Lots of people come to me scared to take action. Their thinking goes like this: I’m scared, so it’s not right, so I won’t do it.
- I’m scared of public speaking, so it’s not right, so I won’t do it
- I’m scared of putting myself out there in the dating world, so it’s not right, so I won’t do it
- I’m scared to start a business, so it’s not right, so I won’t do it
The problem with this is that fears often lie.
There’s a high possibility that the fear you’re feeling means that what you’re considering is igniting some value or passion or talent in you. Which means that it’s a direction that could prove incredibly challenging and satisfying. Which means that it’s very much a PERFECT course of action for you, right now.
If thinking about doing something is scaring you, it can be worthwhile considering this: making your life bigger and bolder and better (almost always) requires some level of discomfort. The discomfort is (almost always) totally worth it. But the question is: how much discomfort are you willing to experience?
What are you willing to do?
Do you have an inspo file? Somewhere you go when you’re enthusiasm for goal striving and attainment goes missing in action [without thinking to leave its forwarding address…]?
That file could be a book filled with art or magazine clippings or records of your previous achievements. Or it could be a photo album. Or a folder on your desktop linking you to fashion and design sites or research articles or music files. It is simply a collection of data that will get you firing again.
Inspiration isn’t rocket science. When it fades [and it will occasionally, if you’re human], you simply need to reignite it. Having your inspiration file close at hand will stop you stagnating, help you maintain momentum and keep you achieving, brilliantly.
One of the surest routes to doing amazing work, being incredibly successful and feeling truly satisfied is by being who you really are.
Whether you’re in a paid role or you’re self-employed, being authentic is immediately apparent and incredibly attractive. People around you will trust you and want to work with you, your efforts will be sustainable [it’s hard pretending to be someone you’re not] and your results will impress.
If you’re keen to boost your authenticity in work or business, it is important to:
+ Know your values
Values can be hard to pin down. If you struggle with the concept, I suggest trying this:
- Grab a piece of paper and a pen and complete this sentence: The five most important things in my life are ________.
- Then for each of those five things complete this sentence: and for me that means _______.
Example: Family is one of the most important things in my life and for me family means: connection, joy and kindness. So connection, joy and kindness are values of mine.
+ Use your Values
Once you know your values, use them to anchor your decision making.
Here’s what I mean. When you find yourself with a big decision to make, ask yourself: what course of action will sit best with my values? It’s important to acknowledge that values often compete, so you will need to consider which one will guide you best in which particular moment.
Example: I am offered a big coaching opportunity that will mean I will have to be away from home one week each month. It pays amazing money and will allow me to learn and connect with other great coaches but I will miss out on one in four weeks with my two very little ones, who are my greatest joy. I turn it down.
+ Employ your strengths
Before you consciously draw on your strengths, you need to know what they are. [Genius, yes?!] Some people are fundamentally aware of what they’re good at but others struggle to think and speak positively about themselves. If you aren’t sure, you might like to try the evidence-based VIA Strengths Questionnaire.
Example: I am good at self-regulating; I am incredibly disciplined. But I am not necessarily all that brave; I tend to shrink from scary stuff. So in running my own business I trust myself to take small, regular steps towards big goals instead of asking myself to leap right in. I rely on my strengths to take me where I want to go.
+ Create, don’t copy
oooh, tricky one! There’s so much stuff on the internet that is inspiring, it can be easy to overstep that fine line between appreciating someone else’s efforts and copying their work.
Example: a client came to me wanting to set up her own coaching business. We worked together and then a little while later I was sent a link to her website. The similarities between her material and mine were disconcertingly uncanny. I wondered how long she could sustain a business that seemed based on someone else’s approach. Since then she has overhauled her focus. I hope this new direction is a truer fit and a great success.
If you’re creating and building your own business and you find yourself tempted to borrow ideas/pictures/words, stay away from the material. Avoid it altogether! At least until you’ve managed to hone your own look, style and voice.
+ Tweak Along the Way
There are very few career and business decisions that are irreversible. If you find that something is not a good fit: change it.
Example: I started on Twitter because I thought I should. I thought that’s what businesses did and almost immediately I hated it. I felt completely overwhelmed by all the noise. [argh!!] I am currently refreshing my website and the first thing to go: my twitter link! In its place will be Instagram, which inspires me and makes me feel happy and calm.
Getting to a place where you really feel like you can take a bit of work and staying true to who you are is an ongoing process. But the results are incredibly worthwhile.
Some people come to a coach because they want a huge, big Life Overhaul.
Others come because they’re after just a small tweak.
If that’s you, if you’re thinking that a few slight shifts are what’s needed, I’m here to help. In fact, this post could make all the difference. You might not even ever need an appointment. I might be making my services redundant. [Hang on, what?!]
So, here it is:
You’re obviously doing something right. In fact, you’re obviously doing a lot right because life is generally great. So instead of looking for the problems and trying to fix them, why not look for what is working well, and aim to build more of that in?
[For all the bike-rider/skier folk out there (ie. Not Me) this thinking is along the lines of: don’t look at where you don’t want to go (the ditch/cliff) because you’ll go there. Set your sights on where you are headed.]
Try making a list of the areas in which you’d like to see some slight improvement. It could be: writing more and eating food that makes your body feel great. Then instead of looking at the problems and the barriers and wondering how to remove them, try looking at what really is helping you function effectively already. It might be that you write well in the mornings and ordering fresh, market food online really boosts your veggie intake.
So then you aim to get one more morning of writing in [set your alarm every Sunday for 5am and write with a beautiful cup of tea before the house gets up]. And you plan to always have delicious food in the house [book in non-negotiable time on a Monday night for online veggie ordering].
We’re often encouraged to think that there’s something wrong with us, that we need fixing. But a gentler view – trusting that we’re ok and that we have the capacity to do more of what makes us (already) great can yield great, long-term shifts.