#94 Be Punctual

We live in a culture populated by running-late-ers. You know them. They text you at 12:10pm while you’re waiting to order lunch saying, ‘Sorry, something came up, I’m running late!’ Or, ‘Sure, I’ll be at your dinner party but I’ll most likely be late, don’t wait for me.’ Maybe you’re one of them yourself. We all have situations that come up and create lateness against our very best intentions. Those just have to be accepted and worked with. The real problem is the insidious lateness virus that permanently affects our ability to ever show up for anything on time. It happens gradually, one incident after the other, until your ‘acceptable lateness’ factor increases from 5 minutes, to 10, to 15 … clock hands ticking relentlessly further and further around that dial. Lack of punctuality de-values the other person or people who are waiting for us. It says, ‘My time is more important than yours, so I can keep you waiting.’ It destroys trust. It creates anxiety in our hosts and hostesses. It overcooks vegetables. It keeps children waiting on kerbsides. It makes already too-long meetings even longer. Developing a habit of punctuality isn’t easy, but it pays off. You discover that in a curious way you actually have more time if you show up for things on time. You’re less stressed, and so is everyone else. Let’s value everyone else’s time as much as our own. Let’s keep our commitments. Let’s delete the pre-saved ‘Sorry, running late’ texts off our phones, and … Be Punctual FollowShare...

#93 Be an Experience-Creator

I’ll always remember my friend Jessica’s 9th birthday. Her Mum had planned a treasure-hunt extravaganza. Not just clues, but clues on authentic looking scrolls with burnt edges. We had a REAL pirate map she’d handmade which looked like it had come straight from Johnny Depp’s hands. There were parrots hidden cunningly in the trees. And finally, after […]

I’ll always remember my friend Jessica’s 9th birthday. Her Mum had planned a treasure-hunt extravaganza. Not just clues, but clues on authentic looking scrolls with burnt edges. We had a REAL pirate map she’d handmade which looked like it had come straight from Johnny Depp’s hands. There were parrots hidden cunningly in the trees. And finally, after solving all the challenging, rhyming riddles, we had to actually dig up the treasure with a spade from under the X-marked spot! Jessica’s Mum understood that you can put on a kid’s birthday with lollies and musical chairs, or you can be an experience-creator. This applies to more than just kid’s parties. Last week we had friends around for dinner. On the menu was Thai Fish Curry. Instead of setting the table with forks, spoons, and knives, Seb suggested we use some mussel shells he’d found on the beach. We told our guests we were eating ‘traditional Thai’ style tonight, and it was shells-only cutlery! They loved it. And when they talk about the dinner, what they’ll remember won’t be the food, but how we ate it. A new experience. The act of experience-creating brings fun, romance, and sparkle into situations. A few months ago I had booked a night away for Seb and I in a hobbit-style earth house built under a hill. (amazing!) The place was only a 20 minute drive from where we live, but I wanted it to be an experience – not just the stay, but also the getting there part. So I made a series of clues and tasks that lead us to the hobbit-house, with fave goodies packed in a chilly-bag...

#92 Be Low Maintenance

When I hear the phrase ‘high maintenance’, my mind generates an image of a perfectly groomed girl in a miniskirt, walking along in Jimmy Choo heels, toting a Gucci handbag with her obliging boyfriend meekly in tow. But being low maintenance means more than just not requiring label clothes and feeling ok without a weekly […]

When I hear the phrase ‘high maintenance’, my mind generates an image of a perfectly groomed girl in a miniskirt, walking along in Jimmy Choo heels, toting a Gucci handbag with her obliging boyfriend meekly in tow. But being low maintenance means more than just not requiring label clothes and feeling ok without a weekly manicure. I like to think of it as needing less. In many senses of the word. Less attention – entertaining yourself. Being the guest who finds ways to help, things to do, and is happy to self-entertain when others are busy. Less stuff – buying less. Owning just a few quality items rather than a huge wardrobe of things that might only be worn once a year. Making do with old clothes, old furniture, old homeware by repairing instead of replacing. Being able to pack a small backpack for a trip instead of dragging around a massive suitcase. Less grooming – being ok with how you look. No need for major modifications, layers of makeup, ten types of eye shadow, the latest GHD, and piles of cosmetics. Less perfection – more go-with-the-flow, less do-what-I-want. Accepting people and situations as they are, and not feeling the need to make demands of the universe. Low maintenance friends are the best. They look after themselves, keep themselves happy and entertained, are pleased with whatever food you make or activities are happening, and don’t have special requirements from you – they accept you as you are. Low maintenance partners are the best. They let you be you, can stick to a budget, accept that things don’t always go to plan,...

#91 Be an Artist

I didn’t like art day in homeschool group. My lines were all wobbly. My noses looked like carrots. My stick people didn’t do what I wanted them to. So I wrote myself off as an artist, and decided I’d be a writer instead. Words were much easier to work with. It’s only very recently that […]

I didn’t like art day in homeschool group. My lines were all wobbly. My noses looked like carrots. My stick people didn’t do what I wanted them to. So I wrote myself off as an artist, and decided I’d be a writer instead. Words were much easier to work with. It’s only very recently that I’ve realised I can be an artist. And so can you. We don’t have to sketch incredibly life-like portraits, paint awe-inspiring landscapes, or form perfect pottery bowls. All we have to do is express ourselves. Can you fingerpaint? You’re an artist. Can you stick colourful squares on paper? You’re an artist. Can you decorate a cake? You’re an artist.  Can you handwrite a quote in bold pen, and draw pretty squiggles around the border? You’re an artist. Can you make a strange yet wondrous sculpture out of recycled things you found in the garage? You’re an artist. It’s time we move past our mental blocks of ‘I can’t paint’, ‘I can’t draw’, ‘I’ve never been good at art’, and just start using our creativity, in whatever form it takes. Here’s some guidelines from Sark: Be an Artist.  FollowShare...

#90 Be Selective

There was a time when I said yes to just about anything – new friends, new opportunities, new clients, new places, new events, new causes to give money to or volunteer for … It was fun. I learnt a lot, experienced things I wouldn’t have otherwise, ended up with heaps of people in my circle, […]

There was a time when I said yes to just about anything – new friends, new opportunities, new clients, new places, new events, new causes to give money to or volunteer for … It was fun. I learnt a lot, experienced things I wouldn’t have otherwise, ended up with heaps of people in my circle, plenty of work to do – but eventually, it all becomes a bit much. Racing to a different social event every night, trying to remember all the birthdays, babies, and things going on in your friends lives, working late to make sure your clients are happy … it’s a recipe for exhaustion.   Now, I’ve become more selective. I don’t make instant-best-friends with everyone I meet just because I like them from the first conversation. I choose the events I go to carefully – will they fulfil something in my life? Support something I truly believe in? I have reached a place where I’m not afraid of saying goodbye to a client I feel sucks too much energy from me, or isn’t in line with my values. I try to find ways to give back within the community I’m in, with maximum impact, rather than sending all donations overseas where I have no influence over how they’re used. Being selective has brought me more calm. More enjoyment. And a deeper connection with who I really am, what I really want to do, instead of having no time to consider these things in the midst of over-busyness. Take the time to think about your choices of friends, entertainment, clients, events, causes … Be Selective FollowShare...

#89 Be a Self-starter

Part of us is secretly waiting to be discovered. We’re waiting for our big break – a gracious benefactor to spot our innate talent and sponsor further study, our boss to finally recognise all that hard work and grant a promotion, a venture capitalist to be wowed by our business nous over dinner and back […]

Part of us is secretly waiting to be discovered. We’re waiting for our big break – a gracious benefactor to spot our innate talent and sponsor further study, our boss to finally recognise all that hard work and grant a promotion, a venture capitalist to be wowed by our business nous over dinner and back the idea that we’ve been talking about for years. But it just doesn’t seem to happen.  The talent scout passes us over, the promotion never comes, the wealthy investor isn’t conveniently seated beside us at the networking event. We wonder why. We shake our heads. We stick our ideas in the bottom drawer along with lumps of blu-tack, broken bulldog clips and dusty photoframes. Meanwhile, in the background, the self-starters are on the move. Taking initiative. Failing forward. Putting their hands up. Scouting out opportunities. Not waiting for someone to come along and fire the pistol, they’ve already started running.  These are the people who found a company, not only write, but publish their book, create art and get it into a gallery, start selling their homemade cookies to neighbours and then end up competing with Mrs Higgins, pitch an article idea, launch a clothing label, learn a new language, start a bookclub, pursue further education … self-starters use inner motivation to propel themselves, instead of waiting for approval, consent, or a helping hand from others. And the fact is – it’s more appealing to gift water and encouragement to someone halfway through their purposeful marathon, than exhaust your muscles trying to push someone off the sofa. Let’s not sit around wondering why other people seem...