I hate saying “no” to things. I like saying “yes.” I’ve always thought that saying “yes” was synonymous with remaining open and leading a full life.
And for the right things, that holds true.
But, I’m coming around to the idea that it’s crucial to know when and how to say no.
As you go through life and get better at whatever it is you do, more and more people, events, things, etc. will be grasping at you and your calendar, hoping for a chunk of your time. This is especially true if you’re pursuing work that lies at the intersection of your passions and talents.
The first thing to understand is that this isn’t a burden or annoyance. It’s truly a gift that people want your time. It means you’re shining so bright in the world that people are literally gravitating toward you. You are a breathing ball of encouragement for others to shine their brightest, too. That’s truly awesome.
Your mind will start to feel self-important around this time, and it’s critical that you remind yourself constantly to stay humble. You have a lot to learn. And a lot to teach. And a lot more people to connect with on this planet. Don’t get cocky, because the moment you do, you’ll:
(1) Be out of alignment with your truest, best self and the rest of the world
(2) Lose everything you started to work toward. The universe is a funny teacher like that.
(As an aside, if you’re reading this and you don’t feel like you’re shining really brightly in the world right now, why? What’s stopping you? What’s holding you back? Surround yourself with people who shine bright while you figure it out. I promise you, it rubs off like glitter does at a 5-year-old fairy princess-themed birthday party.)
Nonetheless, I’m learning that there is in fact a balance. You can say “no” with the upmost grace, kindness, and appreciation. Remember: you’re not saying “no” because those people and things aren’t worth your time. The best reason to say “no” is when you’re super clear on what it is you’re saying “YES” to. When you know what your core commitments are, you know exactly what to say no to.
After all, if you say yes to everything, you’ll accomplish nothing well—or nothing at all.
So, how to do you say “no” to the things you should say no to—and say it with grace?
Here’s the process:
1. Understand what you’re saying “yes” to.
I recently read this incredible article written by Scott Dinsmore: “Warren Buffett’s 5-Step Process for Prioritizing True Success (and Why Most People Never Do It)”
In it, Scott writes about Buffett’s prioritization plan. You really should go read the full article, but in case you need the Cliff’s Notes version, here it is:
- Create a list of 25 things you want to do in the next year or two—or even in your lifetime.
- Whittle that list down to the 5 absolutely most important things to you on that list.
- Marry your principles. Create a broad stroke plan of attack for making each of your 5 most important accomplishments happen. Use this awesome goal setting & action workbook to help you through the process of actually planning and taking action on your goals.
- Put the remaining 20 things on a “Stuff Not to Do” list. Don’t give any of your attention to those other things until you’ve accomplished the five most important ones.
Once you know what your top 5 priorities are, you will be laser-focused with how you arrange your priorities, and it will become a lot easier to say “no” to things that are a diversion from your top priorities.
2. Say “no” gracefully.
Once you’re crystal clear on your priorities, you’ll quickly realize that you cannot say “yes” to most things. Here are some of the biggest time sucks I’ve experienced:
- Saying “yes” by feeling the need to answer every email
- Saying “yes” to every random coffee meeting request you get
- Saying “yes” to meetings (most are a complete waste of time—or could be accomplished in 1/3-1/2 the time)
- Saying “yes” to random projects or side jobs that don’t really interest or energize you
- Saying “yes” to every “DING!” on your phone—whether it be a text, a social media alert, a call, a voicemail, or some other random phone distraction
By the way, we check our phones an average of about 150 times per day. PER DAY.
…Talk about distracted!
There’s a lot we could say “yes” to—and very little that we actually should. That doesn’t mean you get to act like an entitled asshole in the process of saying “no” to people and opportunities.
You can do it all with total grace and kindness. There’s always a way.
I have canned responses for questions and requests I get often. But, out of respect and gratitude that someone took the time to email me in the first place (depending on the nature and tone of the email, of course), I will always research them and find one or two things about them or what they’re working on that really inspire me. I’ll let them know I’m not able to meet because I’m heads down working on my startup, but that I love X, Y, Z about their work and I’m so excited to see what is up next for them.
It’s still personal and genuine, but it allows me to save a lot of time and say “no” gently.
3. Still, leave room for serendipity.
Have you ever seen that movie Serendipity? Totally unrealistic, but it’s one of my favorites because I most certainly see serendipitous moments unfolding in my life all of the time. Whether I make them up or not isn’t something I’m going to pretend I know for sure—I know there’s science and sound philosophy out there for both arguments.
But, it bugs me when I see an email come through with a coffee meeting request and I am inclined to say “no” because I don’t know:
(1) Who that person is
(2) What that person wants
(3) If there’s a meaningful reason to connect beyond just sharing our bios with each other in person
It bugs me because I’ve brushed aside a few opportunities in the past with people who I later met randomly and have since become good friends. I don’t like the idea that I’m potentially missing out on some great friendships, stories, and invigorating opportunities to support others.
So, here’s the solution I created:
I try my best to batch task my meeting times. I block off 3-5pm every Tuesday and Thursday. I call them my free “coffee hours.” I offer those times up to pretty much anyone who contacts me with a meeting request. If they can’t do it that week, the offer cascades into the following week, and so on. This approach has worked for me for several reasons:
(1) It allows me to say “yes” to serendipity more often.
(2) It weeds out people who don’t really want to meet up since it takes a bit more planning to find a mutual time that works.
(3) I manage my calendar in the most effective way possible, not letting meetings totally take over my life. Coffee vs. a powerhouse, highly productive day? Yeah, it’s a no-brainer. You can’t be super effective if your calendar is peppered with meetings from 8am - 7pm.
(4) My brain gets tired in the late afternoons, anyway. Often times, those coffee meetings end up being a reinvigorating break in a hectic week.
Of course, if there are meetings I really want to take (like interviews), I make myself available whenever the other person can meet. I don’t get crazy about any one system—systems are not meant to be rigid, they are just meant to help create guidelines and structure so I’m more in control of how I spend my time.
The difference between successful people and very successful people, I’m learning, is that very successful people say “no” to just about everything.
Not “no” because they want to be rude, self-important, or unhelpful.
But “no” because they are super clear on their goals and priorities, and remain maniacally focused on and determined to eliminate distractions.
That’s what success is: knowing exactly what you want and what you don’t want, answering accordingly, and then chasing what you’re after.
So, what are your top 5 priorities? What will you commit to saying “no” to in the future? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Have you asked yourself this question lately?
What is it you actually want from your life?
We get so swept up in the day-to-day of things, that many of us don’t take the time out frequently enough to really ask ourselves that question. We wait until things are falling apart—until we are falling apart—to change something. We wait until the pain of leaving a situation is greater than the pain of staying in it.
What would happen if we didn’t wait that long? What if we listened to ourselves and what we really wanted and weren’t afraid to chase after that or change something to get it?
I think the entire world would fundamentally shift in the best possible way. I think every individual life would change in the best possible way. As an aside, I believe this to be true because I think people are fundamentally good, and even if there are some outliers, it would be more than offset by all of the great stuff that would happen in the world as a result of people living more fully—more boldly.
So, answer the question for yourself:
What do you really, truly, deeply want for your life?
- Do you want to be completely in love?
- Do you want to leave a job you actually don’t like?
- Do you want to find your dream job? Or get your dream job back?
- Do you want to apply to grad school?
- Do you want to quit grad school?
- Do you want to move to another city? Another country?
- Do you want to leave your relationship? Your marriage?
- Do you want to understand and be closer to God?
- Do you want to start a business?
- Do you want to shut a business down?
- Do you want to be the first to boldly say, “I love you”?
- Do you want to buy a one-way plane ticket to somewhere you’ve never been before and just figure it out?
- Do you want to write a book?
- Do you want to get into the best shape of your life?
- Do you want to make more room for fun and adventure?
- Do you want to take more time for self exploration and development?
Figure out whatever it is you really, truly, deeply want. Not just for your life, but for the people and things you love and care about.
What is your heart telling you? Your gut?
Where are you in alignment with yourself, others, and the world? Where are you not?
You’ll know you’ve hit upon what you truly want when it isn’t just a passing impulse or phase. You won’t have deep-seeded question marks about the right decisions for yourself. Your heart and soul are already pulling you in the direction of your deepest wants as we speak.
Toward your dream career. Toward your best friendships. Toward the greatest love of your life. Toward the urge to treat your body and mind with the upmost love and respect. Toward the business the world is waiting for you to start.
All you need to do is listen.
Then commit to what it is you really, truly, deeply want (think long-term).
And finally, take action. Stop waiting for things to get really bad before you make a change. Stop waiting for a sign. If you’re waiting for a sign, this blog post is it. Go get what you’re after. You can do this. You were born to.
I know this sounds easier said than done. After all, it’s not easy to make the decision to leave a stable, well-paying job. Or take out a loan or investment capital to start a business. Or to make a renewed commitment to the person you’re in a relationship with. Or to leave the person you’re in a relationship with. Or to get on an airplane or in a car with no roadmap, no plan. Or to admit you were wrong for giving up on a dream or job too soon. Or to make the decision to be vulnerable and open in love.
None of these are perfectly neat, easy decisions. Sometimes, you’ll cause pain for others. Sometimes, you’ll go through your own bout of it.
But the truth is, pain is necessary and inevitable for growing. Just because a conclusion or decision you come to is painful doesn’t mean it’s not the best thing. And just because A conclusion or decision seems like the easy route doesn’t always mean it’s the best route.
Do what is right for the greatest number of people in the long run. Take the route with the highest integrity. If you’re not being honest with yourself and/or others, then that’s a surefire sign that something—or a bunch of things—need to change.
You don’t have to stay in any situation, job, relationship, location, friendship, etc. that truly doesn’t feel right to you.
Don’t wait. It only gets harder to make a change. It only gets easier to settle into a rut of thinking mediocre-anything is acceptable, and nothing can ever be different—better—than it is right now.
This is your life. Design it how you know you’re supposed to in your heart—in your gut. Design it in such a way that you’ll be grateful and PROUD of yourself for when you’re 80.
Take extraordinary, bold risks and leaps.
Don’t take a single day for granted.
Stop trying to fit your life into a neat little box when you were intended to soar and paint stars in the sky.
Get over what people are going to think.
While you’re at it, get over your own attachment to how things need to unfold.
So, what do you really, truly, deeply want for your life?
The simple act of being honest with yourself and others about who you are and what you want—the simple act of declaring it and chasing after it—guarantees this:
You’ll get exactly what you’re after.
Or you’ll get something even better.
So, start planning.
The world is eagerly waiting.
Why are so many of us walking through life when we could be dancing through it?
This is the thought that came to me early one morning this week.
For the past month or so, I’ve been feeling pretty drained out and tired in the morning. It’s likely related to a confluence of things, but I couldn’t shake the feeling for a while. I’ve been getting out of bed exhausted, feeling like I could sleep another 5 hours—even if I got 7-8 hours of sleep (which is a lot for me).
It hit me, though: If I change my thoughts, I’ll eventually change my behavior. And if I change my behavior, I’ll change the results I produce.
The result I’ve been wanting is to get out of bed earlier and with a ton of energy again. I need to change my morning routine.
Here’s what I normally do:
- Hit snooze for 30-45 minutes
- Read/delete/archive my email
- Check Facebook
- Check Twitter
- Check Instagram
- Answer missed texts/calls
- Sit in bed wondering why I’m so tired
- Finally getting my ass up and out of bed an hour after I intended to
Seriously, what a crappy way to start the day! Talk about letting my day (and all of the unimportant stuff) run me versus the other way around.
I don’t think I’m alone in this routine. All of us tend to get into bad habits, including how we start every day.
And if we want something to be different, we have to change our thoughts, so that we change our behavior, so that we change our results.
So, for this week, I’m going to practice a bit of a different morning routine:
- Set an actual radio alarm clock so my phone isn’t right next to me and I’m not tempted to check my email/social media.
- Wake up on the first alarm, no snooze.
- Get out of bed dancing. DANCING. Just BLAST a jam to kick my day off right.
- Write down the 1-2 most important things I need to do with my day. If I do these 1-2 things, my day would be a complete success.
- Dance my way into my running clothes and go for a run. Run for as long as I want, for as long as it feels good to run. Doesn’t matter if it’s 1 mile or 20 miles (although, let’s not get crazy. It’ll probably be closer to 1 mile than 20 miles.)
- Dedicate my run to someone I’m grateful for.
- Write that person a note during the day to let them know I’m grateful for him or her, and why.
That’s how I’m starting every day this week.
Because there’s no reason to walk through life when you can dance through it.
How can you change your routine this week? What will you do differently to start the day with an infusion of energy and love?
Leave a comment below, and let me know how you’re going to change your morning routine for the better!
Please know this.
There are so many reasons to be unhappy.
- Your significant other breaks up with you.
- You’re not seeing eye-to-eye with your boss.
- You gained 10 pounds because you’ve been eating like crap.
- You’re not making enough money at work.
- You gave up an opportunity to pursue what could have been your dream job.
- Your friend said something mean to you.
- You overpaid for a product or service.
Blah, blah, blah.
Even if everything that was keeping you from total, utter happiness right now reversed itself, you’d still find something else to bitch about.
That’s the crazy thing—we’re constantly in pursuit of happiness mirages, and in the interim, we buy our time by complaining about what we don’t have—and why we can’t be happy as a result.
I love the quote above because it speaks perfectly to the whole point of life. We’re all here to learn how to get over ourselves and experience the absolute gift of being full of joy, love, excitement, verve, and openness.
Most of what you’re worried about right now is, at best, an erroneous depiction of what really matters.
You can make the conscious decision every single day, at any given moment, to flip the script and find the blessing in whatever it is you’ve chosen to be or feel unhappy about.
- Breaking up with your significant other means there is someone so much more right for you out there in the world, and now you’re free to find him or her.
- Not seeing eye-to-eye with your boss is an opportunity for you to learn how to effectively communicate and impact someone who is very different from you (or very similar, as the case may be).
- Gaining 10 pounds is the perfect reason to sign up for a marathon and push beyond your physical comfort zone.
- Not making enough money at work is your cue that it’s time to ask for a raise or look for the next great career opportunity.
- Gave up on your dream job and regret it now? Go get it back. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t spend another moment in a state of regret. Chase after the job you were put on this planet to do. The world is waiting for you.
- Your friend said something mean? That’s a great opportunity for you to strengthen your “stand-up-for-myself” muscle. It’s also a great opportunity for you to reflect on the kind of friend you are, and the kinds of friends you really want. Why waste your time on someone who’s going to hurt you?
- You overpaid for a product or service, but realize that price has nothing to do with value. If you’re getting true value out of it, then the purchase was worth it. If you’re not, you’ll know to be more diligent and thoughtful about the purchasing process the next time around.
Everything negative has a positive flip side.
I know not everyone believes in the idea that “things happen for a reason.” I do, and I think anyone who doesn’t believe it hasn’t kept their eyes and hearts open to seeing and feeling miracles. If you were open to it, you’d see hundreds of miracles unfold before your eyes every single day. I’d highly recommend trying that belief on for size.
Regardless, you don’t even need to believe that things happen for a reason to understand this concept above. All you need to believe is that there’s room for a positive, growth-inducing lesson in absolutely everything you do, every relationship you get into, every experience you have. Everything is an opportunity to grow and become a better, stronger, happier human being.
So give it a try. Make a list of everything that’s weighing on you. Then, flip the script. Find the lessons. Smile, because you can.
Your happiness is and always will be completely up to you.
If you can wrap your head and heart around that truth, then you’ll understand—and tremendously enjoy—life and its meaning.
It is amazing how uncomfortable we are with uncertainty.
Amazing because literally nothing in life is a guarantee—except, perhaps, how we think through and navigate uncertainty. And even that is questionable (…ever made an irrational decision and thought later on, “Why on earth did I do that?” Exactly.).
So what is this total preoccupation with certainty about?
It’s about our irrational brains telling us we should be afraid of anything we don’t know for sure. Fear is a built-in mechanism meant to protect us—except it’s become a shield that keeps out the most awesome parts of life. Like adventure, or taking a leap, or falling in love, or starting a company that brings us joy.
Fear—unless we’re being held at gunpoint or lost in the jungle and need to survive–is the entirely useless and counterproductive filter we use to make the majority of decisions in our lives.
What if it could be another way? What if, instead of making decisions out of a place of fear, we made decisions out of a place of love and excitement for adventure? What would happen? What amazing things would we create?
I’ve totally been letting fear run me lately. I’m afraid of not having all of the answers about work and love. I’m afraid of not being able to hear what my gut is telling me, which I rely so heavily on in my life. I’m afraid of not having a perfectly cogent plan in every area of my life.
My fears have done nothing but paralyze me recently.
But yesterday, a lightbulb went off. I was talking to a new friend, Amos—a very bright (and might I add, sharply dressed) entrepreneur. When I asked him about how to find clarity in business, he responded, “You have to be okay with not knowing where you need to take your business as an entrepreneur—as a leader. That’s part of your vulnerability. That’s part of what will make you really good at what you do.”
Agh. He’s right, isn’t he?
The truth is, even if I had a perfectly laid out plan for everything (which, truly, never happens), I wouldn’t be satisfied. I’d have a bit more clarity, but for the most part, I’d probably just be bored.
My irrational fears are telling me to be afraid, worried, indecisive. But when I scrape away that fear filter, all I’m left with is this deeply seeded desire for adventure. I want to be completely and totally open to what comes next—whether it’s a moment of grace, or one of the hardest challenges of my life. I want to bounce out of bed because I’m excited to learn and tackle obstacles. I want to take on every day with a smile on my face, a heart full of gratitude, and a totally open heart and mind.
I want to ooze vivaciousness.
That’s really all I want. And the cool thing about what I truly want is that all of it is totally in my control. I can’t completely predict the future state of my health, relationships, career, or otherwise. But, I can most certainly practice consciousness and make a choice to approach any circumstance I face with the utmost love, humility, vivacity, joy, grit, and gratitude, every single day.
If you’re reading this and feeling similarly, I want you to know that you’re not the only one struggling with fear and uncertainty. We are all going through it. It’s part of our DNA as human beings. We spend the first half of our lives learning lessons (like how to be afraid of everything), and the second half of our lives—if we’re lucky—unlearning many of those lessons.
What I know for sure is that when the current clouds of uncertainty we are facing begin to clear, and the answers shine as bright as day, we’ll understand why we needed the ambiguity to grow into the people we were meant to become.
We’ll look back on those pockets of complete and utter confusion, and realize we needed to go through it to grow through it. We all want to grow, but we forget the process of growth will, on some inevitable level, be painful.
The point isn’t the avoidance of that pain. The point isn’t stagnation. And the point most certainly isn’t complete and utter clarity at every moment along the way.
In fact, the point is almost the reverse of everything we think we want.
It’s about embracing pain, seasons of slow growth, and lack of clarity.
It’s about letting go of the need for certainty—because there’s very little of it anyway.
It is, instead, about approaching each day for what it really is—24 grand hours of limitless potential for adventure.
And adventure? I’m certain that’s most certainly the point.
I was on the phone with my friend Antonio yesterday, and we were talking about passion-filled work. It’s a hot topic these days, but unfortunately, most of the conversation around it is ethereal and unsubstantial. As a result, plenty of people are combatting the notion that “everyone should find a career they are passionate about,” saying the idea is unrealistic and overrated. After all, no one loves their work all of the time, right?
I’ve always found it hard to argue with this sentiment. Even given that I am super passionate about my work, I still have moments, days, and even weeks when I have to do a ton of stuff that I don’t consider “fun”: checking emails, going to one too many tech events in a row, dealing with payroll for my writers, editing content about a topic that isn’t a personal interest of mine, changing company strategy.
And yet, despite the fact that the counterargument from passion naysayers is true—no one loves every second of every job they ever do—I still deeply believe that finding a career you love is one of the most important and rewarding things a person can do.
About 10 minutes into our conversation, Antonio starts telling me a story about a renowned photographer he interviewed. During the interview, he asked this photographer how much time was actually spent in a given year taking photos. The photographer said, “About 15%.”
Antonio then went on to say this to me (I’m paraphrasing):
“People forget that most of the work we do is a process. Most of us only spend about 15% of our time on what others perceive as the ‘end result.’ The other 85% is the process. And if we can’t learn to enjoy the process, we’re not going to enjoy much at all.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself. There’s the counterargument to the counterargument.
We see the article in a magazine, but don’t think about the six drafts it took to get the article to that point. We see the final website, but don’t think about the lines of code the developer had to rewrite before it got to that point. We see the final dish at a restaurant, but don’t think about all of the iterations an executive chef worked through to make that dish as perfect as it is.
Of course, there’s a whole other layer entirely if you are someone who wants to be a master at whatever it is you’re creating. In the examples above, the writer, coder, and chef likely all went through a ton of trial and error to get whatever they created to a point of perfection—and most of us (unless we’re also experts in the same space)—never pick up on the nuance. Most of us don’t see the subtle differences that separate something blasé from something truly extraordinary. All we know is that an article, website, dish somehow reads, looks, and tastes better than most.
The point being this:
We get incredibly caught up in finding our “passion,” when the reality is we spend most of our time not at all doing whatever it is we’re truly, deeply passionate about. I’m passionate about seeing an article I wrote get published. But, most of my time is spent writing drafts, editing, choosing images, playing around with HTML to make sure the formatting on a page looks good, communicating with writers, managing social media, analyzing data, working on growth strategy, and dealing with day-to-day editorial operations.
I spend about 15% of my time writing, and 85% on the process of everything else it takes to build an actual publication.
And still, I love my work. Because there’s purpose. There’s a mission. I am doing work at the intersection of my passions and talents. I believe in the end result. I feel like I spend the majority of my day on things that not just make me come alive, but also positively impact the audience I’m looking to reach.
Just because no one loves every second of every day of every job doesn’t mean we all shouldn’t make it our mission to find work that gets us up in the morning—in spite of all the mundane stuff we have to do on the fringes of the things we’re really passionate about.
And once we do find work we love, it’s so important that we keep this truth in mind: 85% of the work we do is a process. We’re not machines that constantly churn out one end result after the next. It takes time to build great things. We can’t be so quick to feel disenchanted when there’s more involved in “pursuing passionate work” than meets the eye.
That’s the part no one tells you about the formula for building a passionate career:
You’ve got to enjoy the process.
If you can’t, you’ll always be disappointed.
But if you can stay excited and grateful about your work, even in the midst of the hardest or most mundane kind of process?
Well, if I had to put money on it, I’d say you’re about to stumble upon your most passionate work yet.
And that’s exciting.
You don’t know anything about me.
…but you will.
Whatever you’re doing in the world, do it with the utmost grit and love.
Make a name for yourself.
It’ll change how and what you build for the better.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. A lot.
Some people are really good at walking away. I’m not really one of those people. When I make a decision, I’m all in. Whether it’s a relationship, a friendship, a job, a project, a task, a brand new startup…once I’m started, I’m either giving it my all or I’m not giving it anything.
On the one hand, this is an admirable quality. In fact, my relentless determination to make things work—and work really well—is one of the traits I’m most proud of. It’s a huge asset, and I’m lucky to have been born with it and cultivate it over time. It’s a great trait.
Except when it’s a huge pain in the ass.
I read this article recently about the psychology of lost causes.
Essentially, the gist is that people aren’t great at giving things up because we’re hell-bent on not being wrong or losing. Us humans are deeply and irrationally risk averse. There are significant implications for this from a monetary standpoint—but we never really think about the emotional implications of holding on for too long.
When we hold on to a job, project, relationship, etc. for longer than is necessary, worth it, or healthy, it’s the equivalent of sucking the energy out of ourselves, and instead, injecting our veins with poison. We hold on until we’re too tired, drained, sick, to hold on anymore.
Yes—a lot of times, people give up too easily. They walk away too soon. They don’t give an idea or a love or a job everything they’ve got. They give up at the first sign of things getting hard, without ever realizing that if only they held out a little longer, the tide would turn and everything would change.
It is true that too many of us give up on too many things far too soon.
But sometimes—every now and again—we don’t walk away soon enough. We stay in bad situations that catapult us into a negative snowball of thought, emotion, and behavior.
The article above talks about “promotion focus,” which is the idea that you’ll make better decisions about when to leave something if you focus on what you have to gain by moving on, rather than what you have to lose by leaving.
That leads me to the only three things I know for sure about this topic right now (since I suck at giving up on people and jobs and startups and other things):
1. Make a list of everything you have to look forward to by moving on. Make a second list of everything you’ll really miss as a result of leaving.
Give yourself some time, and then read the lists. Keep re-reading them. Pay attention to where your heart naturally gravitates. Which option is filled with hope and excitement? That’s the one you should almost always choose.
2. Are you experiencing resistance of any kind? Where? How? Why?
Usually, if you’re resisting something, you’re closing your head and/or your heart. When that happens, you cut off the energy flowing freely and naturally through your body. That leads to feeling drained. If you feel drained, it’s because (1) you’re not being honest with yourself about your own personal truth, and/or (2) you’re fighting an uphill battle and doing something you don’t really want to be doing or should be doing.
Whatever the cause of your resistance, figure it out. If it’s you being dishonest with yourself, get clear and stop bullshitting yourself. If you discover that the resistance is because you are, in fact, trying to make something work that just doesn’t make sense or you don’t even want, cut your losses and find a way to peacefully move on.
3. Listen to your body and your gut.
Those two things will not lie to you. If you’re feeling drained, it’s because something isn’t right. If you’re constantly ruminating, it’s because the work or relationship or situation you’re in isn’t natural—or at least not a natural fit for you.
Keep working through answers by letting yourself free write (or draw, or speak—whatever medium you communicate best in) until you hit upon an answer (or a set of answers) that feels right to you.
Once you uncover it, you’ll know. Your heart and gut will tell you so.
Do what feels most right. You’ll know it when you let yourself be still enough to hear the answer.
Then trust yourself, and leap in that direction.
Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s scary. Even if other people are going to judge you for it. Even if others say you’re making the wrong choice.
Stick to your guns. You know best. Don’t let people talk you out of your gut too quickly. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Fortune favors the bold.
So, go on—be bold.
You really do become like the people you choose to surround yourself with.
I used to worry when I was with a group of people and I didn’t feel like I could be totally myself. Was there something wrong with me? It just made me feel not awesome to be surrounded by a bunch of people I didn’t feel like I fit in with.
I think it’s ultimately a personal responsibility to be unabashedly yourself no matter what. It takes a while to get over all of the wrong lessons we teach ourselves about needing to be anyone different from the exact people we are to fit in and/or stand out. And it’s on our plate to figure out how to be less of the people we think others want us to be, and moreof the people we authentically are.
But, sometimes that’s really hard to do when we’re surrounded by the wrong people. It’s like climbing up Everest and deciding to add 50lbs of extra weight to your backpack. Totally unnecessary, and it just makes your life more difficult than it needs to be in the end.
When we surround ourselves with people who love us when we are a certain way, or who say things that leave us feeling like we have nothing great to contribute, we make it harder for us to identify and become more of the people we truly are.
I’ve noticed a huge difference in myself ever since I started filling my life with supportive, encouraging, loving friends who just get me. It’s made all of the difference in the world. Now that I’m at my college reunion this weekend and remembering what it was like to be around a bunch of people who didn’t really get me or bring out the best in me, it’s painfully obvious now. I was lucky to have a great group of core friends in college, but watching myself interact with old fringe friend groups has been a fascinating experience.
What I’m learning is that if I want to be my absolute best, I need to be around people who are going to completely love me, even when I’m at my absolute worst. They are the people who totally embrace you for who and how you are. They are the ones who are so encouraging and arms-wide-open with you, that you can’t help but want to be exactly who you are.
If you surround yourself with people like that?
There’s no telling how high you can soar.
I’ve been absorbing a lot of advice lately, from a lot of people, about a lot of things. Perhaps this is a weakness of mine, but I have a slight tendency to let other people too quickly talk me out of my initial gut feelings.
Logic, rationality, framework thinking, and level-headed emotion (if there is even such a thing) are all so important.
But not nearly as important as trusting your gut.
Your gut is the part of you that already knows the answers, but wishes it didn’t. Or is afraid to take the required leap. It’s the part of you that just knows what you need to do, even if you don’t exactly know how you’re going to do it, how it’s going to work out.
Your gut is that small whisper at the core of who you are that says, “Yes” or “No.” If you’re listening, you’ll hear it always, and it will become impossible to ignore.
The more you trust it, the stronger it becomes.
Every single major decision I’ve proudly made, that has led me the right way, was a gut-level decision. Not head, not heart. Gut.
If you made a list of every major, critical decision you’ve ever made in your life that you’re glad you made, I guarantee you most—if not all—were gut-based decisions. I bet you can’t say the same for a list of heart-guided or head-guided decisions, both of which can lead you down the right path—but not always.
So, if you’re out there struggling with a decision right now, don’t overcomplicate it. Keep it simple.
Just trust your gut.
And don’t be so quick to let other people talk you out of it.
Stop freaking out. Stop being so hard on yourself.
If you’re on this planet, and your heart is beating, and you’re willing to try and make your time here meaningful, then you have complete permission to make mistakes.
In fact, they’re encouraged.
We’ve created this deep association between mistakes and pain, and those two don’t need to be so inextricably tied together. Mistakes are literally just opportunities to learn and course correct. But, if we keep thinking mistakes are bad and try to avoid them at all costs, we’ll spend years traveling down roads we shouldn’t even be on.
Better to learn now, make a quick change, and get on a better road.
If you’re treating life like the exciting journey it was meant to be, you’re going to need to travel far and experience a lot along the way. Inevitably, the bigger your journey, the more room you lead for taking the wrong path every now and again. All easy roads lead to no where exciting.
So, give yourself permission to make mistakes now. Get excited about the opportunity to make them, and then learn from them. Your mistakes are an important and inevitable part of the interesting roads ahead. And perhaps that is the most freeing reality of all:
A life without mistakes would be completely safe and boring.
The mistakes, we forget, give us great stories to tell. They teach us who we are. They help us clarify what roads we really want to go down.
Mistakes aren’t things to be swept under a metaphorical rug. They are the gems. The badges of honor. The scars that add texture to who we are as people.
So stop beating yourself up over the important and inevitable mistakes you’ve made and will make.
Because they aren’t just obstacles along the journey; mistakes are the fuel that power us down the long, winding, exciting roads ahead.
Don’t be afraid to fail and fall.
The scars make you more beautiful than you realize.