{Monday Musings} From the Office to the Great Outdoors

Can your hobby become a full time career? This is a question we pondered a few weeks ago, and today our first guest writer for Monday Musings gives us another resounding YES. Circumstances pushed Noura El Imam, founder of Yogalates Bliss in Dubai, from a corporate role in marketing to a more ‘flexible’ career, and the results have been beyond her expectations!

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Waking up everyday to doing something that you love to do is a complete blessing, but it’s definitely not an easy ride. I took my 6 years background of marketing and business (with a sprinkle of psychology) and my passion for health, fitness and wellness to bring about Yogalates Bliss in Dubai, offering a fusion of outdoor yoga and pilates classes on the stunning private terrace at Fraser Suites where the ocean, stars and sunshine is our setting. I’ve also been hosting top caliber Yoga Teacher Trainings and workshops led by international Yoga expert teachers from the US, North America and further. Connecting with yoga experts registered teachers across the world to invite them to our sandy shores is such a rewarding experience when you meet the people who inspire you the most and even better, watching your trainees walk away as confident & happy yoga graduates (teachers).

Nour El Imam The Curve

I love yoga and pilates as my company represents, but I also balance it all out with more active hobbies such as horse riding, SUP, wall climbing, trekking, swimming in the ocean, and going for long midday walks with friends. I also love creating new recipes! It’s my therapeutic outlet and sharing it with clients through my food blog is very rewarding when they comment and recreate the dish at home. Photography is another passion of mine and recently I have started yoga photography snapping my trainees in visually stunning settings, poses to enhance their portfolio which has been received very well!

While I don’t work a strict 9-5, I make sure at this stage that I balance out my personal and work life in a healthy manner. I have to confess, I appreciate that my weekends are workdays in Dubai and vice versa. If I need to break at 1pm on a workweek and step out to the beach, it is nice and quiet!

Noura El Imam The Curve

I honestly believe that if you put your heart and hard work into your passion – you’ll get the rewards back when clients enjoy their experience with you, when other businesses want to collaborate with you, when a company wants to sponsor you for their brand, and when simply you wake up challenged with work which is what fuels real passion.

Noura El-Imam is the founder of Yogalates Bliss in Dubai, brand ambassador for eco-friendly Carrot, Banana and Peach yoga apparel and partners with Greenheart Organic Farms.

{Monday Musings} What is the 15 Minute Lesson?

When we first had the idea to create The Curve, we knew it was important to actually understand if adults wanted to learn new skills, and if they did why they weren’t already pursuing them. To find the answers, we conducted an online survey and had so many interesting responses that really opened our eyes. One of the most striking statistics was that 73% of the respondents said that they did “not have time” to take up a new hobby.

Hmmm…let’s think about that for a minute. How much time does it take to learn something new? 1 hour a week? We spend more time than that watching mindless television on a daily basis!

We strongly believe that the “lack of time” excuse is simply a perception, and to tackle it we have created a new workshop series that we call the 15 Minute Lesson. The concept of this series is that it actually does not take much time to learn new things, and we can prove it. The workshops all include 4 speakers, each with a 15 minute allocated speaking spot. They are given the task of teaching the audience something new about a selected theme in this short slot. With this structure, attendees learn at least 4 new things in only an hour. We hope that this will put into perspective for people what they could really be doing with the hour (or hours…) they usually spend browsing social media!

Our first event is The 15 Minute Lesson for the Mother to Be and is happening next Monday May 5, 2014. In this inaugural event, we hope to address some of the biggest questions that pregnant women have during their first pregnancy. All the details are in the below flyer. Join us!

M2B Flyer2

{Monday Musings} Does having a hobby make you a better employee?

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Having a work/life balance seems like such a distant dream at times, and we often feel guilty for spending time on hobbies outside of our jobs because we are convinced we should be investing that time on advancing our careers.

I’ve definitely been there during my corporate days and have even felt guilty about leaving work on time to go to a fitness class. But on the days that I did force myself to leave the confines of my desk to do something for myself, I found myself being much more productive during the day and wasting less time in order to ensure a timely exit. This makes me think now, does having a work/life balance actually make you a better employee? Here are three reasons why I believe the answer is yes.

1. Better time management
Needing to leave the office on time to make it to a dance or martial arts class definitely puts a little more pressure on you during the day to complete your work and not waste time. Efficient time management is definitely a skill that improves your daily work life!

2. Hobbies make you a more creative person
From my observations, employees who invest time on nothing but work and socializing tend to be less creative than those who have interests outside of the workplace. Instead of having a one track mind, people with hobbies are able to think about things from different angles as their minds have been stimulated in various ways outside of work. Fresh ideas are always a good thing for business!

3. People with hobbies are more social
Whether it’s cooking or body building, hobbies are more often than not a social exercise. They help you meet new people from different walks of life and interact in ways that you wouldn’t with people from work or your personal life. These increased social skills make you a more confident and better networker, and we all know a solid network is gold in the business world!

What do you think? Are hobbies a waste of time or do they actual force you to use your time more wisely?

{Monday Musings} Can You Turn a Hobby into a Career?

“Do what you love, love what you do” is advice that I have heard so often over the years. It seems like such a simple concept, but what if what you love isn’t something conventional like advertising or finance? Is there a way to turn something that you’d resigned to just being a hobby into a career?

I posed that question on our Twitter page a few months ago, and received a few interesting stories in return. The most unconventional one by far was from Shelina of Decluttr Me, who started an organization consultancy for homes and offices. When she found herself rearranging her friends’ homes for fun, she knew it was time to take her love for order from a pastime to a full time job. Read how she took the leap and her advice to others below.

Decluttring

Tell us a little about your background – schooling, past work experience, places you’ve lived. 

I was born and brought up in Kent, England by my East African Indian parents.   I went to university in London to study law and eventually went on to work as in-house Legal Executive in London for a book club company. After 5 years working in London, I applied for a job to work as an in-house lawyer for Emirates, got the job and moved to Dubai in 2005. In 2006, I decided to study once again to become a Solicitor and returned to London for a year. In 2007 I returned to Dubai, as I missed it so much and took on roles as Legal Counsel for various companies in the city.

What was the hobby that made you think to change your career course?
I have always been a neat and organized person. I had reorganized all the legal filing systems hard and soft copies in the companies I worked for. I also had an annoying habit (according to some friends) of visiting them at home and then reorganizing. I would be at my happiest when decluttering for myself or for third parties.

Was your intention to eventually turn this hobby into a career or was it unexpected?
I had a recurring dream of starting a business of decluttering for years. I started reviewing websites last year for decluttering and found it was a proper business model in the UK and USA and that you could turn the dream into reality.

When did you make the leap of faith?
After discussing the idea with my close family and a few friends, I took the plunge and created the website, Twitter account and Facebook page to start gaining interest in Dubai and the UAE. I left my position as Legal Counsel at the end of September 2013 to work on Decluttr Me fully.

So how did you turned your hobby into a money making business?
The concept for Decluttr Me is to go into people’s homes and declutter certain areas within the home in [paid] sessions. I have been testing the concept in various homes over the last few months for free to gain experience and also to see if this is a concept that could work here.  I have started gaining clients in the last few months and been decluttering areas such as their kitchens. The business also collects uncollected clothes and small items to sell and then donate the proceeds to charity. There have been various people interested in us collecting their goods to either donate or sell on their behalf.

How has your experience been so far?
The experience so far has been interesting. The decluttering service is a completely new concept in the region and I do have to explain what happens when we provide the service on a regular basis. Once the person understands the concept there is a wonderment and excitement in this service being provided. However, due to the nature of the service that is provided, it does take a while for people to be comfortable enough to allow you to enter their homes and organize their spaces. It can be a psychological problem that has led to the hoarding of stuff in their homes so we cannot push anyone to become our client until they feel safe and secure that we will provide the service confidentially and delicately (but with a bit of force to help them remove the clutter from their life).

What is your advice for someone who is looking to power their hobby into a career?

  • Save your money and don’t have any outstanding debts so that you can start your new venture with a clean slate.
  • Research, research and research – everything about your hobby, similar businesses globally and in the region, developments in the industry, etc.
  • Learn how to use social media for businesses especially on Twitter and Facebook. Start gaining followers personally as they will be the ones that spread the word for you when you start your business account.
  • Pinterest – great ideas and pretty pictures; what more could you ask for.
  • Find out early where is the best place to form your company within a free zone and start the process as soon as you can once you are ready to form your business.
  • Create a business plan and budget. It is incredibly boring and hard work but it is needed to provide to the banks when forming a bank account, potential investors and you can take the wording from your business plan to include in interviews. Also it is a document you can re-read when you require inspiration of why you pursued this crazy dream.
  • If you have no idea how to form a company talk to friends who have started SME’s
  • Tell limited friends and family as you don’t want your idea to be stolen but gain their support and get their (free) ideas for the business.

If you have turned your hobby into your dream job, get in touch with us at info@thecurve-me.com and share your story! 

{Monday Musings} How Do You Unwind?

The idea for The Curve came to me in 2012 when I realized that I was stuck in a routine of work, eat, sleep. Dubai’s corporate rat race had drained me to the point where I did not have the energy to invest in my personal development, and so I convinced myself that I didn’t have the time. When I started to really think about it and assessed how I spend my time, I was ashamed at how much time I wasted in front of screens- TV, computers, phones – all in an attempt to unwind.

It felt justified to spend so much time glued to the TV. After all, working 10 hour days in a fast paced business was mentally exhausting that settling in front of the TV felt like a good way to switch off and unwind. But I had to ask myself the question: is this the only way I know how to unwind?

I began to investigate other things that could potentially serve as an equally relaxing substitute. Soon I found myself going to the gym more after work, working on DIY projects for my house, trying new dance classes, and so much more. Not only were these activities equally relaxing for me, but they were also mentally stimulating on a personal level. I began to feel more fulfilled, satisfied with the way I was spending my time, and above all happy.

So many of us convince ourselves that being sedentary after work and switching our brains off is the only way we can shake off our daily stress, but in reality there are unlimited options out there to help us unwind. If like me you are spending way too much time in front of the TV or computer after work, try doing something different one night a week after work and you’ll soon find yourself more energetic, equally relaxed, and probably hungry for more!

If you’re lacking some inspiration, you can always head on over to our site and browse hundreds of classes to try!

Keep growing,
Maya

If you’d like to contribute to our Monday Musings feature with a piece on lifelong learning, work-life balance, hobbies, or anything related, please email info@thecurve-me.com

Need to get in shape? Don’t miss these deals!

Capella Club, The Curve

There always seems to be a good excuse to not head to the gym. Tight deadlines at work, kids’ homework, budget constraints – the list is endless. To help encourage all us slackers to get off our bums and get started on our resolutions (that are already two months overdue, ahem), The Capella Club in Dubai Marina is offering some EXCLUSIVE packages to The Curve users. With a minimum of 50% discount on these packages, can’t really ask for much more to get us to put away the biscuits and pick up the weights!! Check them out and get moving!

Samira, Capella Club, Fitness, Workout, Dubai, Marina, The Curve

1 Month Unlimited Fitness Classes Originally AED 300, now AED 150
4 Months Unlimited Fitness Classes Originally AED 1000, now AED 500
10 Private Personal Training Sessions Originally AED 2700, now AED 1200
10 Semi-Private Personal Training Sessions Originally AED 5400, now AED 1800

5 ways to keep your resolutions

After ringing in a new year, our thoughts become occupied with how we can seize the opportunities that the year ahead may hold for us. Many people make resolutions, while others are skeptical of the tradition and how realistic it is to keep them. When I got to thinking about my own goals for the new year, I found that there were common threads that tied together all the resolutions I had ever actually kept.

1. Make realistic goals
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you’ve never run a mile in your life, don’t vow to join the marathon a few months into 2014. Start small with a 5k and up the stakes from there if you feel inspired.

Also, I purposely use the word goals with myself because I feel “resolution” is such a daunting one. Resolutions sound like changes that require a complete overhaul in lifestyle, when for the most part people’s resolutions can really be categorised as goals.

2. Be accountable
My sister in law and her friends use a clever little technique for their goals which is to make them then document and share them within the circle of friends. Every few months the group checks in with each other to see how everyone is progressing. With this technique, you not only gain support but also feel a little bit more pressed to actually follow through.

3. Actually care about the goal
Don’t make resolutions for anyone except yourself. If your partner has been hounding you to lose weight, her intentions are most likely good, but if your heart isn’t in the battle it will take to shed those pounds then there is no way you’re actually going to put in the work. Choose goals that mean something to you and that you would actually want to invest time and effort for.

4. Schedule milestones
Most of us scramble to reach our goals somewhere in the tail end of the year, because this pesky little thing called “Life” got in the way. To keep on track with your goals, schedule milestones throughout the year and hold yourself to them. If you want to learn to play guitar, make sure you’ve hired a teacher by February, learned a full song by April, and maybe even played in front of people by June!

5. Have fun!
The reason I backed out of a lot of my year goals is because they felt like chores. While goals like quitting smoking don’t seem like much fun, there is always a way to spice things up and enjoy the process. Celebrate your first month of no cigarettes with an indulgent purchase, your 6 month mark with a fancy dinner, and by the end of a year you can throw a big bash to reward yourself for the amazing effort!

What are your goals for 2014 and how are you planning to stay on track? Share your thoughts with us!