Are you there yet? Getting clear on what you really want.

Feeling good is life’s primary intention…

 ‘The having-it-all pressure can drive you crazy when things aren’t so perfect. Like it did for Missy, who told me, “Hell, I had it all, on the outside. My business took off, my husband’s a great guy, I had two perfect toddlers. I even had the marble kitchen counter tops. But I was boozing it up in the pantry every afternoon because the pressure to be perfect was getting to me.” She went on: ”Ya know, sometimes I wanted to show up at our mommy walks without a great attitude, or without my makeup, and with my filthy kid, and just say, ‘Ladies, this is all I fuckin’ got to give today!’”

The Desire Map

Amen Missy. A. Men.

The above is an excerpt from an amaze-bomb book I’ve been pouring over the last few weeks: Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul.

Danielle’s a super star in the divinely-led blogger world. Her website, DanielleLaPorte.com, has been referred to as “the best place online for kick-ass spiritualty” and Forbes named it one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women”.

The girl is good.

There’s a bunch fields of quotes, personal stories and let’s-be-real advice that I’ve felt compelled to share with you. But I couldn’t deny my immediate connection to Missy’s story and it’s relevance to the message I’m trying to send here: Perfect ain’t always perfect.

For some of us, we unconsciously play the roles we think we want. Keyword: unconsciously.

We buy the house, study the degree, stay at the ‘good’ job we secured years ago and possibly in the same relationships that went with it. We set the goals and go after them. It makes sense to do this. It’s easier to do this. Until it’s not.

‘…Missy had a breakdown that turned out to be a breakthrough. She moved her family to the country, doubled her business, and quadrupled her peace of mind.’

The Desire Map

Like Missy, it starts with an undeniable feeling (or behaviour – e.g. pantry drinking) that eventually reaches a peak within us that we can no longer handle. We crack. We cry. We act-out or withdraw. We get conscious.

That – right there –  is your soul calling an intervention.

Why? Because…

Feeling good is life’s primary intention.

The brilliance of Danielle’s book is her ability to show you that achieving the ‘goal’ doesn’t always guarantee the ‘feeling-good’ aspect. As she explains:

‘You’re not chasing the goal, you’re chasing the feeling you hope reaching the goal will give you.’

The Desire Map

I get that. I believe that.

Exhibit A: I was a good girl, got good grades all through school and graduated with even better results at Uni. I got every job I ever applied for. Career pathways were offered to me by my boss-ladies and men. I was even part of a pretty cool ‘we’ and together had multiple houses, cash in the bank and lived (and bought) like we wanted. I’d say to myself over and over, ‘This is what you worked for. You have it. You can start feeling complete now please.’

I couldn’t make it happen. In fact the striving to-feel-complete sent me into a sad and messy state as I tried to talk myself into being happy with where I was.

 

Knowing when something’s not right for you (even when it’s ‘perfect’) is one of the best and worst things about being human. It’s called intuition.

It torments us when we’d rather just accept current reality and tread water. Yet, thankfully, it also guides us when we’re brave enough to start stepping on to a new path. It feels what it wants to feel. And if you’re subscribed to listening to it it’s undeniable.

How many times have you heard yourself say: ‘I can’t wait until <insert your seemingly far-far-away life goal here> so I can just feel…’. Sorted? At home? Like I’m qualified? Skinny? Whatever the feeling you’re yearning for, how many times have you declared that you ‘can not wait’ to feel this way?

The Desire Map light bulb moment for me? You don’t have to wait.

‘Small, deliberate actions inspired by you true desires create a life you love.’

The Desire Map

Whether you’ve arrived at your said goal or you’re still busy striving for it stop and reflect – use your intuition. Are you moving towards what you really want? That is: how you really want to feel?

If not, then shift the focus. Change the gears. Walk towards the feeling. In any way.

Do something that reminds you of what your real desire feels like. If affluent, knowledgeable, influential, ease or energised are in your desire vocabulary then do one thing today that makes you feel that way – however small.

 

Test drive the car you can’t yet afford, post a thought-provoking comment to influence conversation, do yoga to feel at ease or blend-up a green smoothie to spark the energy you’re chasing.

The Desire Map’s concept brings the future into the present. Most of us know pretty well whether moving closer or further away from how we really want to feel in our day but having the guts to do something about it has always, ALWAYS, been my sticking point. For this reason I ignored trampled on my something’s-not-right feelings for years.

The truth is we don’t have to wait. There’s no risky moves, resignations or eloping involved. Just small, intentional acts that edge us a little closer to the feelings we crave and in turn the true goals we aspire for in our life.

And while these small life-affirming gestures may seem insignificant they’re a nod to your soul. You hear it. You’re honoring the feeling today. And in that moment you’ll feel a little more positive about working towards where you really want to be. You’ll see possibilities your tormented and teased mind couldn’t comprehend before. You’ll let go of perfection and hold onto pursuit – of feeling good.

Again, why would we do this?

Because feeling good is life’s primary intention.

So thank you Danielle. For me, getting clear on what you actually want to feel like and being able to feel that way TODAY is the best I’m-not-there-yet medicine I can think of goin’ round.

P.S If you’re intrigued by the book and end up buying it I’d love to know what you thought in the comments below!

Images: via Pinterestbohemianbeyou, daniellelaporte.com

Fears of a Working Mum

Nerves. Expectations. Answers. Avoid looking like an idiot.

These words seem rightly placed based on the expression on Marilyn Monroe’s face as she met the press back in 1956. While she may not be the poster girl for working mums I think this snap captures the feelings many women conjure up when we feel a little under the spotlight.

And by spotlight I mean situation. It’s that moment when we feel just a little bit judged. Like all eyes are on us. And our families, the houses we live in, the jobs we do or just our decisions about our ‘next move’. There’s a concern that what you do (or say) next is going to be scored, commented on and repeated in detailed descriptions by those close to you when they’re asked cookie-cutter questions like: ‘So how’s she doooooinnnng?’.

The feeling? Fear.

Personally I think it’s a pretty strong word for what most would describe as being ‘just worried’ about what others might think. But after scouring through articles about female fear and it’s ties to failure, perfection, self-doubt and life-paralysis it’s a serious description for a serious problem.

Bryce Covert’s article for The Nation details US statistics that indicate women are self-selecting out of ‘hard fields’ like Science, Technology, Economics and Math for fear of delivering imperfect grades. Catherine Clifford’s article at Entrepreneur.com talks about the fear of failure that stops women keeping pace with men in the entrepreneur stakes.

While I’m not lining up at uni to take on  astrophysics nor am I looking to kick the boys outta a self-start-up business I do get this trend.

My most recent fear-moment (and I have many of them) came this week when it reared it’s ever-so-fricken-huge head in a delayed realization of what returning to work from maternity leave meant for me.

(Hold in there for a sec for those without kids…)

Essentially in this situation – you’re again – the new girl. You’ve been out of it a while so you’re new in the sense ‘you weren’t here’, as your colleagues say, when that major event that seems to be consuming everyone (else) happened. You’re playing catch-up.

Fear 1: You’re behind in your job. And others know it.

You’re also forever working to a deadline. The deadline to leave home, arrive at work, finish that report, get to that meeting and finally run out the door (while still looking like a committed employee) before your child is the last one left at childcare. Gone are the days when you can stay back to ‘catch-up on a few things’ or have brilliant networking chats in the hallway. Let’s face it: a working mum is a walking egg timer.

Fear 2: You’ll never be able to perform like you used to.

Then when the work days are over and you return to the sanctuary of your home you cant help but see the tired-toll smeared across your little one’s face.

Fear 3: I’m doing more damage than good.

Judgement. Perfection. Guilt. It’s all rolled into a messy lunch box that gets carried off to work and still stinks after you’ve washed it.

Now I’ve written before about the ‘having it all’ saga before but mother-of-two and PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, gave a beautifully refreshing take on something that this week was driving my fears. (The 2 minute video really is worth a watch if you’re want a bit of a laugh).

“We’re screwed. We can not have it all.” Nooyi says.

She explains that the biological clock and career clock are in total conflict with each other. We must make choices between being a wife and mother everyday, multiple times a day and find coping mechanisms to do so.

I took comfort in this. If we’re screwed what do I have to be fearful of? If Nooyi’s observation is true then there’s a pretty high likelihood that, yes, at times my fears will be realised. I might have to play catch up for a couple of months at work, I’m probably going to have days (and weeks) that are far less promotion-worthy than those before I had a child. And yes, there’s probably some form of loss, damage or missing out that’s happening on some level of my little girl’s growing awareness.

And I actually feel better already.

Hear that? It’s acceptance. And I think it’s just the ticket women need to cope with fear. Whether yours is tied to kids, your job, your relationship status or bank balance I think accepting what we’re afraid of, in fact, makes it less scary and helps us take back the power.

Enter ACT.

Not our nation’s capital but an emerging therapeutic activity known as Acceptance and Commitment Theory. ‘Act’ as it’s pronounced is basically about building our resilience to failure and fear by accepting the, well, shitty feelings. Accepting what’s out of your personal control and committing to action that improves the situation – your life.

This makes sense to me. Accepting the fear, the out-of-our-control and committing to doing our best to get the job done is enough. And better yet, it’s freedom. If we stopped putting so much energy into avoiding what we fear most and put more energy in to what we want more you’d see a lot more female entrepreneurs around the place.

We can let go of fear. You have at some point before. We all have. If I had never of let go of fear I’d never have gone back to work. I’d never of had a child, started this blog, moved interstate, traveled overseas or married my husband! So accept your fear, find it, feel it and let it lead you to what you really wanna do.

Images: via PinterestLamsweerde and Vinoodh MatadinZephyrance Lou

 

Have versus Happy

I don’t usually get attached to news readers. In fact I’m often guilty of having a chuckle at their expense. I find it a little funny when they turn to their co-host (pearly whites gleaming) and their beautifully blow-dried locks remain anchored in place. I especially love it when the vision and the teleprompter get mixed up. We hear the serious tone detailing the Rudd/Gillard leadership challenge but we see the rough play of cute and cuddle pandas at Melbourne Zoo… it could work I guess?

But this week when Georgie Gardener announced her departure from the Today Show, citing family reasons and the presence of a ‘Grumpy Mummy’, I was kind of taken back. “Wow, she actually admitted it,” I thought.

When someone like Georgie bravely comes out and admits she can no longer balance what many of us might see as a she-has-it-all kinda life, my mind begged the question: can we actually have it all? Is Georgie’s decision just the bare truth staring us in the face that we can’t? Or is it that we can but the ‘all’ part is just a stage we reach, possible only for a point in time, ending when one of the plates we’re balancing just gets too heavy?

I needed answers. I needed to research. I needed to Google.

My girlfriends will laugh at this who know I can’t help but research the hell outta something until I get the answer. And this question I couldn’t let go.

My ‘having it all’ search brought back:

  • ‘Why Women Can’t Have It All’ (Glamour.com)
  • ‘The Secret To Having it All’ (Forbes.com)
  • ‘When Women Have It All’ (Telegraph.co.uk ); and my personal favourite
  • ‘Women, Quite Bitching, You Just Can’t Have It All By 30’ (Telegraph.co.uk )

And then I stumbled on this over on Levo.com:

And after tut-tutting my initial ‘Great. Celebrities giving life advice,’ response I read it. And I wasn’t completely bummed. Despite sitting on different fences of the question these 10 very successful, wealthy and very different women had a theme to their comments: choices and happiness. ‘Yeees,’ I thought. There’s good stuff here but I needed more.

Then, going back to Georgie, I found a great article from iVillage editor, Holly Wainwright, talking about the effect Georgie’s admission had on her. I couldn’t help but connect with Holly’s comments.

Yes, at times (in my weakest and most self-indulgent moments), I do think:

  • that I am working towards a point in time when I’ll have the perfect work/life/family/me-time balance;
  • that other women have already achieved that balance and therefore it does exist and it can be done; and
  • that other women who have this balance are doing it perfectly. Ergo, they have it all. 

But as Holly rightly points out, Georgie called us both out on this.

Maybe what we can’t have is the ridiculous expectation that there are people out there who are ‘Having it all’ and doing it perfectly. Because they’re not. You’re not. I’m not.”

Amen, Holly.

And here it is, our old friend, Comparison. Whether you’re juggling a high profile career and kids, building a business, studying or simply working towards your greater good I think many of us struggle to let go of two things: comparison and the assumption that others are doing it bigger and better than us. I think we can all recall at least one person we’ve placed in the ‘she has it all’ category. I’m guilty of this. And when I do there’s usually a little bit of admiration, a good dose of how-does-she-do-it? and a slight sprinkle of jealously dumped together in a bowl of this bad-as-all-hell-for-you recipe.

Where is ‘She’ for you? Maybe on your newsfeed, all wrapped up in pretty Instagram filters, ‘lovemylife’ hashtags and seemingly perfect images. ‘She’ could be that Mum at school drop-off that drives the fancy car with the fancy-looking husband, the oh-so obedient children living in the oh-so-lovely house. Or ‘She’ might even be your best friend. And because she’s real, and doing it all the way you’d like to you just can’t help but think she’s so much more sorted than you.

Let’s step awaaaay from the life, body, work, business and little-green-monster comparisons. They’re addictive (I see you there, Instagram stalking), they trash your self-confidence and feed more fear and doubt about yourself into your mind than you’re consciously aware. We’re setting ourselves up for failure because it’s impossible to ‘have it all’ if we’re comparing ourselves to others. We’ll never be done.

So my wee little verdict? ‘Having it all’ seems whack. I find most who are asked about it talk about the struggle and the hardship of trying to do it. The articles written about it are a combination of yes, no, maybe, sometimes or it depends. The concept sits on shaky ground. So let’s try this:

Let go of ‘have it all’ and grab on to ‘have me happy’.

Sounds simple, and yes a little ‘Really, is that it?’, but this we can do. As a worry-wart kid I was often distracted by things, other people or anything that wasn’t in sync with what I was doing at the time. ‘You just worry about what you’re doing,’ were my parents’ words and should have been recorded on a mixed tape for how often they had to repeat it. But it’s true. If we’re focused on what we’re doing to make ourselves happy, there’s little time or energy wasted on how we’re comparing to others.

Now, the getting happy part. I get this ain’t always easy, believe me. But in each moment I do know it’s possible to get a little closer to it. Right now, what’s gonna make you happy? What do you really need to do? What’s your mind and body craving? A nourishing meal? Good conversation? Sleep? To say sorry? Inspiration? Maybe even a little help or direction. Step towards it, in anyway you know how. Let go of what others are doing. Just ‘do’ for you, just for now.

It was getting my eyes of other people’s progress and focusing on my own that lead me to practice these baby steps back to happiness. The more I focused on what made me happy, in the moment, the less I felt pressured and frustrated. I felt more energy and had better ability to suss out what was good for me and what was good for the me I thought I should be. It helped break down what to me looked like a marathon into a series of short and delightful strolls. And for this lesson I’m forever grateful.

So take a stroll, right outta ‘have’ and back into ‘happy’.

Images: News LimitedLevo.com, Becca Allen, twitter.com