words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the category “Being yourself”

Stop doubting and start believing

It's not who you are that holds you back. It's who you think you're notAs most of you know, I’m a freelance writer.

Like any other profession, the life of a freelancer has it pros and cons.

Pros include choosing my own hours, being able to work in my pyjamas, having a coffee machine less than 10 steps away, and being flexible enough to watch my kids at their various school activities or have lunch with a friend.

Cons include competing deadlines, varying monthly income, the need to work nights and weekends at times, and having to line up your own work.

For now, the pros outweigh the cons and I am pretty happy to be living the life of a freelancer. The ebb and flow of work also allows me to work on my first novel. (But that’s a different story for a different blog post).

 

Contributing writers, volunteers and interns

However, one of the pitfalls of a freelance writer is the need to constantly be on the lookout for work. Sometimes work comes in as a result of groundwork laid months or even years ago. But it can take time to build that momentum. So I have several email alerts set up to notify me of various writing jobs available.

Some of these jobs offer reasonable pay but most pay a pittance. I actually wrote a post a while back about the generous offer to pay $20 for 2,500 words which equated to less than 1 cent per word).

However, the more alarming and frustrating trend I am noticing is the expectation of writers to work for free.

Hard to believe?

Well, it’s pretty common in the world of freelancing and unfortunately, it is becoming more commonplace. It’s not unusual for me to see as many as 10 of these ‘job ads’ per day!

These job ads are very cunning. They start out as normal job ads, stating what their company is and what the ideal incumbent is like. These ads often request people with degree-qualifications, high-end research skills, native-English speaker, attention to detail, willingness to work hard and ability to deliver to brief. You can also expect wonderful working conditions. Blah blah blah.

The kicker is usually hidden, right at the end.

Unfortunately, we cannot afford to pay for writers at this time, but you will gain tremendous experience.

OR

This unpaid position is ideal for someone wishing to build a portfolio of work.

OR

In return, you will gain valuable experience and learn the ropes of writing for a digital platform.

In other words, ‘we want top notch writers who have loads of experience writing interesting researched-based articles, who are willing to work for nothing’.

 

Believe in yourself — or you’ll work for free

These ads anger me for several reasons.

  1. They promote the premise that good writers are not worth paying
  2. They play on the self-doubt that plagues many writers, that they aren’t good enough to request a fee
  3. They devalue writing skills in general
  4. They devalue the writing industry by setting up expectations for other business owners, that good writing can be obtained for free
  5. The business model behind these ads is based on exploiting people and their talents
  6. The business owner expects others to work for nothing in order for them to build their business (i.e. get ahead at the expense of others).

For every one ad that is willing to pay a writer a decent amount, there are at least 20 – 30 looking for a freebie. Quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

But what I am more sick of are the writers who agree to such terms, because they are really not helping their cause, or mine.

Every time a writer agrees to write for free, they undermine their own worth, the worth of other writers and devalue the writing industry in general.

The reason so many people respond to these ads, is because they doubt their skills are worth paying for. They don’t back themselves. Instead, they gladly accept any job that comes their way, even if it means they don’t get paid.

It’s kind of like being offered scraps from the dinner table and being over the moon about it.

 

Know what you’re worth…and stand by it

If writers stopped doubting their abilities and demanded to be paid, then these ads wouldn’t be tolerated, let alone answered.

Today I saw another ad for a ‘start-up’ wellness company. They were looking for “content writers/creators for blogs, research articles, marketing material and newsletters mainly focusing in health, wellbeing and fitness”. That’s exactly my niche, so I continued reading. (Note the grammatical error is the advertiser’s — no wonder they need writers) …

“All content will need to be original, and target our the desired readers along with the consideration of SEO.

We are looking for someone who is reliable, hardworking and keen to produce content. In return, you will gain valuable experience, working for a new up and coming health start-up company.”

I immediately saw red. I was so angry, I had to step away from my computer for a while.

But after thinking about it, I decided to contact them.

I wrote quite a detailed email responding to their ad, outlining my experience, my skills, my publishing credits and provided them with links to all my published works.

I finished my email with this sentence:

“I’m sure I have the skills you are looking for, so I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with your further. There’s just one thing …. I want to be paid for my expertise. If you are willing to pay me, we may be able to work together.”

I called them out on looking for free labour and told them I was worth paying.

For the record, I don’t expect them to respond. But that wasn’t the point of my email. I wanted to tell them they needed to rethink their advertising.

Instead of being angry about their ad, I told them I was worth something. I took back my power.

 

Do you practice self-doubt or self-belief

Sometimes it’s not easy to back yourself.

Self-doubt is probably the biggest hurdle for writers. Is this the right style? Will they like what I write? Is this the right angle to take? Am I good enough to write this?

When work seems to dry up, it’s very easy to think the worst — that you just can’t make it as a writer.

However, writers don’t have the monopoly on self-doubt. Everyone experiences it.

The man who wants to change careers but doubts he has what it takes.

The business owner who wants to expand her business, but questions whether she will be successful.

The boy wanting to represent his country at the Olympics one day, but wonders if he is good enough.

The student wanting to study law, but doubting she has the smarts.

The aspiring novelist wondering if she is kidding herself.

you can do anythingAs I see it, we have two choices.

We can keep doubting, or we can start backing ourselves.

We can keep questioning our abilities, or start believing in them.

We can keep wishing for dreams, or start working towards them.

The choice is ours.

Personally, I’m choosing self-belief, because I’m worth it.

And you’re worth it too.

 

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you (and you are willing to pay her), contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

 

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Choose your words wisely

words behaviourHow do you speak to your boss?

How do you speak to your kids?

How do you speak to yourself?

I bet you are a lot kinder to your boss and your kids than you are to yourself.

When you talk to your boss, what kinds of words do you use? What kind of image do you want to project? Is it an image of efficiency, following the rules, doing a good job, showing your initiative, proving yourself? What kinds of words do you use when you speak? Most probably positive, affirming ones.

What about your kids (or friends, if you don’t have kids). How do you speak to them? If you’re like most parents, you probably use words that encourage, praise and build them up. You use words to help them become confident and resilient. You use words to reassure them, and to teach them valuable life lessons. When you need to, you can be firm, but you do it with love.

Now what about you. How do you talk to yourself?

Do you use positive, affirming words or words to praise, encourage and build yourself up? Do you speak to yourself with love?

I’m willing to bet if we could listen to most people’s internal dialogue, it wouldn’t be very pleasant. It would probably be full of self-loathing, put-downs, limiting beliefs and chastisement.

Do the following phrases sound familiar?

“I’m so stupid”

“I’m so ugly”

“I’m so fat”

“I’m hopeless”

“I can’t get anything right”

“I’m not good enough to do that”

“I can’t”

It is said that the average person has anywhere between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts every day. When the majority of those thoughts focus on putting yourself down or talking negatively to yourself, what do you think will manifest in your life?

Children who are constantly told that they are useless, a waste of space, no good, dumb, won’t amount to anything, often do go on to be these things, because that’s all they have ever been told and that’s what they come to believe as the truth.

Would you ever speak to your children like that? Then why do you talk to yourself like that?

When you believe you can’t do things or you are not worthy, then your thoughts become your actions. You don’t do things and you act like you are not worthy. People (especially your children) see someone who doesn’t believe in themselves, who isn’t achieving to their full potential, who has given up on their dreams, who has given up on life. They see someone who is miserable, and bitter and negative.

Words are powerful things.

To look at an individual word, it doesn’t look like much. After all, it’s just a bunch of letters put in a particular order. But change a few letters and it can make a world of difference.   Choose your words wisely

For example:   “I can’t” can easily become “I can”.

“I am not….” can easily become “I am…..”

See the difference?

Words are powerful things. They have the power to build up or to tear down. They have the power to make you smile, or make you cry. They can be the difference between doing and not doing. They can be the difference between failure and success.

If your life isn’t where you want it to be, maybe you need to change some of the words in your vocabulary.

It may just make all the difference.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications.This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.  

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.  

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com  

Lessons from 2014

It’s amazing how quickly a year goes by.

As I write this, it’s the last day of 2014, but it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were leaving 2013 behind.

Like many people, I have spent the last few days of the year thinking and reflecting upon the year that is almost done.

In short, it’s been a busy and challenging year with lots to look back on. However, the most important things I have taken from this year are things my children have taught me.

They have taught me many things this year, but there are four things that have really stood out.

Don't let fear hold you back

This boy doesn’t let fear hold him back.

Drop the fear and get involved in life

Many of us let fear hold us back. We are afraid to try new things or do what we really want to do because of fear. We may be afraid of what others will think; afraid of not knowing anyone else; afraid that it will be difficult; afraid that it will involve sacrifice or (insert your own fear here).

However, when we listen to our fears and let them rule us, we miss out on so much.

My son, Josh is a great example of ‘getting in and having a go’. If he feels any fear, he doesn’t acknowledge it or even speak of it. He just ‘does’. He’s always up for a challenge and willing to try new things, even if he has never done them before, or doesn’t know anyone else who is doing them. He doesn’t let other people’s opinions prevent him from doing what he wants to do. In short, he doesn’t let fear hold him back. And he is loving life.

Look to the future

The future is something that can excite us or scare us. I think one of the reasons we find the future so scary at times is the fear of the unknown. We don’t know what is in store and we usually focus too much on the negative ‘what ifs’, rather than the positive possibilities.

My son is about to start a new journey at high school. Even though this is a huge change and he doesn’t know many others going to that school, he’s still looking forward to it with anticipation and excitement. He’s looking forward to meeting new people, and learning new things. He’s also looking forward to discovering just what it is he wants to do career-wise when he grows up. To him, his future is an endless sea of possibilities.

Work on your weaknesses

Just as all of us have strengths, we all have weaknesses too. However most of us focus on our strengths — the things we are good at, and avoid our weaknesses — the things we are not so good at.

At the beginning of this year, my daughter, Laura set some goals for the coming year (with the help of her teacher). All the children were asked to identify one thing that they needed to work on. Hers was ‘confidence’. My daughter is a natural-born worrier which can sometimes lead to anxiety and a lack of confidence. However, this year she has worked very hard on becoming more confident.

She has put herself in situations that made her feel very uncomfortable. So much so, that on some nights, it took hours for her to drop off to sleep due to how worried she was. She has taken on challenges that she would normally shy away from, and ended up performing very well. However, the biggest lesson she has learnt from all of this is that things are never as bad as you imagine them to be. By stepping out of her comfort zone, she has learnt that she is capable and that has led to a newfound confidence. So always, always work on your weaknesses.

Follow your own path

This girl is not afraid to follow her own path

Follow you own path

This is a hard thing to do sometimes. Often we have a goal in mind, or something we want to try, yet we get caught up with what everyone else is doing. The primary school my daughter goes to is very big on basketball. About half the school play after-school basketball (my daughter included), and many kids play for domestic teams as well. This year, many of my daughter’s friends were joining domestic basketball teams and a few of her friends asked her if she would join too. We also asked her several times if she wanted to join another team.

Her answer was a steadfast ‘no’. No, because she wanted to keep playing her keyboard and continue with her singing. In fact, she has done so well with her singing this year, she was asked to join the Australian Girls Choir, next year. So while all of her friends are playing basketball, she will be pursuing her love of singing and music. She will be following her own path. Something she is able to do, now she has more confidence in herself.

So as I sit back and think of the coming year and all it will bring, I’m not making resolutions. Instead, I am thinking about how I can make the most of the coming 12 months, just as my children have done in 2014.

In 2015, I aim to:

  • Drop the fear and make the most of all opportunities that come my way
  • Follow my own path, regardless of what others are doing
  • Work on my weaknesses, so they become strengths
  • Look to the future with optimism and hope, rather than worrying about what could go wrong.

In short, I want to be braver than I have been in the past.

This morning while at the gym, I heard the song “Brave” by Sarah Bareillis, and I felt that in some ways, it summed up how I want to approach the coming year.

What are you aiming for in 2015? Are you going to be brave too?

My greatest inspiration

IMG_4567

My two biggest inspirations.

Why do you do what you do?

Why do you work? Why do you exercise? Why do you run a taxi service to your kids in your spare time? Why do you go to church?

Why do you REALLY do these things?

Maybe you don’t know. Maybe you’ve never taken the time to think about it before. Maybe you think you know, but you really don’t. Maybe you don’t even care.

However, if you don’t know the real reason behind the choices you make every day, then what you are doing is not really a choice. It’s either a habit, something you feel you ‘have to’ or ‘should do’, or something you do because everyone else is doing it.

When you know your real reason — your ‘WHY’ for doing the things you do, then the actual performing of these tasks (no matter how unpleasant/boring/time-wasting they may be), has a little more meaning, and therefore a purpose. It becomes easier to ‘roll with life’, because you are no longer just going through the motions, wondering what it’s all for.

Instead, your life becomes more focused, more meaningful and a lot happier. Because all of a sudden, you’re not just ‘going to work to pay the bills’. Instead, you ‘re ‘working so you can take that overseas trip’, or you’re driving the kids around ‘so they have an opportunity to develop friendships’.

See the difference?

The same goes for taking care of your health. Many of us say we ‘need to lose weight’ or ‘want to get fit’. Why?

If you ‘need to lose weight’ because everyone else is on a diet, then that’s not a good reason. If you ‘want to get fit’ because Cross-fit is the new best thing, then that’s not a reason either. Even a doctor telling you that you need to do something about your health is not a reason, unless it is YOUR reason. You have to own your reason. You have to really understand WHY you do the things you do.

I have recently done this with regard to my health. What started out as ‘wanting to lose weight’ has evolved into something more meaningful. I no longer care about my ‘weight’, because I have learnt that weight is only a small measure of the kind of person I am. Sure, I want to be living in a body that can continue to move as I age. I want to feel healthy and vibrant and enjoy life as I get older. I do want to feel good and happy about who I am. And the vainer part of me wants to look good! But my real reason — my WHY for training and eating and changing my life for the better, is not about me anymore.

It’s about the dream I have for my kids.

I don’t want them to bury me before my time or to watch me die from a disease I can prevent. I don’t want them to spend their adulthood caring for me, because I haven’t taken good care of myself. I don’t want them to spend their time taking me to doctors, hospitals and medical appointments, or worrying about my health. I want to know my grandkids and have a quality relationship with them. I want to do things with my family, rather than just watch from the sidelines. I want our time together on this earth to be of the highest quality it can be, doing things that matter and things that make us happy. Making happy memories instead of sad ones.

I want my kids to be happy. I want them to know what makes them happy. I want them to be strong enough in themselves to be who THEY want to be, not what the world tells them they should be. I want them to follow their own dreams and passions, whatever they are, and regardless of what others may say about it.

I want my kids to love and value themselves, and to see value in everyone they meet. I want them to inspire and encourage others to be better people. I want them to bring joy to the lives of others, simply by being themselves. I want them to respect themselves and those around them.

I want them to develop a love for healthy food and exercise, so they can live healthy lives. I don’t want them fighting disease, illness or depression. Instead, I want them to make the most out of life.

don't tell people your dreamsI want my kids to be the best they can be and know it’s okay to aspire to greatness. I want them to be proud of who they are as people and what they contribute to the world. I want them to value their uniqueness and special gifts they have been blessed with, and to use those gifts to help others.

I want them to be resilient enough to rise above negativity and hate, and know that when they experience that, it is not a reflection of them, but rather the person who is being negative and hateful. I want them to be confident in who they are, and to never, ever let others’ negativity get the better of them, or cause them to think negatively of themselves.

I want them to seize opportunities when they come along, without worrying about whether they are ‘good enough’ to follow through. I want them to be confident in themselves and their abilities. I want them to trust themselves, and know that they will always find a solution to a problem.

I realise that is a pretty big dream I have for my kids. But I believe it is a worthy dream.

While it’s true that none of us can control how our kids’ lives turn out, we do have an opportunity to model to them what we value in life.

I’m not saying that I am all of the above — but I am working on being so.

The interesting thing about all of this is that since writing down WHY I am making positive changes in my life, I find myself reflecting on the above while I am doing other seemingly mundane and meaningless things such as cleaning the bathroom, doing the grocery shopping and taking out the rubbish.

Although I am not fully embracing the less appealing tasks involved in raising kids, every now and then I catch myself thinking “Why am I REALLY doing this?” And it causes me to turn my negative feelings about these jobs into more meaningful ones.

Why do you do what you do?

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

The path to success: a leap of faith and a whole lot of trust

leap of faithTrust is something I have been thinking about a lot of late. When you really think about it, all of us exercise varying levels of trust every day. We trust that our train will get us to work without incident.  We trust that the school will take good care of our kids.

Without trust, we would probably spend most of our days incapacitated with worry.

Obviously, there are varying degrees of trust. Yet the ability to trust seems to be related to the consequences of the trust being broken, or the likelihood of something going wrong.

For example, if you trust that a chair will hold your weight, and it doesn’t, then the repercussions are likely to be fairly minor — maybe some bumps and bruises and a bruised ego to boot. So it’s a risk worth taking.

However, one thing that I have realised, is that it can be a lot harder to trust ourselves than to trust other people. Yet in order to begin to trust ourselves, we sometimes need someone to believe in us first.

About seven weeks ago, I completed a 12-week body transformation. It was a fantastic 12-weeks (overall). There were times when I wanted to throw in the towel and just blob on the couch and eat ice-cream. There were times when I really didn’t want to get up at 4.50am to get to the gym for my workout. There were even times when I wanted to quit because I couldn’t see any changes happening, no matter how hard I was working out and how spot on my nutrition was.

So in order to keep going, I began to trust more. I stopped thinking and analysing and began to trust the process. I trusted the advice my trainer Mel, was giving me, especially when it came to nutrition. I trusted my body would respond if I kept following the plan. And during my training sessions, I trusted my partner to ‘spot me’, especially when I was lifting weights where I knew the likelihood of getting out all my reps was low. Trust was becoming more important the further we got into the challenge.

The most important person I had to trust in, was myself.

Trusting in ourselves is sometimes easier said than done. Too often we doubt our abilities and our intuition, only to find that if we trusted in ourselves in the first place, we would have been a lot better off. Often this inability to trust ourselves can render us paralysed with fear, rooted to the spot, afraid to take the next step.

I clearly remember a training session towards the end of the challenge. Six of us were in various stages trying to master three sets of 12 push-ups on our toes. When Mel found out that I could already do a full three sets she told me to get a weight and put it on my back.

“What! A weight?,” I thought. “How much?,” I asked, expecting her to say 1-2kg.

“5 kilos,” she said.

“5 kilos? That’s heavy!” I said in shock.

“There are heavier ones,” she countered.

So off I went to get the 5kg weight plate, pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to do one push-up with that extra weight on my back. After all, push-ups on my toes had taken a while to achieve. Besides, push-ups were always the last thing in our training sessions, and I had already increased my weights for every exercise. I didn’t trust my body’s ability to push much further than I had.

“Even if you only get out three or four,” said Mel. “Just try it!”

So the weight went on my back. And I began to push them out. 1-2-3-4-5-

“Keep going,” said Mel.

6-7

“Keep going”

8-9-10

“keep going”

11-…

And then I collapsed, ecstatic but shocked that I had done so many.

I then went on to do another two sets of 12 push-ups with that 5kg plate on my back.

My trust in myself (and my body) was restored because Mel, whom I trusted when it came to exercise and training, believed that I could do it. She felt it was safe for me to attempt it. She also gave me permission to ‘fail’ at getting the full set out, yet encouraged me to keep going in my attempt to get my push-ups out.

Somewhere along the line, we all need people like that. Someone who can see the potential in us that we often fail to see. Someone to help us believe in ourselves when we find it difficult. Someone to encourage us to ‘have a go’. Someone to be there beside us to support us and cheer us. Someone whom we can rely upon to help us out if things go wrong. Someone to say ‘it’s okay if you fail’. Someone you can trust.

success isn't linearThe road to success is never smooth sailing. It’s a bit like a dance where you take some steps forward and some steps back. Sometimes your steps take you back to the start and sometimes they go way off course. At times your steps may be stumbles and may cause you to fall. And depending upon the dance, you may need to take a giant leap of faith.

However, if you have someone beside you guiding your steps, picking you up when you fall, believing in you and giving you the confidence to take that leap of faith, then your chances of success are that much higher.

The question you need to ask is: “Do I have someone like that in my life?”

If you don’t have someone like that…

I don’t wish this blog to sound like an ad, but if you don’t have someone in your life to help you reach your goals (particularly if they are related to health, fitness and wellness), then I really encourage you to contact Mel Cook.

Not only is she a Lifestyle Transformation Specialist and Director at Run With Life, but she is a friendly, positive and happy person who brings out the best in people. It doesn’t matter if you are young or not-so-young, or whether you are fit or not-so-fit. If you want to become a happier, healthier version of yourself, then take that leap of faith and give her a call.

You can also find out more information about our next 12-week Transformation Challenge.

 

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

Do you really ‘suck’? Or do you simply need to improve your game?

tennis ballThere’s a lot you can learn from tennis.

This week I went to cheer on my son and his friend as they represented their school in the District Tennis competition.

Before the competition began, most boys seemed full of confidence. Stories of how they had won their matches on the weekend, descriptions of how they won a tie-break or a long point, and predictions of how many games they were going to win during this competition. Many of them were itching to get their campaign underway.

However, it wasn’t long after competition started that some of the boys began to tell a different story.

And it wasn’t with their mouths.

As they faced their opponents, some of them realised they weren’t all that good at tennis at all — or that is how they saw it.

As I watched matches across four courts, there was a common theme. I could tell who was losing, simply by their body language.

Shoulders were slumped, feet were dragging, and heads were hanging between points. There were frustrated sighs and a bit of racquet tossing.

I was sitting next to one father who was watching his son. Every now and then he would call out, “good shot.” His son would look up and shake his head, then proceed to look at the ground. At one point, his dad called out, “Don’t give up, mate.”

At the end of the game, his son came and sat down next to me, clearly devastated by his loss.

“Why did you give up?” his dad asked.

“Because I suck at tennis,” was the reply.

Probably the same sentiment going through the other boys’ minds as they were getting beaten on court.

It occurred to me that most of us say things similar to that at one point or another.

We may feel confident in our abilities (whether it be tennis or something else) but as soon as we come up against someone else who is better at that particular activity, all of our confidence evaporates. We begin to compare our game to theirs, we watch how good they are at something and then begin telling ourselves that we are not that good after all.

It’s really only another thought or two before we begin to think “we suck”.

The father put his arm around his son and said: “Hang on. Did you think you sucked before you started playing?”

“No, not really,” answered his son.

“So what’s changed?”

“He beat me.”

“Yep, that’s right, he beat you. What does that mean?”

The boy just shrugged his shoulders in an answer.

“Does it mean you suck, or that he’s just better than you are at tennis?”

And there it is, the question that we all need to ask ourselves.

Do we really ‘suck’, or is someone else just more gifted in that area than we are? Perhaps they have worked harder than we have, or have more experience in a particular area than we do.

It’s so easy to put ourselves down and talk to ourselves negatively, particularly when things don’t go the way we want, or when someone else’s abilities show up our weaknesses.

However, all that does, is erode our confidence and cause us to mope about, shoulders sagging, dragging our feet. The more we do that, the lower our confidence dips, and then we begin believing, acting and performing as if we do ‘suck’.

What we need to do, is accept that while we may be good at a particular thing there is always someone who is better than we are. Just because their abilities outshine ours, doesn’t mean that we have lost our abilities all of a sudden. Just like the boy’s tennis abilities were no different between when he stepped onto the court and when he came off.

Before the boy went back on court for his second match his dad gave him some advice.

“Firstly,” he said “go and have fun.”

“Secondly, instead of thinking you suck, or you’re going to get beaten, ask yourself what can you do to stay in the game.”

“Thirdly, think about the aspects of your game you need to improve. Off you go.”

With a smile on his face, and a spring in his step, the boy went back to meet his next opponent. There was no more sagging shoulders, shakes of the head, or dragging of his feet. He played some very good points against a very good opponent and came back with a win. the only person you should try to be better than

So next time you find yourself questioning your abilities, think about the boy on the tennis court and the questions his dad asked him —

“Does it mean you suck, or that he’s just better than you are?”

“And what can you do to stay in the game?”

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

Why dreams don’t belong on the shelf

Do you have goals, dreams or aspirations? Are you working towards them? Do you have a plan?Go get dream

If you do, then nothing should stand in your way right?

Wrong!

You see, I have goals and dreams. Things I am working towards. I even have a plan.

But this week, I have discovered there was a BIG obstacle in front of me. One I never saw coming. One I didn’t even expect.

ME!

All of a sudden, it all seemed too hard.

My goals seemed unattainable.

The work involved loomed in front of me, too huge to overcome.

My belief that I could do it had disappeared.

Small things, which previously were inconveniences, suddenly seemed insurmountable.

My attitude was one of doubt, fear and negativity.

I was dragging my feet, feeling tired and beaten.

So what had happened to cause such a turnaround? After all, I was feeling on top of the world come New Year. And I had experienced great success last year as I worked towards my goals. What had changed?

The truth was, I had stopped protecting my dreams.

I had let ‘life’ get in the way of doing what I needed to do, to make my dreams a reality.

I had let the busyness of the end of the year stop me from focusing on my goals on a daily basis.

I had let ‘holiday’ mode make me complacent.

I had stopped visualising myself achieving my goals.

I had let a lack of routine dampen my enthusiasm.

All in all, I was what happened.

You see, if you have a dream, you need to protect it. You need to protect it from people who want to steal it, or sabotage you or ridicule you, or doubt you.

But most importantly, you need to protect it from your own complacency.

When we dream a dream, or set a goal, we need to look after it. In some ways, it’s a lot like a new-born baby. It needs to be looked after, fed, nurtured, protected, allowed to grow. In the beginning, doing these things is a pleasure, part of the excitement.

But over time, it is easy to become less vigilant.

When our children grow and become more independent, it’s easy to think that they don’t need as much protection as they did in the beginning. This is true, to some extent. However, they still need nurturing on a daily basis. They still need protecting from certain things and they still need to be encouraged to grow.

The same goes for our dreams.

Just because you have set a goal doesn’t mean you can ignore it and still hope to achieve it. Even if you start working towards it, you cannot afford to be complacent about it.

Dreams are precious things. They should be cherished, nourished and looked after. Not placed on a shelf, allowed to gather dust.

For when they are on the shelf, they are open to all kinds of negativity, doubt and fear.

If we don’t give our dream the protection or attention that it needs, it begins to wither and die, until all we have left are remnants of something we wanted to achieve, once upon a time. Distant memories of something we started but never finished. Discarded dreams left upon the shelf, covered in dust.

This week, I almost gave up on myself and my goals — almost.

I was lucky in that I realised what had happened to cause me to feel this way. And instead of shutting the door on my dreams, I have shut the door on the doubt.

I’ve taken my set of goals down off the shelf, dusted them off, and put them in a prominent position where I will see them each day. I will read them, I will visualise them happening, and I will continue to work towards them.

What about you?

Do you have any goals you need to take off the shelf?

cropped-twitterpic.jpg

Nerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

Why you shouldn’t make New Year resolutions

As the year is beginning to wind down, and most of us are in the process of putting the final (or even the beginning 😉 ) touches on Christmas, some of you may be thinking about the next big event — New Year’s Eve.New Year resolutions

And what goes with New Year’s Eve? New Year resolutions!

I’m sure all of us at one time or another have made New Year resolutions.

I’m going to lose weight.

I’m going to quit smoking

I’m going to get fit

I’m going to get a better job

I’m going to save more money.

Blah, blah, blah.

Well, I don’t believe in New Year resolutions.

Why?

Because they never amount to anything.

Some research I came across recently stated that only 8% of people achieve their New Year Resolutions.

Just 8%. So why bother making them at all then, if they are just going to remain wishes and dreams until the next New Year rolls around and you do it all again?

People who make New Year resolutions are really just making a wish. Saying they want to achieve something, yet leave it to fate. As if by putting this dream into the ether will make it manifest before their eyes.

If you want to make next year better than this one, then you need to set GOALS!

Over this year, I have achieved some truly great things. Most of these were a result of getting serious about setting goals, rather than making a wish.

During the past few weeks, I have been thinking about what I want to achieve next year, and am now in the ‘goal-setting’ phase.

For those of you who think goal-setting is boring, you haven’t done it properly. When you set goals, you should become excited about what you are going to achieve. You should feel motivated. And you should come out of it with a plan on how to make it all happen. Which excites you even further. And having a plan helps you believe you can do it.

Over this past week, I have set my health and fitness goals for the year. I will be sitting down with my trainer and some like-minded people later on this week to clarify them further and to make a plan so I can achieve them. That is very cool.

During this week and next, I will be setting aside a good few hours to clarify and set my business goals for 2014. I already have a fair idea of what I want to achieve but I need to put it on paper and make a plan so these goals become a reality.

I have also been thinking of some more personal goals I want to achieve. These are not tied to my health and fitness, nor to my business. But rather, things that I would like to achieve just for me.

One of these is quite huge. It’s something I have wanted to do for a very long time, but the timing has never been quite right. Well, I am beginning to think the timing might be better next year, so it’s on my list. I have moments of believing I can do it, and then other moments when I question it.

Nevertheless, I am setting it anyway.

Because once something is on your goal list, things begin to happen.

So now that 2013 is drawing to a close, why don’t you think about some real GOALS for next year instead of wasting time with resolutions.

set a goal so big....

How not to be better than everyone else

Let’s face it, our culture is very competitive. While there is nothing wrong with competing on the sporting field (see my post on  The rules about winning), competition can get out of hand. You may think you are not a competitive person, but you probably compete without even knowing it.excellence

We all compete when applying for a job. We compete for a car-park at the shopping centre (especially leading up to Christmas!) Many of us try to ‘out-do’ each other when it comes to kids’ birthday parties, or which car we drive. Our kids are already competing with each other with regard to which electronic device they have, or how many ‘friends’ they have on Facebook. I’m certainly guilty of competing when it comes to Scrabble!

Competition according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as ‘the act or process of trying to get or win something (such as a prize or a higher level of success), that someone else is also trying to get or win’.

And while competition is fine at one level, it can very quickly get out of hand.

You see, while we are busy trying to be better than everyone else and ‘win the prize’, we lose the gist of what competition is really about — Excellence.

Our primary school has five over-riding values — Respect, Excellence, Confidence, Responsibility and Resilience. Five great values, if you ask me.

At the start of the year, all students discuss what each value means to them. They write them up and they become the values of the classroom. My son’s year level came up with the following statements to define Excellence:

Doing our best — aiming high!
Having a go and learning from your mistakes
Thinking – “I can do it”

My daughter’s grade 2 class came up with this:

Practicing and working hard at everything we do, to be the best we can be.

Awesome!

Nowhere does it say ‘being better than everyone else’.

The problem that arises when you try to be better than everyone else is that you forget about improving yourself. You’re too busy focussing on what everybody else is doing, and trying to do ‘better’ than they are, rather than spending time developing yourself. The focus on ‘doing your best and aiming high’ has been replaced with ‘getting the better of’ someone else.

When we compete, we often end up comparing someone else’s ‘outer’ (or our perception of them), to our ‘inner’. Which is sort of ridiculous. It’s like saying that bananas are better than swimming pools. But many people, especially kids, don’t get that. In their eyes, you are either a ‘winner’ or a ‘loser’.

Which leads to the emotional difference between competing, and striving for excellence.

Competing to win can set someone up for a fall. In most competitions there is only one winner. So where does that leave everyone else? If you only focus upon the outcome of winning, then your success is tied up in victory. If you are not victorious, you are not a success, in other words, you are a ‘loser’. You are not good enough. You need to ‘perform better, do better’. Blah blah blah.

Competing sets you up for jealousy. If you are so focused on the end result, it is easy to envy your competitor for their victory over you. And this green-eyed monster can make it very difficult to see where you can make improvements. Because where there is jealousy, there is also often blame — reasons why you didn’t win. “I was too tired, the referee made a bad call, someone pushed me over, it wasn’t fair”, etc. etc.

But striving for excellence is a whole new ball game. Striving for excellence leads to positive self-esteem, and finding value in yourself for your efforts, rather than in the end result. Striving for excellence enables you to set goals and feel good about achieving them, regardless of what everyone else is doing. Aiming for excellence empowers you to keep trying harder, to be a better version of yourself than you were before. Which leads to confidence. And confidence means you can keep striving for excellence in all you do, for you know there is never failure.

Keeping the focus on excellence also means that there is little room for jealousy. If you did the very best you could have in whatever circumstances, then how can you be jealous of someone else who did the same? I would even go so far to say that being your best self and focusing on being your own ‘excellent self’ opens you up to cheer on someone else for their efforts and achievements, something I wrote about earlier this year (Are you a dream-stealer or a dream-weaver?).

When we strive for excellence, we all win; because excellence can mean different things to different people. It can mean running 5km without walking. It can mean not eating chocolate for a week. It might mean practicing your handwriting. Perhaps it is joining a sporting team for the first time. Maybe even speaking in public without getting nervous or putting in your best effort in an exam.

If you truly want to rise to new levels, stop trying to ‘beat’ everyone else there. Focus on being your most excellent self, and you will be surprised at how quickly and effortlessly you will get there.

The truth about comfort zones

take at least one - chance

I’m sure all Harry Potter fans will remember when Harry stumbles upon the Mirror of Erised.

For the one or two of you who haven’t read “Harry Potter” (or at least seen the films), the Mirror of Erised (Desire spelt backwards), shows the person who is looking into it nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of their hearts.

Of course, for young Harry, who had never known his parents, he sees them standing around him. Ronald Weasley, always overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, better than the rest of them — Head Boy and Quidditch captain, as well as holding both the House Cup and Quidditch Cup — and looking GOOD!

But as Dumbledore reminds Harry: “The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is.” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)

What would you see, if you could look into the Mirror of Erised?

I’m sure very few of you would see yourself EXACTLY as you are.

Maybe you’d like to be taller? Perhaps have straight hair? Any hair!!? Maybe a little less round. Some of you might like to have more money in the bank. Some may see a version of themselves bursting with vitality. Perhaps more education under your belt. Some of you may be in an exotic location. Or perhaps married with a brood of children.

Whatever the case, very few people in the world would see themselves EXACTLY as they are.

Some of you know, I have been making some significant changes in my life over the past 12 months. Notably:

Fitness — Instead of trying on losing ‘weight’, I have been focussing on building muscle, losing fat and changing my body composition. This can be very difficult at times (particularly during some of my training sessions), but this is a choice that I have made.

Work — I have recently started a freelance writing business. Yes, certain things acted as a catalyst for that decision, but once again, it was a choice to go out on my own.

Eating — Earlier this year (after months of investigation) I was diagnosed as wheat and fructose intolerant. That means that if I want to feel well, energetic and healthy, then I need to limit or cut out certain foods in my diet. Once again, certain factors have contributed to this, but it is a choice of mine to feel well.

All of these changes have involved me doing things that I have found uncomfortable. Some have been exciting changes, others pretty scary, and some unpleasant! Some have also been extremely difficult and have been made over a long period of time, with some hard lessons learned. However, by doing things that I was initially uncomfortable with, I have achieved some great things. I am also closer to achieving some of my other goals, and overall, in a happier, healthier place.

The other good news is that the ‘uncomfortable’ has become ‘comfortable’.

Now you may be thinking you couldn’t possibly move out of your comfort zone, to make the changes you want.

What if I told you there was no such thing as a comfort zone? It doesn’t actually exist.

Think back to your mirror. What is it you see? If you can’t see yourself EXACTLY as you are now, then you are already uncomfortable.

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit out of sorts. I happened to walk past Baker’s Delight. Mmmm mmmm. Even to someone who is wheat intolerant, it still looks and smells very appealing. The thought even popped into my head: “How nice would it be to get a fresh, soft bun and take it home to have with my cup of tea?” It was quite a comforting thought.

But then I realised that eating a bun was not really going to make me feel comfortable. Within 20 minutes, I’d feel bloated, sick and I’d have a stomach ache for the rest of the day. Not to mention that the food wasn’t going to help me reach the goals that I had set myself, and I’d have a terrible case of guilt and regret.

It dawned on me that the past way of behaving wasn’t going to make me feel comfortable.

I realised that if I’m working towards certain goals, then there is a level of ‘uncomfortableness’ about my present.

I also realised, that to achieve my goals, I’ll have to continue do things that are uncomfortable.

So, past, present and future — all uncomfortable for one reason or another.

Which means — NO COMFORT ZONE!

Just varying degrees of discomfort.

So the question is not whether you are prepared to move out of your comfort zone; it is: If you are going to feel uncomfortable anyway, then why not do the things that will bring you closer to your dreams?

So that’s what I am trying to do —  embracing all those things that will take me closer to my goals — no matter how uncomfortable they may be.

And knowing there is no real comfort zone anywhere, makes it a little easier to step out into the unfamiliar.

How about you? Are you making the most of being uncomfortable?

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