“I don’t want people to think I’m crazy so I won’t say, do, try…’x’.” How many times have you said that to yourself? I hear that recording running in my mind all the time. And I’ve learned to acknowledge it, thank it for its counsel, and then let it go. We have to release that thought if we are to do anything original. Our value, and the value of work, is found in what’s not obvious, in connecting dots that have been disparate.
That’s the place to go – into the dark corners, into the places that others won’t go. And don’t be meek about it. Hold your head up high, confident, bold, brave, and daring. Attempt to go so far in the direction of your dreams that you merge with them. Your life is an expression of what matters most to you – who you spend your time with, where you go, the actions you take, the support, encouragement, and love that you provide to others.
Don’t be discouraged if others can’t see what you see. It’s not their fault. They don’t have your vision in their minds. You have to build it for them. You have to bring along those who are interested in your path bit by bit. The expression you wear on your face and the light you emit from just being who you are, living your very best day every day no matter what circumstances you face, is all the proof you need.
As I head to Vegas this morning to be part of the mentor program at SXSW V2V, I’m excited to announce that my company, Chasing Down the Muse, is making a shift to place more emphasis on making products. I used my summer in LA to figure out my next career steps. I moved away from everything and almost everyone I know to figure out what mattered most to me.
Here’s what I learned: While I’ve enjoyed the strategy, communications, and marketing consulting projects I’ve done this year, I miss spending the majority of my time ideating, making, launching, and iterating products. Time to change that! Don’t get me wrong – the strategy, marketing, and communications is vital to having successful products and I plan to continue that work; now I want to bring the actual making of products back into my daily work life. Want to work together on product-based projects? Drop me a line!
This summer I’ve spent every day involved in the process of making and it’s been a complete delight. I have always believed that the surest way to a fulfilling life is to follow the joy wherever it leads. So I’m taking my own advice. I’m going for it – let’s roll!
Up tomorrow: Why I lean in every day
We all get stuck. But we don’t need to stay where we are. We can move, grow, extend, and transcend.
When life gets heavy, lighten the load by opening up. Your eyes, your heart, your time. Be willing to be surprised by what you find, and then be willing to act on what you learn.
Life can leave us with many questions. Are we in the right job? The right relationship? The right city? I’ve found the clearest way to figure out these big questions is to move away from what we know. When we create some distance, literally or figuratively, we can see things more clearly.
For over a year, I’ve wrestled with the idea of leaving New York to create a new home in a new city. I was very conflicted about the decision so I decided to get away. I decided to take a break from New York and be totally open to any answer that rises up. My escape to Los Angeles did something really amazing, and totally unexpected. By going to LA, I found my way back to New York as my definitive home. I answered the question of “Where should I live?” not by thinking about it, but by leaving it behind. I didn’t need to angst over the decision. I needed to let it go and give it the space to solve itself.
What a powerful lesson. What an incredible discovery. I let go, and the sky didn’t fall. The world didn’t come to an end. I didn’t break. I let go, and then everything fell into place.
“Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.” ~ Bryant McGill
As I prepare to spend my summer re-thinking and re-shaping my future, I’m unpacking quite a bit of my life: my work, my time online, and the hustle and bustle of my everyday life. I’m taking very little with me in the hopes that de-cluttering my life will open the way for new beginnings.
We sometimes place an unfair connotation on the concept of emptiness. I think of emptiness as a blessing, as a state of being that helps us to re-imagine and re-invent. If every ounce of time and space we have is full, then we can’t be open to the many gifts that new experiences offer.
So I’m making room. I’m letting go. I’m giving myself the gift of fully experiencing life one moment at a time and the chance to celebrate the beauty that each small moment holds.
A very dear friend of mine recently lost someone close to her. He was taken at far too young an age; he still had a lot of living left to do. Letting someone go is one of the hardest things we have to do, and it’s also an excellent motivator that helps us make the most of our own lives.
The only way I can make sense of loss is by understanding that it makes me live more fully. I don’t take any day for granted. I don’t assume I’m getting a tomorrow. It all goes by too fast, and I try to grab as much of the whirling, swirling wonder of life as possible.
Deciding on our purpose, what we’re meant to do with the small sliver of time we have, is difficult. The only thing more difficult is not undertaking the pursuit. Our purpose can be a cause, person, community, line of work, or role we wish to play in the story of humanity. It’s the only thing we have complete control over. It’s our choice.
So go out there. Discover what it is that lights you up and decide to make a go of it. In that way, no matter how much time you have it will be worthwhile. You will have done what you came to do, and you’ll inspire others to do the same.
Problems trip us up because they typically have many layers. We get so caught up in their tangled webs that we can’t see our way clear of them. We try to solve the whole thing at once. If we can break a problem down into pieces and then address each piece individually, we gain confidence by removing each roadblock and eventually the light at the end of the tunnel begins to shine through.
Learning to program has taught me this lesson at every turn. In programming, we have a goal – the thing we’re trying to build. To get there, we have to break the problem down into pieces and address each small piece line by line. The collection of all of those lines yield our desired result.
The same is true for any problem in our lives. They’re all made of tiny problems stacked on top of one another. Start where you are, see where you want to go, and chart all of the small steps to get from here to there. It’s a sure path to unraveling any challenge that ails us. And while you’re at it, why not learn to code?
It’s important to share your dreams and triumphs. First, people who love you and care about you want to hear about them. I would argue that more importantly you never know just who will be inspired by them and how much that inspiration will alter the course of someone else’s life. You’ve lived your story; the life you’ve created is the result. Stories in and of themselves do not have value. It is the sharing of those stories that makes them valuable. Sharing gives us time to reflect on them and it lets others do the same. When we keep our stories to ourselves, we never realize their full potential.
So go up to the highest mountain top and shout about it. Tell people what you’ve done, and how and why and what you plan to do with everything you learned in the process. Listen to their questions and do your best to answer them. Tell them what your fears were and how you overcame them. Explain your gratitude and thank those who helped you along the way. Talk about your choices and their consequences. Share what you would do differently the next time around. Help others learn from your mistakes.
We have so much to gain by telling our tales and others have so much to learn from hearing them. Be a hero. Share your news.
“A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.” ~ Rita Mae Brown, American writer
Decision-making can be an agonizing process. We flip-flop between choices, write pro-con lists until our hands cramp, lose sleep, and wrestle with opportunity costs of going one way or the other. However, whenever I actually make a choice, I find that a peace settles over me, regardless of the choice I make.
When I began to consider leaving my corporate job to go out on my own as a freelancer, my mind began an endless debate of “should I or shouldn’t I?” When I first started Compass Yoga and was trying to settle on the appropriate business model, I would make a choice, try it out, assess its value, and then change it until I found that a nonprofit model worked best. These were two very different processes because the stakes for each were very different. Despite the difference in the stakes, I learned so much about the process of decision-making and its effect on my psyche.
Even though I tried many different ideas with Compass, I never experienced the angst I had with making the decision to leave my corporate job. I made a number of choices early on with Compass that weren’t quite right but I never regretted any of those decisions. When it was clear that my choice wasn’t the right one, I just let it go and quickly made a different choice. With my corporate job, I took a long time to make one choice. The feeling of angst had nothing to do with the stakes; it had everything to do with the time it took me to make a choice.
We often delay decisions because we are afraid of making the wrong choice. The truth is that we can’t think our way through this process. We have to make a choice, sit with it, and see how it feels. If I can make a decision quickly and confidently, I do it. (Hint: meditation helps!) I know that no matter what the outcome, I am strong enough to change course if need be. If a quick decision isn’t possible and I really can’t see a clear path, I try this trick: I make a choice in my mind and walk around with it for a few days. That simple act lets me see how the decision sits with me, in my body and my mind. If it feels right, then I go with it. If it doesn’t, then I make another choice and start the process again.
What do you do when you have a decision to make and can’t clearly see which option is the best for you?
This powerful statement is one of the most incredible lessons I learned working with my therapist and coach, the amazing Brian. I used to think of settling as such a negative word, as if it meant we were somehow giving up or selling ourselves short by settling. Brian turned that around for me.
I learned this lesson in a big way yesterday when I secured my new apartment. Phin and I will be taking up residence at a new place in our neighborhood on April 15th. I wish I could have found a place that was a little bit cheaper, sans any broker fee (though they did give me a discounted fee), and a full one-bedroom. Still, the place is beautiful. I get to stay in my lovely Upper West Side neighborhood right across the street from the park. Because I’m sticking with my current management company, the paperwork was a lot less than it would have been otherwise (especially since I work for myself). It has all the conveniences of my current full-service building and is newly renovated. I will continue to enjoy my western facing view, can break my current lease without penalty, and won’t waste any time hunting for a new home on a tight timeline.
I settled. The new apartment isn’t perfect. I didn’t get every single thing I wanted, but it’s a wonderful fit. And that’s what settling is all about – doing the very best you can with what you’ve got.
I’m in the midst of choosing among different doors, literal and figurative. I’m looking for a new apartment. I’m considering where to take a long vacation this summer. I’ve got several new career opportunities in front of me – I’m now trying to decide whether to take all of them, some of them, or none of them. At the ripe old age of 37, I’m thinking about what matters most in my personal life and how that should take shape going forward.
While these big decisions can be daunting, I also have to remind myself that this is the real stuff of life. This is the fun stuff. Choosing which doors to open, which paths to take. Each of these choices alters the course of the journey, in big ways and small ways, and I am so fortunate to have the ability to decide which way to steer. Life doesn’t happen to us; it happens because of us.