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!)

 

7 Simple Confidence Hacks

Confidence is one of my favorite topics. It’s a fascinating subject that we could dissect for days, but in this post I just want to give you a few quick tips that I have found to be very effective in my life. My clients have reported similar results.

Let me clarify that by confidence I mean that quiet, humble self-assuredness that you see in someone who knows who they are, what they stand for, and what they want. It’s NOT the same as arrogance, which stems from feelings of superiority over other people. In fact, it has nothing to do with other people, because it’s not about comparing yourself to anyone else. It’s about simple straight forward self-acceptance, self-love, and self-esteem.

Building a deep-rooted sense of confidence takes time. Especially if you’re coming from a place of self-doubt or insecurity to begin with. The good news is that it’s like a muscle and we can train it to be quite strong. I’ll address ways to grow your confidence in a holistic long-term way in many future posts. For now, though, here are some quick hacks to sample increased confidence at least temporarily, which can 1) help you get through a tough situation and 2) give you a taste of that delicious experience of truly, madly, and deeply believing in yourself.

1. Stand tall
Body language is hugely connected to our emotions. Even when you’re not feeling mentally, emotionally, or spiritually strong in any moment, you can choose to give yourself the gift of good posture. Simply stand tall, distribute your weight equally between both feel, relax your shoulders down and back, imagine that you have strings attached to the crown of your head and are being lifted up, and open your chest (this helps you give your lungs more room to take in more oxygen too.)

2. Make eye contact
Whether you’re doing it consciously or not, and whether it’s a reflection of your emotional state or not, as soon as you divert your eyes or avoid making eye contact with whomever you are interacting with, you will appear to be less confident. Train yourself to have the courage to look people in the eyes. Let them truly see you. Not only will you convey confidence, but you’ll also feel more confident, and will connect more easily with the other person. Obviously, there is a point at which prolonged eye contact becomes either aggressive or creepy! Use your judgment and figure out what works for you.

3. Breathe deeply
When you are scared or self-conscious, your body is most likely going into a stress response and you aren’t breathing deeply anymore. Simply pausing and remembering to breathe, and to breathe deeply if possible, will slow the stress response and start to trigger the relaxation response in your brain.

4. Speak up
Literally. Just speak louder. So many of us (women especially) have a tendency to trail off or mumble when we’re feeling insecure or unworthy. Until your inner confidence catches up, practice simply raising the volume of your voice. Again, you will not only appear more confident, but you will actually feel more confident. Plus, when you speak up, people will listen, which will in turn start to support your beliefs that your voice matters. In addition to volume, you can play with other aspects of your voice, like resonance, pitch, intonation, and tonality and notice both how you feel and what the impact is.

5. Slow down
This applies to both your internal and external behaviors. Internally, this means pausing to observe your thoughts, beliefs, intentions… it means practicing self-awareness. With external behaviors, such as your physical movements and how fast you talk, notice how people who talk fast or move quickly often come across as frenetic or flustered. Slowing down gives your brain and your heart a chance to guide your words and actions. What you say and do will be more mindful and aligned with who you are, as opposed to simply default behavior based on years of conditioning and often influenced by limiting beliefs and fear.

6. Smile
It’s so incredibly simple, but it works wonders. Don’t do one of those fake for-the-camera smiles where your mouth is smiling, but your eyes look dead. Smile with your eyes first and your mouth will follow suit. Much like how answering the phone with a huge smile on your face changes the way your voice sounds on the receiving end, smiling is a bit of a trick to short circuit your system. There are so many benefits. Not only will you get a little release of positive chemicals in your brain, but smiling puts other people at ease, which makes them feel more comfortable around you, which will put you at ease and boost your confidence.

7. Get curious
Most often, when you notice that you are lacking in self-confidence, you are focusing on yourself. Turn the focus outward onto someone else and get wildly curious about them. It’s almost impossible to judge anyone (including yourself) when you are being genuinely curious. Ask questions. Be hungry to learn more.

Use these simple tips as needed for a quick confidence boost in the moment or use them often as a way of starting to reprogram your mind with the ultimate intention of growing real authentic confidence and inner power.

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.

Simplify. Prioritize. Clarify.

Those three ideas changed my life.

A few years ago, I took stock of my life from top to bottom and realized that some things had to change. I was happy, healthy, and busy, but craved more passion, meaning, and purpose. Through searching, exploring, and peeling back layers, I discovered that as I found more meaning, I wanted less stuff. Less distraction. Less crap in my way.

And thus began a process, which developed rather organically, but that has since become a lifestyle: Simplify. Prioritize. Clarify.

Simplify.

I started to simplify things. Radically. I filled bag after bag with old clothes, nicknacks and jewelry and took them to Goodwill. I sorted through old papers and fed the recycling bin. I organized and deleted tons of documents, programs, and other unnecessary things from my digital world. Getting rid of things was part of something bigger, but at the time I didn’t understand what it was. I just felt – I knew – that I had to simplify my life. 

Turns out a big part of simplifying was learning to let go. I let go of material things that had nostalgic value, sure, but that I really didn’t need or want anymore. And ultimately I started letting go of bigger things: hobbies, habits, old stories.  The more I let go, the easier it became to see what was important and what was simply… distracting.

Prioritize.

As I created more space (literally and figuratively) in my life, I naturally started to prioritize. It felt good to ask myself brutally honest questions and be surprised by my own answers. I felt lighter, cleaner, and more alert. My mental, emotional, and spiritual bandwidth was given a huge upgrade.

I started making decisions based on what truly felt right, what supported my core values, what was aligned with who I am and what I’m about. I chose in favor of passion and purpose, rather than listening to external factors (or what I was making up about external factors, like what other people think or expect or how they’ll react.) Decision-making became a thrill rather than an ordeal.

Clarify.

The next step was obvious. I wanted clarity. Once you start living your life in a way that is aligned with who you are and what you’re about, it’s impossible to go back. So, I figured my next challenge was to get more and more clear on my values, my passions, and my purpose. This is what I’ve been most focused on for the last couple years and is the main reason I am so goddamn happy all the time!

The great thing about this process is that the more you do it, the more it becomes an unconscious way of living (rather than a conscious process.) Whenever I need to, I simplify by slowing down and letting go of the things, thoughts, and distractions that don’t serve me. Then I prioritize by choosing in favor of passion and purpose and following my heart. And finally, I get even more clear on who I am and what I’m about, which then informs everything I do and how I live my life.

OWN IT.

Own it.

My tolerance for conformity has gone down. Being like everyone else is boring. Living a life built on “I should” or “I’m supposed to” is tragic.

Luckily things are changing out there. More and more people are flying their freak flag. More and more people see the value of being who they (truly) are. Boldly and unapologetically.

I have a vision in which this is the norm, rather than the exception to the rule. Where people feel free and inspired and trust their inner wisdom, rather than seeking approval from external sources.

Where people OWN IT. Or want to learn how.

Learning to own it has been a recurring theme in my own personal growth journey. As I’ve jogged, sometimes sprinted, and often stumbled down this path, I’ve fallen in love with the concept. Hopelessly, madly in love.

It informs how I live my life (authentically), how I treat others (with respect), and it’s one of the main tenets of my message to the world.

What does it mean to own it? This picture sums it up pretty well:

Image

I’ve had this picture as the wallpaper on my iphone for probably over a year and it still brings me to my knees every time I look at it. I didn’t even know where it came from until I looked it up today. THANK YOU Karen. Your little girl has become an icon for me.

“There is nothing more badass than being who you are.”

This quote, attributed to Darren Chris, is the essence of what owning it means to me. Knowing yourself. Accepting yourself as you are. Being proud of that uniqueness. Being vulnerable and real and imperfect.

Back in April I put on a two day workshop for women with my dear friend and fellow coach, Nikki Armytage, in London. We called it Powerful Woman. Own It.

The difference between the women who walked into the room on Saturday morning and the women who walked out on Sunday afternoon was all it took to convince me that people are hungry for this.

Nikki has sinced launched Electric Woman, a campaign created to inspire women to embrace their Electric Woman. Badass.

Now that I’m paying attention, I see such a huge difference in people when they’re owning it vs. when they’re not. It’s inspiring when someone trusts their inner wisdom and goes for it. When they have the courage to be wrong and be okay with it.

I really like Rachel Wilkerson‘s Fourth Rule: “Thou Shalt Own It.”

ImageSo, go ahead. Own it. Whatever it is. Be yourself, do your thing, take responsibility for the consequences and hold that head high.

I dare you.