Ten Simple Ways To Live With Less and Save Significantly More

When we set New Years’ Resolutions, we tend to focus on how to enrich our lives further. Setting new goals, living a healthier lifestyle or travelling and adventuring more. Sometimes, there’s just as much benefit and opportunity to be found in setting goals which actually mean living and doing with less.

A core and often overlooked benefit of living more minimally is the financial freedom it brings to your day to day life. Even better, you don’t need to adopt a ridged minimalist lifestyle to benefit from the ways you can cut down and save more.

Below are the top ten ways you can reduce your consumption, based on key but simple changes I have made that had significant impact over the last five years.

Online Food Shopping

By moving to an online delivery, which we scheduled once a week, it made us prepare and plan our meals ahead of the shop meaning that we only bought what we needed for the following seven days. It also hugely reduced the ‘impulse’ shopping for treats that we tended to do when actually in the supermarket, especially if we were there when hungry!

If you online shop, you can set a clear budget, see how much your order is totalling to as you go along and also benefit from a lot of coupons and discounts supermarkets for e-orders.

Detox Your Subscriptions

If you have Spotify, Amazon Prime, Audible and Netflix then you are already paying out a significant amount for streaming services every month. Add in a phone contract, TV package and beauty box deliveries and you are nearing the average number of subscription services for a UK person in 2019.

This is great if they are regularly used and add a big impact to your life, but if they don’t, the costs quickly add up.

Once a year, we sit down and unsubscribe from everything. We allow ourselves to re-subscribe when we want to use the service. It is a good exercise to ensure everything you have signed up for is properly appreciated. You never know, you might not even realise you miss one once it’s gone.

Delete Delivery Apps

Getting fast food delivered to your home is easy, and often a quick way to feed yourself after a stressful day at work. However, one or two deliveries a week quickly can add up over a year. Easy solution? Remove the apps, unsubscribe from the mailing list offers and follow step one in the list (a weekly online shop and meal-prep) to reduce the temptation.

Demote Your Car

If you are able to quite easily, consider changing your car to a model that is similar in miles, performance and years, but with a different cost ratio. It is a really quick and easy way to build up savings if you are able to be in this position and are happy to ‘downgrade’ your car.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

Borrow And Share

As a couple, one of the biggest spends in our non-essential outgoings is on books. We both love to read, and between us we get through at least 3-5 books and an audible subscription on a monthly basis.

One easy way to both live with less, and save more here is to lend, borrow and share books with fellow avid readers. We swap with friends often, keeping our shelves clean and our to-read list healthily stocked with new books. We also regularly visit the library, and buy second hand where we can.

Obviously there’s many times where we need to buy new, especially living abroad and away from our friends at home, but it’s something we are trying to avoid more and more.

Think about things you buy often for hobbies, and try and work out if there’s a way to both save and reduce clutter by sharing or swapping instead. Board games, books, recipes, baby clothes, there’s a lot of opportunities.  

Find Peace With Older ‘stuff’

If it isn’t broken, then follow the old saying and really think twice before replacing it. It’s no surprise we regularly feel the need to upgrade the everyday items in our lives. Companies invest millions of pounds a year working out how to best to market us their latest models, seasons and versions of their products, so it’s almost natural that we are taken in by this clever messaging.

However, having the latest version of a product on average improves someone’s happiness for a period of just two weeks. After this, any effects from owning this new item rapidly diminishes. Why? Because there’s likely something even newer being released in the near future, or we come across someone else who has something better.

Key items we tend to upgrade regularly without much need include our phones, laptops, headphones, cars, designer accessories and home furnishings.

Try and find peace with your existing ‘stuff’ for a defined period of time. You may come to realise that you live quite happily without the latest products, and everything you do currently own is perfect for it’s job.

This is something I have really had to practice myself recently, after seeing how great the camera is on my husbands’ new phone. However there’s nothing wrong at all with mine, so I keep telling myself to wait and see how I feel in two months before making a rash purchase.

Unsubscribe From Emails

This is a big one, and requires you to set aside some time to make it happen, but it’s really valuable. Unsubscribe from all emails and companies whose primary role is to sell you more stuff.

If you want to get a great offer, you can always sign up again in the future, but for now it stops those free next day delivery, or 50% off coupons arriving on a Monday morning, which removes the temptation of buying more things you really didn’t need.

50% off £30 is still spending £15 you didn’t need to spend rather than an incredible half-off saving. Do yourself a favour and delete all the subscriptions and start afresh.

Plan In Advance

So much can be saved and organised with a little preparation. It can apply from everything to travel plans for a year, to decorating a room and meal-planning and preparation.

Carve out some time to schedule your annual leave and vacations for a year, and set up alerts for the best price deals. Plan your meals for one to two weeks, and then only buy what you need from the store. If you need to decorate a room, plan everything ahead of it from colours to furniture and even storage. This way, you won’t end up buying excess decorative elements or two sets of cushions as your mind changes as the plan progresses.

The more prepared you are in life, the more time you have day to day to spend on the things that properly enrich your life instead of these regular required must-dos.

Photo by Henry & Co. on Pexels.com

No Buy Month

If you are really struggling with living with less, and feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of clutter, storage and stuff you have lying around, consider taking part in a no-buy month.

It will have a great impact in both reducing excess possessions, in addition to boosting your savings at the same time.

Set yourself some ground rules before starting. Examples include food, hygiene materials, medicines and transport as excluded, but anything else ‘non-essential’ is banned for 30 days.

It’s a great way to reset and really break the habit of consuming for the sake of consuming. Something we are all guilty of time to time.

One in, two out rule

Perhaps if you are finding the above idea a little extreme, you can instead replace it with the one in and two out rule. It’s as simple as, any time you buy anything you don’t ‘need’, you have to remove two other non-essentials in the same category to make room for it.

For example, if you pick up a pair of new shoes in the sale, two other older pairs that you rarely use need to go. If you get home and can’t really part with anything, ask yourself, did you really need the new item as well? Do the same for your kids toys, clothes and much more.

It might help you break any habits you currently have and stop the slow over-expansion of stuff in your home.

How We Travel So Often When We Have Pets – Our Top Tips

It’s no secret that we both travel frequently for work and also leisure. Whether it’s a quick weekend away by train or a long haul vacation, there’s a number one priority for us to address when it comes to travelling, even before we book a flight, hotel or plan an itinerary. Making sure our two cats are well taken care of during our absence.

If we couldn’t secure trusted and comfortable care for our pets then the travel wouldn’t happen because for us they are the highest priority. Living abroad also brings a new element of challenge. Sometimes we used to be able to rely on the incredible kindness and support from family and friends for sitting, we no longer have that option now we are more remote.

Thanks to a great recommendation, we have been able to continue adventuring with the peace of mind that our pets and home are well taken care of. These days, for nearly every trip, we use the incredible Trusted Housesitters website. By the way, this isn’t a sponsored post for this service (I doubt they would pay me for my moderate traffic), it’s truly a website I want to shout far and wide about to help others in need of pet care, or free accommodation abroad when travelling.

Trusted Housesitters is a platform that connects people needing pet care with trusted travellers who are looking for accommodation. It’s a simple exchange, free pet care for free accommodation. Everyone wins!

The site allows you to list the dates you are away, along with a profile of your home, pets and their needs. From this, potential sitters apply to come stay and you can message them, explore their profile and read reviews from previous verified sits they have completed to ensure you have the right person for your home and pets. So far, we have hosted five wonderful sitters, and will continue to do so in the future.

The peace of mind of the reviews, third-party platform to communicate through, and the option to Skype chat with them ahead of the stays are really comforting. As people who haven’t put their cats in kennels for personal reasons (not against other’s choosing to do so but it’s not something we would like to do ourselves) this is a way we have managed to maintain our travel goals whilst keeping the furry ones happy.

It costs around £90 a year for membership and then it’s free to list as many stays as you need. For us, that’s the price of an independent sitter for one day, so it’s really worth it.

We were nervous the first time we left but now we are really comfortable and happy with the process. Plus, the reviews on our profile about our two cats having distinct ‘characters’ always make us laugh. It’s refreshing to know you’re not the only ones who think your cats are weirdos.

It’s a service we also hope to use for accommodation too in the near future. The thought of combining a holiday with a friendly household pet to come home to each day sounds too good to be true. There’s listings worldwide, and some of the places look truly incredible.

If you are looking for a cost-neutral and trusted way for your pets to be taken care of during any future trips, or local free accommodation in return for walks and feeds, then I would really recommend checking the site out.

Plus, if you ever want to come and look after Arthur and Margot, we’d love for you to explore Switzerland through our home.

Episode 17 – Nikita Khandelwal: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

I am really excited to bring you these answers because I honestly think that everyone can learn something from Nikita. Whether you are looking to push yourself in your career, take a brave step into an entirely new field, or dedicate yourself to more travel or a passion point of yours, she really is someone who is excelling in all these areas and can be a true inspiration for your next steps and goals.

I first met Nikita through work, and now have the pleasure of working alongside her on a regular basis, although unfortunately more remote working than in person.

Nikita is someone who always goes above and beyond to connect with you, care about your interests, feelings and life outside of work. She is genuine, a very good listener and also incredibly proactive with her life and the lives of others when her help is needed.

She knows that to get where you want to be in life, you can’t give up. This is something I respect in Nikita professionally and from her interview, have discovered it goes a lot deeper personally too. From training as a Civil Engineer, studying for an MBA to working tirelessly towards her dream career in Marketing, her energy and dedication to follow her dreams and goals is contagious.

Oh, and I forgot to mention whilst being an incredible role-model for women in leadership with her impressive MarTech role, she is also an avid traveller (I think somewhere close to 15 trips in 2019?!) and cook.

I love visiting the Barcelona site where she works as there’s often treats handmade by Nikita to enjoy on the tables, and honestly they are fantastic.

Truly, I am really excited to share with you Nikita’s answers. Her passion, her drive and her ability to do everything with a smile is infectious. Let’s all learn from her and put a little more kindness, determination and sense of humour into our days, it will benefit us all.

Nikita

So here are her answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

Happiness is so tricky to define as it comes in sudden, small moments every day and also so relative. A few of such everyday moments are helping people, especially on the days when I am in a dire need of help, cooking for people, and knowing people’s story. The last bit, sometimes for westerners, comes across as intrusive but I love to get lost in people’s world when they share. 🙂

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

There are so many books from which I pick up something to learn/remember or bring a change. So a lot of them have an impact.

However, I feel very connected to the book, Le Petit Prince, which funnily I was introduced to last year. Getting to know about this book at 33 might sound strange as people in Europe read it at a younger age:) What I remind myself from this book to never let the child in you die. The child who is curious, genuine, selfless, fearless, patient and above all keeps thing simple.

It’s a good book which brings a smile.

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

One thing which I learned from my dad and always remind myself of is,

“With genuine efforts and strong will, things will eventually fall in place. Just be patient.”

And two other quotes I truly believe in,

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” In my own words, I say stop complaining and start acting.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

By taking my train of thoughts to the spatter, crackle and a blend of spices in my kitchen. I feel my playful time in my kitchen helps me disconnect, replenishes my creativity and helps me come out with a clear headspace.

Sometimes blended with music and a glass of wine (only one) is the best meditating moment.

What inspires you?

People and their genuine stories. Every day there is family, friends, someone at work, a stranger on the street, mother nature so much inspiration all around.

I admire people who are self-learners, never give up and always wear a smile no matter how tough their day is.

At home, Ed is so inspiring. His goal in life is to help people with his products which in turn can bring him passive revenues so he can spend all his time with his family and kids in the future.  He taught himself how to code 4 years back to build apps. He quit his job at Google last year and today has two successful iOS apps loved by 10k+ users.

What are your top three priorities?

  1. Be able to live the life I dream of with my people and be always there for them
  2. Achieve my professional goals – the job which can make me jump out of my bed every morning, publish a cooking e-book, excellence in photo editing
  3. Dance and travel like there is no tomorrow.

Amidst the madness of these priorities, keep the inner child alive. Be always self-aware. Embrace every moment. Be kind and never disrespect.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

I might come across as cold because I am very focused or overstretched and on top of everything I am very introverted and shy. Yes, people who talk to me on digital messaging apps, and people who see me in my comfort zone will say I am blatantly lying.

But I really need my space, in my kitchen, photos, or painting to be able to talk like a chatterbox every day.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?

  1. Given that I have talked about cooking so much, it’s not surprising that one of my biggest purchase is a cooking equipment. Kitchen mixer/robot – I received it today. I cannot wait to be able to fail with ease until I achieve expertise in Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  2. Trip to Peru in addition to 15 other crazy travels planned this year

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

  • Be curious. Never stop learning.
  • Never give up, work hard and be patient.
  • Be honest and true to yourself and your values.
  • Always ask for feedback to your people. You don’t know how much opportunities to learn and change you can find in different perspectives.

What are you most proud of?

That I don’t give up. Coming from a family, where women aren’t supposed to be very ambitious and work out of home, I feel that I did well in pursuing my dreams so far. Patience, perseverance, and thanks to my parents who changed their mindset with me.

I am a Civil Engineer. I worked in the real estate consulting sector for 6 years. Then moved out of India to do my MBA. I genuinely fell in love with Marketing. All I wanted was to start my post MBA career in Marketing.

All those exhausting career coaching sessions had one tip, you cannot change three things – industry, function, and geography. Overcoming my introvert side, I networked hard and managed to change all three of them to find my first job at Facebook. 🙂 Shit happens, couldn’t join.

But on the right track starting from digital & advertising to martech in FMCG today.

An unusual habit of yours?

Cooking and baking at random hours like 2 am, 4 am because I just feel like it and I can. LOL

What do you do every single day?

  1. Smile at people as I read somewhere that when you smile at people, in the art of mimicking it brings a smile on their face too.
  2. 100 squat.. a challenge I took up this year since 1st April
  3. Laugh out loud
  4. Work.. I don’t go on vacation without my work laptop. This is one thing I want to change though.

Nikita, I am so grateful you took the time out to answer these questions. I love how your life is the perfect recipe of passion, determination and interests. We can all learn a lot from you on how to make the most of every day and push ourselves to be the best version of ourselves. 

Her Key Advice:

  • Happiest comes from the small things, and helping others. Perhaps we could all benefit from helping others out more.
  • Smile at people, as it makes them smile too!
  • Don’t give up, and network as it really can pay off and give you the results you have been aiming for. Be patient.
  • Be curious. Never stop learning.
  • Be self-aware
  • Amidst the madness of everything, keep the inner child alive.

If you want to follow more from Nikita, her travels and her incredible cooking, you can find her on Instagram at @ni_kita_aa

 

 

 

Episode 16 – Francesca Taphouse: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

I am really excited to bring you these answers because I honestly think that a lot of young women (and more mature women) could learn an awful lot from Francesca. She’s incredibly smart, driven and someone who has proven that you don’t need to take a conventional path when it comes to education to have a fantastic career and be a women driving difference and opportunity in a big global tech company. She decided to pursue an apprenticeship option after sixth form rather than going to University, and it’s proven itself again and again as the right decision. It takes serious guts to break away from the norm of your peers, and what people expect of you, to do something new and bold. I love that Francesca embraced this opportunity and has made it her own.

Frankie is also my sister (step-sister to be precise) but having had this hilarious, girl-boss in my life for way over a decade, I don’t like to use these half labels.

Francesca is fun to be around, and she’s always surprising. She is challenging all stereotypes that sadly we see too often still in the media and even shared by our peers today. That women can’t be obsessed with beauty and makeup and also be a junior management consultant in one of the world’s top tech companies. By the way, Frankie is incredible at both and I will forever be envious of both her contouring and consulting skills.

She knows that to get what you want, you need to set goals and work hard towards them. A huge advocate of lists and plans, Frankie advises that unless you can put your ideas clearly on paper, and start bringing them to life, they will continue to remain concepts in your mind rather than finishes project, life plans or results. I think I can learn a lot from this. Perhaps sometimes it’s best to empty your head of thoughts so you can really focus on the task at hand and get stuff done.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, you can’t be in a room with her for more than five minutes before breaking out in laughter.

Honestly, I am really excited to share with you her answers. She’s the youngest person I have questioned so far, but I think her insights show maturity and understanding way beyond her years that we could all learn from.

Fran

So here are her answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

Primarily, it is spending time with family and friends socialising. I’m a shopaholic at heart too so I would quite happily shop every day of the week if I could. Whoops…

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

Without sounding completely boring, I would say textbooks that helped me massively when revising for my exams. As serious and dull as that may seem, my A Level exams were one of the first, big milestones in my life as my next steps were dependent on them, and so as the question is what books have had the greatest impact on my life, it would have to be those. Or I suppose the highway code … ha ha.

I do massively enjoy reading, but I tend to read fiction (unless I need to read up on a specific non-fiction topic) and so it would be a hard argument to try to convince you that Marian Keyes has had the greatest impact on my life – but I do thoroughly enjoy her books!

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

You can’t do all of the things all of the time – Emily Coxhead

Emily is the founder of The Happy Newspaper and I love what she stands for – If you haven’t heard of her, I would recommend giving her a quick search on Instagram. She’s absolutely brilliant!

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

I am a huge to-do list person! The amount of notebooks I have is slightly laughable. I love stationery regardless, but if I feel I’m swamped with things to do and I’m losing focus because I’ve got too many ideas floating around or things I’m thinking about then I have to write a to-do list. Mapping it all out on one page and seeing it all listed helps clear my mind and regain focus on what the priorities should be, and what can wait. I have to map out my workload like this otherwise I end up trying to start everything and then I end up with several pieces of work at 10% complete rather than one or two pieces of work ticked off and finished.

What inspires you?

People who are truly happy, and people who are passionate.

What are your top three priorities?

  1. To be kind and caring in everyday life.
  2. To be able to say I tried my best at everything I do, whether it works out or not.
  3. To stop buying anymore notebooks until I deplete the 100 I have already… (They’re all very different by the way J )

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

I know a few people have said to family or friends that they think I’m quiet or shy. Those that know me best usually laugh and say she is certainly not quiet. Once I know people I love laughing and joking with those I love most. I think initially I’m just not the most extrovert of people that you’ll meet, but with family and close friends it’s quite the opposite.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?

  1. A Birchbox subscription – It’s like Christmas every month when it is delivered to my house. I think it’s so important to reward yourself and remember that you can treat yourself when you want to.
  2. A backpack for work – I went through 3 ‘handbag’ style laptop bags before the 3rd one broke and I thought enough of this, I need a backpack. Running around London on the tube with a little suitcase for the week and a handbag was just a mess. The first day I wore that rucksack – where I could comfortably use one hand, while pulling my case along with the other – was the moment I knew I was never going back. I don’t want to sound materialistic, it’s not a Gucci rucksack or anything like that, but it has honestly helped me no end.

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

Work wise, as a Junior Management Consultant within IBM, I would say take the plunge in an Apprenticeship if you’re debating it as a route into employment.

Gain experience and know your options. There are so many options for school leavers nowadays that I would stress to anyone do not be siloed into anything. For example, many companies offer one-year work experience schemes for school leavers before they move onto to further education (either an Apprenticeship or University, for example) so take advantage of such schemes if you’re unsure on what route to take. A year in industry like this can help make the decisions a lot easier when you see things in a real-world environment. During your education, it can often feel that the decisions about your career at a young age will define the rest of your life, but since getting into employment I have found and have heard from those more experienced that this is less and less true.

What are you most proud of?

Sticking to my guns about taking an Apprenticeship over going to University when I left Sixth Form. It was a hard decision to make when all of my friends were applying to university and discussing all aspects of moving away from home, but I am glad I was true to myself and applied for an Apprenticeship.

An unusual habit of yours?

This is tough because I can’t personally think of any about myself … which probably means all my family are reading this thinking she should have said “X,Y,Z..!”

I suppose I could say that I’m a bit of a hoarder – Sentimentally and also just stupidly. I hate throwing away make up bottles, for example, even if the product is dried up and I know I can’t use it anymore! I think it’s a weird thought process of mine that if I still have the bottle there is the potential I could still salvage something from it in an emergency.

What do you do every single day?

  1. Check social media
  2. Listen to Spotify – Whenever I’m driving, my phone will almost certainly be plugged into Spotify to listen to music. So either driving, or sat on a train, I would say pretty much everyday I listen to music at some point.
  3. Laugh – Whether it be in response to a friends message, or having a giggle with family, or looking back on old videos that I’ve kept for the very reason that they make me laugh, a day rarely passes where I don’t laugh… Or truly cackle!

Frankie, I am so grateful you took the time out to answer these from your incredibly busy life, as they are all really valuable insights.  

Her Key Advice:

  • Stay true to yourself and stick to your guns.
  • Don’t be afraid that making decisions at a young age means it will affect your whole life. You can shape your life, take a chance and experience all opportunities and areas. Don’t fear being siloed into something and don’t let yourself.
  • Map out what you need to do in a to-do list if feeling busy or overwhelmed.  Seeing it all listed helps clear your mind and regain focus on what the priorities should be.
  • Follow the Happy Newspaper!
  • Laugh every day

If you want to follow more from Frankie and her incredible life, you can find her on Instagram at @frankietaphouse

 

 

Episode 15 – Angela Weir: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

I am really excited to bring you these answers because they are from one of the most creative and talented people I have questioned so far. Angela is an artist, and a damn good one at that. She has recently launched her own Etsy storefront (there’s a link at the bottom of the post if you want to browse) and she has been created paintings, pottery, prints for many years. We are really fortunate to have three of her pieces around our home and hope to fill it with more in the future. They’re genuinely fantastic.

Angela is also a proud mum to three grown sons, and of course, a wonderful mother-in-law too. My wonderful mother-in-law, to be precise. She has raised three men who now live across the world in different countries, and all of them couldn’t think or speak better of her if they tried. Her ease of parenting and support and involvement in their lives even when they are miles and miles away is incredible to see. On top of this, her marriage of 30+ years is something wonderful because of the work and value they both place on it, and the true fun they have together. Her and Kevin’s strong relationship is something I hope to have after thirty years’ of being married too.

She has lived in four countries, the UK, Germany, Cyprus and Belgium, and is soon to be setting off on a belated ‘gap-year’ to New Zealand to experience even more of the world and travel as much as she can. I love this attitude Angela has when it comes to seeing new places, experiencing new things and diving into new cultures. You can read more about it below, but the way she embraces change and goes into everything with a true can-do attitude is inspiring and infectious.

Angela currently works for an Advocacy Charity, and I think that this is the perfect role for someone of her personality. It’s caring, it’s giving, and it requires dedication and support. She’s always one looking for ways to help and give back, such as when she volunteered in Belgium to support new mums, or at a Nursery in Scotland. But it also requires determination and drive. Something which I saw first hand as I watched her in Belgium care for her family, work long hours, have fun with us all and complete her degree at the same time.

In the decade I have known her, I have come to witness that Angela is genuine, caring, fun, creative and has lived a life many people wouldn’t have dared to. Honestly take a lot from the below, because we could all learn from being a little more Angela.

IMG_9372.JPG

So here are her answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

What makes me happy is free-wheeling down a hill on a bike after drinking wine (We had just experienced exactly this in Switzerland at the time of my questions!)

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

It’s really hard question, as it depends on many things. 

If I had to pick one, it’s a non-fiction book. This is going to sound really dodgy but it’s called Three In A Bed, but I got given it when I was pregnant with Kyran, and it really changed the way I dealt with being a mum. It helped me put things into perspective and I just relaxed.

It encouraged me to chill as a mum and just do what I felt was right rather than what everyone said I should do.

It focused on co-sleeping safely with your baby. Across the world in non-westernised society it’s the norm for a mother to always sleep with her child. However in the West it can be dangerous because of excess quilts, duvets and cushions. It showed me a way to co-sleep and it made such a difference and helped me trust more in my instincts as a mum. 

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

‘Work to live, don’t live to work’

Life is really about making the most out of every day. I suppose the one thing I am not afraid of is change. I love change. Embrace the change.

I think that with change, it constantly challenges you, and it also keeps life fresh. To me there is nothing worse than routine and humdrum. Only thing I couldn’t change is my husband.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

To me it is living in the here and now.

Sometimes it is easy to be thinking about the future, such as for us about leaving for our travels in September, but I don’t do that and instead try and focus on what I am enjoying at this moment.

If I need to do something I don’t ignore it, I get it done whilst I need to and have the time to do it. If I don’t want to do it, I ask myself, do I have the time to get it done now.

I have learnt to do that by experience. When I have been left in a stressful situation with suddenly a birthday present, card, petrol and everything else to buy with no time. Makes life easier and less stressful.

What inspires you?

My children, you, their partners, my family.

There are so many different things which inspire me.

Social media sometimes does, as I see a photograph or read a blog which makes me really want to visit somewhere or do something.

Like I said before, I do think definitely my kids more than anything. They have gone off and made changes and adventures, and doing so much without a blink of an eye or worry, and I have just followed them and been inspired by it.

What are your top three priorities?

  1. Always family. Number one. Has to be family.
  2. Health, might sound boring, but if I have done things in moderation, at least I will get to an age and know I did my best and know I was healthy.
  3. My happiness. I am responsible from my own happiness. You can’t make anyone else responsible and it’s your responsibility to change it. It’s up to you. You can’t blame other people or what is going on in the world. Life is too short.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

I would say that people think that I am naturally confident, but I don’t think that I am.

I think it’s more that I always had that attitude because I have always dealt with change due to our lifestyle. What is the worst that can happen? I might be absolutely terrified when I do things but I won’t let that stop me.

Do something that scares you every day.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?

  1. Ticket to New Zealand. Because it’s a commitment to a massive thing that we are doing. We are going against the norm, not just trying to stick with a big house, jobs and all others, and saying no we are going to go out and do this. Not conforming we are going to do this. Always wanted to.
  2. A combination of experiences because we just haven’t been buying things to save for our big trip, so it’s things we have spent on experiences and travel rather than anything.

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

You’ve got to be responsible for your own happiness. You don’t have to conform to the norm so don’t be afraid of saying well actually, I am not going to live the biggest house, and have the designer handbags and amazing car. If the job is making you miserable, look what you can do to walk away.

I know it’s not easy for everyone due to family responsibilities etc. but just don’t be afraid to go for it or for change, change can be a really good thing.

An unusual habit of yours?

I touch wood, and I do it even if I have something like a negative thought in my head.

What do you do every single day?

Normally I always draw. Every single day. If I don’t draw or do some art then I find I am craving it.

Angela has lived such an incredible life, with even more exciting travel and adventures just around the corner. So I would really take these snippets below and see what you can learn from them. I think she can teach us all a lot. 

Her Key Advice:

  • You’ve got to be responsible for your own happiness.
  • Do something that scares you every day.
  • If  you need to do something don’t ignore it, get it done whilst you need to and have the time to do it rather than stressing when you don’t.
  • Life is really about making the most out of every day. I suppose the one thing I am not afraid of is change. I love change. Embrace the change.
  • Relax as a mum, trust your instincts.

If you want to follow more from Angela, you can see her incredible art over on her Etsy StoreFront here – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AWeirArt

Or you can follow her drawings, creations and more over on Instagram at @aweir_art

 

 

Episode 14 – Bastien Parizot: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

I first met Bastien almost a year ago today, when he interviewed me for my current job and I travelled out to Switzerland for the occasion. That’s right, this episode and interview is with no other than my current manager and therefore I think it’s quite clear how and why I am inspired by Bastien when it comes to a professional basis, as he is setting an incredible bar and standards for the next steps in this field.

But there’s so much more to Bastien that’s extraordinary, and this is why I really am excited that he’s carved out the time from his incredibly busy life (more on that later) to answer these twelve core questions and give us some insight into his life, passions and priorities.

Bastien has had an incredible career, spanning across multiple industries from sports wear to consumer goods, his background even includes launching his own business and moving to Florence whilst doing so. Would you be brave enough to do that? I have a lot of respect for Bastien as he manages to balance an incredibly successful career, with a very time and energy consuming role, with being the best he can be personally and for his family, and ensuring everything he does is aligned to his core values and goals. For someone who is in a new country almost every week with work and likely receives over 400 emails a day, it’s refreshing to see how to truly balance a very successful career at a young age, with an enriched personal and family life too.

He’s always seeking new adventures, opportunities to learn and discover more with his family in tow, and does it in such a simple way which really get’s back to nature, and close to wildlife. This outlook, always learning, seeking simplicity, and finding opportunities and moments to experience with his family is something I think we could all carve out more time for and could adopt. You just need to talk to him for five minutes about his recent campervan adventures, or upcoming planned excursions, to see how genuinely excited and refreshed he is following one of his short trips away.

Lastly, as well as all the above, Bastien is really good fun to be around. Both himself personally but also his incredibly lovely family. It’s nice to see someone who can balance both personal goals and success with a good grounded attitude and behavior, and joy for life outside of work. He loves sports, good food and of course good wine too (though don’t try and serve him a Swiss red!)

If you take anything from the below and his answers, I really hope that it’s that it’s so important in life to always keep learning, discovering and know what you want in life, know your core values and dreams and then always ensure everything you are doing matches up with this. Otherwise, it’s only yourself you’re fooling in the long run.

Oh, and maybe get a campervan!

BP

So here are his answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

What makes me happy is on one side experiencing, discovering with loved ones. On the other side learning new things and challenging myself to be a better person (from core values to being able to achieve my goals). This leads me to be very happy when I travel with my family (and friends), when I eat, share moments with loved ones.

I’m also very happy with a sense of achievement, whether it’s in sports (I could not live without) or learning a new skill. Could be perceived as being competitive which I won’t deny.

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

La horde du contrevent from Alain Damasio. Unfortunately not translated in English (keep learning your french just to be able to read this), it’s the story of a group of elite characters trying to find the origin of the wind in a fantasy universe.

It tell their epic adventure,quite literally, and their quest to find the meaning of existence. It leaves you with the true purpose of reading: triggers your imagination and more questions than answers. Not sure I could say it had an impact but that’s my all time favorite.

To really answer the question, Sapiens is really making an impact – thanks for lending it to me!

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do.

I must believe in Karma somehow.

Also, if you’re not happy with something make a change, it’s tough but I really believe in will power.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

Tough one…

Perhaps two ways. One, Get the steam out through sports. Going for a run and pushing yourself for instance is helps to get rid of the noise.

Other way is really to step back and ask myself a few basic questions like:

  • Do I understand why am I doing this?
  • Is what I’m doing in line with my core values ?
  • Am I sure I’m not hurting or doing damage through what I’m doing?
  • Am I learning something, making an impact or contributing to my goal?

If the answers are no, then usually I make a change.

What inspires you?

People who stand to a set of core values regardless of what they do, who they talk to, how high they go in the corporate ladder…consistence in behavior is what guides me,  and therefore I guess inspires me.

What are your top three priorities?

Be happy / be healthy / be successful (towards my goals)

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

People think I could be cold and distant (at least at first sight). It’s just that I like to listen first, also when I have nothing to say I’ll be quiet, very simple. I have empathy therefore I need to listen, have time and question things.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?

I’ll cheat and pick one made last year: a campervan. With a quite intense lifestyle at work, having two young energetic kids, sports and friends…the only thing I want to do in my free time is driving to a wild location (be it next door or far away) and enjoy the luxury of simple living with my family – no planes, no fancy hotel, just the bare minimum to visit and explore.

Second one is a bike I can use to ride with my kids, meaning not a full on carbon, clips-on, racing bike. Just a normal bike to go and visit with them. Of course it goes on the campervan every weekend and holidays !

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

I do plenty of things so I’ll take assumption it’s generally about my lifestyle, work, hobbies. Do what you enjoy and makes you happy as long as it’s not to the expense of others, respect your core value (don’t fool yourself) and you do it until you achieve what you set in first place (does not need to be the best, just your personal achievement). Set step by step goals and reach them, it helps making your wishes a reality.

Always question your « routine » so it does not become one. Embrace change and make it positive. Make good around you, it’s changing the world in a concrete way. Be persistent, resilient but don’t be stubborn, accept failure and adapt. Have fun and find in everything an opportunity to learn !

What are you most proud of?

Every single new achievement or skill learned from my kids. Nothing more fulfilling than transmission – whether it’s reading, cycling, cooking or simple how to behave with others. Exhausting but fulfilling.

An unusual habit of yours?

Nothing unusual to me of those who know me!

What do you do every single day?

Of course not when traveling for work I eat with my wife and kids. Breakfast and dinner. Cooking and eating with my family is the single best moment to share, discuss, be together and disconnect from the rest.

 Bastien, thank you so much for taking the time do to this. Your answers are refreshing, and speak a lot of truth about knowing what’s important, doing what makes you happy, and prioritizing what really matters to have the best life. 

His Key Advice:

  • Embrace change and make it positive. Accept failure and adapt. Have fun and find in everything an opportunity to learn!
  • Always question your routine so it does not become one.
  • Know your core values, and stand by them no matter what you do, where you go in life or who you are talking to.
  • If you’re not happy with something make a change, it’s tough but you can do it.
  • Happiness, health and family are top priorities and drive most of your happiness. Don’t neglect them.
  • Set step by step goals and reach them, it helps making your wishes a reality.
  • And most importantly, do what you enjoy and makes you happy as long as it’s not to the expense of others

If you want to follow more from Bastien and see his outdoor adventures, wildlife pursuits and van travels, you can find him on Instagram (@Bast_bp) or if you want to really learn from someone genuine and driven in business, you can seek out his LinkedIn.

 

Episode 12 – Alan Moir: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

I was really interested to ask this series of questions because Alan is in fact my father, and although you can be incredibly close to someone, you can find yourself learning something new about them and taking inspiration from it.

Alan has had a varied and exciting life. He’s lived and worked in many countries, including going as far flung New Zealand and managing business deals and trips in the USA, Norway and Paris. In his fifty years you can never say his life has been boring, or without change and chance to grow.

He has always been incredibly hard working and passionate about his career and business. From a young age, I remember him always working hard, building up a successful career and putting in many hours at the office to get where he is today. His discipline, motivation and can-do attitude is inspiring, and something I have tried to emulate throughout my life.

Additionally, he’s always someone to encourage you to ‘go for it’ and not worry too much about the decisions you make in the process of it. My dad has had such an interesting life, living in many places, doing a whole range of jobs and it’s made him such a well-rounded person you’d happily take advice from. I am very risk-averse, and so sometimes it’s good to get a nudge from him to just take the plunge and experience life to the fullest.

Alongside his job, he travels often with his wife, exploring many places, cultures and getting a good tan along the way. He’s seen endless countries and always has a good story to tell about them.

Alan is a loving grandfather to my niece and nephew, and seeing his face light up when he gets to cuddle them, Skype them on a Sunday or celebrate a milestone with them is precious. He also has his hands full with his children, and wonderful step-children (there’s seven of us in total!) as well as all our plus ones. So it’s a wonder he’s so good at his job and travelling when he’s got us and his lovely wife to please at the same time!

Thanks Dad for answering these questions, we can all learn a lot from your desire to always be learning, dedication to your career, hard-working always driven attitude and the ability to take risks, make changes and not be afraid of what tomorrow brings.

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So here are his answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

Seeing my family happy is all that matters to me – I love it when Mrs M smiles, when my kids and step-kids tell me of their days and dreams. I also like to travel, to to experience new cultures, not just to “holiday”. I love seeing how people react and respond in different ways to the same things.  I wish we could all spend more time together but logistics and work gets in the way too often.

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

It has to be my dictionary.  Out of 171,476 words available ( 2018 version ) we only use, on average, 5000 in our daily communications.  I still find myself using it on a daily basis when I encounter a new word.

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

There are 2 and I keep then both by my desk

“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it”

and

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

Every day my job and life offers me new challenges. if that ever stops then I need to look for a new job. Just because I am old doesn’t mean I have to stop learning and growing. I try very hard to be the shepherd rather than the sheep, I want to lead the way, not follow other people footsteps.

What inspires you?

Life – just look around you ( where ever you are ) nature is showing you some wonderful things. The seasons and how the changes bring about new growth, how animals have adapted to different circumstances. Cannot think of anything more inspiring than that.

What are your top three priorities?

  1. To wake up tomorrow
  2. To learn something new every day
  3. To see Notts County play at Wembley or in the Premier League – we all have to dream

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

Well, rumour has it that I am grumpy

 

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?

My trip to France with Alison – seeing the sights together and, as it turned out, seeing the Spire on the Notre Dame about a month before it was no more. That made me realise that if you put off your dreams you might just miss out.

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

What a question.  In life, in work, wow so many variables here. All I will say is take every opportunity to do something new. Worry about the how later. Don’t make mistakes, takes risks and learn from them.

What are you most proud of?

Well I will not state the obvious here, see what makes me happy for that.

I try very hard not to listen in judgement.  Often, when people are telling us things we will listen and provide responses based on our own bias. We also come up with an idea and then stop listening, but instead waiting for a gap in the conversation to voice our thoughts.  That is what I mean by listening in judgement.  By doing this, also means that I tend not to take sides.

An unusual habit of yours?

I have thought about this long and hard and I don’t think I have one. Maybe those around me will know otherwise..

What do you do every single day?

Drink coffee – my life’s staple.  I have also found that breathing comes in handy.

His Key Advice:

  • Travel and experience new cultures, don’t just ‘holiday’
  • There are more words than we will ever use, so get your dictionary out and expand your vocabulary today!
  • Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything
  • Learn something new every day

Alan shares his life across Facebook, and sometimes on Instagram. You can follow him if you want to see more of his wisdom and share in his adventures. 

 

 

Episode 11 – Liam O’Connor: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

I first met Liam in 2014, and then quickly over the years, our friendship blossomed and I am really lucky and proud to call him one of my best and closest friends. He did this interview for me in late 2018, but being the wonderful reflector and modest person he is, he only shared it with me after visiting us in Switzerland last week, and I am so incredibly grateful he did.

Liam is someone I have wanted to ask these questions to for a long time, because as a person he inspires me on so many levels. Liam has achieved an incredible amount in such a short space of time, and every time I speak to him he is embarking on a new course, job or adventure to discover more about himself, the world and the people in it.

Our stories are also in some elements quite similar, which I think is why on a personal level I really relate to and value all the advice but also the experiences he can offer as a person. As an individual Liam is one of the hardest working, self-motivating and determined people I have ever had the fortune to spend time with.

He has overcome adversity, obstacles and challenges that I would say the majority of us would never even be able to imagine, never mind live through. It could have shaped his character in so many ways, and yet he emerged as a genuine, considerate and caring individual who goes above and beyond for everyone in his circle. The way he and his Fiancee Lydia are as people, the way they help those around them, strive to see the world, and do it with a huge pinch of kindness and good humour along the way, is something I think we can all learn a lot from.

I hope that his goal of working in politics and running for parliament comes true sooner rather than later, as personally I think we could all use someone like Liam to represent us, support us and champion our voices.

If you take anything from Liam’s interview I would strongly recommend it’s about setting yourself goals close to your values, never settling for less than you know you can achieve, and working hard to get there. Luck isn’t real, but perseverance, kindness and true dedication are, and Liam highlights to me what happens when you really focus on those core traits and elements.

Thank you for taking the time to do this Liam, we can all learn a lot from you.

Liam

So here are his answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

I am at my happiest when I am content, and I am content when I am striving towards something. I need a goal that I am working towards to feel content, thus happiness, in my day to day life.

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

It is hard to pinpoint one book that has had the most influence on me, as so many have. The book that originally made me fall in love with literature was, embarrassingly, Harry Potter. I remember reading it for the first time when I was about eight years old and felt an emotional connection to the characters that had never developed through film or TV.

However, the book that has had the biggest impact upon my life would be Christopher Hitches, Arguably. this book is what originally got me infused with debate, politics and philosophy. There are countless books that have helped develop or changed my knowledge and opinion, however arguably is what originally made me passionate about thinking

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Nothing that is worth having will ever come easy, otherwise, everyone would have it.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

I surround myself with reminders of who I want to be, and what I am working towards. I read literary works of famous philosophers and historians so I can use their wisdom when I might be struggling or distracted

 

What inspires you?

People inspire me, especially people who have overcome tremendous obstacles in their life to still be well rounded successful people. I love seeing people who have been undervalued by society coming back to prove people wrong.

What are your top three priorities?

My top priority is to live a long healthy life with my beautiful fiancée. If I don’t achieve any other life goal but that, I will still die a very happy man.

Another priority of mine is to run for parliament at some point in my life. I feel a need to try and make this world a little bit better for me being in it, and feel I could enact the biggest change through parliamentary politics.

Finally, my last priority would be to see as much of the world as possible; I want to experience everything every culture has to offer.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

Undoubtedly it is the belief that I am extremely confident. I have struggled with self-esteem issues throughout my life, and to counter that I have created a persona of someone who is overly confident and can do anything.

 

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?

The purchase that means the most to me is undoubtedly an engagement ring for my fiancée. I proposed in January, I have never been more nervous than when I got down on one knee, I could hardly speak. Thankfully she said yes!

I start my master’s degree this month, in Public Administration and Public Policy. I have had to take a loan out to pay for it, however, I believe in the long run it will be a financially sound investment.

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

Well, as I am yet to start working within the field of my choice, I cannot really advise anyone upon that. If someone decided they want to re-enter full-time education as a mature student, I would recommend they go for it. You can over think decisions if you dedicate too much thought to them, there will always be reasons to not take risks, however, if its truly something you want to do and are passionate about, go for it!

Secondly, you have to be hyper-organised and dedicated. I started college with more than 60 people, all intent on going to university as mature students, only two of us graduated this year. Everyone either gave up or couldn’t do it.

What are you most proud of?

Finishing my degree and being offered a place on a masters course was pretty cool.

2018 has been an amazing year so far: I got engaged, passed my driving test, completed my degree and will have started my masters.

An unusual habit of yours?

I don’t think I really have habits, especially not any unusual ones. There are things I do every day, however, nothing that I think I couldn’t give up with ease. Something I instinctively do, without thinking, is check the news; usually through the BBC website, many times throughout the day. Sometimes ill subconsciously open my phone and go straight to the news, even if I had closed my phone 30 seconds before

What do you do every single day?

I can’t really answer this question, as apart from the utterly mundane, there isn’t anything I can think of that I do every day.

I suppose every day I try and do something that the Me of tomorrow will thank Me for, to do little things every day that will improve me as a person; in any way.

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential” Winston Churchill

His Key Advice:

  • Every day try and do something that the You of tomorrow will thank You for.
  • There will always be reasons to not take risks, however, if its truly something you want to do and are passionate about, go for it.
  • See as much of the world as possible.
  • Nothing that is worth having will ever come easy, otherwise, everyone would have it.
  • Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential

Unfortunately for us, Liam doesn’t have any social media (which I think we can all learn a lesson from in this digitally addictive age) so following him online isn’t an option. However watch this space, as I know in a few years you’ll be seeing a lot more of him whether it’s through his published writing or running for parliament!

Episode 10 – Wael Jabi: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

I first met Wael seven months ago, when we both started our new roles in Vevey at the same time. From the moment I met him I was really inspired by how genuine, open and kind he was as a person. He knew I was new to Switzerland and in the first couple of days, gave me a book to help me understand Swiss life and culture more, to help me settle in. It’s this kind of instant thoughtfulness, consideration and also humour that makes it always a pleasure to spend time talking to Wael.

His passion for wildlife, nature and respecting the environment is infectious. He is a man of words, but also action, which is always positive to see. By leading by example, he is inspiring many others to make important changes which will no doubt have a lasting impact. For example, I have never seen him drinking out of anything but his reusable coffee and water bottles.

Wael loves to travel, and I am always keen to hear where he is visiting next as he’s got some great stories. Plus, you can guarantee wherever he is, he always finds and shares the best foodie spots and things to eat along the way. Something I value very highly and appreciate a lot!

Finally, I have a lot of respect for Wael as although he works incredibly hard, has a daily long commute, and travels often, he manages to make heaps of time for those who matter most to him, his family and close friends. He shows me that if you really do know what your priorities are, you will always make time for them and nothing else will really be a barrier.

He is genuine, smart, and because of his priorities has lived such a full and interesting life. His career has spanned across many countries, companies and fields, so he’s definitely a good one to go to for learning to stretch and develop yourself. I think we can all learn a lot from Wael, and his infectious positive attitude.

As he says, positivity attracts positivity!

Wael

So here are his answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

This is an interesting one because there are things we know which make us happy, however in reality, it is not always that thing, instead it is the context in which it happens which makes us happy.

My daughter makes me happy, which is incredibly true, but there are certain times when parenting is hard. I love it when my daughter says my name, she says papa, I have found a new level of happiness with something so simple.

In addition to this, interactions with people which are genuine are really important to me and make me truly happy. Increasingly the pressures from our work, society and families and friends have boxed us into ways of interacting so people act and talk in a very non-personal way and often we end up acting like someone else, like the situation dictates. I just instead love it when people are real and genuine at all times.

Of course, good food makes me happy, especially my mum’s authentic cuisine!

Lastly, I am a huge wildlife and nature person, being around wildlife in any form makes me super happy. Just being outside, in nature, has an amazing instant uplifting effect.

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

The Hatchet

It’s an adventure story about Canadian kid who survives a plane crash, and lives in the wilderness. All he had was a hatchet. I read it at a young age and I took a few principles from it, mainly being that the impossible is actually possible, and when everything is against you, there is always hope.

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

So this year we travelled to the Seychelles with my dad for his 60th birthday. In the run up, we were planning his present. We gave him a book with sixty letters from sixty friends and it was filled with photos and so many quotes!

So we printed some of his best saying and quotes, and wore them on t-shirts during the week. He is a man full of quotes and because of that I can’t live by any quote as so many are relevant.

However if I had to pick one, I started a website when I was younger and the title was ‘You have only one life, not 1.5’. This has really stuck with me as it’s about being my true authentic self and making the most of the one live I have, as you don’t get to re do it.

What inspires you?

Every single day, there are people sitting all around me that inspire me in a different way per person.

Broadly, mothers in general are just really inspiring. The father part is hard, don’t get me wrong, but mother is ten time harder in my opinion. They come to work, fly to other countries for business, keep a straight face, and then continue to give 200% at home.

I am also really inspired by people in developing countries who often have so little, and yet can do so much more than someone who has everything. More energy, creativity, passion, happiness.

This leads me to often think, why are we killing ourselves to work for more money if we don’t need it for more happiness?

How do you remain, or regain your focus?

I lose focus all the time, it’s like my biggest problem.

I find it hard to stay consistent and focused, but then I think back to the first manager I had, who has been the best in my career, and he once said to me;

‘People who come to work on time at the same time every day of their lives are known to be the least creative in the world’

This saying has then stuck with me for such a long time. Instead of being frustrated about no routines, I embraced it, fluctuation is okay as long you realise it’s happening and you can get back to the task at hand. Be flexible with yourself, allow yourself to readjust if needed.

For years, I killed myself trying to focus all the time, so I am happy to accept the way I am!

What are your top three priorities?

So this is not in ranking order!

  1. Living the life I want to, to the best of my abilities
  2. Supporting those that I consider my priority group of people to my best abilities
  3. Ensuring that there is a better world in general for future generations. I am hot on wildlife and there are so many species I want to make sure my daughter sees as she gets older. Therefore, it’s a priority for me to consume less, in the right way, and pass on that learning to others around me.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

For those who have known me for a long time, they see me as an extroverted fun loving guy. Which to an extent I am, but I feel I have a strong introverted side where I am just as happy in my own company, with a good book.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?

  • I made a major investment to go to Africa and do a walking safari before I started at Nestlé in Zambia by myself. It was the first time I have ever travelled by myself and I found it was such an important and also exciting way to spend money I have worked hard for.
  • I spent 2 dollars for an app called One Second Every Day, and then took a video for my daughter every single day and put it together, it blew my mind how much she changes a little each and every day!

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

For the one person out of eight billion who might want to do what I am doing:

Never assume things are they are or seen from the outside. Always search for the hidden black box in people’s hearts, only when opened will you see the reality.

Come into everything and every situation with an open mind.

Focus on the ‘North Star’. Always think about the big picture, and where you are going with life. It is so easy to get annoyed when you have had a bad day or a specific meeting doesn’t go as planned, but if you instead always look at where you are heading and the bigger picture, sometimes it’s easy to see it really doesn’t matter in the long term so it shouldn’t affect you now.

Oh, and an important one, no one is perfect.

What are you most proud of?

Pride in my family, proud to have been raised by great people that I look up to.

Proud of my friends who I look up to.

I am beyond proud to have an amazing wife who makes me feel so small but in a good way, because she is so great I just can’t compare to her, and this makes me very lucky.

An unusual habit of yours?

Oh man, there’s so many haha!

What do you do every single day?

Have an intention, every single day, to give love.

His Key Advice:

  • Positivity attracts positivity 
  • Respect and nurture our planet and wildlife, and try to get closer to it every day.
  • Be proud of those around you and close to you.
  • Embrace yourself, and enjoy who you are, as no one is perfect!
  • Have an intention, every single day, to give love.
  • Never assume things are they are or seen from the outside. Always search for the hidden black box in people’s hearts, only when opened will you see the reality.
  • Come into everything with an open mind

If you want to follow Wael, he has an amazing Instagram filled with photos of his beautiful commute and nature-filled weekends with lots of envy inducing foods. 

Episode 09 – Rachel Hopkins: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

I first met Rachel during my college years, when we both would get together to listen to music and local gigs by ‘The Harks’. From the off I was blown away by how cool, friendly and welcoming this girl was, and yet as I have followed her online over the years, I have genuinely been influenced and inspired by so many of her actions, words and insights, perhaps even more so then when we used to hang out more in person ten years ago.

Rachel is an incredible advocate for body confidence, positivity, and all round self-love. She has helped me, as well as so many other women and men online, with her reminders of how we all should make a daily positive choice to love our bodies. Honestly, over Christmas and New Year she completely re-wrote my dialogue and perspective on festive indulgence worrying and self-confidence.

She is also a brilliant girl boss, with an incredible career at Zara, as well as being THE biggest and most dedicated Florence and the Machine follower I have ever known.

Her commitment to so much, Florence, Queen, Cute Dogs and Body Confidence just shows me how this woman can be summed up in two words. ‘Positively Determined’. Rachel is forever seeking, sourcing and advocating for happiness in so many ways, and this has a profound impact on others.

Plus, she has a lot of cool tattoos, and a damn neat sense of style. If I was to ask you to take something from Rachel, it’s her refreshing honesty, inspiring drive and to also seek that ‘sod it’ moment she refers to below.

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So here are her answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

Being around the people that I love. I have a really strong support network around me. A big family, fearless friends and the most wonderful boyfriend. I am their biggest cheerleader. Seeing the people you love happy is the best feeling in the world.

I also really love dogs. I will cross the street to pet a dog for that one moment of pure love and appreciation.

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

Paper Aeroplanes and Goose by Dawn O’Porter

Maybe not the most impact but the most relatable book(s) I’ve ever read are Paper Aeroplanes and Goose by Dawn O’Porter. It’s basically a coming of age story of two very opposite best friends. I can see little bits of myself within both characters and it just made me realise no matter how traumatic, embarrassing or disgusting any part of your life is, you are “normal” and your friends will always forgive you and love you anyway.

 

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

Not really a specific quote but I read something online once that  basically said that the person you think of as “yourself” only exists to you. Every single person that you meet has created their own version of you in their heads.

Or if a specific quote is needed, there’s a Florence And The Machine lyric (surprise surprise) “I’m gonna be free and I’m gonna be fine” and the next line is “maybe not tonight”  things will be fine in the end, even if they aren’t right now.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

Music. I’m not musically talented at all. I’m a terrible singer and the clumsiest person I know. But to hear a song and interpret it in a way that means something to you is the best motivation. Do a little dance and shake off the day or put on a power ballad and reflect. Music is the best medicine.

 

What inspires you?

People overcoming their fears or obstacles that are against them.

To have that one moment where you think “sod it” that changes absolutely everything. 

 

What are your top three priorities?

  1. Do the things that make you happy.
  2. Read more books.
  3. Spend time with the people you love.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane everyday of your life. Don’t let work consume you. Stop wasting your time scrolling through Instagram looking at the best version of everyone’s lives (it’s not all real, not all true) Spend money on that gig ticket to see your idol. See or speak to your friend you were thinking of the other day. Go out for tea. Get a takeaway. Cook something new. Snuggle down in bed in some new pyjamas and fresh bed sheets. Look at yourself naked. Wear clothes that make you feel good. Appreciate the little things.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

That I’m confident. Body confident, yes. Mentally confident, no.

I literally wake up in the middle of the night and think about conversations I’ve had years prior. I don’t like walking into a room first, I hate phone-calls and doubt myself all the time.

 

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?

My nude commission from “Are We Nearly Bare Yet” which is a project by Louisa Foley to celebrate the diversity of self-identifying women and their bodies.

It was so liberating for me to have my body, something that I spent a lot of my life hating and being objectified and judged for, turned into a piece of art for the world to see. I chose to do it completely naked to see the whole of me. My boobs, my belly, even my toes are a wonderful piece of art that hangs in my hallway for everyone to see.

My tattoos. This might sound strange as a purchase but I suppose technically it is. I’ve known that I’ve wanted tattoos my whole life but didn’t actually start getting tattooed until I was 20/21. Most of my tattoos have personal meanings to me but some of them are just cute as hell. Similarly to my nude, my tattoos have helped me so much with my confidence. I grew up very sporty and did a lot of swimming so I’ve always had muscular legs, which were seen as manly, (shout out to the high schoolers who nicknamed me  MAN LEGS and BACON LEGS) so I was very paranoid about them and would forever wear tights or trousers. Now I can’t wait to show my legs off. People actually stop me in the street to compliment me on them.

Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

Surround yourself with good, honest people. If you mess up, they’ll tell you. If you do well, they’ll compliment you. If you doubt yourself, they’ll encourage you.

 

What are you most proud of?

Myself. When I think about how I’ve grown as a person compared to my teenage self.

The more I’ve thought about it, I now realise that I was in a mentally abusive, controlling relationship. I was isolated from my friends and family, hated the way I looked and was made to feel like I wasn’t good enough for anything or anyone, constantly compared myself to other women and ended up resenting them through jealousy.

I couldn’t be more opposite now. I’m in a very loving, happy relationship, I’m closer to my family than ever. I celebrate and empower women at every moment I can, including myself.

Sometimes I think to myself “what did I do to deserve this love”

The answer is nothing, I did nothing. I deserve this love, I deserve this life, I deserve to be happy. As does everyone.

An unusual habit of yours?

Im a leg shaker. I can’t sit still. Even when I’m relaxing at home I rub my feet together.

What do you do every single day?

Tell the people I love that I love them. You never know when it’s going to be the last time.

 

Thanks Rachel. Honestly your answers have been incredibly insightful and my key takeaway from this is just how actively you advocate a life filled with happiness, and love, and inspire others to do the same.

You have achieved so much, whilst being a voice for many others and being a champion for body confidence, awesome female friendships and good music!

Her Key Advice:

  • Music is the best medicine. 
  • Do things which make you happy, and don’t get caught up in the mundane day to day of life. Appreciate the little things. 
  • Surround yourself with good, honest people.
  • I deserve this love, I deserve this life, I deserve to be happy. As does everyone. 
  • Tell people that you love that you love them every day.

If you want to follow Rachel, she is an active Tweeter, as well as a regular Insta-poster of cute outfits, dogs and awesome tattoos!