What’s your theme for 2019?

Rin Hamburgh tells the story of how she discovered theming, why it’s a revolutionary practice for business owners, and how you can apply its principles in your own work and life to make sure the new year is your best yet!

Back in November 2014, a word popped into my head. The word was Hope. It kept coming back to me in all sorts of ways – in things I was reading, in conversations I was having. As we headed towards Christmas, I decided that perhaps the following year would be filled with hopes and dreams come true. It was a nice thought.

Sure enough, in 2015 my partner finally passed his driving test and got a promotion. We sold our flat and had an offer accepted on a house. And, most importantly, I fell pregnant and gave birth to two beautiful baby girls. I also tested out a little idea I’d had about using junior freelance writers to help me increase my capacity at work.

As I sat in the hospital with my newborn twins in November 2015, another word popped into my head: Peace. Crazy! How would 2016 be peaceful with not one but two babies around?? Not to mention a house move. I didn’t know then that I’d also be a single mum before January was out, and that I’d launch my new business in the August of that year.

And yet despite 2016 being an absolute whirlwind – with an awful lot of challenges, I’ll admit – somehow a sense of peace did seem to cover the whole year. I held onto that word like a mantra during those sleepless nights, endless hours of breastfeeding, and difficult conversations with lawyers about maintenance and visitation rights.

Knowing how the previous year really had been filled with hope somehow allowed me to believe that peace could maintain me through this one.

The power of theming

I won’t bore you with all the details of the subsequent years – though I can tell you that 2017 was a year of Opportunity and 2018 has had two words, Growth and Balance – but I will tell you why this isn’t an example of me losing it from lack of sleep or too many G&Ts!

In fact, although I honestly had no idea at the time, theming your year is something of a recent trend.

It’s a technique that Mike Vardy, productivity strategist, speaker and author of The Productivityist Playbook talked about in an interview in Forbes last year. Vardy has three words, which he picks in August because he likes to start his year in September.

He says: “It’s nice to have that consistency throughout the year, that you just have to think about these three words as opposed to some massive resolution, or vision statement, or mission statement…

“It keeps me on track, and it allows me to make a quick gut check and look back at the Mike Vardy – who in August decided on those three words – as opposed to trusting what Mike Vardy in the moment might want to do, because Mike Vardy in the moment sometimes isn’t the smartest guy.”

How to pick and use theme words

While Vardy picks his theme words, mine just seem to arrive one day out of the blue. I’ve started to look out for them now but I try not to direct them because, though I don’t quite understand how, they seem to come from outside of me and be almost predictive in their nature. But you could also be very deliberate about choosing and setting your words.

You might want to take yourself off one day and spend some time quietly reflecting on next year and what you want to change or achieve. Do some journaling or free writing, without too much of a focus in mind other than the upcoming year in general.

Perhaps take some magazines along and tear out images or phrases that jump out at you. If you’re someone who enjoys meditation, yoga or some other form of mental, physical or emotional relaxation then by all means, bring that into your reflection time.

The point is to find something that resonates with you. And there are no rules! It surprised me that I got two words for 2018 but it felt completely right that as I focused on growing my business I should put as much energy into maintaining balance in my life – investing in my children, my relationships, my health and so on. Sure enough, I’ve doubled my team and my turnover but I’ve also started taking weekends off and been on three holidays!

As for how you use your words, again I don’t think there should be any rules. Mine have often been a comfort that I’ve held onto when things have been tough. In 2017 the word Opportunity came with a real sense that I needed to be active in taking hold of those opportunities, which gave me courage to apply for the Entrepreneurial Spark programme and to hire my first employee.

This is what Mike Vardy had to say in his Forbes interviews:

“When I’m choosing the projects that I want to pursue, when I’m deciding what conferences I’m going to attend, when I look at what is going to take my attention away from my intentions that I already have or what things are going to fuel my intentions going forward, I can look at these three words. If it doesn’t hit two of those three words, if my goals or my projects or any new idea, I just cast it aside.”

 What does 2019 have in store for you?

This year, things have happened a little differently for me. In October a picture popped into my head, instead of a word. A picture of a bean seedling just poking it’s head above the soil, all fresh and green and bursting with life. I wondered what it might mean, but pushed it to the back of my mind. After all, I don’t get my theme word until November and I’m something of a traditionalist!

And sure enough, on the first Monday in November as I was driving the girls to nursery and contemplating that very inspiring picture of a bean seedling, it arrived. Breakthrough! That would be my word for 2019.

Already I can see how it is going to play out – we’ve just won our biggest ever project, which will be kicking off in the new year, I’ve invested in a coaching programme to help me navigate the changes in my life and career, and we’re applying to go back into the Natwest Accelerator Programme.

I know that having a positive word doesn’t guarantee that everything will go the way I want it to. But given how important mindset is to success, I’m glad that I have such an exciting word to hold on to.

What about you? Have you got a word for next year? If not, it’s time to do some digging!

The quickest and easiest way to stay on track in 2018

Setting your ‘theme’ for 2018 – with love from The Unicorn Factory

Sometimes it feels really difficult and overwhelming to stay on track throughout the year. The unexpected happens. Things take longer than we thought. We have crappy days. And on the flip side we get distracted by new ideas to explore and exciting things to try.

So how can we stay on track through all these ups and downs in a way that doesn’t require hours of planning every week? What can we do that is helpful without being overwhelming? What will fit in with everything else going on so we don’t give up before we’ve even started?

Welcome to the world of THEMES!

For the past three years I’ve chosen a theme. It’s a word that will support me in staying on track with my goals throughout the year. It is something that keeps me headed in the direction of the experiences I really want to have in life.

And it is something I can use in the most crazy moments when I feel like I’m completely off track. It takes no time and requires nothing other than a thought.

In December or early January I set aside a tiny bit of “me” time to reflect on where I want to head this coming year (and let’s face it, half an hour of peace can feel like total bliss in the middle of the festive craziness). During that time I pick a word to keep me on track that I can use in any moment throughout the year.

I first discovered the idea of themes thanks to Jeannine Yoder. Every year she runs a Holiday Challenge for current and aspiring coaches, including a Power of Themes call in January. After that first year I was hooked!

My very first theme was TRUST. And it turned out to be a crazy year where learning how to listen to myself and trust myself meant I just about made it through in one piece. We found out we were pregnant ten days before our wedding, and completed the sale of our first house six days after our daughter was born. In between that I was holding down the day job, working on my fledgling coaching business and completing the Mentor Masterclass programme. There was always too much going on. It was tough.

My year of TRUST was a first step in learning to let go of what others thought of me. Learning to trust myself to know where to push myself, and where I had to say “no” for the sake of my sanity and my health.

One of my favourite things about my first year of having a theme was learning not to beat myself up so much. I didn’t perfectly live my theme. In fact there were plenty of times that if I’d really been in a place of TRUST I would have done things very differently. My theme wasn’t about being perfectly TRUSTING of myself and others, it was more about being aware of when I wasn’t. Seeing the differences between my current situation and where I wanted to be, and seeing it as an opportunity to practice thinking in a different way to help me get there. It was a year of learning how to make different choices.

TRUST was massively challenging but also hugely rewarding. Not that your theme has to be something difficult to overcome. I know people who have chosen themes like BEAUTY, FUN and DELICIOUS… you theme can be all about the good stuff too!

The next year was INTENTION. Setting that theme felt very different to the year before. TRUST felt big and complicated. INTENTION felt straightforward and easy. Being aware of my INTENTIONS in all the different things I would do.

I discovered that INTENTION was another layer on top on TRUST. I set that theme when my little girl was less than two months old and I was having a really tough time. Although I’d spent the best part of the year learning to trust myself as a person, becoming a mother was the biggest challenge of my life. My theme that year was a lot about trusting my intentions, instincts and intuition as a mother, and it did really help me through to the other side of quite a dark time.

Although it shifted my thinking in ways that will support me for the rest of my life, by January 2017 I was ready for some fun!

And that was when BOLD came up for me. I was excited. I imagined it was going to be a big year. Putting myself out there and being visible. Making plenty of noise.

How can BOLD be anything else?

It turns out there’s so much more to BOLD than meets the eye. And I have loved it!!!

BOLD can be quiet. BOLD can be private. BOLD is about not having to explain or justify yourself for not showing up in the way people expect you to. BOLD can be about taking invisible actions and learning that you don’t need the world to validate what is important to you, or approve of your choices and priorities.

BOLD isn’t always loud. BOLD isn’t always visible. BOLD isn’t always about being the centre of attention.

BOLD has taught me how to be unapologetically me.

BOLD has been my best year yet!

Themes can be a rollercoaster ride sometimes, but it’s one I wouldn’t swap for the world. Every one of my themes has brought me closer to living the life I want to live, and achieving my goals in a way that makes that possible. Saying that, none of my themes have quite done it in the way I expected.

What will your THEME be for 2018?

If you like the idea of setting your own theme I’ve shared an audio guide on Soundcloud  to use along with the 2018 Theme Worksheet.

And if you’d like a monthly prompts throughout to explore your theme further you can sign up for those over at http://www.theunicornfactory.co.uk

Once I’ve set my theme for 2018 I’ll be sharing it over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter– I would love to hear about your theme and why you chose it by using the hashtag #shiftyourexperience and tagging me in your post.

I can’t wait to share this experience with you in 2018!

Helen x

Huge thanks to Helen for such a fab guest blog and fellow Freelance Mum friend. Love this piece and can’t wait to get ‘theme setting’. Special thanks to our talented photographer, Nicola Jane, for capturing such lovely photos shared here. Love Freelance Mum X

 

Summer reflections – 10 things I have learnt as a Freelance Mum

 

In many ways, summer holidays are no different to any other day, as a freelance mum.

Holidays are no different to any other day, as a freelance mum. It’s all a juggling act, just in different guises. Yet with summer, comes greater expectation and lets face it, we all want to enjoy time off. As a freelancer and a mum, that’s never easy.

Which is why I thought I’d take the time, take stock and share some of my reflections on and things I have learnt this summer as life as a freelance mum.

 

1 – Having time away, a complete change of scene and a large dollop of daydreams really is good for the soul.

It’s also good for making things happen. I’ve always known this, but it was reinforced this holiday when we were in Devon. To quote Freelance Mum member and hypnotherapist, Abi Rogers ‘a change of scenery is essential!’. Believe it or not, our brains are actually more productive when we’re not concentrating on the task in hand – hence those ‘eureka’ moments at random times’. Brilliant excuse for more holidays’!

 

2 – How to do a ‘dinosaur plait’Dinosaur-plait-freelance-mum

On one particularly wet afternoon on holiday in Devon, I decided to master different type of plait. Not much of a life skill, but I like being creative and I’m rubbish at following tutorials. So I was pretty impressed I managed to watch one enough times to actually manage something that vaguely resembled a plait. It’s nicknamed a dinosaur plait, as it looks a bit like the spine of a dinosaur, it’s official name is a ‘4 strand, 3D plait’, which sounds far more impressive. The most impressive part being, I can now just about do one, while Suki is watching Peppa Pig. Jemima, however, is having none of it – though I may have tried out the odd one, without her realizing.

 

3 –  Canva

I’m not saying I’ve mastered it, or even that Canva and I will ever be best friends, but we’re now on speaking terms. We have fallen out several times previously, but with a bit of training from Karen Norman from Sensible Marketing, Canva and I are now friends. Together we can be creative and make nice pictures. Sometimes we still get cross with each other, but we’re getting on a whole lot better than before.

 

4 –   It’s not a case of scaling up, or even scaling back, but taking time to look at the bigger picture

One of the things I enjoy about August, is because there’s no Freelance Mum events in August, I have time to look at the bigger picture – not just the day-to-day running. A chance to look at the year ahead and not feel like I’m fire fighting, it’s a really good place to be and a great way to get a sense of the year ahead.

 

5 –     Running a summer offer is good for keeping marketing and social media fresh Freelance-Mum-Summer-Tote-Bag-Montage-Summer-Photo-Comp

On good advice from Linda Davies Carr, The Maser fixer and Rin Hamburgh, I decided to run a summer offer – book a podcast before September 30th for £150. Simple and streamlined. Not to mention the Freelance Mum Tote Bag Photo Competition, great suggestion from Nicky, of Nicola Jane Photography. Think ‘Hello’ magazine style, with photos of the Freelance Mum Tote Bag, in various locations, work/home/holiday. A fun way of generating content and makes people smile.

 

6 – Children really do, just love spending time with you Jemima-freelance-mum-home-studio

You don’t have to be doing anything special, they just like being together. I was reminded that this week, while Suki had a nap and I suggested to Jemima, we pop into the studio and do some work. I had a few emails to send out and she happily popped on the headphones and ‘recorded some voiceover’. I love how completely at home she is in the studio, she chatted away quite naturally, sharing all her stories and thoughts, while I typed away. It was like listening to her soul. Her memories and thought, the things that she shared were just gorgeous and it was all about us being together. Not only that, Suki’s favourite part of our camping holiday was ‘her whole family sleeping in the same room together’. Sometimes they’re so gorgeous I could eat them all up.

 

7  – Keep in contact with people who like what you do

Don’t give up. They might want to be part of it, but the time isn’t right. They might just be really busy! It was proven this summer, when Redmaids’ High began sponsoring Freelance Mum. They joined us for Brave, Bold & Bonkers in March, then went quiet. To be fair, they were busy merging with another school and it turns out that merging schools and building a new one, is demanding stuff! I could have gone quiet, but I gave them space, kept in touch and we got the green light this summer. Happy days for all of us.

 

8 – It’s a good time to update roller banners, signage for events and tinker with images for social media

Without the events every month, it’s a good time to update images, hit September with a fresh line up and reflect that in posts. See, I told you Canva and I are getting on (I may live to regret writing that).

 

9 – Both my girls can ‘swim’ without armbands

When I say swim, I mean ‘not drown’ – but they are both quite adamant that neither of them want to wear armbands, which means taking a trip to the local swimming pool is even less relaxing. And it wasn’t exactly relaxing in the first place!

 

10 – I love the summer, but I like routine too. And while I have no intention of wishing away, I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things come September. No doubt I’ll soon be wishing I had that lovely day dreamy headspace again, which is why I’m already planning half term 🙂

So then, what’s your reflections on summer? What have you learnt, in life as a freelance mum, this August? If you’re chomping at the bit already – come and join us at Freelance Mum in September, we’d love to see you.

 

Expert Nutrition From Bump & Beyond

Expert nutrition advice from the moment you decide to try for a baby.

As a parent of two young children, meal times can be something of a struggle. In fact – eating & eating out is a completely different occasion to compared to that of 4 years ago! Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way, though it would make a nice change to get all the way through one meal without any one announcing ‘ yuck, I don’t like that’. Still, at least they’re eating something and we’ve come out the other side of a fussy eating phase, where the only food that was consumed seemed to be yellow.

Bump & Beyond illustration ladies and fruitBut it’s very easy to be all consumed (no puns intended) with just how much food our little ones eat, let alone think about ourselves. Yet take a step a back to a life before children, one of the most important things we can do on our journey to parenthood is prepare for the event. Looking after our diet can make a huge impact on conception, one of the most important things we can do is make sure our body is in the best physical condition – which is where Rosie Letts comes in.

As a nutritional therapist, Rosie has always had a keen interest in diet and the role food plays on our health. It was only after having her own children, that she realized there was so much lacking in the main stream when it came to family advice. So armed with first hand experience and expert training, she launched Bump & Beyond Nutrition – assisting parents on their reproductive journey, from the moment they decide to conceive a child, to when they start for school. It’s an impressive field.

After all, as Rosie explains, science of genetics has improved so dramatically we now know that what our Grandmother ate before and during their pregnancy, affects the way our DNA is expressed. Whilst our genes are malleable to an extent as adults, whilst you’re in the womb and a young child – you can do the most good at this time.

Which is all well & good saying it, but when I cast my mind back to my pregnancies – a time I was desperately trying to stay healthy, if I so much as contemplated eating anything green & leafy I wanted to vomit. It turns out, it’s often the way the body is trying to tell us something – Rosie has had consultations with pregnant women who are addicted to licking walls, typically an extreme calcium deficiency. As for chocolate cravings – that’s often a lack of iron and zink.

What I love about Rosie, is that she’s been there & done it – she understands the reality of being a parent & just how exhausting the journey can be. Take breastfeeding, for example, until you’ve been there it’s impossible to understand just how draining it can be – and it’s nothing to do with the umpteen night feeds! More having a little person plugged into you, can sap you of your very energy. It’s well known that a breastfeeding mum needs an extra 500 calories, but sadly that’s not all in cake! There’s so much iron & zinc in breast milk, it’s important to pay attention to getting extra good quality grains, meats, greens and vegetables.

And from breastfeeding, there’s weaning – with it’s own set of worries, just how much do these little people need to eat & how often? It reassured me to learn that children don’t eat in the same way as adults, its more a case of healthy grazing. The most important things we can do is lead by good example – eat good food, in good formats and together as a family.

In the time I spent talking to Rosie, it changed my mindset when it came to family meals. I’m quite sure plates aren’t about to be licked clean, but I feel on my way to healthy eating success!

Rosie Letts is available for 1-2-1 consultations on pregnancy, conception & also runs private weaning classes.

The Scent Of A City – Bristol Bluebells

As a mum of two young children, my sanity in the midst of the madness, is being able to carve out some ‘me time’ at the end of busy day. When they are both FINALLY down, the dishes are done & I’ve managed to tie up a few loose ends, I like nothing more than to sit down and relax. Or, as my good friend Michael would say – ‘re arrange the lighting’. A few strategically placed lamps, a select well lit candle and suddenly there’s a bit of calm.

So when I was introduced to Scarlet and Nell with their beautiful hand-poured candles, I had to find out more. They’re fragrant candles with a differences, with individual scent designed to capture the personality of British counties and cities – starting with Bristol & Bath.

As a child growing up in Bristol, I think one of the resounding memories of smell, was the brewers yeast, around the centre – a pungent memory, as it filled the air. I was quite convinced that Helen Arthur, the founder of Scarlet and Nell, wasn’t going to reproduce that, as Bristol’s signature scent, but was intrigued to find out what our city’s fragrance would be.

Bluebells – Bristol Bluebells is in fact the name of the candle, designed to capture and reflect the bluebell woods in the midst of our West Country city. There is something about the smell, which instantly takes you back to a time and a place you can almost visualize the bluebells woods as you light it.

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Mini First Aid – made easy for all the family

For many mums, when weaning begins, it opens up a whole new world of problems. From ‘will they ever eat from a spoon’ to ‘what if they choke’? It’s one of those more serious aspects that doesn’t dawn on you, until you’re watching your baby get to grips with eating. And it’s typically the point that lots of mums get in contact with Zoe Hunt from Mini First Aid.

Mini First Aid was born in 2014, when mum Kate Ball, wanted to bring a range of classes to parents & grandparents, which were accessible to the whole family & specifically geared up for treating infants and young children. Of course, there are some elements that are universally the same – like how to treat a wound, but the nuts & bolts are aimed at dealing with tots.

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Fit 4 Tots

Passing on a love of sport, to the next generation – Lesley from Fit 4 Tots, leeds the way.

There’s a funny shift that happens when you become a parent, suddenly statistics & headlines, stop becoming statistics & headlines & start feeling like a reality instead. There’s no longer a detachment when reading about these things, you realize they could start to have an impact on your children & the next generation, unless you do something.

Which is exactly what happened to Lesley Waldron & her business partner Sarah Dineen, when they started Fit4Tots. Concerned at hearing headlines about children being over weight & not reaching a certain level of fitness before starting school, they set about to do something. It was one thing for them to enjoy sport & fitness as adults, but how could they pass on healthy messages to their children?

And so Fit4Tots was born- exercise classes for pre schoolers and school children, delivered in a fun & enjoyable way. As personal trainers, nutritionists and mums their goal is simple – reinforce healthy habits for young children, through fitness, sport & play.

Lesley from Fit 4 Tots

Lesley from Fit 4 Tots, leeds the way with an icebreaker at Freelance Mum.

For Lesley, she was already working in public policy, but felt it was time to be out there & doing it – taking action for herself. As a mum to a 3 & 5 year old, she’s already at the forefront of mothering, so no stranger to the demands of young children. Lets face it, it can be a tricky task capturing a child’s attention – much less getting them to listen to a set of instructions and participate in an activity. So classes are devised to keep children engaged all the time, with not much standing still time.

 

I recently had a taster class from Fit4Tots, aimed at mums & their pre school children – a great way to get mums & children exercising together. We started with simple stretching exercises – trying to touch both sides of the wall with our arms out stretched as far as possible. Followed by squatting down low, then leaping up like a frog. All simple, good fun stuff – but a great way of getting mums & children exercising together.

Fit 4 Tots Icebreaker

The balloon game at September Freelance Mum – great icebreaker from Lesley!

We finished off with the balloon game – proper silly fun, getting into teams and seeing which team could win at passing the balloon up & down the their line, going over heads & through legs! Although on the face of it, it all sounds pretty simple – it’s the basics of developing the skills for sports, or the ABC – Agility, Balance & Coordination. It gets your heart racing, takes you a moment to recover & you have to listen to a set of instructions before starting out again.

 

Typically they try & give simple exercises for mums to be able to practice with their children at home, so they can keep building on the exercises – quite simply making exercise a part of every day life. For Lesley, it’s about giving children the opportunity to try as many different activities as possible – the point being about trying & trying your best at whatever you do.

Classes are taught in the community & through pre schools and nurseries – giving children the opportunity to have good fun fitness from an early age & develop those positive experiences.

My own memories of PE classes as a child aren’t fond ones. It wasn’t through lack of activity, more not finding the right exercise for me. Now as an adult exercise is my escapism, the thing that keeps me in check. I’m so pleased that Fit4Tots are making exercise more accessible and paving a positive way for the next generation.

Freelance Mum At The Bristol Lido

Freelance Mum had a social, with style, at The Lido, Bristol!

We enjoyed cookery demos on the terrace with head chef Freddy Bird, before tucking in to a 2 course meal.