How isolation has inspired me to start my new career.

Last week, I wrote about my thoughts on seeing a Financial Advisor at the tender age of 25.

The purpose of the appointment was to thoroughly assess my finances, in order to begin carving out the lifestyle I want while remaining financially stable and independent.

For the record, I did go ahead with the appointment, and I got tremendous value from it. But this is only one half of the equation.

In order to start travelling the world full-time, I need a flexible income working in a job which can be done from anywhere.

There are probably many ways to do this, but only one I’m really interested in.

I want to become a freelance writer.

Why freelance writing?

Writing has always been a passion. I’m a copywriter at Australia’s largest online travel agent – it’s literally already my day job.

But in my current job, I’m tied to my desk. I’m required to collaborate very closely with my team all day. Aside from this mandatory work-from-home period, I’d never get the green light to work remotely. Taking off to the other side of the world, choosing my own hours or working in a different time-zone as the rest of my team sounds like a dream for me and a massive headache for my employer.

All of this time in isolation has made me hyper-aware of my twenties slipping through my fingers.

In the last couple of years I’ve denied myself the life I truly wanted because I felt I should be finishing my degree, earning more money or gaining more experience in my chosen field of study.

Now, it’s looking like international borders may not open until well into 2021. How much more of my time will I waste coasting along?

I already know how to write. I just need to know how to freelance.

I have no idea how to come up with a story idea which I know people will be interested in reading. I don’t know how to pitch it to a publication, or how to bill them, or how to find interview subjects, or where best to get statistics and hard facts from.

So, I decided to begin a freelance writing course online via the Australian Writer’s Centre.

So far, it’s been absolutely fantastic. I’m halfway through week two and have already learned SO much.

Even the simplest thing, like how to effectively analyse a publication to understand their audience and discern whether it’s the right home for your story.

So many lightbulb moments. So much learning.

The more I learn, the more excited I am to start building a portfolio and a client base and gtfo of this house and off on my next adventure.

Are you a freelancer? I’d LOVE to hear any tips and tricks you have for the industry in the comments below!

Am I too young to see a Financial Advisor?

So here’s the deal. I’m 25.

I still live at home, my annual salary isn’t anything to scream about and I have no major assets or debts (aside from the money I owe the Bank of Dad which I borrowed to help buy my car).

In my opinion, I’m a fantastic and consistent budgeter, a good saver and I generally live well within my means.

I’m good at setting goals and achieving them if I’m passionate about them.

This is all great if I want to coast along like this for the rest of my life.

The issue is, I’ve fallen in love with my early-to-mid-twenties lifestyle and I kind of want to make it a permanent thing. But the way I’m going, it’s not financially sustainable.

I basically save up a huge wad of cash, go travelling for a year or two, spend it all and come back empty-handed, having to start from scratch.

I move back in with my Mum, have to find a new job and start to build up my bank account again.

I scrimp and save and work my ass off at 2 – 3 jobs until my balance is looking healthy again.

At this point, I move into a share house with some friends, start settling into a normal life in my home town.

Then I get itchy feet, bundle up my hard-earned dough, sell almost all of my possessions and take off again.

Work, save, travel, repeat.

I absolutely love it.

But as of late, I’ve taken a keener interest in my finances. I’ve been reading books, listening to podcasts and surfing the internet to learn all things money.

Because I’ve woken up to the hard, cold fact that I cannot do this forever.

I don’t want to find myself in 10 years time, having lived the good life but with no financial security to show for it.

I don’t want to fall in love, then try to start a family with no way to financially support it, and have to rely on my partner to do so.

What I want is to live the life I want now, but to be secure in the life I might want later.

Enter: Financial Advisor.

Here’s what I know –

  • One of the best ways I can plan and grow my wealth for the future is to start investing now.
  • I don’t want to buy a house, because A) I can’t afford it and B) it doesn’t suit my lifestyle.
  • Investing in shares is one of the more flexible and financially rewarding ways to invest.
  • It’s also one of the riskiest ways to invest.

Here’s what I don’t know –

  • How to start investing.
  • When to start investing.
  • How much to start investing.
  • What platform to invest on.
  • How much it’s going to cost.

My hope is that a Financial Advisor can provide the guidance I need to be able to turn my current lifestyle into a financially viable way to continue living.

So, am I too young to see a Financial Advisor? It won’t be cheap, and with my limited assets/debts, there’s a chance the cost will outweigh the benefit…

How silly. That’s just my inner pessimist speaking.

If seeing a Financial Advisor can help me to create the life I want with financial stability and freedom, the benefit is priceless.

Do you have any experience with a Financial Advisor? What age did you start seeking financial advice? Please let me know in the comments below!

Hero image by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

5 things I won’t be rushing back to after this pandemic

Here in Melbourne, we’ve begun to peel back some of the lockdown restrictions. For the first time in a long time, I was able to visit one of my favourite parks and curl up on a blanket in the sun with my Kindle.

I have never seen so many people at this park in my entire life.

Families were everywhere; having picnics, riding bikes, sun-baking, reading, walking. Some people played music, most were laughing.

It’s the same at my local park where I walk in the afternoons – the number of dog-walkers, joggers and families flocking to the oval has increased ten-fold in the last few weeks.

With more time on our hands and fewer things to do to fill it with, exercise is on the rise – I know I’m certainly more active than I’ve ever been.

People are spending more time outdoors, as it’s the only place they can go.

I think it’s beautiful.

And I think, sadly, it will change when the restrictions are lifted further.

Everyone is itching to get back to normality. But maybe we need to ask ourselves the question – what aspects of ‘normal’ don’t serve us?

Although there are many things I’ve missed, I can think of a few that I hope have changed for good. Here are 5 things I won’t be rushing back to:

1. Skipping my daily dose of vitamin D

In our busy lives, one of the first things to often fall by the wayside is spending time outside in the fresh air and sun.

If you’re anything like me, your workday probably looks like this:

  • Get up at 5:30 am
  • An hour session at the gym
  • Get to work
  • Quickly scoff some lunch at midday
  • Back to work
  • The homebound commute in horrendous traffic
  • Walk through the door well after dark, scrap together some dinner and mindlessly watch something on Netflix in bed

I’m not just talking about getting some exercise at the park. I’m talking feet to the grass, drinking in the sounds, sights and smells of Mother Nature.

This time in isolation has helped me to realise that I’m happier outside.

2. Poor quality, distracted time with loved ones

Now that our restrictions have lifted to the point where we can visit family and friends in each others’ homes, I’ve woken to the fact that so much of the time I’ve spent with loved ones in the past is poor quality.

Whether it be going to the movies, having a Netflix night at home or meeting up for lunch just to bury ourselves in our phones in order to post it all over Instagram, we often spend time together without really spending time together. Without really being present.

The past two nights I’ve caught up with friends and we were so happy to see one another, we didn’t touch our phones or laptops or TV remotes once.

Just hours of laughter, stories and genuine connection.

3. Mindless spending, needless buying

With nowhere to go and nothing to do, my bank account has sat relatively untouched, aside from bills and living expenses.

And you know what? I’m don’t feel I’m missing out on anything. I don’t crave expensive takeout, or splurging on unnecessary knick-knacks or pieces of clothing.

In my version of ‘normal’, I buy food to eat even when I’m not hungry, just because it’s there. I treat myself to that extra cocktail on a night out, or to that dynamite dress that I don’t yet have an occasion for.

Since this period in lockdown, I’ve become perfectly comfortable with the things I have and I’m suddenly hyper-aware of how much I actually need.

4. Stifling my inner book-nerd

Oh, how I loved to read as a kid! Why is it that I barely do it anymore?

It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed, but not always something that I’ve made time for.

Why do I pass up a good book for another episode of some shitty reality TV show? Why do I deny myself one of life’s simple, yet incredibly worthwhile and transformative pleasures?

In isolation, I’ve found the time to fall in love with reading again and it’s something I’m determined to continue on the other side of this nightmare.

5. Writing for play, not just for work

I started this blog to keep a regular writing practice while the writing I usually do for my job was put on hold.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written freely – about my thoughts and feelings, about things that interest me.

In the beginning, I assumed this online diary would end as isolation did. But now, I’m not so sure I want it to.

I like blogging. I like stabbing away at the keyboard without wondering if it’s ‘good enough’ or if it will pay well. I like writing for me instead of for someone else.

So I think I will continue blogging – although, I suppose my blog will need a makeover once it’s no longer a diary of someone in iso.

Have you found any silver linings through this pandemic, or identified any ‘normal behaviours’ that you hope you don’t revert back to?

My first Mother’s Day with a truly strained Mother-Child relationship.

This was not the post I planned to write today.

It’s Monday morning here in Australia. I’ve taken a couple of days off work to nurse my emotional health.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day – a day which is designed to celebrate our mothers and our relationships with them.

My younger brother and I took a lot of time and care in planning a special morning for her, considering we would usually go out for breakfast together but can’t this year (for obvious reasons).

I bought personalised cookies and a custom-made jar of bath salts especially for stress-relief. He was to pick up some flowers and coffees for us on his way over from where he lives.

I spent Saturday afternoon cleaning up our carport, setting up our outdoor furniture and decorating it so we could enjoy breakfast there together.

And then on Saturday night, it all went to shit.

At what point do you stop compromising your own mental health for the sake of someone else’s?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my Mum’s anxiety and how I was managing it. The steps I took then don’t seem to work anymore.

She speaks to me rudely, yells at me and slams doors around me.

I’ve been careful to pick my battles, to take the hit when I can because I know she’s got it tough right now. I know she is struggling.

But now, I’m struggling too.

On Saturday night we erupted in a fight which began with me asking her not to yell at me and ended with her threatening me with physical violence.

I got out of there in a hurry and stayed with a friend. I wasn’t there in the morning for our Mother’s Day breakfast.

I had to return to pick up some things I left behind. We spoke about the argument.

I acknowledged my part – the things I did wrong, and the things I should have done better – and apologised for it.

She refused to do the same.

I told her that in order to continue living with her, I needed to hear that she understood that the things she said and did were wrong, and she was sorry for them.

She would rather I move out than admit fault and apologise for threatening me with violence.

Of course, she made a point to tell me that I’d ruined Mother’s Day. And she has this way of spinning things so that it actually does feel like my fault.

This is called gaslighting.

And she’s always been extremely good at it.

So what happens now?

I suggested that we see a family counsellor together. She’s not interested.

She’s refuses to see a professional for her own mental health. I have booked an appointment for mine later this week.

I suggested that I stay at my dad’s place for a couple of nights, to have some space from one another and let the air clear. She says if I go, I can’t come back.

The friend who I stayed with the night of the fight – her dad is a mental health professional. He explained that it sounded like my mum was on the edge of a complete breakdown and that it wouldn’t be a good idea to leave her to live on her own in isolation.

So here I am, hiding in my room, avoiding her wrath. Eating the cookies that I bought for her on the worst Mother’s Day we’ve ever had.

Have you experienced a strained relationship with a parent or family member? I would love to hear any suggestions on how you managed it ❤️

Hero image by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

Generating Blog Content 101: A helpful tool for blogging consistency

I’ve found that since I began this blog, one thing I’ve struggled with is posting consistency.

This is a problem, as the whole reason I started the blog was to have a way to be consistently practising my writing while I’m in iso, and while my normal day job (as a copywriter for a travel agent) is not providing me much opportunity to do so.

I guess I romanticised the idea of keeping a blog – I saw myself rising early in the mornings and pouring my heart out over a strong cup of coffee while the world wakes up.

Or lounging in my backyard at sunset with a glass of red wine, penning some philosophical revelation which had come to fruition during my time in quarantine.

I’ve now realised that the reality of it is logging on, looking at the last date I posted and thinking “fuck, I should really write something today”.

Waiting around for inspiration to strike is not working out in my favour.

When it does strike, I have to smash out a whole post in one go because it’s already been too long since my last post. I’m compromising on quality by writing and editing too quickly because I just want to get the damn thing out.

It’s also problematic because while one might not feel inspired every day or even every week, some people go months or longer without feeling the pinch of inspo. Also known as, writer’s block.

It’s not sustainable to keep a writing practice based solely on inspiration and motivation. Writing is discipline.

Lucky for me, I’ve discovered a totally ground-breaking handy tool which is going to transform my blogging.

The Drafts Folder

You read that correctly.

I am talking about my WordPress blog’s drafts folder. I’m not sure why, but until yesterday, I hadn’t utilised it.

Every piece I’ve posted so far has been an off-the-cuff idea which I’ve written all at once and posted an hour later.

I can’t keep doing this because a) I want my writing to be well-thought-out, planned and researched, b) I don’t come up with ingenious ideas often enough and c) I want my writing practice to be regular, structured and rewarding.

Now, as for my ground-breaking tool, it’s not just the drafts folder. The important and effective aspect of this tool is the act of brain-dumping ideas into the drafts folder.

What’s a brain-dump?

Exactly what it sounds like. Brain-dumping is the process of regurgitating all the ideas, thoughts and feelings swimming around in your head onto a page, into a book or, in this case, into your drafts folder.

Open a draft post, write the item as the headline, then save it and open the next one.

There’s only one rule: don’t stop ’til you’re done.

Get all that uncensored, unedited shit out of there, whether it be content ideas, undone tasks on your to-do list, concepts you’ve been mulling over or the argument you had with your sister last week that’s still bothering you.

None of this “oh I won’t write that one down because it wouldn’t make an interesting blog post” crap. Get. It. All. Out.

Stories are lurking everywhere, even in seemingly mundane daily shit. One of your items might be that you need to take the trash out because the bin is overflowing. This might lend itself to a piece on procrastination.

That argument with your sister might provide the foundations of a post about holding grudges and forgiveness.

Once you’ve got it all out, organise.

There should now be an overwhelming number of drafts in your folder, each with a headline relating to an item you just purged from your brain.

Do any of them have potential? Jot down your ideas in a bullet-point list inside the draft. Here’s a sneak-peek of one of mine, so you can see what I mean:

Any items you don’t think you can make ANYTHING out of, cull.

I did this process yesterday and I now have a whopping 28 items in my drafts folder and a grand total of zero excuses as to why I can’t write a post on a more regular and consistent basis.

What tools do you use to keep your blogging consistent? I would love to know in the comments below!

Hero image by Ella Jardim on Unsplash

Good Day, Bad Day

Take a little walk down memory lane with me.

When I was about 10 years old, my parents got divorced.

My mum took on the primary caregiver role, and my dad – who had been somewhat absent for many years while he built his business – started to make a real effort to become an active part of my and my brother’s lives.

In an attempt to bond, every Tuesday night my dad would take us to a family friends house, where we would eat dinner with them and watch Survivor.

During our meal, we played a game called “Good Day, Bad Day”.

It’s pretty simple: each diner would take turns in telling the rest of the table what the best part of their day was, and what the worst part of their day was.

This Tuesday evening ritual was instrumental in the rebuilding of our relationship with our awesome dad. I cherish those memories to this day.

After a couple of years, we stopped going to this friend’s house for dinner, and we stopped watching Survivor. But we never stopped playing “Good Day, Bad Day”.

This is a game I have carried with me through life. I introduce it to almost everyone I meet.

It’s applicable to almost every situation. I recently went on a trip to Japan with two of my closest girlfriends, and every day we would play “Good Japan, Bad Japan” over dinner.

Now that we’re in iso, I’ve shared the game with my colleagues and we have a dedicated Zoom meeting at 4:30pm every day, specifically to play this game.

In a day and age where the power of positive thinking is promoted left right and centre, it feels odd to encourage people to share what they perceived to be the worst part of their day.

But there’s a sort of beauty in the worst things, isn’t there?

In my opinion, the darker moments make the bright ones even brighter. When we complain about how we were so busy at work that we skipped eating lunch, it’s a quick reminder to how lucky we are to still have a job.

A happy phone call from a friend we’ve been missing outshines the annoyance that our delivery was delayed.

It sucks that my dance classes have been shut down. But it means I have more quality time to spend with my mum.

This idea of permanent positive thinking doesn’t sit so well with me; it’s normal to have tough times, unpleasant emotions and bad days.

Without them, how can we appreciate the good ones?

Drop a comment below and let me know your ‘Good Day, Bad Day’ for today!

Hero image by Laura Pratt on Unsplash

My two-part iso rebound plan.

It’s Sunday night, 8:15pm.

I haven’t written anything or even opened my blog in a few days.

For the past week I’ve downed almost a whole bottle of red wine per night.

Something’s gotta change.

How I’m feeling vs. how I want to feel

In the first four weeks of iso I was loving every bit of it. Here’s what was working:

  • I was up at 6:30am every morning for a 40 min walk
  • I was completing my Spanish lesson during this walk
  • I was following a strict keto diet and feeling fantastic (and losing weight)
  • I was going for a run on my lunch breaks
  • I was doing 2 x HIIT sessions per week
  • I was avoiding Netflix
  • I was drinking 2L of water every day
  • I was drinking 0L of alcohol every day

If you’ve been following along at home, I fell off this super-healthy-active-productive lifestyle wagon and it’s all gone to shit since then. The catalyst was Easter.

Following Easter, here’s where things started to go wrong:

  • I threw my low carb way of eating out the window and ate my weights-worth of chocolate over the space of 4 days
  • The poor weather deterred me from going outside and I started to sleep in instead of get up for a walk
  • The absence of my morning walks meant I stopped completing my Spanish lessons
  • I had a glass of champagne to celebrate my mums birthday and that first glass tipped me over the edge of sobriety, inciting a new evening ritual of emptying the contents of a full bottle of Pinot Noir
  • I realised Community had moved onto Netflix and decided to re-watch the entire 6 seasons of the show

Good behaviours encourage more good behaviours, and vice versa.

When I was eating well and exercising more, all I wanted to keep doing was eating well and exercising. I had no interest in wine or Netflix, because my active lifestyle encouraged me to keep moving.

That first glass of vino and first bite of chocolate should have been fine in moderation. But due to a number of other household stress factors, it was all too easy for me to slip into couch-potato-getting-lit-while-binging-Netflix mode.

Every day that I don’t go on my morning walk, the harder it is to get up to do it the next day.

‘I’ll stop eating sugar tomorrow and restart my good diet’, I’ve told myself every day for the past two weeks.

But I won’t be saying it tomorrow.

Tomorrow I WILL get up for my morning walk. I’ll do my Spanish lesson, eat a healthy breakfast and squeeze in a run at lunch.

And so on and so forth with all my other previous healthy habits.

Because I have a rebound plan.

The Plan

It’s painfully simple, actually. In fact, it’s already half-done.

My rebound plan consists of two parts: isolate what worked, and find a way to make it even easier to do.

For Part 1, please refer to the list above which was preceded by “Here’s what was working”.

Now Part 2 is just a collection of simple actions I can take to make it easier to perform the item in Part 1. Or, harder to avoid performing it. Example:

  1. What worked: Getting up at 6:30am for a 40 min walk
  2. Make it easier: Lay my socks and shoes out the night before and wear my gym clothes to bed.

The biggest excuse I’m peddling as to why I haven’t been able to get up for my walk is that its too cold to get out of bed and change into my clothes. If I wear them to bed, I’ve removed the obstacle of being too cold while changing into my clothes (aka, making it harder for myself to avoid going for my walk). Simples.

Here are the rest of my good habits which I plan to reinstate:

  1. What worked: Eating a keto/low carb high fat diet
  2. Make it easier: Don’t buy crap when grocery shopping. Meal prep all meals for the week on Sunday. Bake sugar-free treats to satisfy the sweet cravings. Track my macros on the MyFitnessPal App.
  1. What worked: Going for a run on my lunch breaks
  2. Make it easier: The meal-prepped lunches from the item above means I don’t have to spend any of my break time cooking. Stay in my gym clothes from my morning walk so that I’m already dressed for the run.
  1. What worked: Doing 2 x HIIT sessions a week
  2. Make it easier: Plan the session out on a whiteboard the night before & video it and send to a friend so they know I’ve done it.
  1. What worked: Avoiding Netflix
  2. Make it easier: The obvious answer would be to deactivate my account. Unfortunately this is not feasible as my Mum also uses the account. Instead, install Limit – a Chrome browser extension which allows you to set time limits to specific sites.
  1. What worked: Drinking 2L of water per day
  2. Make it easier: Mark my 2L water bottle with targets for certain times throughout the day. Set an alarm for each of these times and drink to the corresponding mark when it goes off, if I haven’t already reached it.
  1. What worked: Drinking no alcohol
  2. Make it easier: Stock up on Edenvale Alcohol Removed Cabernet Sauvignon. Still get my wine fix with none of the hangover.
Cheers to that.

What behaviours are you struggling to maintain in iso, and how do you plan to make it easier for yourself to follow through? Drop a comment to let me know.

Feature image by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash