Could you tell us a bit about your book, Power Hour?
Power Hour is about reclaiming your time, and specifically, the first hour of the day. The idea is to create time and space to focus on something that is for you, whatever your goal is. You might want to spend that time running, working out, reading, learning, practicing mindfulness, meditating or journaling.
From the moment we open our eyes, to the minute we go to bed there are so many demands on our time, and our attention: work emails, kids, WhatsApp, it’s non-stop. It’s no wonder it’s hard for people to stay focused on their goals. Reserving an hour in the morning for yourself sounds simple, but it’s so much more than that, it’s setting the tone for the rest of the day. It’s empowering to take back that time and think about what I actually want to do.
In the interviews I do for my podcast, Power Hour, or with the work that I’ve done with clients over the years, people always say “I’ll do it when I’m older, when I’ve got more money, when my kids have grown up, when I’ve lost weight”. But too often for those plans, dreams and goals, tomorrow just stays tomorrow. I really want people to ask “if you took away those limitations, what do you actually want?”. Many people wait until there’s a really big catalyst for change, but I say to people: “Don’t wait for that, you can make those positive changes to your life now”.
I’m quite a data-driven person and my approach is about finding practical steps and applying yourself to them: if you want to get to this destination, this is the route. I think many people prefer to just dream and wish for something. For those people my message might be a little bit forceful. Is it really as simple as saying I’ll dedicate one hour a day to this goal? Well, I have genuinely seen in my own life, and in the lives of others, how impactful it really is.
The pandemic has disproportionately affected women in terms of working life, job loss, mental health, the burden of unpaid care. What would your advice be, as a woman and as a mother, to those struggling to see a way forward and achieve their goals?
I would say to those women that now, more than ever, it is so important to create time for your own wellbeing and to do the things you want to do. If you need support in sharing the emotional and work load, be honest and reach out for support. You can’t carry everything yourself and you cannot give what you do not have. It’s not self-indulgent or selfish to say: “My time is valuable and so is my mental and physical health”. Women don’t need me to give them permission, but perhaps they need to give themselves permission, and say: “This hour is for me”.
Reserving an hour in the morning for yourself sounds simple, but it’s so much more than that, it’s setting the tone for the rest of the day
Have you found it hard to keep motivated in the past year?
I think I’d be a robot if I said it hadn’t affected me. There have been days when I felt quite overwhelmed. The reality of homeschooling, managing work commitments, being online, being available, replying to emails, sometimes it’s a lot. In lockdown, people expect you to be available all the time. In terms of motivation, I’m someone who loves to plan and set goals, and lockdown took away our ability to plan.
When the London Marathon was cancelled, like a lot of runners I kept asking myself whether I really wanted to go out and train when there was no race. So I decided to run 100km a month and I created a challenge to get people involved on Strava and Instagram. I thought a few people might join me but within a weekend, 46,000 runners signed up to my ‘100k in May’ challenge and their messages kept me motivated.
Your phrase “you can do hard things” is so simple and effective. Do you remember where it came from?
I take a lot of voice notes for ideas for my podcast. And one day – when I was out for a run in the morning, of course, very stereotypical me – I was thinking about how I’ve been running for eight years and I train for a race every year, and it’s still hard. People think it’s easy for me, but it’s still hard. And it’s annoying! I still wonder if, or when, it will become easier for me. When will I be able to run 10k without breaking a sweat?
But I thought to myself, Adrienne, you’ve done it before and you can do hard things. It’s simple but so many people responded to that voice note on the podcast, so I kept repeating it. It applies to everything, not just running. One lady got in touch and said that she wrote it on her arm before the Brighton Marathon and that she was potentially thinking about getting it tattooed. That is a real commitment to the phrase!
Many people are working out at home for the first time. Do you have any kind of advice on getting started?
We need to move our bodies every day. Some people might not like that message but it’s the truth. I use the word movement, instead of exercise, because that’s what it needs to be. Movement could be stretching, walking, doing an online follow-along class – you just need to move every single day. You don’t decide in the morning whether or not you’re going to clean your teeth today, it’s just non-negotiable. Movement should be non-negotiable too.
A lot of your work seems to be about lifting up women and supporting women, why is that?
It’s true, I want to use my voice to encourage other women to achieve whatever they want. I’m never that person to tell someone to be realistic with their goal. I’m the person that will say dream bigger, times that idea by 10. I want to be the ultimate encourager of women and people. I grew up with a single mum with four kids, low-income household. She didn’t have choices. She didn’t have agency. She didn’t have money. She didn’t have opportunities. And I think, as a result of that, she was never empowered. Growing up I definitely saw that, and thought: life doesn’t happen to you, you have to actively participate in your life and seize opportunities, make decisions and make it work.
You don’t decide in the morning whether or not you’re going to clean your teeth today, it’s just non-negotiable. Movement should be non-negotiable too.
What women have inspired you along the way, in your career and in your life?
For me, it’s not about celebrities. It’s my friends. I am so grateful to have a really strong female friend network, who have shown me what’s possible. I see them raising children, going to work, starting businesses, raising investment and doing these things boldly, fiercely. They encourage me and I encourage them. My friend Aicha McKenzie, for example, is a mother of two and a business owner and she’s unapologetic about her ambition. When I became a mother, I looked up to her a lot. Aicha taught me that you can be an ambitious career woman and a mum. It’s not a choice of one or the other.
Finally, what are your ambitions for 2021? What would you like to see happen this year?
I’m always the person to dream bigger. My vision for this year would definitely be to complete a distance of a race I haven’t done before. I want to push myself to train for something physically and raise money for charity. So, I’m going to try and run an ultramarathon. I’m terrified because running an ultramarathon is insane. But physically, I want to take that challenge on.
I am so happy and excited that my Power Hour book is out. Seeing messages from people who are reading it and are now planning to go for that promotion, or signing up to their first ever 10k, it has inspired me to keep going and to do more. Other than that, in Power Hour I talk about not being busy for the sake of it. I worked a lot in the last year, and before the pandemic, and I was definitely guilty of being busy all of the time. This year I don’t want to be busy, I don’t think busyness is something to celebrate. In 2021, I want to do less so I can live more.
Power Hour: How to Focus on Your Goals and Create a Life You Love by Adrienne Herbert is out now. Follow Adrienne on Instagram and listen to her podcast, Power Hour, on all podcasting platforms.
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