Categories
Ramblings Work

You don’t have to be perfect here

I recently came upon this quote by John Steinbeck, and it got me thinking about a lot of things.

‘And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.’

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

If I were to tell a younger me or a newly hired junior colleague one thing, it would be: ‘You don’t have to be perfect here, you just have to be. We want you to be.’

And why not? The way I see it, we let perfect get in the way of being consistent, which is one thing I wish I knew before entering the working space. We fall into the trap of thinking that the way to do good work is by having to be perfect for the job. Sometimes we feel we are not qualified for a job because we did not tick all the requirements, so we stall in sending out our resumes but then, are companies really after perfect people?

What does perfect mean?

At various points in my career, I have sat with HR to go over the qualities we want our next candidate to possess. I have gone through a good number of applicants feedback from our engineering team and I’ve done my fair share of performance appraisals, but not once was the criteria for success being perfect. 

For me, perfect is a myth and every time we use the word, what we mean is ‘good work.’ Being on the right track means doing well at what we are assigned to do. We can’t do good work without committing positive performance over and over again until it becomes a thing – until it becomes who we are. 

When we say that someone has the perfect experience on their resume, what we mean is that they tick yes to most, if not all of the requirements listed on the job posting, they can be found wanting in some areas, but the key thing is how much of a learner they are and if they have shown exceptional promise in their field.

Who would you work with?

We want to work with someone consistent in doing the things they know how to do. We want someone open to learning and not afraid to communicate what they want. We want someone that people can vouch for, someone we trust to get the job done. Someone who has shown resilience and knowledge in how they handled their previous projects because consistency is what gets the job done. Consistency breeds progress; progress brings results and sets you up for success.

And what does positive performance mean? Showing up on time, being trustworthy and reliable, being a great team player, being consistent – This is what comes up in performance appraisals, not how perfect we were on the job.

Here’s a question – Have you ever delayed sending out a project you’re working on because you felt it had to be good enough before turning it in? Did you ever get to turn it in?

Perfect does not come up in performance appraisals. 

In the entrepreneur.com, Neil Patel wrote, ‘Trying to make something perfect can prevent us from making it just good.’ He goes further to write, ‘The perfect is the enemy of the good.’ 

Progress is what matters. Are you consistent in what you signed up willingly for? Why do we aim for perfect? Is good bad? Why can’t we aim for good work and take it from there?

Look at it this way – You finished watching a cooking show and you are fascinated by how Ronke of 9jaFoodie prepared her Afang soup, so you decide you are going to make yours exactly the way she described the steps in her video. It is going well, as you keep following the steps until you get to ‘Add a tbsp of oil which is equivalent to 15 ml,’ but you don’t have the measuring spoons. Yes, you have a regular spoon, but there is no way you can know for sure if what you have is equivalent to 15ml as described in the video. Does this spoil the chances of the food coming out good? You have two options – stop and throw the food out or continue with the process.

When we wait for perfect, it never comes. If you’d waited for when you buy a measuring spoon, you might never come around to cooking your Afang soup. 

When we remove perfect from the equation, what’s left? 

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Steve Jobs
Read: ‘A beautiful reminder about the power of showing up consistently…’

When we remove perfect from the equation, all that is left is good. Go on, be kind to yourself, and do good work. You are in the good place, and everything is fine.

Continue to be consistent and keep showing up. You don’t have to be perfect here. You just have to be.

Categories
Mindfulness Work

How to practice mindful spending with Google sheets

Until I started mindful spending, I didn’t understand what made me so apprehensive before salary day. Salary day was a day I always waited earnestly for because I’d spent everything from my previous salary, and a day I would later come to dread because I would spend all my monthly income trying to balance the past month’s debts. Later on, I’d try to improve on my spending, but it still didn’t matter because I wasn’t spending effectively.

Before I started mindful spending, I tried to remind myself of how much I needed to spend and how much I needed to save. Our mind forgets, which is why we need reminders in our daily living. I drew up a plan that I visit every time to remind myself of the reason I started in the first place. A solid plan should be repeatable, organized, and agile.

What is Mindful Spending?

Mindful spending is being intentional about the way you spend your money and how your spending supports your goals. Satisfied Spending calls it lifestyle-based money management.

It is creating healthy spending habits that take you closer to your goals, instead of having your blood pressure rise when you think about what you’ve just purchased.

When you start spending mindfully, it becomes a part of who you are. You start asking yourself questions like these before moving money out of your account:

  1. Is this item in my shopping list?
  2. What is my reason for wanting to spend this money?
  3. What do I intend to achieve by saving this amount of money?
  4. Does making this purchase support my goals and needs? 
  5. How do I intend to achieve my spending goal?

I’ve come to understand that many people are not comfortable with engaging in money conversation. However, it’s okay to own up to the fact that our spending habit sucks. Every other thing follows from here.

I started mindful spending with Google Sheets. Google Sheets has a budget template that I customized to my preference. With the 50/30/20 rule, I created a planning sheet that helped me organize my spending into different categories. 

50/30/20 Rule of Spending/ Saving Mindfully - Winged Time Traveller
50/30/20 Rule of Spending/ Saving Mindfully

The 50/30/20 budget rule states that:

  • 50% of your net income should go to your Needs, e.g. Fixed expenses such as rent, work transportation, health, bills, and utilities.
  • 30% of your net income should go to your Wants, e.g. Lifestyle or flexible expenses such as food, travel, shopping, and even black tax, etc.
  • 20% of your income should go to your Financial Goals, which includes all kinds of savings and investments.

The 50/30/20 rule is ideal for me because it’s helped me with simplifying and organizing my finances. With the planning sheet, I was able to see how much I needed for what, and how much I should be saving.

I have prepared a monthly budget template for June that you may want to customize to your preference. Start with the Mindful Spending Worksheet before proceeding to the monthly budget. On both documents, click on ‘file’ to make a copy.

Confronting Black Tax with Mindful Spending

In simple words, black tax is the tax every first child pays for being born.

As the first child of my family and the first grandchild on one side, I understand the responsibilities expected of me. Thinking about these responsibilities can be very overwhelming as you receive a text sometime in the middle of the month asking for money. You have a job, so nobody wants to hear you don’t have money. And heavens save you if they have an inkling of your monthly income. It’s okay to say you don’t have but what about next month, and the upper month?

What I did was allocate some money for black tax under my ‘wants purchases.’ And in case the need is more than I budgeted, I wouldn’t do otherwise because I don’t have anywhere to unearth the money from, do I?

How do you measure what works with the monthly budget template?

As you spend and save, make every change in the sheet. At the end of the month, check back to see how much you’ve spent in the month. It’s okay if you spent more than you budgeted. The key is to take small mindful steps which in turn makes a big difference.

Make a copy of the sheet for next month with adjustment to your spendings. For example, if you budgeted N40,000 for food and you spent more than the amount you budgeted, adjust the expense for next month to the amount you spent this month and follow from there.

If you spent below the amount you budgeted, make the same changes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please fill out this 1 minute survey if you downloaded the monthly budget sheet. I’d love to follow up with you to make sure you find the budget template helpful. Don’t forget to follow my blog so that you don’t miss any blog posts from me. Also, remember to share with that friend who needs this most. Thank you.

Categories
Work

Do You Have a Brag Book?

I haven’t always been my biggest cheerleader. I suffer from impostor syndrome, which I’m beginning to learn happens to the best of us. My colleagues would be quick to tell how much of a hard worker I am. 

But the thing is I don’t give myself enough credit. I hear the voices of the internal critic in my head loud and clear every time I strive to do my best at a job. 

The thoughts that run through my mind whenever I’m working on a project with a team makes me doubt the effort I give, and often when they need my contribution on an idea, the critic who lives within me guffaws. The only thing that’s helped bolster my confidence before giving a presentation or during my performance review is having my brag book with me.

It doesn’t help especially during this COVID-19 period when there’s no clue about what the future will look like, or if there’s still anything like tomorrow. I mean, what use is a plan when you’re not sure if you’re going to survive Coronavirus?

Here are some of the things I’ve learnt from using my brag book

  1. I’ve learnt that if the thought runs through your head about whether you deserve a position or a responsibility, then you truly do. Nobody deserves this position better than you, and if there was such a person better than you for that job, why isn’t this person in the seat?
  2. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to toot our own horn. If you don’t, nobody might, and it’d remain like that until somebody does, which might take forever to happen. People forget things, and who’s better at telling your stories than you do?
  3. I’ve learnt to walk into a performance appraisal meeting with my brag book. It’s okay to reach for the note when you’re not feeling worthy of being in the room. More than twice, I looked through my brag book, and it helped me remember something that helped me with getting my confidence back.
  4. I’ve learnt not to wait until I complete a project or until a boss pats me on the back before adding my little wins to my brag book, after all, that’s why we call them ‘Little wins’.

My brag book is a place I enter every little detail of what made me happy at the moment with my job or something that I thought I couldn’t do, but I did. One could call it a little memoir of wins. Like, the time I wanted to go for a run, but my body was pulling me back. Running for seven minutes made me feel happy with myself, and that’s something for a brag. Once, I took it upon myself to work on developing a tool that would make the project management swifter for the team. Having that initiative and starting was a win for me. I added it to my brag book. 

Sometimes, I go through my brag book and marvel at the things I let myself do. I’ve dabbled in a lot of things quite alright, but the truth is, I took the step, and I covered grounds. Looking back, there’s only so much I could do, and I did those things. 

Having a brag book would help so much in a time like this. COVID-19 has made it very easy for the mind to fall into thinking traps that make us doubt ourselves even more. During this period, reading our brag books would go a long way in uplifting our spirits and helping us see why we were chosen for a particular role, and why we deserve every good thing in life.

Do you have a brag book? Could you share what you’ve included in it and how it’s helped you?