Monthly Archives: January 2018

Ready to try Signpost?

Hope you’ve had a good week since we last spoke on Jan 18th. Where does the time go?

Things have been busy for me here in California, with a ton of progress made on readying the trial of the brand new Signpost, which I told you a little about last week.

Signpost incorporates more or less everything I’ve learned about managing emotional wellbeing over the past ten years into one neat package, designed to help you take simple, practical actions to take better care of yourself.

You use Signpost on your phone once a day. Daily text messages prompt you to report how you’re doing emotion-wise, via a brief 10-item questionnaire.

Then you’ll hear me giving you about 90 seconds of feedback, tips and advice, customised to your current state of mind. There’ll be new feedback every day.

Signpost also stores your daily questionnaire scores, showing them on a graph, to which you can add notes of explanation.

We’re pretty close to starting a seven-day trial, for which there is obviously no charge, so I’d now like to invite you to register your interest in taking part.

You’ll find a short sign-up form here:

I’m probably going to need to phase in people as they start the seven days, because I’m sure there will be teething troubles with the systems. But I promise you that if you volunteer, you’ll get a chance to try Signpost quite soon. Maybe as early as next week.

You’ll also earn my planet-sized gratitude for helping me get this new show on the road.

Which way next? Check the Signpost.

We’re another week into 2018 and, as promised last time, I’d now love to tell you a bit about what I did work-wise in 2017.

Then – hopefully the more exciting part – I’ll do my best to give you a feel for where things may be headed this year.

To be honest, ever since I began writing regular posts at Moodscope in 2007, I’ve always been deliberately vague about references to my own financial circumstances.

It was a conscious decision, as it felt that for me, our relationship (yours and mine) ought to be more about you than about me.

The truth, however, is that like the majority of people, I need to work to pay the bills.

After I moved to California at the end of 2013, I applied for a visa on the basis of the development I’d carried out with Moodscope, and was granted this in 2014.

It meant I could start earning money (phew), but only in a limited way (ooh).

Then last year, after submitting an application accompanied by more than 1,000 pages of evidence, I was fortunate enough to be granted a Green Card, which makes me a “permanent resident,” although not a full citizen, of the USA.

This gives me many more employment options than my original visa did.

For a couple of years after I got to the USA, I worked as a freelance copywriter for a San Francisco biotechnology company.

Among many other projects, I wrote over a hundred weekly newsletters about the microbiome (the bacteria that lurks in and on our bodies) which others said were more fun than they might otherwise sound.

In May last year, this same company offered me a full-time position as their creative director, which I happily accepted.

I therefore spent a sweet (but short, it turned out) six months commuting to San Francisco every day, to work with a talented team of really fun people.

Somewhat extraordinarily, this was my first proper employed position since I started my ad agency in 1986: other than this one job, I’ve always worked for myself.

It was fantastic to get paid every two weeks (which is the way it usually works here in the States) along with all the usual SF start-up perks like free lunches, all the snacks you could eat, even your commuting costs paid, but I soon came to see that it just wasn’t what I came to California to do.

My mission when I came here was to continue my work in supporting people’s emotional health.

It really wasn’t about writing newsletters about E. coli, pooping, and unpleasant diseases.

It really wasn’t.

Towards the end of last year, therefore, I bid a reluctant farewell to my co-workers, my paychecks, and the free lunches, and found myself with greatly renewed energy to get back to really making a difference in the mental-health world.

Hardest of all was turning my back on the unlimited snacks, of course, but sometimes these things just have to be done.

Almost exactly a year ago, I experimented with publishing one of my “nudges” in audio form, which met with significant approval from lots of readers or, rather, listeners.

Then in March, I took this concept a stage further, playing with an idea where rating your emotional well-being with a simple test took you to one of four audio nudges, each customised to a particular state of mind.

If you tried it, and many did, you would then have gone on to hear tailored feedback if you’d been feeling anxious, angry, or sad, for example.

Again, this met with gratifyingly positive feedback, and it’s this broad idea which forms the basis of what I plan to do next.

Measuring and tracking my emotional well-being has made the most enormous difference in my own life, so it’s not surprising that I’m a huge advocate of the principle that, as in so many areas of life, we can only manage what we measure.

Coming soon, therefore, is an app called Signpost that has three strings to its bow.

Sign up with it, and you’ll get a text message every day, prompting you to take a brief test that rates your emotional well-being.

You’ll take the test on your phone, where you’ll also be able to view a graph showing your progress over time.

Finally, you’ll get immediate audio feedback from me, tailored to how you happen to be doing at that very moment.

I’ll be recording fresh feedback every day, so my intention is that this will really strengthen the relationship we have, enabling us to work together on managing either occasional or even chronic emotional health challenges that you may face.

I know of nothing else quite like this, so it’s new and somewhat experimental work, but based on my now ten years of working in this field, I have a really good feeling about Signpost.

Offering it will have associated expenses, making it necessary to offer it on a subscription basis from the start, but I will all I can to keep the price as affordable as possible.

By this time next week, I plan to have a bare-bones version of Signpost working well enough to offer a (free) seven-day version of it to a small number of Moodnudges readers.

More details next Thursday, therefore, along with full information about how you can register your interest.

Thank you so much for reading today, and for hopefully being okay with rather more personal disclosure from me than I’ve historically been comfortable with.

Have a great week – see you on January 25.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Time. Goodness me, where does it go?

We’re already over a week into 2018, so it’s not before time that I wish you a happy New Year.

My sincere hope for you is that the coming twelve months will treat you with kindness, fairness, and lightness.

May your best dreams come true, and your worst fears prove groundless.

I last wrote a Moodnudges post on December 17th, explaining that I’d be taking a break from writing until the New Year.

As a result, a veritable multitude of readers got in touch to wish me well.

This was a delight and surprise.

It was also a joy for me to spend 10 days back in the UK, almost entirely with my mum, and my brother and his wife.

Although I adore my life in California (it’s been four years now) and do keep in close contact with my family at home, nothing beats being in the same room as the people you love.

Having a few weeks to take stock of things has also enabled me to start weighing up what might be next for Moodnudges.

Some readers have joined us recently (thank you) while others have loyally followed me since I began writing my daily newsletters for Moodscope in (hold your hats) 2008, a whole decade ago.

One heck of a lot has changed in that time, and although there have been good times for us both, I hope, I’m not so sure that the world in 2018 is much of a happier place than it was ten years ago.

Among many other monumental evolutions and revolutions, the way we communicate is very different.

In 2008, for example, email seemed – and was – a fantastic medium for someone such as me to communicate with a reader like you.

Not so much today, I think.

If you’re anything like me, your inbox has become virtually unmanageable.

The sheer volume of emails has made it all but impossible to deal with.

The Moodnudges email list used to grow consistently, but during the past year it has remained pretty static as some new people subscribed, while others left us – usually explaining a bit ruefully that they were just generally getting too many emails all-round to cope with.

Part of my thinking about taking a break over Christmas, therefore, was to give you a break from at least four messages a week, even though I suspect this would have been but a drop in the ocean.

Partly because of this, and also partly because my own work situation is in flux (in a good way, I hasten to add) I’ve concluded that it may be time to reimagine Moodnudges.

I have some exciting ideas, and I also want to involve you in the process. After all, we’re in this thing together – and I hugely value our friendship.

Over the next few weeks, therefore, I’m going to trim back the frequency of my messages, to just one per week, but I’m going to step up the openness of our communication, giving you more insight into what’s going on behind the scenes in my world, while also doing my best to prevent this becoming self-indulgent.

I hope you’ll find the next few weeks interesting, and that you’ll witness the evolution of something new and exciting.

More importantly, perhaps, you might take advantage of this experience to think a little about stuff in your own life which could benefit from a change or two.

Although stirring things up can sometimes feel uncomfortable, it’s frequently good to make a change or two.

Next week, I’ll tell you a little about what happened to me work-wise in 2017, and what I foresee developing in 2018.

See you next Thursday.