How I Stumbled Into Freelancing as a Résumé Stylist

We are interested in learning about how people choose the freelance journey. This is a guest post by Yvette Ali who is currently a Résumé Stylist by night and homemaker and part-time student by day. Her exhaustive career spans over a period of 20 years in everything from sales, marketing, management, operations to small business. Originally from the United States Virgin Islands, she has worked and served clients both in the USA and the UAE. 

Yvette Freelance writer nabbesh

After years of working the 9 to 5 lifestyle, I felt stifled. At day’s end, there did not seem like much room for creativity left in the corporate world. Rumors of company cutbacks pushed me to start thinking what if I lost my job? That in addition to the fact that I needed some extra cash to pay for my college classes pushed me to a brown study mode where I began to identify my marketable skill-sets. I had done a few résumés for my colleagues and students with great reviews and feedback – until one day someone offered to pay me to do theirs. Hence, my ah-ha moment!

I began on a small-scale and grew my clientele base over time via word-of-mouth and eventually social media. Although, this has never been a full-time gig for me, it has allowed me to work whenever I need to and make some extra income. There have been times, I’ve had to turn clients away. But I did not become a great resume-writer overnight, which is my key takeaway here: you must maintain a solid grasp of the latest developments in your area of expertise and focus on selling or marketing one skill that you have truly mastered. Clients looking for freelancers do not want a jack of all trades.

My advice to those who want to become freelancers is to take a close look at all of your current skills and interests to see if any of them can be turned into a freelancing career. This can be just about anything you’re really good at, have good knowledge of, and most importantly really enjoy doing. The possibilities are endless and can run from copywriting, business writing, and audio production to catering, cartooning, researching, social media virtual assistant, photography, proofreading, language translation, medical transcription, tutoring, voice-overs and dog training. The potentials are well worth looking into. Best of all, it’s a business you can run out of your own home right from your kitchen table, although I highly recommend establishing a home office free of distraction. You can establish your own hours and take it to any level you desire! Most  importantly, pursue a path that you REALLY are good at, otherwise you will find yourself pushed outside the door by your more qualified peers.

 

Interested in connecting to Yvette? You can reach her on twitter or via Nabbesh

Top Five Tips from One Freelancer to the Other

This is a guest post by Zainab Mansoor, a freelancer journalist and contributor to various local and international publications. She is an equally doting mom and strives to strike a perfect balance every day.

Contrary to popular belief, freelancing or the freelance industry is a comprehensive order. There are clear do’s and don’ts in the business that should adhered to, but it differs from person to person, experience to experience. Below are a few of my personal tips to all freelancers out there, pitching for work or otherwise.

1- Let not your missives speak. Written letter with tall orders are so clichéd these days – Avoid them completely. Share your profile, portfolio and your list of strengths in which you excel or wish to excel. Instead of words, be dexterous in work.

2- Association is key. Keep contact with your previous clients. Stay in touch through social mediums for repeat work or referrals.

3- Avoid baring your desperation. If there is a dearth of projects up your sleeve, look at alternate avenues for work. Desperation can make people go all funny and do things they may regret a while later. Don’t under-rate your work or its value by offering work at substantial rates. Offering reasonable pricing for repeat clients make sense but ridiculing your profile is a different game altogether.

4- Respect thy privacy. Projects may or may not contain confidential company and employee information. Irrespective, avoid discussing project or work related details with associates, family or friends. Let the details stay locked on a workstation.

5- Sense of Humor, hold on tight. Do not let circumstances get to you! There may be white and black days, highs and lows, pleasant and not so pleasant criticism. Hang in there and lay supine, facing the sky. Crack a joke or two while you’re at it!

Have you found these tips useful? Let Zainab know and make sure to follow her on twitter  @zzainabmansoor!

The Terrible Truth About Pessimism

by Kathy Shalhoub

Are you someone who always seems to have bad luck, failed projects and a pessimistic view on life?

Why do these things happen to you and not to others?

It’s because you’ve learned how to be helpless.

Martin Seligman, a PhD in psychology determined that the primary cause of learned helplessness is pessimism!

Do you know what the defining characteristics of the pessimist are?

Take two people who sustain the exact same hardships of life. The optimist will tend to believe that:

  • defeat is only a temporary setback,
  • this setback is a one-time occurrence confined to this one case,
  • circumstances, bad luck, or other people have brought it about.

The pessimist on the other hand, believes that:

  • bad events will last a long time,
  • bad luck undermine everything they do, and
  • all unfortunate or unwelcome occurrences are their own fault.

Related post: Luck, Chance and All of That

The thing with optimists is that they are unfazed by defeat, they simply see it as a challenge and try harder next time. Pessimists on the other hand, give up more easily and are more often depressed.

So what’s wrong with being a pessimist?

You may be one of those people who actually need failure or bad luck to feel good about yourself. Why? Because then all that is happening is not your fault. You can blame circumstances for your situation and you don’t need to take responsibility for your own future.

So you are comfortable being helpless and nothing is your fault. Which means that you are likely to fail at anything you try to do because you believe that you control nothing!

Where does that leave you? Exactly where you are if you’re lucky, but you’re never lucky, remember?

Taking charge of your life and being in control of your career options is one great route to leaving the pessimist view behind. You can make use of your skills, be productive and earn money on nabbesh.com

Related Link: Find jobs on nabbesh.com (http://www.nabbesh.com/jobs/?location=)

The way you think about your life and your belief in your power to control an outcome can completely shape your future. Find out how to change your outlook in next week’s blog post: How to Unlearn ‘Learned Helplessness’.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Take this quiz and let us know!

P.S. I’m an optimist 80% of the time 🙂

The ‘Thinks’ That Hold You Back

The ‘Thinks’ That Hold You Back

Did you know that it might actually be how you state things not what you say that holds you back?

Related Link: The Saboteurs of Success

Have you ever started a sentence with the following words:

‘You may not believe me but…’
‘I’m sorry to say this but…’
‘Please don’t take this the wrong way but I think that…’
‘I don’t mean to be an ass but…’

What you say in not what people hear!  How we negatively prime our audience

Someone I was speaking to the other day started her sentence by saying: “I’m sorry to say this but I really believe that… “, and it got me wondering: Why are so many of us so worried about how people will view our beliefs, our opinions, our thoughts and our feelings?

When we begin a sentence by an apology, a suggestion that we will not be believed, or that we are going to be stepping out of line in some way, we are preparing our audience to automatically expect something unpleasant. Even though what you’re saying may be something as mundane as: ‘You may not believe me but I like to eat raw fish.’

Ask yourselves, why are you starting your sentence with a negative? Are you unsure of your own beliefs? Are you looking for someone to validate what you’re saying for you? Why shouldn’t people believe you?

Putting some sort of qualifier before stating something you think, feel or believe just weakens what you’re saying. It undermines your credibility and your authority before you’ve even made a statement!

So what do you do about it?!

How to Say What You Want to Say

When you start a sentence with a negative, you’re conditioning your listeners to look for negatives. Think about what you really want to say and if you want people to believe you, don’t tell them not to.

‘You may not believe me but I interviewed 40 candidates.’
‘I interviewed 40 candidates.’
Which sentence sounds more sincere?

‘I don’t mean to be an ass, but this graph is waaay out of scale.’
OR
‘This graph looks out of scale, do you think you can fix it?’

If you don’t mean to be an ass, then don’t be one! If you think you people might take something the wrong way, rephrase the sentence in your mind first!

I assure you your boss won’t believe you if you start by telling him not to! I assure you your colleague will think you’re an ass if you start by telling her you don’t want to be one.

Whether you’re the interviewer or the interviewee, whether it’s a business meeting or a family gathering, keep the effects of what you say in mind.

Related Link: Find work on nabbesh.com

Be assertive. Don’t condition people’s thoughts! Be firm and confident, say exactly what you mean without being mean, and don’t defend yourself if no one has challenged you yet!

4 Ways to Pump UP Your Creativity

By: Kathy Shalhoub for nabbesh.com blog

There’s no arguing about it, whether it’s in arts or sciences some people are exceptionally creative and shine above the rest of us. But does that mean we aren’t or can’t be creative?

While it’s still not clear in what proportions of genetic, social, economic and luck ingredients the creative soup is made of, scientists have picked out some key elements that have been proven to boost creativity.

  1. Keep an open mind:

    When I say an open mind, I mean one that is guided by the least amount of rules, inhibited by the least amount of restrictions, and confined by the least mental constraints. If you’re looking for a creative solution to a problem, try to suspend your knowledge and experience momentarily and look at your problem from the perspective of a novice, you just might surprise yourself.

  2. Thought Control:

    This is the second critical stage of creative thought when you have all your new and interesting and crazy ideas on the table and you’re not sure which ones will work. This is the phase where you want all systems on and ready to go. Now you need to put what you know in practice for the evaluation process.

  3. Mental push-ups:

    We’ve all heard it, creativity is like a muscle, and the more it works the stronger it gets. Before you need to get creative, try some of these useful mental pushups:

    • Think of 6 alternative ways to use common objects in a few minutes.
    • Describe objects in unusual ways that are not relating to their function.
    • Perform common tasks in the wrong order.
    • Deliberately let your mind wander to completely unrelated things.
  4. Keep your distance:

    Funnily enough, thinking about the physical place of a problem can help or stop you from solving it! Imagining a problem or a challenge far away from you in space (put your problems in Australia!) or in time (send them to the year 2098) can actually promote innovation and problem solving.

Being creative is great, but psychologist Evangelia Chrysikou of the University of Kansas affirms that no matter how creative and innovative your thoughts are, the most important factor inhibiting success, the one that stops you the most from capitalizing on your creative potential is the fear of risk, “People tend toward safe routes, yet safety is not conducive to radical new solutions.”

It’s been said: The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail. –Edwin Land, co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation

These tips have been inspired by Evangelia Chrysikou’s ‘Your Creative Brain at work” article in the July/August edition of Scientific American Brain. Love that magazine!

nabbesh.com; Empowering people to do what they love, from anywhere.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

True Management is Self Management

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Managers. Everyone wants to be one, right? Especially in the Middle East. But what does a manager really mean? How come some people are great at managing themselves, people and events around them while others are just OK or fail dismally?

It’s because either by accident or by design, the successful ones have the key qualities that really make a manager. There are roughly eight main capabilities that need to exist in you to make you a truly respected and effective manager.

  1. Decisiveness/ self-confidence:

    Not just knowing what your gut says to you, but having the confidence to act on it without hesitation, can be learned through experiences, through success and failure, through people believing in you and through you believing in yourself. Jack Welch said that self-confident people will take initiative, while insecure people won’t.

  2. Motivation:

    My 9-year-old niece was telling me that in her school when they have races, it doesn’t matter who wins because everybody gets a medal. While that approach may avoid any hard feelings among the class, it doesn’t equip these children, who later become adults, with the necessary tools they need in life. It takes away the satisfaction of a win, or the drive to do better after a loss. You must have a competitive spirit if you want to win in a business environment or if you want to improve yourself. Being cool is good but if you are someone who wants to succeed, you need that passion to win.

  3. Influence:

    Influence works when it’s about others and not about you! Meaning that if you are in a position of power, helping others to grow, to succeed, and to move to the next level will only push you to the next level as well.  Because you now have a loyal team who believes that you have their best interest at heart, they will back you fully. Having that emotional commitment from the people around you is what gives them the motivation to follow your lead. Emotion is what moves people before all else.

  4. Adaptability: 

    In a crisis, losing it is what will serve you least. Being flexible and adapting to what is thrown at you, is what will serve you the most. If you can deal with ambiguity and can forge a path forward when things are unclear, you are a leader. Adapt your thoughts, your approach, your style, stretch your capacity, expand your comfort zone to a greater dimension… if you can’t do it your way, do it their way.

  5. Conscientiousness: 

    Knowing what your values are is extremely important; they are your lighthouse in the storm and will guide you when you are lost. What are your non-negotiable principles? Be guided by them and live by them every moment of the day, with every decision you make. Maintain high personal standards and lead those around you to them as well.

  6. Empathy: 

    It’s about sensing what the people around you feel and how they may react to different situations. Knowing this allows you to adjust your words and actions according to context, people and situations. What people feel is a signal that gives you feedback on how you are operating. Connecting with people and generating rapport is a fundamental aspect of maintaining balance between supporting people and getting the results you want.

  7. Resilience: 

    People who haven’t been protected, who have had to deal with failure and defeat and have learned to come back fighting are resilient. How you build resilience determines how far you go. Think about how many losses Olympic athletes have had to sustain in order to win gold?

  8. Self-awareness 

    Is seeing yourself as other see you. Understanding why people react to you the way they do allows you to adjustment your words and deeds in order to get the response you want. For example, if you realize that when you don’t share enough information with person X they become suspicious and anxious, you adjust the level of information you share with them allaying their fears and putting them at ease. This changes your relationship with person X into a more positive one.

Being intelligent about how we manage our emotions changes our relationships with other people and consequently our ability to realize our goals and aspirations.

Ultimately successful management is about successfully managing your self!

References: The concepts in this article are related to the Emotions and Behaviors at Work Profile developed by Brentfield Consultancy, UK and supported by ‘What Makes a Leader?’, an interview by Daniel Goleman with Jack and Suzy Welch. 

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Tips for Getting Freelancing Work

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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You’ve made the leap into freelancing and the jobs have started to trickle in. But you need more work, how do you go about finding it? The general structure is as follows: You need a website that shows your product, you need a product, you need traffic, and you need conversion of that traffic into earnings. I will tackle each of these topics in future posts, but for now, here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. First and foremost, you need to have a place online where people can learn about you and your work. Having an excellent website that showcases your work and your potential in a clear, simple and easy to navigate style is one way. Link to it from specialized websites such as nabbesh for maximum exposure. If you’re just starting out and still have nothing to show, then go to step 2.
  2. Keep your profiles (and your portfolios) updated on the different networking sites you use. Nothing is more of a turn off to potential clients than seeing that your last posted project was 3 years ago. Their first thought will be that you’re washed up. I’ve looked at some of your profiles on nabbesh and work needs to be done! Put a photograph (if not of you then of something you worked on, admire or like), link to websites (either yours or companies you’ve worked for, try to be specific), write an interesting bio that gives insight on who you are as a person. How can a client tell if you’re any good or not? How can they tell what you do and if you’re serious about it?
  3. Be active online. Network using social media and websites like nabbesh. Join free online competitions to get yourself noticed. Follow people and clients that you’re interested in working for on Facebook and Twitter. They will often mention when they’re looking for help or input, and this can be your chance to offer your services.
  4. Call or meet with agencies, potential clients and contacts. This takes some guts but believe me, emails can easily be ignored, accidentally deleted or completely forgotten in somebody’s inbox. Speaking to someone in person has a much greater impact and allows you to better understand what they are looking for or to offer alternatives for a project. Be prepared for this kind of approach and have a one liner that describes who you are and what you do well rehearsed and ready to go for the occasion.
  5. Promote yourself in ways that are new, interesting and unique to your style. For example:
    1. Create folded posters that show a new piece of your work with every fold.
    2. Send customized goodies as a promotional pack to clients. No matter how prevalent social media is, there’s nothing more exciting to a person than receiving a personalized envelope in the mail.
    3. Invest in branded chocolates, cupcakes, or anything funky you can think of for existing clients. Show me a stressed out client who won’t appreciate a good shot of sugar when it counts! Don’t feel like pushing sugar? Think coffee, tea, or a funky herbal mix. Or anything else that you think would be appreciated! Keeping your clients and having them spread the word about you is key.

      NOTE: Keep the value of your branded items low. This is not meant to be a bribe; it is simply a token that showcases your talent!

    4. Consider branded merchandise. Forget about postcards and paper. Can you have your illustrations or designs printed onto scarves, t-shirts or pillowcases? How about notebooks, shopping bags and towels? Even if a meeting leads to nothing today, leaving a piece of your work behind in the form of a small gift can set you apart from the rest.

If you think this advice only applies to creatives (e.g. illustrators, designers, photographers), think again. Clients are looking for motivated, hard working and dedicated people and are constantly being bombarded with potential hires. Set yourself apart!

In my case for example, when I wanted to work at an oceanography institute in the U.S., I applied for a summer program and didn’t get accepted but I didn’t let that stop me. I then contacted some of the scientists working there and offered my engineering services for free for the summer. Who could resist? I was hired immediately and offered room and board with the summer students in exchange for my efforts. What did I get out of it? Work experience in the immediate, and years later, because I had kept up my contacts, I was offered a job and a work permit in the U.S!

When I wanted to get into MIT for engineering, I printed copies of an article I had written as an undergrad, copies of my CV, copies of my senior design robotics project, and a clear concise introductory letter explaining my desire to go to MIT. I made an envelope for every single professor in the Ocean Engineering department and mailed them all. Two weeks later I followed up with phone calls and tried to arrange meetings. Most ignored my letter, I met with three professors only and I ended up getting a full scholarship with one of them who was interested in robotics. Seeing the effort I went to in differentiating myself from all other applicants, and meeting me in person made all the difference.

Showcase the skills you’re selling in whatever way you can think of! It really does matter.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

What’s In Your Blind Spot?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Have you ever wondered why some people are cut out for management and some aren’t? The answer is simple: those people are usually better managers. Why? Because they have an important essential quality that most good managers have: self-awareness.

Whether you’re managing your self or others, self-awareness translates into having a good relationship with your self first and foremost.

My mom, a business management consultant was giving a seminar about emotional intelligence and the role it plays in your success to a huge group of businesspeople. Her first question to them was: How many of you would benefit from having a better relationship with the people around you?

A few hands went up.

Then she asked: How many of you would benefit from having a better relationship with your selves?

ALL hands went up.

We all want to have better relationships and funnily enough, our relationships with other people are only as good as the relationship we have with our selves. We judge other people and we respond to them in a way that is directly related to how we feel about ourselves.

So how do we develop a better relationship with our selves?

There’s this cool little model called The Johari Window Model that I think is a pretty descent tool for increasing self-awareness, for personal and group development and for understanding relationships. The model is based on 4 windows that grow or shrink depending on who you are relating to and the quality of that relationship.

The four windows of the Johari Model are:

  1. The open self (Arena): This is the part of your self that you know about and are comfortable with, and that others know about and are comfortable with.
  2. The blind self (Blind Spot): This is the area where all the things others know about you but you don’t know or ignore about your self exist. This is your blind spot.
  3. The hidden self (Façade): This area is where you put everything that you know about yourself but no one else knows about you. Feelings, information, fears, secrets, hidden agendas, etc… all go here.
  4. The unknown self (Unknown): This area contains information, feelings, abilities, behaviors, and attitudes that neither you nor anyone else know about.
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    For today, I’m just going to focus on the ‘blind self’. To know what’s in your blind spot, you need to ask others for feedback. And by thinking about the feedback that you consistently get from people around you and opening yourself to the possibility that what they are saying may be true, you are increasing your self-awareness.

    To increase your self-awareness, you must open yourself to criticism, not by taking it as a simple truth but by looking for patterns that recur and translating them into something meaningful to you. For example, I used to hear the critique ‘You’re too argumentative” ALL the time but I never agreed with it. “No I’m not! I’m just trying to get the facts straight.” But over time and age, I started to realize that if everyone thought I was too argumentative, then, ahem, perhaps I was?

    The language we use in our self-talk is critical in how we take this feedback. Feedback is neutral and we can translate it into positive or negative meanings so it’s important that we consciously replace the words we use so that they feel constructive and not destructive. Instead of telling myself to stop arguing, I tell myself to listen more.

    Second, you must understand the subtle difference between a reaction and a response. A reaction is simply that: an instinct taking over. A response is infinitely more emotionally intelligent, because you are taking a split second to make a decision: do I argue my point or do I try to be a better listener? Aha, now I have become aware of my behavior and can take a moment to change it, I have become self-aware!

    Figuring out what’s in our blind spot is truly how we develop a better relationship with the person we call ‘me’.

    Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Are You A Success?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

When you aim for success, what is it that you imagine in your mind? Money in the bank, fame, recognition, winning first prize, a parade of suitors?

What exactly does success mean and does achieving it lead to a sense of satisfaction? So many people out there have no idea exactly what that ‘success’ is that they’re trying so hard to find!

When it comes to success, so many of us pick a description or a goal – based on what we see and hear and think is good – and we race towards that destination thinking that if only we could get there our lives will be transformed and when we get there, we suddenly feel empty, unsure where to go next, what to do, or why exactly we went down this road in the first place.

When it comes to success, there are the two extremes, on the one hand there are those who aim single-mindedly for an objective, and on the other hand, you have the people who are completely afraid of success.

And in the middle, you have all those people who have no idea what they’re looking for, or have found a form of success that is addictive, a success that everybody envies them for but them. Think Marilyn Monroe, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson,… the list is endless. What were they looking for? Any why was the success they had just not good enough?

The problem with many of the measures of success that we use for ourselves is that they are fragile, they can break.

Made a bad investment and lost your money? Popularity is going down? A criticism to your looks, sports accomplishments, achievements? Those are all potentially broken successes.

Achieving personal fulfillment and satisfaction is perhaps the ultimate success because nothing can shake it. Is it any wonder then that self-actualization is the highest level in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Is it a surprise that in Anthony Robbins’ human needs psychology, the two basic needs of the human spirit are growth and contribution?

Realizing your potential (who you were meant to be), developing your self and making a contribution to the world in a way that is meaningful to you is what will ultimately bring you fulfillment, and it is that sense of fulfillment that ultimately brings you the unshakable feeling of success that will carry you confidently and optimistically through life.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Risks: Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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If I tell you to give tight-rope walking a shot, and show you a tight rope strung up 30 cm off the ground, I’m sure most of you would at least try it.

But if I put that rope on top of a high-rise and then ask, most people would think I’m insane and tell me to go to hell. Why? Because whenever we’re about to try something new, we weigh the risks, we see what we have to lose, and based on the cost (in this case, our lives!) we say ‘Yay’ or ‘Nay’.

Now that’s great when you’re trying to not die. But if that’s the case, then why don’t we do the same when we’re looking to live the best life we can have?

It’s because the quality of our lives is inversely proportional to the degree of certainty and control we need in it!

This is a very profound statement so I want you to really take a second and think about it, ok? Let me explain.

I spoke of the self concept in another post but will go over it again here. People’s self concept is made up of three parts:

  • Self ideal: What we aspire to be
  • Self image: Who we think we are
  • Self esteem: How we feel about our self-image, so basically how much we actually like ourselves, believe in ourselves and feel we are worthy

Now when our self-esteem is aligned with our self-image, we’re pretty much in our comfort zone, and that’s ok. So in my case, my self-image was that of someone who was not creative enough to be a writer, and I accepted that as fact, so I went off and majored in something very technical.

Now my self-ideal of course was to become a writer, but I had already completed 10 years of university, and did not really believe that I was capable of pursuing my ambitions at all. So I just went ahead and did my technical ‘thang’.

Then a friend came along one day and she was totally convinced that I was creative. With a few words of encouragement, (it took more than a few words and more than a day!) my self image changed forever and was no longer aligned with my self esteem. Now I thought I could be creative, and what was I doing in science anyway?

Alas, that threw me completely out of my comfort zone and caused a lot of FEAR in my life. There I was chugging along as a scientist, believing that this was all I was capable of in life, when all of a sudden, I had a little view of other possibilities! The possibility that I could actually surpass my expectation of myself and achieve my ambition in life.

Being someone who does take risks, I decided that exploring the hidden potential inside of me was something worth doing. And as a result of letting go of the certainty I had in my life (e.g. being a leader in my field, having a stable job, etc..), I jumped into writing. And two amazing things happened:

  1. The quality of my life went up by about 1000 times.
  2. I am on my way to becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be but never believed was possible.

So what’s the moral of the story here? The moral is this:
Most people live within boundaries that they set for themselves. We don’t push ourselves to take risks or to step out of our comfort zone. So by choosing what we consider a safe problem and by giving ourselves explanations that are acceptable by society and within the rules that have been imposed on us we actually never address the real issue that prevents us from crossing the barrier of fear and realizing that that barrier was totally imaginary.

Many of us die without ever singing the song we were meant to sing, our dreams never see the light of day, and that small piece of ‘magic’ that we were meant to contribute to the universal puzzle dies with us.

We all have hidden potential, but having the courage to explore what we are capable of (and what we are not capable of) directly impacts the quality of the life we are living.

So you know those risks that make you step out of your comfort zone? Take them.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.