As many of you who follow me will know, my business plan is about learning through experiences. Many of us take for granted how much life experiences such as travelling or new adventures can actually help you grow as a person and unlock your potential.
This year has been the biggest year of my life in terms of experiences so, as I sit on my bed reflecting on my time throughout this process, I thought I’d share some of them with you and open up to how it has affected me, what is has taught me, and what mechanisms I have used to overcome any obstacles.
Rewind to January 2017 …
I am living in a two-bed apartment with my boyfriend of six and a half years and he’s just decided to take the plunge and give up his ‘9 to 5’ job to pursue a career in modelling, which I respect him for. I’m in a ‘9 to 5’ that just isn’t for me and I feel trapped. I have a business idea bubbling away in my head but I have no idea where to go with it. My partner and I care for each other, he’s a lovely person, but we’re both very different people from when we met at 18 and for some reason it just seems to have turned into a friendship. I love my boyfriend but I know that we’re not in love anymore.
As my 25th birthday nears, I go to work day in, day out, gazing out the window, trying to search for a way to move forward. My job is well paid and I’ve progressed quickly, but it doesn’t satisfy my need for a purpose and I KNOW I can make my business idea work. I know that my idea will change the world as we know it. I feel stuck in a rut…
I love this show and with my business idea in mind, I researched into how to apply to be a contestant. It felt way too out of my league but, as the deadline for The Apprentice applications approached, I needed to act fast if I wanted to change my life. I bit the bullet and applied to be a part of the show. As usual, my mind told me there was no chance that I would ever be accepted … It’s full of people who are way more competent than me.
A few weeks later, I got a response ‘well done you’ve made it to the next round’. Wow. Amazing, but still, this is just one step.
It’s time for the next round, I scan over my next stage application which is due in 24 hours and realise that I haven’t filled in all of the documents and they still need to be printed. I have to rush to the closest internet café as my printer is broken, the nearest one being in Moss Side, I jump in my car, head into the shop, sit and write my application until they’re just about to close and hit the ‘send’ button. I still think to this day, the fact that I didn’t overthink it is what got me through because I didn’t have to time to second guess my answers…I was just being me.
At this stage in my life, I really didn’t know what direction to go in. I was barely sleeping worrying about my next moves. My job wasn’t for me, my relationship was going nowhere and I felt confused.
My best friend who is half Vietnamese had just signed up to go away to Vietnam to teach and it felt like an escape route for me…should I follow my dream and pursue my business venture, or live life and enjoy it for the moment and move with her in the pursuit of happiness? Do I move out of my home? Do I stay? Or do I move away completely?
I couldn’t make a decision and it was having an effect on my health. My predicament led me to the doctors.
My anxiety was finally getting the better of me. The doctor offered me antidepressants which I took home but I wanted to try and explore other methods first. Surely, I could work through this in a different way. I spoke to my parents and my Step Mum recommended that I go to see a hypnotherapist.
This was the beginning of me changing the rest of my life. He identified a few things in my childhood which were holding me back from progressing personally and professionally.
Many people go through from what I like to call a ‘blended’ family and by the age of 16, I had lived in over 15 houses amongst other things. This was due to the breakdown of several of my parent’s relationships and unbeknown to me, this had had an effect on my inner confidence and ability to function to my highest ability in adulthood.
The hypnotherapist showed me that strength really comes from within. If you are to flourish in life and business, you really need to take care of your inner self, which I certainly wasn’t doing – I didn’t partake in any exercise, I drank every weekend and had smoked for 10 years. I realised that I needed to take charge of my life and started running and meditating every morning using the ‘Calm’ app. The way I see anxiety is that it is an addiction to thinking and boy, do I LOVE thinking. I have all sorts of thoughts both big and small and I think it’s magical and incredible that we are able to do this. I have so much energy which I direct into thinking and I don’t switch off which can be pretty exhausting.
Before I knew it, I was at the final stage of the interviews where you have to be seen by a psychologist to confirm you are mentally stable enough for the process. Although I had been preparing, due to the rut I was in, I was still convinced that I was going to fall at the final hurdle and I kept myself up all night worrying that I would be dismissed from this golden opportunity.
Finally, I got the call from the production team. They had made their final choice for the contestants and I was going to be one of them. I couldn’t believe it! This gave me an inner confidence and some clarity of the path I needed to take and so that very same day, I decided to take life by the horns and handed my notice in at work. At last, I felt the stress unravelling and in its place a focus that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
The Apprentice – The Show
I first met all the other contestants in the famous boardroom. Straight away I recognised James, Sarah Jane, Elliot, Danny and Siobhan from previous auditions and when we first entered the house, I automatically felt a warmth from Sarah Lynn. We gravitated towards each other and we were told that we would both be sharing the same bedroom. Funnily enough, we were actually staying in the walk-in wardrobe – it was big enough to be a room!
As the weeks progressed the process got tougher and tougher. Not knowing what time you were going to be woken up, the unknown and lack of control really started to take its toll on the candidates. So to compensate, Sarah and I used to have our morning and evening rituals to keep each other positive and on the right path. I bought us a plant that we named ‘Colin the Cracking Cactus’ (yes, we were becoming slighty nuts at this point!) and every time we had a problem we would jokingly speak to the plant for positivity. I made sure that I set my alarm at 4 am every day so that I could exercise and meditate. Each morning I would run on the treadmill for 10 mins, do 10 push-ups and whenever I got free time in the day, I would meditate. One thing this has taught me is that humans need routine.
Reading material wasn’t allowed in the house and I knew I would go stir crazy without it, so I hid my ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ book under my pillow. Every morning, I opened up a page and read something positive to help my mind be in the right place for the day. Two of my best friends had also given me gifts to go into the process with which I believe really helped me. One of the gifts was some worry dolls. They are tiny dolls that you tell your worries to and then put under your pillow. I did this before I went to sleep and placed them under my pillow. The ancient myth is that your worries would be gone by the morning and although I don’t necessarily think that they are ‘magic’ dolls, I think if you address any worries you have at night it helps you to have a good night’s sleep. Other techniques I used, were positive affirmations and quotes on a postcard, one of which included my favourite quote from Albert Einstein ‘Logic Will Get You From A to B, Imagination Will Take You Everywhere’.
Positive affirmations are quotes that help you believe in yourself. Saying a few of these to yourself every morning will truly set you up for the day. People have a tendency to be harsh and critical of themselves and speak in a completely different way than they would ever speak to anyone else, however, you can change how your inner voice talks to you by using these affirmations.
Sarah and I used to wake up every morning and list 3 things we were grateful for. At the end of the day, we would find something negative that had happened and ‘turn a negative into a positive’. There could be several scenarios throughout the day that could be deemed as ‘bad’, but they always turned out to be ‘good’ if you turned them on their head. What meditation and the books I read have taught me is that we need to stop viewing this as bad and good, but as events that can teach us things (Maybe – A Zen Buddhist Fable is a great example of this – give it a google!)
As the weeks progressed, the different friendship groups became clearer and it was apparent that James and I had a lot in common. We were both competitive, into our fitness and I think we just had a genuine connection and felt that we could rely on each other in the house. We used to go outside and play bat and ball and stay up talking about how the world has no limits. It was inspiring to be around someone else who had as much ambition and vision in life as I do.
The process means that you are away from your family and friends for a long period of time and you are not allowed to have any contact with the outside world. This means that the bonds you build up in the house are amplified as you are thrown together 24/7 and James and I became extremely close friends. After every task, we would return to the house and sit and chat about life, the Universe and everything. It’s amazing how raw and stripped back from everything you become when you’re away from everyday life.
It was about week 6 that I knew feelings were starting to change and although nothing would ever happen in the house, it became apparent that some things weren’t right on the outside world individually and changes needed to be made.
Skip a few weeks and I am on the receiving end of the dreaded pointed finger. To say I was gutted was an understatement! The excitement of the show and the buzz of doing a new task every day was exhilarating. The last couple of months had been hard, the early morning starts, late night finishes, the not knowing what was going to happen next and the daily changes had given me a new lease of life. I was finally using my overactive mind for a purpose. In fact, my overactive mind suddenly became very useful and I felt like I was finally who I was supposed to be. Strong, independent with direction, clarity and purpose.
After being fired, I went back to the house to retrieve my belongings. I reached under my pillow for my worry dolls and found that Lizzy, Sarah and James had left me lovely personal notes talking of our experience together. When I look back it was almost as if we were prisoners but I felt that I was in the most awakening of places.
I returned home to where my partner and I lived. I just knew I was different and so did my partner. I hadn’t changed, but my mentality certainly had. I finally fully believed in myself and knew I had the courage to be on my own and make my business a success and we were stopping each other from growing as individuals. I finally bit the bullet and made the hard decision to move out after all of our years together.
For the rest of the summer, I toured most of England, visited candidates in different cities, holidayed to Croatia and Barcelona, attended London Fashion week and landed myself a job as an Account Manager at a great company called Clear Channel (who by the way have been phenomenally supportive throughout this crazy time). I began to freelance and reignited my passion for my Broadcast Journalism degree through radio interviews (which I can’t tell you how much I LOVE).
So here I am, almost 26, single for the first time in my adult life and finally in a position where I can be me. I know I am still putting a huge amount of pressure on myself to succeed but the way I see it is, you get one life, make it out of this world amazing. I want to be a positive role model to others, particularly aspirational young girls who have had issues in their childhood and let them know that just because you may not have it sussed out now, does not mean that you won’t. A lot of people ask me how I wake up so early nowadays, but it’s amazing how much easier it is to get up when you finally feel like you have a purpose, and I am a woman on a mission.
I always knew my business could be a success, and although I am still figuring it out, I now know, I will make it because I believe in myself. You just need to believe in yourself. Don’t do what I have done and spend years doubting whether you can or not. You are so much more than you believe; don’t let anyone tell you different.
I am now on the biggest journey of my life and I welcome you to be a part of it. I want to show you how magical the world can be if you don’t take it for granted. I want to share the journey of a start-up. I want to show you that ‘yes’ it can be tough, but there’s nothing wrong with that. My life has completely changed over the past year and I hope that I can help one person out there know that following your dreams is tough but it will be so worth it in the end. As the title of my favourite book says….’Feel the Fear and do it Anyway’….I did!