So here it is – the end of 2018, almost. There isn’t really too much time left to scrabble in many last-minute achievements, so it’s time for The 2018 Reckoning.

This year was my fourth using The Desire Map technique and annual planners. Desire Mapping is a subtle but to me very useful method of thinking how you most want to feel, and then setting goals from that basis. So for example, if you think about how you want to feel once you land the job, or finish the dissertation, or move house or buy the dog…these feelings give you strong clues about what’s most important to you as a human. It also allows you to get creative about how to bring those feelings into now. These are called Core Desired Feelings.

My Core Desired Feelings

This is how my Core Desired Feelings have evolved over the years:

2015: Abundant, Creative, Focused, Free Joyous.

This was my first year Desire Mapping. I didn’t use my journal for work appointments, so it wasn’t quite “alive”. I started in March.

2016: Creative, Focused, Free, Joyous, Mindful.

This was my first full year Desire Mapping where I used the journal each and every day. On the left-hand column would go work appointments, on the right-hand column the to-dos for the day job. But the Core Desired Feelings always reminded me that my writerly ambitions always had space in my life, and weren’t forgotten.

2017: Congruent, Creative, Free, Joyous then Abundant, Congruent, Creative, Free, Joyous.

I figured half-way through the year that my finances needed a bit more of a kick, and that it was time to put Abundant back into the mix. During 2017, I did a Women in Leadership Circle with the fabulous Sue Rolinson. One of the many valuable things we did was create a Vision Statement for ourselves.Worth the course fee alone!! Mine is: 

I am a courageous, creative woman who compassionately disrupts the status quo.

2018: Abundantly Aligned, Courageously Creative, Joyously Free

After making that Vision Statement, I realised that Courage was missing, and I needed to add it! However, you’re encouraged to have no more than five Core Desired Feelings. With a bit of adjective/adverb collocation, I was able to sneak it in! Note that creative, joy and free are always, always there.

2018 Big wins

  • Having three overarching goals, with smaller steps clustered underneath
  • Getting my first novel manuscript ready enough for two competitions
  • Starting out the year at 75 kilos and finishing at 68, and incorporating the Five and Two/ Intermittent Fasting as just part of life
  • Putting together an awesome team at my workplace
  • Speaking at the March Stories from the Heart event

2018 Some important but not big wins

  • Sticking with the regular coaching
  • Reaching out for help with the manuscript, and getting it! So when I didn’t win either competition, I had somewhere to go next
  • Running Patient Experience Week events again, and adding in World Kindness Day events

Some areas for growth…

  • Weekly Artist Dates. They were not weekly, I think I did about three all year
  • I did not manage to manifest a Citizen’s Jury in 2018. I thought I was so close (I probably wasn’t) and was heartbroken when I realised it wasn’t going to happen.
  • Savings goals are still a work in progress. OK, so I am exactly where I started with one account, but $1,500 better off with another. So that’s something I suppose. And all debts are largely gone.

And now, for 2019…

I’m excited to be giving myself a mini-retreat to Nathaneal’s Rest to walk the labyrinth and think about 2019 Core Desired Feelings. I already have my juicy journal to get started with…

I hope that you have found some time in 2018 to think about what’s most important to you, and do the things that really light you up. And that you have fabulous stationery to help it all unfold! Happy New Year xxx

Desire Map Journals 1 and 2 aFor nearly two years now I have been Desire Mapping. Here on the left are my two Desire Map Journals. The spiral bound delicious-looking one is 2016’s Desire Map Weekly Planner. Desire Mapping is a process developed by Danielle La Porte. Simply put, Desire Mapping is uncovering the feelings (up to about five) that capture the way you most want to feel, and then using those feelings as a guide for your goals, your intentions – your life. The way you most want to feel is known as your Core Desired Feelings. (CDFs for short, for one must have an acronym) Using Danielle La Porte’s Desire Map process, I have whittled down all the possible Core Desired Feelings for me to these five:

Creative. Focused. Free. Joyous. Mindful.

Each and every week in my Desire Map Journal I write these Core Desired Feelings at the top of the week’s page. Each time I write them again, I am reminded of what’s most important to me. Then I commit to three things I want to do this week (and these things will help me feel the way I want to feel. Clever, huh?). There is a space for me to write my appointments in a left hand column, and my to-dos in the right hand column. For some reason this fills me with joy, and also, for someone who likes to pack in loads and loads of appointments, the act of having to write these out every Sunday night reminds me of the constraints of time, and the right hand to-do column might have to remain empty, if there are too many meetings. This weekly ritual really helps me to feel connected to something magical and free even as I work very, very hard in my day job. And sometimes, when the wind is blowing in the right direction, I come home and write more of my novel, too.

Apparently we over-estimate what we can get done in a year, and under-estimate what we can do in ten. Somehow this Desire Map Journal, and the practice of writing my Core Desired Feelings keeps me anchored to this reality, to this dream of walking the path as long as it takes to reach the goals that are important to me. Somehow, the magic of starting with how I want to feel, rather than what I want to accomplish, helps me to stay true to what I want to do.

So I am beyond excited to announce my first Desire Map Workshop as a Licensed Desire Map course facilitator. Being licensed means I can share this goodness around. For this workshop, we will be diving deep and uncovering Core Desired Feelings. If this sounds like something you would like to be part of, you can book onto my first course, on Sunday 26th June at Tarts in Northbridge.

In August 2016 I will run a Level 2 workshop which helps you to set your Intentions using your Core Desired Feelings as your true North. I can’t wait to share all this with you!

Oscar Wilde Diary QuoteWith just a four day weekend in Bali, I couldn’t possibly justify more than a cabin bag. I’d already negotiated with darling husband to bring the laptop so I could keep working on the novel. And I’d slipped in my writing journal and writing reference file I need to have beside me. The writing journal is for angst debriefing, a sort of mini-Morning Pages, the other is a reference file of the golden rules of writing and story telling.

The cabin, laptop and hand bags were all zipped up and ready to go when my eye fell on a beautiful little journal I began in 2013. This was when I first started getting serious about coming out as a writer and entrepreneur. Something made me pick it up and squeeze it in the last available spot in the handbag (also quite heavy by now.)

Mindful of Oscar Wilde’s useful travel maxim I dug out the neglected little blue journal to read on the plane. I flipped back to the beginning and read all the way through. Sensational. Well, to me, any how.

It traces all the heartache and confusion of trying to work out what it is I wanted to do in my business-to-be. The pages are infused with magical thinking about social media and what was going to happen. All of it went out the window when the job opportunity presented itself to me – the job that I have now been doing for a whole year. The diary documents the angst I felt as I let my business dreams go, and the agonising suspense as I inched my way towards securing that job, interview by interview until finally it was mine. Then it the diary falls silent.

With several hours of time on the plane, and nothing else to entertain me, I filled in the year’s worth of silence. Reflection is a useful tool, and these are some key things I extracted from my sensational journal review:

1. “Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere.”

This is a quote from dear E.M. Forster (Howard’s End again) that is so true. Something can seem so right, but then, suddenly it’s not. I was so sure that my path lay in becoming a coach for creative businesswomen. I’d done the coaching course, was well into a business mentoring on-line program to get up and running with a private coaching business when the job opportunity for my current role came to me. Like a torpedo, hitting my business ship fair and square on the broadside, sinking it in minutes.

2. When a really relevant door opens, for goodness sake open it and check out what’s in the room.

I had to grieve the loss of my business idea which I had out so much time, thought, effort, and yes, money into. I learned the usual way that businesses can take your money without giving anything back if you’re not careful. I have zero regrets about changing tack and following the job opportunity. And the assured money, paid holidays etc. I also have zero regrets about what I learned through my coaching course. I have zero regrets about taking the job.

 3. Don’t make the same mistakes you did before. 

Prior to my year of planning to start a business, I left my management role in a not for profit organisation, and took a much less responsible job, calling it my Business Loan Job. In order to manage the guilt I felt at quitting my not for profit management role, I sought coaching. All of a sudden I realised the lost opportunity-if only I had had coaching while I was actually in the role! What would that have meant? So often I felt that there was a glass pane between me and the work that would really make the difference, really turn the curve. So now, I make sure I get coaching. I have endless daily rituals to re-connect with why I chose to take on this role and what needs to happen to make a difference for health consumers in Western Australia.

4. Things take longer than you want them to

A wise colleague met with me not long after I started my new job a year ago. “Change takes time,” she said. She was right, it does. While much was achieved in my first year, I wanted to get so much more done. Another reflection from reading the diary hit me right between the eyes. In my previous management role, I got stuck on the hamster wheel of too many meetings and emails. I recognised, too late, that my time would have been more wisely spent communicating and connecting with the public. Meetings and emails are necessary evils, but reaching out to the public will always provide more opportunities for transforming the way we deliver our publicly funded services. Of that I am convinced. So, lesson re-learnt and listened to. Less meetings, more media. Come at me 2016.

Seth Godin Change Quote
So… change is definitely on my mind at the moment. It got me to thinking. Are there some useful signs to pay attention to, if you think you need to change direction? The short answer is yes, there is. Here are five for you to think about…

1. You’re offering something, but people are asking for something else.

You may have had that experience where you think you are going to offer business coaching, but people keep approaching you for life coaching or career advice.

Maybe it’s the market telling you you’re like, barking up the wrong tree! There’s no shame in heeding the signals, and accepting that others seem to know you better than you do yourself.

2. You love what you’re offering, but your public doesn’t.

It is so easy to think that our latest creation or offering or product is the next best thing that everyone absolutely can’t wait to get their hands on. Sadly, is not always the case. You will know, because your client list is looking awfully lean. Ditto the bank balance. It may be time to re-orient your offerings to what people want. As Marie Forleo says; “Ignoring what sells doesn’t make you a better artist, it makes you a starving artist.”

Sometimes, you make be offering a client what they need, but it ain’t what they want. Think of full time carers for loved ones. You may have a passion for supporting carers, ensuring that they are looking after themselves and factoring in self-care. The tricky thing is, carers don’t want this, even though clearly they may need this. If you stop for just a minute you can think of quite a few things you need but don’t want (a regular exercise regime for my good self comes to mind immediately!)

3. Your niche is infinite

There is much that is said and written about defining a niche for your business. Those in America usually pronounce the word so it rhymes with “rich” instead of the French pronunciation of niche which rhymes with leash. In America therefore you can say “your niche makes your rich” and it rhymes. It’s a bit harder to pull off that phrase in Australia 😉 But however you say it, a niche is super important.

The simple counter-intuitive idea is that if your niche is “everyone” you will in fact sell less than if you articulate your niche as “I work with professional women 35-55 who are in middle management and looking to make the next move up the career ladder”.

A survival mentality will push you to want to offer your products to everyone – and be faced with the constant struggle to find enough clients. An abundant mentality will see you the making the right offering to a restricted list of the right people, and having more clients flow your way.

4. The numbers are just not adding up.

Measuring business results can be relatively straight forward with financial and social media metrics. It’s also really important to have the hard conversations with yourself. And there is no hiding from that bank balance, or from the flatlining Facebook Page report at the end of the week.

While it is difficult, this sort of hard evidence needs to be looked at honestly and with a willingness to make the necessary changes to turn the curve upwards. And that often means tweaking or downright changing what you are offering.

5. You’re just not feeling the love.

When you are working to your core strengths, you will feel in the flow, and there will be a lightness and enthusiasm hanging about your business. While you are not going to love every moment of your work, if that feeling of disenchantment, depression and lethargy just won’t shift, it could be a strong sign that you are no longer on the right track.

I take comfort from marketing guru Seth Godin, who is having the final word on this: “A tattoo is basically a forever decision. However, just about every decision you make about your business is temporary. So don’t sweat it.”

rainbow detailIndulge me if you will. It’s my birthday on Tuesday, and I turn 49. Normally I have a birthday month, so for two weeks before, and two weeks after, I manage to stretch my birthday celebrations out in a variety of calorie-laden and sociable ways.  Somehow this year, it hasn’t happened.  I might be lucky to squeeze a week or two this year but the birthday month is just not materialising.

49 got me thinking; about 7 year cycles espoused by traditions such as Rudoph Steiner, numerology, reflected in the chakra system and on and on.

I have just finished my sixth 7 year cycle and am about to start my seventh. That seems significant.  A very long and detailed article on the phenomenon noted that from 42-48:

the unlived aspects of life cry out to be recognised and allowed. The desire to make a mark in life if it has not already been achieved presses for action here.

That certainly sounds about right.  Now that I am entering 49-55 cycle, this is what I have to look forward to:

This is when we take an inventory of our life. It’s a time of spiritual questioning and review of our life purpose. If we haven’t successfully understood who we are by this stage and achieved our goals, then depression, moodiness and turmoil will plague both our waking life and our dreams.

While I confess there was a certain selectivity in the sites I looked at (conveniently ignoring those who somehow indicated I was over the hill) it has been useful to reflect:

1. We women in particular REALLY need to live our dreams.  It is just not healthy for us if we don’t

2. Each age and stage needs to be celebrated for what it can offer us.

3.  When you are not keen on what the stage offers us, make up your own rules!  We are the architects of our personal, professional and spiritual lives.

4.  Age is just a number. I feel 27 so I am 27.

Now let the birthday celebrations begin!

Pip Brennan is a business coach who is passionate about supporting artistic and spiritual businesswomen to create profitable businesses that are aligned with their values.

above the lineI can recall vividly arriving late for a business course, and I do believe I may have had a large cappuccino, takeaway, in my hand at the time. “Traffic was terrible” I asserted. The presenter challenged me on that. Rightly so. I was most definitely below the line. Apparently traffic was bad (so leave earlier, right?) and the queue at the coffee shop was also not helping my punctuality (so, don’t get a coffee, right?)

One of the many things I love about my new life is that I now operate daily in a paradigm of understanding that I can choose – above the line, or below the line. It is impossible to be a coach and spend your day living in the land of Denial, Blame and Excuses.

Living above the line gives you freedom, right now. Living above the line means taking 100% responsibility for your life and its current circumstances. That means you have the freedom to choose something different next time to create the result that you want in your life.

I often marvel at what we humans put ourselves through just to hand our responsibility over to someone else. It seems easier – but it isn’t!

Once you chose to look at your life through a lens of ownership, responsibility and accountability, instead of seeing all the problems, you start to see solutions. Instead of feeling that you are a victim with no choice, you feel like a survivor, with a raft of choices and opportunities ahead. Instead of something being “too hard”, you start to see that something is actually just “unfamiliar” and with time and practice it will become second nature.

Perhaps I wasn’t entirely above the line at the pool today where I skimped on the laps, but at least I know that if I want to swim further and be fitter, I certainly can.

committed-to-businessI think my car has been trying to tell me something. For a while there it had a fault in the fuel pump that made for a very stop-start experience in driving.  More worryingly, there were times it would cut out, such as when executing a right hand turn with traffic bearing down on me.

Off to the mechanics it went, and was fixed.  But it didn’t really get fixed, so after another near death experience turning right, back it went.

This time it came out wonderfully.  I felt that whatever my car had been trying to tell me I had addressed.

Then Saturday morning, South Beach Cafe, it wouldn’t start again.  I called roadside assistance and found there was some complication to fuel pumps and wires, which usually manifests about 2 weeks after the fuel pump is replaced.  I.e. now.  Sure it was a beautiful place to break down, but I felt held back, nonetheless.

So back in to the mechanic the car goes today with a fervent hope from me that it is finally fixed, like my compass, on smooth forward progression.

They say at the early stages of starting a business it is something you have to commit to, over and over.  Once you have a steady income stream, faith is not so requisite.  But in the early days, you need to keep on re-committing.

So that’s what I’m doing.  That’s what my car is teaching me.  Or just possibly it’s time to upgrade 😉