Over the years, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with tools and resource lists. When I was first starting my business, I was downloading everything that caught my eye, because I was living in a story that I didn’t know enough about being a coach. I didn’t trust my intuition and my natural skill as coach – despite the many months of formalized (and amazing!) formal training I’d received.
Eventually, I realized that regardless of how amazing the information I was accumulating was, I would never feel satisfied.
There was zero time for implementation, testing or debriefing. I had one goal in mind: collection. It’s like I thought that simply having information in my download folder would be enough to make me a “credible” coach.
I was wayyyyy off base.
Now, I know and trust in my skills as coach and I don’t worry about what it is I “don’t know.”
Both in my business and in my life, I understand that my success in any given situation is dependent not on the information I have stored away in my brain but rather in my ability to act on instinct. I trust myself, my motives, and my skills -and I know that if I’m presented with a situation I’m unsure of, I have what I need to figure out a powerful solution.
I see versions of this same story play out in my conversations with women all the time. I’m constantly being asked for tools and resources, books, and podcasts that can help them change their lives. While I understand the desire for more guidance and information, I want to remind you and every other woman out there that you already have what you need – and no amount of resources or tools will transform you into a “better” version of you.
You’re on a journey, and there’s no shame in asking for tools along the way. However, if you start to feel like you have too many resources, like you’re simply following the path of someone else, or like there’s no way you can read everything you’ve accumulated, I encourage you to take a break.
Remember, there are resources everywhere if you ever feel lost – but those resources are simply things that have worked for others. Your path is unique, and the single greatest resource for you is your own intuition. If you feel overly dependent on tools and resources from others, I encourage you to look within and work on trusting your gut, instead.
You’ve got this.
For many years I, like millions of other young women around the world, was my own harshest critic. I was working long hours in the nonprofit field, juggling high levels of responsibility and workload with a scarcity of time and very little understanding of how to manage my own stress levels. I was determined to set myself apart by being impressive, so I’d take on as much work as was available. I also wanted all that work to be done perfectly.
Rather than admit to myself or others that I had too much on my plate, I’d dig in with a renewed determination to once again set myself apart. I’d work extra hours and often spent my precious off time ruminating about unfinished work or conversations. I would work myself up into a panic over the slightest imagined faux pas, in both my personal AND professional life. I thought everything I did was under scrutiny, and I was constantly afraid I’d be “found out” as someone incapable or unqualified for my position.
Even writing this now makes me uncomfortable. I can recall the tightness that was always present in my chest, the jittery way my mind was operating on too much caffeine, and the lack of fullness in my life at the time. Yes, I was fulfilled, challenged and happy with my work – but the desire for excellence and perfection robbed the rest of my life of any possibility of meaning.
Eventually, after years of trial and error and seeking to stand apart by working crazier and crazier workloads, I realized something significant. I was trying to set myself apart so that others would see my value, and in turn help me to excel. But rather than trying to get others to see my value, I realized that it was my responsibility (and mine alone) to advocate for myself, in work and in life – and that if I was only focused on the “mistakes” I was convinced I was making, I could never speak confidently about myself and my own value.
This was a true lightbulb moment: I shifted from being my biggest critic to my biggest advocate, and never looked back.
That’s why I’m such a big fan of #theimperfectboss campaign. I spent too much time scrolling through the Instagram hashtag yesterday, laughing and commiserating with female entrepreneurs around the world who also do not always have things done perfectly. I know that the desire for perfection is something that I, and my clients, will likely continue to be aware of throughout our lives. Having a desire for perfection isn’t a bad thing by itself – it’s how we choose to respond to that desire that can be powerful or disheartening. Since I’ve released my constant desire for perfection and the accompanying self – scrutiny, my life looks completely different.
Today, I’m sharing my 3 favorite tips to ditch the desire for perfection, whenever it comes up!
- Pause. Anytime you feel a desire to re-do a project, to tweak or to obsess over the layout of a blog post, take a moment to pause. Stop what you’re doing and close your eyes, consciously connecting to your body and grounding yourself. Be quiet for several minutes, and then ask yourself where the perfectionism is coming from. Are you avoiding something else by obsessing over this? Acknowledge the core desire, and choose how you’ll handle it from a more empowered place.
- Reflect. Think back on the other projects you’ve completed in the past. Are there things about those projects you’re still dying to perfect? Probably – because it’s rare that a blog post, workshop, project or even a relationship feel complete. There’s always something more we can build out, a new perspective we can introduce. Before you start editing that backlog of projects though, consider their reception. Did your boss/community/loved one enjoy your offering? Did you get comments on your blog posts? Most likely, even in their less than perfect state your previous work had a positive reception. That’s because your audience, whoever that is, isn’t even aware of the tweaks you’re looking to make.
- Prioritize. Still feel like something’s not quite clicking when it comes to what you’re working on? Make a list of all the things you want to change to make it “perfect.” Ask a friend or coworker to review your draft, and then have them go over the list with a highlighter, highlighting only things that they noticed when looking at your draft. If you have a grammatical error, fix it, because it directly impacts the reader/viewer’s experience. The fact that you want to break paragraph three into two paragraphs? If your reviewer didn’t notice, then it’s likely not a big enough deal to stress over.
I hope these practical tools help you to break out of your perfectionist rut, next time you get stuck! Remember, you can use these tools in any area of your life, so don’t hesitate to customize them so they work for you. Let me know in the comments which exercise is the most helpful for you, and take pride in being #theimperfectboss. Being imperfect just means that you’re too busy getting shi* done to allow your mind and your fear to get in your way. Go out there and advocate for yourself, instead!
Alright. Raise your hand if you’ve ever totally blown it on your goals.
I’m talking face in the dirt, no saving grace, zero silver lining kind of failure. My hand is raised high, believe me.
We all fail. It still sucks when we do, especially because there is something you can do about it.
It could seem like there are a multitude of reasons we fail at reaching our goals. Maybe, we think, we weren’t motivated enough. We didn’t have enough money to do the things we needed or buy what we wanted. We simply got too busy. We didn’t care that much about our goals anyway.
Now, don’t take this the wrong way, because I say it with love and respect: that’s a load of bullshit.
The reason we fail to reach our goals is because we don’t make them our number one priority.
Think about it. How many times have you had a miles long to-do list that seemed impossible, and yet you’ve still shown up for a friend that needed you? What we prioritize is what we make happen in our life.
If you aren’t prioritizing your goals, it’s time to make some changes. This might seem scary at first, but what do you have to lose?!
Here’s how to make your goals a number one priority in your life again:
- Build in time on your calendar to check on your goals, measure progress and make adjustments
- Get accountable. Hire a coach, work closely with a small group of friends, tell your partner about what you’re doing and why. The more external accountability you have, the easier it is to avoid working on what scares you.
- Create a mantra. This could be just a few words to a sentence that remind you of why your goals are so important. Write it on post its, set reminders on your phone, or just mutter it under your breath when your day to day is making you crazy.
Looking for more support? One on one coaching might be the answer for you if you’re ready to have serious accountability to create massive change.
In the world of life coaching and self help, we often talk about living in alignment. That term “alignment” can seem elusive. It refers not to a place or a specific emotion, but to a grey area of experience. It’s a term for the constantly shifting state of being where your decisions, thoughts and attitudes are all in sync with a greater vision you have for your life. As the vision changes, the rest falls into place. It’s an undulating and responsive place to live, and it’s often hard to remain in complete alignment. Adjustments are required.
The older I get, the more I realize my desire for alignment and the peace it brings. I have to force myself into creative expression, where it came easily to me in childhood. I take note of my thoughts and am often surprised by what I hear. My own actions don’t seem to always be conscious decisions, instead happening as a natural result of whatever wave of emotions and energy I’ve taken on throughout the day.
I have built a support team to keep me on track, as I need it: I have a loving therapist who reminds me of the strength and creative power of the brain. I have a coach who pushes me to recognize fear as a safety net. I have a nutritionist that insists that only beautiful, light things enter my body. I have a pup that reminds me with a single look how far I’ve strayed from kindness or pure love, in the heat of frustration.
My favorite support, though, has been my yoga mat. I don’t practice every day (although I strive to). I also don’t consider myself the “best” in the class-often opting for child’s pose when the pose feels too far out of reach, or for easier modifications. But I go back. I always show up. Again and again. I find a sense of peace and literal mental and physical alignment on my worn mat, forehead pressed to to the floor.
I envision my yoga practice as the act of getting back into alignment; the shuffling of the body and the mental chatter into a streamlined drip, my crown opening up like a funnel. My practice allows the flowing light of the divine to rush down my spine like a mighty river, filling each reservoir and rib along the way. If I can end my practice feeling more aligned with my truest and best self, I consider it a success.
So I’ve made the commitment to deepen my practice. To become more aligned. To strive for my best self more often. To laugh at my mistakes or missteps along the way. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be heading to the mountains. I’m removing myself from the distractions of daily life (Netflix, junk food, naps, bills) to be with myself and my mat. To design a practice that leads to strength and away from fear and guilt. A practice that reminds me that with my forehead pressed to the mat, and my breath warming my face, I am in it. I am receiving and acting in spirit, in sync with the greater vision for my life: chasing peace.
If you’re interested in joining me in a 100 hour yoga retreat in the Great Smoky Mountains this October, send me a note at email@example.com, or check out the program here. If you tell them you heard about the retreat from me, you’ll get a $200 discount!
I’m so excited that my blog post was featured in Darling Magazine‘s blog this week! Darling has been a source of inspiration for me for several years-I love seeing all the incredible things that women around the world are up to.
Please take a moment to check out my article here, and to share with friends and family. I specifically talk about the life lessons that I learned from moving around a lot as a child.