I’ve often found myself feeling like this which is weird.
How can you be lonely as a child when you had 5 siblings, or as a teenager when you were popular and had a wide circle of friends and lots of hobbies.
Or even now when I have great friends and family, and a brilliant network of peers, colleagues and acquaintances.
Maybe it’s not even loneliness it’s about a lack of true connection?
One of my clients left this comment on a thread I posted about this, summing it up so beautifully.
I am married and mother of two. I feel lonely even when I’m very busy with my family. I asked myself why and I found an answer. You feel lonely when the understanding of others is missing. When no one is really caring of how you feel, what you want or what you dream of. You feel lonely when you are overwhelmed with your chores and duties. You feel lonely when you are so tired and you have so many things to do before you can sleep. I asked myself what could help. It’s very easy: People who care. People who do things for you. People who ask you who you are and how you are and what you want. In these times more and more people just care for themselves and don’t think of others. I myself try to do what I want others to do to me even when I feel lonely doing it.
Powerful stuff hey?
I have been creating things to help with my sense of loneliness since I was a child….the semi-public library I set up in my brother’s bedroom aged 8, the kids club I set up in our garden shed aged 11, the community dance company I founded in the year 2000…I just always had this need to draw like-minded people towards me…to be of value, to offer something others might need or want.
I set up Too Fat to Run to give plus size runners a place to connect, to feel less alone, and it has been a lifeline, not only for the thousands of runners I have coached and supported but for me too…I couldn’t have achieved what I have without their reciprocal support.
I am drawn to groups of people striving for the same thing…it’s why I love retreats, both running them and taking part in them. I love the shared experience. The shared memories. The shared shifts…if that is even a thing.
But something has been happening of late which has been making me less happy to commune, particularly in the online world. Where I used to love my little Facebook communities…and I have created and taken part in many…like seriously loads.
I have wanted to retreat…hide away (which is a bit tough when its kinda connected to your livelihood)
But I have become frustrated with the fairness of it all.
Like you build a tribe, a community of 23K women interested in what you have to offer…and then the technology decides to limit your access so you have to pay for the privilege of communicating with them.
Nah…thats not on.
Equally, as a consumer, you sign up to go through some kind of learning experience, with a community aspect and the technology decides that it won’t display the information you need to see in the order you need to see it.
And it mucks up the vibe, big time.
I have always been such an advocate of Facebook and other social media sites, in their ability to bring us together around shared interests and experiences, but I have also seen a shift that says it has become overwhelming and just another thing to manage, navigate and curb in some cases.
But still my desire to connect is there.
My desire to help others connect is even stronger than ever.
But I want to find new ways of doing that…that don’t add to the problem.
And I think I have found it.
Two weeks ago I launched something pretty exciting, a new way of hosting one of my communities…a community which is all about connection, and women understanding and supporting one another.
I was apprehensive about it…because this had been my VIP offering, my higher priced life coaching programme.
But one of my driving values is fairness and equality…and excluding women because of the price felt wrong.
So now instead of it being a 12 week intensive programme, I have launched a mobile phone based membership programme, exploring the same issue of how to live a bigger more fulfilling more purpose-filled life…but with community right at the heart of it.
There are 100 women in there right now, and on the 1st May we start a 31 day visibility challenge. We are still beta testing it to be honest, and the price of $12.99 per month will go up in the future to better represent the value…but its feeling so much better.
Over the long weekend it was wonderful to see women popping in, to give updates, to ask for advice, to connect with each other. I know I for one was more mindful around not wasting my weekend, and staying on top of my feelings.
So if you are a woman who is about building up other women, and forging new and interesting relationships in a safe space online, and you are curious about what your life could look like if you lived it in a bigger more intentional way…then this might be the community for you.
Head on over and take a look.
I’d love to know what you think about the format, and I would love to get to know you. No, like seriously.
Living a Bigger Life is the community for women who are done with playing small. Join us for just $12.99 per month with no minimum monthly contract.
With no distractions, adverts, or negative vibes and the ability to pick and choose what you see, and from whom…this really is the social network you have been dreaming of.
Did I ever tell you about the plus size fitness programme I launched for men a few years ago that was a complete and utter flop?
Or do you recall the time I started selling fabric pens on my website so that people could customise their running tops with inspirational messages?
Why would you?
Those business ideas never took off, they never got any traction and in short, they were just shit business ideas….but it didn’t really matter because I didn’t really lose anything by launching them.
I have a lot of business ideas, and sometimes some of them are genius and sometimes they are just rubbish…the problem is sometimes it’s difficult to know which is which.
Which is why I pilot.
Even when I worked in a proper job, I would always pilot an idea before investing any time or resource into doing it properly, helping people to buy into the concept with little risk and then let the results speak for themselves.
This week 14 of my clients on my new Tribe Builder Programme (which YES I am currently piloting) launched new ventures.
Some of these were extensions of what they already do in business, and some were completely new business ideas. (You can read about them here in an email I sent round to my email list on Monday)
Launching stuff into the world is scary because it plays on those universal fears of being judged and ultimately big embarrassing, soul crushing failure.
But when something doesn’t get the traction I hoped for, when my new fantastic thing gets nothing but tumbleweed responses, and the deadline for signing up comes and goes…I am grateful (well at least I have learned to be) because it tells me this wasn’t quite right.
People vote with their wallets…and if people haven’t rushed to buy my thing it means one of 3 things
The offer was wrong
The timing was wrong
Its not what I should be doing
I used to think it’s because I am shit at business, nobody likes me, and I am not worthy of success (recognise any of those?) but a whole heap of mindset work, and surrounding myself with the right people to talk things through means I don’t have those highs and lows so much anymore.
Piloting things somehow takes the pressure off.
It says, “I don’t know yet”, it says “let’s see”, it enables me to be playful and to involve the end user in shaping it and making it something awesome for the next round.
People are interested in the process, they are interested in the journey, some people are curious about how things evolve…these are the folks that you want in your beta testing teams.
I am testing a few things at the moment, and they are all super exciting.
I had been pondering on a new business model for my Living a Bigger Life Mastermind for a while. I love the work that I do with my clients on that programme but something felt off…in some ways it felt unaligned to my values…especially the one about fairness.
That programme was saying, I care about women living bigger, but only the ones that can afford to pay handsomely for it…and that didn’t feel good, even though it was a VIP type of offer.
So my thinking was, how can I make the same amount of money but make it more accessible, more vibrant, more impactful, and in some ways less work for me?
And so I came up with an idea for piloting this new model.
I put a call out for 100 women to test a new mobile app version of this, a community approach to life coaching and personal development, and guess what?
6 days in and its kinda awesome.
So far I have 72 women all signed up and using this fab new bit of tech, feeding back what works and doesn’t, giving me ideas for features and content.
It is an absolute dream.
Now if I had spent 6 months developing this, looking into all the stuff, asking people if they were interested and all manor of other procrasti branding activities I might never have taken the plunge and just launched it.
Now I am not yet at the stage where I can say confidently this is a resounding success, and this community app is going to revolutionise my life…but it bringing in income, its bringing joy to my working day, and its already having a positive impact on the lives of the women involved.
And I am learning a heap of stuff about apps, and the like
Fear stops us from trying new things
Fear stops us from making mistakes
Fear stops us from learning
Fear stops us from growth
You know that thing you have been wanting to do for like FOREVER? I bet you that you could get something up and out there as a pilot in like 10 days. Especially if you let go of any idea of it being perfect and let go of any need for it to be successful in its first round…and then who knows where it might lead to.
Remember the Wright Brothers? What would have happened if they chose not to keep at it trying new things and learning each time. It’s an overused phrase but there really is no such thing as a failure….so get out there are fail a bit more often…who knows where it might take you.
PS. I won’t be saying that if I completely mess up next weekends London Marathon attempt ha ha
If you are a female who is done with playing small, and would like to get involved in my current Living a Bigger Life pilot, sign up here for $12.99 per month…the price will be going up after the pilot phases…and you get to see me figuring all this stuff out before all the shiny more polished stuff goes live on the 1st May.
If you are interested in joining the next round of my Tribe Builder Programme for speakers, experts and entrepreneurs…which includes a quick and dirty pilot launch then get your name on my wait list…find out more here
Do you ever get stressed about what to wear, or worry about how you look when you know all eyes are going to be on you?
I know those are kind of stupid questions, because so many women I work with talk about this stuff.
I’ve always felt like this.
I have never felt very stylish, I’ve always struggled to feel completely confident in the way I present myself. Sometimes in the past, this has been because of my size, sometimes not having the funds to buy the kind of clothes I like.
It has got better over the years but I still have real moments of panic.
Often when I get invited to speak at things or attend various different events I find that I can’t truly enjoy them because I am worried about what to wear.
I took 8 dresses with me to the conference I closed in OCtober…and I had 4 more at home that I had bought for the occasion…that’s ludicrous!!!
I think it’s because of phrases like “Dress to impress” and “you have to look the part” the part for what?
I remember a few years back when I was unemployed and the job centre put me up for this job and I had nothing to wear, I mean NOTHING…I had been out of the working world for almost a year, I had new baby weight and no money to buy anything.
The job centre sent me to the shops with gift vouchers to choose something appropriate, but of course their idea of appropriate meant a cheap suit from the high street, and there was only the option of two stores, one of which didn’t even stock my size.
I remember going to that interview in my cheap nylon suit thinking they would be mad to employ me, not because I wasn’t employable but because I looked like I was dressed for a funeral and had never worn smart clothes in my life.
Needless to say I didn’t get the job. Just as well really because a month later I turned Too Fat to Run into a business, and I haven’t had to wear a bloody suit since ha ha.
For me clothes are not really about having an outward image, for me, it’s more about feeling comfortable in my own skin. It’s not about being photographed and looking flattering, it’s about not letting how I feel about what I wear detract from the message I want to share with the world.
As an entrepreneur, a speaker…as someone who sometimes goes on the tele or gets photographed for various things there is this pressure to always get it right, to look well put together.
It’s hard not to compare yourself to others in your field, and ask yourself why don’t I look as good as them?
The thing is I don’t want to wear designer dresses and heels, I’m more of a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl, a rebel…I don’t want to have to wear stuff that restricts my movement, or makes me feel vulnerable…and trust me some clothing makes me feel like this.
I want to feel grounded, and authentically me.
2019 for me is a year of really being me, of sticking to my vision for how I want to show up in the world, a year for being led by my values, and for celebrating the things which make me unique.
It’s one of the reasons that I am collaborating with the fabulous Lauren Jobling.
Lauren is a stylist working with big brands and ordinary women like me, she also runs body positivity workshops and has a lot to say about fashion, style and womens issues.
I have been following her on Instagram for about a year and really wanted to collaborate in some way. Yesterday we met for the first time and went on a treasure hunt around the charity shops of London, starting with Barnardos in Brixton.
Oh my days we had so much fun.
I was a little nervous because Lauren always looks so well put together and has great taste in clothes, whereas I can often be found in food stained, unironed stuff…no make up, hair unwashed.
But it was fine.
I realised that I actually know more about the kind of stuff that works for me than I thought. My statement jewellery, my faux leather biker jacket, retro headbands, bright block colours, or bold prints.
Love this dress we found in Banardos…it’s so me!!!
Yeah I have a style.
I just need to make more of an effort to be consistent with it.
You are going to be seeing much more from Lauren and I over the next few months as we work on some things together, and hopefully you will notice an improvement on my sometimes dishevelled look…not because I want to look the part of a global entrepreneur with big plans…but because I don’t have the energy to be stressing any more about what the hell to wear.
First step…clear out my wardrobe of all the shoulda, coulda, woulda clothes that make it hard for me to see what I have, and then step two is book another session with Lauren to sketch out what I am going to wear for a few big things coming up next month.
Super excited to have another epic woman on my team.
Go check out Lauren on Insta, you can see some of the finds we had. Also, note to self Julie…take more photos, I got home last night and realised I didn’t take even one of our time together…I was having far too much fun.