Why You Should Say “Yes” to More Opportunities

Do you want to be unstoppable?

Then say “Yes” to more opportunities.

Choosing to say “yes” to more opportunities makes you embrace the unknown, reach beyond your comfort zone, and ultimately allows you to grow in ways you wouldn’t otherwise. Opportunities are presented to us constantly in many different forms. The easiest type of opportunity to recognize is in the form of a question or statement from others such as: “We really need someone to take the lead on this new project initiative. Any volunteers?”, or “Although we can’t meet your salary requirements, we’d love to offer you this job, will you join our team?”, or “We’re going to start an annual conference to bring together speakers and thought leaders. If anyone has any ideas, let us know.”

When you are presented with a new opportunity, it’s common that many are immediately dismissed: “No way, I am not speaking in front of 500 people at a conference“, you think to yourself. “I’m not volunteering to lead the project, I can’t do that. People won’t listen to me anyway”, you tell yourself. 

For the opportunities you don’t immediately dismiss, you go back and forth in your mind for hours, days, sometimes weeks on whether or not you should do it. Ultimately we turn down 90% of most opportunities for one excuse or another, but essentially it comes down to fear; the fear of failure, fear of looking stupid, fear of losing money, fear of wasting time, or the fear of not having the answers keeps us from our dreams or goals.

If you want to be unstoppable and live a more personally and professionally satisfying life, then start saying “yes” to the opportunities that align with your values, goals, and dreams. What I have learned from turning down and accepting so many opportunities and later reflecting on them, is that part of being unstoppable is knowing when to recognize those opportunities and saying “yes!” to them. 

Remember these 5 things when facing a new opportunity

Unstoppable people are not motivated by money or anything external.

It’s not a matter of money, but a matter of how the opportunity will grow you in other ways. When you can see an opportunity for the intrinsic value it will provide you and not as a $ sign, you will make better decisions for yourself in the long-run. If the only thing keeping you from saying “yes” is pay, you’ve already lost.

Unstoppable people have clear goals and those goals exceed their current capabilities. 

Having a clear understanding of your personal values and dreams allows you to create specific goals. Not easy-to-reach goals, but goals that push you in new ways and deeply motivate you. And by knowing these specific goals you will have an easier time recognizing and seeking opportunities that will help you get there.

“You need to aim beyond what you are capable of. You need to develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end. Make your vision of where you want to be a reality. Nothing is impossible.”

Paul Arden

Unstoppable people work on their mental strength.

Saying “yes” to more opportunities allows you to work on your mental toughness. These means you can do things even though you are uncomfortable, even though so-and-so may think whatever it is they think (which they will regardless), and even though you may be nervous.

“Wherever your mind goes, your body follows. Wherever your thoughts go, your life follows.”

SUCCESS magazine

Unstoppable people start before their ready.

This one is exceedingly important. One can never be fully ready for anything in life. And if you spend all of those hours, days, weeks, months, or years “preparing”, a million opportunities will have passed by. You may not have it all figured out, but no one ever does. Life is a “learn as you go” kind of journey. If your “why” for this opportunity is strong enough, the “how” will work itself out over time. 

“The best time to plan a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Chinese Proverb

Unstoppable people take the shot every time.

You miss every shot that you don’t take. And you better believe someone else will be taking that shot that could be yours. Embrace “failure”, it’s the only way to get better. The only way.

“If I fail more than you, I win.”

Seth Godin

If you can remember those 5 things the next time you are presented with an opportunity, you’ll be in good shape. I know first-hand that new opportunities can be scary. If we’re living by our self-limiting beliefs, it makes it easy for us to think of excuses and dismiss everything that comes our way, no matter how satisfying or fulfilling an opportunity it is.

However, if you can recognize an opportunity that allows you to enrich your life in a way that aligns with your values and goals, say “yes” and you’ll be on the fast track to becoming completely unstoppable. Re-write your beliefs. Make decisions based on your values and dreams. Don’t let things get in your way and embrace the unknown. After all, if it’s unknown, you have the opportunity to write the ending. Who wouldn’t say “yes” to that?

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

What’s The Least You Could Do? Do That.

I know it’s going to be “one of those days” today.

I can already tell from the way I woke up that am just not feeling ‘it‘ today.  You know what I mean? You feel you either didn’t sleep enough, or you slept too much, your head hurts, your eyes – heavy, and you feel as though your mood didn’t get the memo that your mind had all of these productive plans for you to tackle today. 

grumble…grumble…

It doesn’t matter that I took 10 minutes last night to plan out my day, just like those people who have their lives together suggest that I do. It doesn’t matter that I got my recommended 7-9 hours of sleep, nevermind the fact that I probably only had 2, maybe 3, REM cycles…if I was lucky. And it doesn’t matter that I drank water when I woke up, made my bed, opened my curtains for the light of the day to come through, nope, nope, nope. I followed all of the “rules”, played by the book, had a routine… all of which I know to be true to help and yet it wasn’t helping.

Today was just not happening for me.

I moped and pouted my way around for a while this morning, angry at the world for making me wake up in this mood with absolutely zero desire to do anything. I didn’t want to make breakfast, exercise, or go about my day doing all of those peppy, productive things I had planned. I could barely stand the thought of changing clothes*, how was I going to get anything done today?

*For the record, I did change clothes. I had put on jeans and a decent T-shirt, only to change back into sweatpants and a pullover not even 4 hours later. The point is, it was the least I could do.

“What’s the least I could do”,

I thought to myself. If I couldn’t stand to do anything today, then I could just muster enough energy to spend my day doing the “least I could do” for all of the things I had originally planned.

Sometimes we have ‘days’.

Having ‘days’ does not mean we quit, are lazy, are not working hard towards our goals, or that we are anything less than we are on any other day of the week, month, or year.

It’s the Universe’s way of either: A, testing us. Or B, telling us we need a freakin’ break to calm down and chill out.

Today, the Universe was telling me to chill out because I have been on hyper-drive this past week, working my butt off on endless mentally rigorous and physically laborious projects.

Doing the “least I could do” was my master plan for today. I wanted to find a good balance between surviving the day and owning the day. So, ok, I wasn’t going to exercise for a full 30 minutes or even take a shower (don’t judge), but I could at least stretch for 10 minutes, and take a bath (see, I cleaned up).  That, my friends, was the least I could do. And today, was a “least I could do” kind of day.

The day I had planned and the ‘least I could do day’ that actually happened looked a little like this:

The planned day

  • Get up at 7:00 AM, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
  • Make a green tea
  • Cook a delicious and elaborate breakfast complete with avocado toast, two sunny-side-up eggs, and chicken sausage. Yum!
  • Go for a run along the river trail for 30 minutes
  • Take a hot shower, put on nice clothes and do my hair
  • Clean the entire home (Wednesday is cleaning day); the dusting, sweeping, mopping, toilets, windows, vacuuming, trash, etc. AKA, the works.
  • Read something stimulating for 30 minutes to get my mind in a ‘work mood’ for planning my business and side hustle projects.
  • Make a delicious lunch, something like pumpkin ravioli with turkey bacon and feta cheese, drizzled with honey. Yes, I make good food.
  • Spend the afternoon in ‘work mode’, watching education videos for my coursework, working on my professional sites, finding more freelance work.
  • Make homemade chicken wings and homemade pizza for dinner. For real.
  • Do the full evening routine, which today, would have included: evening walk, making a pot of tea to enjoy in the loft while I read philosophy books, write an elaborate introspective piece in my journal, clean up from the day’s happenings, and pack for my day trip tomorrow.

The ‘least I could do’ day that actually happened

  • Finally get out of bed, groggy-eyed, and flat-tailed at 9:30 AM
  • Still made a green tea. Luckily it’s a 3-step process that I could do in my sleep. 
  • Made cereal. So much for the elaborate breakfast. I did add in a chopped banana, though, and that took effort.
  • Instead of the run, I stretched for 10 minutes. Ok, more like 5 minutes. But I also played with my cat and she likes to run around so that counts for something.
  • No shower, but I took a hot bath for 20 minutes. Much better choice. And I did put on real clothes, decent ones, and sort of fixed up my hair. A little. Basically, I brushed it.
  • Hooray – I did clean! Instead of ‘the works’, I did the ‘once over’. You know, I swept the areas that were obviously dirty, used a swiffer for like, a minute, vacuumed only the most used rooms of the house, and wiped down countertops. Still, it looks pretty clean in here.
  • Instead of reading a novel written by someone successful and who totally has it together and built their dream business or changed the world or something like that, (hey, I don’t need that kind of negativity today), I skimmed a few blogs. 
  • Lunch was frozen pizza. Nuff’ said.
  • For the afternoon, I worked. On my Netflix watching abilities, in my sweats, in bed. To be fair, I made myself a homemade coffee, and did send some work-related emails and spent about 25 minutes doing work-ish things. But that was the least I could do and that’s all I did. Then it was me, coffee, and a movie in bed.
  • Homemade chicken wings still happened, thank you very much. With another frozen pizza. 50% is still greater than 0% last time I checked.
  • The evening….well it’s evening now. I will not be packing for my trip but will think about packing for my trip. I will not be making a pot of tea but will make a cup. And instead of reading and learning some more, I am going to zone out with a magazine instead and maybe doodle in my journal instead of reflecting. 

And there you have it. That’s how you do the least you can do. Every day is not going to go according to plan. It’s impossible to always have it together. Even the people who claim to always have it together, don’t. I don’t know why people would claim that. And the ones who advise you to “give it your all” each day or to “suck it up” are giving you some pretty bad advice. It’s not about seeing how much you can do each day or killing yourself to get all of those things done that you said you would get done for the sole fact that you said you would. One day will not sabotage your goals or plans.

When life throws you a curve ball and you find yourself lacking the energy and lacking the motivation, all of those self-help types of blogs and books won’t necessarily help you. You know yourself better than those people do and sometimes those tricks to get motivated or find inspiration just don’t work. If you’re having one of those days, like I did today, ask yourself “what’s the least I could do” and go with it. 

How to Get Over Your Own BS

It’s all about the stories (lies) we tell ourselves.

If you were to write down your perfect day, what would it look like? Who would be in it? What would you be doing? Where would you be? Maybe you’re at home, curled up with 4 books piled around you, a to-do-list is non-existent, and the only thing you take a break to do is to have gourmet food served to you on a platter by the fire. And maybe chat it up over the phone with a few super smart friends about the meaning of life, latest stock market trends, and leadership techniques while you make your own house wine. Perhaps your day is filled to the brim with one adventure after another, planned snorkeling in the Maldives followed by zip lining and attending an exclusive beach party where you mingle with some of the wealthiest people you’ve ever met. And yet, maybe it looks like a day with your family taking a leisurely road trip to a local landmark and singing along to songs with everyone. You have a picnic in the fall leaves and play games and laugh until your bellies hurt.

Now think bigger. What about your life? Who would you be? What would you have? Where would you be? Go ahead, get wild and really put it all out there.

Would you have the short hairstyle that you’ve always wanted but are too afraid to try, wear fancy hats regardless of what anyone else thinks, have a different look every single day because you are so diverse in your tastes and in what inspires you or expresses who you are and why the hell not? Maybe you would be 20 lbs lighter or happy with your current size because you volunteer your time to more nobler causes than body-image and #donthavetimeforthat so everyone who thinks you could stand to lose a few pounds can go kick rocks. You know who you are.

Would you have a million friends or none at all? What would these friends and you do together?

Would you be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a freelance artist (a very successful one, of course)? Is your dream job a stay-at-home ____ (mom, wife, just a stay-at-home person, for all we care). Do you want to jump ship and make a major career change into something you have no experience in and sort of no idea exactly what it entails, but you just want to do it anyway?

Would you have two homes, one in Naples where you spend your summers, and one in Montana in the mountains because you’ve always loved ranches and dreamed of having a horse, or 4. Would you live overseas, a new place every 6 months so you can explore and immerse yourself in cultures across the globe? Would you make a killing in this lifestyle and be a travel journalist? Or food Vlogger? Would you be exactly where you are now, but maybe just upgrade the design style of your home, invest in some fancy-ass furniture that you keep eyeballing at West Elm, finally build out a master suite above the garage, and throw away all the ratty old things you keep holding on because “you have to”?

By now you’re probably smiling, feeling a little inspired, and totally ready to tell me to just shut up and tell you how to make this all happen already, amiright?

You can have everything you want, be your truest self, see all of the things you want to see, do all of the things you want to do, and live the life of your dreams

How?

Just stop getting in your own way. Stop feeding yourself B.S with all of these stories and lies that keep you from living out your life.

The stories that we tell ourselves (aka, the lies) are what is preventing us from doing anything we want in life. Sometimes, we do things we want, right? But how much of a struggle is it to get to that point? How hard was it for you to do something you wanted, the last time you did it? And was it a small thing, or was it actually a big thing that really made an impact on yourself or your life? Chances are, it was a small, little baby want. But if it was in fact, a big want and you did it, AWESOME – how did it feel? I bet you felt pretty BOSS-like, huh? Wouldn’t you like to carry out that fire and passion and act on your wants and manifest your dreams into reality every single day?

Many of us want to call out our BS and say goodbye to it forever, but we lack doing what we need to do in order to be successful.

Do you tell yourself that you really want to be the new Director at your current job, the position is open, and you have the natural skillset to absolutely crush it, but you tell yourself (pay attention, this is the B.S; the story, the lies) that you’re not qualified enough or don’t have the right experience and likely won’t get it anyways, so you don’t even bother for it? This is what I’m talking about.

So often when we say we’re not qualified for something, what we’re really saying is that we’re too scared to try it, not that we can’t do it – Jen Sincero

Maybe you want lots of friends, but right now you have none. You tell yourself you’ll never have any friends because there isn’t anyone out there who “gets you”, you’re too misunderstood so everyone gets too offended by you or doesn’t invite you to do anything. This is the story you tell yourself, so guess what happens? You likely use it as an excuse to not try to put yourself out there, meet new people, hang out where smart people go, insert yourself into conversations, or invite other people to do things with you. Ergo, you are friendless and your story remains “true”.

We don’t have the things we want, the life we want or are not the people we want to be is because we tell ourselves that we can’t, shouldn’t, won’t, or aren’t enough

That, and we don’t do the things we need to do in order to make them happen

This ends today.

Start making progress towards the life you want by paying attention to your current stories. Why don’t you have the things you want today? Why are you not being who you really are? Why aren’t you in the job that you want? Spend some good time thinking about these stories and write them down.

How do these stories benefit you? There is a reason we tell ourselves these things. Do you tell yourself, in the case of the job instance, that you are underqualified or not well-liked enough to get the job? That you don’t measure up to their ideals, or that people won’t like it if you got it. How does this benefit you? Well, if you don’t go after the job and you stay in the job you have, you don’t have to deal with change, you get to stay nice and comfortable. If you don’t go for the job, you won’t have to work any harder than you do now, so you get to keep your cushy work schedule.

In most situations, the stories or lies we tell ourselves are for the purpose of protecting us, keeping us safe, and for lessening the chances of anything negative happening. But if we don’t face fear, get a little uncomfortable, and change our stories, we risk being miserable sacs for the rest of our lives, never fully living out our dreams or expressing who we really are. That is a heck of a lot sadder, dontcha think? So once you know your stories and know why you’ve been telling yourself these things all along, get rid of them! Literally and metaphorically.  Throw out the paper, rip it to shreds, wipe the slate clean. Then write some new stories. What do you want to start telling yourself instead for each of these?

Once you’ve settled on your new stories and you’re feeling a little inspired and motivated, set a plan to get out of your routine. You will risk telling your old stories to yourself again and continue to have a hard time living out your new stories if you keep the same old routine. If you keep not going after a job, if you keep putting off furthering your education, if you keep avoiding places where you know successful people hang out, if you don’t make small talk with people who interest you, etc. Really work at it. The universe will make it hard for you, but that means you’re making a big, positive change and are on the right track. Don’t be a quitter, new stories are not an overnight thing. You need to start living it and keep at it every single day until they become your habit, your truth.

Lastly, don’t fall prey to the downward spiral. When something goes array (because it almost certainly will at some point), whatever you do, do not go into a drama-filled suckfest with every area of your life, just because the one is off today or this week. Meaning, no doing this: This meeting new people is too hard. I have been out 3 times each week for 2 weeks and still didn’t meet any good new people. I will never find any good friends to have deep connections with. It’s likely why I can’t find a partner either. Nobody gets me. I’ll likely end up alone for the rest of my life, never get married, and never have kids. And because I am so pathetic with people, there’s no way I’ll ever go on my dream vacations because that involves other people, but that’s just as well since I can’t get a high-enough paying job for those trips since no one likes me at work. I’m the last person they would think of to promote. Yeah, none of that, please. Let it be what it is in the moment for the one thing, and move on.

You have the power to control your own life. You can change it anytime you want and you can keep changing it as often as you’d like. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can’t have what you want, that you can’t be who you want, or any other excuse-laden reason to not fulfill your deepest passions. We can manifest anything we want into reality by calling out our BS, and rewriting our own stories.

Photo by Min An from Pexels

Stuck in A Rut: Ways to Shake Up Your Routine

The same thing happens day in and day out. You awake at the same time every day, perform the same morning ritual, take the same route to work, work on the same projects, and have the same evening activities waiting for you when you get home. Boring!

There is both good and bad in routines. On one hand, a morning routine, in particular, helps us stay on track and keeps us focused on the first part of the day. We as humans find comfort in knowing exactly what we will be doing at any given time. Uncertainty is not our friend (more on this in another post). And it is true that routines can help us all be a little more productive, right? On the other hand, when unforeseen circumstances throw our beloved morning routine out of whack, we have an urgent need to fix the problem. We’re not agile and oft find ourselves having more difficulty in dealing with these small changes. What do you mean I overslept. Now my entire morning is thrown off and my day will be bad. See what I mean?

Although habits that lead us towards long-term objectives are rewarding and beneficial, all too often we find ourselves partaking in our routines simply out of habit and not out of gain. Avoiding new situations can hold us back.

If you find that your routines have started to lose their luster, or let’s be honest, have lost their luster years ago, it’s time to do something different. Why? Because any routine you have that creates additional stress, unnecessary pressure or has just become stale and unfathomably boring, is not doing you any favors. 

Never underestimate the power of small changes. Hence, the term: shake-up.

So now the question becomes, how do I shake up my routine? Good news: it is not necessary to completely change everything you have done up until this point. In fact, having routines in place is very strategic and helpful to reach goals. For example, if you want to become less stressed and made a promise to yourself to meditate daily, then by all means, keep that routine. It is only necessary to make small and subtle changes and tiny shifts in your current perspective and mindset. If you have been meditating for 10 minutes right when you get out of bed, try brewing your cup of coffee first and sitting by a window instead of your usual spot besides your bed.

Try to remember why these routines or habits started.

Do you remember why you wanted to start waking up at 5AM? Or why you chose to dedicate 2 hours each weekend to practicing your instrument? Try this: get a piece of paper and pen. Write out all of your current routines or habits – yes all of them. Next to this, write out your “whyThe purpose: You may find that some or even many of your current routines are stale and boring simply because they no longer serve your key values or goals in life. And that’s ok! We are human. We change our paths constantly and we want different things for ourselves. It’s part of growing (and no, we never stop growing). This exercise may help you realize that not only do you need to shake up your routine but maybe it’s time to retire some current ones completely.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and maybe start from scratch.

Just as we are constantly evolving, who we may have been 5 years ago may be different to who we are today – in terms of our preferences and at the very least, our situations. So while you may have previously been a morning person, maybe now your schedule works in favor of you sleeping in, so in fact, there is no need to force your routine of 5 AM when you can adjust and stay up an hour or two later and try that on for size. Or vice-versa. If you eat the same thing for lunch every day, you could either make a small change and tweak some ingredients or condiments for that lunch, or get really crazy and do something completely different for lunch every day. Watch out world! Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to keep it manageable for you. There is no benefit or point really, in changing something so drastically that trying to manage this new routine is actually more stressful than the boring, old, stale one you had. Beware of decision-fatigue! Don’t make it harder on yourself.

Alright…

Have you analyzed your current routines? Did you check to make sure they still serve a greater purpose or help propel you to a specific goal of yours? Great – you’re on the right track! What’s left is just thinking through your current situation and finding where you can be a little more flexible or creative in your approach to these routines. You may find that you just need a small, subtle change in order to fall in love with your routine again. Or you may find that you need to abandon all hope, say goodbye to a routine and completely re-invent it. That’s ok, too. Sometimes when we do that, we come back to our original routine with a fresh perspective and appreciation. And sometimes, we find something entirely new that ignites a new fiery passion within us that keeps us going.

And when you find that it’s not working again, keep tweaking. This is the beauty of our lives. We are not meant for static, stale lives. Yes, we are creatures of habit, but that doesn’t mean the habits have to be boring.

Hearing Things We Don’t Want to Hear

There are times when we all hear it, words from our friends, family, or even coworkers about ourselves that we sometimes don’t want to hear. Who wants to be told that there are things they should work on? Who wants to hear our problems might be our own fault, or that we aren’t right about something? Often times, these things are told to us in roundabout ways, hidden beneath passive-aggressive comments and remarks, that we know are meant to mean something other than how they come out. Other times, they may be direct, gut-wrenching, blood-boiling statements about ourselves that we are uncomfortable listening to.

Think to a recent conversation you have had – with a family member, friend, boss, stranger, even – that maybe didn’t go the way you intended and maybe you felt as though you were being personally attacked. Maybe someone had brought up a topic that you feel they have no business bringing up (that is an entirely different thing). Or perhaps, you brought up a particular topic or situation or idea and had solicited someone’s thoughts or advice on the matter. Regardless, you ended up on the topic of “X”, and you just did not care for the way “so and so” was speaking to you, or the things that they said. It could have felt they were talking at you, telling you what you should have done, should have said, should have acted, or should do now. You ended the conversation feeling a little frazzled, somewhat hurt, and definitely judged.

Sound like a conversation you can recall easily?

Don’t fret. We all have those from time to time. Here, we’ll talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. The good is that you’re not alone in feeling these things after some conversations and in fact, many of us experience these on a daily basis or every time we speak to “so and so”. The bad is that we don’t realize, but we often put ourselves in those situations or conversations ourselves (even by not removing ourselves from it or ending the conversation, we are participating and allowing it to continue to happen), and the ugly: These are good conversations that can ultimately lead to better versions of ourselves and better relationships with others. Yes – they can – if we can work to be a little less “sensitive”, or at the very least, learn to deal with “tough love” from others.

How to Deal with Tough Love from Others

 

First things first, if you asked for someone’s advice or opinion or what they thought, etc, then be prepared to hear what they have to say. You can’t expect people to tip-toe around your feelings if you are outwardly asking for their honest feedback. Not to mention, what good would it do anyone if people were not fully honest? How would we grow as people if we didn’t have someone who cared enough or was willing enough to be honest and bring a fresh perspective to things? Those are the kinds of people in our lives that we all need to work on appreciating more.

But secondly, use this as a learning experience to grow and also put yourselves in their shoes too. When you are on the receiving end of these hard-to-hear conversations, don’t take everything personally. Sure, it can feel personal, but the giver of the hard-to-hear advice or opinions may not be communicating what he or she means, very well. So while they have good intentions, it may be coming off a way that had not intended. This is because tough-love is called that for a reason – it’s tough to give. Often times, the person having these conversations with you or being honest with you is having a more difficult time telling you these things than you are listening to it. It’s important to listen to them, but also important to participate in these conversations to better understand their perspective, intent and advice.

And lastly, remember that these people care about you otherwise they wouldn’t be trying to help you – even if it may not seem like they are “helping”. They want you to be happy and do whatever that means you need to do. So although the words may not come out in the best way sometimes (do they always?), they have your back and want to see you succeed in life. Never assume they meant to burn you with that comment, or that they don’t like you because they are criticizing you.  Many things can be mistakenly taken out of context, or misconstrued.Think of the people in your life who just tell you what they think you want to hear. Those people do not truly care about you and would not be there for you if/when you really needed it. The people who can say it like it is; those are the people to keep around.

Why Tough Love is so Important

Many of the things we are told by those who love us and know us best are exactly what we need to hear. Often times we are lying to ourselves and are unable to see a situation for how it really is, or solve a problem on our own with our bias lenses. Those who bring to us those criticisms or hard truths about ourselves aren’t usually way off base, if we really think about it. In reality, they are quite often pretty spot on, if we can admit that to ourselves. Without hearing these truths or having someone call us out on our BS, we would forever spiral on our own misery. These wonderful truths can be just the wake up call we need. They force us to take accountability for ourselves and our lives and by realizing that we are accountable, we can realize that we are in control. And when we can realize we are in control, we have the power to make changes!

Recall a few recent conversations in which you received a little tough love from someone else. Did you open your heart and mind and really listen to what your friend had to offer? Were you accepting of their advice or their words, even if you disagreed with some points? Did you have a good, open dialect with them or did you quickly and instinctively become defensive and closed-off, changing the subject or ending the conversation abruptly? The next time you see or catch up with these people or person, give them a hug and thank them. Let them know how truly you value them and how you know they mean well in their intentions. Thank them for always listening to you, even when it’s tough, and for giving you the honest advice and tough-love that you need to hear. Then, don’t stop there – do them and mostly yourself a favor and take accountability for your situations and take action my friend!

You Must be Dreaming

When is the last time you dared yourself to dream?

Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, we lose sight of our deepest dreams and all of the things we want for ourselves and our lives. We tell ourselves what’s the point, I won’t ever have that, or I can’t do that because of [insert excuse here], but really, we stop dreaming because we sneakily avoid holding ourselves accountable for taking action towards our dreams. Instead of spending the time dreaming up what we want in all areas of our lives, and admitting to ourselves what they are, we cowardly avoid it all together because we can’t face the fact that even though we are responsible for our own dreams becoming a reality, we continue to day in and day out, not take any action towards them. We would rather not admit to them at all. How sad, right?

I am currently reading a book called Maybe It’s You by Lauren Handel Zander and she is a wizard in helping people from all over the world get out of their own way and not only realize their own dreams, but finally do something about them all. I won’t share my opinions on the book quite yet, but there is an exercise in the beginning where you are to write out your dreams in all 12 areas of life that I think is particularly interesting and exciting.

If you want to start living your dreams, first you need to identify what those dreams are in the following areas:

  • Self
  • Body
  • Love
  • Spirituality
  • Career
  • Money
  • Time
  • Home
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Fun & Adventure
  • Community & Contribution

Do you remember how to dream?

The key to writing out your dreams is to remove any negative feeling and any negating words. The point is to write these out as if they are already happening and as if you are already living them. Describe them in detail, describe how they make you feel, and be very specific. This is the part where you have to be honest with yourself and remove anything that might hold you back from writing out your own truth. Nothing else matters – not whether or not they can happen, not whether or not someone else reads these – write from a place of inspiration. Dig deep and find what sparks your soul and what you know would make you happy.

This can be a very exciting exercise and one of significant self-discovery. It could unfold some new dreams you never realized you had because you never allowed yourself to spend time dreaming of them, or affirm some existing dreams you’ve long since tried to make a reality.

To sum it up, here are high-level steps to keep in mind when writing these out:

  • Be specific; capture what your dream looks and feels like so you can fully visualize it.
  • Write in the present tense; it keeps you accountable and allows you to accept that this is your dream.
  • Be kind; focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.
  • Be honest; admit to everything you want, otherwise how can you fix what isn’t working now so you can get to what you truly want?

Here’s an example taken from the book itself of how a well-written dream may sound:

The area is SELF:

When I walk into a room, people want to know me. I’m that guy Bold, happy, and unstoppable. I am always looking for the next adventure. I am proud of the contribution I am making to the world. I am decisive, transparent and, did I mention, confident. I am exceeding my every dream and then some. I am a leader everywhere in my life: professionally, socially, and with my family. Yes, even mine! I am a masterful ring-master, proud of the difference I have made and how open, honest, forthright, and fun I am with everyone. I am deeply happy.

How motivating and inspiring is that?

Don’t be discouraged if you’re finding this to be a little bit more difficult than you originally thought. We have spent so much time not dreaming that of course it is going to be hard or feel a little awkward at first, but if you keep working on them, you’ll eventually get them right. I am currently on draft #2 of most of mine and am still finding it hard to allow myself to dream. The hardest part is the actual dreaming – what do I really want, what would this look like if it could be the exact way I want it? Those are hard questions, but I just start writing. Then I edit. Then I get more specific. Then I describe.

You’ll know it’s right and complete when you are able to read it back to yourself and it makes you smile and feel motivated, inspired, and excited, just as reading that above example made you feel. When you can’t help but feel completely overcome by happiness in reading it that you can’t wait to get started on making that dream become a reality, then you know it’s done.

So, get to work – start dreaming!
Photo from Pixaby on Pexels

How to Make Difficult Decisions Less Difficult

A major life decision is never a choice, but rather a realization that the decision has already been made. – Doug Cooper

We’re all faced with difficult decisions that we must make. Most of the time, we struggle over large, life-changing choices like ending a relationship, moving someplace new, leaving a job, starting your own business, getting married, and so on. It’s no surprise that these come with the stress and pressure of choosing the “right thing” – and even figuring out what that “right thing” is.

But even the seemingly smaller decisions can hold such a weight in our minds that makes it difficult to choose for even those. Sometimes it’s hard enough to decide where to go eat for dinner, what clothes to wear today, whether or not you want to cut your hair, or if you should press snooze one last time.

I recently made yet another life-changing decision (because I somehow cannot get enough of these), and have decided to leave my job. I don’t need to share my ‘now what’ plan or explain why I chose this in order to get the point across that this was no easy decision to make. But, it was without a doubt, the right decision for me to make for myself, which is exactly why I did it.

The good news is that these decisions, no matter how big or small, don’t have to zap you of all your physical or mental energy. They don’t need to be so difficult that you can’t seem to think straight, or you make yourself ill over them.

Sometimes the hard thing to do and the right thing to do are the same.

So how do you know what the right choice is? From my very personal and very recent (2 days ago) decision to put in my notice, I want to share some advice. I would like to say that I flowed very effortlessly through these helpful tips for making difficult decisions less difficult, but it was not until after my decision was made that I then reflected upon the process. I thought about what it was like for me to go through the journey ultimately arriving at my decision, the extremes and messiness in between that I had experienced and felt, and how I could have made it a little easier on myself.

“Doing what is right means doing what benefits your body, mind and soul. It has to light you up. If it doesn’t, it isn’t right for you.” – Tara Jean

Here are my steps into making difficult decisions a little less difficult:

  • Leave your emotions out of it
  • Don’t ask for anyone else’s opinion
  • Pretend you’re alone in the world and are in charge of the outcome
  • Don’t ask Google and don’t read any articles telling you what you should do
  • Don’t add in any additional decisions; no matter how small. For now, it’s just A or B.

The biggest favor I could have done for myself would have been to disengage from everything and everyone for just 10-15 minutes with no interruptions to just hear my own internal voice. What was it telling me I wanted or needed – not what did so-and-so think of it, not what will so-and-so think of it, not what did I fear about it, not what was the right way to decide this, not how will people think of me if I do this, and certainly not what would I do after this decision (that doesn’t matter quite yet). No. Had I been able to just think for a minute about what I wanted and why I wanted it, the decision would have been clearer a lot sooner and wouldn’t have caused me so much internal distress. It’s only when we allow our emotions to get in the way or allow ourselves to listen to others, that decisions become difficult for us to make.

And here is what not do after your decision has been made:

  • Apologize
  • Explain yourself or find a reason to justify it
  • Put anymore thought into it
  • Wonder if it was the right thing

The hard part is over. There is absolutely no need to be so hard on yourself or make it more difficult than it needs to be. Never be sorry for something that is right for you. Just like you are fully capable and entitled to make decisions for your own life, so is everyone else (and they do), so never apologize for yours. Also, instead of spending time thinking more about it, lay it to rest. I am only 2 days after making such a large decision, but I spent most of yesterday thinking about it, the conversation I had with my boss, what everyone else will think when I tell them, and if I did the right thing. I wish I hadn’t wasted my mental energy on those thoughts yesterday, because really, it doesn’t matter. I know it was a decision I needed to make and am happy I made because I feel a sense of relief and excitement, a sense of pride and bravery for doing it, and an entirely new sense of calmness as I stare into the face of the unknown.

So for anyone else out there facing a difficult decision, I hope this reaches you and helps you be more confident in what you already know to be the right decision for you. Stay true to yourself and your needs and believe that you are strong enough to get through anything. You’ve got this.

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