I have a time machine in my garage. This unassuming white box allows me to capture the fruit of my labor and send those gifts forward in time to a night when I am tired, hungry and in need of a dinner miracle.
Inner Critic Krypotnite: Freezer cartoon

I’m so inspired by my freezer’s capacity for time travel that I’ve incorporated similar principles into my coaching and my own life. I have learned to create, store and re-deliver tiny “care packages” of advice and encouragement to myself when I’ll need them most.

I’ve discovered that in my darkest hour, it can be just as miraculous to retrieve a precious nugget of wisdom from my calendar as to defrost a tray of homemade enchiladas from my freezer.Not only does this approach allow you to be your own best friend in a really cool way, but it’s also deliciously clever Inner Critic Kryptonite.
Anticipate it! is the Kryptonite that teaches you to predict what will sabotage you, then apply this foresight to send yourself just what you’ll need to sail past those difficulties when the time comes. Anticipate it! works because it gives you back the clarity and resourcefulness your Inner Critic is so intent on hiding from you. Your Inner Critic would much rather have you running around like a headless chicken, too busy putting out his fires to realize that you can fire him!


Spring the Trap

Your Inner Critic is the keeper of the status quo. To him, all change is risky, and risks are to be avoided at all costs–especially any risk of failure or disappointment. He tries to stop you from taking these perilous personal and professional risks through a whole mess of sneaky tactics from guilt and shame to fear and procrastination.

When you start to observe it, you’ll notice that your Inner Critic’s resistance is quite predictable. A classic trap he lays is to throw a huge fit of dooms-daying and nay-saying on the eve of an important endeavor in the hopes you’ll be too spooked to even start. What he doesn’t want you to know is that there is a direct relationship between his drama-queen antics and the importance the project has to you-not any external measure of true “riskiness”!

When you can anticipate this opening act, it’s possible to call his bluff, take charge of the situation and move on with your plan unfazed. See the “Note to self” exercise below to help you remember this when his pre-project panic reaches a fever pitch!

Re-frame Self-Doubt
Care package cartoon
You can further set yourself up for success by changing your perspective on what self-doubt indicates. An attack of self-doubt in the middle of a project is very often the emotional marker that you are actually heading into the home stretch, poised for success.

This is because it’s the last chance your Inner Critic has to stop you before you see the finish line over the next hill. Midwives have known this for years–when a laboring mother yells “I give up! I can’t do this anymore!” the midwife knows it’s time to scrub up and get ready to catch the baby.

So when your darkest hour comes, don’t despair–and whatever you do, don’t take self-doubt literally! Instead, turn your Inner Critic’s last ditch effort to sabotage you into a loving reminder to reach for (or improvise) your care package–the sage advice and extra support you need to make it through the final hurdles and finish strong.

Be Your Own Best Friend

Part of the magic of Anticipate it! is the degree of separation it gives you from your own advice through the time travel process. My frozen and re-heated enchiladas always tastes better the second time because it feels like someone else made them for me. So too, is it easier to hear the wisdom you send yourself in a care package, because it feels like it’s from someone else. Anticipate it! creates the illusion of accessing a trusted external mentor. Since you’re more likely to act on someone else’s advice and encouragement than take your own, use this to your advantage and you can become your own best friend and cheerleader.

Stock the Freezer

Lose your gem of wisdom? Drop the ball again? Instead of kicking yourself for forgetting, just take a minute to capture the lesson and make yourself a care package for next time. If you needed this advice now, chances are that you’ll need it again soon. Anticipate it! is about learning and progress, not perfection. Life is cyclical and offers abundant opportunities to try, fail, learn, retry, and ultimately succeed. Contrary to what your Inner Critic tells you there are few “do or die,” once-in-a-lifetime opportunities–or rather, they all are, but most of them come right back over and over!

Take some time every week, month or when seasonal challenges arise to anticipate how you typically self-sabotage and decide what you would rather do instead. You can start stocking the freezer right away by creating a mini “care package” in the Note to Self exercise below. These four simple steps can make the difference between repeating the same mistakes over and over and learning to succeed.
Try This At Home: Note to Self
Note to Self

Pause: Set aside 15 minutes to do this exercise now.
Reflect: Look back at your week. What patterns do you see? What lessons?
Capture: Find one nugget of wisdom that would have changed things for the better and write that advice on a note to yourself.
Catalog: Place this Note to Self where it will find you the next time you need it–foiling your Inner Critic’s plot to hide it from you when you’ll need it most!

What are your typical moments of self-doubt? What are your favorite “care-packages” to yourself? Share yours by commenting below!