Simplify for more energy & joy

Maybe you have been thinking about a career change, or something you want to bring to the world or some other change you would love to make.

Complex keeps us stuck
What I see over and over again with my coaching clients and also in myself. We tend to make things far more complex than they need to be. Resulting in us not taking any steps we want to take, losing the initial spark of energy, the joy and exhilaration this idea brings us. Because it is just so big, daunting and complex.

Making things more complex than they need to be is often an unconscious hiding strategy, because this beautiful thing we want, also brings up fear. So what do we do?

These are brilliant ways of hiding while we convince ourselves we are working diligently towards making this change.  But we don’t bring anything to the world, we don’t make a change yet, we are still not doing what we would love to do and are not in contact with the people we love to reach with our work.

Energy and joy
The energy and joy does not come from making a list of people you could reach out to who could help you further with your idea. The energy and joy (and lots of fear as well), comes from actually making that call to set up a meeting with one person and talk about your idea, getting input on your idea.

The energy and joy does not come from making elaborate plans on paper- it comes from taking one practical first step.

So simplify for more energy and joy.

Simplify so you can get out there, to get out of preparing and get into actually doing it.

 Some questions that might help you simplify:

🌱What would be the most simple, basic way to do this? The simple basic way that makes it possible to do it now. With the knowledge, skills and resources you have at this moment.  And what is my first step then?

E.g. If you want to develop a new course on a subject that is really close to your heart- you don’t have to read all the books about it first, design all the 10 modules. Instead ask yourself what is something I already know a lot about? Can you develop one trial lesson on it- and test it with a small group of students?

🌱Another way to go about it: Make a list of all the things you think you should do, learn, know, prepare first. Then ask yourself for each of these things on your list- If it was impossible to learn, prepare or know this first. What could I do now to get started anyway?

E.g. you don’t need to first know your career direction before setting up that zoom call with that senior woman you admire. In fact, the call might help you get more clarity on your career direction.

🌱 What step would be doing instead of preparing?

When I decided about 5 years ago to start my own company in coaching- that same day I reached out to three people to ask them if they would be willing to be my trial clients. Instead of first making a business plan, website, market analysis etc. Why? Because I wanted to keep the energy and joy going and really take steps immediately. I knew that if I would first take time to plan and think everything over, I would be so intimidated by what I needed to do and learn. Then all the fears and doubts would get the better of me. So when those fears and doubts hit me big time the next days and the weeks to follow- I was already moving because I had trial coaching sessions planned.  With my trial clients I already was doing the thing I wanted to do: coaching! I was experiencing the joy and energy of my dream while tackling all the other things necessary to build a company.


What can you simplify to find more energy and joy?

Before you set goals.... do this first

With the end of the year approaching lots of people are busy with setting their goals for the coming year. Maybe you have to make a personal development plan for 2021 at work, or maybe you want to set some goals yourself for the year ahead. And maybe you are someone who makes New Year’s resolutions. Setting goals is really powerful when you want to achieve things. It will often take you far!

The desire or longing behind your goals

Often we are unaware that when we set goals we unconsciously long for a certain feeling. There is a unconscious expectation behind your goal about how you will feel once you have reached that goal. You want to get promoted because you expect that you will feel good in a certain way. You want to lose weight because you expect that you will feel different and better. Think about it. What do you expect this promotion will bring you? What will it enable you to do, that you cannot do now? How do you expect to feel? This is the real desire behind your goal.


When you make your desire for this feeling dependant on reaching this goal in the future, there are two major risks.

How do I know this? From my own experience.

In 2011 I was working on finishing my dissertation. Looking back I can clearly see what happened back then.

In the last year of my PhD research I was working so very very hard towards this One Big Goal. Finishing my dissertation and obtaining my PhD degree. While I was working incredibly hard, I kept myself going by holding on to this image of this beautiful moment in the near future. The moment I would submit my dissertation to the committee. Then I finally would have reached this goal I had been working towards for such a long time.  Unconsciously I expected that once I had finished my dissertation, I would feel fantastic, would feel euphoric, feel successful, happy, full of energy! In short: I expected some sort of drum rolling moment – a moment of total happiness and feeling fantastic. In the mean while, during this last year in the build-up towards this moment, I felt anything but fantastic. In this last year I ignored my boundaries so heavily, just to reach this goal within the set timeframe. But what kept me going was this beautiful prospect of having finished my dissertation. I was so close to reaching my goal.

Finally, the day came. I had completed my dissertation. My supervisors did not have any remarks, everything was checked for spelling errors.  My dissertation was ready to send out to the manuscript committee that would assess whether it was good enough to defend. I put the manuscripts in the envelopes and put them in the mail. And then…. Nothing. No drum rolling, no euphoria. This moment was one big disillusion. Also, in the following days this feeling I had longed for, did not come. Because I had to work straight on. No break, no possibility to take time off. I had to immediately start preparing for all the new subjects I was going to teach in my new role as assistant professor.

Before you set goals, do this first

Suppose you want to get a promotion within your organisation. Possibly you want this because it will enable you to exert influence and change things in the organisation. Which will make you feel like you are really making a difference for the organisation and its clients. So you will feel that what your are doing is meaningful, really matters. Then you can ask yourself the following questions:

When you do this, the feeling you are longing for is not something that will only become possible once you have reached this goal. This feeling will be present already on your way towards this goal. This way you’ll  enjoy what you are doing so much more. And there will be so much less risk that you will ignore your boundaries or your values.

 My story -continued

A couple of months after submitting my dissertation I fell ill. A burnout. I had worked too long on willpower instead of joy and ignored my boundaries for far too long.  And I still had to defend my dissertation. Also something I had been looking forward to for a very long time.

 Because of my burnout I felt really insecure, and decided to prepare my defence with help of a coach. I trusted that I would be able to answer the questions during the defence- so I trusted the quality of my research and my dissertation. Is still trusted my qualities as a researcher. But I felt not myself because of this burnout. I feared a black out, I feared not being able to concentrate during the defence. I also had chosen deliberately not to postpone my defence. I really wanted to conclude this journey and be able to celebrate this achievement.

My coach asked me, what are you looking forward to? How do you want to feel? That was really clear for me. “I want to celebrate this achievement, I want to share the work of these last years with my family, friends and colleagues. I want it to feel like a party. I want to really enjoy the defence, from the beginning to the end. So not only enjoying the moment I would be handed my PhD Degree.

Together my coach and I explored what I could do to feel calm and to feel joyful during the defence. AT the start of my defence I stood waiting before the public, waiting for the professors to enter. In these first few minutes I deliberately looked at two loved ones, because I knew looking at them would make me feel calmer. I then went on and scanned every row and every seat that was taken, to really take in who had come to celebrate this moment with me. I made eye contact with people, I smiled, I was surprised by who had showed up to share and celebrate this moment with me. I started the defence feeling calm and with a smile on my face. I really enjoyed the defence. Yes, I even enjoyed the difficult questions from the professors. I felt I was flying really high! The pictures of my defence show a radiant, smiling me.

Before you make New Year’s resolutions or set goals for 2021, ask yourself two things:

Go and do that!


Wishing you a beautiful end of the year and a great start of 2021!

Comparison is a blockage to doing your best work!

When you compare yourself to colleagues… what happens? Do you feel that you should do more, should work more hours, work harder and faster to keep up?  Chances are high you feel this way, probably most of the time. Especially in a competitive environment like academia which is built around fierce competition for scarce funding or jobs, you might find yourself comparing so much. Comparison triggers feelings of not being good enough. Comparison adds to the stress that is already so high in academia.

Comparison motivates?

You might say…but comparison might help me push through, go forward, do more, go faster. My question is does it? Because if it is true then by all means use comparison as a motivating force.

But before you conclude that comparison helps you, check in with yourself when you are comparing yourself to that colleague, or the group of colleagues.

How does comparison really make you feel?

How does it make you feel- does it indeed give you new energy and motivation that propels you forward? Or are you more like me and like a lot of my clients…

When I start comparing myself to competitors, other entrepreneurs and coaches who seem to be more successful, it does not propel me forward.

What happens instead is this

When I am feeling this way I cannot work creatively, effectively, or efficiently. The opposite happens.

Stay in your own lane

When you start comparing you will always find people who seem to be better or more successful than you. And there will always be people who are less successful than you.

Comparison won’t help you to make your best, unique contribution in this world. Comparison kills joy, creativity and energy and hence it will make doing your best work more difficult!

So instead take the advice of Brene Brown: “Stay in your own lane”.

How to do that practically?

Don’t look at everyone driving in the other lanes. Just focus on your own lane and ask yourself at the start of your day:

And go and do that- just focusing on your unique, best work.

Practical ways to transition from 'work' to 'home' while working from home

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what you could do to close the workday mentally. 

In addition there are several other practical things you can do to make for a better transition from work to home while working from home.

Transition ritual
Before COVID you had a ritual that helped you to transition from work to home, although you might not have realized it at the time.

Your transition ritual probably had these elements
-    Closing of your computer
-    Cleaning up your desk/ putting your files on a pile
-    Putting stuff in your bag
-    Walking out of your office
-    Closing the door to your office
-    Walking out of the building
-    Commuting home by foot, bike, bus, car or train
-    Arriving home,
-    opening the front door and walking through the door
-    Putting your bag down,
-    Hanging your coat
-    Entering the living room

Although the list of these small elements might seem overly detailed, actually all these small elements are signalling to your brain and body that you are entering a different state/ phase of the day.

All these little actions helped you to close off work and enter relaxation/home mode.
With a most of us working from home, most of these little actions that signal and enhance your transition are no longer automatically there.

So to better transition from work to home you need to design different ritual that will help your brain and body enter into relaxation/family time.

Don’t just stand up from your desk and crash on the couch or start preparing dinner. This is not enough to help your brain and body transition.

Some ideas for a new transition ritual
Every day at the end of your workday:

I invite you to experiment with building a new ritual that will help you transition! Check in with your yourself to detect what difference it makes!

Equally, getting up from the breakfast table and start working might also not be a good transition to work mode. What small ritual can you design to mark the start of your workday? Maybe first go outside for a walk around the block? Or…?

Let me know some of your ideas for a transition ritual!