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?


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.


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 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:

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:


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.


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).


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:

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.