To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the fear of being found out.
You fear that if you are found out, that you’ll be labeled, judged and rejected. You fear you won’t be taken seriously.
In response to this fear you do 1 of 3 things.
#1 You strive.
You grind out your work out day after day to stay one step ahead of this jury that is going to find you out and cast judgment. You perform and hustle so that no one can tell you that you don’t belong. Striving is an exhausting way to live.
#2 You hide.
If you can’t strive and perform, you hide and pretend. You put more emphasis on your appearance than your performance.
You may use apathy to hide. Apathy is a shield. You tell yourself, you really don’t want it. It’s as if you’re running away from something you never wanted so bad. You use apathy to protect yourself from caring because if you care, you might be found out and you might get hurt.
Some people use anger and sarcasm to hide. You make excuses why you’re not showing up. You blame others. You justify your lack of progress.
#3 You quit.
If you can’t strive or hide, you simply quit.
What’s your response to imposter syndrome? Strive, hide, or quit?
Clearly, not one of those things is helping you one bit. So what should you do instead?
This is how to outsmart imposter syndrome.
#1 Instead of striving, check your expectations.
Imposter syndrome sets wildly unrealistic expectations and when they aren’t met it proves you’re an imposter.
Instead, aim high, but aim true. You should have high expectations. But be the best YOU, not the best somebody else.
Ask “What are my expectations?”
It slows you down to check in on what is really going on. Maybe your expectations are unrealistic. Like, thinking you should have Instant expertise or a flawless performance, or get a standing ovation.
#2 Instead of hiding, show-up.
Show up with your mistakes, your failures.
Remember when you show-up, it will either be a success or be a story.
When you share your failures, you remove imposter syndrome’s teeth. So share your story. Share what you learned. Your experiences, good and bad, are meant to be shared. The scars you share are a gift to others because you went first.
What’s a challenge or struggle you need to share with someone? What’s something you need to share to prevent you from hiding?
#3 Instead of quitting, do the work.
This is the most effective way to beat imposter syndrome.
The only difference between imposter and imposter syndrome is the work. It doesn’t mean you need to become an expert to stop feeling like an imposter. But you just have to be faithful to the work.
Do you write? You’re a real writer.
Do you parent? You’re a real mom.
Do you run? You’re a real runner.
Do you sell a product or service? You’re a real entrepreneur.
Do you show houses? You’re a real real estate agent.
If you do the work, you tell imposter syndrome to shut up.
Spend 15 minutes doing your work.
You never want imposter syndrome to go away.Imposter syndrome is a sign you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone.
Here’s the great thing.
Use imposter syndrome to verify and celebrate that you’re doing something new and scary. Recognize imposter syndrome, thank it and keep going.
Motivation is a weird thing. Most of us feel like we either have tons of motivation or other times motivation is nowhere to be found and we are trapped in a spiral of procrastination.
There are two reasons why you can’t find motivation.
REASON #1: You’re waiting for motivation to magically find you.
One of the most surprising things about motivation is that it often comes after starting a task or taking action, not before.
Motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it.
Getting started even in very small ways, is a form of active inspiration that naturally produces motivation.
You’ve heard of Newton’s first law of Motion?
“Objets in motion stay in motion…”
Once a task has begun, it’s easier to continue moving it forward.
You don’t need much motivation one you’ve started a task. Nearly all of the friction in a task is at the beginning. After you start, you gain momentum and make progress. It is often easier to finish a task than it is to start it in the first place.
You don’t have to be motivated to get through the stuff you don’t feel like doing. You just need to start.
Stop thinking you have to be motivated to take any action. Pay the bills, send that email, go to the gym. You’re not going to be moved to do it. But, if you take one small step to start, the motivation will come.
At some point, it’s easier to change than to stay the same. It’s easier to take action and feel insecure working out than to sit on the couch disappointed in yourself. It’s easier to feel awkward doing that presentation than to get fired from your job.
Remember, every choice has a price. Somehow we cross a mental threshold – usually after weeks of procrastination and in the face of a deadline – and it becomes more painful to not do the work than to actually do it.
Start. Take one small step and YOU create motivation. Stop waiting for motivation to magically appear.
And now, the second reason you can’t find motivation.
REASON #2: You look for external motivators.
Let’s look at the word motivation.
Mot – means to move.
What moves you to do what you do; to make sacrifices, to choose good over poor habits, to do it when it’s uncomfortable?
Motivation is an inside job. You can only find it inside of yourself.
Don’t look externally for motivation. It won’t be there when you need it.
Looking at what someone else is doing may persuade you, may engage you, may get you going temporarily.
You can use what you see others doing to ask yourself, “How can I tap into that for myself?” This moves you to discover who you want to be and what you want.
Being inspired, encouraged and celebrated isn’t the same as sustaining internal motivation.
Looking outside of yourself, at others, for something that will sustain you and last is a set-up.
Constantly looking to other people to motivate you keeps you stuck in the cycle of disappointment. It’s now your job to figure out what you want, who you are and what it’s going to be that moves you ?
You need to find your WHY.
Something has to move you to do the things you need and want to do. Ask yourself:
What does move me?
Why am I not moved to do this thing?
Do I believe that I’m not worthy of the thing I want?
Why is this important to me?
Who benefits from me doing this thing?
How will things be different once I do it?
When you do the work to discover your WHY or WHY’s, your motivation is always there for you. It’s internal and it’s yours to motivate you day after day.
So I leave you with this?
What moves you?
Where to Go From Here
If you’re looking for a way to move forward on something you’ve been putting of because you don’t feel ready, you’re afraid of failing or you doubt yourself at every turn, hop on the waitlist for my course so you can be the first to know when the doors open for enrollment.
Whether you’re starting and growing a business, making a career change, starting a new relationship, writing a book, or any other goal, they all require risk, nerve and a lot of courage, before confidence ever shows up.
But you need more than the knowledge and the skills.
Remember your thoughts create feelings ➡️ feeling create actions ➡️ and actions create results.
You have to stop thinking about your past fears, failures, mistakes and embarrassments. And this is why it’s so hard to do that.
This statistic completely blew.my.mind because it really hones in on the fact that what you thought yesterday is what’s holding you back today.
The way we think is a habit. And we can change habits. We can change the way we think.
YOU have the power to change your trajectory simply by saying “stop” to the thousands of thoughts that come today that didn’t serve you yesterday.
Here are 3 mindset shifts to help you hit your goals.
#1. Move from “I’m a fraud and they’re gonna find me out, “ to “Feeling like an imposter is normal when I do something new. “
Imposter syndrome is a regular visitor. It never goes away. Use it as a way to remind yourself that you’re putting yourself out there – that you feel this way because you are acting courageously and doing something new even though you don’t have all the answers and you don’t feel ready. Don’t use it as an excuse to stop.
Stop believing everything you think. Here’s how:
Acknowledge your credibility and success.
What’s something you’ve accomplished in your life that makes you feel proud? Feel that, acknowledge that. You have a track record of success. When you acknowledge that it’s easier to NOT to believe everything you think.
Be aware of the stories you tell yourself.
If you’re stuck in the story that you’re not credible or you’re not that original or you’re not going to be successful, that’s exactly where you’ll stay.
If you look at the proof of your credibility and accomplishments, you can use that to reframe your story that you are in fact successful, credible, and unique. Then you’ll start to show up with confidence.
Get out of your head and into your heart.
It’s hard to think you’re a fraud if you believe in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
If you’ve lost your WHY, revisit it now.
What was important about this goal when you started it? What excited you about it? Who are you serving? How will your life be different once you accomplish your goal?
Tap back into the heart of the matter and make the decision to move forward based on your WHY instead of the garbage thoughts of fear and self-doubt.
#2 Move from “I’ll just test the waters,” to “I’m going ALL IN even though I’m scared.”
It isn’t about making your first million or having a New York Times Best Seller right out of the gate. In the beginning it’s about you actually showing up and committing to playing a bigger game.
Go all in no matter how scared you are.
Playing small looks like – I’ll just send out a few emails or I’ll take a course on how to write a book, is only delaying your success – success that’s inevitable if you show up, if you do the work, if you put yourself out there and don’t give up.
Create weekly content, collaborate with others in your industry, create a habit to write every morning, invite that person to dinner.
It’s too easy to just sit on the sidelines. You may be doing enough to get by. But you’re not working on the big thing that could really move the needle.
So, stop making excuses.
Stop dabbling in your dreams.
Play full out.
#3 Move from “I gotta get it perfect,” to “Good is good enough.”
Stop overthinking everything and giving in to perfectionism.
Perfectionism is nothing more than procrastination. Yes, there are a million decisions to make related to your goal. You put off making any decisions because it’s all so overwhelming.
But remember, not making a decision is making a decision. You’ve made the choice to NOT try. To NOT go all in. To NOT move forward.
Here’s the underlying truth; making the decision isn’t the hard part. It’s the fear of the outcome, the fear of getting it wrong, the fear of anything less than the perfect right decision.
Here are a couple ways to move to this mindset of “Good is Good Enough.”
Become a Learner
Successful people aren’t perfect and they don’t always get it right. But they are learners.
You aren’t perfect and you have permission to not always be great, not always get it right, as long as you commit to being a learner.
Coach Yourself Through the Doubt
Ask yourself, if you did know what to do, what would you do?
Answer it, and then do it.!
It’s time to give yourself permission to do B+ work and take perfectionism off the table.
WRAPPING IT UP
Keep showing up. Your confidence will build over time.
Think about your first day on the new job you had. You didn’t know the systems, the people, or even where the bathroom was. But 6 months later, you solved a complicated problem, and you got a “well-done” from your boss. Things started to take shape.
And the same thing happens when you’re taking action on your goals. Once you start doing the stuff, you start figuring it out because you keep showing up.
Action and consistency will help create more confidence in you and your abilities to hit your goals.
Focus on the future you want and commit to taking the necessary steps to get there.
Is your planning system working for you? If not, check out my mini-course,
Have you ever made a list of goals and thought to yourself, “Tomorrow is the day! I’m gonna wake up and get started right away!”
But tomorrow morning comes, and you hit that snooze button a few too many times. Then you go workout (good for you, friend!) and your friend asks you to go for coffee. Of course, you’re excited to catch up, so you go. Coffee turns into several hours. Heck, you’re ready for lunch by the time you head home!
You realize it’s already past noon and you haven’t started on any of those things you promised yourself you would tackle.
Your desire to start fresh “tomorrow” has come and gone and you wake up the next morning thinking – why can’t I just make myself do what I say I need to do, especially when I want to do better?
You are not alone.
Making and keeping promises to yourself is what accountability is all about.
But let’s look at accountability from a different angle. I think it will give you some clarity.
Let’s dive into what accountability is NOT!
#1. Accountability is NOT something someone does for you.
One of the most common reasons people come to coaching is because they struggle to hold themselves accountable. They think that having a coach is magically going to make them do the things they say they’re going to do.
But, accountability isn’t something someone does for you. YOU do it for yourself.
You can say you’re going to use all the accountability strategies but they won’t work unless YOU put them in place. Makes sense, right?
It’s so important to make and keep promises to yourself. Come up with a few promises that embody the type of character you want to represent. For example,
I promise to try my best.
I promise to finish what I start.
I promise to start.
I promise to take care of myself.
You have to start acting like the person you want to be.
#2. Accountability is NOT the same as motivation.
You have to actually want to be accountable. You have to be motivated and accountability will follow.
In order to find motivation you need to have clarity and desire. Without them, you will find it almost impossible to keep your promises to yourself.
If you don’t know what your goal is and why it matters to you, what’s your motivation to do the work?
Get clear on your goals.
What do you want to accomplish?
Why is this important to you?
How is your life affected by not accomplishing these goals?
What is your first step in achieving your goal?
What potential obstacles do you anticipate and how do you think you can overcome them?
Now that you know your WHAT and your WHY you have the motivation to take action.
Remember, desire is created by the negative consequences or positive outcomes you’ll experience by holding or NOT holding yourself accountable.
You have to want to keep your job, get that promotion, show up for your friends and family or create that business.
Without clarity and desire accountability will always be an uphill battle.
#3. Accountability is NOT a one-time thing.
Accountability is a habit. And habits are not a one-time, sometime thing; They’re an all-time thing.
There are tiny daily habits that encourage and support accountability. And there are tiny daily habits that kill accountability.
Habits that Kill Accountability :
Hitting your snooze button.
Going in and out of sleep makes you more tired. It’s been found that you lose 2-4 hours of focused productivity each day you hit that snooze button.
Scrolling on social media.
I got a rude awakening when I started getting those notifications on my phone at the end of the week on the amount of time I spend looking at that screen every day and it was shocking. There is no reason I should spend 4-5 hours a day mindlessly scrolling. Honestly, what a waste of time.
Habits that Encourage Accountability
Making your bed every day.
Yes, I make my bed even when I’m traveling and staying in a hotel. It tells my brain it’s time to get up and start my day. it’s a small promise that I keep to myself. And doesn’t a made bed look pretty?
Planning your day the night before.
Do you get out of bed and just start your day without a plan? Even if you have a few anchor point to your routine, such as leaving the house at a particular time each morning, having a better map of your day can help you hold yourself accountable.
If you know you want to meditate, exercise, pay the bills, chances are they will not happen. Scheduling the tasks that are necessary to move you forward on your goals will help you hold yourself accountable.
Track your habits in detail for a week. It will help you become aware of how you are spending your time.
Accountability starts with awareness and happens because of the tiny habits that support you keeping your promises to yourself. Once you know your habits, tweak them to encourage a mindset of accountability.
#4. Accountability is NOT about you feeling ready.
We do not live in an ideal world. There are rarely perfect circumstances, so many things are out of our control. But, you still have the ability to make the best decisions possible and focus on the things you can control.
Begin by adjusting your mindset from an “I’m just so scared and uncertain” to an “It’s okay to do things and stumble along the way” mindset. To do this you have to acknowledge and accept the following:
Every choice has a consequence.
Long lasting change comes from long-term effort.
Stumbling and erring are part of the process, not an end to the work.
I need to be brave and face my truths, which sometimes means answering tough questions about who I am, what actions I take, and what I’m willing (and not willing) to sacrifice.
Investing in myself is important and worth the time, money and effort as needed.
#5 Accountability does NOT mean that you don’t get stuck.
If you’re doing anything new or challenging, you will get stuck! So it’s best to prepare for it.
Take a moment to think of what stands in your way of making progress and come up with strategies to help you overcome or bypass these situations.
Here are some common ones:
Identify your biggest distractions and come up with strategies to manage them. For example, if you’re distracted by your phone, keep it in another room and set your timer for one hour. When the alarms sounds, you can check your phone. Own up to what distracts you and figure out how to eliminate it.
How you choose to think and frame things can make all the difference with your approach and commitment to working on your goals. Instead of thinking, “I can’t,” replace these words with, “I’ll try.” Instead of spending time at the end of your day focusing on the things that went wrong, focus on the things that went right. The words and perspectives you choose are in your control, so create a can-do mindset.
Are you ready now to take charge and hold yourself accountable?
The bottom line is, no matter how many motivational posts or self-help books you read, YOU have to do the work. You have to hold yourself accountable for the choices you make and the consequences they bring.
What is one thing you’re going to put in practice from this article? Tell me in the comments.
Looking for the best way to plan your goals and make room for everything going on in your life?
We are busy people. Our clocks are thin and tired, our schedules full and bloated.
But somehow we find a way to give our time to a host of wonderful distractions.
Please don’t tell me you’re too busy to finish that on-line course and then tell me about all those yummy recipes you’re going to try after watching hours of cooking shows.
Please don’t tell me you’re too busy to write your novel and then give me intricate plot details about the six shows you’re watching.
Please don’t tell me you’re too busy to update your resume and then update your social media accounts constantly.
There is a reason the average 21-year-old has played 10,000 hours of video games.
There is a reason the average American watches 35 hours of TV a week according to Nielsen.
Our minds running on auto-pilot is the reason!
We make hundreds of mindless choices every day that don’t naturally gravitate to things that matter or work we really care about. Our brains are always looking for the easy way out.
It’s all a big lie. You can’t control or manage time.
But you can control your choices.
It’s about managing yourself in the space of time.
You can’t createmore minutes in an hour or more hours in a day.
But, you can find more minutes and hours when you make better choices.
Here’s a better choice:
Wait 15 minutes to turn on Netflix and do something that matters to you. Work on a skill. Take a tiny step to move forward on a goal. Check something small off your to-do list.
I don’t care how busy you are. You have 15 minutes hidden somewhere in your day.
Ready for the challenge?
I dare you to rescue that tiny amount of time each day and then watch what happens this summer. That first 15 minutes will grow to 30 and then 45 and then 60. By the end of the summer, you will have worked for 1.500 minutes. You will have 25, on purpose, goal-crushing hours under your belt.
If you’re with me, pick one skill or goal you want to give your 15 minutes to and then get going. It’s possible to find time. All it takes is making a better decision.
When was the last time you completed a projected that truly mattered to you? When was the last time you set an important goal and you made it happen?
I mean, doesn’t it feel GREAT to check something off your list or complete an important project or say that something is finally DONE?
To take charge and be the BOSS of yourself and your goals is incredibly motivating.
Yes, of course, it feels amazing. I want you to experience that feeling more often. And to make sure that you really master this ability to finish what you start, AKA follow-through, I’m sharing the steps I use every day in my life and business. These steps create a little acronym that spells boss. B – O – S – S. Because BOSS is who you need to be to follow-through.
Now once you’ve mastered these four steps, you’re going to be way more likely to finish what you start. Okay, lets get started on building that follow-through habit using the BOSS Formula.
STEP #1: B stands for: Be Focused & Specific
Right off the bat, there are two big problems that get in our way of following through. First, most of us are working on way too many things at once. We allow ourselves to be pulled in too many directions. Instead of making meaningful progress on a single project that really, really matters, we wind up feeling constantly overloaded and overwhelmed.
Now the second problem. Oftentimes we are fuzzy about our outcome. Meaning, most of the time, we’re just working hard and trying to keep our heads above water and we don’t have a clearly defined, achievable result that we’re working towards.
The good news here is, we have the power to fix both of these problems. And when we do, we gain some serious momentum and we train ourselves to become a master of follow-through.
The very first step is this; we must FOCUS. Meaning, focus on what’s truly most important. And to be clear – I’m not talking about several things here, I’m talking about choosing just ONE thing. One TOP priority. One single goal.
What is one thing you could focus on (a single project or goal) that, if you finished it, it would make a tremendous positive impact in your life?
If you’re having trouble committing to JUST one thing, I want you to remember this:
If you’re unwilling to commit to one thing, you’re going to likely be distracted by everything.
Now once you’ve decided on the goal you want to focus on, you’re ready to Be Specific. Which means, define what success will look like when you get this done. You have to define what finished looks like. Yes, your goal has to be specific, measurable, and achievable. You should be able to say without a doubt – “Yes, I am finished and I followed through!”
Let’s say your goal is to reboot your health and you say to yourself, “Yeah, I really do want to feel better by the summer.” That, my friend, is vague and a fairly useless goal because it’s not well defined.
On the other hand if you said to yourself “You know what, I really need to reset my health and here’s my goal: for the next 30 days I’m going to eliminate gluten and alcohol and dairy and caffeine.” That’s WAY better right? Of course it is – because it is specific and measurable and achievable.
Your action item right now is to decide on ONE SINGLE goal and to define it in specific, measurable and achievable terms.
You’ve gotten focused and specific about your MOST important goal and now you’ve got to organize your life around achieving it. And in order to do that, we have got to face down the biggest BS excuse we can all use for not following through. You know what that is?
“You know what, I just don’t have the time.”
C’mon now… I know we’ve all said this. And you know what? It’s a pretty sad excuse, because we’re all given the same 24 hours each and every day. It’s just that some people have learned to use their time a lot more wisely.
You and I both know that we always make time for the things that truly matter. So if you want to master your ability to follow-through, remember this.
Meaning, if you don’t decide in advance exactly when and where you’re going to do the work, and have that time specifically blocked out on your calendar, you gotta face it, you don’t care that much about it. It’s not going to happen.
This is not just my opinion. In study after study, researchers have found ONE thing to be true. According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, a professor at Columbia University,
Did you hear that? Double or triple your chance for success? Anyone?!
Open your calendar and decide exactly when and where you’re going to work to bring your top goal to life.
STEP #3: S Stands for “Set NO as Your Default Answer.”
Look, saying “no” to yourself and others is essential to follow-through. This isn’t about being an arrogant a-hole, this isn’t about saying no haphazardly. This is about saying no deliberately and strategically and, of course, compassionately.
You have GOT to give yourself permission to STOP trying to do it all. Stop saying yes to everyone and everything and every new idea. Because here’s the truth; everything you say YES to, means you’re saying NO to something else. In economic terms, that’s called “opportunity cost” and it’s a serious thing.
For example, you go to a bridal shower that honestly, you don’t want to go to, but you say yes out of a sense of guilt and drive hours to get there and spend the entire day regretting your choice. That’s time you can’t ever get back – time you could have spent working towards your goal, or just being with your family, or your kids, or doing something meaningful to move ahead.
Simply allow “no” to be your default response to all new projects, new requests, and new demands on your time.
You also need to say NO to spending hours watching TV or getting sucked into the comparison sinkhole of social media. You say NO to any and all time sucks and energy sucks and non-essentials.
Saying yes to too much only leaves you feeling frustrated, resentful and exhausted, right? It’s not a place from which you can do your best work.
When you train yourself to say yes to less, what you really get is more. More time and more space to do the deep and important work you were born to do. More breathing room. More white space. More freedom. More energy to devote to things that truly matter, like spending time with people you love.
One of the things that stop people from making their default answer “no”, is not knowing how to say no with grace and kindness.
No is a complete sentence. But c’mon now, I mean, let’s be real. If someone writes you an email asking for something and you just type back “no” and hit send, it’s not going to feel that good to you or them.
Here’s a simple and elegant way to say no.
“Thanks so much for thinking of me. While it’s not something I’d like to do, please know how honored I am to be asked.” or I’d rather not, but thank you SO MUCH for thinking of me.”
Elegant and honest, right? Just like you.
Your next action item is to re-examine your projects and your upcoming commitments. Is there anything on there that you can decline or get out of? Now of course, if you do, you’re gonna be classy and elegant about it – but honestly, from this moment forward, if it’s not a hell yes, let it be a hell no, because you and your goal matter.
STEP #4: S stands for “Start Before You’re Ready.”
The one mantra I use to start – especially when the goal or project that I’m working on is a little scary and outside my comfort zone. And that mantra is:
Start BEFORE You’re Ready.
Look. Most of us can talk about or think about an important project for months and sometimes even years before actually doing anything about it. But do not confuse activity with accomplishment.
You see, if you’ve had trouble following through, it’s not a lack of competence that’s holding you back. It is this nasty little fear-based lie that we tell ourselves called, “I’m not ready yet.” It is one of the deadliest, most insidious dream killer around. And if you’re honest, I’ll bet, “I’m not ready yet” has probably stopped you a few times in the past.
Well, my friend, here is the secret you need to know. The world’s happiest and most successful people never feel ready to make a bold move – they just GO! They understand that waiting to “feel ready” before taking action is the worst kind of procrastination.
That is why starting before you are ready is the key to executing like a champ and mastering follow-through. It’s helps you sidestep your fear and drive straight into action-based learning. Because when you stop thinking and you start executing, you literally create this energy that pulls you forward. All of the sudden there are appointments and deadlines and real life progress.
This last step is all about execution, once you get started, don’t stop.
When it comes to follow-through, tenacity matters more than tactics or technique. Be relentless about this, do not stop taking action until you can drop the mic and say, “You know what? This. Is. Done.”
Your last action item. Identify the single most important action you could take right now to execute on your goal – even if you don’t feel ready?
Is it making a phone call? Is it making an outside appointment with some kind of professional? Or perhaps it’s telling a few people you trust about your goal and your commitment to make it happen.
There is no right answer. But, I’ll bet you know it in your heart whatever it is what you have to do. Think about it, get moving, and start before you’re ready.
Let’s review our four key disciplines to being the BOSS and following through.
B: Be Focused and Specific: Choose ONE priority and define your outcome so it’s clear, specific and achievable, Set yourself up to win.
O: Organize Your Time & Schedule It: If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.
S: Set NO as Your Default Answer: No is your default answer to all new requests, eliminate non-essentials, and say yes to less.
S: Start BEFORE You’re Ready: Be relentless and don’t stop taking action until you’ve reached your goal.
And that’s it! Be the BOSS you are and make these four personal disciplines a habit and trouble with follow-through will be a thing of the past.
Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of the big things that I want to do to make my dreams a reality.
Do you know what that feels like?
Your head is spinning. It can be hard to know what to do or where to start.
I’ve been playing around with this tool for awhile now and want to share it with you so you can beat the overwhelm, reduce stress and anxiety and move forward with clarity.
Let me introduce you to my version of The Mind Sweep.
What exactly is a Mind Sweep?
It’s an intentional methodical way for getting everything out of your head onto paper – or into a Google Doc, or wherever you’re capturing your thoughts in an organized meaningful way.
A Mind Sweep is different than a mind dump. A mind dump is also effective at getting things out, but it’s kind of like taking the mess of thoughts in your brain and creating a new mess on paper. And it can continue the train of overwhelm, because now you have to sort through all of the junk you just dumped out on paper.
Imagine pulling out the junk drawer in your kitchen and dumping it on the floor. That doesn’t really help much…the junk is just in a new spot.
On the flip side, a Mind Sweep is a lot more organized. We pictured dumping the junk drawer on the floor and making a mess. Now imagine yourself sweeping the floor in your kitchen.
When you sweep you’re not just randomly swishing the broom around to see what happens. No! When you sweep, you start at the edges and work in a certain direction. Every swish of the broom has a purpose, and you’ve got an end goal in mind.
That’s what happens when you do a mind sweep. You get everything out of your head in a deliberate and purposeful way so that you’re not dumping junk on a page. Your sweeping out the cobwebs so you can get more clarity and start fresh.
David Allen author of Getting Things Done, uses a Mind Sweep as part of his kind of complicated system GTD for capturing and processing information in your life and work so that you never miss a thing.
His version of a mind sweep is great, but I found it to be a bit much. I’ve played with it for a while, and this is what my mind sweep looks like now. I always tell my clients, their success lies in taking someone else system and tweaking it to make it your own.
HOW TO DO MY VERSION OF A MIND SWEEP
FIRST – Decide where you’ll capture your Mind Sweep thoughts. In a notebook? A journal? A Google Doc? Don’t overthink this. Pick something and start. I mind sweep the old-fashioned way with pen and paper.
SECOND – Decide when and how often you’ll capture your thoughts.
Will you do this in the morning or at night?
In the morning, the mind sweep can help improve focus by reducing distractions. At night, a mind sweep can help quiet racing thoughts and turn your brain “off” so you can sleep.
Doing a mind sweep takes muscle memory, just like any other habit. To start, promise yourself you’ll do a mindset sweep one time a week.
THIRD – Focus your sweep.
Organizing your thoughts into categories helps you manage them.
I sweep my thoughts into one of 3 categories; My To-Do’s, My Worries, and My Inner-Critic. Let’s talk about these from YOUR perspective.
CATEGORY #1: YOUR TO-DO THOUGHTS
This is the first category because I’ve found that these thoughts are at the forefront of my mind. When I do mind sweeps with clients, they also default to thinking about their to-do’s first.
To sweep your to-do thoughts, ask yourself; “What are the important things I need to accomplish today? Tomorrow? This week?
If it helps, think about your to-do’s in sub-categories like; work, home, kids, bills, parents, medical, vacations. You get the point.
Now that you got your To-Do Thoughts out of your head, it’s time to make a doable plan.
3 Steps to Make a Doable Plan
FIRST: Break out projects vs tasks.
Your list probably contains a mix of projects and tasks. A project is anything that has more than one step to complete.
Book a vacation is an example of a project. Choose 3 places to research is a task.
One of the most common reasons we end the day without crossing things off our to-do list is because our list is full of projects, instead of tasks. So we might spend hours working on a few tasks for one project, but not finish the whole project. So even though we made good progress – progress to be proud of – we still feel bad for not crossing it off the list.
When you identify something from your to-do mind sweep that’s a project, put the letter P next to it so you can come back to it later and map out the tasks within the project.
With the tasks that are left, it’s time to prioritize. Remember, when everything is important, nothing is important.
Start with lightening the load. What on the list can you eliminate? Now that you see it on paper you may realize you’ve been hanging onto something that doesn’t need to be done at all.
Is there anything on the list that you can delegate? Maybe to a coworker, spouse, kids, a virtual assistant, an intern? What can you delegate and get off your plate?
For the remaining urgent things on the list, schedule them into your day and into the next week with time blocks. This helps you keep what you decide to tackle realistic. You can’t get a lot done if you’re in meetings all day. But you can get something done when you have an hour open between appointments. Schedule it and keep that appointment with yourself.
CATEGORY #2 YOUR WORRY THOUGHTS
Worrying causes a huge bottleneck in your productivity. When you worry, you’re all up in your head and not solving a darn thing.
Now sweep for your worry thoughts. Ask yourself;
What am I worrying about or dwelling on right now?
What am I overthinking?
What am I ruminating over?
What thoughts are keeping me up at night?
What thoughts are distracting me during the day?
Next, review all those thoughts an ask yourself; “What do I have control over? Is there anything I can do about this worry?”
If yes, move that action or task to Category #1: Your To-Do Thoughts. If no, choose to let it go. Worrying has never solved any problem. It simply keeps you spinning.
If you must worry, schedule a time to worry. Every time you catch yourself worrying, remind yourself that you have 30 minutes of worry time scheduled at say 7pm tonight. Maybe use that time to journal about your worries.
CATEGORY #3: YOUR INNER-CRITIC THOUGHTS
Oh, these thoughts keep you so stuck. They tell you that you aren’t enough. They tell you to play it safe. And the secret here, my friend, is that most of your thoughts are outright lies.
Now sweep for your inner-critic thoughts.
What am I beating myself up for right now? It may be things like; I never do what I say I’m going to do. I’m always distracted. I never finish anything.
2. Finish this thought; I’ve never been good at _____________________. Or, it might come out of your head as “I’m a terrible writer, speaker, friend, parent, boss, leader.”
Review each thought and ask yourself if it is a fact or simply a thought.
Our thoughts are just that, thoughts. They are not facts. A fact is something that would hold up in a court of law. There is no emotion around facts. Thoughts are full of emotions. Also, notice words like, always, never, constantly, all the time, etc. Those are clues that the thought is a lie.
Now if it’s a lie, what else could you say to yourself? For example, “I keep putting off writing my resume because I’m a terrible writer.” That’s not a fact. So reframe the thought to:
“Now that I think about it, people have told me that I’m a great writer. I even got pretty good grades on my papers in school. I can tackle this resume.”
THAT’S IT! YOU’RE DONE WITH YOUR MIND SWEEP!
Enjoy the feeling that you have. You probably feel a little lighter now that your mind is de-cluttered and you have clarity like you’ve never had before.
Are you guilty of having an idea, or an intuitive hit on something and immediately saying “I’ll do it later.”? Or “I’ll get back to this when I have more time.”?
Now take a second to think about how much further along you would be if you started taking all that energy you use waiting and used it to start DOING?
Here’s the thing – that idea or tiny inspiration was a gift from the universe and what do we usually do with it? We throw it right into the “I’ll do it later black hole” where most ideas go to die.
You know you need to do it. For some reason, though, it feels impossible to muster the energy to simply get started.
Don’t worry, it’s not just in your head. Getting started is hard. The secret to building and maintaining momentum lies in the science.
Remember Newton’s Law Of Motion?
In chemistry, you need a big burst of initial energy to start a chemical reaction. This explosion of energy is called “activation energy.” Your brain is looking for that chemical reaction, that explosion of energy.
That moment of inspiration you had? That was the spark the universe gave you to create that activation energy to get you started.
But out of habit you smothered it and now you are left with the excuses of no energy, no time, no confidence, no inspiration.
You see, after that moment of inspiration passes, you’ll never feel like it, you’ll never be ready, and there is no right time. Suck it up, give yourself a push, and get started.
If you do, you can tap into the principle of momentum.
Here are three strategies you can use to create and sustain momentum.
#1 DO SOMETHING TINY EVERY DAY
This idea comes for BJ Fogg, a Stanford University researcher. When you set the bar low, it’s easier to stick to your goals.
If you have just started trying to get back in shape, for example, forget the long workout. Instead, do five minutes on the treadmill and five pushups a day. I transformed my health by simply walking my dog every day. When you start with something easy, you’ll see yourself win and you’ll keep going.
#2 CELEBRATE SMALL WINS
Making progress in small ways doesn’t always feel like it’s making a big difference. But research from Harvard University Business School discovered that recognizing your small progress every day is the key to productivity and happiness.
To make the effect even greater, reward yourself – but only in ways that further your goals. Topping off a 5-mile run with a bowl of ice cream is different than rewarding yourself with a deep-tissue massage.
#3 FOCUS ON THE SMALLER NUMBER
You can measure progress by how much you’ve done or how much you still have left to do.
A study from the University of Chicago discovered that you’ll be way more motivated if you focus on the smaller of two numbers.
For example, focus on the 3 pounds you’ve already lost, not the 17 more to go. Each new action feels even more impactful when compared to a smaller number.
Did you notice what these three strategies have in common?
Think small when you think about taking action.
Take tiny doable steps, celebrate small wins, focus on the smaller number.
When we think big, we get overwhelmed and it all feels impossible.
I challenge you to think small today.
Remember, creating momentum doesn’t happen by thinking that you have to finish the entire project NOW.
But it does happen by taking action immediately and then scheduling out more time on the calendar to sustain momentum.
I had to ask myself this question as I was listening to a Jon Acuff podcast. As I was listening it became crystal clear to me the moments I’m pursuing excellence and the moments I’m letting perfectionism hold me back.
Following are the highlights and my spin on what I learned from him.
When we strive for excellence, we have high standards that encourage us to make improvements, solve problems and do quality work. It focuses on the process.
Perfectionism is the belief we must be perfect to be acceptable. It focuses on the outcome. Anything other than perfect is failure. Perfectionism is an attitude, not necessarily a behavior.
Excellence, unlike perfectionism, does not demand a sacrifice of self-esteem as it tends to focus on the process of achievement rather than the outcome.
3 Differences between excellence and perfectionism
Excellence Launches. Perfectionism lags.
Excellence: You hit your deadlines, stick to the diet, publish the book, finished cleaning out the basement. Perfectionism: You half wrote the book, you quit the diet, you stopped cleaning out the basement because you couldn’t find the perfect containers.
Excellence energizes. Perfectionism drains
Excellence can still be tiring but you’re exhausted and elated. Perfectionism leaves you feeling empty and hopeless.
Excellence: People who pursue excellence are admired for their drive for excellence. You give everything you’ve got. You keep your eyes on what’s important. You don’t nit-pic everything. Perfectionism: No one aspires to be like you or to work with you. You’re seen as difficult, holding up progress, micro-managing.
It can be difficult to tell if we are in the pursuit of excellence or trapped in perfectionism when we are all up in our heads thinking, thinking, thinking.
Here are 8 ways to spot perfectionism.
If you answer yes to any of these, perfectionism is running the show.
1. Are the expectations for any goal you want to accomplish unreasonable? I expect to lose 10 lbs in a week. I will run every day. This will be easy.
2. Is the timeframe to accomplish the goal impossible? This trips you up with the speed of your progress. You believe you should be making faster progress. I should implement this new system in a week. I should get healthy in 10 weeks.
If it took you 5 yrs to put on the weight, why are you only giving yourself 5 weeks to take it off?
“Never give the problem 10 years and the solution a week.”
3. Are you obsessed about the results other people are getting?
Perfectionism amplifies comparison.
“Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
It’s normal to compare yourself to others. But instead of comparing yourself to who is on the top, the biggest and best in that field, industry, or endeavor, compare yourself to someone similar. Someone who is slightly ahead of and better than you.
Use this comparison not to beat yourself down, but to learn. What can you learn from this person and their experience that will help you accomplish your goal?
4. Do you forget to celebrate your progress and move on to the next thing before celebrating what you just accomplished?
Perfectionism, eliminates the possibility to celebrate. It says that no victory is ever big enough.
Perfectionism moves the goal post. It never allows you to celebrate at the finish line because perfectionism keeps moving the finish line. For example, you think, “I got all 3 priorities done today, but it would have been better if I could’ve got 2 more things done too.” You never get to enjoy the reward of all that hard work.
5. Are you suffering from burn-out?
If perfectionism is the standard, it’ s an impossible standard. You’ll never be finished. You’ll never be good enough. Ugh.
6. Are you overthinking and over researching?
Acuff says perfectionism turns the starting line on the ground into a wall of indecision and procrastination.
Let’s say you want to get in shape. You tell yourself this time is different. If you’re going to do this, you’re going to do it right. So, you start asking yourself all the questions.
How many times will I go to the gym? What kind of workout will I do? How many calories can I eat? Do I take the right supplements? Where am I going to buy my workout shoes? How will I work this into my busy schedule? What’s the best gym to join?
The pile of questions has turned your starting line that was so easy to cross into a wall you have to climb.
7. Do you make up fictional problems to fix?
Perfectionism makes you think you must fix fictional problems. It tells you to fix problems that haven’t even happened yet.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, you wonder what you will do when you must fire someone? What if they have a family? It’ll be awful. So, you decide to play small and be a solopreneur or not start the business at all. Sheesh, you could be years away from ever having to worry about that.
8. Do you think everyone else has it all figured out, except you?
Perfectionism cripples’ community. You worry your progress is too messy, your life is too scattered, and your challenges are too big to bring anyone else in, so you hide, and you do it alone or not at all.
How many of these did you answer yes to?
Now you know.
What is one change you’re going to make to move out of perfectionist thinking?
Oh, so many of us prioritize our tasks according to the needs of others. So often, there are underlying people-pleasing tendencies. At the end of the day, we think we’ve made everyone else happy, but they may not have even noticed.
Add to that the frustration of not getting the things done that we really needed to get done, it’s no wonder we beat ourselves up at the end of the day.
You started the day with the best of intentions and then life happens. Emails marked urgent (and they really are NOT urgent) flood your inbox. Someone calls or drops in your office to vent. Someone on your team didn’t follow-through on something so you tell yourself it’s easier if I do it myself.
Can you relate?
This doesn’t only happen at work, but it happens in our personal lives, too, with limited time spent on activities that are actually important and more energy spent being “busy.”
Sometimes, we fall into productive procrastination mode. This is when you convince yourself that because you’re busy doing something, it’s ok that you’re not doing the thing that is most critical at that time.
It is in these moments that it’s critical to have a system in place to help you decide what is the best use of your time.
By implementing a prioritization system, you can drastically change the arc of your workday to really make the most of your time at work and at home.
Step 1: Identify your to-do’s.
Step 2: Run each of the tasks through the 3 categories of questions or filters, Impact, Time, and Consequences
Why is this important?
What do I want the outcome to be?
What’s the impact if this task is completed?
What is the larger goal I’ll be making progress on by completing this task?
Is this a must-do or nice-to-do?
Do I have the capacity for this? (time, energy)
What’s the deadline?
Does this NEED to be done NOW?
Is this the best use of my time?
What won’t get done if I focus on this?
What’s the penalty or fall-out if I don’t do it?
Will anyone notice if it doesn’t get done?
Step 3: After you’ve put your tasks through these filters, put those tasks that need to be worked on this week into your planner. Schedule the day and time you’re going to do the task. YOU MUST SCHEDULE IT!
Step 4: For those tasks that did not make the cut, do not keep them on your current to-do list. Your to-do list get cluttered with the nice-to-do’s and tasks that are not important right now. Then you look at that long list and it looks like you got nothing done. From there, the self-doubt and self-bullying chatter in your head starts. Instead, add these tasks to a NOT NOW LIST. You don’t want to lose sight of these things.
Step 5: Tomorrow, or next week pull out your NOT NOW LIST and take them through the filters again. If they stay on your NOT NOW LIST week after week, ask yourself why this task is even on your list. If you can’t answer that, delete it.
Remember, the purpose of prioritization is to spend time working on the important tasks, those things that will make a difference in the long run and move you in the right direction. When prioritization is handled well, you’ll feel less reactive and more focused and intentional.
The aim is to complete work that signifies true progress, and let all the rest, all the “busyness” and “people-pleasing”, fall to the wayside.
If you like to know how to feel more confident, grab your free guide here.
Thinking about doing something is not the same as doing it. Everyone overthinks sometimes.
It’s hard to recognize the spiral of overthinking when you’re caught in the middle of it. In fact, your brain might try to convince you that worrying, and ruminating is somehow helpful.
After all, won’t you develop a better solution or prevent yourself from making the same mistake if you spend more time thinking? Not necessarily.
In fact, the opposite is often true. Analysis paralysis is a real problem. The more you think, the worse you feel. And your feelings of misery, anxiety, or anger may cloud your judgment and prevent you from taking positive action.
If you have ADHD, the overthinking can be more intense and more frequent. People often tell me, “I can’t relax. It’s like my brain won’t shut off,” or “I can’t stop thinking about how my life could have been better if I’d done things differently.”
Two Forms of Overthinking
Overthinking comes in two forms: ruminating about the past and worrying about the future.
It’s different than problem-solving. Problem-solving involves thinking about a solution. Overthinking involves dwelling on the problem.
Overthinking is also different than self-reflection. Healthy self-reflection is about learning something about yourself or gaining a new perspective about a situation. It’s purposeful.
Overthinking involves dwelling on how bad you feel and thinking about all the things you have no control over. It won’t help you develop new insight.
The difference between problem-solving, self-reflection, and overthinking isn’t about the amount of time you spend in deep thought. Time spent developing creative solutions or learning from your behavior is productive. But time spent overthinking, whether it’s 10 minutes or 10 hours, won’t enhance your life.
When you become more aware of your tendency to overthink things, you can take steps to change. But first, you have to recognize that overthinking does more harm than good.
Sometimes, people think that their overthinking somehow prevents bad things from happening. But, the research is pretty clear–overthinking is bad for you and it does nothing to prevent or solve problems.
Here are 10 signs that you’re an overthinker.
I relive embarrassing moments in my head repeatedly.
I have trouble sleeping because it feels like my brain won’t shut off.
I ask myself a lot of “what if…” questions.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the hidden meaning in things people say or events that happen.
I rehash conversations I had with people in my mind and think about all the things I wished I had or hadn’t said.
I constantly relive my mistakes.
When someone says or acts in a way I don’t like, I keep replaying it in my mind.
Sometimes I’m not aware of what’s going on around me because I’m dwelling on things that happened in the past or worrying about things that might happen in the future.
I spend a lot of time worrying about things I have no control over.
I can’t get my mind off my worries.
Here’s How to Stop the Spiral
If you know that you get caught up in overthinking, don’t despair. You can take steps to reclaim your time, energy, and brain power.
This is the tool I share with all my overthinkers in coaching. It works!
Mel Robbins created the best tool you can use to break your habit of overthinking and start taking action called the 5 Second Rule.
Here’s how you use it: the next time you catch yourself spinning in circles, procrastinating, obsessing over every detail, worrying about something that doesn’t matter, fixating on making it perfect, reflecting, ticking off excuses – interrupt that garbage and take control.
Count: 5-4-3-2-1 and MOVE.
Counting backwards requires your mind to focus. As soon as you start counting, your brain switches from autopilot mode (where your overthinking habit runs on a loop) to the prefrontal part of your brain that focuses on counting down from five. It gives you immediate control over what you think and do next.
It’s a little trick that works for millions of people and it’s backed by tremendous research.
Try it and let me know how it works. And, seriously, grab Mel Robbins book The 5 Second Rule.
Did you know perfectionism is one of the biggest confidence killers?
PER-FEC_TION-ISM Noun Obsession with “getting it perfect” to avoid criticism and failure.
Raise your hand if you’re a self-proclaimed perfectionist. You too huh?
The pursuit of perfection can be crippling. This perfectionist thinking plagues mostly women.
It’s no wonder perfectionism is linked to numerous negative health effects, including higher rates of anxiety, depression, unhappiness and eating disorders.
That’s crazy to think about. But it’s true.
Perfectionism keeps us stuck in the cycle of self-doubt. As harsh as it sounds, it is an EXCUSE to avoid something we don’t like or we don’t have much confidence around. It keeps us from putting our great ideas and our great selves out into the world.
Perfection paralysis is a trick your mind plays on you in an attempt to keep you safe.
Whenever you are about to put a piece of yourself out in the world (say by starting a business or asking someone out on a date) you form an idea of it in your mind first. You think, “I don’t want to be rejected or judged.” “I don’t want to fail.”
If perfection is your standard, of course you will never be fully confident because the bar is always impossibly high, and you will inevitably and routinely feel inadequate.
Action is the anecdote to self-doubt. Well, here’s the rub. Perfectionism keeps us from taking action. Perfectionism is the greatest form of procrastination.
I’m reminded of an important principle from the science of systems and software design: the good-enough principle.
The principle states that most consumers will use products that are good enough, even if there are more technically advanced options available to them.
This means that in most areas of life, good enough really is good enough. True success is progress towards goals that matter to you.
When you strive for perfection, you are bound to fail, and this can lead to even more self-criticism, turning your mind into your enemy.
By calling on the good-enough principle to reframe your perspective, you are giving yourself permission to fail.
Trust me: You will fail at something along the way. It is only when the pressure of perfection has been removed that you can tap into your inner genius and do your best work.
Next time you find yourself stalling out on an important project, suffering from writer’s block or avoiding asking your cute co-worker out to dinner, remember the good-enough principle and give yourself permission to try.