At Lumi, we publish a lot of inspiring stories about women doing incredible stuff. Whether it is juggling motherhood, a career, a business, being a friend or being creative (and sometimes all of the above), we feature women that may seem to be ‘doing it all’ quite easily.
Recently reflecting upon this, I am acutely aware that we could be adding to this impossible, unachievable pursuit of perfectionism. The woman who has it all and doesn’t need sleep!!! I am all for reading and hearing about an inspirational woman – sometimes it’s just what I need to keep me going – but let’s be real: it is not always like that. Sometimes, even though you muster up all your brave and you step out from your comfort zone to pursue a dream, it doesn’t work out quite as you expected. You don’t land exactly as you thought you would. When this happens, we can convince ourselves that we weren’t cut out for it, or even that we have failed. If you have ever experienced those feelings, please know you are not alone! I encourage you to read on, as I have a few tips to get yourself through – because this year, I have to do it myself.
Late last year, I returned to study, left my rewarding full time career to fulfill a dream and start my own business (multiple businesses, technically!) At the time, I thought that was the hard bit. I remember thinking, hey, I just did it, I did what some people dream about doing! I naively thought it was easy street from there on in. I do the brave thing, I get rewarded. However, as the year went on and even though my business was slowly growing, I began to find myself really lonely. I missed being a part of a working team. Although there are aspects that I love about my business, there were parts that were affecting my emotional wellbeing. I thought that I had to suffer in silence because it was my decision to go out on my own and start a business. How could I not know that I might feel this way? It was a real ‘You made your bed now you have to lie in it’ scenario. I was thinking ‘How could I get it so wrong?’ and ‘I can’t admit my ‘mistake’ now, it will make me look like a fool…’. Our mind can be so cruel and quick to judge sometimes – there is no way that I would say that to someone else, but to myself – I can be pretty harsh.
To be honest, I was disappointed. I felt that I had my biggest fear (failure) come true!
Sadly, it is all too common to judge ourselves harshly, especially when it comes to perfecting and mastering our craft. We think there is a right or a wrong – and that we have ‘failed’ if we get it wrong. Like many of us, I can be guilty of all of that kind of unresourceful thinking.
But all is not lost! I learnt a few things that have helped me through this ‘wilderness’ experience which might help you too if you find yourself there. For those of you on this journey, here they are:
- I chose what it was that I wanted to focus on. Rather than focusing on all the areas of my working life where I was lonely, I am choosing to focus on the areas that I have community and teamwork, enjoy those times and factor them into my diary as much as possible.
- I am accepting that putting on your brave face is not a once in a lifetime experience: it is sometimes a daily exercise. So now, I am choosing to muster up all my courage again (and preparing to risk being wrong), and making a commitment to continue to explore what MY ideal working life could look like.
- Give yourself time. I (and Lumi) am/are all for goal setting, however if our expectations are too high when we are in such unfamiliar territory, it can be soul destroying for perfectionists like myself. I am learning to be invested and interested in the journey rather than the outcome. What am I enjoying about this season of life now? How can I get the most out of where I am now?
So what if my dream didn’t look quite like others look or how I thought it would look? So what I haven’t got it quite right yet?…who said I had to?
I am going to continue my search for a working life that is just right for me. Discovering my ideal working life journey is not over yet, it has only just begun. How exciting! I wonder what will it look like?
So if :
- you are in a situation which you know deep in your heart isn’t quite right
- you don’t want to settle with it being your forever
- you are unsure of the next step
- you are a perfectionist and finding it hard to accept that your decision-making took you down a path that isn’t ideal…
Please know that you are not alone. Be encouraged by the fact that you are asking questions and searching and that is a great place to be – as opposed to just settling for ‘good enough’.
Hold on tight, get a coach ;), enjoy the ride and don’t EVER give up!!