WINTER IS COMING

Some days it’s easier to trust in the Universe than others. Some days you wake up and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing everything is unfolding just as it should. Maybe there are a few variables or little things you’re nervous about, but overall you trust you are just where you need to be. You understand that the universe is benevolent. You know there is no need to worry; that what’s meant for you will not pass you by.

And some days you don’t. You panic. You get anxious. You start spinning your wheels like a hamster on Ritalin. You grasp and hoard and hedge your bets. This time it’s really too late. You’ve missed the boat and this is now the rest of your life. Sure life is beautiful, BUT IT’S ALSO PASSING US BY AND WHAT IF IT’S TOO LATE AND I’VE MISSED IT.

Those days can be really fun.

But why do we panic? Where does the stress come from? What happened today that is so much scarier than what happened yesterday? What was the ironclad evidence that happened today that proved this is as good as it gets so we should all panic?

Do you think trees panic in the winter when they lose their leaves? Do they think, “this is it! This will be the year that the leaves don’t grow back!” Do you think if a crop fails one year, a farmer just throws up their hands and says, “Well, that was a good run. I guess they’re never coming back.” Think of all the people that used to work at Friendster or MySpace (please tell me you get this reference). Do you think they just assumed that was the end of online profiles? Or, that they’d somehow made the wrong choice because they chose something that didn’t last forever?

Because, honestly, what is actually meant to last forever?

Maybe it helps to think of our lives like the seasons. Sometimes we’re in winter. The days gets shorter, the air gets colder, and it is guaranteed that everything will die, or sleep, or hibernate for a while. Maybe it will be a mild winter or a harsh one, but it will definitely be winter and it will definitely last for a certain period of time. And the thing about winter is that it is always followed by spring. Because spring always comes. Sure, winter might have been extra long this year, but spring did eventually show up. If our lives are cyclical, what if the only thing you had to do was place where you are in the cycle? Would it then be easier to accept where you are knowing it was temporary?

If we can trust that spring will always come, is there a reason to feel stressed? Yes, this year’s winter was really cold and there were a bunch of ice storms, so the power went out a lot, and then the basement flooded. There were probably times when we really and really felt like it would last forever.

But then one day it was fifty degrees. And then a bud popped up on a cherry tree. And sure there were still a few cold days sprinkled in here and there, but all of a sudden we were very clearly headed into spring.

It’s hard to feel stressed if we have trust. Real, true, honest-to-god trust. Trust that spring will come. Trust that is rooted in having no idea how this will all work out, but as long as we have the tiniest glimmer of spring in our hearts that is all we need. Because there are some times when trust feels a little easier because we can kind of-sort of-maybe-see how this might unfold. And then there are the times when you feel like you’re staring into the abyss. Where the abyss is endless winter you are absolutely sure that this time around there will be no spring.

So if you are panicking, stop. Take a breath. Are you in winter? If so, pause. There are things you can do in winter, but you can also only do so much. You can look at the seed catalog and buy some seeds, but you can’t plant anything because the ground is still frozen. So what can you do? And what can you actually not do? And are you making yourself crazy trying to do spring time activities in the dead of winter? Just trust. Spring is coming.

{Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/winter-is-coming/}

GO ALL IN | WHY IT’S VERY COOL TO TRY

If we are lucky, life will happen to us. If we are even luckier, it will be long, eventful and, maybe even relatively pain-free. So if we’re all operating under the assumption that we’re going to be here for a while, maybe we should make some plans for the time we’re here? If they don’t work, they don’t work, and we can pick some new ones. If they do work and they’re awesome, we’ll still probably have to pick some new ones. But, since it’s going to happen, why not try to make it something at least moderately enjoyable? Maybe you don’t know what those plans are yet, or maybe you have a slight inkling, but here are some tips that might help get the ball rolling.

1. It’s actually very cool to try. Trying is where all the good stuff is. We are here to be challenged and satisfied. Growth is interesting, plateauing is boring. Energy needs to shift and move; stagnancy is where we begin to suffocate. We’re not afraid of work, we’re worn out by busy work. We’re tired of working relentlessly on the wrong things. We don’t need work to be easy. We want to feel like we are helping, or doing something worthwhile, or feel like we’re accomplishing something, instead of just spinning our wheels. Work gets so much of our time and energy; of course, we’d rather spend it doing something we enjoy.

If you don’t know what that is yet, here’s a tip. Get very involved in whatever is in front of you. Even if you don’t love it, try harder. Care more about it. Even if you have to fake it for a while. Be more engaged with whatever it is you’re doing or the person you’re talking to, as challenging as it may seem. More engaged people enjoy things more. Even if it’s a little bit of a lie at first. Pretend like it’s interesting and that it matters, and soon it will be both.

2. Look forward to being bad at things. So many of my clients are afraid of being “bad” at things. I had one client who was so afraid of being bad at her job search and then be bad at her new job, she almost didn’t quit her job. She was afraid of all the things she assumed she didn’t know (and would therefore get wrong). She was almost willing to stay at the job she hated because she believed that she would be bad at the process of change. A process that, yes, might be hard and frustrating, but that is really hard to prove that you did it wrong. She was willing to hate her life for the next however many years rather than risk being bad at something. I mean, it’s scary. I can see her point. But is it really a way to live?

So, we started questioning her fear of being bad at something. What was the worst that could happen? Apparently, it was that she could make a mistake in front of everyone and then everyone would know she had made a mistake. Her credibility would be shot forever, and she may as well quit that job too. If her best friend or co-worker had done that (made a mistake), she would have thought they were being unnecessarily dramatic and basically insane, but yet if she did it, it was all true. She expected herself to be perfect at all times, no matter how much leeway she gave to others.

We thought of previous times in her life when she hadn’t known exactly how to do everything when she started but was able to figure it out over time and be successful over time. Turns out, she had a proven track record in her life of these exact circumstances. This was no different. She knew enough to get started and she would learn the rest as she went through the process because that’s what she had done before. And she did. She quit her job and started a new one that she was very excited about. Totally nervous, but excited about her bravery, impressed with her having done the hard work, and scare-cited about the change she was able to make.

3. You can’t laugh at what you want. Or laugh hard, but don’t belittle it. Protect it against derision all costs. There are some people who don’t have to guts to admit what they want. And those are exactly the people most likely to make fun of what you want. Repeat after me: it means nothing. They are just intimidated and jealous by your willingness to declare something. They are going to use it to justify why they are not protecting the thing they want. There are also many other reasons none of them actually have anything to do with you. But ultimately it is just a reflection of them and has nothing to do with you. There will be times when you are the only one who understands something or thinks it’s a good idea. It might be lonely; you might feel misunderstood. Be on your own team. Be all in anyway.

Also, maybe the thing that you want is not your dream. Maybe it’s not absolutely everything you’ve ever wanted. But maybe it’s something to get to the next place. Maybe it’s something you need to take yourself seriously. Maybe it’s a part of the path.

One of the myths that can accompany the idea of following your bliss is that bliss is synonymous with ease. If something does not magically fall out of the sky and into your lap, that it cannot be for you. And maybe some things fall into your lap, and that’s certainly happened to me, but looking back the things that fell into my lap were transitional things. They were the things put there to get me out of one scenario and into another. The other situations, the ones that I really wanted to be in required work. And awkwardness. And declaring my wants so they could be critiqued and rejected. Because it’s very easy to land in a situation, but it requires work to stay there. If we are lucky, time will continue to march on, so we will need to recharge, reinvent, and create new things for ourselves.

If you can be all in on your own life (no matter what it looks like in this very moment) and you can somewhat look forward to being bad at things, and you can try things, even without the assurance of an outcome or that you will be good at them, that’s a pretty good recipe for success.

{Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/go-all-in-why-its-very-cool-to-try/}

YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER

“LOVE YOURSELF FIRST AND EVERYTHING ELSE FALLS INTO LINE. YOU REALLY HAVE TO LOVE YOURSELF TO GET ANYTHING DONE IN THIS WORLD.” – LUCILLE BALL

Sometimes I avoid making decisions. I wait until things become so extreme that the decision is basically made for me. It mostly takes the guesswork out, but it can also be pretty exhausting. One of my best friends is terrible at letting go of relationships. She will let people walk all over her until having them around is just not an option anymore.

Both my friend and I could be more assertive, but what can I say? Sometimes we don’t always do what is best for ourselves.

The similarity in these two situations is that we both knew what we had to do from the beginning. We just hoped the answer would change somewhere along the way. We hoped to somehow avoid the hard thing – the thing we knew was the answer. The tension we feel when we avoid decisions doesn’t come from being in the dark about what to do. It comes from knowing the answer and wanting it to be different than what it is. The stress comes from seeing how long I can live in this tension. The doubt isn’t a fear of not being able to figure it out because in reality you already have it figured out. You might not like the answer, but that doesn’t mean you don’t know it.

The hesitation comes when you see that you will need to make changes and take risks. You will need to put time, energy, and money into something and not necessarily know how it’s going to work out. Yes, you will need to find a new job. Or start your own company. Or go back to school. Yes, you will have to move. Yes, you will have to spend a lot of money on something that might not work out exactly how you want it to. This is the part that causes us stress. The stress is not spending the money or applying to school; the stress is, how can I avoid taking this next step? How can I go back to the time when the status quo was enough? When I didn’t see there was a road ahead of me that might be scary or weird or humbling? A road with no guarantees? A road where the only guarantee is that it gets me out of where I am? And then where I was might look better. Maybe it will look safer, more predictable. It’s then easier to see how you mastered success in the place you’re about to leave.

Knowing this, of course, a temptation to gather more information would be born. As a life coach, I love to read everything. I read tons of articles, books, listen to podcasts – it’s a lot of information coming in. And, while it’s mostly good information, the effects aren’t always positive. Reading about what people want me to do and think and feel, and learning methods for me to do and think and feel ironically makes me less tuned into what I’m actually doing and thinking and feeling. The desire to consult more friends or listen to another podcast is a stalling tactic. You already have more than enough information. You already know yourself better than your mother or best friend or yoga teacher ever will.

There comes a time when you need to step away and check in with yourself. It can be really exciting to read about what people are teaching and apply what you’ve learned in your own life. But before you listen to me or your friend or Oprah, check in with yourself first. Does it feel like something the highest, wisest version of yourself would do? Or are you hedging your bets or doing what’s familiar? Is this decision you’re making coming from a place of love or a place of fear? Is it the same thing you would do if you already knew in advance that everything would work out?

Having the answer requires nothing. Putting the answer into practice is everything. Knowing you want to be an artist is easy. Doing the work to be an artist is very different. The myth of upleveling your life (making it better than it currently is) is that it will be easy. And, this where we start to doubt our instinctsand assume we must have gotten it wrong somewhere along the way. Change is change. Breaking through to new ground means something still has to break. Even your dreams are work. Especially your dreams are work. You might have all the DNA to fly, but you might fall out of the nest a few times. You might be the last chick to learn to fly. When people say you can have anything you want, but you have to make it happen, it’s by turns soothing and threatening. Trying to do and get things you want is harder and weirder and scarier than maybe it should be. But, when did bliss become synonymous with ease?

You can also decide to do things for reasons that have nothing to do with bliss. You can decide to do things for ease, money, bragging rights, experience – these are all totally fair reasons to do anything. Because ultimately you are the only person you have to explain these things too. Maybe your friends get it. Maybe your family supports it. But maybe they don’t. So then what? Will that change your mind?

What if bliss is really just a general direction to head in? And then the grind is what makes bliss into reality? And then, along the way, “bliss” presents another clue, which in turn requires more grinding? What if we just knew and accepted this as the cycle, and stopped being surprised when hard work and risk follow our dreaming every time?

What if we just accepted that you might work very hard towards something you want and have it turn out differently than you expected? Back when your life was easy and it didn’t really matter what happened, not getting something might have been less painful because you weren’t trying. You couldn’t really be disappointed because you hadn’t really wanted it in the first place. But after taking a risk to make a change failure or disappointed will be harder and sadder. You worked so hard on this thing and it didn’t happen. And now you have to start over. Of course that sounds terrible.

But you do it anyway.

Because what’s the alternative? A year from now, will you still be in this place? Knowing the answer, but looking at how daunting it might be, and pretending you don’t know? Waiting for a better answer to come along? One that might be more agreeable? Or easier? Or just different than the one that’s right in front of you? In a year, there might be even more angst because now the next decision you make has to be PERFECT because you HAVE NO TIME TO WASTE.

Ugh. That sounds like a lot.

SO. Your to-do list is now everything you’re scared to do. Everything you’re hoping isn’t really the answer. The things you’re doubting because you hope they’ll get easier or disappear once you “figure out” the real answer.

Because you already know the answer. Now you just need to go out and do it.


{Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/you-already-know-the-answer/}

YOU’RE ALLOWED TO CHANGE YOUR MIND

via: http://www.ourbodybook.com/

via: http://www.ourbodybook.com/

This might not be a tactic they teach in English class, but I’m going to go ahead and give away the end at the beginning. It might not be advisable, but I just want you to know right now, in case this is for you, what I’m trying to say. In the event that you don’t have time to read this entire piece, or if you get nothing else from it, you will immediately understand my most important message.

Here’s the deal: You are always allowed to change your mind.

You can change it today, or tomorrow, or five years from now. You can change your mind after you graduate, or after you’ve already accepted a job. Even if you can’t fathom one more decision because you already feel like you are the “flaky” one and people roll their eyes when you proclaim yet another path you are going to embark upon. Even if you think you’re too old. Even if you think you should know better. Do it specifically because you’re too old. Do it because you actually do know better. And knowing better is exactly what’s leading you to consider a change. You can change your mind as much and as often as you wish. Do not let anyone compromise or remove your agency. Your choice is your choice. Period. End of story. You do not have to explain it to anyone.

You are always, always allowed to change your mind.

Okay, now let’s get down to brass tacks. I have an amazing client right now who is embarking on a major life change. She is currently in one of those professions where people have spent a LOT of time and money to get their degrees. Changing her mind is no small decision. We are talking resources, time, money, and careful consideration.

But here’s the other side: it’s not actually even a choice. It’s something she has to do. She knows there is no price you can put on her sanity (and trust me, the price she has already put on it is pretty high), but what we’re talking about was a forgone decision. Because she cannot continue as she is.  And, really, isn’t that all you need to know? You know something has to change. The rest is just logistics. In my client’s case, two weeks after she came to that very decision, an amazing job opportunity landed in her lap.

Changing your mind does not mean that you knew less back then. Did you used to play with Barbies? Or decorate your room with pictures of horses? Maybe you took ballet three times a week? Or spent every Saturday on the soccer field? Do you still do those things? If not, do you feel like you made the wrong choice back then? Or that you somehow didn’t know yourself? Or, do you look back at the person you were and the things you liked, and recognize that, while they may feel very far from who you are now, it’s okay that you’ve grown and are different now? Past you was just making the decisions you knew how to make at the time. Now, if you want to, you can make other decisions. And that’s all there is to it.

Changing your mind does not mean you missed something obvious along the way, and can no longer be trusted to make sound decisions. It just means you have evolved and grown as a person (and thank goodness for that). You might be a very similar version of yourself, but maybe 20% of you is different. And that 20% is making it hard to continue on with the way things are. You can still choose to ignore the 20%. Because no matter what, you will always have free will. But it’s worth thinking about how you might not be a totally and completely different person. Maybe that 20% has just shifted, and you have the option of adapting.

If you’ve been reading about self-improvement, you may have heard about the concept of love-based decisions versus fear-based decisions. The idea may sound very abstract, but it’s actually pretty easy and you can do it right now.

Take a minute and conjure the wisest, most successful version of yourself. This is the version of yourself who has already figured out what you want to know. Take a breath and allow her to take up residence in your brain and body for at least a minute. Now call to mind what’s weighing on you. And then imagine what she would do. Can you act as if you were her?

That’s it. If you already knew that everything would work out for the best, what would you do? Or what’s the next thing you would do? Even if it’s something as seemingly insignificant as ordering lunch (because the way we do one thing is the way we do everything), do it like she would. It might feel like it’s not enough, but remember after every decision, there is another. Because it is ever really just the one decision? Or is it the one after that too? And if it really is just one decision, and it’s completely impossible to change your mind, what would the highest version of yourself do? The woman who can do anything, or make anything work, what would she do? Because maybe that’s really all you need to know.

Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/youre-allowed-to-change-your-mind/

WHY FINDING YOUR PURPOSE IS KIND OF IRRELEVANT

I’m pretty sure I should have been a lawyer. Or a manicurist. Or a personal stylist.

I can argue with anyone and about anything for a long period of time. It doesn’t matter how wrong I might be – I am relentless.

I’m really good at painting nails. Not elaborate nail art, or anything too crazy, but if you want a straight-up basic manicure that’s pretty decent, I’m your girl.

I excel at helping people choose outfits for special occasions, work, etc. While I don’t love shopping for myself, when it comes to my friends and family, I can spot things immediately.

These are the gifts that come naturally to me. These are things I find fairly easy. It’s very possible at least one of them is something I am meant to be doing. There is a good chance that something on that list is My Purpose.

And yet, here I am – a life coach, writer, and entrepreneur. You’ll notice none of these things are on the list above.

Other factors to consider: I’m a Cancer and an introvert (an extroverted introvert, but an introvert. Another article, another time). So, I find the need to be consistently visible, put myself out there, remind people of coaching programs I offer and connect with them in authentic ways that also let them know I’m selling something, challenging. If I were doing a skills assessment, it would probably not suggest any career that necessitates doing these things on a daily basis. And yet here I am. So…that’s interesting.

Does this mean I’m not “living my purpose”? Should I be worried? Should I abandon what I’ve been doing and jump to a more sensible role? Should I get more serious about building a career that aligns with my natural abilities?

One of the great things a changing economy has allowed for is the possibility of work that fulfills us. There is less expectation that one job is done for thirty years until retirement and then we can finally enjoy life on our pension and social security. Maybe the role of choice has made things measurably better. However, maybe it also arrived with increased stress as well.

If I now have the choice to pick a career I love, does anything less than “love” mean I’m doing it wrong? Does anything less than My Calling mean I’m working in the wrong job or in the wrong field? Can I be happy if I never figure out what My Purpose is?

So, what if it turns out we’ve actually just been talking about it the wrong way? What if your purpose wasn’t something you had to uncover like a treasure, but something you could choose? Maybe it’s not that you can’t find it no matter how hard you look, but it’s not there because you haven’t created it yet. Maybe you can’t find it because searching for it feels stressful, and stress + more stress does not = carefree happy life.

When people talk about setting their intentions for each day, they’re actually just talking about choosing their purpose. It might not be a huge answer dropped from the sky that solves everything, but it might just be better than that. Creating your purpose, one small step at a time might not be the easy way out, it might be the way out.

For some people, the thought of having to create a purpose might be the more stressful of the two. But for others, the fear of missing out on your purpose, having something that you’ve completely missed, and when you die it just remains buried in the earth forever, is the real nightmare. So, what if your purpose was something you actively chose? Maybe even as frequently as every day?

So maybe you have a purpose now. Maybe you don’t. But what if you just chose one? What if it didn’t matter what it was “supposed” to be? What if it was the thing you wanted it to be? Sure, we have natural skills and abilities, we’re more adept at some things than others, but we also have free will. So maybe just choose something. It doesn’t have to be forever, but what if it happens to be the perfect thing for you right now?

If you could choose your purpose, what would you choose?

Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/why-finding-your-purpose-is-kind-of-irrelevant/

WHY IT’S SO EASY TO GET STUCK

You know when things are fine? Not in the passive-aggressive way when we say things are fine, and they’re clearly not. I mean when things are actually (mostly, almost) good. Like, can’t-complain, everything’s-good-on-paper, everyone’s-employed-and-has-their-health-so-why-are-we-pushing-it fine. Maybe some things could be better, but nothing egregious is wrong. You mostly like your life. Maybe nothing’s amazing, but also nothing’s terrible. You’re not really too excited about anything, but you don’t outright hate anything. You want some things to be different, but you know other people’s lives are much harder, so you feel like you should just accept the shortcomings and be grateful for what you have.

I call this the Chokehold of Mediocrity: the place where things are just good enough that you’re nervous to change them, but not so good because you feel antsy in your own life. The place where things are good enough that you can’t complain, but you still feel like complaining. The place where things could be better, but they could also be worse, so do you really want to risk it?

The thing about mediocrity that no one talks about is that it’s hard work to maintain a life you feel only so-so about. It’s hard for several reasons.

One, it takes energy to wake up every day and work. It takes energy to interact with people all day long, to travel from place to place, to be a parent, to feed yourself and/or other people, to stay positive, and to try to work in a little self-care so you can continue to do all these things. All of this requires a good deal of energy. However, it takes almost the exact same amount of energy to convince yourself you’re okay with all the things you encounter on a daily basis as it does to actually do them.

What? That can’t be right.

And maybe it’s not (even if there were actual math to do here, I would probably get it wrong #whyiwrite). But it’s hard work to pretend you’re grateful to have a job just because it’s a job and so many people don’t have jobs. It’s hard work to spend hours a day on things you used to find interesting, but now bore you.  It’s hard work to do all this and then get in a gym session, or read a few pages of your book, or watch some Netflix because you need to shut off your brain. After all, that brain has been working hard all day, talking you into your life.

It’s hard work to pretend like you care. And that’s something that the DGAF life has given us. It’s not that people actually don’t care, it’s that they care so much more about doing things they want to, rather than what they should do. It’s why self-care is so necessary. We spend so much time separated from ourselves that we need the time to re-connect and put ourselves back together.

If most of your energy is focused on just on maintaining the status quo, and you’re not even that excited about the status quo, that’s a lot. If you want things to change on top of that, that’s even more energy you’ll need to come up with.

It’s okay to be grateful for what you have and still want things to be different. It’s okay to have a perfectly fine job, and still want another job. Sure it’s scary to think about putting yourself in a new environment. What if you do all this work to change and you still don’t like the work? What if you meet all these new people and you still don’t like them? What if you have to make less money? These are all questions you will definitely have to answer.

So, you could do three things:

1. Do Nothing: Stay at the job until you hate it. Stay at the job until you become so bored and annoyed, you get a clearer picture about leaving. Or, stay at the job and continue to feel blasé about it. You don’t have to think. You just roll up to work and get a paycheck. It’s not that hard, and you’re mostly fine with it. Continue to do this because you don’t want or need that kind of stress in your life. Totally fine.

1a. Do Nothing and Hope You Start Liking Your Job More: Stay at your job until you love it. This could happen. It might be a long shot, but it happens. Maybe you’ll get promoted. Maybe you’ll make more money. That’s always great. Stay and see how if these things happen for you.

2. Do Everything: Quit your job. Find a new job. Start a business. Be as radical as possible. Burn it all down.

3. Do Something: Start looking. Ask your friend whose job you’ve always been curious about what their day-to-day is like. Ask them what they wish they had known before they started their job. Ask them how they got their job.

Real talk for a minute: the answer is usually somewhere in number three. Whether it’s creating a new situation for yourself entirely, or shifting your perspective while everything remains the same, doing something other than exactly what you’re doing always seems to shift something.

IT’S OKAY TO BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE AND STILL WANT THINGS TO BE DIFFERENT.

For you, it might look like leaving your job exactly at 5pm because it should only get so much of your time and energy. It might mean looking for, or applying to, one job per week to start generating some momentum without totally overwhelming yourself. Maybe start a side hustle with a friend. Create a standing dinner date with your best friend. Enlist some help in moving yourself out of this situation. Remove one thing that depletes you and replace it with something that energizes you. 

The thing to remember is that you are the Decider. It doesn’t even matter what you decide, just make sure you are doing it because you make the decisions, and you made this one. You are the one who decided that this was how your life would be, your life didn’t decided for you by default. If something doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, it doesn’t mean you chose wrong. It means you have more information to use for your next decision. Just decide on something. Make the next best decision you can. And trust you can handle whatever comes up.

Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/why-its-so-easy-to-get-stuck/

CAN CHANGING ONE THING REALLY CHANGE EVERYTHING?

It’s the beginning of March. We are squarely in 2017. The gloss and sheen of the new year and all its shiny resolutions are getting hazy and it becomes easier to say, “Well…there’s always next year.” Things that you might want to change, questions you might want to answer are starting to feel larger and farther away. You might even be asking: ugh, why bother?

Because the way to change yourself is to change one thing. There is a Buddhist saying that goes, “The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” I always hated it.What does that even mean? It couldn’t be right, could it? How could the way I washed the dishes be the way I drove my car?

We spend a lot of time in January tackling big questions: what kind of person do I want to become? How am I going to make my life better? A new year is your chance to figure it out and make it all right! Which is great. It’s always good to put some big picture things in place so we have framework for tackling the little things. But big picture stuff can be abstract and intimidating. Of course, we want to be healthier, wealthier, and wiser. But the key question  is “how?”

So let’s play along with the Buddhists for a minute. If the way you do one thing really is the way you do everything, then all you have to do is change one tiny thing. Because, by proxy, you’re changing everything. Which seems infinitely more manageable. Making your bed in the morning seems a lot easier promise to keep then hitting the gym 5 days a week and losing 15 lbs. But, if A = C, then maybe, in some crazy way, making my bed every day will help me lose 20 lbs. (Or not. My math skills are really limited. This might not be how that equation works.)

What if we were to start in the place that seems like it would make the least amount of difference? Say, something you would like to change eventually, but is mostly fine for now. A little thing, a tiny annoyance that seems harmless, but might actually be taking up a lot more (possibly physical, maybe emotional) space than you think. Maybe it feels like that black sweater you keep reaching for. The fit is a little off, it’s slightly pilled, but you continue to wear it. You know you need to get a new one, but you’re not totally sure about spending the money. Plus, it’s a basic black sweater that mostly does the trick. So what if you don’t, like, love it?

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“THE WAY YOU DO ONE THING IS THE WAY YOU DO EVERYTHING.”

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I call these tolerations. What are tolerations? They are the things that take up the space of things you want. Big or small, if we only have so much time and energy, and all of yours is spoken for with circumstances you are tolerating, there’s no space for anything else to get in. Yes, we all have 24 hours in a day, but if you need 2 hours after you get home to undo the effects of what you’ve been tolerating all day, you’re already starting at a disadvantage. And maybe you don’t know what you would replace your tolerations with yet, but you really won’t if your whole schedule is packed with them.

So, these things that seem mostly harmless and inconsequential are actually anything but. If we think about our lives, our resources of time and energy are finite. What is the annoying thing that is consuming your precious time and energy? Does it really deserve it? Can you get rid of it? Maybe there’s a way to change it or make it better? Really take a look at your time. How much of it is being taken up by minuscule tasks you’re trying to barrel your way through, or just can’t wait to be finished with?

Sure, it would be great if we all meditated for an hour a day, or ate only organic foods, but if that’s not where you are, that’s not where you are. Start by removing one annoying task so an organic carrot can get through. Don’t tell someone you’ll feed their fish when they’re on vacation. That could be your meditation time. Don’t have dinner with those people you kind of like, and have been trying to schedule something with forever. That meal could be your new black sweater. If how we do one thing is how we do everything, that’s all you’ll need to do anyway.

Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/can-changing-one-thing-really-change-everything/

GUT CHECK | A GUIDE TO FOLLOWING YOUR INSTINCTS

If you’re someone who’s obsessed with self-help books or reading interviews with influential people (my hand is raised too), you’ve probably heard a lot of them say how at some point you have to learn how to follow your instincts. Whether it’s figuring out what you want, or what to do next, most of them mention the importance of learning to go with your gut.

However, they also usually make it seem very simple. Which might be true, but if you’ve never really done it before, or aren’t used to it, it might not feel simple at all. Of course, following our instincts seems like a great plan, but how do we do that exactly?

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS

I had a friend with very strong instincts, but because they sometimes led to a different outcome than the one she was expecting, she thought her instincts must have been wrong and couldn’t be trusted.

This is usually where the disconnect happens.

We assume we know where we should end up. We assume outcomes have a right and wrong, and even more, that we know which is which. We have specific ways we want success to look. If there’s an end result we’re really attached to, it’s easy to second guess something that might be indicating differently. So we doubt, and then spend even more time analyzing because we assume our instincts are no longer reliable and therefore shouldn’t be listened to.

In my book, Just Tell Me What I Want, I talk about being let go from a job (actually I talk about being let go from a couple of jobs). For this one job, I was given six weeks of severance, and at the end of the sixth week, I was handed a job I hadn’t even tried to get. What luck! I hadn’t even had to try. Six weeks of paid vacation that led straight into a job I hadn’t even had to work for. Thanks, Universe.

However, there was a catch. I knew it was wrong after a week, but I stayed for ten months. We have opportunities and instincts, but we also have free will. The universe presented me with an opportunity. I took it. I had the instinct to leave, but I had the free will to stay. The terrible job clearly wasn’t the outcome I had hoped for, but I assumed something that was just handed to me couldn’t be wrong. So I ignored my instincts to leave.

Remember, a gut feeling does not necessarily predict an outcome – it just offers insight about what’s in front of you, or your next right step. You might not understand it, or it might not ultimately pan out how you hoped it would, but that doesn’t mean your instincts were wrong. When we think things need to look a certain way – a promotion, a proposal, a certain income -, we close ourselves off to other possibilities that maybe we haven’t thought of, but might be equally good. Sometimes the Universe has other plans. We assume our instincts mean a safe, happy, predictable outcome that we’ve pre-approved. But that’s not always how it works.

SOMETIMES OUR INSTINCTS LOOK DIFFERENT FROM WHAT SOCIETY WANTS

This can be tricky to navigate. There’s a part of us that is conditioned to function within societal norms. This is the part of us that says “please”, and wants to be liked and maybe to be seen as successful in a specific way through the eyes of a few specific people. What happens when our instincts show up in direct conflict with how society wants us to live or act? What do we do then? Does that mean our instincts are wrong? Or does it just mean what we are being pointed towards be a little uncomfortable for us?

Societal norms would like us to keep jobs for more than a year, maybe go to college, maybe get married – this list goes on. But what if your instincts are leading you away from those things? What will you chose? Instincts will be there. And you can learn how to hear them, but everything you do after that is up to you. It’s still your life, so you can do what you want. Your instincts can act as a guide, but ultimately you always get to choose.

WE ARE A CULTURE THAT PLACES A PREMIUM ON RATIONAL THOUGHT AND THINKING

We are told to stay calm and think things through, for fear we’ll do something stupid. We’re taught to analyze thoroughly, make pro/con lists, and then make responsible choices. So, when you hear someone talking about listening to their gut, it might be easy to think, “Sure, that sounds nice for them, but how does it work for me?”

For the purposes of this article, we’ll define intuition as information that comes from a place other than the rational, or thinking, mind. This could mean physical sensations that show up in the body or a strong sense of knowing that maybe you can’t quite explain. These are all just ways for the brain to get other information from somewhere other than the (reptilian part) of it that’s tasked with keeping us alive. This is a part of the brain that’s totally necessary (and I hope stays there forever), but it’s not everything. It doesn’t know that while looking for a new job, or taking a risk might be scary, it won’t actually kill us. After all, the reptilian brain doesn’t care that we are happy, it cares that we are alive. And when you’re applying for a new job or taking a risk, it might be scary (a trigger for that part of the brain) but it won’t actually kill you.

One place to start testing your instincts could be noticing physical sensations in the body. How do you physically react to certain situations? Do they make you feel freer? Or more drained? Looking to the body for data points can sound very irrational to the thinking mind. But, it might be worth a try.

Also, try to avoid looking for explicit and comprehensive answers about your entire life (wouldn’t that be nice?) Starting looking for small, short  answers about things that are directly around or affecting you. They might also be coupled with physical sensations. Notice how you feel directly after. Intuition doesn’t shout, and it shouldn’t have to. We are very lucky to have it, so remember to say please and thank you (I just like to be polite).

Orignially published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/gut-check-a-guide-to-following-your-instincts/

We Need You: How to Figure Out Your Place in the World

Have you ever found yourself wondering, “Why does everyone have their life figured out except for me?”Trying to have a constructive conversation, a well-meaning person says to you, “Just follow your bliss.”You immediately want to punch that person in the face. If you knew what your bliss was, you would not be having this conversation. And, yet, bliss is now the gold standard in job satisfaction. As if anything less must be your own fault.

You know you can work hard. In fact, you love to work hard. You’re bored and frustrated so the thought of feeling uncomfortable is actually a welcome one if it means getting out of this rut. There simply has to be more. You would love to follow your dreams, if only you knew where they were.

So what if you actually were born with… something. And what if you’re just looking for it in the wrong place? This is for anyone who thinks they missed their chance. It’s not too late to figure this out and, even better, to do something about it.

Here are three ways to help you figure out something you want when “bliss” is not immediately available:

1 // FOLLOW YOUR JEALOUSY

We are often taught that jealousy is a bad thing. A sin, even. But, what if jealousy was just a super easy way to figure out what you want? What if it was a straight line to identifying something you would like to bring into your life? Jealous of your friend’s job? Maybe you want a similar gig. Wish you had your friend’s boyfriend? Maybe it’s time to elevate your standards in relationships.

Instead of wasting time wishing you weren’t jealous or trying to hide it, use it. Treat your jealousy like a roadmap, showing you exactly where you want to go. We should be grateful for everything we have, and we should also want more. We are often taught these things are mutually exclusive. I am here to tell you they are not.

2 // WHAT ARE YOUR SECRETS?

For a long time, I never told people I wanted to write. So I didn’t write. And then when I started, people were like, “you’re a writer?! That’s so weird.” And then I felt weird and judged because they didn’t immediately get and support it. And to be fair, how could they? People who thought they knew me well and were very close to me had never heard this desire. It was vulnerable for me, but it was also a little hurtful for them. They just wanted to be included.

Looking at your secrets (even the little ones) can be scary, but it’s a fertile area for identifying something you might want. First, it usually means it’s something important because you’re spending time and energy protecting it. And, second, when you want something you, eventually, have to declare it and put it out into the world. That can be scary and hard, but you are brave and resilient. Plus once people know, they tend to be supportive. If not, it’s because they’re jealous (see above).

3 // WHAT DO YOU HATE THE LEAST?

You will not find false cheeriness here. You will not find a constant tickertape reminding you to “stay positive!” We all have feelings and emotions and those emotions are here to teach us things. There are no positive and negative emotions; there are no emotions that are more valuable than others. They are all here to teach us something, and they all get a seat at the table. The darkest parts of ourselves have as much to teach us as the light. So, if you find yourself with a complete absence of positive emotion, please do not worry.

What is the one thing in your life you hate the least? Your best friend? Your new mascara? Your Netflix account? Why does this thing make it to the top of your list? What is the physical sensation that shows up in your body when you think about it? Now, remember that physical sensation and name it something, i.e. “Fluttery chest feeling”, “Gold sparkly feeling”. Look for other areas in your life where anything even resembling those physical feelings show up. Bring as many of those activities, people, things into your life as possible. As you start doing this, notice any shifts that start to take place.

And, just remember, the world cannot run on doctors and lawyers alone. We need all types of people with all types of gifts. Please don’t be a marketing associate when you want to be a science teacher. Please don’t be a science teacher when you want to run a health food store. Please don’t run a health food store when you want to make sure everyone has access to affordable health care. You get the drift.

Maybe you’ve been raised to believe your specific gifts aren’t valuable, but remember this: you can spend you’re whole life trying to be a peach, but if you’re an apple, you will miss how beautiful and tasty and needed you are. We need both peaches and apples. You will think something is wrong with you, and there’s nothing wrong with you. We need passionate people to be all in on who they are, so we can not only benefit from their gifts, but also to set an example for others who might still need permission to also be apples. So please, please, please – be an apple.

Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/we-need-you-how-to-figure-out-your-place-in-the-world/

Heading into 2017...

If you decided that you actually do want to set some intentions for the upcoming year, it's not too late.

For anyone who feels like they've lost a little bit of shine somewhere along the way this year, let’s take a moment and remember that now is as good a time as any to turn it all around. It’s supposed to be fun. Otherwise, what’s the point? Let’s focus on generating fun and love and baller moments. Because you living a shiny life will help other people to live a shiny life, and then we can all have shiny lives.

While you’re here, let’s harness a little of the New Year’s energy to do some evaluating and set some intentions for the next year. No pressure, but I've really grown to love this ritual.

Here are some questions to ponder if you'd like a little help to help get the ball rolling:

What worked for you? What are three things that worked well this year.

What didn’t? What are three things you can let go of in the coming year.

What’s one thing you didn’t get to try, and still want to on 2017?

What’s one thing you’d like more of? Can you put some time, money, attention, or energy into it to give it a chance to grow this year?

This is totally enough to frame your year. You can always write more and/or create specific goals, but this is a great and impactful place to start. It's a way to remember the things that made you feel good and focus on generating more of that, while letting go of the things that no longer serve you.

Also, this shouldn’t be stressful. Just spend enough time on it to jog your memory a little, get some perspective, and maybe inspire something to focus on in 2017. First answers are always best. And remember, there’s no way to do this wrong.

Now, put your answers where you will see them frequently. In your phone, your planner - maybe type them up, make them pretty, and hang them on your wall. Words have power, so let’s make sure these words have a chance to seep into your consciousness on a regular basis.

So, take some time over the next couple of days and get to reflecting, planning, and writing. You don’t have to share what you wrote with anyone you don’t want to, but declaration can change the energy behind your intentions. You can always message them to me if you want to add a little power to them, but aren’t totally ready to go public.

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s go be shiny ballers.