The only personal growth goal you’ll ever need

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There is so much advice out there about how to develop yourself that it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and come to think it’s easier not to change.

Far from being motivated, too much advice has the effect of paralysing you, and you may well end up doing nothing.

I read a lot of books, about personal development, spirituality, science, business, entrepreneurship, writing. And I always hold one value in mind when I am absorbing new information, which is to strive for balance in everything I do.

Balance in what I eat

For example, I want to eat healthily so I try to eat more vegetables, less meat and processed foods, limit sugar, and all that.

But, if I go towards the extreme of eating healthily, I end up becoming rigid and joyless, unable to enjoy a treat because I’ve labelled all foods that aren’t healthy as ‘bad’.

To find a balance, I would also make sure I allow myself to enjoy crisps, or some cake, a fizzy drink or whatever. But if all I’m eating is chips and nuggets, I’m going too far the other way towards eating junk food and not looking after myself.

All things in life have a balance between opposites at their heart, conceptually speaking.

Truth in opposites

This is because all truth resides in reconciling opposites, just like demonstrating great power is a positive trait in a leader but must be combined with humility and vulnerability, to avoid sliding over into tyranny.

The strong and the weak are one, because at the heart of weakness lies strength’s greatest power. At the heart of strength lies weakness: a fear of vulnerability.

So when I’m freelancing, I strive to learn and grow, building my confidence and my experience in order to grow stronger.

But I consciously allow myself to be weak, not to beat myself up for feeling scared or stupid, and even openly admitting my insecurities to others, to keep myself in balance.

Conscious living

Always striving to find a balance in everything you do means you can never go on to autopilot, because momentum means that we’re constantly prone to swinging to extremes.

Once you’re moving in a certain direction, it’s far easier to keep moving than it ever was to just get started in the first place.

So when you’re moving through life, and you’re considering yet another piece of advice from another guru, claiming the next quick-fix to help you improve your life, consider whether it will help you achieve balance or not.

Over time, you will instinctively keep adjusting your path. And that’s not to say that you will never find yourself losing your balance or swinging to another extreme. Rather, it means finding balance will start coming more and more naturally to you, and it will become easier and easier to keep finding the right path again.

Read more about how personal growth is the way to happiness, or find out more about my freelance writing business

CatherineCatherine Heath is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, yoga, meditation and being in nature. 

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How freelancing is a lot like dating

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I thought of this analogy a long time ago when I was first learning how to interact with clients and pitch to them.

Freelancing is not only like dating, but it’s like being a man playing the dating game. And as I’m not a man, it was a really hard thing to get used to.

I gained a renewed sympathy for how hard it is to be (a heterosexual) male and looking for love in our society, because all the pressure is on you to go out there and ‘attract’ a woman – and all the while, without coming across as too aggressive or desperate.

Hunter-prey dynamic

I’m not saying it’s right that we have such an imbalance of power in the dating game, but it does obviously arise from ancient hunter-prey dynamics fuelled by testosterone.

But in some ways, taking on the ‘hunter’ role was also very empowering, and I became a little jealous that men get to be the ones to come up with all the little strategies to attract the object of their affection.

As a freelancer, I have to attract clients effectively, and without showing them my desperation, which would make them run a mile – especially when I was just starting out and had absolutely no clients!

How to attract clients (or dates)

The only answer to the conundrum of attracting clients while not feeling your best is to build confidence, which can be applied in many areas of life.

You build confidence by trusting that the universe will provide what you need, and also applying proven techniques to draw your clients to you.

And it works – I now have twelve regular clients.

Hopefully, as a male in the dating game, you wouldn’t end up with twelve lovers, or that may require a trip to the sexual health clinic. In that way, freelancing and dating are different.

But here are some ways where freelancing is like dating:

  1. You have to present an attractive image of yourself that clients/dates will like
  2. You have to narrow down your market to attract a certain kind of client/date
  3. You have to make the effort to reach out to people or they will never know you’re in the market (for clients or dates)
  4. You have to risk rejection and failure to get who you want (clients or dates)
  5. You have to try many different platforms to ensure you’re reaching out to as many people as possible (sending cold emails and attending networking events, or going on Tinder and to speed-dating)
  6. When you finally land someone you want, it’s the best feeling in the world
  7. If you don’t hear from your client/date in a while, you start to panic that they’ve forgotten about you
  8. If someone goes quiet, you have to make the effort to follow up with them a couple of times, but then if you don’t hear from them, LEAVE THEM ALONE (some men should take note of this)
  9. Hopefully, if you’re both suited to each other, your client or date will turn into a satisfying long-term relationship

And that’s it!

The conclusion of this piece is that we can all learn a lesson from freelancing.

Heterosexual men trying to attract women can be emboldened by the fact that they’ve got a lot of pressure on them, and even if they get rejected, can take heart from the fact that at least they’ve had the courage to put themselves out there.

Heterosexual women can realise that they can take a bit more responsibility to become the ‘hunter’. It seems terrifying to put yourself out there but even if you get rejected, you’ll still be on a high from the fact that you tried.

As for homosexual men and women… I can’t even imagine how hard that must be!

If you’d like to find more about my freelance writing, you can check out my women in tech blog awaywithwords.co

Image: Adriana Velasquez, Unsplash

How to take your first step towards the future of work

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Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve wanted to have a different kind of job to the normal 9-5. The idea of sitting in an office until I’m old enough to retire seemed like my idea of hell.

I’m 27 now, and I did work in offices for a while. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but I was still fascinated by the idea of freelancing, and crazy jealous of the few people I’d come across who were freelancers.

Until recently, I didn’t really have a concept of an alternative to the 9-5, because I hadn’t discovered the wonderful world of the digital economy. I didn’t know how to make money online.

What held me back

Many myths held me back, like how unstable freelancing is, and that you have to be a massive risk-taker.

These unhelpful beliefs kept me thinking that I wasn’t the sort of person who would be able to try freelancing, as I’m cautious and I’m afraid of not having any money.

What I actually was afraid of was failing.

Honestly, so many people have a terror of failing, and it stops them from even researching their options. Or, there is so much information out there that it’s overwhelming and you give up.

The barrier to entry is so huge that many people don’t make it through the door. In a way, it’s a positive thing, because it weeds out the people who aren’t really committed enough to try it for real.

I then found out about the future of work through blogger Tom Ewer’s website, Leaving Work Behind. I also took his no-nonsense blogging course to get me started, which is very reasonably priced.

The future of work is not being chained to your desk doing a job that was decided by some hiring managers in some company. It is deciding on your own career path, working out if there’s a market for what you want to do, and then putting heart and soul into making it work.

There is no template for success

When I quit my job, I didn’t have any savings apart from a few grand that will serve as a buffer in case the worst scenario possible happens and I don’t make any money. No one is going to support me if it all goes wrong.

I’m not well-connected, and I just went to your average comprehensive school in a provincial town. I’m also female, my parents are divorced, I’m estranged from my father, and I even come from an ethnic minority background.

My only social advantage is sounding very middle class.

If anything, quite a few things about me are heavily criticised by some sections of wider society, like coming from a ‘broken’ home, not having a good relationship with one of my parents, not having a penis or being descended from Robert the Bruce.

I even had a mental health problem – extreme anxiety, panic attacks and dissociation.

The reason I’m telling you all this is because there is nothing different about me – no special secret that means I was able to do what has turned out to be quite an extraordinary thing.

How to take the first step

Nowadays, I can still get very anxious, but normally I can deal with it pretty well.

Society has really negative attitudes to people suffering with mental ‘illnesses’ but they can actually be an incredible catalyst for change.

Either way, nothing should hold you back from building your dream career.

Dealing with something like anxiety on a daily basis gives you incredible powers of resilience – so, all you anxious people out there, make sure you recognise your strengths.

I also have determination and curiosity, which are not traits I was born with but ones I have developed over time, inspired by my passion for self-development.

These are two qualities that will absolutely help you to follow your dreams and become a freelancer, or whatever.

Develop determination

To develop determination, you need to realise there is no such thing as failure – there is only giving up too early, or dying before you can accomplish your goal, in which case the failure becomes fairly insignificant.

You must remember that life is unfolding rapidly and make a commitment to the idea that there is nothing more important than achieving your goals – not going out and getting drunk, not finding a relationship, or even having a particularly clean house.

Develop curiosity

To develop curiosity, instead of feeling down about yourself when you hear about other people who are doing things that you want to do, think to yourself, I wonder how they did that. And then ask them.

When you hear about things that make you uncomfortable or confuse or scare you, resolve to find out more about them – even at the risk of leaving your comfort zone.

Your comfort zone will still be there when you go back – if you want to go back.

Find your own way

So there is really no template for taking that first step towards the future of work. You have to value your life too much to waste it, and then make an internal commitment to take just one small step in creating the career that you want. And then, maybe you’ll take another.

If I’ve learned one thing from brazenly quitting my job to become a freelance blogger, it’s that so many people are harbouring similar dreams to me. We’re all worried about looking stupid, or failing, or being criticised.

But, when you’re loving every day and feeling disbelieving that you’ve managed to do something so crazy, none of that really matters. Don’t settle.

You can find out more about my professional women in tech blog, Away With Words, and how the digital economy has created a Future of Work. Or, discover how I was able to quit my job and become a freelance blogger

CatherineCatherine Julianne is a blogger and content writer obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes tech, visual art, Eastern practices, adventures and being in nature.

Image: Unsplash.com