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December 01, 2021
Unable to Move Forward With Intentionality? How Gaining Clarity Can Help You Get Unstuck With Becca Ribbing

Have you ever been in a situation in which you find yourself procrastinating, going around in circles, unable to accomplish what you have in mind, literally feeling stuck with no clear way out? In this episode of Momma's Moti...

Have you ever been in a situation in which you find yourself procrastinating, going around in circles, unable to accomplish what you have in mind, literally feeling stuck with no clear way out?

In this episode of Momma's Motivational Messages, Becca Ribbing, author of The Clarity Journal  and a Career Coach shares many nuggets about the dangers of staying stuck for too long, and how it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that prevents you from getting the momentum to break through to the next step.

You'll want to listen to this episode to hear our conversation on a variety of topics, including the impact of growing up with hippies, Becca's own parenting styles, the importance of breaking rules we subconsciously take on from friends and family, the importance of giving yourself permission when you want to take control of your life, and how journaling can help you gain clarity. 

Let's jump right in so you can start learn from what Becca has to share.

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 Becca Ribbing, Peggie Kirkland

 Peggie Kirkland  00:04

Welcome to the Momma's Motivational Messages Podcast, where women learn to stop putting themselves on the back burner, and start paying attention to caring for themselves first, so they can be better for everyone else in their lives. I know you' ll be inspired by the stories of resiliency and starting over, of health and self-healing, of gaining clarity through journaling, of showing self-love through world travel, and the list goes on. I encourage you to relax and enjoy. I'm your host Peggie Kirkland, PK. 

 Peggie Kirkland  00:46

Today I'm delighted to welcome to the show, Becca ribbing. Becca helps women who are stuck, and trying to figure out what to do next, by helping them gain clarity in their lives. No wonder She's the author of The Clarity Journal, and has been a career coach for over a decade. So if you are, or have ever been in a situation where you find yourself going around in circles, unable to accomplish what you have in mind, you want to hear what Becca has to share. Welcome to the show. Becca, it's great to have you here today.

 Becca Ribbing  01:26

Thank you so much. I've been really looking forward to this.

 Peggie Kirkland  01:29

So Becca, what can you share about your background that would help my listening audience get to know who Becca Ribbing really is? Like, where did you grow up? What's your educational background? How did you get into career coaching? That kind of thing.

 Becca Ribbing  01:46

That's such a great question. I love the depth of it. I grew up in a lot of different places. My parents around a lot. And it's funny, because when I tell people that, they immediately assume I grew up military, but it's more that I grew up with hippies that didn't like staying in one place. So, it's the opposite background. And, my educational background is in college I did what everyone does in college, you think you know, everything you study one thing, I particularly focused on Chinese studies and International Economic Policy, and you get out into the workforce, and you think you know what you're gonna do; you're so certain. And, I didn't like it. It wasn't really for me. I landed a job that was kind of related, but wasn't truly what I wanted. 

 Becca Ribbing  02:42

And as I was going through trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I did a lot of research and a lot of reading, and I started helping my friends in the same transition. You know, I was in my mid 20s, and as I'm helping them with their transitions, and helping them find jobs that bring them more satisfaction, I discovered that I really liked coaching. And so that's how I got into coaching. I really love it, because I love working with people through the evolution of their life. Some people I've worked with for over a decade; they'll come back to me every time they want to get a new job. And I work with people of all ages, really because we all run into this period of time where we get stuck trying to figure out what we want to do next. And when we stay stuck for too long, it becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy;  it's really hard to get ourselves the momentum, we need to be able to break through to the next step. 

 Becca Ribbing  03:47

And we all go through these cycles of wanting something new, like having kind of completed one job, having really hit the point where we need another job, we need a promotion, we need to have a new challenge because we're all learning and growing all the time. So it's funny because I think a lot of times people feel like, I'm gonna figure out what I'm going to do with my life. And that's gonna be it. And as your listeners know, because they're wise, you really hit the point where you're going to be changing and growing every couple of years because that's what we do. We always want like a new creative challenge. 

 Peggie Kirkland  04:27

I have to back up just a little bit. When you talked about growing up with hippies, I'm sure my listening audience ... their curiosity must be piqued as mine is because I'm curious to know what that meant for you growing up, and what kind of impact that might have had on your adult life.

 Becca Ribbing: 04:47

Oh, so they were funny hippies because they definitely were hippies at one point. By the time I came around, they were calmer like my dad found religion, and was no longer actively doing drugs. But he definitely spent a period of time in his 20s, a long period of time in his 20s, where they lived for a while on the cruise boats up in Maine. They'd take these funny, odd jobs all around the country; when I was a kid, they weren't doing that as much, that sort of thing anymore. But they just had this wanderlust. And they were also in their 20s, and they didn't have a ton of money, so that wanderlust meant that every couple years we'd up and move because something else sounded interesting. I think that what it really was, is they always wanted to go back to California, and they never felt like they should raise kids in California, and so they're always trying to find a place outside of California that was like California.

 Peggie Kirkland  05:50

So how do you think that impacted your own life as an adult?

 Becca Ribbing: 05:55

I think it's given me an ability to laugh at myself that some people have a harder time with because I don't think my parents ever took themselves too seriously. I think that they had plenty of issues. But those issues weren't the same as some other parent who would be really strict. I had no rules when I was growing up.  My rule in high school, I remember very distinctly, my dad telling me at one point, don't get caught. And I don't even know what it was in relationship to. But like it definitely gave me a healthy sense  it being okay to be a rule-breaker. It being okay not to follow just the generic path. And I think that I have literally never been asked this question, but now that I'm articulating it, I think it actually helps me in my coaching, because I can help people break the rules that they've created for themselves, or that they've subconsciously taken on from their friends and family.

 Peggie Kirkland  07:02

I want to explore not getting caugh.   In your own mind, what did that mean to you, when dad said, Don't get caught? What did that mean to you?

 Becca Ribbing  07:11

I was a pretty good kid. So I think it probably meant something different to me than the kid that would have been told that if they were getting into a lot of trouble. But I think that for me, it meant to be smart. I know where the boundaries were, and know kind of how to play the game, and be able to not get caught doing whatever I'm doing. Like if I am bending the rules. 

 Becca Ribbing  07:36

A good example of this is actually, when I was a freshman in high school, a kid who was a year older than me, got caught skipping school because he had attendance letters from his mom. And then he also if he skipped school, he would write attendance letters, like signing his mom's name. And it was obvious that it was two completely different people. That's how he got caught. So when I started high school, whenever I'd skip, I'd get my mom to write me a real letter. But whenever I didn't skip, whenever I had like a doctor's appointment or something, I'd have my mom write me a real letter. But if I was skipping, I always signed my dad's name. So that way, like they wouldn't actually ever have my dad's name on file.

 Peggie Kirkland  08:24

You really took that to heart.

 Becca Ribbing  08:26

I took it to heart, little bit. I have never told that story before.

 Peggie Kirkland  08:31

 Ah, well, would your dad be able to hear this? Is your dad still alive?

 Becca Ribbing  08:37

He's still alive. If he heard this, 

 Peggie Kirkland  08:39

That's great.

 Becca Ribbing  08:39

He'd probably laugh.

 Peggie Kirkland  08:43

Now has that kind of "freedom" in quotation marks? Do you find that that has sort of made its way into your own child-rearing?

 Becca Ribbing  08:57

In a lot of ways? Yes. I think that with my own children, I'm probably a little stricter than my parents were. When I was 15, my best friend was a 17 year-old kid, 17 year-old boy with a car, and we used to stay out till three o'clock at night. So, I don't know that I'd be able to do that without like being nervous about it, to say the least. But I do really encourage my kids to test their limits in healthy ways. And, I think that our current parenting culture is so like worried about keeping kids safe, and I do definitely worry about keeping my kids safe. 

 Becca Ribbing  09:41

But I also spend a lot of time trying to make sure that I maximize whatever freedom they can have within the confines of safety, and also make sure that they are pushing themselves. And I think that, sadly, that's not as popular because people just don't have the time. Everyone's so subscribed. And it's hard not to be.  You know, if you work and you have kids, and you're in the middle of a pandemic, and everything feels like it could fall apart at any given time, it's hard not to over subscribe them. But I think that it's really important to have that freedom at every stage of your life, to be able to really have time to explore yourself.

 Peggie Kirkland  10:27

So I'm glad you mentioned the pandemic, and all of that, because we're at the point now where schools have reopened, and so parents have to try to regroup from more than a year of homeschooling, while working from home, being cooped up with spouses, the children, the pets, what advice would you offer to parents who are still struggling with the after-effects of having that kind of situation at home, but they have a desire to do something other than whatever they've been engaged in? In other words, they have become what you might call stuck. What advice can you have for those parents?

 Becca Ribbing  11:20

I think the first step is actually recognizing it. I think that we've been so stuck, literally, and figuratively, for so long, because of the pandemic, that it's easy to allow yourself to forget that, you know, we are coming gradually, slowly back into normal life. And you put yourself on hold because of a traumatic situation.  You've put yourself on hold, because you had to, like you had to get the kids through this, you had to get yourself through this, we all just did the best we could. 

 Becca Ribbing  11:58

And now it's time to really recognize that if you're going to like to move through it and out of it, you really need to make sure you're taking back control for yourself, and just start exploring, what does that mean for you? Do you like your job? Are you happy in your job? Is your job treating you respectfully? are they treating you, like you have value. Do you think that, especially for women, I just hear over and over again, that their job does not value them. And that you're they're not getting the promotions they want. 

 Becca Ribbing  12:35

Oftentimes they feel stuck. But a lot of that "stuckness" is external, and they're hoping that those external situations will change. And I'd invite you to really think about how you can change the situation, so that you are not just reacting to it, whether that is job searching, whether that is reaching out to other people within the company, whatever it is, if it's reaching out to people in different industries, to see if those industries resonate more with you. It's really important to get back on the horse, so to speak to like, stop with the crutch of just trying to get through us and start allowing yourself to expand again

 Peggie Kirkland  13:16

Are there times when pushing through isn't the solution to being stuck? Or if you're trying to complete a project, and you know how they say," Well, oh, you can make this happen, just push through." Are there times when that is really not the solution?

 Becca Ribbing  13:35

I actually think that it's never the solution. I'm really a big believer in mindfulness. And I think that when we learn mindfulness in the US, we often focus on the end goal. The end goal is to have your mind be completely empty. But that misses the whole first step of really being aware of what's going on within you, around you, within your body within your mind, and we Americanize it.  We push all those things away. We try not to even acknowledge them, and just get to the next stage, which is like a blank mind. And I think willpower and pushing through is somewhat similar. We just want the end goal, the end result. And so we don't do the inner work. We don't do the noticing of what's going on with us. 

 Becca Ribbing  14:29

And so when we push through, oftentimes one of two things will happen you'll do it and you'll be able to do it but you will exhaust yourself and you'll probably end up in a place that continues to exhaust you because you weren't really listening to your own intuition. Or you end up procrastinating because when you're trying to push through on something and you're not clear on it, you don't have the clarity you need to really feel like you have energy towards it. Then every time you try to push through your brain is going to end up stopping you because your brain does not want to do needless work. Your brain is really smart. It  knows that if you aren't 100 percent clear on what you are doing going forward, then the work that you are about to try to do, it very well may be useless. 

 Becca Ribbing  15:20

Like, you know, if you haven't decided what it is you want for a career, then I run into this a lot. So if you haven't really decided what job you want, you spend six months writing a resume because you're changing it and crossing things out all the time. And by the time you get there in six months, it's a Frankenstein resume, because you've gone through so many iterations of it. And I feel like a lot of times we ignore that first step of really gaining clarity. And that is not to say that once you have clarity that you'll never have fear. That's not to say that once you have clarity, you'll never procrastinate because there's still starting friction. Like once you actually decide, it's still something new and something scary. 

 Becca Ribbing  16:04

We often procrastinate when we aren't feeling very confident in the skills that we need to use, and you're never gonna feel confident when you're first starting something, and most of us don't job search enough for us to be confident in it. It's kind of like taxes, right? Like we do taxes once a year; we're not CPAs. So every year we have to relearn it. Every time we do a job search, we have to relearn it. The job search principles from 10 years ago have been completely thrown out the door, the window. Like every time I hear someone tell me that .. like they needed to keep their they've had a really full rich 20-year career, and yet they need to keep their resume to one page, when they're not even pages. They're literally not physical pages; they're not giving physical paper to anyone. 

 Becca Ribbing  16:55

It's just so funny because it's it shoots them in the foot, because now you can't get anyone to look at your resume unless you have a ton of keywords that match with the job. And so if you keep yourself to one page, then you are inherently going to have only a third of the keywords that someone with a three page resume has. And people still like just cling to that rule. Every time I tell them, they can stop clinging to it it's like a lightbulb goes off. Oh, well, now I can just be me and free on this paper but it's still hard. But we put ourselves in this box, like on so many different levels of like trying to make, not trying to make ourselves smaller, but in actuality, making ourselves smaller.

 Peggie Kirkland  17:43

That makes me wonder, are there patterns that we tend to go back to in this process that really keeps us in that box, but we're not even recognizing that we have a particular pattern when we get to a roadblock? 

 Becca Ribbing  18:02

Well, I think that there are some very major patterns that kind of shift as we age. So if I know that your audience tends to be like 40 on. And I would say people in their early mid/late 40s and 50s know, they still have kids at home; they're still worrying about college applications or worrying about getting their kids to different soccer practices and stuff. Like they still are oversubscribed. And so they are very used to just trying to keep it all together; trying to get through this day, to move on to the next day and don't have the space for themselves to really figure out what it is they want. Like they're so focused on kids and spouses and just all of this. And they're doing so much emotional labor that they don't have space to do the emotional labor for themselves. 

 Becca Ribbing  19:06

And then, you know, you get older and you become an empty-nester. And you may be you go through a divorce, and all of a sudden, you have so much time to yourself, and you're so used to putting yourself aside that I see it being very uncomfortable for people. It's like okay, well now what? Like, and even if you didn't have kids, I run into time and time again, women who have put their careers on hold over and over again, for husbands who needed to move for their career, for husbands... for various reasons, like why they couldn't put their career first.

 Becca Ribbing  19:44

And then all of a sudden, you know, you hit 55, 60, 65, and it's really hard when you've hit that age, and you haven't put yourself first, to then say, "Okay, well I have 10 years left. I need to put myself first now."  If it hasn't been a habit all along, it makes women very uncomfortable. And so a lot of my work with older women is that permission-giving, but it's not easy. I mean, I think I've worked with permission-giving along a continuum. I mean, I work with permission-giving with 22 year-olds. But it looks different at each step of the way. And it's really important to recognize that this is a societal pattern and a societal problem. And if you allow yourself to get stuck in it, then you're just going to kind of ride that wave, instead of taking control of your own life.

 Peggie Kirkland  20:45

I had to take a breath there, on the permission-giving, because I'm definitely one of those women who has to give myself permission, having grown up in an environment in which I watched my mother sacrifice, and that was your badge of honor. You sacrificed for your children, you didn't do any over-the-top spending. And you just made sure that your children came first and, of course, your spouse. And so of course, these are the kinds of things that growing up, you sort of observe, and then it becomes part of your own pattern. And so yes, that giving permission is something that I'm working on and struggling with almost every day, just in terms of going out and being, I don't know, not as thrifty, let's say, observing something and saying, "I'll come back and get it."  So I've learned to strike the iron while it's hot, and just get it but it really is not automatic. It's something that the more you do it, the better and the easier it is for you. So yeah, I'm sure the audience can relate to that. 

 Peggie Kirkland  22:03

I'm also wondering, I love this phrase that you used "emotional labor." And I'm wondering whether the inner self-critic and negative self-talk, what role they play in advancing that emotional labor?

 Becca Ribbing  22:23

Oh, I think it plays a huge role. I've never thought about it this way. But when you think about it, a lot of the emotional labor isn't fun. You know, setting up summer camps for your kids isn't really fun. going grocery shopping. I don't know it's not fun for me. I'm sure it's fun for someone.

 Peggie Kirkland  22:46

I tell you. I hate to say it, but right now, it's less fun than it's ever been. 

 Peggie Kirkland  22:50

And yes,I'm right now it is definitely less fun than it's ever been. And so we are trying to constantly test ourselves to do way more than 50 percent of this grunt work. And, likeas you pointed out, like you're supposed to also be like focusing on your spouse's happiness. So you're not supposed to complain about it. You're supposed to be I mean, yeah, I think of all of those 1950s sitcoms, where like they'd have to actually put on makeup before their husband came home. It's actually mind boggling to me like... that ... anyone could put themselves through so many contortions to try to please another person. And, you know, I, both of my grandmother's, were fairly unhappy in their married life. It doesn't surprise me at all, because they were set up to fail. And then it but that's generational, right? Like, each generation, like we're gonna do it differently, but they didn't. It's not so different, like, the men didn't learn much differently. Like, I still struggle with this with my husband, and I'm in my 40s. You know, it's, it's really hard to do that amount of emotional labor and then have enough willpower to go forth and do the things you actually want to do. 

 Peggie Kirkland  24:17

Is it any wonder then, that we get stuck and need help getting unstuck? And I believe the clarity journal can help women to do that. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Becca Ribbing  24:31

The Clarity Journal came forth, when I was really trying to get back into work. After my second son. My second son had a lot of medical challenges, and he's wonderful and sweet and kind, but he was in a lot of pain because of a lot, a lot of ear infections, and I had to take off a lot of work. And as I was getting back into feeling a little bit more, like I was getting my life back he was . I was going through with a friend and trying to figure out what I wanted the next iteration to look like. I had spent two years really just putting out fires. As I was talking to her, she stopped me. And she said, Becca, you're a coach, what would you tell yourself? And that was both the most loving and most annoying question. 

 Peggie Kirkland  25:17

I could imagine. Yes. 

 Becca Ribbing  25:21

And so I went, and I just wrote out every prompt I could think of that I use with my clients. And as I was writing out the prompts, and then going back and responding to them, I realized just how useful it is to be asked the questions. And it's not always that a coach needs to ask them, it's that you need to be able to ask them of yourself, and really sit down with them and answer them. 

 Becca Ribbing  25:45

And so, as I was going through that, what really came to me is that I had let go of my writing after I got pregnant with my second kid, because we moved, and then he had all the medical issues, and it just, I needed to get back to myself. And so,I ended up deciding to make that my first project, and it took a lot longer than I thought it would, because your first book always takes a long time. But, you know, you stick with it. And now I have a book out. And it's really wonderful to hear people tell me, "Oh, I love this question. This question made me really stop and think, or, you know, like, I haven't been giving myself permission to do the things I want to do, and your book really helped me kind of get back to myself."  And I just love that because we don't always have time or money to pay a coach or to go to therapy or whatever, like whatever you would do to help get yourself unstuck. But we do have enough time to sit down once a week with a prompt or two, to just start getting the juices flowing about what is next for us.

 Peggie Kirkland  26:59

Well, kudos to you on the publication of The Clarity Journal. Congratulations. I'm curious about whether there is a particular benefit to writing or journaling versus answering the prompts, you know, just out loud and letting it go. 

 Becca Ribbing  27:19

I think you tend to do it deeper if you journal, but I think some people are verbal, I didn't even think of this. But if you sat down with a friend and did the prompts together verbally, that probably could really help if you're not someone who likes to write. But I think that also just committing on paper, helps you move forward with more momentum. I think that it's just in your head. You're not making quite as much of a commitment to yourself. And I think physically writing it down on paper is more useful if we're as we're talking about putting yourself first more, like really recognizing your own needs. And it's a little too easy when you're just in your head to allow the naysayer in your mind to be like, "Oh, I shouldn't want that. I shouldn't want that. I can do that in three years once the kids are a little older or what not."

 Peggie Kirkland  28:14

So putting it on paper... Is that what you would say... You said that it helps you move forward with momentum. But would you take that a step further and say that that's what would lead to what you call sustainable momentum.

 Becca Ribbing  28:29

I do think that that leads to sustainable momentum, especially if you can commit to revisiting it when you get stuck so that you know your why I think there's a great book called, Start With Why. And I think that knowing your why really makes it easier to get back on the horse after if you fall off. We all are going to have periods that, you know life throws us curveballs and we don't continue through. It took me four years to get the clarity journal out. I mean, every author you ever hear like their first book took forever, but so many things that are worth doing take longer than we think they're going to. And it's that persistence, and that commitment, there really help you get through, you know, a pandemic or get back on the horse after something major that goes on in your life.

 Peggie Kirkland  29:24

Okay, well, Becca, we're about to wrap up our interview. And so my final question to you is, if there were just one thing that you wanted listeners to know and remember from our time together, what would that be?

 Becca Ribbing  29:43

It's not too late now. And you are going to be happier with yourself if you do it now.

 Peggie Kirkland  29:49

That's awesome. Well, Becca, I want to say thank you so much for taking the time to share this wisdom with myself and my listeners. I think that there's so many points here and gems as we like to say that they can take away and use in their own lives. Thank you so much. 

 Becca Ribbing  30:11

Thank you so much.

 Peggie Kirkland  30:12

Now if listeners want to get in touch with you or to work with you, how can they do that?

 Becca Ribbing  30:20

They can find me at So that's B-e-c-c-a R-i-b-b-i-n-g.  And they can also find The Clarity Journal on Amazon.

 Peggie Kirkland  30:22

Okay, and all of that information will of course be in the Show Notes. Thanks again, Becca. 

 Becca Ribbing  30:40

Thank you. 

 Peggie Kirkland  30:44

If you've been inspired and encouraged by the positive messages in today's show, please take a moment to rate and review the show on Apple podcast. This will help to keep the show alive. And remember, sharing is caring. So don't forget to share these gems with friends and family, strangers too if you like.  Let them know it's available wherever they listen to their podcasts. I'm counting on you to share the love. Until next time, this is PK sending you much light and a whole lot of love.