Abigail Barnes is an award-winning Entrepreneur, author, speaker and trainer who’s life dramatically changed overnight on a work business trip. She shares her story with us.
Growing up I was a strong, self-sufficient little girl who always told the truth, stood up to injustice and defended people from bullies no matter who the person was, I would face them down.
I don’t know where this came from, but I was Badass like this until I was 7 when we moved from Derbyshire to London. And in that move, everything changed. The bubble I’d lived in up until then burst. Everything was new and I didn’t fit in one bit. I looked different, thought different and sounded different (I had a regional accent too). I had no friends, no reference points and I shrank into myself and that’s when the bullying started. It wasn’t horrific, but it was just hard for me to understand why a nice kind child could not be accepted just as she was.
Why nothing was good enough for them, my shoes, my family, my ideas, my accent. It was all wrong. The teachers weren’t mean, they were just ticking boxes, the kids weren’t horrible, they were just what today we’d call subconsciously biased. I hated school, all I wanted to do was grow up and be a successful businesswoman.
I’d watched this TV show called Love Hurts with Zoe Wanamaker when I was a teenager and the character she played was who I wanted to be. I wanted the great suits, a Louis Vuitton bag and to be successful. I really had no idea what I would do I just knew how I wanted to look.
Also around that time we’d taken a family trip to The Bank of England and the energy I felt in the city of London surrounded by busy, important people solidified this dream for me.
I wasn’t academic I was bright, but not intelligent so I picked a University from a family recommendation. My romantic soul wanted to read PPE at Magdalen College Oxford, but my academic brain put me in a Business & Marketing Management Degree at Oxford Brookes University. The end result being I had the best of both worlds spending time with students from the Oxford Colleges that I met while studying a degree I truly loved and meeting awesome people on my course, in the gym, and playing Basketball.
It taught me a great foundational life lesson in how to connect and converse with humans irrespective of their social class/upbringing or intellect. I had friends from every walk of life, religion, culture and country.
I got my first job in the city because I’d been forced to take a year out at 18 (after A-Levels) to have surgery for Scoliosis. The operations required a recovery of about a year and after the first 6 months, I was better and bored. I wrote a 40,000-word novel (never published it) and got a temp job in Finance because there was only so much Oprah Winfrey and Dr Phil I could watch.
During my degree I then worked in a huge number of Finance Companies during my holidays and when I graduated I’d already secured a job. I finished University on Friday, and started my first job on Monday.
From that first job in Finance I then worked for 4 more Finance Companies, taking short breaks after redundancies to visit Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Australia and Japan.
As well as trying to start businesses, but realising I had no clue what I was doing and going back to what I knew.
I’d been unhappy for years, I had filled the ‘hole in my soul’ with parties, Prada, Champagne, clothes, relationships, food, travel and new new new… Only nothing had ever worked for long so I’d tried more and more of it to no avail.
To the outside world, I had it all, the job title, the suits and the LV handbag amongst others. But I was so unhappy, unfulfilled, and empty.
Then at the age of 32 on a business trip to the US I almost die.
It was Sunday 26 February 2012 around 6am, I remember being woken up (24 hours after I’d been admitted to hospital) by a Dr with the results of my MRI Scan…You’ve had a stroke, he said!
To which I replied would I be ok to go to work on Monday?
NO, he said shocked, we need to figure out how this happened and whether it could happen again, you’ll be here for at least a week!
In that moment life as I knew it ended.
In my head I was broken, and ill, and illness was weakness. Let alone the fact that I’d almost died and what the heck had happened in the moments when I’d hit death’s door and been turned away by voices, at the same time as begging for a second chance (a story for another day) and seeing angels!
Change was a struggle, I was confused, angry, sad, apathetic, paranoid, depressed, afraid, fearful, ashamed I was also riddled with massive survivor guilt, unworthiness and PTSD.
These feelings came in waves, almost drowning me in one moment and then raising me up high in the next only to be thrown back down into the abyss of nothingness over and over again. It was like living in the movie Groundhog Day. I’d feel hopeful, go to sleep and then wake up exactly where I was the day before.
The changes I made were slow and hard.
Then one day I found Tony Robbins on YouTube (7 years ago it wasn’t a thing like it is now) I watched this giant man talking about feeling better, changing your state and being happy. I’d no real experience of Personal Development before then, but now I was hooked, buying every CD, book and training I could find by him and other US ‘gurus’.
Then I found out he was coming to London and that I could get a ticket for £47 so I booked it straight away.
Now I had hope…
He ran on to the stage, told us to hug the person next to us, give them a high five, jump around, sits down and then proceeded to speak like a machine gun for over an hour. I was in shock, I hated it and didn’t resonate with him in person at all, and there was NO way I wanted to hug or high five a stranger what would people think, this was crazy! But over the course of the 3-day weekend, other speakers came onto the stage and I resonated with them more.
“Why do you try so hard to fit in, when you were born to stand out” he said
Boom his words hit me like a tonne of bricks. I heard my soul for the first time. I want to be a speaker like him it said, that’s what I want to do, and I’m going to attend his 3-day workshop and learn how to do it!!
I attended his training in 2013 and from that day took every ‘scary’ action I felt called to investing in more products/programs/teachers and training around the world.
At one of the workshops, I attended this guy told us how he’d written over 150 books and was offering a 1-year program to teach how to do it too.
Remember that book I wrote years ago, well now I had a teacher that would show me how to do it. I signed up there and then, and wrote and self-published my book within 8 weeks. I wrote it about Time firstly because I now knew the value of it, and secondly because everyone I ever met never seemed to have enough and during my career, I’d learned how to manage my own.
I called it Time Management for Entrepreneurs because another teacher at the time told us we needed a niche and so I picked that one.
Fundamentally I believe a lack of time comes from a lack of motivation, inspiring goals and intentional living.
Too many people buy into the lie that they should do what other people are doing its BS and deep down they know that they are sabotaging their own Time Management. Maybe that’s you. Here’s how to know. I’m guessing you don’t have enough time to read my book for example, but if I told you that I’d pay you 100k to read it today then you’d make time, and if money doesn’t motivate you and I told you that if you read it you could have tomorrow off to do whatever you want. You’d make time and prioritise reading the book, wouldn’t you?
Once you get this on a deeper level now you understand how to have enough time. Stop doing what you ‘should’ do and start doing more of what you enjoy.
My next book will be out in 2020 and will focus on the 888 Formula we teach at Success by Design Training, it will be a step by step guide to creating the work/life balance you want.
The biggest piece of advice that I can share with you is that TIME is your most valuable commodity, NOTHING is impossible, you are powerful BEYOND measure, find a way and make the most of every moment!
Abigail hangs out on instagram as @abarnesauthor https://www.instagram.com/abarnesauthor/
She is the Founder of Success by Design Training an organisation on a mission to help 1 million people improve their work/life balance by 2025 https://www.successbydesigntraining.com/