Moments after I hung up the phone, my mind started racing, my stomach tightened, and I had to go for a walk.

“You just threw that opportunity away, Misti! And—it was perfect,” the voice inside my head screamed.

One week earlier, I had received a phone call from Bill, a guy in charge of booking speakers at an event for executives of a company that values professional development.

They had already interviewed several speakers, and they offered the opportunity to me. Every element of this opportunity was perfect for me—except for one. They wanted me to speak for 4 hours, instead of the 60-90 minutes I was accustomed to at the time.

“I haven’t done this before on this topic, Bill. I’m not sure how I will fill 4 hours,” I said, panicking about signing the contract.

“Your message resonates perfectly with what we need. I’m happy to help you structure your content to ensure success with this group,” Bill generously offered, as I continued to panic.

“I’ll do it, Bill, but you need to know that I’m scared.”

Fifteen minutes later, I got a phone call informing me that they were going with another speaker.

“When I heard you say ‘I’m scared,’ I knew this was a bad fit,” Bill said. I felt relieved, but I knew I wasn’t off the hook.

The barrage of mental beatings going on inside my head let me know it was time for me to pause, write in my journal, and learn from this experience. In essence, I had just sabotaged an opportunity to do the work I’m meant to do—work that I’ve been preparing to do for more than a decade.

Have you ever unintentionally (or subconsciously) destroyed an opportunity to do work you care about? What did you do afterward?

Here’s what I did:

  • Wrote down every reason I didn’t think I was ready for the opportunity.
  • Created a list of skills I needed to work on, experience I needed to get, and documents I needed to put in place to ensure I’d be ready next time.
  • Shared the list with my coach and got her support in prioritizing it.
  • Created blocks of time in my schedule to address each of the items on the list.
  • Started working on the list, chipping away at the items one at a time.
  • Asked myself what else I needed to do to attract more opportunities. The list is never-ending, and having a coach who helps prioritize it is incredibly valuable. Thank you, Jane!

Rather than ignore the onslaught of negative thoughts banging around inside your head, listen in, take note, and say, “Thank you!” Then, create your list, share it with your coach, and get to work on it.

Here’s to Your Greatness,

Misti Burmeister

P.S. No, exploring negative thoughts isn’t fun. But if you ignore them, they’ll lead to an ulcer, a heart attack, high blood pressure, or some other physical ailment that keeps the pharmaceutical companies thriving. Let’s keep your greatness thriving instead.