Because you gotta have faith…right?

You can strategize and plan and possess all the motivation in the world to reach your goals, but that doesn’t guarantee your path will be smooth or that your journey will be easy. There will be stretches where you feel like you’re driving up a steep incline on a gravel road during a flash flood. Actually, the bigger your pursuits are–and the more you commit to your goals–the more likely you’ll encounter a Mt. Kilimanjaro hurdle. Even when we aren’t shooting for the stars, we all encounter hardships and difficulties that make us wonder:  When will this nightmare stop? How will I get through this?

In these moments of uncertainty…that’s where faith comes in.

Let me first explain what I mean by faith. It isn’t necessarily tied to religion. And it certainly isn’t what George Michael was referring to in his song, Faith–although this post’s title was inspired by the chorus.

What I’m talking about is that unquantifiable “knowing” that there’s something bigger, wiser, and more rock-solid than you out there. It’s realizing that we, as limited humans, have a hard time imagining all the ways a life, a decade, a day, or even a moment can go. It’s admitting that there are things we can’t explain but know them to be True.

So what’s the point of having faith? After all, having it doesn’t reduce the number of times you fall down. It also doesn’t make the fall less painful or disappointing. But what having faith does do is offer a sense of comfort that you’ll (eventually) come out the other side and (eventually) be okay. That’s literally priceless. No one can buy that kind of comfort.

Yes, there’s a reward for faith. But not like we normally think of rewards. People with faith don’t get a pass on hardship. And people without faith aren’t subject to more suffering. Nobody owns the title on hard times. However…

Faith makes failure and adversity easier to endure. Once the inciting moment of your obstacle has passed and the shock has settled in, there’s finally a space where you can take a full breath. A moment where your mind shuts up and there’s a brief pause of silence, of floating, of peace. The reprieve may only last for a blip in time, but it’s long enough to hear that inner voice…hey, remember that “power bigger than you” belief you have? That Bigger Power hasn’t given up on you. So don’t give up on it either. You’ll get through this…somehow. You gotta keep the faith. 

Having faith provides you with the sense that you are never alone in facing your battles. That, too, is priceless.

That inner “knowing” voice is more of a feeling for me, a presence that blooms in the center of my chest. Reminding me that even though I can’t see a way out, solution, or happy ending…THERE IS ONE. If only I can manage to get out of my own way. If only I would stop resisting, accept what IS and what ISN’T, and step (or free-fall) into the flow.

Even when you synch up with faith, you don’t necessarily stay in the flow. Faith can come and go. It’s not an object you own forever. It’s more like a living thing that needs to be tended to, fed, and given attention. Some people lose it, forget it, or reject it. But once you’ve experienced what faith feels like, you notice the difference between having it and not having it. Faith-less times are tougher, there’s a deep hollowness where its presence used to reside. That hollowness can distract you from seeing the solution, helping hand, or path out to the bright side of life because you’re so focused on scarcity and filling that hole.

Faith isn’t always easy. Actually, it’s often NOT easy. But I, like other Faith-ers, do it anyway. Why? Because the more I accept that I may not know what to do when troubles strike–with no tangible evidence I’ll be okay when the fallout settles–and have faith anyway, the more evidence I receive that my faith-ing makes a difference. The alternative gives you nothing back in return; there is no advantage to being faith-less. So, despite the ineffable characteristics of faith– the delicate balance of ebb and flow, the lifetime of practice it takes to have, hold, and preserve it–it’s absolutely worth it. You gotta have faith. 

Redefining Roadblocks

There’s something about encountering a roadblock that makes you want to curl your upper lip into a snarl. You’re on the route you want to go, to the place you want to be, and then….

BAM! Full stop. Can’t go that way. No can do.

Some roadblocks are small and not a big deal. Other times, they are. Huge.

When you’re driving, you can consult Google Maps or Siri or some other all-knowing navigation system. But what do you do when the roadblock appears not on a highway or street, but in your life, on the path to your goals?

Roadblocks are a part of life, happening whether you expect them and deal with them like a pro…or not. I used to see roadblocks as a sign of defeat or inadequacy, so I’d often do all I could to avoid bumps in the road–which, in the mantra “go big or go home,” often leads to the latter option. When I did go big and it didn’t pay off, I worried I wouldn’t find an alternate route to my dreams.

Now? Roadblocks are my teachers, guides, reality checks, and rescuers. I throw out the welcome mat to them. Here’s why:

Roadblocks test your resolve and desire.

When your car hits potholes, you find out just how good your suspension and tire pressure is. When you hit one of Life’s potholes, you find out just how committed you are to the direction you’re headed. Your commitment level may fall into one of these categories:

  • Zero interest. You’re done. Congrats, you’ve discovered the path you were on isn’t for you. A valuable insight–to get to sooner than later–so you can get on with your life.
  • You’re still committed. But also bummed out, burned out, and/or stressed out.  These feelings are normal when you hit a wall. Uncomfortable for sure, but not a terrible place to be. Even doubt, worry, and fear can be useful…as long as that heaviness doesn’t persist long enough to hold you down permanently. Consider why these feelings arose and tune into the mind chatter that’s accompanying them. Maybe this is your opportunity to deal with an unsupportive belief or story about yourself. Because if you don’t now, they’re sure to show up down the road too.
  • You are all in, no matter what. No roadblock will shut you down! You’re a rock star. This commitment level is reinforcing your passion and your path. But before charging ahead, evaluate if the roadblock you’re facing could have been avoided by a different strategy, execution, or attitude. Slow your roll before taking immediate action–take time to reflect on the journey up until now, adjust your plan if necessary, and only then act upon the resulting action step.

Roadblocks force you to think, reflect, question, and brainstorm.

When you encounter a literal roadblock, you consult your smart phone’s or car’s map for an alternate route. When you hit a roadblock in life, you also need to take the time to evaluate the situation. Maybe you didn’t think much about the direction you were going and a deeper dive is in order. Have things changed that, in turn, ask you to reevaluate your wants, goals, and vision for your future?  Perhaps now’s a chance to get clear about your motives, why you started down this road in the first place and what you hope to get out of it. Will it serve your heart’s and soul’s purpose or needs? Or did your pursuit originate from a “should do”?

Roadblocks provide opportunities to learn, grow, and discover.

Like some of the most memorable and pleasurable road trips, unexpected detours may end up being the best part of the journey. And if they aren’t, you at least learn something about yourself and your travel companions along the way. The discovery might be that the “detour” is actually your true path. The lesson could be that the direction you were going was right but the timing wasn’t.

Metaphorical roadblocks test your flexibility and coping skills. Ask yourself questions. Listen to the answers. Brainstorm alternatives. The trick is to use roadblocks to your advantage so that when you finally get up and over them (which you will!), you’re an even better version of yourself because of the experience.

Bringing Your Dreams to Light and Life

One of my Big Dreams came true. I’m a published author.  Although I “knew” this day would come, it didn’t unfold as I’d imagined.

Have you ever wished and hoped for something, and then had the courage to start taking action on it, and then failed a few (or many) times, and worked on getting better and put in more time and effort because, in your bones, you knew this is something you must do–even if it doesn’t earn you a living or recognition–because you can contribute in some small way to the world? 

And then, after all the doubts and fears that you aren’t good enough–all those Who do you think you are for doing this? What makes YOU so special?–filled your ears and then your inner lion roared back that you are indeed worthy and every amazing accomplishment ever done was by a someone (who was once a no one) who did something and why not you

And then one day, that thing–that you wanted so badly and worked for so determinedly–happened. Not just in your imagination, daily visualizations, or dreams. For real. It’s an incredible feeling, isn’t it?

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That’s the path my dream of becoming a published author took. Long, winding, challenging, and in its own time frame.

I’ve written two books before, but you won’t find them anywhere because they never made it past a few drafts. Although I’ve made peace with that part of my history and did grow from it, those “failures” were definitely in the forefront of my mind when I set out to write this current book. This time, however, I was going to get out of my own way. I wasn’t going to let fear and doubt stop me from believing in my Big Dream or taking continuous action toward it.

I had experiences and knowledge I knew could help someone, and it was my soul’s and heart’s wish to give it to that someone. I wrote my book for the friends who know they are meant for something more but can’t see their path. I wrote my book for the strangers I’d overheard venting that they need to change their life now. I wrote my book for the high school and college students who are frustrated because they don’t know what they’re meant to do or be. I wrote my book for the adults who suddenly find themselves living someone else’s life.

I wrote my book for all these people because I was them. In realizing I’d discovered, learned, and gone through things that could help others, I couldn’t keep it to myself. And I didn’t.

As a friend and fellow author, Jai Maa, says: “There are no goals bigger than you. There are only goals that require you to be a bigger you.” I took that encouragement to heart. I hope you can too.

Be big, bold, and bright. Go after what you want. Let no one and nothing stop you. In bringing your soul’s dreams to light and life, you are making the world a better place for all of us. 

To learn more about my book Meant for More: Create Your Dream Life, Plan Your Path, and Start Living It Now please visit my author website

 

The Paralysis of Perfection

Have you ever had a juicy goal or dream that went nowhere? Maybe it was because you couldn’t get past the perfect ending you envisioned. Getting stuck there is largely thanks to the hoards of mental critics that magically appear when you’re about to do something you’ve never achieved. They instantly perk up and fill your head with refrains of: “How are you going to do this?! You’re not ready! Who do you think you are?” They readily supply you with a constant stream of evidence of your imminent failure. That you aren’t smart enough, you don’t know the right people, you don’t have enough money, you have no clue what you’re doing…anything and everything is game.

In short order, you’ve talked yourself out of something you passionately wanted to do. You haven’t taken one step, but in your mind, you’ve pinpointed and played out all the ways you’ve already failed. Your dream suffered Death by Doubt.

Waiting for the perfect moment doesn’t get you anywhere. I’ve missed out on opportunities and experiences because I let my fear of “doing it wrong” stop me. I’m now in that camp that believes it’s better to have tried and failed than to never try and be left with a dreaded “What if?” Waiting until you’re completely prepared and ready will paralyze your dreams…because that time hardly ever comes.

Please don’t misunderstand me…I’m not advocating running headfirst into life without any consideration. This rally cry is for those who have a tendency to be too thoughtful, too cautious. It’s for the Type A personalities and perfectionists. You know who you are.

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I chose this picture I took in Utah as an example of nature following through with her desires without worrying about a perfect ending. This twisted specimen is not what we normally envision when we think of trees. I was grateful the trees had carried on despite whatever challenges and odds they had faced…and there had to be a few. Each tree had a massive goal, and it succeeded in my opinion, but in a way that couldn’t have been predicted.

Nike was spot on with its iconic slogan, “Just do it.” The thing about “just doing it” before you’ve got it “all figured out” is…at least you did something. There are only three things that can happen after you take a step toward your goal:

  1. You fail. Maybe even worse than you could have predicted. Now you know what doesn’t work, and knowledge is power. If you still want to pursue that goal, you can brainstorm another tactic or try again with a refined approach based on lessons learned. If you figure out that your awesome goal wasn’t as awesome as you imagined, great! You can move on, with more perspective in your pocket. 
  2. The result is what you expected or hoped for. Yes! You know what works and can continue. Rock on!
  3. The result is crazy successful, beyond what you thought was possible. Major celebration time! You see that the only limits are the ones you put on yourself. 

Remember, most of the success stories you hear are about a victorious end result following many failures. If you have a passionate desire, a dream that won’t leave you alone, a juicy goal that excites you as much as it scares you…take that first step, no matter how small.

Do your absolute best each step of the way, and let go of whatever is out of your control. Trust yourself, trust Life. Celebrate your courage to feel the fear and do it anyway. Remember WHY you are reaching for this big, scary, audacious ending. Let that vision light you up and keep your fire burning. But just DO something.

What better time to start than right now?

Lessons from my “Balance Bootcamp”

It’s been a while since my last post (2 months and 4 days to be exact). I’d like to explain. Not because I think you’ve been offended or curious about my absence, but because I want to consistently provide valuable content and conversation here, and I’d like to share why Consistency took a side road.

During June and July, I wrote a book that has to do with personal transformation (a term I prefer over “self-help”). It’s for anyone who feels a little lost, is seeking more direction and fulfillment, and wants to live their juiciest, most awesome life! I can’t wait to share more with you soon, but in the meantime, I can tell you that my book will be back from the editor next week…whoo-hoo!

Another contributing factor to my absence was the start of graduate school. It has taken my brain a month to recover from the shock to my neural pathways, since it’s been [ahem] quite a few years since my last academic experience. It’s also been a significant challenge figuring out how to balance all the lovely moving pieces of my life.

While I don’t have it down perfectly–who ever does?–I have found my center once again. The last two months served as a lesson for how positive, powerful thinking is a daily practice. It’s not like riding a bike, where you never forget how to successful use it. You have to work at it by being self-aware, remembering the basics, calling upon Faith, and allowing time for quiet reflection (where our most enlightening moments lie). Balance is certainly not a one-and-done sort of thing.

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I like to always leave you with some takeaways, so here are some lessons from my recent Balance Bootcamp:

  1. Remember the big picture–why you’re putting yourself through (and enduring) challenges to reach your goals. Knowing why you’re doing something, and keeping your eye on your desired result, will help keep you afloat.
  2. It’s okay to feel crappy. Ignoring or pushing down your feelings will usually lead to a blowup or meltdown later on. So recognize the fear, doubt, and frustration, and feel them. But then…
  3. Allow yourself to move on from the drama. I relied heavily on this mantra: “All is well. Right here, right now.” It put things in perspective. 99.9 times out of 100, nothing is happening in the moment to cause the negative chatter in your head. You’ve got to get out of panic mode in order to see the road ahead. There is always a solution, you just might not be seeing it right now.
  4. You CAN find the time to do what’s most important. But you have to plan for it! If it’s important to you, schedule it. And do it first, if you can.
  5. Take time to practice self-care. The busier we are, the easier it is to neglect ourselves. Big mistake. Even a few minutes to do something that gives you joy, centers you, or allows you to relax is crucial for your well-being. Forcing yourself to push on doesn’t end well.