A lot of us are struggling with the pace of modern life and the way it revolves around work and the office. Yeah, of course, there are people who are rockstars in their niches who love spending 10 hours a day doing what they do, but unfortunately, these people are the exception. Most of us have ended up working hard and getting into debt to fund a career that we thought would make us feel successful and abundant, when in reality we've ended up feeling stressed and anxious.... and with no idea how to change it. Most of us don't have a plan B. After all, if you were brought up to work hard, get the degree and 'make something of yourself' you weren't supposed to need one. But as more and more people around us are trying to deal with panic attacks, popping antidepressants, developing irritable bowel disease or just generally losing their zest for life, the question that's coming up for a lot of us is "Is this really worth it?"
If I'm too exhausted from work to socialise with my friends, is this really worth it? If stress is eating away at my gut lining and now I can't eat croissants, is it really worth it? If my sex life is non existent because I can't lie down without falling asleep, is it really worth it? If I'm not the happiest, healthiest and most peaceful, loved-up version of myself, is this really worth it?
It's easy to feel hopeless or resigned when we look at our current way of working and think that's just "the way it is"...but it isn't. When the pain point is big enough and enough people desire a change, "the way things are" starts to change. And it's changing at the moment. People want to spend more time with their family and loved ones. People want to start buying more ethically and supporting local farmers and growers. People want to experience travel and cultures and new ways of thinking rather than settling down and paying off a huge mortgage.
It's not necessarily about quitting your job or doing anything radical; it's about designing a balanced life that keeps you happy and healthy.
You're not broken if you don't want 'the norm' and the daily grind - the tides are turning and all you need to do to is listen to your heart when it tells you that something isn't working.
I know that while you might know that your life isn't working for you, you might not know what to do about it. It can be so frustrating to realise that you don't want what you have but to also have no clarity about how to get to a place of happiness and inner peace. That's why I want to share with you the The Ideal Day exercise. This was one of the first exercises I did on my path to easing out of 9-5 work. It is life-changing, game-changing and thought-changing. I seriously can't recommend it enough. Everything that changed in my life stemmed from this exercise. Even if you're someone who normally hates journalling or thinks that these exercises are 'hard work' at best or 'new age fluff' at worst, I really recommend you give it a go. Here's how:
The Ideal Day exercise
Get out a pen and a journal and write down your ideal day. Imagine your day as if anything was possible and write down, in the present tense, what you are doing. What time do you wake up? Who do you wake up next to? What kind of bed do you wake up in? What do you see around you? What does the bedroom look like? Be as detailed as possible about what you want to see and experience. What do you do when you get up? Do you exercise? Do you live near a beach that you go for a walk on? Do you have a dog that you take with you? Maybe you go to a yoga class every morning at the beautiful studio down the street instead of going for a walk. There are no 'shoulds' here, no 'right or wrong', just whatever you want in your ideal day. How does your body feel? Are you healthy, energised, toned, slim? What do you eat for breakfast and who do you share breakfast with? What does your ideal house look like? When you work, what kind of work are you doing? Why are you excited to do it? How does it inspire and challenge you? Who do you get to help through your work? Who do you get the pleasure of networking and creating with by doing your work? What difference are you making in the world? What do you do for fun in your day? What do you do to relax? What travel do you have planned? What events, conferences, music festivals, or trips are you looking forward to in your near future. Write everything in the present tense and don't allow your rational mind to place limits on your ideal day based on time or money. Imagine you have all the resources possible to create whatever you want. Fill out every hour of your day until you go to bed.
Looking over your list, what's ONE action step you could take now to move you closer to your ideal life? For example, if you want to walk on the beach every morning, can you choose to do that now? Even if it's only a couple of days a week? Can you move closer to the beach? Perhaps you can start only make it on the weekends at this stage... but you could put an image of someone walking on the beach on your vision board and some shells on your nightstand. You could download an audio of beach sounds and listen to it as you walk around your block in the morning. Step into the experience of your ideal day and I promise that one day at a time, your reality will shift to match that which is on your page. The more you believe it, the more you feel the emotion of having it, the faster it will come to you.
Be courageous: leave a comment with the one action step you will take to move you from your current reality to your Ideal Day. If you're going to create a big life you need a support team to see your desires and cheer you on.
and of course, if you need any extra support to move in the direction of your dreams then contact me for a chat!
Your life is about progress, not perfection.
After hearing this from both a good friend and a business mentor this past week, it's become my mantra: "Progress, not perfection." We live in a culture where we are constantly chasing perfection, success and achieving more, more more... and in that environment it's really easy to let perfectionism derail us from both our happiness and our sense of achievement.
Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life paralysis." - Brene Brown
It could be in our weight loss, in our career, in our finances, the fact that we are single and we think we should be married by now...perfectionism comes in lots of different shades of crap. Not only does this type of thinking steal our happiness and create huge amounts of insecurity and anxiety within us, it also starts a pattern of negative thoughts that bring other negative thoughts to the party. When we are thinking that we are not enough, we attract more of not enough. After all, how can we love our appearance when we're constantly telling ourselves that we're not thin enough? How can we expect people to pay us well for our work if we don't value it ourselves? How can we create health when we keep berating ourselves for eating that whole tub of ice cream two days ago?
Perfectionism is a trap I fall into A LOT. In fact, I think it's the tool my ego probably uses the most on me to keep me from feeling worthy and happy. I have such big visions for my life, which is awesome, but while my spirit will cheer me on every step of the way, my ego wants to remind me that I still have a long way to go.
Here's how to dump perfectionism and start dating progress
If you have a toxic relationship with perfectionism, here are a few simple things you can do to move beyond the energy of not being good enough and start celebrating how far you've come:
It’s the question that seems to be weighing on the mind of most women - how can I lose weight? While there’s no shortage of information circulating around telling us how we can buff up, drop 2 dress sizes in a week or get a Kim Kardashian butt, we’re still no closer to our own personal nirvana. There are more personal trainers, health coaches and gyms in the world than every before, so why - with all this information and support at our fingertips - are we still finding it so hard?
The answer is this: because weight is how the body protects itself. And deep down - we're scared of what will happen if we let that weight go.
The truth is that if you are trying to lose weight but that’s not happening, then somewhere deep down you believe that it’s not safe to lose that weight. As big as your desire to shed the extra kilograms might be, there’s a stronger desire telling you that you might lose something even more important to you if you manage to lose those extra kgs.
One of the most mind blowing concepts I learned when I was studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition is this:
“Your body is always working for you - not against you.”
That can be a really hard statement to hear, especially if you’ve spent your life blaming your body for not being slimmer or ‘letting’ you lose weight, but know this: your body doesn’t make mistakes. Our body is always doing it’s best to protect us and keep us safe.
Sometimes it can be kind of obvious why your body is holding onto weight. If you massively reduce calories on a rigid diet then your body will believe there’s a famine going down, and it’s going to be your best friend in the whole world and hold onto that extra fat for you so that you don’t starve to death by the end of next week. Similarly, environment, diet or self abuse may have thrown your body's hormones and systems out of whack and they are struggling to regroup. On the other hand, I would say that most of the reasons the weight isn’t shifting is that we have a competing desire that wants us to keep it on. We say we want to lose weight, but a little voice inside says “Nuh, uh, lady, that is not safe.” It’s this little voice that will lead you to sabotage every effort to get to the gym or to eat healthily, because deep down it really does believe that you’ll be worse off if you lose weight.
You might think that sounds bat shit crazy. After all, why would anyone not want to trim down and look and feel fabulous? Well, here are a couple of reasons why. I have heard all of these from friends and clients over the years:
Pretty big stuff, huh? I want to add that most people aren’t aware that they even have these thoughts, which is why we’re stuck in this eternal weight struggle for years, decades and for some people - life.
It’s my deepest desire that you are able to live a life where nothing holds you back from reaching your dreams, and in order to do that you have to be willing to get brutally honest with yourself. Clarity equals power, so if you’re feeling powerless in your struggle to lose weight it’s only because there is a piece of information you haven’t tapped into yet or aren’t listening to.
Ask yourself, “What am I worried would happen if I lost all the weight?” “How might this extra weight actually be serving my interests / keeping me safe?” or “What would life be like if I was skinny?”
As women we desperately want to belong and, generally speaking, no one wants to be the tall poppy at the expense of not feeling like they are one of the tribe. While we want a fabulous lifestyle, we believe that we’d be ostracised and rejected for having it.
There’s no chance of a great life when you are staying small though and Marianne Williamson said it best:
“We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?…There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
So really ask yourself, “What am I afraid will happen if I succeed in this goal?” Once you have that clarity, you can begin to break down those walls and lose what's really weighing you down.
If you need some help in this area, check out my coaching package called "Love Your Body" over at the Health + Life Coaching page.
"I'm so fat. I really need to go on a diet. That's probably why I can't meet a guy. Who'd want to go out with me? Life would be so much easier if I were prettier. And smarter. I wish my hair looked like hers. I wish I had bigger boobs. I wish I was more athletic. I really need to get to the gym more. God I hate going to the gym..."
This is a stream of thought taken from the average women's head. And by 'average' I don't mean 'mediocre', I mean that generally this is the kind of thing that goes through the mind of a lot of women several times a day. Years ago, I didn't even realise that this was called a 'destructive thought pattern'. I thought it was just my life. I lived in a world where I spent a lot of time listening to a never ending litany of why I wasn't good enough, what I should be afraid of and how I was going to fail. What I didn't realise was that although my mind was telling me all this crazy crap about who I was, my mind isn't actually me. As spiritual leader, Eckhart Tolle says:
"You have a mind but you are not your mind."
This is a really, really, REALLY important concept to get - maybe the most important in creating happiness and joy in every area of your life. You are bigger than your mind. Behind your mind is your true spirit, your Modern Goddess who loves and cherishes you and believes you can do anything you desire. She has the answers; but it's super hard to hear her when you spend your time listening to your mind instead.
Your mind is supposed to be a tool for the Goddess to use, not an inner bitch who throws all our dreams off course. When you spend more time listening to the inner bitch/the inner critic/the inner mean girl than you do listening to your Modern Goddess, understandably you start to feel like you'll never measure up. You feel inadequate at every turn. You feel anxious all the time. You worry about everything.
So how do you stop listening to the station that the inner bitch is broadcasting from and start tuning into the frequency of the Modern Goddess? You gotta learn to Shut It Down.
I'm a fan of 'New Girl' so when my inner bitch starts talking, I like to think of the 'Shut it Down' manoeuvre. In the clip below, Jess is using this in the context of sexual harassment in the workplace, but trust me, it works just as well when you want to stop the unwelcome advances of your inner bitch. It also always makes me laugh whenever I think about it, which is a great way of shifting the energy away from negativity.
Changing the pattern of negative thinking is a really important step in reaching any health and happiness goals we are wanting to create, because if you're stuck listening to the radio station of the inner bitch, you're going to self sabotage. It doesn't matter how good your intentions are, if you haven't shifted this you will end up doing the same thing you've always done - eating that cake, bailing on that run, or going home with the guy who you know isn't good for you.
Motivational Speaker, Tony Robbins, uses the analogy of a CD with familiar grooves and tracks on it. Our negative thought cycles are familiar to us, and our mind easily falls into the pattern. What you want to do is scratch the CD over and over until it doesn't play the same way ever again - which is what we're doing when we use the 'Shut it Down' method.
Replace negativity with gratitude.
Once you've stopped the tirade of negative thoughts you need to give your mind something else to focus on. Instead of going back to the negativity, start listing in your head everything that you're grateful for. Do it for a minute or two; long enough to start feeling the shift from a space of negativity to a space of appreciation.
If you make this a regular practice, you'll find that you spend much less time in a state of 'not feeling enough' and when you are out of this state, you can move much faster towards your health and happiness goals. Let me know how this goes for you!