If you had told me three years ago that motivational speaking would be part of my future, I would have laughed! I’d had a real “trial by fire” with my first speaking engagements, giving graduation speeches for five years to audiences of up to 3,000 people as a School Board President. To say I was terrified would be an understatement. When I left that role, I gladly left the speaking requirements behind as well.
In my “next life,” I transferred my passion for excellence from the education realm to something much different—midlife women. As a woman over 50 who was at a major crossroads in life, I let my creativity run wild and founded Flourish Over 50, a blogsite to inspire and inform other women to flourish in the second half of their lives. As that endeavor has grown, I have come out from behind the computer and become “real.” My passion for inspiring women has led me to something I never would have dreamed I’d embrace: public speaking.
Why is this so different now? Why am I actually enjoying getting in front of people to share my message, instead of dreading the experience? I have learned how to set aside three very important “P’s” to let my authentic self shine through. These obstacles are common in everyday life, from speaking to household chores, and, once you learn to beat them, the world opens up with opportunities.
Pessimism. Expecting the worst will likely make it happen. Self-doubt is the saboteur of many great dreams, and can kill a great career before it even begins. If I had allowed my fears to take hold, I would still be hiding behind my computer screen, and people would not see the joy and passion I am experiencing in my life after 50. Reading my blog posts would not have conveyed my story nearly as well as my heartfelt presentations.
Here are a few things you can do to break out of pessimistic thinking to live an optimistic life.
- Focus on what you want, and expect that it will happen. Visualize yourself in front of a crowd getting a standing ovation! Feel the emotion and energy of the moment. When your self-critic jumps in, replace it with the picture of your shining moment and lock those negative thoughts away.
- Surround yourself with friends, colleagues and coaches who will fill your mind and soul with positive thoughts and encouragement. Purge the “energy vampires” out of your life because they will only bring you down. Tell your supporters what you want to do and ask them for their help. Their words will keep you motivated and focused.
- Instead of saying “What if I fail?” say “What if I am a great success?” Think about the lives you will change with your words and the impact you will have on the world. I know that at least one woman’s life will be impacted when I speak, and that makes a huge difference in my perspective. If I shrink behind my fears, then even that one life will not be changed.
Procrastination. It’s easy to put things off, saying that you will get to them later. But eventually later becomes never, and the thought of re-engaging with the task is overwhelming. When we have a choice between something that is easy to accomplish and something that takes a big effort, we naturally choose the easier one with less pressure and quicker gratification.
Try these things to be proactive, not procrastinating.
- Break a task down into small steps, then put them on a timeline. Trying to accomplish too much at once is daunting and self-defeating.
- Start with the hardest task, not the easiest. Need to stand in front of a mirror and practice that speech? Do it first, before you check your email. Is it time to “cold call” some prospective clients? Put that high on your daily schedule, before having lunch. Conquering the giants early will feed your energy and enthusiasm for the rest of the day.
- Realize that putting something off doesn’t make it go away, it just postpones the inevitable. The longer you wait, the larger that black cloud hanging over your head grows. Get it over with! Then feel the relief when you can finally move on with a clean mind and spirit.
Perfectionism. This is probably my greatest affliction, and quite possibly yours. We think that we have to look perfect, have a perfect speech delivery, create a perfect website, and present a perfectly written speech for people to like us. What people really want it authenticity! They want to know that you are a real person who they can relate to, not someone who is lofty and unapproachable.
For all of us Perfectionists, I have only one tip that MUST be embraced…
- Perfect is the enemy of great! Good is good enough. Waiting for your speech or blog post to be perfect delays its impact on the world. I have learned to ask “Who knows but me that this isn’t just right?” The answer: No one! Besides, people love it when you show your vulnerability. Get it out there! And make minor adjustments later.
You have so much to share with the world! It’s time to let your brilliance shine by replacing the three P’s of Pessimism, Procrastination and Perfectionism with PASSION. The world will thank you when you do!
SUSAN TOLLES is a Master in Midlife Reinventions, and as Founder of Flourish Over 50, a powerful role model who “walks her talk!” As a professional speaker, life coach, author, and internationally-recognized expert for women over 50, she is dedicated to inspiring and equipping women of all ages with the confidence and tools to acknowledge their unique gifts, discover their life purpose, dare to realize their passions, and create a future they never before dreamed possible. To learn more about Susan or to hire her for your next event click here or visit her website at www.susantolles.com