Looking for Lava

Mt Etna erupts and re-ignites my lust for lava.

At the top of Bromo with the sand sea in the background.

In 2008 I came close to achieving my dream of seeing lava. I was travelling through Indonesia and saw plenty of volcanoes in Java and Bali, but at none of them did I have any chance of seeing lava.

Not until Merapi that is. Continue reading “Looking for Lava”

Friday Flickr – Outer Hebrides: St Kilda

Memories of one of the best day trips ever.

This week’s Friday Flickr is the last in my series of reminiscences from my travels through the Outer Hebrides.

Just before my trip ended I achieved one of my major goals and managed to get to St Kilda. It was only for a day, but at least I got there. Continue reading “Friday Flickr – Outer Hebrides: St Kilda”

The 4-Hour Work Week

Change the way you think about how you live your life and earn your living.

By Timothy Ferriss

4 hour work week

I read this a while ago and I still haven’t decided what I really think of it.

The ideas sound great in theory, but I’m not so sure in practice. Sure, if you’re running a particular type of business or living a particular type of lifestyle it might work, but I don’t really see how I could fit the theory to my lifestyle. Continue reading “The 4-Hour Work Week”

Afternoon Tea at the Ritz

An afternoon spent masquerading as a posh lady got another challenge ticked off my 60 things to do before I’m 60 list.

Dodging showers we made it to the Ritz, not looking our best, but not looking too bedraggled either. Back in February when I’d booked our afternoon tea I’d half hoped for rain so I could have one of the top-hatted doormen hold a golf umbrella over my head as I went up to the steps to the entrance. Continue reading “Afternoon Tea at the Ritz”

Not the Friday Flickr

Getting frustrated with Flickr

I’ve been trying (and surprisingly succeeding) to do a weekly feature on my blog – each Friday I’ve showcased one of my Flickr albums. This has encouraged me to build my presence on Flickr as well as having helped get me into a routine with my blog.

This Friday there was no Friday Flickr post. Continue reading “Not the Friday Flickr”

Going Live

Going live with my website means I can finally get that challenge ticked off my 60 before 60 list.

Drum roll …

So it’s still far from perfect.

I have too many posts still sitting in draft meaning I have months on my blog with no content. I haven’t designed the snazzy eye-catching banner I can visualize, but can’t get down on paper. I have a logo image, but haven’t worked out how to actually turn it into a logo yet. I have old posts that lost some of their photos and formatting when I imported them from my old blog. Continue reading “Going Live”

Developing a Brexit Strategy aka ‘My Brexit To Do List’

I’ve made a Brexit Strategy To Do list to help me survive and succeed no matter what happens next.

It’s a week since Brexit.

I’m not any happier with the result, but not being the type of person to sit around and let something like my country ripping itself apart hinder me for too long, I’ve had my planning head on. Continue reading “Developing a Brexit Strategy aka ‘My Brexit To Do List’”

My Purpose

Defining my purpose in life

A couple of weeks ago I determined my unique combination of skills and experiences and came up with 5 bullet points to highlight this combination. I then took it a step further and identified 5 key descriptors which give a very condensed overview of who I am and what I do.

Brand You cover pageThis was taken from one of the exercises in a book I stumbled across in Oxfam and have been finding really useful. The book, ‘Brand You’ by John Purkiss and David Royston-Lee, is a step-by-step guide to determining your own unique skills and experiences and developing these into a coherent and easily identifiable personal brand.

I read through the book pretty quickly, but over the last few weeks I’ve been going back through it more slowly, completing the exercises as I go.

I’ve already identified my talents, values and unique combination and feel like I’m gaining clarity with where I want to go with my blog, website and life as a whole. I already had a pretty good idea about this, but the book is helping me articulate it and give me a clearer focus.

This week I’ve been thinking about my purpose. As the authors say,

‘A sense of purpose helps you focus your efforts, making your life meaningful and enjoyable’.

I can’t argue with that!

If I’m clear on my purpose it will be easier to communicate who I am and what I do to others. If others understand what I’m about right from the beginning, those that don’t like what I do or the way that I do it will weed themselves out, leaving me with the people who will support and encourage me.

The book stresses the importance of differentiating between goals and purpose. Your goals are not your purpose.

Goals are short-term motivators; once they are achieved you need to make new ones. Your purpose, on the other hand, is limitless; it’s the way you want to live your life. Goals are still good, but as a means of working towards your purpose rather than as an end in themselves.

Purpose pyramidThe authors use a diagram of a pyramid to illustrate how your aim, goals, plans and tasks cascade down from your purpose. Always start with the purpose at the top as it’s only once you know this that you can start to identify aims, set goals, make plans and complete tasks. And it’s always in this order.

The example given in the book is of someone whose purpose is to improve people’s health. As a way of working towards this purpose they aim to cure sick people. Ways of doing this include qualifying as a doctor and writing a book; these are the goals. Plans to achieve these goals could be going to medical school and gaining writing experience. Tasks could be passing exams, carrying out research, making notes, washing hands between patients and applying for student loans.

Following this example, I put together my own version of the purpose pyramid.

Personal purpose pyramid

The wording may need some tweaking, but on the whole I’m quite happy with it. And the path I’m on is becoming a lot clearer.

What’s your purpose in life? Do you think infographics like this are useful?

Ruminating on where I’m going with my life

Trying to get one step closer to living the life I want to lead.

I’ve been reading a few books and blogs recently about self-development. I’ve never really been into the whole self-help genre and I suppose self-development isn’t really all that different, yet I’ve found them useful and I’ve been inspired to do lots of self-evaluation otherwise known as ‘where do I want to go with my life’.

I’ve realised that the two things most important to me are time and independence.

When I think more deeply about this I realise it’s because I want to do so many things – I’m curious, want to explore, travel, read, cook, have varied interests, go places, learn, experience.

To do these things it’s obvious I need to have lots of time. However, doing lots of things costs money (even for a cheapskate like me), and acquiring money usually means giving up time. It can be a vicious circle. When I have time, I haven’t got the money; when I’m earning well, I haven’t got the time. Swings and roundabouts. Or should that be a see-saw, with one side constantly outweighing the other?

Independence is important too, because if I have commitments and other people or things relying on me, then I can’t just take off when I like and do whatever I like. Likewise, if I’m relying on other people then I can only do things when they want to and if they have the time and money to do them to.

I’m fortunate to not have anyone who really depends on me (some people might consider that to be a misfortune, but then I’d say we have different priorities regarding what’s important in life). And after spending years travelling solo and starting a new life in a new country on more than one occasion I’m not lacking in confidence when it comes to doing things on my own and so never feel like I’m dependent on someone else.

The more I think about all of this, the more I realise I don’t like being an employee. Having a regular salary is liberating in some ways – I always know the bills will be paid and when I travel I don’t have to pinch pennies because I know I’m still getting paid – but in other ways it’s the complete opposite. It’s so easy to become reliant on that regular income that the ‘what ifs’ of giving it up become so daunting it actually becomes restricting.

I switched from a regular full-time job with a monthly salary to agency work two years ago.

I haven’t regretted it.

I get as much work as I need and although it’s much lower paid than when I worked in a permanent job I can still pay my bills. This is partly because, knowing I want to be in a position to prioritise time over money, I’ve made sure the overheads for my day-to-day life are as low as possible. I’m working towards making things as maintenance free as possible too, so that I save even more time and money.

I still have that feeling though, that I can’t turn agency work down because what if there isn’t any next week? What about the school holidays when I don’t get paid at all? What if I have a unexpected big expense?

So now as well as ensuring my outgoings are low, I need to look at the other side of the equation and work out ways of ensuring my income is maximised without me having to barter large amounts of my time and independence in exchange for it.

Making my website successful could be one way of doing this. As could publishing the book that’s been sitting on my laptop for the past year. There are also other things I could do like workshops, leading walks, expanding my property empire (does two count as an empire?), freelance writing, tour leading, speaking engagements, buying and selling …

I have so many ideas, but have been really slow about putting any of them into action. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I’ve let myself get so bogged down with teaching assignments.

So from September, I’m going back to day-to-day jobs where I can be finished for 3.30pm and don’t have to do any work at the weekends. If I don’t earn so much, it won’t be a problem, because I’ll have other income streams.

At least that’s the plan. And now I’ve said it out loud maybe I’ll actually try to follow it.