Switch it up!

Sometimes you will find your environment has a negative impact on your mood, lifestyle and the choices you make in life. Just think about how long some of us have been on lock-down/in isolation for; being in the same rooms and environment constantly could drive the best of us mad.

You may find, especially if you have spent a lot of time in your bedroom or living room during lock-down, that you are too familiar or bored with your surroundings. In previous blogs, I’ve mentioned making small chances, eg. Changing your room layout or lighting candles to refresh your mind but sometimes it really just takes an added a personal touch.

By this I mean: creating your own area for indoor plants, creating and showing your own art work, making something new (a sculpture or piece of furniture), decorate photo frames or lighting, making your own candles or soap. Do something to add your own unique spirit to your room; something you can look at and think ‘wow I did that!’. Whilst keeping your mind busy, you are creating the environment best for you and whenever you need to switch It up again, you’ve got that new project, that new hobby to keep you on your feet.

Quarantine diaries

My time indoors hasn’t been that bad.

I say it’s not bad because its good being in my own space sometimes, however, I was annoyed during the beginning stages by two things; and I say the beginning because these are things I can’t change and therefore had to get over very quickly.

1) Not knowing how long lockdown would last resulting in not being prepared.
2) Having to work during this pandemic.

By preparing, all I did was tell everyone I’m close to I’d see them soon (assuming we’d only be in 4-6 weeks) and I froze my gym membership a week before lockdown started. During lockdown I think it became apparent to all of us that we weren’t prepared (unless you are one of those people that ran out and purchased trolley loads of toilet paper and pasta). Never in a million years did we think we would spend days on end at home. Having a TV, laptop and yoga mat is ideal but I ended up searching the house for weights (which I don’t have) and ended up ordering needed distractions such as a book, puzzle and clothes (clothes due to celebrating my birthday during lockdown). I’ve been grateful for my health and what I do have. I’ve been doing daily workouts, cooking, binging on Lost but of course, we always desire more.

As for working to home, its no fun being a key worker but luckily I’m able to work from home. With the NHS working night & day, people losing jobs and businesses not knowing what’s happening, I had to get over my feelings quickly because I felt guilty for complaining but, it is hard seeing friends and other people off work and enjoying time off.

A lot of people have also struggled with mental health during lockdown but its the exercise that has kept me going…and also watching Come Dine With Me in the mornings every day. This works as my morning motivation and during this time motivation is the most important thing. Another thing that has been keeping me busy is planning for the future, and looking forward to things to do when everything is over.

How’s your lockdown going?

Guide to being financially stable

The first thing to do is to list what you want and forget about what you need. For example- It is easy to say you want to move out of the family house and buy a house, however, if it’s your friends birthday on Saturday night and you are all going on a night out, do you need to buy a new outfit? This doesn’t mean you can’t live your best life and buy things whilst aiming to get a house but if you have a wardrobe full of clothes and shelves full of footwear, it’s up to you to think about whether that £50 needs to go to buying an outfit similar to what you might already have or whether that £50 can go towards a ‘help to buy’ or savings account.

If you’re in the position to buy luxuries and save at the same time due to maybe having a good-paying job, stability, inheritance, investments etc and you remain organised, then do as you please but if saving and financial knowledge for you is slacking, well this post is for you.

Make a list once a month or what you want in life; because your goals are important. When and if you go off track this will work as a reminder. Write your financial plans and goals down. If you have bills to play or need emergency money, food money etc write down your budget. If your wage allows you to put 75% into savings, go for it but never dip into your savings to take it out; therefore you need to be sure you can afford to keep putting in 75%.

Do your research and get that knowledge up! Bonds, investments, stocks, learn about different ways to save and invest and see what works for you. My financial goal is to be able to buy my own place before the age of 30, so I have investments and goals that work towards it. However, if your goal is to be able to buy a certain car or do be able to put a certain amount of money aside for your child, my plans and what I do to save and invest won’t necessarily work for you. To be financially stable and to set yourself realistic goals I will always say research is key.

Talking of goals. To write them down, you must first set them. You want that house, you better set goals to work towards it. How are you going to get that house? How are you going to fund keeping that house? How much can you put towards a mortgage? How much are bills going to cost you? Will you need to make cut backs? Can you do this alone or do you need a partner? All these questions are important and will help you to create a budget and a financially stable foundation.

Stick to these goals. Don’t just calculate money and write it all down on a piece of paper you’ll lose. Action it. Be sure to see it through. This might mean saying no to some financially heavy events from changing your holiday budget to changing your mobile phone plan (saved me £18 a month by the way). Speak it into existence.

And last but not least in connection to actioning goals, leave behind distractions. The road to success and becoming financially stable means having to prioritise. How will you do what you need to do if you spend £200 in the club every Friday night but you get paid £18k annually? Consider options. Nights in, a more cheap and cheerful motive or something as simple as not spending as much money when you’re out. Think about your life choices and get organised.

For further information on how to save or to get yourself started, please visit my contact page or Instagram Solobutterflyy.

Balanced Diet

It is so hard to live a healthy lifestyle sometimes.

We are surrounded by fast-food restaurants, adverts, people around us with unhealthy lifestyles; making it hard to stay on track.

I’ve tried every diet you can imagine, from fasting to no/low carbs to using supplements for metabolism. With pure determination and a set goal, I have managed pretty well whilst trying these different dieting methods and I’ve lost weight with all but it is hard to keep going and to stay motivated. Temptation is around us constantly. To not come completely off the diet and to not feel as if dieting is a restriction, it is ok to simply have a balanced diet. The no carbs diet was the hardest for me, and I discovered after two weeks it was best to move to low carbs. There were times when I wanted fries with my meal or wanted to add noodles to a stir-fry purely to make a meal more enjoyable. I went from just eating to survive and losing weight to actually, losing weight and enjoying what I was cooking. Because I had added carbs back into my life and went a step further by allowing myself to eat however I wanted whenever I was out for dinner with friends but still remaining healthy during weekdays and at work. That’s my balanced diet and that works for me, my body and my state of mind but I can’t say that will work for everyone. I know I can eat healthy all week long but if I get invited out for cocktails or dinner with friends once or twice a week I don’t want to feel guilty for eating unhealthily, which is why I have given myself wiggle-room.

Keeping active and understanding your lifestyle and what foods work for you is a good start at creating a healthy lifestyle. When I had just started a new job and was going through a busy period I knew my limits and knew activity-wise, I could manage to go to the gym twice a week or on weekends as long as it was morning time. Now that I have settled into my role a few months later, I know can remain going on weekends but once or twice more during the week after work. In addition, due to being used to my work routine I know I can prepare meals for the week on Sunday Afternoons if I am not busy and can afford to wake up slightly earlier to make a cup of tea and have a smoother morning. As I said before all this works for me and I can’t speak for anyone else.

With body image being such a thing in today’s world, a lot of us forget about body positivity. By having a healthy relationship with your lifestyle and finding the balance you should be able to lose weight, gain weight, feel healthier, eat guilt-free, basically do whatever you want!

Cheap & Cheerful Things To Do This Winter

Museums (free entry)

Winter Wonderland

Pub quizzes

Cinema without the cinema food because prices nowadays are mad

Wine & food nights in

Games nights at home with friends and family

Winter markets

Gym (if you get membership at the right price and from the company best for you)

Book clubs

Boxpark If you are in or around London (ideally Shoreditch & Croydon)

Keep a look out on the Timeout website for things to do on weekends

I was going to say Christmas at Kew Gardens which ends 5th January & adults from £18 and I was excited to go too but its sold out. So make a note in your calendar and meet me there next year.

Eltham palace lights festival begins 5th December & ends 22nd December

London short film festival in January

London fashion week catwalk & talks in February

Winter at Southbank ends 26th Janaury

Pantomime at your local threatre

New Years day parade in London

Put money together with friends for an air bnb weekend

Cosy pub for a Sunday roast

Relationships: Why you shouldn’t settle

This post can be broken down into so many elements/ sub-posts. From this I could talk about love vs lush, feeling stable and comfortable, not knowing your worth, being scared of being alone. However, to keep it as a blog post and not a book I’ll try to keep it limited. In the work edition, I spoke about being trapped in a job, the same can happen in a relationship. In the friendship edition, I talk about outgrowing friends, the same can happen in a relationship. 

Sometimes dreams can be blinding. In a world where people nowadays only meet in clubs or on tinder, it has become even harder to find that special someone no matter how easy dating apps are trying to make it. Due to this, you may dream of being married, having kids, having that house and when you meet someone who wants the same thing you could end up holding onto them without a second thought. Just because someone wants the same as you doesn’t mean they want it with you…and vice versa. Age plays a part in this; the need to meet goals in life by a certain age or hearing the biological clock ticking. From the men, I know they don’t feel the biological clock as much as the women I know and assume they’ll have everything when they’re 30-32. I’ve had many friends say “I’m going to get married when I’m 30” yet they have no interest in finding someone and setting a foundation before the age of 30. So when you hit 30 are you just going to find any woman and get married just because?

I have never been afraid of commitment, but I have always asked myself what if. That’s the fear of settling down with the wrong person and not knowing for sure if they’re the one. Even with the butterflies and the nervousness, at first sight, I’m still unsure of that person because it’s entering the unknown. Suppose in this sense you could say I have a fear of settling but this is because I know what I want, and I know my worth. I know what I expect from a partner, I know what I expect in the relationship and I know what I expect from life. It won’t always turn out exactly how I want it however if you have truly experienced love and life you will know your worth and understand why settling isn’t an option. You may feel so defeated by your previous or current relationship that you would want to settle and say enough is enough however if you are thinking like this, a relationship shouldn’t be in your mind right now. If you do feel defeated it’s time for you to go on a journey of selfishness. 

They say it takes 3-4 months for couples to finally feel comfortable with each other in a relationship. Being comfortable with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the right relationship. Having someone that makes you feel warm and safe are things we all desire from a relationship, however, over time (years) things can change and it is possible to fall out of love and out of desire for that person. As crushing to the soul as heartbreak is, don’t stay with someone just because you think it’s the right thing to do and you don’t want to hurt feelings. Again, age plays a part in this element, with a hint of maturity. On the other end of the scale, there is a thing of being too comfortable. When someone gets too comfortable they feel like they can do or say anything, and you’ll accept it and move on. Soon enough you could end up become a pushover. It’s a wonderful feeling to be comfortable with another person and to be able to be yourself with that person but there needs a line in relationships and sometimes being too comfortable can be considered as crossing the line. This is why we hear stories of couples of have been together for more than 10 years and ‘out the blue’ break up. Things can get too comfortable and feel too routine and before you know it a relationship can feel like a partnership. By saying all this, I don’t mean leave your loved one asap and find someone else. There are many ways you can both try to make it work and bring passion back into a relationship, however, if you have done all you can and are only staying because you don’t know if you’ll find someone else then that is a reason I cannot accept. In relation to this, if you have tried with someone or you have fallen out of love with someone but stay with them because of the kids or because you don’t want to break up the family, don’t use this as an accuse. Think about your happiness. Kids are important however your partner can remain in your children’s life but you need to find your own. It’s not you breaking up your family, it’s you finding closure and your peace. Make plans and the necessary arrangements between your partner and your kids and find your love. People tend to stay with someone they are out of love with because of the kids however they’re smart enough to pick up on behaviours and they can pick on up attitudes and signs that could make things for them even worse.

Never settle when it comes to your heart. 

Friendships: Why you shouldn’t settle

Its ok to outgrow people. Whether you’ve know that person 12 years or 12 days it’s acceptable and sometimes expected to cut people off or distance yourself from people whilst you are on your own personal journey. I have spoken to multiple people over the past few months (mainly men) who have left friends behind, so they don’t fall into a life of crime or worse. I’ve also spoken multiple people who have left friends behind because they’re at different stages of their lives. I have done this too.

If you’re someone who wants to focus on your career, education, setting yourself up for the future but you’re hanging around people who are all about lads holidays, lads night outs, lads waste money then it will either go two ways. 1) you might end up drifting away and joining people on your wavelength. 2) you may abandon your plans and stay with those friends out of loyalty, guilt or stupidity.

Just because you cut someone off at a certain point in your life, doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. There might be a point in life were they friend is on your level and you are now able to let them in again. I myself had friends but grown tired of your immaturity during times where I was grow professionally. After finishing University and continue with further education, whilst working I have friends still acting like teenagers and I thought ‘I don’t have time for this, I’m too grown for the stories and the drama’ and I cut them loose. I’m still on my professional development and taking care of my mind, body and soul so I’m still at a point in which I don’t need those people back in my life and I’m ok with the fact I never will. I still have my memories and life experience and in terms of not settling by having certain people in my life, I’m happy with that. Since then I have met amazing people, on my level that I consider as good friends. Making friends as an adult is very difficult in comparison to making friends in school however it is very beneficial. When you keep hold of friends you have known for years they hold you in a certain light and no matter what happens they will still see you as that child they met years ago however, making friends as a adult, what they see if what they get. No judgement or knowledge of you before them and you connect on a different level. Whether it be through work, another friend or an unexpected meeting as adults we have more ability to say whether it was nice to meet that person and I hope they have a good life or I like that person it would be nice to hang out with them more.

We group physically and mentally, we change our views and beliefs and sometimes they are not the same as the people to keep company with, that’s ok. Friendship too can change and over time you can go from seeing someone every other day to hearing from them of special occasion but that too is ok. Change is expected in personal development and take could mean changing who you confide in and who you label a friend.

In a previous post months ago I should able leaving negative energy behind. We all stan loyalty but what if you are loyal to someone who is no good? Don’t settle for keeping people in your life due to how long you have known them think about whether you want that energy in your life and if your mental health has any healthy benefits from knowing that person.

Work: Why you shouldn’t settle

You should never settle when it comes to working. Think about how long you spend at work per week. Then think about how long you’ll be spending working over your lifetime. You might be comfortable due to location, accessibility, colleague friendships but what about ambition, goals and the question of what if which we all ask ourselves. 

To not settle you first need to have a goal set and understand your worth. When I first graduated I use to apply for jobs between £15-20k, non-managerial, no experience required because I was so use to seeing ‘unfortunately’ emails when I applied for anything else. I had experience in what I was applying for and due to University, I had the knowledge but the one thing I didn’t know was my worth. It took me years to build confidence and know my worth and that was due to constantly bettering myself with qualifications and by having the right colleagues in my corner to motivate me. “What do you have to lose if you apply for a £30k job”, one colleague said to me and it’s true. The con would be another ‘unfortunately’ email, whereas pros would be they see something in me to move me through the interview stage or even offer me the job. 

Until I meet my goal, I never get comfortable in a job. I constantly search to see what jobs are out there. I don’t necessarily apply for them all, but it’s good to understand when during the year more jobs are available and to see what companies are doing in comparison to where you are now. As I said above, it took me a while to know my worth and now, as long as the position looks right for me and the money (including benefits) looks right for me I will shoot my shot and apply. I will only be holding myself back if I don’t.

There will be times when you know your worth and where you wish to be in life however, you might not be ready at that moment in time and that’s ok. If you think you want to be promoted or you want a certain managerial role however you’ll be readier in 2 years, do what you need to do for your CV and character to stand out in 2 years. If you hit the 2-year mark and the promotion isn’t available or there’s no job within that company you want, don’t be afraid to move on. Find a place that is willing to offer you exactly what you’re looking for. That could take a long time and out of anyone I know this, but sometimes you need to leave a position, take time out, wait and soon enough the right position will come along. If not, think about what is missing. Maybe you need a certain qualification to stand out, or maybe you are looking for work in the wrong location.

If you get to the stage where you have got everything you can out of your job and the company, ask yourself why you’re not pushing yourself further or ask yourself what your next step is. It’s easy to stick to what you know and to get comfortable within that environment. If you’re content then do what you need to do, however, if you’re sitting at work and you feel like something is missing that could be your mind telling you it’s time for a change or to be your own boss.

Plot twist:

Be aware of who you confide in at work. Not everyone you smile at is your friend. Just as you have an end goal, someone else you work with does too, and it might just be that your goals are the same. Sometimes healthy competition is needed at work however don’t let people take advantage of you and don’t get left behind. I’ve met some genuine people in previous roles, some I now consider my closest friends, but I have seen people get double-crossed and I have seen workplaces go from sweet to sour. Keep reminding yourself work is work and home is home. Focus on yourself and remember your journey.

To Spend or To Save?

A lot of us want to travel more, have breaks from work and eat out at the nicest restaurants but we also want to save for the future, have a mortgage, live comfortably. With a lot of jobs not paying enough and the economy today, it’s hard to have the best of both worlds. So, to stay on track, in an attempt to live in both worlds, here are a few things you can do to save money:

  • Have a personal bank account as well as 1-2 saving accounts; be sure to put 70% of your monthly wage in the saving accounts.
  • In line with that, transfer money into saving accounts monthly and have the will power to not take money out of these accounts.
  • Research/get into investments (shares, houses etc.)
  • If you have a business idea, write up a proposal and go for it.
  • Limit how much you spend weekly (through your personal account). Example, how much you go out, how much you eat out.
  • Only buy what you need, not what you want.
  • If there is something you need, look out for discounts or sales.
  • If you need extra assistance, make use to piggy bank apps, help to buy accounts, Monzo.
  • A great search for knowledge is money supermarket expert wesbite.
  • Make cut backs if possible. For example, if you pay for the gym but don’t go, do you really need to keep the membership?
  • If you have time and are willing, you can take on a second job (part- time).
  • If you’re not happy where you work, use this time to progress with your career. This might lead to a promotion or a job with a salary increase.
  • Look back on my previous post on saving money during the summer. It looks at how to have fun on a budget.