Stories for a Friday: accepting imperfection

I was driving back from yoga and thinking about how I’m not good at certain poses. Forward bends. Anything requiring flexibility in the hips. I am good at balances, and I’m really, really good at savasana (which is all about lying on the floor and relaxing – I really am good at that).

Same as when I’m doing a more traditional workout. Push-ups are not my forte. Nor are lunges.

But I can do them. Slowly and with lots of exasperation.

Anyway, I was driving back from yoga, thinking about how I’m no good at these poses, and maybe not good at anything. And why aren’t a good at them? What is it about me that stops me from being good at forward bends and push ups? Is it related to my other faults? Is one of them causing this, or is this causing one of them?

And suddenly… I stopped.

I stopped questioning myself. I stopped trying really hard to figure out why I’m “no good” at certain things. I even stopped thinking I’m no good at them. Because, for goodness’s sake, I can still do them!

***

I’m not perfect. Neither are you. And even though I have made a pact to embrace imperfection and let go of striving for perfection, it can still bite me in the you-know-where.

On the days when I’m fed up of not being damn perfect already, when I’m impatient and overtired, when I just want one thing to go right (dude, you didn’t severely injure yourself or anyone else today – something’s going right), I can start slipping into that perfectionism place.

By the time I got home, I was just grateful to be. To be able to go to yoga. To be able-bodied and relatively capable. To have good things to look forward to (if I let myself see them).

Considering my theme for this month is freshening up, it would be easy for my monkey mind to jump into how I need to freshen up my flexibility, to get stronger and better.

I see it differently.

It’s time to freshen up my self-kindness and my self-compassion. I’m imperfect, and that’s just how I’m meant to be.

It’s time to freshen up and re-frame my aims of going to yoga: it’s not about going and doing each pose perfectly. It’s about spending time with myself, with my body, and seeing what I’m capable of today.

It’s the same when we’re too hard on ourselves in business.

Maybe you’ve started believing you’re no good at business, when the business landscape has changed.

Maybe you’ve started thinking that your products aren’t good enough or you’re just rubbish at Facebook ads.

Maybe it’s just not perfect yet, and you’re tired of not being perfect.

Let’s freshen up those beliefs, and re-frame them so that you’re better supported.

Maybe this year is one of exploration for what’s possible. When you launch a product, notice what happens: who likes it, who buys it, whether it takes a little longer to sell than before. That’s not you failing, that’s seeing how the world it.

Maybe you’re learning about Facebook ads. No one nails it first time. Set yourself learning objectives, and notice what you’ve learnt each time.

If you’re tired of not being perfect, write a list of what you’re good at. Notice what works well in your life. Remember that no one lives a perfect life, and no business remains static at the top of its game. You’re in progress.

And mostly, pile on the love, the care, the compassion. Speak to yourself as you would a child or a friend. You’re not perfect. You won’t ever be. But that doesn’t stop you being amazing.

And you’re in really good company…

With love

Jenny x

Here's the thing: "too tired" won't be an excuse anymore (but it's not what you think)

too tiredA couple of weeks ago, I wrote this post about tiredness, and it’s resonated widely. I’m glad. Let’s keep the conversation going.

Last week, I had a pretty full-on week. Travel to and visiting Harrogate Home & Gift, running an open day at Copper Boom Studio, my usual client calls, plus my husband’s (big) birthday and lots of social events. By the end of the week, my brain and emotional resilience were fairly wiped out!

All those things were important to do. And sometimes timing means that several things come at once. (I know the mum bosses currently dealing with school holidays will agree…)

The only thing that’s helped me get back on track is sleep, quiet time and unstructured time. 

Caffeine won’t cut it. Sugaring up doesn’t improve my mood or my cognitive abilities. And even the most brilliant conversations with my most treasured friends don’t get me back on track.

It has to be rest.

It has to be quiet, cosy introversion.

It has to be coming back to myself.

And as I lie on the sofa watching The West Wing, I realise something: “too tired” is no longer an excuse I’ll use. It’s not something I’ll say.

And that’s not because I’ll be pushing through or hustling hard. It’s because I’ll be sleeping, resting, meditating, and generally taking care of myself.

I’m no longer prepared to burn out. I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my own health and wellbeing, when all burnout and overtired does is lessen my ability to do my job(s) to the standard I expect of myself.

Tired is the signal to rest. I welcome it with open arms, a nice blanket, and some time to myself.

Tired is a friend.

Here’s the thing

We’re told to hustle. We’re told the only way to succeed is through hard work and more work.

We see the ideals of “work smarter not harder” and we think that’s nice for other people, but there’s no way I can do it too. I’ve got too much on.

We hold up “tired” like we hold up “busy” – as evidence of our worthiness. As what’s expected of us by society. The acceptance we need from friends and family.

Tired isn’t your modus operandi. Tired isn’t a problem. It’s information. It’s instruction: REST. Take time out. You’re running low.

Imagine if you bank sent you a message every time you get low on cash. Or that instinctive thing where you know whether you’re low on milk or tea because you have to. That’s what tired is. It’s the signal to replenish the supply.

My suggestions, if you need them, are:

  1. Notice what your thoughts are when you’re low on energy. Are you telling yourself they should be different? That you can push through? Just notice the response you have to your body and mind’s requests for rest.
  2. Give yourself some unstructured personal time. Yes, this can seem like a dream if you have kids. No, it’s not impossible. Watch a film. Read a book. Nap. Lie around. You probably need it more than you think.
  3. Give yourself permission to change your carefully bullet-journalled work plan when you’re tired. Join me in modelling a different way of working to staff and kids and partners by resting when you need to and working when you’re ready to. It’s the future, but we have to be brave enough to do it.

Need a specific and personal permission slip? I can make one for you. Go here and tell me what you need. I’ll pop one in the post.

Changing the internalised thoughts we carry on tiredness and worthiness is a big task. It’s one that I come up against every day, and it certainly seems to be my big project at the moment. But we can change it. A rising tide lifts all boats. We can create our own atmosphere for creativity and productivity that doesn’t require burnout and hustle and questioning our worthiness.

Join me?

Jenny xx

Here's the thing: what they don't tell you about becoming self-employed

what they don't tell you about being self-employedI was having a conversation with a wonderful client this week, and we both agreed: there is a lot they don’t tell you about becoming self-employed and starting a business.

Now, I know there are plenty of blog posts and articles and books out there telling us about the late nights and how you’ll have to get used to not having paid holidays and regular income. That’s all true. But they miss something out. Something big. Something that I’ve had to deal with, and that I help clients deal with every single day.

They don’t tell you how being your own boss will act as a giant magnifying glass, making you so much more aware of your habits, beliefs and attitudes to everything.

You realise what it means to be in charge of (and responsible for) your own life, actions, decisions. There’s no one else to blame. You’re not fighting a system or a boss or a culture. Everything is down to you.

You learn about your routine-making habits. Are you good at planning your time and sticking to a routine? Or do you find it hard to stay focused on your own? You gradually, over time, learn what kind of routine works for you. You keep learning it, and re-hashing it, because it changes.

The giant magnifying glass will blow up your beliefs about self-care so that they’re the Empire State Building. For months, I let exercise – even a walk in the park – become less important than emails or social media or just “getting ahead”. I let my work become more important than my body and wellbeing. I’ve had to examine that habit, because it doesn’t reflect what I actually believe.

Being self-employed will highlight every single thing you believe about money – how you earn it, how you spend it, what’s worth investing in. You’ll start to see where your fear crops up around investing. If it’s there, you’ll discover that you’re not naturally inclined to keep track of your expenses. Or perhaps, like some of my clients, you worry about every investment decision and keep yourself blinkered to what’s possible.

You will uncover a whole host of beliefs about your worth and your work’s value. What to charge? How to market? What have you been secretly believing about what marketing means? That you should just magically get customers without putting yourself out there? That you find it excruciating to put yourself out there? That you’re afraid of pissing people off by trying to make money doing what you love?

This is a particular area I’ve been thinking and learning about as part of my Playing Big training with Tara Mohr. The transition from “good student” to being out in the world of work, where the rules are very different. At school, we can quietly write essays and learn the rules and get good grades. It’s not easy, but we don’t have to put ourselves out there. In the world of work and business, we have to do the good work, make the good stuff AND talk about it. A lot. More than might feel comfortable. We have to get good at talking about it, so people know about our work. They don’t tell you about this discomfort and deep well of self-belief you have to build to combat it.

You’ll ask yourself questions like: Where are your boundaries? Are you worth the effort it takes to build, maintain and grow a business? Are you even capable of it? Can you ask for help? What if they (anyone) discover you’re not coping well? What does failure even mean?

You’ll find out that a lot of things don’t feel comfortable, and you’ll figure out how to deal with them.

I feel grateful that I had been working on my beliefs about my work, my worth, about money and time and quality and authenticity for years before I started my business. But even with the years of work and shifting beliefs, the enormity of the magnifying glass has still thrown any lingering doubt and fear and shame into bright and shocking light.

And I feel proud of myself for continuing to dive into all these beliefs and work through them. It’s absolutely essential to my work as a mentor, coach, consultant and retreat leader. It’s through looking through my own magnifying glass that I can guide my clients through working on their own stuff. I have the empathy and experience to have the conversations, question the beliefs, look at things differently. But I didn’t get here overnight.

So. If you’re reading this before you become self-employed, don’t be put off, but know that you’ve got a road ahead of you, and it includes some steep bits!

If you’re reading this as your own boss already, note which bits still stand out for you.

Either way, know that this magnifying glass business is a LOT easier and healthier when you have good, strong, appropriate support. A mentor or coach. A supportive network who truly gets it. A friend who can truly listen without sticking their own stuff in there.

The best, best thing you can do for yourself and your business is to be really honest about what’s going on. Struggling to keep up with your profit and loss? Explore the beliefs and old habits that are holding you back. Finding it difficult to share your products and market your business? Maybe it’s not just about it being ‘time-consuming’ – maybe you also have some beliefs about making your voice heard.

You may need someone to sit with you while you realise that you have these beliefs and habits holding you back. Find the right person, and while you do, hear this from me: It’s okay. You’re going to be okay. We all have limiting beliefs and struggles. They’re not the end of the world. You can get through them, even if it’s not today.

Deep breaths and cups of tea help.

Jx

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