When one big decision leads to the next

 

I listened to a podcast the other day (Mary Portas’s ‘Work Like a Woman’, interviewing Elizabeth Day) where at one point they talked about how making a decision and taking a big risk can lead to realising your own strength, growing resilience and therefore being more willing to take more risks.

The conversation resonated with me. It’s so true.

It took a huge amount of nerve to leave my corporate job a few years back. I seemed to be going against common knowledge or advice, leaving a good, well paid job, with plenty of benefits like swanky lunches with clients and insider invites to fashion sales.

But I went with my gut, did what I knew was right for me, and left.

It was a big risk. I spent the next few months veering between terror and liberation. One minute nervous about money and what I’d do next. The next super excited at being able to choose the direction I wanted my life to move in.

I was consciously deciding to take control. That felt amazing, like a superpower. I realised I could actually make decisions for myself, about my life, rather than just go along some conveyor belt of ‘what you’re supposed to do’. It was a revelation.

And it was a feeling I didn’t forget. After a few months of taking on a new job which I loved and which allowed me to work remotely, I realised I still felt unsettled. There was a nagging feeling that something didn’t feel right.

That was when I acknowledged the secret desire I’d been keeping pushed down for years, that I wanted to live abroad again.

I saw my opportunity. I was working from wherever I wanted, home, my parents’ house, a cafe…surely I could do the same job from another country, as long as I had wifi and could travel back from time to time?

It was a really scary thought – leaving my flat, my family and friends, my city, my routine…for the unknown. But deep down I knew that I wanted it. And as I’d already recently made one big scary life changing decision, I just knew that I could do it again, and do it successfully.

Because I’d survived the unknown before. I’d prepared myself sufficiently and it had worked out really well. Again I prepared myself for the worst that could happen. The worst would be that it all went terribly wrong in Spain, and I’d come back to the UK and live with my parents until I sorted myself out again.

Way back when I was thinking about leaving my previous job, I’d started on a journey of designing the kind of life I wanted to live. I knew that sometimes you have to follow your heart, follow the excitement, be prepared for risks and discomfort. This was the next step. And I was flexing my big decision making muscle once again.

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Got a big decision to make? What next small step can you take to help make that decision? Is it writing a list? Talking to someone? Doing some research?

If you need help in planning your next steps in making a big life changing decision (or in making less dramatic, more low-key changes) contact me for some coaching sessions. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com. I would love to help.

Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

Is unlikeability a bad thing?

 

I’m trying to train myself to be a little more unlikeable. Or rather – I’m trying not to care so much about being ‘likeable’. I had a conversation with a friend today which reminded me that lots of women pay waaaay too much attention to how their actions are going to affect other people.

What about me?!

Rather than going by our own whims and desires, we make decisions based on what other people want. Someone invites me out because they want my company? I’d better go – I don’t really feel like it but they’re feeling a bit down and say they miss me. They need me.

Someone invites me for a coffee – I just want to go off on my own for a bit of a read – but how do I tell them this without offending them? Sorry, I’d rather be on my own…

There’s a big dinner, everyone’s going – why aren’t you going? You don’t feel like it? Why? don’t you like us? Don’t you like – people?

I read an article on likeability with this great quote:

“Think for a moment how much time you have spent in your life replaying conversations where maybe you said the wrong thing, or how you were maybe too curt with that person in the checkout line, or too forward with that dude you met on Tinder; how maybe you speak too much in meetings or make your views too known. How much time you have wasted fretting about whether other people like you? Just do a quick calculation: how much of your life, do you think, you have spent this way? An hour? A whole day? A week? Maybe entire years? What masterpieces could you have made by now if you directed your energy toward writing like a bad mother***ker instead?” Lacy M. Johnson

Even now as I write this, I’m worrying that I was a bit off with someone yesterday who wanted to chat just at the moment I received an important email and had to respond.

I know that I wasn’t actually off with him. I rarely (never?) am. I’ll have just been a bit flustered and apologetic. And here I am, 24 hours later, spending time worrying about whether he thinks I’m rude or will have changed his opinion of me.

Unapologetically herself

Along those lines, I saw a video from Stylist magazine this week about ‘what makes women strong’ – and one part bought tears to my eyes. It showed one young girl saying that a strong woman is unapologetically herself. ‘She wears what she wants, does what she wants, and says whatever the hell she wants’.

I actually had to rewind that section 3 times. Because I realised that sometimes I do feel apologetic for being myself. Apologetic when I want to be on my own. When I don’t feel like talking. If I want to leave a social event before everyone else. Apologetic that I choose to do my own thing.

I’ve written in the past about self-belief, confidence and imposter syndrome. It’s all linked. We’re doing ourselves a massive disservice fretting about being liked and being ‘the good girl’, rather than just getting on with it and doing what the hell we like.

I help people with career change and I also help people with their mindset. I particularly want to help with inspiring confidence in women – it’s an area we really seem to need help with. Knowing our own minds, being unapologetic.

Have a think about it, do you care too much about being likeable?

If you’d like to book a coaching session with me, email me at: joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

Tips on how to say no as an introvert

I used to struggle working in an office environment. I found the noise, the constant distractions and ringing phones hard to deal with. The impression that I was expected to sit at my desk all day, day in and day out, felt like I was trapped.

It’s only fairly recently, having taken myself out of that environment, that I’ve realised being a bit of an introvert was probably part of the reason I wasn’t 100% comfortable.

Being an introvert (my understanding) basically means that spending time around other people can drain you. It’s not shyness, it’s not that you’re not sociable. It’s that being around other people​ (even those you love) uses up your energy. ​You need frequent breaks to just be in your own company. And think.

On the other hand if you’re an extrovert – being around other people actually energises you.

Really, my ideal work environment most of the time is to be around max. one or two other people. Preferably not all day. Or, on my own with a book!

Anyway today, after a couple of awkward interactions, I had to remind myself that:

  1. It’s ok to say no to doing things you don’t want to do. How many of us wrestle with the people pleasing ‘I must be sociable’ thing, going against what we really want?
  2. Also, I’m probably feeling tired because I spent all weekend with ​various ​big groups of people. It’s no surprise that I need a bit of time to myself.
  3. Thirdly, there’s a podcast​ out there that reminds me it’s ok to be an introvert. There are other people out there that feel the same, who maybe have a few tricks up their sleeves.

The podcast’s called ​’​The League of Extra​o​rdinary Introverts​’​. I particularly like an interview with a writer I admire called Alexandra Franzen S2E6 Subtracting More To Get More With Alexandra Franzen

Amongst other things she talks about how to deal with overwhelm by subtracting more from your life. And most noteworthy, how to say no to things you don’t really want to do, or that will take up your time. My kind of topic, and a comfort to listen to.​ Enjoy.

Bonus Article

Also, bonus resources, here’s an article from Alex on how to say no to everything ever

Bonus workbook

To round things up, a free workbook she’s created with templates on how to turn down invitations nicely: how to say no

If you’d like to book in a coaching session with me, email me at: joaopoku@gmail.com and I’ll get in touch for a chat.

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Confidence in what you really want

I remember walking to a sales meeting with a work friend of mine. This friend – I love. She was a dream to work with, really supportive, really smart and competent. A total love.

I was at a stage where I was really struggling with work – not feeling like I belonged or that I was any good at my job. And by the way, I wasn’t at the start of my career, I was probably a good 8 or 9 years into the role… Read more here.

Anyway, I was saying something about my dream being that I could work from home – to run my own schedule, to not have to go to meetings I didn’t want to go to, to do my own thing. And this friend was like, “why would you want to work on your own at home? I’d find that so isolating. Don’t you want to be around people? I’d hate it!”

And I remember feeling so depleted. Because I really valued her opinion. I’d shared my dream and she’d shot it down – not in a mean or aggressive way, she just clearly didn’t share that particular dream with me, and didn’t really understand it.

The thing is, she was just stating a preference. In the same way that perhaps she’d prefer white wine with dinner and I’d choose red, or for her next holiday she’d fancy a festival whereas I’d fancy a road trip in Italy; she didn’t like the idea of working from home, and I was pretty obsessed with it.

And I think for a time I pushed the dream out of my head, thinking, it’s not realistic, maybe it’s not a good idea, maybe it’s not all its cut out to be.

But just because I think something’s a good idea and someone else doesn’t, why would I value their opinion more? Why would I value their preferences over and above my own?

Lack of confidence.

Lack of confidence in my decisions, my choices, my dreams, my plans. What a fundamental, critical thing to lack confidence in. To have confidence in knowing what I want.

It’s so important to hold onto your dreams, to stay strong and not be swayed by others. To practise a little stubbornness, nurture a more rebellious side. Because no one knows what you want more than you.

Find other people who share your dream, read about people already doing it, living it. Seek inspiration.

Luckily, I did value that dream, and held onto it. I discovered that a different way of working was indeed possible.

These days I work from coworking space, and from home when it suits me. I love it. It suits my way of working perfectly. My friend still works in an office. It suits her.

Imagine if I hadn’t followed my dream. I’d still be feeling frustrated and trapped in an office environment I didn’t like. Change can be good.

Work with me

If you’d like to  have some coaching sessions with me, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com. I can help you focus, take action, and achieve your dreams.

Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash

Fear of Being Seen

I have a massive fear of being seen and being heard. Of being ‘caught out’. Of being mocked – what’s she doing? Fear of not being good enough. Scared of doing something wrong.

Related: Imposter Syndrome

Where on earth does the fear of being seen come from?

Some childhood experience that taught me that I’m not good enough? Early ridicule? Did I make a massive mistake that I’ve never recovered from? No.

Is it a collective female thing? Something we’re born with? Something society has thrust upon us? Maybe.

Does it help in any way? Perhaps it makes me careful, conscientious, thoughtful…but mainly – NO it doesn’t help. Rather, it holds me back. It stops me from going for opportunities and cripples my proactivity. It gives me a worry in the pit of my stomach that bothers me.

So what can I do about this?

Fight it. Push it down. Know that I can be seen and heard. People want to see and hear from me. My friends and family do – some strangers do. People aren’t going to openly mock me. When has that actually ever happened? When have I actually done something wrong? Like – really wrong? More than a small mistake or oversight?

Er – never.

Am I ever going to move on in my life if I’m holding myself back from self-created negative outcomes, imaginings, worries? No.

Do I need to kick ass from now on, stop caring what other people think, relish in the fact that some people might not ‘get me’ or like me or appreciate me and my work, and that it doesn’t matter? Yes!

Do I need to be ‘seen’ as every other female in the world needs to be? Yes! Do I have an interesting point of view, thoughts, feelings, offerings? Yes.

Well then. From now on. No more BS. Excuses. Fear.

Do you agree? What are you going to do?

And, if you’d like to book a coaching session with me, do so here.

Photo by Olesya Yemets on Unsplash