Stop people pleasing if you want to achieve your dreams

Stop people pleasing if you want to achieve your dreams

I know you’ve been there too. It feels like pushing a giant boulder up a hill. You keep pushing even though you feel burdened and trapped. You can’t see any option but to keep going. If you stop you’ll just get flattened by that damned boulder. You can’t even complain because you have no one to blame but yourself.

After months, even years of this, you wake up and see clearly for the first time, that freedom is just one decision away. It’s been there all along. You couldn’t see it before because you were too busy doing what you felt you should, ought, must do.

Like those times when you:

Let someone else dictate your schedule or agenda without question or pushback.

Stopped yourself from pressing publish or send because you were too afraid of what your peers and colleagues might think.

Followed someone else’s advice because you didn’t trust yourself enough to forge your own path.

We humans are hardwired to please and I believe unfailingly in generosity, collaboration and taking the opinions of others on board, but there’s something I’ve learned the deep dark hard way.

If you don’t honour your desires, then you’re in no position to serve others.

To be really useful, you must give from a full cup.

I’m not talking about getting enough rest or ‘me’ time, although that’s important too. I’m talking about saying yes to the projects that are calling out to you, honouring the commitments you make to yourself (yes including a new career), and most of all, allowing more joy into your tightly scheduled work life.

The rewards for following the call of your heart are great even when decisions feel tough in the moment.

Because no one ever achieved their dreams by pleasing others or avoiding letting them down at all costs.

The good news is you won’t be doing any of this alone.

When you honour your desires you get to co-create with the universe, God, spirit, source – whatever name resonates – in all that you do.

This amazing power source is always available to you.

The question is: are you going to work with it, or keep pushing it away like that annoying boulder?

How to focus on what’s important

How to focus on what’s important

If you get all caught up with the things that are right in front of you. You may lose sight of what’s important – Pokémon

I don’t always admit it, but I’m a high achieving goal-driven person, always pushing towards the next challenge so that I can learn more, do more and be more. Can you relate?

I love to say yes, to new experiences, challenges and truth be told, to people.

While it’s true that saying yes to experiences that scare you is a rapid path to growth, as I am constantly learning, you also have to be ruthless about what you take on.

The trouble starts when you say yes and feel that you have to keep saying yes because now you’ve created an expectation. This happens with bosses, friends, acquaintances and family members. It’s not just me. I see my friends fall into this trap all the time.

You get asked to help because you’re a team player, dependable and reliable. And that feels gratifying on some level doesn’t it?

But of course if you’re not careful you can end up serving someone else’s agenda and losing sight of what’s important to you and that’s a high price to pay to avoid offending people.

You may not always feel as though you’re in control of your schedule but that’s an illusion. Even when you have a lot of people making demands, legitimately and otherwise on your time, you still get the final say.

Last week I spent almost a full day trying to record some content for a course that I was midway through creating. By the end of the day I was exhausted with little to show for it. I was pushing the proverbial boulder up a hill and it felt like it had rebounded and flattened me in the process. I realised that the reason I was finding my work so hard was that I hadn’t taken much time off lately.

I love what I do but I’m not going to be much use to anyone if I’m a burned out exhausted mess.

So I got out my planner and took stock.

I asked myself these questions:

How do I want to feel when it comes to my career?

What do I need to prioritise to feel that way?

If the opinions and judgements of others didn’t matter would I still prioritise the same things?

I rescheduled everything. New space opened up. I felt lighter and clearer than I had in months.

It’s true that I have to let some people down and this is hard on the helper bee, people-pleasing part of myself. But I’m also honouring my commitments, albeit some of them a little later than anticipated.

Most importantly though I’m honouring myself. Because I want to feel inspired, devoted and connected in my work, focused on what’s important and not exhausted from trying to achieve what’s in front of me.

Are you focused on what’s important?

Psst: If you’re tired of constantly chasing goals that leave you feeling unfulfilled, it might be because you were setting the wrong goals to begin with. I’m giving a Career Planning workshop, incorporating Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map, a guide to creating goals with soul. Understanding how you want to feel will give you a renewed clarity on the goals that are truly important to you. The first workshop will be held in Melbourne in July. Hop on this list to be notified of dates.

3 ways to instantly create more career opportunities

3 ways to instantly create more career opportunities

This post was first published on the Firebrand Talent blog.

When I was 17, I decided I wanted to work in the travel industry. It was my final year at school and I had no clue what I wanted to do, but jetting off somewhere exotic sounded like a cool way to live while I figured it out.

Unfortunately my last year in school coincided with the worst recession in Irish history. Determined to find a job in spite of this, I went with the only strategy I knew at the time, a mass mail out. I wrote letters to every travel agent in the phone book (this was pre-internet so I’m talking over 100 handwritten letters!). While I got plenty of nice letters back, sadly for me, there were no job offers.

It’s frustrating when you put a lot of effort into getting a job or progressing your career only to get rejected, or worse still ignored altogether.

Often though, as I have discovered, it means you weren’t necessarily giving yourself the best shot in the first place.

If I had tried a different approach back then, like offering to help out at my local travel agents, I might have fulfilled my travel plans.


1. Make a list of your barriers

If you’ve been trying to make changes with your career, what is standing in your way? Is it your lack of experience? An unsupportive boss? There might be some less obvious ones too.

Maybe you want to work in a more dynamic environment but you hold yourself back in case you don’t meet the high performance standards, for example.

Write a list of everything you perceive as a barrier, whether you’re dealing with difficult work colleagues or a highly competitive environment.

When you’ve written your list it’s time to get honest with yourself.

How many of these things are really an issue?

My point is that sometimes we get stuck blaming others, or ourselves, instead of focusing on what we can actually do to help our situation.

So suspend your disbelief for a moment and pretend none of those barriers exist.

Write a list of the actions you would take if you had no impediments. Take action on three of them right away and diarise three more for tomorrow. Fast action gets fast results.

2. Ask better questions

Have you ever noticed that when things aren’t going your way, you tend to ask yourself really negative questions?

Why am I always screwing up? Why can’t I do better at interviews?

The trouble with negative questions is that they contain assumptions and those assumptions are usually not even close to the truth.

The other problem is that when you ask yourself a negative question, your brain goes looking for answers to support that assumption, which doesn’t help your confidence.

In his book, The Power of Asking Questions: The Book of Afformations, Noah St John says that when you ask better questions, your mind automatically begins to focus on what you have instead of what you lack.

So instead of asking: Why can’t I get a job? Or: Why is there never enough money in my bank account?

Turn those questions into positives like:

Why am I so good at my job? Or: Why am I so awesome with money?

Your brain will search for a positive answer. When you change your subconscious assumptions about your career, you will change your results.

St John argues that when you switch your focus in this way, you will naturally see opportunities for yourself where you previously only saw barriers.

3. Face your fears

For years I dreaded public speaking. If I had to introduce myself, even to small groups, my heart would pound, my hands would shake and I would rush through my speech just to get the discomfort over with as quickly as possible.

When I started running workshops and training events, I knew this approach wasn’t going to help! So I made a decision that I would face my fear and look for opportunities to present to groups. As soon as I did that, invitations to present and speak started pouring in. I don’t believe this was a coincidence! I won’t pretend I know how it works, but when you make a commitment like this, you will start seeing opportunities to make it happen. Often they just land in your lap without you having to do much at all.

In my experience, facing your fears is one of the fastest ways to create more opportunities in your life, so think about where your fear might be holding you back.

Remember if you have a fear of public speaking like me, you don’t have to go all out and speak in front of big crowds right away. Take baby steps, start with small events and work your way up.

What do you do to create more career opportunities in your career? Please share in the comments below.

Is it worth doing even if you fail?

Is it worth doing even if you fail?

For years, I drew courage from the question, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I even own the paperweight. When I was getting ready to speak at TED this year, I pushed that question out of my head to make room for a new question: “What’s worth doing even if you fail?” ~ Brene Brown

I lay awake staring at the ceiling as anxiety sat like a weight on my chest.

I’d just started a new career, money was tight and doubt was having a field day inside my brain as it often does in the wee hours.

Suddenly I sat up and made a vow to myself that I would pursue my goal no matter what. It was a balls to the wall, no going back kind of moment, my way of putting all those niggling doubts to rest for good.

When you go through any kind of career transition, success is not a given. There will be days when you will feel unstoppable and others when you feel like a complete amateur. The same is true of anything you do in life (I am thinking of parenting as I write this).

So there’s little point in asking: What if this doesn’t work out? You might as well give up right now.

A better question to ask is: Are you willing to devote yourself to the work and keep showing up even when it feels hard? On days when there are no accolades, no wins, no one to reassure you: You’re doing a great job, keep going!

In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, she tells the story of how she took vows to be a writer when she was only sixteen.

“I retreated to my bedroom one night and turned off all the lights. I lit a candle, got down on my honest to God knees and swore my fidelity to writing for the rest of my natural life.”

What struck me about Elizabeth’s story was that she didn’t promise to be a great or successful writer. She didn’t even ask writing to take care of her financially.

She simply vowed that she would write forever regardless of the outcome.

Elizabeth was 16. I was 43. Some people are in their seventies and beyond when they are inspired to devote their lives to a purpose. It’s not transactional. It’s showing up and doing the work no matter what. That’s devotion.

What’s worth doing even if you fail?

How to declutter your way to career success

How to declutter your way to career success

This post was first published on the Firebrand Talent blog.

So you’ve decided this will be the year you find a new job, change your career and start earning the kind of money you deserve.

If you have a really big goal in your sights, the best way to begin is to get rid of the old habits, patterns and physical clutter that are holding you back.

There is a lot more to decluttering than simply getting organised. It can make you happier, more productive and best of all it will free up space for the important things you want to achieve.

1. Clear the physical clutter

It might sound unlikely that clearing out your physical environment can free you up mentally to make changes and attract more prosperity, but I can tell you from personal experience that it really does work.

There is proof that letting go of physical ‘stuff’ is empowering because it lays the groundwork for inner renewal, creating space for new opportunities. Declutter any items you associate with career unhappiness, maybe a job that made you miserable or items relating to past failures.

Pay particular attention to your work wardrobe and get rid of anything that feels like the ‘old’ version of you. If you’ve been unhappy in your job for a while, it’s a sure bet that your wardrobe doesn’t jibe with who you want to be. Which outfits make you feel happy and successful? If you want to start wearing velvet jackets and loafers give yourself permission to do that. You don’t have to go and spend loads of money on a new wardrobe. Think of small ways you can make your desired changes.

2. Declutter old beliefs and patterns

One of the most important decluttering exercises you can do is to examine any old beliefs that no longer serve you. For example, if you feel stuck in your current role and you want to take on more responsibility, take an honest look at where you’re stopping yourself. Maybe you feel stuck because you think you need to do a course, when the simplest approach might be to ask your manager if you can take on more higher level projects.

Whatever your beliefs about your abilities and experience be honest and ask yourself: Is this really true? Forgive your past failures and make an effort to face your fears so that you can move ahead with confidence. If you find yourself in a negative spiral about your career prospects, practice replacing those thoughts with a new mantra such as: I am creative and full of enthusiasm for my new career.

3. Declutter your work schedule

Like many people I used to be a slave to my to-do list. I would start my day as if I was going into battle, with each task taking equal priority. The trouble with this approach is that it’s often reactive and it doesn’t help you achieve your big picture goals. It can also lead to underperformance and that feeling of being ‘stuck’.

Review your current work schedule and ask yourself: What do I need to let go of to achieve my goals? Free up that calendar for more fulfilling projects and remind yourself you don’t need to be a slave to your schedule. When you are planning out your year, put the bigger projects on first and fit everything else around your priorities.

If you are changing careers this year or looking for a new job, prioritise the things you need to do to make this happen, whether it’s updating your resume or making time to network.

 4. Your physical & digital workspace

Your work environment has a huge impact on your career success. Are you excited to get to work in the morning? Or do you have an immediate stress out because you can’t find the document you need under a bunch of overflowing files? Having a mess on your desk is not conducive to career success. You need a clear workspace to do your best work.

Perhaps the most important element to declutter is your digital environment. How many email newsletters are clogging up your inbox? Do you have a system for dealing with emails?

Here are a few important changes I’ve made together with some magic apps to help you get organised and declutter your computer and phone:

  • Unrollme is a godsend for newsletter overwhelm
  • Wunderlist will help you keep on top of project deadlines
  • Challenge yourself to write and respond to emails in under 3 minutes
  • Respond to emails in batches where possible — once or twice a day
  • Use autoresponders when you’re working on urgent or time-consuming projects
  • Turn off social media alerts and
  • (Brace yourself) pick up the phone once in a while instead of sending an email.

My advice for digital decluttering is: Consume less content. Write shorter emails. Send fewer of them. Respect your time as well as other people’s and you will be rewarded with less stress and the space to create more success in your life.

What do you want to declutter this year?

How to deal with overwhelm in just 15 minutes a day

How to deal with overwhelm in just 15 minutes a day

You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously ~ Sophia Bush

Feeling swamped by the number of items on your to-do list? Afraid you may have finally bitten off more than you can chew?

Your schedule can get out of control when you’re trying to tackle a change of job or career. Being reminded that you have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce isn’t always that helpful (I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have to worry about what to cook for dinner after a hard day at the studios).

When you’re overwhelmed it can be paralysing. Everything feels waaay too hard. You’ll be relieved to know there are ways to deal with that crushing feeling of overwhelm, without retreating to the safety of the couch and Netflix. I know because I went looking for ideas when I faced the same issues in my business.

I have asked the advice of coaches, scoured Facebook masterminds and listened to podcasts with my ears pricked for ideas. What I discovered is that although there’s no one easy answer, there are practical strategies that can empower you and ease the stress so that you can finally take action on those goals (and feel a whole lot better too).

The Magic Number

It seems that three is the magic number. Whether it’s the number of agenda items in your presentation, the points you include in an email or the amount of major projects on your to-do list, aim for no more than three. You can use this rule of thumb in your daily work life – three major tasks a day is more than enough in my experience. You can also use this when it comes to your career planning. Which three things are going to fast track your goals? You need to be ruthless about your priorities. What needs to come off your plate so that you can do what’s most important right now?

The Power of 15 Minutes

I may not be the first to discover the power of 15 minutes, but it has helped me to make major shifts. When I’m short on time and I need to make headway I give myself 15 minutes to complete a certain task. Sometimes I take a little longer but that’s okay, the point is I have tricked my mind into action. I’ve also found that I can get a lot done in 15 minutes, especially when I let go of the need to make everything perfect:

In 15 minutes you can:

  1. Invite a contact out for coffee and croissants to ask their advice about your next move
  2. Research your dream company – what are their biggest challenges right now?
  3. Write an attention grabbing LinkedIn bio
  4. Search for your dream job on LinkedIn. Tip: lots of folks post openings in their update feed these days
  5. Research job ads to see what skills and attributes employers are listing
  6. Do the VIA character assessment to see what your top strengths are
  7. Complete two exercises from my 10 Step Career Discovery System to find your ideal career
  8. Call someone who has the job you want and ask about their experience
  9. Write a blog post about a key event in your industry and post it on LinkedIn
  10. Tap on it and clear those feelings of overwhelm

My point is that we have a tendency to make things much harder in our minds than they are in reality. If we think about what we need to accomplish as one long uphill battle then it will be hard to do even one thing, when doing that one thing could make all the difference.

Like the one phone call that landed my ideal job

The newsletter that resulted in 2 new clients signing up for my services

The LinkedIn profile update that led to a speaking opportunity

Approaching my to-do list in this way has helped me to achieve more consistency with my newsletter, (kinda) get control of my inbox, become more active on social media, do more marketing, in short, it’s helped me to get shit done.

As you and I know, everything takes twice as long as you think it will, particularly if you’re doing it for the first time (like say creating an online course, running a workshop or doing your first Facebook Live – it’s happening this Friday!!!).

But you’d be surprised by what you can achieve in just 15 minutes a day.

Try it and let me know how you go?

PS: If you’re struggling to make headway with your career plans, I’d like to invite you to have a free Discovery Call with me to discuss your challenges. You can go here to book a spot