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  • Writer's pictureNeža Krek

That nagging voice that keeps women playing small

Is your inner critic stopping you on your path to a career you want?

Take a peek into my mind when building a career I love + tricks I used to keep my inner critic at bay

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What is your wildest dream, dear lady? What does your soul long to create? What does everything in you yearn to share with the world? What impact do you wish to gift to this planet?

One of my big dreams has been to translate my teachings and leadership courses on the topic of playful, sustainable career change into a comprehensible online program that will give me the possibility to help more curious women who need it. I saw the impact the offline version of this program brought to people and I longed for a possibility to spread it wider.

This dream arose in April 2016. I will release the program in 2 weeks - on April 18th 2018 at the free Ladies Only Masterclass.

If it’s so important to you, why did it take you 2 years to do it?

A short, concise answer would be: my inner critic.

Today’s blog is about the times I was stopped on this journey by my inner critic and how I arrived to this moment, still sane, happy, and excited that 18.4.2018 is almost here.

I will make my case on the past 2 years of my entrepreneurial path with the intention of giving you concrete examples of:

when the Inner Critic came up,

my assumptions why especially then, and

concrete strategies I applied to keep it at bay.

A suggested action step for you.

First, some context about the inner critic.

The Inner critic is also called the inner monologue when it becomes an unpleasant one.

In Non-violent communication we call it the ‘Jackal voice’. Some call it inner dragon or inner chatter.

There’s a big chance that you are not even aware of it many times. It appears when you feel in distress, it’s the sound of panic, anxiety, fears, anger, suppressed emotions or thoughts that come by when you do an action that bring you closer to your purpose.

And that is why it’s especially loud when you are on the path of changing your career. The sole act of thinking about changing a status quo in your life, wakes up the inner critic and gives it ammunition to throw your way with one purpose only: to keep you where you are right now. Because that feels safe. It may be uncomfortable, but it is what you know right now and is therefore by definition your safety, comfort zone.

It’s nothing wrong with you if you hear it. You are human. The problem occurs when you take guidance from it. When you listen to it as if it were the truth. Unfortunately, making a distinction between the truth and the inner critic’s voice is no small feat. It takes practice, awareness and perseverance.

The timeline below will hopefully give you an idea what you can do on when the inner critic makes its appearance.

If you want a more in depth explanation about where the inner critic is coming from, check out my FB live on the same topic. (make yourself a cup of tea - the video training is 38 mins long)

April 2016: The initial dream is born

My wish to be able to enjoy living in The Netherlands and maintain a healthy relationship with my family and friends in Slovenia led me to consider moving my business online. I concocted the idea of an online business offering programs and coaching online. Have I done anything similar before? Nope.

My assumption why it came up then. The inner critic was trying to protect me from exposing myself. I knew that by starting an online business I was saying yes to becoming more visible online, creating some kind of social media presence. That must have shaken my inner critic to the bone. Oh my god, she’s gone totally crazy! I must do something. So this is what I was hearing on a daily basis then:

My inner critic slashing:You? Online? You have no freaking idea about technology? You know how much work that is? You were keeping away from social media and websites for years and now you want to move your business online? You hypocrite.”

Strategy I applied: I looked through my finances and made an estimation how long can I give myself to create this new venture before my buffer dries out. That gave me a feeling of ease and made it possible to move on. Of course, there were many moments of panic and my IC making it’s glamorous appearance. But having clarity about my financial situation, however unremarkable it was, helped me making a conscious decision.

My next step was to designate a time to learn as much as I can about building an online business. I gave my self the permission to indulge in learning. That was something I genuinely enjoy, it gives me energy and sparks my imagination. And yet, it can be a beautiful disguise for procrastination. My strategy was to give myself a full month to do the learning and not more.

Action point for you >>>

What are the restrictions you want to impose on your process so you can get the most out of it? Think time, energy, money restrictions.

June 2016: I discover a little coffee bone is growing inside me

About month after I decided to move my business online I figured out I was pregnant. Yaaay! The first image of our kiddo was resembling a cute coffee bone and that became the code within the family for Svit before he was born.

My new state brought lots of clarity of what and WHY I want to build an online business: to be able to spend more time with my child, to be able to travel to Slovenia so he knows where his roots are as well etc. Some really powerful whys.

But it also brought a new type of self-criticism.

My inner critic was ruthless: What? You still want to pursue that dream? And now that you’re pregnant, you want to drag a kid into your show? Are you crazy? Will you be like one of those women who use their kids to promote their business?

My assumption why it came up then: Motherhood was an important dream in my life since forever. My inner critic was pointing out that I hold dear how I expose my child to the public.

Strategy I applied: I listened in between the lines of the vomit of my inner critic. Listening with curiosity I realised I want to give Svit the opportunity to choose how he wants to be present (if at all) on social media. Conclusion: I will post his pictures very selectively

Action point for you >>>

Put your curiosity glasses on. Listen to your inner critic with the curiosity filter and hear the message in between the lines. What is the hidden message?

Summer 2016: I decide to put my name on the brand

My belly was growing and I was double pregnant - with a kid and with a business idea :)

Luckily, I had loads of energy in my second trimester and I got a ton of things done!

My why - check

My what - check

My how - check

Now, the name of my renovated business … What is a clever, fancy, memorable name? What will capture my essence? No pressure, of course ;)

At a certain point I stopped and grasped for air: yaiks! Looking for the ‘perfect’ business name is just another elegant way to procrastinate and hide behind a name. Whaaat? Let me explain. In 2013, I registered a company called Meaningful Meetings, the idea of helping companies have better meetings. It was great for the moment when it was created but very soon I realised the name and the idea behind it came with a package of limiting beliefs (aka inner critic in disguise):

My inner critic slashing:

“If you are helping companies have better meetings, then you need to give the impression of professionally in the corporate sense. You need to have pro photos on your wall. Your hair cannot be all over the place! Your clothes should be different.” Blah. Blah. Blah.

I was pursuing an image of myself that was not aligned with who I truly am. I was trying to be ‘corporate trainer’, my inner critic presided me that I need to clothe, smile differently, talk differently if I am to succeed in the corporate world.

Result? I was feeling miserable and I couldn’t get myself to do acquisition. Every cell in me was resisting really going for the business.

My assumption why it came up then:

Therefore, when I was asking myself the same question What should I name my business in 2016?, I promised myself it will be one that will enable me to be me 100%. Where there will be no place to hide and showing up authentically will be the only way to go.

Light bulb! My own name. And so the brand was born. And the moment later the rant started:

My inner critic slashing some more:

“Are you insane? You are pregnant! You really want to expose everyone in your surrounding? You really want to show who you really are? Will your madness ever stop?”

Strategy I applied: I asked myself what do I want to be remembered for? The answer was loud and clear: for who I am, no masks, no pretences. The answer was scary and yet liberating enough to help me stomp over my inner critic and purchase the domain name.

Action point for you >>>

Think about the the value that wants to be honoured in your work most at this moment. Write it down. Now ask yourself: Does my current work embody that value? If not, then check out the Career Choice Kit for curious women and start discovering what does.

2017: Being a mom-preneur. What on earth is that?

In January 2017 I gave birth to a beautiful, gentle, and curious boy. I decided to stay with him full time until he was 10 months old, even though in The Netherlands women have only 3 months of maternity leave. When I started working again, there was a sense of excitement and relief that I am back to my other baby - the business idea. At the same time I felt torn between the two worlds. Solution: I decide to work 3 days a week and dedicate the rest to figure out this motherhood thing.

Being back to my project felt invigorating. And yet, who came to visit? Yes, my inner critic. Again.

My inner critic slashing:

You want to work?! What kind of a mother are you? You should be with your kid (when I was working) and What kind of a mother are you that you think about your business even when you are with your kid? (when with my kid).”

This feeling of being torn between the two worlds is a tricky thing, I must say. On one hand, everything in me wanted to slow down. On the other hand, the entrepreneur in me couldn’t stay still and was waiting for the opportunity to get back in the game.

My assumption why it came up then: It could be because I picked up my dream again after more than a year of being dedicated solely to motherhood. I was ready and determined to go through with it and my inner critic felt it. So it tried to distract me with the strategy “First this, than that”. Do you recognise it? In order to get to your goal, you must first do this, then that, than the third … And you come up with this elaborate, complicated and overly bulky plan that leaves you feeling overwhelmed. Depleted. Scared.

This is how my plan looked like :)

Strategy I applied: A fellow mompreneur friend gave me a question that put me back into my focus: Is what you are doing right now important enough that it’s worth other people take care of your kid? After that question, my productivity went sky high. I started saying NO to offered projects that didn’t align with my mission. The same focus radiated outward, as I got a big number of invitations to do trainings for people looking for a new direction in their career.

Action point for you:

In order to regain your focus and overcome the inner critic, ask yourself the following question: Is what I have planned (or what I am doing right now) bringing me closer to a life I want to create for myself?

Additionally: how can I make it even simpler and fun?

Spring 2018: Stepping into Visibility my way + daring to expose my dream

After finding my rhythm, I wanted to step up the game. I was eager to try out this online thing. Over the night, in the middle of the December frenzy, I wrote an email to you and invited you to the End of 2017 ceremony.

My inner critic slashing:

Just before I connected the camera and started the webinar, my knees were shaking and I lost my appetite. The inner critic was saying all sort of nonsense how I won’t know what to say, how the participants will notice I have never done a webinar before, how everything technological will go wrong and I will freeze etc.

Well, I didn’t. In fact, we had a blast with the people who showed up. The webinar gave me so much energy that I offered a bundle on 5 live webinars called Wise Witch Webinars and 5 brave ladies decided to plunge in with me. After the first 2 webinars, 2 of them got a new job, the 3rd one applied for a new position a month later and got it, the 4th figured out that it is possible to make a living with what she always dreamed of and the fifth one just launched her first website because she figured out she wants to be an entrepreneur. Wow, I was blown away! And the inner critic gave me a short holiday :)

Yet, the moment I started dreaming bigger, of the course I initially wanted to offer, it came right back.

Why? You see, I am about to realise my dream and that is such a threat to the inner critic. It is failing it’s duty in keeping me play small and insignificant. To keep me 'safe'. The last few weeks it has been trying every possible trick. I hear it every time I post anything on FB, send you a newsletter, write a blog, shoot a video with my thoughts. It’s telling me I am being selfish when sharing my story, it’s screaming I am being irresponsible trying out stuff I have never done before (aka making videos, FB lives etc.)

Strategy I am applying:

Right now, what motivates me is the clarity of my purpose.

The purpose of my business as an entity: I want to fill this world with people who love their work.

My purpose in this business: so I can be with my son when I want to, so I can be location independent, so I can exercise my own creativity, so I can contribute to the change of how women position themselves in the work force.

This is the power of having a clear purpose in your work. That is why the first part of the Wise Career Choice program is dedicated to getting that clarity out in the open. So it can function as the light at the end of the tunnel

Action point for you >>>

What is the purpose you are pursuing? Write it down. Put it on the wall where you come often to remind you of the path you are walking. And yes, the toilet is a really good place for such a poster :)

Huh, you made it this far? You are awesome! Let me know in the comment:

What are you taking away from this article?

We are here to listen and cheer you on your journey.

Big hug, Neža and GluGlu

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