Following your passions: ‘You can’t be a dolphin’.

‘I am in a trouble’.  – The story screenshot.

Tipy: ‘I think I was a dolphin in my previous life. I feel so much connection with the waves and really wish to live closer to the sea” – a conversation at the stunning beach restaurant in Goa, after a couple of mojitos. – “I just really can’t handle this anymore. It’s not what I want at all – this boring administrative work from 9 to 5. I feel as I got trapped by the illusion of living a trendy life in the city, striving for a career, constantly lacking energy; and only recovering for a short-term holiday abroad twice a year. I have no time to reflect on my life, but even if I do, I don’t know what can be changed’

Ally: ‘Does shopping help? I remember you were very happy buying lots of new good-looking dresses making lots of our friends jealous😊’

Tipy: ‘See, this is what really makes me happy: not the actual purchase but finding the rare and unique style that highlights your personality. Then activating all your possible creativity to find the best deal or dealing with the designer directly. And when it appears on you, to feel the fabric, to complement the final look with the right accessories – and be you. You are wrong about the girls feeling jealous, I have actually helped my friends to find the right outfit for many important occasions’.

Ally: ‘Why don’t you stop torturing your soul with the boring HR career and this lifestyle you hate?  Try yourself in a challenge to create your own palace of dresses here? Not only that you could have a chance to live closer to the ocean but also you would have a chance to spend more time on the things you truly love: finding talented designers and helping women across the world to find their own unique style? This is a great challenge and a way of escaping closer to everyday yoga and dolphins.’

Tipy: ‘Are you f***ing crazy or already drunk? How can I do this just like that?’

Ally:  ‘So, what would stop you to look at this as an opportunity?’

Tipy: ‘There is no way for me to succeed in this! I have no business experience; I have no savings to invest in the business; I don’t speak English on a business level! And of course, I would fail!’

Ally: ‘And what would be the worst about failing? You could learn from your experience and try again or if you decide that business is not for you – you will get back to a corporate world with the suntan, feeling braver and having new skills you’ve gained’.

Tipy: ‘I wouldn’t handle it to be a failure in other people’s eyes…’

‘Why we behave this way?’  – Behavioural Science in Layman terms.

There are two main factors that often stop us from trying new experiences, chasing opportunities, changing jobs that we hate, learning new skills or breaking up the relationships that do not work. These factors are social norms and a fear of failure. They are both interconnected but have a different impact on our behaviour.

Social norms are identified as accepted behaviour or a set of rules within a group of people or a society. These groups range from friendship and work groups to nation states.  Behaviour to follow the rules and norms is called conformity. On the one hand, it is useful to have social norms because they provide order in society and the ability to manage groups and teams. For example, it is expected that employees arrive to work on time and complete their work according to the set standards.

However, when I analysed my thesis findings, I noted that people often struggle with the influence of social norms and fail to prioritise more time for their own favourite activities.  Social norms remarkably affect our behaviour and should not be ignored. It is often difficult to draw the line between the amount of time/effort we should put into the given premises to others and ourselves. For instance, in businesses where to work longer hours is a norm, employees are often feeling guilty towards others to leave the office on time even if they are on top of their work.

Even more interesting to explore a true friend of social norms called fear of failure. In medical terms fear of failure called ‘atychiphobia’. This phenomenon stops people working on achieving their dreams and following passions. It is often that fear of failure is rooted in childhood and if we tried something new that didn’t work well at that moment we became resistant to a similar experience. This can be often complimented by a portion of negative feedback from our family or friends that makes us feel foolish. Over years this fear tends to grow within our minds becoming a true monster poisoning our confidence. The monster can also have a few faces such as:

  • a reluctance to try something new – things and experiences
  • self-sabotage – such as procrastination or excessive anxiety
  • low self-esteem
  • perfectionism(I know many of you might feel proud about having it as a trait, but my question: ‘’does it make you happier?’)

At the end of the day, both friends, the social norms pressure and the fear of failure monsters are exceptionally good at taking over our lives and carefully preparing us with the package of great regrets on our deathbeds.

‘Is there a magic pill to help?’  – Practical tips.

As usual, there are some practical ways to conquer the fear of failure injected by social norms pressure. Happy to share some of the strategies that you might try to make your lives better:

  • Building confidence and setting smaller goals. Nothing is more frightening for your brain than an ambitious vague goal. Something like ‘to find a few thousand pounds to start up’, ‘to learn a new language’, ‘to learn to swim or playing piano’ or ‘to resign’ are the ways to nowhere in progressing on your dreams. Our mind will activate all possible mental weapons varied from a gentle infusion of some fear to envisioning the worst possible outcome of your future. Instead create smaller steps such as; ‘to give a call to a friend who is fluent in another language to ask their advice on learning techniques’, ‘to sign up for a trial swimming lesson’ or to ‘update a LinkedIn profile with the set of skills to attract recruitment agents’. These are the goals which are much easier to achieve and therefore are more helpful in progressing towards your dreams.
  • Draw the worst-case scenario. Write down all possible potential outcomes of your planning venture. This mental exercise would definitely help to structure your idea better and to even see possible alternatives. The main trick here is to prepare your brain with a possible failure in advance. Even better, if you illustrate a possible worst-case scenario to your family, friends, children or even your mirror. The more people comment on this (make a rule to comment with a humour), the idea of failure becomes less frightening.  Also, collective minds are usually good at creative solutions.
  • Create a plan B. And even C, D and E if you can. Following the above strategy, this will eliminate uncertainty that is a foundation for any fear. The most important thing here is to design a sensible plan B that would be a clear direction if an initial attempt doesn’t work. This shouldn’t necessarily mean going back to a square one but more making alternative solutions. For example, if the business plan doesn’t work, you could try to search for an existing company to implement your idea rather than to straightaway going back to the same job that made you feel miserable.
  • Find inspirational stories of people who overcame similar challenges. This is a very powerful tool in any form of information, ex. movies, books, stories. It also helps to deal with procrastination or with the moments when you feel low. Use these real-life success stories to combat negative thought processes like your brain telling you that you’re not good enough.
  • Really celebrate your successes and share your story with others. I don’t think that I need to convince you too much on this method. The only point I’d like to make is to not forget celebrating small successes. These are extremally important at the beginning of any challenge to nourish your confidence and feel a sense of progression. One of the very powerful rituals that I have created for my own ventures is asking friends to comment on my progress either personally or even by a simple message. I then tend to save the comment in my notebook so that it is accessible to read any time when I am attacked by fear of failure or anxiety that I am wasting my life trying something uncertain without fast visible results.
  • Share your difficulties below this post or send me a private message. I will be delighted to discuss your challenges and I am sure you would connect to like-minded people from our community to share their advice based on similar experiences. Tipy, for example, has plenty of tips to share😊

‘Did this help?’

Tipy borrowed some money from our friend and took a risk investing the deposit for her potential mortgage (secretly from her parents) into a project. She launched her business as a stylish designer dresses boutique located in Goa in 2016. Over the first season, she felt ashamed to even promote herself online and talking to her relatives at all.  She is still at the beginning of her adventurous journey facing plenty of business and personal challenges every day. She still doubts her entrepreneurial skills and the current concept as it is. But when I saw her recently, she looked much healthier with the wide smile, exercising and swimming more regularly and having no regrets about braveness to follow her passions. She still believes that she was a dolphin in a previous life and takes it as a lucky sign when she sees a dolphin fin suddenly appearing in the waves.

Sketch: 

Addressing the critical saying of our common sceptical friend who doesn’t believe in reincarnations: ‘You can’t be a dolphin!’  The sketch represents Tipy in her designer dresses shop choosing a potential outfit for a dinner.

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