Last week, a client, my startup co-founder, and I enjoyed lunch together. In the midst of talking about our startup strategy, the client who is meeting with and advising us had a “moment.” She is actively looking for her dream job, and it’s not been easy. She’s usually pretty upbeat. But, in front of my co-founder and me, she was comfortably vulnerable. She asked if buying a stunning handbag will now make her feel better.
I think we can all relate to feeling like crap about ourselves and looking for a pick-me-up. She was looking to cheer herself up. Well, she had lunch with the two right people.
Without missing a beat, I told her that what she’s asking about sounds like “retail therapy.” As I’ve written about previously, retail therapy is something I’m very much not in favor of.
But, that’s not all that she was concerned about. She was questioning more than a handbag purchase. In fact, she was questioning whether she was falling into a trap of being needlessly concerned for her appearance. Someone she knows suggested that she’s “fine” the way she is. My client mentioned this because she is equally questioning whether being “fine” in that way is good enough for her.
This type of questioning is fantastic. Being skeptical is great. I asked her about it. The three of us had a conversation.
Somehow, we got talking about whether all of this self-focus is good for her spirit. We talked about how only people like the Dali Lama and the Pope can be so not self-focused, wear the garb that they do, and not be concerned about their basic appearance. They are both in especially elevated positions in their lives. The rest of us have other missions to achieve.
If my client has ambition – which she does – she deserves to use her assets to help her get to where she wants.
This brought up a much deeper topic: is she worthy of the kind of success she desires? What if the Universe doesn’t think that her ambitions are the right ones?
Bingo! Now we get to the root of the issue.
She has done so much personal work about her health and wellbeing. She lost a lot of weight, and got into great shape. She has done a lot of deeper inner work to help her envision the kind of life she wants and deserves. She wants to add value to a business, and this is how she feels that she will experience a kind of fulfillment that supersedes even a salary and bonus. Her head and heart are in the right place.
Still, the voice of self-doubt is the energy of sabotage.
I actually think it’s okay to have those moments of self-doubt. She should consider all of her options. But, at the end of the day, living a totally different lifestyle, and making lattes at the corner coffee shop is neither comfortable nor appealing. Not that there’s anything wrong or bad about being the best barista in town. But, it doesn’t activate her strengths and skillset.
Now that she’s back on track, is it really possible that buying a stunning handbag will now make her feel better? Hell no! It will drain her funds when she needs to conserve. It won’t give her anything better than the handbags that she already has. And, she’ll never really enjoy the handbag, because she will always associate buying it with filling a void she’s feeling in her life, instead of filling the actual void with the dream job that I am absolutely certain is waiting for her to focus on and find.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs and executives discover their personal brands and design their personal styles. Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know “6 Secrets to Success in Silicon Valley”. Need immediate and fast help? Learn about 1:1 private, intensive, and comprehensive 1-2 day VIP program designed to transform your personal brand and style in record time.