How to Define Your Version of Success

How we define success can either positively or negatively impact our happiness, depending on the source of influence. So often in life, we get distracted by other people’s/society’s version of success. Feelings of inadequacy and failure are common when success is influenced by subconscious programming from external sources. These subconscious ideas of success from media, our friends or our own family are seeded so deep we swear it was our own idea. If you’ve ever felt a small level of growing dissatisfaction in your life, consider this:

The success you’re chasing might not actually be your own.

The key to reprogramming your definition of success is to shift the source of influence from external to internal. There are two steps to define your OWN version of success that will lead to more fulfillment in your life. Ask yourself the questions below:

Removing what is not your version of success

1. What is motivating me to reach success currently? – Take a hard look at what is driving you. Is it influenced by external pressures to keep up with the Joneses, or seeking approval from family/friends? Is it ego? Is it money?
2. Is my current definition of success the same as people around me? – Success is a very personal goal, and if it’s pretty much the same as those around you, perhaps you’re getting swept up in their version of success and not yours.
3. If nobody was watching/validating my success, would I still be doing what I’m doing now? – A lot of what we do is a direct reaction to how we want others to perceive us. Do you strive for success for yourself or to gain recognition/money/power? If the answer to this question is “no, I would not still be doing what I’m doing now”, go back to question #1 above.

By becoming more aware of external influences that shape your current success trajectory, you can start to remove those that don’t serve your life goals. Shed the noise that’s distracting you from achieving your success.

Identify what success actually means to you

1. Who do I aspire to be like? – Think about the people you admire, what qualities do they have? Are people you aspire to be like successful in particular ways that may not necessarily match with what you see in the media as “successful”?
2. What values and principles matter to me? – Is it quality time with family? Finding a work/life balance? Working in an authentic way that brings you joy? Making an impact on society?
3. If you could start over, what does true happiness look like in your life?  – After clearing what isn’t your version of success, visualize what happiness looks and feels like to you. How do you feel when you think about achieving happiness? What are the things you’re doing? Who is in your life? How are you impacting others? Find the link between your passions, your core values, and how you impact the people you care about in your life = success.

Defining your own version of success gives you a new north star to guide you on your path. You’re no longer distracted or caught up by what other people are doing. Success is not a comparison game, and it’s something that is achieved internally.

If you spend your whole life trying to chase other people’s version of success, you’ll only end up dissatisfied or inadequate.I’ve felt this exact way,after all the promotions, the money, the title, and everything on paper…it was a lonely and hollow “success”. I hope that by sharing the lessons I’ve learned about chasing external versions of success will help you to redefine your own version to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Sending love and light,
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The Words We Don’t Speak

When it comes to voicing our love and appreciation for the people in our lives, how much goes unsaid?  Why is it that we go years without telling people how we genuinely feel about them and how much light they bring to our lives? I’ve experienced some heartbreaking losses in my relatively short time on earth….an uncle to stomach cancer, a good friend to suicide, a grandfather to a stroke, and the list goes on. But the one regret I had across all of them, was that I didn’t get to tell them just how much they genuinely gave me strength, support, and love in my life.

Why do we wait until it’s too late before we give voice to the love stirring in our hearts? Is it laziness? Do we just assume they already know? Do we think it’s not worth our breath?  I suppose it’s human nature to always think “there will be a next time”….until there isn’t. The philosopher Seneca said,

“You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.”

We are not immortal, and there’s no guarantee you nor your loved ones will be around to hear the words “YOU ARE LOVED.”

I intimately know how short and unpredictable life can be, and probably a big reason I live the way I do. However, there is one practice I’ve started to integrate into my life that has changed how I connect with people – friends and strangers alike – and that’s to always take a moment to directly tell them how much I appreciate them. It takes such little effort on our part but could mean so much to the other person. Speaking your truth and spreading love directly into the hearts of the people we care about has an immediate and lasting effect.

Here’s an easy way you can integrate this practice in your life: When something triggers a thought about a loved one (no matter how random), call/text them to say that you’re thinking of them and share specifically why you appreciate the friendship/relationship. I believe these random thoughts are not random at all, but the universe or our subconscious nudging us to connect. Everyone is living their own struggle, and your words could be the light that gives them strength in a moment of need.

Your words are powerful, use it to cultivate love and connection to those around you.

3 Steps to Find Your Passions

Let’s talk about how to find more passion in your life. After asking a few friends about their passions, many seemed to struggle with an answer. They shrugged it off with “I don’t have any passions” or “I haven’t found mine yet”. This was simply not true, as I knew for a fact they had many passions including surfing, design, travel, and music. So why did they think they lacked passion in their lives?

To many, “passion” is a loaded word…dripping with expectations of pure all-consuming excitement for something that also brings meaning and purpose to their lives. However, this view of “passion” isn’t completely accurate. Somewhere along the way, our society has concluded that passion = purpose. However, these are actually two different things.

Purpose is your reason for being; the thing that gets you up in the morning. It’s the driving force in your life that brings you ultimate fulfillment. Passion feeds into your purpose.

Passions are things or activities that get you excited or light a fire behind your eyes. You can be passionate about a number of things in your life that may not necessarily be your purpose. However, starting with passion will guide you to discover your purpose.

 

Finding passion in your life is very attainable. Perhaps you already have many passions and didn’t even realize it. Here’s an easy way to tell, fill in the blank:

I can do/talk about __________ for hours because I love it!

 

If you feel like you haven’t found what you’re passionate about yet, there is a method you could try to distill your passions from interests:

FINDING PASSION STEP 1: Starting With Interests

Make a list of all the things that you’ve ever been slightly curious about. Start to do some research to find out more and see what actually catches your attention. This stage is about gathering information to determine if there’s anything new you’d like to try or learn.

FINDING PASSION STEP 2: Trying Out Hobbies

From your initial interests, pick a few you’d like to pursue a deeper understanding through action. This stage is about trying out or learning a lot of different things to see what interests bring you enjoyment. You don’t have to be the best at it, but if you find that you want to continue to try/learn, it becomes a hobby.

FINDING PASSION STEP 3: Identify the Source of Excitement

Eventually, you’ll discover that some of your hobbies consume more of your time and excitement. Start to become aware of what conversations make you perk up, what activities leave you energized and excited, and what hobbies allow you to be more present and focused. Identify the source of your excitement, and continue to pursue your passions.

I hope this was helpful in finding more passion in your life! Please let me know below what you’re passionate about, or how you discovered your passions?

The 1 Thing to Make Your Year Great

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It’s the start of a fresh new year! I’m willing to bet that most of you have already made a list of new year’s resolutions, milestones, and other things you’d like to achieve this year (like you probably do EVERY year)…BUT, I want to simplify your life by asking you to do just 1 thing. This one thing will create a shift in your perspective that will guide the rest of the year to make it great.

Ready?

Write this down or repeat this to yourself:

I WILL CONSCIOUSLY & ACTIVELY CHOOSE MY LIFE

 

Yes it seems deceptively simple, but let me break down 3 reasons WHY this is effective:

1. It puts the responsibility on YOU

It’s a major mindset change for many because people like to blame external circumstances for reasons why they CAN’T do something. This shifts the responsibility to the “other”…when the entire time YOU have the responsibility to yourself. Even if you have goals set out for the year, you will tell yourself, “oh, well I couldn’t do this or that because I didn’t have the perfect situation or I didn’t have enough time…” ACTIVELY CHOOSE YOUR LIFE = to be active doesn’t mean you let things fall into your lap or let it happen to you…it’s going to take work. But you’re working and choosing for yourself and that’s important.

2. It gives YOU more control of your future

Let me ask you, how many times do you wake up and realize 3 months have passed and you’re not sure what you’ve been doing that whole time? That’s you on autopilot. No matter how great your intention for yourself this year, NOTHING will happen if you live in auto-pilot. CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSE YOUR LIFE = to be conscious is to be aware of every choice you make, even if it seems small. Automatically doing things because you’ve always done it, or saying “yes” to things that you don’t want to be doing or focusing on people and situations that don’t nourish your vision…that’s not being conscious, that’s letting other people decide your future. That’s you not consciously deciding. This year it’s time to wake up and take control.

3. It will help you OWN your life.

It’s ok if you have moments where you feel like a failure – because trust me, you and everyone else will continuously fail – but having the thought that you’re choosing your life makes it possible for you to always course correct and find yourself back to center again. Nobody else is living this life, not your parents, not your friends, not your boyfriend or girlfriend. You are 100% going to choose your life – through the wins and the challenges – it will be authentic because it’s YOURS.
 

If you need a little reminder, I made some free phone backgrounds you can download below. Enjoy!

I wish you all a wonderful year ahead and sending everyone lots of light and love.


3 Best Gifts of Presence (Not Presents)

As families gather and friends reunite this special time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday buzz of gifts, Christmas movie marathons, and enjoying one too many glasses of mulled wine. I’ve been there: I fly home a few days before Christmas, and in a whirl of social catch-ups and a flurry of last-minute shopping and gift wrapping later, I find myself back on the plane with a massive credit card bill, 10 lbs of extra weight from one too many Christmas dinners, and the distinct feeling I didn’t get quite enough quality time with everyone I wanted.

When it comes to holiday gatherings (or any reunions for that matter), are we actually lacking the greatest gift of all – being genuinely and fully present with those we love?

I’m not telling you NOT to give gifts, especially if it’s meaningful and comes from a place of love. I’ve just come to realize how much of our limited time during the holidays is actually spent completely distracted.

Here’s a true story: one year our family went away to Utah for some hiking and skiing – the whole family including cousins, aunts, uncles, and even grandma was there! However, due to demands of my crazy start-up job and my own addiction to my phone, I spent the majority of the time working by myself on my laptop, texting friends, and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. To this day, I regret not being more present in the moment and sharing more amazing memories with my family.

Instead of giving my family my full attention and presence, I’ve squandered a chance to deeply connect.

Here are the 3 simple things to do to stay more present this holiday season:

Presence Tip #1: Put Your Phone Away!

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I know it seems deceptively simple, but when you meet your friends or family for a meal or a catch-up, put your phone on airplane mode. Do not put it on the table, put it away and out of sight (in another room or in your bag). Studies show that even the visual cue of seeing your phone could take your attention away from the present situation. By putting your phone away, you’re honoring your time with the other person and signaling that you value and prioritize the relationship.

Presence Tip #2: Actively Listen

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Part of being present is to fully listen to the other person. This is something I struggle with. When I’m excited, I tend to blurt out everything on my mind, and don’t give pause to really listen to them. I make it a point to ask more questions about them, and try to listen to what they’re saying between the checklist of updates. Are they happy about something? Struggling with something? Where is there an opportunity to connect and be a good friend/daughter/sister?

Presence Tip #3: Live as Though Social Media Didn’t Exist

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How many times have you heard this phrase, “picture, or it didn’t happen”? Our need to constantly document everything can be exhausting. How often has the flow of conversation and energy been interrupted because of an awkward photo, a need to craft the perfect caption, or checking our likes? When we’re spending time with our loved ones, let’s try a bold experiment – try NOT documenting! (Gasp!) It seems crazy, but once you remove the pressure of social media documentation, you’ll find yourself settling into a much more authentic and relaxed flow. It’s ok to let go!

 

I hope these mindful tips will help you connect more deeply with those you love this holiday season (and always!). Tell me, have you tried any of the above? Let me know below.

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Sending lots of love and energy, and happy holidays!

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Be Happier By Letting Go

 

Have you ever noticed how we are all in a perpetual state of chasing? Chasing after the perfect job, the perfect relationship, the perfect apartment. Sometimes the chase is what motivates us, and sometimes the chase is what wears us down. The idea of “having it all” and striving for our definition of a perfect situation is not only unrealistic, it can be quite detrimental to our ultimate pursuit of happiness.

If there are key pillars in any job/situation (Job, relationships, apartment/home, family) there will always be something NOT ideal. You could have your dream job, a fantastic apartment with great friends, but no boyfriend to speak of. Or it’s having that amazing significant other and friends but stuck in a job you hate. When one aspect of your life seems to fall into place, another one seems to slip away. It’s maddening! If you also find yourself frustrated by this, here are some things to keep in mind:

Let Go of Disappointment.

Whenever we want everything in our life to be awesome, we inevitably feel disappointed when one part of our lives isn’t working out. Instead, pick something you CAN let go of. What is the one missing link you’re ok to do without? Or at least, ok with it not being 100% ideal. Accepting this will inevitably lead to a healthier perspective and possibly keep us from chasing our own shadow. Remember that disappointment is a self-inflicted wound.

Let Go of Perfection.

There’s no such thing as the “perfect life”, so we need to let go of this idea. Sure your job may not be saving lives, but does it afford you the opportunity to travel and spend time with friends and family? Perhaps not having a significant other could be frustrating, but at least you have the opportunity to deepen your relationships with your friends and enjoy your freedom. It’s more about focusing on what you do have and accepting that it’s ok not to have everything all at once. Life is a constant ebb and flow, and things will always find a way to balance out.

Let Go of Judgement.

Trying to seem like you “have everything together” isn’t about what you think of yourself. It’s a reaction to how you think others may perceive or judge you. You worry that others will think less of you, that you’re not smart/pretty/successful/rich enough. Here’s the brutal truth, nobody cares. Everyone else is so concerned about their own lives that the people that actually matter to your life WILL NOT JUDGE you. It doesn’t matter to them what car you drive, what your business card says, or what you look like — if you live genuinely and try your best to be a good person to the people around you — they don’t care your life isn’t “perfect”.

 

Next time you find yourself in an endless pursuit of the “perfect” anything, stop and take stock of what you can let go of for the sake of your sanity and happiness. Is this something you also struggle with? Any other perfectionists out there?

 

Life is a Sand Mandala

Years ago, I witnessed my first sand mandala ceremony. What exactly is a sand mandala? A Tibetan Buddhist tradition, sand mandalas involve painstakingly placing millions of colored sand grains into intricate geometric “paintings”. After spending days or weeks to complete the beautiful design, the monks deliberately destroy the mandala to meditate on the impermanence of life. Continue reading “Life is a Sand Mandala”