Conquering your fears

Autumn is wonderful at the moment. Crisp, delicate and golden, this post is decorated with bursts of yellow, orange, brown & pink. In collaboration with the festive TP team, I’m wearing my Tresor Paris Crystal Bangle. Crafted in sterling silver and pave-set with white crystals (I’m allergic to cosmetic metal, I love this brand because they have allergy-free titanium), screw-fix bar bracelets are great because you can express yourself with personalised charms. If you’re based in London, visit them in Farringdon or you can shop online here.

Snuggle up in your thickest blanket, sit by the fire (or a candle), with a mug of something steamy; we’re about to walk through fear.

Fears. I have them; you have them. At any point in our life, we’ll experience debilitating fears. Big & small.

Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They alert us, prime us to run away and help us avoid getting hurt. But how do we stop them from holding us back from doing the things that we unquestionably want to do?

Sustainability

I’ve heard the all of the advice to dive in, head first. While that’s commendable, it isn’t sustainable long-term. Break down your fear into manageable pieces.

Do what you feel you are capable of doing right now if you had to and work your way up from there.

Awareness

People struggle to overcome their fears because they believe they are not good enough. As a result, they will give themselves avoidance techniques to avoid the task at hand. But, don’t worry, you are not a lost cause. Being aware of your own methods of procrastination is very powerful.

Think of all of the explanations you give yourself for not doing what you’re anxious about. What can you do to overcome them? Write it down.

Perception

Everything is about perspective. If you have a fear of what people think about you, chances are, people don’t think about you to the extent that you’re feeling.

The key to is to change our perception of our ability to perform the task. The difference between someone who is a great public speaker and someone who is awful is that the good one believes that they will succeed whereas the person who gets nervous and stifles feels they are not. Believe that you can conquer your fear. Have faith in yourself.

Everyone is different but think of ways on how you can rewire your brain to adopt a different perspective. E.g., for a public speaking fear, instead of thinking ‘everyone will think I’m an idiot in this speech,’ think about how you’re just having a conversation with everyone in the room.

I’ve had two serious, big fears, which are why I used them as examples in this post. The first was during my teenage years which was a fear of people not liking me. After school, I would go home and ruminate about it, over & over. Then growing up, public speaking became my enemy. Both fears were detrimental to my studies & career. At present, I don’t give a sh*t if people like me, and I no longer suffer from attacks before presentations. (I still get nervous, but I can do them without wanting the ground to swallow me up).

2018 should be the year of conquering fears. They are incredibly difficult but overcoming them will make you stronger than ever. You deserve success, to go and get what you want and not let anything stop you.

Location: Hampstead Heath, London

Photographer: Holly Baxter

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Why you shouldn’t compare yourself online: Fields of View

This is a topic that I’ve wanted to talk to you about for while. It’s time to talk about comparing yourself online.

I often get this comment, ‘your life looks perfect on Instagram!’.

Let’s have a chat, shall we?

If you find yourself feeling deflated by seeing a constant flow of perfected, curated images online, then I’ve written this for you. With our world being digitalised; we’re bombarded with how much fun everyone else is having on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. They say that comparison is the thief of joy, yet we find it so instinctively natural.

This post may seem strange coming from someone who aims to create beautiful, cosmic and dreamy images for a living, but hear me out, it’s important.

When I post an image, some of you will think ‘yassss gurl, get that pay, ‘ and some of you will be like, ‘urgh, she’s such a vain show-off, so annoying, she must be doing this for attention.’

To the latter, I want to be one of the first to tell you that, yes, these images look glamorous. BUT, the majority of my work isn’t as rosy as they appear. When I post on my Instagram, I don’t show you the work that goes behind the scenes, the sleepless nights and when things go wrong. The images you see has made it into the front cover of a fashion magazine (pinch me), yet I put myself down like I’m not doing my best and this worsens when I see an image from another blogger who promotes the collaborations that I want to achieve.

I want to share it with you how I cope with comparison in the hope that if you feel the same, we can relate to each other.

See the BIGGER picture: Fields of View

Your online mates won’t always show you the negative stuff that’s happening in their lives. Social Media only shows a snapshot of someone’s life. You rarely ever find out the whole truth in anyone’s situation.

  • When your Facebook friend has been promoted and is now earning a three-times your salary, they haven’t shown you their late nights, bullying managers/clients, boring meetings, tedious appraisal process, and stress.
  • When you see a #cutecouple picture, you don’t see the arguments that they had the night before, how hard they’ve worked to maintain their relationship or the problems they are experiencing.
  • When you come across a gym selfie with solid abs, you don’t see, or at that moment, have to go through the hard work that goes into staying fit.

Be so busy focusing on your goals that you don’t have time to compare yourself to anyone else

Jealously is essentially wanting what someone else has. Growing up, we’ve all had the case of the green-eyed monster. It’s what makes us human. The first key is awareness. Awareness of what you want and then to grab it yourself. It doesn’t have to be uniquely what another person has; it can be indirect and personalised to yourself. Change up your attitude. Be so busy that you don’t have time to think about anything else because you end up having fun. Focus on you. Focus on yourself.

Take responsibility for yourself

How you feel about what you see online, is not about other people; It’s a reflection of how you think about yourself. If you’re happy for others, you’re content with yourself. If you’re unhappy for others, you’re unhappy with yourself. You might disagree with me, and I might get a lot of stick for saying this, but I encourage you to comment because I’m open to opinions.

While it’s useful to benchmark yourself, don’t let it dishearten you from achieving your goals.

Take a step back and think about everything you’ve achieved. The fact is that while you compare your life to someone else’s, the truth is that if you lived it, you would find that in most cases, the grass is never greener.

Everyone is different. Everyone will carve their pathway in their own time. Don’t let someone else’s life choices make you feel anything but confidence in yourself. You are capable of doing anything that you put your heart into — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. My Instagram is only a snapshot and so is yours ;).

Location: Lavender Farm

Photographer: Emma-Jane Photography

Make Up Artist: Joyce Connor – using:

FoundationConcealer | Powder | Eyeshadow and Brows in Depth (Black) and Light (White) | EyelinerCheeks and Contour in Sunshine | Freckles | Lips in Barely Nude | OCC Liptar in Hollywood | Highlighter | Lashes

Video: Stefano Perugini

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The Anti-Productive: how to work smart, not hard

Society has taught us that the number of hours you input is directly proportional to the amount of productive output that you produce. Well, F that.

There’s no reason to be working countless hours until you pass out. And, no this isn’t a guide on how to lounge in your pants all day (although I wish it were). It’s about working smart, not hard.

The standard, generic advice is to wake up at 6 am, down a shot of wheatgrass and cycle to work. Hmm, no thanks. I wish I were one of those people who live for mornings. Sadly, I’m not. I’m the most productive from midday onwards. But, this isn’t the same for everyone. The first step is to explore what works for you and to question whether your current environment caters.

Productivity is an intensely personal thing. We all have different decisions, outlooks, and situations where we feel most productive. With the steps below, you need figure out what gets you fired up (recognising the momentum points in your daily routine) and what slows you down (procrastination is tied to anxiety, you need to understand your fears and why you have them).

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Focus, rest, repeat

Great minds alternate, you’re not designed to function like a robot. Your brain works like a muscle. Muscles naturally have a high capacity to work, and you build it up. However, if you overstretch your muscles, their ability to be stimulated by further growth decreases its functionality. Don’t make the mistake of trying to work flat out for more than five hours without any rest. You need to get the medicinal benefits of rest, while still keeping your momentum alive. This may seem like a simple nugget, but I know so many people (including myself) who burn themselves out. Don’t assume that the world will give it to you, give rest to yourself.

Reconsider multitasking

I’m like a kid in a sweet shop. I get distracted by all the flavours that I forget why I’m in the sweet shop in the first place. We all know that your best work happens when you don’t do it all at once. You may feel like you get more done when you spin many plates, but in reality, you’re taking a hit to your productivity. Multitasking prevents you from giving your best on any single task. I’ve gone as far as turning off the sound for emails on my phone as I write this article for you. Close your email, put in your headphones, and give the task the love it deserves. One focused hour is better than three distracted ones.

Move your body

As humans, we’re not supposed to be desk-chained all day; move your body, throughout the day, as much as you can. After the many staring contests I have with the computer screen, I feel so much better after a short walk. I talk a lot about the benefits of fitness on my blog because I truly believe it makes such a big impact on your work and, life in general. It’s so important to release stress, have enough energy to make it through the day and to be able to make clear decisions at work.

Limit staying late

There is no way in which a person can be on their A-game throughout an entire 9 am – 9 pm period. Just because an employee arrived five minutes late, doesn’t mean they’re going to work any less than their peers who arrived on time (exception to those who are scheduled to meet customers/clients). It’s about what you do at work, not how many hours you spend. If you’re trying your best to get through the workload, yet you’re finding yourself staying late every day, question why you’re still there. If you stay late and put in those extra hours, most of that time is pretty ineffective because you end up burning out and producing bad work. Don’t slave away for minimal benefits.

Have a backup

In today’s ever-changing economy, we cannot rely on one source of income. Your job could end tomorrow. You need backup funds and career in that instance. There are lots of flexible jobs out there that you can do here and there. If you have the capacity, you can pursue a passion for baking, writing, teaching, etc. of which could potentially turn into a business in the future. These hobbies may lead you to pursue a dream career.

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Closing

Working smart is about having the self-awareness about your work style, as opposed to increasing your (ineffective and inefficient) hours.

I have spent years trying to grow my blog through time commitment; it was by letting go of what wasn’t working (time wise) that my business took off without even needing me.

If you’ve got any tips, I’d love to hear from you!

Location: Holland Park, London

Photographer: Brendan Donnelly (Insta here)

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Why I quit my job to be a freelancer


I can’t tell you how excited I am to write this post. If you’re dreaming about dropping out of the hamster-cage-daily-grind, I’ve written this article for you.

On a cold, September morning, I slinked into the office. I’d been doing this, at 9 am, every day, for five years. On this day, I looked around at my other peers. I didn’t relate to any of them. I knew I was different. Most worked furiously on their laptops, stimulated. Others were lifeless & dreaming of a different life. Deep down, I realised I was in the wrong place.

There are gazillions of articles out there telling you how to earn money without holding down a so-called “real job”. From an ex-permanent employee, I want to give you an honest guide to freelancing without the bull. I’ll go through the emotional truth including dealing with doubt, lack of motivation and the implications on your social life.

Bare in mind that I wholeheartedly endorse this life decision. It’s been a dream so far, and I would encourage any potential entrepreneur who has the passion, capacity and capability to do it.

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Should you take the leap?

Honest question. Do you love what you do? Do you wake up in the morning, invigorated or do you wake up with fear & terror?

If it’s the latter, then I have a quote for you, “there’s no reason to do sh*t you hate. None.”

Freelancing isn’t for everyone. You need to be smart, have great work ethic & real passion. You need the motivation & emotional drive to push you to achieve your dreams.

Security

Okay, so I would love to tell you to pack up your stuff, tell your boss that you’re off, throw your papers in the air, fist-pump your colleagues and quit today. I highly recommend that you save a significant amount of money before you do. Every business needs capital. You need backup funds to pay for periods of the unknown. Sell everything you have. I’m deadly serious. My friends make fun of me because I eBay everything but excess possessions are counterproductive in a risky  lifestyle. There are a million handbags in the world; life-changing experiences happen once. Make a cuppa, sit down & write down the costs of your outgoings and how much you’ll need to make each month.

One of the major disadvantages of not working for an organisation is not having any company benefits – eek! I miss my discounts so much but let’s talk about the important stuff. As you will no longer have health and life insurance (which we take for granted, but it’s worth a lot), I would suggest setting up your own. Vitality is a good one because it rewards you with discounts for being healthy and you get subsided gym membership with Virgin Active. Otherwise, there’s Aviva which is pricier, but the critical illness cover is comprehensive because it protects you & your family. Otherwise, you’re covered with LV, and it’s a great value.

Tax & Pensions

You’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC. Once registered, you’ll receive your unique tax payers reference number. HMRC will nudge you to submit your tax return each year. You can file it yourself or hire an accountant. It’s my first one this year, and I’m hoping that I won’t find it too taxing (hehe, get it?). Keep all of your invoices, remittances & receipts as you can offset and expense any payments like travel & website costs from your earnings.

Transfer your company pension into a self-employed pension. Otherwise, if you withdraw it, you will lose the value that the government put in. My pension is currently with NEST, as I am my boss, I top up and pay myself. When I top up my pension, the government tops it up too!

Where to find freelance work?

Depending on the field that you want to enter, the most successful freelancers are represented by an agency. You have dedicated agents finding work for you on a regular basis.

Alternatively, freelance recruitment agencies can find contracts for you. Contractors can earn a minimum of £250 – 1k a day. If you set up a limited company, you can pay less tax (I think it’s 12.5% but do not quote me on this) on earnings.

Otherwise, you’ll need to build up your client base directly. The best sites for freelancers are PeoplePerHour, Upwork & Fiverr. Every highest earner from those sites has a story on Forbes. Read and be inspired by their stories.

Doing all three at the same time is possible.

Doubt, motivation & social life

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have the confidence to take risks. The old saying goes, “If you don’t ask, you do not receive”. Your most powerful asset will be fear. It will present you with the commitment that you need to succeed. My post on improving your confidence is here.

You already have the motivation to wake up and go to work every day. With freelancing, there is no safety blanket. If you don’t work, you don’t earn. The harder I work, the more I profit, instantly. That’s the beauty of it.

The disadvantage is working crazy, unsociable hours. Your friends will want to meet up weekday evenings and weekends, lols, that never works on a freelance schedule. Freelancers don’t get paid leave. I can’t plan holidays anymore because a job could come up the day before. This will annoy some of the people in your life. You will become flakey AF.

Closing remarks

I quit my secure, permanent job late last year. I want to reassure you that it’s okay to want change. Initially, I was angry. I desperately wanted to fall head over heels in love with the corporate life. As a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a ‘business lady’ at a big company.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve loved some of the permanent jobs I’ve had. I’ve learnt so much from each role. Who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind about freelancing. At this present time, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I’ll love to hear your experiences and whether you’re looking to take the plunge. Either option, I’ll be with you all the way.

And if you’re a freelancer, my butterfly, what does it feel like to be free?

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Location: Holland Park, London

Photographer: Brendan Donnelly (Insta here)

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FACEBOOK HAS MADE YOUR EMBARRASSING PHOTOS PUBLIC: HERE’S MY GUIDE TO A DIGITAL CLEANSE

I was doing my usual online scrolling spree, and I noticed that Facebook has a shiny search innovation that predicts what you’re about to type.

The results appear in order, Google style. The first thing I thought was, ‘Ooooh this must be new’ (I worked in Digital Marketing for four years, I’m a special geek when it comes to this stuff).

Now, you may think this search bar is an innocent feature, but two things sprang to my mind, A) why are strangers names appearing? B) what can people see when they search for me?

I was right to be cautious. Test it for yourself.

1. Click on the search bar (you know that thing you type into to find your next stalking victim).

2. Type in [‘Name Photos’], e.g., Joe Blogs Photos (do this with someone you’re not friends with).

You can see Every. Single. Photo. In one place. Technically Facebook hasn’t done anything wrong because these images are set to public. That person can thank their mates for that. The issue here is that you can see into a strangers life without even being friends with them.

This sh*t is creepy AF.

The aim of this post is to prevent any Tom, Dick & Harry from seeing your old drunken pics from say, 2013.

Okay, so what is the solution to saving your last bit of dignity?

Go to your ‘activity log’ > click photos (left hand side) > change ‘shared with’ to ‘public’. All of these pictures are what strangers can see.

I untagged myself from a total of forty embarrassing photos from 2006 – present. I’ll give you some insight, the worst image involved significant pouting and gun fingers. No potential employer/client ever needs to see that.

Oh, and btw, it doesn’t stop there. You can also search for what people are liking: Type in [‘photos liked *insert friends name*.’] To see what photos other people are liking, it’s that easy. Be mindful of what you like, that is set as ‘public’.

Before I give you my tips, I want to show you the sort of messages that I get on the daily:

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I’m super cautious of how I use Facebook. I know that’s ironic as I use Social Media to promote myself as my brand. The downside of being an ‘influencer’ is receiving the dodgiest messages. As a result, I’ve learnt how to be vigilant. (BTW I’m not whinging, I’m very lucky to call this my job, and I choose to put myself out on the WebSphere. Creepers are a symptom of my choice).

Your Guide to a Complete Digital Cleanse

Friend Audit

Okay, this is the most common practice. It’s important not to be friends with someone who you’ve never met. If you don’t know them, you don’t know what they’re capable of knowing and doing. Facebook has more personal data about you than you realise. I never accept people I don’t know. Delete anyone you don’t know, right now.

Your ‘About Me’ section

Set all of your personal information like your DOB, where you work, your schools & contact details to private and never public. You don’t want anyone to be able to see this. I’ve had a few friends become a target of fraud as a result.

Image audit

I had photos albums from 2006 called “R U DIZZY BLAD BEST DAY OUT”. Yeah. The pictures in those albums are hilarious, but I’m not sure I want the new people in my life browsing through them. I’ve set the majority of my photo albums to private so that I’m the only person to look back at the blossoming chav that I was.

Tagging

Be mindful of tagging yourself at locations if you’re alone and potentially placing yourself at risk. I never post Instagram pictures in real-time.

Limit past posts

In your younger years, you may have posted a witty status or photo & set it public. You wanted everyone to know how funny you were. I don’t blame you. You were a baby cub, audacious and exploring life. My friends, do not fear; at a click of a button you can revert all of these posts, look for a function called ‘limit past posts’. I like this feature because strangers can’t see who comments on my public profile pics.

Ah, Facebook. It’s nothing more than what we deserve – we made it our own. We gave it our data, used it to store our memories, communicate with our loved ones, organised our events and spent too many hours wasting our absent-minded afternoon lust by watching cat videos. There is no doubt that FB has revolutionised the way we communicate.

All it’s doing is responding to our desire, to turn a profit.

I just wish it didn’t make me feel like such a creep.

Location: Napland, London

Laptop Case (get 20% off with code: monicawong20) | Glasses | Top | Shorts | Duvet Cover & Pillow Cases Set |

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