Ellen Bard is a work Psychologist, Writer and Digital Nomad. Ellen is an incredible Goal Achiever who wants to help others grow, develop and shine. She decided to get a life that allows her to be the best possible version of herself.
Ellen’s work has been featured in various publications such as: Tiny Buddha, BBC Radio 4, and Financial Times.
The Achievers Story
Tell us who you are, where you’re from and something that people would find interesting about you?
I’m Ellen Bard, a work psychologist and writer from the UK. I was a management consultant in London up until a few years ago, when I quit everything and went travelling – and I haven’t gone back. Now I live in Thailand, run my own website, freelance in consulting and write. Oh, and I have my own hammock 😉
Give us a brief overview about the goal you achieved and why it was so important?
My goal was to get a life. When working in London, I worked 60 hour weeks, and really, all I did was work. I had friends, but I didn’t have that many hobbies or interests outside work. But I did have a keen – but unfulfilled – interest in personal development.
When I left, my biggest objective was to be a more rounded human being – in order to be the best version of me that I can be.
Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end; where we’ve been, where we’re going, and everything in between. Give us an example of what your life was like before achieving this goal?
See above. I was passionate about my job, I really enjoyed it, but it was all-consuming, and the main focus of my life. There just wasn’t any room for much else.
Help us understand what caused you to move in a different direction?
There was an opportunity to move up at work, but instead of jumping at it, it made me step back and take a look at myself – and that stopped me in my tracks, as I realized that I didn’t really like the person I’d become. I felt there was so much more to me than just work, and I wasn’t fulfilling that. But my work was so all-consuming (in part because of my personality as a perfectionist!) there just wasn’t the time and space for me to develop the other parts of me. I also had some health challenges, and I had concerns that my lifestyle wasn’t giving me the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
Give us an example of what your life is like today, since achieving the goal?
So different! Today, my life is filled with wonderful opportunities, and work is only one part of who I am. I spend some of my time as a freelance consultant, working in countries all over the world (in the last 6 months, that’s included everywhere from Saudi Arabia to Singapore). I write and run a personal development website, designed to use both my experience as a Psychologist, and my personal experiences in the world, to support other people’s development – helping them to shine a little brighter in their work and life, using small, actionable insights. And I write lots, which I love – and I would never have discovered that I enjoy writing without taking that time out.
Overcoming The Obstacles
If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that obstacles like fear, time and money among other things can prevent us from or motivate us towards achieving goals. What are the top 3 obstacles you faced, why were they obstacles to begin with, and how were they conquered?
I think one of the biggest challenges was that I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I enjoyed my job as a consultant, but that it wasn’t that good for me. But when I looked into my future, for example, doing the classic exercise where you describe a ‘perfect day,’ I really struggled to see anything that I wanted to aim for. I’m pretty good when I have a clear goal to aim at – but my whole future felt fuzzy and out of focus.
The second was my own assumptions and expectations of myself. I’d been very traditional in my career up to that point – I’d been to university to get two degrees, gone on to get my professional qualification as a Chartered Psychologist, then gone into business and moved my way fairly quickly up the career ladder. I even had a nice flat and a car! I had previously expected that I would just continue to grow and develop as a psychologist, manager and leader in the workplace, taking on bigger roles and bigger assignments. Stepping off that path was terrifying. At first I thought I’d wasted my life up to that point, and I worried I was making a huge mistake. This was especially true when I didn’t have a particular direction to follow. I also felt (perceived) pressure from society – doing something different from friends and family felt strange and uncomfortable, despite the fact I was lucky enough to have their support and love.
The third was probably fear of the future. When I started the time off travelling, I thought I’d go back in a short time to a similar role, and I worried that even if I took a few months out, maybe I’d never get another job. I was scared I was throwing away my career on a whim.
The next part of the interview is the Triumph. The triumph is all about taking the success of achievement to the next level of personal greatness. The idea of greatness can be different for everyone. For me, greatness is all about the pursuit rather than the destination. What does greatness mean to you and how has achieving this goal contributed to that idea?
Interesting question. I think I’d say greatness is being the best possible version of you, every day. Not trying to be other people, or trying to please other people, but drawing on your own strengths and talents to contribute to the world in the optimum way. And as you say, it’s not about some kind of end goal, but the way you live your whole life.
This can mean different things to different people – I was good at my job in the UK, but it didn’t give me the opportunity to be the best version of me. Now I still get to work in that field, but I (hopefully!) offer a lot more to the world with all the different activities that I’m part of.
Roadmap To Goal Achievement
The last part of the interview is where we attempt to provide the audience with inspiration, motivation and a roadmap of sorts to achieve the same goal or something similar. What is the best advice you ever received that helped you clarify and/or achieve this goal?
Don’t agonize over your decisions. Gather the best advice you can get at the time, and make the decision. Then accept it and follow through. If it turns out to be ‘wrong’ in some way, learn from it and move on, and apply the learning to the next one. It’s hard advice to follow, but really useful. It means I try hard not to spend time in the emotion of regret, as it’s not a productive emotion.
What are some of the resources or tools that helped you achieve this goal?
The support of friends and family was crucial. In practical terms, I bought a Mac Air, and this enabled me to be truly mobile – I could carry it anywhere with me without it being too heavy, and so I could work on my writing wherever I was, from the airport to a coffee shop. It was a huge enabler.
I did nanowrino (http://nanowrimo.org) for the first time in 2014, and I bought Scrivener (https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php) as an outcome of that as it came highly recommended by other participants, and I absolutely love it. It enables me to have ‘projects’ in a electronic binder, containing many files (I have one for all my blog posts for example), and I even have one for all my lists!
I read a huge number of books, see below.
I’ve become part of various communities. For example, I joined Sean Ogle’s Location Rebel (http://www.locationrebel.com) very early on, and although I take a slightly different path from many Digital Nomads, I find it very supportive and see others facing similar challenges. I also did Marie Forleo’s B-School (http://www.marieforleo.com/bschool/)
Currently I am doing some of Jon Morrow’s courses (http://boostblogtraffic.com) and have met some great people there.
I’m usually doing some kind of learning, and that’s critical for my continued professional and personal development.
What did you do to stay motivated throughout the process?
I’m lucky in that I’m quite self-driven, and happy to work on my own, which is critical in my life-style.
Self-care is important to me, and having some time off to ‘play.’ This helps me to be creative. The Artists’ Way has a concept called the Artist’s Date, where you do something to ‘fill your creative well’ each week, and I love this.
I also am very structured and use a modified version of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology to keep track of what I have going on and all the balls I have in the air.
Connecting with people doing similar projects is helpful, and connecting with individuals and communities can be motivating when you’re feeling ‘empty’.
Is there a book that helped you achieve this goal? If so, how?
I read a lot of books – about 100-150 a year (find me on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10478960-ellen-bard or you can have a look at some of my favorites here http://ellenbard.com/books ) – and I consumed information with each new area that I explored.
The one book that really changed things for me was The Artists’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a wonderful book, a 12-week course that takes you through a series of experiments and questions that helps you to explore yourself at a deep level. And it’s most certainly not just for Artists!
What blogs and podcasts do you recommend?
I listen to a lot of podcasts – on writing for example, I listen to the Creative Penn, Writing Excuses and the Self Publishing Podcast. I like Gretchen Rubin’s new podcast Happiness.
I follow a huge number of blogs – far too many to mention, but building relationships there (from Tiny Buddha http://tinybuddha.com to Life is Limitless http://lifeislimitless.com) and connecting with like-minded people has been crucial to motivate me and help me shape my own goals.
If you were advising someone on how to achieve the same goal or something similar, what specific steps would you have them follow?
Take small steps. Explore the world. Do something tiny towards your goal every day. Do things very slightly out of your comfort zone. I did art classes, took photos, wrote, did yoga, talked to strangers, made new friends, visited new countries, created stories, and many more – big experiments, small experiments, and all of these helped me to discover myself more, and the activities I wanted to make a more permanent part of my life. Some I kept, some I dropped, but all of them helped to make me a more rounded person and discover what I wanted to include in my life going forward.
Reflect on your experiences, and think about what you liked and what you didn’t – and why. Maybe there are other linked activities that would work better for you, if you work out there’re some specific aspects of an activity which you enjoyed, but you didn’t enjoy it overall.
Give yourself time and space to experience them. There’s no rush. You might have 40-50 years of work ahead of you, so don’t panic. You’re likely to have two, three or more careers in your lifetime, so take your time to explore.
What’s the best way for people to connect with you?
I’d love to hear from your readers! You can find me at my website http://ellenbard.com
On twitter: @ellenbard
Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a wonderful day and take care of yourself!