It’s mindfulness week at the coworking space I use. Every day a coach is holding short sessions on meditation, nutrition and time management amongst other things. Yesterday I went to the first session, where the coach asked us to do a simple thing: breathe.
A small group of us sat there in a circle, a little awkward, expectant.
After explaining to us what our brains are up to when we feel stressed, the coach put on some calming music and asked us to close our eyes.
She told us to breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2, breathe out for a count of 6.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath in and a deep breath out.
I realised how tense my back and neck felt. How my mind had been buzzing. It felt as though I’d been holding my breathe. I felt anything but calm and relaxed.
I also realised that I was on the verge of tears.
Gradually I relaxed into it, and it felt so calming to listen the music, quietly sit and concentrate on something as simple as breathing.
Looking back over the morning, I saw that I’d been running on auto-pilot.
I’d been in a state of high-alert, rushing to write an email before the session, and stressed by all things Monday. I’d been off to the gym first thing, rushing back to shower and change, then rushing to work. All the emails and work for the week crashing down on top of me.
I’d even had a brief chat about the busyness of Monday mornings to a friend in the kitchen about an hour beforehand – but hadn’t thought to step back and actually take a break, sit for a few minutes and breath and close my eyes.
As the coach said, we feel as though we need to be go go go to be productive, but it’s not the case. The more breaks we take the more productive we can be.
I know this. I know that I need breaks. But I’m aware that my breaks usually consist of ‘doing’. Switching to read an interesting article, or something in Spanish, or to check messages. Once in a while listening to a podcast or walking round the block.
But sometimes what I really need is to find a quiet space, close my eyes, breath in and out. Really switch off.
It’s fine and even great to have periods of hyper-productivity, firing on all cylinders, getting stuff done. But when you’ve had a whole day of buzzing – that sounds a little like living off stress to me. When you can’t slow done, you jump from one thing to another, the adrenalin’s pumping. Frantic.
It’s not sustainable and at some point you’re probably going to crash. And that’s really not productive.
So if you’re reading this, do yourself a favour. Close your eyes. Breathe in slowly for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2, breath out for a count of 6. Repeat. Notice how your body feels. Notice how your mind feels. Better?
To book a coaching session with me, focusing on mindset and making positive changes in your life or career, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A former client from my advertising days wrote to me recently, wondering how I’d made the leap from advertising to what I do now. She explained that she’s unhappy with the situation she’s in at the moment, still working in advertising. She’d moved to Madrid 3 years ago with a sparkly new job. But it isn’t working out the way she wanted. What she really wants now is to return to her native Italy, to Rome, with a good job.
But as far as she’s concerned, that’s an impossible dream.
I found it interesting that she describes her dream as impossible. From my point of view it’s a relatively straightforward wish. Find a new job, hand in your notice, book flights, find somewhere new to live…
If we look into it a bit more closely: there’s no visa issue or reason she can’t physically return to her country. Flights aren’t expensive and it’s not a great distance to have to travel. So nothing is stopping her from giving notice on her flat and job, packing up her stuff, and getting on a flight. Finding a new place to rent (or buy) can be a faff but there’s always a solution, even if it’s temporary until you’re more settled.
So what else needs to be seriously considered? Work.
Is it likely she’ll find a job in Rome, or a way of working from there? I’m not too sure what the job market’s like but with her intelligence and experience, getting a job is surely possible. Will it be exactly what she wants, right from the start? Not necessarily, it may be a case of finding something to pay the bills and then making a switch when a new opportunity arises.
She’ll have a big network of contacts by now who could be invaluable in helping her find something. Even if the job market in Rome is limited, could getting a job with a company based in Milan and working remotely be a possibility, being close enough to visit when necessary? Could she do her current job remotely from Rome, or side step into a role that would allow it? All within the realm of possibility.
There’s a saying by Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t-you’re right.”
If you believe that something is impossible, it probably will be impossible, because you won’t even try to do it.
You’ll spend your time torturing yourself, wishing for something with all your heart but take absolutely no action to try and do it. Because you believe it won’t happen.
Many people feel as though their dream is impossible. The reality is probably that it would take time, effort, logistics, mindset, guts, focus, determination and maybe a bit of luck.
However, if you can accept this, and start working towards your goal nonetheless, it should be possible. It might take more time than you’d like. It might require a lot of effort and persistence. But if it’s really want you want, more than anything, surely it’s worth it?
The number one stumbling block is going to be your mindset, and that needs to be dealt with. Working hard to rid yourself of the belief that your dream can’t happen. And doing everything to persuade yourself it’s possible.
You need to find other people who have done the same or similar (erm – hello?). Search online, ask your network of contacts. Surely someone out there has moved from one big city to another, maybe even from Madrid to Rome, and found a decent job in the process. If they’ve done it, so can you. You might have different circumstances, but it’s possible.
Sometimes you have to let go of expectations, and be willing to be open and put in the work. It sounds cheesy, but I think you have to work to make your dream happen. It can be done.
Got a big dream that seems impossible? What’s the first small step you can take to make it seem more real?
If you’d like to chat with me about coaching (and maybe make a plan to get out of that job you’re really not loving), get in touch at email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve written about the barrierswe put in place to stop ourselves from trying something new (and how to get around that mindset). Things like not having the time, not having the experience, not being quite ready to get started. Know the feeling? It’s led me to think more about the idea of ‘start before you’re ready‘.
In the books I read and podcasts I listen to about entrepreneurship successful people always advise that in order to achieve something big you just need to get started. Even if you don’t feel 100% ready.
It’s something I’ve been trying for a while now, and I still have to psych myself up each time. But I’ve learned how thrilling it can feel to start before you’re ready. And it’s addictive. Here I’ll share a recent example and why it’s worth it.
What ‘start before you’re ready’ looks like
I signed up to do an online challenge. The challenge was to create a free downloadable guide to offer to people who visit my website. Something I’d never done before. It could be on whatever subject I wanted.
What do I know about and find easy, that someone else could learn from?
A post I’d written on LinkedIn about my love of morning routines had generated a few comments from people who genuinely struggle with setting up a good routine of their own. Maybe I could create a guide for that?
Part of me thought – is this really going to be useful to anyone? Are people going to thing it’s silly?
Then I remembered that most people coming to my website are looking for guidance and want to improve certain aspects of their lives. Perhaps establishing good habits and a decent morning routine would be of use.
Just do it
I kept having to remind myself – just do it. Create the guide without stressing over it, follow the steps to getting it out there. Don’t spend hours procrastinating and worrying about all the details. Done is better than perfect.
It’s hard. It felt daring (putting my stuff ‘out there’). It made me feel vulnerable.
But – it’s undeniably thrilling to do something you’re a bit scared of or daunted by. Taking a step into the unknown, being brave. And I realise the result is unlikely to kill me (or cause public humiliation).
When people visit my website, they can now download a guide which might help them, it might even be just what they are looking for! It feels like a step forward.
Even if no one clicks to download it, I’ve gone through the motions, I’ve learned how to do it. I can try again. It’s no longer so scary. Actually, it feels exciting.
Have you started?
This is what start before you’re ready is all about. It’s about not letting fear stop you, it’s jumping over the fear and ending up two steps ahead.
What can you start today that you don’t feel 100% ready for (but really want to do)? Won’t taking one little step towards it make you feel amazing?
You can access my free guide to creating a morning routine you love, just click the download button below. Let me know what you think, send me a message at email@example.com.
I recently spoke to a friend of a friend, M, about her work. She finds her current job stressful and she can’t see herself carrying on all the way through to retirement. We got talking about what she’d always dreamed of doing – working in interiors and decoration. And seeing the way she lit up talking about it…I asked her if she’d ever consider trying to move into it. But as we talked it was obvious there were a few barriers stopping her from thinking it could ever be possible.
The barriers M put in her way are really common. I don’t have the time. Other people are already doing the work. I’d need a qualification. The courses I’ve seen are far away and too expensive.
What’s it worth?
M was interested in taking a course to learn more and had looked into a couple. But the fact that they were pricey and bit of a distance away was an obstacle. I asked if the prospect of learning more, of enjoying exploring the world of design, of meeting like minded people, could be worth it. M admitted she’d love to give it a try.
So is it worth saving up or cutting back to afford it? Is it a potentially worthy investment? Could she find a way of prioritising the time she’d need to travel there and back?
The qualification issue
Another of the most common barriers, M felt she would need a qualification in order to set up and be taken seriously. I asked her – if someone could teach you how to do something, or could do it for you (with amazing results), would you care if they had a qualification or not?
I know some careers do require rigorous training and it may be the case that a certain level of education is required to be an interior designer. But in so many careers knowledge and experience count for a lot. And there’s always the possibility of studying for a qualification alongside getting work experience or during the very early stages of starting a business. I started coaching while studying for my coaching qualification. This doesn’t have to be a barrier.
For example, say I want to decorate my house. Imagine I have a bit of a budget, but zero interest in actually doing the research and searching for items or considering aesthetics. I would totally want to pay for the services of someone with amazing taste, whose own house is beautifully decorated, and who can make the transformation easy for me.
And get this – M mentioned that a few friends had commented on her style, or hinted that they’d love her to makeover their houses. I got excited hearing this! Proof there’s a market for her and proof she doesn’t necessarily need a qualification to get started. She could get started working with friends, and see what happens with word-of-mouth.
In her free time M’s pinning decoration images on Pinterest and obsessively scanning Instagram. We agreed that dedicating even 30 minutes a week would be time well spent on exploring this potential new career. She can put that research to good use! And use the time to set up working for a friend for free, or calling to find out more about the course and enrolling, or working out what niche she’d focus on. Maybe seeing if she can interview or shadow someone local working as a interior designer. Step-by-step.
So often we put pressure on ourselves when it comes to trying something new, putting immediate barriers in place. What if I don’t enjoy it, what if I change my mind and am no longer interested? What if it’s not for me?
Well on the other hand, what if it’s amazing – and changes everything?
The worst could be that you start taking small steps into that world, and realise you don’t enjoy it. This will help you decide that its not the path for you. You’re still a step ahead. You’re getting closer to what you want. It’s not a step back. You’ve set the gears in motion for change. You’ve shaken things up and you’re showing yourself that you’re taking yourself seriously. You can build on this.
For instance M could offer her services for free and then use the results as a portfolio/case study. Go through the process with a friend/’client’ and learn from the experience. See if she actually enjoys it and if the client is pleased with the outcome (maybe following up with a questionnaire or asking for a testimonial). Was anything tricky? What could be improved? Did anything go well? Did she feel under qualified?
This could all be done on the side of carrying on with her full time employment. I’m not suggesting quitting and starting from scratch. M can slowly build up her experience, and be sure it’s a career path that appeals.
Finally, with I visited M’s home, I was struck by the fact that she’s probably got the most stylish house I’ve seen for a couple with young kids. Her young daughters’ bedroom had simple, lovely colours, kid appropriate but not garish. In one corner of the room there was a massive leafy plant in front of a big shuttered window, with light filtering through. There was excellent storage so there weren’t toys all over the place. Somehow this all changed the room from any old kids bedroom to ‘dream’ kids bedroom.
Their home was sleek, stylish and not overrun with kids stuff. It struck me – that could be her niche. How to have a beautiful home when you’ve got kids. How to achieve the stylish, zen-like look even if your day-to-day is as chaotic as everyone else’s.
Her dream is so big and exciting, and seems so far away that she can hardly contemplate it one day being a reality. But once M can get over her mindset blocks and start believing it could one day be possible, all she needs to do is start taking small steps to make it happen. It might take a while, but it’s possible.
Want some help with
Let me know if you’d like to speak to me about moving forwards with your big dreams, and dealing with your mindset. Removing barriers. I can help! I love doing this. I’ll help you to see the possibilities, and we’ll work out a plan together. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a booking.