All women are unique. But some behaviours seem to be universal, at least in the women I work with. And, for that matter, the women I coach.
They put a ton of pressure on themselves. Pressure regarding their bodies. Their parenting. They want career perfection and a fun social life. Oh, and did I mention a relationship that lights them up?
And do you know where all this pressure and striving for perfection gets them? Well, it secures them a spot on the burnout express. It sees them dragging themselves out of bed every morning. And falling asleep on the couch every night.
But here’s a novel thought. What if you loosen your grip? What if you act intentionally to take the pressure off yourself?
Any type A personalities reading this just had a moment. The idea of letting something go feels completely foreign. The underlying thinking generally goes something like this. If I stop trying then things will spiral out of control. I’ll end up an abject failure. Everyone will know I’m a fraud. Or words to that effect.
How can I be so sure about this? Because this was me about 8 years ago.
I was reminded of this recently when I caught up with my long time coach and mentor. We were chatting about the unexpected twists and turns my career has taken recently. I reflected on the fact that the more I loosened my grip and let go of my fears – of losing my job, of failing, of being judged negatively – the faster I was promoted. The bigger jobs I was offered. And the more I was seemingly able to take on.
When I said all this to her, she laughed. Because when my coach first started suggesting that I could relax a little, I fought hard against her. My hyper vigilance and high standards saw me working seven days a week (without fail). I was also hobby free, lacking creativity and longing for my next holiday. But I was convinced that I was on the right track. Because I thought that as long as I worked hard and controlled all the optics, the more successful I would be.
Ha. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The correlation between letting go and success felt completely wrong to me at the time. But it turned out that the more I detached from the outcome – the next job, the positive judgement, the pay rise – the easier it came to me.
You see, when we hold on tight and put stacks of pressure on ourselves, we unknowingly shut down the parts of us that make us special. The elements that make us shine and stand out. And this is true not only in your career, but in all aspects of your life.
It turns out that when you’re vulnerable you’re also relatable. When you get some rest and relaxation on the weekend, you perform better through the week. And when you take off your armour and let people see the real you, you give others permission to do the same.
If you’re curious about what happens when you take the pressure off yourself, I encourage you to try it. You might just find that you create an environment that allows you to build the life you’re dreaming of. And, apart from a whole lot of stress and pressure, what have you got to lose?
Where in your life could you take the pressure off yourself? Please let me know in the comments section below.
And until next time – stay fabulous.
Warmest, Janelle x