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I woke up early the other morning, well before dawn as I usually do. Excited to start my day and begin my morning routine which has become a sacred ritual for me.
And then I felt it. That tell-tale sign that something is off balance for me. I woke up with a stiff neck, one of those pains where it aches to turn your head to one side. To the left side, always, to be precise. The significance of it always being to the left is beyond the scope of this blog, but I’m sure that could be a fascinating inquiry in it of itself as to what that means…
But regardless – my strained neck and me – we are old pals.
I am well acquainted with being a hustler, as long as I can remember, I’ve been an expert in muscling through to achieve the next goal I’ve set for myself.
That neck ache is a telltale sign that I’m working too hard.
I believe our bodies always know. We all feel the whisperings of what our bodies tell us when our heads don’t want to listen. Whether it’s a chronic back pain, migraines, heart palpitations, pain behind the eyes, hair loss, or something more simple, our bodies reveal what we refuse to acknowledge to ourselves.
It makes sense that my neck has been aching. I’m on the precipice of launching my biggest business launch to date, the second cohort of my UNBOUNDED mastermind, a component of my business that has become very dear to my heart. One I ardently believe in.
And things aren’t on schedule. We’re behind on some aspects of the launch and my inner perfectionista has been peeking out on high alert…
In the past, those neck spasms have irritated me to no end. I’ve ignored them, medicated them, and punished them through working harder, working longer, and hustling on.
These days, it’s different.
I have immense gratitude for this snappy little ache in my neck. Because it’s a reminder of what I created this program for in the first place.
To give up the notion that we’re going to get where we’re headed doing things the way they’ve always been done. Exponential growth requires exponential change. For me, too.
We have a misconstrued notion that that means we need to work harder and longer. But the opposite couldn’t be more true.
We need to work smarter, more strategically. Leverage our gifts not our inner suffering.
I know that this concept is one we know intellectually and is simultaneously hard to interpret and sometimes implement. I am no exception to this very human condition.
This is why I am such a deep believer in self-care. Self-care is a tactile concept we understand, and it is a practical component that we see the tangible impact of.
Self-care is a BIG concept and there are many places to start. Here are 5 of my favorites:
The way you begin the day is the way your day will go. If you want to make business decisions that serve you, say no to others in order to say yes to yourself, shift your inner people pleaser, then I cannot reiterate enough how important it is to start your day with you. When you are grounded and centered, you will show up as the best version of yourself.
Countless studies and books have been written on this topic but don’t take our word for it, try it out for a week. Commit for one week and schedule your alarm clock one hour earlier, just 5 total hours over a week, and notice the distinct experience of your day. I’ve written many articles on this, here’s one that includes the most recent iteration of my morning routine.
When I first started writing my bestselling book Belonging: Overcome Your Inner Critic and Reclaim Your Joy, I wanted to title it “I Just Want to Date Myself.” Learning how to spend and enjoy quality time with myself rather than consistently being task and work-oriented was such a game changer for me. It was a powerful practice in beginning to meet my needs and desires for myself rather than consistently expecting others to meet them for me and feeling disappointed when they did not.
Have fun with this – what do you love to do, what is your dream date you keep waiting for your partner to take you out on?! Set a date in your calendar, I dare you. One of my UNBOUNDED masterminders goes to open houses for multi-million dollar homes on her dates with herself as a visualization practice. I love the idea of dating your future self this week.
Self-care also includes honoring your time. When you allow yourself to work and when you don’t. I used to jump out of bed ready to work and raring to go each day as I’m already a morning person and love what I do. What I discovered is that when I started my day spending quality time with myself, it not only allowed me to enjoy my work more deeply, but I was incredibly more efficient and sourced while taking on all of the other business tasks (the not so fun tasks) I resisted and procrastinated on. A couple great practices to support with honoring time boundaries are environmental ones.
I have a beautiful antique milk-glass desk lamp that I only turn on when I’m working in my office. At the end of the day, I intentionally close my laptop and shut my office door as a reminder – no more checking work email and refraining from social media. On the weekends, I minimize social media alerts and refrain from business communications. I have seen time and time again throughout this pandemic that honoring our own boundaries around time and work-life balance has never become more urgently needed.
A friend of mine recently launched an online marketplaces where she features personal development and mental health practioner’s tools and resources. Having attended a workshop I led on creating your ideal schedule, she asked me to upload my ideal schedule tool (one of my absolute favorite tools I’ve created!) on her marketplace. When I did, she encouraged me to include a sample of my ideal schedule to give her audience a visual.
I must admit I was embarrassed sharing my own ideal schedule – what would others think of how little I work, or how indulgent it seems. Those inner judgments are the very saboteurs that hold us back from living life by our own design. There truly are no rules about how we choose to live our lives, shifting that mindset is the first step.
We all need communities to help reflect our gaps and our inner critics. It is human nature to be our worst critic and speak to ourselves in ways we wouldn’t dare to speak to our loved ones. As I’ve been capturing testimonials from the women in this year’s UNBOUNDED mastermind, I’ve been struck over and over again how being part of a nurturing and supportive community with like minded women has been one of the greatest gifts of the program for them.
We all deserve to be part of communities where we belong and have others reflect our gifts and strengths. If you’re a women entrepreneur and know you would benefit from this, UNBOUNDED 2.0 will be launching soon. When, you may ask? I’ll let you know as soon as my team tells me we’re ready, and until then – I’ll be in the bathtub soaking my neck and trusting in all the support structures I’ve put in place to ensure I don’t muscle through this time!