Talking Brilliance with Adrienne Dorison

Hey guys,

This week it’s my turn to be the guest! The lovely Adrienne Dorison invited me to her fabulous podcast.

We talked about some topics which are so close to my heart like:

  • Content creation & re-purposing content
  • Working smarter as a solopreneur Mum
  • Working with chronic illnesses
  • Using tech to build a business with a chronic illness and family
  • How to set up smart working to make more of your time

You can check it out here:

Adrienne & Jo podcast

Are you ready to ignite your Brilliance, darling?

Your first step is easy – start with my FREE Brilliance Ignition masterclass and toolkit. Grab it here

Adrienne Dorison

Adrienne Dorison is the host of The School of Self-Mastery podcast, a no-nonsense business coach to entrepreneurs who are ready to make bigger impacts & profits with their work AND a passionate dog-mom.

Adrienne teaches her clients how to overcome the blocks that hold them back, helps them identify what they REALLY want in life, and shows them how to leverage their strengths & develop personalized success habits so that their success and freedom becomes inevitable.

Episode #29 – Hitting an Upper Limit Problem

Hitting an Upper Limit Problem

Hi guys, it’s Jo Gifford here, welcome to episode 29 of Work Smarter, Dream Bigger, Live Brighter.

In this episode I’m taking a little look at the old favourite, upper limit problems.

If you haven’t heard of an upper limit problem or a ULP, I’m going to be diving into what it is, and if you have, I know that you’re probably going to understand where I’m coming from.

So, What IS it?

An upper limit problem is something that’s defined by the author Gay Hendricks in his book, The Big Leap, which I absolutely urge you guys to read, it’s amazing. The Big Leap is all about conquering your hidden fear and taking life to the next level.

The work of Gay Hendricks is absolutely amazing, he’s a New York Times bestselling author, and in this particular book he talks about a problem that occurs when you reach the upper limit, obviously, of your ability to experience happiness and success.

This is specifically when you’ve perhaps just reached a new level in your business or perhaps when you’ve reached a new level in your health or your wealth. If you’ve just managed to expand your life and your experience of life to a certain level, you will often hit an upper limit problem.

How It Can Show Up

The way that that manifests itself for different people will show up in different ways, so I want to talk to you about a few of mine, because I think it’s really good to be honest about these things and it’s really good to share our experiences.

The First One

For me, upper limit problems showed up in their droves about this time last year. Back in September, October 2014 was really when I made a big leap of faith in my business. I’d started to invest more in coaches, I could feel my confidence rising, my reach and authority and visibility were starting to gain momentum, and it was round about that time that I started to see a big increase in my finances.

Lo and behold after I’d signed a few great contracts and been hired left, right and centre, suddenly I was hit with illnesses.

For me, becoming unwell is not unusual. As you guys know, I’ve talked through my health stuff, my chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and endometriosis, so that’s all stuff that I manage day to day and it goes through cycles, but I hit a massive, massive wall.

I started getting really busy, things were going really well, I was investing and seeing some great results, then I was hit by a massive round of ‘flu bugs, exhaustion and I couldn’t get out of it.

At the time I was aware enough of The Big Leap and the upper limit problem and could probably recognise what it was, and it took me a while to work through it. I’ll talk in a moment how I worked through these, but I set about getting myself back on track.

And Then Again

Another big one appeared in February, March time earlier this year and again it was because I’d been experiencing success, I had a great run of being hired, of getting lovely one to one clients, of my programmes doing really well. I was living the dream, I was seeing some great things occurring, and again I hit such a big upper limit problem that it lasted for about two months.

For the space of those two months, I couldn’t sell anything for love or money. It was almost as if suddenly having gone from everybody wanting me and stuff hitting critical mass, it was as if it was crickets out there and nobody wanted my stuff. Again I’m going to talk about that in hindsight as to what I can now see was going on, and as you can probably hear from my voice, I’m just recovering from a big sinus infection, so I hit another one just in the last couple of weeks.

Let’s Look Into This Last One, What’s Been Going On?

Well, as you guys can see as you look back through the podcasts and my blog, I’ve been really on form, I’ve been in a really good space.

I’ve had a huge increase in my podcast listens, in my client base, in my recognition. I’ve been feeling great, I’ve created my miracle morning routine, I’ve been on such a good vibe for ages, I’ve been in such a happy place.

When you’re in that kind of energy and in that vibrancy and that state, then stuff automatically happens because you’re attracting it to you so I’ve been meditating, focusing on my goals and I’ve been asked to take part in loads of amazing partnerships, summits, talks and experiences. I’ve had some amazing stuff happen, and I’ve put plans in place for amazing, exciting stuff in the New Year.

At the same time as going through that, I’ve been looking at revising my Blogging Business Bootcamp and we’re just running the live round now and everyone’s really enjoying it. I realised that we need to position that in a slightly different way for it to really resonate with people, so I’ve had a few things going on, I’ve had some great success, I’ve had the mini re-launch of a live round of a programme, and that is prime conditions for upper limits to appear.

Lo and behold, the last couple of weeks I’ve had a really killer sinus infection, the kind that you have to reluctantly take antibiotics for, and they made me hallucinate because they were so strong, and then my health was wiped out because my immune system was really low. Because I was off kilter, I wasn’t able to do my miracle morning practice which really earths me. Everything just felt out of whack, and it’s taken me some time to get back into the swing of things.

Let’s look at how I’ve been doing that.

First of all I was able to recognise that this was an upper limit problem. I could see that things had been going well for ages, so how strange then to be suddenly hit by illness. Yes, of course there’s a physical reason behind this stuff, but it’s always good to be in tune with things as they happen and to be able to realise when you can see that this might be a kind of upper limit problem.

It’s almost like a form of self-sabotage, really, that my body and my energy, somewhere in my subconscious had said,

hey, hang on a minute, it’s going too well, Jo, let’s just slow it all down!

The way that I’ve been working through that is to bring back in some practices to help work through this upper limit.

How I Bust Through It (and you can too)

I’ve brought in some EFT which I do on a regular basis anyway, but I’ve made sure that on a daily basis I’m tapping out some affirmations to get rid of some limiting self-beliefs. A great place to start with Emotional Freedom Technique is Brad Yates on YouTube.

I love Brad Yates, he’s an amazing guy. He does all these videos for free on YouTube, and one of the best ones to start with is Brad Yates’s Amazing Day EFT tapping routine. It’s a lovely one to do in the morning to set yourself up for the day, so I’ve been bringing EFT back into my daily practice.

I’m making sure that I meditate, even when, during this last upper limit problem and illness time I’ve had all sorts of emotions coming up, anger, negativity, loads of stuff coming out to play. Even when I’ve felt really out of sorts, I’ve tried to sit down, make myself sit with that feeling, meditate on it and work through it.

The other thing that I’ve done that I think is also super important is just to roll with it. I’ve really leant into this one, and last week I literally had to write off about two or three days to just sleep, I was so floored by this. I just went back to bed and slept, and we had to reschedule my calls and all my appointments, and I just got back under the duvet and rode it out.

Sometimes it’s what you have to do, just lean into it. This was a physical response to my body saying, right, it’s time out, Jo.

Yes of course, on a rational level we’ll look at it and say, well, you had a really bad sinus infection and antibiotics and of course bed’s the right thing, but when we know that we’re going through a personal development upper limit problem, because you’ve read about it, it resonates with you, experience tells me that this is what’s happening.

I was kind of able to lean into it with some insight and some knowledge that I was going to come through the other side, which is happening now.

But Don’t Worry – I’m Back!

I’m feeling back in the room, I’m still a bit tired, but I’m looking after myself and I can feel my clarity coming back, I can feel excitement back, I can feel that I’m back in tune with my own intuition and with what’s needed of me and my work. That’s a place where I want to stay for as long as possible whilst I carry on building stuff, but I know as I hit the next level of stuff it’s likely that I might encounter another upper limit problem.

This is something that I would urge you guys to be aware of. I would of course urge you to get The Big Leap and read about the work of the amazing Gay Hendricks, and I would urge you to be aware of whenever bad something happens straightaway after something good, just question whether it might be your version of an upper limit problem.

No-one Is Invincible

Just to put another example onto this one, I know that the infamous Marie Forleo has spoken in one of her videos about one of her upper limit problem experiences as well.

It was just after one of her biggest launches of B School ever, and she spoke about being in a yoga class and suddenly being overcome with feeling really ill, really sick, really dizzy, and this illness lasted for some time. She talked about how the doctors couldn’t find out what was wrong with her and everyone said it was a virus, and then one of her friends pointed out that it was an upper limit problem, and she recognised that.

She’d hit such a massive stage with B School that it was almost as if her energy vibration just couldn’t handle that level of success and it threw her out.

To give you another example, my lovely friend Laura Husson, who’s an incredible designer and expert of looking awesome online, she talks about one of her most memorable ULP experiences being that she was driving home from a big flashy photoshoot in London, and she had to pull over because she thought to herself, I’m going to throw up. Who does she think she is? What if I look ridiculous?

She told me she hid from launching her new brand for six months, and it took her some time to work through that upper limit problem, and when she put herself out there, the results were amazing and she’s completely smashed all of her goals. So Laura Husson, thank you so much for letting me shout out to you. Do go and find Laura on, where you can see her new photos and her brand. She’s just incredible!

This happens to a lot of us and I’m sure it’s probably happening to you. If you’ve ever felt out of sorts either just before you’re doing something that’s stretching you or just after something amazing has been happening, just look into it and consider that this might be an upper limit problem. I would certainly use EFT to work through stuff.

Get in Touch With Your Peeps

Other tools that I use are going to my circle of friends and my mastermind. I speak to my coach and my mentors, I speak to my team about it and Team Diva are excellent experts at realising when I’m hitting an upper limit problem. We all speak this language in the team and it’s not unusual for me to hop in there and say, hey guys, I feel terrible, is it chronic fatigue or is it a ULP? Often it’s both!

We work through it and they can also be great at seeing it if I’m not able to be tuned in that day because I’m feeling out of kilter. Using your mastermind and circle of entrepreneur friends who understand this can be really helpful, because actually, if you talk to your friends in the real world and say, hey, I’m having an upper limit problem, I feel terrible, they might look at you as if you’re a little bit crazy.

Speak to people who get it, who’ve been there, who understand it and have that support around you and make sure that you have some tools to tap through it, to meditate through it, to speak about it and to lean into whatever emotion you’re feeling.

What About You?

Have you had upper limit problems? I would love to hear! Leave a comment below or you can hit me up on Twitter, @dexdiva, or on Facebook,.

If you are going through an upper limit problem right now, I totally understand and hope that you’re working your way through it. If you’ve never had one before, perhaps you’ll recognise one now if and when it rocks up, and just know that it means that you’re moving onto more amazing things.

Once again, check out The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, and you can find me on social media and of course on email,, so let me know what you’re going through.

Alright guys, I’ll see you soon in the next episode, but hopefully my sinuses will have all completely cleared up and I will be way past the ULP and onto the next round of brilliance.

Life behind the social scenes + what is me

This week in the Divas and Dudes Facebook group* I called for an amnesty on presenting the filtered version of life.

The response was immense. People unleashed themselves from the confines of avatar perfection and told us how it really is. We shared stories of anguish, mental and physical trials, failures, shyness, illness and antisocial behaviours.It turns out we are all real, beneath the surface.

In the age we live in, we are social media curators.


We are PR machines of our own online image, presenting the edited, pre-approved snapshots of life to the universe within The Internet (that curious, spurious thing that rules the world and where Google is God).

I am honoured to be a minor figurehead and spokeswoman for freelance/self employed women and mothers, and also to represent entrepreneurs with chronic illnesses. I am proud to be able to encourage people to work when they feel their career is lost due to illness, or when life throws a fucking massive curve ball.

It seems, though, that part of being an inspiration (which I am HONOURED beyond all belief to be), is that the struggle is somehow negated. That my daily battle to “be” is glossed over with the mantras, the affirmations, the encouragements, which I am also guilty of making.

Social media is a double edged sword. It is an amazing platform to connect and meet new people with, but it presents a skewed vision of reality.

For example, I may post an image of me having fun with the kids/having a day out/on a bike ride.  I never post the reality of me crying with pain on the sofa or spending two days asleep as a consequence of that activity.

Maybe I should? If I am on a platform to share and inspire, isn’t it better to be honest?

It makes it harder to explain to friend, family, associates WHY I sometimes find daily “normal” activities a challenge when, quite clearly, instagram had shown me not 24 hours earlier SMILING goddamn it, so I must be fine!

 what is me

So, here is the deal from me.

I have had endometriosis for 20 years, and chronic fatigue syndrome/M.E for at least 10.

Both illnesses are invisible, and both are little understood.

I eat cleanly, I meditate daily and exercise as often as my body will allow (a learning curve that has taken me a long time). I help myself as much as I am able to (which well meaning folks get frustrated by – “why are you STILL ILL?”.

Other common responses and questions include:

“What is ME? That yuppie flu tiredness thing?”

” I get tired too. Try drinking more water”.

“Exercise will help you”.

” You look well! Are you better now?”.

The list goes on, and I could fill a book with my responses and reactions (for those of your interested, Wellness trailblazer Grace Quantock has a brilliant reference ebook on how to deal with those scripts).

Sometimes I love to be mindful that massive, life changing changes are just lots of tiny choices, one after the other all in a row.

It’s making a better food choice this time, next time and then again after that.

It’s moving a bit today, tomorrow and the day after that.

It’s working on that project today, tomorrow and a piece every day after that.

It’s emailing that person today who will change things with you and taking 5 minutes to do the same thing tomorrow.

It’s resting when you need to and not worrying about everything that has to be done because it’s all happening, bit by bit, one step, one text, one podcast, one newsletter, one tweet, conversation, cup of tea at a time.

And that’s all.
Jo Gifford

There are a hell of a lot of positives from my situation, not least of which being my two amazing children. I have designed my career to fit my life, and I have reduced my working hours so that I can run both businesses in a limited timeframe (here is how I do it, by the way).

I love what I do. I am lucky to be able to do it.

But, is it always easy?

Fuck, no.

I am a free spirit confined beyond my wishes. I am too exhausted to see people as much as I would like which makes life very lonely right now. I miss out on a hell of a lot of stuff, a hell of a lot of experiences, adventures and people and believe me, I don’t always stay positive about that.

On days when everyone else is out there enjoying life I am probably on the sofa trying to get enough energy to carry on with my day. It’s soul crusher.

Why am I telling you all this? Why bring you all on a downer with me?

Because I want you guys to know I am real. I am hurting too.

Everyone has their shit to deal with behind the scenes and I want you to know that this is mine. In those moments when you feel like everyone has it all sorted, that everyone else manages to turn their negativity to positive except YOU, I want you to know that it’s ok. That feeling anger and emotion is normal, it’s part of being human, it’s real, honest and authentic.

Yes, I run two businesses and yes, I am a successful entrepreneur (by my own definition of success, by the way, not the shoulder padded, 6-figures-or-die definition) and yes, it’s lonely, difficult and incredibly hard adjusting to life as a reduced version of my capabilities.

I remain hopeful that one day I might experience longer periods of “normal” energy.  I hang on for the days, the hours where I have a taste of what it feels like to be energised in order to keep me going through the next sludgy days or weeks.

So, there you go. The reality as opposed to what you see in a filter.

If you are brave enough to tell your story as it truly is, let ’em rip in the comments below.

I am listening. Sometimes you just need to know that someone is….


Hang in there guys.



You may also like: The working day of a real entrepeneur // my interview with Amethyst Mahoney on managing work + illness + blogging tips

* come and play too by entering your email address below. We don’t bite, I promise :)

From Bedbound to Badass in Business

Heeeey readers, it’s a hot hot HOT one today and I love it! In the shade, that is….

Anyway. For those of you reading to whom this might be relevant, I have designed an ecourse called from Bedbound to Badass in Business which starts this August.

As a chronic illness entrepreneur, I feel strongly that health shouldn’t hold us back, and I have created an ecourse in association with Project Endo to help turn your working life around.

Read more here, and I hope you can join us!



My so called (online) life

so called life

Having a presence online is a bittersweet thing.

Most of us have a Facebook account and lots of us tweet. Many of us also stick our heads over the trenches and blog, exposing our lives to the interweb for better – and, very often – for worse.

Strange as it sounds for me to say, as someone who lives a lot of her life online, I find it very difficult indeed. An inconsiderate remark on a social meda platform can be heartbreaking. A well placed blow can be devastatingly hurtful.

I have blogged a lot on here about life with endometriosis and living with a chronic illness, which lef to me founding Project Endo, daily digital support for women with endometriosis. For every woman I support through this work who thanks me for it,  there will always be someone else online who thinks I am attention seeking. Equally, for every woman who is thankful for the posts, another will disagree with how it’s done or what is said.

You can never win online.

In the blogosphere, the cat claws can be out even more, creating a playground bully effect seeping through your WiFi. You simply cannot please all the people all the time in either the online world or the real, actual 3-d looking thing outside the screen and it’s just not tenable to even try.

People like you or they don’t, and that’s fine. Nobody likes to be told, directly or indirectly that they are surplus to anyone’s requirements in their lives, and the cruel rub of social media is that you can be told in no uncertain terms and with lasting and damaging effect,

Right up until my 20’s I had barely encountered any nastiness from friends. I am lucky to have a strong and loyal group of school mates who love each other, support each other, and will be there no matter what. They may tell me I am an idiot, or have behaved in a way they don’t think is ideal, but nothing cannot be sorted. That is real friendship.

I only encountered the confusing, manipulative kind of “friends” later in life, and was ill equipped to know how to deal with it.

Whether offline or on the t’internet, snark is hurtful, damaging, and toxic. It usually comes from the snarkers very own place of insecurity, sadness or confusion, but is hurtful none the less.

In so many ways I wish we could go back to basics, unplug, not “be” online, out there like a sitting duck waiting for the strike. But, I blog and write online, so you live by the followers and you live with the nastiness too.

When someone tells you they don’t like what you do, it can be a learning curve. You can take the comments on board, work with them, and be even better if you choose. Or, if it is a shadowy, well placed but ill advised dig, switch off. I look at Eva and Mia, those real life, loving, beautiful Minis and nothing else matters. I talk to my real life, actual 3-d friends and the online shadows don’t seem to have their hold. I look at all I have achieved, my 2 degrees, portfolio career and businesses run despite living in pain every single day.

You can’t please all the people all the time. But, you can be true to yourself which in the actual olde worlde 3-d place is all that really counts.

Do you find online life difficult at times? Would you disconnect if you could?


5 alternative lives and a creative you

5 alternative lives and a creative youinstagram dex diva cupcakes

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I bet you had a range of things in mind, yet unless you are lucky enough to have a flexible, portfolio way of working with different income streams of all of them those childhood daydreams can remain locked away.

I love the exercise from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self which encourages the reader to re-visit those childhood aspirations. What is lovely about going back to them is that it gives us grown ups a chance to re-connect with that inner creative child, our real likes, passions and dreams, and to bring them back into play.

I am very, very lucky in that I work across design, writing and editorial, which is actually what I always wanted to do. I found my school Record of Achievement recently, and my statement of what I wanted to be pretty much encapsulates what I do now – I am my own boss I design, write, blog and can work from anywhere. Obviously blogging wasn’t in the mix then back in 1995, but I can honestly say I am doing what I want to do. I am not location based, time restricted, and I can work around and with my lifestyle and chronic illness.

Here is a task  for you – list the 5 ‘alternative life jobs’ that you used to dream of being, or that you wold do if you weren’t living your current life. Then, look at each one and see how you could work elements from that other “dream job” or lifestyle into what you do today.

Here are mine: Read more

building a career with a chronic illness


As regular readers know, I have endometriosis. I also have chronic fatigue associated with the condition, and I am a lot of painkillers a lot of the time.

I also have 2 young twin daughters who are the lights of my life, and my own business Cherry Sorbet.

So, life can be busy, as you can imagine.

Holding down a job, or even a career with a chronic illness like mine can be problematic. I know of many endo sisters who are out of work, or who have never been able to hold down a job as their pain and endless hospital appointments make it very difficult.

I am very often in pain, tired, fuzzy headed, under pain medication and get tired very easily.

I am lucky enough these days to be my own boss, but even then obviously running a business requires a lot of input and I am often too exhausted or in too much pain to function on a normal level.

So here are my tips for coping, and for anyone out there also feeling frustrated and down about coping with an illness, please know you aren’t alone.

1. Be realistic
I am all for positive thinking (more on that in a moment), but there is a lot to be said for changing your expectations. My reality of a lot of pain, medication and two young children means that I am often not able to make meetings, speak to clients or do the work if it is urgent. I have made plan B’s now for all these scenarios to help the flow of things. I have mini me’s for meetings, a team of amazing designers and writers, and a great workflow to help things go as smoothly as possible.

2. Be honest
With yourself, your partner, your co-workers, your boss if you have one. This reality is not your fault, and you should not feel guilty about what you have to deal with.

3. Build a great support team
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who “get it” – friends, family and co-workers who know the score, who know that I am often extremely tired, sore, occasionally grumpy, and that I often have to change meetings and dates at the last minute if my pain flares up.  Oh, and people that don’t get it? Let them go…

3. Don’t say sorry
Feeling guilty is a negative emotion; be grateful for the amazing people around you, and accept they understand how things are.

4. Do all you can to educate yourself and improve
Be always on the lookout for how to help yourself through nutrition, complementary therapies, whatever you can. By taking control where you can the chaotic nature of a chronic illness is lessened. This really helps me deal with the frustration of illness.

5. Reframe it
Re-framing is a brilliant part of NLP practise that is so, SO useful in dealing with chronic pain. I have been reading a lot about NLP recently and have worked with the lovely Jo James from Amber Life on using it in my life. Rather than seeing a day or afternoon spent in bed as a waste, I try to re-frame it as an opportunity to rest, a day to write and blog if I have mental energy to do so, or a day to recoup if I don’t. The sooner I accept the need to rest, the sooner I get back to doing things.

6. Be flexible
Plans can change in an instant. I can go from feeling 5/10 to going downhill fast and I need to be able to cope in those situations. Have plans, a, b and c if needs be –  often the case when childcare is needed or work has to be done. I can find being flexible very difficulty, luckily I have a partner who is much better at thinking this way than me!

7. Don’t push too hard, just hard enough
Much of my fatigue is attributed to adrenal burnout, as well as the associated fatigue with endometriosis. I have often fought it, tried to carry on as “normal”, when I have a different body to the people I compare myself too. Equally, knowing when to push hard enough is essential; depression is really common in chronic pain conditions as life is affected so much, and knowing when to get out and about versus resting is a fine balance to strike but the essential lesson to learn. Instinct is usually best…follow your heart and listen to your body too.

8. Concentrate on what is working
Identify if you can the areas that are working well, or things you can do that aren’t time reliant or too demanding. For me, writing and blogging is perfect as it’s flexible enough to fit around the kids and my health, creative, fulfilling, non location specific and self-produced.

Do you combine work, children and chronic health? Let me know in the comments how you do it. Or, do you struggle to stop making yourself feel bad for not being “perfect”?






Jo Gifford

My work is about helping people work in smarter, creative ways + getting their message out to the world via killer content—blogs, copy, images + social. I am a designer, writer, blogger, mentor, author, creativity addict + prolific geek. You could call it a portfolio career of multi-potential multi-passions. I call it being me.
Work with me, Shop with me, and Chat with me!