The Sunday Series: Fear VS failure – Are we subconsciously sabotaging our chances of success?

We all want to achieve success and avoid failure. It hurts when we fail, perhaps not necessarily physically but it can carve a dent in our ego, one that makes it hard to give it another go. I’ve always struggled with getting things wrong, and to protect my self I tend to hold myself back when it comes to getting out of my comfort zone. I also find I procrastinate and play it safe, especially when it comes to starting something new. 

On top of this, I’ve spent a long time believing that I’m not ‘good’ at anything (how sad is that?) It was only when my coach recently asked me to list out all of the things that I’m ‘good’ at, I noticed how few things I perceived there to be. I’d say, “well I guess I’m OK at them but wouldn’t say I’m good at them”. My coach then surprised me by listing double the amount of things they thought I was good at and it got me thinking. Why is it that others can see our potential and strengths when we can’t? Am I subconsciously sabotaging my chances of success? And how much does my fear of failing really hold me back?

Through working with a coach I’ve come to realise, we aren’t born with a fear of failure we learn it and that’s a good thing. Why? Because if we can learn it, it means we can ‘unlearn’ it and replace it with habits and belief systems that are more productive for us. All of our experiences shape how we respond to life but that doesn’t mean they determine it. While I could list out all the reasons why fearing failure is counterproductive it doesn’t make it magically disappear, well not for me anyway. Instead, I’ve had to define what failure truly means to me, and spend some time outlining my strengths. 

My journey to care a little less about how I’d feel if it all went wrong or what people would think, and a little more about how I’d feel if it went right, has led me to a few ways to help face the fear of failing:

Get clear on why failing is so important to you 

We all have different definitions of failure as we all have individual benchmarks, values, and belief systems. For me, I don’t like failing because I’m a perfectionist, I don’t like doing things wrong, I don’t like letting people down, and I care far too much about what other people think. Starting with why will help you in overcoming it. 

Failure is feedback whether you see it as negative or positive 

Sometimes rather than asking yourself what went wrong ask yourself what went right? Creativity can be born from failure. When things haven’t worked out the first time use what has to inform how you’ll do it differently next time.

Use examples of when you’ve got through difficult times to motivate you 

It’s probably not a surprise that I use the difficult experience of losing my dad to guide a lot of the ways I respond to life. It’s taught me that when times get hard not only can I deal with them but I can get through them. 

Take ownership of your strengths and successes 

It’s not a one-off, it’s not luck, it was down to you. We all possess a wealth of strengths but sometimes instead of championing them we focus more time on improving our weaknesses. Spend time writing down all the things you are good and if that feels hard instead outline your achievements. From this, you’ll be able to see all that was required from YOU to make it a success.

Laura xo

A time of change. The important lessons I’ve learnt.

I sit here writing this in the living room of our new house in Scotland . Up until last week, we had no furniture and were using a cushion fort as a makeshift sofa. Not to forget the mug I was using to drink coffee, water and Prosecco from. Despite all of the above, for the first time in a while, I’d felt the urge to start writing again. Nothing forced or inspirational just my honest thought reel that I wanted to get down on here.

There’s something about the challenges of 2020 that have taken me back to the year my dad died. Although very different circumstances, I still find myself drawing parallels between the two with one common denominator, change. 

Although we experience change daily like the change in weather or our schedules. Many of these minor adjustments to our day to day life are expected and don’t really affect us. But what about the big (sometimes unexpected) changes in our life? Like the new jobs, the breakups, the losses, and the big events that hit us with no prior warning. Whilst some of us thrive off change and take it in our stride when life throws a curveball. Others (me) are lovers of routine, and absolutely hate things not going to plan.

Whatever life throws at us we deal with it differently. The last four years have been filled with so many changes and challenges. They’ve taught me that it’s not the circumstances or events that happen but it’s how we handle them that dictates how they’ll affect our lives. It’s also taught me not to be fearful of what’s to come but instead accept that all good things (and bad) come to an end. I like to think I have some sort of control over my life but also accept that much of the big stuff I don’t and that’s ok.

Whilst this year has brought a fresh new set of challenges, there are a few lessons I’ve learned about change, especially unexpected ones, that I wanted to share on here.

Life really can change in an instant, so don’t put things off. I’m not talking about the washing or your household chores but the big things. Like taking that course you’ve been talking about, going on that trip, or reconnecting with an old friend. We really cannot predict what’s around the corner or how much ‘time’ we have. I don’t think many of us will ever forget the day the entire country went into national lockdown, over a virus that last year sounded like a sci-fi film plot. Or for me the day I found out my dad had died. We think we have time, and sometimes we don’t.

The only constant in life is change. Nothing stays the same. Our friendship circles, our houses, our jobs. We were built to evolve, adapt and move on. The good times do end, but so do the bad times. If it weren’t for change none of it would be possible.

It’s really hard to be prepared for the ‘un-prepareable’ so don’t waste your time trying to do so. ( I wrote a blog a while ago on this topic). You can’t predict the future, so getting worked up over worst-case scenarios that haven’t even happened yet is a waste of energy. Try to only focus on the here and now. While the thought of not knowing what’s to come can be scary, it also means that some of the best days of our lives are still to come and we don’t even know it yet.

Control what you can, but accept there is far more that you’ll never be in control of.  Make peace with that.

Life never goes the way you plan it to and that’s actually a good thing.  5-year plans, 10-year plans give us the illusion of control. But what we think we want in the future very rarely pans out that way. I look back on what I thought I wanted 5 years ago to now and it’s drastically different and in a way I’m grateful for it.

So before we write off 2020, it might have taught us more than we think.

Laura xo

“Today I am thankful for”. The importance of gratitude for a healthier, happier life.

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.”

“Today I am grateful for… “

When was the last time you asked yourself that?

I like a lot of people can get lost in all of the things I want in life, whether it be career aspirations, material things or aesthetics. I then spend even more time on social media seeking out those who have all the things I want and convincing my self that once I get there I’ll be content. I’m not saying that I’m not already a happy person but I feel we sometimes place our happiness in that mythical time of “someday” and as we’ve all probably learnt, it’s not always as simple or straight forward as that. It’s funny how actually the closer you get to things you think you want the longer that road seems to become. I’m not saying it’s not right to strive for goals, be better, or do better, but I do think it is so important to appreciate what we do have today, instead of putting all our hope into tomorrow.

I wanted a life filled with pinch me moments, but when I truly reflected on it, it already was.

I’ve had a rough few years, when I really look back it was very hard losing my dad to suicide, not just the death itself but the grief , the depression, the anxiety, the breakdown in friendships, and the loss of faith in this world. But the hardship didn’t lesson on their own over time, it was my mindset that has got me to where I am today. I’ve always wanted a life filled with those pinch me moments and when I lost my Dad I felt as though I’d been robbed of that. But when I truly reflected on what I already had in my life, it was apparent that it was already filled with so many of them. I learnt that instead of yearning for what I’d lost I’d put my focus into gratitude and perspective and it not only got me through such a difficult time, it completely transformed my life.

That all being said, I don’t advocate being positive all of the time because I don’t believe as humans that it is possible. Life is hard, and we need the days where we want to scream, cry and sit on the sofa with ice cream and chocolate. Those lows help us appreciate the highs, but even in our worst days I do believe we can find one thing to be thankful for.

Everyday, I spend 10 minutes listing all the things I am thankful for. It’s usually on my drive to work, so I create mental lists but sometimes I feel it’s even more cathartic to write it down and stick it by my bed so that on the days I do feel sad (which I allow my self to be) it’s like a little list of hope that can really help me through.

So today, here are 10 things that I am grateful for…

  1. My mum. What a hero.
  2. My amazing family.
  3. My health, although I don’t openly talk about some health conditions that I suffer with I am generally pretty healthy, and my body allows me to do what I want it to.
  4. The years I had with my Dad, as some people have had even fewer with their own parents.
  5. My friends, who are my lifeline.
  6. The home I live in, one that’s warm, safe and has always been filled with love.
  7. My boyfriend who is just the most amazing, wonderful, caring person who came into my life at a time I didn’t even realise I needed him most.
  8. My job and the opportunities and friends it has brought with it.
  9. My ability to write and hopefully curate things that are meaningful to others.
  10. For you, I thankful for everyone to takes the time to read my blogs and reach out to me.

So how do we all incorporate a little more gratitude into our day to day life?

Here are a few of my top tips.

  • Start small. All habits start small, so on your daily commute to work, or the first thing you do when you get up in the morning, say to yourself one thing you are grateful for. If you find this difficult perhaps start every other day. It’s sometimes hard to look at our lives from the outside in, but I can assure you once you start finding the little things to be grateful for, you’ll notice your list growing.
  • Imagine life without. It’s easy to think about the things we don’t have in life but look around you at all the things you currently have, look at the people around you, the ones who you really couldn’t live without.
  • Look inside you. You’ve got some amazing qualities, we all do, it’s what makes us all unique. Spend some time listing those qualities, I mean someone’s got to big ourselves up.
  • Write it down. Make lists whether its mental or physical.
  • Pay it forward. Tell those around you that you’re grateful for them, show others how much you value them for being there for you and your life.

I truly believe that it is the simplest of habits that can lead to a happier life and for that I’m actually really grateful.

What are you thankful for?

Love always,

Laura xo

What my Dad’s suicide taught me about the importance of kindness.

I never knew how much my dad meant to people until he died. The number of people who reached out to me and attended his funeral made me realise how much of an impact he’d made in his 56 years. Perhaps if my dad knew how much he meant to people, things might be different but I leave that thought to the many ‘what ifs’ associated with losing someone to suicide.

The one thing that I knew all too well about my Dad was he was a big joker. His desire to be the class clown and make people smile was one of my favourite qualities. His quick wit, uncanny impersonations, and annual Father Christmas appearances portrayed my dad to be a man full of life. A ‘no worries’ kind of guy. This was the side to my dad that everyone around him saw and one he wanted everyone to see. However, the side that people didn’t see was the sensitive one, the side that cared deeply for other’s feelings and what they thought of him (a trait I’ve inherited). The side of him that maybe a cruel joke or comment would actually hurt a lot more than some might think. 

We all have our struggles and down days. Sometimes there are times where our problems make us question the point of it all. However, even when we want to be authentic and show our true selves, it’s still hard to portray it without compromising the person we want to be seen as. This combined with the pressure of perfection that comes with social media is why I think it’s difficult to open up and be vulnerable and admit that sometimes we can feel defeated by this big ol’ journey called life.

As it marks almost 5 years since my dad took his own life, it gets me thinking about the importance of something that I think we all need a bit more of in our lives… Kindness.

While we may feel as though we’ve not got time to help others among our own problems, I know now to be more aware that everyone is likely to be dealing with their own too. As I’ve become more mindful into the way our actions will always have some form of a reaction, I think it’s so important for us all to live a little slower, become a little more present and take those 2 minutes out of our day to do something kind for someone else.

Whether it is holding a door for a stranger, asking a colleague about their day or just giving a compliment to a friend to let them know how amazing they are. It’s the littlest touches and thoughts that we remember and although we don’t always see the instant gratification of our good deeds, that one thoughtful gesture can make someone’s entire day, especially in the challenging times we are facing.

Now more than ever we need to be spreading kindness, a quote I read recently really sums the current challenges we are all facing…

“We may not be in the same boat, but we are in the same storm”

Here are a few ways to that you can spread kindness… (COVID friendly)

At home and in your community

  • Call a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while
  • Send a letter to your nan and grandad
  • Send flowers to a friend out of the blue
  • Offer to pick up some groceries for your elderly neighbour
  • Send someone a handwritten thank you note
  • Walk your friend’s dog
  • Tell your family members how much you love and appreciate them
  • Help your mum with household chores
  • Check on someone you know who is going through a tough time
  • Help a friend get active

At work

  • Get to know the new staff member
  • Lend your ear – listen to your colleague who is having a bad day
  • Say good morning
  • Give praise to your colleague for something they’ve done well

In public places

  • Be patient with people in the supermarket, it’s so easy to get frustrated especially now we need to be 2 metres apart. However, a little bit of patience, and a smile will go a long way.
  • Let a fellow driver merge into your lane
  • Pick up some rubbish lying around in the street (use gloves and hand sanitiser)
  • Smile and say hello to people you may pass every day, but have never spoken to before

It’s very easy in life to think you don’t have an impact but because of you, that cup of coffee you bought for a friend made that crap day they were having a little brighter. That book you recommended to a colleague has them spending every night getting lost in the pages of it. And that stranger you smiled at in the supermarket, perhaps that smile made them feel like they’re not invisible to everyone. Never underestimate the impact of the smallest acts of kindness in life, because you never really know when someone needs it most.


Laura xo

New Year, New Me? What I hope for 2019.

Here’s something to think about…

Imagine what you could achieve if you never experienced fear or doubt.

I don’t mean the type of fear when it comes to running from genuine life-threatening situations, I’m referring to the fear of rejection, fear of taking risks, or saying what we really think. We’ve all done (or not done) things out of fear. Because by trying things we’ve never done means entertaining the idea that we could potentially fail or it not go the way we’d hoped. It plays on my mind a lot actually, how different my life might have been had I not let fear dictate some of the decisions I’ve made.

To some degree we need fear, it has essentially kept us alive for thousands of years. But like a lot of our evolutionary traits this fear has seeped into areas of our lives that have made it become more about limiting our potential rather than keeping us alive. For example, not applying for that job because you think you’re not good enough or they’ll reject you. Not going overseas to travel or live that lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of because you might run out of money, not make friends, not find somewhere to live (the list goes on) and be back to square one again. Not asking that guy or girl out on a date because you think they’d never be interested in you. A lot of what could be the best chapters of our lives never even get to happen because we predict the end before we even have a chance to enjoy the beginning. We essentially are consciously sabotaging ourselves and opportunities!? Mind-blowing huh?

I know I’m not alone in saying I’ve done a lot of things out of fear, I’ve stayed in situations longer than I should have in the fear that not being in them would be worse. I’ve stayed comfortable in situations because they are safe but safe doesn’t always make you happy. In 2019 I want to take more risks, risk failing, risk putting my self on the line, risk putting my self out there to be judged (blogging has done that I guess too), risk saying what I really think.

In 2019 I’m going to try not to let fear be so apparent in my choices.

Here are a few other things I hope to do more (or less) of in 2019

1. The past is the past, learn from it but don’t live in it.

This is a big one for me. When I lost my dad I spent a lot of time trying to run away from the past. I thought running was a good way of dealing with it but in fact it was more harmful than ruminating in it. Instead what I’ve learned is, the past does give us a lot of insight into what we should and shouldn’t do in the future, it teaches us a lot of lessons if we let it and not beat ourselves up over it.

2. Get out of my comfort zone, more often than not.

How nice is it in our comfort zone? It’s so easy, fear-free, and for the most part when we are in it we all know exactly what we are doing. For some people staying in their comfort zone is what makes them happy and that’s completely fine. For me, some of the best decisions I’ve made this year have started by me saying “f*** it, what’s the worst that could happen?” and just going with it. So, try that class, or hobby, leave that job if it makes you unhappy. Some of life’s greatest achievements require going outside of your comfort zone and some of the best experiences come from not playing it safe.

3. Forgive and forget.

A quote that resonates with me so much about forgiveness is:

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

The number of people that will wrong do us throughout our lives will be far greater than those who do acts of kindness (harsh but true). However, If we became bitter about every single one of those people it’s going to turn even the most positive of people sour. Don’t let others taint your kindness, or let your positivity be overshadowed by someone’s bad day. It’s a short life, after all, and it’s far too short to not just forgive, forget and move on.

Happy holidays friends.

Laura xo