The fastest rising personality was Paul Walker, due to his tragic and untimely death. Gone too soon… Margaret Thatcher also was popular as was Nelson Mandela so in death this world-leaders at least keep their legacy and the public’s interest alive. The late great Lou Reed also featured highly, so again it’s nice to think that a new generation of music fans will keep his memory alive.
Social and political trends are also clear. Rightmove, the housing website grew in popularity in line with rising house prices, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London was the most popular political search. Other interesting seasonal searches included “how to make pancakes”, “how to play guitar”, “how to get a flat stomach”, and “how to reset an iPod”. I am very proud to say that I did not feel the need to use any of these search terms. It doesn’t take much to make me proud clearly, but you can be sure that I can cook a mean pancake and keep my flat stomach!
It will come as no surprise that no only are pornographic searches excluded from these figure, but that they would feature at the top of most categories. Some things never change, but whilst the internet in general and Google in particular are much maligned, they are of course here to stay and give us an interesting insight as to how the minds of people work.
Here is the full list of “most searched”:
It’s been a long time since I was sitting in the pilot’s seat chatting to the Captain, I got special treatment because he likes Pilates EVO! I was asking him not to crash into any airport buildings (BA pilots in SA take note….)
Escape the rat race. Is it possible? 5.45 am and I’m woken up by the piercing “Beep Beep” of my alarm jarring through my brain. I tried bird-song and babbling brooks but nothing changed the fact that it was 5.45 am and I had to get up, get ready, then go fight for a seat on the train to the City. I knew exactly (to the nearest centimetre) where to stand on the platform so a door would stop right in front of me, but the train was usually full already so my military precision was usually pointless.
After this wonderful journey into the centre London listening to other people’s “tinny” music leaking from inadequate headphones and enjoying their wet umbrella’s slowly dampening my trousers and my spirits at the same time, I would spend the day working in my role as Claims Manager for a large insurance company. I really enjoyed my work but felt constrained by the out-dated philosophies and attitudes I saw everyday. Lunchtime was an oasis that I’d spend in the gym. Sound familiar? I am sure this is a daily routine shared by many.
That was then… But this is now. I am a Senior Business Consultant and I also specialise in wellness, presenting Pilates and functional training all around the world. I am my own boss in everything I do, and I really feel that I am making a positive difference to people’s lives, and I am living in the place that from when a was a small boy I dreamed of living.
“I would of course love to pursue my dream as a/an ………….. (insert dream job here) but I could not possible do it because (delete as applicable) I’m too old / of the mortgage / of the children / I’m not good at learning new things / I can’t do my own accounts / I have no marketing experience / any other excuse you can think of.” Other people keep the thought in their head that “I could give up this life I do not enjoy but when the time is right”. Of course the time is never right, but they get some comfort believing that they could if only… They are the same people who say they could give up smoking, they could give up over eating, they could start exercising, they could learn Spanish but surprise surprise, it never happens. There is always an excuse not to.
I lost my father a few years later, and that along with some other events gave me the final push to achieve my life-long dream and move to Barcelona. Another big challenge, another “out of comfort zone” experience. But as they say, that’s when we grow the most.
So how can we go from a life of “coulds” to actually taking action? It makes sense to have a gradual change, maybe pursing your new career in your spare time first, so you have the financial security of still earning money and also save some money. This does mean working long hours, but what better motivation than to know that one day you will have the career change you have always dreamed about. It’s not a compromise to start part time, it’s just sensible. As long as you have a plan, an end game, and you stick to it. Don’t end up doing two jobs forever!
It’s essential to have a plan. When I say that to people, they say “Aha, but you are Buddhist and you always say about living in the Now and not in the future” as if they have found a vital flaw in my philosophy. But I politely point out that with no plan, we have no direction. Planning per se is not a bad thing to do, but there are rules. One golden rule of planning is that plans change! So be prepared for that. It’s like driving on a long journey at night. We know our final destination (otherwise we would drive around aimlessly) and we have a map so we know where we are going and how we will get there, but at any one time we can only see 100 metres ahead of us. Maybe our route will change because of unforeseen problems, but we will be flexible and we will arrive at our destination. You do not need to be able to see your destination to get there. Enjoy the journey, one step at a time, but always knowing that you will get to where you want to be.
But you must be careful about your new career. Your business should be a means rather than an end, a vehicle to enrich your life rather than one that drains the life you have. The worst thing you can do is start working for yourself and end up working so hard and stressing so much that you hate your job! It’s such a common mistake, people see the romantic notion of being their own boss, but after the initial euphoria, they realise that they are working harder and longer than they were before. At least working for someone else they could leave work, go home and relax. But now their job is with them every waking hour, they live it. And the dream turns into a nightmare because instead of having a boss for your job, your job has become your boss! And it’s no fun. In fact it’s less fun than your old job working for someone else. You can’t take holidays because the work won’t get done. You can’t be ill, you can hardly stop to think. Your social life is nonexistent, yet you carry on thinking that your hard work will pay off one day. Maybe it will, but more often it won’t, and many people end up giving up and getting a “normal” job again. The important point here is that no matter what you thought before, your business should not be your life. Your business should serve your life, and not the other way around.
There’s a saying that great businesses are not built by extraordinary people but by ordinary people doing extraordinary things. So how can an ordinary person do extraordinary things? By having a system and a plan. Again it’s the “p” word. Have a plan and stick to it! Things will change, but always know where you are aiming to get and how you will get there. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Friends and parents will help of you ask. They will see the changes you are trying to make and if they are really on your side then they will help. And of course, make sure you have the support of your partner. It sounds so obvious and yet I know many people who think they can make such a big decision on their own. You must expect hard times and up and downs. It’s normal and natural. Remember the old cliché, we grow the most when we are out of our comfort zone. I can confirm from experience that this is so true! So much so that I try to stay out of my comfort zone as often as possible.
I could continue writing for pages and pages about Business Plans, marketing, SMART targets, feasibility studies, SWOT analysis/matrix etc etc, but that is not the point of this article. The point is to show you there is another way. You can change your life. You control and create your own Universe, you really do. You always have a choice. Always. Every journey begins with the first step. But it will never begin unless you take that step. I’m not special. If I can do it then so can you.
6.00 am and I’m woken up by my alarm. I still get up early and I work very hard, but now it’s very different, it’s my choice. Maybe I will go for a run on the beach or an early morning swim before I start work and before the rest of the world wakes up. That’s the difference now. Choice and control. And it’s a great difference. I still regularly go into The City and I deal with my old contacts, but now it’s for my own company so it’s on my terms. It feels a very different place.
The moral of my story in 11 words? It’s not too late, you have the rest of your life. And if there is any way I can help, then please just ask.
Even if you are not in the wellness industry, I hope that you will read this article. I organise conventions two or three times a year called Pilates Carnivals. They are very different to any other convention, in fact as far as I know they are unique in the health and fitness world. It’s not only Pilates, it also includes yoga, meditation, health, fitness, diet and functional training. But what makes them different?
It’s different because it is non-profit. All the profits that are made go to a local children’s charity. Everyone who participates (including me of course) does so free of charge, giving all their time and energy knowing that we are all creating something very special, a very positive energy. The aim is to teach, learn, socialise and break down barriers whilst sharing our passion and our ideas.
Pilates Carnival aims to promote and assist with the training of teachers all over the world. It does this by providing free places to training courses, conventions and workshops and through the conventions. I am creating a global community who are not motivated by money, but simply what to give something back to the fitness community that we love and rely on, whilst also helping charity at the same time. Of course the truth is that the more we give, we more we get back, it’s one of the Laws of the Universe.
My next goal is to arrange Fitness Carnivals based on the same principles, including all forms of exercise. That will be a lot of fun!
My conventions have been very popular, I’ve held them in several countries including the UK, Germany and Poland and this year will be Spain and Australia (I want many more in places all over the globe). But a few people have met my idea with bitterness and animosity. They say I am reducing the value of Pilates. This is of course nonsense, the truth is they are afraid that their commercial interests might be reduced. And some people will never get the fact that by giving, we are creating something money can never buy.
So if you “get it”, you can help. Please get involved. The more we spread the word, the more we can buck the trend of money-making commercialism, bring the Pilates and fitness communities together, improve standards and the more we can raise for very worthy charities. You do not have to be a Pilates teacher. If you have any interests in the area of wellness then you can get involved. You can help by sponsoring the events, donating products that can be sold at events (everything from clothing to drinks, equipment to retreats), donating places on your training courses, presenting at events, offering to work with me to organise an event in your City, giving time in promoting events or web development, and by simply sharing this blog or the Facebook Page.
Please join this community. We can make a difference. Never let anyone tell you that we can’t.
This is a very personal and difficult blog for me to write, but one that I really want to share with you all. No pictures, just my honest, heart-felt story.
Dementia, even in 2013, is still a dirty word to many people and misunderstood by many others. It “remains one of the last bastions of stigma and fear when it comes to illness” as the UK health secretary very succinctly put it. This week in the UK press there has been a lot of headlines about it as David Cameron headed a G8 conference on the subject on Wednesday the 11th December. The result of this was that the G8 pledged that they would find a cure by 2025, treating it in the same was as HIV/Aids and cancer
My story is a typical one, nothing special when dealing with this terrible disease. My father started showing symptoms a few years ago. The usual forgetfulness and unusual behaviour. The disease soon progressed to the point where he didn’t recognise me. This thought still makes me cry to this day. If you want to understand what dementia can do, try imagining one of your parents looking at you like a stranger, and worse with mistrust and even fear in their eyes. I witnessed my father not only lose his mental capacity, but also his dignity. The care he received from one of the UK’s so-called leading healthcare providers was a disgrace and only made the whole situation worse. The night my father passed away, I had a horrible dream. I woke up with a sick feeling in my stomach to find that I had slept through a call from the hospital telling me I should get to his bedside immediately as he wouldn’t make it through the night. I will regret missing that call for the rest of my life, but maybe it saved me the pain of seeing him pass away. I can instead remember saying good night to him the night before and kissing him on his forehead as he was in a peaceful, drug-induced sleep.
Labelled the 21st Century Plague, dementia is going to become part of more and more people’s lives. About 800,000 people in Britain currently suffer from it, and this figure is predicted to double by 2050, with cases around the world projected to triple to 135 million by the same date. Currently, there is no cure with health services only able to try to help people live with their disease rather than cure it. This makes it all the more important to reduce the risks of developing it in the first place. Research is increasingly showing that five key components of healthy lifestyle can ward off a range of conditions including heart disease, diabetes and dementia. A recent 35 year study found more evidence to confirm this. So what are the five key components?
1) Regular exercise
2) Eating fruit and vegetables
3) Staying slim
4) Light drinking
5) Not smoking
So not rocket science then, and something that everyone can do. As Doug Brown, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society said “we have known for some time that what is good for your heart is also good for your head….. healthy living could significantly reduce the chances of developing dementia”.
I still cry when I think back to what happened to my father. Whilst the world’s leading countries have finally woken up to this global issue (some cynics might say their attitude has been clarified by the threat of enormous costs associated with treating sufferers), by taking five simple steps, we can all help to reduce the risk of my story becoming your story, or your children’s story. Trust me, however difficult you might think those five steps are, the alternative could be ultimately worse.
Here are some links to recent articles I have written about the connection between mental and physical health, and about depression. New studies are confirming the links every week.