“I don’t know how you function,” my husband sighed. “You have the self-esteem of an amoeba. Somehow, you manage to get up every morning, interact with people and hold down a responsible job.”
I shrugged my shoulders and agreed with him. Everything he said was true. Although successful in my career, my lack of self-esteem meant I was often stressed. I just accepted that was the way I was built. It didn’t occur to me that change was possible. Dabbling with self-help books and seeing Tony Robbins speak at the Excel centre (like a weekend-long rock concert!) taught me useful techniques, but nothing that made me value myself.
Despite being terrified of having to talk to strangers, my work forced me to go networking. I did it a lot. By the time I met Ann, I’d even won an award for it and made lots of helpful business connections and lovely friends. I’d seen Ann several times and we’d had a coffee together before I admitted I had trouble sleeping.
“I can fix that – but I don’t do quick fixes,” Ann told me.
It was a leap of faith to begin Ann’s programme, but by then I totally trusted her. After all, it’s the golden rule of networking: know, like and trust someone, and you’ll want to do business with them. I signed up.
Ann quickly established a few fundamental facts about me. My confidence, already low, had taken a battering when I worked for companies who didn’t share my values. Having taken six months off to write fiction (a gripping thriller called Up In Smoke), I now had the chance of some accountancy work again for a few months, but it was a long way from home.
“You’ve decided what rate you want, and that the commute will be too demanding unless you work two days a week from home,” Ann said. “So you’ll have to ask for that. Be clear with them.”
“What if they turn me down?” I asked.
“There will be other jobs,” Ann told me. “I don’t know why you’re anxious about finding work, because it always comes to you, even in the middle of the deepest recessions.”
She was right, and I knew it. I’d started my working life in recession-hit Birmingham. Even as a shy twenty-one-year-old, with limited qualifications, I’d found work I enjoyed. I was now qualified and experienced, with skills that were in demand. During the recent credit crunch, I did a succession of interesting temporary assignments. Accountancy plays to my strengths, as I love writing and I find maths easy as well.
“I don’t have the confidence to say what I want,” I realised.
Ann taught me how to make sure I was confident during the interview. Once I started the job, I stayed on her programme. She helped me see there was nothing wrong with combining accountancy and writing. Each year, I do about six months of each, publishing one crime thriller a year. So far, there have been three: The Bride’s Trail (my most recent one), After The Interview and Up In Smoke. They’ve had great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and I get a real buzz knowing I’ve entertained readers. Now I’m living my dreams, I sleep really well too…