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.

 

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.

I Have a Dream

I believe with all my heart in the incredible power of dreams. Compelling dreams give us hope, inspire action, unite people, and empower generations. They give way to new technologies and innovation. They give us something to aim for, something to focus our attention and intention on as we stumble down the path of life, trying to figure out who we are and why we’re here.

I want to tell you about my dream. And I want to hear about yours. (If you don’t know what yours is, maybe I can help.)

My dream evolves as I grow and change. It takes on new and unexpected shapes and colors as the next steps of my journey reveal themselves. I don’t know if my life in the future will look anything like what my dream looks like now, but I know for damn sure that it motivates me to move in that direction.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." - Thoreau

Here are some things to think about while capturing your dream in case you’re inspired to do yours too.

1. Practice gratitude. Before (and during and after) envisioning what you hope to create,  remember to be grateful for what you have, right here, right now.

2. Be present. While being inspired by your vision and letting it pull you forward, remember to live your life in the present, conscious and connected to the world around you.

3. Invest in the process, let go of the outcome. While going confidently in the direction of your dreams, remain open to new information and opportunities. Course correct as the next steps of your journey reveal themselves to you. Let go of having things show up looking a certain way. Be more interested in the essence of what you want and the journey toward it.

4. Think outside the box. Let go of any limited ideas of what’s possible and dare to let your imagination run free. You might be surprised what you come up with.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." - Albert Einstein

5. Take bold inspired action. Once you get clear on your dream, don’t forget to get out there and do something about it. Action creates energy and puts the wheels into motion.

Here is my dream as it stands now. I’ve divided it into categories and written it in the form of affirmations (i.e. in present tense statements, as if they’re already true.)

Family
– My relationship is a badass partnership. We are committed to authenticity, kickass communication, and living our fun, crazy lives to the fullest.
– I am deeply connected to my family, despite geographical limitations. I travel to see them often and we embrace technology to keep us close when we’re apart.

Career
– I have a killer team of talented people who believe in my mission that help me run my global business (e.g. virtual assistant, accountant, coach, mentor, PR, web design etc.)
– My business is an expression and an extension of who I am at my core. It reflects my purpose, values, passions and what makes me unique.
– I inspire, empower, and challenge people. The value I create for them is lasting and transformational.
– I have clients who fly me across the globe to work with them.
– I have written a book (maybe several) that tells my story and shares my message in a clear and compelling way, inspiring those who need it most.
– I positively impact large numbers of people not just through my own writing, speaking, coaching, videos, workshops, and retreats, but also through appearances on radio, TV, and live events.
– I surround myself with movers and shakers who believe in their dreams, rule breakers who challenge the status quo, and change makers who are quite literally saving the planet.
– I spend a lot of time outside my comfort zone, embracing failure, stretching my limits, and doing things that scare and excite me.

Money
– I attract and create more wealth than I personally need and am able to donate time and money to supporting and empowering the people, organizations, and causes I believe in.
– I have reached my milestones of being a 6-figure, and ultimately a 7-figure business.
– I spend money mindfully, creating a fun and fulfilling – yet sustainable – lifestyle for myself, my family, and my friends.
– I have a great money team (accountant + financial advisor + money coach) who help me make smart decisions.

Mind-Body-Spirit
– I eat clean 80% of the time (leaving 20% of the time for enjoying the delicious “bad” stuff), drink a ton of water, and get lots of sleep.
– I love and accept my body as it is, celebrate its uniqueness, and playfully test its limits.
– I seek out physical activities and types of movement that make me feel alive.
– My skin is radiant, my hair is healthy, my body is strong, I am glowing with happiness.
– I shine brightly from the inside out. I feel grounded, confident, and at peace.
– I regularly engage in mindfulness practices (e.g. yoga, meditation, gratitude) that quiet my mind, center my spirit, and open my heart.
– I stay intellectually stimulated and pursue continued learning and experiences by reading voraciously and attending classes, workshops, conferences etc.

Lifestyle
– I spend most of my social time doing fun and interesting things with people I love, creating meaningful connections, laughing often, and loving fiercely.
– I host frequent dinner parties, cook delicious food, and consciously create community.
– I travel the world for work and play. I am a mobile world citizen, always seeking to broaden my horizons, become familiar with the unfamiliar, and spread joy wherever I go.
– I make time to honor my passions (e.g. dance, music, languages, culture etc.)
– I am solar powered + water inspired, so I spend plenty of time in the sun and water.
– My wardrobe is a reflection of who I am: simple, classy, fierce, and playful.
– Though I travel often, I have a home base somewhere beautiful, near water, that is warm and welcoming, where friends and family eagerly come to visit.

Our World
– Through our collective wisdom, new technologies, and social responsibility we are finally figuring out how to save the planet from our own ignorance and overconsumption.
– A new brand of leadership is emerging. People are stepping up, working together, and love is winning over hate.
– Discrimination based on gender, sexuality, race, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. is outdated and nearly obsolete. We are experiencing a shift in consciousness and evolving into a more heart-centered and open-minded people.
– Western and Eastern medicine are being integrated into a more holistic healthcare approach. Doctors are in partnership with their patients. Quality healthcare is available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
– Common sense, respect for mother nature, and compassion keep us grounded as we develop new technologies and enter an exciting new era of rapid innovation.

This week on The Fierce Leadership Call we were talking about taking radical responsibility for ourselves and our world. Someone made a comment about random acts of kindness and I’ve been thinking about the invisible impact and the ripple effect of kindness. It reminded me of the “Kindness Boomerang” video below, which captures the essence of my dream for our world: love, respect, compassion.

If you take nothing else from my sharing my vision with you, take this: Be kind to each other. Protect each other. Help each other. Love each other.