Three years ago, I hadn’t been paying any attention to my writing career, and it was suffering. Like E.T. when he was gray and hooked up to all those tubes at the end of the movie – that’s the level of distress I’m talking about.
It wasn’t until I did this one particular thing that my career as a professional writing came roaring back.
This step didn’t take long, didn’t cost any money, and only required a piece of paper and a pencil. (Although I could have used a computer, I am old fashioned when it comes to getting important things out of my head.)
Want to know what I did?
(It’s so simple that it almost seems silly.)
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” – Louis L’Amour
(Like that quote and that image? They are from my new book, A Year of Daily Calm, which is now shipping from Amazon! If you buy a copy there and would like to have it signed, email me your address and I will write you an inscription on a pretty sticker and send it to you. I just got a new batch of stickers in—yay, stickers!)
I love crossing things off a to-do list as much as the next person. Maybe more. The day we finish a bottle of shampoo—really finish it, as in you can’t get one more drop out—feels like victory.
And yet, there’s something really tricky about wanting to be done with something. Whether it’s a shampoo bottle, a job search or an outdated mindset that you’re trying to re-write, it’s all too tempting to not allow yourself to enjoy anything about the process until it’s in your rearview mirror.
I’m talking about thoughts like, Shouldn’t I be farther along now? What’s wrong with me that this isn’t over yet? ARE WE THERE YET?!
I do love going out. I get ideas, I meet interesting people, I form connections—all vital things to my personal wellbeing and to the health of my business.
But if I don’t stay mindful of managing my energy, the stimulation of big events can quickly feel overwhelming. Then I’m shut down. May as well be at home.
After attending one networking event, I joke that I need to go into my introvert hole to recover. Last week, I had three networking events in four days. Normally I’d try to space them out more, but sometimes you don’t get to say exactly how or when things will go down. They were all great opportunities to be with my people and to promote A Year of Daily Calm, so I went to all three.
Say No the Slog, Say Yes to Peace + Order a Signed Copy of “A Year of Daily Calm” in Time for Holiday Gift Giving!
We will all have times when it feels like we are standing at the bottom of the mountain and all we have to look forward to is a long series of uphill steps to get where we want to go. I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately who are in the midst of just such a time—a move, a launch, a job hunt. Heck, maybe you feel that way about the holidays!
I know the tendency—to feel like you’ve got to just hunker down and power through. Keep going at all costs and put everything else that’s not essential or urgent out of your mind. One day in hopefully not too long you’ll be able to kick back a bit and breathe easier, maybe even have some fun. Later.
But here’s the thing. When you do that, you’re trying to live in the future. Which is basically an invitation for anxiety.
No matter how much you have going on, peace is too important to put off for even one day. Because it’s in those moments when you are aware of and immersed in this very instant when you have access to your inner wisdom. And that quiet voice is what’s going to guide you to where you want to go, so long as you stop to listen to it.
Today, I’ll be on the bus longer than I’ll be in the city. But I am psyched. Why?
Because this is one of my mantras:
Good things happen when you leave the house. (Click to Tweet!)
There is something magical and supremely powerful about getting your butt out of your chair and out in to the world. It inspires you, it gives you a new perspective, it makes you appreciate what you have while also raising your awareness of what else is possible.
Better yet, traveling requires you to invest some time and money on things that you’re not exactly sure how they’re going to pan out—but what we focus on grows. Meaning, focusing on things that are speculative helps you grow your future.
High up on my list of favorite things to do is lie in bed or—when the weather cooperates—on our outdoor couch and read. Even just thinking about it has put a dreamy half-smile on my face. Nights I don’t read before bed just feel wrong.
The problem has been that since I finished Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir, nothing has grabbed me. Or so I thought.
I’ve been making do with stretching the Sunday paper out through the whole week, which is interesting, and does occasionally pull at the heart strings (particularly this week’s Modern Love essay, which has a similar theme of appreciating what you’ve got instead of longing for something you don’t have—tears!). But it hasn’t filled that need for being completely engrossed in a long-form, well-told story—what my friend and fellow writer Judi Ketteler so brilliantly calls “narrative mesmerism.”
What I had been completely overlooking is that each night, I’d been reading a fabulous book with the kids before they went to bed. Because it was a kids’ book, it somehow didn’t count.
“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” – Gandhi
(“And so, with all due respect to Gandhi, is a woman, ahem.” — me)
You can be doing all the right things for all the right reasons, but if in your mind you are berating yourself, or doubting yourself, or distracting yourself, you won’t get the results you’re seeking.
This is why I became a mindset coach—because I know that when you start to re-write some of the petty, scared or downright mean thoughts that are likely running rampant in your mind, all parts of your life start to change.
(And because my 20 years of studying and practicing yoga and meditation taught me that thoughts aren’t necessarily true or even helpful—but it wasn’t until I hired a coach that I used all that insight to start taking different actions. And voila, mindset coaching was the perfect combo.)
I put together this list of the most common thoughts I see—both in my own experience and in my clients’—that keep people swimming in the same circles, like a one-legged duck.
I rolled up at the Genius Bar today for a fortuitously timed appointment. I set up the reservation last week because I had cracked my screen. Then yesterday morning, I dropped the phone in the toilet.
When my genius, Dan, asked me what I needed help with, I copped to my poor phone caretaking. There was no hiding anyway—my screen looked like a spider web and the phone wouldn’t even turn on.
But Dan was trying to give me an out. My kids must have dropped it, right? Nope. Were you having a crazy day? Not especially.
The fact is, I’m crap with phones. I don’t love this about myself, I don’t consider it a badge of honor. (At least I have learned to purchase Apple Care!) But my clumsiness is my stuff. There’s no point in denying it, or trying to pawn the blame off on someone else.
After the free time of the weekend, most Mondays are reality checks. But today, October 19, takes that “back to the real world” spirit and kicks it up several notches. Because today is national Evaluate Your Life Day.
Evaluating your life doesn’t have to be an epic, exhaustive (and exhausting) endeavor. Today, as you make your list of things you want to accomplish, take a few moments to answer between one and all 27 of the following prompts.
You don’t have to overthink this—as a mindset coach who talks to people about all aspects of their lives all day long, I can tell you that we all know a lot more about these topics than we initially think we do. Sometimes all it takes is asking the question and then listening for the response.
So go ahead, jot down whatever comes up. The answers you hear will help you make any necessary course corrections. So that by the time New Year’s Day rolls around—which is the more widely known time to take stock—you’ll be more likely to be happy with your evaluations.
1) List everything you’re thankful for
2) List everything you’ve done that you’re proud of
3) List the ways you take care of yourself
4) List the ways you take care of others—be they plant, animal, or human
5) List the causes you’ve contributed to—whether with money, time or some other way
6) List the contributions you make in your household
7) List the contributions you make in your community
8) List the contributions you make in the world at large
9) List the unexpected gifts you’ve received—whether that’s a tangible present or a lovely coincidence
1) What’s bugging you?
2) What do you think about when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep?
3) If you had a realistic magic wand, what would you change?
4) If you had a wand that could make anything disappear, what would you vaporize?
5) What concerns you?
6) What are you afraid of?
7) What are you ashamed of?
8) What downright ticks you off?
9) What one relationship do you most need to heal—or end?
The way forward
1) What needs to change?
2) What can you do to bring about that change?
3) What one thing could you easily start doing that would add up to significant progress over time?
4) What can you forgive someone else for?
5) What can you forgive yourself for?
6) What word or short phrase inspires you to make better decisions?
7) What do you want to commit to doing more of in the year ahead?
8) What do you want to commit to doing less of in the year ahead?
9) What do you want to have changed by Evaluate Your Life Day, 2016?
Which question did you like the most? Which did you hate the most? What insights did you get? I’d love to hear about your experience with evaluating your life! Leave a comment below, or start a conversation with me on Twitter.
Today, I want to talk about how to start building a footbridge out of that corner. Because life is too short to spend it stuck, and there’s too much happiness and freedom waiting for you!
Also, with the changing leaves and falling temperatures (and glow-in-the-dark skeleton my kids hung on our front door this weekend), I’m feeling the end of the year coming up. There are 2-1/2 months left in 2015—enough time to make this the year you started getting out of your own way, but only if you get started now.