I Grew Up in A House Called Carpe Diem

Over the last few months, I’ve been picking a theme for each month where my blog, my Monthly Musings newsletter and my Friday book reviews all connect to that theme.  There’s been Playfulness, Creativity, Hygge, Craftiness (for December) which I’ve loved exploring and sharing.  But there’s been one theme that I’ve been saving, excitedly but patiently holding until the new year.

Carpe Diem.

It’s a simple little Latin phrase, literally translates as “to pluck the day” but makes more sense with the broader translation of “to seize the day”.  There’s an element of YOLO there (You Only Live Once); of making the most of the little time that we have.  But there’s also a more mindful message around living in the present, being present, and savouring the moments that we experience.

It’s almost a paradox between living fast with a full on f**k-it attitude, and a slowing down to really wring the most out of what is actually happening in our day.  And I love that.  A mantra that almost contradicts itself is right up my street!

This month I’m taking my theme further as it’s also the name for my self-directed life coaching programme which launches very soon.  It’s a series of videos and a nifty editable pdf workbook which will help you get crystal clear on how you’re going to achieve your goals.  If you’re unsure of what your goals are, don’t feel alone, and do take advantage of this freebie workbook, Carpe Diem… The Path Ahead to see if that helps you get your thoughts in order and lights a fire or two.

On the day this blog is published, I’m also launching a competition for two VIP packages and then, in a couple of weeks, the course will be let free into the world.  It’s a piece of work I’m extremely proud of, as I’ve had to really practice what I preach and lean into the carpe diem spirit to get it made as I was plagued with all sorts of inner-critic/imposter syndrome/limiting belief beasties in my head who were determined not to let it happen.  But it has happened and it’s a new way of working for me that I feel increasingly excited by… there will be more like it coming in 2022 as I’m bursting with ideas!

One way I’m leaning into carpe diem with my future work plans is all around the idea of staying present.  Of course, in a coaching session, it is absolutely vital the coach remains present so they can actively, deeply listen and support their client most effectively.  But I’ve been questioning how present I remain outside of the coaching space.  The answer I’ve come up with is not much!  I know I’m definitely not alone in getting bogged down with what I think I “should” be doing with my business which often creates situations where I’m terrifically busy but not progressing much at all.

I’ve dug into the heart of what I do and why.  Yesterday I went back through a couple of my coaching note books to capture exactly what my amazing clients are initially bringing as the outcomes want to achieve through coaching.  I made a list and it’s given me a real sense of presence; rather than creating programmes I’ve decided people need, how about creating programmes that specifically address the problems people are actually telling me they want to solve? 

The two approaches are not a million miles away from each other, but it feels like a very Carpe Diem shift to start with that precious and privileged information that has been shared with me about how I can help people live more creative, successful lives.

That’s one aspect of how carpe diem is helping me.

Another is around that word “success”.  I’m always asking my clients (and myself) “What does success look like for you?”.  It’s such a powerful question.  And one which, when you give it some proper thought, often leads you to places you weren’t expecting.  Also it can help us live in the present more and seize those precious days, because often our actual success criteria is different to the perceived societal notions of success. 

For example, one of my success criteria is to be master of my own time as much as possible so if I want to be free to spend time with my kids when they come home from school, I can.  Also, in the last 6 months, I’ve also wanted the time, during the day, to go to 3 or 4 yoga/pilates/salsa classes a week.  These are both things I regularly achieve.  

A useful reminder that success is in the present as well as something to strive for in the future.

We can spend so much of our lives in that mindset that Oliver Burkeman succinctly terms the “when I finally…” mind.  You know the one… when I finally earn enough money, when I finally lose weight, when I finally find the perfect partner… Those ones.  Which can consume so much of one’s life you end up constantly thinking about the future (and berating yourself about the past) that you entirely miss the present.

Setting those success criteria and taking the time to notice and celebrate when they’re being achieved is pure carpe diem spirit and will bring you so much more into the present and make the most of your days.

I could go on about success for ages, but am going to change tack here and explain the bit at the top.  That lovely title of this blog that fills my heart with joy.  It’s true, for the first 18 years of my life I lived in a house called Carpe Diem.  On the busy, window rattling, A4 in Slough.  It was built in the 1920s by the Latin teacher at Slough Grammar, who gave the house a name that was perhaps a little fancier than it’s location and stature required. 

Growing up I thought it was weird.  Carp is a fish, right?  And Latin is dead.  But as I grew and came to realise what it meant, it really couldn’t be a better name for a house to grow up in. 

It’s certainly contributed to my optimistic outlook on life.  There’s been plenty of tragedy and tricky times the past decade or so which I could choose to be my constant narrative, but I refuse to let it become so.  Life has it’s ups and downs, it’s twists and turns, but the carpe diem spirit means you can continue to find joy, calm and positivity throughout.

So there you go.  That’s what carpe diem means to me.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on what it means to you.

And if you’re curious, have a look at my Carpe Diem programme to see how you can seize the day as much as you want to… and if you’re reading this at the start of January 2022, get an entry into the competition!

January 2022