Why Perfectionism isn’t your friend

Perfectionism: neatly laid out desk items

What is perfectionism?

I recently read something about perfectionism, and was surprised to learn that it is less about wanting to do everything perfectly, being in control, wanting to be the best you can be, and more about caring desperately how other people see you.

“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgement and blame… Perfectionism is more about perception than internal motivation, and there is no way to control perception.”

– Brené Brown, Daring Greatly.

It’s an addictive need to put immense pressure on yourself.

Perfectionism inhibits you. It stops you from taking small risks, experimenting, trying stuff out.

It cages you in.

It’s the little voice saying you can’t do something unless you’re 100% sure of the outcome, and that outcome has to be positive.

It’s not good for you.

So, after reading this and ruminating a little, I’m trying to develop a motto of ‘I’m not perfect and that’s a good thing.’

I’m no longer aiming for perfection. I’m aiming for – ‘I’m putting a lot of effort into this, and I want to do well, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t.’

Taking the pressure off.

It’s quite hard to let things go. To do – enough. Enough is better than nothing. Something is better than nothing.

What about you? Do you have perfectionist tendencies? Are you aware of how they limit you? Is it something you want to change?

You might also like to read this on imposter syndrome, and for more Brené Brown, this.

Trying to be perfect may stop you from making decisions about your career change. If you’re feeling stressed and stuck and you’d like my help, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me

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Top 10 tips for creating a Vision Board

Small images forming a vision board

Why create a Vision Board?

In a previous post I talked about how effective I found using a vision board in helping me to focus on what I want, and to work towards achieving it. It helped me in making my decision to move to Spain. Vision boards are a useful way to visualise your goals and make them more concrete.

A vision board is like a collage, containing a series of images that you have selected, all relating to a goal you want to achieve.

Creating a vision board helps you to get excited about your goal, to start to picture what achieving the goal looks like, and acts as a reminder and encouragement to take positive action.

*Download my guide to creating vision boards ( PDF ebook) here: How to create a vision board ebook*

Here’s what to do:

1. Set up Pinterest or similar app (which act as digital pinboards), or get yourself a pinboard or notebook.

2. Pick a goal (or several), for example ‘my new job’ or ‘I’m a runner’ or ‘my trip to Argentina’. Create a digital vision board if you’re using an app, with the goal as your vision board title. You can create ‘secret’ vision boards on Pinterest, that no one else can see. If using a pinboard or notebook, do the same, put your goal as your title.

Start collecting images

3. Next, start collecting images relating to your goal. With Pinterest you can search using key words or themes, and it starts generating images you might like. Or you can look through old magazines and tear out images, or search online.

4. Select anything that makes you smile, that makes you feel positive and inspired about your goal. The image might not be an exact representation of what you want, but if it generates the right feeling (contentment, excitement, giddiness, desire) you’re onto the right thing.

Select images that make you feel

5. For example if your goal is to become a regular runner, or complete a 5k run, you might select images which represent the pride and relief you’ll feel after having completed your first 5k run. Like a picture of Jessica Ennis-Hill coming over the finishing line at the Olympics. Or you might select a picture of person jumping up in the air on a beach, with a massive smile on their face. This represents how you want to feel after your race. You might have images of a couple of athletes you admire, whose achievements or work ethic you’d like to emulate.

6. Maybe you’re dying to visit Argentina, you find an image of a mysterious, elegant couple dancing tango in the middle of a street in Buenos Aires. You select pictures of the amazing food you’re going to sample, and the cool restaurants you’re going to visit. Anything that reminds you what you want, and inspires feeling.

7. If your goal is to find a new job or change career, you might include images of what you’d love your place of work to look like (office/home/studio/café etc), images to represent the sort of environment you want to be in. If you’d like your commute to involve a 10-minute stroll through a park, you could choose images to represent that. You might include images of people, the kind of people you’d like to work with, or ideal clients. Include details of as many aspects as you can think of, to build up a picture of your day.

Bin anything that doesn’t inspire you

8. Tweak your vision board – anything that doesn’t make you feel great, bin. Add to it as you go along and feel inspired.

9. Now that you’ve carefully curated your vision board – make sure you look at it regularly. Every day at least. Ideally throughout the day. When you’re on hold on the phone. Before bed, when you wake up, when you’re taking a 5 minute break. When you’re making a cup of tea. Look at it and let yourself enjoy the buzz you get from it. Let yourself feel excited. Let yourself be propelled to take a little action step towards achieving your goal.

10. Finally – enjoy! Have fun, get creative, dare to dream, don’t feel a though you have to show your vision board to anyone.

Knowing what you want

When I’d created my vision boards I found that it was like my exciting little secret, this little world I’d created where the images bought me joy and motivation. It’s a great feeling knowing exactly what you want.

And as far as I’m concerned, it works. The more you focus on what you want, the more likely something is to happen.

I created a vision board called ‘I’m a writer’, before I knew it my boss had asked me to create copy for our website and marketing, and I’d started a personal blog.

I created a vision board called ‘I’m a salsa dancer’, and I finally found a salsa class that I love.

My vision board focussed on my new life in Spain has well and truly come to life.

Try it

Just try it. Even if it helps you clarify whether or not you really want something, it’s a useful process to go through. And it might just create a little magic.

*Download my guide to creating vision boards (PDF ebook) here: How to create a vision board ebook*

Be sure to contact me if you need help on clarifying your goals, making decisions and taking action. If you’re feeling stuck, stressed, or considering a change in career, I can help.

Finally, please share this post with someone who you think might enjoy it. Here’s the link.

Imposter Syndrome

Person sat on a railing over water, imposter syndrome

I read an article about imposter syndrome the other day: This Is How You Get Rid of Imposter Syndrome.

“You’ve probably blamed luck or other factors for your success instead of embracing the fact that you were responsible. You, my friend, have experienced imposter syndrome.”

It got me thinking.

When I first applied for my job in advertising, over a decade ago, I felt really confident completing the application. My skills and experience matched the criteria; I had experience working in an international environment and spoke French. And I was enthusiastic about working in the magazine industry.

I really wanted the job.

Waiting to go in to the interview (or coming out, I can’t remember which), I saw a girl I knew, a friend of a friend, also going for an interview for the same role. We had a brief chat.

A couple of days later, they offered me the job. However, for some reason I decided that they had probably offered the job to this other girl first, thinking that she must have turned it down.

I said something along these lines to my Dad, who asked why on earth I would even think such a thing. Why wasn’t I confident enough in myself to assume I’d been offered the job because I was perfect for the job?

During the ten years I worked for that company, I still felt like an imposter, right up until the end. The first few years I enjoyed it, but I quite often felt on tenterhooks, expecting to be found for I don’t know what. Not being good enough at the job?

Where did this lack of confidence come from?

Is it a perfectionist thing, always trying to be perfect and never make any mistakes, and massively fearing making any? Possibly? (read here)

Later on, as a sales manager, I didn’t feel good enough. I didn’t feel chatty/salesy/showy enough. I’m quiet, reflective, I listen. I don’t have the gift of the gab. Quite often I prefer to listen than to talk. I felt that you needed to be the opposite in the industry I worked in. It became stressful.

I concentrated more on ‘I’m not the right person for the job’ rather than ‘this job’s not right for me’.

One quote that stuck in my mind when going through a tricky time in this company, was from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address:

‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

This for me was imposter syndrome. Feeling as though I was playing a role in someone else’s life. This wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

Is it you, or is it the job?

If you’re feeling like this, I think it’s really important to take stock. Is it that you need to build up your confidence, find a way to lose this feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.”

Carry on with the work you are doing, and realise that you are as capable, talented, intelligent, interesting, as everyone else?

Or, do you need to take a reality check, and realise that the work you’re doing or the company you work for, isn’t right for you? It doesn’t suit your personality, values or lifestyle? Is it time to for a change?

If you’d like my help in getting unstuck and changing your job or career, book in for a discovery session with me here. We can talk things through.

Please share this post with someone you think might enjoy reading it.

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Vision boards and visualisation

Vision board: Black and white image of couple dancing

Last weekend I took a trip to a beautiful seaside town on the Costa Blanca in Spain, called Jávea. In the Airbnb I stayed in, there was a pile of old magazines and books. I picked one up, an old French magazine, and flicked through it. On one page, I was stunned for a minute to see an image I know well.

A small black and white image of a couple dancing. The man, dapper in a suit and loafers, has one arm around his partner. She’s cool, in a tucked in shirt and calf length black skirt, one arm on her partner’s shoulder, the other hidden behind her back. She looks directly at the camera, ready to be swung around. They look relaxed and insouciant, moving to a beat. It’s a beautiful picture.

And it has a place close to my heart. It’s an image I came across randomly over a year ago now, and it’s one I’ve studied many times since.

Building a specific picture of what you want

It’s part of a vision board that I created prior to moving to Spain. Along with several other images, it’s a picture I looked at over and over in the run up to moving. These pictures made me dream, I could imagine how I wanted my life to be, how I wanted it to change.

You can download my guide to creating vision boards as a PDF here: How to create a vision board ebook

I’d read a few books that mention how powerful a vision board can be, so I thought I’d give it a go. I knew that I wanted to move to Spain, but I knew that I had to put the idea to my bosses, and get over any fears around actually doing it.

My interpretation is that if you put effort into focussing specifically on what you want, use images to help you visualise what you want, and, importantly, how you want to feel, it helps you move closer to achieving your goal.

The more you can build a specific picture of what you want, the more real it becomes. The more you focus on what you want, and the more open you become to opportunities to make it happen.

My vision board

Take my vision board based on my decision to move to Valencia for example, which I created using Pinterest. (Here’s my post about how to create a vision board – Top 10 tips for creating a vision board.) I called it ‘I live in Ruzafa’ (my neighbourhood in Valencia). I selected any image that related to how I imagined my life to be in Spain to be,. Any image that made me feel happy and excited for my potential life in Spain.

For example, I picked images of the streets I wanted to walk around in.

There’s an image of a people eating dinner sat outside a restaurant, along a cobbled street; it’s early evening and there is soft lighting above their heads, shuttered windows overhead.

I chose a picture of a minimalist pilates studio.

There’s an image of a passageway in a park, with benches along one side, and what appears to be a tunnel of pink bougainvillea stretching along to the end.

There’s a picture of the co-work space I’d spotted on a previous visit.

There are numerous cool cafes I could picture myself drinking in, working in, catching up with friends in.

I had images of a park I wanted to walk and picnic in, the beach I wanted to relax at during weekends.

I had images of the sort of flat I wanted to live in: modern, simple, bright.

Every time I’d look at this vision board, I’d feel a buzz of excitement. It helped me believe that my dream could be possible. It gave me the motivation to go for it and make it happen.

The result

And now, over a year after moving to Valencia, I walk through the streets I’d captured on my vision board. I’m in the cafes, the co-work space, and the park every day. I visit a pilates studio two minutes from my front door and go to the beach whenever the urge takes me. I live in a modern, simple, bright apartment.

And I dance salsa (read more here). Not quite with the pizzazz of the couple in my picture (and I don’t think they’re actually dancing salsa), but nevermind.

I frequently feel that same buzz of excitement I felt when looking at my vision board. I’m really here, doing the things I wanted to do!

I’m not saying this to show off. My life certainly isn’t perfect. But I consciously thought about how I want to life my life, what I want to do, how I want it to be. That’s the first step to making it a reality.

Seeing the picture of the dancers in the magazine touched me. It feels special. My vision board held components of this dream I held so close, that has become a reality. I can see how far I’ve come.

Using visualisations isn’t magic

You’re training your mind to focus on what you want. Willing yourself to do what you really want. It’s about reminding yourself of what’s important to you. When your visualisations start to become reality, it feels like magic.

Please share with someone you think might enjoy exploring vision boards.

Do you need help with a career transition? If you want to get unstuck and move forward  with your life, and you’d like to try coaching with me, book in a session here: Contact Me

You can download my guide to creating vision boards as a PDF here: How to create a vision board ebook

Photo: Viralnova

Why “I fell into it” isn’t enough

Person stepping off rock into sea

“I fell into it.”

“I was thrown into…”

“But it’s just something I fell into rather than a conscious move.”

I’ve found that when it comes to changing career or sorting out your life, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not taking responsibility for your decisions. “It’s not my fault I’m in this situation (hating the job I’m doing). I fell into it.  I was thrown into it.” As though it was a totally unconscious decision.

I’ve been there. As much as I very consciously decided to take a role in my old company, as an advertising assistant, when it came to progressing the only option available seemed to be to go into sales. Which wasn’t something I wanted…

I totally fell into it.

I liked the company, I liked my team, I liked what we were doing, and as much as the thought of being a salesperson really didn’t appeal (I went home and cried the first time my boss suggested that this might be an option…warning bells or what), it felt as though it was something I had to do.

Now I look back and I can’t believe I let it happen. But it was easy. The familiarity appealed – same team, same product, same company, same office, same routine. It was a natural progression, I’d already started doing the role, supporting my boss, so it wasn’t too much of a leap into the unknown.

But it was exactly the ‘fell into it’ scenario – it wasn’t my plan, it wasn’t my goal, it wasn’t my dream career move. I hadn’t seriously considered all the other options out there in the world. I didn’t have much awareness of what else was out there.

It didn’t cross my mind to go out and explore, find out what other people are actually doing that might appeal to me. (That came later). To really think about what would suit me, my personality, my optimum work environment, the company values. To consider different roles I could take on with my skills and experience. I didn’t contemplate side-stepping into another industry where I did want to progress, keep learning, keep being challenged.

What’s funny is that I remember having a conversation with my then boss, which now seems quite laughable. It must have been quite clear that I didn’t want to move into sales. She suggested that I go abroad. “Why don’t you spend some time in Italy?” I seem to remember her saying. She may have even suggested I contact the Italian office. Why oh why didn’t I?

Because I was scared.

That just seemed too big a leap into the unknown. Even though I’d moved to Paris after university, I’d applied for a job through the university, and I’d moved there with one of my best friends. It was all quite straightforward. A move abroad on my own….? Scary stuff.

It took me 10 years to eventually pluck up the courage to leave that job, find a job that better suited me and my personality, and move abroad. (Read about my career transition here).

And how did I manage to get unstuck?

After several years reading, studying and learning about mindset, I’ve learned how to get better at taking responsibility for my actions and for the direction in which I want my life to go. I’ve started to listen to myself, to my intuition. I’ve started to dare to do the things I want to do.

Over to you

Are you coasting along, not fully happy with your situation (it’s ok….but not great), ignoring deeply hidden true desires? Letting months, years pass without taking action? Because of fear? Is it time to start making conscious decisions about your life?

If you’d like to work with me and start taking action, book in a coaching session with me here: Contact Me

Please share with someone you think might enjoy reading this, the link is here: https://bit.ly/2KaWsH9.

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