How To Do Everything And Be Happy

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Paying Taxes – WTFHIBD episode 8 (part 3)

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Last week I continued telling you What The Flippin’ Heck I’ve Been Doing with my life. I talked about my NOW List and finally going up inside a lighthouse. You can read that post here.

This week I’d like to conclude this short series of posts by talking about…

Goals

Ugh!

I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t say things like that but sometimes, just sometimes, it feels like I’ve had the same goal(s) for the past decade!

I haven’t.

I can pull up my goals document, and I can see every goal I’ve ever set myself since 2008, and over time they’ve changed quite a bit.

Back in those early days my primary goal was merely to replace Credit Card Banking with something that I actually enjoyed doing.

Over the next couple of years that goal got more specific; by 2011 I’d admitted to myself that being a full time novelist was where my true ambitions lay.

But as the years continued to roll by I soon realised it wasn’t enough to simply replace Credit Card Banking – not even if it were enjoyable – it had to pay the bills too!

Last year I almost gave up. You can read about that here. But the short version is that despite two novels under my belt, an agent that believed in me, a publicity deal with Amazon themselves, and some tentative enquiries from Hollywood about the movie rights for The Truth About This Charming Man (yes, really!)… financially things were grim.

But that was last year.

In the past twelve months things have moved on somewhat: I’m now doing more speaking gigs than ever before (why not get me along to entertain your group?). My books (all of them!) are selling better than ever, and my accountant tells me that if I keep going at this rate, I may have to pay tax. And I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that I’d ever aspire to that!

But more than that, interesting things are afoot: My third novel just came out (you can read about that below), and I’m several chapters into my fourth.

There are times when I feel like I’m going nowhere, or going backwards. There are other times when I feel like I’m so darn close to getting what I’ve truly wanted… and yet, somehow, it’s still just out of reach!

But nowadays, whenever I look back – back to where and when I started this happiness journey – I realise that I’m further ahead than I ever thought I would be. I’ve transformed my life. For the better. And the next time I’m asked to tell you all What The Heck I’ve Been Doing, I know it’ll be better still. And that’s what keeps me going forwards.

But less about me.

How are your goals going? Why not let me know in the comments (if you’re reading this on the blog or social media).


Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

My third novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for a limited period.

It’s the tale of Adrian Turner. Mountaineer, Secret Agent, Fireman… Ade would dearly like to be any of these things. Though he’s trade them all to win the heart of feisty Public Relations Executive, Paige.

Instead, our hero is a disillusioned school teacher, on suspension, after an unfortunate incident with a heavy piece of computer equipment. And somebody’s foot.

And Paige? Well, despite being his girlfriend for the past eighteen months, she still seems to have one foot out of the door and hasn’t quite committed to leaving a toothbrush in the bathroom. Of course, it doesn’t help that she’s working with her ex-boyfriend, Sebastian. A man who in almost every way imaginable is better, taller, wealthier, hairier, and infinitely more successful than Ade.

Is Paige still in love with Sebastian? Maybe. But why then did she suggest they get away for a few days? Some place romantic…

But when Adrian finds himself in Slovenia – with Sebastian in the room down the hall – he realises there’s serious possibility that he’s in danger of losing his job, his mind, and the woman he loves…

Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

 

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Trophy Board 2016

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Phew! Done it! I finally got around to clearing down my Trophy Board. Why finally? Because, for the first time in two decades, my A2 board wasn’t enough to hold all my ‘trophies’, and so back in October or November I added an A3 extension! To put it another way, whilst 2016 wasn’t the best year for a lot of folks, for me it was my busiest, ‘funnest’ (if that’s a word), year – EVER!

If you’re not really sure what a Trophy Board is, take a look at this earlier post (and extract from How To Do Everything And Be Happy) by clicking here.

Of course, a pin board isn’t the only way to capture memories. How about a Memory Box?memory-box

This one is available on Etsy here

 

Have another ‘trophy board’ idea? Share it in the comments. Or share your Trophy Board with other readers on the How To Do Everything And Be Happy facebook page – here.


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Faith, Hope & Clarity (The Truth About Peter Jones) – WTFHIBD episode 7

piggy

Yes folks, it’s time, once again, for your favourite self-help ‘guru’ to fess up and tell you how I’ve been applying my ‘happy’ principals to my life, in a feature that I like to call What The Flippin’eck Have I Been Doing…

I’m going to break this into three parts, so come back tomorrow and Wednesday to find out about my NOW list, and BOXING days, but for now let’s start with GOALS.

My GOALS

Since I last penned the last WTFHIBD post, I’ve spent most of my goal-related energy concentrating on just one of the three goals I set myself (so much so, that I can’t actually remember what the other two goals were). That goal was this:

My total writing income exceeds my outgoings
Deadline: June 2015

So how’s that going, I hear you ask.

Let’s put it this way… not as good as I’d like.

Now that’s not entirely surprising. My potential for disappointment really knows no bounds. I’m the kinda guy who having found a £10 note on the floor, would be wishing it could’ve been a £20 instead… I’m definitely a glass half empty kinda guy. The first time I got a major book deal, my agent – having told me it was a generous offer for a first time author – was (rightly) appalled when I threw all my toys out the pram and declared the offer an insult! So, even if my latest novel was sitting somewhere near the top of the charts (any charts!) chances are I’d still not be satisfied. But it’s not at the top of the charts. Nowhere like it. And my income consistently falls short of my monthly outgoings – worse still ‘writing’ makes up only a fraction of that insubstantial income.

I’ve been in this situation for a while. Six years in fact. That’s the last time I raised an invoice in my previous guise as banking consultant. I walked out of a corporate office with a years money in my savings account, and hoped that would be the very last time I donned a suit and tie. But now that pot of money has all but gone. And a few weeks back, faced with this grim reality, I stopped writing my third novel… and started looking for full time work.

Here’s what I quickly discovered about job-hunting; it’s horrible. 

In many ways Job Hunting in the 21st Century is very similar to Online Dating. My life became one long dull routine of signing up to websites, completing profiles, uploading my CV, searching for jobs, and sending out messages. And just like my dating experience, I soon discovered that today’s online job market has it’s equivalent of Cam Girls (agencies), Scammers (agencies) and Spammers (agencies). There’s even a job hunting app where you swipe right for interested, and left for not-interested! And just like my dating experience (and the dating experience of most men) it seems to make absolutely no difference whether you actually have what the job poster is looking for because (just like the dating experience of most women) their mail server has probably collapsed under the deluge of applications thereby making it extremely doubtful that an actual human being will ever see your message… let alone reply!

I’d like to say that just like my dating experience I figured out what actually works, and became a master at online job hunting – there’s probably another self-help book in there somewhere. But the reality is I became very depressed, and pretty difficult to be around. Every day was a constant reminder that in the only way that really counts (ie. being able to pay the bills), I’d failed my goal. Which means I’d failed as an author. I was being forced to give up on that career. Worse still, I was already failing at being able to be anything else.

Well-meaning friends tried to cheer me up. They pointed out that it was pretty impressive that I’d “lasted this long”. They said phrases that included the words “a good innings“. You can probably imagine how much better that made me feel.

And then – just when I was at my most desperate, when I had begun to pick and choose between which bills I absolutely had to pay, and which I would have to let slide into arrears – a miracle happened. Or, to be more accurate, a cluster of mini-miracles; minicles you might call then, or miraclets – whatever they’re called, they saved the day.

Firstly, after making a silly sixty second video-promo for my latest novel – The Truth About This Charming Man – Amazon decided to put the book in their June Summer Promo. Financially it probably won’t make a huge difference, but it was nice to know that someone, other than me, thought my book was worth plugging (and if it’s June 2016 as you read this then it’s still only 99p if you fancy taking a punt. You can watch the sixty second video below (or here)).


Secondly, thanks in no small part to other friends and fellow writers, odd bits of freelance work started to land in my inbox. Not huge amounts, but enough to give me a paid-break from the hell of job hunting. My sanity started to return.

And finally, the phone started to ring: Someone had heard me speak at so-and-so event, would I be able to come to their group? XYZ Society had been let down by a fellow speaker – would I be able to fill the slot? {Insert name of WI group here} was celebrating their birthday in July / August / Sept… and they’d like me to come and entertain them…

Word of the 45 minute talk I give telling the story of how I came to write four self-help books, and the follow talk up explaining how I met Kylie Minogue (sort of), had reached some sort of tipping point. At the start of this month I found myself doing not one talk a week, but two, or three, sometimes two in one day.

facebook cover photo 2016

I always knew the talks were popular – after speaking I’d generally sell more physical books for £7 than I’d ever sell in a week on amazon for £1.99, but still the penny didn’t drop. Not until an out-spoken, feisty white-haired lady, walked right up to me a week or so ago and told me straight; “why are you bothering with the writing,” she said, “you should be putting all your energies into doing this.”

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it earlier.

Going forwards

So does this mean I’m giving up on writing? Not even slightly. My talks are about my writing journey – so starting next week I’m picking up that third novel again and I’m going to have it finished by the end of the year. But, the lion’s share of my energy is going to be spent moving the thing that I’ve always thought of as a ‘side-stall’ (ie. public speaking) front and centre.

You’ll already find a page on facebook dedicated to my speaking-adventures – if it looks like the sort of thing that might amuse you, or others, click the FOLLOW or SHARE buttons… maybe BOTH!

And if you belong to a group or society and you’d like me to come along and amuse you for an hour with tales of my writing adventures then drop me a line – either here or on facebook – but for the first time in a long while I’m going to take my own advice; I’m going to do the thing that actually works, in preference to the thing I’d like to work. Wish me luck.

But enough about me

How about you? What GOALS have you been working on? How’s that going? Feel free to drop me a line, here or on facebook, or post a comment below.

And pop back tomorrow to find out whether I’ve ticked off any items on my NOW List, and whether I still have a Boxing Day once a month.


TTATCM sidebarFor three more days my SECOND novel, The Truth About This Charming Man, is only 99p for your kindle, smart-phone, tablet, or computer. If you like the way I write, chances are you’ll like this. Visit BuyTheBook.TODAY to find out more and buy the book… today.

 


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Turning failure into possibilities – WTFHIBD episode 6

bright-ideas

Blimey! Has it been 9 months since I wrote one of these WTFHIBD things?? Where does the time go? Actually that’s kinda the point of these WTFHIBD posts; to tell you exactly what I’ve been spending my time on.

Let’s start with GOALS.

My GOALS

2014 turned into something of a damp squib for me. Whilst a lot of good things happened, on balance it was pretty much ‘the year of disappointments’. People often tell me I’m too tough on myself, but as summer rolled into autumn all I could see was failure, failure, failure… in every aspect of my life.

But around January, and as I sat down to set my GOALs for the year I somehow managed to summon some of the fight that I’d lost in previous months, and although my 2015 goals didn’t look a whole lot different from previous years, perhaps I altered my approach to them, because even though it felt like I was starting again, at the same time the only way was up; I’d already failed at everything – it would be hard to fail even more. Success was actually the easier option.

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I BECAME ‘SELF-HELP GURU TURNED NOVELIST’

Having watched my debut lad-lit, rom-com novel  – The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl – climb the charts in September… only to come crashing back down to earth again… I took the somewhat odd decision to start sending it out to agents and publishers again. On the one hand this seemed like a bad idea; I would be trying to sell a book that was already published. On the other, I could point at lots of nice reviews, the fact it did rather well during it’s first promotion, and my previous non-fiction successes. Surely that would make me, and the book, an attractive proposition?

Amazon 2015-07-09 at 12.28.14Well, six months later and I had indeed got myself a new agent… and in turn a publicity deal with amazon!

The book underwent another edit, the cover got brighter, and after a little help from Kylie Minogue (sort of), amazon made it part of their July 99p Summer Reads promotion. It’s back up near the top of the charts …and it’s doing ok! Better than ok!

If you fancy a chuckle, as well as keeping me in the book business, now would be a very good time to spend a quid at the world’s biggest bookstore.

I STARTED MY NEXT BOOK

One of last year’s many failures was a five part serial that I wrote for a particularly well known woman’s magazine. After a full sixteen weeks of consideration, the fiction editor of magazine-that-cannot-be-named decided that it wasn’t really ‘real-world’ enough for their readers, and that she was going to pass up the opportunity of publishing it.

In the same week however, my new agent decided that actually it was a cracker of story – and could quite easily be expanded into a full length novel. My next novel. And so, Facebook pals have been subjected to almost daily word count updates, whilst readers of my other blog have been perplexed by various posts about how I use excel spreadsheets to write

selfieI STARTED GIVING MORE TALKS

One of my few successes last year were the number of talks I was asked to give.

Whereas previously I’d been giving the odd talk to Women’s Institutes and Town’s Women’s Guilds – suddenly the U3A, the Rotary Club, the Trefoil Society, and numerous independent clubs and societies started to invite me along based on recommendations from those who’d heard me speak elsewhere.

As the year ended I realised that public speaking is pretty much one of the things I love most… and so I came up with a second talk (entitled: How I Met Kylie Minogue) and offered it to all those folk who were kind enough to invite me along the first time. The result is I’m now doing a talk at least once a week (this week I’ve done three!) – and whilst it’s hardly a living, it has relieved a little bit of the pressure I’ve been putting myself under to make a living from writing alone.

If you’d like me to come and talk to your group or society – drop me a line

My NOW List

foggsLet’s move on from GOALS. What have I been doing for fun? (Not that writing isn’t fun – but you know what I mean…)

The NOW List is chock-a-block with exciting things that I’d absolutely love to do… sadly, most require time, money, often both, and I have neither.

That said, whilst I still haven’t managed to visit the Cook Islands, or visit Rome again, or anything that requires a plane trip, I have ticked off many items that I could do relatively cheaply, in around my local area. And some of those things included…

  • A visit to Mr Foggs of Mayfair. A strangely wonderful place.
  • My quest to find the strangest, experimental theatrical performances once a month – in the past few weeks I’ve seen improvised puppet shows, naked people rolling around in food, and a disturbing monologue about fantasy movies…
  • A visit to a junk shop that I’ve driven past many times and always wanted to go inside
  • A day at the beach with my very own luxury beach hut at my disposal
  • An evening at one of London’s Roof Top cinemas

But enough about me

How about you? What have you been up to? What NOW List items have you managed to tick off? What goals have you set yourself or achieved? Feel free to drop me a line, here or on facebook, or post a comment below.


 


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3 Reasons Why You Too Can Find #Love, #Lust or #Romance in #2015

 

stop waiting for your prince

It’s a funny thing about running Happiness Workshops, I’ve started to notice that the same ‘wishes’ – and therefore the same ‘goals’ – come up time and time again.

THE, number one goal – the one that perhaps half the attendees in any given workshop will share – is to lose weight. But in second place, the other goal that a sizeable chunk of my readers and clients want to nail, is the relationship goal – by which I mean find one.

However, unlike losing weight, most people I’ve met seem unwilling or unable to do anything about the state of their love life, or lack of. True, they might spend a good deal of time wishing that some handsome prince or princess will knock on their door. They might, in a flurry of madness, sign up to one of the larger dating websites and spend an evening with a bottle of chardonnay, sat in front of the computer, scanning pictures of other singletons wondering whether this could be the one. They might even throw caution to the wind and go on a date, only to return home several hours later humiliated and heartbroken and vowing never to do that ever again. But that’s as far as they’ll get. And they’ll stay single. Maybe, forever.

Now if any of that rings true I want you to imagine me sitting here, with my arms crossed, shaking my head slightly in dismay. Because it doesn’t have to be that way!

If you started 2015 hoping or promising yourself that it was going to be a good deal less solitary than last year, then let me be the first person to grab you by the shoulders and tell you it can. And here are three reasons why:

Reason number 1 – You’re not the only one reading this blog post!

If almost half the people in any given workshop are looking for romance, it stands to reason that there are, contrary to how it must seem, an awful lot of people out there looking for love! I use the word ‘looking’ in the loosest sense of course, because the truth is that’s the one thing they’re not doing. Not really. They’re waiting. Just like you. But that’s ok, because whilst they’re doing bugger all about their single status you don’t have to. All you have to do is find them, and fortunately for you, I know how you can do just that.

Reason number 2 – Dating can be fun!

Here’s an idea that I’d like you to wrap your head around; dating can  be enjoyable. And if you’re one of the many, many people who’ve found the reverse to be true then I’d like to wager that you’re doing it all wrong.

Dating, like a lot of things in life looks simple enough, but  there’s a right way of doing it, and about sixty zillion wrong ways. And whilst it would be nice if everyone was naturally good at dating, we’re not, just as not everyone is naturally good at dancing.

A good ‘date’ can be broken into seven distinct phases – each one can & should be exciting, and fun, and flirty, and lots of other adjectives that broadly speaking mean romantic. Want to know what they are?

Reason number 3 – I can help!

Hey you! Stop waiting!I’ve been where you are! Several times! I never found my wife until I did something about it, and when I lost her I had to start all over again. I think I’ve probably made every dating mistake there is to make, but the upside of all that heartbreak is that you don’t have to be single for a moment longer. Let me tell you what I’ve learnt.

How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting is available right now in paperback, audio, and for your kindle or free kindle reading app.

In fact, from Friday 9th January 2014, until Thursday 15th, the kindle version is a mere 99p (or local equivalent). That’s pocket change. You’d spend more on a cup of coffee, to drink on your own.


Read the opening chapter here.

Read more: How about 5 Top Dating Tips or The Nine Golden Rules of Dating


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Beating fear – advice from ‘future’ me

fearBack in January  I wrote about how I’d come up with a new way to figure out what Goals I should be setting myself for the coming year. I called it my ‘vision exercise‘ and I like to think of it as a sneaky way of by passing all that usual wish-list malarkey whilst at the same time delving around in the sub-conscious to find out what’s really important to us.

My ‘vision exercise’ resulted in three rather ambitious goals one of which was this:

 I am writing FICTION
(rather than NON-FICTION)

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed writing every one of my self-help books BUT they rather came about by accident – my first love has always been fiction.

Now obviously, if you’ve read ‘Happy‘, you’ll know that for that to be a proper goal it should have a deadline attached to it, and perhaps even a penalty, but as I started the year I realised that a really good first step on the path to achieving this goal would be to actually finish the novel that I’d been fiddling with for the previous ten years.

Followers of my author blog already know that I’ve claimed my novel was ‘finished’, or ‘almost finished’, several times. Here in 2011 for instance. And here. And, oh dear, here too. But the truth is I knew I could never claim it was actually finished until it was out there and in print. So I set myself the following goal:

My novel
(The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl)
is AVAILABLE in two formats.
Easter 2014

Well I’m sure you know what happened next.

Easter came and went and the novel was nowhere to be seen.

People asked me where was it, and I told them that

  • it was with my agent, or
  • another publisher was taking a look at it

And whilst all those things were true, it wasn’t quite the whole truth, because I actually could have made the Easter deadline. If I’d put my mind to it. If I’d really wanted to. But I didn’t.

Why?

Because I was scared.

This novel has been a long time in the making. It was a journey that Kate set me off on just after we’d met. She believed in me. She believed in the story. She thought the book would do really really well. Basically there’s an entire decade of hopes and dreams wrapped up in those words.

But if I publish it…

  • maybe no one will buy it?
  • maybe people will buy it but maybe they won’t like it!
  • maybe they will like it, but not that much.
  • maybe this will be the first and last novel I ever write!!
  • maybe this will be the last book I ever write.
  • maybe this will herald the end of my writing career.

People often think that I left credit card banking because my first book, How To Do Everything And Be Happy, took off. That wasn’t the reason at all.  I left a well paid career behind because I realised, yet again, that life’s too short to be doing things that don’t make you happy!

I had a half finished novel on my desk, a half finished self help book, some money in the bank, and dreams of what life could be like – if I put some effort in – I took it all and made the most crazy decision of my life. In short I took a leap of faith.

I only realised recently that I’m still mid-leap. I’m still terrified to see it through.

I’ve spent my life being terrified.

When I was younger

  • I was terrified of asking girls out
  • I was terrified of failing my exams
  • I was terrified of youth club
  • I was terrified of travelling, of going places where I didn’t know anyone, of being vulnerable.

Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time and tell that kid a few things! I’d say…

  • Ask that girl out!
  • Forget about studying!!
  • Go to flippin youth club!!!
  • Travel the world!!!!

I was telling Della this just the other day and she suggested that whilst it is too late to go back and change the past (and more to the point, impossible) it’s not too late for the future to come back and change the present.

3back-to-the-future-original

I got to wondering what future me might say were he to appear right now. And I came to the conclusion that he would tell me the following:

Publish the damn book!

“But what if no one buys it?” I’d squeak.

“They will,” he’d reply.

“But what if only a few people buy it?” I’d counter

“Then tell more people,” he’d say.

“But what if no one likes it!!” I’d roar.

“Well, some will, some won’t – publish it anyway…”

And I think he’d go on to tell me to write more books, take more risks, throw myself out there even more, try even harder, to reach for the blinkin’ stars.

Then I got to wondering, is this ‘future me’ …successful?

Maybe this is advice from a successful ‘future me’. Maybe a less than successful future me would tell me something different? But when I thought about it some more I suddenly realised, no, unsuccessful me would probably say exactly the same thing!!! Unsuccessful me would be thinking “if only I’d taken more risks, tried harder, pushed myself….”

TGGGTGTG drop shadowSo finally…

The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl is here. In two formats. And if you happen to be reading this before the 19th of September 2014 then it’s currently less than a quid for your kindle enabled tablet or smart phone! That’s got to be worth a punt, surely. Click here to visit your favourite online bookseller.

I’m still terrified of course. I have no idea what people are going to make of it. I have no idea whether I’ve lived up to the high expectations Kate had of me. And I have absolutely no idea whether this will herald the start of my career as a novelist, or the end of my career as an author. But at least now I’ll get to find out.

What about you…

Are you being held back by fear? Why not share your thoughts with the class in the comments box below, or on facebook. Be great to hear from you.


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Being true; WTFHIBD episode 4

apples

It’s been a while since I wrote a WTFHIBD. Truth is I’ve been putting it off.  Contrary to how it seems, I’ve never really been a big fan of the lime light, not if that means sharing my true feelings with the world. True feelings are a private thing. To be kept inside. Hidden away. Revealed to no-one. Perhaps not even me.

But, I made a deal with my brother. Regular WTFHIBD updates! So here we go. Let’s start with my NOW List

My Now List

Much of last year was spent throwing myself into my career – finishing the three ‘How To’ books I was contractually obligated to write. The Now List never really got a look in, other than the occasional easy-to-accomplish item. But I never set foot out of the country. The Cook Islands remain undiscovered – at least so far as I’m concerned.

That said I paid a visit to Kew Gardens, I did spent a week in Devon, and whilst down there I did try my hand at archery. I also visited the Houses Of Parliament. And I tried (but ultimately failed) to see a play a month (though I did manage to see at least three stonking productions).

Goals

My Goals were more interesting. In some ways I achieved a great deal.

I now have four non-fiction books available in three formats (ebook, paperback and audio), and rarely a week goes by without one of them spawning an article in a magazine somewhere, an invite to give a talk someone, or a cheery note from a reader who felt moved enough to tell me they got something out of the words that I wrote. That’s a nice feeling. It makes me happy.

Of course, it would be even nicer if all this meant I didn’t still look at my bank balance with a degree of dread – but hey ho. Can’t have everything. Says the man who wrote the book suggesting that maybe you can.

The Vision Exercise

It were thoughts like those that caused me to have something of meltdown in the summer of last year and put aside a day to re-write those goals that seemed to be ‘wanting’ on the happiness front. In reality I simply sat myself down and spent four minutes imagining how I’d like my life to be, if money and commitments weren’t an issue, and one minute distilling those thoughts into a ‘vision’.

You can read what I came up with here but the vision exercise had quite a profound effect on me. It started me thinking that even though I’m doing a job that I very much enjoy, do I love it? Could I, when push comes to shove, be happier?

Around the time I was having these thoughts I went to my first swanky ‘publishing’ party at Kensington Palace.

I’m not a big fan of parties. There. I’ve admitted it. They tend to make me feel awkward and uncomfortable. I find myself relying on my theatre skills to shroud myself in the appearance of someone who’s having a good time, whilst inside I’m sweating buckets and counting the minutes till I can get out of there. My smiles, my handshakes, my nods and laughter – they’re all just techniques I’ve learnt to ‘fit in’.

As if that wasn’t stressful enough, hours before I was due to jump on a train I saw a facebook post from a fellow author suggesting that most people were going to be ‘dressing up’. It was, after all, the palace for God’s Sake! So I panicked. I dug out a beige suit (the one that I got married in when I was at least a stone or two heavier), a plain starchy shirt that I used to wear to the office, and a pair of never-worn-before smart brown shoes.

A few hours later, as I stood in an enormous hall, struggling to hear anything over the deafening roar of several hundred people making small talk, I started to feel like I didn’t really belong amongst these people. That despite wearing an official badge to the contrary I was going to be ‘discovered’ at any moment, declared a fraud, and man-handled by security out of the party before being thrown onto the streets of London. In my ill fitting suit. And shoes that were absolutely killing my feet.

Meanwhile various rock stars, standup comedians, and reality TV celebs rocked up when they wanted, wearing what they wanted, and contrary to the no-guests policy – with whoever they wanted. And I realised something profound. They were being themselves. Or at least a version of themselves that they themselves liked. And I came to the swift conclusion that I’d probably be an awful lot happier if I quit trying to fit in, trying to be the person I thought people wanted or expected me to be, and instead – just be… me. And if that didn’t work, well, so be it. I’d rather security escort me from the premises for being me – the real me – than for trying to be an ‘acceptable’ me.

Since the party I’ve thought about this a lot. Who am I? Really? What do I do? What do I want to do? Am I doing that thing? And if not… why not?

The answers are both complicated, and simple. But they’re a place to start.

In the meantime let me step out of the spotlight and turn it instead on you. Who are you? Really? What do you do? What do you want to do? Are you doing that thing? And if not

…why not?