How many of you have seen Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? If you have, I’m sure you’ll remember the part where Julia’s character admits she has no idea what type of eggs she likes because she’s always gone along with the type her partner likes. When’s the last time you went along with someone rather than tell them what you actually liked or wanted? How often do you “people please?”
And it’s not always about people pleasing; how many of you check in to see what everyone’s wearing for a night out on the town before deciding on your outfit? Or see who’s going to an event before you agree to go? If you’re nodding your head right now, this chapter is for you!
This is an invitation to STOP. Stop people pleasing. Stop caring so much about what others think. Stop giving 110% to everything when you don’t have 110% in you to give. Stop striving for perfection. START DOING YOU! Imagine a world where everyone could show up as their authentic selves – how incredible would that be? How great would it be to see people acting more confidently? How much happier would everyone be as a society if we stopped caring so goddamn much about what others think of us while still being good and kind people.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t consult with others or stop looking for input on certain things, especially in the business world, where collaboration and different perspectives can dramatically improve a product or project. And checking out dress codes for events is totally ok too. But, when it comes to things like our looks, style, hobbies we do, career paths we take and whom we hang out with, let’s stop looking for permission, shall we? Let’s start doing more of what brings us joy and sets us free.
Perception in the workplace can also cause us to stay in a job we don’t like for too long. We change jobs or companies only to find out it wasn’t the right move, but we’re too embarrassed to admit it or worry about what hiring managers will think if we want to change jobs after only a few months.
Someone once stated we should work in a job for two years before moving on, which has been ingrained in many people’s heads, and well, it’s just not correct, especially if the job is not a fit.
And if you’re worried that people won’t like you, here’s another story for you.
Whether you’re a leader, parent or caring friend, wanting people to us like us is a very common desire.
And this was the topic of discussion this week in one of the groups I coach every two weeks. This group spans Canada and is full of brilliant, successful women raising all the right topics we need to get better at openly discussing. And this week, we started talking about assertiveness (especially for women) and the fear that you won’t be likeable if you act a certain way in the workplace.
And what happens when we fear we’re not likeable?
We shy away from uncomfortable conversations or situations.
We don’t speak up.
We pretend to be someone else.
But here’s the thing – not everyone will like you, and that’s ok. In fact, as one of my clients shared, one of her previous VPs used to say, “If there’s not one person in the room who doesn’t like you, you haven’t done your job as a leader.”
A leader makes tough decisions, asks unfavourable questions, and challenges the status quo.
But just because you say or do something that isn’t likeable, it doesn’t mean you’re not likeable.
Just like when our kids act out, their behaviour isn’t likeable, not them.
You need to detach who you are from the behaviour. Your decision may not be likeable, but it doesn’t make you unlikeable.
And another big mistake we make when it comes to perception is comparing ourselves to others in completely different situations than ours. Have you ever sat around comparing yourself to a homeless person? Sure, you’ve probably walked by one and thought how blessed you are, but when it comes to work, your personal life or your accomplishments, who do you compare yourself to, on average? Likely your peers, neighbours, or perhaps even the leaders or trailblazers in your industry.
In my case, a few of my closest friends are solo moms. And I am constantly in awe of how they do it. And at times, it does help me get over my feeling sorry for myself when I’m tired or overwhelmed. But, you know what else comparing ourselves to people in different situations does? Undermine how we’re feeling. If I’m constantly telling myself to suck it up and get over it because so and so has to do it on their own, I’m beating myself up for how I’m feeling instead of validating it. And the thing is, if we experience a change in our life, big or small, it can be exhausting.
For example, my father-in-law is sick with cancer right now, and it’s a sad, exhausting and stressful time for us, particularly my husband, his sister and his parents. And living less than an hour away, my husband has been incredibly supportive of his parents, driving them to and from appointments, spending time at the hospital and running errands for them. But this has also meant a disruption to our schedules. I’m a solo parent at least one night a week when he spends the night. I’m not getting to work as long hours as I usually do. My husband is drained from all the driving and caretaking on top of his work. And our regular schedule was already busy with homework, chauffeuring our kids to their activities, making meals, etc. Plus, I’m trying to finish my book which requires significant mental energy.
So, I’m feeling exhausted and then pissed off that I’m feeling weary because I should be able to push through.
And why do I feel this way?
Because I compare myself to solo parents. And yes, they’re frigging amazing, but they have also built a schedule around their lifestyle. And I’m sure it also feels exhausting if they suddenly change their circumstances.
And the last example I want to share with you today is to stop comparing yourself to who you used to be. Who you were before kids, increased responsibility at work, a home to manage, aging parents, etc. Hopefully, your life is better now, but yes, it could mean you have more stress, less sleep and less energy. But if you’re sitting and comparing yourself to the younger you, you’re burning mental calories that could be better spent elsewhere, and the truth is you’ll never be that person again.
Focus on the present you – all the great qualities and experiences you bring to the table and own your fabulousness!
And for those of you who are ready, and I mean really ready, it’s time to ditch the 3 Ps. Tell perfection, people-pleasing and perception to take a hike. I’m not saying you should turn into an asshole, but you can be super successful and a good person. It just means you’re done playing small or being scared. And if you’re worried about becoming a narcissist or egotistical, guess what? You won’t. Having that concern tells me you are a good human being who will not be a jerk. Get out of your own and tell the 3 Ps to take a hike!