Reflections on an anniversary

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Four years ago today, I sat at my makeshift desk (a garden table in the back room of our work-in-progress canal boat) and started work. It was my first day of self-employment and the day my (now) husband and I set ‘sail’ from London to the West Midlands to start a new phase in our lives.

For two weeks, I worked as my husband drove Portobello up the Thames, along the Kennett and Avon canal and into Bristol. I tried to continue as we set off up the Severn Estuary in choppy waters, but when our makeshift wardrobe fell onto the bed where I was sat, I decided it was time to take a break. It wasn’t until we got to Gloucester that I got a proper desk and a chair. And it wasn’t until a few months ago that those temporary pieces of furniture were upgraded, as we finally finished building our beautiful watery home.

Measuring success

One thing I have learnt over the years as a business owner is that I don’t feel like a proper business owner at all. I hear others talking about their long-term business goals – I’ve got a vision and some things I want to do, but no beautifully thought out business plan. I see business social media feeds that neatly follow the latest algorithm-beating advice – I’m much more interested in promoting behaviour change campaigns than myself. I read articles about the secrets to success – things like prioritising yourself and not taking life too seriously are rarely on there. But how are they defining success anyway? They’re usually focused on wealth and influence. But another thing I’ve learnt on this journey is that success is personal, which means it can be whatever you want it to be.

For me, success is earning enough money and having enough time to do the things that make me happy – horseriding, eating out, camping. It’s about being excited to return to work after a weekend or a holiday. It’s about getting to work with people that inspire and challenge me. It’s about working on projects that push me to my professional limits and make a difference to people and planet.

What’s next?

It’s impossible to predict what will happen over the coming months and how the world will recover from the coronavirus pandemic. I’m a big fan of the Latin proverb, “Fortune favours the brave.” So, whatever happens, I’ll still be bravely working towards the life I want to live. If I’ve done only that by this time next year, I’ll be toasting my success once more.

Claire

Director, Colvine Communications

What charity means to me

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I’ve been reflecting recently on what charity means to me. Since I can remember, it’s been about donating to, fundraising for and volunteering with my favourite organisations tackling the issues that are close to my heart. But as I’ve grown older, it’s become more than this.

For me, it’s about weaving small actions into my everyday life that could have a positive impact on others. It’s participating in community life – from stopping to chat with a lonely neighbour to exercising my right to vote for the party I believe will do the most to lift people up. It’s about starting conversations with friends and family about the heart-breaking circumstances people find themselves in because of poverty, war or natural disasters.

It’s about questioning ‘Why should I care’ attitudes and encouraging people to explore their prejudices with the aim of changing hearts and minds. It’s about shining a light on our shared humanity and encouraging people to recognise our similarities rather than our differences. It’s about using these conversations to ignite our compassion for those who are suffering in our own communities and on the other side of the world.

But most of all, it’s about recognising that we all have the power to make a difference. It’s about believing that if our small actions make just one life better then that’s still a win – and that those small actions can create wider-spread change when performed by the masses. We can’t all be a Gandhi, a Mandela or a Thunberg. But we can channel the passion of those who inspire us and use it to make life better for others in our small corner of the world.

Claire

Director, Colvine Communications