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I totally changed my life – and this is what helped me settle in

Life coach Hattie MacAndrews moved to the other side of the world. This is how she embraced her new life

June 14, 2024
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After living in London for 14 chaotic, busy and eventful years, last year I finally packed my bags and made the (overdue) decision to leave city life.

I had known for a long time that I wanted to make the change, but when it came to actually pulling the plug, I always managed to talk myself out of it or find an excuse not to do it.

Fast-forward 12 months, and I find myself the happiest I've ever been, whilst living in a small coastal town in the Western Cape of South Africa (how I got here is another story!).

hattie macandrews cold water
Hattie completely changed her life

I have learnt many, many things along the way – none of which would have been possible without leaning on my skills and experience as a confidence coach.

Confidence is at the root of everything we do, and sometimes just saying yes can be the hardest step. My life has drastically improved since leaving city life and there are many contributing factors to this, but one of the most significant is that for the first time in my adult life, I have hobbies.

Finding hobbies in adulthood

Up until now, I always thought hobbies were reserved for the elderly. People who were looking to fill their time with nothing else to do for entertainment. I couldn't understand how people had the time? Weren't we all too busy? Aren't hobbies too expensive? Or not readily available in conjunction with modern city life?

Even if you did have the time, who has the energy? The mental capacity to do something 'just for fun'? 

HATTIE'S COLUMN: How can I stop comparing myself to others? 

I now see how sad that sounds. I had my priorities all wrong. I wore my exhaustion like a badge of honour. My ridiculously busy diary was a testament to how 'happy' I was and 'well in life' I was doing. Does this sound familiar?

So how did I come to this realisation and what was my catalyst for change?

Young woman hiking in Switzerland
Hattie knew it was time for a change

The catalyst for change

Once I arrived in my new town, reality hit me pretty quickly. I had no friends. Not a single person I knew to call for a walk or a coffee. My sink or swim mentality kicked in, and I wrote a list of all the ways I could get out there and meet new friends.

Coming from a life with no shortage of close wonderful friends, the concept of having none was scary and alien to me.

My list of ways to meet friends included new sports, creative activities and trying to find places I could surround myself with like-minded people. At the beginning I tried everything from Pilates to sea swimming, pottery to bee-keeping. The best thing is that since throwing myself in, I haven't stopped to look back.

People walking on the beach
Hattie tried all sorts of new hobbies

These are the biggest benefits I've found from trying new hobbies

1. Meeting new people

Meeting a whole range of new, interesting and different people has been one of my favourite aspects of trying new things. I have met people from all walks of life, that I wouldn't have had the opportunity had I not just said 'yes'.

Women both older and younger than me, with different attitudes and perspectives. I have learnt so much about myself and others, and the more I put myself out there the easier it became.

Making new friends as an adult can be scary, and something a lot of people in new environments struggle with. Connecting over a common activity is such a simple, beneficial way to cut through the small talk and increase your chances of meeting like-minded people.

HATTIE'S ADVICE: I cleared my 'incurable' brain fog and eased my anxiety in 10 minutes – here's how 

2. Learning to prioritise yourself

One of my favourite mottos is 'self-care isn't selfish', and now more than ever this rings true for me. It's so easy for us to lose ourselves in the daily stresses of life, without looking out for ourselves or prioritising our own needs. Just taking an hour for you, even if it's just once a week, to do something you actually enjoy and makes you feel good is so worthwhile. Focusing on your happiness, even if it’s just for a short time, will allow you to be a better version of you, a better wife, mum, friend, daughter – and there's nothing selfish about that!

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3. A chance to switch off

Whether you dabble in gardening, join a netball club or pick up a paintbrush – it's likely that your new hobby will get you off a screen and create space for some calm in your mind. You can't put a price on that!

INSPIRATION: I ditched my phone for a whole week – here's what I learned 

4. Having FUN!

As adults we can become so stuck in our ways. We've learnt what we're good at and to avoid what we're not. Perhaps for fear of judgement, looking silly or being laughed at.

When was the last time you let your guard down and just had FUN? Pure, unadultered, silly happy fun. Nothing will give you an endorphin hit or boost your dopamine like learning a new skill or trying something out of your comfort zone.

5. Shifting your focus

When I look back at my old life, I'm not sure what I was so busy doing. I just remember being busy. I have consciously re-focused my priorities, in order to start actually enjoying life and feeling happy.

I have made several lifestyle changes (prioritising sleep, no alcohol and more daily movement to name a few) and this has given me the gift of time, and time feeling energised and happy.

So whether I use this new sense of freedom to make something funky in a pottery class, spend some time in the garden trying to grow vegetables or hiking a harder route, I know that my mind body and soul are all reaping the rewards.

Follow Hattie on Instagram here and find out how to work with her here

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