No matter how many years we have been out of school, the beginning of September always feels like a fresh start.
If you are working in the corporate space you are starting to think about Q4 targets and deadlines and how you want to end the year.
Maybe September looks like the start of a new job for you, or living in a new space. Maybe this new fresh start is coming in the form of an exciting travel adventure, a new project at work or an exciting new romance.
Whichever resonates with you - they all have in common the idea of setting an intention. They involve thinking about something that you want to create in the future and then deciding what action steps you should take right now in order to make that thought become a reality.
Since all of our thoughts carry energy, being mindful about the thoughts you think will help drive the actions you take and bring your dreams into reality.
Want to harness this exciting 'new' energy and kick start September and Q4 off right? Follow these steps to make it happen.
1. Make a plan: Take a look at the next 4 months in your calendar and start to visualize and write out your intentions for this final quarter of the year. Ask yourself what do you want to achieve by the end of September? November? 2019? Work backwards with your goals to create bit sized action steps that will support you reaching your goal.
2. Write it out/ vision board: It's SO important to actually write out your goals and take it one step further to create a visual representation of them so that we see them every day can be massively impactful. While you're doing this, journal also on WHY you want to achieve this new goal. Who can you enroll in your vision to help bring it to life? What purpose do you want it to serve?
3. Embrace the NEW: If you're diving head first into something new this month here are a few words of advice... stay curious and ask questions about your new job, new neighbourhood or new travel destination. Remember to embrace the here and now. It's easy to get caught up in things too far off in the distance when we are in new situations. The best way to mitigate that is to bring yourself back to the present moment and be where your feet are.
4. Trust yourself: Remember that where you are now is likely where you wanted to be 6 months ago. Trust that you intended for whatever is happening to happen and if you didn't, it is happening because there is a lesson to be learnt. Trust that whatever new things are coming your way are for a reason.
If you are looking for love, validation, anything really - you HAVE to find it in yourself first. You become a mirror for what you attract. Looking for love? You have to love yourself first so frickin much that you emit that feeling wherever you go. It will become a contagious energy and others won't help but notice!
The same goes for confidence, trust, or any other redeeming quality you are looking for. The rule applies to negative feelings too. If you have a lot of conflict, miscommunication, or distrust happening in your life right now you better be sure to look within yourself first to ask why this may be happening. Yes, the people around you do play a role, but you also must take accountability for your actions and take responsibility for the life you want to live.
When I was looking for love, and realized I wasn't finding what I wanted by repeating the same patterns, I decided to do something different. I decided to take radical responsibility for what was happening (or wasn't happening in my life). I realized that in all the places that I was looking for love and not having it work out, the one common denominator was ME.
What, now?! Yes you heard me. I wasn't getting the result I wanted so I decided to get out of my own way, because after all, the relationship you have with yourself is the longest one you'll have in this life time. So I hired a coach, did some deep personal growth work and decided to let go of conditioning that I had adopted that wasn't getting me what I wanted. It was NOT easy, but it was so worth it! I had to face my shortcomings and work through them so I could find the romantic love I was looking for. And guess what...I did! And I've never been happier in my relationship with my man and the relationship I have with myself. I became my own best friend and this tool along with these are a great starting point to giving yourself the big love that you deserve.
Tools for loving yourself
1. 50 things: Get out your journal and write 50 things that you love about yourself and be don't forget to be specific about WHY you love your long eyelashes, or that you're great at leading meetings or can cook or have an amazing laugh. My bet is that once you get rolling, you'll find 50 MORE things than you thought. Pump yourself up because YOU are incredible.
2. Write yourself a love letter: Everyone loves a hand written note so now is your chance to write yourself one! Get cozy and write from the heart. You can also do this exercise and write from the perspective of someone who loves you.. sister, mother, father, best friend... and write what you think they would write in a love letter to you. Chances are you already know what they would say and how awesome is it that it will come from within you first. Once the letter is written, keep it on hand to read on those down days when you need a little pick me up.
3. Say 'I Love You': Each day, and for most of us, several times a day when you are brushing your teeth, look at yourself in the mirror when you're doing this say I Love You to yourself. Bonus points if you can do it through the tooth paste ;) Silently in your head has the same affect too.
4: Become your own best friend: Best friend don't put each other down, they lift each other up. Become your own best friend by talking to yourself how you would your bestie, treating yourself to that mani/pedi or delicious baked good or new pair of shoes when called, and don't forget to spend quality time with yourself just like a would a friend.
When you look at your life and the world, what do you see? Do you see beauty in unexpected places? Or do you see chaos and dark clouds in broad daylight?
A few weeks ago we talked all about choice and having the power to hone your thoughts for the better. Today, we are practicing what we preach and taking the same idea of choice and seeing it through the lens of perception. If you missed the choice chat you can catch up here.
You consume a myriad of information all day long. It's up to you to choose how to perceive it. The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is in how you look at the situation. If you're on a road trip and you get lost along the way you can perceive it as a blessing because it led you down a beautiful road or to a cute town you wouldn't have discovered. It can also be seen as a waste of time and trigger frustration and negativity.
Or at work one day a client reaches out to reschedule a meeting you spent days preparing for. One perspective could be to indulge in frustration and be irritated that it rocked your carefully curated timeline OR choose to see it through a difference lens and understands it just wasn't meant to be that day and use that time to work on something else.
When we shift the lens of what we see things through, everything around us shifts as well.
Want to give it a try? Here's how.
*Disclaimer: If you are dealing with any sort of mental health issue, we understand that the above may not apply to you and completely respect your condition.
1. Wait: When a situation arises, instead of jumping to a reaction, analyze what is happening and wait to respond. When we respond from a calm mind and a relaxed body, it's often easier to see a different perspective than if we are riled up and stressed out.
2. Details or Big Picture: Have you ever been asked if you were watching a train pass in front of you, would you focus on the car in your sight line or would you see the whole train as it moves by? This can help determine if you're a detail oriented or big picture person. Once you figure out which one you are most of the time, challenge yourself to flip your natural way of being to explore another perspective. This will give you an opportunity to either widen or narrow your view.
3. Reframing: Thinking about how you want to feel after a presentation at work, during a stressful part of your day, or while weathering an unforeseen communication storm between friends or family... take a minute to think about how you want to feel and ask yourself what you need to think in order to feel that way. Right there you've reframed the situation and you can continue along the path of feeling the way you want to.
4. Make a change: Physically change what you're looking at! Maybe you need to see it from a different angle, maybe through a different pair of metaphorical glasses or in a different space all together. Taking a (short or long) trip is a great way of doing that. Changing things up will help you see a solution you wouldn't have otherwise seen - think of a Rubik's cube!
We are each gifted with an incredible superpower. Its something that is always with us no matter where we go and if honed, has the power to transform our life is we are willing to listen.
Our intuition is that gut response, that tug tug on our heart and the feeling when you just know. Our intuition comes before the fears, doubts and limiting thoughts... it is our soul trying to make contact and guide the way.
A few things I've learned about intuition along my journey is that once you see, you can't unsee, meaning when your intuition sends you an answer to a question it will go from a whisper to a scream if you if you don't take action on the message.
When I was younger, I always dreamed about living in LA. I loved the vibe, the warmth, the nature and the people. Flash forward to my adult life living in Toronto where everything in my life was going well but I still had a nagging feeling - "don't forget about your LA dream." It didn't make much sense to move. I had a ton of friends and family, a thriving business and owned my condo and was not American, but still I heard that voice. So I listened.
It took a lot of work to move past the fear and doubts I had about moving to another country, far from friends and family to run my business in a place where I had to rebuild my community from scratch. After taking the leap, it was like the little voice inside my head let out a great big ahhhhh and I am armed with the knowledge that when you listen to your intuition, anything is possible.
Our intuitive gifts are not just available to some, we all have the ability to access this power, however you must learn how to get quiet enough to listen. It can take time to develop the discernment between our fear and our intuition, and to know which internal voice to listen to because it isn't always the rational one.
What to lead with your intuition but aren't sure how to start? I've got you covered.
Harness your Superpower
1. Tune in: Our intuition is often the loudest when we get quiet. Build time into your schedule where you are truly in silence. Turn off your music, put your phone on airplane mode, remove yourself from the distractions of Netflix or even a book and just sit with yourself. The longer you sit the more your mind might drive you crazy, but once it settles, what's left behind is the soft quiet voice of your soul.
2. Write it out: Often our intuition comes out through automatic writing. I practice this by journaling out my thoughts first thing in the morning as a free flow of whatever comes through. If you're searching for an answer to a question or guidance on a decision, try this tip. Write out the specific question or situation you want guidance on as the last thing you do before you close your eyes and hit the pillow. When you wake up in the morning, before turning on your phone, brushing your teeth or even getting out of bed, grab your journal and write down whatever comes up. This is the voice of your intuition, before you have had the chance to fill your mind with the noise of the day. Chances are what you're seeking will come through on the page of your automatic writing.
3. Feel: We have 85 billion neurons in our minds, 100 million in the gut and 40, 000 in our hearts. We fall into the pattern of only listening to our minds when there are other centers in the body to inform us of answers. Feel into what the body has to say. An example is a feeling in your gut as a warning when something is off or an openness in your heart when something feels in alignment. When you go about your life, notice how things feel in your body as opposed to how you mightthinkabout then in your mind.
Last week we talked all about control and what we actuallyhave control over in our lives (instead of perceived control). If you missed it or want a refreshed read , you can check out the full post.
Today let's explore the flip side of control, the concept of surrender.
The most popular book on the subject is Michael Singer's The Surrender Experiment, which is his own personal story experimenting with practicing surrender. He decides to no longer let his personal fears and desires dictate his life and decides to surrender to what life had in store for him. This radical decision lead him to both challenges and successes, all the while on a journey of living life on his terms.
Surrendering into the flow of life is something I've worked hard on over my years of being an entrepreneur and despite what it seems, still continue to work on. Surrender is not something that came naturally to me, being a perfectionist with an A-type personality. I've had to learn where to soften into what is, to let go of the control that I thought that I had and to adapt to situations as they change.
It is NOT easy and will always be a practice but it is SO WORTH IT.
Here are some tips I've collected on the way and found super helpful.
Tips for Surrendering
1. Life is happening FOR us not TO us: This simple change in perspective has allowed me to surrender into nearly any situation that comes my way, knowing there is always a lesson and purpose even in the challenges. This has allowed me to be okay with the natural ebbs and flows of life.
2. Releasing timelines + expectations: SO much of our disappointment and desire for control come from preconceived notions, expectations and timelines we've set out for ourselves in an attempt to control outcomes. There is usually a bigger power at work on our behalf, so each day it's important to notice where you're projecting your expectations, holding onto a timeline and taking yourself out of the present moment. Experiment with letting that go focus on what is going well. See if anything changes.
3. Determine what you can and can't control: In any given situation there are things you CAN control and a lot that you can't. You can always control how you respond to situations, the thoughts that swirl in your mind and ultimately how you move through your day. That's it! You can't control what others are thinking, how they will behave or what external situations come your way, so by focusing on you and what you can control for yourself, you ultimately surrender the rest.
4. Make no plans: Full surrender might not work for you all the time especially because as humans we thrive on structure and boundaries. One way to bring surrender into your life slowly is to block off 1 afternoon, or evening a week where you make no plans and have no agenda. Dedicate this time solely to yourself and ask 'what do I want to do, and what does my body need', and see what comes up. Surrender to what you need or desire in that moment and play around with what happens. Maybe you find yourself somewhere you never expected or in a different situation than you're used to. The possibilities are endless!
Your own personal architect
Let's talk about control...
There is SO much in this life that is out of our hands and that we truly have zero control over, yet we drive ourselves crazy thinking we do.
Have you ever stopped to think about what you do have control over? The truth it's actually not much, except for what is happening in your own mind.
Focusing energy on controlling your thoughts helps you to understand yourself better and also helps get the desired results in your life.
There is so much evidence to support the power of positive thoughts. When you choose good thoughts, it literally raises your vibration. You attract more positivity and opportunity in your life, and they are literally healthier for your body, mind and soul than negative ones.
Negative thoughts are like junk food, they feel SO GOOD to indulge in and are often the path of least resistance but at the end of the day, week, month, year, they leave us feeling empty, with lower energy, and attracting more negativity which then perpetuates the downward cycle.
Neuroplasticity shows us that what we think, do and pay attention to, changes the structure and function of our brains. Meaning that what you focus on expands.
Think of your thoughts as the architects of your destiny. When you choose ones that are positive, they help build and create the destiny and life that you're dreaming of.
Are you ready to take more control over your life?
Here are four simple ways to keep your thoughts positive and on track to building out the life of your dreams.
1. Surround yourself with positive people: We are the sum of the closest people to us. Take stock of who you spend the most time with in your life. Is their attitude positive or negative? How do you feel energetically around the people you spend the most time with? Do they raise you up? It's important to spend time with positive and inspiring people, because guess what, positivity is contagious!
2. Intentions: Setting an intention at the beginning of every day is a great way to refocus on creating positivity and striving towards your goals. Take a few minutes each day to write out how you want to feel.
3. Practice Forgiveness: Humans aren't perfect, and no matter how hard you try to think positively all the time, that just isn't realistic. When a negative thought comes in, begin to practice forgiveness and self-love. Be aware of the thought, forgive yourself, then let it go and strive for choosing positively the next time. Progress over perfection always.
4. Do activities that make you feel happy!: This may seem like a no brainer but I'm telling you, we often FORGET to do things that make us smile! Toss on your favourite tune and sing and dance around your kitchen, get outside and move your body, LAUGH, watch a funny movie... whatever it is that raises the corners of your mouth, do it often to keep the vibes high and the living fun :)
Have you ever planted a seed in your garden?
Do you come back the next day and think - why the heck isn't this seed a full plant or flower yet?!
If you are anything like me, you have probably done something like that once or twice before...
We consciously KNOW that it takes time for a seed to grow into a full plant. But when it comes to the seeds we plant in our lives, we are often a little less patient.
I've been learning about vertical leadership development and what it takes for us to grow from one stage to the next.
A key trait of an interdependent leader (the highest tier) is the ability to take yourself off the roller coaster of emotion associated with success and failure and embrace uncertainty as a constant.
An interdependent thinker thinks strategically, has a longterm vision and actively ENJOYs and appreciate the process of creating something new and watching it grow over time.
Essentially, and interdependent thinker learning how to enjoy the process of tending to his or her garden, knowing that there will be both bloom and death.
So let me ask you...
What kind of thinker are you?
1. Dependent thinker: You are generally a conformer, a team player, a faithful follower, reliant on authority, seek direction and align with others.
2. Independent thinker: You are an achiever, someone who is self-directed, drives an agenda, takes a stand for what you believe in, and are guided by an internal compass.
3. Interdependent thinker: You are a collaborator, you see systems, patterns and connections, are a longterm thinker, hold multi-frame perspectives and holds contradictions.
Check out these reflection questions to support your 'thinking' about how you think!
1. Which definition did you most relate to and why?
2. What longterm goals are you working towards?
3. Where can you bring more patience into your personal or professional growth process?
4. How can you enroll others in your vision?
5. Are you actively celebrating small wins while staying committed to the process?
This week with Canada Day & the 4th of July happening, two holidays that celebrate freedom and independence, I've been thinking a lot about what freedom means to me.
Freedom is having the ability to act or change without constraint. It is the ability to think and do what you want without consequences. It is the gift of just being as you are.
Freedom can also be applied to choice. Having the freedom to create your own work schedule, freedom of creative expression, choosing who you love, where to live and what faith you believe in. Freedom comes in choosing courage over comfort, love over fear and living a life with intention.
I've been extremely blessed in my life with the privilege and citizenship that gave me the freedom to choose these things and where I felt able, safe and supported to make choices for myself that embodied freedom.
Others have not been as lucky. I am ready the book The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, a 91 year old Holocaust survivor who endured time in Auschwitz and lost both her parents and beloved to the war. She was robbed of all of her choices during that time except the ability to choose her mindset.
Her story is incredibly inspiring to me. It shows that no matter what situation you are - you always have the ability to choose.
This week, whether you are Canadian celebrating Canada Day, American honouring the 4th of July or from somewhere else in our big beautiful world, I invite you to reflect on freedom and what it means to you with the following journaling prompts.
1. How do you define freedom?
2. Where in your life do you feel free to be exactly who you are? Where do you not?
3. What can you do to be more free this summer?
4. How can you celebrate the aspects of your life that are full of freedom?
5. How can you support others in feeling free?
Ahhh summer, can you feel it in the air? The days are nearly at their longest, energy is palpable, and nature is in full bloom.
We as humans are a part of nature, so naturally, as the seasons ebb and flows, so do we. With the Summer Equinox coming in a few weeks I can feel the winds of change bringing in this fiery new season we anticipate all year long.
Summer brings in more energy which means that we are generally more productive or creative and also tend to want to socialize more. You may feel called to take risks, stay out late enjoying time with friends, travel, take advantage of summer Friday's at work, or indulge in happy hour on a patio. We are truly solar powered beings, so with more hours of sunlight, we take the sun's rays and turn it into energy we can use.
Have you thought about what you're going to do with the extra daylight hours?
If you're like me, I ALWAYS want to do ALL THE THINGS, and this get's magnified in the summer. I am all for taking advantage of this surge of energy, however it's helpful to be strategic in order to maximize the time you have, not get burnt out or overwhelmed and fully take advantage of all summer has to offer.
Make the most out of Summer
1. Set an Intention: There is so much we can take advantage of each summer; social events, celebrations, trips, that long list of things you kept putting off all winter. Setting an intention and creating a prioritized list of what you truly want and can realistically accomplish will help keep you focused on what is truly important.
2. Schedule in down time: A tricky one to do anytime, but it's extra important over the summer. This is our time to enjoy the energy, but also to recharge so we can carry forward this momentum into the Fall and Winter. The sun acts like a huge battery charging us up so make sure you get in some times to soak up the sun, relax, read a book and chill too.
3. Stick with your non-negotiable routines: I've talked about non-negotiables before + lately about morning routines to help me ground before the day begins. While you may feel relaxed during the summertime, don't let the important habits you have put into place fall to the wayside. Maintaining your healthy behaviours will help to stay on track and avoid a crash in energy once the summer ends.
4. Use Nature's Momentum: This time of year everything is growing and there is a budding life force pulsing through everything around us. Use that creative energy to work on your own projects! Try a new activity! Make new friends! Summer is a great time to grow your skillset both internally through externally.
Are you in the habit of prioritizing your own needs?
I play around with the concept of selfish/selfless all the time. We think that being selfish is bad, but showing up for yourself, asking what you need, and speaking your truth is the most important thing that you can ever do.
So let me ask you.. do you do everything for everyone else before doing the things you need for yourself? If that's true, it's OK, and recognize how important it is just to notice that this may be a habit for you.
Being an entrepreneur, this is something that I've had to learn how to navigate. When my business is built on supporting others, there is nothing more important to do in my day than take care of myself first. This past weekend I lead 25 incredible leaders through the 6th edition of SPACE Retreat and it was incredible. I taught people how to live in their 'zone of genius' that place that feels effortless AND propels you to success.
Facilitating these retreats are where I am in MY zone of genius zone - BUT - the day after I host, I always take a day to take care of ME and I make sure to schedule it in.
Now you might be thinking, this sounds great and all but what does this actually look like in real life when there are a million things to do, people to answer to and expectations to live up to?
Here are the strategies that I use.
1. Morning Routine - I can't stress this one enough. Waking up a few minutes earlier to have some quiet time alone and unplugged, is the most helpful tip to start your day. Leaving your phone on airplane mode until after you'd had time to tune into yourself is a game changer. Maybe this looks like a walk, a meditation, writing a few pages in your journal, enjoying a cup of your favourite hot beverage or some daily yoga stretches to get the day going, this is the definition of putting yourself at the top of your TO DO list. I recently wrote a blog sharing my morning routine, check it out here.
2. Speak up - When something doesn't work for you and compromises plans you've made, communicate it! People will treat your time with more value if you start to as well.
3. Give yourself permission - All these tips are great, but they will truly only make an impact on your life when you ALLOW them to. That's right, you have to give yourself permission to receive these benefits and to know that you DESERVE to put yourself first, and that it isn't selfish - but truly an act of LOVE. So write it out for yourself if you have to, put sticky notes all over your apartment to reminder yourself that YOU ARE ENOUGH and that you give yourself PERMISSION to take time for you every single day.
Samara Zelniker is a yogi, wine drinker, pet lover and travel junkie.