New Year Goal Setting - Part 2

What if this year, your only goal was to have a deeper connection with yourself?

No goals about monetizing your every move. No goals about shedding 15 pounds. No goals about doing more with friends.

What if your only, single goal was to feel a deep connection with yourself?

Your truest self. What would happen?

We are pretty conditioned to strive. To reach. To excel. I don’t find this inherently negative, though the constant reach can be exhausting. So what does a year look like when the goal is to just be connected to your self? How the heck do you even do that?

A starting point is to consider when you feel most comfortable and connected to yourself. What are you doing, who are you with, where are you, how do you feel. Let go of ideas and stories about how that connection is supposed to look. You may be surprised about the times you feel most connected. Soak into that feeling. Get out of your head and into your core.

Rest there.

A year where the only goal is connection with self. That’s how I’m approaching 2019. This doesn’t detract from the super high energy I love about a new year, not at all. It also doesn’t mean I won’t do anything. I put words on paper for 2019 goals and they all still have meaning for me. But they won’t be a focus. Deep, meaningful connection with self, and ultimately with those around me—that will be my focus and where my attention and resulting energy lies. Because it’s when I’m with my people, my husband and our kids, that I feel the deepest connection to my truest self. It’s a lovely place to be.

When Other People's Perception of You Matters (Kinda)

Let me start by telling you I’m about to contradict myself a teensy bit. Thanks for hangin’ in there with me. It’s good, I promise.

A few months ago I gave a talk about three different versions of self. These are the self based on… 1.) our true self, 2.) what other people think of us (this we generally know because they’ve told us), and 3.) what we think other people think of us (we don’t have fact to back this up, it’s all based on assumptions and stories in our heads). Of course, the only one that truly matters is our truest self—who we are in our core and bones, how we move through the world most comfortably. (And that’s the space I help people live from.)

BUT, there are times when number two can be insightful. Remember, this is the way other people view us and we know this because they’ve told us. Let me give you a personal example. A couple years ago my grandma said to me, “You always were a good writer” and I replied “Awwwwww, thanks Grams!” See, I’d actually forgotten that writing was something I used to be good at or, at the least, my grandma thought I was good. I don’t know if anyone else out there categorizes me as a good writer. I don’t even really care!

My grandma’s comment did something powerful.

It reminded me that I LOVED to write and that I always have. I’ve always kept a journal, in college I got up at 3am to work on essays and papers, I wrote short stories in elementary school. I took creative writing in high school and wrote a poem that made me say “Wow, I think that’s good!”

It may have all been garbage. Maybe there was a flash of something good here and there.

It doesn’t matter. The point is that I enjoyed the process. I liked to write. I loved telling stories. And my grandma’s comment reminded me of that. So this second version of self, my grandma’s view of me, reminded me to connect with the part of my core self that I’d lost touch with — a part of me that was already there.

Sometimes people we know well can help us see things in ourselves that we’re not seeing.

But if we don’t also see it in ourselves, it has little impact. If the other person’s view no longer suits you or never accurately described your truest self, then it’s got to be let go. If my grandma had said, “You always loved frogs” I’d have to say, “Grams, I got rid of that frog collection that had frog boxes, stuffed animals, statues, pillows, and scrunchies 15 years ago.” Or more personally, if she had said “You were such an extroverted kid” I’d have to remind her that my adult-self is much more of an introvert.

No matter how other people view us, even if somewhat accurate at some point, it still comes down to us, our truest self, and if that view still resonates with who we are in this very moment. It can be a nice point of reflection, but ultimately, that number one self up there is the most important.

New Year Goal Setting - Getting Started

It’s always around early to mid November that I start thinking about goals for the new year. Some people say there’s nothing special/magical/powerful about a new year when it comes to goal setting. While I do totally agree that you can set big goals and change yo’ reality any month, I absolutely DO think there’s something magical about a new year. There is so much energy with that marker in time, I say roll with it. Take advantage and make some plans!

This year I’m sharing with you my goal setting process. I say “process” lightly, because it’s very fluid and has few rules. I don’t set a timeline for my personal goal setting, I simply give it some mental space every day, and get some of it on paper. For my clients wanting more structure around their goal setting, I structure it up for them.

The “Process”

Today I got started by writing “2019 Goals” on the top of paper in the back of my planner. Then I sat with my pencil in my hand and paused, breathed, looked out my window. None of this was a deliberate thought, I was just settling into myself. Next, I wrote how I want to feel in 2019: happy, connected (mostly to myself, Nate and the kids, followed by friends and family), and relaxed. Then I wrote, quite succinctly, what I plan to do in 2019. Pause here for a sec. When I say, “What do you want to do in 2019?” What comes to mind? Give yourself permission to have it be whatever comes to you. My top two things I want to do in 2019 are maintain a thriving coaching business (I love this work!) and be there for my kids, both physically with my time and also with my mindful presence.

And then, because it was on my mind, I wrote that I want to start sleeping in actual pajamas rather than old shirts I no longer wear out of the house. Not exactly a goal, but, I want some legit pajamas.

Those few things I jotted down primed the pump for ideas to flow a bit. I made a bullet list written in pencil of a few concrete goals that came to mind. Then I put my pencil down, closed my planner, and am letting those thoughts and ideas linger in my mind and core without a lot of thought.

And that’s the start of my goal setting for 2019!

A Word On Following Your Dreams...

There is an adorable flower shop in town. Lovely location, super charming windows, natural light everywhere. About 9 years ago Nate and I were walking by and I thought, "I'd love to buy that flower shop" which was immediately followed by me thinking, "The owner would never sell. She has the perfect space." Every single time we walked by that flower shop I dreamed about owning it. I pictured myself with stems of flowers in my hands, Norah Jones playing in the background, cute, yet practical apron around my waist.

It was a dream I never pursued. Because I told myself it would never happen.

Fast forward some years and someone else bought that flower shop. Someone had the same dream. I don't have any negative feelings about someone else now living what was really a fantasy of mine, but what I do have is some serious reflection about the possibility of the "I would love to...." statements. What if I had walked into that shop 9 years ago and said, "This may sound crazy, but want to sell your flower shop?" Who knows what that conversation would have led to. 

I have other dreams and ideas that I've left untouched. Some dreams are meant to be shelved.

Others need to be brought to light.

I share this here to encourage you. Don't tell yourself your idea isn't possible. That's the surest way to guarantee your dream won't come to fruition. If you have something you want to pursue, please please explore it. At a minimum, give yourself permission to entertain what that reality would actually look like.

Walk into that flower shop, friends. 

Permission to Pivot. Granted.

I ran my first business for four years. About a year in, I added a brand new service that got me really stinkin’ excited. I was productive, bringing in money, creating a business of my very own from scratch, learning, growing, making mistakes, recovering and learning again. I loved it. Until I didn’t. Four years into that lovely business I pored over in so many ways (mentally, physically, and with financial investment) I closed it.

Lots of people told me I shouldn’t close.

I heard things like, “Are you sure? You’ve worked so hard to get where you are” and “Keep it open and contract out the work, it would be easy money!” and “Oh, I’m sorry.” But the thing was, I wasn’t sorry at all! The business no longer lit me up. What it did was take away energy and time from my growing family. I valued the work very much, but it was time to move on, pivot, pass the baton. Close.

I had a few moments of wondering what others would think of me closing.

Would industry peers think I couldn’t hack the long hours anymore? Ultimately, I knew that IT DIDN’T MATTER. At all. It didn’t matter one ounce what anyone else thought about me closing. It was my business, my time, my family, my life. And so, with JOY, I closed my business.

Closing was not a failure. I actually closed on a high! Instead, closing was me being true to myself and my family and, importantly, it created space for the work I was really, truly excited to do. Closing created space, beautiful space to fill with work or to hold my babies.

I wanted to pivot and I didn’t wait for anyone else to give me permission to do so. I pivoted because I wanted to.

Are you wanting to pivot, either entirely or within your industry? Maybe you want to add a service to your business that is outside the box in your industry. Maybe you want to close your business, too! Maybe you want to pivot in your creative and personal endeavors. Do it! You don’t need anyone’s permission, but if you’re looking for a smidge of it, I’ve just given it to you. Permission to make the changes that your truest self knows it’s time to make. I’m sitting here smiling for you, as you gather the courage and inspiration to pivot. Give yourself permission to pivot…

Is Happiness Elusive? (Um, no.)

Last summer I was standing next to a carousel as it spun around and around. An observer to the core, I held my young son and watched as riders went up and down slowly on their carousel horses while it circled. And I found something to be incredibly strange. No one on the carousel was smiling. Not one person. This carousel is about a ninety second walk to the shores of Lake Michigan. Typical carousel music was playing. The sun was out. I was struck. If people aren't smiling HERE, on a beach-side carousel in the sun, where the heck are they smiling? (It's worth noting I'm a touch biased here because I stinkin' love carousels. Love.) 

I think about this scene a lot when I think about happiness. I've also found myself asking friends and family recently, how many people do you know who are really happy? Like they're glowy with happiness? Most people can name one person or none. I find this, honestly, quite sad. I think part of our purpose here is to feel happiness and joy. And it's very much within our reach.

Just yesterday I was talking to someone I love dearly about how some times in life are happier than others and he went on to share that he was happiest when... His specifics are his to share or hold close, but the point here is he could identify them. And he knew what he needed to do to get to that sweet spot of happiness again.

Most of us know what makes us happy, brings us joy, the times we feel happy and at ease. I think if you dig a teensy bit you can identify your happiness moments, too. In the spirit of my own personal development, which is ever growing right along side you, I got out my journal and pen after my convo with a loved one yesterday. I jotted down the things I know bring me happiness. I didn't have to write them down to know them, they were in my head, but writing them down was a firm reminder to do what brings joy and happiness. (It also reminded me that I want to get back to Disneyland sooner rather than later. I love that place.) I like seeing on paper the things that I can easily do each day to feel happy, feel good vibes, and spread all that goodness to those around me.

What's on my list? I'll share a few of them with you... 

  • an early morning walk

  • yoga

  • meaningful, positive connections with friends and family

  • quiet mornings with my journal

  • nutritious food and bevvies (e.g., kombucha, kale, cacao)

  • doing puzzles with my babies

  • Disneyland and carousels (I'm not kidding.)

Your happiness can be big, small, personal, with a group of people, free, elaborate, whatever...  but be true to yourself. What fills you up and brings joy? Do those things. Do them as much as you can. What's on your list? Please tell me, I honestly and truly want to know... 

Tapping Into Our True Self with Journaling Prompts

In the personal development and coaching world (or via the slogans on coffee mugs and t-shirts) we're constantly hearing things like Let your true self shine. Be you. Show up as your authentic self. Find your voice. These phrases are totally cliche, but cringe, really super great messaging. Why on earth be any other way than ourselves? Right? I think we're all on board with the sentiment. But what if you don't know who the heck you are? Like really and truly in your core. 

We are constantly digesting and absorbing other people's thoughts. We embody phrases because, after hearing them enough and finding a common thread, we start to mold to them. Think about the "hustle harder" mentality. For many, though not all, entrepreneurs and professionals value busy and hustle. They feel they're supposed to, it becomes a badge to flash around. Similarly, cutely scripted t's will have you thinking all moms need wine to survive the evening with their kids. Hustle is great, if that's your thing. Have a glass of vino with dinner if you're feelin' it. What gets tricky is trying to decipher if it's really your thing or you think it's supposed to be your thing.

So, back to what to do if you don't know who, what or how your true self is. I've got a few prompts to get you thinking about it. Grab a pen and your journal and, without too much internal processing before your pen hits the page, journal the answers to these questions...

  • I feel most like myself when I'm ____________.

  • I feel most like myself when I'm with the following people ______________.

  • I am unapologetic in my beliefs about _____________.

  • The last time I felt most alive and energized I was __________.

  • I will always, forever wave a flag for _______ because ________________.

  • This I know to be true ________________.

That last question comes from Oprah and I love it. This I know to be true. Wowza. I ask myself that almost every day. It's a good one.

What comes up for you in answering these questions? They should get your wheels turning and shed some light on tapping into your true self. Your truest self. 

That Time I was in a Yoga Competition in LA

About 10 years ago I was in a yoga competition. Kinda weird, I agree. "Yoga" and "competition" don't exactly go together, but it was something that my home yoga studio was doing so I participated. The competition consisted of doing a series of seven postures in a set amount of time on a mini stage at the front of the studio. Whilst scantily clad in yoga attire. The goal was to, basically, complete the postures and be steady. Judges scored the execution of the postures. I was a little nervous, but felt pretty okay about being in the competition. It was for pure fun, I was an avid yogi and I could pretty easily get in the yoga zone.

I came in second place. Which meant I, along with the first place yogi, were going to LA to compete there. Holy hell.

So I flew to LA. Relevant to this story is that prior to being an avid yogi I ran marathons (read: tight hamstrings). Being flexible and lithe were not my natural form. Yoga competition + LA were not my comfort zone. 

It was so incredibly clear I was out of my league. Like, crystal clear.

There was a warm-up room and the other women were doing their graceful stretches and crazy back bends and I was practically gawking while I touched my toes. During the competition the competitors, myself included, could walk in and out of the hotel ballroom and watch. I watched one person. And I almost threw up with fear. Holy hell (again). I was going to embarrass myself.

I started walking back to the warm-up room and seriously considered going straight to the elevator, back up to my hotel room, and legit not doing the competition. Why embarrass myself when I knew I wouldn't win? (For the record, I never ever thought I would win.) Everyone would wonder how the heck I got there. I may puke with fear. Or fall off the stage.

But then I told myself, "I didn't come all the way to LA to not do this." I made my way back to the warm-up room and did like 25 back bends. I didn't go back to the competition room until it was my turn. I was sure I'd go straight to the elevator if I saw one more person do a picture perfect standing bow pose.

My turn came. I did my poses (real quick) and hurried off the stage. Phew. Done. Done done.

I did it. And for that day, that time I was in a yoga competition in LA, that was all that mattered. I did it when I was so scared I almost puked.

You will have your yoga competition moment. Maybe you've already had it. You'll have more. I've had more and I'll have more. Some takeaways from that crazy experience:

Stay in your lane.

I knew watching the other competitors would make me want to run even more. So I kept my head down and stayed in my lane. That meant not watching! And doing some back bends. Do what you need to do to focus on you.

Who cares if people laugh.

Really. And honestly, I don't think anyone did laugh at me and if I'd fallen off the stage people likely would have gasped and rushed to see if I was okay. Community support. It's generally all around.

Show up and commit.

I was tempted to just slide into the hotel bed and watch tv instead. But I was there. In LA. So I followed through on what I'd started. (There are times to shelve goals. This wasn't one of those times.)

The why may come in hindsight.

That yoga competition wasn't about me trying to win. I was there almost by accident by way of something I loved. In hindsight, it was about me doing something that scared me. I was afraid of looking silly in front of a group of people. On a stage. I really was terrified. But, I did it and it all worked out just fine. If I'd fallen off the stage it also would have been fine. 

You can totally do the next scary thing.

How to Maintain the Good Feelings

I get that feeling when I'm on the water. Whether it's Lake Michigan or the Pacific Ocean, I get that feeling. It's part calm + ease, part excitement + assuredness, and absolutely like anything is possible. There's just something about that water. 

I attribute some of the good feeling to the expansiveness of it; not being able to see the other side of the lake or ocean and seeing just water for miles and miles. It's also the sand under my feet. There's nothin' quite like feeling the earth between your toes. And all of it is just so darn beautiful.  

Being on the water feels a bit like home. Comfortable. Inspired. At peace. Happy. Small, yet boundless.

Do you know the feeling? 

What makes you feel that way? Maybe it's water for you, too. Or mountains, or motivational speakers, or amazing conferences. Maybe it was that time you vacationed in Bali. However you get it, that feeling is incredible isn't it?! The tricky thing to do is keep that feeling so so present in the every day when not at the water or mountains. 

How do you feel boundless while sitting on the couch or walking through your neighborhood?

Identify the good feeling you're after, recognize the bits and pieces of your day-to-day standing in the way of getting to that feeling, change/shift/re-frame those bits and pieces. Repeat as needed.

Sounds easy peasy. It can be. It can also take a bit of digging, exploring, and talking it through. Here are a couple examples to get you going...

I've got my water feeling pretty nailed down with words like ease, inspired and boundless. (You may need to visualize, journal and/or talk it out to get to your words.)

I sometimes think I need "more time" for journaling/meditation/etc to be in a good head space. (This is the story getting in my way.)

The reality, and practice, is that I can journal quite a bit in the three minutes it takes for my pour-over coffee to be done each morning. Voila, three minutes of journaling done. (I shifted my perspective on having to wait for my coffee, to it being dedicated journaling time.)

We're just scratching the surface here, but it can get you started for sure.

Get back to that good "on the water" feeling. It's a sweet place to be. 

*This post was inspired by my coaching sessions at Freeing Creativity Retreat, a beautiful + inspiring retreat experience created by Stephanie Williams and Brittany Zeller-Holland. The cover image is courtesy of the Freeing Creativity experience.

What if You Started Today?

Think about that goal or dream that's been on your mind for oh, a couple years or so. Maybe it hasn't been a couple years... maybe it's been TEN years or just a couple weeks. Think about that dream again. Really. Think for a sec.

Is it a business idea? Something you've wanted to learn? A memoir you've wanted to write? I've had those goals and dreams myself. Things I've been striving for in my imagination, but not taking actual action towards. Sometimes the timing really wasn't right. Other times I was waiting for the stars to align just so to take action.

So back to that goal or dream of yours. What if you started today?

What would that look like? Maybe it's jotting down some notes to refine the dream. Maybe it's going for a walk and focusing on how you would feeeeeel working toward and living that goal or dream. Maybe you (gasp) say it out loud to your partner or best friend.

One tiny step. It may be all the momentum you need to put that baby of a dream into reality.