Let’s celebrate our positive impacts

Today I want to celebrate the positive impact we can have by just being ourselves, gloriously, messily, unashamedly ourselves.

I read somewhere that for each person who reads our blog and leaves a comment, another 3 or 4 or 5 or however many have probably also read it and been inspired by it. Similarly if we work 1:1 the ideas we share may influence or inspire that client and how they work with their own future clients. The techniques or tools we share may then be shared to their friends and colleagues.

It’s easy to discount these little ripples. So if you are a health professional, social worker, blogger, coach, therapist or wellbeing practitioner and feel like you are having only a small impact – listen up!

 

We make positive impacts…

Each time we show up and the person who has not yet found their voice is inspired to do so too.
Each time we own all our parts and someone still struggling to feel OK with their shadow feels a small opening up of their heart towards their own messy human self.
Each time we make friends with our creativity and model that it is safe and enjoyable to write, or make art, or to sing or to create great projects we pave the way for someone else to step more fully into themselves.
Each time we make an inclusive space and connect people we help combat loneliness and disconnection.
Each time we talk without shame about money, or perfectionism, or about self-doubt, or sexuality, or the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, we help make this space safe for others.
And for those of us who speak also about recovery from mental health challenges, or burnout, or childhood neglect or abuse, we help others accept themselves more fully and wholly.

 

So today I want to celebrate the positive impact we all don’t even know that we are having. The small ripples, often unspoken.
Our most meaningful contributions may be the small gestures, and quiet words as much as the large followers and giant projects. Keep offering with good intentions, commitment to ethical practice and quality, loving observations of our own needs and boundaries, and hope for the best!

Why graduating is the start not the end

I recently hit a milestone that many people reach when they’re quite young. Can you guess what it was? I got my drivers license.

Now what took me so long and how I finally did it that’s another story. But for now what I want to share is the way that reaching our milestones or goals can be kind of underwhelming. The day I actually passed my driving test I didn’t feel excited or elated. I felt kind of numb. Surprised I guess and a bit tired. Certainly relieved, relieved that I will no longer need lessons, relieve that getting my license could finally be crossed off my To Do list. But not excited.

It kinda perplexed me until I later reflected and realised that in fact I’d had 20 years of my adult life as a non-driver and only a couple of days as a driver. The identity is new and it might take a little while for it to feel familiar and comfortable or even real.

Not only that but when we’ve been working hard to achieve something and we finally get there Instead of feeling a rush of joy we can just notice the absence of the hard slog. And that we need a little rest.

In a sense when we pass the test, graduate from the course or whatever the thing is we’ve been aiming for we realise that it isn’t the pinnacle, it isn’t the end. We realise that we are at a new point of beginning.

My journey with driving doesn’t stop now that I have my license. Is the start of a new learning experience, polishing some of the skills I still find tricky: how to drive alone, driving at a different speed, night driving in different weather conditions, learning to navigate while on the move, and many more.

Similarly when where re-training prior to a career transition we can become so focused on gaining the qualification that when we get there we can be shocked to realise rather than being finished we are actually right at the start.

We still have to learn how to demonstrate our skills and land our first job, how to network, how to do ongoing learning, how to reflect on our practice. We need to learn how to make ourselves visible to peers and potential employers, or even how to start our own business. These are not small things, and they need energy and focus just like studying did.

So if you have just finished a milestone or are getting to one, be kind to yourself! Celebrate. Have a little rest. Get ready for the next stage of the journey.

The yin and yang of creation

Sometimes people want to push and force the creative act.

“Make it happen NOW!” They say.

“Of course you have time!” They say.

Force myself with productivity hacks!

Override all doubts and protestations!

Deny myself down-time and work around the clock to Make. This. Thing. Happen.

But in my experience sometimes waiting has a purpose.

Maybe this creative act needs me to do a few more things first, gather more skills and experience until the time is right.

Maybe I am waiting for the right collaborators, or sense of possibility.

Maybe I am waiting for something else to come to an end before the new thing starts.

Maybe I’m waiting to rest and restore so that my energy levels fill back up and bring more ease to the task.

Maybe something in another aspect of my life has to shift and alter so the new creation can take place.

To me, many coaches take a mechanical view of us as human beings – push this lever, pull that, prod and hey presto! The thing is made! We are Successful!

To me though humans are more like a tree in a garden unfolding. There are deep depths subterranean truths hidden in soil. There are fabulous rich connections between ourselves and other organisms that feed us, pollinate us and shelter in our arms. There are seasons. There is maturing, that takes time. There are signals that tell us when it is safe and productive to bare fruit.

Creativity to me is a whole self endeavour.

I have learnt that bossing and forcing is not the way to satisfying productivity.

I am growing to trust the fallow seasons, and learning to understand that all trees look different, and need different things to grow. And so do we as creative beings.

——

How do you honour your own rhythms and seasons of creativity? Do you trust your instincts about when to bring your projects into the world?

Musings on imperfection and professionalism

I shared on social media recently that I was feeling really tired, exhausted from a busy few months. That maybe I hadn’t got the mix of work quite right, that I needed some time to rest and replenish.

Then I spoke with a colleague about it. She said she admired how I share openly about the different parts of myself.

I thanked her for that reflection and shared that I feel like I have to be honest about the hard stuff, because being in integrity with my feelings is how I want my work to be. And asking for help and support, that’s a big ongoing life challenge for me, an area of growth, so it feels like good practice to ask sometimes.

I shared with her that I sometimes worry it’s ‘not professional’ but then I think ‘f*^k it, that’s just the truth of who I am’. People who are scared to see the dark, who want ‘perfect’ and who want a coach that seems to have no problems ever – they are not my people.

I try to bring self awareness and compassion to my strong feelings. I try to process them and tend to them before I share them publicly. I am aware that my journal / therapist/ mentor/ coach/ friends are where the raw feelings get processed and made sense of. I never do that with my clients. I always check in first that it’s not raw and ‘in the moment’ and that there is some sense of it the sharing being for the greater good and not just for myself before I hit publish.

She said ‘maybe we need a new version of what professional is’.

I agree.

Does anything resonate for you about this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Want to be an actor?

Fantastic!

Now let me know…
Is it standing in front of an adoring audience that brings you the ultimate high? (No shame if it is – plenty of performers love this feeling). Is it surrounding yourself with people in a theatrical tribe? Is it the chance to get outside your own worries and be absorbed fully in the moment that draw you in? Is it the rush of adrenaline? Is it the feeling of fully emerging into and understanding a character? Is it critical acclaim and approval from those who really know the craft and judge excellence your ultimate goal? Is it the physical, textural aspects of costume, set and stage that gets your heart pounding? Is it the ability to share deep important stories? Is it the feeling of connecting a whole group of strangers in the audience to each other through their shared emotions?

Barbara Sher reminds us to dig around and understand the core of what is most delicious to us about our dream. Your driver and mine might be quite different even if we are going after the same thing.

Knowing what ultimately is your ‘nectar’ – the thing you seek at the heart of the activity you like – will help you shape your dream to best meet your needs. Two people might love acting, but what really lights them up might be different.

If you love the rush of a large audience you might decide that musical theatre will get you there faster than small independent productions. Or if you know that storytelling and shared emotional experience really lights you up, you might choose scripts that really deliver on that. These are just hypotheticals, I’m not a performer so they may read clunky if you know this space. But do you get what I mean?

Knowing what is at the heart of your dream can make you more resilient in the face of ‘should do’s’ and clearer about what steps or opportunities will really light you up. This self knowledge makes it easier to find our own unique path that fits us well, like Goldilocks discovering the bowl of porridge that is ‘just right’.

10 things stopping you from writing that job application

Below I’ve listed 10 of the main reasons people struggle with job applications, in my experience, and what you can do to get past them. If you’re experiencing any of these you are not alone.

Do you struggle with job applications? Or does a family member?

Maybe you’re in a job you don’t love but are too scared to leave?

I sometimes help coaching clients navigate the job application process, because if something is stopping us from writing it it’s often way way more than the process of writing the application itself. Sometimes it’s understanding the recruitment process, sometimes it brings to light the uncomfortable feelings we have about our current job, sometimes it’s a deep issue about our worth and value, sometimes the very thought of leaving raises fears about change and more. Below I’ve listed 10 of the main reasons people struggle with job applications, in my experience, and what you can do to get past them.

If you’re experiencing any of these you are not alone.

Just identifying the REAL reason you are procrastinating on the application can help you be kinder to yourself, and maybe get the help you need to get past these barriers.

You don’t understand the paperwork.

If you have never applied for a government role or addressed ‘selection criteria’ in your application you would be forgiven for having no idea whatsoever how to do it. Did anybody teach you that stuff? They didn’t teach me. I had to bumble through application after application as a fresh graduate many years ago learning as I went. Now I love helping explain it to others so they don’t have to make the same mistakes I did. So: phone a friend! If you are applying for a job in a new sector or industry see if you can have a look at an application someone else has written (e.g. a friend, or friend of friend) – and even better if its for a wildly different role. You absolutely don’t want to copy what they’ve written but seeing how an application is structured can be very helpful if you’ve never seen one before.

You hate showing off.

Do you hate ‘singing your praises’? Think self promotion is icky and best left to the confident and wildly extroverted? Well, I totally get that and I know how hard it can be for shy, introverted or self effacing folk to sell their skills and attributes to employers. It is MUCH easier for someone else to see where you shine, and much easier (often) for them to find ways to help you communicate all the ways you are awesome. A job application is not the time to shy away from your accomplishments, downplay or not mention them.

So if this is the area you are stuck in, try asking a few trusted colleagues if they could let you know something they think you bring to the team or have achieved in the past year. If you don’t feel comfortable telling them you are applying for another job you can always fib and tell them it’s to prepare for your next performance review or because you’re thinking of further study and want to play to your strengths.

Or find a confident friend with the gift of the gab and ask them to read your application and check that you are not accidentally coming across as apologetic, being brief to the point of obscurity, or underselling yourself.

You kinda don’t want to do well at interview because you’re scared the referee check will let you down.

Perhaps you left your last job in icky circumstances and don’t want anyone calling them for a reference. You’re scared to invest energy in the application and possible interview because that reference check is hanging over you like a black cloud. Or maybe you’re worried they will ask why you are looking for a new role, and you will have to tell them you were retrenched/ made redundant/ let go.

Fair enough, this is a tricky one.

Maybe you can’t change the outcome of that call or the facts around that question. However what you can do is explore and express the emotions before you start, to difuse the emotional charge around the topic. Journal, cry, have a temper tantrum, talk to a close trusted friend or therapist: grieve and mourn the loss, the pain or the humiliation.

You can also practice answering the question so that it doesn’t feel so awkward in an interview. Or maybe you can challenge any catastrophic thinking about what will happen. See if you can think up and imagine a range of possible outcomes that are all plausible, as well as the worst case scenario. Imagine being able to cope with any of them.

Hopefully this will help you will feel lighter and cleaner ready to approach a new job.

You feel like your CV is out of control.

You have SOOOOOOO much experience you don’t know how to handle it all. It’s bursting from the seams like stuffing on a well loved chair. Typical scanner problem, but…

This doesn’t have to trigger an existential crisis about your place in the world and the value of your work. Truly! Instead you can consider it simply an organisational challenge.

By using subheadings, looking for underlying themes, and being willing to prune or shrink things that are not relevant to the job you can work wonders to shoehorn your experience into a format that is clearly relevant to the job. Remember that recruiters don’t have time to join the dots for you – it’s your job to spell out very clearly how each piece of experience is relevant to the job at hand. A job application is not an autobiography, and as much as it may pain you to leave off some interesting project from 20 years ago that is very tangentially relevant, chances are your application will be crisper and easier to digest if you give it a healthy pruning around the edges to neaten it up.

You have so little experience you don’t know how to handle the gaps.

Feel like tumbleweeds are rolling through your CV? If you’ve done your own projects / volunteered / helped organise things outside of work you might just not be seeing your job-relevant experience. In that case you need some help in explaining your experience.

If you actually don’t have the experience, go get some! Write something. Volunteer somewhere. Fundraise. Do something in the world that shows that a) you have skills, b) you know something about the field, c) you care about the issue/ sector etc. I bet in three months of just one day a month you could get some real world experience that will set you apart and show employers you are ready to work. Get going!

You can’t see yourself.

What are my strengths? What makes you different? What are your values and the skills you have that you take to any job? If you’re not a fan of digging around and introspection you may not have an answer to these. I know this because I have helped many people mine the gems of skills and accomplishments out of the past work they have done. They are often surprised and say ‘oh I guess so’ when I say ‘so this probably means you have X and Y skill?’.

This is where getting feedback from a trusted boss, mentor or friend can help.

Or maybe life circumstances have thrown you about and you don’t know these things anymore, or you’re feeling disheartened and can’t see any strengths anymore. That’s OK – this is a great chance for you to explore these questions. A good coach can also help you figure this out.

You’re not in love with this career anymore.

The thought of changing jobs makes you feel a sinking feeling in your stomach and you think ‘a change would be good but somehow it’s not enough’. So honour that feeling.

Is a job application what you really need to be filling out? Maybe it’s a transfer form to move cities within your firm. Maybe it’s a uni application so that you can finally start studying that thing you love, even if only part time. If bigger change is calling to you, you might avoid the smaller changes because you know deep down its not what you want.

Your current job is so yucky you’re scared the next one will be too.

You’ve lost hope. You think ‘all jobs/ managers / working hours are probably as bad as this one so why bother?’. This is serious stuff. You may have internalised a hopeless or self defeating narrative that says ‘oh well, everywhere will be just as bad as here, why bother moving’. The thing is, whether you are right or wrong it is incredibly demotivating to feel like you are in an unpleasant place and there is nothing better out there. You may want to work with a therapist to fully express and perhaps examine these kinds of inner messages and see where they might be coming from, and if you can connect with a more hopeful story. That’s not because there’s anything wrong with these feelings – you are of course entitled to feel what you feel. And fear, hopelessness, despair, anger and overwhelm can all come up when we face change. But if you are looking for motivation to get moving on an application this can be a very difficult place to do it from.

You may also need to give yourself permission to change jobs again – quickly – if the next one is not for you. This might challenge your perception of yourself as a ‘stayer’ or someone who ‘follows through’, ‘always does what she says’ or a similar closely held story about who you want to be in the world. Can you accept that sometimes it is OK to move jobs a few times in search of one you really like? In that case you don’t need to be 100% sure that the next one is great, because you know you have your own back and will air lift yourself out of there if needed.

You’re scared you wont get the conditions you want.

‘But they pay really well here for my sector’ I hear you say. ‘I need to pay my mortgage, if I leave I’ll never be able to afford paying the rent/ my expensive hobby/ my next trip away’. Absolutely – this might be true. But do you know for sure? It might be that your story is keeping you stuck and stopping you from even looking around for what is out there. Some research could be helpful here, to reality check these assumptions. It might be that there are roles in sectors you hadn’t thought of that do remunerate as well, and you have the skills to do.

And it might also be worth reconnecting with your values: is wage the only thing that matters to you? Can you live on less? Would you be spending less if you lived closer to home, were less stressed? Again working with someone to explore this feeling of hopelessness could be of benefit, as could checking in with a Financial Advisor to do some sums and figure out how much wiggle room you really have.

You actually don’t think you’re good enough.

This one can be hard to admit but a lot of people experience this. You think you’re probably actually crap at what you do and you think it’s a fluke that you’ve found the job you’re in and if you risk going someone else they might find out you’re a fraud. So you feel stuck there because the only other option risks exposure and humiliation.

Now, in my experience, the people self aware enough to reflect on their work and have doubts are often high performers. But even if there is a kernel of truth in this fear, you are not helpless. Sign up for a part time coding course, go do a few one day courses to freshen up your core communications skills, go do that graduate certificate in some work related topic you always dreamt of. Doing something about a perceived area of weakness feels much better than being passive and fearing ‘being found out’.

The great thing about this is it’s also a good way to benchmark what you already know. Studying a topic through formal education can sometimes reveal areas that you have already acquired many of these skills on the job – good for you! This can be especially helpful if feedback is in short supply in your job or you are the only one with your skill set or technical knowledge in your firm.

And again, checking in with someone impartial about whether or not these beliefs are backed up with evidence might reveal that in fact they are fears not facts, and that you absolutely have what it takes to get another job: exactly as you are.

Going after our dreams: Forget perfect

When we have a long held dream it can be tempting to aim super high. We can visualise the BEST concert, the MOST AWESOME workshop, the BEST SELLING BOOK. This vision can be enticing, exhilarating, and frankly terrifying.

It can paralyse us with fear because we can imagine all the things that might go wrong along the way, and the pain we might feel when that moment comes if it’s NOT that raging success we dream of.

Instead try ‘beginner’ level.

Imagine your first one being full of mistakes and maybe not quite as bright and shiny as you would like AND THAT BEING OK.

Imagine the ONLY objective is to actually give it a go, and celebrate your learning and courage along the way.

If this still feels terrifying, try writing a long list of all the wonderful things you might get out of doing even a small and slightly shabby concert, or running a averagely attended workshop where you forget a few things and do an OK job, or writing a book that barely sells at all.

ALL the things you will learn
ALL the connections you might still make
ALL the experience you will gather up
ALL the personal growth and insights you might have
ALL the old fears you might step away from
ALL the old self beliefs you might gently challenge
ALL the new ideas and inspiration you might get

Feel worth it now?

Even a beginner level effort teaches us so much. In fact we often can’t get to excellence without doing ‘kind of average’ first (many times over).

Do average.
Do beginner.
Do practice.
Do ‘this is just a pilot’.

Perfect is not the only option.
Perfect is not the only reason something is worth doing.
Perfect is not our obligation.
Perfect is not your responsibility.
Perfect is a changeable, subjective flip flopping notion that exists just to tie you in knots.

What is your responsibility is to bring those great ideas into the world, and express yourself, to give it a go.

Love letter to a New Year

 

Dear New Year,

 

May you be fresh and fun.

 

May you have ups and downs, sunny days and storms.

 

May we walk together with mutual respect.

 

May you surprise us all.

 

May you remind us of our shared humanity and of our care for each other.

 

May you take us places we weren’t expecting and couldn’t have imagined.

 

May there be laughter, tears, hands held and hugs.

 

May there be plenty of space within you for sitting under trees and having bare feet on earth, bare legs in cool water.

 

May you shift and change us in ways we weren’t expecting and might not have been brave enough to do alone.

 

May you challenge us so that we find our core values over and over again and so that we finish you feeling brave and resolute and strong.

 

May you cradle us when we feel tired and gentle and soft so that we finish you feeling loved and held and safe.

 

Dear year, may you offer us many moments of curiosity, joy, reflection, peace, adventure and hope.

And may I remember that whatever you are, however you unfold, I have choices in how I respond, that my inner world is a space I can shape through learning, healing and mindfulness.

Thankyou for sharing your wonderful self with me new year.

 


 

Letter writing is a format we can use to process and capture our hopes and wishes for the year. Why not give it a go yourself? 

And once you’ve reconnected with what matters most to you this year, see if you would like some company, support and input while you take practical steps towards your dreams. I have openings for 2 new coaching clients to work with me this half of the year. See my Coaching page for package details and get in touch. 

Living in the comfort zone

Sometimes feeling stuck can just be that we have grown into our adventure zone and turned it into out comfort zone.

What felt new and exciting and a bit of a push when we first started now feels familiar and old hat.

Feels automatic.

We know that a degree of challenge or creativity is needed to keep us vibrant and interested in our days, so when our work, or daily tasks, are no longer giving us the chance to learn and stretch ourselves, a kind of malaise can set in.

“But why?” we might think. “This was interesting last year, why isn’t it interesting now?”

 

Maybe we need more learning.

Maybe we need to step up into the next challenge.

Maybe we need a project just for fun.

Maybe we need more collaboration.

 

Maybe we need a puzzle to figure out.

Maybe we need to connect with what satisfies us most.

Maybe we need some risk as well as some certainly.

Maybe we need a creative project that fills us with joy.

 

Maybe we need to drench ourselves with acts of self care and love.

Maybe we need to commit to a slightly scary goal and work towards it.

Maybe we need to name the next dream that seems so audacious we can barely believe it’s slipped out from our lips.