Live Your Best Life: Josephine Brooks

In this latest Live Your Best Life interview I'm delighted to bring you planning and productivity mentor Josephine Brooks (you may remember I talked with Josephine on her podcast On the Make a while ago).

In these interviews we look at what it means to live the life you want, to contribute to the world in a way that works for you and how you can be the best version of yourself. There's no perfect way to go about things and the women I talk to here are simply doing what they can to live the best life they can.

Here's what Josephine has to share about what living your best life means for her…

Live Your Best Life interview with productivity mentor Josephine Brooks

Welcome Josephine, tell us a bit about yourself, what your life is like and the path you took to get to where you are today.
I’m a country bumpkin and Earl Grey tea addict who’s also got a very nerdy passion for planning and productivity. I mentor women who are building a business on the side of other commitments, helping them plan more effectively and giving them the productivity tools they need to build a creative business that gives them the freedom to do more of what they love and live the lifestyle they long for.

To get to what I do now through, it took quite a winding path of projects to figure out what I really wanted to do. I’ve always had a side-hustle alongside my 9-5 jobs which have served as a creative outlet. I’ve always been creative and practical which led me to growing a successful home décor business. I quickly found that I enjoyed all of the elements of having a business and it wasn’t necessarily the making where my passion lay.

On New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago I sat down to review my business. I looked up and realised a whole day had flown, I’d spent the day reviewing my business, creating charts, dreaming up new ideas for the year ahead and making an action plan. In that moment I realised that planning and productivity is where my zone of genius lies and over the following year I pivoted my business, focussing on creating content that would serve my audience. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realise this, after all I’d already retrained as a project manager at work after realising that what I loved most was making things happen and diving into timelines and plans.

I absolutely adore what I do now, I have the most positive and exciting conversations with my clients and there’s nothing better than seeing someone’s confidence swell and their side-business grow and evolve over the time we’ve worked together. The other thing I love about what I do is the lifestyle it’s allowed me to create. I can take the dogs for a walk at lunch time and take the mornings slowly with a cup of tea and a chapter of my book to ease into the day rather than battling through the commute. For this I feel so incredibly lucky.

Are there any inspirational quotes or words that hold meaning for you?
I do love a quote but all too often I see them being shared online in the place of taking action. Personally, I find mantras more inspiring and more likely to cause me to do something positive. There’s a mantra that strikes a chord with me: ‘remember when you wanted what you currently have’. Gratitude has been a big part of improving my mental health over the last year since I went through a really tough patch with anxiety and depression and this mantra really does make me stop and think. There was a time when I lived in a box room in London (which didn’t last long, I’m not a city person) wishing I could be back in the countryside. There was a time when I wished I could have a dog and now I have two. It’s grounding to ponder on and I’ve found that doing a quick gratitude list in the morning puts me in a positive mindset for the day ahead.

I also have a mantra that I created myself, for those times when I’m procrastinating or putting off a task I’m finding particularly scary: ‘I will do the work so that I can create the lifestyle I long for’. It’s not beautiful or poetic, but it reminds me to stop and look at the bigger picture. I need to do this scary/ hard thing as part of creating the business and lifestyle I dream of.

How do you recognise when life’s getting on top of you?
This is something I used to be really bad at, I wasn’t tuned into my body at all and as a result I’d ignore a lot of the things my body was trying to scream at me. I used to have days when I hadn’t eaten anything by three in the afternoon because I’d been so into my work that I’d been completely ignoring what my body was trying to shout at me – I’m bloody hungry! In the same way I completely ignored the alarm bells ringing when I was starting to feel burned out and exhausted having taken no time out from my part-time job or my business.

All of this abruptly came into my consciousness during the spring of 2018 when I had a panic attack out of the blue when I was on holiday, perhaps it was the first time my body had had a chance to switch off in months causing all of the stress to come to a head. After that they got more frequent, I struggled to sleep and things went gradually downhill until I was signed off work and. This was the reality check I needed to start taking my self-care more seriously.

Now, I’m much more aware of the warning signs and I’m a lot more tuned into my body. In a funny way I’m really grateful to my ongoing struggle with anxiety and depression because it forces me to make looking after myself a priority and it’s helped to give me more reason to create the slower and more meaningful lifestyle I now live.

So what do you do to get back to how you want to feel?
Now that I have to deal with the symptoms of anxiety on a daily basis I think it’s important to say that I’m on medication which helps a lot but my lifestyle change has been the biggest factor in making me feel happy and healthy. I rely heavily on my morning routine. I try to wake up naturally when I can rather than setting an alarm and enjoy a cup of tea in bed before I get up. I then write out a to-do list for my day and have breakfast (eating properly is a big part of my new routine).

Getting outdoors once a day is also a non-negotiable part of my routine. This has been a game changer for dealing with my anxiety. There’s something about moving my body without having to think about it that lets my brain tick over in the background that really helps to calm my mind.

What are you plans, hopes and dreams for the future?
I’ve recently handed in my notice at my part-time job to take my side-business full time, I’m excited and nervous about it in equal measure! It’s been my dream for such a long time and the fear of failure has held me back from doing it for far too long. I’m really looking forward to spending more time doing the work I love, helping women who are juggling building a business alongside other commitments to build the meaningful business and slower lifestyle that they dream of.

That's exciting! So finally, can you tell us what living your best life means to you?
I like to look at life and growing a business as a constant experiment. There’s no real destination other than just figuring out what fills you up and makes you happy as well as what you can contribute to the world to make it a better place. It’s creating a lifestyle that’s truly one you love by being conscious of what fills you up and getting rid of the stuff that drags you down.

Josephine is a planning and productivity mentor for side-hustlers (those who are building a business alongside a 9-5 or caring for children). Her mission is to help side-hustlers build a creative business that gives them the freedom to do more of what they love and create the lifestyle they long for, by helping them plan more effectively and giving them the tools to boost their productivity. She does this through her course, Make a Plan > Make it Happen and 1:1 mentoring. You can connect with Josephine on her website here or on Instagram, and listen to her podcast On the Make.

gabrielle april 2021
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