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.

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.

Are you an undercover rebel?

I love working with rebels. Interestingly enough, most of my rebel clients had NO idea they were one when we started down their path. They don’t identify with that part of themselves. Yet. They’re still in hiding.

That’s why I call them undercover rebels. 

I was one too. Big time. I had NO concept of rebellion. In fact, had you told me that when I was younger, I would have laughed in your face, because I was basically the opposite of a rebel.

I was a good girl – great at following instructions, following the rules, following… well, basically anything and everyone. Great student, stellar athlete, dedicated musician, girl scout, etc. I got pretty far by following the rules, so truthfully it never really appealed to me – or even occurred to me for that matter – to break the rules.

I naively assumed that the rules, guidelines, and authority figures out there guiding me were not only well intentioned, but logical, helpful, and meaningful. Turns out I was wrong. Very wrong.

Fast forward a few decades – and a shit load of soul searching, some pretty wild experiences, and the world’s most random work history – and here we are.

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I now not only accept, but embrace, the idea of being a rebel. It’s a crucial part of my identity. I can’t imagine not honoring that part of me. It’s exhilarating. It’s me, when I’m being most real.

I am a rebel.
I am a non-conformist.
I am a rule breaker.
I am a trouble maker.

It should go without saying here that I’m not talking about rebellion in the violent sense of the word. It’s not about breaking rules just to break them. Or making trouble just to be an asshole. I know you get that.

It’s about challenging the status quo. Questioning everything. Thinking for yourself. It’s about making up your own rules for how you want to live your life, rather than following some predetermined formula about what you’re supposed to do.

SW_Jordan McQueen25

Now that I’ve “come out” as a rebel, I am eagerly searching for the rest of my tribe. I’m growing the beginnings of a community of undercover rebels who are ready to step into the arena and start living the wild and adventurous life they secretly want. Is this you? Let’s find out.

What makes you an undercover rebel?  

You have a little trouble maker in you, but you’re not owning it yet. Other people often see it in you, even when you don’t. Family, friends, and colleagues often come to you for guidance, or even look up to you as a leader, even when you feel you have nothing to offer.

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On some level you feel unsatisfied, restless, unsettled… it’s like you’re yearning for something. You’re craving more meaning, depth, purpose, passion… or something. You  feel frustrated, like you’re holding back.

You wish you could just LET GO, shake off your inhibitions (or fears or doubts or whatever) and BREAK FREE.

If that sounds like you, I want to help. I want to show you what it’s like to unleash your inner badass, embrace your inner rebel, and own who you are. I want to show you how powerful you are when you’re true to all of you, including the feisty little trouble maker in you that wants to go do cool shit.

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Many of my fellow undercover rebels, once they’ve come out of hiding and into the light, realize that they’re ready for bigger things. They’re no longer able to be the luke warm version of themselves they were. They’re not just rebels either. They’re much, much more. They usually start to level up every area of their life and are often surprised and delighted when they begin to see what they’re actually capable of.

Let me take it a step further and ask you this. Do any of the following ideas resonate with you on some level? Is there a whisper in your heart when you read them?

You are a creator.
You are a visionary.
You are a leader.
You are a change maker.
You want to have an impact.

You want to create a meaningful life full of passion, purpose, and adventure.

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If this sounds like you, regardless of how far along you are on your journey out of the cave, I’d be honored to have you in my tribe. We are only at the beginning stages of this movement. We’re finding each other, supporting each other, building community.

Stay tuned. There is much more to come. In the meantime, sign up for my mailing list if you’re not on it yet, to keep up with what we’re doing. You’ll get a free gift (“How to Unleash Your Inner Badass”) and my kickass weekly newsletter. For those of you here in the bay area, you can join my Meetup group San Francisco Undercover Rebels too.

I hope you’re ready to stop holding back, start letting go, and go kick some serious ass. Let’s do this.

Top 10 Reasons to Become a Lifestyle Entrepreneur

Before I go into the top 10, let me clarify what I mean by lifestyle entrepreneur, for those of you who might not be familiar with the term. As far as labels go, it’s one that I strongly identify with, and as soon as I heard the term, I claimed it. Hell ya, I am a lifestyle entrepreneur, albeit just a freshman compared to the seniors on campus like Tim Ferris and Chris Guillebeau, who blazed the trail for the rest of us years ago.

What is a lifestyle entrepreneur?
Lifestyle entrepreneurs are simply entrepreneurs who prioritize lifestyle before profit. Are we still interested in profit? Absolutely! Most of us are incredibly money motivated. It’s just that we value freedom and independence more than anything else. We’re crystal clear on our desired lifestyle and build our businesses around those ideals, not just to allow for what’s most important to us, but to support it.

It’s about freedom
Some of us are location independent digital nomads, running businesses we can run from anywhere in the world. Many of us are obsessed with travel and strive to create a freedom lifestyle, where we can live, work, and play while globetrotting freely. For others, it’s about something completely different. Ultimately, though, it’s always about freedom – whatever that means to you.

It’s not easy
Of course, being a lifestyle entrepreneur has its challenges, just like being any kind of entrepreneur. It’s a wild ride that’s probably not for everyone. Most of us take huge risks, fail often, and frequently get the crap kicked out of us. Some people give it a great effort, but eventually walk away because it’s hard and uncomfortable. The ones who end up crushing it usually have some serious grit (unless they just got really lucky).

Here are some of my favorite reasons, for those of you flirting with the idea, to become a lifestyle entrepreneur.

1. Vision + Purpose + Passion
As a lifestyle entrepreneur, you lead with vision, purpose and passion. You’re often called “heart centered” and can’t imagine doing work you don’t love. You step out of your comfort zone frequently and do whatever it takes to build a business, because it lights you up and fills your life with meaning. It’s the work you can’t not do.

2. Authenticity
You get to fly your freak flag. In this type of work, the more authentic you are, the more successful you are. You get to create a business that is an expression, or extension, of who you are. There are no masks to put on or facades to uphold. You just get to be you – the quirky, super weird, real YOU.

3. Freedom
Regardless of what your definition of freedom is, being a lifestyle entrepreneur is all about supporting that. Whether it’s being able to spend time outdoors during the day and working at night, having time to care for elderly parents, spending more time with your kids, or traveling 9 months of the year, YOU get to decide. (And only YOU are responsible for creating it.)

4. Flexibility
A big part of the freedom lifestyle is flexibility. Set your own hours, work when and how you want. If sitting at a desk for 8 hours doesn’t work, maybe you work in 20 minute spurts. Or only on weekends. Or when you feel like it. Or when your golf schedule allows for it. Obviously it depends on what your line of work is, when your clients are available etc., but it’s up to you to set it up in a way that works for you.

5. Location independence
Another big part of the freedom lifestyle is being location independent. If you want to stay home, you can work from home. If you want to be social, you can find a co-working space or coffeeshop. As long as you have wifi, you can work with clients 1:1 over the phone or skype, lead group calls or video conferences, host webinars, and so much more with people anywhere in the world, from anywhere in the world. You also start to really appreciate good wifi.

6. Personal growth
Whether your business is actually about personal growth, like mine is, or is focused on something else entirely (SEO, let’s say), because you are not just doing whatever your line of work is but also figuring out all the different parts of starting and growing a business, you will constantly grow and develop as a human. You’ll fail, learn, grow, rinse, and repeat.

7. Financial independence
While it can be crazy stressful, risky, and humbling in the beginning when you’re dealing with aspects of entrepreneurship like paying for your own health insurance or not having a predictable monthly income, the possibilities are limitless. As a lifestyle entrepreneur, maybe you become an expert at leverage, offering not just 1:1 services, but group programs, information products, and more. Maybe you create multiple streams of passive income.

8. Building a team
In the beginning, most likely you start out by doing everything yourself. Maybe you stay a one person shop, which can work beautifully, or maybe you start outsourcing parts of the business to experts who can do a much better job at whatever it is you’re not great at or don’t enjoy doing, which frees up your time to focus on your favorite parts of the work. With an efficient team, you can leverage yourself even more.

9. Creativity
Most lifestyle entrepreneurs lead unconventional lives. If you are a bit of a rebel, rule breaker, or non-conformist, having creative freedom is incredibly important to you. It’s where you come alive and do your best work. Being your own boss, running your own company, and being a creator out in the world gives you the freedom to be in your zone of genius, and tap into your creative in whichever way you’d like.

10. Impact
You want – no need! – to have an impact, leave a mark, and make the world a better place or help the people in it, in your own unique and brilliant way. It doesn’t matter how big or small the impact is, as a lifestyle entrepreneur it’s an important part of what drives you. Doing work that has no impact not only doesn’t appeal to you, it probably repels you.

In short, being a lifestyle entrepreneur is a challenging, emotional rollercoaster of an adventure that is worth every single second. I’ve only been on the path for a few years, and have a long way to go and many more challenges to get through I’m sure, but I can’t imagine doing anything else now.

If this post stirs something in your heart, don’t ignore it! Honor the whisper in your ear, treat it as a clue, get wildly curious, and explore the possibilities. I dare you.

Create your own reality

Are you the author of your own life? In the driver’s seat? Mindfully choosing what to think, do, and say? Intentionally designing the life you want to live? Taking action (and course correcting as needed) on purpose, consciously moving toward your goals and dreams?

Unfortunately, so much of our conditioning teaches us to be victims of circumstance, to just react and deal with whatever lands in our lap. And that’s supposed to be the life we live.

To that I say “Oh, HELL no!”

I will go my own way and design my own life, thank you very much. And I hope you’ll do the same. You do NOT have to live your life the way other people expect.

I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul
~ William Ernest Henley 

Take a moment right now to be still, get quiet, and check in with yourself. Are you creating your own reality? If so, to what extent?

Where in your life are you going unconscious, and consequently being swept along with whatever inertia your family, friends, jobs, bosses, roommates, and the rest of the world around you has sucked you into?

(Not that any of those things are inherently bad. They’re not good or bad, they just are. The question is are you aware of where you are and what you’re doing? Do you want to be there, doing that?)

So, go ahead. Check in with yourself right now. If you were completely in charge of your own life, would it look any different than it does right now? If not, congratulations you are large and in charge!

If so, I challenge you to start exploring where you might step it up and start taking more responsibility for yourself and your impact. If you were completely in your power, what would you be doing differently? Since you always have a choice, you might start asking yourself this:

What are you choosing? And what are you creating, for yourself and for others?

Here are a few of the things I’m choosing: to honor my purpose (which is all about freedom), to chase my dreams, to be fearlessly authentic, to practice gratitude, to embrace the shit out of failure and my own imperfections, to live by my values, to have fun and be playful, and to spread joy wherever I go.

What about you? Comment below or send me a note if you feel like sharing or have any questions.

Fearlessly Authentic

Who would you be if you weren’t afraid of being judged? I love that question. It points to what is a very real struggle for many of us who, over the years, have developed different parts of ourselves to fit into different parts of our lives.

Recently I was listening to a call where a coach I don’t know was talking about her deep desire to integrate her two identities. Her one identity is the professional coach who helps Silicon Valley execs grow their teams and develop their leadership skills. Her other identity is a highly creative free-spirited woman who runs around at Burning Man in a corset and tutu, pole dances, and gives talks on the law of attraction.

She was struggling with her fears about people from either world finding out about her other identity and judging her for it. The business world wouldn’t take her seriously if they knew what she does in her free time. And her alternative friends would think she was crazy for working in Silicon Valley.

[Side note: some of you who are familiar with bay area culture are probably wondering what the problem is there, because you know there are actually a ton of people from Silicon Valley who go to Burning Man. And just as many Burning Man regulars who have “normal” corporate jobs. But that’s not the point, of course. Regardless of what the reality of any situation is, the stories we create in our minds are the powerful ones that can really hold us back. THOSE stories are the ones I want to encourage all of us to move past.]

How many identities do you have? Do you hide parts of yourself for fear of being judged? Have you created elaborate facades that you put up while interacting with certain groups? We all do it to an extent I think. While I’d love it if we could all be 100% ourselves all the time, I believe that sometimes it IS actually helpful to be able to tone things up or down, given the situation.

At the end of the day, I’m not arguing that being a slightly different version of yourself in certain situations is inherently bad or good. Things are rarely inherently good or bad. They just.. are. We are the ones who assign a value to them in our minds, usually due to our conditioning and deeply ingrained beliefs.

Really, the question is whether it’s helpful, effective, or healthy in any given circumstance. Should that coach show up to work at a big corporate gig wearing her Burning Man gear? Probably not. But should she have to hide either or both of her identities and live in fear of judgment? I say no.

I think it’s more a matter of learning how to honor the different, beautiful, unique parts of ourselves fully, to mindfully choose how to show up when, and to take full responsibility for our impact every time.

I often wonder who the fullest expression of me is. She’s constantly evolving of course, but as of right now, here is who I am when I’m completely owning my true self, and not worried what anyone will think:
– I dare to speak up, have strong opinions, and stand my ground
– I am brave, vulnerable, and courageously show all of my real raw self to the people I trust
– I don’t ask for or seek permission from others, I simply trust my own judgment
– I freely show my quirky, goofy side, laugh easily, hug everyone, and smile often
– I approach strangers easily, embrace awkwardness, and create warm connections
– I embrace my woo woo spiritual side in my business just as much as my practical side

What about you? Who would you be if you were fearlessly authentic? If you were sure you would not be judged, OR were sure you wouldn’t care? What is the fullest expression of you?

From awareness to awesomeness

How well do you know yourself? Do you accept and acknowledge your own strengths and accomplishments? Do you recognize your bad habits?

When you’re thinking or doing something that holds you back or stops you from moving forward, are you conscious of it in the moment?

Awareness is the first step. 

If you’re not aware of the behavior that isn’t serving you in the first place, how could you possibly work on changing it?

But, let’s assume you are aware. Let’s assume you’re painfully aware of your thoughts and behaviors, and you recognize that some of them are NOT helpful. You’re being honest with yourself and can admit that certain tendencies you have are actually sabotaging you in a big way.

What do you do with that awareness, then? How do you use it in a productive way? Here’s a strategy I like.

Name it
As you become more conscious of your default behavior (the conditioning and programming you grew up with or have internalized over the years), get in the habit of acknowledging it. Tell a friend or coach, write it in a journal, or say it out loud. Naming it brings it into the light and lets you take a closer look.

Own it
Instead of blaming something or someone external (your family! the church! the media!), simply accept that it’s there. Bemoaning a past you can’t change isn’t helpful. Whining about its existence isn’t helpful. Taking responsibility for it IS. Regardless of where it came from, it’s showing up. Just accept that it’s here now.

Evaluate it
Next, instead of judging it (which is not helpful), get curious. Is this belief or behavior productive? Is it limiting you? Be honest. If it’s not helpful, why keep it around? Consider that it might be time to let it go.

Commit
Once you’ve determined that a behavior is not serving you, make a powerful decision. Take a stand. Declare to yourself (and someone else if you want the accountability) that you are going to start undoing that particular bit of programming.

Practice
After that, it’s straight forward. Practice. As soon as you catch yourself falling into old patterns, pause and deliberately choose something else. You are rewiring your brain and it takes time. You’ll most likely fail, repeatedly. Don’t beat yourself up for it though, just get back on your horse and keep going.

As you learn to harness your awareness, and get better at choosing powerfully, you’ll start to show up in a different way. That’s where things get really fun. That’s where you get to start creating your own reality.

You go from awareness to awesomeness when you realize that you get to sit in the driver’s seat of your own journey and you can quite literally create your own reality, by intentionally choosing how to be and what to do, rather than simply reacting to external stimuli according to whatever your default programming is. In every moment, you have a choice.

Cultivating a sense of self awareness and harnessing it to mindfully create your life is an integral part of experiencing real freedom, of living your truth, and of connecting to your most authentic and powerful self.

So, tune in. Observe yourself and your own behaviors with curiosity. Then use that awareness, as the powerful tool that it can be, and go create the life you want.

That is awesomeness.