Find your light when it’s dark (or grey)

December, with its short Scottish winter days, tends to be a tough month. I realise how much light I’m missing, and I need my ring light on in the office simply so I can be seen for the last four or five hours of video calls in my day.

Most evenings I take my walk on the main road with the street lights and the cars roaring past, instead of in the quiet green woods with the flowing water and nature’s little miracles everywhere.

The sparkle and light of Christmas helps some, but it’s definitely an effort. And some days – like yesterday, when the sky was grey and the rain fell consistently, endlessly – it feels as if the sun never bothered to make an appearance at all.

Oddly, I thought it wouldn’t bother me this year.

I have a fully functioning ankle! I’ll be soon flying off to America to spend time with family and will get plenty of sunshine in Florida and North Carolina and Arizona! My Christmas tree is up (and I put it up myself) and there’s every reason to be joyful.

But there’s still a lot of darkness (or greyness or wetness or all of the above) and it drops down fast.

I also decided recently, in a fit of effort for my mental health, to cancel Netflix. I was tired of how much of it I was watching on repeat, especially in these evenings which start midway through the day. (Netflix very cleverly lets you keep watching until the day of cancellation, about a month later, at which point they hope you’ll give up and turn it back on. It’s very rude when you’re trying to break an addiction.)

It’s been just over a week and I know it was a healthy decision, but as with all addictions, there’s a cost when you first make the switch.

I keep reaching for the remote, or for the ipad, then thinking, “Oh. What can I do instead?”

The first weekend I cancelled Netflix I read five books and started a sixth. I’m in the middle of a seventh right now as well. Actual paper books that you hold in your hand.

I’ve also been swimming a lot more than I was before. Yesterday I was feeling grumpy because all I wanted to do was lie in bed and do nothing, so instead I went to the pool and swam two miles instead of my usual one. My arms were sore this morning, but I went again and it definitely lifted my spirits.

That’s the key, for me: finding the little candles of light which lift my spirits in the darkness (or greyness). For me it includes:

  • Going for a swim. I’ve never once gone for a swim and wished I hadn’t, or didn’t feel marginally lighter afterwards. It’s my personal reminder that exercise actually does release endorphins (which are basically magical mood lifters and pain releasers)
  • Reading a physical book. I read on my phone when it’s the fastest or best way to get a copy of a book I want to read, or when I’m travelling (so I don’t have to carry around a stack of heavy books), but I really love sitting with a physical book. First, it helps strengthen my habits of continuous activity (instead of jumping about reading texts and getting on social and making notes on my phone), and second, without a screen I have a much more realistic sense of when it’s time to sleep.
  • Hot drinks (in the winter). One of my favourite things to do is make a hot apple cider in the slow cooker (apple juice, an orange stuck with a clove, a cinnamon stick, and mulled wine spices) and let it simmer for hours and for days. I’ll pop it on warm in the morning, and then anytime during the day I can pour a cup of a hot apple (nonalcoholic) drink. It’s soothing and brings a little sparkle to the grey day. A Starbucks peppermint hot chocolate does the trick too, when I’m out and about.
  • Routines, or patterns. I don’t tend to have daily routines: I’m not the sort of person who shows up to the same coffee shop every day, or every week, at the exact same time, ordering the same drink. I like variety. Things change in my life, and I like it that way. One of the best things about swimming, for me, has been the number of pools I find to use – because I’m travelling, or this week doesn’t look like that week. I’ve swum in at least ten different pools in the last four months. However, I hadn’t realised how much I appreciate the familiar. I got really thrown off this week when my local pool closed for almost a week for maintenance. It took me a while to find another pool, and as much as I appreciated the opportunity to keep swimming, I found it hard to decide when to swim. I kept forgetting things, and everything took a bit longer and confused my days. Last night I checked the website and my local pool was open again. Honestly the sheer pleasure of knowing when it’s open and what time to go and how full or busy it will or won’t be was a real mood lifter.

These are very simple things, and there are others. Yours will be different: maybe going for a run, or cooking, or reading with your children. Whatever it is, it will seem small and almost prosaic, but it matters. And taken in combination, the little pin pricks of light make up a warm glow that defeats the darkness.

Here’s to a little more light today.

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ON THE GRAM

Instant change can shock or surprise you. 

You don’t know what to do with it, so you can default to fear. Or confusion. Or reverting to the way you did things before. 

One of my coaching clients is working on changing his approach with the business owners he talks to.

“Up til now I’ve been very me and company centric,” he told me. “And it’s time for that to change.” 

It’s always been accounting, bookkeeping, numbers focused. Nothing about motivations or emotions. 

He read the Accountant Marketer and is now working through each of the sections with me so he can apply them to his firm. 

But even slight changes like asking new prospects, “So, what motivated you to start this business?” is an adjustment. 

But we make changes because we want some kind of change to happen. 

This firm owner wants to get more of the kind of clients he loves working with: and that means opening up with prospects. 

Asking deeper questions. Listening. 

This change will have an impact on the firm’s numbers. On their operations. On the conversations they have as a team. 

We talked about sending out emails to existing clients to offer a conversation about strategy and big picture and motivations, but after testing it with a few clients, he got no takers. 

They’re not used to this. It’s too big, too dramatic. 

So instead he will adjust gradually, in stages. 

In the next client meet, ask one small question. 

How were things in the business this week? Anything which is particularly tough for you right now? 

Something to start that level of conversation going. 

They may not answer it. They may not feel comfortable with that: and that’s okay. But the very tiny changes will be easier to accept than something dramatic. 

Instead of going 0 to 100, can you stage it? 

20-80…

then 50-50…

then 80-20…

…and then when you’re ready, 100-0. 

#theaccountantmarketer #change #stages #justkeepgoing #onestepatatime #progress 

➡️This is from my “creative headspace” notes which go out every Friday. These remind you to change your perspective. Pause. Look around. Breathe. To be on the list, follow the link in bio.💪✨
100 consecutive days of video: DONE!!! 

I’ve stuck to my challenge. I haven’t missed a single day. And now I get to start the reflections. 

I’ve made a real effort not to over-reflect early: but to focus on getting the challenge done. Then I can look back and see what I’ve learned, how it’s impacted me and my business, and what I’ll take from it for future videos. 

Here are just a few of my initial learnings: 

1. Plan the video. The earlier in the day I shoot it or consider what it will be, the easier and smoother everything goes 

2. Capture little bits of video throughout the day (or days) to be used with a theme later. One second, ten second, one minute videos came in really handy when I did a compilation video - of walking, or water, or travels, or working. 

3. Being “on” every day - being present on social media and not missing a single day for 100 days - is bloody hard. I am really looking forward to being able to not open instagram if I don’t want to. And I’ll look forward to falling asleep at 11pm without the gasp of “did I do my video today???” 

4. I’m really grateful. For all I’ve learned and seen and heard and experienced and shared: and for how it will impact my future videos. 

Thank you for being with me on the journey. ❤️

#100dayvideochallenge #100days #justkeepgoing #doneanddusted #finish #challengecompleted #nailedit #video #progress #learnings #businessowner 

Day 100/100 Video Challenge
There’s something about water I find so soothing and invigorating at the same time. 

#100dayvideochallenge #100days #water #sea #isleofmull #refreshing

Day 99/100 Video Challenge