Gratitude 2017

I came across Tynan’s annual gratitude post and loved the idea so much that I wanted to create one as well.

Thinking back over 2017, I have so much to be grateful for. My family and friends come out top of the list: this year I have really valued their presence in my life perhaps more than ever. Having such a supportive family makes all kinds of differences and I feel so lucky to be part of it. This is especially true being in my twenties where life seems to be very much ‘up in the air’, so having that constant support and communication helps me manage all the ups and downs.

My friends this year have been so wonderful and  I am overwhelmingly grateful to have met such lovely people. I’ve also realised the importance of having good friendships and the value we can add to each others’ lives. There’s something very special about spending hours over a bottle of wine or two talking about “shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax”.

I am full of gratitude when I think of all the experiences, through luck, chance, or my own efforts, that I have had this year. With such a vast world we live in, the fact I am happy, healthy, surrounded by family and friends, is nothing short of a miracle!

My life could have easily gone another way so writing this right now, sat in front of a roaring fire with twinkling Christmas tree lights in the corner, I recognise how lucky I am. I’ve recently become more conscious of the fact that the only constant in this world is that everything changes. Although slightly morbid, curiously it has the effect of allowing me to become more present. To appreciate the moment. That moment is soon gone, that person will go, the sun will rise, and what you are feeling right now will pass. How lucky am we to have all of this right now?!

Living in this time period, there is such social mobility and a movement towards following your passions and dreams. Humankind, especially women, have not been so free and independent in all of history. There is such an abundance of knowledge to learn, places to explore, people to meet, dogs to cuddle, drinks to drink, and cheese to eat — the world is truly your oyster.

This year has certainly been a lifestyle change for me and I am incredibly grateful for everything I have gone through, both good and bad. Thank you for the impact you all have.

Judging Your Friends’ Money Habits

The lovely Nikki Ramskill gave me the wonderful opportunity of posting on her blog, The Female Money Doctor. Enjoy!

How many times have you caught yourself judging a friend on their spending patterns?

There’s a pretty high chance it’s happened in the past. Maybe you can’t understand why your friend spends over £200 a month on clothes, or your colleague who has three cars on finance.

I recently read an article that sparked my thinking about how we make assumptions about our friend, family, and partner’s spending habits. We all do it, thinking that they make bad money decisions while on the other hand, yours are great.

In all honesty, countless studies and anecdotes show that most people are bad with their money! For example, they may be trapped in a consumer debt cycle or in denials about their financial situation.

Judging your friends’ spending habits reduces the chance of you examining your own finances. This is because perceiving their habits as “bad” makes it easier for you to justify your financial decisions as you don’t, for example, spend over £200 a month on clothes.

But is there really any point judging others based on their finances?

Just as your friends most probably overspend on the things they see as necessary, you might be doing it too.


“She spent HOW MUCH on [insert high value item here]?!”

I get it, we all have something we are happy to spend lots of money on. For me, it is food and eating out in restaurants. For other people, it may be spending hundreds of pounds on a pair of Valentino heels.

What may seem normal spending to you may be completely abnormal for someone else.

For instance, it seems to be “normal” to buy a house to live in, but buying a house as an investment? This is a decision that is often judged as the person is perceived as someone who has loads of money to “throw away” – especially with all the negative news coverage around high housing prices.

There are always people who will criticise your spending decisions. Take, for example, comments on Reddit about making big purchases:

I am in the financial position to buy them, but i [sic] just dont [sic] want to be Roasted for buying them. My friends and family are not Too keen on buying expensive stuff. (Brumbass02)

I laughed pretty hard at my brother a few years ago when he proudly presented me his exeptionally [sic] ugly new scarf from whatever expensive brand, on which he spent 160€. Onehundredandsixty Euros! on a […] ugly scarf! it was just a brown and orange piece of ordinary cloth with a name on it. I bet that, somewhere in the world, you can buy the exact same thing just without the name on it for 5€. (TheoriginalTonio)

You can find these types of people critiquing each other’s spending habits everywhere!

It seems to be their mission to highlight how that person is making a huge mistake spending X amount on a purchase as they think they would never be so “stupid” to do that. In fact, they may be doing just that. Instead, they are justifying the purchase in their mind.

Maybe they felt that they earned it after a busy week at work. Maybe they default into spending lots of money when life gets tough. Maybe they just wanted some new stuff.

“Everyone finds justification for his or her views in logic and analysis.” – George Packer


Why we judge our friend’s spending habits

We unconsciously project our values and cultural background onto our friends. These come from past experiences where we have ‘learnt’ that for us, this is normal.

One of my good friends comes from an incredibly thrifty background. She is incredibly money conscious and plans her spending down to the last detail. It is also an uncomfortable feeling for her to make any big purchases. Because of this, she finds it difficult to understand how this is normal for others.

When we judge, we do it emotionally rather than rationally. Take for instance a friend of yours spending a large amount of money on something you wouldn’t spend it on, like eating at the most expensive restaurant in the city. Instead of basing our reaction on analysing the amount of wealth in their life, debt levels, spending habits, then making a judgement; we usually automatically respond with disbelief.

And while responding this way to other people’s spending patterns, we are constantly justifying our own.

Five years ago, I was saying to my friends and family that I would never “waste” money on a car. “It’s losing money every time you drive it, I’d much rather go with public transport” I would happily chatter. Fast forward three years and I bought my first car.

I felt I had to justify it to myself: it’s much easier to go and visit family (the main reason), and I love having the independence.

For me, it is completely worth it and my finances have worked around it. However, someone in a different financial position may judge me because cars are expensive to run and maintain, becoming a liability.


Next time you go to judge your friend’s newest expensive purchase, ask yourself…

  • How much money do they have to spend after their necessities and savings?
  • What do they happily choose to spend on?
  • How long will the purchase last?
  • Are my finances in the best state they can be? How can I earn more money? How can I be better with my spending?

By going beyond the knee-jerk reaction, it becomes easier to reduce the chance of being judgemental. When making quick assumptions and judgements, we miss out on the chance to learn more about the context behind the decision.

This is something I’ve been working on recently. I find it helps to remember that everyone’s situation is very different and their money biases may be completely different to mine. Besides, I could spend that thinking energy on much better things!

Do you catch yourself judging people based on their spending?

What purchases do you find yourself being the most judgemental of?

Creating effective goals

With the new year fast approaching, it’s a common experience to have friends, acquaintances, and family posting on social media about all the new goals they will be conquering in 2018.

Every January, the familiar goals pop up: lose a stone, go to the gym three times a week, eat healthier, be better.

But by February appears (or even by the end of January!), we are back to the old ways and name ourselves a “failure”.

  • “I should have more willpower”
  • “I should be better”
  • “I need to get my life together”

Goal setting seems to be ingrained into Western society. Even at work, we are set goals and success is based on how well you meet those targets. It becomes a normal part of everyday life and a tool many people use to determine their success.

I’ve set so many goals in my life. Some I’ve failed at, some are ongoing, some I’ve achieved. Yet throughout them all, there is a low-level hum of anxiety around them. What if I don’t meet my expectations?

I explored a little more around the psychology of goal setting…

Problem 1: potential Lack of flexibility

Ineffective goals are inflexible. Sometimes the common practise of S.M.A.R.T. goals – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound – can become too specific. Examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals are:

  • “I want to lose one stone in two months.”
  • “I want to earn an extra £2,000 in income in six months.”
  • “I need to drop one dress size by my brother’s wedding in April.”

Although this is one possible goal structure, it also misses the bigger picture. Via Afford Anything, I found the example of Ford Motor Company.

They started to notice in the 1960’s that smaller and less expensive cars had started growing in popularity, and wanted to follow suit.

The CEO created the ambitious goal of producing a vehicle “under 2,000 pounds and under $2,000” ($12,559 in today’s dollars) by 1970.

This goal soon started to make progress and by September 1970, the Ford Pinto had been put into production.

However, by being really specific on two factors, this goal overlooked things like quality and safety. The company’s management overlooked a huge design flaw in the positioning of the fuel tank. This meant that the Pinto could burst into flames on impact.

At least 53 people died as a result of these fires. In 1977, Ford recalled the car from the market. Management had blinkered the goal in and had missed the larger picture.

However, it’s not all bad for a S.M.A.R.T. goal! They have the huge benefit of having  a clear ending and a deadline.

Without deadlines and restrictions I just tend to become preoccupied with other things. — Val Kilmer


Problem 2: Fear

It’s a great feeling setting a goal that makes you really excited. Maybe you want to be fluent in Spanish in six months, learn how to ski, or start a business on something that you are really passionate in.

As you start, it’s great, wonderful, exciting: you are making real steps towards achieving your goal!

Then procrastination sets in.

I’ve just managed to set up an Instagram account for Become Moneywise, something that took me two months. In that time, I could have learnt to tango like a pro or become a sushi expert.

In all honesty, behind the procrastination was fear.

  • What if I set up the account and my friends find out?
  • What if no one follows me?
  • What if I can’t deal with having to look after another ‘responsibility’?

The fear gets in the way of the goal. You stop, become stuck.

As Hara Estroff Marano writes in Psychology Today:

Achieving lasting change, and getting what you reallywant in life, takes a sustained vision of the future. That vision serves not just as an ongoing source of motivation to get there, it helps you identify and tackle the obstacles that have held you back until now.

These include fear of failure, such as doubts about your own worthiness for success […] And if you’re like most people, they also involve fear of achieving the very things you want.

Goals trigger fear, which then gets in the way of achieving your goals.

Take my example:

  • I created a goal: reach a new audience via Instagram
  • I developed a fear around any possible outcome: what if it’s not very good/I can’t manage it/it is not loved
  • Procrastination is borne out of the fear
  • And it takes 2 months to do something that took 10 minutes.

However, if I had focused on the incredible benefits – reaching and interacting with new people, being able to express my views in photos – the fear would be less of an issue.


I’m a fan of goals and it’s very interesting exploring ideas around why ineffective goals can be counterproductive. How do we go from the objections above and create better alternatives? I’ve done some research and…


Alternative 1: Make small steps a part of your life

It’s on every self-help website: make your goals part a habit and you’ll be soaring!

The challenge comes in the process of the habits forming. Once the habits are there, it takes no effort to keep them going! Taking small steps to build them up and putting processes into place to keep the habit going supports you when the motivation decreases.

For example, at the beginning of 2017, I decided that I wanted to drink more water. 2 litres minimum a day. To make sure I integrated this goal into my life, I bought a 2 litre water bottle to work. At the beginning of the day, I fill it up. Throughout the day, I top up a glass and sip from it.

It’s now surprisingly easy how much water I can drink without fully realising! It’s a part of my day and my body now expects to be drinking that much water.


Let’s take the example of adding something into a morning routine, such as five minutes of meditation. How can you integrate this into your day?

You could start off by deciding when you want to do it: when you first wake up? After dressing? Cleaning your teeth? Once decided, start small. Really small. Set your timer for one minute and do that for a week. Then increase it to two minutes and so on.

Building it into your routine also means that the step before triggers the next move.

For example: wake up – go to the toilet – make up – get dressed – meditate – breakfast

Your body and mind soon expect you to take a couple of minutes out to meditate after getting dressed. The goal becomes easier and easier to achieve. Before you know it, you are meditating for five minutes no problem, and can even do more if you decided to!


Alternative 2: Changing the factors you can influence

There are some things we can change, and some that we  can’t. Some actions you personally can do to reach certain goals (such as eating healthier) and some that you have less influence over (like world peace).

Getting worked up over factors you can’t influence can reduce the chances of you meeting your goal as you are focusing on the wrong things.

This is quite nicely explained by the circle of concern and influence (thanks to Paula Pant for the inspiration!).

Circle of Concern

This is the level of time and focus we have on concerns on things we have no control over: the weather. Everything you put within this circle is a concern and matters to you. Everything outside the circle is of little concern to you.

Some of the things inside your circle you can influence, and some are outside your control. For example, you may be concerned about the health of a friend, but what can you actually do about it?

This is why it is good  to identify the Circle of Influence within your Circle of Concern:

Circle of Influence

These are the things you are concerned about that you can influence. By focusing on what you can do something about, the more proactive you can become. In turn, this increases your circle of influence.

When setting goals, it may be helpful to identify what you can and can’t influence. Especially when looking at the steps needed to reach the goal. You can then change your perspective or actions to focus on what you can change.

So in conclusion…

Goals can be a very powerful tool if used effectively. How can we set more effective goals?

You could replace: My goal is to meditate everyday.
With: As part of my morning routine, I take 10 minutes out before breakfast to reflect on the day ahead.

You could replace: My goal is to write a blog post every week.
With: Every Tuesday evening from 8-10pm, I will read and write about topics that interest me.

You now just need to act on them! How are you going to action your goals to live the life you want?

‘I don’t have enough time’…or do you?

I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything.” — Dan Millman

An article by Peter Shankman , entrepreneur and author, (he’s great, I definitely recommend following him) sparked my thinking about timing and our priorities. It’s been an incredibly busy few months and sometimes it feels like I am not making as quick progress on my goals as I would like.

When you’re so busy, it’s very easy for things to slip under the radar. Weeks fill up so quickly and before you know it, half of November has gone and the holiday season is just round the corner!

I’ve been looking at ways to change my mindset around time.


I love Paula Pant’s philosophy on Afford Anything:

You can afford anything, but not everything — and that’s true not only for your money, but also your time, focus, energy and attention.

This opens two questions:

  •              How can we make smarter decisions about our money, time and life?
  • How can we align our daily behaviors and habits with the lifestyle we value most?

It becomes easier once you have decided on what are you main priorities and what you can afford to either stop doing or simplify/automate.

My priorities include:

  • Setting up a low-input business with my brother
  • This
  • Self-development
  • Friends and family
  • Reading

Because I have decided that this is what I want to achieve, it motivates me to go and get it done!

There is nothing wrong with the things different people prioritise. We all have the same amount of hours in a day to do what we have to do and what makes us happy.

For some people that’s playing video games for hours on end, for others it’s escapism in a book or on Facebook. All of which is fine (especially getting lost in a good book) 🙂 But that choice means something has to move down lower on the to-do list.

simplifying areas of your life

What would this look like it if was easy?

This was a question I got from Tim Ferriss and now apply to most things in my life.

For example, I need to write a blog post – what would it look like if it was easy?

  • I would write on a topic that interested me
  • I would allocate a certain amount of time to do it in

… so I found a topic that interested me (time and priorities) and I allocated a time do it in, and it’s suddenly become an easy enjoyable task.

I started seeking out other areas of life that I could simplify.

Minimalising my room was a great step (thank you Marie Kondo for the inspiration). By getting rid of anything I didn’t need or value in my life, it created space for amazing things to come in.

How can you simplify your life to allow you to spend time and energy on the things you want to prioritise?

If you want something in your life, you make it a priority and you focus on that goal at the expense of something that you perceive is less important.

We have all the time in the world. It’s up to you how you spend it 🙂

A Perfect Day

Last week I was lucky enough to experience what I would consider a perfect weekend.

It started off Friday evening when I went for Halloween fun with my friends. Saturday was spent meeting two amazingly inspirational people (one of whom was Alex Swallow, The Influence Expert – definitely worth checking out). Saturday evening and Sunday I was with family.

It included all the aspects I so often think of when I visualise my perfect day. A wealthy life.

  • Having fun with friends
  • Meeting up with people who inspire and motivate me
  • Spending time with family

I finished the weekend on a high and that motivation has carried on, even three days later!


Sometimes referred to as a crutch for self-help experts, visualisation is about imagining where you want to be, what you want to do, and all the details in between.

“If you want to reach a goal you must “see the reaching” in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.” — Zig Ziglar

It has an astoundingly positive effect on the sports community.  Seasoned athletes, like Muhammed Ali, run through actions in their heads before practising in real life. Our brain gets trained for the actual performance by visualising it first.

Emily Cook, an American aerialist, used visualisation to get back into competing after injury:

…such mental work helped her return to the sport a better jumper and that she also had used imagery to break the cycle of negativity. Whenever fear surfaced, she would picture herself pricking a big red balloon with a pin. (New York Times)

Visualisation works because when we think about what we want to achieve, the neurons in our brains that transmit information, interpret this imagery as an action happening in real life. Our brain then produces a message that tells the neurons to put the movement into practise. This creates new neural pathways (cells that create memories or learned behaviours) that encourage our bodies to act in ways that are consistent to what we imagined. All of this without actually performing the action!


visualisation and you

Using it as a performance improvement method, supported by lots of scientific evidence and practised by successful people worldwide, visualisation can be an influential tool.

putting it into practise

To visualise effectively, you need to have goals in your life that excite and inspire you.

  1. Relax!
  2. Think about a very specific goal that you really want to achieve, such as buying a house to rent out
  3. Imagine the future: you have already achieved your goal. Create a mental picture of it as if you were there right at that moment
  4. Imagine it in as much detail as possibe
    1. Go through each of the 5 senses and how each of them would be reacting to your goal
      1. What can you hear? Smell? Taste?
      2. What colours can you see?
      3. Are you touching anything?
    2. Who are you with?
    3. What are you feeling?
  5. Write it down
  6. Repeat, ideally daily but as often as you feel works for you.

According to Aristotle, 2000 years ago:

“First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” (Huffington Post)

The trouble is, most of us get stuck on the goals section and can’t/don’t go any further. If this is something that happens to you and you really want to achieve your targets, feel free to contact me here.


It’s definitely worth giving a go and seeing if visualisation works for you. If it does, you have a tool you can use to push yourself forward to achieve goals. If it doesn’t, great! You’ve ticked something off the list and can look for the next strategy.

Have you used visualisation before? Was it helpful?