What is the key to happiness?

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Life in 2020 has been different for the entire world, it has given many of us more time to be reflective and really ask ourselves what is the key to happiness?

The answer to this is simple… do more of what you love

Yes well that’s easy for you to say, but I never have time, I can’t afford it. I don’t even know what I love anymore…!!! All right, I hold my hands up, it’s not that easy, I can see your problems, I’ve been there.

Firstly, we need to break these stumbling blocks down: TIME, FINANCES, IDENTITY

TIME, is another word for priorities, what in your life is most important to you? You may have to start small, if you have a full time job plus a family, I’m not going to pretend it’s easy BUT this is your life. You need to find the pleasure, because if that is totally absent from your life, I promise you, it won’t be long before resentment sets in and then you can find yourself with some big ass problems to navigate.

I have put together a simple six week programmes, for you to do on your own. It means you start learning to FIND time,

Start today, you’ve found time to read this, and I am giving you a huge thank you!! If you are reading this, chances are you already feeling that life has somehow gone out of kilter. Think about if you had fifteen minutes a day to yourself what is it, you would do. Read a book without an interruption, enjoy a cup of hot coffee (not the kind that’s almost got a layer you have to poke through and is stone-cold), wash your hair, without a bang on the bathroom door, applying your make up without leaving the house and worrying if you ever did get round to adding mascara to both eyes!!

These are all teeny, tiny things, but I have been in the situation, where I would have begged for these moments, but I never considered asking… not properly, maybe a snipe that I’ll drop down with exhaustion if I don’t have a sandwich in the next ten minutes, which was countered with a ‘well yeah me too’.

When life is full on hectic you don’t want to be going down that route. As soon as you draw the battle lines of who has done what and how many hours sleep you had last night, you’re running towards a cliff and about to fall into abject misery. When time is so short that you would kill for a cup of tea, you and your loved ones MUST be kind to each other. It’s the only way you’ll get through it.

If you have small children, there will never be the same amount of time you had before them. That time goes, I never really understood where or how, but it goes. I know there are still 24 hours in a day, but children consume an awful lot of them. You have to accept this and readjust. Be quick about it too, I left it way too late and by the time my third was out of nappies, I realised 15 years of my life had passed me by and I promise you I was properly fed up!

My personal experience… I believed I was running out of time!

I’m not joking I felt I had lost my identity and my right to carve out a life for myself! All I was consisted of a label that actually belonged to someone else, whether it: was mum, wife, or servant. Not only did my identity vanish but so had my confidence. I never had great self-esteem and I can remember looking back one day and thinking I have no real way to find my place in this world. This is a common problem when we are young and finding our career path, but by now I was forty plus, I felt time was running out and I had no vision or purpose.

Before my eldest was born, I had every intention that I would continue with work, but with a 3 hour commute each day, very expensive childcare fees and an overwhelming dread of leaving my baby with strangers for 12 hours a day, I didn’t do it! As awful as that sounds, I regret it. Whilst bringing up my babies has always felt like a privilege, I’ve been keen to ensure that my eldest daughter understands all that she will lose if she chose the same. I am incredibly proud that she juggles a two-year old and a full time job!

For me, happiness is strongly linked to identity, I didn’t realise this, but as I found my way I now know that I wasn’t imagining something was missing. As we make room to do more of the things we need in our life, opportunities arise. We have begun to make space for new possibilities. There are things that I have experienced in the past six years that I never would have believed possible. Please hold on to this thought if right now you think you’ll never make it out of your home again without a nappy bag thrown over your shoulder… I promise you one day you’ll miss the pushchair and your children being babies; it just doesn’t have to be or the other.

I can’t afford it

FINANCES Money used to be by excuse for not doing anything. The weird thing is my husband has never had these hang ups, though we have exactly the same amount of money. We had very little spare cash at times, especially after a new house move, or new baby but work out before you spend what it is that you actually need. Every purchase takes away money from your home to live the life that you dream about. As well as prioritising your time, priorities your money. Have a monthly budget and also one year and five-year plans, on where you want to be. I would suggest you keep your monthly budget realistic and your plans more ambitious and challenging, they will push you forward.

A great tip is however much money you have coming in, if you can, reduce it by £100-£200, put this money away and forget about it. Live off whatever you have remaining, deny yourself the takeaways and the drinks and brunch out every weekend, put this money aside until you have found your what is you really want to do.

What is your identity?

IDENTITY If you have found your identity linked to a job that you are less than enamoured with, or that actually you are labelled as just someone’s mum/wife or daughter, start thinking about the things that you would really love to do? The things that you enjoy, and make you smile. I used to find being indoors from the garden, I always felt better than before I had gone outside. Be aware of these moments. Is it when you are in a group with others. Do you like being with like-minded people or are you keen to have your opinions challenged.

This is such a great starting point to understanding, what fundamentally makes you happy. Next, dig a little deeper, is there something you want to learn, feel passionate about, want to be involved with. It’s important that we feel excited by our futures and are always heading in the right direction. My very first business I got up and running by working on it for just half an hour a day!

How to create more time!

If you are beginning to feel your head coming alive with suggestions and creativity, but you are thinking I have no time… I’ve got a hard truth coming. You have to find the time. I’m going to list a few ways below (these are not one off fixes, you need regular help so you can get this time back)

Your children’s father, this may seem obvious, but rather than when dad is in the mood to help – which is great – explain that if you could have a set time – JUST 2-3hrs on a Saturday, how much more that would mean to you! Repay the favour, this goes back to being kind

Ask extended family, (family if close by, are usually glad to help out, accept and be grateful for the help. They might not feed your kids exactly what you want, or they may let them nap past 3pm when you said not to, I know it’s infuriating but if it’s given you a few hours so you can get to a fitness class, get your hair coloured or read a book in absolute quiet, then maybe it is a compromise worth making)

Consider a swap with a friend where you look after each other’s children for just a couple of hours once a week. Usually two play together and it can actually be easier. Even if it is hard work you know you’ll get your respite!

Pay for others to do the jobs that you don’t want to. Sending my husbands shirts to be ironed, was more than just a time saver, I felt unburdened, I used to stand these thick cotton shirts and think well that another 10 minutes of my life gone! Think about cleaners, gardeners etc If you hate these jobs find someone else to do them. Don’t get wrapped up in guilt just do it!

Once you get a little time back just for yourself, you may begin to feel more creative and this is when things can get really exciting. I have put together a six week course, that you can work through to understand how you would like to be spending more of your time.

Right now I am offering the first two weeks for free! The exercises will make you become more aware and to start thinking about ways you can adjust your present life. If you learn lots from the first two weeks then the next four will help to completely formulate a plan for ensuring you find your key to happiness!

If you would like to receive your first FREE two week key to happiness course, please leave your name and address in the comment box and I will ping the course over to you.

The picture above is me, off for a walk – it’s something I do at least once a day – I am a walk fanatic, I don’t go miles but I let the fresh air hit me and I breathe and I think, of fill my head with loud music, I love this time!  From a moment when I could take it no more six years ago, I now run three business. I’ve trained and worked as a chef at a fantastic restaurant. I owned a meal on wheels business delivery high quality food to my local elderly community (my proudest achievement). I run a supper club and a business searching for eco-friendly alternatives; to help mamas shop with less guilt and to be making a better future for our children.  I’m  not pretending for one second it was easy but I look back on this time and I see my life with real value and it is so exciting to see where it might lead me.  As I said, I started by focusing on half an hour a day to build my business, it took months and huge moments of self doubt, but I simply kept at it.  I didn’t stop.

Honestly I’m not close to being a millionaire but I NEVER worry about the iron mountain anymore. My youngest is so much more self-sufficient than my older two and I love that. My life is interesting! It has purpose! I have met some amazing people and have LEARNT so much!  I have a life that lets happiness come in, and I welcome it, every time it does.

Ladies, I implore, beg, demand you take time for yourselves!

Add your name and email, it’s completely free of charge (and you can unsubscribe with a hit of the button) and I’ll send over some written exercises that you can do over a couple of weeks. It will maybe take 3 hours of your time in total. Promise yourself one thing, once you receive it, you read it and start acting on it!  It will be a great opportunity to create more time for yourself.

Live Well,

Grace x