Having worked from home as a Virtual Assistant during the national lockdown, I have been locked in mortal combat with my fridge and snack cupboard. From this point on they will be known as Enemy Number One. We have been locked in an all-out war that shows no sign of stopping. Day in and day out we lock horns and do battle.
Hold on let me back up a bit. I have two clients that I work with. The one client requires me to stretch my grey matter on a daily basis. I have a small open plan home and my work is done at the dining room table every day. The Enemy is situated about ten meters away from my workspace. Now all my life I have been told that in order to have a healthy brain, you need to feed your brain. I am convinced that the Enemy has been listening to my conversations and is using psychological warfare to win at all costs.
Across the enemy line
I mean it seems to know just before the hour strikes for me to sit down at my desk and work. It uses the firing up of the computer as a call to draw up arms and strike. Battle lines are drawn, and just before I log on for the day it fires the first shot, ringing in my ears that the grey matter needs to be fed. On many occasions I have fired up my computer about twenty minutes earlier as I am almost convinced that I will lose the battle for the day and put my hands up and walk across the Enemy line.
Once the Enemy has won that battle and has me in its firm clutches, it does not stop there, it continues to torture me. You see standing there in front of the Enemy, I have a choice to make, do I open the fridge door to get something healthy like a fruit and a glass of water, or do I open the snack cupboard for something sweet and tasty like a rusk and a cup of coffee. I mean how cruel can it be, psychological warfare at it’s very best I tell you!
How to outsmart the Enemy
Knowing that this daily battle will happen, I have realised that I need to stay fit, not only to help my grey matter and keep me strong but also to try and outsmart the Enemy. There are days when willpower wins the day and I am able to ignore the constant sounds of the Enemy trying to lure me into battle, on those days the Enemy is defeated, however when this happens, the Enemy normally intensifies the battle to see how strong I really am.
Being a Virtual Assistant during lockdown is not for the faint hearted, it builds your character up to become competent and strong and tough as nails to outwit and win against your Enemy each and every day.
It’s been a thought lately of how do I determine self-worth, how do I measure this? How do you compare your self-worth compared to your friend, colleague, your nemesis?
I see many articles and professionals state that self-worth is the same as self-esteem, and how you believe in yourself. Now I do believe in myself and I would say I have high self-esteem, but I tend to question my own self-worth or self-value.
The difference between self-worth and self-esteem
Based on this thinking I began doing some research and something resonated with me when I read the difference between self-worth and self-esteem by Dr Christina Hibbert, who states that one’s self-worth is what one thinks, feels and believes about oneself. Self-worth is the ability to recognize that one is greater than all of these things. It is realising that one is of value, loveable and necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth (2013).
There is self-worth in all areas of your life, it can be at work, at home, as a parent, as a daughter or son, as a friend. And if you are anything like me there are some characteristics that I carry throughout these areas of life, but the Maxine at home is a little different to the Maxine at work, the Maxine with colleagues is a little different to the Maxine as a friend. And it is within these different areas of life, that I find myself pondering over self-worth. How necessary am I? Am I worthy?
The answers to these questions play a major role in my ability to ask for that increase, to put up my hand with an idea (without thinking the fear of asking a stupid question), to step forward and ask to take the lead in a project, to put in my two cents out of fear of being told its wrong or won’t work, and I can go on and on. Self-worthiness plays an important role in my own thoughts, feeling and behavior.
Based on this it is safe to say that self-worth is achieved through self-identified abilities and own performances. For an international soccer star – I play soccer, therefore I have a spot on the team, and I am needed. For some employees its competing with others, for example salesmen compete during the year to win the top salesmen of the year award, it is through this achievement that some feel worthy, and necessary. For others it’s a little more difficult to find your niche, where you fit in and flourish. Where your skills are noticed and praised for. So, for those of us who sit on the more difficult side of identifying our self-worth, what can we do to feel more worthy, to identify our self-worth?
What doesn’t contribute?
A good place to start may be things that do not contribute to self-worth, according to author Stephanie Jade Wong (n.d.) these things are:
Your bank account (the number in your bank account does not determine your self-worth)
Your job title (it doesn’t matter what you do, but rather that you do it well and that it makes you happy)
Your social media following (how many people actually know the real you on social media platforms, in turn how well do you know those who are liking and following you, probability is not very well)
Your to-do list (achieving tasks during the day is great but how does this contribute to your self-worth?)
Your relationship status (whether you are single, married, divorced, or not too sure, it does not have a direct impact on your self-worth)
Your age (you are not too old or too young, your age does not factor into your ability to feel worthy.)
Now that we have looked at what doesn’t contribute to your self-worth, what does? According to researchers finding self-worth is much easier as a teenager than an adult, which makes sense. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect at work, at home, with friends, and with our families. We tell ourselves that mistakes are unacceptable, that showing weakness is a flaw, and to show your emotions is a sign of weakness. But what if in fact it is all of these things that contribute to making ourselves feel worthy.
When looking at self-worth:
Look at what truly matters, a person’s kindness, empathy towards others, respect for others, and how they treat others.
Focus on not listening to that inner voice, rather take time to pause, ask that inner voice if she actually has a point, and do you actually need to hear what she is saying.
Be careful to tie your self-worth to your job, as identified earlier, your job does not dictate your worth. Focus more on doing your daily tasks well. Be responsible and accountable and stand up when you do something wrong and even more so when you do something well.
It is not always easy to stay positive and feel worthy but when I am starting to feel low and that I should rather give up and let someone else do it, I am going to give myself a good talking to, focus on these 3 things and do what makes me happy.
“What is it that you do exactly?” a question that is often asked of me these days, especially when I say, “Man, that was a hectic day and I’m so ready for bed.” Well I’m a VA, virtual assistant and yes that means I work virtually and remotely, however that does not mean I sit around at home doing nothing, drinking coffee and playing on the internet all day – no, not at all.
So my typical day looks like this – wake up with my two human alarms and proceed to source caffeine, immediately. I get online and check emails first off and then…
Try and get my little minions fed and settled before I start actually focusing and getting started with whatever tasks are delegated by my clients. Mostly I know that every Monday I have x, y, z that needs doing, Tuesday has whatever it needs doing and so forth, so getting into a rhythm is not that difficult, but there are curve balls and I have to roll with it.
I think the most important thing to remember when working from home in any role is ensuring balance, consistency and routine as far as possible. These three things are my secret formula to keeping my sanity intact on a daily basis. I think we all know that when we choose to work from home it is going to be challenging, especially if you have children and those children are at home with you all day while you work. Another thing to remember is that it is only you, no office full of different people, no chit-chat by the coffee machine, just you and you, and then if there are kiddies, human or furry, they are there too, but that is pretty much it, every day. That part of things is not for everybody – for me Im quite happy having myself as company and my characterful 4 year old and too cute for words 5 month old are enough human interaction for me at the moment.
All in all a day in the life of a Virtual Assistant is very full, diverse, exciting, stressful, challenging and fun all at the same time. Some days more of the one than the other but always worth every second of it. I will never regret my choice to become a VA and will always look to enjoying the days no matter what they bring. I, on a daily basis, gain so much knowledge, I find things that I am so passionate about I just love doing it, and I think in a way I get to teach my family a thing or two as well in the process.
I will end off by reiterating this, a day in the life of a VA requires major discipline but also an ability to take whatever comes at you and make it work, routine, consistency and balance, the three words to live by. I love what I do and so should you.