“I was once afraid of people saying, “Who does she think she is?” Now I have the courage to stand and say, “This is who I am.“ Ophra Winfrey
Recently during an impromptu deep & meaningful conversation I was having with a family member they remarked, “This life isn’t a rehearsal, it’s the final performance…”
How very true this is, yet we still manage to take the time we have for granted. On all of our stages there is a clock that sits above the top of the curtain that never stops ticking. So can we really afford to wait until ‘one fine day’ to do all the things we want to do, or be the person we want to be? It’s probably a better idea to stay aware of the ‘bigger picture’ throughout the madness of the day to day and work on enriching our lives as soon as possible.
Therefore I’d like to tempt you to get started on Project Me (insert your name here…), which has the sole purpose of cultivating your self confidence, happiness and fulfilment.
What will your Personal Growth Projects be?
I encourage clients to create PGP’s alongside the goals they initially come to me with. PGP’s or Personal Growth Projects is a place where you can focus on all of those things that you have always wanted to do but for some reason have never quite got around to. More often than not it is the fear of failing or not being any good that has prevented us from giving these things a go. This avoidance strategy depletes our Self Confidence levels at an alarming rate because we see the fact that we haven’t taken action as further evidence that we are most definitely stupid or never going to achieve anything. So we must take some action, no matter how big or small, because doing something about the things we dream about makes us feel better about ourselves and simply more ‘alive’.
You’ll know what needs to belong on your PGP list because it’ll be the things that you find yourself thinking about from time to time in a kind of “One day I’d love to…….” way. It may be that you’ve always wanted to learn to dance and then each year when Strictly Come Dancing graces our screens you feel those butterflies flutter in your stomach with the accompanying thought of, “Wow, I’d love to learn to dance…” What are those reoccurring wants/dreams/desires that visit you ever so often? Are they something you would like to do in your lifetime, within your one & only performance? If so, they deserve some attention and belong on your PGP list.
Take some time to sit down with a piece of paper and without giving it too much thought (but by just shooting from your gut instinct) write a list of all the things you really want to do/try/experience in your lifetime. Once you have your list apply the headings below to each project and write down whatever comes to you:
- Reasons why I want to do this
- Reasons why I am capable of doing this (The experience, skills, personality, attitude that you have that will help you.)
- What I’m going to do now…
In the “What I’m going to do now” part, think of this section as taking the first logical step towards ticking this entry off of your list. Do you need to do some research? Make a phone call? It’s all about taking small but considered steps in the right direction with PGP’s as this allows your self belief to grow organically as you go along.
Don’t forget to pack a good frame of mind…
As we are creatures who like to use self sabotage and procrastination to keep us firmly within our comfort zones, adopt a flexible and self supportive frame of mind which sees each project as an exploration. This way there are no right or wrongs and no win or lose just adventure and personal growth. A milestone of when you want to have achieved each project by can be helpful but don’t get caught up too much in strict deadlines. Research has shown that if we perceive ourselves as having ‘failed’ our motivation and self confidence levels are dramatically reduced. Motivation and self confidence are two very important things to have when it comes to PGP’s or any goal you want to achieve. Instead place more importance on what you are learning as you go along and you’ll be in a better position to overcome obstacles as you’ll experience them as ‘just a part of the journey’ and be able to continue making progress.
A fundamental thing to note is that building self confidence and obtaining personal accomplishment (which both go hand in hand as one breeds the other) is a self fulfilling prophecy. The more we do the more we learn, the more we learn the more we progress, the more we progress the more confident we become, the more confident we become the more we achieve and so on and so forth.
Enrich or ditch?
When connecting with the ‘important stuff’ that you want to do in your lifetime, it is valuable to evaluate what the current good and not so good influences are in your life right now. We can get caught in a trap of playing out certain habits of less than helpful behaviour (time wasting, procrastinating, over reacting, self sabotage…) or spending time doing things that don’t actually give us pleasure any longer. The best way to shake things up is to do a bit of a clear out and identify what enriches your life and what you need to ditch!
- What behaviours, habits, past times, activities and people enrich you & your life?
- How can you incorporate these things into your life even more?
- What out of these things will you do today, tomorrow?
- What behaviours, habits, past times, activities, people hinder you & your life?
- How can you go about eliminating these?
- What more positive & productive things can you replace these with?
- What will be your code word to remind you of the better choices you’ve made if you find yourself returning to these old and unhelpful behaviours and/or activities?
You’re more than you realise you are…
How do you view yourself? It is an important thing to consider because how we view ourselves dictates what we can expect to experience in life. It governs what we think we are capable of, what we do and what we don’t do. So in the performance that is your life, what kind of person do you see when looking at your character? What do you think her limitations are? What is she good at? What is she not very good at? I wonder how accurate this depiction is, for have no doubt that this image is impacting your life both negatively & positively depending on what type of image you hold.
If you could click your fingers and have a very good view of yourself, how would that change your life? What would that mean you could do that you’re not doing right now? What would it mean you could stop doing? What would your life be like?
The power of visualisation
It’s possible to change how we view ourselves whenever we like. One of the most liberating personal development tools we can apply to our lives is the comprehension that we always have a choice. For e.g. when we’re feeling down on our ourselves we are choosing to focus on the things we don’t like over the things we do like. When we’re ready (or have had enough of feeling down…) we can turn this around by choosing to focus on the positive as well as choosing to show ourselves more respect and understanding. And so you can also choose to go about building a better, more positive & empowering view of yourself and the instrument that will help you to do just this is Visualisation.
In his book ‘Confidence’ (2008) Rob Yeung refers to an experiment that proves how powerful visualisation is in helping you recreate your ideal demeanour and behaviour in a situation. The experiment led by Stephen Kosslyn, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, used brain scanning equipment to show that imagining a movement in fact activates the same parts of the brain that light up during actual movement. This is because cells in the brain known as mirror neurons are activated simply by thinking about an activity. Therefore when you imagine something the brain responds as though that event is really happening.
Sports people have been using visualisation to help them to feel more confident in their abilities and achieve their goals for decades. By first creating the outcome they want in a visualisation, they prepare their mind so that it knows what it needs to do when in that vital moment. Another element to visualisation that makes it so effective is that it allows you to experience yourself in a better and more empowering way, i.e. seeing yourself behaving with more confidence. As a result you begin to believe that you can be that person because seeing is believing. Then what we can see in our minds we can recreate in our lives because the mind already thinks you’re doing it anyway!
Visualise your way to a more confident you…
If you feel you would like to improve your self view, begin by spending time imagining yourself being the best of you, demonstrating your strengths and being the person you know you can be. It is especially beneficial to use visualisation to help you become more confident in a specific situation that currently makes you feel on edge. Let’s have a go at this now…
Think of a current situation that makes you feel anxious. This could be a challenging situation you’re facing or it could be trying a new experience such as one of your PGP’s. Once you have chosen what situation you would like to focus on, work through the questions below and take time to really conjure up your ideal for each. You may want to make notes as you go to really bring the image of this new empowered you alive. I also recommend doing this whilst listening to a piece of music that makes you feel good and fired up for becoming the best of who you are.
- How would you like to Feel in this situation? (About you, the situation as a whole, the other person or people involved)
- How would you like to Act? (Your behaviour & attitude)
- What Positive Mark do you want to make?
Keep imagining this self assured version of you and take in every detail. How are you behaving? What are you doing? What are you wearing? How are people responding to you? Call up this picture on a regular basis and allow yourself to recreate this version of you in real life. Notice how this image of you impacts on how you feel, how it supports you to behave and then what happens as a result.
Do more, learn more, be more…
If you want to take you and your life to the next level then you need something that can light the fire in your belly on a daily basis. A personal motto is an effective tool you can employ to arm yourself against the temptations of slipping back into the confinements of your comfort zone or reverting back to the limiting self view you once held. To create your motto come up with a positive statement that encompasses how you now choose to live your life, how you want to feel and what type of attitude you want to adopt throughout both the good and challenging times. Here’s mine….
“Dream More, Do More, Live & Love More, Be More….”