then the gloves really came off. Now the anti-government campaign is gearing up with clever ad-hominem attacks on coalition Cabinet ministers and the newspapers that support a particular viewpoint.

Over the pond, US election campaigns have been run like this for decades. I don't see that as a plus for democracy.

What I see is a generation being turned away from politics. They see their parents being put off from discussing election matters because of the vitriolic ad-hominem attacks from all sides. They decide that "they're all the same", because the type of message is the same.

If you don't think like us, you are worthless. You are evil. You deserve to be removed from our society. You must conform to our thinking or suffer the consequences.

No collaboration. No empathy. No team players, not even on the same team. No point.

The lesson I take away is this: If I want to be sure that I am being listened to, then I need to listen to others. I need to hear what they're not saying, as well as what they are. And I need to show that I understand, or I'll never build the trust that leads to a successful team.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Tipping the Work-Life Balance

I've never been good at this work-life balance thing. The current day job is without doubt the worst yet for taking over every spare scrap of my time, but there's no point switching jobs if I want to run my own business. I just need to work out how to claw back time for myself.

If time management is really about workload management, then my workload needs some serious managing.

My first week's review of my progress towards my three banner goals shows what a gap there currently is between plan and execution. Of 38 key activities, I only achieved 19. Next week has to be better.

That means I need to clear the day job tasks in 8 hours per day or less - not something this job lends itself to. Especially not on on-call weeks.

Time to focus on me. Because if I don't, I'll never achieve my dreams.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Road to What If ...?

It's typical. One minute I'm mapping out the next few weeks' worth of business building, the next minute my boss calls and I'm expected to be at the other end of the country for 2 weeks. In a hotel, Monday - Friday.

The hotel will be the cheapest possible, which means there won't be a gym, and my food allowance probably won't cover the cost of 3 meals a day where there's limited choice of places to eat. I'll be isolated, in an area where there's no supermarkets or local corner shops, where it won't be safe to go for a walk as a substitute for the lack of gym in the cheap hotel.

In one phone call, I could see my health, wealth and family goals disappear over the horizon. I was not happy.

Then I stopped, and thought, "What if ...?"

What if ... I just rearranged my business targets for those two weeks, rather than give up completely?

What if ... I took some basic exercise equipment with me?

What if ... I made arrangements in advance so I could continue to eat healthily?

What if ... I set up a way of keeping in touch with my family, including arranging visits to my mum in her nursing home?

Whereas previously I would have thought, "That's it, I'm obviously not meant to be doing this much", I'm now thinking, "What if ..."

Looks like the personal development habit is kicking in. This is going to be an interesting journey.

What was your "What if ...?" moment?

Friday, 3 October 2014

Habits - the Lego™ Bricks of Success

When you live and love puns the way I do, finding a snappy title for a blog post can be a real pain.

Having thought of, and discarded, such gems as "You can Habit All" (trust me, that was one of the better ones), all I could think of was the well-know Lord of the Rings reference.*

...And then I trod on a certain toy and ...

Just like Lego bricks, habits start off small, piece together easily but take persistence to make into something worthwhile.

And just like Lego bricks, they can be flipping difficult to dismantle if you realise you've built the wrong thing. That can take a lot more effort than you put in at first.

One of my birthday decisions was to work through the Living Your Best Year Ever book, because it forces you to focus, set goals and keep a daily habit list which you then review every week.

It's already feeding in changes to my daily work pattern; I'm looking forward to my first 90 day review.

How are you feeding your habits?

*Tolkien is Hobbit-forming.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Mything Link

I've always loved dragons. They were my favourite mythical beast as a kid, although I did fancy the idea of myself as a were-tiger once...

But I wasn't "allowed" to have that preference. My younger sister was quite clear on that - she and my mum were born in the year of the Dragon according to the Asian calendar, so that meant the two of them had one more thing to bond with. Maybe she meant for me to feel excluded, maybe she didn't. I took the easy way out and let her have her way.

Living a life of keeping the family peace can erode your self-worth, to the point where no amount of positive thinking can truly compensate.

Turns out, I'm just as strong-willed as my mum and sister. My superpower seems to be patience. That stands me in good stead now, as I slowly but surely carve out gaps in an overpacked schedule so that I can grow my business properly.

And you know what? I'm beginning to believe in my ability to soar.

Here's to dragonflight ... and weretigers!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Walking with Wolves

Sometimes it takes a life-shattering event to make you reconsider why you do certain things. Sometimes it's not even your own event.

My mum's slow journey back from two strokes has allowed me to take stock of behaviour embedded since my childhood. Behaviour that was never going to help me succeed at the level I know I'm capable of.

I've been given a rare opportunity, to examine and reject not only my ingrained behaviour but also the ongoing triggers. Now I need to create new patterns and new paths for myself.

I'm starting with walking with my own Wolves, one at a time, until I've got the whole pack heading in my direction.

Which Wolf would you choose to tame first?