My favorite mindset hack to let go of perfectionism

Hands in the air

If you’ve ever found yourself re-reading an email for the eighth time or tweaking an already-done PowerPoint, this message is for you.

Ditto if you’ve spent weeks fiddling with the font on your website, have a blog that’s been sitting in your drafts folder for days (or weeks…or months…) or have an idea you’ve been waiting to share because it just needs a little more research.

Here’s the mindset hack: Go for 97.

Let me explain.

100% perfection isn’t possible. You’re human. No matter how hard you work, there will always be an error. You could always do more research, always wordsmith a document one more time. You need to take a stand and let go of 100%.

AND…the effort it takes to go from 97% to 99% usually isn’t worth it.

So go for 97.

I can already see the engineers and accountants questioning this approach, so I’ll tell you now – there’s no actual math behind this. It’s a mindset shift. That’s it.

But it’s a mindset shift that’s given me permission to let go and be imperfect so I can spend my time doing something that will create a bigger impact than changing from my font from Cambria to Calibri.

Think about it….if it takes you two hours to go from 0 to 97% and then ANOTHER two hours to go from 97% to 99%, isn’t that a waste of time? I KNOW how much potential each of you has and I want to see you spending your time and energy doing what matters to you and what can make a difference for others.

Another thing – I use this mindset hack for things that I consider FINISHED. Done. Complete. As good as they’re going to be.

Drafts don’t get 97%. Neither do pilots or experiments or basically anything I’m doing for the first time.

They get about 80%. Maybe less.

As someone that used to expect things to be successful the first time around, putting something out into the world at 80% was hard! The story behind getting to 80% is too much for this blog, but let me know if you want to know more about it and I’ll be sure to share in a future message.

For now, aim for 97%. Catch yourself when you’re crossing past the 97% line and force yourself to be done. It will be uncomfortable! That’s okay. Embrace the discomfort and stop working anyway.

Let me know how this works for you! I always love to hear your stories.

Healthy excellence vs perfectionism – What is the line?

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I facilitated a webinar for a company last week on perfectionism and A LOT of people showed up. The #1 question they asked?

When is striving for excellence and achievement GOOD – and when is it perfectionism?

Such a great question!

Because I know many of you struggle with perfectionism and overachieving, I wanted to answer the question for you too.

Here’s the official, researched response:

Healthy excellence means you can learn from mistakes and let them go. You experiment and try new things and see yourself as worthy and separate from your job or goal, so you don’t personally feel like a failure when something goes wrong.

Perfectionism is believing you cannot fail. It’s just not an option. Your goal or job becomes your identity. You might stop yourself from trying new things because you aren’t certain you’ll be good at them. Or you may work yourself into the ground to make sure you are successful. Your inner critic keeps an archive of all your mistakes and failures, repeating them inside your head over and over. It might feel like life has become a giant report card.

For me, the line is more of a feeling. When I’ve crossed the line, I feel an internal drive to keep working harder to prove myself. I feel like things have to be successful the first time around or that I’m not allowed to fail. There’s usually a tiny pit in my stomach, an underlying feeling of low-level anxiety that isn’t terrible, but it’s persistent.

This feeling is my clue that I need to check-in with myself, do some grounding activities like hiking or cross-country skiing, and say no to more things. This will get me back on the healthy side of the line.

What does that line feel like for you? When do you know you’ve crossed over from healthy excellence to unhealthy perfectionism?

The connection between overachievers and imposter syndrome

The connection between overachievers and imposter syndrome

Can successful overachievers experience imposter syndrome?

This one is easy to answer.

YES.

And not only do they experience it, but successful women are actually more likely to experience imposter syndrome.

It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? I mean, if someone is successful on the outside, shouldn’t they feel like a success on the inside?

Rationally yes, but there are a million other things going on. Before I jump into them, let’s get clear on what imposter syndrome is. Part of it is self-explanatory – it’s feeling like a fraud or imposter. But the crux of imposter syndrome is assessing your skills, qualifications, and experiences as worse than they actually are. So even though you are high-achieving and successful, you don’t always see yourself that way.

Also – imposter syndrome is something you experience, not something you have. Some people experience it every day. Others never experience it. Most of us are somewhere in between – you’re feeling fine and then you have to walk into a room with a big-wig client and the imposter syndrome comes flooding in. Suddenly feel like you have no business being there, you’re not really an expert, and why would they hire you anyway?!?

WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?!?

It’s complex, but here are some of the top reasons why successful women experience imposter syndrome:

  • Our culture places a high value on achievement. Do more, accomplish more, achieve more! This can quickly translate internally to feeling like you’re never enough. If you’re family reinforced this, it can be even stronger for you.
  • Little girls are praised for being perfect and following the rules from a young age. So when we break out of expectations to share a bold idea or take a different path in our career, it’s common to feel like a fraud. Like it or not, women still aren’t taught to break the rule or take up space. It’s evolving, but definitely there.
  • The culture at your work or school demanded perfection. People were called out publicly when they made a mistake. Eight people have to review and edit your PowerPoint before it’s shown. This kind of culture exacerbates imposter syndrome. Even if you’re in a great work culture now or even own your business, the effects of perfectionism and public shaming can last a lifetime.
  • We see the work behind the outcome – other people only see the great result. We see the holes, the errors, and all the effort and so we think of the end result as worse than it actually is.

There you have it. All the reasons it’s completely normal for you to be experiencing imposter syndrome.

You are not alone.

But don’t let these reasons become an excuse to hold yourself back. You can experience imposter syndrome – and take action anyway. Look for the evidence of your success and brilliance. Start to see in yourself what others see in you. Lean into your strengths and use them to create impact. Know your why and be pulled forward by inspiration and purpose.

You’ve got this.

P.S. Men experience imposter syndrome too. The research differs and it’s a spectrum for everyone, but women tend to experience it twice as strongly as men overall.

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with high achieving women to get out of their own way so they can have the life they want while making a big impact with their business. Click here to learn more about coaching.

The realization that finally freed me from perfectionism and overachieving

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There were so many wake-up calls I totally ignored. Sobbing on the floor when I was a junior in high school because I was so completely exhausted. Nearly blacking out during a final in college. Getting shingles when I was 30.

I knew all these things were because of my crazy driving and overachieving, but I didn’t actually know WHY I was putting so much pressure on myself to succeed at EVERYTHING.

Until last winter.

I finally took a step back and asked myself the question.

The answer came to me in an instant.

I was working so hard to prove myself. To compensate for areas in my life that I felt behind or out of the race entirely. It started in high school when I was overweight and boys weren’t interested in me, so I put all my energy into getting good grades and being the captain of two sports and working at my church and volunteering.

And it continued up through last winter when I realized I was putting all the pressure on my business because I wasn’t married and wasn’t a mother. I thought to myself, “Well, I better be successful in my business, because if I fail here and I’m not married and I don’t have any kids, then what do I have to show for my life?”

Part of me knew this wasn’t true. I rationally knew that I was worthy as a human no matter what I achieved. But there was another part of me that didn’t fully believe it.

I didn’t want to keep feeling this way.

So I worked. My new mantra became you are worthy for who you are, not what you do. I let go of the comparison, of feeling like everything had to be successful the first time around, and adopted a mindset of progress over perfection. I practiced quieting the inner critic that was forever telling me I had to be working and proving and I started trusting my true inner voice. I even discovered I had an artistic side and started painting for the first time ever.

The inner critic isn’t completely gone, but it is SO MUCH BETTER. And you guys – life is so much more fun this way! An outsider looking in might not notice many differences, but I feel completely different on the inside. More centered and present and playful and open to the possibilities. I work from joy and inspiration rather than proving and driving.

This alone would be enough, but it isn’t all – my business has also continued to expand as I’ve done this work on myself.

This isn’t just my story – it’s the story of my coaching clients. These women are slowing down and enjoying life. They are growing their business and career because they focus on impact instead of proving. They are saying no and letting go of people pleasing. They are getting out of their own way and standing in their strengths. They are changing the world, one unhurried step at a time.

If you want to stop the madness of hustling for your worth so you can have the life you want while making a big impact, schedule a coaching consultation with me now. It’s a free 30-minute call where we’ll get clear on what’s holding you back and decide together if coaching is the right fit for you.

Don’t wait. Life is so much better on the other side.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with high achieving women to get out of their own way so they can have the life they want while making a big impact with their business. Click here to learn more about coaching.

Ode To The 2019 Woman

Ode To The 2019 Woman

Last Friday I laced up my hiking shoes, silenced my phone, and headed out for a short walk in the woods. Ten minutes into enjoying the sunshine and movement I was suddenly overcome with words I just HAD to write. I pulled out my phone and stood on the side of the trail writing line after line into my Evernote app. This is what came out. This is everything I want to say to my clients, to myself, and to all women everywhere. This is my message for you.

 

Ode To the 2019 Woman

You are more than your job title and your latest performance review.

You are more than your pants size, dress size, and cup size.

You are more than being a mother – or not being a mother.

You are more than what anyone thinks you “should” be doing.

 

You don’t need permission, but if you want it, here you go.

 

YOU HAVE PERMISSION.

 

You have permission to set boundaries.

You have permission to slow down. To breathe. To rest.

You have permission to wear the red dress and feel like you might be too much.

You have permission to take up space. To share your point of view. Loudly. With no question marks at the end.

 

You are allowed to cry.

You are allowed to be overwhelmed.

You are allowed to be mad, sad, livid, scared, and frustrated.

You are allowed to feel whatever feelings you are feeling.

 

You are also allowed be HAPPY.

You are allowed to experience delight. And pleasure. And ease.

You are allowed to bubble over with joy and laugh until your cheeks hurt.

You are allowed to stop wherever you are, look up at the sky, and overflow with the complete wonder of it all.

 

You don’t need to apologize for saying no to someone else.

You don’t need to feel guilty for saying yes to yourself.

 

You are bold, brave, and beautiful.

You are enough in every second of every day.

You are all you need to be.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to stop the hustle so they can reclaim their life and focus on what’s really important. Click HERE to join Heather’s mailing list and receive a free copy of Five Ways To Quiet The Inner Critic.

What Kind Of Perfectionist Are You?

What kind of perfectionist are you?

For a long time I prided myself on NOT being a perfectionist. I have a MAJOR bias towards action. I want things to be excellent, but I also firmly believe that perfection is unattainable and the effort it takes to make things very nearly perfect simply isn’t worth it. One the core values for my business is even “Progress Over Perfection”!

But then one day I was sitting there revamping my bio for an upcoming speaking engagement and I realized it was the THIRD TIME that week I had updated my bio. Total perfectionist move!

That’s when I knew there were two kinds of perfectionists – procrastinators (not me) and customizers (100% me).

Here’s how they each show up:

  • Procrastinators research an idea to death before sharing it with anyone. They try eighty different fonts on their website and it still isn’t published. They read an email four times before hitting send. They wait until their proposal is “perfect” before sharing it with anyone.
  • Customizers tweak. They re-do the presentation, re-write the bio and update their website a million times. They create an email template and then change it every time it’s sent. Occasionally customizing is helpful. But most often it’s a colossal waste of time.

Procrastinators tend to hold back from taking public action until something is “perfect”. Customizers take action, but then update every step along the way in an effort to make it “perfect.”

Both are inefficient. Both get in our way. And both are driven by doubt.

Procrastinator’s doubt can show up like “It’s not ready! What if people think this idea is dumb? I’m sure they’ve already thought about this. What if I put myself out there and I get criticized? Or worse, what if nobody even notices!” (If this sounds like you, click here to get 5 Ways To Quiet The Inner Critic right now!)

Customizer’s doubt is a little different. It’s more subtle. But at the root is working too hard to customize as a way of proving your worth. 

This is HUGE for so many women. And working to prove your worth has serious impacts on your life. It creates anxiety and overwhelm. It makes you feel like whatever you do is never enough, even though you are busy ALL THE TIME.

Which kind of perfectionist are you? Comment below to let me know!

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to stop the hustle so they can reclaim their life and focus on what’s really important. See her coaching page for more information.

What To Do When You Feel Guilty For Wanting To Leave Your Job

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You have a good job. Decent salary. 401K match. Benefits. Stable company. You’re even working in the field you wanted.

There’s just one problem.

You don’t like your job.

And you feel GUILTY for even entertaining the idea of a change.

You have ALL the thoughts…

  • I have what I wanted – shouldn’t I be happy?
  • Other people would kill for this job and all the great things I have in my life – why can’t I just enjoy it?
  • What is everyone going to think if I leave? Will they be mad?
  • Why can’t I just be grateful?

Here’s the little secret….

This isn’t an either/or situation.

You can be GRATEFUL and want CHANGE at the same time.

Wanting something different doesn’t mean you’re greedy.

Leaving your company doesn’t mean you aren’t loyal.

Changing jobs or entire careers doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for everything that has brought you to this point.

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When your inner voice nudges you in a new direction, you NEED to explore it. Even if you aren’t sure what’s next. Even if you don’t know where the new direction might lead.

It’s time to stop feeling guilty for knowing you’re meant for something different.

Be grateful – and start changing.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to stop the hustle and reclaim their joy. Click HERE to join Heather’s mailing list and receive a free copy of Five Ways To Quiet The Inner Critic.

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

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I was recently discussing career and life change with a women’s group I facilitate. Questions and concerns were coming up, like:

  • How do you know the right thing to do?
  • What’s the best next job for me?
  • How do you know if the company is a good fit?

In the midst of all these questions, one of our group members offered the answer:

You have to build your own lighthouse and let that guide you. 

It’s great to ask questions. To get insights from people that have been in careers you’re interested in pursuing. Individuals that have done the thing you’re pondering, whether it’s starting a business, writing a book, or taking six months off to travel the world.

But even the best, most experienced, most well-intentioned people can’t give you the answer.

Only you can do that.

You have to build you own lighthouse and let that guide you towards the answers.

So how do you build that lighthouse exactly?

You have to know what’s most important to YOU. Not to your friends or parents or any cultural expectations – to YOU. What do you value most? What really makes you FULFILLED? When do you feel like you’re contributing and operating at a higher level of yourself? Where are you being called?

For some of you, this might be easy. You’ve already done the self-exploration work needed to answer these questions. You have the forest cleared, the plans drawn out, and you can start building your lighthouse now.

For many you, the plans for the lighthouse are blurred. They are clouded by the inner critic, the expectations you’ve put on yourself over the years, ego, family and cultural expectations.

So you have to clear the forest before building. You need to understand the blockages clouding your internal lighthouse. You need to get quiet and reconnect with your true inner voice.

Then you draw the plans and break ground. The lighthouse you build will be the internal guide pointing you towards your authentic path.

Let’s start clearing.

P.S. Writing is a wonderful way to get reconnected to your true inner voice and see your lighthouse. Click HERE for a journaling exercise to help you do just that.

 

You Have The Right To Be Heard

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I have a deep, deep belief that all people have a right to be heard. I’ve reflected a lot on where this belief came from and it goes all the way back to childhood. When I was growing up, I interacted with a lot of different people. My dad was a lawyer and when his clients came over for dinner, I was included in the conversation. My mom taught blind and visually impaired kids and was very involved with her students, so I went bowling with kids that couldn’t see the lanes, met students that were immigrants and Hmong refugees, and saw a whole different side of life than what existed in my white upper middle class suburb. 

You know what I learned from this?

ALL PEOPLE ARE JUST PEOPLE.

We each have a story to tell and a right to be heard.

But here’s the next thing (this is going to feel like a ninth grade geometry theorem!):

If I believe that all people have a right to be heard.

And I am a person.

Then I also have a right to be heard.

I remind myself of this whenever I get nervous to share. Or I feel like I’m not enough of an expert to have an opinion. Or when what I’m doing feels big. Uncomfortably big.

You also have a right to be heard. You have a point of view that should be shared – and listened to. Your ideas can change your team, company, and customers. They could have an impact way bigger and broader than what you could ever imagine.

But your ideas can’t change anything if they aren’t heard. Part of being heard is just saying the words. Getting up the courage to raise your hand and SPEAK.

But the other part of being is heard is HOW you speak.

Do you ever start a sentence with “I’m no expert, but…” or “You may have already thought about this…”

Do you ever ask a question when you really have a clear opinion to share?

Do you apologize just for sharing that opinion?

If so, then you are decreasing the power of your idea. Your important message won’t be heard clearly.

Most of the time we don’t even realize all the ways we decrease the weight of our message. They are habits we learn early and they go on autopilot.

But once you know about these habits you can change them! Subtle shifts in the way you speak, write, and carry yourself will have a HUGE impact in how your message is interpreted.

I believe we need more women’s voice in the world. That’s why I do the work I do and that’s why I created Confident Communication for Women – a 90-minute live online class to raise your awareness on all the things that decrease the power of our communication – so that you can change them and BE HEARD.

Be heard in a team meeting. In a job interview. In a presentation. In a salary negotiation. In a client pitch. Even at home.

It’s time for you to be heard. Confident Communication for Women is Tuesday, April 23, 12:00-1:30pm central time. I will record the class and send it to everyone that registers, so even if you can’t make it live, you’ll still get all the information. Cost is just $25 and includes a checklist for writing powerful emails.

Sign up on Eventbrite today!

Do you feel stuck? Here’s what’s REALLY going on

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Coaching clients often come to me with the same problem – they feel “stuck.” Some are unhappy in their job and want to make a change, but they don’t know what that looks like. Some have a vision, but are overwhelmed and unsure of the next step. Some say they just want to get back to feeling like themselves again. Others feel like they’ve lost their ability to dream and consider new possibilities.

Occasionally these clients really do some practical tools to consider new career paths and possibilities.

But that’s not usually what happens.

Almost every time, once we get into the coaching, we discover the problem isn’t being stuck. Here’s what really going on:

  1. Doubt and fear are getting in the way. It’s not that they don’t know WHAT they want – it’s that they don’t think they can actually GET it. They don’t go for the job they want because they don’t feel qualified. They don’t launch the business they’ve been thinking about for years because they’re afraid it’s not going to work or or believe it’s all been done before, so why even try. They don’t change career paths because they worry about what other people are going to think or fear they don’t have what it takes to be successful in a new field.
  2. They’ve lost connection to their true inner voice. This is the voice of your inner wisdom. Your authentic voice that is completely aligned to your purpose and values and JUST KNOWS. It’s always there, but we’re not taught to listen to it. It gets lost in the noise of our lives.

These often go together. When you lose connection to your true inner voice, you start to doubt yourself. Fear and imposter syndrome and the inner critic show up and throw a party.

The good news is this is completely fixable! Through coaching and different practices you can manage doubt and reconnect to your true inner voice so you can get unstuck and start following your true path.

Want to start today? Click HERE for a 15-minute journaling exercise to tap into your true inner voice.