Finding Your Purpose

So many of my clients come to me telling me that they are confused. They feel lost. They don’t know what they are supposed to do with their life. They come to me looking for answers and my response is always the same: I offer them a mirror.

We have been taught from a young age that our purpose is the same as our job. What’s the most common thing people ask children?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

As if these kids are supposed to have any idea. What’s more, there is a tremendous amount of pressure and judgment that accompanies that question. If the child says “I want to be a lawyer,” people automatically think wow, the parents must be doing something right, good for them. If the child says, “I want to be a trash collector,” the parents cringe and the audience tries to keep their faces neutral while they smugly think good luck with that one, big dreams there, kiddo, my kid wants to be a doctor, etc. So convoluted.

Your purpose often times has nothing to do with your day-to-day job.

Your purpose should be what gets you out of bed everyday. Your job should be what pay the bills so that you can have time to enjoy your purpose. Sometimes those two things merge but only when they merge organically: when the purpose is pursued with honesty and love. Trying to force your purpose to pay the bills is a good way to ruin that joy your purpose used to give you. Enjoy those things that light you up and see where the path takes you. Don’t contaminate it by trying to make it something it doesn’t have to be (e.g., a formal profession).

This then begs the question, how do you find that purpose? Your purpose is what makes you tick. What makes your heart sing. That is not something anyone else can find for you — hence, the mirror.

When my clients are unsure about their purpose, I offer them an experiment. Years ago, I was struggling with life inside the machine that is a corporate law firm and I just couldn’t put my finger on the problem. I didn’t hate my job but I didn’t love my job. I was feeling blah about the whole thing and I couldn’t figure out why. I was completely unmotivated, just going through the motions.

So, for one month, at the end of every day, I would spend 5 minutes thinking about my day and writing down the things that made me happy that day and the things that got my blood boiling. After doing this for one month, I realized that the things I loved the most about my days were the moments that I was able to spend connecting with the young associates — talking to them about their challenges, their goals, their development. I relished the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with them, to learn about them and their struggles, to offer them support and gentle guidance. That lead to a larger evaluation of myself. I realized that this fit into my disdain for small talk. I hate it and I’m terrible at it. The way I see it, is that if we aren’t going to talk about something deep and meaningful, I would rather not talk at all. Let’s not chit chat about work and the weather. Let’s talk about what moves you, what excites you. So naturally, I love those people who overshare within the first 5 seconds of a conversation. Those people who put it all out there right away for public examination, the good, the bad, the ugly, the inappropriate. I LOVE skipping right over the pleasantries and diving right into real life and getting our hands dirty. I LOVE having deep and meaningful conversations with perfect strangers about their struggles and challenges.

You can see how this realization lead me to where I am today. That woke me up. I realized that those true connections and partnerships were the only part of my job that I was truly loving. So, I switched jobs to enjoy a steadier and less all-consuming career so that I could make space for my purpose. This purpose. I realized what moved me and I made room for it. I have never looked back.

So here’s your challenge . . . For one month, spend 5 minutes every day thinking about what you liked about your day. Were there parts of your day where you felt alive? Where you were excited about something? What parts of your day sapped your energy and left you feeling drained?

Only you can find that for yourself but you won’t find it outside of yourself. Do the work. Spend time within yourself. You will be amazed at what you discover.

Need help finding your path and taking that next step? Sign up for a free coaching session with me and let’s see what we can do together.

Want More. Fail More

Want more. There is no question mark in the title of this post. This is less a question and more a directive to you: Want more for yourself. Want more for your life.  

If I had a magic wand and told you that I could give you the career of your dreams, would you be interested? What if I told you I would give it to you only if you first promised to fail 10 times trying to do it on your own? Big fails. EPIC fails. All I ask of you is that you try to figure it out on your own 10 times, and fail 10 times. After those 10 tries, it’s yours. Fail ten times and I will waive my magic wand and I will make it so. Would you do that?  

Of course you would. The problem is that we are truly faced with this very offer every single day of our lives and very few of us take the challenge. We are too afraid to fail. We are too caught up in our reptilian brain that says “welp, I hate my boss and I don’t LOVE my job but it pays the bills and life is secure under this cozy little comfort blanket. I am not going to rock the boat, things are fine; this is what it means to be a grown-up.”

Are things fine?

Are you going to be satisfied when you are 80 years old and you look back at that job and that life that were just fine?! What if you were diagnosed with cancer tomorrow and had only one year left to live? Would you keep playing it safe and being fine.  

Fine is such a blasé, gross word. There are so many beautiful words in our vocabulary. If “fine” truly sums up your present state, rest assured, my friend, you are far from fine. I refuse to believe that we were meant to live a life that is “fine.” I believe we were meant to live a life that is exciting and full of highs and lows and all the colors of the rainbow.  We aren’t meant to live in the doldrums.

I want you to live with the old lady version of yourself on your shoulder urging you on, saying, “let’s make this happen, lady, I’m not getting any younger!” 

Years ago I found myself in the middle of a violent and abusive relationship. Drifting through life pretending I was fine despite my deep depression and dark thoughts. You know what finally snapped me out it? What really made me wake up and decide I wasn’t going to live like that anymore? I could not reconcile the person I had become with the person I dreamt of becoming. I looked in the mirror and realized that my 5-year-old self would be disappointed in the woman I had become. Ouch. It broke my heart how far I had strayed from my true north. I wanted more for myself and I had set my little 5-year old heart on a bright future. A future that I was presently squandering. 

I want you to have that wake up moment too. I want you to see the big picture, step out of the race, breathe, and own your space in this world.

What do you want your story to be? What kind of tales do you want to create for your old lady self to recite to her friends in the retirement home over a cup of tea?   What kind of legacy do you want to leave?   Don’t disappoint yourself by living out of tune with your purpose. You never know what news is waiting for you tomorrow.   How do you find that purpose? Coach with me and let’s find out.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. Henry Ford.

Why You Aren’t Taking Action

Have you ever considered why you aren’t taking action? You want to write that book you always imagined, you want to break out and start your own practice or change practice areas, you want to tell your spouse that you aren’t happy.

Why is it that we don’t do those things?

For many of my clients it’s because they are afraid of failure. They are afraid of how they will feel if that book gets rejected by every editor, your solo practice tanks, you realize you hate this new practice area after all, or your spouse decides to leave you. They are afraid of failing.

Given that this thing, failure, is standing in the way of so many dreams and preventing us from honoring ourselves, I think it makes sense to see what this failure thing is all about.

If you put “what is failure” into your magical computing machine, you get all sorts of interesting feedback. Wikipedia tells me that “failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.” As you go down the internet rabbit hole, you will also find other interesting tidbits. Success.com says that failure is caused by lack of persistence, lack of conviction, rationalization, poor self-esteem, etc.

Putting this all together, it seems that the reason we are not writing the next Harry Potter series or asking for that promotion, is because we are afraid we will not be successful — we will not meet the desired result or objective.

So, instead of trying and failing, we choose to fail in this very moment.

Rather than try and not achieve the desired result, we are not trying and not achieving the desired result. Do you see that it’s certainly possible that we will fail in either event but in one instance we are actually taking authentic action and in the second we are giving in to the lack of persistence, lack of conviction, rationalization, and poor self-esteem?

Rather than taking the chance and failing in the future, you are not taking the chance and choosing to fail now.

What’s more is that most of my clients also choose to give themselves the gift of those negative failure feelings right now. Instead of first trying and riding the waves of motivation and excitement to pursue their dreams and then fail, they are not pursing their dreams at all and feeling terrible now for not pursuing them. They are beating themselves up as if they actually tried and failed but in reality they did nothing. What lunacy is this!?

So what’s the big deal with failure anyway – whether it’s now or in the future – why do we let it keep us from our goals? The truth of the matter is that failure is NOT a big deal. It’s not a big deal until we choose to make it a big deal.

Until we decide what it means to us . . . what it means about us. Failing is simply not meeting your desired objective. It does not mean you are a bad person, it does not mean you can’t achieve your dreams, it doesn’t mean anything until you ascribe a meaning to it and have thoughts about it!

You can choose what to think about your failures and how you think about it will drive how you feel about it and how you feel about yourself. Why are so many of us choosing to make it mean something so negative? When we make failure mean something negative about ourselves, we allow ourselves to fear failure because we are afraid of how we will feel when we fail. That fear is paralyzing so many of my clients and it’s all because of a choice they are making.

Henry Ford famously said “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” He knew that every. single. time. you fail you learn how to not do something. You learn something about yourself, you learn something about the process, you might even learn that you no longer want that goal. Fearing failure is nothing more than being afraid to learn and grow.

If someone said to you, “I am going to win a gold medal at the Olympics on my first try and I am never going to lose a race on my way to the top,” you would think they were crazy. We know failure is a precursor to great success. So why is it that we can’t give that same rational grace to ourselves?

To attain your goals, you are going to have to get comfortable with failure and treat those failures as simply getting you one step closer.

If you want to do something, if you have a dream or a goal or a conversation you want to have, don’t be afraid to take that action and learn from your experience. Don’t anticipate that failure and plan on how you will make that failure mean something negative about yourself. Failure means nothing until you have a thought about it – good or bad – so why let it hold you back? However that experience turns out, you will learn something and, who knows, you might actually write the next Harry Potter on your first try but you won’t know until you act.

I think we should all commit to failing regularly. Ask someone out on a date, try a new workout class, pick up a new language, ask for that raise . . . whatever that might be. If the only thing that is holding you back is the fear about how you will feel if you don’t achieve it, you are allowing your life to be dominated by the fear of failure. Don’t fear failure. Embrace it like a badge of honor because the more you fail, the better you are going to know how to succeed.

After all, fear only hurts if you make it mean something negative.

I teach my clients that they need to be failing massively and often. They take the fruits of those failures and build their dreams. It’s amazing to see what people can do if they adjust the way they see failure and its necessary place in our lives.

Having an uncomfortable dream means being willing to fail and knowing that you can think about those failures however you want — positive or negative. In the end, it’s all progress toward your dreams.

Overcoming the fear of failure and learning to fail forward is at the heart of my coaching practice. Join me and let’s see what fearless looks like on you.

How to be happier

Do you want to be happier in your life? Do you want to find your purpose?

We all do. Let’s be honest, no one has ever declined the possibility for more happiness. The problem is that most of the people I work with are looking for something to make themselves happier, something to bring “purpose” to their life. Usually this search is tied to something concrete and measurable…a job or relationship that will finally make them happy.

Once I lose 10 pounds, I can finally figure out my life.

Once I find a good guy, I will be so much happier.

When I get my law degree and start making money, life will be so much easier.

Most people know better than to tell themselves that doing XYZ will make them happy. They know they are not supposed to say that. But while they are not outright saying it, it is in there quietly driving the search.

It is hidden in the motives they are not questioning or challenging. When you ask yourself why you are doing something or why you want something, THAT is the first step in getting to the heart of the matter and truly understanding where you are and what is driving you.

Often times, what is driving people is the belief that once these things are attained, they will feel happy/fulfilled/worthy, etc.

That. Is. Impossible.

For some of us who are lucky, we lose those 10 pounds, we find that great guy or we finally get that career. But then it sets in. That heavy, dark feeling when you have achieved all of the things and yet you still feel lost. Confused. It didn’t feel like you thought that it would. Didn’t make you happy like you wanted. Everything still feels the same. So now what?

For many people, we recognize the feeling but continue on with our daily lives, riding the merry-go-round…around and around, day after day. We are making good money, we wear nice clothes, we are doing everything we are supposed to be doing, so what if we don’t feel completely fulfilled?

So what?

So what is that you don’t have to feel this way. The root of this problem is that we have been so conditioned by advertisers and the media that our happiness lies outside of ourselves. If we get that power office, that partnership, lose those last 10 pounds, THEN we will have it all. Then we will be happy. Whenever I have a client who tells me that they want to make partner at their firm or get a better job, I ask them why.

Why do you want that? What will be different for you? What will be exactly the same?

Most people have convinced themselves that once they attain these goals, they will finally feel a certain way. That is the crux of this problem. A feeling is something we create for ourselves. A feeling is a direct result of what is happening in your head. It is not something you can get externally. You create your happiness. Period.

You also create your own unhappiness. If you spend your time thinking about how your life is sub-par right now but if and when XYZ happens, then your life will be better, the mental space you are currently living in is not conducive to happiness.

In what realm do thoughts about lack and not being good enough, create a positive and happy life?! You cannot create success from a place of lack.

You cannot reach your dreams while residing in negativity about your current accomplishments. No one who achieved great things did so from a place of victim-hood or emptiness; they achieved success from a place of confidence, peace, and belief in themselves. Their mind was not filled with all the things they disliked about their present state.

Your happiness has nothing to do with what pays the bills or how you spend your days. It is not your career, your status as a parent, or all those parts of our resume we use to define ourselves. Your happiness is created by you and you alone.

Do you want to be happier? Learn to manage your thoughts and understand your motivations. That is the place were happiness can be found and fostered.

Only once you identify those toxins, can you start to build happiness that is unflappable because it is 100% within your control.

That is the power and beauty of a coaching relationship. In my coaching practice, I support you in examining your mindset and the thoughts that are holding you back. Coach with me and uncover the ugly thoughts that are handicapping your happiness.

Your Brain Suffers from Stockholm Syndrome

For starters, let’s just clear up a few things up. As a life coach, I am not asking you to hire me because I have all the answers. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I, my friends, do not have it “all together.”

I have, in fact, shown up to work at a big fancy law firm with my shirt on inside out or having forgotten to do my eye make-up on just my left eye.

Just like all other humans on the face of the planet, I am challenged every day to evolve, to learn, and some days it’s a challenge just to fix my face and be kind.

No, dear readers, I do not have all the answers. If you ever encounter a life coach who tells you that they have the answers, take a mental picture and walk away slowly. Any one who claims to have all the answers is either an enlightened being or a narcissist.

What I can offer you is a ‘how to’ guide to yourself. Did you know that your brain has between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts per day? I can’t even manage my ABCs if I have “wordy” music playing in the background. It’s a wonder we can get anything done with all those thoughts wandering around up there. But here’s the real deal. Those thoughts are choices. They are not facts, they do not necessarily represent the truth, and they do not just happen to you.

They are things you are choosing to think.

You control them. They are options and you are probably picking the crappy ones. If your thoughts are all choices and can be characterized as truth or falsity, don’t you think we should spend some time looking at those thoughts? I don’t mean the thoughts “that pen is pink” or “the sky is blue”. I am not challenging you to get all red pill, blue pill, matrix-style on me. The thoughts I challenge you to evaluate are those that have an impact on our daily lives. Those thoughts that drive our emotions, even if subtly.

Here’s the truth: your reptilian brain is stuck in a ‘thought routine.’ It is telling you, and you are believing, all sorts of things that aren’t true. And it is all happening without your awareness.

Here are a few of my own wonderful thoughts that required some challenging:

  • my boss has no idea how to manage people
  • my co-worker is a judgmental prick
  • I can’t be a partner and have a family
  • no one else works as hard as I do
  • I am a terrible public speaker and I hate doing it

These types of thoughts often seem like bare naked truth. We like these thoughts, we LIVE these thoughts, we snuggle up with these thoughts at night when we are mad at the world or burying our faces in a gallon of pistachio ice cream. Every time I see that boss at the water fountain, I can just feel the irritation boiling up in me. Inevitably, I end up in a mental argument with him about how incompetent he is and how he’s an energy vampire sucking the enjoyment out of work for all of us who have to work with him. And on and on it goes.

Your brain evolved to keep you safe. Your brain did not evolve to “damn the man”, buck the system or get uncomfortable.

Your brain evolved to keep you in the cave; safe, warm and sheltered from the elements and predators. In order to do big things, you have to experience discomfort, fear, and uncertainty. Those types of actions will require you to either ignore all those thoughts in your head (white knuckle resistance) or develop alternative thoughts.

For example, it’s certainly possible that all of the above thoughts about my career and my boss are widely held and could potentially be proven true in a court of law by a jury of my peers. But couldn’t the following also be true?

  • my boss is doing the best he can with the limited abilities that he has; no one ever taught him how to be a leader
  • my coworker is incredibly insecure and is hard on everyone but especially on himself
  • I can make my career be anything that I want it to be–with or without a family–because, after all, it is my career
  • I go to work and do my best every day. I work diligently and honestly and make myself proud every day and that is all that matters
  • I can learn to be a great pubic speaker

Maybe that boss is doing the best he can. Maybe he knows he isn’t doing a good job and spends all day long stewing about how he is probably going to get fired and then how is he going to support his kids and send them to college?! Is that true? I don’t know. Could it be true? Certainly. Are there things about that boss that you don’t know? Absolutely, 100%.

I’m not saying that you have to see everything and everyone with rose-colored glasses and you most definitely should not delude yourself or lie to yourself about anything. Ever. What I’m saying is that there are good things or unknown things about every person and circumstance in your life. Why not spend your energy thinking about those things instead or, at least, considering their existence? Because, after all, what you are thinking is truly a choice.

The reason this work is so important is because those thoughts elicit feelings that will drive your actions and ultimately your results. Your thoughts are the very root of your feelings, your actions, and your results. Period. Crappy thoughts = Crappy results.

If you spend every day thinking pissy thoughts about your boss, you are going to feel terrible–angry, annoyed, unmotivated. It’s your choice. But why would you choose that?! Do you want to feel angry, annoyed, and unmotivated?

Let’s test this theory. Spend 30 seconds, reading through each of these thoughts and imagining them applying to situation in your life. Sit with those thoughts.

  • my boss has no idea how to manage people
  • my co-worker is a judgmental prick
  • I can’t be a partner and have a family
  • no one else works as hard as I do
  • I am a terrible public speaker and I hate doing it

Now how do you feel? Truly? How are you feeling right now after sitting with those thoughts?

When I read through that set of thoughts and put myself in that head space it make me angry and indignant. I stew about the ‘old boys club’ and I get down on myself and my shortcomings. I certainly don’t feel motivated to do much to advance my career or better my work situation. I feel deflated and hopeless.

How about this — did your brain have a hard time coming up examples of how those thoughts had been true in your life? I doubt it. Your brain is a magical machine and if you give it a task (i.e., a thought) it will get to work coming up with proof to support those thoughts.

Now take a spin through the second set of thoughts and do the same exercise:

  • my boss is doing the best he can with the limited abilities that he has; no one ever taught him how to be a leader
  • my coworker is incredibly insecure and is hard on everyone but especially on himself
  • I can make my career be anything that I want it to be–with or without a family–because, after all, it is my career
  • I go to work and do my best every day. I work diligently and honestly and make myself proud every day and that is all that matters
  • I can learn to be a great pubic speaker

How do you feel? Lighter than before? More open to new possibilities for your career and life? Was your brain able to come up with some semblance of support for these thoughts? When I read through that second set of thoughts and think of them in a way that I can find some kernel of truth in them and believe them, I feel differently. Optimistic. From that space I can make better choices and take actions that are more consistent with my values.

For example, instead of crucifying my boss in my head every day, I could instead think “he is doing the best he can and I know that if I needed time off or needed to vent to him about things, he would be there and he would listen.” Or “I know my boss and I have never seen eye to eye but he would truly be disappointed if I left; he really does want me to succeed.” Those thoughts, even typing those thoughts, makes me feel better about the situation.

Here’s what I am trying to virtually show you…Those thoughts bouncing around up there create your feelings. Feeling upset up about something? Stop and take 30 seconds alone to sit down and write down every freaking thought in your head. Those thoughts are what are making you feel that way. Nothing else. There is no event out there in the world making you feel a certain way and there are no humans on this planet making you feel a certain way. Those feelings are all based upon your thoughts – your CHOICES. Take a long look at all those thoughts you just wrote down–are they all true? Are they things you want to be thinking? Are those choices you feel good about making?

That’s the magic sauce, my friends. If you can gain awareness of your thoughts and how those thoughts impact your feelings and all actions that flow from those feelings, you can change your life.

If that doesn’t click for you, let’s bring Bill Nye into this. Check out the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto and his experiments on how our thoughts and intentions alter the shape and structure of water crystals. For the non-science-y ones of us, Dr. Emoto studied the impact of positive and negative thoughts and how those thoughts impacted water crystallization. Where water was exposed to positive thinking, the water formed beautiful, balanced crystalline structures. In comparison, those exposed to negative thinking or words formed distorted and unshapely crystalline structures. Now consider the fact that up to 60% of our bodies are made of water and our brains and hearts are over 70% water.

If you think those negative thoughts are hurting your boss, think again. They are only hurting you. Literally.

They are physically altering significant portions of your body, especially your brain and your heart. What’s more, those thoughts are creating negative feelings and let’s be honest, negative feelings don’t often inspire us to become employee of the year. So here again, you are only hurting yourself – your boss does not feel those mental jabs you are throwing. We can’t all be Jedi.

My work is founded upon this truth: our thoughts create our feelings which create our actions and ultimately our life. I promise you that I can show you that any action or inaction in your life and your career are being driven by thoughts you might not even be aware of or thoughts that are simply untrue. This not easy work and I am not concerned that I am giving you the keys to the kingdom by telling you all this. This is basic truth that every human should know. I work with my clients to learn the sneaky ways our brains trick us and hold us back. You will be amazed at yourself, I promise you. If it was easy, everyone would do it and everyone would be living their dreams. That is not the case because this stuff is hard. Plain and simple.

Learning the skills to manage your mind and your emotions is a challenge, my friends and I want to teach you how to do it. This is work that will change your life, your relationships, and your career. Join me. Your best life is waiting for you. What are you waiting for?

Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. Carl Jung.