We had the good fortune of connecting with Kirsten Parker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kirsten, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I’m like a lot of my clients: My anxious overthinking brain has spent a lot of time and energy in what I call Pre-Regret. We can get so stressed about decisions today by viscerally imagining how unhappy and disappointed we’ll be in the future, if those decisions turn out to be “wrong.” I hear this so much from people, and it’s a huge reason we wait for months and years to make the changes we want.
What’s made the difference for me, and what I teach people now, are two main things: One is learning to treat myself differently. If you’re in the habit of beating yourself up every time you encounter a surprise, make a mistake or feel an unpleasant emotion…you’ve built a strong argument to avoid those things, even if it comes at the cost of your highest happiness!
Our animal brain would much rather sacrifice tomorrow’s fulfillment for today’s comfort. And it wants to avoid discomfort tomorrow, too. Which is why it guides you to stay where you are and take as few risks as possible – so you can escape all that crappy feeling self-judgment it thinks you’re in for if plans go sideways!
And that’s game-changer #2: Deciding how you want to think about risk. It’s so important to acknowledge that your default thoughts aren’t necessarily true – that you might not even agree with them if you look at them closely. Our brains are risk-averse by nature, so it’s natural that immediate reactions to bold ideas are “Don’t! Turn away!” You don’t have to take that reaction at face value, though. You can recognize “Ok, I know what’s happening here. I obviously am trying to protect myself from failure and danger. So let’s decide how much danger there really is, and then decide how much risk I’m really up for!”
These two ingredients, self-trust and an intentional perspective on risk, are what’s allowed me to let go of so much fear about the “worst case scenarios” my brain loves to catastrophize. Learning to trust that I won’t beat myself up, even if I fail; that I can solve any problem I need to; that I’ll stay on my own team no matter what. That mindset has helped me decide what risks are worth it, and what’s really “at risk” or not overall!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I help overthinkers un-busy their brains so they can focus on what matters. We coach one-on-one, where you strategically change mental and behavioral habits, and create an intentional, positive self-concept. I.e. “I’m a professional writer who follows through on what he says he’ll do” or “I’m a person who trusts herself no matter what and prioritizes my happiness over others’ opinions.”
I got into this business because I didn’t have any of that! I had crappy habits that ran my life, and my self-concept was neither intentional nor positive. I had a “high-achievement life” that wasn’t fulfilling, purpose-filled or peaceful. And despite a Masters Degree from Yale and a career trajectory with momentum, most of my bandwidth was consumed by anxious overwhelm about what I wasn’t doing and how to “choose right” for what was next.
In a nutshell, I was successful on paper, but I wasn’t thriving. And every year I DIDN’T change my life, I felt more behind.
But when I learned to manage my mind & emotions, they stopped taking over & creating exhausting internal chaos
When I learned how to make decisions in a better way, I was able to create MASSIVE, measurable changes in my life (read: health, income, mental clarity)
When I learned how remove the DRAMA of procrastination, indecision & anxiety from the process of pursuing a goal, I learned how to balance enjoyment of the present with an ambitious focus on the future.
When I decided to get coaching and really invest in myself, this is what happened: I did a 180-career change, built a six-figure business from scratch, discovered my Zone of Genius (what a fun place to hang out!), committed to living a life of meaningful impact & PLAYFUL JOY, and found my absolute dream man.
And I calmed-the-heck-down enough to enjoy it. Not 100% of the time (still a human), but one of the biggest lessons, which I help all my clients internalize too, is that *humaning* does not have to be a problem in they way of our happiness & success. It can actually be part of the plan, and we can keep going.
I promise, even if you’ve been overthinking yourself into a corner for decades, you can absolutely still feel how you want to feel, let go of habits you don’t want to take with you into the next chapter, and make the meaningful progress you know you’re capable of!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Eat: Sasabune for sushi, Osteria Mama for Italian, Loupiotte Kitchen for brunch, Town for pizza, Fiore Market Cafe for sandwiches (and midday outdoor jazz), and Coffee Commissary & Little Flower for caffeine & snacks!
Drink: Big Bar at Alcove, The Langham in Pasadena, the Eataly rooftop
Hike: Griffith Observatory (with a stop at Trails Cafe), Lake Hollywood, Malibu Labyrinth and Temescal Canyon (with the offshoot to Skull Rock)
Visit: Barnsdall Art Park, Venice Canals, LA Zoo, Descanso Gardens
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Winn Clark! She was the first coach I worked with long-term, one-on-one, and she was a model of what she taught. You can create the life you want, on your terms, and it can involve a ton of doubt and discomfort along the way. She helped me accept that those very human thoughts & feelings would just be a part of the journey, and that it didn’t have to be a problem. That you’re not “doing it wrong” if you’re not completely calm and confident 100% of the time. That you don’t have to worry about “doing it wrong” while others are getting it right. We can feel fear, and we can keep going.
Other: Free 5-Day Overthinkers Bootcamp: Un-busy your Brain! https://www.kirstenparker.com/bootcamp