A lot of our lives are spent chasing goals. We chase a dream that will launch us into the life we were meant to live. Almost as often, we fall short and wonder why we can’t reach that new level.
The truth is that a next-level goal requires a next-level you. While the “you” of today is equipped to overcome the challenges you currently face, you will need a new version of the magic you already are to reach higher and grab the bigger reward.
This isn’t a revolutionary idea. Even as children, each year of your schooling is partly designed to prepare you for the next. Without learning the skills and opening your mind to a wider way of thinking, you would not be able to understand the concepts and develop the skills of the year to follow.
Similarly, I invite you to take a minute and look to the future. Think about the life you envision for yourself – the life you dream of. Where are you? In your office on top of a skyscraper? With your family, sailing across the seas? What do you see around you? A team of people; perhaps you notice a heightened sense of luxury?
Look at yourself. Notice what you’re wearing, your hairstyle, your demeanor and how you interact with those around you. Do you see a familiar you or do you see the woman you want to become?
My guess is that almost every part of you is a little more “next-level.” Everything about you is slightly nicer or liberated. The people around you are captivated, and in this vision, you are where you most want to be.
The common belief is that when we achieve our goals, this person will emerge from the cocoon of our former selves. That if we work hard and keep going we will become this next-level woman. This, however, is not quite the case. In fact, the opposite is true: It is when we embrace our next-level self and live as if we are already there, that our dreams move closer to us.
I am not saying that you should go buy a Ferrari before you can afford it. It is not about portraying a false sense of achievement. It is about cultivating a feeling of success, determination and everything else that embodies your next-level self.
What would this next-level you no longer tolerate? Do an audit of your life. Look at the physical and emotional space and do your best to let go of the things, people, activities, obligations, and expectations that no longer serve you. Clear through it all, only keeping the things that will be joining you on this next-level journey.
When you look at your next-level self in your vision, notice how she feels, how she conducts herself. What are these traits and attitudes and how can you bring more of that into your world? You might notice a sense of confidence you don’t have right now. While it can be scary at first, I invite you to practice expressing this confidence in your everyday life. No need to jump in head first, start in the smallest, safest way and grow from there. ** So, you don’t need to buy a Ferrari, but if its available to you, go for a test drive and feel it.**
Setting reminders that help you stay in the mode of your next-level self can be very powerful. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day of it all and simply being reminded that you are a badass bitch just after lunch, can jumpstart your afternoon. So place a memento on your desk, create a vision board, set affirmation reminders and deck out computer and phone wallpapers with anything that gives you a boost and feels true to your next-level self.
Develop a practice of gaining knowledge and inspiration from women that your next-level self would see as mentors (or even as peers). Expand your reading list, follow groups and maybe subscribe to a podcast.
This is not an easy exercise. It will take determination to break through to your next level. You will need to do things differently, respond differently to situations and maybe even cut certain people and activities from your life. Become fearless and unapologetic in taking charge of your life.
Define your next-level self and develop practices to live as if. Allow yourself to practice being the best version of yourself and before you know it, you will fully step into the woman you know you can be.
Moving through life as your next-level self (with her attitude, perspective, and poise) will reframe your life. Everyday situations, will present new opportunities and previously mundane tasks are now outsourced or completely removed as you make space for the items that matter and move you forward.
You are living as if you have your dream life. Operating now as you must when you achieve your vision. It is by being consistent in this practice that you will become and achieve your next level.
Lean into your journey without the pressure of comparing yourself to others.
To end off the month of “Owning your space,” I’d like to talk about comparison. Comparison is a sneaky and very dangerous ego trick that makes us feel less than, confused about our path and generally not far enough along. Kind of difficult to “own your space” if you’re feeling this disconnected from it.
When we compare ourselves to others and their journey, we automatically disconnect from our own. We step out of our space and into theirs. While their space might be great for them, we don’t belong there, and immediately feel out of the loop. As if there’s an inside joke that we don’t get or a puzzle we can’t solve.
At this point, we attempt to fix this feeling by desperately trying to be more like the person we are comparing ourselves against. We throw out the work we’ve done and follow their strategy, buy clothes they would wear, maybe even adopt their mannerisms and sometimes make massive life decisions trying to compete in their world. The really sad part is that even with all of this effort, we don’t feel any better and we’re no closer to our goals and it’s because of one simple truth:
This is their space, their path, their journey, not yours and the longer you stay, the more you lose yourself.
We are not meant to compare and gauge our “success” against others because it’s not a competition. It actually cannot be a competition because there is no true metric for “success.” Think about it. How would we know who is winning when we all view success as a unique combination of wealth, material gains, relationships, experiences, love etc? Instead, we should take all that energy and invest in our own space and dedicate it to our own journeys.
But how do we do let go of constant comparison?
- Stop chasing the success party
Many of us subscribe to the idea that life is a race. That we need to be chasing professional and personal success. The truth is there is no race because there is no finish line. There is no success party that you get invited to when you “make it.” So, relax, take the pressure off. If you notice someone who is closer to a shared goal, remember that they don’t get points for being there first and you don’t lose anything for being second (or even tenth.)
If you do see someone reaching a shared goal before you, don’t feel jealous or upset. Rather, take a moment to see this as proof that your goal can be achieved. This is fantastic news. Be grateful for the sign, happy for their good fortune and excited about your journey. #letthatshitgo
- Stay focused on what you are doing
You know that moment when your friend with the amazing bone structure gets bangs and you start thinking, “Wow, she looks incredible. Maybe I should get bangs?” Almost instantly your current hairstyle looks boring, outdated and in serious need of some bangs. You also somehow forget about the last time you went down this road and how much bangs did not work for you. Hopefully, at this point, another friend stops you and reminds you that bangs are not for everyone and that your hair looks fabulous already.
Similarly, when you compare your life to that of someone else, you tend to notice the things you don’t have in yours. For example, your friend has a baby and you start thinking about names for your own imaginary children. Another goes on a trip overseas and you long for freedom. At times, these can be prompts that reveal a deeper desire, but mostly they distract you from your own goals and what you are working towards.
You get sucked into another person’s world and look back at yours to see empty spaces. Suddenly, you lose sight of all you’ve achieved, the goals you’re working towards and what you’re left with is a hollow feeling of lack.
The good news is that the cure is simple: shift your focus. Bring your attention inward, to your own path and the vision you hold for your life. Next time, you get triggered by a peer getting promoted, achieving a massive milestone you are both working towards or Sharon’s new pixie cut, try this to stay connected to your space:
Do you really want this thing? Will it serve you towards achieving your vision? You might easily be able to say, “Hell no! I’m good,” and move forward. Other times it won’t be so clear. You want it, but not right now or not quite like this. If that’s the case, I invite you to trust in your journey. Remember your goals, your vision and bring your focus inward. Should this thing be right for you, you will find a way to include it.
Owning your space fully and confidently means knowing your space. Knowing and trusting in your guidance and the choices you make towards your vision. Share in the joy and success of others, while keeping your focus on your own path. Let go of what everyone else is doing, let go of the pressure and the fear and trust your inner guidance to lead you towards your biggest dreams.
This month is all about owning your space. That means we need to talk about leaning into your desires, your calling and what you most want from life. Your dream might be to live as a digital nomad for a couple of years. To travel and have adventures. Great right? Well, the tricky thing is that your brain doesn’t see this as a simple win-win situation. It worries about you and can cause some very weird feelings and doubts around your dream.
You’ll find yourself worrying about whether your family will approve. You know they want you to settle and be stable and before you know it, you’ve talked yourself out of the travelling altogether.
Sound familiar? This might not be your exact situation, but I’m sure you recognize the pattern. We all have Fear or “ego” that blocks us from trying new things or moving forward with our business or hitting our next life milestone. We give into the anxiety, guilt and shame of what might go wrong, and we lose sight of what we were chasing in the first place. We choose to stay safe in our comfort zone because we convince ourselves that it is enough, that we’re satisfied and even happy.
Of course, this is rarely the result of staying put. It is when you leap forward, take a chance and actively pursue what you love that you find joy. In fact, you could say that a big difference between happy and unhappy people, is that the happy ones follow the love. They see the fear and go for it anyway. Despite all the worry, they choose to focus on the reward, the joy, the love.
But how on earth do they do that? Fear can be incredibly convincing, I know. It can make you believe the worst of others and even of your own abilities. For this reason, “the ego” has a petty bad rap. It is branded as the devil on your shoulder, a mean-spirited little guy that wants to hold you back from everything. I don’t buy it. There is a slightly more open concept that the only thing the ego knows is fear and it is simply trying to protect you from harm. It is like an over-protective grandma that would rather keep you in a bubble than risk something happening to you.
It doesn’t want you to risk falling in love because your heart might break again; or travel, because you’ll miss out on everything happening at home; or change careers, because it might not work out. It is even afraid of success. Yup, “success” is a big no-no for the ego. If you become successful, you would have to risk being seen, you might have more money than your friends, you might even meet people that operate on a level above you, you could become a mean person, lose your marriage, never see your kids… You get the idea…
We all have our own special cocktail of fears around success and while they make you feel guilty or ashamed or scared, it is not the ego’s intention to hurt you. It just the only way it knows how to keep you safe.
Accepting this truth was personal turning point for me. I faced my fearful ego and recognized it as the most vulnerable part of myself. In that moment I could stop fighting, stop resisting and attempt to quiet that inner voice. (All the resisting was only making it louder.) Instead I could see it with love, honour the fear and then simply let it go.
Let me break that down for you.
When I notice that familiar feeling start to creep up, I ask myself, “Hey, what’s that about? What are you trying to show me?” Sometimes, simply asking this question in my head is enough to get an instant answer, other times I meditate and free write to reveal the deeper truth behind the fear.
Either way, once I see the deeper truth (the reason for the fear feeling), I can also see it’s innocent and unknowing intention. Almost instantly, that fear feeling becomes small and manageable. I can look it straight in the eye and say, “Appreciate the heads up, but I got this.”
Asking, “What are you trying to show me?” allows you to gain perspective, accept the protective intention behind the fear and soothe it, rather than fight it. You do not stop seeing the danger, but the reward/ goal stays in focus. You can feel grateful for, and accept, the warning. You know what you’re capable of and that you will be able to endure if the worst happens.
As you practice this, you will detect your fearful voice in its early stages, allowing you to move on faster and take bigger and bigger leaps towards your goals. This is how you lean into love, how to follow the joy.
So, accept your fear as your overly-cautious grandma and you’ll learn to look it straight in the eye, see the danger and go for it anyway. Not because you’re going against it (yourself), but because you know you’re strong enough to make it.
Have you ever tried meditating? I know it can seem daunting at first. You might have wondered how to do it or whether there’s some special thing you have to say or do. Perhaps you’ve tried and worried that you’re doing it wrong. Well, let me tell you a secret: You can’t do it wrong. While there are many guided and traditional options, there really is no elite or precise process you must follow. In this super simple guide to meditation, I’ll share some guidelines that can help you get started and find your path to #meditationjoy.
Set the scene
Space – Find your spot
Create a space that you find calming and quiet. You don’t need to overdo it. Find a spot, lay down your yoga mat, place a cushion or your favourite chair, and make sure you’re comfortable. If you ask me: I love the fresh air, but find a lot of outside noise a bit distracting, so I prefer a spacious but closed off space indoors.
I’m quite a practical girl and don’t have too much time, so I prefer not to fuss too much, but if the smell of incense, a crystal or a Buddha ornament helps you set the mood, add these to your space.
One thing I keep close when meditating is my journal. It stays closed and once the bell rings to bring me back, I pick it and write. I write about everything and anything for about 10 minutes. Sometimes, I have new clarity on an idea and it spills onto the page and sometimes I open and just free-write. I set the timer and continue writing until it goes off. You’ll be surprised at how revealing this can be about your current state of mind.
Music or no music?
Either. Really, there are no rules. Just keep your intention in mind. You are trying become still to tap into your inner guidance. For this reason, I personally prefer no music, as the silence helps me stay connected. There are, of course, times you need to drown out some other noise, or a busy inner-dialogue. If this is the case, opt for the classical or instrumental option so you don’t get sucked into lyrics.
Use a timer
Not too many of us have unlimited time available, which is why I find setting a timer allows me to stay in the present. I know that I won’t be late for my next engagement and I don’t worry whether I am doing it for long enough. Put your phone on do not disturb, set a calming tone as your ringer and keep it close for easy reach. Start with 10 minutes and increase or decrease as you need to.
The key is not to overthink or wait for the perfect moment. Sit down somewhere quiet, get comfortable and you’re 90% of the way there.
What do you meditate about/ for/ to?
While practicing a structured meditation (there are thousands of traditional practices you can follow if you are looking for a methodical or specific style) can have many benefits, it is not required to search for a guru or to focus the next 6 months on resolving your anxiety. Meditation is a lifelong practice that provides a pathway inward, towards your deepest truths. For this, you don’t need a schedule, but a willingness and openness to simply be still and to listen.
Rather than worry about the how, focus on your intention for today’s meditation practice. For most of us, we meditate because we seek connection or answers. Allow me to elaborate.
- To become still and (re)connect to center:
Its primary intention is to stay connected, grounded so you may respond more resourcefully to triggers like stress or overwhelm. (It keeps you cool EMOJI.) When I am consistent with this practice, I honestly feel calmer and more together; I get a lot more done during the day and generally feel like I am moving towards my goals.
- Find an answer to a question (or make a choice):
If something is troubling you, you may find that by simply offering it up to a greater force than yourself, you immediately feel lighter. From this place of relief, you are able to gain a new perspective that leads towards a conscious, connected and considered decision that moves you in the right direction.
It is not uncommon to meditate with a question in mind and not experience a huge moment of clarity during the practice. When this happens, open your journal and write about the question or challenge you are experiencing. It is almost as if the meditation brought a new perspective to the foreground and the writing allows you to see it and discover surprising solutions.
Begin by choosing your intention. If you are choosing to connect, let go of all expectation and focus on your breath and the prompts below. Allow yourself to clear your mind of busy thoughts and stay in tune with your breath.
Should you have a question, keep it in your mind. Try not to add an attached outcome to your question, like “How do I lose 3kgs by December.” Reframe your question in a way that allows for new solutions. Something like, “How do I stay focused on my health goals?” Essentially, you are asking for a new perspective, “How can I solve this problem/ reach this goal? I am open to new ideas.” Perhaps you are facing a choice. If so, you may want to ask, “Which of these options will keep me aligned and move me forward.”
Sit with your legs crossed on the floor or on a cushion. If you have trouble sitting like this for a while, sit on a chair with your legs uncrossed and feet flat on the earth. Rest the backs of your hands on your knees in a gesture of receiving. Lightly allow your eyes to close and take a deep breath in.
Feel the breath start at the base of your spine, move up the length of your back and pull up your torso, shoulders and head and neck. As you exhale, let your shoulders lower and settle into your spine in a comfortable, yet upright position.
Observe your chin and if you’re looking up, perhaps lower it to so that it rests parallel to the ground.
Now, bring your focus to your breath: Inhale through your nose, feeling as your breath travels into the base of the lungs as your belly expands with this new enriching oxygen. As you exhale, notice the reverse. Your belly and ribs collapse to release the air back up and out through your nose. Pause at the top of the outbreath.
After a few continuous rounds of focused breathing, the pause will create a light and spacious feeling in mind and body. Without chasing, keep breathing into that space and that feeling of expansion will gradually grow.
Thoughts will enter your mind. When they do, simply acknowledge them and then choose to let them go for now. Many people imagine the thought drift away on a cloud. Do what you need to do to and bring your attention back to breath. (Even saying the words “inhale,” “exhale,” can be helpful in bringing you back.)
Closing your practice
There are a number of ways you may seal your practice. While you find your preferred manner, I invite you to join me with this sweet and simple mantra of appreciation:
Once your timer goes off, calmly tap it to end the ringing. Then, with your eyes still closed, bring your hands to heart. Pressing your thumbs to your chest, say to yourself:
Thank you for your practice today
You are worthy of this time
I love you
Bow your head to your hands and gently blink your eyes open.
Meditation is a tool that anybody can include in their life. There is no pre-requisite and you can start anytime. Give the above suggestions a try and soon you’ll discover just how effortless and enriching meditation can be.
The biggest reason we become overwhelmed and burnt out by our business, our health goals, and other life expectations, is that we place too much focus on the future. Rather than doing what needs to be done today, we worry about the list for tomorrow, which results in little or no progress at all; and spirals into limiting or unkind thoughts about ourselves and what we’re capable of.
Here are a few tools to help you avoid the future trap and step into your NOW:
First: Break down your Year
Perhaps you have a goal or outcome set for the year? You’ve listed the steps required to reach this goal, but about a week (or a month) into the year, things get fuzzy. You start feeling anxious about your ability to achieve this goal, feel unsure of what step to do first and start seeing everything as “urgent!” If this sounds like you and you’re ready for less overwhelm, why not try this:
- Write down the full list of steps to achieve your goal or to reach your outcome.
- Next, to that, note how much time you will need for each task.
- Now, rank your tasks in the order they need to be completed.
- Finally, add your tasks to your calendar in order and with enough time to complete.
Let each task have its own space. In this way, you can fully dedicate your time to each step, with the comfort of knowing that everything else will get done in due course.
Second: Prioritize the excess
No matter how hard we try, sometimes we just don’t tick everything off our to-do list and it rolls over to the next day or next week. This causes lists that are way too long and far too cluttered, but before you scrap your list and attempt to start again, go through each item and ask:
- Has “not doing” this item held me back from moving towards my goal?
- What would happen if I simply removed this item from the list?
Your answers reveal the importance of each task on your list. If the item is critical in moving you closer to your goal, commit to a deadline and get it done. If, however, the task carries little or no tangible impact on your success, perhaps you can remove it altogether? Declutter your to-do list to make space for the important, forward-moving tasks.
Remember that busy work distracts you from getting ahead. Doing more is not the same as moving forward.
Third: Give yourself enough time
While close to 90% of “overnight successes” say that they achieved their goals with slow, systematic progress, we continue to rush outcomes, strive for instant results and add unnecessary pressure with unrealistic deadlines. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be ambitious or dream big. I’m simply suggesting that you create the space to truly dedicate yourself to your goals and that you do so without hurting yourself in the process.
Giving yourself enough time doesn’t take away from the achievement. You do not need to get there today or this year. Take your time and make sure you keep moving forward, without burning out and losing more time as a result.
The formula is simple: create enough space for everything and then commit to focusing on the next right step. Trust that you have it under control and that each bit of progress is an achievement in and of itself. Stop chasing and transform your schedule from a race into a calm, yet exciting plan-of-action that is perfectly crafted to get you to your goal.