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Posted 05/20/24

You’re never going to feel ready, so start now

You’ve got big goals, but try as you might, you can’t seem to take action on them.

You’re waiting until things are just right and have resigned yourself to feeling gloomy until then.

You’re wondering how everyone else has the guts/knowledge/confidence to make things happen, but not you. 

Before I tell you about me, let me ask you – do any of these situations sound familiar? If so, welcome home! I’m Beth Stallwood. As a coach, consultant, speaker, podcast host, author and creator of all things WorkJoy, I specialise in helping people like you get from where they are, to where they want to be. In this guide, we’re going to be diving into three stories that may or may not be keeping you stuck in Samesville when you really want to be moving onto…well, somewhere new. I’ve got reflection questions and a whole piece about micro-learning that I feel very passionate about (you can also find some of that in my book). Over to you. 

How to use this guide

There’s a lot of brand new stuff in here and I hope you’re going to love it. I didn’t want to hold back, so it’s long, but I’m good with that. Honestly, I’d love it if you’d give yourself an hour of personal development and dive in, notebook and all. But you can also use the links below to dip in and out. 

Contents:

Story one: I’m not ready
Story two: I need my ducks in a row
Story three: I’m not good enough at that yet
Defining your superpowers 
What to do if all else fails
10 x 10-minute learning ideas
Know this: small steps add up
Next steps: Choose your own WorkJoy journey
Spread the WorkJoy

STORY ONE: I’M NOT READY

Let me set a little scene for you: there’s a shift you want to make. Could be a move up, out or sideways. Might be starting a business or a side…gig (the word ‘hustle’ doesn’t bring me a lot of joy. You?). Might be jumping back into education. You’ve been nurturing the vision for a while and the prospect brings you genuine JOY. But…

[Goddamit why does there always have to be a ‘But’?]

…But you think you’re not ready. 

You tell yourself you’ll be ready next year. 

You’ll be ready when you’ve been promoted. 

You’ll be ready when you’ve got another qualification.

You’ll be ready when the kids are a bit older. 

You’ll be ready when you’re a bit older. 

You’ll be ready when you’re more confident. 

(As barriers go, that last one in particular is a biggie. Please, please remember that doing the hard thing generates confidence; confidence does not magically develop in order for you to do the hard thing.) Does any of this sound at least a teensy bit familiar? Thought so. The thing about ‘I’m not ready’ stories, is just that: they are stories. Stories you’re telling yourself in order to put off doing something that’s hard, but also worthwhile and probably destined to bring you joy. And the thing is, waiting around for the right time often means we miss out on opportunities, stuff up timings and perhaps never actually get the thing we want.

Reflection question:

What ‘I’m not ready’ story are you telling yourself right now? 

If this doesn’t sound like you, bear with me. You might just be a mama duck…

STORY TWO: I NEED MY DUCKS IN A ROW 

There are a few suggested sources for this expression. The one I like best (and also think is the most likely) is that it came from the image of watching fluffy ducklings waddling in a row behind their mama duck. Being a good mama, she checks that her ducklings are standing in line before she even considers waddling off. 

🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆

(just in case you need a little boost, here’s a pic of my dog searching for the ducks…) 

Now tell me, how like that mama duck are you? Do you have to have everything straightened out before you’ll start moving? 

While ‘I’m not ready’ stories are usually about confidence (or lack thereof), ‘I need my ducks in a row’ stories are usually about control (or lack thereof). We feel like we need the columns in the spreadsheet to add up, we need the timeline mapped out, we need – and someone help me on this one – to make everything *Instagram perfect*. We need people, we need a plan, we need a process, we need, we need…argh! (Even writing this is stressing me out.)

If this is you, I do get it. When things feel chaotic or you’re mouldering under a cloud of WorkGloom, it can feel comforting to tell yourself that you need to get a handle on the situation before you can make a change. Thing is, if you relinquish control, welcome a little chaos into your life and muddle along anyway, you can make 100% more progress on your goals than if you sit still waiting for those damn (cute) ducks to line up. 

Here’s a little extract from my conversation about Energizing Yourself with the fabulous Simon Alexander Ong: 

‘What happens is that if we think there’s a certain milestone, we get to where suddenly we have everything we needed, or we can now do everything that we wanted to do in our life, then we are tricking ourselves. Because what happens is that there will be things outside of our control that will force us to deviate or which will render our plan irrelevant.’

Listen to the full episode here

Reflection question:

What are you telling yourself you’ll do when you have your ducks in a row?
STORY THREE: I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH AT THAT (YET)

Ah, admin. It’s the bane of my life. Actually, it used to be the bane of my life. Because I do very little of it these days. Let me tell you about the choice I made that led to that outcome. 

When I went all in on my business, dealing with requests, scheduling calls, aligning diaries, requesting formal feedback, issuing invoices – it took up so much time, and it got me down. Some people just love a spot of admin. Not me. I noticed that I showed up to these tasks deflated and irritable because I could be spending time on parts of my business that actually bring me joy – like planning my talks and workshops. Like actually delivering them! I figured that if I outsourced my admin to someone else (who actually enjoys it), I’d have more time for the fun stuff, and more income to pay that someone as well. So that’s what I did. 

My point is that trying to embrace things you’re not great at is not only a big drain on joy, but it’s a big barrier to actually getting moving on your goals. Newsflash: you do not have to be good at everything. It’s far, far better (and loads more joyful) to be flippin brilliant at one or two things – to develop a genuine superpower. Because – and I’mn sure of this – our superpowers usually line up perfectly with our goals. 

So my advice to people who are toiling away trying to fix unfixable things or plug unpluggable holes, is to focus instead on identifying, expanding, owning and sharing their superpowers. 

DEFINING YOUR SUPERPOWERS

Professionally-speaking, I’d say I’ve got a solid three superpowers. You might have one. You might have three. What matters is that you know what they are and how they’re different from other people’s. 

Being specific is everything here. Lots of people are great with data. Perhaps only you can explain complex data to someone in a really simple way. Lots of people can think, plan and problem-solve. I can do this while simultaneously speaking, which helps me to adapt my talks while I’m actually on stage and really connect with my audience. 

Reflection question:
What are your superpowers? (Choose up to three). 

If you’re really not sure what your superpowers are, ask someone. Maybe not your mum – she probably thinks you’re great at everything. But trusted colleagues and people in your close network could be a great shout. 

Finally, when you’ve worked out your superpower, tell people about it. You might be surprised what starts to shift. 

WHAT TO DO IF ALL ELSE FAILS

If you really aren’t ready. If you really don’t have your ducks in a row. And/or if you can’t figure out your superpower, there is one thing you can always do: Learn. There is much joy to be had both in the process of learning and in the outcomes it produces.

Whether you’re just starting out in your career, working through the leadership ranks, or nearing the final stages of your working life, you can invest in learning and reap the rewards. Try imagining investment in your personal, professional, and career development as a savings account or a pension plan. What you put in now will pay off later, with compound interest. 

You are the only person who can make the choice to invest in yourself. Sure, your boss may be able to support you. You also may be in an organisation that has brilliant development support, or it could be really limited. Don’t limit your learning to what is offered; go beyond the basics, and seek to expand your expertise and supercharge your skills. One great thing about living in the 21st century is the smorgasbord of learning opportunities out there, many of which are free!

Learning doesn’t have to be long and arduous; it can be surprisingly short and simple, to fit into your life. If you like your numbers, here are some that really add up:

  • In the UK there are on average 255 working days per year
  • If you complete just 10 minutes of learning per official working day, you’ll have completed 2,550 minutes of learning over the year.
  • That’s 42.5 hours or a whole average working week’s worth for 10 minutes a day of effort.

Try out some of these 10-minute learning ideas and you may find that the learning buzz gives you a little WorkJoy boost.

FREE DOWNLOAD
Fancy a pretty printable version of my 10 x 10-minute learning ideas? Here you go.
KNOW THIS: SMALL STEPS ADD UP

I love micro-learning because it reminds me that small steps add up to big results. This is why we heard about athletes training for the London Olympics finding things that could make even a 1% difference to their performance (like bringing their own pillow to the athlete village) and why so many people get off the tube before their stop and walk the rest of the way. 

Whatever your goals are right now, don’t shame yourself for not achieving them in record time, and don’t beat yourself up if you feel a little bit frozen. Just do one thing (like watching that TED talk), then one thing again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. Building momentum in this way is gradual but effective, helping you to develop skills and confidence over time. There’s just one thing though: 

Start now. 

NEXT STEPS: CHOOSE YOUR OWN WORKJOY JOURNEY

By now you know that you might just be telling yourself a story about why you’re stuck and have identified which one it is. Perhaps you know what you need to do to inject some energy back into your working life (or life life for that matter) or you’re resolved to do some learning. On that, here are some small steps you can take today to get things moving. 

1. Sign up for a regular WorkJoy injection
Follow me on Linkedin. I’ll also let you know whenever there’s a WorkJoy-ful interview on the pod (or anything else you might like). 

2. Grab an hour for personal-professional development
I’ve got a few downloads waiting for you, and I’m thinking that WorkJoy: where do you get yours? might be perfect for you right now. 

3. Start working your way out of chronic WorkGloom
Get my 21-day GloomBusters audio guide. A five-minute gloom-lifting audio will pop into your WhatsApp every day for three weeks. All you have to do is listen.

4. Buy a book
My book, WorkJoy: a toolkit for a better working life, has chapters on learning, squads, bosses, values and much more. Think of it like the WorkJoy curriculum. 

5. Book a chat
Really stuck? Book a 1-1 coaching call with me

“Beth has been instrumental in building my strengths and reactivating my passion, and ultimately unlocking the best version of myself.”– WorkJoy community member
SPREAD THE WORKJOY

Know someone who’s a bit stuck (and maybe telling themselves a little story about it)? Why not send them this link?

Photo credit: Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash


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