Award-winning entrepreneur, business coach and founder of the ‘I Can’ Method explains her mindset reset approach to tackling overwhelm and taking back control
Don’t believe all the shiny smiles you see on social media. In 2015, I won the NatWest Everywoman Entrepreneur of the Year at a glitzy awards ceremony at the Guildhall in London with 500 people cheering my success. My face smiled radiantly from the covers of the newspaper business sections. I looked like I had it all.
My heart aches for my younger self. I look at the photograph and see a woman so anaemic I could hardly stand up. Winning that prize didn’t erase my imposter syndrome; if anything it made it worse. It triggered all my deep feelings of being unworthy, of not having the right to be there. When the Chamber of Commerce team asked me if I’d like to go to a swanky club in Mayfair to celebrate the win, I declined. Overwhelmed by anxiety, I went straight to my hotel bedroom and collapsed.
Many of the most successful people I’ve met have a kernel of self-doubt rumbling deep inside them. It is why they push so hard, never give up, repeatedly give that little bit extra. They always feel they have something to prove. But after a while that drive can become a curse. There is no stop button, no sense of ‘I have enough’. So many of my clients come to me saying: “I’ve ticked all the boxes, made lots of money, created my six or seven- figure business, but I’m still not happy. In fact, in some ways I am more unhappy because I thought when I’d got all the nice things, was successful on paper, had made it, that everything would feel okay. That I would be happy”. Instead, they feel their work or business controls them, that they have created a monster. “I can’t feel any joy, I’m overwhelmed. I’m lonely and isolated,” a top female founder told me last week. Often the people who look like they have it all from the outside—the designer bag, the nice car, the house straight out of a magazine—don’t want to admit it isn’t working out so well on the inside. They are so exhausted from pretending they have it all under control that when they talk to me and finally get the weight of their worries out in the open, they break down and cry.
Don’t run away from or dismiss this feeling. Life is too short to be stuck. Have you lost sight of your goals and ambitions? Is the constant juggling causing burn-out? Are you starting to question your ability to make big growth or feeling stuck at a crossroads, not sure which way to turn? I created a four-step process to transform that feeling of ‘I just can’t do this anymore’ into ‘I can’. The first step is to ‘Ignite’ your purpose and connect back with your passion and your business vision. Second, ‘Clarify’ your understanding of where you are now, why you are in this position and how to get on to the right path to achieve your goals. Thirdly, take ‘Action’ by creating and implementing a success ladder to achieve your utopian goal. The fourth and final step is to ‘Nurture’ yourself and your business daily. This process creates space for big picture thinking, for untangling the roots of self-limiting beliefs and, most importantly, ensures maximum ROI of your time so that you have the energy to drive your goals forward.
In 2008, I was a 38-year-old, bankrupt single mum on income support battling agoraphobia and mental health breakdown. The idea for my award-winning business ‘Simply Bows’ and ‘Chair Covers’ came when I forced myself to go outside every day to walk the dog. In nurturing myself, I nurtured my business. I am looking forward to Blue Monday. I have reframed it as a mindset reboot day to turn the focus on myself and put more of what I love into my life. Join me in celebrating Blooming Monday.