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!)

 

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.

 

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.

Do you trust yourself?

For years, I was consumed by what everyone else was doing and thinking. I looked outside of myself for the answers. I constantly searched for external validation to confirm that my thoughts, decisions, and actions were ok.

It was exhausting. I hadn’t learned to trust myself yet.

Does this sound familiar? I can’t emphasize enough how important it has been for me to learn to trust myself. It hasn’t been easy, and I definitely still fail, but my default settings and behavior have changed for the better.

So, how DO we learn to trust ourselves more? Here are 3 strategies that have helped me do so. Maybe they’ll help you too.

1. Challenge your current set of beliefs
Most of us have a pretty rigid set of beliefs (due to conditioning, cultural influences, family, friends, our own experiences etc.) and our brains are constantly looking for evidence to support those beliefs.

Guess what? Many of those beliefs you have are total bullshit! They do not represent your actual reality or some sort of absolute truth. Rather, they are simply the stories you tell yourself. Sometimes they’re not even your stories. You may not agree with them at all. You may have just inherited them from someone else and not thought to question them.

If your current set of beliefs don’t resonate with you, challenge them! Ask yourself what stories are more aligned with who you really are and what you really think. The more your thoughts and actions are aligned with what you truly believe deep down, the more you’ll be able to trust yourself to make decisions according to those deeper beliefs.

2. Get out of your head
Do you think with just your mind? Or do you tap into something more? Unfortunately, our western culture doesn’t do a whole lot to teach us how to think in a more integrated way. Unless you’ve got some eastern influences, practice meditation, do yoga, etc. you might not be in the practice of getting out of your head.

One way to do that is to get out of your head and into your heart. Learning to pause, breathe, and check in with yourself on a deeper level can be a great start to trusting your inner wisdom and intuition. Your heart/soul/spirit has access to a lot of information and quiet knowledge that your mind does not. Plus, your mind is usually too busy squawking loudly about anything and everything to allow you to hear that deeper wisdom. To access it, you must learn to quiet your mind and listen from a different place.

3. Listen with your whole being
As long as you’re getting out of your head, you may as well start to tap into the wisdom of your body. Your physical intelligence. Practice noticing what kinds of information each of your senses is taking in. Here are some examples of questions you might ask.

What do you see around you when you really pay attention? What other smells can you detect beneath the most obvious ones around you? What can you hear beyond the chatter in your own mind, traffic, your colleagues, or the tv… wind blowing, birds chirping? When you savor the taste of a favorite food, what are the emotions it brings up? Can you read between the lines of the words your friend is actually saying? What is your skin letting you know about the situation you’re in? Are you having a physical reaction that might shed some light on what’s happening for you emotionally? Can you pick up on the energies around you? Those coming from other individuals, groups, or places? Get curious. See what you can tap into.

I like to think of our bodies as these incredibly sensitive balls of energy that are constantly taking in and processing valuable information. Why the hell would we not listen to them?! They are giving us clues all day long!

Your body is a compass. If you learn to honor its wisdom and truly listen to it, it will let you in on all sorts of delightful magic.

Your whole being, actually, is the compass. Work on sharpening the listening skills of the different individual aspects of it, as well as integrating it all and listening with your whole damn self. You might just find yourself being pleasantly surprised with the secrets it shares.

 

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.

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.