May I introduce you to Wendy de Jong. I’m absolutely thrilled to be hosting a series of blogs celebrating female entrepreneurs who are simply thriving. It’s my aim to bring you a varied range of stories featuring women who are living life on their own terms and shunning the idea that life has to take a back seat when you run your own business. Although these women will share their tips and advice, I hope this blog series also inspires you to do things your way – to carve your own path. Click here to see the first interview and to read a full explanation of what a Simply Thriving Entrepreneur is.
Wendy de Jong
Wendy is the curator and coach behind Ditch Perfect – she’s passionate about helping people take imperfect action before they’re “ready” and get out of their own way so they can achieve their goals. I love how Wendy showcases doing things in a way that works for her in her own life, thereby giving her clients and audience permission to make their own rules too. Wendy shares the science behind perfectionism, as well as her own vast knowledge and each of her posts on Instagram packs a serious punch! Read on to find out more about Wendy…
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
Hi there! Wendy here, a slow living-obsessed, beach-loving perfectionism coach living in The Netherlands. I’m a recovering perfectionist myself, a book-oholic and a homemade pizza aficionado. Driving around in my bright red convertible car is my latest guilty pleasure.
I run a coaching business, online resource, and community called Ditch Perfect.
After struggling with perfectionism from a young age and not finding the resources to help me deal with it, I decided to do the research and experiment my way through my own perfectionism issues.
What I’ve learned along the way is that you don’t need to be perfect to thrive in your work or in your life. In fact, true thriving begins when you LET GO of perfect.
That’s why I’ve made it my mission to help creative women embrace their perfectly imperfect selves, prioritise a simple and should-free creative work and life + finally take action on the big ideas they’ve been pressing pause on for a long time.
All around me I saw so many women struggling with perfectionism. I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I went through: feeling very alone because I couldn’t find any resources to help me out. I felt like Ditch Perfect could be that resource.
But here’s the truth. I call myself a recovering perfectionist and being in recovery is an ongoing process and an everyday practice. As such, I had to – as Brené Brown would say – step into the arena. I’m deep down in the trenches, right alongside my community.
When I share my story, when I’m open about my struggles, when I share my many imperfect moments, I’m (hopefully) empowering many other recovering perfectionists along the way too.
How do you plan your day/week?
I have a bit of a confession to make: I’m not a big planner. Most of my week is structured for me, because of my part-time day job.
Taking a little detour here, because it’s the one thing we don’t talk about in creative business: having a day job aside from running a creative business. It’s still a taboo. When it comes to creative business we’re only shown the perfect picture: running it full-time (or at least having the desire to do so + working towards that goal) and making six figures while we’re at it.
Hopefully, by sharing about my situation, I can add a different voice to the mix. A voice that gives you permission to do things your way + on your terms too.
So what this means for my week is that I have “day job days” on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my “Ditch Perfect days” where I spend most of my time working with my lovely coaching clients.
What does success look like to you?
Success to me looks like prioritising a slow, simple, should-free life.
If there’s anything the last few years of dealing with chronic illness and a mental health crisis have taught me is how to ditch the should’s + firmly live from my heart.
You see, I used to be a head-person. Even my work of teaching creative women how to overcome their perfectionism came from reason, rationale, research, facts + frameworks.
But chronic illness doesn’t care about reason and facts and all the knowledge I’ve collected along the way. Dealing with chronic illness is about wisdom, managing feelings and emotions, acceptance of limitations + making the best of the cards you’re dealt.
Think about it, all of your life you’ve been told, shown + modelled one way of doing life. We all know which blueprint for success I’m talking about. Getting straight A’s in school. Going off to uni. Landing a top notch job or starting a top notch business. Making a career for yourself. Buying a house. Getting married. Having kids…
But for many of us, that’s not the blueprint we see working for our own lives.
There comes a time when you wake up and realise you don’t fit into that mold. It doesn’t work. You want something different.
So here’s my permission slip for you: only you get to decide what success looks like for you. You can live life according to your own rules. You’re allowed to prioritise your own values. And you absolutely can do what you love + what gives you energy.
What does self-care mean to you, and how is that reflected in your life?
First of all, watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns while munching on a homemade pizza is always a good idea.
I also believe that self-care, REAL self-care, is about doing the deep inner work of recognising my coping mechanisms, limiting beliefs, and self-sabotaging behaviours + learning to move past them.
And, oh boy, is this a struggle for me!
I see other people do amazing things online and in creeps the comparison monster telling me that who I am and what I have to share isn’t good enough.
In the past I’ve let this turn into procrastination and me staying firm in my comfort zone, but what I’ve learned over the years is that the only way to move through comparison is to face the fear and show up as myself anyway.
I’ve learned to tone down my inner critic and tell myself that who I am and what I have to share is good enough. Who I am and what I do matters. I’ve learned that my imperfections make me authentic and relatable and my work meaningful.
Looking back, is there anything you would you change about your first year in business?
Whenever we start something new, there’s a tendency to want to learn everything there is to know. The actual “putting it into action”-part gets snowed under.
It’s what happened when I started getting interested in personal growth. I probably read the entire self-development section of my local library, without actually doing the work of bettering myself.
I see the same dynamics happening in the online business world.
It’s what happened to me + what a lot of my clients talk about as well:
- you get stuck in the reading and learning about all the marketing and business stuff + not actually following through with action and implementation;
- you look to others to tell you what to do because you think you’re a ‘beginner’ + you consider them to be ‘experts’;
- and you start down the path of creating habits of not listening to yourself and your needs + not trusting that you know what’s best and that you got the answers.
So… if I could get a do-over, I would get really intentional about cultivating self-trust by staying close to my values, priorities, and needs + following that up with slow, steady, and imperfect action.
What boundaries do you have in place regarding your work/life balance?
Some of the ‘traditional’ advice around the topic of work/life balance (“don’t work evenings!”, “protect your weekend!”) don’t really work for me.
My day job takes up a good portion of my time, so I do work in the evenings sometimes to check in on my clients, answer emails, or post on Instagram Stories. I use my Sundays sometimes to create and schedule an entire week’s worth of Instagram posts.
Having said that, I’m also committed to protecting my rest and down-time. I know Julia agrees with me on this one: rest is part of the work too.
So where the work/life balance comes into play for me is in ruthlessly prioritising the work that needs to be done. My client work always comes first and my marketing efforts focus mostly on Instagram. I’m not active on Facebook, Twitter, or Tiktok. I’ve stopped sending regular emails to my mailing list + encouraged them to hop over to Instagram. I’ve stopped creating new blog content + started promoting and repurposing the 75+ posts in my blog archives.
What’s the best and worst thing about working for yourself?
There were definitely things I loved about being a full-time creative business owner, but what I realised after a while is that I’m not the best, healthiest version of myself + I’m not able to do my best work when I have to rely solely on my business to provide a full-time income.
Taking on a day-job + having a steady income as a baseline has done wonders for my (mental) health and well-being.
I live with a chronic illness and mental health issues. I’ll be dealing with both of them for the rest of my life.
Over the past few years I’ve come to accept that this is the reality of my life and, instead of feeling defeated by my limitations, I’ve made the empowering decision to embrace my situation + use it as a foundation to build the life that’s right for me and that completely fits my needs, priorities, and values.
When I ran my own business full-time, there was hardly any structure in place. Or boundaries, for that matter. I worked and worked and worked and hardly did anything else or even left the house.
Something had to change
What’s important to add to the story is that I’m a complete introvert. When I’m alone, I thrive. Yet, I also long for deep connection and conversations.
What that looked like in my full-time business days (when I was selling digital infoproducts, like courses and ebooks), was that I was at home, sat on the couch with my laptop + hardly left the house. I had to leave the house once a week to buy a load of groceries. But other than that I saw no one + spoke to no one.
I noticed that my weekly chat with the checkout lady at the supermarket was my only social interaction. And that I was deeply lonely because of my lack of social interaction. I knew something had to change.
Having a day job brings structure to my days. I have to wake up at a certain time + start my job at a certain time. But, unlike earlier when I worked at all hours, I end my day job at a fixed time. That leaves me with a certain part of the day to work on content for Ditch Perfect.
My day job also adds that bit of human contact + social interaction that I was looking for back into my days. And through switching my business model from selling products to offering coaching services I also get to feel that deep connection and have those deep conversations I was longing for.
Please can you share a top tip for an overwhelmed entrepreneur
When you’re just getting started it’s so easy to get caught up in all the shiny stuff. But that’s a bit like picking out the paint colours and bathroom tiles before the house is even built.
My top tip would be to get your foundations in order first. Get really rooted in why you want to work for yourself. Why is this the work and the business you’ve chosen to do in the world?
Because in the moments when it gets tough, when it feels like you’ve got so many mountains ahead of you to climb, when you aren’t prepared for how challenging it is, when navigating all of the highs and lows that building your own business can bring feels exhausting and draining and scary… your why is what will keep you going.
Where can we find you online?
You can find out more about my work as a perfectionism coach + the resources for recovering perfectionists I mentioned earlier over at Ditch Perfect. (website link: https://www.ditchperfect.com)
Follow along with me on Instagram (link: https://www.instagram.com/ditchperfect) for empowering pep talks, actionable tips + lots of “yeeesss, same here!” conversations.