Monthly Archives: August 2014

Getting Out of the Way

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Hello World!120px-Get_out_of_my_way_!_(4869717186)

Excuse me, can you please get out of my way?

It is something we often want to say to people standing in front of us. But what if it’s us who are in the way of ourselves?

I know I am sometimes guilty of getting in my own way. I seem to have the ability to help others see things clearly, so it is rather irritating that I cannot always do the same thing for myself. Observations of myself and others have lead me to the conclusion that usually, the only person getting in the way of what we want to achieve or do, is us. We get so caught up in our own situations that it can sometimes be difficult to see clearly what direction we need to take. There are so many options, and that can be daunting. Often, inactivity ends up being the result just because we feel so overwhelmed.

I admire those who seem to have such focus and dedication to their goals. People like olympic swimmers for example. They usually gather a team around them to help guide and keep them focused. For us regular folk however, often there isn’t anything we want to do that badly, and even if there is, rarely do we have the team of experts on hand to keep us on the straight and narrow. We often end up with so many distractions that leave us questioning whether or not we are doing the right thing for where we think we want to head. If you are like me, sometimes the shiny new thing can look appealing enough to take you off course, even if it is only for a while, which means you then have to correct your steering and get back on track.

Fear that you may miss out on something if you give it up can also keep you in your own way, as can doing what you deem as the sensible thing rather than doing what you really want. For me this happens when there are parts of something that I really enjoy but other parts I could happily burn. It can send me swinging from feeling committed to something, to wanting to run as far away from it as I can.

The trick for me is to remind myself that it is really only me and the actions I take that will head me in the right direction. Not the thoughts I have, or the dreams and fears. It is the action I take regarding these thoughts, dreams and fears that will make the difference. Keep it simple. Do something that takes you towards what you want, even if it is a little step, and then do what comes next.

The difference between someone like me and the swimmer I was talking about earlier is that I don’t necessarily like to make detailed long term goals and then stick to them fastidiously. I like options. And perhaps because I am like this I am always going to get a little bit in my own way. But as long as I can move when I need to, I figure all will be ok!

Til next time…

Jo

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Go Forth and Be Awesome!

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Looking at ourselves through other people’s eyes, we are usually way more awesome than we think we are!

Are you ever surprised when people are more impressed with what you do than you are yourself. I certainly am. I think what we do each day because it’s just what we do. We don’t admire ourselves the way we would others doing the same thing. Motherhood is one of those areas where we constantly beat ourselves up for not being good enough. Mother-guilt is a very pervasive beast so we never feel we quite measure up. But after a conversation I had recently about some women for whom having their children taken away from them by authorities is a reality, I figure that I must be doing ok given this has never been an issue for me. And then there is my work. People always seem way more impressed with what I do than I am.

So why don’t we appreciate how good we really are. Yes we are confident in our abilities to a certain degree, but we always doubt and compare ourselves to someone who we think is doing better than us. The reality is that whoever we are comparing ourselves to are more than likely comparing themselves to someone else. Funnily enough they are probably even comparing themselves to us. Apart from the narcissists amongst us, we generally never think we are quite good enough. Plenty of people pretend to those on the outside that they are confident in their abilities, but inside can be feeling extremely insecure. We worry that people will find out that we really are not as good as they think we are. I have heard this referred to as the Impostor Syndrome. A sad reflection really.

If you are doubting yourself, an interesting exercise is writing a covering letter as if you are applying for job, or even just writing a list of what you have done well in your life. You might just be surprised at how far you have come. What I find works really well is writing a list of what I have accomplished. I guess it is easier because if I have actually achieved or done something, then there is some sort of evidence that I could actually do it. It can be a really good reinforcement that you are on the right track. Think about what you have done over your career. You are usually doing something more than what you did for your first job, unless of course you are one of those rare lucky ducks who chose the right thing from the start. I am certainly doing more than making mellon balls. Yes, you read correctly. My first job was making mellon balls for mellon ball cocktails. Riveting. I guess you could say I have come a long way since then!

Go forth and be your awesome self!

Til next time…

Jo

Life on Purpose

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Do you sometimes wonder if you will ever find your true calling, your purpose? That one big thing that you are truly meant to do with your life. ‘Finding your passion’ seems to be one of the latest catchphrases. The reality shows are full of people declaring that whatever it is they are trying out for is all they have ever wanted to do. Sounds great in theory, but is one thing really enough for us? Apart from for a select few, I doubt it. Unless you have the ability to focus like an elite athlete, I think many of us would tire of doing the same thing, day in day out.

Gone are the days when everyone stayed in the same job for their entire working lives. Some American research I read recently found that we can expect as many as seven career changes over our lives. I am assuming they are counting the original few years in the workforce when we don’t really know what we want to be doing, but such things as the stern advice from our parents means that any job is better than no job. Thank goodness that the opportunity to change careers is relatively easy, otherwise this blogger would still be doing people’s hair, very unhappily I might add. I am fortunate to have been able to take advantage of new opportunities as they have presented themselves and have now added the journey of a writer to my pathway. While I don’t believe I am at my final working destination, my journey has certainly taught me a lot about how I work best, which does not it would seem, include working for anyone other than myself! While this is limiting in some ways, it is also very liberating to narrow down the focus to just following things that will take me in that direction.

I remember hearing a very successful woman, who had pretty much reached the top of her game in an extremely competitive industry, say that she still had at least one more career change left in her. And she was in her mid fifties. Now that we are going to have an increasing retirement age, it is even more likely that we will change paths as we will have to take the physicality of different roles into consideration. I do believe we are going to see more and more people take a self employed route, which has been made so much easier with technology. One can only imagine how much more advanced things will get in the future.

There are of course, many people who take jobs to pay the bills and don’t think too much more about it than that. I have met people working in the same jobs for many years who have no desire to go for promotions or change what they are doing in any way. They are quite happy with what they do and how they do it.

For me personally, I will go with what is currently calling me and look forward to many new calls in the future!

Til next time…

Jo

 

The Two of Us

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It seems that we have two versions of ourselves. Our ideal self and our default or actual self. Job applications and dating sites are full of people’s ideal selves. This is the one we would like others to see. The default one is usually the one we are actually living. We can, by the way, be just as good at convincing ourselves as we are others that we are our own ideal. It is probably why we end up in careers and relationships that we thought we would love, but end up being totally wrong for us.

Perhaps the saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ a reflection of us wanting to be a certain way but not actually being able to follow it through. So many times we make promises that end up broken or ignored. I wonder if this is because it was a promise that, as much as a person might think they want to keep, is not something that comes naturally. So without a huge amount of effort, it doesn’t happen. Another example is people always saying what they would love to do if they had the time. Usually, I think, this is the ideal self talking because if you really really want to do something, you can generally find the time. When you say you would love to go to the gym but can’t find the time, this is more than likely the ideal self talking because the actual self is probably saying something like ‘I want to watch Offspring on TV’. And guess which one you end up doing!

Sometimes we are right to want to move our default self closer to our ideal. More than once I have found myself responding to something in a certain way, only to ask myself why did I react like that because it certainly was not the way I would have liked to react. I think our default is set to a certain degree by external factors such as the way we were raised and events that may have happened to us, combined with our core personality. We tend to react to things according to these factors but often it is not the way we want to be. I am definitely of the opinion that we need to grow and challenge ourselves and without our ideal selves this would not be possible. I just believe that we need to keep it in line with the core values of our actual self. Unless of course those core values resemble a psychopath or the like, then the default button needs to be deleted!

So what is the best way to integrate your ideal self into your actual self? Slowly I would think. How many times do you see someone go on an extreme health kick and lose a large amount of weight, only to put it all – and sometimes more – back on again? Those who make weight loss a long term project seem to have more luck keeping to the new lifestyle. Take note of how you are actually feeling when you do the things your ideal self wants you to do. Are you really enjoying it or do you like what it represents. My ideal self would like to run marathons and go to the gym regularly – and does so in my imagination often. This self is fit and toned, rather unlike the actual self. The thing is, when it comes to exercise, my real self would rather wander around looking at the scenery and will happily do it for hours. Definitely not ideal – but it will do for now. Until my real self catches up with the imagined version anyway.

Til next time…

Jo