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How we see ourselves matters

While January is all about new beginnings and making plans, I like to think of February as a time to connect with oneself. . I mean, we can’t be expected to love others if we don’t know how to love and care for ourselves, right? 

This time of year always reminds me of the movie Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. (I am a huge Julia Roberts fan and I can watch her movies over and over again!) Of course when I watched this movie the first time, it was about the fairy tale ending, love and romance. When I watch it now, it’s about self discovery, discovering who you are, how to love yourself, how to let go of the self-imposed narratives and identities, and living your life for yourself. 

This is a journey I invite you to go on. 

So, what does Runaway Bride have to do with your career and being successful?  

Well, everything really. I don’t believe we can grow in our careers if we don’t undertake a personal development journey. Think about it, we bring our whole selves to work every day, and if we only focus on building technical skills, our lack of personal development will catch up with us. Think: leadership roles, running team projects and running your own company.

You need to know who you are so that you know the value you bring to the table. 

My favourite scene in the movie is where Maggie (Julia Roberts) tries all these different types of eggs – throughout the movie, Ike (Richard Gere) interviews Maggie’s former fiancés and the men always respond with, “Scrambled, just like me” or “Poached, just like me.” In every situation, Maggie liked her eggs just like her partner did. When Maggie  finally figures out how she likes her eggs, it’s the first step to discovering who she is and taking her power back. At least that’s how I experienced it. If you haven’t seen the movie here is the link to find out more (Runaway Bride). 

As we build self-awareness, it can sometimes feel like our lives are unravelling. Suddenly you’re  aware of all of these behaviours; self-imposed limitations that have always been there but you didn’t know the impact it had on you and those around you – or how it has kept you accepting of circumstances that didn’t serve you. 

When we don’t know our worth, how can we articulate it? 

Do you know how you like your eggs?

When I just started my entrepreneurial journey, I agreed to work on a project while I was finding my feet. When it came to discussing payment for the project there wasn’t an actual discussion– I was told I was going to earn X amount to start, because I was just starting out. Now don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the work but it never felt right. I thought, yes my title has now changed to entrepreneur but I have a degree in Human Resources, and an Honours in Industrial and Organisational Psychology, a coaching certificate and I was in the process of completing my Post Graduate Diploma in Coaching. On top of that, I had over 15 years of working experience! 

How was it possible that this individual saw me as someone who needed to start at a beginner’s rate? 

It’s how you see yourself 

I realised it was me; I saw myself as a beginner. I approached everything in a manner that showed potential clients that I wasn’t sure of myself – I showed them how to treat me because of my own lack of self-worth. I wasn’t able to articulate the value I brought to the table and what I should have been paid. 

As women, we do this so often. How many times have you seen the statistics that men will apply for a job when they meet less than half the criteria whereas women only apply when they’re certain they tick more than 80% of the criteria.  I have been guilty of doing this many times in my career.

Make a commitment today that from this month forward, you will get to know yourself, learn to love yourself, learn to take care of yourself and learn to articulate the value you bring. 

You learn who you are by unlearning who they taught you to be.” – Nikki Rowe

Exercise: Getting to know yourself 

I love journaling; it’s a tool I have used for years to help me discover and rediscover myself. During this month, as you think about who you are, why you matter and how to take better care of yourself, here are some self-reflection questions to guide you on your journey.

Remember, in self-reflection there are no right or wrong answers, there are only your answers and insights into how you experience the world around you. 

  1. What are the rituals or habits that you learnt as a child, do these still serve you? 
  2. If you could let go of one thing, what would it be? 
  3. How many times over the course of your career has fear of failure held you back?
  4. What have you been told all your life by your parents/teachers that no longer serves you?
  5. How would you define success? 
  6. Describe your ideal day. 
  7. What makes you feel happy? 
  8. What would you do if you had all the money you needed and more?
  9. How do you handle difficult conversations? 
  10. What social engagements make you feel uncomfortable?
  11. What is one thing you would be willing to dedicate your life to – even if you failed along the way?
  12. If you could change one decision you made in the past, what would it be?
  13. In what ways are you getting in the way of your own happiness? 
  14. Do you trust yourself to make the right life and career decisions for yourself?

Your personal development journey is a life-long journey, it’s not a place where you eventually arrive. Every new level presents new challenges and requires a new path to show you how to reach the next level.

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About the author

Selina is an ICF-accredited coach based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is the founder of SelinaNewman Coaching. A coaching practice designed to help professionals turn what often feel like impossible life and career transitions into powerful opportunities for growth

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