Change the way you feel by telling a new story

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Right now at this exact moment, there’s a subconscious story you’re constantly telling yourself about your life.

If you’re like me, you once were telling yourself how accomplished and cool you are now that you have your license and are cruising around in your very own car!  You felt proud and excited with that story running through your head.

But by now that story has faded into the background and has been replaced with new stories.  Maybe now it’s about how dirty and old your car is, and that story subconsciously makes you feel unsuccessful every time you get in it.  Or maybe it’s how much you love your car, and that makes you feel appreciation and enjoyment.  It’s not a literal story you spell out every time you see your car, it’s simply something that lines the back of our minds and makes us feel a certain way when triggered by something.

This week it’s about remembering that it’s not the car (the circumstance) that is making us feel anything — it’s the story we’re telling ourselves about it.

It’s that way with everything in life.   Even the most self-aware of us always get mentally trapped by stories we tell ourselves.

This week is about telling a new story.

There’s probably a particularly painful story you’ve been telling yourself about something.  Maybe it’s something in the past, currently happening now, or something we are anticipating.

If it’s in the past, that thing is no longer hurting us directly.  It’s our story about that event that is causing pain in the present.

If it’s future-oriented, we are already projecting a story onto something that isn’t actually happening yet.

If we are telling ourselves a painful story about our current situation, we will suffer through our present moment.

Why spend our precious life telling ourselves stories that make us feel bad?

This is a reminder to us all that we don’t have to suffer so much if we choose not to.

This day, this week, all has a story attached to it that is running through the background of our minds.

The first step is to identify the story that is causing us the negative feelings.  What genre would it be classified as: Tear-jerker? Horror? Drama? What is it that you’re telling yourself about something or someone?

The second is to realize that when this story is played in your mind you feel a certain way; just like when you read or watch a story, it affects you!

The third step is to decide whether we want to keep feeling this way.  If not, then we either decide to lay off that story for a bit, or telling ourselves a new story.

Choose to try out a new genre.  Perhaps action, romance, comedy, or inspiration?

Instead of telling a story of sadness and victimhood, see if you can find one that is about picking up the pieces and having hope and resilience.  Instead of the angry story, see if you can find the version that is forgiving or empowering or consciously choosing to let it go for the time being?  Or instead of telling ourselves an aggravating story about whatever it is we know we must do, find one that feels more peaceful, vibrant, purposeful — or whatever feeling it is you want to feel!

It’s about realizing that everything we feel is because there’s some story we’re telling.

This week we can choose to tell a new story, rewrite old ones, or discard them completely.

Alright guys, go out there and tell yourself something worth feeling!

How to enjoy the hustle

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We often assume that once we “make it” — get to that place, achieve that thing, find that person — that everything else will magically fall into place for us.

The truth is that when many people finally reach that high point in their lives, they are surprised to discover that they’re not as elated and floating through the clouds with beacons of sunlight streaming through their hair, as they thought they’d be.  They learn that with higher accomplishments come a new set of problems to be overcome, risks to be reckoned with, and new comfort zones to be overstepped.

If they had not taken the time to learn to be happier while they were rising up (and yes, happiness can be learned) they inevitably find that their success didn’t automatically change them into a happier person.  Success was not a cure all.  In fact, it highlighted all the weaknesses they always struggled with, but now the stakes were much higher, and as a result they were just as stressed as they were while they were trying to get there.

Here’s the mind blowing thing that I’ve discovered:  Underneath it all, what we really want, isn’t just success — it’s the feeling we think we’re going to have once we get it.

All we’re really after, is a feeling.

No matter what your picture of personal success looks like, you probably want some version of a few of these feelings:

Fulfilled, worthy, excited, accomplished, confident, proud, amazed, impressed, joyous, free, productive, and in love.

That’s what we really want.

Here’s a hypothetical:  What if I told you that you could have everything you ever dreamed of — both material-wise and accomplishments — but you could not have any of those feelings that I listed, and in fact you’d just be feeling dull and troubled most of the time?

Most people wouldn’t see in the point.

What’s the point in having everything if you don’t get to feel good?

Just to clarify — I’m not telling you to give up on your dreams and just learn to be happy with what is.

What I’m 100% saying is to go for your dreams as hard as you can, while learning to be happy and feeling good with what already is.

Yes, we can definitely do both!

So how can we be feeling good about our current place when we also know that we have bigger hopes and dreams for ourselves?

“How can I be working hard, busting my ass, overcoming obstacles, getting out of my comfort zone, taking risks, facing uncertainty… while feeling good about it?”

While there are many approaches to this, one that I’ve recently taken a liking to and been putting into practice is something I call The Afterglow.

We are all so driven by visions of Our Big Glory — getting that starring role, seeing big numbers in our bank account, having an endless wait list of high-profile clientele, seeing that big project become a success, and basically arriving at the point in our lives where we imagine everything will feel great and fulfilling and easy.

In contrast, the afterglow isn’t that big glorious moment where all of our dreams have come true; instead it’s small glorious moments that come after we do something that was worth doing for ourselves.

It’s that happy buzz and energy boost we get after physical exercise.  It’s the gratitude, joy, and excitement we get after we accomplish something that points us in the direction we’re trying to go.  It’s the adrenaline that courses through us when we overcame our fears and did that thing we know we needed to do.  It’s the relief and peace that comes from finally doing something right and well.  It’s the quiet satisfaction from knowing that we didn’t listen to our fears and bad habits, and instead buckled down and practiced discipline and being true to the work we know we need to do.

These variants of joy can come from doing something seemingly mundane as cleaning up the house and basking in the aesthetic calm, to finally doing that intimidating thing you’ve been worrying about and preparing for, for months.

These moments of feeling good after doing something true to our path, is the afterglow.

The problem is that we often quickly brush it aside, because we start to compare it to our vision of Big Glory and think about how far we are from it.  We don’t want to feel too good about our little accomplishments now, because it’s not our ultimate success.

But why?

I think we should allow ourselves to bask in the pleasure of our “little” accomplishments, because it is much deserved, and we’re growing and doing something good for ourselves, and we mustn’t write that off.

Allowing ourselves to enjoy the moment after a good work-out or finishing a difficult task is a beautiful and powerful thing, because it builds motivation and momentum for the future.  Plus, we get to enjoy the present moment!  And that’s all we really ever want.

So I’ve been allowing myself to notice and bask in the afterglow of whatever task I do in my daily work towards the big glory.  I focus on what I have, rather than what-isn’t-yet.  This little shift in focus make an enormous difference in the way I get to feel about myself and my work.

The majority of self-creation coaching is about how we are choosing to focus.  Sometimes the tiniest of tweaks can make the difference between feelings of lack and feelings of accomplishment.

Feel good now!  Continually choosing to fully feel the afterglow will undoubtedly lead to bigger and bigger glories.

Redefining Success

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This week I invite you to think about how you’re measuring yourself: what is your definition of success and how is it affecting you?

As driven creatives, we have a lot to compare ourselves to in terms of how we feel about our work in the world, and how we feel about ourselves.  It’s so easy to look at what other people are doing and get very distracted from our own work.  With a single glance at social media, we suddenly start believing we’re not far enough along, our work isn’t good enough, nobody cares, we’re wasting our time, we should be more successful, what we do doesn’t matter, and so on.

The scary part about this is that we start thinking that we’re just being real with ourselves.  We think that it’s necessary to not sugar-coat reality when we see others who are already living their dreams.

And it’s true (as I was saying in last week’s post), that it is so important to get real, face reality, and admit the stuff we need to change.  So yes, it’s very important to admit the things we could be better at, and that we have the power to change our habits if we wish.

BUT.  Getting real also means realizing that how we think and feel about ourselves, directly affects our work in the world.  From our attitude, to our creative output, to our entire experience of life.

Getting real is also being honest about HOW you’re measuring your level of success — which is really such an individual thing to be defined — and how it is affecting your work.

When you’re judging yourself with a socially defined idea of success, and you don’t feel you measure up, you are using a very unreliable tool to measure with.

Society is obsessed about the End Product.  We love “overnight success” stories, rags-to-riches tales, and looking at lifestyles of the rich and the famous.  We’d rather look at the beautiful houses and luxuries of successful people, than pictures of them when they were living in a tiny apartment with 5 roommates and struggling through the first two decades.  We’d rather admire them as who they are now, rather than who they started off as and all the different personal-growth stages they had to evolve through to realize their current level of achievement.

All the hard-work, the long hours, the let downs and self-doubt, the public transportation, the multiple day jobs, the dissatisfaction and patience and putting in the work even when you feel like crap — that’s not highlighted because that’s not very “sexy”.

But I think it’s sexy.

There’s something very appealing about someone who is working towards what they believe in, no matter what it is… and being faced with set-backs and difficulties, and they’re still hustling and dreaming and doing the work through whatever chaos life throws at them.

So let’s create a new perspective.  

When you measure and define your success as: how true you’re being to yourself, how hard you’re working, and if you’re bringing your best possible self to the world; then that creates a much different vibe than if you’re looking for all the external validations as measure of your worth.

We can see ourselves as rags that aren’t making the riches.  Or.  We can see ourselves in the middle of our rags-to-riches journey.  We’re just in that middle stage, and we’re grinding and growing and hustling and learning.

And that should be our measure of success.  Because we’re doing it.  We’re working on making it happen.

Our goal should be going to bed each night and being able to say, “I DID it today.  I worked on my dreams and I’m bringing myself on this journey no matter what.  I’m DOING it.”

And that is what everyday success looks like.  When you know you’re living your truth and doing what you, personally, know you gotta do.

So it’s about paying attention to where we’re putting our focus, and allowing ourselves to define success as a measure of our daily hustle, rather than that glamorized end-product.

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Monday Briefing: Doing something different

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This week is about facing reality.

Not about thinking how it’s someone else’s fault.  Not about the same sad stories.  Not about the easiest, most numbed and painless way to get through the day.

It’s not about doing the same old things and ending up in the exact same unsatisfied place you’ve ended up every single week.

This week is about doing something different.

It’s about looking at the truth — the reality of what you really want — and then looking at what hasn’t been working.

This isn’t about getting down and angry at ourselves, but about simply being curious, open, and honest.

 

It’s simply looking… and noticing:

My fear of what that certain-somebody might think, is the biggest thing holding me back.

I keep saying I want to do more but by at the end of the night, getting buzzed takes priority over the precious free hours I have.

I spend more time digging into other people’s lives and comparing myself to them, when I should be working on my own goals.

I am tired of feeling helpless by blaming others when I know I need to start taking responsibility for my own life.

I want to stop feeling victimized by something that has already passed, and start creating new opportunities for myself.

It’s not that I really don’t have the time.  If I watched less TV, I could be much further along.

I’m tired of feeling impatient and negative all the time; I want to start practicing more gratitude for what already is and feeling positive and good again.

 

Just choose something that’s gnawing at you, and fully admit that you do have a desire to change.  That you’re tired of the same pattern, the same fear, the same thought loops.

Again, this is just about being open, curious, and honest.

Just see what isn’t working — what you could make a change for yourself, if you choose to do so.  If you chose to take full responsibility for the kind of experience you are having.

Write it down.  I know it seems like overkill, but putting this down visually in front of you, tangibly and unmistakably, is a powerful thing.

Now read it, hold it, and know that you have the power to switch this up if you really, really wanted to.

Know that you have the power to change up any of these seemingly daunting and uncharacteristic things: if you really wanted to.

We all have this great power, but it’s so easy to forget in the craze of life.

So this is just a little reminder.

Facing your reality is remembering that you have full creative power over your experience.

Everything you do — even if it’s a deeply ingrained habit you’ve had since you were 5 years old — can be changed up the way you want it, IF you care enough.  If you want it bad enough.  If you want to eventually have a new, better experience of your life.

Again, this is simply looking.  Realizing, writing it down, and looking.  You don’t even have to change anything yet.

Just hold it in your hand and realize how much power you have over your life.

You are not stuck if you can do this.

Simply look at your reality.

Now go forth and hold that power with you this week.

 

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Monday Briefing: The platform for your empire

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Where is your focus?  How do you want to feel?

Most people never ask these questions.  They just start grinding away without first getting their mind straight, and then wonder why they’re already stressed out and it’s only Monday.

If you want the driven, vivid, creative-life, you’re going to have to see yourself as the master — you are the artist, the director, creator.  Passive auto-pilot is not an option if you want to achieve those dreams your way.

If you don’t get your mindset straight at least once a day, you will be susceptible to getting thrown off course by mediocre things, and next thing you know you are flailing around feeling down and unmotivated.

This week is in your hands.

It’s about turning off the auto-pilot and getting behind the driver’s seat.

It’s about taking a few minutes to focus and get very clear about what it is you’re trying to do here.

You need to tell your brain exactly what it needs to focus on and look for.

Are you going to tell it stories about how sad everything is?  Then that is what your brain is going to look for as soon as you get out of bed, and the next thing you know you are feeling utterly misanthropic before you even leave the house.

Or are you going to tell your brain stories about how much good has happened so far, and how much good there is to be had right now?  Suddenly you’ll start seeing all the good surrounding you, all the possibilities will become apparent, your creativity will kick in and you’ll slowly be building a solid and higher platform to launch your week from.

It’s about taking one thing at a time, individually, instead of looking at it as a whole and getting intimidated.

Where do you want to put your focus?  How do you want to feel?

Don’t underestimate these seemingly simple questions.  The moment you stop managing your focus and slip back into an auto-pilot of looking for all-that’s-not-happening-yet, you will be destroying the platform you built and begin digging yourself a self-pity hole.

So keep asking.

The moment you start to feel ‘blah’, ask yourself where you want to put your focus right now.  Take it one moment at a time.  Start consciously focusing on something better, and slowly rebuild that platform.

Remember, your empire is built little by little each day, even though you may not feel like you see it yet.

You are the master, the director, the one who’s going to make it all happen or not.

Stop digging a hole and start building that platform.

It’s all where you put your focus.

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