How To Do Everything And Be Happy

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#Shopping Made Easy for The #Fashion Phobic

wardrobeFor many years I’ve had a keen interest in photography, and theatre. When I wasn’t helping banks bring about the financial downfall of the western world, I was an actor for a small theatre company here in the southeast of England, and a freelance portrait photographer for models, actors and actresses. In my head the two activities are closely related. Taking pictures is nothing more than static theatre. My job is to tell a story with my subject using anything that I have to hand. This makes me the ‘director’, ‘prop master’, and occasionally ‘wardrobe mistress’. Quite often I take a look at the nondescript clothes that the client has brought with them and decide we can do something better. I dig through the items in the ‘dressing up box’ and construct an outfit that’s a little more interesting.

At times like that, my crippling lack of fashion-sense never gets a look in. Instead I’m brimming with confidence, and waft away any objections from my client with a wave of my hand.

“Wait until you see the pictures,” I say. Usually I’m right.

Ray Ronson - HypnotistSo why is that? Why is dressing myself so hard when I can apparently do it for other people? Is it because I lack that crucial objectivity when it comes to selecting my own wardrobe? I used to think so – but then one day, as I picked out an outfit for a professional hypnotist who needed some new publicity shots – it occurred to me that maybe it was the ‘clothes’, or more specifically, the way I looked at them.

fashionWhen I’m in a departmental store, assessing myself in the changing room mirror, clothes are, well, fashion. And I don’t really know how to relate to fashion. Fashion makes me think of expensive glossy magazines. The type I can’t afford, and wouldn’t buy even if I could. To me, those magazine fashion models look ever so slightly dead, and yet somehow they still make me feel gawky and inadequate.

On the other hand, when I’m doing a shoot, or standing in front of an audience, clothes aren’t clothes at all – they’re a costume.

Now a costume –that’s something I understand. For an actor a costume is a mask to hide behind. It’s also a prop to help them get into character. From a director’s perspective – the storyteller – it’s an extension of a character’s personality. It’s a method of communication, where each item of a given outfit are words, assembled together into a phrase or sentence.

If I think of my everyday clothes in terms of a ‘costume’ then I’m no longer worrying about whether I ‘look all right’, whether my shoes match my shirt, or whether I’ve made some other hideous fashion faux pas. Instead, I’m concerned only with the character I’m trying to portray, and the story I want to tell. Right now – right this second – that character is one of full-time author, living a few miles outside London. Slightly geeky. Young at heart. Laid back. Enjoying life. But ever the professional and serious about what he’s doing. Now what sort of costume does a character like that wear? How about a pair of well-worn dark blue jeans, with a matching cardigan, over a casual, black & white shirt, under which is just a peek of a t-shirt with some quirky design on the front? A pair of thin rimmed glasses sets the whole thing off.

If I’m giving a talk then I’ll ditch the cardigan in favour of a casual dark grey jacket, put my glasses into the breast pocket, and wear a smiley badge on the lapel.

One day I’ll move to warmer climes, and maybe then I’ll give my costume a slightly more contemporary, ‘New York’ feel, with black t-shirts, cargo pants, and thicker rimmed specs.

This new approach to clothes works well for me. For years I protected myself against the UK winter with whatever came to hand. Most of the time I looked like a cross between a bag lady and a road sweeper, without the charm or elegance of either. Now that I’m adopting the character of ‘author’ I wear a dark grey, almost military in style, overcoat, black leather gloves, and a large rimmed, black felt fedora hat.

But let’s talk about you. What character would you like to portray? The thirty-something, Bridget-Jones-esque, girl-next-door? The hard-working, hard-partying city dweller? The sassy, somehow-single, yummy mummy? The chic geek? If I’m doing my job properly then an image of each of those characters should have popped into your head as I mentioned them. That’s an image you can take with you when you go shopping.

Remember; this character isn’t you. It’s the someone you’d like to be. If, for instance, you’d like a little more confidence, then adopt the character of a confident person. Think carefully about what your character of choice looks like, then go shopping for those items. Because as most actors know, a curious thing happens when you spend a significant amount of time ‘in character’. After a while the personality of your character seeps through the costume into your soul. It becomes part of you. Takes over. After a while you’re not acting any more. You are that person. And that’s a powerful thing. Because it effectively means you can reinvent yourself from the outside in – just by changing your wardrobe.


Fed up with being invisible?Excerpt taken from From Invisble To Irresistible – available right now from amazon and other places.

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Dave Monk (BBC Essex): How To Be Successful at Online Dating

 

Over the last few weeks I’ve been playing catch up with some of the radio interviews I’ve given over the past few months, and back in May of this year I was invited back onto the Dave Monk show on BBC Essex, to celebrate twenty five years of the internet and to talk specifically about the surge in online dating popularity.

You can listen to the whole interview by clicking the big play button in the image below, or here if you’re reading this in an email.

We talk about my own experiences as well as some scientifically proven tips and strategies to make your own dating efforts more successful, such as…

  1. Whether you should smile for the camera
  2. Just how much of your profile should be spent talking about yourself (vs the person you’re looking for), and
  3. What to say in that opening message

Want More Tips?

If you want to delve into the detail the tips above, pick my brain for more nuggets of dating gems, or need a little more hand holding, then I have some very good news. How To Start Dating And Stop Waitingmy third self-help book, is available in paperback and as an ebook. An audio version – which includes the companion guide From Invisible To Irresistible – is also available at audible (co.uk and com)

You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle book. Download the FREE kindle app for your computer, smart phone or tablet from amazon (.co.uk | .com)


TGGGTGTG drop shadowIf you like a little romance in your fiction, particularly if you’re a fan of books like Bridget Jones’s Diary, or High Fidelity, or About a Boy, then you might be interested to know that  The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl, my debut novel, is finally available!

It’s available in paperback and ebook, and it can be yours in two clicks, for less than the price of a cup of coffee – click here now.


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Phoenix FM ‘Happy Club’: Top 5 Dating Tips

Over the next few weeks I’ll be playing catch up with some of the radio interviews I’ve given over the past few months, including my ‘Happy Club’ slot of Michelle Ward‘s show on Phoenix98 FM.

This week we hop back in time to March of this year when Michelle and I talked about the highs and lows of 21st Century dating. Click the big play button in the image below, or here if you’re reading this in an email.

artesanWe chat about my top five dating tips (something that you can read more of here), why it’s too easy to fall in love with someone online, and why I eventually decided to cut off my long flowing locks all those years ago (hint: the picture to the left was taken long long loooong before I made that momentous decision)

Want More Tips?

If you want to delve into the detail behind my five tips above, pick my brain for more nuggets of dating gems, or need a little more hand holding, then I have some very good news. How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting, my third self-help book, is available in paperback and as an ebook. An audio version – which includes the companion guide From Invisible To Irresistibleis also available at audible (co.uk and com)

You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle book. Download the FREE kindle app for your computer, smart phone or tablet from amazon (.co.uk | .com)


TGGGTGTG drop shadowDuring the show I mention that my debut novel, The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl, would be available ‘at Easter’. Then Easter came and went and the novel was nowhere to be seen. Well the good news is it is finally available!

The official launch is September 12th 2014, when the ebook will be less than a quid for a very limited period, and I’ll be personally delivering copies to anyone who wants one (that last bit might not be true). Subscribe to this blog to be reminded of the launch nearer the time, but if you can’t wait four weeks to flick through the contents of my imagination, click here now.


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Get ‘Dating’ For Less Than A Quid

SDSW sidebarThis weekend, those charming folks at ebook soda are featuring my latest book, How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting, and in return for sending a few new readers my way (‘Hello’ to all new readers) we’ve temporarily dropped the price of the UK & US kindle edition to a mere 99 pence (or cents, depending on the coins in your pocket).

I’m enormously proud of this book. It’s crammed with dating advice for the man or woman who really doesn’t ‘do’ dating.

The paperback’s well over three hundred pages. The audio is eight hours long! And if you’re part of the kindle generation it can be yours for less than the price of a cheap cup of coffee (that was the best analogy I could come up with – hey, it’s early as I write this!)

To download the book and start reading, click here and hop on over to amazon.

Haven’t got a Kindle? Why on earth not? Download the FREE kindle app for your computer, smart phone or tablet from amazon (.co.uk | .com)


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Start Dating, Stop Waiting. 5 Dating Tips

heart-love-romanceBefore I started on my quest for happiness, I was using my problem solving skills to figure out what actually works when it comes to courting the opposite sex. From the pen-pal clubs of the early eighties, to the lonely heart newspaper ads of the nineties, from postal dating services to the more formal introduction agencies – there hasn’t been a dating service that I haven’t tried!

And after many, many years of seemingly making every dating mistake there is – scouring every scrap of scientific research I could get my hands on – I finally cracked it. There’s love in my life. And it wasn’t an accident.

If love, lust or romance feature in your goals for this year let me see if I can impart some of my dating prowess to you now. Here are my top five tips for dating success.

Dating Tip Number 1: What do you want?

Figuring out who it is you’re looking for is probably the most effective thing you can do to kick start your love life. You might think (as I used to) that you can’t afford to be picky, that finding someone who doesn’t repel you too much and is content to remain in your company might be the best you can hope for. I’m here to tell you that the reverse is true.

After months, possibly even years, of less-than-satisfactory relationships with long periods of nothing in-between, I sat down and wrote out what I actually wanted. A list of qualities that I hoped for in my ideal person. And about six weeks later I met my wife, Kate.

Now – that’s not the whole story, obviously. There were a few stages between writing my ‘perfect woman shopping list’ and choosing to sit next to this beautiful blonde I spied from across the room, but a few months into our relationship I looked back at that list and I was amazed at just how many of the criteria Kate met. Coincidence? Perhaps. But for the time it would take you to create your own list isn’t it worth the effort?

Dating Tip Number 2: Go online!

By my calculations online dating websites are responsible for one in five marriages. Include relationships that haven’t got as far as the altar, throw in the likes of facebook and other social media websites, and I estimate 50 percent of all romances probably start on the internet. Which means that simply using your computer to meet people could double your chances of dating success.

Dating Tip Number 3: Pick a good dating website

There are a LOT of dating websites out there – finding a good one can be a challenge. My current feelings are the free-ones can be just as good, sometimes better, than the paid-ones. For extra oomph pick a site that does some form of compatibility matching!

Dating Tip Number 4: To meet ‘the one’, you must first meet ‘the many’

Very, very few people go on one date and hit the jackpot first time. In fact, in the years I’ve been chatting to people about this stuff I’ve never met anyone who has. Dating is a numbers game. If you find someone you like online send them a message. If they respond toss a couple more messages back and forth. If you still like them arrange to meet. Meanwhile; continue to browse the dating sites, continue to send messages, continue arranging dates. Exclusivity should be reserved for that special someone you’ve dated more than once, in real life, and even then only if you want to.

As well as a numbers game, dating is a skill. The more dates you go on the better you’ll get.

SDSW drop shadow colour smallDating Tip Number 5: Have fun!

Dating is tough. It has to be said. Some days it can feel like a slog. But if it always feels like a slog, if it’s tough without being the slightest bit pleasurable, well, then you’re doing something wrong!

Try changing your mindset. Dating can be a fun. An adventure. Exciting. It’s a little like a lottery; Sometimes it’s just OK. Sometimes it’s better than OK. Occasionally it’s a total disaster, but every now and then it’s magical. And those moments make up for everything.

Secondly, make sure you’re doing things you actually enjoy. For me, a good first date takes place in a coffee shop, if it’s going really well I might suggest wandering across to the pub over the road. Dinners and first dates don’t mix well. But that’s just me. Maybe you’re into bungy jumping, or white water rafting or long walks in the countryside. Picking an activity you enjoy will significantly increase the chances of your first date going well.

Want More Tips?

If you want to delve into the detail behind the five tips above, pick my brain for more nuggets of dating gems, or need a little more hand holding, then I have some very good news. How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting, my third self-help book, is available today in paperback and as an ebook. An audio version – which includes the companion guide From Invisible To Irresistibleis also available at audible (co.uk and com)

You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle book. Download the FREE kindle app for your computer, smart phone or tablet from amazon (.co.uk | .com)


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Common internet / online #dating abbreviations, shorthand & TLAs (how many do you know?)

These are some of the more common TLAs (three letter acronyms) and abbreviations you’re likely to come across in dating profiles, messages or ‘chat’ sessions. There are others, and new ones are being invented all the time – if you think I’ve missed one add a comment at the bottom or drop me a message.

2NITE
tonight

420
refers to the use of cannabis

ADN
any day now

AFAIK
as far as I know

AFK
away from keyboard

AKA
also known as

AML
all my love

ASAP
as soon as possible

ASLP
age/sex/location/picture

AWYR
awaiting your reply

B4
before

B4N
bye for now

BAK
back at keyboard

BBL
be back later

BBC
big black cock

BBW
big beautiful woman

BCNU
be seeing you

BDSM
bondage & discipline/domination & submission/sadism & masochism

BEG
big evil grin

BF
boyfriend

BFF
best friends forever

BFFL
best friends for life

BFN
bye for now

BRB
be right back
(as in, “I’ve got to answer the door” etc)

BS
big smile/bullshit
(that could make for an interesting misunderstanding!)

BTAIM
be that as it may

BTU
back to you

BTW
by the way

BWK
big wet kiss

CBL
come back later

CIO
check it out

CU
see you

CUL
catch you later

CWYL
chat with you later

DDF
drug and disease free

DIKU
do I know you?

DILIGAS
does it look like I give a sh*t?

Div
divorced

DLN
don’t leave now

DLTM
don’t lie to me

DTE
down to earth

EG
evil grin

F/ship
friendship

FAQ
frequently asked questions

FOTCL
falling off the chair laughing

FTF
face to face

FWB
friends with ‘benefits’
(‘benefits’ being sex)

FWIW
for what it’s worth

FYI
for your information

G2G
got to go

GAL
get a life!

GF
girlfriend

GFAK
go fly a kite

GIO
get it over

GL
good luck

GMAB
give me a break!

GSOH
good sense of humour

GTSY
glad to see you

H&K
hugs and kisses

HAGN
have a good night

HAK
hugs and kisses

HB
hurry back

HIG
how’s it going?

ICBW
I could be wrong

IDC
I don’t care

IDK
I don’t know

IDST
I didn’t say that!

IGP
I gotta pee

IMHO
in my humble opinion

IMO
in my opinion
(no humility)

IRL
in real life
(e.g. “let’s meet IRL”)

ISO
in search of

J/K
just kidding

JAM
just a minute

JAS
just a second

KIT
keep in touch

KWIM
know what I mean?

L8R
later

LDR
long distance relationship

LJBF
let’s just be friends

LMAO
laughing my arse off

LOL
laugh out loud
(or, very occasionally, ‘lots of love’,
but that’s actually a mistake made by newbies)

LOLA
laughing out loud again

LTR
long term relationship

M/F
male/female

M4M
man for man

M4MW
man for couple (man & woman)

M4W
man for woman

M8
mate

MILF
mother I’d like to f***
(or more generally; an attractive woman in her 30s / 40s)

MOTOS
member of the opposite sex

MOTSS
member of the same sex

MRS
meet real soon

MW4M
couple (man & woman) for man

MW4W
couple (man & woman) for woman

MWBRL
more will be revealed later

MYOB
mind your own business

N1
nice one!

N2S
needless to say

ND
non- drinker

NOYB
none of your business

NP
no problem

NRN
no response necessary

NS
non-smoker

NSA
no strings attached (sex)

NTTAWWT
not that there’s anything wrong with that

NW
no way!

OBTW
oh, by the way

OIC
oh I see

OMG
oh my God!

OT
off topic

PDA
public display of affection

PLS
please

POV
point of view

PMSL
peeing myself laughing

PTB
part time boyfriend

PTG
part time girlfriend

R/ship
relationship

RBTL
read(ing) between the lines

ROTFL
rolling on the floor laughing

ROTFLMAO
rolling on the floor laughing my arse off

ROTL
rolling on the floor laughing

RUOK
are you OK?

SD
social drinker

SOH
sense of humour

SOL
sooner or later

SOMY
sick of me yet?

SS
social smoker

STD
sexually transmitted disease

SWAK
sealed with a kiss

SWALK
sealed with a loving kiss

SYS
see you soon

TAFN
that’s all for now

TAH
take a hike!

TBDL
to be discussed later

TDH
tall, dark & handsome

TG
transgender

THX
thanks

TIAIL
think I am in love

TLC
tender loving care

TMI
too much information

TNTC
too numerous to count

TS
transsexual

TTFN
“ta ta for now”
(bye)

TTYL
talk to you later

TTYS
talk to you soon

TV
transvestite

TX
thanks

TYVM
thank you very much

VGL
very good looking

VM
voicemail

W/E
well endowed

W4M
woman for man

W4MW
woman for couple (man & woman)

W4W
woman for woman

W8
wait!

WIIFM
what’s in it for me?

WGTG
well, got to go

WLTM
would like to meet

WRU
who are you?

WTF
what the f***!?

WTGP
want to go private?
(as in; online private ‘chat’ mode)

WUF
where are you from?

WWJD
what would Jesus do?

WWPD
what would Peter do?
(not always the same as Jesus)

WWTMM
who was that masked man?

WYS
whatever you say

WYSIWYG
what you see is what you get

XOXO
hugs and kisses

YNK
you never know

YW
you’re welcome


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Golden Rules of Dating

Protect yourself from future heartache and heartbreak. These are the Nine Golden Rules of Dating:

Dating Golden Rule #1:
Never reveal information (to websites)
that could assist scammers, spammers, or fraudsters
(unless doing so would prevent the website
from working properly).

Dating Golden Rule #2:
Ignore profiles without photos.
That way lies madness.

Dating Golden Rule #3:
Nobody gets your (primary) email address,
Facebook details, phone number, surname,
or anything else
until you’ve met them in real life.

Dating Golden Rule #4:
When using a compatibility dating site
skip anyone who hasn’t answered enough questions

Dating Golden Rule #5:
Never, ever, ever
send a wink, wave, kiss
or any other virtual gesture

Dating Golden Rule #6:
By message number 3 or 4
you should be
arranging to meet.

Dating Golden Rule #7:
‘Dating Exclusivity’ is only for
people you’ve dated at least once,
in real life
(and even then, only if you feel the need)

Dating Golden Rule #8:
Never ever sleep with someone
on the first date
(even if you’ve reframed it as the second date)

Dating Golden Rule #9:
If you meet someone so stupid
that they can’t see how lovely you are
they’re not worth your attention.
Move on.