I have been fighting a lifelong battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD. Being diagnosed at a young age, I can remember back to the 6th grade when I would put on each item of clothing four times, tap each corner of the bathroom wall twice before leaving, and saying “I love you” two times every night to each of my parents before bedtime. Logically, I understood that putting my shirt on four separate times would not protect anyone in my immediate family from catching some rare and deadly disease, but I couldn’t seem to allow the logical side of my mind to quiet the irrational. My mind became consumed with these thoughts, further cementing the daily struggle in my head between logic and fantasy.
As an employee and student, though, my OCD has been a huge benefit to my employers and my GPA (at a high personal cost). I am extremely organized, and I’m so detail oriented that even the most trivial error should fear my wrath. There is a 100% chance that I have already reread this post 20 times. Of course after the 5th time finding no errors, yet needing to read it 15 more times just to build up a wall against any possible anxieties that may arise once I press send.
So, what’s the issue? I’m a competent worker, I am a great asset to any team, and I am always on my A game. My organization skills are impeccable, I leave my desk cleaner than I found it, and my notes look like I majored in note taking. But this all comes at a cost. After a long day of quadruple checking my writing, making sure all the pens are on the right side of the computer, ensuring my blouse is tucked in 10 times before returning to the office from the restroom, I am exhausted. Emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted.
The line between being organized and suffering deeply from compulsions may seem wishy-washy to those who do not feel its effects, but to those who struggle with ocd symptoms, it is clearer than a celebrity’s skin after a Proactiv commercial (c’mon Adam Levine, your skin has always looked that nice). That’s why when people say “Ugh, I’m super OCD, I mean, my room is sooo clean,” I twinge with annoyance. OCD is not the general act of being clean, orderly, and organized, but it is the compulsive and intrusive thoughts that run through your head in an effort to maintain order.
For example, if you love having a clean room simply because you like being able to find your leggings more easily, you probably don’t have OCD. If you clean your room because you genuinely believe there is a chance your cousin may die in a car accident if you don’t, you are probably leaning towards the OCD side of the scale.
Being an organized person is wonderful, and many organized people do suffer from OCD; but it is not a prerequisite nor diagnosis. I do not mean to slight people who truly believe they have OCD despite not having a formal diagnosis, because many people don’t have the ability to visit a mental health therapist to be diagnosed. I do believe, though, that the general assumption that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is synonymous with cleanliness and organization is outdated. Well, not only outdated, but incorrect.
In trying to be an organized person while simultaneously battling OCD, I have come to the realization that the best way to protect yourself and your mental health is to be honest. OCD is like any other disease that involves a “malfunction” in the brain or body, and should be treated as such. Being upfront allows your coworkers, employees, and friends to help you achieve the balance between maintaining an orderly work environment and non-OCD behavior.
When I clean my room obsessively and physically cannot make my body stop, my friend Raleigh jumps in and says, “You’ve sanitized the desk five times, let’s go watch that Jimmy Fallon lip sync video.” Not only does he know how to recognize my behavior, he knows that I need him to actively interrupt my brain and change the focus.
Maybe you can pick 1 or 2 coworkers to be your Raleigh, a guide who reminds you that the document looks perfect in their eyes as well, so you should both just start on the next project.
Or, try creating a checklist to run through when you feel intrusive thoughts bubbling:
Ask yourself, “I know the project is done correctly, will my Mother be physically affected by the fact that I haven’t surveyed each page 20 times? Can I take a five-minute walk to calm my mind before emailing this letter? Have any errors I made in the past been directly linked to something bad happening in the world?”
By creating strategies, identifying key allies, and actively monitoring impulsive thoughts, OCD’ers can manage their impulses while producing high quality work and being a highly effective employee. Besides, you may miss out on that five o’clock happy hour if you’re left working under the power of your compulsions…and who wants to miss a cold margarita after a long day!
Anna Kovach is a recent college graduate (bet you’d never guess that!) and lives in Oregon with her parents and their Golden Retriever. She aspires to sing jazz, teach Spanish, open a restaurant, become a CEO, or get a Masters Degree in Latin American Studies. Her favorite movie is How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, her favorite book is Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, and her favorite food is anything her Mom cooks for her.
Connect with Anna… Instagram, Twitter
Personal branding means establishing a unique brand as an individual and building a community of supporters who truly believe in what you are saying and doing. Your personal brand may be the reason why you are invited to a job interview, land a bigger role, get your next raise or a promotion. Today, nobody pays that much attention to traditional resumes; you are evaluated based on what you’ve done and who you know.
When starting out in your consulting career, you are likely to float between industries, service areas, and clients. Finding your niche and focusing in on your unique voice is no easy task but it can have dramatically positive results on your career. Take Beyonce and her “Beyhive” – a perfect example of personal branding done masterfully. Now, we won’t all be the next Beyonce but everyone is a brand and has a chance to stand out. So here are just a few tips on how to build a reputation and stay competitive amongst your rock star peers.
1. Decide what you want to be the ‘go-to’ person for
Building your brand will take time and dedication. So when figuring out what you want to be known for, start by determining what you feel passionate about and where you really want to invest your energy. What may help is speaking with your friends, colleagues, project managers, mentors, and even your clients to understand how they perceive your strengths and weaknesses. Then use this information as a baseline for creating your brand.
2. Be specific
It’s usually not enough to choose a general field like ‘Finance’ or ‘Human Resources’. Instead, it’s best to develop yourself in a very specific area – whether that’s agile project management, advanced financial modeling or a particularly deep knowledge in an industry. Once you know what you want to stand for, define your unique selling proposition and create an elevator pitch. That’s what people will remember. Keep it short and to the point, and you’ll find it much easier to interview for your next project role or even a new job.
3. Show off your expertise
If you do great work and no one knows about it, then it is as if the work was never done. To demonstrate that you know what you are talking about, start thinking beyond your typical project assignment. Engage in community discussions (internally and externally); look for ways to write and contribute to white papers; come up with some interesting case studies or join one of your firm’s thought leadership initiatives – there are so many opportunities, you just have to find and make use of them.
4. Develop a personal social media strategy
If social media is not your ‘thing’, you may want to reconsider. Social media platforms provide a great way to engage with your colleagues, clients, and the broader public. However, be purposeful about what you share, and know your firm’s policies before you start writing, blogging, tweeting, commenting, publishing… Google yourself regularly and always keep your public profiles up-to-date and aligned with your personal brand. With 92% of companies now using social media to hire, you will want to control these impressions.
5. Build your network
Networking is so much more than just schmoozing over cheese platters and exchanging business cards; there’s actually an art to it. Engage with individuals in your field, social influencers and anybody else who could be valuable in helping you spread the word about your experience. Make it your mission to attend and – if possible – speak at events; it’s a great way to demonstrate your expertise while connecting with new audiences. Plus you never know who you will meet, whether it’s your next employer, a potential client or a ‘just’ a great new friend.
Managing your personal brand is no longer an option; it’s a requirement if you want to advance your consulting career quickly. While it does take a tremendous amount of conscious effort and careful execution, being memorable has exponentially positive effects when it comes to spreading the word about your brand. Most importantly, remember that many clients don’t just buy services; they buy people and trusted relationships. So put your best personal brand forward when trying to sell your next consulting engagement to give your conversion rate a boost…
This article was originally published on our partner site, TheConsultantLounge.com
TheConsultantLounge is the leading career platform specifically for consultants. Find them on Twitter!
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When working alongside heaps of awesome entrepreneurs and high-flyers around the world whose attitude can be described by their ass-kicking motto of ‘Get Sh*t Done’, it’s pretty hard not to want in on that kind of action taking spirit.
But you see, when I first started out freelance copywriting at the beginning of this year, I wasn’t getting stuff done as quickly as I’d have liked. I wasn’t used to managing my time like this, and, as a result, I’d describe myself as a serial procrastinator.
Whenever it came to some writing or other work project I needed to do, I’d find anything else I possibly could to do instead. I’d be cleaning the bathroom, washing my bedsheets, scouring Facebook only to find myself on my best friends’ cousin’s brother’s wedding photos from 2012, just to avoid whatever it was I was meant to be doing.
That, as you can imagine, led to me feeling like my days were being wasted, left me punishing myself by working late into the evenings, as well as punishing myself while doing the procrastinating, and my working week was turning into a blur of feeling guilty, overwhelmed and underproductive.
But once the clients really started rolling in, I knew something had to change. It was just me to report to now, and if I didn’t get stuff done, quite simply I didn’t get paid.
That’s why I started to try out some pretty savvy ways to manage my time effectively and ultimately, GET THE GD STUFF DONE WOMAN! And this stuff works!
So here are my top tips for freelancers to GSD:
Write a to do list for the day – but the important bit, make it realistic!
There’s nothing worse than setting out the day with all these amazing plans only to have life get in the way and make you feel like a failure when you can’t tick them off. Allow time for the life stuff that is inevitable – the phone call from your Mum, the groceries being delivered, the ‘getting to and from’ your meeting rather than just the duration time – and plan your to do list accordingly.
Write a brain dump at the end of your day for the following day.
If you struggle switching off at the end of a day, this one helps a lot! Write down everything you’d like to get done for the following day before you switch off your laptop. That way, it’s out of your brain and on to the paper, freeing your mind up for some evening relaxation, as well as giving yourself an easy reminder as to where you need to pick up from. (This one’s a biggie – cos’ if you allow your mind to whir all night about what you need to get done, you’re not going to be as productive as you’d like the next day, and so the vicious cycle continues – GAH!)
Record every 15 minutes/half an hour exactly what you’ve achieved in that time.
Okay, so if you’re on fire and totally focused on what you’re doing, then don’t take a break from it just so you can record what you’ve been up to, as that will risk your productivity. But do note down the time you start each task, and then as soon as you feel yourself getting distracted (i.e. finding yourself on your best friend’s cousin’s brother’s Facebook page) note that time down too. It will give you a bit more guidance as to where your time is really going, and will help you stay accountable and feel encouraged to get back on track.
And, if you find yourself sneaking off to do some personal admin like checking your bank balance or paying your bills – that’s OK! Note it down – because it’s productive and you’ve achieved something, even if it isn’t specifically work.
If you’ve got a project you really need to get down to, putting that timed pressure on yourself really helps to get rid of the initial ‘getting around to it’ time before you actually get started. I use an online timer called http://e.ggtimer.com which allows you to pop in your time and counts it down for you, so you can easily keep checking in on how long you have left.
Of course phones are also good for timers, but they do make it very tempting to just have a ‘quick scroll’ through Instagram which turns into a twenty minute ‘ooh that’s SO pretty’ double-tapping sesh.
Just do it already.
Easier said than done, obviously, but do the thing that you’ve been putting off, first! At the start of the day – get it out of the way. You need to get it done anyway, and it’s playing on your mind distracting you from your other tasks because you really aren’t up for doing it, so just do it. And then it’s done. And it feels sooooo freaking good.
Provide yourself with little incentives that you will allow yourself to indulge in once you finish what you’re working on. A Pinterest session, a double-bill of your latest Netflix addiction, a chapter of your current gripping read, an inspirational video, an evening cocktail – whatever you fancy, make a promise to yourself and most importantly, stick to it. (Otherwise, you’ll find out that you never keep the promises you make to yourself and you’ll never be able to believe yourself again.)
Sophie French is a Lifestyle Coach, Copywriter & Life Enthusiast. She supports twenty-something women who are feeling lost and unfulfilled, to discover and reach their true desires.
Swapping corporate life for flip flops and freedom, Sophie spent a year travelling the world. In embarking on this liberating journey of self-discovery and taking back control on life, Sophie was able to heal her own anxiety issues and now helps other young women to take control of how their story goes, too.
Sophie writes about her adventures and discoveries, as well as inspiration for a life full of love (and some giggles too) over on her blog: www.littleredfrench.com
Welcome to Struggle Street, there is no dead end so continue to Lessons Lane.
Make a left at WTH avenue. Continue straight then sharp right into Courage Corner where you will find a roundabout, turn left up Hopeful Hill.
Caution windy roads ahead.
Keep an eye out for flying debris (my dad use to call them flying Debras’!) When it rains the path beneath will become slippery, so check your wheels for alignment. Continue along this road and you will find landmarks that are now familiar.
You will take the sharp bends with ease and make traction on the straights. Even with a GPS no one can prepare you for the conditions that lay ahead. You just need to be prepared for anything, everything and use caution. Heck put the hazard lights on if you need!
But remember to open the window, let the cool air flow in, feel the wind in your hair (don’t close your eyes!) and remember why you hopped in the car.
Don’t be a dipstick, you must take roads less travelled to send postcards from undiscovered troves.
Off road becomes your norm as you climb higher up the mountain. The view from the summit is breathtaking.
It was never about the destination but what you discover along the way. You may find your soul hitchhiking on the way…Stop and pick her up.
Sometimes the map will be wrong, stay the course. Persist to the next stop.
Ask for directions.
You will look back and wonder why you ever lived on Struggle Street. Why you didn’t see Lesson Lane as a through road to always pass by, but never stop. Now you understand why WTH Avenue leads you to courage corner so you can zoom up to Hopeful Hill, to the view point. The best birds eye view and you finally see the woods for the trees.
The journey always has to happen regardless of your destination. Sit back, enjoy the ride and for goodness sake OPEN YOUR EYES!
Natalie Tolhopf knows what it’s like to try and fit in where you don’t see how it could work. Working as a chef in male-dominated, hot, and pressurized kitchens, she kept focused on her passion and learned from the best in the UK and Europe.
She took these skills into the development of a new café in New Zealand which made her see how important business planning and systems were. There, she discovered a rewarding love of teaching others how to be their best and realized her own worth and that it is okay to highly value yourself, your skills and experience.
From working in small business, she moved into a hospitality and tourism school tutoring young people in the importance of their own efforts and attitudes in even a large organization. Despite having a two-year-old and another baby on the way, Natalie was given the opportunity to run the business where she was in her flow, pushing the limits.
Knowing some time before that she would take the leap into launching her own business, she waited until the time was right and then … went for it!Natalie stopped playing small. She stopped hiding, stepped up, built upon her own journey, and started to inspire and uplift women to showcase themselves to catapult their career.
Meet Natalie here… http://www.catapultyourcareer.co.nz
I’ll admit it. I’m a perfectionist. I have been since I was a kid. If I didn’t get straight A’s, or 100% on everything, I was a failure.
Honestly, I don’t know where I got that idea from. My mom was ultimately supportive no matter what. I hardly was in trouble as a kid. I was definitely a people-pleaser. Once when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old, my brothers caught me riding my bike in the street on the next block over from our house, something that we were not allowed to do. They had the look of “YES! We caught her!” on their faces, and raced home to tell on me. Not to be outdone, I raced them back (in the street, of course – so much easier!), beat them into the house, and tattled on myself. If I was going to get in trouble, it was going to be at my own hand. I needed to be “perfect,” even in the face of consequences.
Now that I’m well into my adult years, I’d hope that I have a better handle on that pesky need to have everything perfect. Eh, not so much!
In 2009, I decided I wanted to launch my virtual assistant business. I did the research, the studying, I read everything and took every single webinar I could sign up for.
I launched in 2014.
My website wasn’t perfect…
I didn’t exactly know how to offer my services…
My contract wasn’t ready…
Things weren’t perfect.
So I waited. I sat around, feeling sorry for myself, wondering and hoping and waiting.
There are two kinds of perfectionists: Those who work harder and harder and harder until everything is done just right and perfect, and those who immediately stop and freeze up when things are not done just right and perfect.
I’m the latter. That’s my M.O. – I don’t do it unless it’s perfect. I become nonexistent. I stop trying. I get scared and clam up and hide away because OH NO, what would people think if I tried and failed? Or if I tried and it didn’t come out JUST RIGHT?
This running scared act has become exhausting.
Not being true to myself, not achieving all that I’ve set out to accomplish, this feeling of trying to keep up with where I think OTHER people think I should be…
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I know there are so many of us who struggle to grasp on to our true purpose that we feel deep in our souls. And when we can’t figure it out JUST RIGHT, we can’t plan every single detail to PERFECTION…then we just stop trying. We put it away. Tuck it into the deep caverns of our hearts and of our souls and we do nothing.
THAT, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.
And with the ever-present and observing eyes of my children around? They are learning to repeat this behavior. I need to break free now so they realize that they can live in the LIGHT instead of hiding away in the dark.
There will always be bumps and bruises and hurdles and roadblocks. That’s part of life. It’s part of LIVING. So why are we so afraid to live fully and try and go for our big, crazy dreams? Why does it have to be perfect before we try?
So here is what we need to do. I’m calling myself out on this one, too! We need to stop waiting for things to be perfect. We need to do something… ANYTHING… just one thing…and release it. Allow it to exist, beautifully imperfect.
What does that look like for you?
Maybe you throw up a one page website so you have that online presence that you know you need to have. You don’t have professional photos yet and your copy can use some work… but you throw it up anyway.
Maybe you piece together a package for your services and you publish it on your site and share it with your online friends. You really aren’t sure that anybody would be interested and you feel scared to attach a monetary amount… but you publish it anyway.
Maybe you have been wanting to write a blog post, or maybe you have wanted to send out an email to your super small mailing list. OR maybe you have a list that has grown but you suddenly feel so out of touch and don’t know what to say to them… today is your day. Say it anyway.
Maybe you’ve been wanting to reach out to people to let them know you are in business. Maybe it’s a few friends you think would be interested, or a Facebook group, or someone at the grocery store. You aren’t sure what to say, and what if you make a fool of yourself… speak up, lady. Speak anyway.
Let go of your need to have everything perfect. Stop holding yourself back from being and achieving everything you were MADE for. Today is your day!
Jenny VanBuskirk is the owner of Creatively Virtual, a virtual assistance company that provides marketing, customer service, content creation, and launch support to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Jenny is also the founder of Biz Mamas, a group of women who are rocking business + motherhood with confidence! More importantly, Jenny is a wife and mother of four amazing kids who inspire her to love deep and dream big.
Connect with Jenny… Twitter, Biz Mamas, Creatively Virtual, Jenny VanBuskirk