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  • Writer's picturealexadoman

It is your perception, or reality?

I write this after turning 39 yesterday! And perhaps you too, like me, over the last few weeks, have become a little reflective around the old birthday date. And along with thinking of the highs and lows of the last 12 months, I tend to think about what I’ve achieved and of course, what I’ve not achieved.

And this year’s reflections struck a little differently as I didn’t feel that I had achieved very much at all.

In fact, my reflections just compounded the feeling of stagnation that I have been experiencing over the last few months. Nothing BIG (apart from getting my excellent dog Charlie!) had happened. I’m in the same city, same flat, same “job” (I went 100% self-employed in 2021) and no traditional milestones of marriage or children or property purchasing were made. And when people ask me, “What’s new with you?”, my response had been a reluctant “nothing much, same old, same old”.

Perhaps you’ve been feeling in a rut too, even if you have had new and exciting things happen. But despite the new job or getting married or moving house, you're still “the same”. And this, for you, may feel frustrating and that apart from X, “same old, same old”.

And I think there’s are two things at play here. Firstly, is the feeling of “same old, same old” really that negative, or is it indeed stability and security, just in disguise. And secondly, is “same old, same old” really a fair description, is it the reality? And for this week’s newsletter, I’d like to focus on the latter because when I was on my bike (where I do all my best thinking) yesterday, I thought about where I was when I spent my birthday 10 and 20 years ago. And this helped me pause, look up from the day to day and take a step back and see the bigger picture.

I spent my 19th birthday in Can Tho, Vietnam on a volunteering programme. I stood on the precipice of my 20s as someone from a small town who wanted to travel and explore the world. I wanted to go to University and have some fabulous years living “like a proper grown-up” in London.

Ten years on and I’m spending my 29th birthday in Madrid, Spain after having moved there 2 weeks previously with no job, no flat, and virtually no Spanish. And in spite of having achieved everything I mentioned above in my 20s (and more!), this achievement didn’t resonate with me as I was too busy staring down the barrel of the new Spanish chapter of my life. I just carried on blindly. Pushing. I did not appreciate how far I’d come and how hard I’d worked to not only have done what I’d done, but also to position myself to try and go for what I really wanted.

Which was to really live and immerse myself in the Spanish way of life. To speak Spanish, have Spanish friends, and somehow be happy with my career in Spain.

Now here I am, in the last stretch of my 30s and looking ahead. However, as you guessed, on a near-daily basis, I sometimes thought that I hadn’t done enough. That I hadn’t ticked off enough boxes. That I needed to do and be more. That I was an imposter of an adult.

But when I looked up and saw the reality, I was far from stagnant. I’d just decided that there were less obvious battles and challenges that I wanted to take on. For example, my personal development has been a huge area of focus for me, and I feel emotionally and mentally stronger than ever. I’ve been consolidating. Making micro-improvements that when I looked back at over the years have really accumulated into something substantial and sustainable.

So before I decide what I want my next decade to look like, I really want to appreciate that when I look at my true reality, it is very different from my daily perceptions.

Therefore, if you’re reading this and there is any form of imposter syndrome coming up for you, I recommend that you ask yourself “Is that really true”? And compile evidence. If you believe that you’re not being healthy, for example, create two columns to support and counter that argument. You might not be going to the gym every day or eating brown rice. But you are drinking 2 liters of water and you do try to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day.

Make a spreadsheet, write it on a scrap of paper, send yourself an audio. Show yourself the mirror.

That the reality is (in this example) that perhaps you’re not unhealthy, you just could be healthier. And that is a very different place and mindset to be in as you try to make changes and improvements.

And when we know where we really are, then we can better orient ourselves as to where we want to go and perhaps even that we can go a little further than we thought.


Interested in learning more about my 1:1 GROW, ARRIVE, and RISE coaching packages? Get in contact and send me a message to receive information on how they could help you to create more clarity, take more action, and experience more sustainable change in your life, work, and relationships.

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