Lara Morgan is an entrepreneur, former CEO of Pacific Direct and co-founder of aromatherapy fragrance brand Scentered. Here, on Blue Monday - the gloomiest day of the year - she explains how to be more resilient in work and at home, for a happier life.
As an entrepreneur, I know only too well that business can be challenging. But the one thing that’s key to success? A positive mindset - at work and home.
Your attitude is pivotal to leading a life full of exciting experiences and in meeting interesting people. Simply, you have to believe that you can always go further and faster.
Easier said than done, you’re probably thinking. So here are some of the tools and tactics I use in my daily life to build the resilience required to stay positive. Not to mention juggle all that’s expected of me in parenting, being a good partner, friend, mentor, coach and boss.
1) The plan is all important
I schedule my time well in advance and in minute detail. I never go to bed without being very clear on my plan of attack. I get my stuff together for whatever it is I’m tackling the next day, in the expectation that the alarm might not go off. If I don’t think I can achieve this? I change the plan in advance to make it work. Knowing this, I can sleep well.
2) Give yourself ‘grey time’
This is a buffer - a blocked out appointment with myself - which I slot into my all-too-relentless schedule.
So when each day begins and I have a plan, and within that plan I have blocks of grey-time, meetings, and things I want to get done. Grey-time is important to help me keep up and stay aligned - it’s my space to think and review.
3) Communicate effectively
I use texting for quick stuff, or urgency and to make sure I’m in touch as much as possible. But I also communicate in advance when I’m going to be unavailable. I am not a slave to email.
4) Some things you can’t predict...
Inevitably stuff happens - sometimes at the very start of the day you spill toothpaste down your shirt. But having a plan helps you to be agile, organised and have a mindset that allows you to ride above hassle.
I love the saying, ‘It is your choice as to how you feel’. I choose not to be negative, not to look backwards, and to only think about positive outcomes and solutions. I don’t let petty things get me down. This resilience is life-changing and will positively wipe out the silly things that I sometimes observe others wasting valuable time on.
5) When negativity calls
I have tools to cope with negativity. I use deep breaths to get through most things. When someone is rude or puts me down, I never lower my own standards. I also accept criticism and know how to apologise. I’m always looking to learn and improve - and this means I need to cope with feedback.
6) Try to make everyone’s day better
My Mum taught me this marvellous skill. I gain a huge amount of enjoyment and get help from all manner of people because I aim to engage, have a giggle or learn through showing interest. Taxi drivers and hotel staff are a font of all knowledge in new cities.
I suspect I get to places faster, snag better rooms, seats and support simply because I work hard to be polite - even when I am stretched, pushed and, some would say, stressed. I choose to consider stress as more of a positive than a negative. It’s all about mindset.
This is my most important skill. It allows me to be brutally direct in my desire to milk everything out of every opportunity.
I feel as though my life is a ticking clock. I’ve set myself an ambitious goal: to be all that I can be. So I constantly review all the important things I want to achieve on my personalised pie chart. Each section measures my most important endeavours and I sense check these regularly.
8) Don’t ignore your feelings
I measure outcomes in many ways – but I do think how one “feels” matters a huge amount. I have a single word that sense checks my balance in life: do I feel content?
How you feel about yourself is so important for a positive mindset, especially in tougher times. Money also does not buy you health and wellbeing, so you have to work at these things. Make choices to eat healthily and to take exercise daily. I often walk (very fast) between meetings. I get calls done and I stretch my legs at the same time. Learn to get more value out everything you do and remember there is no such thing as perfect - so just be grateful for every healthy day.
9) Listen to instinct
Take small steps and sodding big leaps of faith by following your gut – particularly when it comes to people.
10) Be kind to yourself
Reward yourself and celebrate your own determination and bravery. Always laugh at your growing audacious belief in yourself. You are what you choose to be in life and you can choose to surround yourself with people, tactics and methods for coping with tough challenges.