The Art of Choosing

When I picked up Sheena Iyengar’s “The Art of Choosing”, I had hoped that her book would set out – step by step some ideas on how I can improve the way I make my choices. I was wrong. Instead of a step by step self-help book; the information in these pages examined the many influences that surround how humans make their choices and raises some questions about choice. In particular, it challenges the assumption that since choice is good, more choice must be better.

Perhaps my biggest take away from this book was that in order for one to reap the most benefit from choice, we must, in a twist of irony; commit to something to the exclusion of all other choices. As I reflect on this, I think of a line from “The Good Place” where the character Chidi, well known for his indecisiveness describes a dilemma at an ice cream sundae bar

There were too many toppings. And very early in the process you had to commit to a chocolate palate or a fruit palate and if you couldn’t decide you wound up with kiwi, junior mint, raisin, and it just ruins everybody’s night.”

 It’s funny when you can’t commit to a palate for a desert, but what happens when you can’t commit to a goal? A career? A partner?

Sure, you have many more options than people who do make these commitments, but is it worth it if the sum total of all your disparate, unrelated choices end up looking like the Chidi ice-cream special?

Many of the studies in Iyengar’s book continually prove that while choice is important, too much choice can be detrimental, paralysing and counter-productive.

So why do we continue to demand more and more choice? Iyengar explains this with behavioural heuristics – specifically “loss aversion”. Committing to a choice means saying goodbye to options that were previously left open to us – we are averse to losing choice itself.

In our society we are constantly told that there is no limit to who we can be, yet the limitations commitment imposes on us can bring order to chaos. They set a framework that allows us to better reflect upon the quality the options laid before us and how well they align with the person we have chosen to become.


32 years old



The beginning of the year always brings with it a new energy and time to reflect and realign my goals – and it always coincides with my birthday – well sort off.

In 2018, my main focus was my business. Learning how to be a good boss, managing my business finances and balancing client care with the needs of my business. While all of these things are still important to me now, I want to use 2019 to focus on self care.

This, perhaps, may sound selfish and counter intuitive to good business practice, yet I have always been of the belief, that by caring for yourself, you are also caring for others.  So what will self care look like for me in 2019?

  1. Decluttering – Anyone who saw my post in 2017 on how I decluttered my closet will know that I am a huge advocate for Minimalism. This year, my focus will be on decluttering other environments. Some of the things I want to declutter significantly are:

    My Office: 
    After running my business for a year I feel a lot clearer about what I want to do with the space in my office and I feel more comfortable about throwing out some resources that a year ago I wouldn’t have dared to.My Schedule: In order to have more time to grow my business I will need to take some time off work from client care so that I can start building other aspects of the business. I have lots of ideas, that, to be properly executed need time and research.My Makeup and Bath Products: I use these every single day and they are part of my daily routine. I would like to feel more polished at work, but I am unhappy with my current selection of beauty products. I’m hoping to do some research and build a collection of make up and beauty products that I truly love and will use on a daily basis.
  2. Setting Clear Goals – Like most girls, many of my past New Year’s Resolutions have been to “Lose Weight”. While I am not skinny I am generally in a healthy weight range. Having a fitness goal has eluded me mainly because I’m not really sure what a fitness goal is or how to set one. This year my fitness goal is to start pole again and be able to do an “Inverted V” straight from the ground. It looks like this:



    As well as setting clear fitness goals, I want to be setting clearer financial goals as well. Some of the things I am doing for this are:- Reviewing my regular business and personal expenses ensuring that they are the right choices for me.
    – Reviewing my financial products; e.g. savings accounts, credit cards, insurances
    – Setting up clear savings targets for what I am saving for
  3. Becoming more mindful
    For me this means:
    Eating Slower and with fewer distractions
    – It’s so hard to eat without doing something else! My goal this year is to eat my meals without looking at my phone and to chew my food slower.
    Practising gratitude – I find myself constantly comparing my life to others especially on social media, I know I have a beautiful life, even though it is not always photographable.Purchasing mindfully – I’ve gotten rid of so much junk this year already and to be honest it has been really difficult to find environmentally friendly ways to get rid of the things I don’t need anymore that I am making sure that when I do purchase something I really, really, really want it.
  4. Not worrying about being perfect
    While decluttering at my parents house last month, I found a whole bunch of artwork that Jess and I had intended to send to “Saturday Disney” when we were kids. We never sent it, always striving to make it perfect, but perfect never came. I’m going to be braver about sharing my progress when trying new things, instead of waiting until things are perfect before sharing 🙂

I’m Not Busy

At the beginning of the year I listened to the “Crappy to Happy” podcast by Tiff Hall and Cass Dunn. It’s first topic was on “The Cult of Busy”. They talked about how everyone is so busy nowadays and that people often wear their “busy-ness” like a badge of honour. I have been one of these people, and strangely enough I enjoy being busy, and on many occasions I am busy, but not always.

I’m a huge advocate of having breaks. At work, I’m constantly reminding my colleagues to have a lunch break and leave work on time. Work is important to me, it gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel like a valuable and contributing member of society, but my work is not my life. My life is my life.

I think I started really breaking up the idea of “work” vs “life” in my last year of University. I started to appreciate how much my environment impacts on how well I can focus. I also started to realise the impact “timing” had on my mental health and the quality of my work. I finished my honours thesis at Blacktown library. For a whole semester I worked every weekday for three hours in the morning (after going to the gym) and three hours in the afternoon (after an hour lunch break) I never pulled an all nighter or did a single shred of work once I came home or on the weekend for that matter yet, I got a great mark.

Since then, I resolved  never to do work at home. Nowadays, I won’t touch work with a ten-foot pole at home. To me, work is to be done at work, and if that means I have to travel 45mins on a Saturday to sit in my office and get crap done, that’s exactly what I will do. To me, home is for watching TV, showers and bedtime. Home is for feeling utterly and completely relaxed. If I took my work home I’d be stressed out of my mind and I wouldn’t be able to do the most important thing associated with focus and productivity and that is – recharging.

So here I am now, sitting at home – doing nothing particularly important (prior to this I was playing candy crush and am now waiting for my lives to recharge as I refuse to pay good money for them) while my partner is doing a university assignment and my work colleagues are planning weddings and studying french in their spare time. All I can think of now, is that about six months ago I would’ve felt bad about having nothing of import to do (like everybody else in my life) but right now I’m so happy that I’m not busy.

March Towards Balance: Week 3 – Imperfections

It’s 6.40pm on Thursday night. I’ve just missed my boxing class because I’ve had to attend to urgent business at work. I’m annoyed because I lost my perfect streak of attending boxing classes… not only that – I’m not happy with the quality of my stretch sessions this week (there was more than one!) and I wasn’t able to take public transport once this week (It was raining for most of the week). Still, there I was, standing at the front door to my work parking lot staring dismally at the “Productive: Habit Tracker” app on my phone and swiping left to say “skip”.

My first thought was “Did I not choose doable goals?”. I wondered how, with the few goals I placed onto the app I could still have an imperfect week. The goals I chose were meant to be completely doable, bad week or not.

But before I could go down the blame train and tell myself how fail I was. My colleague said something to the effect of “You know, you don’t always have to be perfect.”

My mind paused, and all of a sudden stopped itself from descending down the “I suck so much” pattern. Suddenly, it was a learning opportunity – all week I’ve been listening to a podcast called “Crappy to Happy” and one of the things that really resonated with me was their topic of “Perfectionism”  – Particularly –  How stupid it is to expect perfection from ones self; and how often we let it derail good progress.

So this was not a perfect week.

I didn’t leave work EXACTLY on time everyday – but to be fair; I’ve left earlier than usual.

I didn’t always eat the lunch I brought from home. But this week I actually had PACKED lunch from home to toss aside! I was prepared!

I had a chocolate biscuit – it was HUGE! – ate a couple of Ferrero’s – not in ONE go; but I still went to the gym twice this week and also ate my healthy snacks of baby cucumber and yellow tomatoes first.

I was rushed and forgot my keys – and still found time to meditate and stretch.

So what if it wasn’t perfect!

The important thing is to keep trying. Cause an imperfect week of trying is clearly better than an imperfect week where I’m NOT trying!


Learn to Relax

So this March, I have decided to complete a set of habits daily in order to ensure that I am able to achieve work-life balance, and essentially avoid burn out. My cornerstone habit being leaving work at 6pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and at 6.30pm on Thursday afternoons.

These last two weeks I have done exactly that, left work at exactly 6pm regardless of how much stuff I had left to do, gone home and started to attend to home things. One thing I’ve realised after doing this is how much time I actually have when I get home. I get home at 7, cook, eat, wash the dishes and am usually all done by 9pm at which time I’m wondering… hmm… what do I do now? I check the work bank account – which is still the same number as it was just before I left work at 5pm, I take out my  kindle and do some reading, even look at some ideas for a holiday in July, one time I decided to do some stretching.

It’s was nice – then the weekend came. Jeremy was tired and preparing to work the night-shift so I was given some much coveted alone time. I finished with my chores by 10.30am and began to feel the urge to do so me work-work; which I am proud to say, I did not give into. Determined, I started thinking about all the LIFE STUFF I could do, which became quite the overwhelming experience. The diatribe in my head pretty much went:

Do I go shopping? What do I shop for? Should I be doing something else? reading a book maybe? What should I read? Should I read one of those self improvement books or is that not relaxing enough? Should I meal-plan? Are there any meal planning apps? Which one should I get? What time is it? Do I have time to spend time on this? Should I ask a friend to come shopping with me?

Needless to say, I exhausted myself thinking. I found myself sitting on the couch for at least an hour paralysed by the never ending choices of what I could do with my free time as well as pondering the irony of having so much free time and so many ideas of what to do yet, choosing to do none. In the end, I left the house to go shopping.

When I got home and put away the shopping (I chose to buy only groceries). I felt the temptation to pick up work again so I sat down and painted my nails purple then sat on the couch next to Jeremy and stared at the ceiling until it was time for dinner; after which thankfully, Jeremy decided to put on a movie and stop me from having to think too hard about what else I could do before going to bed.

It’s only just occurred to me, now that I am making time for non-work stuff, how few ideas I have about what to do with all that time I’m setting aside (and it’s not even that much!). I’ve noticed how averse I am to planning holidays; I’ve noticed that I judge rest and relaxation as “trivial” and “wasteful”; that I often think to myself, “if you have time; you should be working”. I think that is why I started this blog. Because it’s kinda like work in a way.

That being said, I’m glad that I’ve resisted the urge to do work. It’s made me more mindful about my thoughts about work and rest. I’m learning that its ok to relax and I’m also learning that there are different ways to relax too!


Attitude of Gratitude

The NDIS independent price changes have come to a head and it’s becoming most topical now in my industry. It’s a frightening change, but suffice to say – this scares me, unbelievably so.

But after the initial panic of realising this change was coming – coupled by the fear that is spreading throughout the industry I decided to take a step back and think. This event is out of my control, what will happen, will happen and when it does I will have to make some choices; but it is important to be patient, and meanwhile learn all the rules so that you can make the best decisions.

So instead of being ruled by fear, I have decided to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Because in the end all I’ve got is me.

Things I have to be grateful for:

  1. Being loved and supported.
    Sure, sometimes Jeremy says the “wrong” thing when he’s trying to make me feel better, but you know, at least he tries. I have loving and supportive parents, a fantastic sister, wonderful friends and a good strong team at work.
  2. Myself
    I know it sounds conceited, but no one backs me like I do. I’m smart, resourceful, patient, brave and disciplined. I know that what ever decision I make I will win or learn. I never lose.
  3. Strong female role models
    There is no way I would talk to myself like that if I haven’t been influenced by strong female role models in my life and also in the media. The thing that comes to mind this evening is a little dramatic but it’s a line from the last episode from season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; where the villain says (and I’m paraphrasing here) – “you’ve got no hope, no friends, no weapons; what’s left?” and Buffy’s answer is “me”. It reminds me that I am in NO WAY at the end of my rope, and even if I was I still have me left.
  4.  “Crappy to Happy” podcast
    Honestly, I’ve been listening to it everyday this week and it’s reminded me of how important it is to keep things in perspective. It’s reminded to be mindful as it helps make better decisions, and to take care of myself so I can be of better service to others.
  5. That I own my own business
    At the end of the day I control the fortunes of my business. Things will fluctuate but that is part of what being in business is all about. I will learn to ride those waves. Owning a business is not something I have to do. It’s something I get to do.

Gee, this gratitude thing really does work, I feel better already 🙂

Bring on the storm.




Strategies are Not the Same as Goals

Today I drove to work; got a bit caught up in some morning convo with my little sister via whats app so was running a little late. Listened to “Crappy to Happy” podcast in the car… interesting topic on goals. I liked what Cass Dunn said about strategies not being goals; made me reflect on the strategies I put into place for this month. My goal was to just tick all the boxes essentially; but Cass mentioned that this can be ineffective as often you need to be working towards something. I think what I’m working towards is feeling in control of my work-life and my personal-life. I know that a lot of my time will be spent at work, so I want to get the most out of my personal time.

Lately I’ve been allowing work to bleed into my personal life; which is actually unfair because I have so little time outside of work! I think my goals around leaving work on time and getting out of work during my lunch hour have had a positive effect on my focus at work. It has also had a positive effect on my personal life. I’ve started to challenge myself to think of FUN things to do in my personal time not just “work” things to do (e.g. cleaning and cooking and grocery shopping). I think that this in turn is helping me to be much better at work.

I had a set back today where I forgot to return the keys at the school I work at and managed not to let it ruin my day, Usually when I feel slightly stressed out at work I go for something sweet and eat bad stuff. Today I told myself “no”. But that probably had something to do with the fact I had preprepared snacks already (courtesy of me being super prepared this week because I’m not stuffing my life full of work).

Overall I’m feeling really happy and I’ve really zoned in on my goal. To have a clear boundary between work and life. And if I can stop checking my business bank account before and after work hours I’ll consider this experiment a raving success.

March Towards Balance – Week 1: Making Things Achievable

Change is always a challenge, so when I moved to Canterbury with Jeremy in August last year I found that it was incredibly difficult to keep to a routine. I had to find new ways to get to work, a new schedule for meal prepping, and a new schedule for exercising. Lots of things fell by the wayside as the holiday season came upon us; not to mention all the new responsibilities that came with becoming  my own boss at the beginning of this year.

So now that the holidays are well and truly over and my new business responsibilities have become less new. I’ve decided to use March to do the following things:

  • Boxing once a week at 6.30pm on Thursday afternoon,
  • Leave work by 6pm (6:30pm on Thursdays)
  • Eat my lunch outside of work
  • A day of going to work using public transport and incidental exercise
  • 2 x 15 mins of light to moderate cardiovascular exercise a week
  • 2 x 15 mins of strength exercise a week
  • 1 x 10 min meditation a week.

I am aware of how small each of these steps are, but I think combined they have made the first week of March feel like a success!

So how did I go this week?

I am pleased to report that I managed to complete all but one of these activities (I did not complete a second set of strength exercise this week). Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Setting clear boundaries is a good for focus

I have found that setting a time for leaving work and leaving work during my lunch hour has made me focus more during my set work hours. I find that I am more mindful about how I spend my time during work.

Be flexible with how you achieve your goals

Rather than spending my train ride playing Candy Crush on my phone, I completed my 10 minute meditation on the train this week. It was the first time I have ever meditated outside of the house and I found it equally effective and a good way to start the day, Also, rather than completing my second  strengthening exercises (just because I have to tick a box) I decided to do some stretching instead. I have added one lot stretching to my list of things to do next week instead of two lots of strength based exercise.

When I completed my routine experiment last year, I found that making small changes to improve the activity as you go can make the habit last longer. This week the main change I’m implementing is upping my protein intake, particularly after a strength exercise.


March Towards Balance

A few days ago my little sister – who is currently in London, sent me a picture of herself doing aerial yoga. The moment I saw this I thought, “Gee, I really need to have a better work-life balance going on”.

Now don’t get me wrong, my work-life balance isn’t horrendous. I try hard to switch off during the weekends and I do absolutely no work stuff at home. None. But I do notice I’ve already got some bad habits that need to get kicked out.

Bad Habit Number 1: I stay too late at work.

On several occasions I leave work at 7pm. That is WAY too late to stay at work. By the time I get home I barely have the energy to eat, let alone cook. When I lived only a 10minute train ride away going home at 7pm meant that I was home at the latest 7:30pm depending on the train schedule. Now that I live a 70 minute commute away I get home around 8:30pm if I’m lucky and all the buses line up! I’ve decided that moving into March that no matter where I’m up to in my work, I’m going to start packing up at 5:45 and leave work at 6pm (6:15 and 6:30 on Thursdays)

Doing your best and working hard does not mean running yourself into the ground.

Bad Habit Number 2: Not taking my lunch break away from work

My workmates don’t like to leave the workplace during their lunch hour – partially because we work next to a mall and they do NOT want to spend any money, As a result, I’ve also stopped leaving my office during my lunch hour. Moving into March, I’ve decided that I’m going to start spending my lunch break outside of the office, even if it just means heating up my food and sitting down on a step outside my work.

Bad Habit Number 3: Not doing enough exercise.

Ever since I’ve moved further from work, completing exercise has become something I no longer have as part of my routine. Moving into March I’ve decided I will commit to:

  • Boxing once a week at 6.30pm on Thursday afternoon,
  • A day of going to work using public transport and incidental exercise
  • 2 x 15 mins of light to moderate cardiovascular exercise a week
  • 2 x 15 mins of strength exercise a week
  • 1 x 10 min meditation a week.

I’ve decided to track all this using my Habit Tracker on my iPhone. Wish me luck!

Experiments with Routines

My morning routine is a mess. I hit the snooze button so many times you'd wonder why I bother having an alarm at all. Deciding what to do when I first wake up seems to take up most of my thought space. I tell myself "it's early – maybe I should meditate or go for a walk, or stretch…" In the end I just decide to stay in bed mulling over the decision until time runs out and I have to rush out of bed. By the time I get to work I already feel tired and depleted.

I know that something needs to change. I have tried many, many things to make me 'wake up' earlier. Some of them have made it into my morning routine and improved it (e.g. I never leave the house without breakfast.) and others have been complete failures. Recently, I have been feeling at a loss as to what to do to fix this problem.

Then, the other day, inspiration hit. Another Functioning Minimalist podcast came to mind. The podcast was about 'Decision Fatigue'.

In the podcast, Sara discussed how decision fatigue impacts our self control and will power. The most interesting thing she brought up was an experiment conducted by Dr Jean Twenge on how little mundane decisions (e.g. what am I going to wear? What am I going to eat? What do I do next? etc…) can lead to decision fatigue and ultimately reduced self control. (I'm not going to describe the experiment here, if you want to know you can listen to the Functioning Minimalist podcast or type "Jean Twenge" and "Decision Fatigue" into google to get the peer reviewed journal article.)

Anyway, I wondered if I could apply these findings of hers to improving my morning routine so I decided to conduct an experiment. I do, after all, have a university degree in applied science 😀


How do I improve my morning routine so that I don't feel rushed and I get to work early?


Following a written list of pre-made decisions as soon as I wake up will make my morning run smoother, feel less stressful and allow me to get to work before or by 8.30am.

Things you need:

Phone with the a note taking app (I use Evernote),
Clock & train schedule
House & everything in it set up so it's easily accessible

What to do:

  1. Write down every single decision I need to make in the morning before I go to sleep.

    This is the sample of my list – I wrote down literally EVERY decision I could think of possibly making! I was surprised how long the list was!

  2. Wake up
  3. Follow the list
  4. Repeat every morning for the rest of the week (I wrote the list Monday night)
  5. Document results.





Added the following actions to list:

Make the bed
Check light before leaving bathroom
Open windows
Put on deodorant
Put on Perfume
Brush hair
Pack away breakfast dishes

Decided to use time waiting for tea to steep to pack away dishes on drying rack.

Arrived at work much earlier than expected that I didn't know what to do with myself for the first 30mins
?write down decisions for starting the work day



Up at 5.45 decided to write until alarm went off at 7… got bored so started routine 15mins early.

Added the following actions to list:

Take out cup from room to wash
Clarified order of meal prep as meal, snacks cold drink, hot drink
Packing away drying rack dishes

– snacks depleting – go shopping
– I need a hair cut
? I should choose my clothes at night




Note: I wake up early – todays wake up time was 6:45

Additions to list were to refine the morning routine (e.g. my towel headband was super useful at keeping my hair out of my face while washing)

I extended some of my decision making into the working day and also into the evening with preparing the clothes I was going to wear the next morning.

Also added some more practical stuff like what to do if something appears to be running out.




Catching the 8:15 train and arriving at work at 8:30am exactly is my new 'late'.


As I was writing down my morning routine on Monday night, I was surprised at the little tiny moments that make up a morning. When I began following the list the next morning, I was surprised by how much more  attention and mindfulness I gave to each simple task. I found I was not constantly worrying that I might forget to do something (like check to see if I locked the door, or turned off a light). I know I won't, because it's all written down and I follow and check it. I was in the present moment.

As the days wore on I found ways to make my morning flow better and more efficiently. My confidence in the list grew more and applying new ideas to improve my morning routine became easier.

I also noted that the advantages from having this routine extended further from just getting to work early/on time. I found my mind more alert when beginning the work day. In fact, I began to make a list of things to do as soon as I get to work so that I'm not floundering around. I also came up with a prepping system for picking clothes (something made so much easier because I don't have that many clothes to choose from) and a system where when I buy groceries I immediately pack them into my snack boxes to take to work.

This experiment was another worthy exercise that I can see can be applied to other parts of my daily routine. I'm excited to apply it and see what more I can discover about how to be my best self.


This post was inspired by Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter's awesome book "11 Experiments that Failed". A brilliant and hilarious book to introduce science concepts to young children and a reminder to adults that there is a scientist in all of us :).