The 4-letter F word that's blocking your happiness and success
Wahoo! It's a new year! Everyone's motivated! Time to change things, turn over a new leaf and crush goals...right?
Well, that's where most of us started out the year.
But I noticed something really interesting about mid-month.
I didn't notice that people were falling off the wagon with their resolutions.
No, I noticed that they were not even getting started.
For some reason, in the coaching work I do with clients, I seem to see a lot of women who fall into the procrastination category.
They often keep saying they want to do something...and then...they don't do it.
It's not because they aren't motivated.
It's not because they don't have knowledge.
It's not because they aren't organized or don't have systems in place.
No, it's bigger than that.
Allow me to paint a picture of how this showed up for 8 of my private clients this month...
In my physical therapist and health entrepreneur clients (with whom I work on business and career coaching), this showed up as:
Hanging on to staff members who were no longer a good fit, even though she had bigger goals and dreams to achieve without them...so she continued to feel frustrated and stressed that she was not doing what she wanted in her business, not making the money she wanted, and not living out her vision.
Spending months “perfecting” website copy and email messaging instead of meeting people to support biz startup and make money...so she continued to only talk about starting a practice, but not actually taking the steps to do it.
Spending too much time on social media doing “marketing” to get clients instead of actually going out and meeting real people who can become clients right now... so she continued to spend hours on instagram doing stuff that didn’t feel like “her”, lose sleep at night, and start to see the stress catch up with her health.
Taking a bunch of online PT CEU courses on Medbridge on something that simply needed practice (with real patients)...so she continued to invest in training rather than have confidence in the skills she already had and use those skills to help people (and make more money for herself).
Sound familiar? It's ok if it does. You're totally not alone!
But what if you're not a health professional?
I also work with women struggling to improve their health and hormones, decrease the stress in their lives, and find better balance in a life they love.
(And sometimes, the clients with whom I work are BOTH health entrepreneurs trying to grow businesses and women with health and life stressors--the double whammy!)
In the women with whom I work, it looked like:
Being afraid that if she wasn’t just overly excited about being pregnant like everyone told her she “should be” (because in reality, she hated being pregnant), that she was letting down her friends who could not conceive and that she was not “woman” or “mom” enough. So, she hid behind a smile and repeated social posts updating week-by-week the size of her unborn baby, pretending to be joyful and happy to be pregnant.
Being afraid that if she spoke up and set boundaries with her spouse and kids that she was not being a good wife or mom -- after all, her husband worked hard and made most of the money for their family and when her kids got upset, her husband got upset. So she hid behind keeping a clean house, always controlling the environment and doing what everyone in the family wanted and liked so they wouldn’t get mad and blow up or throw tantrums (husband included)...and thus, she never took time for herself.
Being afraid that if she accepted her child’s ADHD diagnosis that it meant she was a bad mom...so she continued to hide and spend time with him in tons healers who would “fix” her child’s problem rather than just accept that he needed extra help at school and that it was ok.
Being afraid that if she had an emergency C-section, it would mean she wasn’t taking care of herself or her baby well enough….So she spent weeks and months preparing for a natural birth and obsessing over every little symptom and action she took rather than trusting her body to do whatever it needed to do.
Maybe those examples are ringing a bell for you. Good news--if it does, you're also not alone!
But whether you're a health pro or a woman simply trying to keep your shit together, there is a common thread.
At the root of all of these things is one thing:
Fear of failure.
Fear of failure runs deep in all of us. There is nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t make you a bad person when you feel fear.
No, it merely makes you human.
It often leads us to do things that appear to be aligned with our goals — that appear to be helpful for our businesses, lives, relationships, careers, or health.
But they simply allow us to hide out from what really needs to happen.
I have news for you. It’s not failure we are afraid of.
Failure does not exist.
We were programmed long (long) ago to believe and imagine that failure does exist—but that’s because we were also programmed to define our worth and well being by outcomes: the grade. What the doctor says about our health. The score. The revenue. The number of patients. Income. The relationship status.
And it repeats as spouses and parents. We define ourselves by our spouse’s and/or our kid’s health, grades, income, revenue, success, grades, health status.
But the truth is--having those things, or not having them rather, is not what we’re afraid of.
We’re not actually afraid of whether or not we achieve (or don’t achieve) a certain outcome.
We’re not afraid of whether we have or don’t have certain labels.
We are afraid of being in the uncertain, vulnerable process of not knowing what will happen when we take that first step, or when we take two steps, or three, or four.
Here’s the deal. Most of us weren’t ever trained to focus on the process—to simply show up and do our best—even when it’s challenging or feels vulnerable or the outcome is uncertain.
That’s the crux of it: uncertainty and vulnerability.
We don’t hide and avoid things because we are afraid of failing. That’s simply what we tell ourselves. We hide and avoid because we do not want to feel vulnerable.
As author Brené Brown says—vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity. It’s the place where courage becomes action and yes, even outcomes.
So just be honest with yourself. It’s not failure that is feared. It’s vulnerability. It’s a fear of actually feeling emotions. And it’s a fear of what’s not certain.
It’s probably not news to you that NOTHING in the future is certain or in your control.
So we hide in an effort to control emotions. We hide in an effort to control outcomes — bc staying stuck w/no outcome often feels safer than an uncertain outcome.
So we stay stuck.
We spin our wheels in pointless, time sucking activities that appear “virtuous” on the surface but don’t move the needle forward.
This might look like taking courses that will fill our brains with beautiful knowledge, but won’t add dollars into our bank accounts. Or like taking a lot of extra supplements and making diet changes on top of a mindset (and body) that is all-too-chaotic to foster healing.
We spend too much time tripping out on the "high" of good idea after good idea, but never stick with the ideas long enough to take concrete action.
This might look like constantly taking on new projects (but never finishing them) or saying yes to everything at your kid’s school even when you don’t have time. Or buying every new book that comes out on a particular topic without ever reading them.
We spend too much time trying to appear perfect on the surface that we never launch or move forward toward our bigger visions.
This might look like staying in a relationship (whether business or personal) that holds you back. Or staying in a job for fear of retaliation or burning bridges. Or staying in a profession that is sucking the life out of you, even though you have tools and skills to move on to something better.
Bottom line: we avoid that which feels icky or vulnerable. And we do this even when staying put feels awful. Because to us, staying tight in our comfort zones and coccoons (even if they’re miserable) feels safer and less vulnerable than taking a brave leap to freedom.
We’re too afraid that when we leap, we will fail. We feel faithless that there is no greater power to protect or guide us.
So we choose to continue on, believing in failure. Focused only on outcomes and not the process. Believing that no matter how vulnerable and brave we are, no matter how well we do—if the outcome isn’t perfect on our first try, it’s a failure.
But what if we leap and DO reach an undesired outcome, and the undesired outcome was simply a lesson?
What if it was a stepping stone toward growth?
What if you knew that you have to do it once to learn, then you will do it again better a 2nd time and reach the goal?
What if the only measure of success was simply about showing up, being brave, leaping, doing your best (whatever “best” means in that moment or that day), and letting go of any emotional attachment to the outcome?
Truly--what if that’s what winning was--simply the act of being brave, regardless of outcome?
Author Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “What’s worth doing, even if you know you will fail?”
Think about that a minute.
What is worth doing in the process, even if it might not work out? To prove to yourself that you do have the capacity and courage to take leaps and do that which is vulnerable, so that the next time, the vulnerable leap is bit easier?
It’s true, being vulnerable and taking brave leaps does get easier simply due to practice. The outcome is irrelevant.
The bravest people you know and admire often don’t achieve a perfect outcome every time they are brave.
No, to them, it’s about being brave, period.
Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
I point this out to clients all the time.
You’ll never know what the outcome could be if you don’t take the first step. If you stay put and believe that failure is inevitable. You definitely won’t achieve the outcome if you don’t go anywhere. It’s not going to just fall out of the sky at you.
And I don't recommend saying that you're waiting until you’re ready. Nobody is ever "ready" for vulnerability. But you have made it through 100% of uncertain times in your life.
You’re still here and reading this, that’s how I know that. So you will make it through this one too. It may not end in a pretty and perfect outcome, but that's not why we're here on this planet, now is it?
Here's your task:
I challenge you to find ONE way this week to give yourself the gift of focusing on what feels like courage, letting go of attachment to outcomes, staying laser focused on the process, and practicing gratitude for whatever lessons you learn along the way.
You love to learn, otherwise you wouldn’t be the badass you are. So I’m guessing you also know sometimes the very best lessons are most often learned and remembered when things don’t go as planned.
How can you embrace that type of learning just like every other kind of learning you love?
What would it take to redefine what success means to you, and eliminate the 4-letter “F-word” --FAIL-- from your life?
You cannot fail — no— you can only succeed with that mindset.
What would it take to make the shift toward that truth?
Need support on this?
That’s what I’m here for. It's one thing to think you're going to fail, and another thing to believe you are going to fail and fail alone.
You don't ever have to go at it alone. We as humans were designed to grab a buddy, a mentor, and learn as we go.
I coach women and health entrepreneurs every day to shift from fear of failure toward unbridled courage and unshakable strength to leap in the direction they want to go in life.
Believe me, if I could get where I am--walking away from close relationships that were painful, walking away from a career I’d invested well over $200K into, walking away from a “normal” life, selling everything and living as a nomad--then you can, too.
If you’re a health entrepreneur--let’s keep the conversation going. You, too, can be the Boss of Your Career, whether that means literally being your own boss, or just being the boss of your life, schedule, and income.
Grab my free 7-step guide, the Be the Boss of Your Career Blueprint, to learn to create a career you love that pays what you deserve so you can live more and work less. And be sure to join my free facebook community, the Be the Boss of Your Career Mastermind, to link arms with like-minded health entrepreneurs like you who are redefining what a successful career looks like by letting go of any belief in failure.
If you’re a woman struggling with stress and constantly finding yourself in the battle of overwhelm about your life, relationships, or health--hop into my free community, STRONGirls, to get support and tips on how to break free from all the chaos and let go of failure for good.
And if you want more personal support and are tired of trying to figure it all out on your own, I’ve got you, friend. Shoot me a message and we will find a time to do a complimentary strategy call to brainstorm how to get you where you want to go. I set aside time every week just chat with people like you--so please take one tiny brave step and reach out--I'd love to hear from you!
Sending you all kinds of love and hugs, and lifting you up as you take those brave leaps!
In love and health,