For so many of us, the thought of putting yourself out there can be nauseating. How many things run through our minds before we do something in the realm beyond our comfort level? It’s daunting and it’s anxiety provoking, but it’s necessary. Putting ourselves out there is the only way we can grow. It’s the growing pains. It’s the uncomfortableness that allows us to open up minds, and stretch what we thought was possible.
I recently started a three part series touching on some of the cornerstones of overcoming this fear on my social media channels. The first part is about doing the inner work that is necessary to set yourself free of any emotional or psychological baggage you might be carrying around. Mine, it turns out, had to do with my emotional block and unwillingness to be vulnerable. It took me two years to come to this conclusion, but hey, there’s no time limit on self improvement, right? You can watch part’s of the series below. If you like what you see, watch part 2 under that. If you more, be sure to sign up for part 3, which I’ve turned into a mini workshop. I look forward to seeing you there!
Part 1: My Story
Part 2: Owning Your Story
Part two of the series touches on the importance of owning your story. What the heck does that mean? It means understanding that you are the author and narrator of your story. Perhaps you didn’t decided the beginning or the first few chapters, but at some point the unfinished book was passed over to you to write up the rest of the chapters. Watch part two to learn the power of the pen, and how owning your story can help you reframe the past and build a better future.
Part 3: Confidence is a Muscle, Learn How to Train It
Achieving your goals takes courage and a belief you can accomplish those goals— really it is a belief in yourself. In this mini workshop, I will be discussing 3 tips to help you build the conference you need to move your goals forward plus bonus tips to help you go from inaction and procrastination to manifestation. Be sure to sign up here. I look forward to seeing you there!
How to really create change in your life.
What is life??
Does anyone else ever worry that they are just strolling through life without a clear plan or goal for the future? I know there are a lot of “I’m just taking it day by day” types out there, but I just get the feeling some folks might be ignoring that life has a way of just passing you by without you even realizing it. At the same time, living day by day doesn’t mean living in oblivion does it? One can choose to live day by day and still develop meaning and purpose in their lives.
A life with meaning and purpose is a life worth living. It’s your WHY. So many people go through life without these two things, constantly searching for the next big thing that will make them feel seen, heard, and grounded in life. Your version of WHY can be many different things, or just one thing. I know my mother’s WHY are her children and her family. My WHY is the love and appreciation I feel for my family, my community, the planet, the people on this planet, the other living things on the planet. Once you gain clarity around your WHY, you will start developing a life with meaning and purpose that is centered around your WHY. Here are some concrete habits you can develop to live your WHY.
Practical Exercise- Start a Gratitude List
Gratitude is the feeling you get when something brings you happiness. You feel gratitude because you are thankful for whatever happened to bring you this happiness. Keeping a gratitude list is a visual representation of all the things you are thankful for. After a while, you will start to see patterns. I am always thankful for the love and support of my family— could they be a part of my WHY? I am always thankful for my dog Lucy— is the love of animals part of my WHY? In this way, we can start to see clearly the things that are important to us and the things we should be focusing more of our time and energy into. If you want to go the extra mile, you can start a gratitude journal. This will help you capture in greater detail why certain things give you gratitude and in what circumstances. Similar to a gratitude journal, you can start a habit tracker. This is for those who know already what brings joy and satisfaction to their lives and what to make sure they are incorporating those things everyday.
Make Definite Decisions
This is hot off the press in my life. I just came across this idea of making definite decisions as I was listening to my audio book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich. His main argument is that those who are indecisive (i.e changing their minds frequently) are less likely to get anything done in the end, in which case, indecisiveness and procrastination are one and the same. Hill gives several examples of successful people who made a definitive decision and stuck to it, only to reap the benefits of their persistence. This is something I personally struggle with because I seem to overthink things to the point that I can’t tell which is the better option. One way to get over this is to realize neither might be better than the other and just pick a course and stick to it. Otherwise, inaction will stunt your growth and leave you stuck in place.
Practical Exercise- Start a Hobby and stick to it
Often times hobbies are things we like to do…often times. Sometimes we pick hobbies that we know will challenge us, or make us grow in ways we deem necessary. Which ever the case, I’ve found that sticking to your hobbies is closely related to making definite decisions. It’s a small thing, in the grand scheme of things, but an area where you can practice the art of making a definite decision. Sticking to a hobby that you like and enjoy is easy and can have the added benefit of making it to your gratitude list, but what’s even better is sticking to a hobby you realized you don’t enjoy as much or a hobby that makes you uncomfortable. For example, I signed up to play softball on a social league a few summers ago and initially I thought it would be great! When the season was about to start, all of my anxiety and suppressed feelings of athletic inferiority came rushing back. But I stuck to it, and I stuck to it (mostly because I had a friend doing it with me, if I’m being honest!), and once it was over, I was really proud of myself for accomplishing something despite my discomfort. In the end, I became more confident in my ability to deal with adversity (I still can’t play softball, but alas!) and I felt great about following through on something I’d committed to doing.
The Bottom Line
Self-care and self-improvement are essential to showing up for yourself. When you show up for yourself, you free up the space that uncertainty, ill-feelings and no direction took in your life, allowing you more room to show up in other ways. That is one of the reasons why personal development and professional development are related but different. Aligning your everyday life with your WHY, building consistency, confidences, and resilience in your personal life are all things that will make you a better leader, expert, and professional, but even more important, they will help you live with intentionality.
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who said that we all have equal opportunity to be successful and that those who aren’t successful are not working hard enough or just don’t want it bad enough. Of course I believe everyone has the right to their own opinion but I’d just like to point out that there is a plethora of statistical evidence that proves without a doubt that we all do not have equal opportunity to be successful…
At the same time, “success” is a abstract concept and what it means to achieve it varies from person to person. So for the purposes of this conversation, I’d say a “successful” person is someone who has their basic needs met (food, home, income security, and strong social connections) and who is looking to build upon this foundation usually by climbing the social influence ladder or the financial ladder. Without delving deep into a black hole of civil inequalities, I’d argue that you must have these basic needs met before you can climb any ladder, otherwise you aren’t working towards striving in life, you are only just surviving.
Here’s the thing…
There are many people out there who do have all their basic needs met and the potential to be successful, but aren’t. The people that I’m referring to are the ones that have all the tools but they haven’t set themselves up for success. In short, they haven’t focused their time and resources into developing and maintaining habits that lead to positive outcomes.
If you are one of those people…
Fear not. If you think of life in it’s simplest form, it is just a series of actions. Actions done over and over again become automatic, or in other words, they become habits. Changing your habits can change your life. Someone who quits smoking can clear their lungs in a few years, changing their life course. If they take it a step further they can invest the money they used to spend on cigarettes and move the needle even further.
Start with visualization. Visualization is just a fancy way of saying you believe in yourself (as they say, seeing is believing!). I wrote an entire post on visualization and what it means, but I’m not sure I made it clear enough that visualization on its own is not enough— hence why it’s only one step. The trouble is that it’s extremely difficult to change behavior, will power alone just won’t do it, you need to develop habits that will move the needle.
10 Things You can do RIGHT NOW to get moving.
- Gain Clarity – This is something I learned from performance coach, Brandon Burchard’s book High Performance Habits (Book review coming oh so soon!). To Brandon’s point, knowing what you want out of life is essential to being a high performer. If there is no clarity, the vision is blurred, and if the vision is blurred, so is the finish line.
- Call a friend – Sometimes we need a little help, and that’s what friends are for right? Picking up the phone and being able to have an honest conversation with your best friend or your sister or your dad, mom, brother, uncle, neighbor, etc, can be a great way to focus your thoughts and also gain some perspective (ergo why it’s so important to have the right people in your life!).
- Make a plan – If you’ve been here before, you know I love a good plan! They say that creating lists and plans are just tricks to make yourself feel productive, but there’s no better feeling than checking something off a list as done. First things first, you have to create the plan.
- Set an alarm – I’m the type of person who will not remember where I put my phone down two minutes ago. It’s impossible for me to remember deadlines and appointments, so I have several alarms, on several devices to keep me on track! Set an alarm now to wake up early tomorrow and get something done!
- De-clutter – Clear space, clear mind. I know some people say they are naturally “messy,” but that is just not conducive to productivity and healthy habits. Giving yourself an extra ten minutes a day to tidy up can make a world of difference and potentially help you de-clutter your mind as well.
- Meditate – Another way to declutter your mind and also calm anxiety and stress is to mediate. Set your thoughts free, as they say! (Has anyone ever actually said that about meditation?)
- Exercise – Get your body MOVING! Physical health is a pillar of achieving excellence. You don’t have to be an olympic swimmer or a competitive bodybuilder, but you should get that lazy behind off the couch and move!
- Find a Mentor – Anyone who is serious about accomplishing their goals will invest in a mentor. Whether that’s a monetary investment in a life coach or spending more time with the right people, we could all use some encouragement and support in our lives.
- Stay Accountable – So you made a plan, now what? A good way to keep yourself accountable is to monitor your progress. I, for example, keep a daily record of the habits I want to incorporate into my everyday life. Things on my list include walking, writing, reading, meditating, and exercising. Every day I check off whether I’ve done one or more of my habits so there is no way of denying that I clearly haven’t worked out in two weeks (or a month)!
- Count your #Blessing – Sometimes we are so down in the weeds with our problems, we can’t remember being any other way. Gratitude is humbling, and it’s also a good reality check. When you are having a terrible day (or you’re living in 2020), it really helps to take a second and think about all the things you can be grateful for. Let’s take this moment for example, I am currently sitting in my backyard getting terrorized by mosquitos on this swam like DC summer night. BUT, I am thankful for having a backyard (hard to come by in DC), and I am thankful for my dog, Lucy, who hangs out with me in the backyard, and I am thankful for my landlords who let me share their backyard with them.