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Our careers do not have to define us!

So many of us stay stuck because we’ve bought into the stories society tells us about what a “career” is and what it’s supposed to look like. You probably spent a lot of time and energy getting to where you are today, and that means a lot of who you think you are (and what you think you’re capable of) is tied to your career. But what makes something a “career?”

If you’re feeling dissatisfied, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you! It just means you want more for yourself. And if you don’t know what that “more” looks like, that’s ok! One way to start finding it is to ask yourself: what do you find irritating in other people’s careers? What triggers the “I wish I had that” or “I wish I could do that” feeling? What is it lately that has popped in your head and you’ve said to yourself, “that would be nice, but I can’t do that because of the career or path that I’ve chosen.”

Those irritations and those thoughts are resonance — your heart and soul is resonating with the thing that the other person has created and is eager to get there. Don’t let fear get in the way! A lot of women shoot too low. They’re scared to identify a big vision because they’re worried about failure and about how hard it might be to get there. All the science proves that women are hard wired not to want to identify big, hairy, audacious goals, while men will set wildly ambitious goals! Men aren’t worried about stopping one stop short of their vision. They still look at getting most of the way there as success. But us women look at not getting all the way to our ultimate goal as a failure. And we let fear of failure get in the way. It pushes us to make compromises that lead us astray from our true vision.

Success isn’t how things look on the outside — it’s not about a title or a “career.” It’s a feeling of fulfillment on the inside. It’s getting home at the end of the day and feeling like how I spent my time was aligned with my greater vision. Most people would say that the careers I had before I really started chasing my dreams were much more within the societal definition of success. But I feel more successful now than I ever have in my life! Because now, I’m doing something I love and believe in. I’m helping other women do things that they love, and being my joyful authentic self every single day. And you can have that, too!!

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What If We Let Curiosity Guide Us?

This week, I was listening to the How I Built This Podcast episode with Jen Rubio (of Away luggage), and her story is SO inspiring! And it’s SO in keeping with what I’ve been writing about the past few weeks. In the episode, Jen talks about how she just followed her curiosity to find her big dream. She now runs a $100 million company, and it was never what she thought she’d end up doing!

Without a bachelor’s degree or an MBA, Jen worked her way toward an incredible amount of conventional success with big companies. She’s a rock star of not getting hung up on the “how” and just following her curiosity. She says in the episode, “I never thought, ‘oh I don’t have enough experience,’ I just figured out a way!”

What led her to start her own suitcase company was that attitude of “I’ll figure it out” combined with a willingness to follow her curiosity. In her various roles working for a major world brands, she was traveling a ton, and one day her suitcase broke. She became curious about how she could fix the problem of shoddy luggage — even though that had nothing to do with her career up to that point. But by exploring that curiosity, she discovered a need that had not been met in the market.

In the meantime, she was offered a VP of marketing position in New York for a huge brand — her so-called dream job, the one she’d always thought she’d been working toward. Yet, she talks about sitting in the interview and knowing that it wasn’t what she wanted to do. She was too curious about where her travel brand could take her. She had the gumption, at something like 27 years old, to say “no” to what was a guaranteed journey of “external success” because she was still so curious. Creating her own company wasn’t even her initial dream! But her curiosity and her gut told her that her travel brand was where she ought to go. And she was bold enough to follow it!

If you were in Jen’s position (and maybe you have been in that position before), ask yourself: would you have said yes to the New York opportunity out of fear? Most of us, if we were the person sitting in the chair being offered that opportunity, wouldn’t have been brave enough to turn it down with no guarantee of what was next. But shouldn’t we have done? I’m not saying it always works out, but most of the time we KNOW that the thing we said yes to wasn’t our dream either. But we said yes because it was in front of us, or we perceived it as our only option. And the point of thinking about that is not to punish yourself, but merely to learn from it. To reflect and be open for the next opportunity that arises.

If you apply curiosity to your life and your career, you’ll see a plethora of options out there that you may never have previously considered. My question for you this week is: what are you still curious about? What really drives your curiosity? And when’s the last time you explored it? Or gave yourself the permission to even dream a little bigger when it comes to whatever you’re curious about?

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Why Don’t We Let Ourselves Dream Big?

The other day I jotted down a note that’s really stuck with me: “Did T-Ball kill dreaming bigger?” I’m sure you’re wondering how in the world I put these two things together. So here’s a little insight into how I got there…

As I pondered the question from last week of “why are people so afraid of asking for more in their lives?” I couldn’t help but wonder if, in a world where everyone gets a trophy in T-ball, where average is often rewarded as good enough, and where everything is supposedly wonderful (at least on the outside), if we’ve inadvertently said there’s no need to dream bigger?

In our world of social media, we share a lot of how our lives resemble everyone else’s and worry about leaving anyone without an award. In our Instagram and Facebook images, what we see is that everyone has a house and a picket fence and a life that is perfect on the outside. But the problem with that is no one wants to stand out as being different anymore. If we’re giving the same trophy to everyone, aren’t we just saying conformity is the way to go? Society has created an environment where you feel like breaking out of that mold would be criticized. Because you already have so much, because you have what others perceive as good, and because good is supposed to be good enough, you have no “reason” to complain or be dissatisfied with your life!

The opposite of that, the antithesis of falling into the norm, would be having the audacity to dream bigger. To have your own way, your own vision of success. To be the person that actually gets first place (and earns a dang trophy)! The reality is that everyone can’t fit into one mold! And why would we want them to anyway? That’s not the way we were made. The idea of conformity, of living our lives in the box of what success is “supposed” to look like, will slowly kill us. Eventually I think it leads us to feeling almost like we want to burst. Until we are just dying to break out of the straight jacket we’re living in and scream.

If you’re feeling a tug toward something more, it’s absolutely okay to say “good enough is not good enough for me!” Do it now before you want to scream. Take that first step. It’s totally okay to not know what that next thing is yet. Most of us spend so much of our lives living the lie and trying to be satisfied with good enough, it’s going to take a minute for you to allow yourself to get used to dreaming of being bigger!

And if you aren’t instantly inspired, if you don’t already know what that big dream is, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. They’re two very different things: having the tug and the desire for more and being able to identify what that dream is. My belief is that tug wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t meant for you. Just because you haven’t grown enough yet to identify what that tug really means doesn’t mean you’re wrong to feel it. It just means you haven’t found it yet!

So, if you’re feeling that tug toward something more, consider this your permission slip to start exploring! You’ll find it if you just let yourself dream!

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It’s OK To Feel Like Something is Off.

I see so many women hold themselves back because they feel guilty for wanting more. I’ve had so many clients who felt like something was off in their lives, like there was a tug toward something that they couldn’t identify. But then they’d look at their lives — a good (enough) career, a nice home, healthy kids, a happy family — and they’d push those feelings down because they felt guilty for being unsatisfied. They felt ashamed for feeling like something was wrong.

The truth is, it’s 100% OK to feel like something is off. If you’re feeling dissatisfied, if you’re feeling a tug toward something that you can’t put your finger on, I want you to know there is NOTHING wrong with you. It’s just your innermost self trying to get your attention and tell you that there’s more for you out there. And no matter what your life looks like right now, it’s ok to want more!

Realizing that you want more for yourself doesn’t have to look like a lightning bolt moment of inspiration. In fact, it usually looks more like a total breakdown, crying on the floor in the fetal position moment. The one where you feel like you’re totally losing it and you’re asking, “what’s wrong with me?!”

But there’s nothing wrong with you! Those kinds of moments are actually your point of inspiration. Breakdowns are your acknowledgement that continuing on the way you are isn’t ok with your heart and soul. That there’s a disconnect between what’s going on in the inside and what’s happening on the outside. It’s your inside saying “HEY! There’s more for you out there!”

If you don’t know what that “more” looks like yet, that’s ok, too! The important thing is to know it’s out there, and it’s totally ok for you to want to move towards it!

 

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Put Down the Hustle

As driven, self-motivated women, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of the hustle. Society and our inner critics tell us that in order to succeed, we have to push harder and work longer than everyone around us. I used to think that if I stopped hustling, I would have to give up on my dreams. But the reality is that’s just NOT TRUE!

When I push myself too hard, I run out of energy. I stop doing the things that feel like a luxury — the yoga and the friend dates and the stuff that actually nourishes me! But when I let go of those things, I’m not recharging myself. The type of energy I’m going to cultivate is more of that tired, negative energy. It becomes this endless cycle of staying stuck in the exhaustion until I can interrupt it again by taking myself to yoga or taking the time to set down the to-do list and relax!

So, what does not hustling look like? It means I stop running from task to task. I stop working when when I’m uninspired. I take a break when I’m exhausted. I stop going to events that don’t fill my cup or my soul. Fundamentally, to stop hustling means to shift my mindset: I won’t gain anything by burning myself out.

Take a moment and think about what you’ve done or are planning to do this week to refill your cup. How can you take some time to nourish yourself and recharge? Even if it’s just an hour of quiet time to read a good book, or go for a bike ride or a walk, or have a phone date with a friend… carve out that little piece of time for yourself because you deserve it AND because recharging will do more to help you get where you want to be than checking one more thing off your to-do list!

 

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Give Yourself the Chance to Grow by Changing Your Thinking

I truly believe that one of the first keys to growth is to understand that we are essentially the creators of our own universe. We’re allowed to step into our own power if we just take the opportunity! But if we don’t, we’re just recreating yesterday by having the same thoughts as yesterday. And that’s really a form of self neglect. Because it’s not giving you the chance to change!

Changing your thinking will change your reality. Redirecting your thinking toward the positive is just like watching TV — when you change the channel, it’s not as though the other channel ceases to exist. You’re just choosing to watch a different channel! We don’t have to pretend bad things don’t exist in our lives, but we do have the ability to change our thoughts, to create whatever we want out of it! However we see a situation — whether we view it as good or bad — it dictates our next steps.

In order to grow into the best versions of ourselves, we need to choose our own power. If we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, if we’re trying to do things the way they do things, then we’re watching the wrong channel! We’re ignoring our own internal cues and falling into the pit of “what’s wrong with me?” Instead, try focusing inward, asking yourself what pace or approach feels right to you. Honor your own channel and step into a life that flows at your own pace and energy. Embracing yourself for who you are and how you operate is the best way to get where you want to go — on your terms!

 

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Slow Down to Give Yourself the Chance to Get Going!

It’s always helpful to pause and take a look at my intentions, to get focused on the vision that I want to create instead of living on autopilot. Just this week I picked up my list of intentions I set at the beginning of the year and was super excited to realize how many of them actually feel like they’re coming to fruition. Or, at least, that I’m seeing movement in the right direction.

But I know that’s not always the case! Sometimes we set goals and get discouraged because we just don’t feel like we can get traction. It’s like each goal is a merry-go-round that’s spinning too fast, that we’re trying to get on but keep getting thrown off. The thing is, we shouldn’t give up on getting ourselves on board, we just need to slow things down a bit — to make our goals a little more attainable, to let the merry-go-round slow down so that we can catch up. We have to be able to get ON at some point!

If everything is telling you that a goal is unobtainable, then you won’t be able to take action on it. That happens all the time when we assign numbers to our goals: making $100k in revenue this year, or completing 9 projects this year, or acquiring 2 new clients every month. If you’re already feeling disheartened about an intention you set at the beginning of the year, it’s ok to pull it down a bit. Pull it in range to something that will allow you to get going!

 

Sometime this week, set aside some time to have a cup of coffee and do these four things for yourself:

  1. Examine the goals that you set at the beginning of the year. (And celebrate how far you’ve already come!)
  2. Evaluate whether those goals trigger resistance or a desire to explore.
  3. Re-state the goal in a more manageable way if it triggers you.
  4. Give yourself the grace to start saying no to things that are keeping you from getting on the right merry-go-rounds.

 

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Big Dreams Mean Finding New Paths!

I truly believe that we are all worthy and capable of achieving our biggest dreams. The problem is that so many of us get stuck or don’t ever get started because we’re so overwhelmed by the “how.” We know where we want to go, but we just can’t see the path ahead. But that is such a big misunderstanding about goal setting. 

The truth is, you SHOULDN’T know how! You’ve never done it before! If you’re dreaming big, then it’s a totally unknown path you’re blazing your trail through! And I absolutely believe that we find what we are looking for. If we’re looking for reasons why we can’t do something, we’ll find them. But if we change our attitude and start looking for ways to make our dreams possible, we will find them! Or, they’ll find us…

I’m getting ready for an amazing new women’s conference in Seattle this weekend, and it’s such a perfect example of how when we’re living our vision and our purpose, things line up. We can’t ever know how or when they’ll fall into place, but the universe does take care of us. One of the event organizers met me years ago when I was doing corporate coaching. We probably had two conversations. But when she was organizing this conference, she remembered me. She knew she wanted me to come and help women break through the lies that society tells us so we can achieve our greatest potential!

If you’re in the Seattle area, you should absolutely come to the More Than Me conference this weekend. Or, plan to come to the Dallas event March 23! (I’ll be speaking there, too). If you’re on the east coast, sign up for my Ignite Your 2019 Masterclass in Charlotte on March 7th – featuring Louise Pritchard. I’ve also partnered with leadership coach Shannon Dew to offer an amazing two-day, transformative workshop on Breakthrough Leadership in Greenville on March 14 & 15. And if you can’t make any of those, then write down ONE THING you can do this week to take yourself a step closer to your dreams! And promise yourself you’ll do it. Because you are totally worth it!

 

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Protecting Your Energy in 2019

Hilary Swank QuoteHave you ever noticed how when you feel good, you tend to get inspired? Like, at the end of a yoga class, laying on my mat, feeling totally relaxed and recharged, I’ll get an idea of what my next talk should be about. Or sometimes it happens when you’re just going to sleep and you get that inspired thought. It’s because during those moments you’ve let your resistance go! You’re not worried about your to-do list, and your energy is finally open to receive that inspiration.

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Dreaming Big in the New Year!

Starting the new year rightNo matter the time of year, one of my favorite questions to ask clients is: if I were to run into you at the grocery store on January 1st of next year, and I said to you, “congratulations! I’m so glad your year went exactly as you wanted! You accomplished everything you hoped you would!”

What is it that you’re standing there having accomplished? What big hairy dream did you make happen in 2019?