I’ve learned a new mantra which has become a guiding light recently. Progress not perfection.
The focus is on making progress, taking action, taking the next small step…and totally forgetting about doing things perfectly. Adequate, fine, done. I love it.
Even if your end result isn’t perfect – you’ve got yourself past that horrible stage of wondering, procrastinating, staying stuck. When you wait until you’re 100% sure what you’re doing or what the outcome will be. If you get stuck in this way of thinking, you never make any progress.
Let go of perfection.
However, if you let go of perfection, you give yourself space. Even if what you do is a bit crappy, you’ve broken through.
If you’ve always tried to do things perfectly, or you set yourself really high standards, it can seem counter intuitive.
But you’ve got to remember what’s more important, just getting it done, or not doing it at all.
You can let out your rebellious, slacker side. It’s not perfect, but it’s done. Next.
Trying to do everything.
The thing is, when you try and do everything in your life perfectly, you create a huge amount of stress. I see it in myself, I see it in my friends, I see it in my clients.
Trying to do everything perfectly is setting yourself up to fail or burnout. Having the perfect job. Doing your work perfectly, being the perfect partner. Being the perfect friend, trying to look perfect. Always putting other people first.
From my experience (I know there will be exceptions), the guys I know don’t seem to carry this perfectionism around with them so much. I feel they don’t worry about being the perfect friend, they just see their friends when they can. Remembering other people’s birthdays or anniversaries and buying the perfect card and present are not up there on the to-do list. Writing the beautiful thank-you card doesn’t happen.
I know that’s a big generalisation. But my main point is, I think it’s something to be admired. So I try to adopt more of this mentality. Progress not perfection. Letting some things happen imperfectly. Letting some stuff slip.
In short, focus on the important stuff, and just get it done. What do you think? Are you stuck, always trying to do things perfectly? Where can you cut yourself some slack?
If you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, email me at: email@example.com.
I do. I sometimes wonder if I’m losing my concentration skills. I’m finding it takes more and more effort to focus.
I seem to have a lot of half-started things around me, or things I want to look at/do/read/try but haven’t quite gotten round to. For example:
Looking around my flat, I currently have 12 books where I’ve either read a chapter or two or am half-way through. A couple I’ll probably never read. But others I’ve enjoyed so far – I’ve just got side-tracked and tempted by something else.
Half-watched Netflix tv series.
Currently around 5.
Podcast episodes clogging up my phone’s flimsy storage capacity.
There are so many that I’m half-way through. On top of that, every day new episodes are appearing from podcasts I’ve subscribed to.
The choice is endless. There are podcasts offering something up whatever mood I’m in (entrepreneurial, comedy, entertainment, comfort, current affairs).
And some are for walking along to, some are for washing my hair to, some are for cooking to…
Too many emails in my inbox.
Offering free training or free webinars or free guides to things I want to learn about. There are a lot of voices out there, all ready to teach me something new. And there’s SO MUCH to learn!
Saved in a folder on my browser bookmarked ‘to read’. Throughout the day, as something catches my eye, I dump it there. And it adds up, and adds up…
There’s just too much stuff.
Knowing this stuff is all there clogging up leaves me with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I don’t like having things lingering like that. Nothing is completed.
Are my concentration skills failing? Or is it because there’s such a proliferation of stuff out there for us, it’s a real mental battle to just focus on one thing at a time, and see it through to the end.
It’s become normal to flit from one thing to another. Opening up multiple internet tabs where one article leads on to another.
Looking up something on your phone, only to be distracted by a notification and taken off on a different rabbit hole. When you manage to come out of it you’ve forgotten what you were originally looking for.
There are so many distractions out there, and when you’re curious and interested in lots of things, and like to learn, it’s even worse.
It takes a lot to pull back and work out what’s important, and then focus.
So the only solution I have is to regularly reassess.
What do I need to focus on today or this week? What are my top 3 priorities?
Can I break down my ‘to-dos’ into smaller, achievable actions steps?
Can I cull any emails/subscriptions/podcast episodes?
Are there any apps I can delete?
Can I streamline my diary, think hard before agreeing to something?
What if I make a promise to myself that I will see each new book, podcast episode, tv episode through to the end (unless it’s rubbish and therefore I’ll scrap it)?
It always comes down to simplifying when I feel overwhelmed. Cut through the noise, limit my options.
What are you doing to stop the overwhelm and unnecessary distractions?
Putting things off til later. We all do it. Either we don’t want to do it, or we just can’t face it right now. But some things really shouldn’t be put off, they’re too important and time is precious…
I saw a photo of myself from over a decade ago, taken in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I was there visiting with my family. I’m stood high on the city walls, sun baking down, admiring the view. I remember walking along the wall, running my hand along the hot stone, deep in thought.
I remembered how on that trip I had promised myself that one day (soon) I’d live abroad again.
It took me a good 10 years to finally do it.
They regret they didn’t do it sooner.
It seems a lot of people’s biggest regret when it comes to career change, starting their own business, moving house or moving abroad, is that they didn’t do it sooner. They put it off.
The thing is, once you’ve done it, you look back and realise it’s not so difficult. It’s simply the difference between dreaming about doing it and making the decision and actually doing it.
Most things are doable – you just need to decide.
The regret comes from realising that even though there may be challenges and obstacles steep learning curves and things that go wrong, your goal is achievable. And it really wasn’t something you needed to put off for so long.
Once I’d moved from the UK to Spain and looked back at the process, I was quite surprised at how straightforward it had actually been. I’d built it into this really massive thing. Leaving my flat, friends, family, life. For years the dream of moving abroad had become a big deal (even though I’d done it before, successfully, twice).
In the end it came down to:
Speaking to my bosses about moving abroad, which was scary and took courage – but they were fine about it (we work remotely).
I had to sort out renting my flat which was a bit of a faff. But the hardest part was deciding to leave my flat, which I’d loved living in. The emotional stuff. Once I’d made the decision, the rest was just practical stuff.
Stopping all household services and direct debits was straightforward.
Packing up the stuff in my flat and taking it to store in my Mum and Dad’s garage was easy.
Booking a flight to Valencia was simple.
Finding a flat in Valencia took a bit of effort, but I did it.
There’s always a way.
It really was just a series of steps. The main thing was sorting out my mindset, and getting my head around the idea that moving abroad at that time was plausible.
I know not everyone’s situation is the same, not everyone will have their own flat to rent out, not everyone will have parents willing to store their stuff. Not everyone will have a job they can pick up in another country, working remotely.
But, with each person’s own personal situation, there’s always a way. Once you make the decision to do something, it’s a matter of working away at it, taking steps to get you there.
Same with career change.
I spent years agonising about changing career. It did take a lot of reflection and planning. But I really dragged it out. I was putting it off because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.
When it came down to it, it meant making the decision to leave my job and find something that suited me better. I had six months of doing a variety of jobs and freaking out about what to do. But eventually I found a new job I loved, and found the guts to start my own coaching business too.
And I now realise I could have done this all sooner.
Think about it.
The thing is, it doesn’t really matter if you do it now, in one year, or in 5 years. But what I’m saying is don’t wait too long out of fear. A bit of time to plan and prepare and set safety nets – yes. But procrastinating and putting it off for years, and not even taking that one small first step? No. You’re just putting off your own happiness.
Is there something that you’d really like to do, that you dream of doing, that if you fast forward 10 or 15 years you KNOW you’ll regret not going? What is it? Write it down. Put down as much detail around it as you can. Set a date by which time you want to have achieved this dream.
may seem enormous, time consuming, ridiculous. But think about how you’ll feel
once you do it or achieve it.
If you keep taking tiny steps towards this big goal, then so much can be achieved, however long it takes you.
“Dare to life the life you dream for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you’d like to try life coaching with me, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m the sort of person that loves routine. I enjoy my morning routine, it sets me up for the day, leaving me feeling awake and ready to get to work. And I like my daily work routine, my coffee break mid-morning, and my lunchtime stroll in the park.
If for some reason I can’t follow my normal routine, everything feels in disarray. For a day or two, it’s fine, it’s a novelty and I’m having fun travelling or staying with a friend. But after two or three days out of my routine, I miss it.
I crave walking on my own, long walks listening to podcasts. My body misses the stretches of morning yoga. I long for 10 spare minutes to listen to a meditation. My writing goes off kilter, and I realise on Friday morning that I have no blogpost to publish.
More than anything, I need a bit of time on my own, no chatting, no listening, no voices. Just me getting on with my stuff.
The pressure of being productive
This week I was reminded how in the media and online there’s an intense pressure to be the most efficient you can be, the most productive, the most calm and unflappable. All around there are examples of morning routines, productivity hacks, other people telling us what works for them. Things you must do to get x result.
I’ve written before about information overload and how I’m always trying to strip things back to the bare essentials in terms of consuming information. Ironically, having recently written a few posts about productivity and efficiency, I realise I could be adding to the noise.
If hearing about other people’s lives leaves you feeling bad, or that you’re not doing enough, it’s probably healthier to dial down the noise and concentrate on doing your thing.
The thing is, I love hearing about how other people work, how they spend their days and what their morning or day time routines consist of (for example here). I find it fascinating what works for one person and doesn’t for another. Or rather, what appeals to me and what doesn’t.
Other people’s routines can seem pretty dull and strict. Chanting for 30 minutes upon waking then drinking hot water with lemon doesn’t appeal to me. Nor does waking at 5am to walk on a treadmill whilst checking emails and catching the news headlines. It sounds like a punishment rather than a great way to start the day.
What I really like is reading about people whose routines are totally different to mine, and which sound fun. Perhaps they don’t have any fixed routine. Maybe they wake up and write for 2 hours straight, only drinking coffee. Or they roll out of bed as late as possible, grab a croissant and coffee to go and put their makeup on in the tube.
And learning about how other people go about their lives can be helpful. You might uncover something that hits a nerve, and makes you see things differently, do things differently.
I remember reading about someone working in publishing who would snatch any moment throughout the day they could to read – getting through a staggering amount of books a month – and that made me prioritise reading more.
Sometimes it’s good to refresh the routine you’ve settled into and consciously aim to make your day more enjoyable, or relaxed, or easy.
What works for you
I think the most important point is – find out what works for you.
If you love a bit of unpredictability, no set routine and going with how you feel in the moment, brilliant. Perhaps a bit of chaos gets the adrenaline going. If like me you feel overwhelmed by lack of routine, and like things to feel a bit ordered, that’s fine too. But it probably does me good to mix it up every once in a while and not be too set in my ways.
The main thing is to find what suits you – and go with it.
If you’d like to book a life coaching session with me, send me an email at email@example.com.
I recently wrote about how your hormones can affect your productivity. I’ve since learned from a podcast that week 4 of your cycle, the week before you are due your period, is the perfect time to evaluate and reflect on life, work, everything you’ve got going on.
So the other morning I decided to take some time to do just that – and specifically reflect on my coaching business.
I’ll share what I’ve learned, and how you can apply this to any area of your life, including career change.
The 80/20 principle
The podcast talks about the 80/20 rule (the Pareto principle) – which basically states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort.
For example if you have a business, it’s likely that 80% of your sales come from only 20% of your clients. A few key clients generate most of the income.
Therefore you should concentrate more on nurturing relationships with these 20% key clients. And on finding new clients who are similar.
This principle can be applied to practically anything, 20% of your effort will result in 80% of your results.
How can I use 80/20?
I wanted to look into the 80/20 principle and what it means for me. Based on an activity suggested in the podcast, I took a look at the marketing I do for my coaching business. I wrote a list with two columns. The left hand column shows how I spend my time on marketing each day or week. The right hand column shows how my clients find me.
I worked out that I spend 120 – 180 minutes writing and publishing a blogpost each week.
10 – 30 minutes goes on writing a post to put on LinkedIn – ideally daily but this isn’t always the case. So let’s say 50 minutes on this.
Then I spend around 10 minutes every Monday posting to a couple of relevant Facebook groups. I share useful articles and promote my coaching.
I also spend some time reading relevant articles and following marketing tutorials. Maybe another 50 minutes a week.
So that’s 290 minutes a week on marketing.
Does 80/20 apply to me?
That’s how I spend my time. Now, how do clients find me?
When I look at where my clients actually come from, it’s LinkedIn and Facebook. They’ve organically searched for coaches and found me.
Or they’ve seen one of my posts or comments and checked out my profile or website.
My very first client found me from a post linking to an interview I did for the Careershifters website and contacted me for advice.
So the 60 minutes a week I spend on creating LinkedIn and Facebook posts directly result in new clients finding me. That is indeed 20% of the time I spend on marketing. The 80/20 principle does seem to apply.
So what have I learned?
I’ve learned that I need to focus more on LinkedIn and Facebook posts, perhaps increasing frequency and making sure the content is great. They directly influence the success of my coaching business, allowing me to reach new clients. Bingo.
I can try to cut down a little on the other stuff, if it’s time I could be spending on the posts mentioned above. I could repurpose my blog content for more posts. Doing more interviews like the Careershifters one would be a good idea.
How does 80/20 apply to career change?
This principle can be applied to career change (and any other area of your life, it’s all about how you’re choosing to spend your time).
You might be doing all sorts of things to try and change career and find a new job.
Scanning online job boards, using LinkedIn, getting job alerts. Speaking to friends and family. Researching further training. Scanning company websites for openings or sending cover letters. It can be overwhelming.
Take time to reflect.
Perhaps it’s time to sit back and reflect. Get a piece of paper, on the right hand side write down all the ‘successes’ you’ve had.
Connections you’ve made on Linkedin that seem promising, a phone conversation with someone who could help or advise. A coffee with an acquaintance that led to an introduction, a job application you’re excited about.
Now on the left hand side write down all the tasks that you’ve been doing to help with your career change.
Contacting people on LinkedIn who look interesting. Setting up a call with a friend of a friend who works for a company you’re interested in. Spending 20 minutes scanning job boards. Reading through your daily job alerts. Going to a talk which gave you some great ideas.
Match up your successes to your tasks. What directly led to these successes? Which tasks are actually getting you somewhere, and which are just keeping you busy?
The former are the tasks you should be concentrating more on.
This activity helps with focus when there’s a lot you could be doing and you don’t know how to prioritise.
It can help with endless searching and procrastinating.
If you are more targeted in your approach, a bit more strategic, chances are you’ll make good progress and feel more in control.
I hope trying the 80/20 rule works for you – and helps you streamline your efforts!
If you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.