Safety and Success – includes worksheets to identify safe, authentic goals

Feeling Safety in our Choices


Recently, the high school students in the UK received their GCSE (our General Certificate of Secondary Education) results. I was a proud parent sharing a joyful event with my daughter and her friends.  Many students earned really exceptional results and all of the disappointed or bewildered students were hived off into a discrete office to discuss their future options.  Some students felt assured and now held a certificate to validate their choices, some did not feel this safety we all need when we make choices.


Early Choices

One of these was a brilliant young lady I have watched grow into a fabulous musician and singer.  I will never forget the look of terror, wanting and disappointment I saw as she had to choose between music, her passion, and medicine, her parent’s insurance policy.


I later learnt that she chose medicine and I hope that she has a wildly fulfilling career and will be able to follow her passion alongside of her day job. 


Choices, Reasons to be thankful1


The ideal conditions to begin to grow our creative talents begins with a sense of permission, coupled with its natural partner, a safe environment in which to foster it. People, need space to dream, try, fail, try again, explore and hopefully realize our ideas.


If a permissive environment or we don’t feel safe, then our creativity gets pushed back.  One result is that fear takes root and feelings of resentment begin to grow.  It is essential to be kind to other people’s creative aspirations and respect the conditions needed to help them grow.


So, What’s Stopping You? Let’s find out


A mistake that comes from fear is to believe that any one profession is ‘safer’ than the next.  These days, previously ‘safe’ jobs are in fact less long term than in the past, for example education is regarded as a secure profession always in need of fresh talent. However, many who work in education are required to reapply for their contracts every few years when a department or organization is restructured, only to find the terms of work have changed.  Secure long term contracts are rare and many previously dependable jobs are now tendered to the private sector.  This brings more competitive pricing for the cash-strapped public sector but has changed to nature of being employed and planning a career.

So, Whats Stopping you eleanore Ditchburn

Contrary to what many think, it is possible to make a successful career in a whole range of jobs as long as we are professional and passionate about what we do. This sense of professionalism and passion leads to motivated work and a desire to improve the quality of work or products provided.  Creative people often have to juggle a portfolio career or balance a day job with their creative activities to make them possible.  Nobody said it would be easy, but equally being a doctor or solicitor would be changing too, just in different ways!


If you truly want to be a musician, painter, textile artist, costume designer, or what ever you love. You must begin.  Make mistakes. Then learn your craft. Then repeat.  The real work of having a career,in he creative arts or elsewhere, requires overcoming our fears and constant improvement.

So, what’s stopping you?


Lucky you! Here’s a Worksheet I designed for you to ask just that

So Whats Stopping You Preview

Make sure you click on the picture or here to get your worksheet so you can follow along

  1.  The first thing I would like you to do is brain dump all of the things that you believe are holding you back from making progress on your goal.  List as many as you can, include the whiny and silly things.  If you’re really looking for a clean sweep, write really small and keep going even when you don’t think there are any more.
  2. Are they true?  If you think there is a valid point that has come from the first question, explore how it is true.  What is it telling you? Is it pointing towards taking responsibility for your time management or taking time to relax with your loved ones?  You will most likely have a number of gripes on your list that are not true. These pieces of self-talk are really not helpful and are extremely tiring.    Try banishing them for a week and see how you feel.  I bet you’re surprised by how often they pop into your mind at first, but this quickly reduces especially once you feel the benefits.  I’m not talking about ignoring real problems and if you have persistent low-mood or serious thought of self-harm you must seek professional help.  Check out this podcast by Michael Hyatt – ‘Watch your Mouth’ – in which he speaks about re-framing you burdens as blessings. His main message suggests replacing ‘I have to…’ with ‘I get to….’  Try it and see how you feel.  I bet you notice a change in your thinking for the better.
  3. OK, look over the things you feel that are holding you back that are true. List 20 positive actions you can take towards improving your situation.  Try to include very small, achievable items so that you maximize your chance of success.
  4. Put one item onto your to do list, into your project planner or diary. Do it
  5. Remember to review your list and reward yourself for working hard to sweep obstacles out of the way and progress towards your goals.



How Will You Know When You Are Successful?

One issue I get asked about all the time is knowing when you are successful.  I always advise measuring success by your own standards – after all they are the best aren’t they? So let’s do another worksheet to help you define what you are aiming for. Phew, working you hard today aren’t I!


What Success Looks like to me preview


When you’ve completed the worksheet and written the success statements into your journal you will have a personal road-map of what success looks like for you.  Often we won’e feel successful inside and have to fake it until we make it for real! Here are my top tips for appearing successful whilst you’re moving towards achieving your goals:


Always be the best version of yourself and dress as if you are successful.

Aim to look like the person you will be once you have achieved your goal.  If you are strapped for cash keep the clothes you have maintained and try to have one outfit for special occasions.


Always be polite about others.

As they say in show business: You meet the same people on the way down as you do on the way up.


Smile (and Breathe!)

These things will help you make the right impression and keep calm(er) in the process.


Never gossip

Not once has gossip improved a professional reputation.


Don’t forget to schedule a review of your progress from time to time and keep a reflective journal to speed your progress along. Let me know what challenges you’ve worked to overcome and what goals you have set in the comments below.  I will be starting a group soon where we can all get to know each other.

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