How to have more freedom in your life

As a freedom coach, part of my mission is to help people find and create more freedom in their lives, whatever that means to them. I’m especially interested in helping people feel more free, which I believe is something that most, if not all, of us want.

What does freedom even mean?
Freedom probably means something slightly different to each of us, depending on our perspective and life experience. Today, I’m going to look at the types of freedom that people I work with are most commonly seeking – financial freedom, location freedom, time freedom, and emotional freedom – and share a handful of tips and ideas you can use to start moving toward having more of each one in your life.

[Sidenote: This post is not about freedom in the sense of freedom from slavery, oppression, or discrimination. Those are obviously much differenent conversations (and also not my areas of expertise). I look to other inspiring and knowledgeable leaders and activists to guide us in those conversations.]

Many of these suggestions may seem obvious. But that doesn’t mean that they’re easy to actually act on. They may take courage, a willingness to get uncomfortable, or the persistence to keep going when shit hits the fan and things get hard. Look for the tips that speak to you and that whisper in your heart and do those. Even the tiniest baby steps can make a difference.

Financial Freedom
Okay, so financial freedom obviously means wildly different things to different people, but for the sake of simplicity let’s say it probably entails increasing your income, lowering your expenses, or generally having more access to better resources and more opportunities in your life. Let’s assume it’s mostly about having a choice. Having options.

For me, for example, the kind of financial freedom that I’m fiercely determined to create for myself includes being completely debt free and having predictable, sustainable income that far surpasses my family’s needs, enables me to contribute (both time and money) to causes I care about, and to have a kickass positive impact on the world.

While I don’t care much about material belongings right now, I cherish relationships, experiences, and travel, so financial freedom means being able to prioritize those in my life. It also means having a healthy and helpful relationship with money, and cultivating an abundance mindset that feels aligned with my beliefs and values.

What does financial freedom mean to you? And would could you do to move toward it? Here are some ideas you can steal:

  • Ask for a raise at your current job
  • Apply for jobs with a higher salary
  • Learn new skills that will qualify you for a higher paying job
  • Start your own business where you are in control of your own income
  • Take on a side gig(s) like driving for Lyft or teaching on Udemy or Skillshare
  • Rent out a spare room on Airbnb
  • SPEND LESS. Everywhere possible. Obviously 😉
  • Come up with a plan to pay off your debt more aggressively
  • Don’t spend money you don’t have on crap you don’t need
  • Move to a cheaper part of town, cheaper country, or cheaper apartment
  • Eat (and drink!) out less, cook at home more, grow your own food if possible
  • Take money you normally put toward escape and entertainment and invest it, save it, or invest it in your personal or professional development (best ROI!) instead
  • Believe in yourself and your self worth. Know that money is not inherently good or bad; it’s the value and meanings that we assign to it that determines that
  • Be curious about your relationship with money, and start shifting your negative limiting beliefs to more empowering, helpful ones

I’m not a financial expert, but I have come across a ton of great resources over the years. If you want recommendations, I’m happy to share some of my favorites with you.

Location Freedom
You don’t need to be a digital nomad like me to have location freedom. Location freedom can mean that your employer allows you to work remotely part-time so that you feel less tied to your desk. Or being your own boss so that you can work from home and wear yoga pants. Or simply having a shorter commute. Think about what environments you thrive in, and which you don’t. What kind of setup will help you be productive and happy?

For me, for example, location freedom absolutely means being my own boss, setting my own hours, and being able to work from home, a coffeeshop, or whatever hotel or Airbnb I happen to be staying in. But it also means the freedom to create a space that’s conducive to feeling grounded and peaceful and inspired to do my work, by having a sunny and open room, inspiring music in the background, and to be dressed comfortably.

What does it mean to you? How could you move even just one step closer to creating that for yourself? Here are some ideas:

  • Ask your employer for the option to work remotely one day a week to start and go up from there
  • Find a job that allows you to work remotely. There are tons of companies that offer remote jobs. Here’s another list. And another. Ok, just one more.
  • Start your own location independent business
  • Move. If your commute is making you miserable, move closer to it (or leave the job)
  • Check out companies like Remote YearUnsettled, or Hacker Paradise that help you work like a digital nomad, but minus all the DIY headaches, and plus a built in community. Or Roam for coliving and coworking spaces.

If you want to know more about living and working as a digital nomad, this is one of my areas of expertise, so I’m happy to answer any questions you have or send you resources that might help.

Time Freedom
Ah, wouldn’t we all love more time? Yes, of course. But instead of just whining about not having enough, why not take responsibility and do what you can to create more time. I believe it’s a matter of optimizing where we can, and then prioritizing where we put our energy based on what’s actually most important.

For me, time freedom means being in charge of when and how much I work. And making sure I have the time and space for what’s most important to me, like family, friends, exercise, travel, adventure, reading, and endless personal growth.

What does time freedom mean to you? And how can you create more in your life? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Stop saying yes when you mean no. Notice where you give of your time too freely and end up feeling resentful. Practice setting boundaries. It’s best for everyone.
  • Plan ahead and intend to stick to your plan as much as possible (knowing that you can always adjust as needed). Instead of just reacting to whatever comes your way, treat your most important projects and priorities as non-negotiable appointments. Put them on the calendar. And show up.
  • Put like with like. The best way I know to clean, simplify, and organize is to start by grouping like with like. Do the same with your tasks like email, phone calls, errands, etc. so you do them all while you’re in that mode, before switching gears.
  • Conventional wisdom, and most productivity gurus, tell us to do the most important (and sometimes most unpleasant) tasks first. You’ll feel accomplished, relieved, and can then relax and do the little easy stuff later. This can be really powerful.
  • And, I’ll be honest, for me sometimes doing the exact opposite works even better. I usually do all the easy, little stuff and then when I feel like my brain is clear, I am more ready for the big, hard stuff. Choose whatever works for you.
  • OPTIMIZE! Look for ways to automate (like using an online scheduler instead of lots of emailing back and forth), outsource tasks that you don’t need or want to do (e.g. hire a cleaner or a Task Rabbit), or find sneaky ways to be productive during downtime (like taking public transportation instead of driving to work, so you can read, work, or even do a little mobile morning ritual during that time instead.)

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are SO MANY brilliant time management and productivity hacks out there. I geek out on this stuff, so hit me up if you want more tips.

Emotional Freedom
This is by far my favorite one. Emotional freedom is a highly personal one, because it depends largely on our background, upbringing, conditioning, fears, etc. It may be more about want freedom from something (e.g. self-doubt or fear) or craving the freedom to something (e.g. do work you love, be yourself etc.) I love helping people with the practical ones, but working toward emotional freedom is what I’ve found to be most impactful, because it’s so foundational. It’s our personal development.

It’s where we get in our own way, self-sabotage, and settle for lives that are not ones we love. Nothing gives me more joy than watching another human untangle themselves from what’s been holding back them, start to cultivate a deeper sense of inner peace and inner power, and then go out and intentionally design and build a new reality based on who they really are.

For me, personally, emotional freedom is mostly a feeling – that sense of lightness that I get when I’m giving myself permission to be and own who I am, express myself openly and unapologetically, and when I let go of worrying about what other people think. I feel incredibly alive and awake when my external life is an expression with who I am on the inside. It’s unleashing my inner badass, and being the powerful creator that I am. That we all are, when we get out of our own damn way.

What does emotional freedom mean to you? And how can you move in that direction? Here are some of my favorite tips:

  • Constantly ask yourself what you want and how you want to feel. Learn to be more and more honest with yourself. Then use those answers as your guide.
  • Read and watch less negative stuff; instead, consume more empowering, uplifting stuff. Like this blog 🙂 Or the many amazing books, articles, and podcasts out there.
  • Seek out supportive communities. Distance yourself from the people who drag you down. You don’t need to cut them out of your life completely, just make sure you also have some supporters that want the best for you and will cheer you on. Don’t know where to find one? Join my online community Freedom + Badassery!
  • STOP TAKING EVERYTHING SO PERSONALLY. This has been my biggest struggle, and the more I let go of it, the more free, light, and expansive I feel.
  • Listen less to what others and society think you should do. Listen more to what your heart wants and what gets you excited and makes you happy.
  • Take radical responsibility for your life. All of it. Your thoughts, your actions, your impact. Don’t give your power away to anyone or anything outside of yourself. Create your own reality, because you always have a choice. If nothing else, you can choose how you respond to what life throws at you. And it makes a huge difference.

So, tell me: how free do you feel right now? I’d love to hear your thoughts. (Comment below or email me directly.)

Feeling inspired to take more responsibility for designing your life? You can go a little deeper with my online training: How to Create an Extraordinary Life You Love. And of course, if you want to seriously uplevel your life and create more freedom, especially emotional freedom in your life, ask me about coaching.

5 Ways to Create More Time

Wish you had more time?

Ever feel like life is just speeding by, and you can barely tell the difference between one day and the next? Or that there is so much you want to do, but you’re too busy just making it through your work day and you couldn’t possibly fit anything else in?

image of busy intersection with buses speeding by

image of busy intersection with buses speeding by

You’ve probably heard someone say something like “We all have the same 24 hours in a day” or “Beyoncé also only has 24 hours in a day”. If someone said that to you on a particularly busy and stressful day, perhaps you considered punching them in the mouth. Or yelling back that Beyoncé may indeed have 24 hours in a day, but that she also makes like 24 million dollars a day and can hire 24 personal assistants to help her every day.

It’s frustrating, I know.

But, let me remind you that you are the powerful creator of your own life.

That means you always have a choice. And when you stop blaming other people and circumstances (including time, or your lack thereof) you are already on your way to creating more time!

1) Stay in the present

We waste an incredible amount of time and energy worrying about what’s going to happen (playing and replaying endless “what if…?” scenarios in our minds), or dwelling on mistakes or regrets about the past (“how could I have been so stupid to…”)

You can’t control the future or change the past, and hanging out there isn’t helpful, so take your power back by catching yourself in the act and then dropkicking yourself back into the here and now.

One of my favorite mantras for when I feel stressed or catch myself frantically multi-tasking is “this is the only thing I have to do right now”. Another good one is “I am right here, right now.”

Take a deep breath, repeat one of the above, and focus on the now, on what’s right in front of you.

2) Batch similar tasks

When we constantly shift from one thing to another, we are interrupting our mental focus and that wastes a ton of time. Instead of reading and responding to emails every time you get a notification or happen to look at your phone, for example, you can process all your emails for the day in one or two sittings. And during that time, ALL you do is email.

Same goes for running errands or making phone calls. Look at your to do list and group similar items together, then knock ’em all off the list at the same time.

3) Cut out (or manage) the time wasters

I know, I know. You need your 30 minutes of Keeping up with the Kardashians to wind down after a hard day at work. If that really is your thing, own it and do enjoy the heck out of the 30 minutes, but then tear yourself – kicking and screaming, if you have to –  away from the TV when it’s done. It’s not the time wasters themselves that are inherently bad. It’s when we give into the addiction and suddenly lose 8 hours of our day to them that it’s not helpful.

Don’t deny yourself all the little pleasures that make your day more bearable and enjoyable, but participate in them mindfully, not like a goddamn zombie. Set a timer if you need to. Get one of those apps that kicks you off of Facebook after 15 minutes if that’s what it’s gonna take. Schedule your “relax and unwind” time (whether it’s a soothing hot bath or playing tetris on your iPad) the way you would schedule an important meeting, honor that you’re giving yourself the gift, do it, and then move on when the time is up.

4) Meditate

“But I don’t have time to meditate!” scream the busy masses. Well, I hate to break it to you, stressed out high level executive, but science these days has gotten all caught up to what ancient wisdom has been telling us for thousands of years. In short, that shit really works! Meditation takes time, sure, but the ROI on that time you spend is amazing.

Taking some moments to breath deeply, slow down, be still and quiet your mind will make you more grounded, more calm, and help that busy brain of yours function more efficiently. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, dear reader, but are you actually applying it in your own life?

5) Declutter your world

Take inventory. Do a super honest audit of your physical environment, your online banking, and your social calendar, while asking yourself what you can let go of. I’m betting if you take a long, hard look at the stuff in your home, there is a large percentage of it that is no longer in alignment with what you actually care about. Perhaps there are subscriptions you are paying for every month that you don’t use. And events you’re saying yes to that don’t actually add anything to your life.

Be honest. Say no. Let go of stuff. The more you declutter – whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually – the more you’ll feel spacious and free, and be better able to focus on and prioritize the things you truly care about.

These changes don’t all have to happen at once. Pick just one or two of them to practice or a while and see what changes you notice in how you feel.

Designing your unconventional life. On purpose.

Designing your life, intentionally, is more than possible. And yet, most people don’t do it.

Who designed your life (career, lifestyle, social circle, where you live…)? Was it you? Or did you sort of stumble into it?

So many of us charge forward, living by default. We do what our parents counsel us to do, copy our friends, and are heavily influenced by the borderline brainwashing of the media, TV shows, upbringing, religious communities, peer groups, or whatever our strongest influences were.

We rarely pause and ask ourselves who we really are. What we actually want. Or what we want our lives and lifestyles to look like.

So many of the people I work with actually have really “great” lives on paper. They checked all the boxes, did all the things, but deep down they are not fulfilled. Yes, they have created a proper, “successful” life, by society’s standards.

But what they’ve failed to do is to create a meaningful life. One that is an expression of their particular set of talents, gifts, and characteristics. A journey that allows them to spend their time on what they value most and what makes them come alive. A reflection of their unique perspective on the world.

That’s where I come in. I want you, yes YOU, to have not only a successful life (but by YOUR standards of success, not anyone else’s), but to also have a life that is meaningful, whatever that means to you.

Don’t waste anytime lamenting your past, or regretting past choices, because we can’t change them anyway. (Although if you do want to spend some time forgiving yourself, honoring, and letting go of your past, that’s a great use of time!)

Instead, start where you are today, and commit to designing your life from here on out. On purpose, instead of simply reacting to whatever life throws at you.

So, how the hell do you go about doing that? It’s not easy, but it can be simple. Here are 5 great strategies to get you started.

1) Cultivate self-awareness

The more you learn to be present to your own experience, the more power you have to shift it into what you want. We can’t change what we’re not aware of, so start training yourself to notice, in real time, where you’re at. Listen to how you’re talking to yourself in your head and notice how you’re feeling in your body. This will help you become the conscious creator of your life.

2) Get yourself some damn clarity

A lot of people aren’t chasing their dreams for the simple reason that they don’t actually know what they want. If you don’t know where you want to go, it’s gonna be pretty hard to get there! So start by asking yourself what you want. In every area of your life. If you’re extra disconnected from what you want, it may take time. Be patient. Be bold and dare to admit your truest desires. At the very least to yourself. And if you’re able to, share it with some people who believe in you and can support you in heading down that path.

3) Start taking action

Once you start figuring out what you want, you can start moving toward it. Don’t worry about having it all planned out first. Just start somewhere, because you can always course correct as you get more clear. If you already know what you want, but are too terrified to make any leaps (say quitting a job or leaving a relationship), start with  the tiniest baby step and go from there. Action creates energy and momentum. It gives you more clarity and confidence, and feels super satisfying to boot!

4) Get support

As you start designing your life more intentionally, you’ll need support. Most likely, you’ll have critics and people who doubt your dreams. (Maybe because they resent you for having the courage to pursue them, which highlights their own inability to do so themselves. Or because they simply have a different perspective.) Let them doubt and criticize you. That’s their story, not yours.

Instead, seek out support from people who are living the life you want (as mentors, coaches, teachers) or who believe in you and your dreams and will cheer you on no matter what (colleagues, peers, fans, friends.) Fear will come up. Failure will happen. Shit will inevitably hit the fan. So, have a support network in place that can catch you when you fall and affectionately slap you on the butt after you dust yourself off and get back on that big, unruly horse you’re attempting to ride.

5) Keep tweaking

Look for opportunities to take big leaps and inspired action, when appropriate, but more than anything, keep tweaking. Every day, every week, look for the small shifts you can make that will create just a little more alignment in your day to day experience. Make the helpful baby steps that inch you closer to your dream part of your regular routine; make them habits. Rituals. Infuse every moment of every day, every choice you make, and every thought you think with intention.

Live your life on purpose and be designing and redesigning a life that inspires you and fills you with joy and gratitude. 

Ok? You do NOT have to live your life by a bunch of tired, outdated, unspoken rules that are followed by most people, because they’re just living by default.

Break the rules. Break that mold.

You get to create an UNCONVENTIONAL, meaningful, amazing, and exhilarating life – one that is aligned with the absurd combination of traits that is you, and whatever it is that is most dear to you.

Do it. I believe in you. And I hope you do too. (If not, or if you need help with this, you know where to find me!)

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

The dreaded question. Deer in headlights was about all I could muster in response throughout school and well into my twenties. How was one supposed to know?

I liked a lot of things. Too many things. In fact, the endless possibilities and “you can be whatever you want to be” urgings of my generation’s supporters felt like an unbearable burden most of the time. Being a positive thinker and dreamer, I appreciated the sentiment, but my own inability to narrow it down to even a small list of options left me paralyzed.

Fast forward to the start of my decade in San Francisco when I was about 26 years old.

“Adventure travel host,” I wrote in my journal. Underneath the title of yet another far fetched career idea, I scribbled down my thoughts about why this job appealed to me and what the obvious stumbling blocks were (“How the hell would I get my foot in the door of that industry??”)

Next up was “Performer/Entertainer” followed by wistful dreams of acting, dancing, singing, painting, doing voice over work… followed by the inevitable insecurities (“What if I don’t make it in Hollywood? Do I really want to be a starving artist?”)

“Should I just suck it up and get a normal job? Something more professional? Am I wasting precious time exploring this other stuff that I should really be spending in a corporate setting getting real life experience?”

These are just a few of the thoughts that were swimming around in my head, back in 2007, near the end of my short-lived 2-year career in financial planning. I had taken some improv classes, was doing a lot of writing for a music tech startup, had started bartending, and was enthusiastically exploring other interests, but ultimately I was basically still completely lost.

I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. 

Two years later, in 2009, I still didn’t know. I had stumbled into fitness, which was closer than any of my previous jobs. But I still found myself agonizing over that brutal mix of uncertainty and indecision, coupled with a sense of unfulfilled potential and a refusal to settle.

A typical week often looked like this:
Monday: convinced that I needed to spend a year abroad traveling while I was still young
Tuesday: excited about the prospect of being an entrepreneur and ready to figure out how
Wednesday: researching grad school, especially INSEAD, 100% sure I wanted to apply
Thursday: still dreaming of being an artist and looking for auditions on craigslist
Friday: exhausted, discouraged, and confused, crying in frustration
Saturday: convinced my dreams were silly, ready to give up and get a corporate job
Sunday: pissed and ready to do whatever it took to find a meaningful path

That year I made a commitment to myself. I was going to make “figuring out what I want to be when I grow up” my biggest priority. I didn’t care how long it was going to take, I just knew I couldn’t take any more of the back and forth.

Figuring out my purpose became my purpose.

I started reading countless books, blogs, and articles. I saw a hypnotherapist who was also an EFT practitioner. I attended workshops, seminars, and retreats. I hired coaches. I interviewed anyone who seemed like they liked their job. I talked to anyone who would listen. I journaled, and journaled, and journaled.

And the beautiful thing is, it totally worked. It was a messy, clumsy, disjointed process, but I found my way. Had I known half of what I know now, I would do things very differently. But looking back, I’m not ashamed of any of it. Instead, it all seems somehow delightfully earnest. It was my perfectly imperfect journey and it got me to where I am today. For that I will be eternally grateful.

Years of people pleasing, approval seeking, and caring way too much what other people think of me pushed me to a breaking point where my own lack of direction became so exasperating and exhausting that something had to change.

And it did. Once I stopped looked outside of myself for validation and got quiet enough to hear the wisdom in my heart (that had, of course, been there all along) it was obvious. All those years of voraciously reading self-help books and devouring anything and everything motivational, inspiration, and chicken soup for the soul-y suddenly made sense…

finally started being honest enough with myself to admit that I wanted to be a life coach.

Even though the words made me cringe at the time, I had to face the truth. It had actually been there all along – the rather radical calling. But it was expressed only as a gentle whisper underneath the loud, obnoxious voices of my inner critics, so I couldn’t hear it for so long.

Luckily, I ultimately made that powerful choice and started to listen to what my heart was trying to say. Given my hesitant nature, it actually took me several years to really go there. Even once I had broken the seal and headed down the path, I still only dipped in a toe or two at a time. I played it safe and dabbled carefully, but I DID move forward.

Of course, at the time, I had NO idea what I was getting into. I didn’t realize that becoming a life coach also meant becoming an entrepreneur. And that holy crap, that shit is hard! Or how profoundly life changing and fulfilling it would be.

I had no idea that I was embarking on my very own journey to personal freedom. 

That’s the journey that I’m on now. Everything I do is about freedom. Freedom to live a life by my own design, to be consciously creating my own reality, and to take full responsibility for every damn part of it. It’s also about freedom from my own self-imposed limitations and the old stories that used to hold me back.

This is what I’m about and it’s what my business is all about too. The cool thing about my story is that I had to slog my way through all that self-doubt, indecision, and fear in order to get here. So I get it. And now that I have the distinct honor of helping other people build their own paths to freedom and start to unleash their own beauty and brilliance out in the world, my tears of frustration have been replaced by tears of joy and gratitude.

Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, many of the elements of those things that I thought I wanted (i.e. going to business school, traveling the world, performing and entertaining), even though they weren’t pointing me in any particular career direction at the time, were clues to values and passions that were alive and well in me already back then.

I’m happy to be able to say that now, in my business and in my life, I get to do some degree of all those things that make me feel alive. My wish for anyone who is reading this and feeling similarly lost is that you start listening to all the clues, the whispers, and the dreams that are already there, if you get quiet and calm enough to access them.

Do You Have a Powerful Morning Ritual?

Do you have a morning ritual? I’m betting you do. But do you do your morning ritual on purpose or by default? Most of us tend to get into at least some kind of a routine and do more or less the same things every morning. Are you conscious or on autopilot?

The goal is to become conscious of what you currently do, so that you can decide if it’s working for you or not. Once you have the self-awareness, then you can make a powerful choice about whether to keep that ritual or design something that works better.

What’s the point of a morning ritual anyway?

A ritual is special – it adds meaning to your day. Whereas a routine is something you do regularly, a ritual is something you do regularly that has a point. It’s intentional, not just the default. 

I love the word ritual, because it implies a certain ceremony or sacredness. It’s an opportunity to show respect. To honor not only yourself but the life you are creating.

Let’s say you’re now aware of what your default morning routine is and you want to create something more POWERFUL – a meaningful ritual as opposed to a default routine. How do you create one?

There is no right way to do a morning ritual. The idea is to design something that is both effective and meaningful for YOU.

For one person, it might be 5 minutes of meditation, 20 pushups, a cold shower and then boom, they’re done. For someone else, it may be an elaborate 2 hour ceremony including prayer, journaling, yoga, candles, setting intentions for the day, and a gratitude practice. Or maybe it’s just a great cup of coffee while you read the newspaper.

It doesn’t matter what’s included in your ritual, as long as it sets the tone for your day. So ask yourself this – what state of mind do you want to be in when you start your work day?What kind of energy would support your work and lifestyle? Consider how much time you can and want to devote to your morning ritual and what would be an effective and powerful use of that time.

Here are some suggestions for different components you might include:

Movement
An intense bootcamp class, a brisk walk, yoga, or even a dance party in your living room. Find what works for you and gives you the kind of energy you need.

Journaling
Putting pen to paper is so powerful. Especially since we live in an increasingly digital world. Try journaling as a way to clear your mind and connect with your inner wisdom.

Nature
Seriously, mother nature wants to hook you up. Do what you can to tap into that. Exercise outdoors, walk barefoot on the beach, or just breathe some fresh air. Life giving.

Stillness
We’re bombarded with information all day. Our minds need peace and quiet to balance it out. Find stillness in prayer, meditation, or simply breathing mindfully for a few minutes.

Mindfulness
Create a gratitude practice, set an intention for the day, say affirmations, or review your goals. Start the day in a conscious way, connecting to what’s most important to you.

Strategy
Instead of going through your day in reaction mode, have a strategy. You’ll be more effective and focused if you know what you plan to do and why.

Read
As in, read something helpful. Not facebook. Not the news. Read a book on business or a blog that inspires you. Whatever is meaningful and helpful to you.

Creativity
What inspires you? Incorporate music, candles, incense, or whatever elements make it fun and magical. Call on ancestors, spirit guides, or pull a goddess card if that works for you!

Whatever you come up with, I recommend keeping it simple, at least in the beginning. Remember, you’re going to try to do it every day. Don’t be afraid to experiment and mix it up until you find what truly energizes you.

 

Sometimes You Gotta Slow Down to Speed up

For those of us living in fast moving, high tech, always connected cultures, this is not just some hot topic from the mindfulness movement. It’s becoming increasingly urgent for our health and well-being that we remember to unplug, slow down, and quiet our minds.

When we slow down, we create the space and energy needed to not only speed back up (and to do so more intentionally and strategically,) but also to thrive, to grow, to evolve, and to find clarity. That’s exactly what I’m intending to do down here in Costa Rica for the next three weeks.

playa

Recently I’ve felt as though I’m staring into a thick fog, straining my eyes in order to make out something in the distance. It’s as if there is a shift or epiphany of some kind coming, but I can’t quite make out what it looks like or what the message is.

I can feel the essence of it. The intoxicating pull of something I don’t yet understand but can’t deny the strength of. There is clarity there. Focus. Resonance. I suspect it’s related to my business, but it could be something else entirely.

I also know I can’t force it. The harder I look for the answers, the more they escape me. It’s like when you wake up from a vivid dream and can still feel the richness of it, but as soon as you try to bring the specifics of it into consciousness they slip away, out of reach. I have to step back, let the distractions fade away, and trust that the answers will show up when the time is right.

We planned this trip ages ago, since Chris’ family is putting on a reunion of sorts, and we figured we’d head out a few weeks early. (We got engaged a week before leaving, so it became a celebratory trip too.) Yet, the timing feels so appropriate, given my current state of mind. There is nothing but space and time down here in paradise and I am grateful to be here right now. Pura vida!

puravida

It’s so easy to get caught up in the frenetic pace of city life. I think the tendency to rush through one thing and onto the next thing is deeply ingrained in many of us. In my case, I’ve been in crazy mode since leaving my last job in February in order to focus on building my own business full time.

I’ve been hustling like a madman to make ends meet while still being fiercely determined to stay true to myself, honor my values, and be actively creating the business and lifestyle of my dreams. It’s been amazing, and ridiculously challenging. The work is thrilling for me and transformational for my clients. Finding the clients and creating steady income is where the crazy comes in. I’ve experimented a lot, failed a lot, learned a lot, have grown the business slowly but steadily, and I have a loooooong way to go. I’m prepared to buckle down and continue to work hard creating something that is not just aligned with who I am and what I stand for, but that is scalable, sustainable, and successful.

That being said, our bodies and our souls need time to slow down. Not just to replenish, recharge, and relax but also to allow our inner wisdom to emerge. We can give ourselves this gift through regular meditation, vacation, and many other forms of self-care. But how often to we neglect this need? How many of us show up, with the best of intentions, depleted, stressed and confused, because we’ve neglected to slow down, create space for rest and recovery, and do whatever else it is we need in terms of self-care?

Today, I’m sinking into the slower pace of life. I’m working on letting go of expectations and assumptions and practicing the art of being in the moment. Instead of trying hard to find the answers, I’m relaxing into just being with the fog until it clears.

 

How to Kick Ass at Public Speaking

Public speaking. Most people hate it. A few of us love it. Many jobs require it and being good at it can open a lot of doors. Why not learn to kick ass at it? Here is my take on how.

microphone photo

Embrace your fear

Fear shows up in some shape or form, usually nerves, for most of us when we know we’re going to speak in front of a group. Being nervous is normal and healthy. Embrace it. Find a way to move through it, dance with it, or harness it. It’s just energy. Let it empower you. If you have rituals or practices that help you get grounded, use them.

Be authentic

As the Chinese proverb says, “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” Let go of the ideas you have about what a person is supposed to look, act, and sound like when speaking in public and just talk. The harder you try to be someone or something else, the more obvious it is to the audience and the less interesting you are to listen to.

Know your why

If you don’t know why you’re up there, the audience won’t either. Be clear on your purpose for giving the talk. Are you there to entertain? To educate? To inspire? What is your message? Keep your content simple and focus on one core theme or idea. Help your listeners understand why it’s meaningful to you.

Don’t memorize every word

There are lots of techniques you can use to remember what you want to cover (use a powerpoint presentation, refer to an outline, use note cards, memorize the outline etc.) but memorizing every word of a speech is rarely the way to go. It just doesn’t sound natural. Know the story instead. Understand the emotional journey you want to take your audience on, but don’t memorize every word.

Slow down

Slow everything down – your words, your breathing, your hand gestures, your facial expressions. We inevitably speed up when nervous so do your best to consciously slow down your speech. This also gives you time to think. After making an important point, pause to allow it to land. The more relaxed and grounded you seem up there, the more relaxed and grounded your audience will feel.

Use natural body language

Move in a way that is authentic to you. If you are expressive and talk with your hands, do that. If you are pretty laid back and don’t move around a lot, do that. The point is, find something that feels right for you, rather than trying to move how you think you’re supposed to move. Some of the best talks I’ve seen were delivered by speakers who barely moved at all. Turn up the dial on your own energy to engage the crowd, but avoid being fake.

Be aware of your breath and voice

Breathe. If you are running out of breath, the audience will feel like they are running out of breath. Consciously slowing down and controlling your breathing will improve many things about your delivery and your own experience. Take advantage of the full range, volume, and tone of your voice to bring your listeners into the emotional experience of your story. Your voice is an extremely powerful instrument. Learn to use it intentionally.

Be present and read the room

When you are grounded and present, you are better able to read the room and detect the subtle shifts happening in the energy in the room. If you are caught up in your own story or obsessively worrying what people might think, you probably won’t notice that the back of the room has checked out. By being completely in the moment, you can better sense what’s going on around you, and adjust your presentation accordingly.

Invest in the process, then let go of the outcome

Prepare. Practice. Then practice some more. Really invest in the process. Then, as soon as you walk onto the stage let go of the outcome and just have fun. Trust that you’ve put in the work and will find the words. Tap into your authentic self and speak from your heart. Let go of getting it right and looking good. Be flexible and open to whatever comes up.

If you end up using any of these tips, I would love to hear how it goes. Leave a comment or send me a note.