Who Are You Giving Away Your Power To?

There are a few core philosophies that I feel have made a huge impact on the trajectory of my life. 

One of those core philosophies is the idea of ownership

To me, ownership is the idea that while we are not always responsible for the circumstances that life throws at us or the cards we are dealt, we ARE responsible and in control of how we react in any given moment. 

Life is a series of unpredictable questions, but ownership is about accepting that we get a say in how we answer them. 

The first time I made this realization, it also occurred to me just how many excuses I was making in my life: 

"I can't be a designer because I don't have a formal degree or training.”
“My creative voice isn’t as unique as xyz artist.“
“I’m a really sensitive person and rejection hits me particularly hard; that's why I'm not putting myself out there more.” 

Those things may or may not be true, but one thing is sure: I was using them to opt myself out of things I really wanted. 

It took me a while to see that self-limiting thoughts like these were really my way of choosing the easier route in my life. 

Yes, I said easier. I know, I know… if you’ve ever found yourself in a spiral of self-doubt, it certainly doesn’t FEEL easy, does it? 

But the truth is, if we accept our perceived limitations, we never have to push ourselves beyond what’s comfortable, and that can be the easier choice. It means we never have to rise to the challenge of overcoming those limitations. Of pushing past what we think is possible. Of OWNING the fullness of the life we’re capable of creating for ourselves. 

See, with ownership comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes fear — fear of failure and carrying the burden of potentially disappointing ourselves. 

But, trust me, what we risk in taking responsibility for our lives is far outweighed by what we stand to gain — our POWER.

There are SO many times in life when we surrender our power to other people or even things. 

Here are a just a few examples of ways we all can give away our power without realizing it: 

To a significant other… 
When we put the responsibility of feeling loved on the actions of a partner, we forget we have the power to love ourselves. When in a relationship, it’s natural to get caught up in what that person is or isn’t giving you, but in doing so you could be setting yourself up for always feeling disappointed, or even worse, unlovable. We have the power to make ourselves feel loved and cared for first, and realizing that power can often lead to more fulfilling and sustainable relationships. 

To social media… 
When we determine our self-worth based on the number of likes on a photo or the number of followers we have, we're letting arbitrary numbers and an algorithm dictate the confidence we have in our work. We're giving an app permission to take our power -- the power we have to cultivate our personal taste, to authentically love what we create, and to experience the pure joy of the creative process. 

To our parents… 
When we make choices about our careers or the path we choose based on what our parents want for us (not what we want for ourselves), we give them the power to dictate our happiness. We can still be grateful for the lessons they've taught us while staying true to where our hearts lead us.  

Think about it — the list goes on and on, in moments both big and small. 

The bad driver on the freeway who you give the power to steal your good mood. The teacher who said that one thing that one time and who still has you questioning your talent. The peer who you secretly envy and who diminishes your confidence because you keep a close eye on their work. 

Each of these instances feels like it’s connected to an emotion we can’t control, but in truth WE are the ones that leave the door wide open for these feelings to creep in.

So what do we do instead? How do we reclaim the power we have to control our own satisfaction, confidence, and love for ourselves? 

By choosing to focus less on the validation we crave from others — whether it be a partner, a family member, a friend, or a stranger on the internet — and more on ways to find validation within ourselves. 

We do it by wearing that outfit that feels edgy or quirky but that makes us feel beautiful. 

We do it by sharing our creative work and not looking at how many likes it gets. 

We do it by silencing the self-critical tapes on repeat in our heads and rewriting them with compliments to ourselves. 

We do it by remembering that no one else on this earth has to walk the path of our decisions each day, only we do. So, though people close to us may not understand every move that we make… respectfully, we can choose not to care all that much anymore. 

So, this week I challenge you to ask yourself: Who or what are you giving away your power to? 

And, what’s perhaps more important -- what is one way you can take it back? 

Wishing you all a powerful and confident week!  

 
 

One Simple Exercise To Recalibrate Your Life and Business

For eight  glorious days, Jason and I went on vacation to the island of Moorea, French Polynesia, to celebrate the paying off of our debt this year.

During our trip I did my absolute best to stay off of technology (hence the lack of newsletter), knowing that I wanted to give myself fully to the present moment during our trip.

I’ll be honest with you guys, this trip could not have come at a better time. I could feel myself approaching that familiar feeling of burn out right before we left.

I don’t know if it was just the creative hangover from pouring so much of my heart into Color Your Soul (which is unfolding beautifully, but still takes a lot of energy to produce!) or if it was just the changing of the seasons and a natural lull that hits occasionally for all of us creatives.

Either way, I was itching to take a step back and really sift through my life, business and creativity to see what was lighting me up and what wasn't.

Before I left, I found myself entertaining a never-ending deluge of uncertain thoughts:

Should I pour more effort into promoting Color Your Soul, or keep letting it grow organically?
Should I keep up my Abstract Affirmations Daily project even though I feel it’s no longer serving my creativity?
Should I stop doing monthly classes and instead move to live-only classes?
Should I pack up and just move to Tahiti permanently? ;)

A should-ton of shoulds, don’t you think?

To take back some semblance of control from my should-spiral, I tried approaching these big sweeping questions rationally. I tried thinking my way through it by putting my big girl business pants on. I thought about time vs. money and profitability and all that very adult, reasonable stuff.

But that approach just didn’t feel quite right. My business pants have always played second fiddle to my core-truth/intuition pants and that’s the way I keep myself aligned to a path that feels most vibrant. (Note to self: Intuition Pants = future business idea.)

Finally, after a few days of relaxation and SPACE and not forcing myself to “figure things out” on our vacation, I picked up Danielle LaPorte’s book The Desire Map on my Kindle. I knew of the basic core desired feelings philosophy from reading her other work, but I’d never really gone through the process of laying out my own in concrete terms.

This framework -- one that was actionable and concrete but still very soulful and heart-centered -- was exactly the catalyst I needed to work through this block of mine.

I’m sure I’ll be sharing more of how this philosophy is helping point me forward in the future, but for this week, I wanted to share one very simple exercise that actually helped me get my grasp back on what was working for me on a daily basis and what wasn’t. What was leading to my core desired feelings and what wasn’t.

One major feeling that I immediately identified as essential to how I want to feel on a daily basis was FREE.

Freedom to me represents doing what my core feels pulled to do rather than what I feel I have to do or should do. Freedom to me feels light, energetic, satisfying, unencumbered, and fluid.

So, half-way through the book, I I took out my one notebook I brought with me on my trip and I made two lists: MORE and LESS.

What did I want more of in my daily life and what did I want less of?

What things light me up that I can pump up the volume on and what things dim my light that I can start to remove?

What makes me feel more vibrant and what makes me feel more gray?

Two lists. It’s that simple.

Here are some examples from my lists:
 

More:

  • Freedom
  • Stillness
  • Connecting with other soulful creatives
  • Long walks with my favorite podcasts
  • Morning meditations
  • Lazy weekends
  • Writing
  • Checking in with myself regularly
  • Panting when I want to
  • Trusting my instincts
  • Viewing experimentation as productive
     

Less:

  • Deadlines
  • Urgency
  • Self-isolation
  • Obsessive notification checking
  • Morning email checking
  • Using weekends to “get ahead”
  • Second-guessing
  • Pushing myself to burn out before I check in with myself
  • Painting because I “have to”
  • Consuming the work of other artists/business owners
  • Viewing experimentation as failure
     

Writing these things down in these very specific terms and differentiating what made me feel free versus what made me feel constricted was key to getting back to my core self. It was like my compass had been gathering dust and with this one exercises I was able to see which way was North again.

Now even this long list can start to feel overwhelming pretty fast, like you have to make all these trades and swaps RIGHT THIS MOMENT. But that’s a recipe for disaster. I’ve come off of these breaks before and tried diving back in head-first, which only leads me right back to where I started: burned out.

So instead I’ve just chosen two swaps to try: morning mediations instead of email checking; and cutting back on my inspiration sources so I can reconnect with my own instincts.

Next Monday I put 5 minutes on my calendar to revisit this list and check in with how I’m feeling. (Okay, I guess that fits under “more checking in with myself regularly.” Huzzah! One more on the list!)

My challenge to you this week is to do the same. Take 5 minutes and write down your own more/less list.

Then, if you’re feeling frisky, head over to Instagram and share in the comments one swap that you intend to make this week to follow what lights you up instead of what dims your light.

My hope is that we can all encourage one another there and, by sharing, we can all remind ourselves that this journey to becoming vibrant is a DAILY journey, one that takes constant calibration.

The journey to becoming vibrant is a DAILY journey, one that takes constant calibration.

 

One HUGE clarifying thought that came to me on this trip is the reminder that this flux of flow and doubt, of growing and then re-assessing, is at the heart of the creative journey. It does not stop. This is not something to “figure out” or a puzzle to finally solve; it is something to constantly come back to and tend to.

Just remember, you don’t need to take a week or fly to a distant land to reconnect to yourself. You can make that space anywhere, anytime if you choose it.

Wishing you a week of more light, less stress.

 
 

The Hidden Key To Cultivating Confidence

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We all want more confidence in one way or another.

Whether you want the confidence to make and share your art, to build your business by selling your services or growing an audience, to negotiate for more money, to feel good in your own skin, to speak to a large group of people, or take a big risk… we all have a hunger to feel capable and safe from rejection. That’s what confidence does for you. 

But where does it come from? And how do we get more of it? Well, that’s what I want to explore inside Color Your Soul, but today I want to share one tiny nugget that has helped me approach projects and risks in my own life with a bit more confidence.

Flashback to when I was 22, fresh out of college by just six months, and I was having a serious conversation with my mom. Right after graduation, I’d broken up with my boyfriend of a year to start dating Jason (scandalous, I know), and we had been navigating the fun but uncertain waters of a new relationship while doing the long distance thing -- him back in Jacksonville, and me in Durham, North Carolina.

Things were going well with us but not so great with my new job. In short, I hated it. After just six months at an esteemed advertising agency, I decided I couldn’t stand one more day in a job that didn’t utilize my creativity, and so I quit.

The serious conversation with my mom was about my big decision to quit my job and move back to Jacksonville, to MOVE IN with Jason. I remember the look of fear and worry on my mom’s face for me. Wasn’t this all a bit sudden and was I sure I wanted to do this and what would happen if Jason and I didn’t work out.

There are so many things I was NOT confident about back then but I will never forget the unshakable certainty that I felt about that decision to move back to Jacksonville and start a life with Jason.

I was nervous, but I was confident I was making the right decision. HOW?

So many times I’ve asked myself where that unexpected assurance came from in an attempt to unlock some hidden secret about this mysterious thing called confidence.

Was it because I knew Jason and I would work out? Heck no, I had no idea. Was it because I was too naive to think of all that could go wrong? Maybe, but I’d been in other serious relationships and it’s not like I thought they were always sunshine and rainbows.

Upon looking at it further, I realized that the reason I was so confident about my decision was this:

I knew that if it didn’t work out, it would be painful, but ultimately I’d be okay.

I think this knowing -- this belief that YOU can be your own protector -- is the hidden key to cultivating confidence.

Imagine any big (or little) risk in life as though it were an image of you jumping off a cliff into a beautiful, but shockingly cold, lagoon of water below. That’s what a risk feels like, right -- tempting, but scary because you don’t know what will happen when you hit the water, you don’t know what it will feel like when you take flight off the cliff. That’s when you start to think maybe it would all feel much more comfortable and easy to stay on that ledge forever.

Oftentimes when we think of confidence, we focus on the feeling at the top of the cliff, that moment of courage that we need to work up in order to actually leap. That moment is where confidence ends up, but I don’t think that’s where it comes from.

I think confidence actually lives at the bottom of the cliff in the lagoon.

Confidence resides in the belief that we'll be okay regardless of what is on the other side of uncertainty.

Confidence resides in the belief that we’ll be okay regardless of what is on the other side of uncertainty.


It is the voice that tells us that we can take the risk, we can leap off the cliff, because despite not knowing what waits for us below, there is always a safety net. That safety net is YOU.

When I was just starting my design business back in 2014, one thing I struggled with the most was sending out proposals. This is where I basically had to declare what I think I’m worth as a designer. I would write and rewrite the final project estimate 20 different times because I lacked the confidence to tell someone exactly how much I deserved to be paid. I would fixate on that moment when my potential client would open up the email and look at the price tag, and I agonized over what their reaction would be. Would they think I was arrogant and way overpriced? Would they think I was an amateur and way underpriced?

I struggled with this for months until Jason finally gave me some powerful advice: Don’t focus on the moment when they open the proposal; focus on the moment when they email you back with a no.

As you write that final project total on your proposal, he said, ask yourself: If they say no, will I feel good about the value I’ve placed on my work?

What? Seems like strange advice doesn’t it. Focus on the rejection in order to build your confidence?

What it did for me though is it allowed me to confront my fear of rejection head on and confirm that even if that potential client said no, I wouldn’t fall apart. It put me back in control of my own worth.

And THAT is the key.

When you know that you have your own back no matter what, that’s when you can confidently move forward, even if you’re afraid or unsure.

We all have the tools within us to provide this kind of comfort and protection for ourselves. But in order to use those tools, we have to acknowledge our our power.

We have to take back ownership of ourselves from all the places we’ve divvied it out to -- to our families, to our relationships, to our social media followers, to near strangers on the other end of a proposal email. We place the delicate matter of our own self-worth in their hands, which leaves us feeling incapable and vulnerable to feelings of rejection.

But once you finally make that shift and decide you are the ultimate judge of your own worth -- that you have the ultimate say in who you are and who you become -- that’s when you carry the confidence of a person with a built-in superhero at their side.

Confidence isn't just about acting in spite of your fears; it’s trusting you’ll put yourself back together if those fears come true.

Here’s a sketchbook piece I created inside this month’s Confidence issue.

 

It is my own reminder that I can be my own safety net. I can cultivate enough trust with myself to know that even if I take a risk and it doesn’t work out, I won’t allow a momentary feeling of failure or rejection stop me from moving forward.

My confidence lives in the knowing that I will never abandon myself.

I hope yours does to.

Your challenge this week is to choose one area of your life in which you'd like to feel more confident.

I want you to write down all the fears that affect your confidence in that area. Then I want you to respond to each fear with how your inner self-worth superhero will take care of you if those fears are realized.

I believe that actually confronting your fears head-on and reminding yourself that you will be okay regardless of if those fears come true or not will help you move forward more confidently in reality.

I have so many more thoughts on this topic I want to share with you guys, but I'll leave it at that for now.

Thanks so much for reading! Wishing you an empowered week!

 
 

Why Creating a Shared Vocabulary Is Crucial To Effective Communication

Have you ever found yourself in a situation with another person where you felt completely incapable of communicating? Like nothing you were saying was getting through or being construed in the way you could see it in your head?

I know I have, and the situation that immediately comes to mind for me is my relationship with my partner, Jason.

Now most of you have heard me talk about Jason in these letters before, and rightfully so because he is 100% my other half. For six years now we’ve been living together, working together, co-parenting our fur-child Plaxico together, spending literally 95% off our days together, and it’s led us to develop a deep mutual respect and love for each other. We really are that “best friends” couple cliche.

AND YET, while the rainbows and butterflies of any relationship are nice to talk about, that’s never the full picture, is it (despite what the news feeds of the world might suggest…)?
 

Maintaining a healthy and happy relationship is NOT easy. We’re two separate humans with two separate perspectives (and two separate gender-specific biology) and all of that means we have to work hard to communicate our way through challenges and disagreements so that we emerge stronger and closer together, not weaker and further apart.

Over the years there have been so many hard conversations, one’s where it felt like we were two strangers in a foreign land, speaking separate languages AT one another without a word of understanding between us.

Why Creating A Shared Vocabulary is Crucial To Effective Communication / via Made VIbrant

What I’ve learned over time is that in order to remedy this, in order to communicate in a way that will actually move a conversation forward, you have to begin by creating a shared vocabulary.

Let’s take the language most of us probably know if you’re reading this right now: English. The only way that I’m able to share my thoughts with you in an effective way every week and actually get my intention across is because I, the sender of this message, and you, the receiver of this message, agree on the basic definition and meaning of each word (aka the building blocks) of this message. Our shared vocabulary allows us to see this message from a fundamentally similar perspective so we’re able to connect.

But, when this isn’t the case, when two people are trying to communicate without a shared understanding of the building blocks of the message, that’s when the wires get crossed and everything turns to noise. The message can’t connect.

I think this is why a book like The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman has found itself on the bestseller list for YEARS. This book acts like a dictionary of physical and emotional cues between partners that creates that essential shared vocabulary. It gives two people in a relationship a way to define and bring shared meaning to certain behaviors which gives them a way to talk about their needs in a way that BOTH people can understand.

So what about expanding that beyond relationships? What about creating a shared vocabulary between you and your friends, or family members or even customers?

In Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong, she proposes a simple tip for helping to create that shared vocabulary between two people that leads to understanding. When you find yourself feeling hurt (which we can all agree is the criteria for 99% of disagreements or conflict in relationships) you can say the phrase: “The story I’m telling myself is…” in order to voice those inner stories floating around in your head constructed from that hurt place.

In a conversation with a best friend who hasn’t called you back it might be “The story I’m telling myself is that I’m not important enough to make time for.” That adds honesty and context to the conversation which can open up the lines of communication between you and a friend that may just be going through a particularly tough time and needs space. That simple phrase helps bring shared meaning to the time between phone calls, a signal that could be interpreted way differently by both people trying to communicate.

In the case of Jason and myself, probably the most stark of our differences is the fact that I am an exceptionally sensitive person and he is an exceptionally stoic person. It’s something that brings balance to our partnership, but it also creates difficulties in communicating too. Over time though, we’ve been able to develop a shared understanding around each of our emotional biases to situations. When I feel hurt or down or particularly sensitive, I’m able to let him know it’s not because of something he did; and when he responds to a situation in a way that might feel unemotional, he’s able to let me know it’s actually not because he doesn’t care. This shared vocabulary has allowed us to add texture and awareness to each other’s perspectives so that we can talk through any challenges in a constructive and mature way.

Working through things this way may be harder than just reacting, but every day we inch just a little bit closer to the middle of the emotional spectrum so that we can understand each other better.

It might sound silly, but I believe this simple concept can even help you in business. By clearly defining a few simple ideas for your audience or customers first, you can create a clearer, more powerful line of connection between you. It’s why I always talk about what it means to live a VIBRANT life, or what it’s like to be a soulful creative. This is the shared vocabulary that brings an even richer, more nuanced level of understanding to our conversations.

So, whether it’s your partner, a family member, an employee or coworker, or your customers, if you want to get your message across, communicating with a shared vocabulary is essential in reaching a mutual understanding. 

Communicating with a shared vocabulary is essential in reaching a mutual understanding.


My challenge to you is the next time you find yourself in a conflict, disagreement or a simple misunderstanding with someone, before moving forward ask yourself if you’re operating with a shared vocabulary.

See if you can dig in and first bring awareness to the building blocks of the message you’re trying to send. Are their assumptions at play that need to be verbalized? Are their emotional differences and perspectives that first need to be communicated?

Communicating is most effective when you’re on the same page, and that’s all a shared vocabulary does. I know it’s helped me have more meaningful conversations and interactions in my own life. So while I continue to learn and navigate my own interpersonal relationships, at least I know the ones I am able to cultivate are built on a foundation of effective communication.

Thanks for reading, as always, and check out the latest news and updates on all things Made Vibrant below!

 
 

How To Determine When A Fear Is Worth Facing

If you caught last week’s newsletter with all the latest Made Vibrant news then you know I had the awesome opportunity to fly up to San Francisco this past week to film an online class with the team over at Brit + Co.

It was SUCH a cool experience getting to collaborate with a brand I’ve admired for so long, and I didn’t hesitate to use the chance to pick their brains about everything from producing content to marketing online classes. I feel like I learned so much in just two days!

I’ll be writing up a full behind-the-scenes post on the blog this week if you’re interested in hearing about the full experience, but for today’s newsletter topic, instead I wanted to focus on one very REAL emotion that bubbled up for me behind the opportunity: FEAR.

Yep, you heard me. As much as I’d love to say that getting an email from your dream collaborator is all sunshine and rainbows and heart emojis 💖, you guys know I like to keep it much more honest than that.

The truth is, when I got the email from their team asking me if I was interested in becoming an online instructor, of course my first emotion was excitement, but that excitement was quickly followed by a strong sense of fear and anxiety.

Would I be good enough? Could I deliver what they were looking for? Would I use this opportunity to its fullest potential for my business?

Despite spending literally YEARS trying to reprogram myself not to fall into this trap of trying to live up to other people's expectations of me, there are still plenty of times when that ol’ Achilles heel rears its ugly head and I can feel the pull of wanting to please other people in every part of my being.

In fact, would you believe me if I told you I actually considered saying NO?

It’s not that I wasn’t thrilled to be asked -- I was -- but I had just started my summer hiatus when I got that first email and I was finally starting to feel the benefits of taking up a slower pace. No anxiety, no pressure -- just creating and exploring and unfolding.

I worried that taking on a project with these kinds of mixed anxieties would distract me from my mission.

Still, the other part of me felt like this was the perfect challenge for me to push through those fears and really test myself to see if I’ve evolved past needing the approval of others. I wondered if I could find a way to calm my nerves and actually just enjoy this for what it was: an exciting learning opportunity and a chance to collaborate with a fun brand.

That very fork in the road leads me to today's topic, which is one that hopefully all of you can relate to in one way or another...

When you encounter something you're afraid to do, how do you know when to say YES and conquer your fear or say NO and avoid the anxiety?

Listen, I don't typically prescribe advice like... "Oh that feels hard? Well just AVOID it altogether! That will work!" I know avoidance can be unhealthy and repressing emotions can simply lead them to pop up in all sorts of fun places in our lives.

BUT on the flip side of that, I also don't think it's necessary to put ourselves through suffering -- whether physical or mental -- for the lone purpose of proving to ourselves (or others) that we're some kind of badass fear-conquering warrior princess (or prince.)

For example, I have an irrational fear of open water and large sea mammals (see: whales, manatees, sea lions, etc.) When we moved to San Diego, I got talked into going snorkeling with sea lions near La Jolla with friends. I was literally terrified but I kept telling myself this was a fear I wanted to overcome (not realizing I was really just afraid of looking weak in front of my friends.)

I agreed to the excursion which resulted in me basically frozen and treading water in the middle of La Jolla cove, having a full on panic attack at the thought of one more seaweed plant entangling me or one more sea lion sneaking up on me. (Really take in that scene for a moment, and feel free to giggle if you must -- looking back it’s a pretty ridiculous thing to relive.)

The point is... that was NOT a good experience. Did I conquer my fear? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell no!

I should have trusted my gut when it was telling me this was something I would not enjoy, but instead I let the peer pressure get the better of me.

Not every fear needs to be conquered. Not every challenge is worth taking on.

So then, like I said, how do we know the difference between fears that are worth facing and those that aren’t?

Well, the truth is, only YOU can fully grasp where your fears come from, what it takes to face them, and when you’re ready/willing to go to that place or not.

BUT, I have come up with a rule of thumb that might help in gauging whether a fear is worth facing or not.

Since so much of the dissonance in this dilemma is created by how we believe other people will perceive us, the first thing I try to do is eliminate that from the decision altogether by asking myself this question:

"Would I still want to conquer this fear if no one would find out about it?"

Asking yourself this question can help you get to the bottom of what’s driving you to confront this fear: the experience OR the validation?

For instance, with the Brit + Co class, I close my eyes and I imagine what it would be like if I filmed the class and for some reason it was never released. What if I could never tell another soul that I filmed it? Would I still say yes to the opportunity? Would the experience itself still be worth facing the anxiety?

Ultimately, my answer was yes. Despite knowing that I’d be nervous and at times I might doubt myself, I knew this would be the perfect chance to improve some of my skills and learn new ones about filming content, teaching course material, producing online videos, marketing my classes etc. And I genuinely did want to prove to myself that I could find a way to work with a bigger brand that I admired while not losing my confidence in the process.

I’m SO glad I made that decision because I was able to prove to myself that I could step up to the plate under pressure (which allows me to build trust, and in turn, confidence, in myself). I was able to still find a way to enjoy the process and be myself, which is major progress in the people-pleasing department for me.

I used this same question recently when I was asked to give a speech at an event, something that is definitely exciting, but also something that brings up a good amount of anxiety for me. I kept wondering, should I say yes or should I say no?

It felt like such a hard decision until I asked myself that ever-important question (experience or validation?) and realized the ONLY reason I was drawn to say yes was the visibility and notoriety of the event. I felt like it was an opportunity I SHOULD want, only I realized I really didn’t want it.

The time that I would spend overcoming the anxiety of preparing a 20-minute speech for this event would only take creative energy away from the projects I do love and that do bring me immense joy (and little to no fear.) So... I politely declined. 

Though I know it may not be a popular opinion...

Not every fear is worth conquering, and not every opportunity has to be seized.

Not every fear is worth conquering, and not every opportunity has to be seized.

 

You get to choose which moments are worth pursuing in order to stretch your capabilities, and which moments you can casually wave at as they pass you by, knowing that every day does not have to be THE day to get uncomfortable.

Like everything in life, I believe it’s all a balance. It’s a matter of knowing when you’re ready to confront your fears for YOU and when you feel compelled to face your fears for others.

This week, I challenge you to dive deeper into some of the opportunities you’ve been afraid to take on.

Ask yourself where your fear stems from and if you’re ready to conquer it. Finally, use the guiding question above to recognize whether this courage is driven by your own desire to push your boundaries or the perception you want other people to have of you.

If you do that, one of two things will happen: 

Either you’ll finally be able to walk right into your fear and conquer it with the knowledge that you’re TRULY ready to test yourself...

or..

You can shut the door on that fear for now and confidently apply your time and resources to opportunities and projects that you can take on without anxiety, and live to fight the fear another day.

I hope this simple framework will help you the next time you encounter that simple-but-deceivingly-tortuous question: should I say YES or should I say NO?

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

 
 

Why Are We Driven By The Pursuit of More?

The amount of times that I have found myself in a state of complete burnout is greater than I’d like to admit. 

For the past few years, I’d find myself in these stretches of “hustle mode” only to suddenly look up and find everything around me beyond my work was being grossly neglected -- my health, my friendships, my self-care. 

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you have a creative business, this is not a foreign concept to you. 

Let’s face it, sometimes we creatives have a tendency to overdo it while in pursuit of our dreams.

And today it’s that PURSUIT part of the equation that I want to focus on. More specifically, why we feel constantly driven by the pursuit of MORE everything.

More money. More readers. More email subscribers. More fame. More mentions. More followers. (Mo' problems?)

This is a question I’ve had just below the surface for over a year now, ever since I reached the point that I would call “financial sustainability” with Made Vibrant.

In my first year of business (2014), the answer to this question (“Why MORE?”) was pretty obvious:

“Ummmm… because I want to earn a living doing this thing that I love and currently I’m living on peanuts and optimism.”

But, as things started to gain momentum, as I honed my vision and my voice, and as the business started taking in monthly revenue that covered my living expenses, I expected this crazy burning desire for growth to subside.

But it didn’t.

I found myself wanting more revenue, more readers, a bigger presence beyond that which I "needed."

Which again begged the ever-curious, ever-present question:

Why are we driven by the pursuit of MORE?

I come across blog posts and Facebook ads and sales pages and — my LEAST favorite — income reports on a daily basis that promise to show me how I can have a “$50,000 Launch Without A Single Email Subscriber” and “Grow A Six-Figure Blog From Scratch” and “Earn $100,000 A Month In Passive Income” and if I’m being totally honest, it makes me sick.

Not like sick out of judgment and disgust (I get it -- people know those headlines work and they’re just taking advantage of an opportunity they see.)

No, I mean sick with GUILT that I’m not working more hours, creatingmore courses, promoting more places, doing more webinars, writing more blog posts, earning more money. More, more, more.

And you know what the inevitable fallout of feeling like you should be doing more is?

Feeling like you should BE more. i.e. feeling like you’re NOT ENOUGH.

Am I alone in this? OR have you felt it too?

I have trained myself now to pay attention when those feelings show up and to dive deeper to understand them because I don’t know about you, but I’m just not down for a life where I feel less than.

Which is why I went on a hunt to discover if there was any research on this subject of MORE. (I know you guys, RESEARCH. What can I say, I’m really stepping up my game here.)

What I discovered and actually what I determined (because this ain't no scientific journal; it’s my blog and I’ll form loosely supported opinions if I want to!) is this….

The constant desire to reach for more is reinforced to us both externally (culturally/societally) and internally (psychologically).

Externally speaking, we’re fed tons of cultural cues that indicate bigger is better.

We see it in business (this company has 300 employees and a billion in revenue!); in consumerism (buy this! buy that! a bigger house, a bigger TV!); and in the individualism of the U.S. in general (it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there! climb the ladder to the top!) With all of these messages it’s no wonder that it’s engrained in us to constantly have our eye on a bigger everything.

But, culture is ultimately just an illustration of individual values and desires, so what is present within us as individuals that feeds this obsession? 

Turns out, this never-ending growth mentality runs thousands of years deep.

While I won’t drone on to you about all the science of it, the simple answer is thatwe are programmed for dissatisfaction.

Research suggests our insatiable appetites served as an evolutionary survival mechanism. See, back in the day, precious life-giving resources like water and food were in limited supply. To survive, our brains developed hard-wiring that would help drive us to accumulate as much as possible and to stay ever-motivated to be on the lookout for said necessary resources.

In other words: our brains are still operating based on an owner’s manual written in the Stone Age.

And so we find ourselves in this endless loop of excess. Our brains tell us we want more, and our culture/media/corporations feed on that hunger, which only serves to further reinforce this psychology.

This might help explain WHY we’re programmed to constantly want more, but it doesn’t necessarily offer insight as to how we retrain our brains to find contentment in a world where we no longer have to wrestle resources from saber-toothed tigers (thank goodness.)

The truth is: bigger is NOT always better and more does not always mean merrier. 

Bigger is NOT always better and more does not always mean merrier.

Here’s a radical thought: I don’t WANT a million dollar business. Honestly, I don’t.

I don’t want the expectations, the maintenance, the team size, the stress, ANY of it that comes with a business of that scale.

But, even more radical than that — I don’t want to WANT a million dollar business. (And the six-figure blog posts and webinars and Facebook ads aren’t necessarily helping in that regard.)

That’s why I desperately and passionately want to change the conversation throughout the creative entrepreneur/solopreneur/independent whatever-you-call-yourself world from talking about BIGGER to talking about TRUER.

I want to change the goal from more money, more followers, more page views to truer values, truer messages, truer expressions of the unique gifts we have to share.

And I want it to start with a mental shift in the way we frame this PURSUIT.

For this shift (brace yourselves) I have DIAGRAMS. (Research AND diagrams?! I’m laying it on thick!)

Heres’ the current model that prevails in terms of the way we think about progress and pursuit: an endless staircase, always ascending (or as Jason pointed out, it’s actually not even a staircase but a StairMaster because we never ever get to the top.)

We might hop from one staircase to another Harry Potter-style, but the goal remains: ever-upward.

Now I have a suggestion for a new model — a CYCLICAL model. In this illustration, the goal is not to progress upward. It’s to progress inward. To evolve and revolve around this invisible sweet spot where we finally connect what we do with who we are at our core, which is how I define authentic and VIBRANT living.

If we can shift our pursuit from the staircase model to this cyclical model with the intention of building our businesses in a way that lines up with our truest sense of self at any given point in our lives, then I think we have a shot at creating lasting satisfaction.  

So this week I challenge you with this simple but CRUCIAL question:

Are you in the pursuit of growing BIGGER or growing TRUER? 

Are you in the pursuit of growing BIGGER or growing TRUER?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow your business so that you can be financially more stable and stress-free. But just remember the intention behind the hustle. 

Because I believe when the puzzle pieces click into the right place, when you are doing the work that lights you up, the work that makes you burn bright… that’s when you’ll find yourself with more than enough resources, serving the people you care deeply about and loving what you get to do each day.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading from the bottom of my heart.

Here’s to the pursuit of TRUER!

 
 

Using Prioritization to Make Values-Based Decisions

Using Prioritization to Make Values-Based Decisions

Prioritization has reduced overwhelm with my to-do list, helped me infuse more balance in my life by setting boundaries when it comes to commitments and obligations and it has helped me create a money mindset to get out of debt.

Using Self-Awareness To Adjust Your Aspirations

Using Self-Awareness To Adjust Your Aspirations

Examine WHY you want those things and what trade-offs might come along with that. Ask yourself what you can learn about yourself from the things and people you aspire, to not necessarily how you can attain them. The best life is not the one we have to chase down or attain; it’s the one we create for ourselves intentionally, day after day after day.

3 Ways To Become More Adaptable

I’m coming to you live from our new place in Oceanside!

If you’ve been keeping up with my Instagram, you know it’s been a wild week! First we hosted a film crew, Stillmotion, at our house in Poway for three days while they shot a short documentary film on Jason and then it was all hands on deck packing up our things on Thursday night and moving everything over to the new place on Friday.

I’ve never been so grateful to be a minimalist! With the help of our friends Omar and Nicole, the whole process went fairly smoothly (except for my stand-off with one unruly IKEA screw.)

Before we get into today’s email, here’s a group of snaps Jason and I took as we moved in.

 

There are still a few last touches to add (at the top of the list are wall art and a few house plants!) but overall it's feeling complete.

My favorite things about the place are, obviously, that view, all the natural light, and my dedicated art studio space on the first floor!

With this being our second big move in basically a year's time, there were some familiar feelings/thoughts that bubbled up as I settled in to our new environment this weekend:

This feels new. This feels different. Everything is unfamiliar. Where do I fit here?

Just like a musician trying to improvise with a band and pick up a new song, I've found that it takes a moment to find the rhythm of a place. To make sense of it all and slide yourself seamlessly into the mix.

But I love that process. I LIVE for that process -- the process of taking in a new environment or new circumstances and adapting to fit with it.

Which got me thinking about the importance of adaptability in life and in business.

When Jason and I met, one of the first things we connected on was our openness to change. Jason moved around a TON as a kid (living in seven different cities before college) and having to make new friends every year at a new school will definitely teach you a thing or two about being adaptable.

While I didn’t have to cope with geographical change (living in just one city), our family dynamics were always changing and evolving. My parents divorced when I was very young and remarried other people (twice in my dad’s case) so there were always new living arrangements, new step siblings to get to know and new bunk bed configurations to figure out .

We both agree that while this kind of childhood had some downsides at the time, now as adults we can appreciate all the change we encountered for the role it played in strengthening our adaptability muscles.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how integral this quality has been to creating the lives and businesses we desire and to being content in each new phase that emerges.

We're always experimenting, always changing, always ADAPTING.

But that doesn't mean it's easy. Just like I mentioned above, our lives take on a certain comfortable rhythm, which can be helpful in aiding us toward our goals. Change sometimes feels like it interrupts that rhythm. Whether it's something as big as moving across the coast, or whether it's something as small as our go-to grocery store closing down, when change hits, our beat gets off track for a second.

What I want to share with you today are three ways I've learned to become adaptable in my life, and how you can minimize that "off-beat" time period so that change doesn't throw you off your own rhythm.

3 ways to be more adaptable in your own life:


1. FOCUS ON THE GAIN, NOT THE LOSS

Learn to see change as an opportunity, not just a challenge. 

My friend Eric Proulx made an incredible documentary a few years ago called Lemonade about people in advertising who were laid off during the financial crisis in 2008. While it wasn’t easy for any of them, those that made it out of that big change happier were the ones that came to the conclusion that getting laid off was actually an opportunity to finally pursue what they were really passionate about. They focused on the freedom they gained, not the stability they lost.

This approach doesn't have to apply to something as life-altering as losing your job. For example, when we moved away from our house at Poway, I could have focused on all the things we'd be losing: two acres of open green spaces, the privacy of having so much land to ourselves, etc. But focusing on all our new place is "missing" would only stall me from fully embracing this new chapter. By putting all of the past behind me and focusing all the positives that this new environment will bring, I can minimize that stall factor.
 

2. USE THE ENERGY OF NEW-NESS TO BUILD MOMENTUM

You know that feeling we all get when January 1st rolls around every year? There’s an energy in the air that feels like pure possibility. Not only does the year feel new, but suddenly it feels as though we could be new too. The novelty that comes with the turning of a new year makes us feel like the past has been wiped clean. We're starting fresh. That’s the kind of energy I want you to think about when you encounter a big change.

Use the novelty of a new place or new routine or new job to give your own motivation a boost. Lean into the new-ness and let it catapult you head-first into whatever goal or future you want for yourself.
 

3. FIND YOUR CONSTANT

Bare with me for a second, but are there any Lost fans in the house? Remember when the show got all weird (okay, it was always weird) and doubled down on the whole time travel thing? Well an important part of the plot was this idea of a "constant" -- something that a character traveling through time cared deeply about that their mind could latch onto so it wouldn't unravel from the chaos of floating across space and time.

I think that very same logic applies to coping with big change. To prevent yourself from feeling completely lost in all the new, unfamiliar variables that change can bring, it's helpful to find a few constants that can make you feel comfortable and ease you through a big transition.

For me, that constant is my simple morning routine: wake up with natural light, drink my cup of coffee, take 20 or so minutes to read a book, eat breakfast with Jason, write down my focus for that day, and then launch into work. Starting my day off with this simple series of steps that bring me joy makes me feel at ease no matter where I am.

Whatever that constant is for you -- a routine, a way you like to make your bed, a person you call, you favorite mug -- bring that with you to your new place or circumstances and take comfort in that when everything starts to feel too new.

Remember, change does have to interrupt your progress; if you learn to adapt, it can FUEL your progress.

Remember, change does have to interrupt your progress; if you learn to adapt, it can FUEL your progress.

So, this week I want you to answer this question: how good are you at adapting to change?

If you find that the answer is "not very," then I challenge you to read through the three tactics above and intentionally use them as your secret weapons whenever the next big change in your life appears.

Change happens in life whether we choose it or not, so learning to make the most of it can be a huge advantage. 

I'm looking forward to the next week to use these three tools myself in settling into a new rhythm here. Hopefully I'll be sharing a more in-depth photo tour on the blog soon!

Wishing you all a happy and creative week!

 
 
 
 

Tapping Your Past To Find Clues To Your Future

Jason and I are officially leaving our year-long home here in Poway this week to head up the coast to our new condo in Oceanside. We get the keys on Wednesday and we’ll be all moved in by Friday. Eep! 

I’ll definitely miss a lot of things about our setup here but I’ve always been the type to be energized by a new adventure and a new environment to adapt to, so I’m beyond excited! The anticipation has been killing me!

This week though, as much as I’m excited for all that’s ahead of me, I actually want to focus a bit on the opposite. I want to talk a little about the past. Namely, YOUR past.

To kick things off, I’m going to ask you to step back in time a little (or a lot, depending on how old you are !) I want you to try and think back to when you were a kid. Try to put yourself back in those (tinier) shoes.

Now ask yourself: How did you spend the majority of your time? What were your hobbies? When you weren’t playing with your friends or doing your homework, what did you gravitate towards that made you lose track of time?

Last week I shared with you my DIY approach to picking a path in life. Some of you hopefully found that method helpful, but I know there were others of you that may have thought to yourself: But what if I don’t yet have a vision for my future? What if I don’t KNOW what I want my DIY path to be?

That’s who I want to talk to specifically today, to those of you who still feel lost when it comes to finding that meaningful, whole-hearted work we all want to be filling our days with.

And my advice begins with a story…

Two weeks ago when I was on my hands and knees on the floor of my art studio hand-painting 100 envelopes for the Art Shop, I had this weird flashback to when I was a kid.

It was 5th grade and I told my mom I wanted something special to give my “best friends” on our last day of school since some of them wouldn’t be attending the same middle school as me.

At my insistence, she brought me to Michael’s where I picked out tiny wooden “jewelry boxes” in the shape of treasure chests, as well as a different color of craft paint to match the personality of each of my six best friends. Then, with newspaper sprawled out on the floor of our concrete carport, I hand-painted each personalized box and wrote a different custom word on the top of each jewelry box in metallic paint pen.

Something about being on the floor, completely obvious to the time passing, joyfully creating something that I knew would be personal and meaningful to the recipient... it transported me straight back to my 5th grade self.

The thought of this memory with its highly specific combination of art, hand-lettering, and meaningful messaging almost gives me chills with how closely it resembles exactly what I now call my everyday work. And I was doing it naturally at 10 years old!

The more I thought about what I loved doing as a kid, the more of these memories started to bubble up. More personalized arts and crafts projects, more newspaper sprawled out, more hours of creating. I can almost feel the mix of cold, shaded concrete still underneath me and the warm Saturday afternoon air creeping in from the driveway. Creating was so clearly what I always wanted to do.

And yet it almost didn’t happen.

I almost went a completely different path in my life — listening to what teachers and other adults were telling me, that my high performance in school is what made me special. That I was no doubt going to be “successful.” That I would “make a great doctor or lawyer someday.” Even from that young age, the message was clear: art is just a hobby, not something to aspire to.

Thank goodness that inner kid inside me spoke up when I felt myself headed down a road that wasn’t resonating in my heart early on in my advertising career. Thank goodness she said, “Wait, who cares about being “successful!” Do what brings you joy!”

My point is this:

Our childhood selves in many ways represent our purest selves.

In my TEDx talk, I spoke about this theory I have in my head that I like to picture sometimes. That we all arrive in this world with our own unique “color” — a completely one-of-a-kind hue that encompasses the truest mix of our human potential. Our gifts, our talents, our personalities, our spirits.

As we grow older, the expectations of the world can often dim that technicolor potential with things like fear and stress and quest for recognition. But it’s our job to find our way back to that original state — our brightest, most vibrant state.

And I think one way to do that is to dig into who we were when we were younger.

As Danielle LaPorte once said:

“Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?”

I know we didn’t all have happy childhoods, and I’m certainly not suggesting that we all need to revisit those years if they drudge up bad feelings.

BUT, I am suggesting that our early years can carry CLUES as to who and what we wanted to be before the expectations of the world came tumbling into the mix.

So my challenge to you this week is to answer those questions I started with:

How did you spend your time as a kid? What were your hobbies? When you weren’t playing with your friends or doing your homework, what did you gravitate towards that made you lose track of time? What did you want to be?

And more importantly, WHY did you want to be that?

I’m not necessarily recommending that if you wanted to be an astronaut that you should quit your job now and enroll in space camp (though if that really is you’re dream, I’m all for it!)

All I’m saying is that perhaps the memory of that childhood dream can remind you of your curiosity for the unknown or for understanding the universe or for connecting to something bigger than yourself. And, as my favorite Elizabeth Gilbert teaches us, you don’t have to follow your passion, you just have to follow your curiosity.

Sometimes, when you don’t know how to move forward, a moment spent looking backward can give you the clues you need to take the next step.

Wishing all of you a happy and productive week, and be on the lookout for Instagram photos of the new digs.

I’ve got my own dedicated studio in the new place whose floor is just begging to be used to paint envelopes!

 
 
 
 

How To Make Big Choices With Less Stress

Today I want to talk to you about choices.

Whether it’s in life or in business, we are constantly being bombarded by choices from every angle.

Choose where you want your next travel adventure to be.

Choose the best name for your brand.

Choose what website platform you want.

Choose what to have for lunch.

Choose. Choose. Choose.

Never has this been more evident than in the past few days as Jason and I have navigated the process of choosing a new place to live!

As some of you know, we moved out here to California from Florida last year and were lucky enough to find an ah-mazing house outside of San Diego to rent with our two friends, Clay and Julia. 

The year has been incredible, and I honestly think this house had a lot to do with it — the natural light pouring in from every window; a dedicated space just for my art; the beauty of two acres of nature surrounding us at all times.

But now it’s time to move on. Our lease is up next month (March 31) and so for the past few months we’ve been on the hunt for our next adventure, the next place to call home.

We’ve looked in several cities: San Diego, Encinitas, San Clemente, and San Luis Obispo. We’ve thought about a house or a condo or an apartment. We’ve endlessly debated whether it’s more important to have a view or have an updated kitchen or big windows with natural light or about a dozen other variables. We’ve scoured hundreds of listings which has led us to tour about 10 different places for rent.

This whole process became substantially accelerated on Friday when after one particular showing of a beachy, modern, loft-like condo in the town of Oceanside, CA, we finally felt like we had a viable option on our hands -- a place we could really see ourselves in.

But on Saturday we already had about five showings lined up in San Clemente, so we decided to go ahead and see those places to get a well-rounded view of what was available to us. As the weekend went on, it became clear that this might be the big moment when we had to choose where we’d spend the next year of our California adventure.

Now, before I get into how that story ends, I want you to think about the last time you had to make a big decision (or perhaps a whole slew of tinier decisions at once.) Did you find the process exhausting? Stressful? Scary?

My guess is YES to all of the above.

Why? Because we’re all terrified of being wrong.

Over the past few years, I’ve recognized one particular archetype over and over again when it comes to decision-making, one type of person that takes this fear of being wrong to the next level. I’ve seen it in my friends and family, and from time to time, I’ve even seen it in myself.

This archetype is a person that I like to call “the Optimizer.”

The Optimizer is someone who is always interested in arriving at the BEST possible decision, the optimal solution to any problem, the greatest reward for the least amount of waste possible.

The Optimizer’s greatest fear is missing out on an opportunity — whether that’s an opportunity to have a better experience, to save more money, to convert more sales, etc. The Optimizer doesn’t just have FOMO, they have FOMOO 🐮(Fear Of Missing Out on Opportunities).

Now, some of you may be thinking — well what’s wrong with being an Optimizer? What’s wrong with wanting to make the best possible decision? Isn’t that what we all want?

Well, the danger with being an Optimizer is this: more often than not, this type of maximum pay-off decision making results in either massive amounts of anxiety OR, what’s worse, complete paralysis which leads to choosing nothing at all.

By the way, as the girl who waited a YEAR to start my first personal blog because I couldn’t decide on the optimal name, I’m speaking with a little bit of experience in Optimizer Induced Paralysis (man I really wish that acronym worked out to be OINK instead of OIP to continue the theme of animal-related clever acronyms. 🐷)

As blogger James Clear writes, our first choice is hardly ever the optimal choice. The first person we date is rarely the one that we marry, just like the first job we have is rarely our life-long career. We need to recognize this, become okay with it, and realize that the important part is simply that we make a decision and we move forward.

So, all that said, here are my three simple steps for less-stress decision-making and avoiding Optimizer Induced Paralysis:
 

1. Recognize the trade-offs associated with optimizing.

The first step is to recognize when you’re overly concerned with picking the optimal option. Bring awareness to what you’re actually losing in the present by trying to optimize your future. This could be your sanity, your sleep, your presence with your family or friends, etc. More often than any of those things, what you’re actually losing is TIME. The more you put off a decision because you’re looking for an optimal solution, the more time goes by that you could be testing, learning and living. Looking back, I kick myself for waiting an entire year to start my blog. That could have been an entire year of writing and learning under my belt and it was wasted because of my decision paralysis.
 

2. Choose hard.

This advice comes courtesy of my new friend and art-affirmation-ally, Steph Halligan. (Steph creates a daily cartoon with a positive message at ArtToSelf.com and even has a book with all her amazing cartoons. Definitely check it out!) Steph said this to me during a call we had last week and I think it could be one of those little phrases that sticks with me forever. Once you do move forward and decide to choose, it’s not necessarily about making the right choice as much as it’s about choosing HARD. It’s about committing to that choice. Going all in. (I shared more on this little bit of wisdom in Saturday's piece here.)
 

3. Close the door on outcomes not chosen.

Remember that FOMOO I talked about? Well making peace with your decision means not second guessing yourself. Don’t keep the mental door open on those other choices because if you do, you’ll find yourself wondering “What if I had chosen that.” Not only will this cause you inner turmoil, but it will also subconsciously have you pulling back from the reality you did choose. In other words, once you order from the menu, keep your eyes on your own food. Don’t waste time wishing you had ordered what the person next to you did. Savor the deliciousness of the choice you made.

And finally, remember:

The win is not in making the optimal choice, it’s that we simply MAKE a choice (often & with confidence.).


My challenge to you this week is to take one choice in your life right now that you’ve been dragging your feet on and see if you can use the three steps above to get you to a decision you’re happy with.

To wrap our story up, Jason and I found ourselves momentarily conflicted between a few properties from our house hunt, but ultimately we decided to take Steph's advice and choose hard. We submitted an application and we haven't looked back since. Hopefully next week I'll be able to reveal which place we chose and I'll be able to tell you more about our the next chapter of our lives here.

Choices surround us day in and day out. Don't let the fear of choosing "wrong" keep you motionless. Keep choosing hard and keep moving forward my friends.

Ultimately, an optimal life is the one in which you're not constantly stressed out from the notion of choosing.

Until next time!

 
 
 
 

Are Your What Ifs Helping You Or Hurting You?

Good afternoon, friends!

I’m coming to you a little later today because Jason and I spent the morning driving around San Luis Obispo looking for houses to rent…

Wait, what?! I thought you loved San Diego, Caroline! Didn’t you guys JUST move?

Thank you, rhetorical email person, and you are correct. We do love San Diego and we did only move about 10 short months ago! BUT our one-year San Diego lease is ending in March and over the holidays, Jason and I found ourselves wondering what it would be like to move again to a completely new city. To experience the magic and adventure of moving to California all over again. And to challenge ourselves with new people, new places and a new environment.

That’s why we decided to take the current week-long trip to visit three areas up the California coast and see how we like them: San Clemente/Dana Point; Santa Barbara; and San Luis Obispo.

Each of these spots has its own charms and its own quirks, and it’s been a short-but-incredible trip for the simple fact that it has forced us to see the world through a lens of possibility.

Every Airbnb we’ve stayed in, every restaurant we’ve eaten at, every quaint downtown we’ve traversed, every stranger we’ve met, every coffee shop we’ve enjoyed…. we’ve had to ask: Could we see ourselves here? What would this look like for us?

What if we found a place at the foot of those mountains? What if we came to this coffee shop every Monday morning to work? What if I hosted art workshops at that cool studio space? What if we took Plaxico for his daily walk with this gorgeous view of the ocean?

What if.

I find myself saying this phrase over and over in my head. It’s so fun to see a blank canvas before us because it feels like the possibilities are endless.

But, believe me, I haven’t always been this comfortable with the notion of an uncertain future.

In fact, I used to be terrified by it.

We’re conditioned from the time we’re young to think sequentially. When we finish 8th grade, we know 9th grade’s ahead. When we finish college, we know we’re expected to get a job. When we get a job, we’re supposed to aim for the promotion.

There is comfort to be found in the predictability of this sequence.

So back in 2014, when I started Made Vibrant and suddenly there was no sequence, it honestly freaked me out. A whole different slew of What Ifs ran through my head…

What if I don’t make any money and the business fails?

What if I’m not cut out for this entrepreneur thing?

What if nobody gets what I’m trying to do and I feel completely embarrassed?

These other What Ifs were a manifestation of my fear of the unknown, and I would spend hours just diving deeper and deeper into them.

That was until I stopped worrying and I started doing. I walked into the unknown in spite of my fear and I found out if my fearful What Ifs were grounded in truth. (Spoiler alert: most of them were not.) The further I waded into uncertainty, the more I actually learned to enjoy it.

The thing is, our relationship to the unknown is all a matter of perspective.

We get to choose whether WHAT IF is a question of possibility or of fear.

We get to choose whether WHAT IF is a question of possibility or of fear.

There are constructive What Ifs and there are destructive What Ifs. One breeds possibility and one breeds worry. One chooses to err on the side of hope, one chooses to err on the side of disaster.

And my question to you this week is: Which kind of What Ifs do you entertain more?

The worrisome kind or the possibility kind?

I have absolutely NO idea where I will be living in two months time. I don’t know what my routine will look like or what my favorite hangout will be or how I’ll feel. But this no longer scares me; instead it excites me.

I know not all of us will choose to move to a new place each year. But my hope is that this letter will help you stay open to opportunities you might have otherwise been too afraid to attempt.

I can’t wait to take you guys along for the ride and share with you our experiences wherever we end up!

And I’ll end it this week with one of my favorite quotes from the young writer Erin Hanson:

“ ‘What if I fall?’ ‘Oh, but my darling what if you fly?’ “

Have a great week!

 
 
 
 

Framing Your Year with Thoughtful Reduction

Happy first week of 2016, friends! 

It’s a new year, a fresh start, and now is as good a time as any to start living your most vibrant life. So let’s see if we can make that happen, okay? Okay! 

Just to recap, last week we talked about taking a departure from the typical resolution mindset and instead thinking about how to cause a revolution in the way you think about your life — a mindset shift that could really make a huge impact on your life one year from today. 

Well, this week I want to talk about another practical way that I implement that kind of big change in my thinking at the start of each year. 

You may have seen or heard about this approach before, but I like to choose one word as a way to frame up my year and intentionally move forward toward the life that I want. I’ve been doing this since 2012 after getting the idea from a few blogs I followed, and now Jason and I have done this together as a couple for the past two years. 

2015's one word theme was SAVOR. To me, that word was like a capsule for all of these other things I knew I wanted to fold into my life: a slower pace, sinking into joyful moments, showing gratitude, being fully present, finding contentment in my current circumstances whatever they may be. One of the very definitions of the word savor in fact — which I adore — is “to give oneself to the enjoyment of.” How delightful is that? 

I truly believe that by keeping this word (savor) top of mind, these concepts were able to truly permeate my year. I found myself (mostly) soaking up a slower pace and really allowing myself to enjoy some of the fruits of my labors rather than living in a perpetual “hustle mode.” (This was, of course, helped along by our decision to move to sunny California where we found ourselves surrounded by natural beauty, gorgeous weather, and so many other happy components to our daily life.)

Fresh off this year of savoring life’s best moments, I now find myself ready to evolve that intention to something slightly different. But what? 

Well, the past month has served as an incredible time of reflection and clarity as I take a look at my daily life and Made Vibrant as a whole. While so much feels like it’s right where it should be, there are still a few areas where stress or anxiety stubbornly remains.

Thinking about how to improve upon that — and largely influenced by one of my favorite books I read last year, Essentialism by Greg McKeown — the one word I want to contemplate this year is: CURATE.

For me, to curate conjures up the idea of thoughtful reduction. It’s about selecting and sorting a few quality things from the many. It's separating the signal from the noise.

Over the past few years, Jason and I have been making gradual strides towards a more minimal lifestyle and I’ve seen such a positive impact on my happiness from a lot of those experiments. Experiments like selling most of my wardrobe (I currently own about 15% of the clothing I used to) or getting rid of all our furniture/possessions when we moved (with the exception of a bed frame, two desks and a love seat we purchased when we moved to California, everything we own can fit inside our VW Tiguan.) 

Ridding myself of all that tangible excess led to some interesting discoveries. Not only do a feel like a lighter, freer, more flexible human being because of it, but throughout that process I’ve also naturally found myself more concerned with seeking out things that are of higher quality. 

In the words of Essentialism, it is the simple notion of “Less, but better.”

That mentality has now bled into so many aspects of my life: less but better possessions, less but better opportunities I say yes to, less but better things I decide to focus my energy on. 

By focusing on that word, curate, I want 2016 to be about fully assimilating that idea into every aspect of my life -- more specifically my business. 

I’m a person who has never found myself hurting for ideas. In fact, I often feel I have far too many ideas. (This will not shock most of you given our history together over the course of these weekly letters.)

The problem with that, however, is that I have this palpable sense of urgency all the time that tells me everything has to be done all at once. As I result, I often find myself working on 15 different things and planting seeds in about 15 different gardens, never fully feeling like I’m fully able to harvest anything to the best of my ability. To use an illustration from Greg’s book, it’s the difference between this and this: 

 
 

On that note, recently I was listening to Tim Ferriss’s podcast episode with Derek Sivers, and Tim offhandedly says something to the effect of: “We often vastly overestimate the amount of things we can get done in one day and vastly underestimate the things we can get done in one year.” 

That is so true, I thought, thinking immediately of all the times I’ve had a daily to-do list about 10 things long, and only found myself getting around to 1 or 2 of them. This is a direct result of what’s illustrated above.

Focus, by definition, requires some elimination. When we try to focus on “more” we often accomplish less.

Instead, I thought, what if I curate my day more intentionally. In fact, what if I conservatively just give myself ONE to-do item every day. Something I can focus on without the distraction of all my other to-dos. That way, if I get that one big thing done, all the other little things are gravy on top. 

And to take that point further: What would happen if curated my relationships — if I focused on maintaining a few of my deep, meaningful friendships instead of feeling guilty over and overwhelmed by trying to keep up with every casual friend and connection I have. What would happen if I more consciously curated the events I attend or the places we travel or the blogs that I read? What if I had a curator's mindset when selecting the projects I’m working on at any given time? 

That’s what I want this year to be an exploration of: less, but better. 

All of this not in an effort to restrict or restrain myself, but in an effort to trim the chaos down just enough to reveal the quality.

As the girl who wants to do it all and do it all RIGHT NOW, I know it won’t be easy but I think it will be a great experiment nonetheless! I think there's a time for exploration and expansion and a time for reduction. Both can serve us at different times in our journeys and right now I've found that I can do a lot more with less.

So, my question for you this week is: what’s your theme word for 2016?

What comes to mind when you think of where last year has led you and where you hope to be next January? Let me know in the comments!

Whatever word you choose, it’s my belief that mindful, intentional living is always a recipe for a vibrant year, so I know this exercise will bring you value! 

Here's to a year of thoughtful reduction!

 
 

Create Your Own Mindset Revolution

Did everyone survive the holidays in one piece?

I hope so. Jason, Plaxico and I had an amazing time with family and friends and I’m so glad our road trip to Florida meant we could spend quality time with the people we care about.

On the other hand, though, I will say I’m with Emily McDowell on this one, I’m a little relieved to get back into the swing of non-holiday life. 

Next on the agenda, Jason and I are packing up once again and heading to a modern cabin in northern Georgia to ring in the New Year with some much needed relaxation. It’s becoming our tradition of ours to do some type of travel the first week of the year in an effort to decompress from the holidays and start the new year off feeling refreshed. 

Predictably, since it is the final newsletter of 2015, I want to offer up my two cents about how to get your mind right before 2016 shows up.

It’s possible that many of you are making resolutions as you read this right now. Promises to yourself to read more, exercise more, love more; drink less, worry less, buy less. 

And while I believe those intentions are (theoretically) a fantastic way to bring some ownership into your life, this year I’m feeling a bit like we need something... more

Yes, resolutions can be helpful. Tiny commitments to yourself to get in shape or stay in touch with friends or keep things organized are all good and well. But do you know why the majority of people fall off the wagon? Because they don’t take the time to confront the mindsets that cause them to drop the ball on those things in the first place. 

If you don’t take time to understand why you’re lacking in those areas to begin with, then resolutions are just like temporary band-aids. (And, as the great poet Taylor Swift has taught us, band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.)

Instead, I say we need revolutions, not resolutions.

Yep, we need to start a revolution in our own minds. And listen, I know, “revolution” sounds kind of extreme. But I use that word purposefully because it sounds abrupt and important and downright rebellious. That’s the kind of change that’s necessary to stick to something you’ve never stuck to in the past. 

Think about it, a revolution marks the being of a new era, a different story, a divergence from what came before. If you’re in the boat of people that are looking for that, this could be your ticket. 

No longer do I make resolutions, but instead, I look at the year ahead and ask myselfwhat MAJOR (revolutionary) mindset shift could make the biggest impact for me. 

In other words, I answer this two-part question: 

  1. What do I want the MOST for my life right now? 
  2. What story that I’m telling myself is holding me back from that?

Because if you find a way to flip just one destructive or fear-based script, all those tiny resolutions will pale in comparison to the revolution you can create for your own life over the course of a year. 

Now, it might help to give you an example: 

At the end of 2013, I found myself completely exhausted with one year of entrepreneurship under my belt. I felt like I was working all the time. I was constantly worried about what other people in my field were doing. And it was creating a major imbalance in the way I lived my life. (No exercise, my mind racing before bed, major anxiety.)

As 2014 approached, instead of resolving to “make more time for relaxation” or “work less on the weekends” etc, I knew there was an underlying mindset that had to be dealt with. 

Using that trusty two-part question above, I realized that what I wanted MOST was a blend of life and business that allowed me to actually enjoy the perks of running my own business (as opposed to being enslaved by the never-ending list of to-dos.) I wanted a day-to-day that made time for art and hikes and mid-day movies and reading and fun as much as it made time for to-dos and answering emails. 

Ultimately what I realized was holding me back from that was this story I kept telling myself that if I didn’t take advantage of every opportunity, the business would suffer and ultimately fail. 

But, I had to ask myself, was that really true? If I stopped working 10-hour days would things fall apart? And did I really need to be a "six-figure business" like some of the other entrepreneurs I'd seen or could I be content making enough money to support my lifestyle and live as my happiest self? Suddenly I started investigating this story and realized that I had the power to take back control of how I run my business. It takes will power and practice, but I no longer worry if I pass up an opportunity or if I leave revenue on the table or if someone else has their business on hyper drive.

Throughout the entire year, when I found myself wanting to take a break or step away from my laptop but my inner guilt/anxiety was rearing its ugly head, I simply repeated to myself: “When you’re happy and refreshed, the business thrives.” Andthat’s the true story. 

I can honestly say that was a completely revolutionary concept for me and it led to the happiest and most balanced year of my life. (The irony also being that because I was my happiest, most balanced self, I had more ideas and focus this year than I could have imagined, leading to six-figure business revenue anyway. 😱That proves to me that I was right about the business thriving when I'm a balanced version of myself.)

So, now let me ask you, instead of setting resolutions for the new year, is there one major mindset shift that could change the game for you? 

Try answering the two questions above and see what comes up. 

In order to make lasting improvements on our daily lives, we have to continue to understand ourselves better and the things we tell ourselves. I hope this week’s letter helps you do just that in preparation for the new year!

Happy Monday, friends! 

Did everyone survive the holidays in one piece? I hope so. Jason, Plaxico and I had an amazing time with family and friends and I’m so glad our road trip to Florida meant we could spend quality time with the people we care about.

On the other hand, though, I will say I’m with Emily McDowell on this one, I’m a little relieved to get back into the swing of non-holiday life. 

Next on the agenda, Jason and I are packing up once again and heading to a modern cabin in northern Georgia to ring in the New Year with some much needed relaxation. It’s becoming our tradition of ours to do some type of travel the first week of the year in an effort to decompress from the holidays and start the new year off feeling refreshed. 

Predictably, since it is the final newsletter of 2015, I want to offer up my two cents about how to get your mind right before 2016 shows up.

It’s possible that many of you are making resolutions as you read this right now. Promises to yourself to read more, exercise more, love more; drink less, worry less, buy less. 

And while I believe those intentions are (theoretically) a fantastic way to bring some ownership into your life, this year I’m feeling a bit like we need something... more

Yes, resolutions can be helpful. Tiny commitments to yourself to get in shape or stay in touch with friends or keep things organized are all good and well. But do you know why the majority of people fall off the wagon? Because they don’t take the time to confront the mindsets that cause them to drop the ball on those things in the first place. 

If you don’t take time to understand why you’re lacking in those areas to begin with, then resolutions are just like temporary band-aids. (And, as the great poet Taylor Swift has taught us, band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.)

Instead, I say we need revolutions, not resolutions.

Yep, we need to start a revolution in our own minds. And listen, I know, “revolution” sounds kind of extreme. But I use that word purposefully because it sounds abrupt and important and downright rebellious. That’s the kind of change that’s necessary to stick to something you’ve never stuck to in the past. 

Think about it, a revolution marks the being of a new era, a different story, a divergence from what came before. If you’re in the boat of people that are looking for that, this could be your ticket. 

No longer do I make resolutions, but instead, I look at the year ahead and ask myselfwhat MAJOR (revolutionary) mindset shift could make the biggest impact for me. 

In other words, I answer this two-part question: 

  1. What do I want the MOST for my life right now? 
  2. What story that I’m telling myself is holding me back from that?

Because if you find a way to flip just one destructive or fear-based script, all those tiny resolutions will pale in comparison to the revolution you can create for your own life over the course of a year. 

Now, it might help to give you an example: 

At the end of 2013, I found myself completely exhausted with one year of entrepreneurship under my belt. I felt like I was working all the time. I was constantly worried about what other people in my field were doing. And it was creating a major imbalance in the way I lived my life. (No exercise, my mind racing before bed, major anxiety.)

As 2014 approached, instead of resolving to “make more time for relaxation” or “work less on the weekends” etc, I knew there was an underlying mindset that had to be dealt with. 

Using that trusty two-part question above, I realized that what I wanted MOST was a blend of life and business that allowed me to actually enjoy the perks of running my own business (as opposed to being enslaved by the never-ending list of to-dos.) I wanted a day-to-day that made time for art and hikes and mid-day movies and reading and fun as much as it made time for to-dos and answering emails. 

Ultimately what I realized was holding me back from that was this story I kept telling myself that if I didn’t take advantage of every opportunity, the business would suffer and ultimately fail. 

But, I had to ask myself, was that really true? If I stopped working 10-hour days would things fall apart? And did I really need to be a "six-figure business" like some of the other entrepreneurs I'd seen or could I be content making enough money to support my lifestyle and live as my happiest self? Suddenly I started investigating this story and realized that I had the power to take back control of how I run my business. It takes will power and practice, but I no longer worry if I pass up an opportunity or if I leave revenue on the table or if someone else has their business on hyper drive.

Throughout the entire year, when I found myself wanting to take a break or step away from my laptop but my inner guilt/anxiety was rearing its ugly head, I simply repeated to myself: “When you’re happy and refreshed, the business thrives.” Andthat’s the true story. 

I can honestly say that was a completely revolutionary concept for me and it led to the happiest and most balanced year of my life. (The irony also being that because I was my happiest, most balanced self, I had more ideas and focus this year than I could have imagined, leading to six-figure business revenue anyway. 😱That proves to me that I was right about the business thriving when I'm a balanced version of myself.)

So, now let me ask you, instead of setting resolutions for the new year, is there one major mindset shift that could change the game for you? 

Try answering the two questions above and see what comes up. 

In order to make lasting improvements on our daily lives, we have to continue to understand ourselves better and the things we tell ourselves. I hope this week’s letter helps you do just that in preparation for the new year!

 
 

Eliminating Expectations

Every year when the holidays roll around, I find that there are inevitably so many opportunities to put high expectations on everything (and everyone.)

Expectations for what this season should feel like. Expectations of what the weather should be (not 80 degrees on Christmas Day, thank you, Florida). Of how and where we want our families to get together. Expectations for what gifts we’ll receive. Expectations for how someone should react to the gifts we give them. Expectations of people we need to see and the holiday parties we should be attending and the traditions we should be keeping up with. 

And, given all of these expectations, there have been years in the past when I’ve found myself at the end of this holiday time period a bit… well... disappointed. Like I wanted it to feel so magical and warm and merry, but all I ended up feeling was stretched too thin with not enough time — like the whole thing whizzed by me and then it was gone. 

Have you ever felt this way? Like you had an idea of what you wanted from the holiday season but then when it finally came it somehow came up short? 

That’s not what I want for us! 

I want you and me both to soak up every moment of these final two weeks of the year. I want it to be a time of comfort and rest and peace, not one of stress and potential disappointment. 

So, to help achieve that, I thought I’d share with you a very simple idea that I learned about years ago which has framed the way I look at expectations (and protected me from disappointment in MANY different situations) ever since. 

I call it the Math of Disappointment and it’s this simple “equation”: 

Expectations - Reality = Disappointment

Take that in for a second. If you were to read this equation in plain English, you could say “Disappointment is the difference between expectations and reality.” 

When our expectations are so high that reality fails to meet them, that's when we find ourselves disappointed.

It’s a simple but powerful relationship to acknowledge. 

With that logic, one way of course to decrease our disappointment in this equation would be to simply work as hard as we can to make sure our reality lives up to our expectations. That would certainly narrow the gap, right? 

In the context of the holidays, this could mean stressing out about buying that right gift for the right person, saying yes to every party invitation to maximize those social engagements and get that coveted friend-time in, squeezing every last to-do item on your list to ensure that the house smells like freshly-baked holiday cookies and sounds like Michael Bublé’s Christmas album all day, every day.

Trust me, I’ve gone that route before, and while it definitely guarantees that festive holiday cheer will be felt, it also pretty much guarantees you'll run yourself ragged, asking yourself when it will all be over so you can breathe again. Not ideal. 

Instead, let's look to the equation for a different answer. 

Another way to make sure you aren’t disappointed this holiday season is to simply eliminate expectations.

Eliminating expectations not only frees us from disappointment, it allows us to be delighted at every turn.

We could release ourselves from the idea of what this time is supposed to include or supposed to feel like or what our responsibility in all of it is. And instead, we could just BE.

We could fit in what we can, what we want to do, and we could let the rest go. We could soften in to the unexpected, unplanned PRESENT moment, and we could let that holiday cheer subtly surround us, softly and slowly.

Your challenge this week is to let go of expectations.

Welcome the holiday in with a care-free heart and see how differently that feels from years past. 

Wishing you a happy, warm and cheerful holiday!

 
 

Is There A Secret To Sustained Motivation?

As we get closer to the end of the year, predictably I want to spend some time getting us all thinking about what our ideal 2016 would look like. 

It’s no secret that I believe whole-heartedly in the power of intention. Which really just boils down to the idea of not living a passive life. Instead, I believe in living an active life, one where you craft your experiences and moments and lifestyle by taking deliberate actions that support your values. One of the biggest mental shifts I’ve made in the past few years is the realization that Life doesn’t just happen to me; I have the power to get out there and happen to Life.

That’s what intentional living is to me, and that’s why I want to chat about starting to set those 2016 intentions now. 

BUT, taking action is hard, isn’t it?

As I mentioned a few weeks back, the two biggest struggles that I hear over and over again from you guys in the community are confidence and motivation. We tackled confidence a few weeks back but now I want to talk a bit about motivation as we inch toward a new year and a blank slate. 

Unfortunately, motivation can be a tricky beast because, like confidence, it’s an intrinsic feeling. Sure, you can get short boosts in motivation from outside sources — coaches, friends, books, etc. — but ultimately sustainable motivation has to come from within. 

Knowing this, I want to share with you one mindset that has helped me find sustainable motivation for several of the intentions I set forth for myself this year. 

And, as an example, let’s talk about this newsletter. 

Once I hit Send, this will be my 96th newsletter in two years. I’ve written every week of the year with the exception of the holidays, and I maintain that it is the single most important engine of growth for Made Vibrant. 

And over the course of the past month or so I’ve had several people asking me about this newsletter. 

How do you find the time to write that much content every week? 

How do you come up with ideas about what to write about? 

How do you grow your list and keep people engaged? 

All great questions with one pretty simple answer: 

This newsletter is my non-negotiable. 

Knowing just how important consistency and authenticity are to the success of a business, I made a decision when I started Made Vibrant that I would have one single tactic that I kept consistent no matter what

Why did I decide that? Because I know that will power is the sneaky saboteur of motivation. 

Will power is what ruins our well-laid plans for eating healthier, for exercising more, for making time to create, for doing anything we set out to do. Will power is what we have to engage in order to say “NO, Brain, I’m going to do THIS thing, not that other thing that’s more delicious or more fun or a heckofalot easier.”

Will power is the muscle that we use to make good choices. And for most of us, that muscle is out. of. shape. 

I knew that if I left things up to my will power — if I told myself I wanted to write weekly but that I’d “see how I feel” every Monday morning — that I would easily negotiate my way out of it and come up with a reason not to hit send. 

Instead, though, by telling myself up front that there is NO way out of this agreement I have with myself, that there is no other choice to be made, somehow it allowed me to psychologically outsmart my will power muscle. It’s like my brain said, “Take a seat, Will Power, we’re not going to need you on this one. There’s no decision to be made here.” 

That simple perspective shift allows me to sit down Monday after Monday and write NO MATTER WHAT because my will power isn’t even allowed to have a seat at the table during the conversation. 

Establishing a non-negotiable ensures that your wobbly will power won’t derail your intentional progress.

Does that make sense? 

In two years I’ve grown this list from 2 people to 3,300 people and that is only because I’m able to put out consistent, relatable, valuable content. 

Which brings me back to you. 

YOU are at the brink of a bright and shiny new year with wonderful, infinite possibilities. Just think, for you maybe 2016 is: 

The Year Of Financial Freedom

The Year Of Business Growth

The Year Of Creative Exploration

The Year Of Self-Discovery

The Year Of Adventure

The Year Of Healthful Living

The Year Of Emotional Healing

The list goes on…

But right now, today, I want you to do this one thing for me. I want you to choose ONE non-negotiable for 2016.

Decide on one thing that you want to do on a regular basis that could change things in a big way if you stick with it. And then, every day until 2016 begins, I want you to say to yourself, “Sorry Will Power, there is no decision to be made here.” 

(If you want, feel free to tweet at me and let me know what your non-negotiable is!)

The truth is, there is no secret to sustained motivation. There is nothing I can say that will make the road easier for you.

YOU have to decide that what’s on the other side of consistency and discipline and sacrifice is well worth the discomfort of what it takes to get there. 

And as someone who has experienced the immeasurably satisfying benefits of building a community of generous, supportive, soulful creatives (that's YOU!), I can tell you that it is well worth the moments of discomfort I had to push through on those weeks when I didn’t know what to write or I was busy as all get out or I was sick or I was tired. 

These letters are my non-negotiable and I’m immensely grateful for that. 

Thank you so much for reading week after week and for sending these letters along to your friends so they can join us. My life is more rich and delightful because I get to connect with all of you. 

Wishing you all a happy week as we prepare for a new year of possibilities!

 
 

Confidence And Learning To Trust Yourself

Happy Monday from the road, dear friends!

Over the course of the past week, Jason and I have played on the sand dunes in California; stopped in Sedona at our favorite inn, El Portal; traveled to Taos, New Mexico where we stayed for two days in something called an Earthship; cozied up to Waco, Texas to stay in one cool #FixerUpper; and passed through Lafayette, LA where I now find myself on the road somewhere near New Orleans. Phew, I’m exhausted just typing that! 

The adventure has included many, many miles of podcast episodes, road trip beef jerky, my poor attempt at navigation, and, thankfully, a few surprisingly weak moments on Jason’s part when he agreed to let me listen to Christmas music (GASP! - Pentatonix Deluxe Christmas album anyone? Big fan right here.) 

As I type this now we are heading to our last stop — Seaside, FL — before arriving in Jacksonville on Wednesday just in time for Thanksgiving. Woohoo! 

Road trips are my very favorite for SO many reasons, but this trip actually has very little to do with what I want to talk about this week. 

This week I want to talk about something interesting that popped up following last week’s letter on “actionizing.” Some of you might remember that at the bottom of the newsletter I asked you to email me with anything that you might need right now -- something I could help with as a small act of sending love out into the world.  

Well, about 40 of you wrote in (thank you for that, by the way!) and I did my best to make time to write back to each one in between road trip activities. What astounded me about your replies though was the fact that the majority of you said that you needed more of the very SAME two things: confidence and motivation. 

Over and over the responses came in with those two words calling out to me. So, I’m taking the hint here and this week I want to tackle one of those (one that I especially struggled with in my first year of business), and that’s confidence

The problem with this, though, is that confidence is not a simple problem with a simple solution. 

How does one encourage another to have confidence? How can I give someone something that so clearly has to come from within? 

But that’s when I thought to myself: I may not be able to GIVE someone confidence, but maybe I can help someone see their own confidence in a new light. Maybe I can uncover a new way of looking at confidence, a new angle that might allow some of you out there to finally have that light bulb moment that could make all the difference. 

So I asked myself: What exactly is confidence? Where does it come from? How do we relate to it? 

I thought about all the times I have to call upon my confidence: 

  • When I stand on a stage and deliver a speech. 
  • When I speak up and share my opinion at a dinner party. 
  • Every time I share a piece of my art on social media or hit send on an email to you guys. 
  • When I walk into a room full of strangers and have to introduce myself. 

Each one of these moments requires confidence. And when I broke each of these situations down further, I realized that in each of those moments, the thing that allows me to walk confidently or speak confidently or share confidently is that I have built up trust with myself.

Confidence is really about being able to TRUST yourself.
  • Do I trust that I’ll be able to deliver the speech without blanking? 
  • Do I trust that my opinions are well thought-out and sincere when I speak up? 
  • Do I trust that I believe in my artistic talents enough that even if no one likes my photo or shares my email, I won’t stop creating?
  • Do I trust that even if I introduce myself to a stranger and they have no interest in what I do or say that it won’t affect my self-image? 

The trust you have with yourself is what your confidence rests on. 

And so that’s when I started wondering, well if confidence rests on trust, how do we build trust with ourselves? Because if we can understand how to build trust, then maybe we can better understand how to boost our confidence too. 

Thankfully I remembered this fascinating talk by Brené Brown called "The Anatomy of Trust" that I might have shared with you guys a few weeks back. 

In it, Brené talks about the fact that the research shows that “trust is built in very small moments” — these tiny opportunities in which people choose to show us they’re worthy of our trust. 

She compares trust to a marble jar, where others can do small things to demonstrate they’re trust-worthy and each time they do we add a mental marble to their jar. Only when the marble jar is full do we feel we can trust someone. 

In other words, trust is earned.

People have to show us that they’re deserving of our trust because that’s how we feel safe and protected from betrayal.

Brené goes on to break down the “anatomy of trust” into its parts, which can be remembered using the acronym B.R.A.V.I.N.G.: Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-judgment, and Generosity. (I recommend giving the talk a watch now if you want to better understand what each of the elements of trust pertains to. It’s a great talk!)

But the reason I want to share all of this with you is because while Brené's talk is in the context of trusting other people, I was struck by how transferable all her points were to the practice of learning to trust ourselves. 

Just like trust, confidence is built in a series of small moments. 

We have to demonstrate to ourselves that we are deserving of trust, and thus, that our confidence is not misplaced. 

How do we do that? The same way we would show others we’re trustworthy. Through B.R.A.V.I.N.G. 

  • By protecting the boundaries we create for ourselves. (Saying NO when we need to, protecting the time we set aside for ourselves, etc.)
  • By proving to ourselves we’re reliable. (Keeping the promises we make to ourselves, not just once but over and over.)
  • By showing accountability when we’ve come up short. (Acknowledging our short-comings, apologizing and moving on.) 
  • By being a vault for ourselves. (Not disseminating hurtful words and thoughts to others about ourselves, keeping what’s sacred to us sacred.)
  • By showing integrity. (Practicing our values in tough situations rather than just professing them.) 
  • By showing compassion for ourselves and non-judgment in our moments of needing help. (Eliminating negative self-talk when we feel at our weakest.)
  • By assuming the most generous thing about our own intentions and behavior, (Choosing to see the best in ourselves.)

That last one in particular really stuck with me as the crux of this trust/confidence business: generosity. 

Are you generous in your assumptions with yourself?

In other words, do you see the best in yourself? Do you give yourself the benefit of the doubt? If not, I’m betting you find it hard to trust yourself, and if that’s the case, you probably also find it hard to muster confidence at times. 

So often we think of confidence as something that is dependent upon the behavior of other people. That our ability to approach a situation confidently relies on whether or not other people will accept us or reject us. But if we continue to think of it that way, we’re giving up our power to build our confidence and improve it over time. 

Instead, we have to think about confidence as an inside job. We have to think of our actions as marbles in the jar of trust we have with ourselves. If we can build up enough trust to KNOW that the actions or responses of other people won’t prevent us from continuing to go after our dreams, then our inner selves will feel safe enough to create confidently. To share confidently. To speak confidently. 

So, this week, I challenge you to take a hard look at where your confidence is right now.

Do you have trouble trusting yourself? If so, try to pin point why that is using Brené’s BRAVING model above. Is it because you break your promises to yourself? Because you’re afraid you’ll judge yourself if you put yourself out there? Is it because you have trouble living your values in moments that are challenging? 

Whatever it is, I want you to identify it and decide one way you can start building more trust within yourself. Maybe it’s a commitment to talk more kindly to yourself or to make it your mission to follow through on your next promise no matter what. 

Whatever you choose, remember ultimately that confidence has to come from within you.

You have to fill up your own marble jar with enough tiny moments to know that when you encounter a situation that requires you to be confident, that you have your own back. 

Hope that gives you something to chew on this week!

Wishing you a happy holiday filled with food, family and gratitude!