Do you think women have more of a tendency to question their value? Under-estimate their worth? Which leads to a sense of purposelessness and lack of direction.
Yes, I think it is common for women to question their value, especially women who have become primary carers within their families and given up professional careers to do to so.
We are brought up with the conditioning that we need to do well at school, maybe go to university or get additional training, get a good job – all of which makes us believe that our value is to be found in how well we do in life. If we then give that up to raise children, it can be devasting to that story. We are no longer ‘doing’ enough to make us feel recognised or valuable, or even successful, which can lead to many women feel as if they have lost their way.

What steps can you take if you feel you have lost your way in life; when everyone else seems to have things sorted and you have a sense of floundering, stagnating, not fulfilling your own potential?
If you do feel that you have lost your way in life, while everyone else seems to have a sense of having things sorted, it’s time to give yourself time to focus on YOU and what YOU want. It’s easy to feel like you are floundering or stagnating when you are focusing all your energy on what others want or need and ignoring yourself.

Take time out to have a ‘view from the balcony’. What are the things that really matter to you in your life? List them. Give yourself a score out of ten for how much energy you give to the things that really matter to you. For each thing on the list, think about what you’d like that score to be – and what you might do to change it. You don’t have a magic wand, so try and avoid the temptation to fall into wishful thinking. Try and find small, pragmatic steps towards what you’d like to be doing.

Another tip is to write your own script – take hold of your own narrative. If you were watching the movie of your life, what do you want to be seeing? Forget about comparing yourself with others – just focus on what YOUR film would show.

Once you are clear about what it is you really want your life to be filled with, it can also be really helpful for you to identify your values. What are the beliefs that you hold dear – the things that you believe to be most important in life. Values matter because they drive your behaviour – what you say and do. Try whittling it down to 5 values – beliefs about who you are and the world around you. This can be so defining, because it creates a clarity about how you might want to interact with others and what you might want to do it in the world. I call this your ‘true north’. When you know what you believe and what matters most, it can give you an internal compass that can guide you in your next steps.

What are your top tips on how to define your goals?
Goals are only useful if they are achievable. The old acronym SMART is really good here – make your goals specific, measurable, realistic and time-bound – that way you don’t set yourself up to fail which is the last thing you want to do if you’re feeling a bit lost.

Your goals are the steps on the way for you to achieve your purpose. Start with one or two that could get you closer to the things you’ve identified as most important. Make sure they are in line with your values and in service of what matters most to you. Break them right down into manageable moments, that you can tick off as you go. That way you will be able to chart your progress.

How can you align your goals with your values and make it work in everyday life?
I think that the question about aligning your goals with your values is crucial. If you find that the goals you’ve set yourself mean that you have to go against your values, you’re much less likely to achieve them. Equally, now you are clear on what your values are, it can give you a much clearer sense of what you want to do. Your goals always exist to serve your values and make your dreams a reality. If they don’t – they’re the wrong goals!

How can you build more of what you love into your life when time is short and demands are many?
I’m a big believer in small everyday moments. We all have busy lives, and no-one I know has won the lottery and been able to give up everything and change it all up. Mostly, we make changes by small habits that, when we do them every day, build up to make us feel really different. So, start by identifying a small thing that you love doing – something that is easy to do, but that really energises you or makes you happy. Start doing it every day – even if it’s a small version. For example, if you love dancing, put on your favourite tune and dance for 5 minutes every day. Over time, as you start to realise the benefit and joy of doing this, it may expand and you could even join a dance class. But start small.

How can you create better boundaries and feel more appreciated?
My favourite saying about boundaries is, ‘say no for the bigger yes’. When you are clear about what you want boundaries for, they are easier to keep. Try keeping a ‘no’ journal every time you manage to say no to something you don’t want to do. Write down what you said no to (already a huge cause for celebration!), then how it made you feel to say it. It’s often our awkwardness in the moment that stops us saying no in the first place. Now write down what saying no allowed you to do instead. Write down how that made you feel. This can really help to make you aware of the positive impact of saying no. You’ve backed yourself and what matters to YOU.

What are your top tips on how to avoid comparison with those around you?
I have two practices that really help me and lots of my clients with this. First of all, keep an ‘I did it list’ at the end of each day. Write down all the things that you do, big or small, that make you feel pleased with yourself. Forget about what others do – check in with your own ‘true north’ – your inner compass and think about what YOU did that made YOU proud. We can get so drawn into feeling inadequate by comparing ourselves with others, so focus instead on what you have done and how it made you feel.

The second is, keep a gratitude diary. Every morning, I start the day by saying thank you for the things in my life that I’m grateful for. Even on hard mornings, this is a great re-set. It can be gratitude for all the things in your life that you appreciate. It really helps to bring yourself back to what you have not what you lack. These two practices help you to remember that you are enough, and that you do enough.

How can you master your internal and external triggers and build self-worth?
We all get triggered – and it’s easy when we are feeling that we lack self-worth to get compare and to worry. Create for yourself a sentence or mantra based on what you are grateful for about yourself. It could be as simple as “I’m grateful that I am enough” – or it could link together your values, such as, “I’m grateful that I believe in kindness and that I’m loyal to my family and friends”. Whenever you notice yourself getting triggered into comparison, say this sentence to yourself at least five times, breathing deeply as you do it. This will help you to re-set your nervous system and remind yourself of your own true north.

As Maya Angelou once said, “You are enough and no-one else can take that away from you.”

First published in Woman & Home.

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