It’s International Women’s Day today and I just wanted to take the time to shout out to all of the amazing women in the world!
I also wanted to write a little about the amount of work that many women (and men) put in to their lives.
It can be easy to assume that some people are successful because they are talented or that they effortlessly ride the waves of life like some cool, wavy-haired surfer chic or dude. In the same way that Marilyn said, “It takes a smart brunette to play a dumb blonde,” it also takes hard work to make successful look easy.
Successful women were not simply discovered and catapulted to fame, they pulled their big girl pants on and took definite, consistent action to achieve their goals.
Facing parts of your life you are not succeeding at
The first part of that, is often the first piece of guidance in most self-development or spiritual practices I have come across – you have to look yourself and everything you are doing, squarely in the face. No bullshitting. It can be a scary prospect, but I promise you, it is 100 per cent worth it.
For years, I went through life with no real direction and hid from myself and others what was really going on. Financially, I played cash machine roulette for about 15 years (putting your card in, not looking at the balance and hoping there was some money left to take out to spend £20 more at the pub). I hardly ever checked my bank balance and often if I ran out of money, I would increase my overdraft or get another credit card out. I buried my head firmly in the sand and because of that, I lived with the constant worry that I wouldn’t have enough money to pay for the things I needed to survive. Of course, I did survive – we do, but just in a really stressful, depressing mindset.
Then, I decided to change. I left the country and went to Australia for 2 years with very little money and no opportunity of credit, so I learned to live on basics. I also learned to accept help and advice from friends. With the introduction of online banking, I decided to stop turning my face away from the bank balance and set up a budget plan. I now look at my bank balance most days and my budget every week. I have targets and plans for how much I need to survive and how much I would like to have to save for things I want. Twice, I have paid off all of my debts using a Debt Snowball Plan (for a list of free printable worksheets, click here).
But I did it by looking at everything I owed squarely in the face and how I was spending my money. Then I planned to pay it off bit by bit. And when you actually take the steps and you write down what you want to achieve, life has a way of throwing you bones and you will find ways to achieve your goals that you never thought about before.
The other area of my life where I put a lot of work in behind the scenes is confidence. I am naturally shy and I was brought up in Scotland where boasting and even hinting that you think you might be worth something is deeply frowned upon. So, I have generations of female relatives that lived in a culture that told them to be nice so they could get a husband. That often meant hiding intelligence, ambitions and your feisty personalities because it was not attractive. Let’s not forget the men (particularly working class men) who were told that men should work hard at a physical or managerial job and provide for their family. Many of these men could never be their authentic selves and pursue anything that was deemed creative or too feminine. That quashing of the authentic self is damaging to people and it runs from generation to generation.
We all have histories that hold us back – but how can some people change, and others continue the behaviour patterns that are passed down? Action and determination. After I stopped feeling sorry for myself and drowning myself in alcohol about the circumstances I found myself in, I decided that I would do whatever it takes to live my life differently. I looked squarely at the people around me and saw how that had shaped some of my limiting beliefs and at some point, I decided that I refused to continue them. I also looked at other people who had overcome far worse than I had and managed to achieve far more than I have! Just last night, I went to see Halsey with my sister – she is a fan but I didn’t really know her or listen to her lyrics before. Then I read about her life. Moved from school to school, and bullied, it was discovered she had bipolar, not long after, she attempted suicide. She left home and stayed in homeless shelters in New York for a couple of years, before she started sharing her music and got a record deal at aged 17. If you didn’t know this and you just watched her in concert, you would think she was a theatre school graduate. She had an athletic physique, a pretty face, skilled dance moves and a powerful, moving voice. She is open about her life struggles on stage and in her songs. Yet she’s up on that stage looking like the most confident, capable, talented young woman – why? Because she put in the hard work.
Change your learned behaviours and habits
Changing the way your brain works takes a long time. Believing that you can be different is a challenge. Putting yourself up for failure is frightening. Dealing with the failures and worrying about failing is exhausting. Most of us who are pursuing dreams and their own businesses are dealing with this every day on our own. It may look to you as though we totally have our shit together, but the truth is, we are simply putting the work in. There is the actual work itself – whether that is teaching yoga, making products, singing, acting, writing, or running a business. But there is also the other work. The spiritual work, the personal development work, the daily and sometimes hourly pep talks, the budgeting, planning, projecting, and visioning. I create roadmaps, I research, I read, I listen to audible, I do all of the exercises that people tell me to because I will do everything it takes to succeed. It takes up most of my time. It’s why I don’t go out drinking, it’s why I don’t watch TV, it’s why I have to schedule everything I do. You might think that’s not life – but to me it is and whenever I am doing those things, I wish I was working on my goals. Of course, it’s tiring. But I want it so bad that I am willing to put the hours in. But please don’t think that it’s easy for me, it’s not.
Where to start?
By being honest about where you are and then taking the smallest steps to get yourself out of it – tell someone, write down a plan, write down your goals, connect with people that can help you, and accept that help. But I couldn’t do any of that without working on my self-worth first, and for me that has meant reading the books, listening to inspirational speeches on Youtube, finding a coach and doing the exercises!
Support your friends
And see your friends who seem like they have it all together, especially if they work for themselves or they are trying to achieve something big – check up on them. I give the impression to most people that I don’t need any help, that I can do it all on my own. To be honest, I probably give that impression. But sometimes I need a helping hand, I need a walk and a chat, I need a hug, I need some words of encouragement, I need someone else to take the lead.
More than that even, I need fun. Invite me out to do something fun, make me laugh, encourage me to be silly, send me GIFs.