Have you ever worked till you get ill? Have you ever been so stressed you lose sleep and feel sick? Do you stop and take time to look after yourself?

Historically self-care is something I have been epically bad at doing.   In my mid-30s it became more of a priority and I learnt a few painful lessons.

Alan Donegan

Alan passed out on the floor! Remember to rest before you fall over and can’t see!
This is the first in a series of posts about self-care, what I have learnt that you can use and tips & tricks to keep you on tip top form.

The first step to change…..

The first step to change is acknowledging the current state of affairs.  You need to see things as they are, not worse than they are or better than they are but objectively as they are!

If you consistently and blindly see things as far better than they are,  you will never be able to improve things.  I had a colleague that was endlessly positive.  He would always tell you how well it is going, how successful he was and how happy he was.

One day we received a complaint about the project this colleague was working on.  We were told how badly it was going and how scared the client was of it all falling to pieces.  I was shocked as the colleague constantly told me how well the project was going with absolute conviction.  How could a client see it going so badly and he see it going so well?

My learning was that if you are 150% positive and blind to any problems then a BIG wake up call is heading your way!  This colleague was blinded by his positivity to the impending problems and project issues.

The opposite strategy doesn’t work either.  If you constantly see things as worse than they are, you will spend your whole time focused on the problems.  I have tried this approach too and it doesn’t lead to good mental health.

I remember being in my room as a teenager ruminating for hours about everything that was wrong in my life.  All the problems, the people that were treating me badly, the tech that didn’t work and everything that was wrong.  The more I focused on what was wrong the worse I felt and I would get locked in a downwards spiral of doom.

The first step to self-care and to changing anything is to see things as they are.  Nothing is ever completely negative or completely positive.  There is good and bad, ups and downs in everything we have in our lives and the most important thing we can do is to see thing as they are; not better and not worse.

The check-in

My business Partner Simon (he is super smart, but don’t tell him I told you) instituted a “check-in” at company meetings for Rebel.  He would get us to write down the top three things “front of mind” when we arrived at our meetings.  We would discuss each one and by checking in we would be more present, more empowered and more understanding of each other.

It worked beautifully.

My wife Katie and I now use it when we are working together on our life goals and plans.  Before we do ANYTHING we check in and ask each other what is on our minds.  We write it down and discuss is.  This has had an incredibly positive effect on our ability to work well together and avoid problems.

Self check-in

I have been thinking more and more in the current situation and uncertainty that checking in with yourself is more important that ever.  Understanding how you feel and where you are is so important.

Inspired by an amazing friend I have created a self-care check in that I have been doing every few days for the last couple of months.

Here it is visually

I am checking in on my levels, my state and my energy and working out where I am!

I am asking:

  • What are the top three things on my mind
  • How much love am I feeling?
  • What are my happiness levels and why?
  • What are my certainty levels and why?
  • How is my health?

The reason I am doing this is to better understand myself, to become better connected with my emotions and energy and to become empowered to be able to positively change if needed.

The first step to change is self-awareness and this is the tool that I have created to help me become more self-aware of what is going on with Alan.

I am thinking of adding in a sleep bar, stress bar and a couple of other bits!  This morning I shared it with Katie and some friends so they know how I am doing and I ask them how they are doing.

If you go through the check-in and work out you are feeling uncertain or un-loved then you can do something about it.  If you go through the day rushing from task to task without checking on yourself you are headed towards an eventual crash.

A few years ago I was really working hard at Rebel.  I had been running back to back courses helping people build businesses.  At the weekends Katie and I worked on our financial independence goals and projects.  We had a personal trainer and at the same time as all this work and travel I was working out harder than ever.

The day before my planned holiday to Germany we had a personal training session planned for the evening.  I was tired, felt wobbly but it was the last day before holiday.  I could rest the next day so I decided to go and pushed myself as always.

A few days later as we walked round one of the most beautiful areas of Berlin it all caught up with me.  As my body relaxed from the work I got really sick.  I remember saying to Katie I can’t go on and had to sit on the floor in the shopping centre with my head between my knees just breathing.  I made it back to the hotel eventually and I lost a lot of my holiday because I pushed myself too hard.

If I had checked in with my body on that last day before holiday and felt that I was on the edge I shouldn’t have gone to the gym.  I should have rested instead.  I would have avoided getting sick and actually enjoyed the beautiful hotel and holiday I had planned with my wife.

Sometimes we push so HARD that we forget to listen to our bodies and check in with how we are doing.

I would love you to stop right now and do a self check-in.  Get out a piece of paper and draw out some scales?  Or give yourself a number out of ten for the following categories.  I want to encourage yourself to check in and really listen to your body and mind.

  • Happiness – how are you feeling on the happiness scale?
  • Love – are you feeling loved?
  • Certainty – how certain are you about the future?
  • Health – how is your health? Your vitality?
  • Energy – this is you biggest asset!  How full are the batteries? Do they need a recharge?
  • Sleep levels – have you been sleeping enough? Resting? Quality?
  • Hydration – are you drinking enough?

There are so many different things that you can check in on.  Pick the 4 or 5 that are most important to you right now and STOP and think about them.  Listen to your body.

This could be the most important thing you do today.

My next article is going to look at what you can do once you have checked in.  The first step to positive change is to look at your current situation objectively!

What’s next…..

I have been very productive in lock-down!  did you expect anything else?  One of the first things I wrote about is “What can you build in quarantine!”.

SInce that my new podcast Rebel Entrepreneur has launched and the first 5 episodes have been released.  I have recorded the whole of Season 1 and am planning Season 2 at the moment with Simon and the team.

You can get the latest episodes by clicking on this link Rebel Entrepreneur  or the image:

I have also been working hard on writing more about Financial Independence and Katie and I have been coaching some individuals and developing a course on the subject.  More to come on that!  In the mean time if you have missed them here are the latest FI articles:

I am going to be writing more but if you have questions or ideas for subjects please write and tell me!


Life is a rollercoaster.  Katie and I have absolutely had our ups and downs through this lock-down and the changing times.  Stay positive what ever happens, keep focusing forward and remember

The extraordinary belongs to those who create it

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