Don’t enjoy it? Don’t do it: Anya Hindmarch's rules for life

If there’s one assurance in life, it’s that you’ll doubt yourself.

So thank goodness for handbag and accessories designer Anya Hindmarch, who provides a ‘manual for life’ in her new book, If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair.

‘It’s all the information that I want to pass on, the things I think would’ve been helpful to know when I was younger,’ says mum-of-five Hindmarch, 52.

‘Doubt is a great thing. It’s the gremlin on the shoulder and, though you have to control the volume, it’s what drives me and pushes me on.’

Here’s some of her best advice…

Don’t expect perfection and you’ll be all right

‘From the age of 11, I was educated at a convent school. I’ve never forgotten what one of the nuns said to us when we first arrived: “If you accept that you will never be fully satisfied, then you will be very happy indeed.” It was sensible.

‘It’s unrealistic to think everything’s going to be perfect and an important thing to realise because it takes the pressure off.’

Emotion is a superpower (but not anger)

‘It’s a real advantage to have emotion in everything you do. Apart from anger, that’s never productive. The way you behave becomes a mirror, whether at home or in a workplace, and people respond to that.

‘I’m a strong believer in kindness and to always be respectful because what goes around, comes around. I also embrace the art of microgifting — spontaneously buying someone a little something you know they would enjoy. It acts like a positive spiral because if you’re nice to someone, they tend to be nice back.’

Enjoy what you do or move on

‘When my children were small, I visited an acupuncturist as I felt wrung out. The first thing he said to me was: “Tell me about your life.” I told him I’m a mother, stepmother and I run a business, and we have stores in this many countries, so I travel a lot.

‘Instead of sympathising, he said: “Well, don’t complain. Every single one of those things is something you chose.” It was tough but sound advice.

‘We are in control of our own life. That gave me pause for thought and a chance to reframe things. Yes, it’s a lot, but I’ve chosen it, so I don’t complain.

‘If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.’

Get organised

‘I don’t want a home that’s filled with stuff that makes me feel overwhelmed or acts as a reminder of what I haven’t got around to. Clear out your wardrobe, give to charity or friends, or sell things on.

‘One of the tips I learned from Gill Hasson, who wrote Declutter Your Life, is don’t keep something you don’t need or use out of guilt or nostalgia. It’s amazing how small things can make a difference to your mood.’

It’s OK to feel scared — If in doubt, wash your hair

‘Everyone has that imposter syndrome or fear they will trip up,’ says Anya Hindmarch. ‘I always dreaded speaking in front of an audience, which became a problem the bigger the business grew.

‘Ahead of one launch, I decided to visit William Scott-Masson, an ex-army officer and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) practitioner who took me through the original trauma — a school singing competition when I froze — in different ways so it had less power over me. He also told me fear and excitement are actually the same emotion, they make you feel the same way, so you can decide: are you feeling fear or excitement? It can be fun feeling scared, it means you’re pushing yourself.

‘If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair felt like a natural title for the book. People often ask me at the talks I do what my best bit of advice might be and it’s always “if in doubt, wash your hair”, which is a really trivial bit of advice but if you make a bit of time for yourself, your day feels better.

‘There’s something about washing your hair that feels like a clean start, like you’ve washed all the problems away.’

If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair is out now. Hindmarch’s new London retail concept The Village, on Pont Street, is open now

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