How “Spotlighting” Derails Improving Your Personal Image

You attend a conference or read an article or talk to a friend, and you are READY for improving your personal image!  But then, you start “spotlighting” (I’ll get to that in a minute) the situation and next thing you know, you never act. Instead, you continue to flutter from one impulse purchase to another. Feel demoralized when you walk into your closet. Struggle with your sense of self confidence.

We’ve all done this to one initiative or another in life; I am guilty of it just as much as anyone else. Any kind of new project or transition requires an investment on a number of levels. It requires an investment of time, money, and emotional buy in. The payoff can be enormous. My clients tell me stories of improving career opportunities and pay raises, attracting attention from possible mates, reducing anxiety, saving money, and even elevating a sense of self-worth and self-love. So how do we go from “Let’s do this!” to “It just didn’t happen…” so easily?


Last week, I attended an eWomen Network conference in Houston with founder and CEO Sandra Yancy as the featured guest speaker.  She focused on her “RISE” philosophy and practice to help women achieve personal and professional success.  One of the things Sandra mentioned as an inhibitor to success is a habit of “spotlighting” away our call to action.


Sandra Yancy speaking in Houston

Think of a theatrical play and how the lights will dim and a spotlight suddenly shines on one character during a monologue. Visually, the rest of the cast and scene become almost invisible. The big picture disappears as one actor consumes us. This is a form of spotlighting.

Hunters will shine a spotlight on an animal in an attempt to blind or confuse, resulting in the target freezing long enough for the hunter to shoot it. The animal’s inability to act quickly (which it would otherwise do when sensing danger) ends in tragedy. This, too, is a form of spotlighting.

As Sandra puts it from a contextual perspective, we tend to spotlight ourselves out of acting upon something we know we want to should do. We become confused or focus on one detail that distracts us from getting the job done or seeing the big picture.

Examples of Spotlighting Your Intentional Makeover

After years of chatting with women (friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances), I’m no stranger to identifying spotlighting.  I just never had a term for expressing it. Thanks to Sandra for introducing it to my vocabulary!  Traditionally, people call them “excuses,” but things that pop up in the spotlight are concerns that appear in my daily life, too. I call them activities. The problem is when these activities sabotage the future realities or goals that you want to achieve.   It’s a matter of perspective and priorities.

Here are common arguments image consultants like me (and mentors/coaches/doctors/therapists) hear on a regular basis from women who are spotlighting:

“The program costs money that can go toward sending my kids to camp.”

“I just don’t have the time.”

“I am waiting until I ______.” (Fill in the blank with things like “lose weight,” “get a new job,” “kids are out of school.”)

To show that I’m a victim of this derailment, let me share with you how I spotlighted the hell out of my e-book “The Intentional Makeover: 5 Ways to Create Your Signature Style That Says Who You Are and Where You’re Going.The end goal for writing a book was to enable more women to improve their self image through an affordable resource that’s available anytime, anywhere.  I started writing it two years ago. My objective was to make it short (less than 60 pages), easy to follow, and perform like a workbook so that people can write in to track their thoughts and progress.


With all the spotlighting I did in the past two years, it’s a miracle the thing is seeing the light of day. SheSpark transitioned from a PDF publication to a full web site, so the book took a back seat to getting that launched. Then there were clients to work with, workshops to attend, articles to write for SheSpark and my personal blog. My kiddo’s soccer games, date night, concerts, networking events.  These things continuously edged out the book’s progress.  And while we all have multiple “roles” we play in this life, we need to stay in touch with the end game. Unfortunately, my goal of enabling more women to improve their self image in an affordable and easy-to-access way got lost.  I could no longer see the forest through the trees.

I finally motivated and finished the final draft in January. Then, I got caught up in my TEDx Talk. And you can’t launch an e-book without formatting it for Kindle and ePub.  So, I took the initiative to hire specialists in that area, but my response time was slow as other activities bogged me down. Then, I thought I couldn’t launch it without a MAJOR campaign so it could be an best seller.  Of course, this was just another way of spotlighting.  At this point, the e-book was sitting around and not helping anyone.  WHAT A WASTE!

After a proverbial kick in the pants by Sandra Yancy, I decided to put it out there in PDF format. As Mark Zuckerberg so wisely said, “Better done than perfect.” While a writer never thinks their work is complete, it’s time to let this book start doing it’s job. Click here to learn more about it and order a copy.

How To Turn Off The Spotlight

That’s the catch, right?  Again, initiating just about any change requires three types of investment:  time, money, and emotional buy-in.  Those common arguments listed above derail people all the time.  Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to stay on track and improve your personal self image or any Big Goal:

  1.  Does activity A, B, or C get me closer to my Big Goal? If not, how can I delegate it, hire a specialist to do it, or knock it off the list?
  2. Am I leading by example?  If you have employees, colleagues, friends, or kiddos who look to you for guidance or support, are you walking the talk? They are watching and taking note. If you tell others to take care of themselves, then it’s time to treat yourself the same way.
  3. Am I spending my money where I get maximum return? Back to the earlier argument, I know kids who will go to camp no matter how their parents spend money. This down time is a priority so parents can relax and work on their own well being — that’s maximum return. It’s a great time to invest in yourself, so try cutting other expenditures. Like trading in the daily Caffe Latté  Venti that costs $4.15 per cup for a home-brewed (or office) cup of joe.  That is $1,514.75 per year in savings. Make an appointment with me or another specialist who can help you look and feel better so you can achieve your Big Goal.

This may sound like a pitch to buy my services (and to some extent it is). More than anything, it’s a call to get rid of the distractions that keep you from achieving your goals. Turn off the spotlight and start walking in the sun.  If you want to start with your visual messaging/personal image, I’m here to help.


5 Responses to How “Spotlighting” Derails Improving Your Personal Image

  1. Rachel May 26, 2018 at 12:35 pm #

    What an interesting post! I’m all too familiar with the concept of spotlighting, so will try and use your ideas to stop doing it.

  2. Evelyn, PathofPresence May 25, 2018 at 9:52 pm #

    What occurs to me is that spotlighting is another form of analysis paralysis – performance anxiety in slow mo. Your tips to get ourselves out of the way are not just guidelines, they are empowering. Thanks!

  3. Kim B Smith May 24, 2018 at 5:38 pm #

    Great post, Thea! Better done than perfect. So many women say, I don’t have time…and so many other excuses. It really saddens me to hear this. When we place our hearts into it we can do anything. Better done than perfect with a load of crappy excuses to go.

  4. KATE BATTEN May 24, 2018 at 8:05 am #

    Books are such a powerful way to position you as an expert in your field, and such a huge platform builder. Writing a book was the best thing I ever did, and then I didn’t stop. 19 best selling books later I am still going, go for it girl!! You have got this!

    • Thea Wood June 21, 2018 at 1:26 pm #

      19 best selling books? That’s amazing!

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