Organize Your Life

organize your life

Thanksgiving is this week.  The time of year when most people think about  showing appreciation for all of their blessings.

The number one thing I am grateful for this year is my time. It is precious and irreplaceable. And I can harness it and use to my advantage in order to achieve my goals.

But time can only work to our advantage if we truly appreciate it and use it well. We use it well when we are our lives are organized and when we make space for all the important things. We also use our time well when we don’t blow it all on  unimportant tasks and people who don’t appreciate or deserve it.

Here is my #1 tip for appreciating your time:

Be Organized

On a scale of 1-10, how organized you are? If I asked you where something was, how quickly would you be able to locate it?

When you are organized, you are automatically more efficient, which means that you don’t mismanage your physical space, your money, and your material resources. And if you work a job for money, all of these things translate into your time because you use your time to make money.

Organize your physical space

Make sure that your physical space is clean and orderly. I’m not talking about being obsessively organized.  But at minimum you want to make sure that you know where to find all of your stuff. Make sure that you are not compulsively hoarding things and that you put effort into how you keep and manage all of the material objects in your life. The more organized your physical space is, the more efficient your movements are. This means that you don’t have to waste time looking for things.

Organize your finances

Do you know how much money you spend on groceries or monthly bills? Do you have a budget that guides your spending? Knowing how much money you spend and bring in are both important in organizing your finances. How much money do you owe to credit card companies? Do you know how much money do you spend on groceries, or coffee. What about how much are you contribute to savings? When your finances are organized, you are aware of your spending habits youOrganizing your finances honors you time because you don’t have to use your time so  much to make more money. Organize your finances in a way that honors the time you had to use to make your money. Don’t be wasteful. Respect your time.

If organization is difficult for you, download my free workbook.

Organize your time

There should be space in your life for all the important aspects. Organize your appointments so that you have made time for your self-care, money-making, important relationships and all the other things that make up your life. Don’t fret  your time away on bullshit that does not matter. Once time is spent, it is gone.  You deserve to have something to show for it. Don’t waste all of it.

Let’s face it, Abundance Seeker, you cannot achieve your goals if you are mismanaging your time. So, reclaim it like Aunty Maxine and go get what you want.

And also don’t forget to check out my 90 Day Goal Getting Coaching Program. We can figure out a way to manage your time effectively so you can reach those goals. 

Big Fat Juicy Goals: 20 Things to Keep In Mind While Pursuing Your Goals

Mindshifting Goals

“I can’t believe she finished!”

I said this to myself after seeing the Instagram photos of yet another smiling, happy colleague of mine clad in her cap and gown graduating with her PhD. from our university. And this particular colleague had started after me.

My next thought was , “I need to finish this dissertation now, because I’m so over this shit.”

We all set goals. Whether its losing weight, earning more money, getting out of debt, finding a life partner, writing a book, or running a marathon.  Goals are an expression of our deepest desires.

One of my life goals is getting a Ph.D.

I’ve had this goal since about the age of 15. And when I got accepted into a doctoral program, I was so excited and saw it as a fulfillment of one my life’s goals.

When I first started the program, it was with the intention of  being a professor which meant writing books and teaching classes at a university. But while finishing up my coursework in grad school and experiencing up close and personally the politics, intellectual bullying, sexism, classism, and racism, I was  turned off and I no longer wish to pursue such a career full time. But nonetheless, I am still pursuing the degree. One big reason  is just for the sake of finishing something that I started.

In pursuit of this goal,  I have pulled several all nighters this week and managed to have accomplished more in this week than I have in the past few years. Why? Because I was fed-up and made it non-negotiable. It’s amazing what you can do when failing is no longer an option.

At this point, I am determined to finish this dissertation and graduate in June 2018. Anything else is unacceptable.

It is totally easy to set a goal, but it is the showing up everyday that counts.

Here are 20 things to keep in mind while you are in pursuit of your big, fat, juicy, exciting goals:

1. In order to accomplish your goals, remember why you started

The bigger and more ambitious your goal is, the harder it is to achieve it. That is the nature of the beast. But with a continuous source of motivation, you can achieve any goal, no matter how big it is. Remembering why you started can be a huge source of motivation, especially on those days when it feels like you have no energy to do anything. If you keep something around that reminds you of why you started, you’d be surprised of how it can push you when you’re funning on fumes.

2. In order to accomplish your goals, remember who you are

Now, this one may sound arrogant or cocky, but you are a bad ass. And you have done incredible and wonderful things before. There have been times before when people have counted you out and you surprised them. You can do the same now.

3. In order to accomplish your goals,  remember that if it was easy everyone would do it

Your goals are hard to reach for a reason. The fact that they are hard to reach makes them worthwhile in the first place. Not everyone can run a marathon. Not everyone can get a PhD. Not everyone can lose 100lbs. This is what makes your goals special. And more importantly, this is what sets you apart because you are not “everyone” and you can do it.

4. In order to accomplish your goals, you must be willing to do whatever it takes

Whatever it takes means, whatever it takes. Les Brown has a saying that I really like. “You must be willing to do the things today others won’t do in order to have the things tomorrow others won’t have.” And that may mean spending money to invest in your future. Or foregoing sleep to pull some all-nighters.  It may mean restricting your food take or being uncompromising with your schedule so that you are using every second to get you closer to your goals. Whatever, it is. Do whatever it takes. Be uncompromising.

5. In order to accomplish your goals, remember that failure is not the final answer

The truth is that sometimes we fail. And we fail hard. Failure can bruise the hell out of our ego and make us feel like shit. I know this personally. You know this, we’ve all been there. But that is no where near the final story. Failure is just one step on the road to your goal.  DO NOT throw away your goal because you have failed a few times. Just get up, dust yourself off, and move forward. Standing still is not an option for you. And just in case you needed, extra proof. Here, here, and here are all proof that stopping after a failure should be the last thing you do.

6. In order to achieve your goals, you need accountability

Accountability happens when someone is aware of your goals and they make sure that you do what you say you are going to do. In other words, they do not let you off the hook.  We all need accountability and often times, it is the difference between success and failure. Having accountability helps to foster the “whatever it takes” mentality that is crucial to your success. Find someone who will hold you to your word, especially at the times when you feel like you don’t have the strength.

7. When achieving your goals, remember that you are your biggest obstacle

Another reason why you need accountability in order to reach your goals is because you are your biggest obstacle. There is something about where you are now that is comforting to you. And subconsciously you want to stay right where you are. Because of this you may unintentionally sabotage yourself. I’ve seen it a million times, both personally and with my therapy clients. You know what it looks like. You are making huge progress in your goal and all of a sudden, you stop. And the irony of self-sabotage is that it usually comes about right when a major breakthrough is coming. Again, if you have someone you can hold you accountable, they can point out when you are in fact sabotaging yourself.

8. When pursuing your goals, dismiss naysayers

No matter how big or small your goals are, someone is going to tell you that you cannot do it.  They will tell you that you are not being realistic and that you are foolish for wanting what you want. Do not believe them. You have the power to create your own reality and they have the power to do the same for their life. Your life is your own. And no one gets to tell you what is possible for you.

9. Celebrate small victories

Depending on how big your goal is (and I hope its really big), it may be awhile before you can finally cross it off your to-do list and count is as a complete accomplishment. Because of that, you have to be sure to celebrate the milestones along the way. In order to keep yourself on track, you have to acknowledge and celebrate when you get shit done. Decide beforehand how you will commemorate crossing certain thresholds. And do it!

10 When pursuing your goals, anticipate setbacks

Not everyday is a good day. Michael Jordan had off days and he lost a lot of games. but he is still considered the greatest. You will have bad days and somedays you may take 3 steps forward and fall 2 steps back. But the important part is that you keep moving. Knowing that it wont be a straight shot helps.

Keep Moving Toward Your Goals

11. Pursuing your goals, helps you build character

Let’s be honest. Nobody likes a wimp who melts when things get too tough. Perseverance is a very attractive quality. We like to be around people who are disciplined and who have the fortitude to show up everyday for the things that they believe in. Going after a big fat ambitious juicy goal allows you to develop these transferrable skills.

12. Always be learning while pursuing your goals

Sometimes Plan A doesn’t work. And then you try Plan B, and that isn’t much better. Plan C is a bust. And Plan D is just a hot ass mess. The point is to keep learning from each of these plans and keep fine tuning your plan until you find the right one. Do not personalize your plan failure, assess what went well and amend the part that failed. Turns out, Plan W works like a charm!

13. When working on your goals, keep everything in context

This big ambitious goal of yours is one aspect of your life. There are other areas in your life that are probably working just fine. Once you meet your goal, things will improve because you will get the results that you want, but your life will not magically transform and you will not become a magical super hero fairy. Do not fall into the trap of magical thinking that says you have to put your life on hold while you are pursuing your goals. That is false. The pursuit of your goal, is a part of your life but it should not be ALL of your life.

14. When pursuing your goal, always use positive self talk

Bullies suck. Don’t be one. And bullying yourself makes you a bully. Talk to yourself in way that encourages you to be your best and want to perform at your peak. When you talk badly to yourself, is another form of self-sabotage.  You create a hostile mental environment which pushes you further away from your goals because you are fighting against yourself. When speaking to yourself be encouraging and kind. This doesn’t mean to let yourself off the hook, but you can hold yourself accountable without all the negative talk.

15. Your goals are not the end all be all, they are merely stepping stones

I see this all the time. People fight tooth and nail to get to where they want to get. And then the experience feels a bit….anti-climactic. This happens when people forget that their goal is not the end all be all, it is a stepping stone for something else. You want to lose weight so that you can move better, be healthier and prolong your life. You want to write a book because you want to share your knowledge with the world. You want to run a marathon to build your character and sense of accomplishment. Your goal helps you live more fully. It is not your reason to live.

16. Your goals must have deadlines

Give yourself a delivery date and etch it in stone. If you are not dead-set on the end date, you will always put the work off until tomorrow. I know this personally. This is how my PhD goal has become spread out over years and years. I did not have a sense of urgency. You must have a sense of urgency that lights a fire under you and kicks that butt into gear! Create clear, specific, non-negotiable deadlines.

17. Surround yourself with visual cues/triggers that keep your goals forefront in your mind

Whatever it is that reminds you of your goal, whether its a picture, a number, a quote or a mantra, keep it close to you so that you can look at it to remind you of why you started and why you are going through all the trouble. Sensory cues and triggers can also work to remind you that you need to be doing certain activities during your daily practice.

18. Work on your goals first

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Pay yourself first.”  It means that you should put your savings on autopilot before you start paying bills and buying non-essential items. If you wait until after you pay everyone else to start saving, you will never have enough money. You can apply the same concept to your goals and your time. Set up your schedule so that you are working on your goals before anything else. Work on your goals before you leave the house in the morning. Write. Exercise. Train. Meditate. Record.  Whatever. Just work on your goal in a meaningful way before you do anything else.  This is your best energy. Use it on you. Because if you wait to have energy after you do everything else with your day, you will not be able to show up for yourself a lot of the time.

19. When you are pursuing your goals, remember that you are your own competition

It is very easy to compare yourself to people who have already achieved the goals that you aspire to. But when you compare yourself, you only create a false sense of inadequacy. Remember that you are your only source of competition. The only person that you are measuring yourself against is the person you were yesterday.

20. When pursuing your goals, you will surprise yourself

When you have a whatever it takes mindset and are relentless about getting what you want, and you begin to manifest the results you are seeking, you will surprise yourself. You will be able to do things that you have never been able to do. This will feel amazing!

 

Alright, Abundance Seeker, as always I hope this was helpful.

If you have some big fat juicy life-changing ambitious goals that you haven’t been able to accomplish but are burning with a desire to do so, check out my Goal-Getter 90 Day Individual Session Program.   We can work together to shatter them!

And if you haven’t already, please subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more inspiration sent straight to your inbox.

Don’t Be Jealous. Be Motivated.

What do you do when you feel jealous?

A few months ago I rushed onto a train because I was running late to work.

I made it just in time before the doors closed. As I sat down panting to catch my breath, I became aware of an absolutely stunning woman sitting across from me.

She was very beautiful and meticulously groomed. Her makeup was flawless and expertly applied.  Then I looked at her manicured nails and at how well dressed she was. Her clothes were flattering, sophisticated and she had an elegant yet edginess quality to her.  Her natural hair was neat, yet fun and free. She was very refined unhurried and was typing away on her iPhone and it looked like she was sending out work emails.

I was flustered after running from my home in clothes that I had thrown on to go to a job that I did not like very much.  This woman looked like she had all the time in the world and appeared to be happily doing work related tasks. We looked to be about the same age and yet  we seemed to be worlds apart in that moment. I think that she felt me staring at her because she looked up from her phone and met my gaze. She smiled kindly and turned her attention back to her phone.

Now,  I know better than to get caught up in the self-hating exercise of comparing myself to her and the foolishness of thinking that her life was better than mine. But in that moment, I must admit to feeling a little intimidated by her. And if I’m being completely honest with myself, I was a little jealous.

As I continued to think about it while I sat on the train, I realized that I was so affected by the presence of this woman because she was a living reminder of some of my most pressing goals: 1. step up my self-care and appearance,  2. cultivate an aura of calm sophistication, 3.  be in a position to enjoy my full time work again. She was the living, breathing embodying of some of these goals and in that moment, all of my goals seemed so far away from me.

Jealousy comes up when you are not meeting your goals. Jealousy is a clear sign that you need to be more focused on your goals.  Stop letting yourself off the hook. This woman looked the way she did because she has a desire (a goal) to look the way she did and made sure that her actions matched up with her desires. She had the dedication and standards to look for her wardrobe. This woman made sure to wake up and get herself together in enough time so that she was not a rushing mess like I was.

By the time I got off the train, I was even more inspired to recommit to my goals. I let that moment of feeling jealous inspire me and push me in the direction of my goals.

Here are 3 ways to allow the green-eyed monster of jealousy to push you in the direction of your goals:

When you are feel jealous, notice what is triggering you

I noticed how certain aspects of this woman triggered me but others didn’t. What triggers you? Is it seeing travel photos? Hearing about other people’s financial success? Seeing people in healthy happy relationships? What is it that triggers you? The triggers are the things that you want the most.  You can’t achieve it if you don’t know what it is.

When you feel jealous, recommit to your goals 

And be honest about the type and amount of work that you will have to do get your goals accomplished. The work may be psychological,  physical,  financial, etc. Be honest about the scope and nature of the work. Then commit to it and go for it. Give yourself a fixed amount of time and accomplish one thing you one step closer to what you want.

When you feel Jealous, use Positive Self-Talk

Do not discourage yourself with negative self-talk. Commit to talking to yourself in a positive way. You are not wrong for wanting what you want. And it is absolutely possible for you to have what you want. Do not tell yourself otherwise. Just because it has not happened for you yet, does not mean that it won’t happen in the future. Tell yourself that your time is coming and that you are willing to do the work necessary to obtain your goal.

Ok, Abundance Seeker, do you have moments in which you feel jealous? Does it inspire you? Or discouraged?

If you are ready to finally start accomplishing your goals, let’s work together!

10 Ways To Be Happy Even When You Have a Super Crappy Job

Don't let your crappy job rob you of your happiness

Most people I know hate their job.

And even those who don’t exactly hate their job, admit to resenting it in some way. This is so messed up because we spend so much of our lives at work. Our jobs give us money and we need money to live. I recently read a statistic that said the average person will spend about a quarter of their lifetime on this earth at their jobs.  I know, bananas!

So why exactly do we hate and resent our jobs so much?

Truthfully, there are tons of reasons, more than I could ever begin to name.  But here are just a few possible reasons why you hate your job.

1.  You, an adult, literally have to ask for permission to take time away from the job to handle important life tasks and responsibilities.

2. You, a perfectly reasonable person, have to spend inordinate amounts of time with people who are sometimes not very reasonable, or friendly, or bright, or professional, or kind.

3. You, a person with much to offer the world, is often “supervised” by people who are not as talented or insightful as you.

4. You, a creative person, have to reign in your talents and prioritize the boring unexciting demands of your job routine instead of the all the ideas that race around your mind.

5. You, a person with relationships, hobbies, and interests, spend at least 40 non-negotiable hours of your peak productive time a week meeting the demands of your employer while your needs and desires sit on the back burner.

6. You, a person with material needs and obligations, never seem to make enough money at your job. If things arise  in your life that require more cash than you have on hand, you cannot negotiate with your employer to pay you more just because you need it.

Any of that sound familiar?

After many years of working for myself and pursuing independent research in a doctoral program,  I took a job with a large organization so that I could relocate back to my hometown of New York City, a move I’d been wanting to make happen for awhile. I couldn’t move my practice to NY straight away because of state licensing issues and I wanted so badly to be back in New York that I just couldn’t wait for things to sort themselves out.

So I took a job in the meantime while I figure out my next steps.

On very good days, I am thankful to have stable employment with great benefits which currently allows me to keep a roof over my head and food in my tummy while being in my most favorite city in the world. On these days, I am proud of the interesting work I do and for the opportunities and challenges that encourage my growth and development.  

But on bad days, I am resentful of both the large and small indignities of my job and plot how quickly I can leave it.  And I am not alone. To say that most people at my job don’t want to be there is an understatement. And while I am totally grateful and the job has its perks, it’s been a very long time since I’ve worked a full time job. There are supervisors, “chains of command,” office politics, and job hazards to deal with.  And I have to admit that it has been a bit difficult readjusting. Personally, what’s been most difficult is not really owning my own time and no longer being able to do with it as I please.

In the five months that I have been working there so far, I have found a handful of coping strategies to help me maintain my sanity and stop myself from completely succumbing to negative thoughts and bitterness. And I’m sharing them with you here, just in case you are allowing your job to rob you of your happiness:

1 Bolster yourself with your morning commute

I take two different trains during my morning commute. It takes about 45 minutes on the subway followed by a 15 minute walk. So all together I have an hour between  the time I leave my front door and the time I am walking through the front door of the office. In that hour I usually listen to audiobooks on self development, business, politics, and any other subject that I’m super interested in. I’m a very mental person and I love ideas. So beginning the day with a surge of ideas get my brain moving and I am reminded of how big the world is and that my job is a temporary place. Other times I listen to music to psych myself up, like my own soundtrack or theme song. I choose to listen to songs that build me up, and remind me that I am not my job.

2 Don’t seek validation from your job

I have much to offer. And so do you. But my job description calls for me to contribute only a small bit of my knowledge and gifts at work and there is little to no room for me to veer from that.  Also, the higher ups do not see, nor are they interested in my full potential. Not only is this  incredibly frustrating, it can be downright demoralizing. But at the end of the day, the only thing my employer owes me is pay for the work that I do. That’s it. Full stop. Expecting more only leads to disappointment. Your crappy job is your way to put food on the table and a chance for you to work out challenges and pushing yourself. It is not the source of your self-esteem or validation of your worth as a person.

3 Take ownership of your actions (wherever you go, there you are).

I know of many people who work in an office environment in which their coworkers are not very pleasant, are super competitive, and dismissive. My current work environment is one of these places. There is a deeply ingrained dysfunctional work culture that regularly takes down those at the very top and absolutely crushes those on the bottom.  It is not fun. It can feel dehumanizing. But worse, it can make perfectly lovely and reasonable people begin to act like the very sour coworkers that they despise. This is how culture works and recreates itself.

If you have a similar work work environment, be conscious of this. Fight against adopting the personal destructive habits of an unhealthy place. Because the only thing that you will have to show for it is getting further ingrained in an unhealthy work culture that drains your spirit and your humanity. This sucks, don’t do it.

Instead be mindful of your thoughts and actions. Call yourself on it when you find yourself behaving and thinking like others around you. Remember, your abundance comes from within.  And sometimes you have to guard it at all costs.

4 Manage your work space well at your crappy job

Maintain a neat and orderly physical work environment to the best of your ability. Walking into a chaotic office or trying to find things under a heaping, unruly mound on your desk makes an already undesirable situation almost insufferable. So don’t do this to yourself. I have found that disorganization and overwhelm can  be a very slippery slope.

Awhile ago, I read this book on work space organization and it completely changed the way I thought about how I arrange my desk and work space. Set up your space to accommodate your most redundant and essential tasks.  And if you’re a visual person, like I am be sure to have inspiring pictures, desirable colors, and quotes in your view so that you can see them when you need some momentary inspiration. I for one, have a bunch of yellow accents on my desk because that is my happy color.

Part of managing you work space is paying attention to your physical presentation. Be neat and take pride in your appearance. Look good for yourself because when you look your best, you are closer to feeling your best. Maintain your work clothes. Be sure to buy cuts, colors, and accessories that flatter you and accentuate your physical assets while detracting from your problem areas.

And if you have time and want a laugh, check out the video below. Its an oldie but goodie, insanely hilarious and over the top but I think it has some takeaways that we all can use. The extremely snide narrator points out Barbara’s sloppiness, disorganization, and lack of preparedness throughout the course of a day from the moment she wakes up to the time she goes to bed. Poor Barbara.  Don’t develop a reputation for being like Barbara at work!

And aside from your personal and physical appearance, be mindful to manage your relationships with others. Be purposeful about setting healthy boundaries and expectations. Show others how to treat you by exhibiting the behaviors you expect from them.  Try not to let the poor behavior of others rattle you too much. Make extra efforts to be professional and courteous with such people. This is not always easy and you won’t be able to do this 100% of the time, but be purposeful and make the effort. This is super important for both your immediate mental sanity but also in the long run. You know that you are not destined to say here, so rise above those that are.

5   Perform your crappy job to the best of your ability

Your job is crappy. You are capable of so much more.  Prove to yourself, your coworkers, your supervisors and the universe that you can not only meet the challenges in front of you with grace and style, but you can exceed them.  Take pride in the work you have now even if it is not exactly what you want to be doing.

And once you have mastered your crappy job,  be on the look out to develop new skills and be more efficient. At the very least, the more efficient you become the more room you free up in your mind for things you actually want to be thinking about.

But by all means, do not allow your crappy job to stagnate you. In nature, if you are not growing, you are dying. If water does not flow, it becomes stagnant. So move, grow, and thrive.

6  Develop a rich life outside of your crappy job

Work. Home. Sleep. Repeat. Work. Home. Sleep. Repeat.

This is no way to live and you owe yourself more. The less developed your life is outside of work, the more you look for your crappy job to fulfill your inner needs. That will not end up well. You are a multifaceted beautiful piece of work and you deserve to shine and grow in multiple arenas.

Develop yourself.

Host dinner parties. Train for marathons. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Join a club. Play the saxophone. Sing in the choir. Learn a language. Write a novel. Start a YouTube channel. Go talk to that interesting looking person who you see every morning in the train station. Make connections.

Do interesting things that give you something to look forward to and provide you with the opportunity to channel your energy, develop new skills, and use different parts of your brain and body.

7  Make allies (or at the very least try not to make enemies) at your crappy job

I don’t care if its the receptionist, the janitor, a person who works in another department. The guy who sits in the next cubicle.  The person who occupies the highest level job in the building. Whomever. Make friends and play nice with as many people as you can at your crappy job.

If this is exceedingly difficult to do, find someone with whom you can at least exchange smiles. Even if this is infrequent. A friendly face is worth its weight in gold.

Do your best to minimize hostility in your workplace. Go the extra mile to form and maintain relationships. You don’t have to be best friends with folks, but at least try to remember names and exchange greetings. Once in awhile, volunteer to do things so that others don’t have to do them. Bring in food to share with your coworkers. Give compliments. Thank them. Be helpful. Allow them to shine. Be empathetic. Treat them like human beings.

When conflict does arise, make sure to address it directly and professionally. Do not hold grudges and make sure you show that you have moved past it once the issue is resolved.

8  Take time off from your crappy job

Go on 2 week long Caribbean vacations if you can. If you can’t do that, go on week long vacations. If you can do that, go on a weekend road trip. And if you can’t do any of this stuff, take mental health days. If you can’t do that, go on walks during your lunch breaks.

9  Plot your escape from your crappy job

When I was a little kid, I was really interested in stories about escaping slaves. I would read about how they didn’t just wake up one day and run away. They did not take their freedom lightly because they knew if they escaped haphazardly, they could be captured. And being captured meant being beaten or even killed. In other words they would make their situation worse if they did not plan well. So they did things to help ensure their success and survival.

They did their best to save food for the journey and gather information. Escaped slaves were selective about who they shared their plans and waited until the time was right.  They learned how to read the stars for guidance, and make connections.  And perhaps most important of all, they had specific destinations in mind.

You are not a slave and neither am I.   But I do find this metaphor helpful. We can plot your escape too. Life is too short to work a crappy job for very long.

So figure out what your specific destination is and make a plan for yourself on how to get there. Learn new skills in your current job that will serve you well in your next destination. Learn how to read the signs so that you will know when it’s the right time to move on. Lay the groundwork so that you will be ready when the right time comes along. Make connections with people who are also moving in the same direction or may already be there.

10 Save money (invest in your future)

Your time is your life energy. It is very precious and irreplaceable. When you work a job, you exchange your life energy for money.  For a great perspective on this, read this book.

Respect your earned money.  Save it. Spend it on things that improve you and bring you joy. Invest in your future. Make sure you are taking advantage of any discounts that are afforded you because of your job. Some employers provide discounts on gym memberships, commuter benefits, savings club cards, access to credit unions, etc.

So those are my tips for getting through a crappy job. I hope they were helpful. In the comment section, please share what helps you get through your job. I’d love to hear from you.

And also, if you need some assistance figuring out how to move on from your crappy job, please be sure to check out my available coaching programs to help you make your next breakthrough.

The Essential Guide to Starting Your Life Over, Getting Unstuck, And Getting Out of Your Own Way

Starting Over in Life

Today, I am writing this post while sitting in my very own living room in New York City. This time last year, I was living in Chicago and would not have been able to predict this at all. I wanted to move but was not exactly sure how I was going to make all the pieces fit together. All I knew was that I was starting over, no matter what.

Have you ever reached a  point in your life where you thought, “How did I get here?”

I have too. That’s where I languished mentally for about a year.

I did not like the mind-numbing monotony of my life.  There was nothing exciting or interesting to look forward to in my immediate future. Basically, I was in a deep rut. I had allowed my world to get too small and I was suffocating in it.

What I needed was a change of pace, an adventure,  and some fresh new energy. Also, I had conquered all of my immediate challenges and was in need of new challenges and fresh obstacles. And thinking the same thoughts over and over was mentally exhausting.

When my  mom passed away a few years back, I had promised myself that I would not let myself languish too long in any one place, physical or mental. So I decided that I needed to shake things up. It was my life and I was the only one responsible for how I felt and my happiness.

I needed a do over. I needed to hit the reset button.

So, I decided to leave Chicago, my adopted city for more than a decade and return to my hometown, New York City. I left New York at the age of 17 to go to college and never returned. I had gone out into the world and  put together a comfortable life for myself.  My past accomplishments made me proud. And now  I was ready to come back home and start the next phase of my life.

But moving to New York and creating a new life for myself was no easy feat. Deciding to do it was the easy part. I had to make things happen. And starting over is never easy.

Step 1–When Starting Over, Take Stock of Lessons Learned

Even though I had decided that moving back to NYC was in fact what I wanted to do, I did not want to discount or minimize the things that I accomplished  in Chicago. I started a business and had some really transformative relationships. It was in Chicago that learned how to maintain a household and save money. I learned how to get jobs and leave them with connections that could help me in the future. I learned how to drive and earned a master’s degree.  In Chicago, I had learned all these major life skills through trial and error.  And I’m grateful because I can use these skills in New York, where the stakes are a bit higher.

Before embarking on a new phase  and making dramatic changes, be sure to take stock of all the things you’ve learned in your present life phase and think about ways that you can build on this foundation in your next phase.

Step 2–When Starting Over, Honor What You are Leaving Behind

In addition to taking stock of the lessons that I learned, a part of me was really sad to leave. I love Chicago. I love the people I met. At one point, I never thought I would leave. And if I’m being honest, there was even a little part of me that tried to sabotage the move because Chicago was just so comfortable for me.

And even though Chicago no longer fit the life I wanted I was so thankful for her because at one point she was everything I needed. You will never hear me speak ill of her! But life is about growth and movement.

Step 3– Sketch It Out

But deciding to move was not enough. I was looking to do a complete life shift, so I had to imagine a new life for myself. Location was just one aspect. But I also had to think about: what type of experiences I wanted to have, what type of people I wanted to be around, how I wanted to feel. Sometimes we get so focused on what we don’t want that we don’t make enough effort imaging and naming  the things that we do want. Vision board anyone?

Starting Over with A Vision Board

I got busy naming and claiming the exact neighborhood I would live in and what my apartment would look like and how much my rent would be. Next, I looked up the activities that I knew I wanted to participate in. Then, I made a budget that allowed room for all the things I wanted to do.   I even named the organization that I would work for.

In order to get the life I wanted, I knew that I had to design it. Because if I wasn’t purposeful, I could end up in the same old rut that I was breaking away from. So I needed to be intentional, like an artist making decisions.

Step 4– Make Small, Gradual Moves

Knowing that I was going to be moving to NYC, I knew that I would undoubtedly be moving into a smaller space. So I slowly started to get rid of things. Books, dishes, clothes, housewares.

I also sought to re-familiarize myself with my hometown. After all, I had not lived in NY for many many years and never as an adult. A few things I did:  visit family more,  joined email lists of organizations that held the types of events I planned on attending after the move. I also reached out to my network to see if anybody knew of any job opportunities. I started watching YouTube videos about NY culture.

Step 5– When Starting Over, Make Some Big Moves

Starting Over By Closing My Business

About six months after I decided to move, I closed down my physical office space. I had not made any definite plans. I did not have a job and I certainly did not have an apartment. But somehow I knew that closing down my business would bring me dozens of steps closer to my real goal. And it was super scary. Yet I knew that it sent the right signals to myself and the universe that I meant business and there was no backing down from it.

I also spent one whole month in New York staying with family. While I was there, I really imagined how my life would look on a daily basis. I reached out to people I hadn’t seen in years. It was a lot of fun and my mind really started to see this move as a real thing.

Step 6– Be Singularly Focused About Starting Over

When you are committed to starting your life over, you have to be singularly focused. I for one am very susceptible to succumbing to multiple attractive projects at the same time. But to undertake something as big as relocating and changing your lifestyle, you have to concentrate on the monumental task at hand only, even if other things fall by the wayside. I admit that this is why I was away from the blog for so long. I was getting my ducks in a row and brainstorming and figuring everything out. Some days, it was all I could think of. That meant that other things had to fall by the wayside. But the goal of starting over was more important that anything else at the time so it was given priority over everything else.

Step 7– When Starting Over, Do Not Give Up 

Starting your life over takes a great deal of perseverance. And I was firm on two non-negotiable parameters: I had to have a job and an apartment before I moved. Even though I had tons of friends and family in NYC, it was very important for me to be self-reliant. That meant that I wasn’t going to put anybody out or be a burden or inconvenience.

Finding jobs and apartments in Chicago had been relatively easy, but finding them in NYC appeared impossible. I had begun sending my resume off to several jobs in late 2014 and did not land a job until late 2016.

And there were some pretty bleak times. Like the time I had managed to get a phone interview through a college acquaintance. I was interviewed by 2 women and the interview lasted about an hour. I felt pretty good about the interview when I hung up the phone. In the 90 seconds it took me to walk to my kitchen, pour myself a glass of water and walk back to my living room, I had already received an email from them notifying me that I was not selected for the job. Damn, that’s how y’all feel?

Or going apartment hunting and seeing super expensive teeny tiny walk up apartments with no light and that reminded me of elevators or cells. Or finally finding an apartment that I thought was perfect for me only to be rejected because the landlady preferred another couple.

But I kept at it.

In the end I got a better paying job with a better organization than the one that rejected me in 10 seconds. And I also ended up finding and securing a rent stabilized apartment in a better location, for a better price with all the amenities I wanted. It was almost spooky how much my job and apartment matched the original sketch I imagined when I first made the decision to move.

Starting Over in a New Apartment

The moral of the story  is not to give up. Just focus on putting yourself out there and moving toward what you want with steadfast determination. The rest is not up to you.

Step 8– When Starting Over, Build the Life You Want

Starting Over with Family

Life does not simply unroll in front of us like a plush red carpet. We have to actively pursue the things we want.

A major reason I moved back was so that I could spend time with family. And huge part of my vision included long leisurely walks in Central Park and all around Harlem. So I got busy making sure I was doing those things.

Starting Over in NYC

I moved 6 months ago and I am still adjusting. Driving a car here still scares the daylights out of me. And the non-stop pulse of the city is both exhilarating and exhausting. I’ve set up some of my life rituals- my Sunday walk in Central Park with a cup of coffee and an audible book. Exploring fancy neighborhoods where celebrities live. I found a hair salon through trial and error.  I’ve made a few new friends.  But there is still much that still needs to be done. And I am excited about all of my new challenges.

Are you considering starting over too? Do you need to hit your reset button and need some help?  Please look into my Jumpstart Your Life in 6 Weeks Program.  Or consider another program. It might be just what you need.

How to Face Reality (Even When You Don’t Really Want To)

How To Face RealitySometimes life is scary. And we don’t want to face reality.

Maybe it’s your finances, or your health, your relationships, your children, or your financial situation. Maybe it’s all of these things wrapped up into one great big ole overwhelming package.

So what do we tend to do?

Avoid and ignore it. We don’t go to the doctor or balance our check books. Allow ourselves to stay in relationships even when we know we shouldn’t. We won’t face our emotional issues even as we self-sabotage.

We just close our eyes like we’re on a scary ride at an amusement park.

Instead, we pour our precious life energy into–hours in front of the TV or Facebook, food, sex, gossiping, seeking out drama, temporary relationships, daydreaming without action– anything that will take our attention and time away from confronting and dealing with what is happening right in front of us. We let our power slip right through our fingers hoping to feel better momentarily. And we do feel better.  At least for awhile.

Meanwhile our problems  just keep getting bigger and scarier. Because when you ignore something it does not simply go away, it usually tends to get worse.

Eventually the problems get so big that a crisis happens and ignoring them is no longer an option. We are forced to deal with them all at once whether we want to or not. Except now we are in crisis mode,  only able to manage the emergency: An illness. A foreclosure, repossession, or  bankruptcy. A job loss. A family crisis.

But if we made a habit of facing reality regularly, we might have been able to mitigate the damage. We may have even been able to prevent the crisis in the first place. Or at the very least we could have had a better plan in place for when the shit finally hit the fan.

It is your duty to face reality. Love yourself enough to face reality square in the face.

Here are my tips on how to face reality (even when you don’t want to):

Take an honest assessment of your life

Have a day (or four) of reckoning. Brace yourself.  Play some relaxing music. Get some alone time. Take out a notebook and a pen and think about each of the main areas of life- health (emotional and physical), wealth, social, family, work.  In your notebook, create a separate page for each of these areas. Now write down the reality of your current situation in each of them. In each of these areas, reflect on what’s working for you and what’s not. Think about the things that are going really well. And think about why they are going well. What have you done consistently to grow these areas so well? Then think about what’s not going too well.

Ask yourself:

  1. What have you tried to do to help the situation?
  2. What more can you do?
  3. What areas seem most urgent?
  4. What have you been “meaning” to do, but never quite done?

And remember that this is not about perfection. No part of your life will ever be perfect. This is about being aware and doing what’s in your power to improve and/or make plans so that nothing catches by surprise later.  This is about being proactive about your life.

Identify your regular escape mechanisms

Now listen. I love escapism just like anybody else. It feels really good.  But unfortunately I also know what happens when I spend too much time in escape mode and finally wake up one day and have to figure out how to get out of the hole I created for myself while trying to escape. Escapism, like all things, is best in some form of moderation. Sure, have that cupcake. But you probably shouldn’t have 10, because you will have to face the consequences of that sooner or later. Sure, check in on social media. But you probably shouldn’t spend 20 hours a day, 7 days a week mindlessly hanging out there because that’s time that you could be investing in other things that can grow your  life.

And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy things. I’m simply saying excessively seeking out pleasure while not handling your duties and obligations is a form of escape which ends up backfiring in the end.

What are your escape mechanisms? What are you avoiding? Keep track of how many times during the day you seek to “escape.” This can be an eye-opening practice in and of itself. How many times, you know you “should” be doing something else, but just can’t bear to face it.

Sketch out a new reality (your new destination)

Part of the reason that we don’t want to face reality reality is because doing so makes us feel helpless and overwhelmed.

But that’s just the beginning. You don’t have to stay in that state of overwhelm.

The next step is figuring out what to do next.  Perhaps you need to change some of your behaviors, or use your time more effectively. Try to do those things. If you are not able to them on your own, don’t give up! Figure out out how you can make such changes more likely. Maybe it means hiring a coach or therapist to help you figure out your next steps. Or, maybe it means putting some things on autopilot. Perhaps it means finding an accountability partner.  . Love your life enough to at least try to make things different. No one else will. This is your job.

And you can’t get  there without knowing where you want to go.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. In the comments below please share something that you were trying to escape from in the past but finally faced. Or what your favorite forms of escapism are.

And if you need some help in facing our reality, please be sure to check out my Jumpstart Your Life 6 Week Coaching Program. 

Do You Suffer From “Happiness Destination Syndrome”?

Happiness Destination Syndrome

OK. So before we begin, as a licensed therapist I must tell you that there is technically no such thing as “Happiness Destination Syndrome” or HDS.  It is not listed in any diagnostic manual. I made it up to describe a pattern of behaviors and thought patterns that is pretty common among many many people.

And as a person recovering from HDS, I can tell you that it is very real and its symptoms are profound. Here are some examples of statements that usually come from people plagued by HDS:

  • “After I find a new job, then I can make more money and be happy.”
  • “When I find someone to truly love me and start a relationship with, then I can be happy.”
  • “Once I have kids, then I’ll be happy.”
  • When I retire and my kids are grown, then I can finally have time to myself then I can be happy.”

See where this is going?

HDS is constantly thinking that happiness is always somewhere “out there” over the next hill. HDS is feeling like the current moment or set of circumstances is never enough to feel “happy.” People who live with HDS feel like there is always the need for “more,” or “better.” It is simply a never-ending treadmill.

Now let me say here that there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve the quality of your life. There is nothing wrong with setting and achieving goals. And sometimes the feeling of dissatisfaction can actually be a powerful motivator to change things that you dislike. But thinking that  you are not enough and can absolutely never be happy until the next great thing happens will only result in you feeling empty and dissatisfied even after you have achieved the goal.

Because the underlying thought behind HDS is that you need to DO more and ACHIEVE more in order to BE more. And that simply isn’t true.

I can attest to spending the first chunk of my young adulthood with HDS. Thinking that the next relationship, or job, or degree was going to make my life magically better. I thought that I just needed to attain the next and best shiny thing in order to feel better about myself and my life. But what I would routinely discover is that once I would reach that next destination, I would feel good for a short while, but then eventually go back to thinking something was missing. I was looking for something to fill the void.

But happiness is not a specific destination. Happiness just is. And it exists everywhere. It is all around us and within us.

So here are my 3 tips to cure any Happiness Destination Syndrome outbreaks:

Stop Magical Thinking

Nothing is a magical cure all. There is nothing  and nobody that will make all your problems go away. Stop thinking that. No job, relationship, education, or amount of money will make all your problems go away. No matter where you are and what you have, there will always be both joys to experience and challenges to overcome. Without exception. Moving into different circumstances simply means that there will be new joys as well as new challenges. And sometimes moving into new circumstances exacerbate your current challenges. I think lottery winners are a good example of this. You can read some of these sad stories here or here. These examples show that money wasn’t a magic cure-all. Even after winning millions of dollars, these people still struggled with addiction, unsupportive relationships with people who did not mean them well, and unfortunate judgment. The new set of circumstances merely exaggerated what was already there. That’s why jumping into new external circumstances as an escape never has the effect we think it will.

Flip the Script

Sometimes we don’t even realize the complicated  conditional statements we impose on our happiness. When you make your happiness conditional, you have created specific paradigms and bought into certain belief systems that simply are not true. A paradigm is an operating belief system. Let’s take the common thought “I won’t be really happy unless I’m in a romantic relationship. ”  Another way to say that statement is “The only way for me to be happy is if I’m in a romantic relationship.” When you express the statement this way, it sounds truer to the point and more in line with your operating paradigms. And I urge you to think more about why you think that is true for you.  Who told you that this is true? Why do you think you are only worthy of happiness in a romantic relationship? All real change comes through internal paradigm shifts.

But in the meantime, one way to disrupt your unhelpful operating paradigms is to ask yourself: How can I experience more joy today in my current set of circumstances? Ask yourself this every single day until you have some answers and then actually start to enact it.
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This plaque hangs over my sink as my daily reminder.

Remember Your Life is Happening NOW

This is your life and it is happening right now. This is the core message in all the work that I do.  Every single moment of your life is an absolute gift. Do not wish your current life away. That is wasteful. And you deserve so much better. The past is gone and the future is not promised. The current moment is the most important. You will never have the chance to re-live anything.  And your life does not stop while you are in pursuit of your goals.  This means that it is up to you to decide to find happy experiences in every single day.

Life is not solely a picnic. Serious and grave things happen. But life is not all a drag either. Beautiful and wondrous things happen too,  all the time in fact. And because the serious and grave things happen, the joyous things are even more meaningful and precious. Your job is to savor these daily moments of joy. They exist. You just have to make the effort to train yourself to identify them and appreciate them. Again ask yourself, “How can I experience more joy today in my current set of circumstances?”

Now I’d love to hear from you. In the comments below, please share something that you thought would bring you “happiness” but when you got it, it didn’t.

And if you liked this post, please be sure to sign up for our mailing list.

How to Invite New Energy Into Your Life: A Review of Shonda Rhimes’ “A Year of Yes”

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Anybody know what it feels like to get stuck in a rut?

I certainly do. I remember a time in which I was stuck in a rut for a very long time. Years in fact. During this time, my days looked a little bit like this: Work. School. Sleep. Repeat. Work. School. Sleep. Repeat. And so on and so on.

After so many days like that my mind started to scream to break free.  I woke up one day and felt trapped and thought to myself, “How in the world did I get here?!” And I can tell you it does not feel good.

Well Ms. Shonda Rhimes had the same issue. Yes, that Shonda Rhimes. The same woman who is single-handedly responsible for Thursday night prime-time television.  The woman who created  Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and my personal favorite, How To Get Away with Murder, was a self-proclaimed introverted workaholic who suffered from severe panic attacks. The woman that brings unsterotypical powerful, charismatic black woman characters to life, was herself afraid of life and felt paralyzingly inadequate.

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Shonda Rhimes after her year of yes

During her working hours she rubbed elbows with Kerri Washington and Viola Davis, but after work she went home alone and compulsively ate in her bed. She had created a habit over the years of saying”no” to all the exciting invitations she received because she was frightened and felt inadequate.  She woke up one day and realized that she was “miserable and deeply unhappy.”

One Thanksgiving, she had an epiphany when her sister told her that she always says “No” to everything. She realized that in saying “no” to invitations, she was also saying “no” to life.

yearofyes

 

After coming to this realization, Shonda decided that since saying “no” to everything had gotten her to a place of extreme social withdrawal and unhappiness, saying “yes” might help her get out of her rut.

So she committed to a year of “yes” in which she would say yes to all the things that scared her for an entire year.

  • She said yes to giving speeches in front of thousands of people.
  • She said yes to being healthier.
  • She said yes to standing up for herself.
  • She said yes to having difficult but necessary conversations.
  • She said yes to playing with her children every time they asked.

And what was the result of her “year of yes”?

  • She lost more than 130lbs.
  • She was able to get over her deepest life-long fears.
  • She lost some people that she thought were her friends.
  • She began to feel better about herself.
  • She respected her own feelings and life choices.

In short, her life was absolutely transformed.

How incredibly inspiring!?

And all she did differently was say “YES”.

Now you know how much I hate one size fits all formulas, so I am not at all suggesting that we all follow Shondra’s plan verbatim. But what I am suggesting is that there is something really transformative about inviting new energy into your life. Magic can happen when we stop doing the things the we’ve always done. Great things an happen when we decide to shake things up a bit. This is what it means to invite new energy into our lives. It keeps us from being stagnant and promotes our personal, emotional and spiritual growth.

“New” and “different” don’t have to be synonymous with “scary” and “bad.”  New routines bring new experiences and give us new things to think about.

How could all of our lives be changed if we invited new energy into our spaces? So my question to you is this:

What if you made a decision to do one thing different? What would it be? What might change for the better?

Leave a comment below about one thing you can do to invite new energy into your life.

What lessons did you learn in 2015?

Ok, so it’s that time of year when everyone is making all sorts of goals and promises for 2016. People see the New Year as a fresh new start. A blank slate.

And I’m all for new beginnings. Any time you can give yourself a mental restart means you’re one step closer to moving on from the weight of the past that can hold you back.

I think a good place to start when setting new goals for the upcoming year is to recap the past year and figure out the lessons you’ve learned along the way. I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now reviewing my 2015.  I’m sharing the major lessons I’ve learned or revisited in 2015. I invite you think back on your year and do the same.

January

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The year started off really nicely. I spent most of January in New York City with my extended family. We’re planning a family reunion and when your family is as large as mine, it takes several people and several planning meetings to make it happen. It was a great way to hang out with everyone and I’m looking forward to the family reunion in July 2016. Did I mention its gonna be in the Caribbean?? Can’t wait. I have so many beautiful pictures and memories from January and I will create so many more during the upcoming family reunion.

January’s Lesson: Doing activities with loved ones is affirming and strengthens my relationships.

February

februarysnowI ‘ve always wanted to try stained glass making, so this winter while the weather looked like this,  I found a class led by the awesome Fred and decided to give it a try. You can read more about this here. I ended up making something really beautiful. I talk and think for a living, so I don’t get much experience taking separate objects and “making” something new with them with my own hands. It was more difficult than I thought it would be and the finished product was far from perfect, but it’s beautiful to me and I hang it proudly in my home office.

Various stages of the glass cutting process and tools

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February’s Lesson: Trying new experiences is a great way to think new thoughts and bring new energy into your life.

March

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Completing my dissertation has definitely been a journey and unfortunately my motivation to do so sometimes ebbs much more than it flows. In an effort to get the ball moving I went on a writing retreat with 5 other participants led by the brilliant and very helpful writing coach Michelle Boyd of Inkwell Retreats.  The retreat was held at the beautiful Goldberry Woods, a bed and breakfast and micro-farm in northwest Michigan. It was a wonderful experience.  The scenery was gorgeous and provided a nice backdrop to the intense writing. I got more work done on my dissertation in that one week during the retreat than I had in the previous 3 months all together.

March’s Lesson: Working toward a huge goal does not have to only be grueling. There can be pleasurable and peaceful moments along the way.

April

funinsun

I spent spring break in the Dominican Republic. And it was a blast! It was the perfect mix of relaxation and fun.  I spent my days sitting in the sun on the beach, drinking frozen drinks, and swimming. During that beach time I did a great deal of thinking and soul searching. I finally got the chance to listen to all the little voices inside me that I had to silence during every day life because I was too busy getting things done.  One of those decisions I came to was to bring a small group of ladies back to this destination so that they too could get away and have the opportunity and space to think new thoughts and do some introspection.  I decided I wanted to lead destination retreats. And in fact, I led my first one a few months later in that very same place.

April’s Lesson: Sometimes its good to take a break. Moments of inspiration can come when my mind is not singularly focused on a problem.

May

My beautiful little niece walking around my mom's garden.

This was my first mother’s day after my mom passed. You can read more about that here. I had to take a break from social media and all the constant reminders that other people were spending the day with their mothers or at least got to talk to them. But my brother sent me a pic of my niece in my mom’s blooming spring garden. It is a nice reminder that life goes on. This pic connects my mom’s life to present and the future. Both my niece and those beautiful flowers growing on their own were evidence that my mom cared for and nurtured things while she was here.

May’s Lesson: Life goes on. And even though people are no longer with us, the things they nurtured still continue to flourish.

June

swallowcliff

Some time in 2014, a client told me about the old toboggan stairs at Swallow Cliff in Palos Hills, IL and what a great workout climbing the stairs is. Ever since then I had been meaning to tackle them. I finally did in June of this year.  I didn’t take any pics. I was too busy remembering to breathe! The above pic is a pic I stole from google, just so that you get a general idea of what they look like.  I climbed up and down them 3 times. If I wasn’t so dogged tired I would have done the “Rocky” dance at the top of the stairs. It was not pretty and my legs and backside hurt for days. But I felt really good for finally crossing it off my “to-do” list.

June’s Lesson: Crossing things off my mental “to-do” list makes me feel triumphant.

July

July was the first anniversary of my mom’s passing. So my siblings and I decided to spend that week together. We had barbecues, went swimming and supported each other. It was nice. I won’t lie and say there weren’t some really really low moments. For instance, my 12 year old nephew found me on the side of the house sobbing once, but it was nice to go through that with people who understood exactly what I was going through. We also took the opportunity to plant a flower bush on the actual date of her passing. She would be tickled pink by that. You can read more about my grief process here.

momgarden

July’s Lesson: I don’t have to be deal with my grief alone when there are people around me ready to be supportive. I just have to ask for help.

August

orchards

August was all about the outdoors. Summer in Chicago is a beautiful thing. And I forget how glorious summer can feel during Chicago January and February. So every day I wasn’t in the office in August, I was spending long days at Lake Michigan. I also got a chance to visit the fruit orchards at Pick Farms. You can read more about this trip in a previous blog post.

August Lesson: Stop and enjoy the moment.

September

emptyoffice

I spent more time traveling and spending time with family this year than I had in the previous 6 years combined. It was  a commitment I made to myself following my mom’s passing. Because of this, I realized that in some important ways having a physical office no longer suited me. So when it was time to renew the lease, I decided that it was simply not worth it to be bound to a physical office for another year.  I decided not to renew. But as much as I knew this was the right decision, I still struggled with it. Thank goodness for Synoria, who arranged the movers and organized the packing because I was a mess. Be on the lookout for a whole separate post on this topic.

September’s Lesson: Sometimes life forces you to make tough decisions. Staying committed to your values helps make those tough decisions easier.

October

October, which is my absolute favorite month, was all about  business growth and development. It was definitely a highlight of the year. I led Abundant Life Practice’s very first retreat. I took 3 beautiful ladies with me back to the Dominican Republic and it was really amazing. (Be on the lookout for a separate blog post about the retreat really soon.) In the mean time, this is the villa where the retreat was held.

I left the Abundant Life Practice retreat and headed straight to The Happy Black Woman Blogging School Live 3-day event in Washington D.C.  I connected with so many entrepreneurial minded and inspiring ladies, including Ms. Rosetta herself. I also got to visit Washington D.C. for the very first time and it was a blast!

October’s Lesson: Sometimes you have to put yourself “out there” and connect with people in order to see yourself grow and reach goals.

November

November was more family time. My brother bought us tickets to see Stevie Wonder down where he lives.  I am a die-hard Stevie fan and so is my brother. This is the fourth time I’ve seen Stevie live in concert and hopefully it won’t be the last. And each time I am amazed that people of all ages fill huge sports arenas (I’ve seen him in both the United Center and Madison Square Garden) to hear songs written before I was even born. It is pure inspiration watching someone live in their purpose. That’s what watching Stevie is like. Here’s a clip from the concert:

stevie wonder nov. 2015 from jennifer hall on Vimeo.

November’s Lesson: When you create something and share it with the world, you have no idea of the impact it will have and how greatly it can affect people’s lives for the better or for how long.

December

2016planning

This month has been very low key. After the heavy traveling and being away from home for the past 2 months straight, I decided to spend this month resting and planning. Aside from enjoying the holidays and seeing clients online, I’ve been doing a great deal of writing and planning out the schedule for 2016.

December’s Lesson: It’s ok to rest after a long period of busy-ness.

Whew! So that was my 2015 in a nutshell. I’m looking forward to putting all this wisdom into practice in the upcoming year.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What was one major lesson you learned over the course of the past year?

And as always, if you liked this post, please join our mailing list.

You are free, so BE free!

Freedom

I recently spent a few hours in a courtroom and watched  a judge hand down a guilty verdict.

The crime committed was severe and the defendants will be going to prison for many many years.

I’ve known one of these men for years as a close family friend. So when the sentence was handed down,  I was overcome with emotion. I thought “What a waste of a life. He has so much potential.” Now he will be in prison for longer than he has been alive.

He will sit in a cold, hard prison cell  isolated from the world, which will go on without him. His 5 children will grow up and become adults, all while their father sits behind bars in a prison hundreds of miles away from them.  In prison, this full grown adult man will be told when he can eat, shower, exercise and sleep. He will be told when and if he can speak to loved ones on the outside.

Humanizing experiences like tenderness and empathy will be rare and maybe even non-existent for him.

In short, my friend will no longer have the precious gift of freedom.  Unfortunately and very sadly, he squandered it.

Prison

And I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that this is true for many many other people.

Aside from the difficult emotions I feel about a good friend going through a tremendous ordeal, this whole incident makes me very thankful and mindful about my own freedom. But it also made me question the ways in which I too am squandering my gift.

  • Whenever I impose limitations on myself and my possibilities, I am wasting my freedom.
  • Whenever I let fear alone run my life and decision making, I am squandering my freedom.
  • Whenever I allow negative thinking to control my actions, I squander my freedom.
  • Whenever I allow the opinions and beliefs of others define my opinions and beliefs, I waste my freedom.

Freedom is usually one of those things that many people don’t appreciate until it is gone. And I made a commitment at that moment to make sure I am always aware of my freedom and its power.

Freedom is a powerful thing. It is transforming. Freedom, and specifically, an “ethical” freedom allows you to literally do whatever you want as long as you are not harming yourself or others.

You too are free, Lovebug, and that is a wonderful thing!

But here’s my question to you: What are you doing with your freedom?

What does freedom mean to you?

Think about things you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t. Why haven’t you done them?

I hear from so many women who are waiting to do things because for some reason or another “now” is not the right time. They say “I can’t do such and such because….” or “I could never because….”

Maybe all of those thoughts are true…. Everybody knows their own situation best.

But maybe, just maybe, when you begin to acknowledge the freedom that you have, you begin to realize that some if not all of these types of thoughts are self-imposed limiting thoughts. And you begin to realize that you, in fact, can do anything you set your mind to. You might need support. You might need guidance. And you might need additional resources, but you are not a slave and your situation is not hopeless.

Freedom means there are always possibilities.

Your life is too short and too precious to put yourself in a box. When you do that, you might as well live in prison.

Let yourself out and be free!

free

In the comments below, tell me how you plan to honor your freedom?