Five Things No One Tells You About Moving Abroad (And Why You Should Do It)

Packing up your belongings, booking a one-way ticket, and travelling across the world to find your new home is something that many of us dream of. There’s a reason why Eat Pray Love was such a success, many of us have that secret itch to try somewhere new. To discover and immerse ourselves in a new culture, climate or language even if just for a little while.

It’s not for everyone, many of us are happy staying where we currently call home, and that’s inspiring as you’ve found where you are most content and don’t feel the urge to shake that up. However some people feel that need to explore. To settle somewhere different, to start afresh or to have a change of scenery and routine.

Thinking about moving to a new country is one thing, but then actually going and doing it, well that’s where the fun starts. If you are thinking of moving, looking for the catalyst to begin your new journey abroad or want to know what it’s really like from people who have done it before, then look no further than this article.

I have spoken to a series of ten friends, colleagues and family members who have lived in at least two places overseas, and have kindly shared their experiences of living somewhere entirely different with me.

The best parts of living somewhere new

I asked ten people what they thought was the best thing about living abroad, and the top answer time and time again was, you guessed it, food.

The chance to try new cuisines, local dishes and learn new ways to cook food was a really big draw when choosing where to move to and settle down.

New cultures, habits and the chance to learn a new language were close contenders, as was the chance to ‘explore new experiences and opportunities that are now on your doorstep’. It seems that when moving we are looking for something unique, that we haven’t come across before. Less of the same old and more of the new and undiscovered.

For me, food certainly is up there, alongside the chance to immerse yourself in local traditions, history and culture. When you visit a place, even for an extended period of time, you don’t truly get to know the day to day way of living, eating and adventuring. Moving there lets you soak in the culture over a period of time, and take away from it the parts that really resonate with you.

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Photo by Martin Péchy on Pexels.com

What can be frustrating or difficult?

When moving, it’s certainly filled with so many highs and new experiences, but it would be misleading to pretend there’s not a fair share of lows you have to go through as with any other journey.

Again, this question resulted in quite a unanimous answer across the group. First and foremost, when moving abroad the most frustrating part of settling in is getting to grips with the new languages. For many people, classes and lessons in person are seen as an essential when you move to a new country. If you don’t make this effort, it can make day to day living much more difficult, especially if you have a problem like one of the respondents such as water coming through your ceiling on a bank holiday. Plus, as a lot of people said making friends was a big challenge for them, language classes are a perfect way to do this.

Second most common was missing family and friends from home. Even if the distance isn’t too far, people said that they didn’t really realise how much they’d miss home and the people that made it special until they had left. Modern technology makes it a little easier now but it’s important to make sure you make time to go back now and then and connect in person, or even better, treat your friends to a free-accommodation holiday with all the local tips and tours included in your new country! On a personal note, having a steady stream of loved ones come out to see us over the last five months has been so important and we are forever grateful to our friends who have made the journey to come see us. You’ve helped us settle a lot easier.

Lastly, a big one is learning to adapt and getting to grips with the local quirks, habits and culture to make sure you feel like you really do fit in. Examples include later dinner timings, local noise laws, paperwork preparation and driving etiquette to name a few. The more you can research, observe and practice local habits, the easier you’ll settle.

Adapt to your new home, don’t try to make it adapt to you.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Where is the best place you’ve lived?

Obviously this is a subjective list, but I wanted to ask it to give you a flavour of why certain places really resonate with people.

  • San Francisco – The city and ease of being able to travel around California
  • Harrogate – Because of how beautiful Yorkshire is each and every day!
  • Spain – For the food, weather and later chilled lifestyle
  • Switzerland – For the incredible outdoors, the environmentally friendly nature, the pet friendly culture and the views. It’s such a healthy, happy country. Plus, it’s super central, making it so easy to explore other countries.
  • Greece – For the people, the history, the food and the culture. It’s warm, both in personality and in climate.
  • Germany – Language, very green and great vegetarian food, as well as being really environmentally friendly.
  • Germany – But more for the circumstance and being in early twenties without kids
  • Belgium – For the easy access to travelling in Europe
  • Switzerland – For the nature, quality of life, food and outdoor activities
  • Vietnam – Because it was so different to what I was used to, so always interesting
  • Spain – Because it has all the excitement of living somewhere foreign but with the ease of access to home comforts. Plus it’s a beautiful, hot country.
  • New Zealand – So much space, I loved all of it. Such a varied selection of scenery and places to visit. The Southern Alps to the Beaches, the Glaciers to Milford Sounds. North Island to South Island. Cultures within cultures
  • Norway – I loved the country and the no nonsense approach to life of the people.
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How has living somewhere abroad changed you?

A big theme for everyone I asked was that living somewhere overseas had a big impact on their confidence. A lot of them developed a stronger understanding of what they were capable of, and also became more social in situations with new people or experiences.

Also, things became less of a need for many people. As they moved, they became very conscious of what things they kept and prized, and what they would often leave behind or find a pain to move. Living with less became more of a reality, in the search of more experiences and adventures.

As you choose to travel to create a new home, it becomes unsurprising that many of our respondents said that living abroad only fuelled their passion to travel personally more as well.

Finally, many of our respondents said moving abroad changed their health outlook and activeness, for the better.

For me personally, moving abroad made me be more adaptive and open to the unknown. As a chronic planner, I like to know what’s going on and can be a little bit of a control freak when it comes to organization. Knowledge and plans soothe me, but you can’t rely on this when moving abroad. Things will go wrong, you will hit local roadblocks, and there’s going to be hurdles to overcome that you didn’t expect. It taught me to make a plan, but then be flexible when it comes to putting it into practice.

And lastly, what one piece of advice would the insiders give to those who were considering living overseas?

  • Any move is what you make of it
  • There’s never a right time. People do it alone, with kids, with pets. If you keep waiting for the right moment, you’ll never do it.
  • Learn the basics of the language and keep at it when moving
  • Research before living somewhere, and do this in detail, even if you have vacationed there or have family there who love it, it doesn’t mean it will suit you
  • Immerse yourself in the culture and don’t expect it to feel like a holiday
  • Get involve, get immersed and enjoy every moment of the experience as you don’t know how long you’ll be there
  • Just make sure you understand what you are hoping to get out of it, a new country won’t fix longer term lingering problems.
  • Understand local laws and customs

But the main advice from everyone? Just do it. You can plan, organize and dream about it, but the reality is, until you are there, you won’t know what to expect so go for it.

Thanks to everyone who helped me pull this together, your insights have been so valuable. I hope if anyone reading this is thinking of moving abroad, it inspires you to go for it. Even if it’s just for a little while, it’s a great opportunity.

Episode 06 – Kyran Weir: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

Kyran is a talented graphic designer, animator and illustrator who currently is putting his skills to use to create artwork, and engage with the community, for some of the UK’s top confectionery brands.

On top of this, he volunteers his creativity to support Oxfam Bookstores across York with their designs, bookmarks and publications, as well as lending a hand time to time with the local community independent cinema and volunteering to create some of their graphics, logos and branding.

Outside of design, Kyran is a keen photographer, gamer and loves to watch films.

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What makes Kyran so extraordinary? Kyran is creative, has a fantastic imagination and is a lively and social character that everyone quickly warms to. At just twenty eight he has already travelled to over 48 incredible cities including trekking for ten weeks across Costa Rica, lived in four (soon to be five) countries, and is a brilliant cat-dad and husband.

He approaches work in a very different way to a lot of people, and his passion truly shines when he is applying his skill set to something he loves.

He has a natural curiosity, love for life, and a no-fear approach to trying something new, which is why he is probably so good at packing up his life into a few suitcases and moving to new places!

Kyran is soon going to be launching his own graphic design agency, and putting his everything into something he loves. It’s inspiring to watch this journey unfold.

So here are his answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

My wife, my cats, eating out in good restaurants, travelling, gaming, watching films. Okay, I could go on as many things make me happy which I guess is very lucky.

In a nutshell, I love my family, entertainment, socialising and being creative.

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris

It made me work harder but also smarter, and it’s fantastic to read all about the people who really are living their best life and at the top of their respective fields.

It taught me that four good hours in a day can produce better quality work than eight bad hours.

Apply yourself, work hard and produce work of quality not quantity.

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

‘Practice choosing discomfort’

It is a way to become more disciplined. Don’t choose the easy route (which is my natural and preferred path!)

I am not saying I am good at this yet, but it’s something I am working towards.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

I like to look at motivational quotes, Ted Talks and look at other designers work across Instagram, Dribbble and Pinterest.

What inspires you?

Great Artists – Tom Haugomat, Mark Conlan, Oli Moss. My wife. My colleagues who work with me in the studio.

What are your top three priorities?
  1. Die without regrets
  2. See the world
  3. Love my wife, cats and family

I am not massively interested in traditional success in the sense of a big car, three houses and top-level career. What I want is to be happy, experience every opportunity that comes my way, and see the world not only whilst I am young, but continually throughout all of my life.

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

I am a laidback guy.

People think it when they initially meet me but it couldn’t be more wrong.

I am not great in a crisis, and get easily stressed about the little things, and can be wound up by my friends really easily, however at the same time I am very easy going and so people often confuse the two.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?
  1. Manual Camera – Pentax K100. I wanted to get into film photography and this camera has been a fantastic way to experience and discover more about taking photos in a more traditional way. I took it to Cuba with me where I got some fantastic shots.
  2. Audible Subscription. I love audio books, they are a way to make doing boring jobs easier, motivate yourself, and learn more.
Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?

Anyone can do anything it’s just about putting time into it. YouTube is a great resource for learning to design.

Don’t think you instantly need to have your own ‘style’. Instead take influence from other peoples, copy their work, and learn how to do it until you find your own, it will come. Learn from people better than you. Design is just your thoughts and ideas, put down on paper and made real.

I would say you need to be able to also use Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects if you want to design for a living.

What are you most proud of?

Teaching myself to design, illustrate and animate. I didn’t do a degree or a professional course to learn, but instead dedicated hours and hours to it around whatever job I was doing at the time.

I am still learning every day, and so this often means waking up between 5-6am to get in an hour or two before work of practice, and luckily I now get to spend a lot of time at work creating, but it’s a never ending journey.

I have found something I love to do and managed to do it for a living. I would recommend you do the same, and you won’t work a day in your life, but don’t worry if you are on a long journey there.

It took me eight years, doing jobs in five different areas and industries, to discover and then build up the skills to do what I am doing now. Your time will come, just work hard for it.

In three months I am about to embark on the next big adventure in my career. Setting up my own design business. I just need to make it a success now.

An unusual habit of yours?

When I game (Xbox) I grind my teeth, my dentist hates it. It has meant I now have a problem with lockjaw as well. Not good.

What do you do every single day?

I listen to music without fail.

I am currently a bit obsessed with The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding. It’s a great album, you should check it out.

Thanks Kyran, perhaps it is about time I checked out Audible, and discovered more about YouTube tutorials!

His Key Advice:

  • You often don’t instantly land in a job you love, but the journey is all part of the amazing experience to get there.
  • Anyone can do anything if they put enough time into it.
  • Learn from people better than you
  • Audible is great for discovering new books, podcasts and more
  • Try to produce more work of quality, rather than volumes of lower standard work in a higher quantity.

If you want to see more of Kyran’s designs, you can follow him on Instagram here.

Episode 05 – Will Paddison: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

Will is a talented photographer, graphic designer and community manager for some of the UK’s most loved and top confectionery brands. He is additionally a really talented musician having played for over ten years now.

On top of the above, Will is hugely into fitness and well-being. He practices mixed martial arts, attends regular gym sessions and will give anything active a go.

He has worked really hard to be in a career and role he absolutely loves. He strongly believes that people should find a role that taps into their passions, and they will be hugely rewarded for doing what they do best, every single day.

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What makes Will so extraordinary? Will is driven, direct and hugely goal-orientated. His interview is the most concise of the series, and I think that is a perfect reflection of him as a person. Show up, give it your all, but then move on and master the next thing because time waits for no one.

His creativity and passion for his art is clear from the work he produces daily. To be a successful community manager, engaging with people across the world for top confectionery brands, is an incredible achievement at a young age.

He is also incredibly warm, supportive and open. Not something you often see in someone with a direct, fast-paced nature, but is so natural to Will.

I never doubt that if Will commits to something he will put 110% into it. Especially if it’s for someone else.

So here are Will’s answers to my twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

That’s a really deep question to start with! There’s no one thing that really does it for me. Helen (Will’s Fiancé) being happy, my family being happy. Just seeing happiness in my friends, family and fiancé. I get joy out of their joy.

What book had the biggest impact on your life?

Probably potentially:

‘Gary Chucks’ Crushing it’

He is an entrepreneur in America who basically tells you to stop making excuses and get it done. It’s outrageously good.

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

You’re going to die, do something about it.

No one is going to do it for you.

How do you remain, or regain, your focus?

On a small scale, go and wash my hands.

It’s a really good way to just reset, cleanse everything away and start afresh.

I also keep a pretty detailed and organised one-note. It’s not romantic or elegant to look at, but it has all my goals and keeps me on track.

What inspires you?

Lot of things inspire me. Seeing incredible work from other people, whether it is Photoshop skills from Boss Logic or music from brilliant musicians.

I am inspired in many ways, and for this, I am very grateful.

What are your top three priorities?
  • Family wellbeing. Growing up, my mum always worked hard to provide for us, and so I work hard to be able to provide for my family too. Give something back.
  • Being healthy is so important. I get a lot of fulfilment from exercise, feeling in shape and looking after my body. I regularly go to the gym, take part in MMA classes, foot golf. Anything to feel active really.
  • Professional satisfaction. My dad has always said anyone can do a job they don’t like, so put your effort into only doing stuff you love. It’s a cheesy quote but I really believe in, ‘do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’.
What’s the biggest misconception of you?

More often than not people get me up front, I think I am a pretty open book.

What two purchases have you made this year that you really value / had most impact?
  • Engagement ring
  • I don’t really buy for myself if it doesn’t serve a functional purpose. The only way I really treat myself is through buying good food! Seriously. But the second thing this year would have to be Helen’s bike. She’s always wanted one, and this gives her so much happiness it makes me happy.
Top tips for someone who wants to do what you do?
  • You’ve got to be skilled, find what you’re good at and work at it. You need Photoshop, photography skills etc..
  • Don’t limit your creativity, I hear it too often where people say they are not creative. Everyone is creative it’s just about when and where you apply it.
What are you most proud of?

I came from a single parent household, where my mum worked incredibly hard for everything we had. I will never forget that. I know what my mum went through to give us what we have. I work hard daily to have what I have now, and won’t ever stop working hard to do better.

I love the journey of working hard and putting in my all as much as the results.

An unusual habit of yours?

I have so many unusual habits. Just running through them all now.

I get really close to my food, like Helen loves to mock me for how close I get to it, and I finish it so fast Helen is left eating for another 10 minutes.

What do you do every single day?
  • Be grateful every day. Never forget that just to be born it’s a 14 million to 1 possibility, so make sure you take that opportunity you had and make something out of it.
  • Eat too much.

Thank you Will, this has been a real learning curve and give me a lot of food (not literally although I did end up hungry after our chat!) for thought.

His Key Advice:

  • You and only you are responsible for your own success. Show up, put in effort, and succeed.
  • Everyone is creative, you may just have not found your thing yet.
  • Be grateful everyday.
  • Family is incredibly important. Seeing others happy can make you instantly happy.

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You can follow Will over on Instagram here. To see more of his work, day to day life and thoughts!

Do You Know How People Perceive You? Why It’s Important To Know.

Personality is defined as a combination of characteristics that form a persons’ individual character. It’s your nature, your persona, your identity.

But how does that get defined? What shapes it?

Clearly there are hundreds of scientific and psychological studies into this question, but today I don’t want to go that deep. Instead, I want to know, how do we understand what it is that defines us? How do we see ourselves as other people do, and by doing this, what can we learn from it?

I think it’s really important to understand and know what it is that makes you, you.

To have a self-awareness and respect for the person you are. To be authentic by knowing your strengths, flaws and unique quirks.

I believe it’s also important to know, how do you want to be remembered? What is it that you want to be known for? How will people describe you?

I asked people in my immediate family and circle to describe me in three words. I would recommend that you do the same, to discover how others currently perceive you. If I had the chance, I would have tried to ask people who know me less well, to get a different perspective.

Their answers:

‘Intelligent, fun and small’ – Sister – Lauren

‘Smart, caring and polite’ – Sister – Angharad

‘Short, focused, loving’ – Dad – Alan

‘Clever, thoughtful, tolerant’ – Mother in Law – Angela

‘Precise, intelligent, cat-mum’ – Brother in Law – Ross

‘Prepared, considerate, successful’ – Brother in Law – Aaron

‘Intelligent, creative, lovely’ – Husband – Kyran

‘Thoughtful, creative, influential’ – Best Friend, Sarah

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

So what does this mean?

For me, my top priorities in life, as you may have read from my previous posts, are (in no particular order):

  • Spending time with my husband, family friends and cats.
  • Travel as much as possible
  • Write, read and learn. Never stop being curious.
  • Health
  • Be successful in a career I love.

Fortunately, it seems that the quick, three word reflections of those closest to me are in line with my priorities. Oh, and my height seems to be a defining feature!

Longer term, I hope that the creativity my husband and best friend have called out becomes more of a focus. I have practiced photography for over a decade, and really enjoy creating new content. It may be in the form of an article, or a photo to capture the beauty of a place. I don’t think people really see me in this way right now.

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I additionally would like to see more words that reflect my growth in confidence or boldness in a decade’s time. I am really working hard on a journey towards having more confidence, being braver in social situations and being more ‘fun’.

Lastly, people observe me as very prepared, organised and thoughtful. It’s a natural trait of mine to be primed for any situation. In the future, I am going to try and stretch myself to be a little more spontaneous.

Who knows what I am missing out on because it’s not in my plan or itinerary? I also need to accept that it’s okay for things to not go to plan, and relax my inner control freak tendency to freak out when things take on an unexpected direction.

Do you know how people perceive you? Ask people today. All it takes is a quick text, conversation or call.

As Aristotle, put it.

‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’.

By doing this exercise, it will open your eyes to how the world receives you. Then you yourself will know if this is something you are content with, or something you need to keep working on.

Often we don’t ask because we are scared to know the answer. Don’t be.

Know yourself, accept yourself, and be the best at what you do. It’s so important.

 

 

 

Episode 02 – Sam Watling: The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

Sam is a successful chairman of the York Film @ The Folk Hall (a local independent cinema which last year was nominated for several national awards), Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer for York Council, a brilliant blogger, and DJ.

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What makes Sam so extraordinary? I wanted to interview Sam because from the moment I met him, I was blown away by his complete and utter love of life, resolve to do good, and his natural ability to support, cherish and encourage everyone around him whilst also succeeding himself. He’s the chairman of a great charity organisation, and has taken it from strength to strength since leading it.

Sam is the friend who will be there at all your important milestones, cheering you on. Sam is the chairman who will encourage his volunteers to do bigger and be better. Sam is genuine. Sam is the person giving up most of his weekdays, weekends and evenings to make things happen for his community. Furthermore, I have honestly never met someone with so many genuine close friends.

I still to this day don’t quite understand how he does all he does in the same twenty four hours as the rest of us. I hoped this interview would give me some insight into this, and the rest of his infectiously ‘can do’ outlook on life.

So here’s Sam’s answers to my core twelve questions:

What makes you happy?

My niece and nephew! The ability kids have to find fun in everything and remain completely present in the moment is astounding and kind of contagious too.

Which book had the biggest impact on your life?

I haven’t read consistently since I was a child if I’m honest.  I love it but it’s always the thing that gets sacrificed to make time for everything else.

‘The End of Mr Y’ by Scarlett Thomas caught me off guard though, and reminded me why I love reading.

It came recommended by a dear friend and it sat on my bookshelf for over a year until I went on my next holiday. It’s a mysterious story of a cursed book, time travel, philosophy, science fact, fiction and fantasy all wrapped up in a bonkers little masterpiece. It’s like a thought experiment in a book.

What quote, or saying, do you live by?

More and more it’s become:

‘FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!’

Initially it was because I started to realise just how much most people are essentially blagging their way through life. We’re all just making it up as we go along to different extents.

It’s ok to not really know what you’re doing and just to learn as you go. Every mistake or failure, provided it’s acknowledged, is an opportunity for growth. So rather than shying away from a challenge because it’s the easier thing to do, or for fear you might fail, better to have a go. It will either all be ok or, at the very least, you’ll be better for next time.

More recently the phrase has taken on a slightly new meaning for me. I’m currently training to be a coach and there’s been some interesting discussion about the idea that when we articulate a desired change in behaviour and then take small steps in that direction, our thoughts and feelings can and do eventually follow suit. Say it, act it and it will be so! You can literally fake it till you make it!

How do you remain or gain your focus?

Focus is a tough one. I’m not sure I’ve ever been truly focussed although I’m working on getting there. I tend to take on a lot, and then procrastinate by doing the smaller, more manageable tasks first. I often feel like I’m going a million miles an hour.

A few years ago I started to lose faith in my memory and since then I put everything that needs to get done in a list in my phone calendar. Those that don’t get done get bumped onto the next day and so on. It thankfully means I rarely forget things I need to do these days, but it does highlight which jobs I am putting off as they can be in there for weeks sometimes.

There is something uniquely satisfying about deleting tasks done and watching the list get smaller!

What inspires you?

People. Friends, family, colleagues. My mother, my sisters, my girlfriend.  People going through hard times but still being good to their fellow humans. People who aren’t afraid to be completely themselves. People who lead by example. People who teach. People who build. People in love. People are the most extraordinary thing in the universe and I’m yet to find one that doesn’t have something to teach me.

What are your top three priorities?

I definitely used to think it was stuff/money/ status based. I must have that high paid job so I can afford the nicest car and biggest house. I need to make my mark on the world. I need to be famous. I wrote a list many years ago of the ages I wanted to have certain things by. Own house by 21, £25k a year job by 25, kids by 30. It felt like it really mattered that I achieved them.

Setting goals is still important to me but since I started to volunteer and dip my toe into the world of coaching, I’ve become increasingly aware that the journey to wherever we are going is by far the most important bit.

Humans have a curse called hedonic adaptation. We get used to the stuff we think makes us happy. That’s why the longer term happiness levels in lottery winners don’t stray much from the long term happiness levels of people badly injured in accidents. So, in the last few years, my priorities have become a lot harder to define and sound a bit more wishy washy!

Positivity, development and contentment are up there. Can all three exist in harmony? We’ll see!

What is the biggest misconception people have of you?

That I’m always super positive and have things together.

I’ve got extremely good with my ‘Fake it till you make it’ attitude and it has massively helped me get through hard times. I’m more positive now than I ever have been. But I still struggle with nagging self-doubt and a tendency to care a too much about what other people think of me or what their motives are. I’ve identified those traits though and keep them in my mind so that they don’t define me, I define them and as such, I can work on them.

What two purchases this year do you value most or have had the most impact?

Lots of the purchases I make these days go towards progressing Film at the Folk Hall, my little passion project. We recently bought a new projector lens. It was funded by four local organisations who all chipped in after hearing about our community cinema and wanted to help us improve!

It’s awesome to have something bought by the community that we know will make what we do open to more of its people.

I have also just bought a proper camera. I’ve wanted one for years but never taken the plunge. Being able to capture the moments that mean the most to me is sure to make this a very important purchase. I just need to learn how to use it now!

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

I’m not sure it’s the sort of job anyone thinks – ‘THAT’S what I want to do when I grow up!’

I’m still not sure if it’s what I want to do when I grow up if I’m honest!

Dealing with the public and helping improve things in the city I love is a privilege. But very few people want to speak to us. For the most part they have either done something wrong, or they are complaining about someone who’s done something wrong which can make finding positivity difficult at times. I think it’s important that you make it a priority to treat everyone fairly and with respect regardless of who they are or what they may have done. Not taking things too personally is the toughest thing but it’s really important to try and keep a thick skin.

Don’t get sucked into someone else’s negative mindset. If you let someone get you down then you’ll be off your game and the next person gets a lesser level of service. Most importantly, work hard on your relationships with colleagues. They are the ones who make your day, every day!

What are you most proud of that you’ve achieved?

Film at the Folk Hall has to be my proudest achievement to date. I had been going through some hard times with a belief that I was in a rut I couldn’t get out of. I blamed work because I felt like that was the only thing I could find negativity in. A great friend asked me if I spent any time doing anything for other people and I didn’t. It made sense immediately and within days of looking for volunteering opportunities I found a struggling community cinema five minutes from my house.

Since then my friends have got involved and we have grown and improved how we do things. We have built up a lovely community of people who want to get together and enjoy great movies. In the process my positivity at work has improved and while I’m busier than ever, it’s doing something I’m passionate about and believe in.

An unusual habit of yours?

Annoying people. I just love it. I like to jump out on people. I like to sing as loudly as possible in terrible voices. I like to click and clap and drum beat on things. I like to whistle badly. I click all of my knuckles. Basically all the things that really annoy people. Also, if someone tells me to stop I have to do it at least 2 more times.

What do you do every single day?

I review. Sometimes I can’t help it and I might go over and over certain things I could have said or done better. Sometimes it’s an internal high 5, like ‘Good work today, you did it!’ but there’s almost always something that’s happened that’s worthy of reviewing. I think something coaching has taught me is that I want to also have a ‘So what?’ and a ‘What next?’ to make sure all that reviewing isn’t going to waste. A plan for tomorrow built upon today’s learning.

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Thanks Sam, the answers are brilliant, though I am not sure I could give up reading to fit everything else in like you do! You’re a serious self-sacrificing guy.

His key advice:

  • Fake it til you make it
  • Review each day to make next day better
  • Volunteering give you a stronger sense of purpose, self and happiness
  • Don’t compare yourself to others or let yourself be influenced by their negativity
  • Family is really important

You can discover more about Film at the Folk Hall here, and perhaps go see a show or two! They’ve got an outdoor event coming up this Bank Holiday, and you’d get to then meet the brilliant Sam in person.

Five Emerging Trends I Am Going To Be Embracing

Usually I am not one for following the latest trends or fashions. I believe more in finding your own personal style, taste and passions and honing and curating that over a lifetime.

However due to my job, I regularly am aware of rising trends before they become a ‘thing’, thanks to the power of data and digital signals.

There are several key trends that I personally think I am going to get behind over the next year, which keep coming up in my reading.

Eating depending on your need or mood

This is a big one that I am starting to see more of both in my research but also when I am out and about, especially in London. The thing is, it really does make sense. If you are feeling tired, rather than just ordering your usual dinner in a restaurant, wouldn’t it be great if there was maybe a guide or legend that said all dishes with a little lightbulb next to it contained ingredients known to give you a natural energy lift.

I know you can take the time to work out this for yourself, but for convenience, I would love it if I could order a ‘calming’ or ‘energy’ coffee, rather than my standard Americano, which contained everything I needed to help balance my mood state.

There’s even an app you can use which suggests what you should eat depending on your mood called ‘Yolk!’.

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Remote, more invested travel

It’s no secret that I try to travel a lot and I am happiest when my bag is packed and I am immersed in a new country, culture or cuisine. However I think I could be getting a lot more out of my trips if I tried a little harder. Remote hotels in unique places are becoming more popular, and it’s easy to see why. Away from the ordinary, a chance to recharge, rare that you’ll bump into fifty tourists all posing for the same selfie ten minutes after leaving the room.

Next year I am going to try and explore more of the extraordinary.

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Outdoors indoors

Bringing nature inside has been a growing trend for some time now, and I have to admit I love it. The more plants we seem to fill our rooms with, the new botanical drawings we have acquired, and the more fresh local vegetables we are getting delivered, the happier, healthier and more relaxed we’ve become.

Getting back in touch with nature is an obviously popular new trend. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for the planet, and it’s good for you.

Natural beauty products

I used to buy a lot of my makeup, skin and haircare dependant on either friends recommendations or more often than not, brilliant advertising.

Now, I am seeking out the products that work best for me. Those which align with my skintype, intolerances, but more importantly, also are cruelty free, vegan and sustainable.

If you had told me years ago I would be putting a mushroom paste on my hair, washing my face with melon oil and taking my body lotion containers to get refilled rather than just buying online I would not have believed you. But now I do, and it feels good.

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Finding something to believe in

As we move to a more lonely, tech dependent age, more of us are turning towards spirituality or religion as a way to find purpose, collective values and a social community.

I again find this to be the case personally. I seek out groups of people with similar values and goals. Those who strive to live with less and minimally. People who love to travel. Those who like cats.

In a way, these small common interests begin to define us, and in a way we form little belief groups with a shared bond.

What trends, if any, will you be following this year?

Proud To Be Launching The Extraordinary Ordinary Series.

As I near closer to celebrating completing yet another lap around the sun, I have been thinking about what I have been working towards, producing and dedicating my time to over the last 365 days.

One thing I haven’t started, that I have always wanted to, is moving my blog from a minimalism platform, to more of a lifestyle and content hub. A place to find travel guides, book reviews, latest recipes and of course, a sprinkling of minimalism articles from a community of like minded people.

So this last month, I have worked hard. The site has had a redesign, the blog is relaunching, and excitingly I will now be sharing more content from not only myself but from wonderfully inspiring other people too!

First up in the new launch is the thing I am most proud of:

The Extraordinary Ordinary Files

Look out for my new bi-weekly series, the extraordinary ordinary. A series of twelve questions I will be asking to people who we interact with on a daily basis to discover what makes them wonderful.

Too often, we hear advice from the people at the top of their respective fields, the movie stars and those who have made a name for themselves. Rarely do we listen, ask and learn from the people who are living extraordinary lives away from the cameras, press and publishers.

On an almost weekly basis I am inspired by the lives, stories and lessons I learn from people within my own social circle. They encourage me to go after my passions, to love with no restrictions and to strive to be the very best I can be.

My mission over the next year is to uncover the incredibly valuable learnings, lessons and guidance from the people who are living extraordinary, wonderful lives.

Whilst collating it all, I will be looking for key trends, insights and valuable learnings we can take from people who are in the field you may wish to work in, or have the confidence you wish to emulate, to work out, are there any traits they share that make them good at what they do.

So, if you are a cleaner by day but a world class pop-up chef by night. If you have incredible organisational skills which have made you succeed in life, or you are really just being the very best at whatever you do, I want to hear from you.

You’re all extraordinary, but we are also all ordinary. So let’s learn from each other, and get to know the people we share our days, lives and hours with, rather than trying to emulate the life of a reality, sports or rock star who quite honestly, has lived a very different life to us!

FIRST POST – LIVE AUGUST 3rd 2018

 

27 Powerful Lessons That Have Shaped Me This Year

This year I turn twenty-seven. It is the middle ground between my early and late twenties. One more step closer to the next big life milestone, one more lap around the sun and one more year of experiences, lessons and opportunities.

I may be young, I certainly have a lot more left to learn and experience, but here’s what I have discovered so far.

One: Life is much better when you say yes to the right things

Saying yes is not always easy. It often comes with the knowledge that you will soon be stepping into the unknown. Yes opens doors, builds experiences and memories but also creates challenges, tests you, and gives you a very real possibility of failing.

This year I have started to say yes more when it is the right decision, and faced the challenges and consequences head on rather than shying away from them. I used to often say no and wonder what if instead.

So far, I have developed new hobbies, developed personally and in my career, and seen more places in a year than ever before. Here’s to saying yes.

Two: On the same note, it is okay to say no

You are allowed to put yourself first. You and only you know your own limits, boundaries and priorities.

Saying no doesn’t make you a bad friend, partner or person. Know your priorities and practice some self-love and care.

‘It’s only by saying no that you can really concentrate on the things that are really important’ – Steve Jobs

Three: Most people are really just trying their best
Four: Do whatever it is you truly, passionately, want to do, but do it well.

This is advice I have been given, and give the most often. Do what makes you happy, but put your everything into it. Your life, your career and your hobbies are your choice, and you can make any of them a success and reality if you really do give it your all.

Five: It’s okay to change your mind

On the above note, it’s also okay to change your dreams. Writer one day, chef the next. It’s your life. Live your best one.

Six: Love as much as you can
Seven: Be present in all that you do
Eight: Material things don’t make you happy if you are buying them for the wrong reasons.

A new TV won’t fix envy. A new car won’t make your self-worth improve. Buying something, which was £1000 on a 50% off sale, doesn’t mean you’ve saved £500, it means you’ve spent £500.

Nine: Health is easy to maintain, but really hard to fix

Eat well, get outdoors, and take care of yourself now. Of course, enjoy your treats in moderation. It is all about balance. For me, fasting between 6pm and 12pm the next day, as well as regular HIIT and Yoga is the perfect mix. Outside of that, I can eat what I want, drink wine and remain healthy. Find your routine, and stick to it.

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Ten: Read daily

Be it books, blogs, newspapers or interviews, never stop discovering. Read more, learn more, never stop discovering.

Eleven: Trust your gut
Twelve: Disconnect

Detox from digital, even if just for an hour a day. Charge your phone in another room at night. Delete the apps you check 100 times a day. It is too easy to lose a precious hour scrolling, and scrolling.

Thirteen: Build memories

With the people you cherish. Make a fuss of every event, accomplishment or milestone, no matter how big or small. Take photos, start a line a day diary. Life is all about the memories. Build things to look back on.

Fourteen: Don’t compare yourself to others

It is one of the hardest things to stop doing, but one of the most rewarding when you manage it. Every life is different. No way is right. You’re awesome for your own reasons.

Fifteen: Or think ‘what if’
Sixteen: Build yourself a strong network of brilliant people
Seventeen: Fear is your biggest motivator

Do one thing a day that scares you. If you feel comfortable, you may never learn what’s around the corner. For me, this is the biggest change I made this year.

Eighteen: The world is alive

Cherish it. Nature is wonderful, so think about your impact no how big or small. Live at one with everything natural and we will all have a better place to grow old in.

Nineteen: People don’t have to agree

A hard one to learn, but you don’t always need to have the same opinions or beliefs. Just listen, respect and embrace each other’s differences. Life would be boring if we were all the same.

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Twenty: Music fuels the soul
Twenty One: Let people know when they’ve impacted you

I am a big believer in letting people know when they have had an impact on your life. Often we don’t realise the implications of our actions. Had a mentor who has inspired you? Tell them. A parent who you are forever grateful for? Let them know. A colleague whose style you are always envious of? Share it.

It may not be a big deal to you, but I bet it will make their day.

Twenty Two: Ask questions

Too often, we leave it until it is too late. Ask about people’s lives, interests, hobbies and experiences. Everyone has something fantastic to share; it’s up to you to unearth it.

Twenty Three: Travel often
Twenty Four: Shout about your successes

After a Google workshop, I began to realise how important it is to be your own biggest cheerleader. If you don’t, someone else will be sharing their achievements and you may miss an opportunity. Recruiters, interviewers, friends and mentors are not mind readers. Share your successes, so they can help you leverage them for more opportunities.

Twenty Five: Laughter is the best medicine
Twenty Six: Be known for something

Find your ‘thing’ and then hone it into your craft.

Twenty Seven: There’s no age to have completed anything

There’s no perfect age for marriage, children, promotions, travel, degrees or anything else. Your life is written and shaped by you. Do what’s right for your own journey, and let everything else fall into place around it.

Seven Simple Things I Appreciate Right Now

As life goes by so quickly, it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the chaos of feeling busy. Often I find myself counting down to my next deadline, adventure or concrete plans, and forgetting about the simple and minimal moments that make up a standard day.

To combat the sensation of blinking and it feeling like half a year has gone by, I try to focus on the little things I appreciate each and every day. Yes, even those grey and slow days, that make my life what it is today.

So here are 10 little things which I find enrich my day to day. They make the small moments memorable, and each day feel like a success.

The feeling and smell of newly washed bedding

Nothing feels better than sinking into warm, freshly washed bedding at the end of a long day. The softness, the smell, the cosiness. If I have had a hard week, I take a minute to just appreciate this feeling rather than wishing the days away.

Having time to write

I write my blog because I just love to put pen to paper (or fingers to keypad to be precise). The feeling of words flowing and ideas joining up is something I will always appreciate. Time slows down when I curate and write, allowing me to enjoy my day that little bit more. Although I have been lucky to have several people read my posts on a regular basis, I would keep writing even if I had no audience.

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My bedtime routine

I am a big fan of a bedtime routine for adults. Every night I go to sleep four things remain consistent. Lavender sleep spray filling the air, a silk eye-mask to allow myself to really slip into deep sleep, storm or rain white noise sounds playing, and absolutely zero phones or laptops near the bed or used half an hour before.

I appreciate this routine, as sleep is a big deal for me. Each night, I take time to reflect on the day just passed, and focus on what I want to achieve tomorrow. A good nights’ sleep sets me up to be the best I can be in order to achieve my goals.

Cuddles with my cats

Nothing makes you appreciate life’s little moments more, than a cuddle from your furry friend.

A good book

I just love getting lost in a good book. Recent one’s I have read which I couldn’t recommend more include:

  • Into Thin Air
  • All The Money In The World
  • Homo Deus
  • One Second After

The smell as you open up a new book. The anticipation of adventure, and the opportunity to immerse yourself into somebody else’s world. When life feels chaotic, I try and stop, read, and reflect. It puts a lot back into perspective.

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Cooking

When you have had one of ‘those days’, cooking is a great way to take back some time and create something brilliant to turn the feeling around. Fresh vegetables, the smell of combining delicious spices and aromatics together, and of course, the finished result that you get to savour and enjoy!

I know this helps me appreciate the days in between the big events in life, as I still regularly think about good meals I have cooked and how to make them again on a daily basis!

Recipes I am loving right now include (click to open):

Falafels – served with a fresh side salad

Lentil Dal 

Thai Vermicilli

Potato and Rosemary Focaccia – served with homemade soup (tomato and chilli pairs really well!)

Tending to our indoor garden

Last year, my husband started to sneak home with a new houseplant on what felt like a weekly basis. Fast forward and we have an orchid, two peace lillies, a Lemon Plant, Tomato Plant, Chilli Plant, Two Bonsai’s and several succulents all inside our small abode. Not to mention the giant leafed half tree in the bedroom which is almost taller than me.

At first, I was a little overwhelmed with all this greenery, however now I love to tend to them, water them and watch them grow each day. I really appreciate our little indoor greenhouse and the simple pleasure it gives me as I try my best to keep all these plants alive!

What simple things do you appreciate on a regular basis? Please share in the comments below.

 

Stop Being Defined By Your Things

If I asked you to think of two to three material items on your wish list right now, which you think would make your life a little bit better for one reason or another, could you?

A luxury watch, a designer handbag, a new television.

Now think how or why you think they’d enrich your life.

That new designer watch. Thinking honestly, what makes it different from a well-crafted non-luxury timepiece? It’s the branding. The lifestyle associations which come alongside it.

A bigger television. Is it to enjoy your films in better quality, or just because when it comes to TV’s, we’ve been repeatedly told bigger is better? It becomes a home status symbol, a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality.

A luxury branded handbag. Probably as well-made as a hand stitched leather bag you could find for a third of the price. However they come without the logo. So how would people know that you’ve got THE coveted bag of the season if it’s non-recognizable? How do people know you’re doing well in life without the branding?

I have been guilty of this thinking. If we’re being honest, you may have been too.

However if we started to see material goods for what they really are. Tools to help us in our daily activities. Things. Stuff. We stop coveting them all so much.

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Seeing Things For What They Really Are

We need to realise that those designer shoes might bring with them a certain lifestyle association and may impress our friends, but they won’t bring true happiness. Unless you’re enriching your life and focusing on the things that truly matter to you, you will always be wanting more. As soon as you have those shoes, you’ll be coveting the next bigger and better thing.

Trust me, I subscribed to this lifestyle choice and getting the material things I thought I wanted never actually resulted in lasting happiness. I just kept on living a cycle of comparing myself to others.

I now buy only out of need rather than want, and before purchasing I always ask myself three questions.

Am I buying this because it is necessary and has a purpose in my life?

Have I chosen this particular item for it’s quality, or for the status it provides?

Am I buying this to impress others?

It’s surprising how often just by asking those three simple statements, things get returned onto the hangers, or removed from my online basket.

Just last week I almost bought a blender costing five times as much as one with better reviews, because it’s currently seen as ‘the’ blender to have.

Thankfully I saw some sense before completing checkout.

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Try it yourself

A small exercise for you to do this evening could be to walk through your home and ask those questions retrospectively about what you own.

Here they are again:

  1. Did I buy this because it is necessary and has a purpose in my life?
  2. Have I chosen this particular item for it’s quality, or for the status it provides?
  3. Did I buy this to impress others?

See if you can learn anything about the reasons behind why you buy, and be honest with yourself.

Since I have placed less value on my things, the only change I have noticed is that I have more money, time and focus for the things which actually do truly make me happy.

Writing, travel and being with loved ones.

I might not buy bags with designer branding anymore, but I have a long-lasting leather satchel which has travelled with me to four countries from what I have saved by adopting this mindset.

I don’t have the biggest TV, best car, biggest house or biggest shoe collection compared to my friends and family.

But I am not defined by my things. Instead I define my success on two little questions.

Am I actually truly happy, and am I spending my time on money on the things which really matter to me, and me only?