Lowering the Bar: Ditching Perfectionism and Limiting Beliefs with Sadie Wackett

Episode Overview

Perfectionism is a pervasive issue that many of us struggle with daily. We often believe that constantly raising the bar and pushing ourselves harder is the only path to success. However, this relentless pursuit can lead to burnout and hinder our growth. In a recent episode of Life Intended, Sadie Wackett and I explored a novel approach: lowering the bar. By setting more achievable goals, we can alleviate stress, enhance our creative thinking, and ultimately lead more fulfilling lives.

Understanding the Impact of Perfectionism

Perfectionism often manifests as a relentless drive to meet unattainable standards. This can result in chronic stress, anxiety, and a perpetual feeling of inadequacy. Sadie emphasized that when we're constantly in a state of heightened alertness, our nervous system is perpetually on edge, making it difficult to access creative and inspired thinking.

The Importance of Calming the Nervous System

One of the key strategies Sadie discussed is the importance of calming the nervous system. Techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can help shift us from a fight-or-flight state to a more relaxed, rest-and-digest mode. This shift not only helps reduce stress but also opens up pathways for creative and innovative thinking.

Practical Steps to Calm Your Nervous System

  • Mindful Breathing: Take slow, deep breaths, and exhale slowly. This simple practice can signal your brain that you're safe, helping to reduce stress levels.
  • Mindful Walking: Spend a few minutes walking outside, focusing on the sensations and sounds around you. This can ground you in the present moment and ease mental tension.
  • Meditation: Even a few minutes of meditation each day can help recalibrate your nervous system, fostering a sense of calm and balance.

Exploring Beliefs and Assumptions

Another crucial aspect of counteracting perfectionism is exploring and challenging our beliefs and assumptions. Sadie and I discussed the importance of identifying both empowering and limiting beliefs. By bringing these beliefs to light, we can begin to understand their origins and reframe them in a way that supports our growth and well-being.

Steps to Explore and Reframe Beliefs

  1. Identify Limiting Beliefs: Write down the beliefs you hold about yourself that are disempowering. For example, "I'm not good enough" or "I'll never be successful."
  2. Identify Empowering Beliefs: List the beliefs that uplift and empower you. These might include, "I am capable" or "I am worthy of success."
  3. Reframe Limiting Beliefs: Challenge the validity of your limiting beliefs. Where do they come from? Are they based on facts or assumptions? Try to reframe them in a more positive and supportive way.

Recognizing Triggers and Understanding System Dynamics

Sadie highlighted the importance of recognizing triggers—situations that provoke strong emotional reactions—and understanding the dynamics of the systems we operate in. Whether at work, home, or in social settings, being aware of these triggers and the surrounding dynamics can help us navigate our responses more effectively.

Strategies for Managing Triggers

  • Daily Reflection: Take a few minutes each day to reflect on situations that triggered strong emotional reactions. What happened, and how did you feel?
  • Emotional Awareness: Develop a vocabulary for your emotions. Understanding whether you're feeling anger, sadness, or frustration can help you address the root cause more effectively.
  • Curiosity and Compassion: Approach your triggers with curiosity rather than judgment. This mindset can help you explore the underlying issues without self-criticism.

Lowering the Bar for Greater Success

Sadie's unique perspective on lowering the bar is a refreshing antidote to the high-stakes game of perfectionism. By setting more realistic goals, we can reduce stress, enhance our well-being, and open up new avenues for creativity and growth. This approach encourages us to embrace our humanity, recognizing that we are fallible and that perfection is neither attainable nor necessary for success.

Counteracting perfectionism by lowering the bar can significantly improve our mental health and overall well-being. By calming our nervous system, exploring our beliefs, and understanding our triggers, we can create a more balanced and fulfilling life. This shift in perspective allows us to embrace our imperfections and focus on sustainable growth and creativity. Remember, sometimes lowering the bar can be the key to raising our quality of life.

If you're interested in working with Sadie or want to connect with her, you can DM her on Instagram @sadiewackett or follow her on LinkedIn.

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Episode Transcript for Lowering the Bar: Ditching Perfectionism and Limiting Beliefs with Sadie Wackett

Kelly Berry: Hello and welcome to Life Intended. I'm your host, Kelly Berry. Life Intended is a podcast that explores what it means to be true to yourself and live an authentic and purposeful life. Each episode explores my guest's version of personal growth, self-discovery, and the pursuit of becoming the best version of themselves, as well as how to find joy in the journey. Today, I'm speaking with my friend Sadie Wackett. Sadie is originally from the UK and moved to the US eight years ago. She grew up in England with her parents and three siblings. She studied at university in the UK as well as in France and has a degree in French and European history and a master's in HR management. Sadie has worked in corporate life for 20 years holding C-suite and executive leadership roles and today Sadie is a chief human resources officer for a global company. Sadie won't tell you this but she's a pretty big deal.

She has worked in HR in global businesses for most of her career and has had the privilege of working and traveling all over the globe. Sadie is married and has one daughter who's almost seven, and they have a dog named Pickles. She's also a certified executive leadership and life coach, and she has a huge passion for working with women who find themselves stuck for some reason. She has run a women's coaching circle for the past two years, which I've had the privilege of being a part of. For the past 15 years, Sadie has consciously built a practice and skill set for personal growth. This journey has enabled her to untangle the threads that were tying her to an unfulfilled life. It hasn't meant quitting her corporate job, but it has allowed her to make choices based on complete alignment with her true self, her passion, her purpose, and her capacity to create a life that she truly wants.

Through her own experiences, challenges, and growth, she has established a passion for helping others transform their lives. Sadie's three core values are well-being, conscious growth and discovery, and sincere connection. She loves diving deep into topics of interest, being with people in meaningful ways, baking, being active, and spending time outside. Sadie is a friend of mine, and I can't wait to let her tell you her story and share her insights.

Kelly Berry: Every time I talk with Sadie, I leave feeling both deeply understood and also gently challenged. She is a beautiful and insightful human with so much wisdom to share and I can't wait for you all to hear from her. Welcome, Sadie, I'm so glad you're here.

Sadie Wackett: Thank you, Kelly. What a lovely, beautiful introduction. Yeah, it's great to hear. Thank you.

Kelly Berry: Well, thank you. Anything else I know you've accomplished a lot, you've done a lot, anything else that you want to let everybody know about you?

Sadie Wackett: No, I think you covered the high points. I think there is obviously a lot more to the journey, but maybe some of that will come out along the way.

Kelly Berry: Yeah, yeah, it definitely will. So, you know, speaking of your journey, tell us more about, you know, what I just described, what that has looked like and how you have evolved in life to be where you are now.

Sadie Wackett: Yeah. Wow, that's a big question. All right, so starting from you mentioned, you know, my early years. So I grew up, I'm from England, I grew up as one of four siblings. Mom and dad both worked, both dad traveled quite a bit. My mom was a teacher of special needs kids. And so I would say early life was very busy. There wasn't a lot of time.

And as a kid, even though I had three siblings, I think what I've reflected on, what I've had chance to reflect on since I've grown up, is it was tough. I was kind of introverted. I was, I think, always someone that was looking for the meaning in things and found it difficult to understand why things were the way they were. I was always looking for more meaning, more purpose. And generally, I think it was even through until my kind of adolescent years, this part of me was kind of lost and almost like something was wired a little differently in me. And, you know, that manifested through friendships, through relationships, and I maybe wasn't into the same things that other kids were into. And so, you know, there was a lot of great stuff about my childhood but I think what I'm trying to point out here is that the way that my, the way I was wired or the way that I was I think perceived to others, i.e. my parents, as kind of problematic. I was the one that was never really easy, I was complicated and so that was kind of a message that stuck with me and it didn't go away so as I grew up I think that

manifested in certain ways and that was really, you know, people-pleasing, trying to be the best at everything, really resisting any kind of failure and having to kind of conform to norms especially in university, especially in work when I first started working. And you know I think to make a pretty long and complicated story relatively short, it did lead to quite a lot of dysfunction in my life. And so when I got to the age of around 30, it had started to really become quite destructive to me and it took me, it took actually my mom, someone in my family to notice it and say, you know, we need to kind of get you some help. And so that was when I think that was really the first moment that I had ever realized, or anyone had actually ever realized, that my mental health was really at risk. And so it started then, I'd say my kind of real growth journey, that was probably an inflection point because I then, you know, I

went to see medical professionals and they referred me to therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy. And that was not only helpful for me in dealing with the issues I was facing at the time, which included anorexia, but it also provided an incredibly insightful look into myself. It started to answer so many questions that had been swirling around in my head and body for years. That marked the beginning of my journey of self-discovery and laid a solid foundation for my growth.

At the same time, while I was going through therapy, I started to become really interested in Buddhism and Buddhist practices. I read a lot and, in a somewhat serendipitous way, found a monastery near where I lived that I had never known about before. Despite living there for over 30 years, it was a revelation to me. I started meditating with monks every week. At the time, I perhaps didn't appreciate the full impact, but it was not only developmental but also spiritual. This connection between self-discovery and spirituality began to weave itself into my life.

I didn't grow up in a religious family, so this connection to something larger than myself was something I had been seeking. It quickly led me to explore mindfulness. I did my mindfulness practitioner certification and practiced it daily. While mindfulness and meditation are not for everyone, they were incredibly balancing and recalibrating for me during that tumultuous period.

All of this was happening while I was working in my corporate job, dealing with complex issues, especially around relationships in a very male-dominated environment. There was very little support, but these practices supported me through that time and every subsequent stage of my life. I've had some significant transitions, including career changes and relocating to the US, which came with its own set of challenges like loneliness, isolation, and cultural adjustments. Through all these changes, I've maintained a continuity of self-reflection and personal growth practices.

I've also participated in immersive retreats, such as silent retreats and retreats designed to reset the nervous system. Recently, I explored transcendental meditation, another practice that helps balance me. Throughout all of it, I've always had a coach or therapist to help process things. This support has been crucial during big transitions, whether becoming a mom, dealing with work transitions, or navigating relationships.

Kelly Berry: Thank you for sharing all of that. What I love about you is that you have this belief that different tools can help in different circumstances. You've never really chosen just one way to handle stress or become more self-aware. You're a sponge, learning all the ways so that you have the right tool at the right time. I think that's amazing. We could probably have a podcast on each of those topics because you're so knowledgeable about all of them. You talk about self-awareness, and we've also discussed the systems you operate in and understanding them. Can you speak to what that means and how figuring that out is helpful?

Sadie Wackett: Absolutely. One thing I wanted to mention, and then I'll answer that question, is that I'm not practicing all these approaches all the time. It's very telling when one is in a position of transition—whether making a big decision or grappling with something—that it's very easy to become overwhelmed with feelings, stress, and anxiety. It's tough to pull yourself out and say, "I need to do more mindfulness" or journal about your inner critic or beliefs. It's really hard. It's good to have the tools, but applying them in a supported way is crucial. Sometimes, it's not easy to do that alone.

To talk about the system, I had an aha moment at one point. I could geek out on myself. I'm constantly trying to understand why I reacted a certain way or why I feel frustrated or grapple with a decision. I could write a thesis on myself. But the reality is that my reaction to a situation or trigger is very dependent on understanding my values and what I believe in, but also how that operates within the system around me. For example, in work, you're working with people who have different value sets, and how that shapes and triggers yours and manifests in that environment is key.

We are not paper dolls; we're not two-dimensional. I now see us as more like a Rubik's cube. Our values are in there somewhere, but they might look different depending on the context—like with my daughter, husband, or colleagues. The key for me was to be cognizant, aware, and respectful of my own values and boundaries. How that looks will differ slightly depending on the system or relationships we hold with others. Like the weather, it's going to impact what that looks like and the flavor of that. This understanding is crucial because it also means that if I hold a particular value around personal growth and fulfillment, but another person's core value is stability and security, we need to find common ground. Awareness of myself and what the other person is experiencing is the dance we need to do together. It's difficult because you might be highly self-aware, but the other person may not be.

This leads me to another thought I'm passionate about: our expectations of relationships and results. We often don't factor in the other part of the equation. We focus on our own expectations of success without considering the variables that will impact that. This causes stress, anxiety, and in extreme cases, burnout. Lately, I've been thinking about lowering the bar. People with perfectionist tendencies want to do their best all the time, but this often leads to burnout. The key for me now is lowering the bar and accepting that it doesn't have to be the way I think it should be.

Kelly Berry: Thank you. That's all so good. One thought I had while you were talking about the system you operate in is the idea of group dynamics. My husband and I have discussed how every time you add a person to a situation, the group dynamic changes, and you have to figure out what that looks like. This can be on a family, work, or friend level. These shifts happen all the time, and people aren't always aware of them. If you're a family of four, you and your husband are a group, then you and your husband and your two children are a group, and so on. Each dynamic changes the situation—the beliefs, values, and expectations. Once you're aware of this constantly changing dynamic, you can better think about how to operate in different situations. Your parenting style might change based on the groups, or the way you make decisions might change based on the dynamic at work.

Sadie Wackett: Absolutely. Generally, as human beings, we don't pay attention to that. Something happens in the environment, and we react to it, but we're not necessarily aware of the energies causing it. Marriage is a great example. We don't have these conversations daily, so big decisions, like relocating or having another kid, can lead to misalignment and resentment. It's not easy to change, but it's easier to understand and accept with awareness. Our value sets might be different, or we might have unrealistic expectations. Awareness and acceptance come with a commitment to curiosity. Asking why you're unhappy can lead to answers, resolve, and awareness of what you can change. It's liberating to realize you have more influence than you might think. I want women to feel empowered and have agency to make small changes daily that give them a higher sense of control and agency over any given situation.

Kelly Berry: What are some strategies you use to coach women on cultivating more agency and self-awareness to make those changes?

Sadie Wackett: Awareness is key. It's hard to make any change while in a fight-or-flight state, and unless we pay attention, we might not even realize we're in that state. We're so conditioned to being in a heightened state of awareness most of the time. The first thing I do for myself and help other women do is to calm the nervous system. Bring yourself from fight-or-flight into rest-and-digest. This way, you can access more creative and inspired thinking. Otherwise, your problem-solving ability is limited. On a basic level, that means breathing slowly and steadily, exhaling slowly, which sends a message to the brain that you're safe. Mindful breathing, walking, or just being present can stop the flurry of thoughts.

Next, I work with people to explore beliefs and assumptions. We identify limiting and empowering beliefs. Write down the disempowering ones and bring them to light. Then, write the empowering ones. The purpose is to shine a light on the areas holding you back, bringing them to your conscious awareness. For example, if you believe you're bad with money, whose voice is telling you that? Can we reframe that belief?

Recognizing triggers is another key. Document situations that trigger strong emotional responses and how you feel. This practice helps you understand the root cause and develop a vocabulary for your emotions. It's not common to analyze our emotions, so we might not know if we're feeling anger, sadness, or loneliness. This exercise helps you narrow it down and uncover the root cause, which is liberating.

These practices can be done alone, but it's most helpful with someone asking probing questions to uncover layers. Whether it's a therapist or coach, having someone qualified is important. The field of life coaching is vast, and it's crucial to find someone who can create a safe and productive space for you.

Kelly Berry: Thank you. Sharing personally, I've worked on this too. Sometimes I do well, and sometimes poorly. As a recovering perfectionist, I can get down on myself when I let those beliefs come back or when I feel I've made no progress. Daily practice and making these things a part of how you think about yourself and your life is important. Every time you apply these practices, it helps you become more confident and inspires you to continue.

Sadie Wackett: Absolutely. You mentioned beating yourself up and using words like "should" or "must." There's an element of self-compassion that's crucial. We need to treat ourselves with the same kindness and compassion we would offer a friend. Women, in particular, are conditioned not to allow ourselves to feel deserving. Self-compassion is vital. If you think about how you'd speak to a friend versus yourself, it's often very different. We deserve more.

Kelly Berry: Yes, we are exposed to so much information these days. We're not built to handle the constant bombardment of information and the global news cycle. Being kinder to ourselves, giving ourselves more grace and space, is essential. We need to realize that we're living in a world we're not made for, and it affects us more than we think.

Sadie Wackett: I agree. Women, in particular, face unrealistic and unsustainable expectations. We're expected to be productive, maintain a certain status, care for others, be professionals, wives, mothers. It's unrealistic, and something underneath will crumble. We need to consider ourselves through a compassionate lens and think about which expectations we can let go of. Lowering the bar means accepting that some things aren't as important as we thought.

Kelly Berry: Comparison is rampant. Feeling like we can't lower the bar because others seem to have it all together is a significant issue. We need to realize that we may not even want the same things as others. Being introspective and understanding who we are and what we want is crucial.

Sadie Wackett: Yes, knowing your values and spending time figuring out what's most important to you is like having roots in the ground. Storms may come, but if your roots are deep enough, you'll still be there. It's hard to do this alone. Being with a community of people who share the same outlook and mindset is powerful. Choosing who we spend our time with and who brings out the best in us is important.

Kelly Berry: I saw that you have family values hanging up in your kitchen. Did you create those as a family? Was your daughter involved?

Sadie Wackett: Yes, we did create them together. It came about during a period of really bad behavior from our daughter. We were going through a transition, and she was reacting to that. We decided to sit down and identify what was important to us as a family—respect, kindness, being good human beings. We don't talk about them all the time, but we point to them when needed. It's a reminder for all of us when things get tough.

Kelly Berry: I love that. We're getting to a point where we need to wrap up. There are so many things you talked about that I want to dive deeper into in future conversations. You've brought up some great points that will hopefully help people think about the tools they have, how they approach and seek out guidance. We both believe in coaching and that everyone can benefit from a coach. Any parting thoughts?

Sadie Wackett: Thank you. There was a lot I covered, but hopefully some messages came through. I'm a huge believer that the right coach can up-level your life for your benefit. If anyone is interested in reaching out for more conversations around coaching, I'm happy to share my details. Thank you, Kelly, for doing this. You're great.

Kelly Berry: Thank you so much. I'll include Sadie's contact information in the show notes. If any of this resonated with you, I highly recommend reaching out to Sadie. She's a wonderful friend who always leaves you feeling understood and gently challenged. Great, thank you so much for your time and wisdom. Super valuable, and we will definitely talk again. Thank you.

Sadie Wackett: My pleasure. Bye, Kelly.