SIMPLY THRIVING ENTREPRENEURS – An interview with Gillian Clarke

May I introduce you to Gillian Clarke of Living Happy. I’m absolutely thrilled to be hosting a new series of blogs celebrating female entrepreneurs who are simply thriving. It’s my aim to bring you a varied range of stories featuring women who are living life on their own terms and shunning the idea that life has to take a back seat when you run your own business. Although these women will share their tips and advice, I hope this blog series also inspires you to do things your way – to carve your own path. Click here to see the first interview and to read a full explanation of what a Simply Thriving Entrepreneur is.

Gillian Clarke

Gillian is someone who I clicked with as soon as I met her – she’s someone who I don’t have to always finish my sentences with, because she already knows what I’m going to say. We share a love of the sea and living intentionally, and we’re both completely passionate about self care and the importance of getting outside every day. Gillian is an excellent listener and a huge advocate of working out what your priorities in life are, and then going for it. I love her description of herself as multi-passionate too – after all, why should we limit ourselves to one job? For a really honest account of how Gillian simply thrives as an entrepreneur, read on!

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do

I’m a multi-passionate occupational therapist and emotional health and wellbeing coach. Until I started on my entrepreneur journey I didn’t even know that being a multi-passionate person was a ‘thing’! I help busy, maxxed-out professional women to design their everyday life for a healthier headspace and a better balance that enables them to do what makes them happy and fulfilled with ease. Combining my own lived experience of burnout, chronic fatigue and depression, with my clinical background and coaching skills, I help people reconnect with the meaning in their life that has been buried under all the layers of busyness, complexity and expectations.

How do you plan your day/week?

I schedule in a weekly ‘check-in’ appointment with myself on a Thursday afternoon and again on a Sunday morning.

On Thursdays I review my week so far. Am I on track with my business and personal goals? Have I needed to re-prioritise? What new opportunities have emerged?  I use this time to reflect on my wins for the week, re-prioritise anything that needs to be completed by the end of that week, and then plan for the following week.

My weeks start on a Sunday. This has been a very conscious decision so that my preparation for the week ahead is directly related to my goals for the week. Otherwise I find I can end up doing lots of ‘general preparation activity’ but not focussed on enabling me to achieve my specific goals for that week! So my Sunday morning check in is to check nothing has changed with my plan for the new week, and to keep me on track with my preparation.

What does success look like to you?

Success for me is having the best possible health, wellbeing and freedom to be present and enjoy the simple and meaningful things in life as they happen.

What does self-care mean to you, and how is that reflected in your life?

Oh self-care… one of my most favourite subjects! Which is pretty ironic given that a complete lack of self-care is what has led me to do what I do now!

For me, self-care is the conscious choice to prioritise the activities and practices that nourish my physical, emotional and spiritual energy.  Everything starts with self-care!

I have woven many of my self-care activities into my business.  For example, I use crafting a lot with my clients as an activity that helps them (and me) to tune out from the daily busyness and noise, give their mind a rest, and relax. I also design and create my own fun happy-gifts. This nourishes my fundamental need to be creative. Ithelps to bring people to a realisation that taking some leisure time out from their busy life actually improves their wellbeing, productivity and overall life balance.

For some local clients I suggest ‘walk and talk’ sessions instead of sit and talk sessions.  Another of my self-care needs is to be out in nature and mindfully observing the cycles of nature – which has proven benefits for my clients who are experiencing overwhelm.  I am a great advocate of helping people to experience what is possible for them and how to make those experiences happen.

Looking back, is there anything you would you change about your first year in business?

Yes – I would have left my 9-5 sooner to lose the noisiest thing distracting me from my absolute belief that I can help others in ways that I had needed myself. I’ve learnt to trust my gut instinct that everything will work out for the best. I’m far less influenced by my inner critic.  I am still a way off where I want be in terms of the financial and time freedom, but we have enough for now whilst I am slowly building my business and enjoying this journey.

What boundaries do you have in place regarding your work/life balance?

  • We use different rooms in the house for work and home.
  • I have bridging rituals. I go for a walk (even just around my garden) as the journey to / from ‘work’
  • Choosing whether to work in an evening or at the weekend, and that is fine for me, but I don’t feel I ‘should’ respond at those times.
  • Scheduling blocks of time for different activities in my diary – like planning, creating, life admin, decision making, fun time, family time, me-time etc.

What’s the best and worst thing about working for yourself?

Best: Geting to be unashamedly creative every day.  I am spending my days engaged in activities that are completely aligned to me values, my vision and my passions!

Worst: Not having a team around me to immediately bounce ideas around with.  I am a natural ‘shaper’.  I thrive best in a team environment. Then many ideas can be explored, refined and shaped into a final course of action.  Sometimes, I do find myself going round in circles on my own. Instead I either call someone up, or I ask myself, “What would XXX person think about this idea?”

I have also started to build partnerships into my business model. I know this brings out the best performance in me to give to myself and my clients.

Please can you share a top tip for an overwhelmed entrepreneur

OMG I could share lots of tips!!!!

But my top tip is to apply OVERWHELM FIRST-AID. What to-do’s are actually needed, and what needs YOU to do it?

If you are feeling overwhelmed with the enormity / complexity of your to-do list, grab a pen and paper and dump it all out of your head and on to the page.

Go through a simple process to quickly work out what is actually needed and essential for today. What can wait until tomorrow? What can wait longer than 48 hours? And, crucially, what is on your list that won’t ever get done? You can cross it off and stop focussing on it!

Then work out the smaller actions you can take to start making progress with your real must-do’s, and those actions you can delegate (people are more willing to help than we think they are).

And throughout this whole overwhelm first-aid process, ask yourself “What does good enough look like here?”. Good enough isn’t about scrimping on effort or not trying. It’s about challenging ourselves without introducing the unrealistic burden of superhuman results (that is often the course of overwhelm).

 Where can we find you online?


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