The importance of going with your gut instinct

I remember years ago saying to a friend, “I don’t really know what I want to do but I think I’d like to be working in a sort of studio space with cool interesting people, maybe in another country, maybe France.’’ It was all very vague, but that’s what my gut instinct was saying to me.

We were ambling alongside the Thames, talking about life and the future. She was someone I could confide in, and tell my hopes and dreams. But secretly, at that time I felt a bit silly not knowing what I really wanted to do, by then probably in my late twenties or early thirties.

Fair enough knowing what kind of environment I wanted to work in and with what kind of people. But how come I didn’t know what job I wanted to do? Surely it shouldn’t be that hard?

Fast forward 10, 15 years, and here I am working from a coworking space in Spain, with different spaces for people to work in, like the studio image I had in mind. It’s full of interesting entrepreneurs, small businesses, freelancers and remote workers from around the world.

Back then, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for work, or how to get there. But I had a vague image in my mind, and a feeling of what I wanted. I knew that my current work wasn’t for me, it wasn’t making me happy, and that somehow I had to find a way out. I had to rely on my gut, my intuition.

It took me a long time to get there. It’s funny looking back. I did know in my heart what I wanted – to live abroad, to have more freedom in my work, to do work that I felt was of value. I just wasn’t clear on the details.

It took a lot of reading, ruminating, talking to people, speaking to coaches.

And, ultimately, doing stuff which moved me forwards. I left my then job, travelled a bit, freelanced a bit. Took a course in teaching English abroad, applied for a new job and got it, moved to Spain. Started coaching other people in the same situation I’d previously been in.

Listening to your gut, and then doing something about it, is hard, but worth it.

Get in touch here if you’d like to speak to me about coaching, I can help you make your career change: joaopoku@gmail.com

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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.

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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 get on with it, 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.

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Your future self – more than self-care

The term self-care is being bandied about all over the place, and I sometimes wonder if I need to read yet another top 10 self-care list, although they seem impossible to avoid at the moment.

Having said that, there is something in it. It is really important to remember to be kind to yourself. To be as lovely to yourself as you are to your friends or family or partner. To rank your needs as highly as anyone else’s.

And we’ve all got a horrible little voice in our heads trying to tell us how rubbish/unattractive/stupid/idiotic we are. It takes a fair bit of effort to quash it. Sometimes it’s easier to give in, agree, and feel yourself fall into a cycle of nasty thoughts and self-loathing.

On top of that, with all the general busyness in our lives, it’s hard to listen to what we really need or want i.e. a rest, a break, a snack, water, a laugh, a hug, a break from the screen…

This results in feelings of stress, anxiety, not having enough time – and all seem to be pretty much the norm.

Maybe we’re not caring for ourselves as much as we could be.

Future me

Here’s something you can try. I think of it as being nice to ‘future me’. It consists of doing something small today that I know will make me happy tomorrow.

I remember when I lived with a teacher and his wife in the south of France for a few weeks at the start of my year abroad. Each morning when I got up they would have left for me some recently toasted bits of baguette, alongside some butter and a pot of marmalade for my breakfast. It was so simple and so sweet. An act of thoughtfulness.

So now I do the same for myself when I need a bit of love and care.

Before going to bed, I’ll lay out my breakfast things. First I’ll place my small wooden chopping board and a sharp knife ready to chop up my apple. Then I’ll add a favourite mug and a teaspoon for my tea. Finally, I’ll lay out a nice big bowl and a spoon for my porridge.

A simple act

Just laying out the simple implements is enough. It’s telling me that I care for myself. I guess it’s like the thought behind making breakfast in bed for someone else. I’ll wake up in the morning and smile to see that someone has thoughtfully left out these things for me – to make the morning that little bit easier.

It’s like a little reminder to myself. That I care.

It could also be laying out my outfit for the day, the night before. No more stressing and time wasted deliberating between these trousers or that jumper. One less thing to think about.

Or it’s tidying away the post and leaflets and scraps of paper and general junk on the kitchen table – knowing that your morning will feel a lot more calm when everything seems in order.

It’s thinking ahead – to one small thing you can accomplish now – which will act as a little hug to yourself tomorrow.

What can you do?

Maybe that’s the answer to bringing some joy into your life, being thoughtful to yourself. Doing something small that you know future you will appreciate, to show that you care. For you now, and for ‘future you’. What are you going to do?

You can contact me here if you are interested in life coaching sessions.

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How do you listen to your own voice, when others speak so loud?

It’s really difficult. You’re unsure what to do. There’s a decision you have to make and you’re not clear on which direction to take. There are several options.

Naturally, you want to talk to the people you are close to about this. You want to hear other people’s opinions, get their advice. Maybe they have more experience than you and therefore can offer you words of wisdom. It helps to talk things through, clarify your own thoughts by talking to others.

But, fundamentally, your own thoughts and opinion are what really matter.

You know yourself best. Deep down you know what feels wrong or right, good or bad. You have a gut instinct, that perhaps you’ve been ignoring. You have intuition to guide you.

I remember reading a quote which is along the lines of “listen to the advice that helps you, ignore the advice that doesn’t.” You have to get good at not letting someone’s flippant comment niggle away at you. What do they know?

I sent a message telling some friends that I was quitting my job. One replied with a message saying “well done, if that’s what you really want.” I was mortified. Reading between the lines, she didn’t appear to agree with what I was doing. That stayed with me. Why – I don’t know. It’s not her life. It’s not what she’d choose to do.

So what? It doesn’t mean it’s wrong or a bad decision.

Some time later, I sent her an interview which had been published about my career transition, and she was very supportive, saying she’d shown it to others to inspire them. Had she changed her mind? Or had I misunderstood her first message? It really doesn’t matter. What someone else thinks has no reflection on what I choose to do.

So if you’ve got something on your mind, and you’ve shared your issue with those close to you, perhaps try adopting the “take only the advice that helps you” attitude. Anything that makes you feel bad, and is unfounded, let go of. However if there’s an inkling of truth in someone’s advice, and it makes you feel uncomfortable, is it something you need to address? Is there something you’re not facing up to? This can really be helpful in pushing you forwards, in making positive changes.

To book a coaching session with me, click here. We’ll talk things through, I’ll listen, then together we’ll come up with a plan to get you where you want to be.

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