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Imposter syndrome, procrastination, attention span of a peanut

Ok, truth time. I can, and have experienced all three of these. Sometimes simultaneously  - fun times!!.

On the other hand I’m so confident about my ability as a designer. Arrogant some people might think but I don’t care, I am good at my job. I can design the shit out of branding and graphic design for businesses. 

So with that in mind let's go back a bit in history to when I decided to be my own boss.

Nicola, owner of NM Creates, standing in her office
Nicola, owner of NM Creates, standing in her office

While I was employed in a job I thought I was going to love, and did for a while, it turned out to be a disaster for my confidence. I started doubting if I was actually a good designer, maybe I couldn’t handle stress, was I terrible at time management? I questioned everything I designed and expected to hear ‘this isn’t good enough’. Which I did on many occasions. The stress was insane, the volume of work was more than one designer could handle. I worked late, I worked early. I was handed admin tasks on top of it all. Mistakes happened. Then I found out there was a spreadsheet for errors - just for me which was used by the team. I got spoken to a couple of times about how I needed to figure out a way to work better and “maybe this job isn’t for you. Some people just don’t thrive under pressure”.I hit rock bottom after a disastrously handled project which resulted in the wrong PDF being used in a presentation. Totally broke down and was signed off by my doctor due to stress from work. I eventually quit after my family and friends convinced me I wasn’t the problem and I was great at my work. I took some time to look after myself before I made the leap into full time self-employment.

A good while after leaving that job it was acknowledged that the workload was insane for one person and that I wasn’t the issue. However, imposter syndrome still had a hold over me. I spoke to and looked up to other business owners convincing myself that I wasn’t playing seriously enough and that my business wasn’t a real business in comparison. It wasn’t until I started working on the business that I felt like I was actually good enough and to stop playing small. 

Joining BNI initially made me think ‘OMG I'm way out of my depth’ because so many of the people in the group had established businesses, some were limited and some had multiple businesses. Again imposter syndrome reared its ugly head until I did some of the training and started thinking like a serious business owner. I considered my workwear, my mindset and my pricing. In the last 6 months I’ve really moved on from this imposter feeling and I’m more in the mindset of ‘why can’t I have a piece of the big pie?’ and ‘I can absolutely do this!’.

Nicola, owner of NM Creates, working at her desk
Nicola, owner of NM Creates, working at her desk

Now as we move on from that, let's get into procrastination. I noticed in 2023 I do this a LOT. Scrolling on my phone, making another coffee, cleaning the house instead of working on the business. My client work is always done because I love to design but when I have a bunch of admin to do my little monkey brain is like ‘nope, let's do something fun instead’ and I’m more than happy to oblige. I can sometimes have the attention span of a peanut and find myself easily distracted. This has always been the case with me, ask my school teachers from primary one to fifth year. I think it was on every school report.

I mentioned in my last newsletter I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. My body is physically attacking itself. I am sabotaging myself from within. Not much I can do about that. However I like to think that procrastination and having a short attention span are the mental equivalent of arthritis. I sabotage myself by getting caught up doing other things or thinking: “I’ll just step away for a second”.

So in 2024 I am taking the reins from my little monkey brain and focusing on how awesome I am at my job and my reason for doing this - to look after my family and give us an abundant life. If I'm procrastinating I can’t provide them with that life and it’s something I really want to be able to do. Now I know it won’t be as easy as flipping a switch but I know I can take these negative thoughts and behaviours and turn them into positive actions everyday so I can achieve my goal.

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