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Code Like A Girl

Why it’s okay to be you

As part of the New Entrepreneur Foundation, each member gets a coach to help them make the most out of the year and mine is an absolute diamond. Most of my coaching sessions have usually evolved around a mini life crisis and at the end of every hour I feel a sense of calm and resolution to make a decision that I know is right for me. For those who know me and my ever changing mind, this is quite an accomplishment, especially in the space of 60 minutes.

But yesterday was different. All day I kept pondering of what we were going to talk about. Life was good. I’d recently got my new dream job, nothing “major” had happened and I was struggling to think of what we would discuss in our session. I even got to the point where I considered emailing my coach and rescheduling as I didn’t have any crisis to resolve. However at 4.30pm, I logged into Skype and our session began.

What came out of that session was quite frankly an epiphany moment for me. We started talking about motivation or more honestly, my lack of it at the moment. It wasn’t that I couldn’t get excited about new projects and the interesting things that were going on around me; I had a two page to-do list that I actually wanted to fulfil not what I thought I should do. Similar to writer’s block, I was suffering from action block, whereby I had loads of things I wanted to do but just struggled to find the motivation to do them. I wouldn’t even say it was procrastination, it was just I didn’t feel ready to tackle these tasks.

One of my main pet hates about the new emerging dark side of entrepreneurship and even the idea of success is that there is only one single formula. Just type into Google “habits of highly successful people” or “morning routine of successful entrepreneurs” and you’ll be faced by millions of results ranging from blog posts to books, Quora feeds to Facebook groups and online courses telling you how to become your best self. Tribes of people set on one common goal: to be successful.

Now I don’t want people to think I’m against working hard and making the best life you can. In fact my own personal mantra is “live your best life”. No my issue with the image that is presented by the world of successful entrepreneurship is something like this;

  1. Get up at 4.30am and be wide awake
  2. Catch up on email, watch the news, read relevant websites whilst standing on your head for 5 minutes and taking a shot of wheatgrass
  3. Workout like an olympian and then mediate like Budda
  4. Eat (Drink?) your lean green smoothie with a bag full of whey protein powder in for good measure.
  5. Eat that frog
  6. Get your workload completed by 9am so you can start working on the several other start-ups that you have.
  7. Repeat

Now there may be a small proportion of the population who can do this and it works for them and if you’re one of those people, I applaud you (whilst being slightly envious) but for the rest of us this simply doesn’t work. I for one am no good to anyone at 4.30am, I hate wheatgrass and the idea of a regimented schedule fills me with dread. I’m also terrible at meditation.

No what my coaching session proved to me was that it is okay to be you. To find out what works for you and stop worrying about that person up at 4.30am downing their wheatgrass shot. From our session, I’ve learnt that I tend to work in burst of energy. That I need to regularly change my surroundings in order to feel energised. That a morning walk with the dog is actually more effective than sitting in a quite room thinking about not thinking. I also get a lot more work done when I listen to my energy levels and that I get more and more motivated by the more stuff I get done.

I’m a massive fan of the coach Mel Robbins. Her TedTalk is amazing and she is someone that I resonate with because she admits that finding the energy to do anything is incredibly hard and that tough love is more than likely needed.

I’ve adopted her 5 second rule and this has really helped me achieve more than the quite frankly painful morning routines of the most highly successful people on the planet.

And the reason why? Because it works for me.

Counting down from 5 to start work, using the Pomodoro app to compete with myself to get work finished in 25 minutes and admitting that I work better at some times rather than others has really helped me to create a working pattern that suits me and actually helps me thrive. And getting up before 7am isn’t one of them.

So lets take a minute to stop and think what this immense pressure we put on ourselves to be like the top 1% is doing to us. Is it making us do our best work? Is it having a positive effect on both our physical and mental wellbeing? Is it making us into the person we really want to be?

And for me the answer is no. Which is why I have decided that its okay to be myself and use the techniques that work for me. I will probably never be an early rising, protein shake guzzling, yoga ninja who can easily put in 20 hour days in the office.

And to be honest, I’m okay with that.

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