Who Are You Really?

 Over the last two months I have been learning some hard lessons.  Through it all, the theme of “be yourself” keeps coming up.  I know I’m not alone when it comes to struggling with saying what you mean, doing what you love, or relaxing around certain people, right?  I usually blame it on the MS and brain fog but the truth is some days I am not feeling confident and comfortable with being me.  I have been digging  a little deeper lately.  I have even gone back to working my steps from NA.  A chance to uncover another layer of authenticity, and free myself to be unapologetically me..

Not being you is exhausting!   Did you ever consider the amount of energy it takes to keep up appearances, attempting to be perfect (like it will happen), pleasing other people (is it possible?), and trying to make yourself fit into situations which simply aren’t you? When we say “be yourself”, some of us even wonder what it means.

Here are three practical strategies to help you maximize your best you:

1. Say what you need to say.

Do you beat around the bush figuring people will know what you mean when you say something?  Are you too afraid to speak up afraid of what others with think? Have you found yourself telling a little lie to avoid the embarrassment of telling the truth?  These are clear signs you are not being true to yourself.  This hit me like a brick – SMACK!  Try this simple exercise:  Identify one situation when you have not said what you need to say.   You know, you beat around the bush in the hopes someone understood.  Got the situation?  I want to you go to the person and just say it flat out.  If you can’t do it right now, mark it on your calendar to do it.  There was a time when I had no filters.  I said what I needed to say and didn’t worry about what people thought.  Early in my recovery, I was eager to say what I was thinking and I didn’t worry about what people thought.  Over the years, things started changing.  Those old habits came back and I started the “people pleasing game again”.  We are as sick as our lies, no matter how small those lies are.  Authenticity means being forthright. Don’t waste your precious energy pretending all is well when it isn’t.  Take the word “FINE” out of your vocabulary.  Don’t let FEAR keep you in hiding!

2. Do what you know is right.

There is nothing more authentic than living your values. When your actions don’t line up with your beliefs, inner turmoil is sure to follow.  Do you actually know what your core values are? 

3. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Okay, this is a tough one for me!  The truth is when we are uncomfortable in our own skin, it is usually because we haven’t given ourselves permission to be human.  In other words, we haven’t given ourselves permission to be imperfect.  We always want things to be perfect.  The perfect weight, the perfect size, the perfect family, the perfect house… it is all part of the “I will be happy when” syndrome.  When you relax, you enjoy yourself more. It is time we value the journey as much, if not more than, the destination.  There will be bumps along the road – embrace them.  Climb over them and keep moving forward, they don’t have to keep you from reaching your purpose (or your goals).

What situations cause you to not be yourself?  What are you afraid will happen if you show people the real you?

I am stomping out the inner gremlins and being true to me…. what about you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

This Isn’t How You Planned It

Is your life going the way you planned it?  Are you living out your dreams?  Or are you on the verge of giving up? Are you working at a job which seems fruitless?  Is your relationship hitting a brick wall?   Do you get a little extra money, and then an unexpected expense saps the money as quickly as you got it?

I’ve been there and some days I’m still there.  Sometimes life is all about moving ahead when the road is long and hard. When you’re exhausted and weary, it’s essential you take charge before you burn out or give up.

Like you, I’ve been there, done that!  I never planned to reconnect with the love of my life 16 years ago. I never planned on leaving my dream job.  I never planned on being diagnosed with MS.  Life happens and the plan changes.

The best skill you can gain in life is the ability to navigate unexpected turns and setbacks life throws your way. NEWS FLASH!!!! Life doesn’t always go the way we plan it. The truth is, it rarely does.  So, let your challenges build character and perseverance to empower you to stay the course and win your race.

Here are some tips from the amazing Valerie Burton on just how to do this:

1. Stop expecting things to be easy.

The quickest way to become discouraged is to expect life to unfold just the way you planned it, with few or no obstacles or opposition. Raise your hand if this is you?  I know I’m not alone here.  Life is so much easier when the expected challenges appear –  you know, the ones you planned for.   Don’t get caught up in feeling sorry for yourself when hard times come.  This is the perfect opportunity to tap into your strengths, character, and faith to courageously face whatever life throws your way.

2. Get some fresh air.

When your inner gremlins get the best of you, and you start traveling down that dark tunnel, it might mean you need a break.  Have you been focusing on your problems, rehashing them over and over in your mind? Remember, focusing on the negative brings us more negative.  Take a walk. Do something different. Get out of your normal environment. It can energize you and redirect your thoughts.

3. Get some perspective.

Fresh air will give you perspective and clear out some of the cobwebs or maybe even blow away the inner gremlins.  The greatest difference comes when we focus on someone else’s life. When you start focusing too much on what’s wrong in your life, force yourself to notice what’s right. STOP and think of three things you’re grateful for. Believe me, you probably can’t stop at three! Now, open your eyes to others’ stories about determination and strength.  Despite what we may think, we are not the first person to face our challenges.  Look for someone who has gone through them with strength and grace? When you realize you are not alone, you will feel the rush of power. In face, you may discover someone who has triumphed through far greater challenges and can be a source of inspiration.

4. Commit to running your race to the best of your ability.

Who knows why you are going through what you are going through? It may not even be worth the energy of attempting to figure it out. What is worth your energy is expanding your character and capacity in the process.  Think about the ways will you become a better person by persevering through this? What growth do you intend to glean through it all?

5. Be an inspiration.

Yes, you can be an inspiration for someone else.  Your story may be just the thing someone else needs to hear to overcome their obstacle.  Every person who has faced a challenge has overcome them with their attitude, determination, and faith. Tackle your challenges in a way your children, friends, family, and coworkers will be inspired by your example. You can give others hope by simply acting with the courage to live and love fully in the face of fear and disappointment.

The first time I was told I was an inspiration, I laughed because the truth is, I never believed I could inspire anyone.  My life was my life full of challenges and obstacles.  Some I have overcome and some inner gremlins I still do battle with.  About 2 years ago, when the diagnosis of MS was “unofficially” given, I made a decision to allow my setbacks to build character and perseverance. Truth was my life’s journey had brought me to where I was today.  The challenges were actually a blessing in disguise.  Do I always understand it? NO!  Do I always like it? NO!

If you are struggling, I challenge you to stop feeling sorry for yourself.  It is time to gain  some perspective which will inspire and empower you.   When you get discouraged, what thought will lift you up?  Share it with us, maybe you can inspire someone else…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

What Are You Putting Off?

I never thought of myself as a “procrastinator”.  Towards the end of my career as a grant writer, I found I worked better under pressure – does it make me a procrastinator?  Probably.

Working at home in my direct sales business, I find I am procrastinating.  I put off things, mostly the things which are out of my comfort zone.  I know there are times when we need to delay things – life happens, right?  But the truth is, procrastination is one of the biggest causes of stress in our lives.  I don’t know about you BUT stress makes me re-think my goals and my action steps which makes me stay in my comfort zone which keeps me STUCK!  Do you see where I am going here?

Think about the things you hold off doing….

As busy women, there are things in your life you know need to get done. They are usually not even difficult tasks but in our minds we have made them more difficult and as a result we never get started.  Instead, we do everything we can think of – wash dishes, organize files, surf the Internet, or check e-mail—rather than the things we actually need to do IN our business.  I’m always in my office yet I find myself working on my business and not in it.  Being busy but not with things which will make me money or get me more business.  More procrastination which ultimately drains my energy and wastes precious time.

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday,” ~ Napoleon Hill

There are actually two solutions to procrastination.  Sounds so simple, right?  I was just listening to the AMAZING Desiree Wolfe who talked about this same thing!

#1.  Drop the goal or project, and don’t do it.

Is this really what you want to do?  Are you willing to admit defeat before you even make a serious attempt at trying.  My newest HUGE goal is to earn a FREE trip to Maui courtesy of Thirty One.  Yup, it is the Leadership Incentive Trip for 2019!  Believe it or not, it is the sales goal which has me stumped more than the number o qualify recruits.  Weird, right?  Yes, I squirreled.  One month down with 11 more to go and the inner gremlins are already having a field day.  I have set my goal and I am not giving up… So this is not an option for me

2. Exercise some discipline, and just go ahead and do it.

Since procrastination is sometimes a sign you don’t want or need to do the thing you’re dreading, then Option #1 is a good choice for you.  Now this doesn’t apply to paying filing taxes (you have until April 17th), paying bills, or picking kids up from school.  Then there are times when procrastination is a sign of perfectionism, stubbornness, or lack of self-discipline.  In these cases, you have the power to change.  Are you in this category? If so,  Option 2 is your best choice.  The bottom line is not to make the task or project a big deal. Break it into smaller pieces and just get started.  Sometimes easier said then done, right?

So what is it you need to do?  Don’t wait for inspiration to hit you — just start! I always want to wait for the “right time”.  Is there ever a perfect time to step out of your comfort zone?  You don’t have to feel like doing something to do it. Once you are int the process of starting, your mood develops and the inspiration comes. And even if it doesn’t, the feeling of relief after completing a project you’ve been dreading is well worth it.

My challenge to you:

Stop procrastinating. Get it done!

Share with us what you been putting off? What step will you take today to move forward?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Are You Searching for Your Purpose?

I may be showing my age but how many of you remember the movie “The Color Purple”???  It was on Broadway not too long ago too.  I was reading a blog recently and I got to thinking about a scene in the movie….

It’s the scene in which Miss Celie finally musters the courage to leave Mister. He’d just finished saying some pretty nasty things to her (paraphrasing): “You’re poor. You’re black. You’re ugly. Nobody wants you.”

 

To which Miss Celie replied, “I’m poor. I’m black. I might even be ugly. But I’m here!”

Maybe someone has these words to you.  Maybe you have thought them of yourself.  Those inner gremlins like to beat us up when we are at our weakest moment.  I may not be black BUT I have thought many times I was ugly and no one would ever want me.  Over the years, I have stomped on those inner gremlins but I must admit, they do rear their ugly head sometimes.

We are all here for a reason.  There are people who were here this time last year who aren’t here now. They’ve moved on. In some instances, they’ve passed on. Whatever their purpose, it is now done. But you’re here. And one of your most important jobs in life is to know why.

I don’t know about you but I struggle with this…. In my “social work life”, it was easy for me to say what  my purpose was.  My job and my life were intertwined.  I could see the difference I was making.  Does your job define who you are?  Does it help you to explain your purpose in life?  As I moved from the non-profit world to my own business, defining my purpose was a little bit more difficult.

Can you state your purpose in a single, simple sentence? If you can’t, then let me ask you this ONE question:

How is someone’s life better when they cross your path?

This answer is something which comes from the heart.  You should be able to “spill it out” in under 15 seconds. What would your answer be?

My purpose is to bring a smile to those who are struggling reminding them they are special.  I love to see the smile on someone’s face when they receive happy mail or an unexpected gift or even a handcrafted angel.  A simple compliment can make a difference in someone’s day.

Your purpose is about how you uniquely serve the world and make it better in some way. It uses your unique gifts, strengths and experiences. It is something you do well. And it comes naturally to you.

At work, it answers the question, how is this company better because I work here? In your family, it answers, how is this family better because I’m in it?  

If you don’t know your purpose, I challenge you to take just a few minutes to get quiet and answer the question.  Once you have the answer, write it down. Don’t forget it. Make it your mantra.

A fulfilling life is a life lived with purpose.

Share your purpose with us so we can CELEBRATE you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Do You Struggle with Confidence?

Are you a people pleaser?  If so, you may struggle with confidence.  Why do I say that?  Well, as people pleasers, our world can be crushed when some says “they are disappointed in us” or they get upset with us.  Our confidence is shaken and the inner gremlins begin to bounce around in our head.

As we start a new year, it is time to work towards a new you.  One who is confident and believes you are good enough.  My goal in life has always been to bring a smile to the face of others.  Somewhere along the way, the people pleaser side took over and I lost myself.

Last year, I caught glimpses of how talented I was yet there was something deep inside me which believed I wasn’t good enough.  On the days I feel confident, I know I am good at running my businesses and the joy shines out for all to see.  On the days those inner gremlins are chipping away at my confidence, I sit in wonder and doubt about everything I have done in my life or am planning on doing.  Those days can be crippling.

I’m sure I am not alone.  Many of us have been taught to “fake it until we make it”.  For some it works – they can mask their lack of confidence closing the door on those inner gremlins.  There are others (like me) who wear their emotions on their sleeve.  How many times have you been told “get over it”, “pull yourself together”, or the one which makes me the craziest “you should be over this already”.

Sometimes it is more complicated.  Sometimes, it is tough to get over the self-limiting beliefs which have haunted us for years.  We can overcome them with compassion, and patience.

#1 Get to the heart of it

Your struggle with confidence exists for a reason. Maybe someone told you once you weren’t good enough. Maybe you weren’t nurtured growing up. Maybe you were crushed too many times.  Painful, horrible, heartbreaking things can happen in our lives. Some big, some small, which all affect how we feel about ourselves.  Diving deep into these experiences and our stories can help us connect the dots to see where we are now.

#2 But don’t live there

We get stuck!   Once we own the things which shaped and affected our confidence, it’s easy to feel defeated, overwhelmed, and even a little angry.  But we can’t stay in there because we can’t thrive if we do.  It’s our job to move forward, rewriting the stories we’ve told ourselves.  We need to grow confidence in our skills and in ourselves moving forward every day.  The most important part is  letting go of the things which don’t serve us along the way.

#3 Surround yourself with the right things

Everything we surround ourselves with shapes our perspective and experience – it all matters.  We need to surround ourselves with people who believe in us, who inspire us, and who cheer us on every step of the way.  Look for ways to push yourself to be the very best version of you.  STOMP out those inner gremlins which make you feel small or overwhelmed. It is important to nurture your mind and your body. Fill your days with the things which bring you joy, inspires you to take action, and supports you to show up with a whole heart to your work and your life.

#4 Focus on you, not your fears

Fear can be healthy and it is an unavoidable part of living life. But when we devote our time and energy to honing, growing, and nurturing ourselves, we can grow confident in our creative work and life.  The more we show ourselves what we’re capable of, the more we build grow and the more confident we become.  Don’t let self-doubt and fear distract you from becoming the crazy-awesome creative person you’re meant to be.

#5 You’re the one who your lack of confidence hurts the most

OUCH!  This is and was the toughest realization for me.  If I give into my fears, if I let my self-doubt take the wheel, the person who suffers the most is me.  Believe me is won’t be easy – facing ourselves, our biggest fears, and our toughest experiences.  By believing we are capable of more, and we are worthy of running in the direction of a life which feels true to us takes a whole lot of courage.  Becoming confident takes time.  We need to show up every day, even when this inner gremlins in our head are telling us we should quit.  We need to push through the crap so we can get to the good stuff.

The truth is: it’s always, always, worth it.  When we believe in ourselves, once we bear witness to our gifts, strengths, and creativity, we can start to do incredible work in the world and  build a life which is impactful, fulfilling, and sustainable.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!