First of all, let's address the elephant in this blog post: I did not do my planned fun this week (as dictated by Jar of Fun), which was barista skills training.
The first available spot is next weekend – but I can confirm that I'm booked on so coffee-making-101 is happening!
But I was left with the conundrum... What Fun could I partake in this weekend?
Scanning Eventbrite.com, I came across a dance workshop, in nearby city, Chichester.
The Charleston eh? My head swam with pictures of black 'n' white flappers with feathers and shiny jewellery and Charlie Chaplin was somewhere there too...
I'm not going to pretend I have a clue about dance history, or dance...at all.
I accidentally experienced a taste of the Lindyhop at a quirky Brighton conference last year, and I'll admit... I didn't hate it.
I made a pact with myself to explore dance some more, a task that could get me into my body and less stuck in my head.
Introverts, particularly the intuitive type (more about intuition vs sensing here) are prone to being a bit heady and disconnected from the real, physical world, including their bodies. And I'm definitely in that category.
Plus I love learning new things. It builds confidence like nothing else, plus I quite fancy myself at some great Gatsby themed party sipping cocktails and throwing some shapes on the dance floor...
The other bonus was checking Chichester cathedral off my list.
Underwhelming, but then I have recently been to Rome and have been a wee bit spoiled for cathedral eye candy.
So... the class.
I was nervous, duh, and I didn't feel welcomed as I entered a busy little studio, packed with ladies who - I fantasised - all knew each other, were pros at dancing, and just really hated 5'3" redheads.
I had a moment on the loo where I told myself - specifically my inner critic - to shut the fuck up and stop being a baby. But you know, kindly with self love etc.
I'll admit the teacher was lovely, sweet, funny, not intimidating at all and did make the steps very clear. Despite my two left feet, and rhythm of a drunken uncle at a wedding, I mostly got the hang of it.
That didn't stop it from being... not fun.
Not fun at all.
It took me back to P.E. classes at school. I didn't feel like a sassy flapper in a silent movie: I felt like an awkward introvert who would much rather be in one of the many cute tea rooms or coffee shops the city had to offer.
The workshop was 3 hours but I left during the break, politely declaring my knee was giving me trouble. Which it was, a bit, but it was most probably psychosomatic because it conveniently eased up as soon as I stepped foot outside.
Fun rating: 2/10 because the were moments of mild enjoyment when I celebrated getting the steps right.
That public dance classes are not my jam.
I still like the idea of dancing, but hello...Youtube?
I can dance around my room and have actual fun, plus it's free.
I've mentioned that fun, often but not always involves a bit of challenge for me.
And I strongly believe in stretching our comfort zone regularly, like exercising. When you haven't exercised in a while, it becomes much more painful when you do it. So... I believe in a regular dose of mild discomfort.
A level 3 or 4.
This was a 7 on the discomfort Richter scale, which pushed it out of the fun category for me.
It makes me think of a saying from Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and others. Her life motto is, 'Be Gretchen'.
Today I learnt something about myself: this Cat does not like dance classes.
Ok so the timing for this episode is all kinds of perfect.
If you’re listening on the release date, you’ll likely be aware it is a brand new year, and you may very well have set yourself a new years resolution - or assuming they’re becoming a little unfashionable, may be you’ve picked a year goal or - er - a word to set your intention for the new year. Whatever floats your boat.
May be you’re on the more skeptical side of the fence and refuse to set any goals or resolutions because the new year is arbitrary to you. I don’t blame you.
But still… there’s likely something you want, something you want to feel or be or do or have.
Now there are a million and one reasons why we fail at getting what we want or doing what we want - but there are far fewer solutions to this challenge.
So did I stick to my fun guns??
Well, yes… but let’s never call them ‘fun guns’ again.
As you may remember, the first fun activity I picked from my jar of fun was ‘go to a Nomunication.’
Now, a ‘nomunication’ is basically an event that a local Japanese learning meetup group holds. The problem was… there was no nomunication this week!
It normally involves drinking and talking, both in Japanese and English. My insecurities in my own noob status at Japanese has meant I’ve never attended one.
Now I should have been less specific, because this particular event wasn’t on last week. Instead, I had the option to go to a Mochi-making event held by the same group.
And I went!
Honestly I was not massively looking forward to it when the day came. I felt my standard fears around being in a big group of strangers - plus the possibility of having to speak Japanese which scared the crap out of me too.
But I had to go: the Year of Fun would have been a bit of a flop if I couldn’t even make my first week’s event.
It was… really nice. I felt comfortable in the group: this is undoubtedly a friendly bunch and I’m looking forward to dipping my toe in more of their meetups.
I did my classic introvert thing: spent most of my time speaking to just one person, but she was lovely and we had a lot in common.
And of course: the mochi!
Mochi is something I love anyway, but I have never made it before: and now I know it’s not that complicated, I have bought myself some mochi making flour my very own mochi rice cake things.
A fun part was shring tips on how to eat the mochi, and as someone who loves food and especially loves weird combinations of food, I very much appreciated one attendees tips for making a mochi cheese melt in the microwave - it was amazing.
So, out of 10, I’d give this a 7: it wasn’t super duper fun but it was pleasant, a nice thing to do on a Sunday afternoon and it is likely to lead to a lot more fun: at least in terms of making mochi on a regular basis.
Now: to reveal next week’s fun!
BARISTA SKILLS TRAINING!
Yikes! I'm not sure I can make this one happen by next week, but I can certainly investigate it.
There are a few different coffee shops in Brighton that offer barista skills training, so I can enquire to see if they'll have this creative introvert messing around with their beans...
Either way, I'll have some fun to report back this time next week!
Have you ever tried mochi? Have you made mochi? Any good recipes to share
Morra is the author of Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home) which really spoke to me because of my own experience in an office job – I wonder if you can relate...
We talk about Morra’s career and her experiences of hiding in the bathroom, much like myself, before she hit rock bottom and made a major life change, we talk about being a stealth introvert, introvert ambition and managing social anxiety.
As someone who is obsessed with goal seting, actionable plans and productivity... this year i have decided to do things a bit differently.
To try to balance out my type a, INTJ personality, I figured I could choose fun as my one overall theme for 2018.
I'll admit: this is not a totally original idea.
See the Year of Fun - Sarah did one fun thing every day for a year and blogged the process.
I’m not planning one fun thing every day but I am aiming for one fun activity a week, most of which I've never done before.
l like an experiment: organised fun may be a paradox for some but for me it's the only way to get me onboard.
Actually, the planning of the fun has been... fun. Even before the year officially started.
A bunch of activities I imagine will be fun: they feel light, playful, adventurous - not without a sense of risk or challenge.
We all have different interpretations of fun, and part of this is to further understand my own idea of fun. Much of these are things I think will be fun (some more so than others) but I'm prepared to be surprised.
Challenge is also an element: I know pushing my comfort The gives me a great deal of lasting satisfaction: very different from the short-lived pleasure we (I) often find myself addicted to : chasing comfort and avoiding pain. This, I've found, as many a spiritual seeker before me, have only ever ended in a dog-chasing-it's-tail-like scenario.
My hypothesis is that these tasks will change me in some way. At the very least they'll shake my weekends up and give me some stories to tell.
I pick a new predetermined fun activity from my overflowing jar of FUN. Activities are colour-coordinated depending on effort required. Some need people to get involved, or advance booking. Some will definitely not be fun in winter months in the UK, others require a trip to the shops for supplies.
But picking one week ahead should give me enough time to plan.
Note: most activities will happen at weekends unless I'm busy with less fun activities, in which case I'll make an effort to do that task during the week.
I'll also be documenting this process as much as possible, both on the podcast and on my Youtube channel - so feel free to follow along there: I'm aiming to publish once a week about the most recent fun thing I've done and my thoughts on the challenge so far, which may include fun ratings for each activity.
The grand finale of the Self-Knowledge mini-series!
To end, I’m asking you the deceptively simple question: what do you want?
It’s easy to go through life without really answering this question.
Of course, we can answer specifics: like what do you want to order from a restaurant. Or you can be tempted to answer through the structure western society has imposed on us, claiming to want to go to university and settle down with 2.4 kids and get a mortgage and OH MY GOD KILL ME NOW.
I’m a big proponent of asking this question on a regular basis and spending a significant time ruminating on it.
I do this because I don’t want to be fooled into thinking society knows what I want, or into thinking I don’t have a choice in the matter.
When we know what we want - what we really, really want, as the Spice Girls say - we can aim true and have - obviously - a way better chance in getting what we want and living a meaningful life.
How do you tackle a question like What do I want?
Full shownotes and FREE download here >>
The concept that we all, by our nature, approach tasks and accomplishing things differently actually came as a bit of a surprise to me.
l figured the kids I went to school with who left their homework till the last minute or often arrived late to class, were just... naughty. Like, they must hate school even more than I did and might even enjoy detention in some weird masochistic way.
It wasn't until I became good friends with one of them that actually loved school, got good grades and even though she left everything till the last minute, the teachers generally loved her.
Now, I understand that my friend is a Perceiving type. I on the other hand am a Judging type.
If you're familiar with Myers Briggs, you've calmed on to what all this means, but for everyone else: then two functions Perceiving and Judging are about how we approach life: either in an open, flexible way (P) or in a structured, orderly way (J) - which is what this episode of the Self Knowledge mini-series is going to dive into.
I should point out that whether you’re an introvert or not, the way you are affected by your environment still varies a lot between person to person.
And you might remember the episode in this series in which I described High Sensitivity - if you’re a HSP, you’ll likely be more affected by lights and sounds than the average bear, like myself.
Regardless of how sensitive you are to your environment, there is still going to be an optimum environment you thrive in.
This episode in the Self-Knowledge mini series is going to dig into different aspects of our environment you can start taking into account, and other little lifestyle hacks you might want to experiment with to up you creative game whether you work in an office or from home or from a coffee shop.
Let’s start with Carl Jung, grandaddy of Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. He’s responsible for much of this series, because of his theories on psychological types.
He introduced three areas or preferences, each of which are dichotomies: as in there are two ends of a pole, and your preference lies somewhere along that pole.
Introversion or extraversion are one area, sensing or intuition is another, and thinking or feeling is the third - and the one I’m going to dive into today.
The concept of doing what you love and following your passion has gotten a bit of a bad rap in recent years, and I guess before I launch into this episode I should probably address that side of the fence first.
Cal Newport would be the first person I think of touting the idea that doing what you love is in fact, overrated. In his book, So Good They Can't Ignore You, he suggests the problem is that we don’t have much evidence that this is how passion works.
“Follow your passion” assumes: a) you have preexisting passion, and b) if you match this passion to your job, then you’ll enjoy that job.
What I'd like to do in this episode of the Self Knowledge mini-series, is help you get closer to finding your passion, whether it’s making more time for one you already have or finding a new one altogether and cultivating that.
Download your free accompanying workbook here >>
Not exactly a topic I've talked much about or even mentioned in the Creative Introvert podcast so far. May be something to do with my INTJ android-like personality, but really I have no excuse.
We know that even the hardiest Thinking types need a little tender lovin' care - whether it's from a partner, or in the simple friendship of an old pal. Or y'know, from your pet gecko.
Whatever your source of love is, isn't the topic of today's show. what I want to talk about is the way we prefer to receive and to give love: also known as our love language.
This is a concept coined by Gary Chapman, author of the book The 5 Love Languages amongst others: your love language can be identified by asking yourself: what makes you feel loved? What do you desire above all else from others?
Or on the flip side, what hurts you, or makes you feel unloved?
It can also be seen in how we express our love and appreciation to others.
The importance of understanding our own lore language as well as that of those around us is really really important, may be the most important in this Self-Knowledge series.
After all, if you can't communicate your love and appreciation to someone else or receive it from them because you're speaking two different languages, it's going to have a pretty detrimental effect on the relationship.
Already I know this is going to me one of my favourite episodes in this self-knowledge series.
The way we experiences the world is… kind of everything. From the moment we’re pushed or pulled out of our mum’s baby-maker, we’re dealing with sensory information and how we respond to that is amazingly individual.
Even from those early years, we start exhibiting clear signs that some of us are experiencing the world in very different ways. This depends on both how we’re wired neurologically and biochemically, as well as what particular environment we’re being raised in.
More on determining factors later, but for now I want to talk about the different categories psychologists and smart people in lab coats have given us to describe how we might experience the world around us.
In every case, I’m willing to bet there is a sliding scale, just like introversion and extroversion, someone can be at the very end of the scale, or somewhere closer to the middle.
I remember clearly being in school and being taught about learning styles. The teacher went through the model taught to her, which boiled down to auditory, visual or kinaesthetic.
It made sense to me that I must be a Visual learner, given that I was the designated class cartoonist, at least when there was a Rugrats character to draw.
Later, I learned that this was just one of many (supposedly there are around 70) models to describe our preferred learning style.
It's also possible - in fact very likely- you have a mixture of styles. Some may be best used in certain circumstances. For example, learning how to put an Ikea wardrobe together requires different processing than learning a language.
Plus, you can develop or change your preferences over time: in fact 1 did this through listening to podcasts. Now, I process audio - with or without accompanying images - way better than I did at school.
I still think it's useful to explore learning styles, and not just the ones you think you have a preference over. It's useful not just to help you learn stuff more effectively, but to communicate better with others,
When you know what style someone else prefers, you can accommodate them. It's something I try to take into account in my online courses, as well as when I'm coaching someone or consulting with a client.
If I pickup that they're a visual/spatial learner, I scribble down images to represent my ideas, or use visual analogies to give from to my sometimes vague and floaty concepts.
Or if they're kinaesthetic I try to slow my speech a bit. This is another weird factoid: apparently kinaesthetic types speak slower.
There are 7 styles that I like to take into account now, which gives a slightly more detailed range of preferences than I was taught at school.
I dig deeper into these learning styles in today's episode, and what knowing your learning style might mean for you.
The point of this mini-series is, quite simply to help you discover more about... you.
Self-knowledge is arguably the most critical catalyst in personal development : how you manage your energy, how you interact with others, where your strengths lie... Not to mention a key player in business success.
When you know yourself, you can make decisions more effectively, have greater clarity on where you want to go, what you want to be doing, and how you do it best: when you're at your most creative.
Ok, so if you're not sold just yet, what if I told you I could make this self knowledge super simple: breaking every aspect of the journey down into easy to digest podcast episodes?
Well, hopefully that's enough to convince you: it's happening anyway.
I'm pushing pause on interviews for a wee bit while I run this Self Knowledge for Creative Introverts mini-series and over the next 10 weeks I'll be guiding you through the ultimate self-knowledge series.
Find the workbook mentioned here: http://wp.me/p5bc9S-29k
I tackle the common questions I get about the League of Creative Introverts including...
Isn’t it a bit of a paradox? A community of introverts? Isn’t that like starting a beach for vampires?
The League will be open for one week, so you have until HALLOWEEN - er, October 31st 2017 at midnight GMT - to get yourself a spot.
If you’ve been listening to this podcast a while, you might have heard a bit about my story - how I left my day job as a professional pixel pusher - I mean, web designer - to pursue my childhood dreams of becoming an illustrator and above all - be able to work from HOME.
At the time, I thought it was just the youngest child, red headed rebel in me that provoked my decision to leave my stable 9-5 job in exchange for the free range, freelance life.
But for this episode in particular I want to highlight the challenges we face when attempting to build a business or pursue a new career or go rogue like I did and work for youself.
This entrepreneurial trend is only growing, and whilst we’re encouraged as introverts to pursue these lofty dreams, I want to be clear that there are some very real challenges that can and will crop up - at least they have in my experience - and more importantly - give you some tools and strategies to actually deal with them.
Hopefully it will be of more use than another article on Forbes about introverts are naturals at networking - probably written by an extrovert.
A word almost as cringe-inducing as saying Volde-I mean, he who must not be named.
Regardless of whether you’re an introvert OR an extrovert - I actually don’t know if anyone admits to enjoying networking.
It’s kind of like exercise. We know it’s good for us but it doesn’t come without some pain - especially at first.
May be over time some of us develop a taste for it - but for the majority of us - we’d rather be at home networking with our cat than shaking hands and pasting on forced smiles with people who couldn’t care less what you do - but they ask anyway because it’s a way to talk about what THEY do.
Can you tell I’m not a big fan of networking?
Just over a year ago I found myself in a new city, away from any contacts or friends i had back in London who I could depend on throwing me a bit of work or helping me out in a time or crisis.
It dawned on me that I was going to have to make a bit more effort than I had been in networking - which prior to this had consisted of going to the occasion meetup with some illustrators and necking a couple of pints.
Looking back, I realise it wasn’t super effective networking anyway.
So first things first: I had to find some opportunities to meet new people.
What I’d like to do in this podcast episode is firstly help you if you know you need to start networking and secondly - to help you do it effectively. Oh and finally to be realistic. If you’re an introvert, like myself, I know that someone telling you to go and do all these mad manipulative tactics like mirroring or working the crowd - it just isn’t going to resonate.
If you’re anything like me, the likelihood of even going to the networking event you signed up for is about a 3/10 chance.
So - hopefully this is actually useful if you’re in a position like I was, knowing you need to network - but doing anything you can to avoid it and reason your way out of it.
In this week’s episode of the Creative Introvert podcast I talk to Nicola Mills, opera singer for the people.
If you ‘google’ the words ‘self sabotage’ you will see there’s nearly two million results for this term.
Two million? If that’s anything to go by, I’d say self sabotage is a pretty common human behaviour - even if it doesn’t always make sense on paper.
When I first heard the term, I snorted: why would I want to sabotage MYSELF? I’m all I’ve got! I want me to win! At the very least, I want to keep myself safe.
Then I found out that it’s a lot more sneaky a behaviour than we might expect. In fact, it’s so sneaky it still amazes me that we can be capable of doing this to ourselves - usually, without even knowing it.
Self sabotage isn’t this overt, masochistic urge to touch a hot stove or throw ourselves in front of moving vehicles - it’s way more subtle than that.
It shows itself in behaviours like:
extreme guilt or modesty
It shows itself often when we’re trying to achieve something for our greater good or higher self - like losing excess weight, maintaining a healthy relationship, getting a promotion at work or starting a new business venture.
Let’s look at some self sabotaging behaviour patterns.
Take a work situation. You hate your job. You work too many hours, you allow yourself to be treated like shit by your boss, and you make no time for doing what you really love - painting.
Yet you don’t look for a new job. You tell yourself you don’t have the time. You tell yourself your art isn’t good enough to make any money from anyway, so you’ve stopped that altogether. You don’t know what you want to do with your life - and have stopped asking yourself or researching possible career paths.
You’re stuck. Why?
Here are some possible thought patterns:
“If I fail in a new career or creative project, everyone will judge me as stupid and inadequate.”
“I’ve always been pushed to succeed by parents and teachers - I want to rebel because I don’t want to feel controlled by them”
“I only deserve to be at the top, I won’t start something new if it means starting at the bottom”
“If I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll eventually work something out. Something will come up. It will just fall into my lap (even though it hasn’t and i’ve been doing the same thing for years)”
Do you see how we can rationalise our behaviours? Even if we’re not expressing these to ourselves, on some level we’re using these beliefs as a way to keep ourselves safe and ultimately self sabotage.
So what causes self-sabotaging behaviour?
That's what we're tackling in today's episode + some ways to nip self sabotage in the bud.
You might not know this about me but before I starting blogging as the Creative Introvert, I had a blog called - wait for it - Cat Food is Good For You.
It was mostly about my food philosophy - my quest to find the perfect diet, the perfect exercise regime and perfect everything really. I was really into health in a big way. So many great things came out of that blog, and it’s where I think I found my voice and my way of expressing myself at least through the written word.
It was also when I started listening to podcasts, many of which I’ve traded in now for less-health oriented shows, but Zestology is one that I still insist on listening to when it comes to optimising all different aspects a healthy, happy life.
Tony Wrighton is the host of Zestology, and as much as I love the guests he interviews, he is reason I listen and recommend his show to so many people.
I was lucky enough to get to interview Tony for today’s podcast - and - even more of a treat - this interview took place on a very sunny morning in an unusually quiet park in London.
More info here: http://www.thecreativeintrovert.com/
I had made the heady decision on New Years Day to book plane tickets to Japan, signalling my no-way-backing-out-now decision to leave my safety bubble that was my 9-5 job as a web designer in London.
It also signalled the start of my 6-month experiment: be a Freelancer.
Spoiler alert: the experiment went well and I am still working for myself.
But… it was not an easy 6 months. In fact, the years following weren’t exactly a walk in the empty-introvert-friendly-park either.
Like this report shows, many freelancers feel less secure financially - and the pay brackets show this - than being full-time.
Despite the fact that going solo, either freelancing or setting up your own biz, may be the dream for many introverts who can’t abide the office life: it does come with it’s own challenges.
That’s what I want to spend this episode tackling.
Now I touched on one of the biggest sticking points in episode 031 - The Troubleshooting Guide for the Demotivated - which is, you guessed it, dealing with the issue of motivation when you work for yourself.
And naturally, I recommend that particularly if you’ve been freelancing or WFY for some time.
But today is more like a… primer. May be for those who are considering cutting loose from the 9-5 and fancy themselves as a one-man (or woman) band.
Why is knowing what's important to us - er - important?
I mean, can’t we just accept that this life is random, may be even predetermined and nothing we do is of any real importance?
Er - well, if thinking that helps you: go for it. But if you’re not of the nihilistic ilk then you’re probably looking for a bit more.
There’s something funny about us humans that seems to separate us from the other creatures we cohabit the earth with: We really like having a purpose.
We prioritise aspects of our lives in terms of what’s important to us, and mostly, act accordingly.
When we have a ‘why’ we can do some incredible things.
But what if you are reading this right now and don’t know what you want, or what’s next for you? You might be at a transition point, or trying to make some tough life decisions.
That’s what I’m going to spend this podcast episode helping you work out.
Rather than take this grand theory of Maslow’s as a blanket rule, I want to get specific, and actionable - and leave you with a way to live your life that is in alignment with what matter most to you.
(I’ve also made a handy little workbook to help you work through the method I outline in the show and figure out what MATTERS MOST to you.)