How Being Plagued by ‘Not Doing Enough’ can be a Trap

woman with headacheI have a very healthy dose of self-loathing. But I think we all have a past of being whatever our story was, of feeling not good enough. It can propel you to work harder and do more, but it can also be a tremendous trap, and you can’t see beyond it.
– Kim Cattarall

Last month, working up and down the country, I heard a question voiced by several women. Their concern was, “Am I doing enough?”

It got me reflecting that I have very rarely heard this expressed by any of my male clients! But this is not to say that men don’t ever have such concerns.

So – how about you?

Is this a question you ask yourself?  This might be in your work, family or community life.

Is there a nagging doubt that what you are doing isn’t quite enough and perhaps carrying some guilt that you could be doing more?

This is despite the juggling of multiple tasks, activities and demands with all the available hours in the day.

And what’s more – what you are doing is probably more than adequate.

Yet the gnawing doubt remains.

“Am I doing enough?” or some variant of this is an underlying question that pops up no matter how much you are doing.

The human condition

As aspiring people, at some stage, many of us have been plagued by this question andthe unrelenting pursuit for more, quicker or better.

If you can relate to this blog just check that the root cause of this is not something much deeper.

Being human, having underlying doubts and anxiety about our core self – our identity goes with the territory.

We try and fill this gap by many different means – pursuing the next big shiny object, buying expensive items, zoning out, trying to be a super man or super woman and the list goes on.

You see deep down we don’t feel complete, adequate and whole in ourselves. In other words, we don’t feel like WE ARE ENOUGH!

We may even feel like imposters – waiting to be found out for who we really are which is not very much at all.

Our social conditioning

Along with our own existential make up, we are also bombarded with images, messages, expectations that we can look, feel, do and be a lot more.

This can be a motivating force in a healthy dosage but the need to do and be more can also be a reactive “fix” to a bottomless need.

Age and stage of life 

Our perspective also changes as we transition through the various stages of our lives.

As per The Atlantic article, as we age into our mature years, we can feel more relaxed and have greater acceptance of ourselves and our life circumstances.

The desire to do and achieve things can also come from a stronger place of what our core values are such as helping others, greater community mindedness, more gratitude and so on.

We are even more motivated and driven by these intrinsic drivers along with the emerging consciousness that life is limited and our days are numbered.

What can we do now? 

Sheryl Sandberg in her very readable book, “Lean In”, puts this well especially in relation to working mums that “Guilt management can be just as important as time management.”

Perhaps we need to remind ourselves when these thoughts arise, that not only are we already “whole”,  but we are doing the best we can and that perfection doesn’t exist.

Instead of the relentless pursuit of filling the “not enough” gap, we need to remind ourselves to come from a place of greater wholeness and self-acceptance.

This is a much calmer and resourceful place without the constant negative and self-berating chatter of not being and doing enough.

We are also more composed and centered then and are therefore able to give more and make better decisions.

Ultimately it is also about the quality of life rather than the quantity of things.

Your thoughts?

Image of woman  – courtesy of stockimages at

Jasbindar Singh works as a business psychologist and leadership coach.

How to Navigate Life Transitions

Butterfly“In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.” 
― Jeanette Winterson

Are you going through a time of change and upheaval? These changes can be sudden or a long time coming.

Whether these changes are in our work and career, relationship(s), family, health, finances, living circumstances or something else, we can suddenly find ourselves feeling shaken and vulnerable as feelings of shock, anger and confusion abound.

Coming to terms with our changed reality is not always easy.

What is more – old solutions just don’t seem to work any more and new ones in the horizon are not any clearer.

We can be left floundering, feeling frustrated and even wishing that things were back to the way they were. But deep down we know that things have changed, sometimes irrevocably.

If this in any way resonates for you then you are not alone.

And there is good news too. With time, things do find a new order, especially as we make adjustments and come to terms with our changed circumstances.

If you find yourself going through a life transition, here are some pointers, which may help: Read more »

How You Can Inject More Fun and Vitality into Your Job and Career

prof woman

Are you looking for an injection of new energy,  fun and vitality in your current role or perhaps your are interested in a new role that will offer this more?

Are you ready for a new project or wanting stretch in your current job?  Do you feel a bit staid and,  dare I say,  a tad bored, with where you are currently?

These feelings are  certainly normal.  We all go through such phases especially when what started out as a cool job loses its spark and becomes mundane.

If you are going through such a phase, here are some questions from “Get Your Groove Back” which might help:

  • What are some activities or areas of work that interest and bring you joy?
  • What is something you have an interest in but have not pursued in any way?
  • What is one thing you might do if you were not afraid?
  • What is one thing you might do if money was not an issue?
  • What is one thing if you did differently in your work life, it would have the most impact?
  • What is a small thing if you did differently or introduced in your personal life, it would have a great impact?

I also really value  Herminia Ibarra’s work. The INSEAD professor in Organisational Behaviour and Leadership and Learning offers an interesting approach on career matters in her book “Working Identity: Unconventional strategies for Reinventing Your Career”. 

She prefers “test and learn” to introspective self-analysis.  She says the way to figure out your next career is to ‘bump into it.’

Her key question is “what maximizes the chances that you will encounter it, then recognize it as a real possibility and develop it?”

The three practices that form the basis of this strategy are:

  • Craft experiments: Devise ways to sample a new role without giving up your current job. Take courses in a field that interest you and experience some aspect of that field.
  • Shift connections: Expand your network of contacts beyond your usual circles. Reach out to people who do work that you are interested in for advice and information.
  • Make sense: Create a story that you can tell yourself and others about what you are trying to do and how it connects the old you with the person you wish to become. Don’t be afraid to revise it regularly as you progress and in your growing understanding of where you want to go.

Anne (not real name) put it like this, “I have bumbled into things that have allowed me to be me. At times, what I thought would not count for much turned out to be really exciting and vice versa. I have also taken some very planned decisions. I think there is a “bumble balance” there somewhere!

A couple of reflective questions for you:

1) Imagine your best career/life manifested! What does this look/sound/feel like?

2) Which practice from above could you engage in more?


As a leadership and career coach, I love working with individuals, teams and organisations to help them be resilient as they progress with their goals and vision.   You can contact me at +64 27 280 3335 or

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How to be More in Control of Your Stressors and Keep Your Cool

angry man

Can you recall the last time you got “triggered?”

Perhaps it was a throwaway line by a colleague, the sudden changed reaction of someone you were in a conversation with or the family member who appears to be forever taking a swipe?

From being your calm even self, within seconds your physiology had been activated almost as if there was a sabre-tooth tiger in the room!

The neutrality of the conversation gone, thinking powers subdued and red lights flashing, a full throttle fight or flight had now taken over command.

And this you did with great flair, style and aplomb!

The only thing was that there was NO tiger present and you realized afterwards that you had over-reacted.

Needless to say, that particular conversation took a dive and the relationship now needs tending to.

Well – the good news is that you are not alone here.

We have all done this, haven’t we and realized afterwards that our interpretation of what happened was quite off-mark.

Simply put – we got triggered.

Triggers are Our Ammunition

Here’s the thing though – whenever we get triggered and hijacked by our strong, unexpected reaction – it is a giveaway sign that there is a hidden barrier waiting for us to breakthrough with!

Our triggers are our ammunition for where we need to move beyond any earlier conditioning or beliefs about how we view certain things.

Unless we become more conscious of our triggers, we are more likely to do this:

  • Be on Automatic Pilot: We immediately become reactive when our ‘triggers’ get activated. Carl Jung – the gifted grandfather of psychology referred to these as our ‘complexes.’ Typically, our reactions will be way beyond proportion to any intended message.
  • Emotional Eruption: We then get upset, angry, accusatory of the other person of how they have done “x,y,z”. Even if the other party’s intent was not one to provoke you, being at the receiving end of your eruption, they may also get provoked.
  • Combat Zone: Now you are both in the boxing ring and the conversation has veered off where neither of you started. You are both in a combative mode with blows flying willy-nilly.

But it no longer needs to be this way!

Here are seven things you can do

The following actions will not only help you recognize, and understand your trigger but it will help you to keep your cool when you do get triggered.

It will give you a breather to respond in a better way and even save your relationship!

1) Know what and who your triggers are

We all have some things or certain people who trigger us more often than others. Be mindful of these before you enter a situation with them.

For example, it could that family member who has a certain way of saying things, which just gets under your skin. Or it could be when a staff member or colleague continues to do something that you have already had a discussion about.

Knowing this enables you to be forearmed and not being surprised each time, every time.

2) Become aware when you get triggered

This step is not too hard to miss, as you will notice changes in your body, mind and mood. For example, you will notice the heart starts beating faster, you are sweating, your feel tension in the mind or body and suddenly your mood has changed from neutral to anger, flatness, or hurt.

Being self aware in this way then enables you to self manage better both of which are important skills of emotional intelligence.

3) Name your thoughts, feelings and reaction without making the other person the cause

Too often we go straight for the jugular and hold the other person responsible along the lines of, “Look what you have done now/or made me feel.” Getting angry, shouting, screaming, calling names, snarling, make biting comments or other passive aggressive behaviours

Notice and own your feelings as your reaction. Take ownership – it gives you more power and options to come out on top.

Self-control is another dimension of being emotionally intelligent.

4) Breathe

A good way of keeping your cool is to become aware of your breath. Focusing on your breath for the next few seconds will help your calm yourself and regain your composure. 

It is a good way of buying time so you will be able to better respond, not react. As Steven Covey has said, it is creating that gap between stimulus and response, which enables us to not be reactive.

5) Look at the context/bigger picture you are in

Remind yourself of the bigger picture of whatever situation you are in. 

For example, in a project team, the inappropriate response of another colleague could perhaps be forgiven considering they are normally pretty on to it but are super stretched this time or a family member who has perhaps lost a job recently.

This allows us to have a bit more compassion and be kinder than our own ‘triggered’ first response taking precedence.

6) Take time out

In conflict situations, one thing we don’t do enough of is to remove ourselves and take time out.

Likewise, in situations we get triggered, it is not always easy to control our feelings and the best thing you can do is to say that you need some time out and take leave.

You can re-engage once you have gathered yourself.

Remember, our triggers may be a conditioned response to an earlier beliefs or situation which may no longer be appropriate or relevant. Be prepared to challenge yourself on this as growth is just on the other side!

7) Reflect afterwards noting what you might do differently

Whatever you have done, review afterwards and identify what went well, what didn’t go so well and what you might do differently next time.

And remember to congratulate yourself for taking a step back, managing an old trigger and coming out on top. 

Bringing it all together

As neuroscience has found, our neuronal pathways respondin known ways. The brain loves to take short cuts with the least amount of expenditure of energy.

Changing behavior patterns require a whole lot of intention, attention and repetition. But this can be done.

New neuronal pathways can be created. As has been said, “neurons that wire together, fire together”

So over to you now!

What has been your key takeout from this article, which you could put into practice next time you are triggered?

Note: This article was first published in Change your thoughts, Change your Life

As a leadership and career coach, I love working with individuals, teams and organisations to help them be resilient as they progress with their goals and vision.   You can contact me at +64 27 280 3335 or

Image courtesy of patrisyu at

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How to Unleash Your Creativity When You are Stuck in a Rut

creativity“To be successful we must live from our imaginations, not from our memories.” ~ Steven Covey

Can you relate to any of these thoughts and feelings?  You feel stuck in a rut. Trapped!  You have had enough of being where you are but just don’t seem to be able to break out of it.

You feel annoyed, frustrated and helpless and think of others who seem happier and more fulfilled in their lives.  There is an underlying fear,  “I will never get out of this, and maybe I don’t have what it takes!”   Feelings of anxiety and panic abound at not being able to see a different future. 

As some of you would know, being stuck in a rut without any sense of verve, excitement or creativity, sucks!  And it is hard to know where to start when you are in it.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  There are things we can do to re-connect with our creative energies and catapult us out of the rut we are in.

Read more at  –

As a leadership and career coach, team facilitator and speaker, I love working with individuals, teams and organisations to help them grow and progress with their goals and vision.  

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

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