Episode #7: Zanna Van Dijk

Financial wellness, sustainability & finding energy in work

In this episode, Caroline chats to Zanna Van Dijk, fitness, wellness and sustainability superstar, who is passionate about using her own journey and platform to educate and inspire others about financial empowerment.


Caroline 0:00
Hello and welcome to the final episode of season one of Money & Me podcast where we talk honestly about money and how it makes us feel.

In this episode, Caroline chats to Zanna Van Dijk: fitness, wellness and sustainability superstar who is passionate about using her own journey and platform to educate and inspire others. This is a fantastic season finale. We talk about Zanna’s incredible work ethic, and how she’s built up her businesses, the relentless drive of being a type-A personality, and her mission to bring as many women as possible along with her on her journey of financial empowerment. I hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed recording.

Hi Zanna, welcome to the Money & Me podcast. It’s lovely to have you here.

Zanna 1:05
Hello. Thank you so much for having me.

Caroline 1:07
So everyone will have heard from that really long intro that you have done a ton of stuff. You’ve packed in loads in your 27 years. Do you want to give a quick recap of the highlights for you.

Zanna 1:18
I mean, that’s a big question. It’s been a whirlwind!

Caroline 1:22
We need a montage.

Zanna 1:25
To get back to the very beginning, I’ll try and do like bullet point steps. I qualified as a speech therapist. So I was working for the NHS. And then I had a hobby, which was blogging on the side, and I ended up pursuing that. And then when it got to the point where it could potentially be a career, I thought: it’s now or never jumped. Now I am a personal trainer, fitness blogger, but also a lifestyle blogger as well as we’re talking about everything from female finances, through to sustainability, travel, wellness, nutrition, and plant based eating fitness, like anything that tickles my fancy, I will talk about it. And it’s all about sharing my personal journey.

And I also have a swim my brand called Stay Well Swim, which is like ethical sustainable swimwear. That’s my newish business that I set up maybe 18 months / two years ago.

Caroline 2:16
And do you feel like as you built on different things, did that kind of happen in an organic way? Was it that opportunities presented themselves as you went along? Or were there specific things that you’re like, right, I want to do this next?

Zanna 2:32
I think it’s a bit of both. I think hard work creates opportunity, ultimately. And I think it’s very, very rare that opportunity will present itself without you having earned it in some way. So I, for example, when I started blogging, I got to a point when I saw people making a career and I said, Okay, I’m going to make that my career. I didn’t fall into it. I said, right, I’m going to put in the hours to make sure that I can make a living from this online, bizarre world that I don’t understand yet.

Yeah. And so a lot of it is conscious decisions. And there has been opportunities which came, which I didn’t expect. But I’ve always, when I’ve looked back on them realised that it was a result of something else that happened or a conversation I’ve had or a connection that I’ve made. So yeah, it’s been it’s been a mixture of opportunity and hard work. And I think you need a bit of a bit of luck as well.

Caroline 3:20
The intentional bit is quite important, because I think from the outside, quite often, it might seem a lot easier than it is to do a lot of this. So people sometimes people will dabble, right, and I think it’s really good to test the water on stuff. If you’re thinking of making a move. I always say if people are thinking of going from steady job to freelancing, do it on the side for as long as you possibly can. But particularly once you get to the stage where you’re so professional at what you do, I think it that sort of element of gloss and stuff. People don’t always necessarily see all of the behind the scenes stuff that has gone into like the years and years of work.

Zanna 3:57
And lots of blagging it on the way, but what you just said is so valid. Like for example, when I started blogging, I must be 13. I’m been like an internet nerd for a lot of my life. I had like a Live Journal, which is before Blogspot then I had Blogspot and WordPress. So I’ve been blogging for as long as I can physically remember. And when I decided to make it my career, I just did it on the side. I don’t think I went full time with blogging from the moment that I started that fitness blog to go full time it was four years. So it was four years, four years of building it on the side before I actually made it my full time job. So it’s not like an overnight thing even though it looks like it on the outside.

Caroline 4:37
I know I have this running thing, which is like overnight success. And then I’m now 42 so I’m like 42 years in the making and I’m still not there right? So every year it just like I just add another year. I just think it’s really important that people know that. That’s okay length of time. That’s how long it takes, right. That’s how long it takes for most businesses to get fully up and running.

Zanna 4:57
Even with Stay Wild Swim – neither myself, nor my business partner work on it full time, right? We both run our other businesses and use that to self-fund Stay Wild Swim. Stay Wild Swin hasn’t had investment yet. We’ve completely self funded it. And we have to do that. We both work a day or two, on Stay Wild Swim a week. And then most of the time we’re earning money to fund it.

Caroline 5:16
This is why I love having these conversations. Because I always think once something is like a brand, and it’s out there, I think there’s a lot of assumption as to what exists. I think people assume there must be like a big team and tons of money behind it and all of these things. And what they don’t realise is it’s no, it’s us. It’s actually us. We do have help. And we do hire people to help us with things, but we’re probably juggling 15 other things at the same time to make it all work.

Zanna 5:41
Exactly. Exactly. Oh, somebody is having a shower upstairs and we can hear it!

Caroline 5:49
If I look at a theme that runs through your life, yours is really wellness. Would you agree with that? Would you say that? That’s kind of like the overarching theme.

Zanna 5:59
I’d say that health and wellness are what inspired me to first start the blog, I do now as a job. But that has definitely evolved as my passions have evolved, because I think it’s really hard to stay passionate about one specific subject completely for the rest of your life. And so it’s diversified as my interests have diversified. So I went through a couple of years, where I spoke a lot about sustainability. And then sustainability became part of my life – not my whole life. Yeah, that’s been a pattern. I spoke a lot about fitness. And then I went through this phase of learning about fitness that just became part of my life. Yeah, then I spoke a lot about sustainability, then this became part of my life and I spoke about it less.

And now I’m talking about finance quite a lot. And I think once I get to a point, which is part of my life, I’ll talk about it a bit less. I feel like I take people on my journey of learning about things as I learn about them. And then once it becomes part of my life, I’m like, cool. What’s the next thing we’re doing? What’s the next thing I want to share with people? So these are all underlying themes which remain like I still live a conscious sustainable life, I still train pretty much every day. Right? But it’s don’t talk about it as much. It just becomes integrated. Yeah. Now it’s this new area that I want to talk about. And I’ll bring that in.

Caroline 7:04
I think it’s really nice, because you’re not waiting until you have mastery of a subject to bring people in. You’re like, here’s an area that I’m interested in. I might not know everything about it. Shall we kind of figure it all out together?

Zanna 7:18
Exactly. I think that helps with people more, because I think if you go straight into something, thinking that person that you’re following is perfect at it. Yeah. It’s much harder to relate. And it’s much harder relate and it’s intimidating.

Caroline 7:30
Yeah, I completely agree. And I think that’s been a big problem generally, with finance that I think for a lot of people, it just feels like it’s over there. And it’s impenetrable. And people get really put off, because they don’t really know where to start. Because you talk a lot about finance and trying to help people feel better about money and get better education. Where did that start for you?

Zanna 7:54
It started from not feeling confident with my money. So I work in industry where I earned money, but I was working for myself. And there was no overarching employer who was handling my taxes or handling my pension or handling VAT or handling all these things. Nobody had ever mentioned to me anything about savings. Except my dad once telling me I needed an ISA.

Caroline 8:17
Thanks Dad!

Zanna 8:18
So I was doing an ISA once a year, and that that was it. Absolutely no knowledge. I can’t remember what inspired me. But there was a moment at some point when I just realised like, I’m any money, and I don’t know what on earth I’m doing with it. And I’m in my mid 20s. Now, I was like, 26. And I’m thinking Why? Why am I not knowing what I’m doing? Like, I don’t have a pension. I’m gonna have to buy a house. At some point. I don’t know how to do that. Like, why is gonna be doing any of these things live there, no financial education.

And I won’t pretend to I’m somebody who knows a lot about finances, I dip my toe in. But I now have access to people who know a lot more than me. And I feel empowered to actually take control of my money, which was something which I was too scared to do for such a long time, because Inobody had ever told me anything. Yes, I thought it’s the sort of assumption everybody else knows that they’re doing that you know what you’re doing? And it’s like, nah mate, nobody’s ever told me. So I’m just sat here, putting a bit of money into an ISA each year with no pension.

Caroline 9:18
It’s so funny you say that. Because I mean, it’s the whole reason that we’ve built Lifetise to try and help people figure this out. Before we started building anything, we went out and we spoke to everybody we knew. And we asked people like how do you feel about money? And how do you feel about your life? Aare there life goals that you thought you’d have hit by now and you’re struggling with, or when you look to the future? Things around buying a house and how your family and all of these things? How do you feel about it? And overwhelmingly (and we’re talking to people who their day jobs might be as accountants and stuff), right, so people who you’d anticipate would have that financial education and even though they did in a professional context, they didn’t when it came to their own money.

Because we’ve never been told! I think unless you grew up in a family where it’s a thing that you do, and so your parents pass that down to you and you you get that education.

Zanna 10:10
Or you study business at University or something like that.

Caroline 10:12
Yeah, the rest of us, I think, what we found was that every single person we spoke to felt the same as you. Nobody felt confident. Everyone was just kind of figuring it out roughly themselves, or mainly just sort of ignoring it and hoping for the best.

Zanna 10:27
That’s what I did.

Caroline 10:28
That’s what everybody does. That’s what everybody does.

And when we kind of realised the scale of it, we were like, Oh, we need to do something about this. This isn’t okay. Because here there is everybody who’s as an individually feeling really anxious, and like they’re getting stuff wrong, and everyone out assuming that everyone else has it all figured out. And it’s just them. And we’re like, No, actually, we’re telling everyone No, actually, everybody’s the same. Like, it was like a collective sigh of relief.

Zanna 10:55
Now, I did an Instagram post the other day. And I basically said, like, five things I wish we’d been taught at schood. The number one thing that I wrote was financial education. And the interesting thing off the back of that was I got a lot of messages from head teachers, teachers, school teachers, saying, actually, in our school, we are teaching mindfulness, we are teaching this, we are teaching that. And yet all of them said, the one thing we’re not teaching from your list is financial education.

It’s mad. Why? This is a basic life skill. Why are we not prioritising this? Why isn’t there even just two one hour sessions on the basics of finance? Just something, anything just to educate people before they go out into the wide world and get thrown into this, like dog eat dog world where nobody tells you anything about money. Just something, especially if you’re gonna go to university or further education, and you’re having to do things like budgeting with your student loan, yes, you’re on a really, really tight budget, and nobody’s told you how to budget, you know, how to manage your money, or even just the basics and things like that.

Caroline 11:48
And I think it’s even more important now. Because we look different, like as a generational thing, it looks different. Now, from my parents generation, right? Everything looks different. tons of student debt. This is the first generation that even has to think about that. And it’s, it’s 10s of thousands of pounds, regardless of whether you’re ever going to pay it off. I think the panic for people around the idea that they start work, and actually they’ve got like Ā£30k+ of debt debt to pay, and no one even explains that actually, don’t worry about it, you might not pay it off, or if you do is just effectively like another tax or whatever.

But again, just I think going back to the psychology point it’s something that hangs over people. I know that when I speak to people who have got a lot of student debt still, but are trying to think about buying a home. They’re like, are we going to be allowed to? And it’s enormous and I also think, you know, it’s a generation that grew up when the financial crisis hit, which has made everybody very scared about having debt about what does it mean for me about the future. And I just think it makes it even more important that we open up as much as possible, so that people know that there are no stupid questions.

Zanna 12:56
For me, so I’m quite passionate about sustainability. And ethical investing. Yet, I didn’t know anything about any of this until like a year ago. And I’m sat there thinking, I’ve spent like four years speaking so much about like living a conscious life. And nobody’s told me that my bank could be investing money in fossil fuels. Nobody’s told me that my bank could be investing in tobacco, arms, all these different things. And I’m thinking, Why is this not common knowledge? And why is this not on all like the top 10 lists of tips, things to be more sustainable? You know, because like your pension could all be invested in something like fossil fuels or factory farming or this or that. And noone tells you that.

Caroline 13:34
There’s a couple of good points in there. Just generally, the idea of people get people scared of investments, not realising perhaps, that that’s what their pension is, right? They’re paying into a pension and the pension gets invested. So effectively, they are already investors? So, so whether you do it directly, or whether you do it through your pension, you are already investing. So I think if you kind of think about that, that takes a little bit of the uncertainty and fear away. So know that if you’re paying into a pension, you’re already an investor!

And then yes, huge on the idea of the ethical side of it. And that transparency part, and how much control do you as the consumer paying in have around how that money gets used. Ultimately, what I’m seeing in the investment space is a wave just starting to happen around consumers really pushing for “where is my money going? And I want to have more say in that”.

Zanna 14:27
And even the people who are employed not to self employed, you can actually contact your employer and say, Hi, where’s my pension invested and you have the right and the ability to shift where your pension is invested. So if you’re somebody who doesn’t actually organise their own pension your employer does that. Don’t be afraid to get in touch and say hi, can you make sure it’s invested in ethical funds?

Caroline 14:46
Yeah, that’s a really, really good point. This is a generational thing. And I think this generation is actually going to change the finance industry over time because the demands are different. I mean, I love what you’re doing. I love the fact that you are talking to people about it, because my goal really is just to make sure people understand what they’re doing. And feel that they have choice.

Zanna 15:04
Something I want to say is you don’t have to have a full understanding to be comfortable with your finances. I am in a privileged position to be able to work with somebody who helps me understand my finances. But as long as you have a basic get to grips with, like, where your money is, how you’re pushing it, how you’re saving it and where you’re putting it, and your trajectory of your money, I think you’re in a good place. I don’t think you have to know every single in and out of fixed rate, this rate, that rate, etc, etc, etc. to be good with money. You just have to be grounded in your own money and your own finances and how you’re handling them. And that is being good with money.

Caroline 15:38
Such an important poin. People get put off by not having a really, really in depth knowledge of stuff and feeling like they should before they should take any action. I think for a lot of us, we’re like, I’m not sure if I’m going to get it 100% right. So I’m not going to do anything.

So you’ve actually taken quite a lot of risks compared to if we think about like the average, if we think about a standard life where you’re expected to leave school. Yeah, go into going to a job. Do your nine to five, have a holiday every year. And that’s it. Yeah, that that isn’t yours. That’s not mine, either. But it’s definitely not yours. So are you quite comfortable taking an element of risk?

Zanna 16:15
That’s a really good question. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, I am somebody who at my core is very organised, very anal, very forward thinking likes to have a plan. Like every year for my goals, I make spreadsheets, my life is a colour coordinated spreadsheet. That is me.

So for me living and working in an industry, where I have absolutely zero control over my future. For example, social media, like I can control my future in the sense that I can set up Stay Wild Swim with my business partner, and we can put our energy into that and hopefully that will outlive social media. It’ll be a business that stands for itself.

But I can’t control social media. For example, when Instagram introduces stories overnight, and Snapchat basically died. I couldn’t control that. Just the next day Instagram has stories. And I’m like, cool. That changes my whole social media strategy. Now. Snapchat’s gone. I have to focus everything on Instagram. So for me, it’s, it’s a challenge. For me. I’m not saying I don’t like it. But I’m saying it’s out of my comfort zone to have to be so flexible and adaptable. Because I’m somebody who thrives off routine and structure. So it’s good for me, I think, to be an industry where I can’t predict where I’m going because it makes me have to think on my feet. But yeah, that doesn’t come naturally to me.

Caroline 17:33
Oh, that’s interesting. Because again, from the outside, I think it would look like it all comes incredibly naturally. And actually, on the inside, you’re like, hang on a second, I need to readjust my spreadsheets.

Zanna 17:43
Exactly, I try to enforce structure an industry that is not structured. Like every element of my life, I will trying to force structure upon that with my colour coordinated spreadsheets. But then when the industry throws me a curveball, I’m like, right, everything has to change. And that’s just a constant ongoing challenge to me.

Caroline 18:01
Also a control freak type A personality. And so yeah, over the years I’ve had a similar challenge of letting go of all of the control. So again, with a startup – I mean, you’ll know this – you have so little control. And the the ups and downs of the roller coaster are intense. And in terms of self development. For me, I think pretty much all of my time on self development is, how can I just be more okay with that and build resilience in a slightly different way, or resilience that is accepting of here are the bits that I can can control. And here’s the massive bit that I don’t and trust that I’ll figure it out.

Zanna 18:50
What you said, is really important about realising what you can and can’t control. And that’s what I’ve accepted in my career is like, I can control what I can control. Yes, there is a lot that I can’t control. I just have to respond to that as well. Yeah, it’s just accepting that that’s two different areas and I can’t control all of it.

Caroline 19:07
Do you think with your fitness background you clearly have a lot of discipline in your life? And you’re very good with that level of structure. And have you applied the same thing then to how you sort of set things up in a business and a money sense? Do you like to apply the same structure to those things?

Zanna 19:28
I’m not as bad as my boyfriend. So my boyfriend works in finance. He has this spreadsheet on his phone, he can’t help himself on his phone, he’s constantly opening it and adding it and everything he spends, like goes into this every day, right? Every day. This spreadsheet is modified.

I’m not on that level. I’m a member of a challenger bank, Starling, which I am obsessed with. Yes, biggest fan of that bank. I find that like tracking my spending on there and seeing the areas that I spend things on and I’m much more in touch my finances now. I just try and keep a good grip and handle and watching eye over my money and how I spend it.

I am a bit of a hoarder. I don’t really spend much. I don’t really indulge myself. I’m not into fancy things. And so I’m very lucky in that sense that I don’t really have many outgoings because I don’t buy. Also sustainability wise, part of stainability is less consumption. So I don’t actually consume new items very much except coffee. And so for me, I don’t actually find that I spend as much as you would think.

Caroline 20:31
I’ve noticed the same like I don’t buy much stuff. I’m I find I’m just not interested. I was thinking about this yesterday. I get as much pleasure from looking at something now as I do from owning it. And that’s such a strange thing. I never really thought that I would be like that. I used to get the little thrill of buying something new and having it.

Zanna 20:53
I literally, feel the same. I literally had this moment in Liberty the other day.

Caroline 20:56
Did you?? It’s so beautiful. And I go in and I’ve come into this magical world.

Zanna 21:01
I look at all the nice handbags and I’m like “ooh pretty” and I don’t touch them or buy them, I just look.

Caroline 21:06
Occasionally I’ll stroke something. Occasionally I do. I am that person going past the silk scarves just having a feel. I’ve always loved vintage stuff. Second hand. I’m wearing like a three pound top. No, this was a one pound top from a charity shop. I’ve always shopped at charity shops.

Zanna 21:20
And I’m going to get something that’s a bit spenny. I don’t have it with me today. But my like daily handbag is a designer bag. But I got it secondhand. And it was like a third of the price. Yeah. And it was practically brand new. So I’m just a bit more thrifty now. And I am like, also, I think I used to unconsciously consume, I would just buy it because it was there. And because it looked nice. Whereas now I’m more of a conscious consumer. So if I really, really want something and it’s sustainable and ethically sourced, I’ve get it. But if I’m just a little bit like that Marie Kondo moment, it’s not really sparking joy. Then I’m not gonna get it. And so I’m just a bit more like, do I need this? What that’s gonna add to my life? Does it have a place in my wardrobe? Do you know what I mean? It is a game changer for saving your money as well. It really is huge.

Caroline 22:09
And it’s not about sort of shaming people for if you do want something. It’s not about that. It’s just that there is I can’t tell you the joy that there is in not buying something!

Zanna 22:18
Then when you do buy, it means a lot more.

Caroline 22:20
Yes. What is kind of that one area of spending that you wish that you might just cut down a bit?

Zanna 22:26
The other day my boyfriend said you should total up how much money you spend on coffee, and I was like, Oh, this is so cliche, like, No, no, no, no. Then I totalled it up. And it was, the price of a nice holiday. So I actually had a conversation with myself. And I said, What brings you joy, though, and for me getting that coffee every day from my coffee shop and talking to the barista every morning and asking him how his day is, actually is a highlight of my day. And I was like, You know what, screw it. I’ll keep my coffee.

Caroline 23:03
And I do think that the Marie Kondo thing, even though people mock it, that idea of things that spark joy, I do think that’s an important thing, because it’s about connection then isn’t it? In whatever way. So with you getting your coffee, you’re going and you’re spending time and you have the human connection there as well.

Zanna 23:20
Yes, asking how was your day to day and talking about menial things like the weather. I’m just like: I need this, I need this in the morning.

Caroline 23:26
I work alone a lot of the time, please somebody talk to me.

I think, I think people are probably fascinated by what it means in the modern age to be an influencer. And how that has become sort of a business. Do you just feel that it is just your life? Does it feel separate from you in any way? Or is it just sort of an extension of who you are and what you do?

Zanna 23:56
Oh, my boyfriend would definitely say my business is my life. Yeah, because the biggest issue that I have is that I don’t switch off. Last night I was doing emails to like 10:30pm and then I was up at 5:20am. My work life balance is appalling. And I’m very, very aware of this. And I had like a full health assessment the other day. Including full cognitive psychological test, it’s like a two and a half hours. The main thing she said were like a couple of physical things, and then she just went you’re too stressed, you’re not sleeping enough, you’re not resting enough and your work life balance is very poor. And I was like, thank you for telling me something that I already knew.

But for blogging, it is. It is your life. You know what there’s two options with blogging, you can be a blogger and earn good money and have a successful career and not be stressed and not work long hours. You can get up at 8am and work till 3pm and you could earn great money, you could travel the world. You could do all that if you want to like that can be the luxurious bougie blogger life and that is a possibility. And I look at that and think: that look’s lovely.

But for me, I am what could be defined as a workaholic. And I always have been, I’ve been a Type A overachiever, my whole life. I got like 100% in my levels, like it was stupid. I just work to the point where it’s not even there’s no purpose to it anymore. I just do it because I like to work. And it’s not a good quality. Just pointing out that it’s not a good quality. It’s not healthy. But I’ve just accepted that. Like, there’s another element of blogging where you can turn it into other things and build other things from blogging.

So I thrive off being busy. I don’t think I could physically get up at 8am and work till 3pm and switch off. What would I do with my time? I just go, that baffles me. So for me, I like to get up at 5.20am. I like to work all day. I like to always have tasks on the go and have projects to work on and you can expand blogging, and take it from just being social media to being like multiple different businesses, different income streams, different projects, building different ideas and going into different areas and expanding and diversifying.

Caroline 26:00
Listeners, you can’t see me but I had like a rueful smile on my face. Because I’m also a type A personality massive overachiever, absolute, workaholic, massively stressed, probably will be dead by 50. Like, even to the point where you just said, but if I finish at 3pm, what would I do with all of those hours? I have started giving myself Sundays off ish. But I still have to fill it. So this Sunday, I went climbing and I ended up and I even I filled it with stuff. And I tried to do some sort of lounging around and that lasted about 10 minutes. And then at 10pm I was like resealing the bath. Sure. Just a little bit of late night DIY before another crazy week starts.

I don’t have the ability to switch off. It’s not how my brain works. And I’ve had to accept that I have to try and find more self care and not always rush to burnout. But I’m never going to be a laid back chilled out, take life easy type of person.

Zanna 27:12
I think that’s totally okay. And I think the most important thing with how people work is knowing themselves and knowing how they tick. Like, I have friends who are much more relaxed and take the day as it comes and I admire that. And they still productive and get things done and have successful careers.

Caroline 27:28
They’re just not going 150 miles an hour at it. Yeah.

Zanna 27:31
I look at it. And I’m like, Oh, that looks lovely. When actually I try and slow down. I physically do not enjoy that. I do not enjoy that. And you know what? That’s okay. Yeah, I’m okay with being somebody who enjoys 100 miles an hour. And my boyfriend says to me, like you’re built to be like this. I’ve never known you not be like this in the past four and a half years. This is just the way you are. And you just have to accept that because I say to him, I feel I actually put more stress on myself thinking that I shouldn’t be working.

And I had this conversation with my agent. I said like when I go on holiday, I actually relax better on holiday if I do an hour of emails a day. If I just do one hour of work a day and then switch off the rest of the day I relax more than if I didn’t do any work. Like I feel like I just have to do that one hour feel on top of things and I can relax for the rest of the day. And like I don’t think that’s wrong. My agent is the same like she said she does an hour of emails every day even on holiday just so she can settle her mind for the day. Like I think that’s perfectly okay if that’s the way you tick and you are getting enough sleep. I think that’s fine.

Caroline 28:39
So you actually had a health scare though Didn’t you? Was that last year? How did that impact things, because if you’re the sort of person that is used to going at warp speed through everything, juggling, always being on top of itā€¦

Zanna 28:51
So to explain what happened I was on a work trip in the Maldives, and my bowel twisted spontaneously twice so I almost died. Had to have emergency surgery in the Maldives. Surgeon was amazing but that is a big, big operation. I have a 15 or 13 centimetre score something on my stomach. So they really slicing it like a pizza. And and it took a long time to recover. There’s actually a lot of complications with my wound. And it was just a very scary time. But my whole life had to go on the back burner about two months.

I just need to tell them that I’m not ignoring. Actually Something terrible has happened. But yeah. I’ve had like I’ve had major surgery. Yeah, I was like dying right now. But I still replied to my emails almost daily, which is just the way I am. I had to slow down and I had to put a lot of things in the back burner. Everything got pushed back by a couple of months. And that was a really really, really really, really valuable experience for me. It gave me a lot o time to connect to people. I had to have somebody with me every day because I developed a condition which meant that I fainted almost every time I stood up so well yeah, I’m couldn’t be on my own. And so I was with somebody every day, I had a different friend with me every day. So it was the most amazing, like six weeks, I just got to hang out with my friends all the time and lay on the sofa.

And so I got my hit of being productive by setting myself like a daily healing routine. Because I have to have something to focus on. I’m a very proactive person. And so for me, I just even I couldn’t work on my business. I enlisted people who knew their stuff I got had like physios, ostheos or spoke to my surgeon constantly. I was like doing everything I physically could every day to try and get stronger. So I had like a, literally a routine of like, five minutes of deep belly breathing. And then like 15 minutes of doing mobilisation with my hips, and this and that. And every single day, I was focusing on getting stronger.

And you know what, I recovered wildly fast. So I’m still in touch with my surgeon. And he said that, like, it was crazy how fast I recovered. I think that’s because I set my mind to recovery. I was like, I can’t work. So I’m just gonna make recovery, my job, and I’m going to recover so well. And so fast, nobody is going to know whats hit them. I literally was running, I was running six weeks after massive abdominal surgery, which is absolutely unheard of. And my surgeon was like you’re a machine. But I think it’s because I found my productivity in focusing on recovery.

But it was a reality check for me that like, the world doesn’t fall apart If you get ill. Like, and you don’t reply to emails, like the world will wait. It’s not the end of the world. Yeah, I needed that, I needed that. And I did tell myself when I was in that moment, like, oh, after this, I’m never gonna get stressed again. I’m never going to put pressure on myself, again. I’m going to have this new holistic approach to work, always be zene. And then literally, like three months later, I was stressed out of my mind.

Caroline 32:00
And I know, money is kind of one of your big things now that you want, you really want to help other people feel more confident. What are the things that you really want people to know. Not necessarily in terms of here’s what you should be doing. But more, you know, this podcast is really about kind of like the emotional stuff that runs behind money and just trying to make people understand that we’re all figuring it out as we go along. And nobody has all of the answers. What do you want? What you want to tell the listeners in terms of: it’s okay.

Zanna 32:32
I think my ultimate goal is, is number one, sharing my journey to hopefully empower other people to join me on their own journey. And number two, reassurance, that you don’t have to know everything, but you really should try and know something,

Caroline 32:46
Yeah, get involved.

Zanna 32:48
For a long time, I was just in denial and ignored it because I was in a position where I didn’t have to think about it too much. But then now I kind of feel like that was really, really silly of me. And actually, it’s really important for me to future proof myself with things like pensions and investments and just looking after myself for the long term.

And so for me, my ultimate goal is to empower women to take control of their finances and give them the basic educational tools so they can actually start on that journey. And like push them towards knowing what to actually do. And making it a little bit less intimidating. I think that’s the main thing for me, like making it feel like, look, we can all give it a go. Even if you’re putting away five pounds a month. I’m here to help you. And I want to give you access to people who have much more knowledge than myself, who can give you practical tips and tricks to help you take control of your finances. Because ultimately, we all should be able to – this is a basic life skill. And we have been lacking in that knowledge and we all deserve to know how to take control of it. So I really hope I can help more women do that.

Caroline 33:46
Oh, it’s fantastic. I’m so thrilled that you could join us today. And thank you so much. And for everyone listening, the noise in the background, we think is somebody having a shower in this building which was very unexpected. So we hope it hasn’t impacted on the listening experience. We’re very grateful for you for tuning in.

Zanna 34:06
I’ve heard that water sounds are very relaxing. Maybe you feel a bit zen.

Caroline 34:10
This is our spa background. A gentle trickle of water to get you in a relaxed mood while we talk about money. Thank you so much Zanna. It’s been such a pleasure.

Zanna 34:21
Thank you for having me.

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Lifetise - Money & Me podast - episode 7 - Zanna Van Dijk
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