Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 2

The Power of a Sabbatical

Welcome back to Season 2 Episode 3. Today I am going to talk about the power of a sabbatical.

What I’m already finding, with just two and a half months off my business, is that I have finally given myself the space to reflect and to look back on all the accomplishments that I’ve had so far, that maybe, just maybe, I’d forgotten about.

If you are a business owner, you totally know what I am talking about.

How often do we pat ourselves on our back and congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come?

Seven years in business, that’s how long it’s been since I’ve had my business, since I started officially in April 2010. Until I took the timeout and time off of my business I didn’t realize all the things that I’d actually managed to do.

The reason why that came about is when I had the down time to not be working on stuff, I took a trip down memory lane and thought about the products and services that I’ve created since I started and all the blog posts that I’ve written.

I had a few people linking to blog posts from like 2011 and I was like, “I wrote that post? This is actually pretty good.”

Then I just had a chance to reconnect with clients from years ago, from cleaning stuff up and going back through old folders, I forgot that I’ve coached these people. I wondered, where are they now and what are they doing?  

So when I am back online in July, I really want to reconnect with some of my first ever clients and community members.

What the business sabbatical has forced me to do is actually go back to my roots and think about all the things I loved when I first started out.

If you think back to when you started out, what were the things that made you so excited and so happy to be doing what you did that got you up every single morning and kept you up late at night when you were hustling and doing everything you wanted to do on your business?

The reason I even needed to take a break from my business is I’d forgotten what I loved about it in the first place. So this sabbatical has helped me to gain perspective.

It’s forced me into slightly darker places where I’ve been playing the comparison game.

Mainly because I’ve been watching on social media from the sidelines, people doing so many things and launching like crazy.

And I just get caught up in that and normally my go to is I’d follow that launch, I emulate it, I take notes from it, improve on it and learn from it.

But I don’t want any of that in my world! I don’t want any distraction. I don’t want to know what other people are doing. So I put the Facebook Ad Blocker on.

I just want to reconnect with my friends, get back to my roots and get perspective on how far I’ve come but also how much more I can do & how much more I can offer.

I needed to reconnect with what it was that I fell in love with at the very beginning.  

I just want to have a little insert here from my friend JC Bougle, who actually is recovering from burnout.

As I’ve mentioned before in this podcast, I almost burnt out when I first self-published my book, The Suitcase Entrepreneur back in 2013 and I didn’t even realize I was so close to it.

The problem is when you don’t take a sabbatical, a break or holidays from your business and you just go hard out for years, you burnout.

Then you are forced into a break that you don’t want to be on: where your body can’t recover, where your mind is jaded and stuck and where you actually physically aren’t able to do much work anymore.

I just don’t want you to get to that place.

This is gold. Here’s what JC had to say:

“What happened to me last year is that I was very close to burnout and I had no enthusiasm for business, for entrepreneurship and no energy. And I couldn’t take a long sabbatical really to disconnect from the business so I took a short sabbatical for a couple of weeks.

I really disconnected from anything online and after that, which was even more important in my recovery after 2 weeks of disconnection, I really paced myself along with the expectations of what I could achieve and I also set a less ambitious goals for myself and worked a little bit less intensely.

This helped me a lot to recover completely from this burnout. Pacing yourself after the sabbatical is as important as taking a real break.“

And then I had my friend Jesse Krieger of Lifestyle Entrepreneur Press, who posted on Facebook about a month ago about his retreat away from his business for a week. He wrote:

“I’ve just arrived back from a week retreat in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru. Quite honestly, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

This is the first time I’ve been offline all year and it was relaxing, reinvigorating and full of insights as I sat deep in meditation in the Peruvian Andes.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of taking time just for yourself. Not being beholden into anyone, not needing to have any conversation. People just simply sit and enjoy the surroundings and become aware of whatever thoughts and emotions arise.

While deep in meditation, it came to me that my role as a publisher resembles that of a crystal. A crystal such as the quartz is transparent and can be carved in a way that focuses energy, taking diffused light and focusing it on point almost as a laser.

In short, I got the insight that I am a crystal and you are the light and that is my new approach to working with authors and publishing and it’s good to be home.”

And now I want to bring back in Jason Van Orden who you heard about on the last podcast, “Firing myself” because he did exactly the same thing with his very successful 7-figure business that he ran with Jeremy Frandsen for years.

Here is what Jason had to say on when he made the decision to remove himself from his business and hire a full-time replacement CEO:

“Truthfully it was really fast for me. I am not saying it was the right thing to do. In hindsight, there’s a lot of realizations here. But basically I was so ready to be removed.

And that might have been maybe a little too fast to remove myself. We probably needed more processes in place, expectations set and measurements.

Fast forward several months and it kind of came to this realization that the point of the business is that when I left, when we left or we kind of stepped away, was she was going to be able to maintain it.

But we hadn’t changed things over in terms of systems and teams and all the other things that kind of needed to be there for a proper exit or removal of ourselves for it to continue growing consistently like it had been before.

So we are faced with this choice: do we go back in to start it growing again or do we just say, “Okay it is what it is. It’s this nice source of income and for now it’s going still but we have no more expectations of this actually becoming any bigger than it already is.

So insightful right? It’s really neat to hear from other people who have taken some time out or forced themselves away from their business or literally just shut something down because it’s not working.

I think as entrepreneurs we need to give ourselves that permission to do that more often than we ever think because it is incredibly powerful and you just don’t understand how important it is that we recharge our batteries.

I also like to think there’s a bit of a seven-year itch thing going on here.

I appreciate Jason and Jeremy it was well over a decade but a lot of people that I’ve been speaking to recently have been in business for around seven years and they are tired.

And let’s face it, any job that you’ve been in seven years is a long time in a job right? These days most people are in jobs for one, two or three years  max. It’s the norm for millennials to switch jobs incessantly.

Whereas back in my Dad’s/Mum’s days, you’ll stay in a job for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years plus!  And you get a little golden watch at the end of it if you were lucky, a handshake and a thank you very much.

But when I was in the corporate world, I’d switch jobs all the time because I would get so bored or I just wanted to change it up.

Then I realized I really just needed to be an entrepreneur where I could work on my own projects all the time, change them at a speed of light and work on multiple projects that excited me.

The great news is the whole point of this entire episode is that I found more freedom.

It’s so good! I am filling my days with painting and practicing piano. And training my puppy which is like a full-time job and I am learning so much. Training myself I should really say, not my puppy.

In training myself, I am effectively training my dog to be more obedient and awesome.

You can find Kayla, the white German Shepherd on Instagram at kaylathemajestic. If you want some joy in your day, go follow her.

And you can follow my adventures at nataliesisson or my Facebook page.

For me personally, now that I’ve eased into my sabbatical, I’ve had all these opportunities come my way to work with other people on their businesses, help them start businesses, be on teams and I am resisting all of these things until I finish my sabbatical.

I really want to look at where I am heading because I’ve got the mojo back, people! I have got the mojo back! And I am very excited to bring this back to my business. Natalie is back!

I am super excited to be creating and implementing when I get back into it but until then I am still on a sabbatical.

And in the next episode, I am thrilled to bring you daily habits of freedom.

Before I went on a sabbatical, I asked my community about their daily habits that they have to give them a little bit more freedom in life and these are going to apply to you personally and professionally, so make sure you tune into the next episode by subscribing in iTunes and Stitcher.

Want to sell your own online courses (and have a great launch)?

Selling online courses is one of my favourite things to do, but as I pointed out in this episode, it can be a real headache.

With Teachable, you don’t have to worry about the tech.

Teachable is the easiest way to create, sell and deliver online courses.

And while it is so easy to use, it’s also packed with a lot of powerful features.

With Teachable, you’re able to…

  • create your own course website, with your own custom branding, so you get all of the credit for how professional your course website looks.
  • accept payments and get paid instantly when you sell your courses
  • integrate with hundreds of your favorite tools and email service providers
  • create beautiful sales pages for your courses

Teachable is the #1 course creation software, with over 12,000 instructors using their software to create, deliver and sell online courses.

All types of business owners and online entrepreneurs use Teachable. Sure, that includes people like Pat Flynn or The New York Times. But most of their instructors are just regular people like you and me and who are looking grow their businesses with courses.

And guess what?

Teachable is offering a 30 day free trial to my listeners. To claim it, just go to teachable.com/suitcase.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 2 / 2

Firing myself

Yup I fired myself. That’s what I did. April 1st, 2017 I fired myself from my business and went on a business sabbatical.

So you may be wondering what prompted me to take a business sabbatical in the first place. Let me take you back to September 2016.

I was in Australia speaking at Problogger and staying in this amazing suite Darren Rowse and the team organized for me as a paid speaker. The view was incredible and the hotel complex was too.

I was there to do a Tony Robbins style pump up session in between keynotes and also to run a session track on how to have a lucrative sales funnel that converts.

Josh was with me and that made it extra special as it was his first real look into my world and the circles I connected with as well as some of my community who were there. I even managed to get in some videos for a Ten Day Freedom Plan Blog challenge with my fave videographer Mick Russell.

After that we had some quality time in Byron Bay and a surf session before heading to San Diego, US where Josh was speaking at a conference in an entirely different area to what I operate in, and then I was speaking at FinCon.

Both our events were back to back and we were fortunate to stay in lovely hotels once again with sunshine and swimming pools. The trouble was I was in launch mode for my signature program, The Freedom Plan.

Even though I’ve launched this four times before, and even though I was super systemized this was my first time taking my team through a launch and training them up at the same time.  I was working in between time and not doing the normal networking and socializing at conferences that I like to do.

In fact I really didn’t feel like it. I was kind of tapped out and feeling a bit jaded and while I was enjoying the relatively new romance with Josh I wasn’t enjoying what I almost always have done, the art of launching and running my business.

It all felt heavy. And as much as my team tried to keep up and do their best, I just felt like I was pulling their weight and mine. As a result I was exhausted.

I’ve come to realize over the years that for whatever reason, I am incredibly focused and can work at speed on almost any task I set my mind to. Until I worked with around 6 people on my team during a launch I realized this was not normal, and that you have to respect and understand other people’s’ working methods.

It’s just that during a launch it’s really hard to do this – you NEED to work at pace and everything needs to be timed super well and you do actually need to do things on the fly and change tactics at any point to reflect the nature of how your launch is going, and how people are responding.

While this is great and exciting for a Wealth Dynamics Entrepreneurial ‘Star’ Profile like myself, it’s a nightmare for a Lord or Mechanic who have a much more grounded energy and need detailed plans and order to work best.

So to them it looked like we were out of control but to me it seems very very much in tuned with exactly how everything should be going along.

And slowly but surely deadlines got missed, communications broke down, things didn’t go out on time and it ended up being the worst launch that I’ve ever done.

I still made close to $40,000 in the space of a couple of weeks but I spent a lot more on my team. I spent a lot on advertising. And at the end of the day, it just really felt heavy.

And it wasn’t a successful launch and I felt like my list and my community just felt tapped out including myself.

I remember getting off a live webinar where a thousand people turned up and the energy was fantastic but the results from it were not great.

And I sat back at the end of that webinar and I was like,

“That’s it. I’m done.”

I just don’t understand why this isn’t going well and I’ve had enough.

I’ve run this launch before and it’s an amazing program and I made multiple six figures!

I know it works and I know it gets people results and I just don’t understand what happened. This was a flop.

The ironic thing was I was running a Freedom Lab at the same time and this is where I actually show you real-time, something that I am doing.

So I’ve done one on “Write the Damn Book – how to write a book in three months” but the first one was called “How to Launch like a Rockstar”.

And so people following along my launch live, every tactic we were doing around Facebook advertising, emailing and sales copy and I was sharing it live through videos, through blog posts.

Here I was at the end going AND it was a big flop!

It might not look like it to you, but transparently doing something live and sharing the real results when they don’t come off how they should is embarrassing and at the same time very real.

If anything it taught me, our team and everybody else out there a lesson that shit doesn’t always go right.

So that’s when I decided, I am going to fire myself and it was such a great decision to make, but that was in late September, early October and I didn’t end up taking my business sabbatical until the first of April.

And why was that?

A couple of reasons:

  • We were changing over to a brand new design for The Suitcase Entrepreneur which looks amazing. (Thank you Filipe – my team member in Portugal!)
  • We were changing the website over so we were using a new theme and Kasia – WP Rockstar, who has been through my Freedom Plan, she handled all of that.
  • We were changing from Infusionsoft over to ConvertKit for email, Clickfunnels for my sales funnels Leadpages and landing pages. Closing down the Leadpages pages that I had.
  • And shifting over my courses and creating new ones on Teachable.

So November and December were massive months. And even though I thought all those changes are beneficial, they actually affected my business for the next two or three months in a bad way.

Just because when you change systems and change lots of things –  like we took a ton of pages away from my website, we leaned it right out from over a hundred pages and 950 blog posts right down to just several pages!

We took a lot of our landing pages and sales funnels over to Clickfunnels and the traffic dropped because we were just cleaning everything up.

So what prompted me to think that firing myself was a great idea?

I’ve been on a few digital sabbaticals before when you go completely offline and of course when I was cycling down Africa in 2012, I was pretty much away from my business for a good two months.

I remember clearly from that that I forgot about my business, I didn’t worry about anything because I was so busy cycling up to a 150 km a day.

I felt freer than ever while I was cycling down Africa, simply just waking up in the morning, crawling out of my tent, putting out my bike, having breakfast and just hitting the road.

At the same time, my business was doing just fine. I was in my early stages, my virtual assistant, that I’d hired just before I left, was doing a great job.

And it made me appreciate that it had been a long time since I’d really left my business behind and handed it over to people I trusted or just trusted in the systems that I’d built.

I thought for me, as a freedomist who is constantly preaching you need great systems, you need to outsource, you need the right tools and you need great sales funnel, I was like,

“Well, why not put mine to the test by removing myself as the bottleneck of my business?”

Around this time I actually chatted to Jason Van Orden, a good friend who used to have Internet Business Mastery with Jeremy Frandsen and he had also gone on a business sabbatical.

In fact, they handed over to a CEO to run it, so I had a quick chat to him because I was interested to learn from him: what went well, what didn’t and why he took that step.

Here is the conversation we had about it:

“Eventually I had to stop and ask myself why there was that waning in motivation. I’m sure partly I was maybe scared a little bit to look at that but what does it mean?

What if I ended up figuring out I’ve got the wrong business or that I am done with this business.

One thing that finally helped is when I went on a personal retreat. By then we were living on Paris so I went to Prague for 4 or 5 days.

I did a little soul searching, journaling, thinking and I remember coming back from that and just saying to my wife, “I think I need a sabbatical from this business”.“

So I asked Jason, how long did that take you to remove yourself from your business and here is his response.

“Truthfully it was really fast for me but I am not saying it was the right thing to do. In hindsight, there’s a lot of realizations here but basically I was so ready to be removed and that might have been maybe a little too fast.

We probably needed a few more processes in place, expectations and measurements.“

So as you can see it was really quick for Jason once he made that decision.

I have to say for me, I made that decision pretty instantly, the minute that launch finished, that I was going to take a time off.

Then I spent the time just gearing up my team to be able to survive without me and to show them it was fully possible that without me in the business, it potentially would go even better!

Because as the CEO of your business often, you do end up still doing things, making the shots, calling the shots, having the key relationships and all those things.

Usually that’s a great thing but sometimes you can just hold on a little too tight.

You just need to release and beauty comes into the picture. Things that you’d never even considered before.

And I am going to talk about those in Episode 3 for Season 2, so make sure you tune into the next episode by subscribing in iTunes and Stitcher.

I would love for you to share in the comments section below:

  • Have you ever taken a business sabbatical?
  • What freaks you out about doing that?
  • Have you thought about firing yourself when you’ve been a little less motivated in your business recently?

Tell me where you are at. I want to know. I am doing this for you so I really want your insights.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Season 2 where Jason Van Orden will tell us about what actually happened when he basically took a break from his business. We’ll also have some other key guests on here that I think you are going to love with their discoveries on this topic.

Want to sell your own online courses (and have a great launch)?

Selling online courses is one of my favourite things to do, but as I pointed out in this episode, it can be a real headache.

With Teachable, you don’t have to worry about the tech.

Teachable is the easiest way to create, sell and deliver online courses.

And while it is so easy to use, it’s also packed with a lot of powerful features.

With Teachable, you’re able to…

  • create your own course website, with your own custom branding, so you get all of the credit for how professional your course website looks.
  • accept payments and get paid instantly when you sell your courses
  • integrate with hundreds of your favorite tools and email service providers
  • create beautiful sales pages for your courses

Teachable is the #1 course creation software, with over 12,000 instructors using their software to create, deliver and sell online courses.

All types of business owners and online entrepreneurs use Teachable. Sure, that includes people like Pat Flynn or The New York Times. But most of their instructors are just regular people like you and me and who are looking grow their businesses with courses.

And guess what?

Teachable is offering a 30 day free trial to my listeners. To claim it, just go to teachable.com/suitcase.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 2

Behind The Scenes of my Business Sabbatical

Welcome to Season 2 of Natalie Sisson’s Quest for Freedom!

I’m delighted to be back and I know you’ve been missing me…at least 2 people have asked me “Natalie when is your next podcast episode coming out”.

So thank you to the two of you, I appreciate it.

Obviously to talk about a business sabbatical and how you can truly have a profitable business that can technically run without you, you need to experience that in full glory for yourself.

Luckily this podcast is about making me the guinea pig of my own experiments in order for us to uncover what true freedom really is.

Since the 1st of April I’ve been on a business sabbatical and in this episode I reveal all.

Well almost all, I’ll tell you the rest when I’m finished my break from my business. But here’s what I will share:

  • What a business sabbatical actually is (and why you get to define this for yourself)
  • Behind the scenes of what really happens when you take time out from your business

Then I went on to answer some great questions from a fan on my Facebook page that watched my previous video on this topic where I shared the realities of it, and why I was extending my sabbatical for another month (which has now turned into 3).

The only thing I’m bringing back is this podcast because it’s my baby, and it’s helping me to learn and grow realtime by sharing my findings, research and guinea pig experimentations on myself, with YOU.

So for the full lowdown you can watch the video below (here it is on my Facebook page) OR listen to the podcast by clicking the button at the top  OR you can read the full transcript below this video.

“For those of you who have been following The Suitcase Entrepreneur and my Quest for Freedom, you’ll know that I took the entire month of April off my business.

No checking emails, no checking in with the team, no watching anything related to business, not thinking about business and just taking a month off my business, The Suitcase Entrepreneur.

And I then extended it into May, I appreciate it’s May now but I don’t feel like doing Facebook live video to answer your questions it feels like business to me and I love my business so it’s you that I am here for. You guys have helped me build it.

I do think you’ve got to talk about these things in the moment because several months down the track I may actually forget what it really, really physically feels like to be in a sabbatical right now.

Continuing it on through end of June and next week actually I am going to be taking a digital sabbatical so totally offline, off the internet probably for 3 to 5 days. It’s been awhile since I’ve done one and I just want to disconnect.

I’ll be doing some reading, thanks to Brendon Burchard’s The Motivation Manifesto and Tony Robbins Unshakeable, so these are a couple of the things that I’ll be focusing on. I also got some novels.

And I just want to chill out by the fire, play with my puppy, exercise, read books and think. I want to practice the piano and I want to enjoy myself which I already have been doing. Just do more of that.

But today I wanted to answer specifically questions that you guys had from the reality of a business sabbatical where I took you behind the scenes.

The first month off was kind of weird.

I was one moving into a beautiful new dream lifestyle property, getting a puppy, getting 5 chickens, setting up an entire house because when you’ve lived out of the suitcase for close to 7 years you don’t really have much stuff.

 

Never forget to add play into your day. #choosefreedom

A post shared by Natalie Sisson (@nataliesisson) on

And I realized that I still hadn’t fully given myself the time out to just enjoy and re-energize and get my verve and my mojo back for everything that I love to do.

And the great news is it’s starting to happen so I’ve given myself more space, more time.

I can’t ever fully stop. So I’ve been reaching out to networks where I now live and looking at potentially helping getting a co-working space setup which would be so awesome because I’ve used so many of them over the years as a digital nomad.

And I’ve just been connecting with more and more people especially women entrepreneurs, getting to know the area and of course, dreaming up lots of visions and ideas for what I would just love to do in the near future.

Not only related to my books that are coming out but also making my Freedom Plan program best ever and just a bunch of other things that I’ve been wanting to work on for so long and now I have the headspace to think about them. So that’s one of the huge benefits of a business sabbatical – headspace.

But I wanted to answer some questions from Angela Fitradi who posted after my Facebook live a couple of weeks ago, she said,

“I’d love to know how the business runs without you? How often you check in? When you check in? What do you focus on? And how to know what to focus on and what can be managed without your attention?”

So the business runs without me because as I’ve been probably like blasting from the rooftops for the last couple of years.

You need to have sexy systems in place, freedom systems is really what I am talking about and ultimately at the end of the day there is a fantastic website that people can navigate to once they’re there, a fantastic sales funnel that takes them on a journey to show them exactly what content they can consume, that they should sign up to receive more email updates from you and what programs and products that you have to offer them that would be really beneficial.

Now I will absolutely say the business has kind of plateaued and even declined a little because I am a huge believer that energy in vs energy out applies to everything you do in life.

So if you are putting energy into your health and fitness, it’s going to pay off if you are doing it right. If you are putting tons of energy into your business and into the right areas as Jeff Walker was saying the other day in his video.

You’ve got to strategize and prioritize into the right areas not just throwing yourself at everything. But if you are putting the energy into your business in the right places, it will grow. So naturally when you take a step back from it you will find it doesn’t as much.

So I would say a fantastic website or place that people can land on whether it’s landing pages, sales pages, a great sales funnel really helps so all those things are automated.

And outside of that some key team members, definitely starting with a virtual assistant who can do your customer service, check your emails for you, answer on your behalf and to answer your question more candidly, Angela, anything that Angeline can answer, my awesome assistant.

We have some template canned responses and the things that are more important like somebody not being able to access the program or something not working, Angeline knows my business. She’s been with me for almost 3 years now, in a part-time capacity and so she knows often where the resources are or how to help those people.

That’s been hugely helpful and I have a small team around the world and most of them right now are kind of on a break from me as well. But if we do need to communicate, we do it typically through Slack. I am doing my best to not login to email at all but essentially Slack is a place where we can just communicate briefly.

And they all have their team objectives that they’ve been working on. Our marketing and editorial calendar, we know what’s coming out, we know what’s working and we apparently been reviewing that. I ask my team especially Debashish to review that while I was off on my break and come back to me with some recommendations so that when I am back we can change strategies or direction.

So how often do I check in?

For the first month, I didn’t want to be contacted at all. Typically I’d say if you are going on a sabbatical, the point is to be off but once a month is probably more than enough or if you feel that’s a little too infrequent or you really want to know things then probably every week and just make it a short check in and make sure you know what you are asking for.

Your other question was, how do you know what to focus on and what can be managed without your attention?

Most stuff can be managed without my attention. It’s only when I am creating new content or launching something that really all my attention needs to be on that and I need to be driving my team. But outside of that I’ve worked very hard over the years to set up Sexy Operating Procedures (SOP) and some really great strategies and direction for my team to be empowered to do their things and to do them really well.

So right now, I am focusing on my own learning and my own growth and understanding different areas that maybe I just haven’t put aside at the time to actually delve into so I am doing several online courses myself around science of happiness, around health and nutrition. I am learning or I will be learning when I am off my sabbatical around e-commerce and getting up to speed more on social media.

And I think most things don’t need to be managed by you. So the best thing would probably be partnerships and key relations. But even those have been really well managed by my team because they know that I’ve dealt with these people for years they can often answer their questions that those partners would like to ask me. But I think it’s nurturing those relationships that’s the key stuff that you still do want to focus on.

And the next part of your question, have there been any situations where your absence has created a situation and has your business income and finances has been affected by your absence?

On the second part, absolutely as I said energy in vs energy out. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it’s been earning really really well over the last couple of months without me there so that proves I don’t always need to be there.

And to answer your question about has my absence created a situation? I think it has probably provided relief to my team. They are probably enjoying the break from Natalieville to be really honest you know.

I think there have been no situations that have arisen. I wasn’t expecting anything major we had pretty much planned out a year ahead so I don’t expect any hurdles or anything major that would come up and so therefore no situations.

The only situation caused by you not being in your business for awhile would be a lack of clarity around expectations, priorities, objectives and milestones while you are not there.

  • Who to contact?
  • Who to reach out to?
  • How to move forward on projects if you are not the person who’s absolutely able to drive them like you normally would be.

So those are the sort of things that you probably want to think about.

I hope that’s given you guys some insight and I just wanted to pop in and say hello to my beautiful freedomist community and give you some understanding behind what a business sabbatical is.

You can make it whatever you want really but the point is to take time out from your business to get the creative juices flowing and to really just actually come back to your roots and focus on what you loved about your business in the first place and that has been so enlightening for me so far. “

Stay tuned for the next episode of Season 2 where I talk with other entrepreneurs about burnout and their business sabbaticals like Jason Van Orden:

“Eventually I had to stop and ask myself why there was that waning in motivation. I’m sure partly I was maybe scared a little bit to look at that but what does it mean? What if I ended up figuring out I’ve got the wrong business or that I am done with this business.”

Don’t miss a thing by subscribing in iTunes and Stitcher. Or jump on to get email updates whenever an episode goes live here.

 

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Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 1

The Art of Minimalism

“There comes a time when you say, “Right. Out!” And that’s what happened when I downsized.  I think we all have too much stuff these days.”

Those were wise words from my Mum, who I decided to bring on for Season 1 Episode 8 of Quest for Freedom.

This topic and this podcast today is all about …

The art of minimalism and freeing yourself from stuff.

If there’s one person who knows how to do that, it’s this girl. I think it’s a really important topic because whenever I am offloading stuff out of my suitcase, in my life I feel so much freer. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Which brings me to Christmas time last year, when I gave my sister and my brother-in-law the Christmas present of my time. And what I said I’d do for them is help them clear out their garage.

Now I have to say the garage was a complete and utter mess. There was so little room in there, there certainly were no cars, there was just all their stuff.

Now my brother-in-law Zanda, has 3 kids from a previous marriage and now they have my lovely nephew, Morgan and so as a family you do absolutely need more stuff. I can’t take that away from them.

I know I see friends with babies and they are like, “Every time I go out I just have to bring all this extra stuff.”

So I feel for those people. I haven’t yet experienced that and I get it.

But this garage was a piece of art. There was every single thing in there that you could possibly imagine. So they were thrilled needless to say that this was my Christmas gift to them.

So in January we set about decluttering the garage. Debbie, my sister, has been attempting to get Zanda to do this, as ultimately a lot of this was his stuff.

I think it’s one of those jobs that you can’t take on by yourself. You’ve got to do it as a team. You’ve got to do it as a family.

When we started, I knew that Debs would be okay with being a little bit ruthless with stuff but I wasn’t sure about Zanda. And it happened pretty early on.

I’m sure he is fine with me telling this story but I was starting to take stuff out of the garage to the car that we were going to put stuff in to get rid of. I checked with Debbie and Zanda if things are okay to move.

And then I started moving bits of planks of wood and jib board and Zanda was like, “Hey! Where are you going with that?”.

And I was like, “I was going to put it in the back of the car to take to the tip.”

“Yeah but I am going to make something out of that” and I was like, “Oh okay. What were you going to make?”

“I might be doing one of the cupboards for downstairs, like using it to make a perfect cupboard door piece.”

And I was like, “Okay. Well, let me just ask you a question. How long have you had this piece of wood?

“Uh, about 4 years” says Zanda.

“Okay and so when were you planning on doing this?”

“Well, yeah..”

And just in that moment there was this beautiful moment of realization or recognition in his eyes that he was in fact being a hoarder, and I wouldn’t say the top definition of a hoarder, because even though I do not watch TV, I’ve seen the ads for the TV series on hoarders.

You can’t even get in the door of the house. They live on piles of junk and rubbish …but that’s definitely not where Debs and Zanda are at.

Many of us have a hoarding mentality.

It really comes from just not wanting to let go of things that could be precious, that could be valuable, that you might do something with in the future.

But let me just push back at you, if you are one of those people going, “Yeah Natalie. Some things you just want to hold onto.”

Unless you are going to use that thing within the next 3-6 months, why on earth would you store it, keep it and have it cluttering up your personal space?

Why on earth would you keep something that you are not going to use and serves no purpose other than creating clutter in your living space?

So…back to that moment – a pretty great thing that happened, in that amazingly Zanda kind of turned completely around and started being really ruthless with stuff.

So there was an initial push back and hesitation and a real desire not to let go, but once he realized what he’d been holding onto he actually got into it and as the day progressed, we spent a good couple of hours in this garage.

He was throwing stuff in the back of the car and I was putting stuff off the side and he says, “Nope, that can go.” And it was so liberating.

We then went down to the tip and what was even more liberating. As you drive your car up and the trailer as well, then you get to chuck stuff off the side into this sort of pit thing, and then they either sort it, recycle it or take it away to go into the mound of dirt and create a big rubbish heap on some poor hill.

But, still it was really liberating.

We  also took stuff down to be recycled and you get some money for that and it was crazy actually how good that felt.

And we went back and we did another load and slowly but surely this garage started to emerge, corners of space started to emerge.

Now here is the funny thing, that was one Sunday afternoon and then I believe I came back a couple of weekends later because, it’s a bit hard to tie in with the family and things going on and it already had started accumulating stuff.

But all of the stuff was things that they had now sorted out in the house that they were going to take to the Salvation Army or they were going to put on TradeMe, which is the New Zealand equivalent of Ebay or GumTree.

And so the cool thing is that they kept at it. They didn’t just stop there with the momentum and motivation I provided them with.

They kept on going and they made several hundred dollars if not thousands of dollars selling on Trademe some of their stuff.

A lot of that stuff was children’s stuff that wasn’t needed anymore or baby stuff that could go to another deserving family. And all it took was to start taking the photos, documenting and putting up the price and description on TradeMe.

Turned out Zanda had a bit of a knack for selling things. So it was excellent.

Now the cool thing was not only were they decluttering and getting a greater sense of freedom and space in the house, they were also making money. And let’s face it, everybody likes to make money. So this was brilliant for them.

Now right about the same time, and this is why I find the start of 2017 kind of fantastic and it’s been one of the best years yet.

But in terms of a time of change, it was for the entire Sisson family and the Rock-Evans family, which is now my sister’s side – it was one of those times of just everybody kind of decluttering.

So as my sister and Zanda were attempting to get things out of the garage and out of their house, Mum was attempting to downside the four bedroom family home that her and Dad had been in for fifteen years, because she was getting ready to sell.

Dad passed away in December of 2015 and Mum just did not need to be living in a big house anymore.

And Mum is not a hoarder, in fact, she’s amazingly minimalist. She buys quality things and she’s done an incredible job over the years for our family of doing up houses beautifully, but always with quality in mind.

However, Dad was a bit of a hoarder. So the two rooms or the two spaces in our house that were the most cluttered were Dad’s office and the garage. You know a man cave full of stuff!

And Dad would, bless his soul, keep even rusty nails in jars. He had a place for everything but it wasn’t super organized but he kept everything.

And I used to remember as a kid growing up no matter where we lived, Mum would go down to our garage and say, “Oh Peter, could you try and clean up the garage a little bit.”

It was just incredible he just had so much stuff.

I knew that would be hard for Mum to do, so I came over and helped out as much as I could to really go through a lot of stuff – letters, cards, boxes, files from years if not decades, photos, projector slides.

All the stuff that you hang onto and you keep because you think one day you are going to pull out the projector and you are going to go through slides from like the 1970s and 80s.

For those of you listening you do it, you know it!

So I challenge you to get the projector out and have a projector movie night and then either get rid of them all, or get them put onto digital formats so you can have them on your laptop and eventually print them or do whatever you like.

But basically out with the old, put it into a format that is accessible at anytime but doesn’t take up space and move on.

So back to Mum’s house, so we have Mum downsizing and generously gifting to my sister and I, things that we would absolutely need such as linen, towels, kitchenware etc.

And at this point as you probably know from my Changing Plans episode, Josh and I hadn’t actually bought the house yet but we were looking really seriously.

Mum was making decisions based on the fact that we might end up with the house rather than both be living in a suitcases.

So to her credit she held onto things we may need and she sort of split up a lot of stuff between my sister and I.

And what happened is all those stuff that Debbie and Zanda had been clearing out, was now getting filled up with trips from Mum and her house with stuff that she was giving them.

Every time they got rid of something, more stuff was coming in.

And I felt like it was the same for me.

I don’t own much stuff but even in my two bedroom apartment in Downtown Wellington, I’d accumulated a little bit of the stuff to have it fully furnished for myself when I rent it out.

I also had about four boxes up at my parents. And all those boxes are my everything, my life packed up into four boxes. Or so I thought….

As it happens as Mum is going through more and more of the house and I was there with her, she was like, “Nat I found this box of your clothes or your school gear” and I was like, “Oh damn.”

“I found your bag of motocross gear” from when I used to race motocross. And I really never want to get rid of my helmet and my motocross pants and shin protectors. And I was like, “Oh damn!”

So every time I go to help Mum declutter, I ended up coming home with more stuff, which I would then have to sort through, get rid off, give to the Salvation Army or downsize.

I just felt like as a family we were doing this give stuff, receive stuff, get rid of the stuff, sort stuff, sell stuff.

It was crazy. I was selling my stuff on TradeMe. I was listing some of Mum’s stuff on TradeMe. Zanda was helping out and then there was a big garage sale where Mom made like $850 in half a day and huge.

Also she had to downsize her house in three weeks or less once she actually got an offer on it.

The power of downsizing and decluttering

And here in her own words is kind of this whole process for Mum on really downsizing a lifetime:

Natalie: Let’s talk about how it felt to downsize and move out of a very large house – four bedrooms and all your and Dad’s stuff for the past 13 years.

Mom: For the past 47 years.

Natalie: That’s true because you’ve been in the house for thirteen years.

Mom: Fifteen years actually.

Natalie: Oh. I should get my facts right.

Mom: Actually, I just felt sick. It’s too much. I think the thing nowadays is less… definitely less. But you don’t want to throw things away that your children have given you or presents, Christmas, birthday or whatever.

But there comes a time when you think, “What am I going to do with this? Where can I put it all?” And I certainly have to downsize to a two bedroom apartment. And I feel I still have a lot but I am keeping the best, the very best… but even then I feel like I don’t want it.

Natalie: Do you feel lighter now that it’s all done because it was quite a process, wasn’t it?

Mum: Yes. But I could still lose a bit.

Natalie: Yes, you’ve held onto the lovely stuff as you said and a part of that is your identity and what you’ve had in houses for years.

Mum: It’s what you worked for. It’s what you wanted but even that has changed these days. What we’ve enjoyed was antiques, crystal, lovely prints of the olden days – that’s all gone.

People don’t even want it. Antique dealers don’t even want it anymore. But I think it could all go around in circles again and one day it will. But who wants to keep it for that long?

Natalie: Yes exactly. Do you want to talk about how you even started on the process? So obviously you put the house up for sale and then what?

Mum: Oh I started way before. I went through wardrobes and drawers. I did a little bit everyday or every second day at least. A lot of it went to Salvation Army and Mary Potter Hospice. There comes a time where you just get rid of it.

Natalie: And then when you got the offer on the house, we made it a pretty short turnaround time didn’t we because you wanted to be in your new apartment.

Mom: Because I was coming over to Bali for your birthday.

Natalie: So it was three weeks and so you’ve done some of that sorting beforehand and then you started downsizing and taking things out of drawers.

Mom: And going through linen covers and just knowing I won’t need these, you might need it.

The other part is that in our days we use to entertain at home. That has changed. We go out into a restaurant nowadays so you have all these lovely dishes that costs some money because you wanted to look good but you don’t use either anymore. It just all changed.

Natalie: Did you have a process that you were going through?

Mom: The thing is we were brought up and we look after our things – clothes, anything. Every time we moved we would take it with us but you didn’t wear it or you didn’t use it.

There comes a time when you say, “Right. Out.” And that’s what happened.  I think we all have too much these days.

Natalie: I agree.

Mom: I use one dish, one plate, one cereal bowl, one mug at the moment because there’s just one. But even if there’s two you don’t need much.

Wise words from my Mum, Gina Sisson. I credit her so much in my life and that I really love being a minimalist.

And you know my sister and I differ a little on that. My sister is super creative and so she loves a lot of artwork up on the wall. I think she’s got tendencies to be a little bit of a hoarder and she’s cool with that.

But the point here I guess for every single one of us is every 3 months do a reconnaissance of everything that you own and ask yourself:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Is this better off in somebody else’s home or hands?
  • Could I sell this and give it to a more deserving person who needs this right now?

One of my best tricks that I’ve learned is that if you’ve put something away in storage that you are just not prepared to give up, if you have not gone into that storage locker or that space or whoever you are storing it within 6 months time then you need to get rid of it.

Because if you do not miss something and use it every single day it is very likely that you do not need it in your life and it is weighing you down as a sense of stuff.

Now one of my good friends, Joshua Becker over at Becoming Minimalist talks a lot about this and here is a short excerpt from a Ted Talk that he did on this very topic as to the benefits of becoming minimalist.

“Out of the corner of my eye I see my son swinging alone in the backyard.

And suddenly I had this further realization that not only was everything I owned not making me happy, even worse everything I owned was actually taking me away from the very thing that did bring happiness into my life.

But not just happiness but fulfillment and purpose and contentment.

There’s a very different realization and I think it is the very foundation of minimalism – the very foundational truth that would cause anyone to intentionally own less stuff.

This reality is that not only are things not making us happy they’ve actually become such a burden on our lives that they are actually taking us away from the very things that we would prefer to be living our life for.”

If you’d like to learn more about minimalism, listen to this podcast interview with Joshua Becker about How to Own Less And Live More By Becoming A Minimalist.

And the final thing that I am really really weary of is cluttering our new house. Josh and I both made a very conscious effort and packed with each other but we are not going to fill this house with unnecessary stuff.

So first off Mum has kindly gifted us all these amazing things including a beautiful old vintage dining room table, a dining room cabinet, a cabinet for the lounge, a king size bed which will be now in our bedroom and some chest of drawers and lamps and some kitchen stuff.

All of those things we actually need and that means we don’t need to go and purchase them brand new. We can recycle, we can reuse and we can keep these beautiful pieces in the family that have been a part of my life for so long.

The next part that we’ve been doing is I have become a bit of a TradeMe addict and we’ve set a budget and we’ve actually listed out on a spreadsheet, because we are geeky like that – all the stuff that we need versus what we’d like in the future.

We’ve listed those out so it’s by order of priority and then we’ve put next to it guesstimates on what we’re sort of prepared to pay or budget.

So we did a quick look online as to what things are going for and then we put in what we think we’d be prepared to pay.

And now we are playing a little game, so I love bargains and I love getting a good deal and I love negotiating.

I am setting out to become the TradeMe queen and I am finding incredible things because as you know the saying goes:

One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.

And just like we’ve been doing as a family for the last 2 or 3 months of this year, other people on TradeMe are getting rid of things that they’ve long held in their family or in their house and finally have just decided to release and let go of.

And so I’ve picked up the best bargains. I got the piano!

If you listened to Changing Plans and you heard me talk about the piano that I thought I’d missed out on, would you believe that lady had no luck with the person who bid and won on the auction and beat me in the auction?

They flaked on her and so she actually texted me while I was in Bali saying, “I can’t believe it’s happened again. Is there any chance that you would still like to buy it?” and I said, “Yes!”

Done. Put the money in her bank account and she sent me a text saying, “Thank you! You have restored my faith in humans.”

So I got the piano! And the piano stool and the sheet music for a $150. This beautiful, old, vintage piano which I am going to polish up.

I bought an entire bedroom set of furniture granted a little bit retro, like a round mirror, a chest of drawers, another chest of drawers, two bedside table and a headboard for a $100 NZ.

Even if it’s not great, it’s going to be a bargain and I can paint it and we can use it and then we can always resell it.

And I’m just honestly having fun. I also bought two single beds including the mattresses, the frames and the bedside tables, pretty funky for like $400.

And I just love this because why do we always buy new stuff?

I mean granted sometimes you just want new things like you are not going to buy second hand underwear or laundry. I get that but why do we have this incessant need for new?

I personally love reusing and recycling. You get some incredible, sturdy, quality crafted pieces of furniture, ornaments if you feel like ornaments, lamps, all sorts of things for so little.

Because people don’t see the value in them anymore and yet to me they are incredible.

I bought a 5 lights with brass stands for $100. I am going to continue to find these amazing bargains and only put things in our house that Josh and I agree on and to add value to it and make it a really beautiful home that we love being in.

As the Suitcase Entrepreneur and yes I am still Suitcase Entrepreneur even though I am moving into  a house.

The Art of Packing Light

I just wanted to pass on some packing tips and once again I’d love to bring you back into a short conversation that I had with my lovely Mom who I have to say is an impeccable packer.

And I definitely have witnessed her since being a kid packing for our entire family and we used to travel really light considering there were the four of us.

She now packs even lighter just for herself. it’s quite incredible.

Between us, we often look like overachievers. If we ever go on our girls trip together to Melbourne at the start of each year to see the tennis, (it would have been 14 times together or something), we just pack so little.

And it never ceases to amaze me at what people pack. Did they fit the kitchen sink inside the suitcase?

And if so how do they fit their actual clothes and the things that they really need on the trip. It does really astound me.

Here are some tips from the packing queen and her daughter. I credit her for everything that I do when it comes to being a Suitcase Entrepreneur.

Natalie: Because I think since I was two years old, you and Dad took my sister and I on around the world tours and trips ,which is amazing, and we no doubt learned from you how to pack really well.

And I think people still marvel now when they see how I live out of the suitcase. I know you used to pack for Dad as well.

Mum: In one medium suitcase.

Natalie: For the both of you?

Mum: Yes. And half of that we wouldn’t use.

And yet even when we had bed and breakfast some people would come with these enormous cases. Each one would have a big case,  plus overnight bags and God knows what.

And I used to think, “My God. And they are only coming for 2 or 3 weeks, when we would be away for 8 weeks with less.”

Natalie: So what are your tips for the art of packing light?

Mom: For underwear, one clean, one on, one used – that’s only three of everything which is easy.

Natalie: Really? I actually take 2 weeks worth of underwear because they are quite small and thin. And that means if I can’t find a washing machine or do my washing for two weeks, I’ve always got underwear.

Mom: Yes I take a few underpants but for Dad that worked for him.

Shoes, a good pair of walking shoes. Something that is comfortable if you go out at night and maybe some sandals depending on the weather where you are going.

And if you are travelling to lots of places it doesn’t matter whether you wear the same thing every second or third day. People haven’t seen it before.

I always felt that you take with you your favorite things, that you feel comfortable in and just something good at night like trousers and a shirt but women always seem to have to have more.

But even then, just a couple of tops and the rest is just casual. And things are very casual these days aren’t day?

Natalie: Well, that depends if you are going to a business event or something that’s more fancy.

Mom: Yes if you are just going on a holiday it is casual.

Natalie: And what about toiletries?

Mom: Sometimes I think that’s all a bit too much but basically again I take what I wear everyday – sun tan lotion and shampoo.

Natalie: Suntan lotion is expensive in a lot of countries. I do the same putting everything into small bottles because it can last for weeks.

Mom: When I am in England, sometimes I buy the smaller bottles.  You don’t get it so much in New Zealand or wherever.

Natalie: You do now.  Anything else in terms of where you pack stuff, because we all have different ways, some people use packing squares.

I have a two-sided suitcase so I put my better clothes on my left hand side and my sports care, flip flops and toiletries go on the other side.

Mom: Yeah, you’ve got a good system but I sort of use my suitcase as a drawer. I fold things so neatly and pack it in a way that I remembered Aunty  used to say, “Did you just iron that?”, I said “No I got it out of my suitcase”.

Natalie: I definitely didn’t pickup on that skill from you.

Mom: Yes, actually they were always fascinated with that. It’s just my way of packing.

Natalie: You also iron your sheets at home.

Mom: No I don’t, only B&B. Gosh no.

Natalie: Well, thank you. Those are the tips from the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s mom.

So I hope that those tips are helpful to you if you are really having trouble when you are travelling the world and you really just can’t pack light.

A couple of other tips I’d love to throw in there is put everything that you want to pack into your suitcase or your backpack on the bed before you go. Then once again do one more ruthless run through.

So if you’ve ended up with four black t shirts and three pairs of brown shorts, can you just not take one of each?

And if you put five beautiful dresses out and you are only going away for a week, could you not just take three and a shawl so that you can change your look?

And then put them into your suitcase or bag and if you find it still too full, take it all out and do the same ruthless routine again.

A couple of more tips:

You can buy anything you need typically in the place that you are going to. So if you are going to go from a summer environment to a winter environment, I wouldn’t necessarily pack all the things that you need for winter.

I would buy them in the country that you are in before you go into the other country or have just enough warm layers and as you get there you can stock up on anything you need.

The only caveat on that is sunscreen as I mentioned, when I was chatting to Mum, it can be really really expensive in other countries.

And obviously alongside that are your pills or your tablets or your supplements, whatever you really truly can’t do without that as specialists we need to get from your doctor or maybe a herbalist, I would definitely take those with you. But just take the quantity that you need.

So for example, on this trip to Bali I took a couple of supplements and vitamins and I put them all in one supplement container so I don’t need to take six or seven containers.

And the final tip for me is layers. Layering of your clothes allows you to be warmer because you can just put more and more layers on but it doesn’t add huge bulk to your suitcase.

I particularly love Kathmandu and IceBreaker products. IceBreaker is Merino wool from New Zealand.

It keeps you incredibly warm, wicks away any sweats, dries super quickly and you can wear it for an entire year without washing it and it still wont smell.

If you don’t believe me, Sir Peter Blake who is unfortunately no longer with us in this world who sailed around the world and set many world records and is q hero in New Zealand, wore his IceBreaker kit on the sailing yacht for a full year and it never smelt and he never had to wash it.

If you are really going for a long time travelling or you want lightweight, yet warm and efficient and trendy, IceBreaker all the way.

And finally, rolling.

There are a lot of people who pack in squares and you can put clothes in them and you can seal them and you can press them down, and you can fit way more in your suitcase, which is great.

I’ve never done it. I’ve never felt the need to take so many clothes that I have to compress them down. And then also I haven’t really felt the desire to unpack and uncompress all these squares but it is handy if you want to maximize your space efficiently.

But I love rolling clothes. One, it stops them from creasing and two, it actually does take up less space in your suitcase.

So those are my final tips on packing light and the art of minimalism.

I would love for you to share what tips you have below the comment section and tell me if you are you a hoarder or a minimalist?

Stay tuned for Season 2 either in April or in May. It’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because I am taking a business sabbatical for all of April.

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Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 1 / 3

Taking a Daily Vacation

I’ve only been in Bali five days and I already feel blissed out and on vacation.

I’ve had four massages, two meditation sessions, one surf lesson, two yoga lessons and a 4.5 hour pampering session!

And I TOTALLY needed this, because the last month or two has been pretty cray-cray.

As you may remember in my previous episode called Changing Plans, there’s been quite a few plans that have been changed, including now owning a lifestyle property and getting a puppy for my birthday.

Yes! My lovely man Josh has gone ahead and put a deposit on a white German Shepherd. So when I get back to New Zealand on April 5th, it’s going to be all go – moving into the house, getting it furnished, setting up our new base and waiting on the puppy.

I was content to go hard out on the organizing, planning, doing and making shit happen on all fronts, because I knew I’d be having this relax time in Bali, and of course my upcoming business sabbatical starting April 1st.

If you’ve never been to Bali, let me just tell you this island has a very special energy to it. It’s renowned for being a vortex of feminine energy.

So for females in particular, when you’re here you have this sense of being grounded, feeling strong, sensual and in your feminine power.

Everywhere you look there are lush trees, green rice fields, beautiful flowers street dogs, friendly Balinese people smiling, scooters whizzing by, yoga studios, cute cafes, healthy juices galore and many relaxed looking foreigners who are whiling their days away doing not a lot of anything much.

Which is why Bali is the perfect island to come and unwind, de stress and lose yourself, or find yourself depending on what you’re here to do.

But obviously we don’t all have the opportunity to buggar off to Bali when we feel like it do we?

So it got me thinking: Why can’t we have a mini vacation each and every day to get some of the same affects of a longer vacation?

Why do we have to book in holidays months, and for some people, years in advance? Why all this waiting when we have the power and ability to take a break right now?

In a Huffington Post article by Jill Ferguson she lists the benefits of vacations as:

  • Reduces stress – as I can attest to, vacations help shrink stress and anxiety while boosting the mental and physical health of you and the entire family, if you happen to be vacationing with them.
  • Helps your heart stay healthy – no really. In a 20-year study, researchers found that women who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than women who took at least two vacations per year.
  • Improves your mental health (especially if it’s longer than 2 weeks) because you’re less tense, have higher energy levels and more positive emotions, fewer negative feelings and less depression.
  • Improves your relationships because families or couples who vacation together undergo shared experiences, communication and togetherness, escape and relaxation and experiential learning, all of which contribute positively to well-being and to relationships.

You may have heard me talk about taking a mid week weekend. I mean why wait for the weekend to experience one, but what about a daily vacation? That’s a novel thought right?

I dug into this idea with my dear friend Jaime Masters, of Eventual Millionaire fame, who’s with me here in Bali.

We planned this holiday in late 2016 when she found out she got asked to speak in the Philippines,  just before my Freedom Mastermind Retreat I hold in Bali each year.

So this was our window of time to fly into Bali at the same time and enjoy 9 days together. And we are doing that extremely well.

Jaime is a single mother of two with an extremely successful and busy coaching and mastermind business (she also took this cool photo of me writing my next book).

She’s also a self prescribed geek when it comes to maximizing time efficiency and more recently bio hacking  – do it yourself biology optimization, so to speak.

Or as Jaime puts it – how to be a badass.

So here’s our jam session on how to optimize your day and also how to take mini vacations through a variety of suggested activities we do, and that we also think should be on your list.


Natalie:
So this is exciting! We are recording this in our lovely little room in Ketut’s Place in Bali in Ubud and there’s thunder and lightning happening and rain. This is cool.

I am sitting on the bed as you do, with my girl, Jaime Masters and we’ve been talking a lot over the last couple of days about treating yourself because yesterday we had a four and a half hour pamper session!

Thanks to Jaime, an early birthday present and it was amazing.

And I was like, “Why don’t we do this all the time?” and then I think actually if you did that all the time you’d just be in bliss zone and you wouldn’t get anything done.

Jaime: I think it can get boring after a little while.

Natalie: Yeah, but it was pretty amazing. Like we had several massages, we had a facial; we had pedicures, manicures, head massage, hair treatment, body scrub. And I was in and out of states of bliss, in an out of state of sleeping, dreaming, imagining, ideating. It’s beautiful.

But what I want to just chat to you about, because I think you are really good at this with your full-time roster of amazing clients that you coach over at Eventual Millionaire and your business and your full time podcast where you are interviewing millionaires all the time. I mean you have one of the busiest schedules I know off plus you are a mom, full-time mom.

So do you want to just share a couple of the ways you treat yourself throughout the day because I think you do this really well.

Jaime: So first of all anybody that says that they don’t have time, means that they don’t want to. There is a great quote about that by Lao Tzu.

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.” ― Lao Tzu

So out of everybody I know, I am extremely busy. We need that time because we go crazy and nutso and when you get on that roll you are not efficient or effective in anything you do.

So lessons learned from me sort of going a little insane, to children, and to my business and everything else has led me to actually taking the time in between.

Even 15 minutes of going, “Ah! This is just for me and I don’t have to do anything else.”

So we talked about meditation before and I definitely do meditate a lot. Sometimes in small spurts.

Like I literally was just meditating for fifteen minutes while you were on the phone just now, because I feel like it gives me a deeper state of relaxation.  I do that throughout the day quite often even at home in-between calls.

But just trying to take that time where you can actually shut off whatever you’re crazy entrepreneur brain is saying and go, “Okay this is time that I don’t actually have to think about that”, because otherwise we will.

Our brain will just keep going forever and ever and ever. And so trying to pull those pieces out as best as you can, you know what I mean?

Natalie: And I think we started discussing this from the minute I landed in Bali and I think you did too.

We’ve both come off some pretty hectic schedules, me with house buying and packing up and book writing and helping my mom move and you with speaking in the Philippines, and having to do all the work around that as well.

I think we both got to Bali and we are just like, ‘ahhhhhhh’ and I just noticed instantly how my mind just quietened and I’ve done more yoga and massage in the last two days than I had probably in the last months.

So why don’t we roll through, like kind of spit-fire out some of our favorite at home mini vacations we take during a pretty busy working day?

Jaime: Okay so for me, I have a routine at the beginning. I literally wake up before my kids wake up now, 5:30am in the morning. I am not a morning person as much as Hal Elrod told me to wake up in the morning.

I was like, “No I don’t think so.” It’s literally only been the last four months or so.

Beforehand I would meditate right after I brought them to school, but I realized that it wasn’t quite enough for me and I kept feeling like I had too much to do throughout the day when the kids are at school so I moved it.

And so far so good. I’m going strong but I am not a morning person!

Natalie: Thunder. If you have any of this, this is real Bali in the background. Just making it real.

Jaime:  That was number one, so that was an evolution in my process. I have been meditating for a very long time and I was never like, “I have to meditate every day.”

It’s just I wanted to, I wanted to. It is something that I pull out.

I also do probably five to fifteen minutes in between whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or brain dead.

So when I do a lot, I batch everything and so whenever I do client calls, sometimes I’m like, “How can my brain stop functioning like it should?” and being in states of flow are way more productive in general, so I try and figure out ways.

There’s a good book called Stealing Fire, it talks about hacking into the flow state that I was telling you a little bit about.

What can we do that makes us feel so much better that we can come back and hit the ground running instead of just feeling horrid and crazy?

Just what we were talking about this before too, like all day long nutso.

And so I’ll do that, I have a pool in the back sometimes when it’s nice out, I’ll go jump in the pool and
reassess things, especially during the day when I’m actually working on stuff.

At night time I’ll definitely go, “This is my time! I am going to have a bubble bath. I am going to do whatever I can possibly do to turn that piece off”.

Because we don’t make a conscious effort in general to turn it off.

Natalie: A bubble bath is so good. I am looking forward to potentially buying a spa and having a spa pool for night time relaxation.

I like the idea of a sauna, whether you go to one or have one at your place. Often gyms have a sauna so just even ten minutes sweating it out and just being present with your body is pretty amazing.

Other things are just dropping into fifteen, twenty, or a thirty minute yoga session during the day, and I love starting with five minutes of downward dog because it ultimately ends up being a lot more, and just giving yourself that space.

Also, when I have a dog which I am getting soon! I would just have cuddle time with my dog. I’d literally have a play time, go outside, throw the Frisbee, throw the ball, play.

You’ve got kids around you, you’d grab them, play.

Jaime: That’s a funny thing. So sometimes I’m so back-to-back I like walking into the mailbox it’s like my time. I literally go, “Okay I need some sun. I am going to go walk outside”, because I literally only have like five minutes, like literally I am so scheduled.

No matter what the time is, it doesn’t matter I think it’s the intention behind it that makes a huge difference.

Because sometimes you can play with your dog and be like, “Oh that still didn’t really help.”

Natalie: Throw the phone away for a minute.

Jaime: As hard as it is.

Natalie: Get back to nature. Sometimes just actually being outside and getting sun on your face is a really beautiful thing and just tune into the sounds around you.

Jaime: I go and I lay in my backyard. I have the pool and I will go and lay on the bed and feel like, because we have an outdoor bed, just sit there for five minutes and not even have to do a meditation or anything like that, but just sort of soak in the sun.

Natalie:  The Vitamin D.

Jaime:  Sometimes I need that big time. And then being able to sort of go; “Now I reset. Now I can go back in”. Very helpful.

Natalie:  We should caveat this with the fact that you are very efficient with your time. So it’s not like you ever say, “I am really busy.”

You are fulfilled. You are busy but I as you said you batch things.

Do you want to maybe talk people through kind of your working week so that… they do hear that you have time off, and time out and you are really good at, oh we didn’t even mention it, you get regular massages? So do I but you get them every single week, yeah?

Jaime:  Oh yeah.

Natalie:  I think if you can you should even if it’s half an hour.

Jaime: Well this is the thing I kept going, “Oh I don’t have the time because I have kids and I can’t… when can I get a massage when I don’t have them. We’ll I have to work during the school hours”. All that craziness goes on in your head.

Let me just say, everybody can solve every problem pretty much.

So my massage person comes in at their bed time, my kids go to bed, massage person comes in and I literally go to sleep right afterwards.

Natalie: They come to your house?

Jaime: They come to my house. It’s not anymore expensive either. And they will do it like nine o’clock at night which is insane.

Natalie:  And then you just go to sleep?

Jaime:  I just go to sleep. It’s like the best ever. It’s amazing but it’s because I am so scheduled and so intentional with my time.

Because this is the thing too, it’s not like I don’t take a time off with the kids, it’s that I have to be super effective whenever I am doing whatever I am doing.

I have a lot of things going on so a typical schedule for me ,and I make my clients do all this too.

I call it the master’s schedule:

  • Mondays are meeting days, back to back meetings like literally, with my masterminds, with my personal scrum from my team.
  • Tuesdays are coaching days.
  • Wednesdays, every other Wednesday is an interview so either back to back millionaire interviews or back to back me doing interviews on other people’s podcast and then the rest of the week is free.

So it’s ‘working free’ so within the time my kids are in school which they get out at three thirty. Then I have open space that I can actually fill in advance because I am one of those people.

But usually when I have the kiddos I’m done at three and then I don’t work again unless it’s like a crazy launch and I have to make an exception.

It’s me like going for a walk with the kids or I try and get some of  the more special, relaxing kind of time with them. Not that I don’t have to do homework, not that I don’t have to do all the other stuff, but it’s just trying to have that space within the confinement.

 


How to take a quick daily vacation

Alright hopefully you have some firm ideas on how to take a daily mini vacation. To recap:

  • Short bursts of exercise – dance, walk to the mailbox, dip in the pool, play with your dog, drop down and do yoga.
  • Treat yo self – have a massage or a sauna, at home or book it in at your local.
  • Read a book – jump in a hammock, laze on your bed, lie on the floor, curl up in the couch, throw your phone away and disconnect the internet for 30 mins…then enjoy your fave book.
  • Pleasure yourself – did I really just say that? Heck yeah I did. Have a quickie, grab your fave sex toy and take a moment to…you know…have some fun. Or grab your partner and kiss them passionately. It releases endorphins which are feel good hormones and everyone needs those – plus you do that stuff on vacation right? So this IS a mini vacation.
  • Meditation – refer to episode 2 – Mind Your Mindfulness for a 1 minute one!  They say meditation can be better than sleep and sometimes sex. So I think it’s time to really take this one seriously.

So on a couple of the previous episodes I’ve been talking about meditation especially on episode 2 called Mind Your Mindfulness. And I have to say that I think we’ve only just scratched the surface on this and I am going to be doing a lot more work around this.

But having chatted to Jaime over the last couple of days intensely around her her meditation practice, I’ve seen this different side to it so I think I’ve always sat on the surface going, “What if I could just get five or ten or fifteen minutes a day?”.

I know the benefits of meditation but I wanted to bring Jaime back because she’s just sort of open my mind and blown my mind with the routine and the practice and the intention behind her meditation and how much is that impacting everything else.

So I haven’t seen Jaime for a year and a half and this time around seeing her I turned up and I was like, “Oh my gosh! You are just more like grounded.”

So here’s a conversation we had about her meditation.

Natalie: So who is this Joe Dispenza guy that you keep going on about?

Jaime: Okay so I’ve been meditating for a really really long time and then I became a disciple. The reason why I found Joe is because I’d injured my foot and he wrote a book called “You Are the Placebo” and I didn’t want to have foot surgery.

That’s the thing it was for the problem-solution piece of it. I’d always meditated. I didn’t even know his whole thing was about meditation.

Natalie: How did you find him?

Jaime: My best friend gave me the book. Because she had been following him for awhile. But I was just trying to solve whatever the heck that thing was. I didn’t know how deep he goes into meditation about how your body can change itself. And so it makes sense with, You Are the Placebo, but I never linked meditation and that before which was really awesome.

Because before I thought it was, “I am a crazy, business entrepreneur that needs to get everything out of her head and feel okay” because otherwise I might have anxiety or whatever the pieces are. That’s why I’d meditated before.

And then I found this thing and I was like, “Oh there’s so much more to it than that!”

Natalie: And they are self-guided aren’t they? Which I like because It’s quite hard to just sit and not have thoughts.  In fact, it’s near impossible.

Even the monks after many decades of practice don’t’ do it super well but they are far better than us. And I think I’d like to be like walking down the beach listening to meditation and then there you were, I was having a surf lesson and you were walking down the beach listening to a self-guided meditation.

One where Joe got you to like ground your feet into the sand at one point, stop and just be. So I love the sound of that. Because I love walking and I like being active while meditating.

What happens in that meditation?

Jaime: So that one’s really interesting. Joe has a bazillion different types of meditation. Some were shorter. This one’s an hour and fifteen minutes. Some of our friends are like, “Oh surfing is so like that”.

It was funny when I was walking, thankfully eyes open for quite a bit, I was looking at some of the surfers and  just thinking about how amazing that is too.

There’s a quite a few different pieces to his types of meditation. And so one is a big breathing aspect and then walking, where he doesn’t have you do that because you look weird.

But what he does as you start walking, he has you start envisioning your future and then walking as your future self.

And imagining whatever happened that you want to have happened in the future as if it was a memory of the past.

So you are walking and he is like talking about how to think of this and think of that, and as you are walking you feel amazing, on top of the world type of person.

And then he has you stop and just close your eyes and imagine the feelings that you would feel: gratitude, joy – whatever those things are or affirmations are.

And since your body’s been energized by walking it makes you really feel the emotions. And then you walk again.

And it levels up the emotional side of it. Levels up the feeling of, “Oh my gosh! This is what I’ll feel like in the future.”

Right, that confidence, whatever those pieces are. And so you are sort of stepping into what that is and it makes a lot more believable.

So as an entrepreneur I feel like, “Oh I want to speak on a stage at TEDx in front of a thousand people.”

I was chatting with somebody when I spoke in the Philippines, she’s like, “I love crowds of 10,000 to 15,000 people.” And I was like, “Hmmmm. I haven’t done that before. 10,000 people that’s a lot of people. Wow, Okay great!”

She said, “The energy is just insane.”

And so then I started going, “Let’s imagine what that would look like. I’m sure I can do it”.

And so in the walking meditation, I started bringing in some of those pieces. So when you start bringing in the pieces as if it already happened, especially the science behind meditation, it actually does.

Have you heard the piano player thing? They had a study where:

  • Some people actually play the piano in a certain number of hours per day for a specific song.
  • Another one just did the finger exercises with no piano.
  • And then the other ones meditated on it.

So the people would actually meditate on it. They never touched the piano, and they actually were just as good as the other people.

Natalie: When they finally went to play the piano?

Jaime: Yes which is insane.

Natalie: I’ve heard a few studies around stuff just re-visioning exercise on that.

Jaime: Yes. It gets your body in certain state. It’s really interesting to see the studies because we are placebos by the way, right?

So we affect our thoughts and everything affects everything.

And I think entrepreneurs need to get this better and better and better.

It’s not just clearing your brain it’s all those thoughts that we think, that determine what we actually take action on, what we actually do.

All those beliefs or whatever you want to say whether they are subconscious or not.

When you start flushing those out, and you start imagining yourself…..

I’ve had a friend who hated speaking and then he did like a hundred different speaking gigs all in a row just to get over the fear and to get really good at it.

Well, you do a 100 of them and you’ll get really good at it!

Imagine meditating on it a hundred days in a row instead of actually having to go do it. And again there might be a little bit of twinge when you do the first one but it’s going to feel so much more natural even just the visualization of it.

And I’ve interviewed a ton of millionaires, 400 and something millionaires, so many of them bring up visioning, it’s insane.

I was not woo-woo at all and I started going down this road and interviewing millionaires and I’m like, “How come everybody keeps talking about this?”.

Because I really wanted to know and so then I started looking at the science behind it all. And then I’m like, “There’s something to this”, because I am a sciency kind of gal and then I’ve started implementing and doing it.

It has literally changed so many things and what I can see is possible moving forward.

Natalie: You mentioned that it’s helped you, one being all grounded and not even noticed that visibly in you. You said your skin is glowing. You think you looked younger like not aging. What are some of the other benefits?

Jaime: There’s a whole thing on epigenetics which if you read any of Joe’s books. Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson talks about epigenetics – our bodies and what we feel basically.

Because this is the thing, I don’t think people really understand, and again the science is very very new behind all this. It hasn’t really come out to the general population. If I say epigenetics, people are more like,  “I don’t have a clue what that is”.

But your DNA actually can turn on and off based on your environment. And so it’s not all like you were born like this and now we are like that forever, it’s what you ingest, what you are doing, what you are thinking that all affects your body, which makes logical sense when you think about it.

We are not emotionless robots. All the pieces and parts really make a difference.

You’ve seen the president go from looking really really young beforehand and how the heck did he age so much in such a short period of time? Like the stress and everything.

And so it really affects your body. So you can do it in the opposite direction also. How can we change that?

Natalie: I was telling you about Josh’s friend Rohan, his father from England who’s been doing transcendental meditation for something like forty five years or more.

I haven’t met him and I really want to meet him. I told you that right?

Because he is late 70s and he looks like he is in his 40s. He gets up at five a.m every morning. He does one to two hours of transcendental meditation with the music and all the vibrations and everything.

And he is apparently just super focused and onto it. He doesn’t need much sleep. Just incredibly aware and has energy all day and that youth, that vitality and that absolute solidness around what he does and who he is.

He’s absolutely precise and clear on who he is and what energy he gives off. So that fascinates me.

It does make me feel, yes you could change your state and you can change your entire DNA makeup.

By the way, did you know that when you get sunburnt you are changing the DNA? There’s a whole science behind it which you’d love.

When you get sunburnt, your cells are exploding and we have billions of cells right, but they are exploding and each little explosion is shifting and changing your DNA. So overtime you can actually change your DNA of your body.

Jaime: Good way or bad way?

Natalie: I don’t think sunburn is obviously good for you at all, but it’s just more the point that scientists have seen that you are actually changing your DNA through that. So there must be other ways of changing your DNA.

Jaime: When you look up epigenetics and you’ll see some of those pieces because it’s insane to read some of the studies on this. I didn’t realize this. I’m like, “Man!”.

It is one of those things where it’s such a new science so it seems a little woo-woo to people. It is with any sort of newer science.

Natalie: I know scientists needs the data and the facts but also I just want to see it’s working.

Jaime: This is what I do, I’m like, “Well I’ll test it and If I like it, I’ll keep doing it and if I don’t like it, then I won’t.”

But there’s a lot of Charletons that are like, “Oh you do this thing and it’s amazing!”.

So that’s what we have to be careful of, but to me I’ll test anything and if I like it and I see results then I’ll continue.

I care about the smarts and logic. And so meditation has allowed me to tap in way more and not just be a ‘running around like trying to do everything head wise’, but actually tapping into all parts of your body.

I never thought that your gut or intuition was a big deal until, again I heard so many millionaires going, “I went with my gut” and I’m like, “Wait! There’s no real science behind that.”

I’ll put a spreadsheet together so I can look at all the facts, this is why I am so science based because I need something to make a decision. I would almost never go with my gut.

Natalie: Gut every time.

Jaime: See… but to me I didn’t get the point of gut. I thought that that wasn’t logic.

When you read like the book, Blink and we realize how amazing we are as human beings.

We can make an assessment on something without even necessarily knowing the facts and data.

Like that book was very eye opening to me because I was like, “Oh, maybe I do know more than logic will tell me and research and data.”

And so realizing that, along with everything else tapping into that. You can shut yourself off big time. Most people do. Most of the clients that I talk to I ask “What’s your gut saying?”

They are like “I don’t know.”

Natalie: Oh really? I do it all the time. The only time that I haven’t sometimes is travelling, because I listen to my gut and instinct all the time in travelling. “Don’t go down there” or actually “Don’t take that bus”.

Jaime: What does that feel like? Where? How do you do that?

Natalie: Literally like a strong sensation to not go ahead and buy that ticket.  Where? It’s a good point. You do actually feel it in your stomach and then I feel like it just triggers straight away to your brain with a no. I have voice in my head going, “That’s not a wise idea.” It’s really crazy and I just listen to it all the time.

Jaime: I had heard this one place, and I have not verified sources but, what’s interesting is they were saying that it’s actually your heart that is making a lot of these decisions, and then going to either your stomach and then your brain and so it triggers all of them right? We sometimes think it’s our brain first.

Natalie: It’s literally like a decision and sometimes your body will stop. Sometimes your body will stop walking like ‘you are not going to go down there, Natalie’. It’s the fight-or-flight response that I feel kicks in and that is triggered by your immune system and/or your nervous system, so I guess your heart is the thing that’s beating.

Jaime: We just don’t know very much about our bodies though. Like it’s kind of sad.

I am trying to teach my children like, “Okay. Where do you feel that in your body?” so that they can become more in tune because I never was.

I was like, what is that feeling? I would never go with my gut in general.

So knowing and being able to say, “This actually works.”

I needed all the data from all the millionaires like, “Wait, you’ve went with your gut and that worked? Wow! Interesting.”

It would be really interesting to ask which ones typically go with their gut and which ones don’t.

Natalie: And where do you feel that in your body – that’s an interesting question to ask anybody. Going on a bit of tangent here but asking ‘how do you feel’ and see what people’s responses are, because if you ask a very pragmatic logic based person, they will go, “I am blah blah blah.”

Jaime: Okay so this is my best friend,  she had to ask me every single day. She goes, “How do you feel?” and I’d say, “Good” and she’d go, “Good is not a feeling.”

“Great! I feel great!”, she said, “That’s not a feeling.”

I didn’t have the words to express it. I literally had one of those little cards that said all the emotions on it. But I couldn’t find the nuances between the emotions because I didn’t think it was a big deal. Like what does it matter?

Natalie: And it does matter.

Jaime: It totally does now I know. I am teaching my children this.

So tapping into intuition or tapping into your gut is an example.

I don’t know what that felt like. I was like, “Huh! Nope. I got nothing.”

The little nuances in anxiety or the little nuances in joy, the little nuances in things that I just never paid attention to. And yet we can be so much more expressive as human beings if you actually know that.

I had beforehand thought, “If I just negate all the bad emotions and only felt the good ones, I’ll be happy in my world”. I mean you know in entrepreneurship too, it doesn’t work that way. Shit happens.

Natalie: It’s a rollercoaster.

Jaime: Exactly. You have to mitigate all of it and sometimes the crappy stuff is teaching you the most and you have to be okay with those emotions because if you try and negate that you won’t take the risks, even calculated risks.

You just won’t make the steps towards that because you are so scared of negative emotions. It’s an interesting thing.

Natalie: I think a lot of people live in the state of, “I’m okay. I’m okay. So I am not going to show any emotions.”

 

And you asking me the other day, “Do you feel that you tapped into that? Are you emotional?”

I have my moments around my Dad because I was quite surprised that I wasn’t more upset or just really in that state, but I do think it’s because I focused on celebrating his life.

It doesn’t mean I think I shut down my feelings. Like I will have my moments where I’ll just cry.

As I told you I am big sook at the movies. I’ll just have waterworks in movies. I feel like that a lot around animals and nature.

I don’t worry so much or sweat the small stuff, but I often think about global issues or environment or inhumane treatment of animals or people.

And that stuff gets me really emotional, but I think there are so many people who are walking through life instead taking drugs to numb themselves.

Jaime: But that’s the point right?

You Are the Placebo”is all about that you don’t need to rely on what we think.

One of the reasons why we take a placebo and think it will work is because people have told us that it will work.

If a doctor or someone of high authority goes, “This will work for you.” Even if it numbs you like crazy, you are like, “Oh then half of it’s probably the placebo effect and the pills don’t even work.”

So it’s one of those things where us knowing ourselves – if you are the type, ‘I am emotional in these sort of ways’ and ‘I don’t need to like make myself be emotional in other ways either’, but knowing yourself better makes a huge difference.

So if you do get sick or whatever, trying to pay attention to what those emotions were within it and then solving that instead of going after like, “I just need more alcohol” or “I need more drugs”.

Like when I injured my neck they gave me Hydrocodone and I’m like, “That’s a lot!”.

It’s a narcotic. They gave me a lot of pills. I was kind of surprised. They gave me like three sets of pills.

Natalie: The United States scares me with what they give out. It’s such a pill based society.

Jaime: And I was like, “So how do I fix it though?”. It’s one thing to numb the pain and I am okay with pain, I can handle a lot of pain, but how do I fix it? Nobody really went down that path which sucks.

Natalie: It does. Western medicine is very much like immediate solution where as I love the Eastern philosophy around preventing it before it’s even happened.

Jaime: Yes, but the thing is, I agree a thousand percent, but because we’ve already gone past that point.

So again this is the Western world, but we are sold that we can have everything right now, and this is why meditation is so important too. Because we are moving at a constant pace especially entrepreneurs. We are problem solvers and we wanted the problem solved yesterday, not today.

And so a pill, sure! Faster, easier, more efficient.

Natalie: The headache was just from the hours of pampering and all the detox.

And when I was in that yoga class, that restorative yoga, which I loved, I was having trouble with the hamstring pose. Sinking into that pose though I was feeling the pain and I wanted to come out of it, because we had to hold it for five minutes.

And that’s when she said, “If you are challenged by this pose, you probably have issues with control, because the control that you put into your everyday life will manifest itself  into basically your hamstrings.”

So the tightening there is the constant control or tension. And I think in intrinsically you know that but whenever we are holding any source of tension or pain or even love, it manifests itself in your body.

Jaime: So that’s the whole point of Joe Dispenza, the whole point completely.

He was a doctor and he actually cut his spinal cord. It was crazy – he couldn’t walk and he didn’t want to have surgery. And all the doctors are like, “So you have to have surgery to fix this”, and he was, “I am not going to do it.”

He meditated. And people were like, “Okay, you meditated your spinal healing. That’s a little insane.”

Natalie: Had he done meditation before?

Jaime: I don’t remember. I think he must have done something. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be like, “Oh I am going to try meditation and see if this works.”

He was a chiropractor so he knew the body really really well but what is interesting, like you were saying, is being able to have whatever is existing in our body usually is for a reason.

And unfortunately because we are problem solvers and we want to fix this so fast we just take the pill and go, “That will be okay.”

But more and more instances of cancer, more and more instances of crazy stuff and we are going, “What’s wrong?”.

Well yeah it’s probably food and stuff like that too, but there are so many things that we don’t understand that us taking care of ourselves, like you said the Eastern side of things, could have probably been prevented, but now we are at this tipping point where we can’t see the forest for the trees anymore.

And so that’s why it’s great that he wrote the book called, You Are the Placebo because there’s literally everybody going, “I have a problem. I need a solution.” And so being able to show people, “Oh by the way, this could help this.”

Natalie: I was going to say, it sounds ironic, but I am about to say we have to take control or more importantly, we have to take responsibility because things are not going to get better.

  • We are going to have more and more technology.
  • We’ll be more and more connected.
  • We are going to have more and more devices.
  • We are going to have more multi-tasking.
  • We are going to have more and more things in our life that are causing us to live our lives in a totally different way where we don’t have peace, quiet, nature, reflection, timeout, thinking time, quiet time.

And so we just have to, and that’s why I am so proud of you because you are making time, because you love it, every morning to do your meditation.

Jaime: One I didn’t love it. I couldn’t sit for five minutes. I used to lay down because I couldn’t sit up. So I couldn’t sit up for that long and I hated the five minutes every single time.

It’s just very much an evolutionary process. That being said I learned my own process.

A lot of clients are resistant because they are entrepreneurs and logical and my brain is way too crazy, “I can’t do it Jaime”. I was like, “I have the same crazy brain you do. I have ADD literally”.

And so when we are looking at, “Okay what can you do as a first step?” We talked about five minutes of headspace.

Headspace is great, Calm app is great, just to sort of slowly get into that and then I have people come back and they are like, “Oh that felt a little better.”

And then what is that next step and what is that next step.. I did this as part of the evolutionary process to try to make meditation efficient.

I would get all the crap out of my head so that way I could feel like I could be more clear. David Allen’s Getting Things Done, getting everything out of your head.

So I would do that piece along with having these inspired thoughts of, “Oh you know what I should do and this”.

Natalie: You’d actually literally go sit down or lie down to meditate but then you’d have “bing bing bing” thoughts. So you’d actually then stop the meditation?

Jaime: I wouldn’t actually stop the meditation. It’s really kind of funny I had an eye pillow on and I’d literally have a journal right next to me and I’d scribble.

It’s just like a twenty, thirty minute meditation, it wasn’t a lot because I would only do the first piece like this. I would literally just go, “Oh!” and write those changes of launch plans or the ideas that I had.

And then I would be clear and be a lot better.

So it’s still guided meditation but this is what I have my clients do because in general they are like,” I can’t make it stop.”

You know what makes it stop? Write all that crap down. And because David Allen talks about this with Getting Things Done, if it’s still in your head it will keep reminding you. It will keep bringing it up.


So there you have it. This topic of Personal Freedom here on the Quest for Freedom Podcast continues to come back to freedom of the mind in so many respects.

I know I will continue to delve deeper into this. In the next episode I’ll be discussing personal freedom from a place of less stuff weighing you down – as in decluttering.

You can also sign up to get fresh, hip and timely email updates when I release a new episode. Or you can simply subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud or Google Play and make my day – and hopefully make yours.

This episode is proudly brought to you by Freshbooks.

So you’re racing against the clock to wrap up 3 projects, prepping for a meeting later in the afternoon all while trying to tackle a mountain of paperwork. Welcome to life as a freelancer.

Challenging? Yes, but our friends at FreshBooks believe the rewards are so worth it.

The working world has changed. With the growth of the internet there’s never been more opportunities for the self-employed. To meet this need, FreshBooks is excited to announce the launch of an all new version of their cloud accounting software!

It’s been redesigned from the ground up and custom built for exactly the way you work. Get ready for the simplest way to be more productive, organized, and most importantly get paid quickly.

The all new FreshBooks is not only ridiculously easy to use, it’s also packed full of powerful features:

  • Create and send professional looking invoices in less than 30 seconds.
  • Set up online payments with just a couple of clicks and get paid up to 4 days faster.
  • See when your client has seen your invoice, and put an end to the guessing games.

Go to freshbooks.com/quest and enter Quest For Freedom in the how did you hear about section when signing up.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 1 / 1

Hacking Happiness

Let’s dive into hacking happiness shall we….here’s a snippet from me early in the morning when I grabbed my phone and recorded this:

So it’s like 4:22 am on a Monday morning in Wellington, New Zealand and I am wide awake, unfortunately, because my mind is going all over the place.

And it’s odd because I’ve had thoughts popping in from every single angle and I think this is pretty typical for what happens when you’ve got a lot going on in your head and a lot of the important things are coming off at the same time.

And everything that I was thinking about ultimately came back to why timing is so important and how to make the most of every single moment.

It was exactly 2 weeks ago yesterday, that Josh and I saw the house that we’ve now put an offer on that has been accepted. But is still not unconditional, which is the terminology we use in New Zealand to say that absolutely everything is going ahead and that the place will be ours once all the conditions have been met.

So basically it is saying there’s no way you can get out of it and everybody should be happy.

And we’ve been waiting on banks and waiting on deals and playing the banks off against each other and getting paperwork together and culminating on finances.

And it just feels like to me as an impatient Aries… everything is dragging.

I just want the decision today and the lawyer to come back and say, “Great! Everything is gone unconditional. It’s officially yours. You’ll get to settle on the 5th of April and move in.”

Which will be just two days after my birthday.

The irony around timing, as I mentioned, is not lost on me because that very day that we looked at the property, we also went back to look at another property that we were pretty set on. It was going to be a huge financial commitment, dare I say burden, if we went ahead and did it.

And also it was on 26 acres of land, which on reflection, is just something that I think is immensely scary to deal with for two city folk. And there was just so much work to be done on the land.

So interestingly on that day we went to look back at it, is the day that we decided the one we’d seen earlier was in fact the combination of our perfect wishlist.

The other reason why I think timing is so key for example is over this weekend just gone, in my preemptiveness, I went to the SPCA, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

I was looking at dogs to adopt because I so desperately wanted a dog for the last seven years of being on the road, living out of my suitcase, but I’ve obviously never felt it’s fair to do that, and have never been in one place for long enough to even justify thinking about a dog.

I’ve instead dog sat and house sat and got my fix with every single dog that I’ve come into contact with.

And I was a little preemptive because I saw this dog on Friday and she was beautiful and so I went back Saturday and she already had an adoption pending on her.

And there was no way I could have done anything anyway because they typically try and get the dogs out of there in a week or so and get them fostered.

And so I was just way too early in my typical pre-planning and excitement and impatience as an Aries. It’s a good trait most of the time and sometimes it’s frustrating!

So I was like, “Okay, there’s a reason why I didn’t obviously get that dog and I wasn’t meant to have it”.

And then voila on Sunday morning I am browsing Trade Me which is a bit like Ebay and a bit like Gumtree depending on which country you are in.

And this beautiful new listing of Welsh Springer Spaniel pups popped up. And I immediately clicked on it because I’ve been refreshing this Trade Me listing all week.

And they’d only put it up the day before and only 2 of the 6 pups were left so I rang up immediately and said, “Is it possible to come out and see it today?” and she said, “Yup. We’ve been inundated with people.”

So I went out to see them in the afternoon and oh my goodness! I spent about 25 minutes there with these gorgeous pups which are only about 9 weeks old, super cuddly and sleepy.

The thing about it is, I am really hoping at this point that she’s going to pick me as one of the final two people to get a puppy.

She said I am at the top of the list because I’ve got a lifestyle property that we haven’t even got yet. (But we will have it!)

And that both Josh and I work from home and we are super active as well and that there will be plenty of space for the dog to run around but also good fencing, all these things tick the boxes.

And the fact the momma dog immediately bonded with me which she hadn’t seen nearly do with many other people at all.

Fingers crossed on those things and then I started there to go and look at a second hand piano. Also on Trade Me. And I got there and I played it a little bit even though I am super rusty at playing the piano.

And I was like, “I love it. I’ll take it.” And she’s like, “Well, no joke, three minutes before you arrived somebody put a bid on it”.

So now the auction has started in place. There’s no more buy now button. It’s an auction and you have to bide the time.

And I was like, “Uh! Timing is everything!”. Had I arrived at the time that I said I would, I will be now to hit the buy now button and then just hand her over cash and secure this beautiful old piano that had been passed down from her grandmother.

So now I just have to exercise patience once again and wait until that auction is up for grabs at the end of Wednesday when it closes. And hope that either myself (because I’ll be on a flight to Bali) or Josh can actually go ahead and bid for that and hopefully win the auction.

(Update: Am on the top of the reserve list for the puppies, two many awesome families ahead of me, and didn’t get the piano as my autobid got outbid while I was flying on a plane!)

Timing is everything.

And then I woke up this morning, 2:30am and I was thinking about Portugal and my house over there and what to do about it. And the people who continue to contact me about renting it.

And I cast myself back to being in my house and thinking how lovely it would be to just wiggle my nose and be there and enjoy it a little bit more now that it’s all done up and looking beautiful. And how would that feel.

Then I thought about surfing and the local communities, and the cafes and my neighbor, Adelaide and just being back in Portugal.

I really wish you could wiggle your nose a little bit more and just be able to pop to the places that you love and be present.

And I also reflected that in this moment where timing is everything, that I am really happy in this moment.

And that’s what this episode is all about today, I’ve called it “Hacking Happiness”,

Well I’m pleased as punch to say that did indeed happen, not that day but the next one, when I went into full time hustle mode wrangling banks and my lawyer.

Yep we officially own this amazing property – all 359 sqm of it plus a 246 sqm big modern barn and 2.5 acres of land.

I posted on Facebook last night with a bunch of photos and the comments started pouring in. It’s gone nuts. Over 350 likes and 180 comments so far.

People are genuinely excited, care and are happy for me. For us.

The comments on my previous episode Changing Plans, also blew my mind too. I asked you to help choose my next adventure – A) stay and set up this lifestyle property, or B) go to Europe for summer.

Most people voted for me to choose to stay.  I guess that shouldn’t have surprised me but there was real gold in people’s responses as to why, such as this one from Jeanie Miller”.

“So do you stay or do you go? In following you over the past few years, when I think of you, I think of Go! Go! Go! ‘Go’ is the usual for you. The change, and the challenge, may now be to ‘stay’.

You are awesome at ‘going’, you wear it really well. How will you wear ‘stay’? What new opportunities and learning challenges will you be blessed with by trying out a new gig called stay?

I don’t think you want us to choose…like you said, I think you know the answer deep down inside. It sounds like you are ready to take your life up a notch or 10! Either way you go…you will rock it…and if you choose ‘go’, you will eventually come back to ‘stay’. Hugs! Here’s to your success!”

Or this from Terriane Palmer Peacock:

“I’m glad you chose or are choosing to stay, because that’s what I felt sang from your heart. I love how you articulated Freedom is whatever you choose it to be, and it does change as you grow and evolve. This sounds like a brand new chapter of Freedom for you, and I’m intrigued to follow and support your journey. Plus the property looks absolutely divine! You can’t beat a homestead in NZ for back-to-nature beauty! All the best!”

This is what this episode is all about – Hacking Happiness, because I believe it’s possible to do just that.

I also think we are often misguided about what makes us happy.

When I was at the SPCA on Friday looking at dogs to adopt, I found a beautiful young pup that I really wanted. I went back the next day with Josh and she already had an adoption pending on her.

While I had spent some time focusing on how cool it would be to have her in our lives and at our new property, my happiness was not dependent on the outcome. I wasn’t attached to her…yet.

I do however know for sure that I get so much happiness from dogs, and spending time with them. So rather than get caught up in the decision or outcome that didn’t happen.

I focused instead on the truth, and that when the time is right, the perfect dog will come into my world, for me to love and adore, teach and be taught and to go on adventures with.

It’s not an easy thing to do – stop yourself from saying “When I get fit I’ll do X, or when I earn X I will be happy”.

This is where Andrea Featherstone – a friend, former client and fellow freedomist comes in and shares her wisdom. Over at projectself.com.au, she is a Mindfulness Advisor and shows you how to live a Bloody Good Life!

Here’s what she has to say on this topic:

“When it comes to happiness, the very first thing we need to realise is that our mind – like every other part of our body – is designed to keep us alive, but not to keep us happy and not to keep us fulfilled. So our mind is wired to seek out more.

So no matter what we achieve or no matter what we get, we will always want more. Our mind constantly moves the goal posts of our happiness one step ahead of us; so we think, “Oh I just need that promotion and then I’ll be happy.”, “I just need to get a Boxer puppy and then I’ll be happy.”

So perhaps when you quit your job and you finally get your awesome freedom business up and running, it won’t be long (even though you don’t think it will be that way!) it won’t be long until you find that it’s no longer enough to fulfil you… now you want a six figure income, and now you want a seven figure income, and then you want to own a super yacht and then you want to be famous etc…

I’ve worked for some of the richest billionaires in the world and they still just want more.

They want to keep building bigger and bigger super yachts and spending their money on ridiculous things just to try and get themselves happiness and fulfilment but because their mind always moves the goal posts to the next step, it never lasts.”

Sound familiar to you? Can you resonate? Do you know of someone who is never happy with where they’re at? Always wanting more?

Back to Andrea…this is important so listen carefully:

“Our mind is wired to always want more because it’s like a squirrel basically, hoarding nuts, like trying to save all the nuts in case we have a potential famine or war.

Our mind has not yet evolved to recognise that we are living in an era now where anyone lucky enough to be listening to this, is living well above the survival line and no longer has to seek more, more, more just to be a buffer for future wars or famines. Hopefully.

So what is this mind that keeps self-sabotaging us? You know, the guy that keeps making us procrastinate and stops us doing the things that we know would bring us more happiness.

The activity that shows up in brain scans when we are thinking, what I’ll call for this episode ‘our mind’, is spread all over various regions of our brain and these areas are collectively known as the ‘default mode network’.

So when our ‘default mode network’ is activated it means our mind is wandering i.e we are on autopilot and our mind has wandered off to thinking about the past or the future or whether that hot guy over there is looking our way.

Basically we are thinking about something other than what we are doing.

Now the key problem that we face is in the scientific name given to the mind: ‘default mode’. Mind wandering is our default mode.

It’s estimated that the average human is lost in thought between 50-80% of the day and around 70% of those thoughts (for most people) are negative, which is why we have what’s called the negativity bias, which is again a function of our mind’s orientation towards survival rather than happiness.”

That’s a whole lot of negativity right there –  no wonder we get down on ourselves!

In my mind (pun intended), there simply is no other way than to be present, and be grateful for right here, right now. Cos quite frankly that’s all you have.

Through this entire 2 weeks of dealing with banks, and financials, and getting together screeds of information to present a good case for a loan, and waiting for answers….which went on and on, Josh and I were really good about focusing on our gratitudes each night and what we were excited and happy about.

We knew we’d get the outcome we wanted eventually, and we focusing on being present in the right now and enjoying what we were learning from the process together (as this is Josh’s first house buying expedition), and my 6th!

I thought I’d quote from an article that Derek Sivers recently wrote called Think Like a Bronze Medalist, not Silver

“Imagine the Olympics, where you have the three winners of a race standing on the podium: the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Imagine what it’s like to be the silver medalist. If you were just one second faster, you could have won the gold! Damn! So close! Damn damn damn! You would keep comparing yourself to the gold winner, full of envy.

Now imagine what it’s like to be the bronze medalist. If you were just one second slower, you wouldn’t have won anything! Whoo-hoo! You would be thrilled that you are officially an Olympic medalist, and got to stand on the winner’s podium at all.

Comparing up versus comparing down. Your happiness depends on where you’re focusing.

The metaphor is easy to understand, but hard to remember in regular life. If you catch yourself burning with envy or resentment, think like the bronze medalist, not the silver. Change your focus.

Instead of comparing up to the next-higher situation, compare down to the next-lower.”

So true right?

In my research on happiness, I came across, amongst a bazillion resources and references, an article in the Observer by Benjamin Hardy.

He wrote about an example I could totally resonate with, having flown hundreds, no probably over a thousand times in my life:

“Several years ago in an interview with Conan O’Brien, Louis C. K. tells of flying on a newly equipped Wi-Fi airplane. He was amazed by the new technology. Until, during the flight, the Wi-Fi went down.

Immediately, the man next to him became extremely upset. “As though the world owes this man something he only knew existed 10 seconds ago.”

Louis C. K. continues by describing people’s absurd frustrations with flying in general. People complain about it all the time “It was the worst day of my life! It took 20 minutes to board! We had to sit on the runway for 40 minutes!”

We hear complaints like these all the time. As if we’ve forgotten how incredible it is that humans can fly at all.

How are we so quick to take for granted the remarkable things going on in life?

Why is it so easy to complain?

Why do we focus on the negative?

Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.

However, happiness can easily be achieved even without the brilliant advances in the world.

Rather than being reactive to what’s going on around us, happy people take control of their lives and emotions.

If you are unhappy with your life, who or what else can you blame than yourself? And if you can blame someone or something else, how is blame going to make your life any better?

Bad stuff happens to everyone. But life isn’t about what happens to you. It’s about how you proactively respond.”

He went on to list out these 10 behaviours, that if applied, will change your life and let you be an incredibly happy person.

I’m going to focus on just 3 that stood out for me.

Define Your Own Success And Happiness

This carries on from what Derek Sivers was saying:

“No two human beings are the same. So why should we have one standard of success? Seeking society’s standard of success is an endless rat-race. There will always be someone better than you. You’ll never have the time to do everything.

Instead, you recognize that every decision has opportunity cost. When you choose one thing, you simultaneously don’t choose several others. And that’s okay. Actually, it’s beautiful because we get to choose our ultimate ideal. We must define success, wealth, and happiness in our own terms because if we don’t, society will for us—and we will always fall short. We’ll always be left wanting. We’ll always be stuck comparing ourselves and competing with other people. Our lives will be an endless race for the next best thing. We’ll never experience contentment.”

Commit 100 Percent To The Things That Make You Happy

“Many of us have convinced ourselves that we are able to break our own personal rules “just this once.” In our minds, we can justify these small choices. None of those things, when they first happen, feels like a life-changing decision. The marginal costs are almost always low. But each of those decisions can roll up into a much bigger picture, turning you into the kind of person you never wanted to be.”—Clayton Christensen

“People are really good at self-sabotage. We consistently behave in ways that contradict our goals and ideals. This is incongruence. As Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

The smaller the gap between what you should do, and what you actually do—the happier you will be.

Hence, Clayton Christensen says 100 percent commitment is easier than 98 percent commitment. When you fully commit to something, the decision has been made. Consequently, regarding that thing, all future decisions have been made.

Unless you’re committed 100 percent, you will always be a victim to external circumstances. By relying on willpower, you’ll crumble more often than you think. Research has found that people over-inflate their own performance. Chances are, you probably think you’re doing better at your resolves than you really are.

But once you’re 100 percent committed, you no longer need to rely on willpower. Your decision has already been made regardless of the circumstances. Saying “No” to anything outside our highest ideals becomes extremely easy. This is living proactively rather than reactively.”

I think I practice this really well. I focus on exactly the outcome I want, 100%. I’ve manifested virtually everything happening since we started looking at properties and they’ve come off so far.

I catch myself daydreaming in the glorious vision on walking on our land, with a dog alongside us, the sun shining, the birds singing and nature surrounding us. I visualized walking through the house, cooking meals there, wine by the fire…. in detail.

Visualization is a really powerful method I’ve dabbled with in Ultimate Frisbee and also in speaking, and I realize I do it a lot more now in business in life to get what I want!

Sure I’ve waivered a lot during this house process, pointing out what might happen, thinking about what might not happen too, because that way I can deal wtih the consequences if something doesn’t work out.

Josh and I ran through the worst case scenario if our offer didn’t get accepted and immediately after we both felt happier for whatever outcome, even though we knew which outcome we wanted!

 

The third behaviour is this:

Be Grateful For What You Already Have

“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”—Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Happiness is as simple as gratitude. Psychological research has found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

Physical

  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological

  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness

Social

  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated

Despite these benefits, most people ungratefully focus on what they don’t have. As a culture, we have become wasteful and undisciplined consumers. The grass is always greener on the other side. A constant pursuit of having more of the newest and best.

How could you possibly find happiness when you relentlessly want more and never properly appreciate what you have?

It’s time for you to learn how to be more grateful. Your happiness depends on it. Dr. Emmons, one of the world’s leading experts on gratitude recommends 10 ways to become more grateful:

Keep a gratitude journal

Set aside time on a daily basis to recollect moments of gratitude connected with commonplace events, your personal characteristics, or important people in your life. This allows you to weave gratitude into your normal, everyday life. This will help you move from trying to be grateful occasionally to becoming a grateful person. The goal is to move from doing to being.

Remember the hard and challenging things you’ve gone through

When you ponder and reflect on the challenges you’ve passed through, you’ll more fully embrace where you currently are.

Ask yourself these three questions

You can reflect on any aspect of your life and deeply consider these three questions:

  • “What have I received from __?”
  • “What have I given to __?”
  • “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”

These questions will allow you to look at the people or things in your life from a different perspective. They will allow you to not take them for granted and to realize how grateful you are.

Learn prayers of gratitude

In many spiritual traditions, prayers of gratitude are considered to be the most powerful form of prayer. These prayers turn the individual to their highest source of power. It allows them to realize the divine grace that has so generously been bestowed. It also allows the person to seek for higher and better ways of living.

Come to your senses

Literally, connecting more deeply with our body allows us to see it for what it is: a brilliant and miraculous gift. Being more fully present as we touch, see, smell, taste, and hear facilitates appreciation for being human and alive. In this way, gratitude intensifies our lived experience.

Use visual reminders

The two main impediments to gratitude are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness. Consequently, putting visual reminders in common places triggers thoughts of gratitude. Dr. Emmons has found that the best visual reminders are people.

Make a personal vow to practice gratitude

Research shows that making an oath to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will be executed. Consequently, you should make a personal and public declaration that you are going to be more grateful. Write it down. Share it on social media. Tell your friends and closest people.

Watch your language

Grateful people use words that ungrateful people don’t use. They often use words like gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. Use these words in your vocabulary more and you’ll recognize more things to be grateful for. Additionally, in your language, don’t focus on how inherently good you are. Rather, speak of how good things and other people have been for you. This will allow you to realize the abundance around you. The universe and everyone in it is your advocate.

Go through the motions

Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude. When you do these things, you trigger the emotion of gratitude in your life. Say thank you more often. Say you love people more often. Smile at random strangers as you pass them by. Not only will it make you feel better, it is contagious. People are mirrors. They’ll feel good and smile back. This will create a change reaction of positivity throughout the world. The ripple effects are endless.

Think outside the box

Dr. Emmons recommends creatively looking for new situations and things to be grateful for. What in your life have you not spent time being grateful for? What could you include in your life that will generate an inflow of gratitude? Mix it up. Don’t think gratitude can only come from a narrow set of sources.”

I hope you feel happier. And I hope that you have some tips, tactics and strategies to put into action to feel more happy on a daily basis.

Have you noticed that all of these things are ridiculously simple too? So why don’t we actually do them more often? Let’s all do this shall we?

Also if you want to take it a step further check out Andrea’s 6 day free Mindfulness Challenge at projectself.com.au/mindfulness-challenge

This episode is proudly brought to you by Freshbooks.

So you’re racing against the clock to wrap up 3 projects, prepping for a meeting later in the afternoon all while trying to tackle a mountain of paperwork. Welcome to life as a freelancer.

Challenging? Yes, but our friends at FreshBooks believe the rewards are so worth it.

The working world has changed. With the growth of the internet there’s never been more opportunities for the self-employed. To meet this need, FreshBooks is excited to announce the launch of an all new version of their cloud accounting software!

It’s been redesigned from the ground up and custom built for exactly the way you work. Get ready for the simplest way to be more productive, organized, and most importantly get paid quickly.

The all new FreshBooks is not only ridiculously easy to use, it’s also packed full of powerful features:

  • Create and send professional looking invoices in less than 30 seconds.
  • Set up online payments with just a couple of clicks and get paid up to 4 days faster.
  • See when your client has seen your invoice, and put an end to the guessing games.

Go to freshbooks.com/quest and enter Quest For Freedom in the how did you hear about section when signing up.

And seriously do try them out. They’re awesome!

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 1 / 12

Changing Plans

So the Quest for Freedom goes on.

I know in this episode I was going to talk about some of the life changing moments that I experienced at New Frontiers and Enspiral Summerfest but given that this episode’s name is called “Changing Plans”, I’ve changed my plan for this week!

And the reason for that is pretty simple.

I’ve been tossing up between two completely different paths that I can take and as I mentioned to you when I started the Quest for Freedom, I did say there’d be an element of choose your own adventure in it.

Now I’m pretty close to making this choice but there is still some sway here, some room for you to have your say.

And so, today’s episode is about why it’s okay to change your mind. Why you can choose to change your mind and why you are free to change your mind. And of course as always I would love your feedback on this episode.

It all kind of started recently. If I am really honest I’ve talked about this decision to take a business sabbatical this year and while I am still doing that, the business sabbatical itself has changed quite a lot in my mind.

I think at the time I made that decision I was very much like, I am so over 7 or almost 7 years in business and I am over doing all these things and I am just wanting a break.

And as I’ve stepped away from my business a lot of people have asked me, “How are you doing it”.

I am happy to explain that in this episode, but as I’ve removed myself bit by bit, I’ve realized it’s actually pretty hard to remove yourself from your own business when your business IS you. When you are a personal brand.

Had I chosen to go into the software development business, or a kind of a customized service that was part of a team and not dependent on me, it might have been way easier.

But I realized that some of my stuff is actually flawed, because the key things that I guess I give to my business, that are sort of irreplaceable (and I am not saying that from an ego driven perspective at all), but the things that I bring to my business that nobody else can really replace are the social capital that I have.

The relationships that I have with friends, with influencers, with partners, with companies who have been on this journey with me as I’ve grown my business, who have supported me along the way.

Where we’ve done promotions together, we’ve partnered together on really cool education aspects and we’ve gotten to know each other at conferences, at events and experiences.

And that’s stuff that you just can’t hand over to somebody else that’s coming in to replace you.

You can’t just say, “Hey! Here’s this awesome person that will be dealing with you now.” It just doesn’t really fully cut it.

This is by no means me hanging on to my baby or holding on to my business. This is the reality of things.

The things that drive revenue on my business all come down to relationships.

I’ve even noticed a little in my community just with saying, “Hey! I am going to be on a sabbatical!”, that people have been really supportive of it and saying things like, “Hey Natalie! That totally aligns with who you are and what you always preach to us.”

But I also feel there’s been a little bit of a drop away from people in the community, like just this general dip, and I am going to be straight up honest here. – my business over the last couple of months took a bit of a dive.

I think part of it was related to the brand new website, which was received extremely well. But changing hosting companies and SEO rankings kind of going down the toilet with that change …well we always knew that there’d be this momentary aspect when some of the rankings would drop and things would decline but then they’d stabilize.

We also switched over to all new systems ConvertKit, Teachable, Clickfunnels and while I think they’ve been an excellent change, there’s just that hand over time, in that change over there’s things clicking together and sticking together and working.

And all of that combined being done all at the same time, kind of played havoc with the business.

I think that in combination with the community kind of going “Where the heck is Natalie at?” in combination with ‘energy in versus energy out’.

I am a big believer that the more energy you put into something, the more energy you are going to get out.

“If you do a half-hearted job, you’ll get a half-hearted result. If you go all in, you’ll get amazing results.”

And so I think those three sets of combinations all affected the business. And had you talked to me a couple of weeks ago, I might have said:

“You know what? I am not sure I can take a business sabbatical”.

Things have kind of changed the minute I made that decision and made it public. Things changed –  it was like my business said to me, “Well, if you are buggering off, I might bugger off too.”

So the good news is that recently things have started looking up again and stabilizing and you know, the business is pretty self-managing. My awesome, humble, nifty, agile and talented team are doing a great job. They know what they are doing.

And I, as CEO and founder of my company, I am happy to step aside to a point, but I’ve also been somewhat reinvigorated (ironically) with the business.

I still love my community. I still love what I do and I think just even the thought of taking a break from it gave me a break from it.

Does that make sense?

Have you ever experienced that in your business?

Like when you kind of put everything in place to go  ‘I am going to step back for a bit’, and you think about how is that going to feel and what it’s going to look like.

And you start removing yourself a little.

You take a little less responsibility.

You put more responsibility onto others.

They do a great job.

You see things starting to work and you just ease off a little bit and you place time and importance on other things: new networks, new relationships, new friendships, new areas of learning.

And it’s like you are already having a bit of a refresher. It’s kind of like you are going on a mini holiday in real time.

I guess that is what’s happened to me in the last couple of weeks.

So as I said I thought I’d bring in some snippets from New Frontiers, but I don’t think this is the episode to do it in. I am going to bring that in in the next episode.

Because today’s topic is all about changing plans and why it’s totally cool if you want to change your mind.

And this is where I want to insert a little message from one my community members, Kim Morrisson, because she posted on my Facebook page the other day and I asked her to turn her comment into this audio message. So it could be included in this episode and here is what she said:

“Hi Natalie, Kim Morrisson here from Portugal. First congratulations on your book deal, so exciting! I loved reading your original Suitcase Entrepreneur book. In your Facebook Live, you said that it’s as if the world is opening up some fantastic new opportunities for you. And as a result you haven’t rethink what your plans for this year might be.

While I accept it, we need to plan in order to achieve our goals or we can drift aimlessly. Isn’t being able to change exactly what freedom is all about? The ability to change direction, follow your heart, rather than stick to what you originally planned otherwise we are just locked into a world that we can’t move from.

After all, your lifestyle property was one of your goals anyway. Maybe not in your plan for this year but does that really matter? I believe that your true freedom is actually having the opportunity to choose what you want to do and the direction you’re going. And that of course can change. I hope that helps.”

And I sat back and I thought, you know what Kim, you are actually right.

Like I’m always attempting to do the right thing, to be a guide to others, to show people the way, to prove that you can do whatever you want, that you get to design your lifestyle and you get to design your business to support that lifestyle.

And in doing so I kind of feel like I’ve become a little bit of my own poster child for be adventurous, be free, travel the world, do whatever you want.

And one thing that I wanted most was just to:

  • sort of settle, and be
  • own a lifestyle property
  • grow and develop my relationship with Josh
  • have chickens and a dog and;
  • BE in one place for a decent period of time  and;
  • experience my first winter in something like 7 years.

I realized that was okay. That was more than okay, because that’s what my heart desired.

Yet somewhere in this bubble of my intuition, in my years of experience in building this brand of adventure and freedom, I thought that might not be okay.

So thank you to Kim for bringing that up, and for the multitude of awesome people in my community and my friends and my networks, who have all been really supportive of this decision to step away from the business and to go on a business sabbatical.

And so when you next hear from me, I might have some very exciting news.

At this point of my time, I have two options:

The first option,  which I am going to tell you right now is the one that I thought I’d naturally be taking. At the start of the year I thought, “Great! I’ll hand over, train people up, get the business to a point that come first of April, my birthday month, I am going to take that entire month off for sure (and probably several months after that). I am going to go to Bali and run my retreat. I am going to celebrate my birthday in Bali with my family and friends and then I am going to head on to Portugal and surf and read books. I am going to go to Tony Robbins in London. I am going to stay in Europe for summer. And then I’ll come back to New Zealand, kind of like I do nearing summer. And just take it from there.”

Sounds tempting I know.

And then the second option was, “No I am going to commit and I am going to stick around in New Zealand. And I am going to build a community in my hometown of Wellington, where I grew up, but actually don’t really have a strong base of friends and people because I’ve been away for 10 years.”

That sounds really appealing. The sense of community on the ground. Not just globally, not just online and not just having to travel so far to meet people that I care about, but right here in my hometown.

And I’ve been away long enough that that excites me.

And then I thought I’d take that further like:

  • What about business opportunities here?
  • What about being on a co-founding team of a tech startup?
  • What about creating other business opportunities?
  • What about partnering with Josh?
  • What about partnering with my sister?

All these things that came into the light.

What about living in one place for more than three months at a time?  What about owning a place that feels like a real home?

Not that my apartment in Wellington isn’t awesome, but it’s kind of.. I am a little bit in transition when I am here. I’ve had Airbnb guests all the time. I’ve been away a little bit and even though I have loved having it as a base because it’s right in the heart of the city, it’s awesome.

But it’s not a home with nature on your doorstep. It hasn’t got animals right there. It’s not a real home. It doesn’t have a fireplace. You know?

Not that you need a fireplace to have a real home but.. I don’t know why I said that. So there are my two options.

And if I was to allow you to choose my own adventure, I’d say this.

  1. If you’d like Natalie to head of to Bali and onto adventures in Portugal with surfing, lovely people, sunshine and the freedom to do whatever you want, turn to page 45.
  2. If you’d like Natalie to go into an adventure, spend all her money on a big lifestyle property that she has no idea how to handle, get a dog and some free range chickens, turn to page 72.

I can almost hear you guys kind of going, “What the heck?”. Those are two such different decisions ….and they are.

This relates back to probably the first episode where I talked about what is a quest? And even the second episode where I sort of talked about this paralysis by analysis. This paradox of choice that you actually need limitations in order to be free.

Because when you have no limitations it can actually be quite devastating, which sounds so freaking ironic. But earlier this year when I had these big choices to make I was really in limbo.

I was just wishing somebody would give me a limitation. Say to me, “Natalie you need to stay in New Zealand for a whole year.”

If somebody has said that to me I would be like, “Okay, great!”.

Now I have a limitation, what are my freedom aspects within that? What can I do within that limitation? And I was like, “Oh my God! I could explore all of New Zealand. There are so many things within this country.”

If they’d said, “Natalie, you have to stay in Wellington”. I would have been like, “Great!”.

Even more of a limitation, but with so much freedom within that because the thing about limiting the number of decisions you have to make actually gives you more freedom.

That’s why Steve Jobs used to wear the exact same outfit to work everyday. So he didn’t have to think about or make a decision or spend time on what his wardrobe was.

That’s why people like bodybuilders eat the same thing every single day, which might seem really odd to you and me and boring, but they know exactly what they are going to eat, they know how to prepare it. It’s satisfying, it’s nutritious, it’s probably tasty, it’s one less thing to think about.

And I know when I was doing my body sculpting competition, I got into such a great routine being at the gym at 5:30 every single morning. Similar food every single day: chicken and broccoli, chicken and broccoli, eggs.

It actually made it incredibly freeing, because if I think back on that time I had very few decisions to make and that freed up my time to be able to do more thinking, to engage more in the work that I was doing.

It allowed me to be more present for people around me because I wasn’t filled with, “Where do I need to travel next? What do I need to book? How do I book the accommodation? Who do I need to see? How do I get there? What should I pack? How can i do this? How can I do that? How do I run my business at the same time? Who do I need to speak to? What timezone am I on?

Like seriously, it gets exhausting.

First world problem I appreciate, but one that I am kind of ready to put a little hold on.

I want fewer decisions. I want less freedom (weirdest thing ever but just stick with me). I want less freedom so that ultimately I have more freedom in the things that I really want to do.

If that didn’t really make sense to you I would love for you to listen to episode 4 where Connie and I talked about why freedom has dropped off her values list. It used to be number 1, it’s not even on it anymore.

We talked about why wanting freedom so much can actually make you a slave to it.

Now I just want to bring your attention to a short snippet about how to think less and live more – analysis paralysis. And this is by Preston Smiles, who’s a pretty big motivational guy on Youtube who does sort of beautiful poetry to get you to think about life abundantly.

This one I thought was just so pertinent what I am discussing here. How to think less and live more, let’s hit it:

 

The key part I’ve included in my podcast audio is this:

“You got to do something. You got to step up in your life and jump! So many people are sitting on the fence of life: watching and waiting and trying to figure out if it’s time. Well, it’s never going to be the right time.

The right time is now. Now, now, now, now! Every time.

Don’t wait for the right job or the perfect mate or the right money. “I got to pay my mortgage off before I live”. “I am going to take that trip two years from now when I get the right job”.

Live it now! Because you never know, you never know when that day comes.

We all have an expiration date and I have seen it too many times where people die with the dance still in them. We don’t want to die with our dance still in us.

You want to die with it all out on the field. You want to know that you left it all out on the field.“

So that’s where I am at. I am at this point of the time is right, right now.

I don’t feel like I’ve ever been a person to hold back on life. I feel like I’ve lived it to the full but one thing I’ve noticed on my journey through adventuring around the world is this absolutely desire.. just hear me out on his.. to have a dog.

I am a big animal lover and for those of you who have travelled with me, or been with me in person you will know that I pretty much stop and say hello to every single dog no matter what.

Like I got ringworm from a dog in the Caribbean because I was patting this stray dog and I didn’t realize I got that. But the point is you know, I am not afraid of dogs. I love them to bits and they just strike out this emotion of happiness in me and playfulness and abundance that I love.

And I’ve realized it for the last couple of years I’ve been talking about, “Oh I’d really love a dog, but you can’t travel with a dog when you’re living out of a suitcase.”

And I thought about it in the last couple of months, around Christmas time and I was like, “Well, Nat, you get to make a choice here. If you really want a dog then you need to adapt your lifestyle to have one in it.”

And it’s not like dogs are a huge problem that means you can never travel again. I have plenty of people that I’ve actually had as case studies in my book and on my blog who travel with their dogs every three months, they go somewhere different.

They go through the immigration and the forms for the dog and they come with them. And I’m like, “Awesome!”.

You know, it’s a bit more work but they get to have their lovable pooches with them. I’ve done house sitting where I’ve absolutely adored being with dogs and cats and any other animal.

I was like, if you don’t make time for this what if tomorrow never happened and you never had that opportunity to have a dog in your life again.

I’ve had a dog once in my life for about a year when I bought my first house. I was a lot younger and it was just a lot of responsibility and I loved Zoe to bits, but I rehoused her with an awesome family and a little dog when I sold my house a year later.

We had the coolest adventure year together. We were like best buddies. She is a beautiful dog, a Huntaway German Shepherd X, and just the lickiest, cuddliest dog in the world.

But that was ages ago, that was 2002 and I thought about it and I was like, “Is my lifestyle actually stopping me from the very things that I want to be in it?”.

So dog is one of those things I want to be in it.

The second thing that I want to be in it is nature. Nature on my doorstep. I want the ability to have a garden. I want to have an orchard. I would like to grow my own vegetables. I would like to get into organic farming.

I would like to understand and learn more about permaculture, which came to my attention big time at New Frontiers. I would like to build tiny houses. You guys know I am a minimalist. I would really like to understand how to build a tiny house. I would like to put tiny houses on my land.

I would like to help with the housing shortage around New Zealand and actually frankly, around the world.

And this just stemmed into a bigger and bigger and bigger vision that all started with sticking around in one place and following my dreams. So did you choose page 45 or page 72?

Let me know in the comments below.

And now I am going to divulge a little secret, I may have put an offer on a lifestyle property with Josh on Monday night, February 27th.

What the heck is a lifestyle property?

A lifestyle property sounds really fantastic doesn’t it? It sounds like you’re just going to live the dream. You are going to have an awesome lifestyle. You are going to relax with your pool and your tennis court and your beautiful house and your block of land.

But for most people who I know who are on a lifestyle property, it means you are taking on a project and a lot of work. So it might sound like you are going to sit back and relax and live the lifestyle but ultimately you are making a big decision.

So the property that we have put an offer in is over a million dollars (Crazy!).

It has over a hectare of land which is around 2.5 acres.. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms and just beautiful space and a really lovely entertaining area and a deck built the whole way around it.

It has ability to host family and friends which a the big thing on our must have list. It has a beautiful garden that can be even more beautiful if I get my hands on it and figure out how to garden. My mums an amazing gardener.

And it has a massive barn/implementation shed which the minute I saw it. I was like, “Oh! Co-working space. Oh! Tiny house creation. Oh! Crossfit gym. Oh! Office. Oh! So many things. Art workshop. Oh! holding events and retreats. So you know whatever I look at here in my life is always a business element to it.

And excitingly we saw this house on a Sunday. We put in an offer on the Monday. Our offer got shown on the Wednesday. It got accepted on the Friday. And it is subject to somebody else who has put an offer in the house who have to sell the property first.

So at the time of this recording we get to hear one way or the other: whether we got it and the other contract was relinquished or whether we didn’t.

And either way I am okay, because this entire process of looking at properties, figuring out our wish list together of what’s really important to Josh and I, of going through financial analysis of how to afford this – because that is a pretty big financial commitment, even for two people, has been great!

Understanding the commitment behind this like looking after the land, tending to a vegetable garden, creating an orchard, having animals like chickens and dogs and maybe more, as well as maintenance on the house, maintenance on the land and furnishing a house that’s a lot bigger than I am used to as a minimalist with really not much to my name – it’s all quite the change.

So pretty massive endeavor here, but I realized in this entire process of going through this analysis with Josh and doing a weighted matrix on what’s important to us and non-negotiables and everything that we wanted if this was our dream property, has proven to me big time that I would drop everything in a heartbeat to have a lifestyle property in New Zealand right now.

Right here, right now. Right here, right now. You know that song. If you don’t know that song I am not just singing to myself.

That is super exciting to me and I guess I just want to ask you this question right now is:

What are you putting off or telling yourself that you think you want? When you might be wanting something entirely different.

What are you not living up to in your life right now or pushing down the priority list because you think that you have to be a certain other way?

Or you think that you should be dealing life in a different way. Or you think that you need to be supporting other people before you support yourself first.

It’s your Freedom plan. It’s your quest for freedom. You have the right to change your mind. You have the right to choose.

  • I choose lifestyle property.
  • I choose creating a life with my partner Josh and all the exciting dreams that we’ve been scheming up.
  • I choose to go on a shorter business sabbatical but I am still going to my sabbatical.
  • I choose to run my business in the manner that fits me and still stay excited about it while stepping back from it.
  • I choose to build a community in my home country.
  • I choose to travel less for now. And I choose to be happy with my decision and to remain in the present.

And as you know this whole quest in Season 1 is about personal freedom and for me that is very much coming back to being present, being mindful, being grateful, being happy and choosing the best version of freedom for me in this moment.

And that’s exactly what I want for you.

So if you’ve enjoyed this, if you want to weigh in on this, If you want to help me choose my own adventure even though you pretty much know that I’ve made up my mind – then comment below and have your say!

Plus tune in next week for hacking happiness.

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Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 1

Stories we tell ourselves that need to change

So this April marks a pretty significant moment in my life.

I am turning 40 years young. For my birthday, I’ve decided to gift myself something special.

I want to be in the best shape of my life – physically and mentally. Where am I at on that?? Actually pretty close!

Which excites me. And it’s all come about in the last month or so. I quit telling myself stories that were unhelpful and put myself into the direct spotlight to get serious about committing to this goal.

These were stories like:

  • Oh when I’m traveling I’m surrounded by shitty choices of food
  • Oh I play Ultimate Frisbee and run around so of course I can drink alcohol at tournaments and eat pizza because I’m burning it off
  • It doesn’t matter that I’m staying up late at night and not getting enough sleep, I am an entrepreneur, I’m built tough!

Yeah those right there were all big fat lies, told to myself in an attempt to make me feel less guilty about the fact that I wasn’t making any changes in my life.

I kept buying chorizo and cheese and cheap but delicious Portugese wine thinking that because I was going surfing several days a week that I was going to be just fine, it wouldn’t affect me.

And it’s not like I gained weight. I was getting fit. But my energy levels weren’t great, I didn’t feel good about the food I was putting in my body. I was sluggish, less excited.

So let me ask you, what stories are you telling yourself about your health? Is it…

  • I could never give up my mid afternoon sweet treat
  • I need at least 2 cups of coffee to get through my workday
  • I am overweight, I always eat too much, I must have a slower metabolism than other people
  • I am not athletic
  • I try to lose weight but the pounds never come off, its genetic
  • I am too busy to eat healthy

The purpose of this exercise is to become aware of the stories you have told yourself around health. When we repeatedly think or say something, we start to hold this as part of our identity.

When willpower starts to fade, our habits start to reflect the identity and beliefs we have about ourselves.

Let’s be frank, the way you tend to do one thing, is the way you tend do everything.

Think about it.

The way you care for yourself will directly impact the way you present yourself as an entrepreneur.

Take a moment and think of three people you look up to in your field. Who you aspire to be like and who are successful in their businesses and their lives.

What do you think their mornings look like? What type of food do you think they choose to eat? How about exercise and mindfulness? Do you think that they have daily and/or weekly practice?

Your personal health and wellness is the health and wealth of your business as an entrepreneur. This is a mind-shift one needs to make to succeed.

Want freedom from the 9-5, want location independence? Well, you need to find freedom in your body and mind first and foremost.

What you eat impacts how you think and perform. How you move impacts your creativity and productivity. How you manage and harness your stress impacts how you communicate and present yourself.

You are your business and if you want your business to thrive, you need to thrive.

Ask yourself and get clear with what tools you use in your business to stay on track and motivated? Do you try to do it all alone? Are you a part of master-mind groups, have accountability partners and/or networking meetings?

YES!

The number 1 reason people fail as entrepreneurs (and with their own personal health) is trying to do it all on their own. We need accountability and support to succeed.

That is why I am so thankful I joined Karen and Sarah’s 30 Day Clean Living Challenge in January.

I personally went through this program and had a true transformation with my health and well-being and watched it impact my work.

I shot a very excited Vlog about it (or you can read the entire transcript below it).

Hey, it’s Natalie Sisson and I am feeling fit. I knew that I would now.

I am feeling fit, I am feeling energetic, I am feeling freaking amazing if I am really honest about it.

Because for the last three and a half, almost four weeks I’ve been on a 30 Day Clean Living Challenge, which ultimately means I am eating foods in the most natural state possible, where possible organic foods.

I am cooking like a mofo and this girl, never really cooks. I am loving what I am eating. I am creative in my kitchen which is over there. I

In addition to that, I am making smart food choices, I am sleeping better and I’ve taken up crossfit as opposed to ultimate frisbee, and tennis and gym workouts and it’s kicking my butt. And I am loving it.

And the point of this blog today, is that I just really wanted to talk about why don’t we invest in our health, the way we invest in our teams, in businesses, in travel, in holidays and everything else that we do, like why?

I just don’t understand like this thing here, this body is the most important thing in the world that we have.

And so now when I see people drinking coffee, like crazy by the way, one cup a day is okay. Eating fries, jumping out on burgers, filling themselves with alcohol.

I mean don’t worry, I’ve done all these before myself but always always in moderation. And going on in this clean living challenge I think was just the perfect kick up my booty, was the kick up the booty that I needed to finally focus on how awesome I could feel on everyday basis just by making better choices.

Now, let me take you back on a little story, so I think this has been coming for a long time for me because this year I am turning the young age of 40.

And my quest for turning 40 is to be in the best shape of my life at this upcoming age. And I feel like I am really really close to that and so I had that in the back of my mind for probably the last 6 or 8 months.

I mean don’t get me wrong, I play ultimate frisbee, I love going to the gym, I eat pretty well but you know when I was in Portugal there was chorizo, there was cheese coming out of everywhere which was amazing.

The wine is like 2 or 3 Euros for a fantastic bottle and I was just living life and enjoying. I was surfing, for sure. I was doing yoga, yes. I was working hard, yes.

But I wasn’t really looking after me. I was being very very overindulgent in many ways.

So I arrived at Christmas time and I was like, “You know you’ve got to make some pretty serious changes here”, because as an entrepreneur I don’t want to be tired part way through the day which I was starting to feel.

I don’t want to be, have that brain fog that we all talk about, I don’t want to turn to coffee to get my energy. I don’t want to do any of that.

And then this lady came into my life. How did I not ever know about Libby Weaver, Dr. Libby Weaver. This book Women’s Wellness Wisdom changed my life, thanks to a lovely lady, Karen who was away on this holiday, where she said, “Oh you should just read my copy”. I just got stuck in and I loved it so much I went and bought my own copy.

I can’t remember the last time that I bought a book about health and fitness, and that I bought a book that was not telling me what to do. It’s informing me of what I am doing to myself.

So much so that I was reading stuff in here and going, “Holy crap, why am I doing that to myself? News flash: I shouldn’t be”.

I just want to give you this, oh my God, that is so freaky, I am not kidding. I just opened to the page that I want to come to, so it might be called Women’s Wellness Wisdom but guys this one is for you as well. Okay so don’t worry.

But in this book, she goes over all sorts of things, around your skin conditions that you may have, sleep, about alcohol, about what caffeine does but she does it in a way like, “Here’s what is going on in your body when you do these things”, so that you step back and go, “Man, why am I doing those things?”
And the biggest eye opener for me out of many things in here is when she talked about the vicious cycle. So I am going to give you a little closeup of this and I want to talk you through it.

So basically here’s how it goes, you have coffee consumption in the morning, like one, two even three cups.

By the time it’s afternoon, you have a sugar crash because you have been carbo-loading and eating rice, pasta or bread at lunch perhaps.

So you basically have more coffee again around that time, or you have more sugar like donuts, and all those things just give you a bit of a rush.

And then by the evening, you have too much alcohol so then you have a shitty sleep and then you wake up in the morning feeling like crap so you go back to, yes, more coffee.

Basically, when we do this, we are just adding tons of toxins into our liver. And our liver is an incredible organ but there’s only so much it can do when you are throwing this crap at it.

So this is really interesting, liver loaders, that’s what she calls them; alcohol, caffeine, trans fats, refined sugars, synthetic substances like pesticides which are all over our food and actually also infections, for example, viruses such as glandular fever.

I actually had glandular when I was a kid, well, a teenager. I caught it off my friend. She was just exhausted for three months and then I got it and wondered why I felt exhausted. I picked it up in my bloodstream later, just a shocker.

So imagine being on caffeine, withdraws something all the time, being that lethargic that’s what glandular fever does to you. Not fun.

So anyway, I highly recommend this book. Here is where you can get it.

There’s just so many, so many good things in here. So this started getting me informed in a big way about my body, my health, my mindset.

And what I love is in the first chapter she basically says this beautiful thing which is, “I am hopeful that this book will offer you simple tools that foster and even healthier and happier life, helping you to appreciate even more deeply how miraculous your body truly is and the gift that you are to the world.” That just sets the tone for the rest of this book which is awesome.

So after reading that I then started in on the lovely Karen and Sarah’s 30 day clean living challenge.

Now Karen has been a member of my community, she has been a coaching client, she’s come to my retreats but I’ve seen her on this path of growing more and more and more. She’s just super passionate about real health and real energy.

And I ran this clean living challenge last year. They’ve run it several times and I didn’t partake, like I sign up and I did nothing. There was a daily email coming in and I pretty much ignored all of them. Sorry Karen and Sarah!

I was too busy, I was working too hard, I was travelling to much and frankly I didn’t even have access to a kitchen, I didn’t have access to groceries, it was just not good timing. And that was legitimate, it wasn’t an excuse. I feel that was legitimate.

This time, however, I was like, “Screw that, I am signing up”. So I signed up and started night at the jam at the time of this recording, it is the second of February. So I am into week 4.

Every week you get this really cool meal plan, you get like an idea of what you can eat each day, you get recipes that are just freaking awesome. And I took myself off to Moore Wilson’s which is a really great organic grocery store here.

It’s not all organic but they’ve got incredible quality food and I got the shopping list and I was like, “Yup, thanks Karen and Sarah.” And I took thirty minutes to buy a complete new pantry.

And I went to my pantry which is usually barren and to my fridge which is frankly usually barren because I am the digital nomad who travels and eats out and spends all her money on that. And I stocked it up, might even show you a bit of my pantry.

And everytime I open it now I am proud, I am like, “Ooh! What’s in there?” and it’s incredible and I started cooking. And I started reading the recipes, I started enjoying it and I started feeling it was quite cathartic experience and I started surprising myself quite frankly.

Because for those of you who know me well, you know I don’t cook, I purposely side out of the kitchen from when I was a kid so that I wouldn’t end up in the kitchen.

I don’t know, it’s a weird way of thinking but that is what I thought. I am actually quite a good cook, I just never really enjoyed it the way other things I do, there was work, there was business, there was frisbee, there was hanging out with friends.

And now, I get, I am no chef by the way but I get and understand why people actually love the act of it and putting love into your food and the taste, the sensation so that was Step 1: new pantry, new grocery list.

Step 2, become a cook. And some of these things are so super simple to do and cook and prepare and then you have it like two or three more meals out of it.

The third thing I notice was step 3 is heck, budget conscious. Like I’ve added up my because I am geeky like this. I’ve added up what I’ve spent on groceries and first shop was about a $150-$200 and I’ve added up what I’ve had on meals out since doing this challenge.

I’ve only eaten out about 6 or 7 times over the last three weeks and that combined has more than tripled what I’ve spent on groceries. So in the first week, I got 21 meals and I swear they cost me about $5 or $6 each and they were all super super healthy. And I just felt like I was filling myself with good stuff so that’s been an enlightenment for me.

Then the next step to that was going, “Oh organic!” because back to Dr. Libby Weaver, she talks about if you can, always buy organic. And it’s not just that the animals are being better bred, it’s the soil.

There is so much shit that goes into the soil that we are then consuming. So every single thing comes down to the soil and once in it and how plants grow and how foods grow.

So I’ve been switching to organic and stuff has been tasting great. It’s not that much more expensive, it’s much better prepared, there is no chemicals. You feel ethically more responsible on the whole. It’s just like this beautiful effect of everything feels better.

So then I found common sense organic, from my lovely friend Lizzy, who use to go to all the time like 8 years ago when she used to live in New Zealand and now I’m like waking up to it.

Then I had this epiphany and I shot a Facebook live video going, “What have I been doing all my life? Why haven’t I had more organic things? Why haven’t I actually been preparing beautiful, wholesome, healthy, yummy foods that give me energy and make me feel amazing.

Then the next thing that I noticed was, “Okay, fun going organic in food. I want to go organic in skincare”. So I went out and I research and I bought the beautiful “Antipodes range“. It’s gorgeous. It’s really lovely and that is awesome.

All organic, like Manuka honey, oh so good. Black fern bulgarian rose and Waiwerra artesian water, kiwifruit and Manuka honey, Vicenza Performance.

It’s so yum and It smells freaking amazing and just today, my lovely mom came by and she said, “Your skin is looking great”. I was like, “Yup”. I actually feel like younger from the inside.

So that was step 4 or 5 I can’t remember and then people on Facebook said are posting, skincare recipes make at home, you know, do it yourself which I’ve known about for a long time but I can’t actually do because I am in one place for a month.

Even our local supermarket New World’s gives out skincare recipes here – body scrubs for healthy skin.

So granted I will say doing any kind of challenge to get yourself back on track it is lovely to have a base and be able to have a kitchen and access to groceries and stores but I still feel you can do this pretty much from anywhere.

And then the next thing that’s come out of it is changing my exercise so about this time right across from where I’m shopping at Moore Wilson’s there’s this cool place called Urban Fitness.

Shout out to Mike. Mike, Michael and Dan actually. And it’s this awesome kind of like, just hipster urban workout space, has a big roll the door and inside there’s boxing bags and rowing machines and dumbells and kettle bells and bars and olympic rings.

I don’t know why I am doing all this stuff. And there I was finding myself at 6am in the morning or 6:45 or at 12:10pm,doing these crazy cool workouts that fully functionally stretch my body so much.

I thought it was pretty strong and fit. I had abs here like I was sore in my intercostal muscles for weeks. Everything was sore, I was walking up the stairs going “Oh God! I feel…” but it only lasted for like 2 or 3 days and this is me in week 2 and a half.

I just want to kind of like bounce around all the time.

So I don’t know what’s happened in the last three and a half weeks, I have literally transformed my world from the inside out and it all started with getting educated about why my body is amazing, why everything that I do and feed into here, feeds my mind, which then feeds into everything else.

So additional things that have come out of this, which I kind of thought might happen but not in so many ways, massive massive positivity shift.

I am a pretty positive person but now I am now in gratitude mode all the time. I am excited about things as a result of being  in gratitude mode and being excited and being positive and being happy.

I’ve got this abundance coming into my business, I’ve got sponsors from my podcast, in addition to that I’ve been like killing it with Airbnb recently, meeting all these awesome lovely guests, making more money through real estate, transforming my finances, just getting a grip on everything.

So all I can say is if you start here, with this beautiful body that you live in, and you treat it like the queen or the kind that it is, then it starts here which shifts the mindset into gratitude, into abundance, into positivity, stuff starts coming out of the woodworks to make your life awesome and things just get better and better.

So that is all I want to say to you, invest in yourself. I now fully understand what that means. And this is just being this whole set of transformation and I am still learning, I am learning so much and I love it.

I would love you to leave a comment below and tell me what you want to do to invest in yourself.

How good you will feel.

How amazing you would feel when you finally start treating your body with respect and having that evolved and spill over into every aspect of your life, relationships, sex?

Sex gets really good when you are feeling fit and great about yourself.  General all day energy, no brain fog, just massive clarity around everything.

It’s freaking amazing.

Want to see what this challenge is all about?

You’re in luck. I’ve convinced Karen and Sarah to run another 30 Day Challenge starting February 20th.

Head to nataliesisson.com/clean for deets. And if you miss this one they will do more this year. I’m joining another, for me it’s a no brainer.

Prioritise your health habits over the next month and watch your productivity, creativity and business thrive.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 1 / 2

Mind Your Mindfulness

So my first Quest for 2017 is around Personal Freedom – specifically mindfulness.

What the heck is mindfulness you may ask? Well I asked myself and the answer I came up with was it’s all about being present, and making conscious and enlightened choices.

Don’t get me wrong I’m no zen buddhist, I’m in no way enlightened and I’m still struggling to even remember to meditate each day using my HeadSpace app, let alone doing it.

But I just really want to dive deep into this and learn so much more about it, as I feel it’s the missing piece to achieving mindset freedom.

I do believe freedom is an attitude and a mindset.

So I want to discover how to tap into that no matter what my environment or set of circumstances. Because if I can do that, then I can help others to do the same and my quest for freedom will have more meaning.

This is probably a good time to bring back the Oracle I promised you from Episode 1.

I’ve never consulted an Oracle before, and the lovely Tracey, from Suburban Psychic, actually approached me after being in my community for years, reading my blog and watching my videos, and offered me a complimentary session.

The thing is, she did this by way of a comment on my YouTube video which I only found a few weeks ago when re-engaging with my channel.

Luckily she responded straight away and we set up a time to make it happen.

So what does an Oracle session look like? Well Tracey was super warm and friendly and the right level of woo-woo to practicality. She essentially pulls from things that speak to her during our session – such as books, and takes meaning from those.

What you’re about to hear is around 7 minutes in after she’d pulled a book called Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity

She opened the book at page 95…..

And she says, “a great deepening can occur in the dark like from the midst of falling to pieces because the pieces reassemble, new pieces materialize and old bits can be discarded or reshaped and I think that’s the process that you are going through. You let the walls down, the guards go home, the makeup falls off and your like your softest little self.”

So I guess that’s what this year is all about for me. In some ways the loss could be attributed to letting go of my business, as I go on my business sabbatical, to make way for more of Natalie to come out, and to explore my inner world as much as my outer.

Which is what has led me to this first quest on personal freedom, and the focus of today’s episode on mindfulness.

I first turned to this great blog post, that came into my inbox just at the right time, from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits who’s been, in his own words, ‘sporadically practicing mindfulness for 10 years’.

In 2016 he changed it up and really committed to it with amazing results.

Caveat, this has been on my mind (no pun intended) for two or more years now but 2017 is the year I’m going to cultivate mindfulness.

Here are a few good, no great reasons according to Leo:

  • You learn to be awake to the present moment more, and lost in the daydream of your thoughts less.
  • You begin to see your mental patterns that affect everything you do, and thus begin to free yourself of those patterns.
  • You learn to be frustrated less, and let go more. And smile more.
  • You learn to be better at compassion, equanimity, love, contentment.
  • You learn to be better at not procrastinating, and better at building better habits.

He goes on to say:

“I could go on about better mental and physical health, better relationships, less fear … but the reasons I’ve given are strong enough. It’s important stuff.

I’ll read out my fave from his blog post:

Commit to sitting daily for a month.

Leo suggests sitting everyday for a month. Tell people about it, set reminders on your phone and calendar, put a note somewhere you won’t miss it, and keep the meditation short — just 2-5 minutes to start with, until you become more regular. This is the foundational practice for being more mindful, so make a big commitment to sitting.

Find a group.

If you can find a meditation group in your area to sit with once a week, that’s ideal. It doesn’t matter much what kind of group it is (Zen, Tibetan, Vipassana, etc.), just meet with them and meditate however you like when you’re on the cushion. If you can’t find a group in your area, find a group that meets online. This commitment to a group deepens the practice. I’m certainly looking out for that here in Wellington and there are plenty going on. Now to commit. Meetup.com is probably a great place too.

Actually before I go on. I want to pause here at meditation. And go deeper into it…you with me?

What are the benefits of meditation?

Research shows that meditation and other relaxation techniques can help reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors and have been shown to help with anxiety and depression. Plus, they help us to stay centered and calm, shift our mental perception and change our reactions to varying situations, as well as allow us to connect with our inner wisdom.

Infact Vishen Lakhiani, founder of Mindvalley, and the awesome book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Termshas this to say about the benefits of meditation, that might surprise you

“As of 2015, some 1500 studies have been done that show that meditation improves just about every dimension of your being from your longevity to the way you feel and look to your creative potential, to how you function as a CEO, the ability to make an impact in the world, to even how you connect with your spouse, your kids, how you do in bed and how you age. All of us should be doing it but yet we don’t and for good reason; it’s tough, it’s complex, it gets boring. And with so many varieties and types, how do you even know where to begin? Plus it’s challenging, I mean staying focus, not falling asleep, clearing your mind, not getting bored out of your mind. Meditation can be tough but still remember, a 1500 studies and when you get it, it changes you. It makes you a whole new you. I believe every men, women and child should be meditating every single day. “

And I agree. I just haven’t figured out the art of how to do that yet, so that it fits with me and my lifestyle.

And that’s probably because I’ve been focusing more on an older style type of meditation, not the modern day type. Vishen explains further:

“Monastic meditation is what originated in the east thousands of years ago. It’s about clearing your mind, focusing on mantra, that’s a beautiful spiritual practice but if you are trying this out in the modern world, it’s not going to be easy nor maybe the best form of meditation for you. Monks many years ago could afford to disappear from society and meditate for hours. They had no family, no kids, no whats app messages or game of thrones reruns but in the modern world we need a different type of meditation. Not one about clearing your mind off, finding places of absolute silence, but a type that actually can help you elevate yourself not just spiritually but in your ability to function in the real world. To be better at your career, to improve your health, to improve your love and sex life, to boost your creativity if you are in a artistic profession, to boost your ability to connect with others. This style exists.”

So looks like I’m going on a quest to learn this second style and share with you how that goes.

What is my Hero name?

In episode 1 I talked about what a quest is because it’s the podcast name Natalie Sisson’s Quest for Freedom, your freedom.

I asked people to give me names that they thought were appropriate that I could use in this season, Season 1, as my hero’s name.

And I don’t really feel like a hero right now, but the point is I am the person going on this quest for you and I am going to be undertaking all these silly experiments and all the things that kind of make this special, so I figured how about having a name, and there were so many awesome comments in Episode 1.

First off, thank you for listening in and coming across to that episode. I haven’t seen so many comments in ages.

There some really cool answers in the comments, like Martin Hughes who suggested Libertas.

According to Wikipedia : “Liber’s associations with wine, inebriation, uninhibited freedom and the subversion of the powerful made him a close equivalent to the Greek god Dionysus, who was Romanised as Bacchus”

You know what they say “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom”.

Now I am not a beer drinker myself so I am going to rule that one out but great though.

However Samantha Thomas also said that Libertas is the Goddess of Freedom.. or maybe I shouldn’t rule it out so quickly.

Athena from Dan Flower cause he suggested that she is wise, courageous and inspirational. Thank you Dan! I am not quite Athena yet.

Jake Woehlke said Vipassana. In the Buddhist tradition that means to look into something with clarity. More specifically, it means to have a clear insight into the true nature of things. Which is pretty much what I am doing he says.

But the one that I ended up choosing was this one from Oddgeir Engdal who lives in Trondheim, Norway. He said Verdandi is one of the three “norns” of fate in Norse mythology. Her sisters are Urda and Skuld.

Verdandi is the keeper of what is, meaning which is occurring in this moment. She teaches us to accept the present, to live in the moment, to design and live a life free from the constraints of both what has been (Urda) and what will be (Skuld). Verdandi is a real freedom fighter.

So there were so many great suggestions but I am going with Verdandi.

So back to meditation.

Meditation for busy people

Yet if you’re like me you probably think you should be clearing your mind and thinking about nothing all the time.

I like that Emily Fletcher (an expert that Mindvalley turns to for meditation) tells us that’s not the case at all. Here’s a small snippet from her Awesomeness Fest Talk.

“We don’t talk too much about meditation and sex in the same sentence of the same conversation because I think that secretly we think, “Well I shouldn’t be thinking about sex while meditating”.

First off we think we shouldn’t be having thoughts at ALL when we are meditating. Now the number one misconception about meditation is that we think that we should be able to give our minds a command to stop which is totally impossible.

The mind thinks involuntarily, just like the heart beats involuntarily ,and so judging ourselves at how good we are at meditation based on how good we are at stopping our minds from thinking is always going to make us feel like we are failing, and then we are going to stop.

So if we think secretly, certainly we shouldn’t be thinking about sex right? And in our meditation, even about sex or even getting aroused like, “Oh oh, I am going to get in trouble.” Right?

Because we sort of have deified this meditation practice, we think that it should be like holy and if I am meditating I’m just thinking about monks or enlightenment, or robes or caves or something. And I don’t really know how you think about enlightenment.

I think enlightenment happens as a byproduct of you getting rid of stress in your body and coming back to your true authentic full potential. In India there are two sort of branches of meditation. There is a style of meditation that is made for monks and there was a style of meditation that was made for people like us, people with busy minds and busy lives.

Obviously there are thousands of different styles but they sort of come from either style that was made for monks or a style that was made for what we call householders. And this was news to me when I first started learning about meditation because  I thought, whatever monks are practicing it must be like super powerful, they must be like vibrating or levitating or something because they are monks.

But actually it’s the other way around. If you have a job and kids and stuff to do, you have less time in your day with which to meditate so you actually need to get in a really clean house so that when you come out of that meditation you have more bliss, fulfillment and joy to give to the people, places and things around you.”

And to complete my round up of research and learning to date, here’s a little segway into a conversation with Karen, whose 30 Day Clean Living Challenge I’ve been doing for almost 4 weeks and it’s hands down amazing.

Want to learn more about that go to nataliesisson.com/clean for a free upcoming workshop.

I’ll just give you a moment while you go ahead click that link and get signed up….

I jumped on a call with her to I ask her more about meditation given it’s part of the challenge, and any tips she had for just getting started, given it’s the only part of the challenge that I have well and truly failed miserably on.

Me: “But the thing that I am sucking at is meditation and it’s not that I suck at it, I am physically not making time. What do you do because I know you have a hundreds of clients do this, what is some of your fun tips for just like know you can make this work and the benefits of it. I always read about the benefits and I’m like I should be doing this every single day.”

Karen: “Yup for sure. Well one of the things that really helps is to change how you think about it. Other times people think that they have to stand half an hour meditating or they’ve got to have the right space or environment. They kind of overthink what they need to do and you really need to just start small, especially if you are a first time meditator, it can be difficult to start including it into your routine.

So start small, literally start with 3 minutes. There are 3 minute recorded meditations you can use. Because what you want to do is try and build the habit first rather than try and go too hard too quickly. Even if you start with three minutes, three times a week and that feels doable for you, then you can build it from there. “

Here are some I googled and did in a row (9 mins total!):

3 Minute Breathing Space Meditation

The 3 Minute Mindfulness Meditation

3 Minute Mindful Breathing Meditation

Ok so hopefully that’s given you some impetus to make no more excuses and just give it a shot.

Now back to Leo, on other ways you can practice mindfulness.

Practice mindful eating.

Leo admits that he doesn’t practice this as much as he should. I’m going to admit I rarely do this.

As he says “ it’s a good example of how you can take something you already do every day, and use it as a meditation. Simply commit to doing nothing but eating — single-task instead of multitasking. As you eat each bite, pay attention to the food, the textures and flavors and colors. Notice when your mind wanders. Savor the food. Showering, brushing your teeth, washing your dishes, walking and sweeping are other good activities to use as meditation.”

That last part I can totally relate to.

In the last 2 weeks, since starting a 30 Day Clean Living Challenge (register for thee upcoming workshop), I’ve been brushing my teeth with intention, taking time to cleanse my face using this cool tool that massages your face for 2 mins and is kind of relaxing….and being super conscious about what foods I’m consuming, how my body feels, how my energy levels are…ok I’ve gone a bit off track from mindful eating, but it’s all related.

This next one is a biggy for me

Watch your frustration.

As an Aries my ruling part of my body is my head. I go head first into everything. If you’re into astrology my symbol is the ram – think headbutting everything, and impatience is our least virtuous value (I assure we do have many great qualities), but that ain’t one of them – aside for when you use it to get a shit load done.

Leo states: “When you get irritated, frustrated or angry … let it be a mindfulness bell! It is a great opportunity to drop out of your story, and notice how your body is feeling. What got you hooked? What story are you telling yourself? What is your mental pattern when you get hooked? What is the physical feeling in your body at this moment? Practice as much as you can!”

Practice yoga or mindful movement.

Yoga is moving meditation, and I highly recommend it. I often say I feel like a million dollars after doing yoga. So why the heck I don’t do it every day still stumps me.

I’ve been doing it a lot more recently and I feel strong, supple, powerful and stretched. I feel calmer, I breathe more deeply and I walk around in a much more peaceful state.

And while I discovered a yoga centre 60m from my apartment in Wellington, I use YogaGlo.com to practice through online classes anywhere ..anytime.

Leo suggests if you aren’t drawn to yoga, try walking or running or doing other exercise while trying to pay mindful attention to your body and breath. Either way, see it as an opportunity to meditate as you move.

And finally…

Journal & review regularly.

As a teenager from like age 14-19 I wrote in my diary every freaking day. Or if I missed an entry I could up the next day.

And I wrote screeds of rather useless babble about my day and my friends and school and relationships and things that don’t really seem of consequence now …but were important to me then.

And it used to calm me. Especially if a friend at school had decided that day to ignore me (I tell you Scorpio friends are so temperamental and mysterious)!

Back to Leo’s tip: “The best learning is deepened by reflecting what you’ve been learning about, reflecting on your obstacles and challenges, reflecting on what works and what doesn’t. You evolve your learning through reflecting. Journaling is a great tool for that — it helps you reflect in a mindful way.

Journal daily, weekly, or monthly, reviewing what you did the previous day (or week or month) and what you learned from it, and what your intentions are in the coming day, week or month.”

Thanks Leo. I personally love Penzu.com which is an online journal, as well as the Five Minute Journal – the real physical book, not the app. Here is a fun video I did about it and how to use it.

The point here is to pick a few of these and play. Practice and see what happens. Which is pretty much my motto for the entire Quest for Freedom!

I’d like you to take a moment and ask yourself:

What does mindfulness mean to you?

Where could you add in more mindfulness… work, eating, communicating with a partner?

How do you talk to yourself? Is your mind running you ragged or does it keep you focused and driven?

Just like everything in life, mastering our inner dialog takes practice.

So let’s do it right now, together shall we? Just a 30 second meditation that’s all I ask.

This one is from my dear friend Natalie MacNeil, who started SoulSeconds .com to provide meditation and mindfulness for busy people.

Here’s one from her site that’s a 10 Second Stillness Practice – if we can’t even find 10 seconds a day for ourselves then seriously, what hope do we have? Ok let’s go

Now that wasn’t so bad was it?

If you’d like, you can enter in your email to get fun, insightful and entertaining emails from me, where I’ll share snippets of wisdom I’m finding on my quest and the occasional enlightening or amusing VLOG (that’s a video blog).

I’ll surprise you by popping into your inbox from time to time. How often? Well I don’t know as for once I’m not sticking to a schedule.

Since when did a hero on a quest schedule their shit out? Come on….gimme a business sabbatical people!

Tracey is available at www.suburbanpsychic.com for Oracle Sessions – for those evolving souls who really want to be exposed to their blind spots!

People are more than welcome to head on over to makegroundforit.com – a 4-week online course (with an additional 12 months of group coaching) to provide the understanding and the tools they need to shift their mindset and register for the next intake.

Tune in to the next episode where I reveal the next part of personal freedom which is all around getting in the best shape of my life.

Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 1 / 10

What is a Quest?

For the last 7 years I’ve been running my business The Suitcase Entrepreneur from all over the world, while living out of the suitcase and going on adventures.

This year, in 2017, I’ve decided to fire myself.

Yup, that’s right. I am quitting.

I am taking a business sabbatical from my own business and instead I am taking YOU on a Quest for Freedom.  Your freedom.  I’m so freakin excited to do this.

To understand why the heck I am, here’s a bit of backstory into me. This is actually taken from my TEDx talk last year called ‘The Surprising Truth About Freedom’ (feel free to just watch from 12:12-15:44).

Why tune into this podcast?

After watching, I hope you can understand why I’ve named this podcast Natalie Sisson’s Quest for Freedom, because as I mentioned, I’m on a hunt to understand what freedom really is.

This podcast is part audio journal, part narrative and part ‘choose your own adventure’.

It will be divided into Seasons (just like on TV) and each season will be a different quest around freedom. I’m starting with Personal freedom, and I’ll break that down more in Episode 2.

What is the definition of Freedom?

First off let’s attempt to better understand freedom (or maybe expose why this is no ordinary quest I’m going on).

Over the years I’ve asked a LOT of people what their definition of personal freedom is and I am starting to see a pattern in their answers.

A couple of Friday’s ago I was having dinner with friends and new acquaintances, listening to music and discussing all sorts of topics. So I decided to whip out my new Zoom H6 recorder and ask them a question for my new podcast.

They all agreed, so without any background I just launched into my question which I posed to them which was: “What’s your definition of freedom?”

Here’s what they had to say:

“Deciding when you want to wake up in the morning, where you want to be and deciding what you want to do for the day.”

“Freedom for me is abundance but it’s conditional on the freedom of others. I am not free if other people aren’t free.”

“There are a lot of different types of freedom, but the most important freedom is the freedom from our own minds, and that if freedom is dependent on external factors then it’s not truly free.”

“I believe that the only thing that we are actually in control of is how we react in the moment and having an internal sense of freedom to be able to react as we choose is the ultimate freedom.”

“Choice. You just get to choose freely whether it’d be a monetary thing or just your thoughts or your reactions.”

“Free is something that doesn’t cost anything”

Do any of those resonate with you? I go on to say in my podcast:

“There’s also a price to pay for too much freedom. I feel like I experienced that a few weeks ago when I was trying to make a big decision in my life, and I realized I was so free in choosing either one, that I almost felt paralyzed for the first time. There was too much freedom. You have to have some boundaries and some limits within which to feel free.”

So as you can see from this discussion…..I’m really no closer to uncovering a definition for freedom.

And perhaps it’s un-defineable.

Perhaps this whole quest is going to impossible, but I can’t wait either way because this is a year like no other.

I’m firing myself and taking a business sabbatical to become a student of life, and go on a quest to find freedom.

What is a Quest?

Now that we’ve established the challenge in defining freedom, I thought understanding what a quest is would be a logical next move. So back to my friends for their ideas around this:

“It’s like bigger than yourself. There will be obstacles, there will be doubt, there will be naysayers, there will be almost insurmountable odds but your values and what’s inside of you pull you forward beyond what you think is possible and achieving your quest will be one of the greatest memories for a parts of your life.”

“A quest is fundamentally a search for meaning. It’s about trying to find and discover meaning.”

“Is quest the root of question?”

And yes is the answer to that question. I looked it up on the interwebs to find it is from late Middle English: from Old French queste (noun), based on Latin quaerere ‘ask, seek’.

According to the dictionary, because all intrepid people going on a quest would of course refer to a dictionary first right….. a quest is both a noun and a verb.

noun

  1. a long or arduous search for something.

That sounds really freaking fun doesn’t it… long and arduous? Ah no thanks.
The verb came up with much better results in my opinion

  1. search for something.
  search, seek, look, hunt, pursue, investigate, explore, probe, inspect

    • “his eyes quested to left and right”

That all sounds much better. But if you ever hear me saying “My eyes quested to the left and right” I’ve either lost the plot or I’m exploring a medieval festival and getting in character.

According to Wikipedia a quest serves as a plot device in mythology and fiction: a difficult journey towards a goal, often symbolic or allegorical.

Tales of quests figure prominently in the folklore of every nation and ethnic culture…. The moral of a quest tale often centers on the changed character of the hero.

So I guess for the purposes of Natalie Sisson’s Quest for Freedom podcast…. I’m the hero? Which also means I’m the one who has to go through the good, the bad and the ugly.

I am a walking, talking human experiment, so that you can sit back in your armchair at home, or on your drive to the city, or while you’re enjoying a relaxing pedicure, and listen to me do all the hard stuff, the grueling, intense, exciting, thrilling, daring and at times, prob mundane things I need to do to achieve on this Quest for Freedom.

And I’m ok with that. You know. I’ll take it on the chin.

Partly because it’s my idea and all so I have no excuse to complain. And partly cos I kind of like the idea of being the guinea pig.

First things first I feel like you guys need to give me an appropriate mythological made up Hero’s name.

Do me a favor and humour me.

Leave a comment below with your idea for my ‘hero’ name. I’ll choose the best one, and for season one will henceforth call myself that name and you’ll get your name in the credits.

My favourite definition of a quest, because I found it so fitting, was from Vocabulary.com

A quest is all about seeking something important, and it often involves a journey. You would travel the world in a quest for gold. You would not travel to the front of the lunchroom in a quest for tater tots.

Ha. That’s one heck of a definition. They go on to say:

Knights in the Middle Ages were forever taking on quests––most famously to find the Holy Grail. In modern times, you can quest without ever leaving home, thanks to the Internet.

A scientist might embark on a quest to find the cure for cancer. A detective might quest for the truth. It’s worthwhile noting here that quest is also a verb that means bark with prolonged noises, of dogs. Perhaps something I can incorporate into the show?

Unintentionally I chose this word because it sounds grandiose, but in a good ol down to earth way. And probably because as a kid I loved Greek Mythology and read books like Odysseus, or Ulysses, depending on which side you gun for more. Same hero. Same quest. Different name.

Unbeknownst to me however is the Quest is one of 7 Types of Story Plots you can use when writing, or making a movie!

According to Liz Bureman over at The Write Practice:

“The Quest is a search for a place, item, or person that requires the hero to leave home in order to find it. Sometimes the item is just a MacGuffin to drive the plot along.

I’m going to pause to explain here, as I had no idea what a MacGuffin was, but if you’re a fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark, it’s the thing the hero needs to find on their journey to get to the real important thing. So in this case the golden monkey head Harrison Ford finds in the tomb, not the actual ark.

Back to Liz:

“Other times the thing driving the quest is specific to the story’s circumstances. Either way, the hero is leaving home to find whatever the heck the story demands, and we get to come along for the ride.”

Sounds fair to me. You game to come on this ride with me? You’re not going to leave me all alone out here are you?

To show you’re serious if you’re not subscribed to my show on iTunes and you want to follow along on Season One then head to nataliesisson.com/itunes and it will take you straight there! You can do the same by heading to nataliesisson.com/stitcher too.

Ok here’s where Liz got me thinking. She went on to describe the characters in a quest and I realized I’m going to need a crew. You see a quest is the plot type most likely to have a group of main characters rather than one protagonist in the main eye of the story.

Shiiiiittt and here I was thinking this was ALL about me! Nope apparently not.

According to Liz I should have:

  • A close friend who is loyal to our hero, but doesn’t have much else going for him or her;
  • A sidekick who is the polar opposite of the hero mentally, physically, and emotionally;
  • A generic mass of identity-less bros who don’t get names because they’re not alive long enough to matter; or
  • A balanced party of brains, heart, and strength who support the hero, or who count the hero as one of their own.

So I guess before the next episode I need to find some of these characters to make this more enticing right?

Ok I’ll be back in the next episode with some characters, I can’t guarantee they’ll fit the bill but heck, this is my quest so I get to choose them.

It may even be you if you play your cards right!

Whereever you’re tuning in or reading this from around the world, I’m sending you a BIG virtual hug of thanks and gratitude for tuning into to the very first Season and Episode of Natalie Sisson’s Quest for Freedom.

If you want to make my day leave a comment below to:

  • tell me my Hero name
  • simply say hi, and;
  • add your own definition of what freedom means to you.

Go ahead and make sure you subscribe to the show in any podcast player you have, and find me on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Google Play and iHeartRadio.

Tune in to the next episode where I let an Oracle tell me what I can expect in 2017….

Yep I consulted an Oracle…or more over the Suburban Psychic approached me to do a session with me. And here’s just a snippet of what she had to say:

“There’s a part of you that doesn’t want to know stuff, and there’s that little part of you that is giving permission to you to dive in deeper, to explore further, because you got this amazing watch dog in the ego.

If a wave is crashing, coming towards you you don’t try to get over the top and scoot your way around it. You got to dive into that sucker and that’s the only way you are going to come out the other side without being thrown on your head and getting sand in places that you don’t want to even talk about ”

Intrigued? Make sure you jump in and sign up to updates via email so I can share with you when each episode goes live.

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