Small steps for big impact
A gentle philosophy that helps perfectionism and increases the quality of life
Welcome to Unsetting Expectations—a newsletter for high-performing, high-achieving, perfectionist workaholics grappling with issues of never feeling satisfied, always working crazy long hours, and not feeling proud of their accomplishments, written by Franka Grubisic.
If you're new here, join us every Thursday on a fortnight by hitting the button below:
The benefits of talking about perfectionism, expectations, and a sense of worth are greater when coming from a range of perspectives. That’s why I invited Katja Hunter, a creative business coach, to talk us through a gentle approach to creativity, self-love, and business that has changed her life!
I knew Katja was the right person for the newsletter simply by following her on Instagram, but even more so once she sent me her writing and said this:
After I sent the email to you I had the typical thoughts of "I should have been more personal, I should have written this or that.." A perfectionist in recovery.
The discovery of this gentle approach couldn't have arrived at a better time. Since losing our family puppy and uncle within days in the past three weeks, adopting this approach has helped me be gentle, not put pressure on myself but rather take small steps towards recovery.
So, without further adieu, immerse yourself in the kaizen philosophy. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
Franka kindly asked me to write a few words to you about the kaizen approach I use in my creativity and business coaching, and how this philosophy has helped my perfectionism and quality of life.
In short: adapting the gentle approach to creativity, self-love and business has changed my life!
Let me explain the truth behind these huge and often overused words:
As you know, creating and doing anything new feels uncomfortable, vulnerable, and sometimes down-right terrifying. It’s much easier to just stick to what you’re doing and rationalize why that’s best. This is the natural response for all of us, it is the amygdala’s (the fight/flight/freeze) natural reaction. This part of our brain is here to protect us and it’s doing a great job. Thing is, we don’t need protection from writing a blog post or making art but the amygdala reacts the same way to anything new. This means we’re up against our own brains when we’re going for our goals, dreams, and positive changes in our lives, not actual danger. Your brain just doesn’t know the difference.
Kaizen is a philosophy of making continuous improvements using small steps (much smaller than you think), asking small questions, and letting your subconscious bring you the answer, addressing problems and challenges while they are still small, and looking for small ways to improve what you already have or are.
I use the small step approach when I catch myself not wanting to do the work, whether it’s creative work or housework, and tell myself to just do a little bit.
If I have to write a new blog post, I’ll just think of a topic. If I have to write an email (like this one), I get started by saying to myself I’ll just jot down some notes for 5 minutes.
These small steps get me started and once I’ve started, I usually end up doing more. That’s the power of kaizen.
This is how I get most things done now. Writing, creating, reading, cleaning, you name it.
Another super effective and even gentler way to use kaizen, is to ask a small question that’ll activate your creative brain. It could be a question like “What could be the smallest way I could begin ____________” (fill in the blank)
My perfectionism has a hard time trying to be in control when there’s no pressure to “perform”. Another massive reason kaizen is a useful framework for us creators. Many of us have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and doing just the tiniest of tiniest steps is a sigh of relief.
You can use the kaizen approach in any area of your life. It is a practice, and it might take a little while to get under your skin. Be patient and gentle with yourself, because once you got it, it will change you. I guarantee it.
I’ll leave you with a gentle question for self-love:
“How can I be gentle with myself today?”
If you’re curious to learn more about how you can use kaizen in your creative work or business, catch me here: my website & Instagram, or download my workbooks for business clarity, creative clarity + goal clarity.
What have you thought of Katja’s newsletter? I’ve been starting to incorporate Kaizen slowly into my life (my perfectionism & inner critics are very strong), but I already feel calmer. It’s like serene peace 🕊️
Are you going to try out the Kaizen approach? Let us know by replying to this email or:
And if you're keen to hear more about why "Stop When You Are Done" is horrible advice for perfectionists (& 3 tips on what to do instead), keep your eyes peeled for the next issue 👀 Don’t forget to sign up to join the journey if you haven’t already by hitting the button below ⤵️
If you have a story to share, I would love to lift up and amplify your voice. Please don’t hesitate to send me a message!
Thanks for gifting me space in your inbox. I appreciate that you’re here.
Lastly, if you’re thinking to yourself “Wow, I so relate to this, I can’t wait to read more!” and want to know how you can support me in my writing so I continue to bring great issues, this is how: by buying me a doughnut 🍩.
Why a doughnut, you may ask? Well, in my native language, 'doughnut' is spelled 'krafna', which makes it an anagram of my name; Franka. And if there was such a thing as a spirit animal, but for food, I'd be a doughnut (you know, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and you never know what’s gonna be on top).
Thank you to Uvo, who bought me not 1, not 2, but 12 doughnuts 😍
Here’s proof I’m putting it to good use:
Take good care and have a lovely week, see you soon 💛