I’ve been in the grips of the dreaded Shoulds this Saturday morning. It started with “I should have written my blog post before today!” and went downhill from there. “I should manage my money better.” “I should have a steady income by now.” “I should have a marketing plan that works by now.” “I should have cleaned the showers last week.” “I should have the next Women’s Tech Conservatory set.” “I should have pictures of the last Conservatory.” “I shouldn’t be knee deep in should; I know better.” You get the picture.
It did occur to me that maybe the reason I didn’t write the blog post earlier is because this is what I need to write about this week.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading, writing, and talking about this topic. Obviously, it’s something I need to work on. The shoulds regularly attack me at the first of the month. Big surprise. There’s nothing like facing my finances to get me in full blown should mode. I coach about the shoulds all the time – seriously, all. the. time. Why? Because most of us get stuck in them.
Here’s what I’ve realized. The Should construct keeps me locked in the past and is a useful tool for not moving forward. How bizarre is that? Should is a useful tool for not moving forward. But, it’s true. As long as I stay in second-guessing mode, I have an excuse for being stuck.
Yuck. This morning I was so stuck that I found myself with my face buried in my hands, crying. Even writing the previous sentence made me tear up again. What’s that about? It’s about the fear that where I am isn’t where I want to be and that I’ll never get to where I want to be – in spite of massive evidence to the contrary.
Faith in myself?
It’s not only about where I am now, is it? It’s about a stunning lack of faith in the work I’ve already done plus it’s a complete lack of faith in me. Even worse, it’s a lack of faith in all of the people who support me – the clients who find me by Googling “career coach near me,” the designer who created my gorgeous site, my friends – oh my – all of my friends who demonstrate their support by encouraging me, reading my blog posts, spending time with me, and helping me brainstorm. The friends who have never once said that there’s no way this is going to work. Not one friend. Ever.
And this just occurred to me, it’s also a lack of faith in the professional community I’ve created for this phase of my journey. These are the people who connect me with big opportunities and refer people to me. They believe in me and what I do. They recognize its value.
Don’t get me wrong. When someone in my network compliments the work I’ve done to date, I’m thrilled. And within 24 hours I’ve forgotten about it. For example, a couple of weeks ago I attended a networking event honoring Sallie Krawcheck, the creator of the Ellevate Network for women and one of my inspirations. In her remarks, she talked about helping women re-enter the workforce after taking care of their families, which is my passion and mission in coaching.
So, during the question and answer period, I asked her if she’s found any strategies that are particularly effective for helping these women. She gave me some ideas and sites to check out. Later, after the Q&A period, I crossed the room to ask for a photo with her. And she said to me, “Thank you for the work you’re doing. It’s so important.” Wow. Talk about validation. I do feel like my work is important and to have someone with a platform like Sallie’s reinforce it was stunning. I was thrilled to have that validation and I shared it with several people. Then I forgot about it until right now.
Faith in the Universe
I know for me a huge part of the should struggle is that I can’t move fast enough for myself. I want to fix things and see major progress right this very minute (people who know me are cracking up right now) and I have no patience, least of all with myself.
See, there it is again. A lack of faith in me, in the ability of the universe and my network to support me – even though I receive evidence of that support daily. Daily, people. My lack of faith feeds the fear.
I do have some strategies for reclaiming my faith in myself and the universe. My favorite is to chant “I am enough. I have enough. There is enough.” When I remember to repeat this mantra (out loud works best for me) I hurl myself back into the present moment and I gradually recognize that it’s true. Of course, there are days where I have to remember this 5 or 6 times!
Another strategy is to write thank you notes to the Universe. This also pulls me into the present moment because I recognize that I can only be grateful when I’m fully present in the moment. I write the notes on little scraps of paper to remind me that something good happened – could be a call from a prospective client, a new song on my Spotify Discover playlist, a thank you from a client, or a check – by taking the time to write it down, I’m validating that it happened. I’m also increasing the probability that I remember that it happened.
Record the good stuff
I also have a Personal Affirmations folder in Evernote. Whenever someone pays me a compliment, I write it down in the folder. Sometimes I even remember to visit the folder. The notes remind me that people value what I do, so it’s okay for me to value it, too.
Finally, there’s a brand new strategy that I’m taking from my post last week. I’m going to practice meeting me where I am then I’m going to be okay with Becky as she is right at this very moment. And I’m going to leave me alone. I have a talent for meeting other people where they are in their lives and supporting them as they go forward. Perhaps I should do the same thing for myself. I will look in a mirror and say Namaste.