With the pandemic thankfully at its tail end and restrictions pretty much lifted in the UK, most of us should be feeling freer and happier than ever, right? And yet, when I speak to friends and colleagues, this doesn’t seem to be the case – emotions range from feeling completely overwhelmed to just plain ‘meh’. Clearly, the last few years have taken a big toll on our collective mental wellbeing.
Personally, the pandemic has left me feeling under pressure to make up for lost time – to suddenly be experiencing and achieving everything, an impossible task that instead leads to procrastination when I realise I just can’t do it all. So, when I was offered the chance to speak to Sarah Negus, a best-selling author and spiritual business coach who helps successful entrepreneurs to reach their potential, I leapt at the chance. Here are some of the lessons I learnt from Sarah which might help you too…
Forget the ‘shoulds’
With other people’s achievements constantly paraded in front of us thanks to social media, it’s easy to feel like there’s a lot of things we ‘should’ be doing, from constantly adding new strings to our bow at work to turning every hobby into a money-making, impressive side hustle.
To drown out the shoulds and become more focused Sarah recommends coming up with a statement that encapsulates the impact you want to have on the world – it could be anything from ‘I want to help people live healthier lives’ to ‘I want to forge meaningful connections with interesting people’, but it must feel true to you.
‘If nothing was in your way and you had all the time in the world, what one thing would you do to make a difference?’ Sarah asks. Once you’ve found your statement (chatting it through with a friend could help) then this can become the driving force behind what you do, helping you cut out any unnecessary noise. ‘Ask yourself daily what you can do that day to build on your message’ advises Sarah.
Of course, all of us have tasks we have to do that might not feel super meaningful but are certainly necessary (filling in your timesheet, replying to boring emails etc). Sarah recommends getting these tasks out of the way first before moving on to more meaningful activities, so that you can enjoy the delayed gratification and not have your least favourite tasks looming over you – after all, we often spend longer worrying about something than it would take to actually do it.
If you’re procrastinating over things you actually want to do but can’t seem to get round to, then this could be ‘fear or failure or fear of change’ says Sarah. This could be down to patterns set up in childhood, for example if were often praised for getting A grades and now feel anything less than perfection is mortifying, or conversely if you received critical reports at school that have now led to self-doubt. Whatever the patterns are, it’s worth examining what’s really causing you to procrastinate to try and release yourself from that subconscious programming.
Challenge your inner critic
Women tend to have particularly strong critical voices inside their heads, says Sarah, and this inner critic can be seriously detrimental to our wellbeing. ‘Write down all the negative things you say to yourself, and then go through and question whether they are actually true’ she says. ‘’Once you see it all on the page you will see how mean you actually are to yourself, and also have the opportunity to challenge those assumptions. Then think of ways you can be kinder to yourself – number one being to stop talking to yourself in such a negative way’.