Tag Archive for expectations

Time Wasters – What’s Behind the Problem?

How long is your ‘To Do’ list?  More importantly, how long do the items on your ‘To Do’ list remain incomplete?  That’s a pretty tough question to answer honestly.  Our lists are only as useful as our ability to use them as an effective tool.  When we continue to add items to our list, rewrite them, categorize and recategorize them, but never accomplish our goals, it’s a problem.  As our list grows, stress and pressure tend to show up and take over; often unannounced and uninvited.  And that’s never a good thing.  As the tension mounts, we can become master procrastinators who have a very large chest of creative time wasters to avoid facing the stress.

If we dissect the actual word procrastinate, ‘pro’ means forward, and ‘crastinate’ means tomorrow.  It literally means favoring tomorrow as a better time for doing something.  When procrastinating getting to important responsibilities and tasks, we often fill our time with doing busy work.  An endless array of seemingly ‘urgent’ things need to ‘get done’ before we get to the work at hand.  Have you ever justified that something must be urgently done before beginning your ‘real’ work?  Things like cleaning a filing cabinet, desk drawers, running an important errand, going through email, or if you work from home, the endless call of housework can all produce the illusion of productivity.  We are deluded into thinking we are getting so much done because we are busy.  We try to convince ourselves that mindless activities and being busy equate to being industrious.  But, who are we kidding?  We can be very busy checking social media, but it is by no means productive.  So what keeps us ‘busy’ and procrastinating, instead of being truly productive?  There are some very strong underlying issues behind putting things off, and it’s important to identify and understand them in order to move beyond them.  In working with women who face procrastination issues, I’ve identified four recurring themes:  fear, indecision, boundary issues and feeling overwhelmed.  Let’s explore.

Fear is the most aggressive promoter of procrastination.  When a sizeable or high-profile project, presentation or campaign lies ahead, it can be daunting.  Fear creeps in our heads in the form of ‘what if’s’.  What if I don’t know how to do a certain part of the project and get stuck?  Some women fear that asking for help may be a sign of weakness, and poorly reflect on her leadership skills.  Fear also rears its ugly head when we can’t completely envision the finished product.  When the end game is out of focus, sometimes we fear we will miss something important, or make a lot of mistakes getting to the finish line.  The ultimate ‘what if’ fear is, ‘what if the job I do isn’t good enough?’  This is a fear of being ‘found out’ that we are really a fraud, or not quite the talented individual others believed us to be.

Together, these fears grip our psyche and can crush our spirit.  If we allow fear to overtake our thinking, the daunting feeling can paralyze us into oppressive procrastination.  The only thing that seems to shake people into action is a looming deadline or a worse fear of being perceived as incompetent.  However, these are negative motivators, and while they may force action, they also cause enormous stress.  Over time, that type of repetitive cycle can be harmful to our health, careers, and mental well-being.

Indecision often goes hand in hand with fear as an underlying reason for procrastination.  Every facet of our lives requires so many decisions, often on a daily basis, like ‘what am I going to make for dinner?’   Financial choices; spouse, family and children issues; health care; how we will spend our free time; and of course work and career decisions continually present themselves.  If the decision has potential life-changing implications, it can be a complex process to think through.  For example, if deciding between a career change, going back to school, or starting your own business; the decision factors and possible outcomes are almost innumerable. You could almost ‘what if’ yourself to death under the weight of the decision.  The ultimate ‘what if’ many people fear is ‘what if I make the wrong choice, and the outcome is less than perfect.  Then what?’  Some people think the wrong choice is almost worse than not making any change at all.  When the pain of our current only slightly uncomfortable, we can become complacent and rather than taking a risk, we remain indecisive.  The problem with indecision is that it can be a perpetual or very long term form of procrastination, and typically results in a fairly mediocre existence.  When you are inactive or stuck in an indecisive mode, you remain stagnant due to a lack of opportunities to grow.

Boundary issues can also really compound procrastination.  When we allow others to impose tasks upon us, or we feel obligated to help (when it’s not our job, or because we are a people pleaser), or we have trouble saying ‘no’; our to-do list can grow much bigger than our capacity.  Taking on others’ work is different from pushing ourselves to accomplish our own goals in that an outside force is now creating additional pressure.  Our own pressure, we can control to some degree.  However; when we take on the responsibility of others because of our own doormat-like behavior, the stress of it decreases both our capacity and our self-dignity.  Instead of holding our own, and owning our outcomes, not maintaining boundaries makes us beholding to others.  Being beholding is different than reporting to or answering to your manager, which is a relationship of give and take.  No, in a boundary-less situation where we are beholding to another, we give and give, but receive no benefit in return.  On the contrary, we receive only negatives; no affirmation, no formalized recognition, a decreased sense of self-worth, and less time for the things we need to accomplish.  This cycle lends itself perfectly to procrastinating doing the things on our own to do list or desk.

Lastly, the problem of feeling overwhelmed triggers one of two responses.  People either leap into action when their plate is full or feel paralyzed because they don’t know where to begin.  You’ve probably sat on each side of this table at one point or another.  People with organization or motivation issues frequently struggle with feelings of being overwhelmed.  The messages in their mind say “I don’t know where to begin,” or “I’m so far behind, I’ll never catch up. Why bother?”  This type of procrastination is one of the most difficult to overcome because it breeds anxiety.  The cycle can then become vicious; feeling overwhelmed – anxiety – depression – inaction and procrastination.

And to bring it full circle, when we procrastinate, we engage in time wasting activities that make us feel productive or busy, but which ultimately do not help us achieve our goals.  Granted many procrastination activities are not bad in and of themselves; it’s just that when they consistently take over as a top priority, it becomes a time waster and a problem.

In this issue of the newsletter, Kay’s Corner offers some actionable steps to assist in combating procrastination.  I have worked with many women on this issue.  If you feel you need to dig deeper on this issue, I’d be happy to work through it with you as well.  Please give me a call at 513-561-4288  or connect with me via email at Kay@highheeledsuccess.com so we can make a plan to move from procrastination to productivity together!

Self-Limiting Behaviors

Have you reached your full potential in your current situation? While my focus is typically on women’s career success, a personal life review (particularly at this time of year) also merits some healthy introspection. We were born with an unlimited capacity to think, create, achieve and love.  Through the innumerable situations we experience, we either ‘grow and go’ or ‘slip and slide’.  The difference in our reaction is locked within our thinking patterns and self-belief, which combine to form limiting behaviors that either propel us forward or keep us grounded firmly in fear.  A limiting behavior or belief can be like a broken record or set of tapes that play a continuous loop in our minds, typically in our subconscious.  They are riddled with negativity.  Sometimes we are vaguely aware of them, often they’ve been there for so long we just accept them as the norm.  Let’s explore.

What are the top limiting behaviors?  In my over 25 years experience in working with women in all levels of management, three limiting beliefs rise to the top again and again.  They play out in the professional world, to be sure, but can also play a significant role in our personal lives.

1.  Not enough self-love – This is the number one issue so many women face.  It’s also the best-kept secret many women hide.  You would be amazed at the number of powerful women I have coached over the years whose outward presence, confidence and communication style exude success.  Yet, when we dig a little deeper, sometimes just beneath that seemingly solid shell, what lies beneath is a lack of self-love.  The reasons are manifold; a childhood issue, an unresolved relationship, a past (perceived) unforgivable error, and the biggest culprit – the comparison game.

The common thread among each reason is also the most important yet challenging thing to accept; the past cannot be changed.  A perfect upbringing is virtually nonexistent. Relationships and errors of the past are ancient history; most often only thought of in the prisons of our own mind.  Granting forgiveness to someone that hurt you, or to yourself for a past error is one of the biggest gifts and favors you can give yourself.  Doing so enables negative feelings to flow out and positive thoughts and the beginning to self-love to take root.

You are a masterpiece of your past; from the genes you received at birth and the formative years of learning to life experiences and choices, you are who you are.  Small changes are possible, but for the most part what you see is what you get; both in the mirror and in your mind.  My point?  Stop the comparison game!  Embrace who and what you are (the good and bad) and use it all to the best of your ability.  You will never be the best ________________ or the worst ____________.  Fill in the blanks for yourself.  With almost 7.5 billion people on the planet and over 330 million in the US, this is an undeniable truth.  Accepting yourself as who you are and were created to be is the beginning of self-love and one step away from self-limiting behaviors.

2.  Not enough ‘other-love’ of other women – If we suffer from the comparison game (and I think it’s safe to say we’ve all afflicted at some point) it festers on the inside, but worse, it creates significant damage in its outward manifestation.  Negative thoughts and energy don’t just sit in a vacuum.  They flow outward and reach others whether in body language, written or verbal communication, or in the way we treat people.  And no one is immune.  Just as we have our own strengths and talents to use, the same is true for other women.  However, if you play the comparison game, it is one of the biggest barriers to collaboration, creativity, achieving a mission and bonding.

When we busy ourselves not liking ‘her’ because she speaks up for what she wants, maybe a better approach is to appreciate the assertiveness skills that can be helpful in bringing a negotiation to a close.  If you don’t like that ‘she’ is too bossy, try to appreciate that someone can lead others to get the job done.  Ultimately, remember that those same women (and men) all have their own insecurities and self-doubt.  This applies to women in all areas of our lives; business colleagues, relatives, neighbors, in volunteer situations, etc.

Instead, make a commitment to stop comparing, and replace those thoughts and feelings with acts and words of empowerment.  You will be amazed at the difference in your own thinking and feeling, in the relationships you have with other women, and in their behavior.  For example, when you publicly recognize someone for a job well done the positivity has a domino effect.  Your positivity reflects well on yourself and feels good, the recognition is both motivating and affirming to the person receiving it, and others are motivated to both do well and emulate your behavior.  Such positive outcomes won’t happen immediately or spontaneously, but over time the payout will create an environment where everyone feels more loved, accepted and able to reach their fullest potential.  Ultimately, working harmoniously and practicing ‘other-love’ for women will dispel and help eliminate limiting beliefs and thinking.

3.  Now, claim your power! – After clearing the way for positive thoughts for yourself and toward others by emptying out negativity and eliminating the comparison game, it’s time to claim your power!  That’s right!  Your power; it lies deep within you and was there from the moment your conception.  Think about it – what a process to become a human being.  That’s a lot of power. Learning to eat, talk, walk, run, think and other life skills; that all takes a lot of power.  When we are young and full of imagination, we believe we can do and become anything.  Yet, somewhere along the way, we begin to collect untruths, limiting beliefs and restrictive behaviors, which all combine to hold us back and restrain our power.

The good news is that the same power we were born with, tapped into as a young child and now call upon occasionally still resides within us.  But, oh do we have our reasons for letting it lie dormant.  Although we want to be successful in our career and other important areas of our lives, so many women hold back due to fear of success.  At first glance, it’s a paradox.  If we possess the power to achieve, what are we waiting for? Why hold back?

No one answer is the same or true for each woman, but I have discovered a common list:

  • If I succeed at first, how will I continue, and will I have the strength to keep it up?
  • What will others think of my success, and how will they treat me, especially if it means a promotion?
  • What if I claim my power and fail at what I try?
  • What if I make the wrong decision either in the short or long term?
  • It won’t feel safe or secure, and I will be out of my comfort zone.

Fear of failure or use of personal power often leads people to ask for more information before they will decide to move forward.  It makes people stuck.  If you feel stuck, I would love to help you work out a plan of success to move forward. Please give me a call at (513) 561-4288  or connect with me via email at Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or so we can tap into your power together!

Crafting and Assessing your Reputation

Everyone has a reputation.  Through our actions and interactions over time, we build a reputation that defines and eventually precedes us; whether for good or for bad.  Most people really don’t know what their own reputation is, and you may even doubt you have one.  Let me assure you – you do!

Spend a minute going through your mental Rolodex and think of one relative, one friend, and one colleague.  As you go through this exercise, jot down the first adjective that comes to mind that identifies their reputation.  You may characterize some acquaintances as having some fairly common reputations; perfectionist, cynic, unreliable, or even a risk-taker.  Many people have one defining reputation, and a few ancillary ones as well.

As easy as it probably was for you to quickly peg someone else’s reputation, you might find yourself equally stumped about your own.  Perhaps you think you couldn’t possibly have a reputation.  Think again.  You have a reputation that precedes you in the workplace, and others can identify it just as easily as you did in the above exercise.

The nuts and bolts of a good business or career reputation are not too difficult to surmise; being on time or early for work, a positive attitude, a strategic thinker, problem solver, a good work ethic, being a team player, even having someone’s back, doing ‘whatever it takes’, etc.  All the things that make us like others, or working with them, are qualities that build a good reputation.  Take a few minutes to inventory your strengths, and since you aren’t broadcasting your answers, be real about your gifts.  Are you a great public speaker, an analytical thinker, good deal maker, key negotiator, master task executer?

While that may have been easy, figuring out what blemishes may reside on your reputation is quite another endeavor.  People usually fall into three categories during this exercise.  Some people name their shortcomings with proficiency and ease, even adding disparaging qualities or inadequacies that are not merited.  The second group of people have some idea of where they lack skill, knowledge or savvy.  Then there is the group that thinks they are free and clear of any faults, blemishes or failings whatsoever.

A bad or blemished reputation is a mixture of actions, inactions and poorly reflecting behaviors.  The tough part is coming to grips with the reality that you may need to do some damage control.  So, what causes blemishes on a reputation?  Below is a list to get you thinking:

Unmet promises.  Examples include delivering an assignment late, not showing up for a meeting, poor contribution to a project, or consistently delivering low quality work.

Poor follow up.  Are you non-responsive to emails, voice mails or meeting requests?  Do you recap meetings or provide project updates with regularity and on time?  After submitting a proposal, do you follow up with your client to clarify questions or cost?  Follow up and follow through shows others that you can carry work through to a successful completion.

Lateness.  Are you on time for meetings and work in the morning?  Do you take a 1-hour lunch, or push the limit and take extra time more often than not?  Being late tells others that you value your time over their time, agendas or activities.

Excuses and Whining.  Shirking responsibility and pointing the finger will quickly degrade your reputation.  Complaining about your job responsibilities to others wastes both your time and theirs, and is completely unproductive.  It also labels you as high-maintenance and someone to stay away from.  Results speak louder than words of blame and excuses.

Being overwhelmed/Dropping the ball.   Are you consistently frazzled by your workload?  Do you respond with emotion and drama to your ‘to-do’ list versus handling it in a professional manner?  This type of behavior often leads to dropping the ball with responsibilities because so much effort is spent on swirl and reaction that it steals time from productivity.  If you fall into this category, come to my June 18 Equilibrium in High-Heels Workshop.  You will leave with a full toolbox of techniques to successfully balance work and life.   (See details and register here:  http://www.highheeledsuccess.com/events-20160618.html.)

Interrupting.  Whether in meetings, on the phone, one-on-one, or butting in on someone’s conversation, this pet peeve can create a huge black mark on your reputation.  Interrupting causes others to lose their train of thought, can convey a ‘know-it-all attitude’, and tells others that you are not listening.

Be a Leader, Not a Follower.  Do you merely carry out the plans and projects assigned to you, or do you truly think about your work?  The learning curve in a new role can be steep, and it’s perfectly acceptable to execute tasks as assigned during this period.  As you grow in your position, however, stagnating or doing the bare minimum will negatively affect your reputation.  Leaders truly thing about the work at hand, how it will impact other initiatives and the future of the business.  Leaders also anticipate outcomes, consequences, and new opportunities by looking at the big picture.  Acting on these types of leadership thoughts by crafting a plan or proposal for consideration is definitely thinking like a leader and will reflect positively on your reputation.

Social Media Errors.  Last, but definitely not least are social media faux pas.  Posting pictures or statuses about any of the following subjects should be done with the utmost discretion and prudence: alcohol, sex, religion, politics, dating, and opinions about your workplace.  A picture enjoying a craft beer with a friend is fine.  Posting pictures of heavy partying is not.  Uploading a picture of you and your date at dinner is suitable.  Posting about the private details of your dating life is not OK.  Positive remarks about your company or one of its initiatives is fine, ranting about your boss is not.  Hopefully, you get the idea.

Did some of these areas strike a chord with you, or create some self-awareness?  If you think you need to do some damage control in any of these categories, it’s time to put a plan together.  To uncover the truth about your own reputation, you’ll need to humbly enlist the help of others and be open to feedback and growth.  Check out Kay’s Corner (in the May 2016 newsletter) for a three-step action plan to rebuild or repair your reputation.

Unrealistic Expectations

Self-expectations are one of the biggest stumbling blocks challenging many women I coach.  Pressure to perform to a certain level on a daily basis in work, career and home or personal life can be overwhelming.  In this month that we celebrate love, I’d like to demonstrate how easy it is to fall away from loving ourselves and suggest some paths back to realistic expectations, which provide opportunities for self-growth and care.  Let’s begin by exploring the ‘ideal’ day.

In your quest to perform, deliver and achieve, are the expectations you put on yourself attainable or loaded with unrealistic vignettes that fill and overflow your life?  What does your perfect day look like?

Here’s one for you:

  • Arise at 5:00 (after going to bed at 9:00 pm).
  • Have a healthy breakfast.
  • 5:30 yoga.
  • Ready, energized and out the door (in the perfect outfit) by 7:15.
  • Arrive at work and take some quiet time to think and plan your day while sipping a skinny latte.
  • Spend the morning in deep concentration to complete a project which is due in three days.
  • Give a late morning presentation showcasing your department’s recent achievements and an outline for continued success.
  • Eat a nutritious lunch.
  • Engage with several colleagues in a fruitful brainstorming session for an upcoming project, offering many thought-provocative ideas.
  • Finish the afternoon getting a solid head start on a project due next week.
  • Leave work at 5:00.
  • Prepare a healthy dinner with ingredients from a fully-stocked fridge and pantry.
  • Check a few things off your ‘to do’ list for your home/personal life.
  • Spend the remainder of the evening engaging in meaningful relationships or enriching activities.

Do you feel that only after you have accumulated weeks and months of your version of the ‘perfect day’ that you will have it ‘all together’ and possess the discipline needed to be successful?  I have coached many women who feel that anything short of a rigid schedule, and specific daily accomplishments means they have to ‘start over’.  They literally found themselves ‘throwing in the towel’ day after day if they didn’t accomplish certain things within a given timeframe.  Many women perpetuate these behaviors for years before coming to terms with how unrealistic and hard they are being on themselves.

The problem with this thinking is that the ‘perfect day’ doesn’t take into account real life, allow other people to enter our circles, or allow us to be ‘human.’  Unscheduled events happen daily.  Things like oversleeping, emergency meetings, not making it to the grocery store, crisis management, interruptions, traffic jams, the needs of significant others, illness and countless other real-life events.  These things keep us from the perfection we seek, and they will always exist.  Yet, many women constantly fight this uphill battle by trying to strategically devise ways to achieve everything on their ‘to do’ list, and place unrealistic burdens upon themselves that are only achievable in edited movies or airbrushed ads.

Do you find yourself in this situation?  If so, take your version of the ‘perfect day’, and place it on a loved one’s plate.  Would you expect your spouse, significant other, child, sibling, friend or parent to reach the same expectations day after day without fault?  Most likely not, and if they fell short of their own self-expectations you would likely be the first one to advise them not to be so hard on themselves and cut themselves some slack.

Today, I offer the same advice to you – begin to love yourself more by throwing away one or two unreasonable expectations.  Maybe for you, it’s giving up the fact that you can’t keep a perfectly clean house or apartment, post an enlightening article on Linked-In every week, or continue to volunteer at the same level you have been.  Take a look at your January calendar, or three months prior if possible, and place your to-do items in a four column list.  Below are some examples:








Unreasonable Expectations


Well check-ups


Every meal nutritious

Pay bills

Car maintenance

Girls’ night out

Perfectly completed work projects

Grocery shopping

Home upkeep


Consistently early bedtime


Continuing Ed


Size 2 clothing


Just looking at all the items together should begin to eliminate any notion of having to ‘do it all’.  Keeping our untold amount of responsibilities and activities flowing flawlessly is impossible.  Scrutinize the activities in columns 3 and 4. Beginning with just one item, make a plan to eliminate some of your unreasonable expectations, or reframe them.  For example, instead of shooting for perfect nutrition at each meal, perhaps you stop snacking after 8:00pm, or leave a few bites on the plate.  Similarly, instead of delivering the perfect PowerPoint at work, perhaps it’s 85% ‘there’ when submitted, providing necessary room for feedback, and making room for other important things in columns 1 and 2.

Take a good, hard look at column 3 and see what activities are not serving you well, especially those you feel are sapping your personal time or energy.  Volunteering is great on many levels, but in doing so at this point in your life, are you neglecting responsibilities in columns 1 & 2 just to live up to your own unreasonable expectations?  Your list of elective activities might also include watching TV, social media or other time sapping actions.  If you find little room in your day for things you’ve listed in columns 1 & 2, it’s time to unburden yourself of unrealistic expectations and open up some room for a little self-love instead.

We experience the most stress when the gap between our self-expectations and reality is wide.  Start by changing two or three small things.  Doing so will make an impact big enough to feel, but also provide the feeling of not losing complete control.  Need help with both the practical and mental aspects of simplifying?  I can help put a plan together to streamline your professional and personal life, and provide the tools you need to stay on track.  Through the process, I can help you be accountable to your commitment and provide guidance to get back on track if needed.  Email me today to get started, and take that first step toward loving yourself, and your life, more.