HAPPY 2019! LET’S MAKE AN AUDACIOUS CHANGE
The editor of Audrey shares a few lessons from the coal face of self-reinvention
I know that ‘something’s got to change’ feeling all too well. It crept up on me in my early 50s. Post the soul-searching of the menopause, feeling restless and looking for a sense of meaning became almost constant life themes.
My work wasn’t making me unhappy, but I needed something else. Something for me. In the end is was all the amazing women I know who’ve made a fresh start in mid-life that sparked the idea for Audrey. Within a year the idea became a real thing – we launched audreyonline.co.uk in September 2018. Thrilling, yes, but so much more.
“After years of feeling something was missing, life is full of excitement.”
I cannot tell you what a journey it’s been and continues to be. From developing the idea to growing our online community to building our website, the launch of Audrey has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It’s tough – long hours and late nights to keep the content fresh and share it on social media. It’s hair-raising, as we juggle our own day jobs too. And it’s challenging as we explore different aspects of business development. But it is never ever dull – and I thank myself every day for having the audacity to make it happen. After years of feeling something was missing, life is full of excitement.
But making my own fresh start has been as tough as it’s been rewarding. If you’re thinking about seizing the day and making a dream plan come to life, I say “do it”. But do it with your eyes wide open. Here’s what I’ve learnt:
Change is not for the fainthearted
Nothing good happens in a hurry. It takes research and preparation to get yourself to the point where you can make change happen – lasting change that really works. So any audacious project is going to require stamina and resilience, as well as a genius idea and the will to make it happen. This was a hard lesson for me, being an impulsive person. So when you lose motivation – which you will – you need to find a way back in. I’ve found that the very best way to remotivate myself is a conversation with someone who’s totally on-board with what I’m doing and happy to help steer me back into ‘on’ mode. So share yours with a trusted friend, a mentor, an accountability group, a network – whoever ‘gets’ your plans and supports you fully. They will also help you celebrate the small ‘wins’ along the way that give you a sense of progress.
Time management is crucial
If you’re not in a position to drop all your usual commitments while you focus on your big audacious plan (and few of us are), you need to get good at juggling your time. Scheduling your diary so you get your bread-and-butter work done, your family fed and your mortgage paid, while all the while prioritising your dream plan takes some doing. I tried a variety of different time planning models to squeeze my dream plan in – a day a week on it, an hour a day after all other work had been done, I even tried packing all my work-work into three weeks and spending the fourth one of the month on it. In the end my best solution was to pack all my dream plan work into two or three afternoons a week. Work out what works for you. But make sure you block out the time in your diary – if you leave it to chance, it probably won’t happen at all.
You’ll put all kinds of obstacles in your own way.
Fear of failure can make your mind present you with multiple objections to doing this brave and risky thing. You’ll wake up in a cold sweat worrying about the fact that you don’t really know what you’re doing, ruminating over past ‘failures’ as evidence of your uselessness, or anticipating other people’s judgement of what you’re aiming to achieve. Add all these insecurities to real ‘obstacles’ like time constraints, the family and/or relationship you’re worried about neglecting as you focus on your own future, the financial implications of your dream plan and all the things you no longer have time for in your day to day life, and you can soon talk yourself out of doing anything at all. But the need to make a change is not going to miraculously disappear. Get good at facing up to those obstacles so they don’t derail you.
Friends can be amazing…
There are friends, colleagues and family members who remind you every day of how great you are. They view your dream plan with genuine enthusiasm, help you remember why you’re doing it in the first place and offer free advice, expertise and even financial backing to help you on your way. These are your cheerleaders and their belief in you and encouragement to keep at it help sustain you through the trickier times, as well as sharing in your excitement as things take shape.
…But also disappointing
Other friends can be surprisingly underwhelming in their attitude, by questioning your abilities and motivation for wanting to do something a bit daring. They ‘only have your best interests at heart’ and wonder if you’re ‘quite thinking this thing through’. People won’t always ‘get’ what you’re doing, or why. Negative friends may well feel threatened by your plans for change, either because they’re jealous of your potential for success, or because you might move in different circles and not need them anymore. But you don’t need naysayers right now, so if they’re not giving you encouragement and helpful advice, you don’t need to be around them.
Doing nothing is far worse than doing a tiny bit
There’s something about having an audacious goal that makes you procrastinate whenever you’re having a confidence wobble. Ignoring that to-do list because, for whatever reason, you don’t quite believe you can do it justice or it genuinely terrifies you. But just doing one thing on that list – or even starting one – sets you up for doing a bit more the next day. And then the next. So if you’re feeling daunted, make yourself sit down for half an hour and write down ideas, read a chapter of a useful book or do some research. Scribble down a plan for the next day so you’re ready to hit the ground running when tomorrow comes around.
Failure is not seizing the day at all
Grappling with the shall-I-shan’t-I stage of a restart, when you’re full of ideas but also aware of the enormity of the challenge, can make you stall instead of taking that next vital step. Fear of failure makes us doubt ourselves and our ability to see it through. But after a few months of grappling with this I realised that the sense of failure I would feel if I saw my plans through and they ultimately didn’t quite go to plan would be massively surpassed by a sense of failure over doing nothing at all. I pictured myself much older and looking back on my life. I didn’t want this to something I regretted not doing. So I did it.
Now it’s your turn. Life is finite. Do it now.
Marina Gask is a journalist, copywriter and editor of audreyonline.co.uk.