Tag: feelings

The one feeling we can’t stand (It’s not what you think)

The one feeling we can’t stand (It’s not what you think)

Do you want to feel happy? It’s a pretty generic concept with universal appeal, so I’m guessing Yes.

So, how often do you feel happy? What portion of each day or week would you say you’re joyful? Maybe less often or less intensely than you’d like?

Last fall I wrote a 3-part blog series called How to build a meaningful career that explored how to identify and cultivate your most desired feelings. Since then, I’ve learned something important. And it is just screaming to be part 4.

No emotion is harder to feel

Feeling happy (joyful, content, successful, good…) can be super uncomfortable.

Wait, what?

How can the most pleasant emotions also be unpleasant?

It’s uncomfortable because we’re so afraid to lose it. In fact, Brené Brown tells us that joy is the most vulnerable of all emotions.

“There is no emotion harder to feel than joy because we are so afraid that it won’t last.”

Brené Brown, research professor, author, speaker

Similarly, in The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks writes about The Upper Limit Problem. This refers to our “limited tolerance for feeling good.”

Is this concept on your radar? I hadn’t thought about this idea until reading his book, and now—especially as someone always testing her limits—I see it everywhere!

The ways we avoid good feelings

Hendricks describes our tendency to bring ourselves back down within the bounds of this limited tolerance. We tend to do two things: manufacture painful images and take self-sabotaging action.

Think about a time you were filled with joy. Then, out of nowhere, the negativity and catastrophizing starts.

You’re walking outside, enjoying the sunny but mild spring weather. You’re wearing the shorts you recently pulled out of winter storage, and the sun warms your arms and legs. There’s a light breeze and very low humidity. It’s hot, but you love it! You’ve been cooped up all winter and can nearly feel your body eagerly absorbing all of the Vitamin D. You pause on the sideway in front of a lilac bush, lean forward, and inhale deeply to take in its uniquely springtime scent. What a beautiful smell. What a beautiful day!

But I don’t know, is it safe to feel this good?

I hate how lilacs only bloom for a few weeks.

Too bad this won’t last, it’ll be so hot and humid soon. Summers here are the worst.

Should I have put sunscreen on? Beth’s sister is wrinkly because she never wears sunscreen on her face. I’m going to get wrinkles and look old, and to protect my career I’m going to have to get Botox like all the other women execs!

Or, say you’ve woken up easily just before your alarm. Calm and smiling from a dream you can’t quite remember, you roll over and see your spouse sleeping. You feel so grateful to have him in your life. He’s sexy, and caring, and finds you so attractive.

Uh oh, this peace and joy is getting uncomfortable…

I wish he would shave that beard.

Is he dreaming of that cute woman at work?

His breathing doesn’t sound right. He’s going to die tonight in his sleep, and I’ll be all alone, and our poor dog will be devastated, and I can just see his poor mother at his funeral…

What stories do you tend to tell to stop yourself from enjoying the moment?

Maybe you can even think of a time you’ve taken self-sabotaging action.

I’ve fallen into this trap with my diet. I would eat super clean for a few weeks—leafy salads, smoothies, snacking on fruit and nuts. I’d feel amazing! Healthy, proud, energized, powerful, even more creative. Then, I’d go into a period of weeks binging on less healthy foods. I’d swap my salads for white bread and processed meals, and add in triple servings of cookies each day. I’d notice the stomach aches and keep at it anyway. It felt too good to eat so clean so often. I don’t yet see myself as a person who consistently eats a nutrient-dense diet.

Where in your life do you tend to self-sabotage?

Lean in and stretch your limits

So, you’re aware that resistance will show up when you’re feeling your best. What do you do when this happens?

Allow yourself to lean into the goodness. Notice the discomfort—the negative thoughts, the catastrophizing, the self-sabotaging actions—and choose something different. This is how we stretch our limits.

“Letting yourself savor natural good feelings is a direct way to transcend your Upper Limit Problem.”

Gay Hendricks, psychologist, author, teacher

Play Dates

Want to keep this conversation going? Sign up for my weekly Play Dates—nudges and know-how to build a career you love. It’s like me showing up at your house and love-bombing your butt into action, but without being seen in your pjs.

Photo by Raw Pixel

You landed the new job! So why are you sad?

You landed the new job! So why are you sad?

Have you ever quit a job, then later—maybe while saying goodbyes on your last day, or a few weeks into your new gig—wondered, What am I sad about? I didn’t even want that job…

When I left my software career to go all in with life coaching—a decision I was super excited about—I also felt surprisingly intense grief. I was going to miss my inspirational boss, laughing with my coworkers every day, my predictable paychecks. I had proven my talents in the industry. There was a fancy title on my biz cards.

So who was I now?

Career change brings a sense of loss. Yes, even when it’s by choice. You might feel the loss of friendships, identity, status, income.

Even when it’s by choice, career change brings a sense of loss.

Why you should feel it, even when it hurts

Our feelings—even uncomfortable ones like grief—are just information. When you allow them to exist, they can direct you to what you need.

Remember that discomfort is temporary. When you allow your feelings to move through your body, they soon fade.

If that sounds weird, just trust me. Sometimes I’m scared to cry. I think I might not be able to stop once I start. But really, all I need is that good cry, and a minute or two later I’m like, “Babe, I’m good. Let’s go to Chipotle!”

How to make this a habit

When it comes to grief, or any feelings really, being present is key. Since it can be hard to be present when you’re in the middle of big emotions, you want to make this a habit.

Pause during your day, and answer these questions:

  1. What is my mind doing? What is it doing in general—replaying the past, planning the future, catastrophizing? What specific thoughts do you notice?
  2. What emotions do I feel? Whatever comes up, don’t judge it or try to make sense of it. Simply notice. Remember that emotions are simply information.
  3. What body sensations do I feel? Mentally scan your body from head to toe and notice any sensations.

Here’s an example of how this might look as you walk out of a stressful meeting at your new job.

Ok, that meeting sucked. Time to check-in. What is my mind doing? Replaying what just happened. Imagining my boss calling me into his office. I messed up. He probably wants to fire me. What emotions do I feel? Shame. Regret. Anxiety. Excited because he gave me that new project. What body sensations do I feel? My neck and shoulders are tight. I’m not breathing very deeply. I’m smiling. It’s fake. I feel a weight on my chest. Sadness. I’m going to head to the bathroom and take a few deep breaths.

This is especially powerful with regular practice. How could you make this part of your daily routine?

How can you make this part of your daily routine?

It’s not as scary as you think

Loss happens, even when it’s by design. By noticing all of your feelings without judgement, you’ll learn to allow them, learn from them, and come out on the other side knowing it wasn’t nearly as scary as you thought.

“Your feelings have a right to life.”

Mandy Kubicek
This is the year (part 1): Your biggest dream

This is the year (part 1): Your biggest dream

tl;dr Your action plan

  1. Identify the one big dream that’s most meaningful to you.
  2. Find a compelling and emotional reason why you want it.
  3. Write it down. Write it in a secret journal, text it to your coach, or share with me on Facebook. Whatever you do, put it into the world.

This is the year

It’s December, which always has me thinking about goals. I love the natural cadence of turning inward to review my life’s focus at the same time I’ve literally turned in to avoid the cold weather outside. I love the boost of energy new goals supply through the first frigid months of the new year, when sockless Toms feel so far from reach.

Here’s the thing about this season. You can make your wildest dream your reality. No, it won’t fully come to be in 2019. But you CAN make big progress. You can head in that direction. So will you?

Maybe the excuses are already flooding your mind. I don’t have the time. This is good enough. Not now, not with this new baby / aging parent / hangnail.

“There’s always a million reasons not to do something,” as Jan so eloquently said to Pam in The Office Season 2. But what about that one reason to do it?

This moment is all we have.

With this three-part series, you’ll set the stage to make a major life change in 2019.

  • Part 1: Define your big inspiring life goal.
  • Part 2: Break your goal down into actionable steps without losing your mind in details.
  • Part 3: Build a process that supports you in achieving your goal.

Let’s do this.

What’s your big dream?

What’s your biggest “someday” dream? Notice: I’m not asking what you want to accomplish next year. I’m asking for that exciting dream you wouldn’t dare say aloud without prefacing it with words like “ridiculous,” “unrealistic,” and “obviously a total fantasy.”

What is your biggest “someday” dream?

Why go big? In The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, author Gary Keller talks about the domino effect. Using the analogy of falling dominoes, he says that each step you take towards your goal makes the next step easier. Did you know a domino can knock down another domino that’s 50% larger? In other words, it doesn’t matter if you take a tiny action, because its power compounds. So go ahead and dream big.

“So when you think about success, shoot for the moon. The moon is reachable if you prioritize everything and put all of your energy into accomplishing the most important thing.” – Gary Keller, entrepreneur, bestselling author

One of my big someday dreams is to be a bestselling author. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a little girl, scribbling plotless ghost stories into journals and hiding angsty poetry under math textbooks in my closet. This year, I’m making significant progress in this direction.

What’s the ONE most important thing?

Narrow your focus to just one dream.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say No to almost everything.” – Warren Buffett, investor, speaker, philanthropist, multibillionaire

Maybe you have a few things in mind — a life-purpose dream, a relationship dream, a creative dream. That’s ok. But decide which ONE is the most meaningful to you. There is no such thing as multitasking, just the costly practice of task-switching. If you want to make anything happen, decide to make one thing happen.

If you want to make anything happen, decide to make one thing happen.

Why do you want it?

As I wrote way back when and again here, what you’re really after is a feeling. What’s the feeling underlying this dream? For a big goal to stick, it needs to be backed up by powerful desire. I invite you to ask yourself, “What’s the compelling and emotional reason why I want this?”

Writing makes me feel good. I feel energized and creative. I appreciate the beauty of a well-crafted sentence. But I don’t need to be a bestselling author to feel this way. No, this big someday goal is meaningful because of my life intention to help people maximize their joy. To be a bestselling author is to inspire into action as many people as possible.

More reading

Me too

Me too

Earlier today I was lounging on my couch scrolling through Facebook, an uncomfortable but familiar habit. I watched some celebrity reactions — Lady Gaga, Trevor Noah — before I Googled, “Trump mocks Ford.” I hadn’t read up on the Kavanaugh-Ford story since the hearing. I watched the 41-second clip of President Trump at a rally, took a breath, and then cried.

I’ve never felt this kind of fear and insecurity. Why would I? I have white privilege and college degrees. I have a retirement account. My country is ok; it’s relatively safe. Even as lives are destroyed by violence around the country, none of it has touched me.

This touched me.

It’s so, black-and-white wrong. Thou shalt not murder. Thou shalt not publicly mock a survivor of sexual assault for speaking her truth.

I’m not sure what to do with this knowledge of how the President spoke about Dr. Ford and her testimony. What I do know is that staying quiet doesn’t feel right. So here it goes.

Me too.

“And a man’s life is in tatters! A man’s life is shattered.”

I have countless memories of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the form of exposure. I’ll share one.

In high school, I was an outbound telemarketer at Omaha Steaks. I became work friends with one of my teammates, a guy my age whose desk was to my immediate left. I even invited him to a party. No flirtation or sexual contact of any kind took place at the party. And yet afterwards, things changed between us.

We had auto-dialers that automatically called customers. Between calls, he’d lean towards me and make disgusting gestures with his tongue and fingers. He’d cover his headset microphone with a fist and say, “I’m gonna make you so wet. Come on, let me lick that pussy. Mmm.. I’m gonna suck on those pussy lips… Hello, Mrs. Anderson? How are you today?”

When I couldn’t take it any longer, and had convinced myself that inviting him to a party did not make this my fault, I finally told my boss. Wanna know how “shattered” his life was?

He was moved to a different team, sitting in a different area on the same floor.

That experience sucked. But it isn’t the reason I wept after hearing President Trump make fun of Dr. Ford.

I don’t remember. But I know.

“Where was the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know. What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know.”

I’ve long had the sense, a strange but sure knowing, that something sexual and uninvited happened to me at a young age. Something I don’t fully remember.

There are moments when I’m having sex with my husband Bob, and I’m triggered. Suddenly, I feel like a child. Like a part of me has reverted to a much younger age, and I don’t want to be naked. I desperately want to cover my body. I don’t want this man, whoever he is, on top of me. I am scared and can’t speak. I think, I have to do what he wants and I have no control over what’s happening…

I’ve spent time in therapy on “my sex stuff.” I have recalled physical sensations, but no language. Maybe something happened when I wasn’t yet using verbal language. Who knows. I’ll most likely never know. Sometimes, that really bothers me. When my need to know would rage high, my therapist would patiently remind me, “We’re not here to figure out what happened. Our goal is to help you build the skills that will allow you to move forward.”

I have doubted myself. My God, how many times I’ve thought, “Get over it, Mandy! You’re making all this up. Too much Law and Order SVU.” But Bob doesn’t doubt me. And my therapist never doubted me — she seems to see this kind of thing all the time. So I do my best to trust myself.

No, I don’t remember everything. But I remember enough.

I’m with you, Dr. Ford, and with everyone else who has been in these shoes.

What’s next?

Sexual violence shouldn’t divide us.

This is not a man vs. woman/non-binary issue. It isn’t a victim vs. perpetrator issue. (I’m a perpetrator as well, btw.) And it sure as hell isn’t a political party issue. This is about all of us. We all have a role to play in building the support system that’s needed to collectively heal from this trauma.

Whatever your life experiences, whatever your politics, I’m sending you my unconditional love and invite you to do the same.

How to build a meaningful career (part 3): Every action counts

How to build a meaningful career (part 3): Every action counts

What you’ll find in this series

This is part 3 in a three-part blog series on how you can build a more meaningful career by first refining your own definition of “meaningful,” and then living that definition.

In Part 1: Redefine success, I suggest a new way to define success. We explore the question, What do I want?

In Part 2: Know your values, I cover how you can identify and prioritize your values by asking, Who do I want to be? These values are what give your work meaning.

In Part 3: Every action counts (this post), I show you how being successful on these new terms is both far easier and feels way better than what you’ve been trying. We’ll consider, What feels good?

Start with the feeling

If you’ve read the earlier posts in this series, you’ve identified the values or feelings that describe who you want to be and how you want to feel. The way to cultivate more of the feelings you want in life is to start feeling the way you want to feel. Real change will follow.

Start feeling the way you want to feel. Real change will follow.

I’m not talking about something magical here. “Just visualize a Maserati, and it will appear in your driveway!” No, I’m talking about everyday common sense action and reaction.

Imagine, for instance, it’s time to go to your boss’s office for a performance review. Your boss is smart and interesting and kind and powerful, and you really want her to appreciate you.

First, imagine that you can’t stop thinking about how you desperately want her approval. You believe she doesn’t like you. She probably wishes you weren’t on the team at all. But, you think, if you could just get her to see how valuable you are… You shuffle into her intimidating office and take a seat stiffly in the chair across from her big, ominous desk. You muster the courage to make eye contact and fake a smile. Given the way you’ve shown up, how do you expect her to react?

Now, imagine instead that you believe you already have her approval. You trust that you’re one of her favorite employees, and she loves spending time with you. You strut into that welcoming office with your calm smile and have a seat. You flash her a genuine smile and hold your eye contact — this woman adores you, after all! How might she react to this version of you?

If you struggled at all to see a difference, imagine if you were the boss instead. Which of these two employees would make you feel more at ease? Who are you more willing to trust to own the big project that just landed in your inbox to delegate?

“External circumstances do not create feeling states. Feeling states create external circumstances.” – Martha Beck

This is why knowing and cultivating your desired feelings is soooo effective for building a meaningful career, and for finding satisfaction in any area of your life.

How do you measure your success?

In the first post in this series, I suggested you redefine success not by some external metric, but in terms of how you feel. Now, how do you measure your success against this ideal?

“You could be winning and feel like you’re losing because the scorecard you’re using is unfair.” – Tony Robbins

Say you want to feel healthy every day. Laying in bed at night reflecting on your day, you might be focused on what you didn’t accomplish. Where you didn’t live up to your own expectations. It sounds something like this.

Was I healthy today? Well, I didn’t go to the gym like I was supposed to this morning. I put ranch dressing on my salad at lunch, probably more than I needed to. I shouldn’t have used such a fattening dressing. What is wrong with me? Shoot, I just remembered. I had a pop AND two cupcakes at that retirement party this afternoon! I guess I’m just never going to be a healthy person.

Ick. I propose a different focus. Look at every time you did feel the way you wanted. With this mindset, your evening reflection might look like this.

When did I feel healthy today? Well, I woke up after 8 hours of sleep. That was awesome. On the car ride into work, I noticed I was holding my breath, so I took three deep breaths. It felt like a mini meditation, like I was taking care of both mind and body. For lunch I had a big lettuce salad with veggies and beans on top, so I got lots of vitamins and minerals. Just after lunch, I took a quick walk around the block with my coworker. Plus I drank loads of water throughout the day.

Notice how these two reflections could easily be the same exact day? Yet the second one feels better. And isn’t feeling good our ultimate goal?

The second scenario doesn’t just feel better. Setting up this more empowering scorecard actually leads to more of the behaviors that make you feel the way you want to feel.

Focusing on what you did accomplish will lead to more successful behaviors.

Brainstorm what feels good

Here’s an exercise to help you notice all the ways you are already cultivating your desired feeling, and to learn how to feel that way even more.

Writing tools in hand, for each of your 3 to 4 desired feelings, brainstorm as many answers as possible to this prompt: I feel (my desired feeling) every time I…

Brainstorm answers to this prompt: I feel (my desired feeling) every time I…

You might want to keep a daily log where you simply check a box if you can find at least one example from the day where you felt that feeling. This can be a fun and empowering way to visualize your transformation to becoming who you want to be.

Be wary of focusing on others

I define my success by how I feel. This definition makes me feel the way I want to more often, and it makes it easier to bring more of that feeling into my life. However, there are times when I’ve hit roadblocks with this method.

Through my work, I want to feel catalytic — I want to help people change their lives more quickly and easily. When I first wrote down “catalytic,” I had lots of ideas for how to help people, but most of it was only in my head. My trouble was that when I did put something out there, I focused on other people’s reactions and perceptions of me.

My trouble was that I focused on other people’s reactions and perceptions of me.

For example, I poured my heart into an Insta post inspired by my own change to start buying fresh flowers for my home, a desire I had ignored for years. I felt full of catalytic energy when I posted it, but then no one followed my instructions. No one commented to share how they brought more of what they desire into their home! I felt deflated and useless. In that instant, I doubted everything about myself. (Our minds can be so dramatic!)

Once I realized what was happening (with some help from one of my coaches!), I shifted my focus to the feeling state itself. I even reframed my desired feeling as “potentially catalytic” to remind myself of the insignificance of others’ reactions.

Shortly after this, I created a 17-page guide to help people transform their living space and their life. Then I started consistently sharing my wisdom through my newsletter, then social media. As I focused more and more on myself — on feeling the way I wanted to feel, I gained followers. I coached more people. I received praise, things like “I always feel so inspired after working with you!” and being called “a genuine gift!” So, people did react positively, but not until after I let go of my need for them to do so. And I’d like to believe that if they didn’t, that would have been ok by me too, because I still felt the way I wanted to feel!

It can be tempting and habitual to give your power away to others in this way. We subconsciously think, If it’s someone else’s fault I feel this way, then I don’t have to change anything. When you notice it happening, adjust your definition of success until it is fully within your control.

Make sure your definition of success is always fully within your control.

Additional reading

  • In part 1 of this series, I show you how to redefine success in a way that’s meaningful to you.
  • In part 2, I show you how to find the specific feelings or values that give your life meaning.
  • Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny by Tony Robbins
How to build a meaningful career (part 2): Know your values

How to build a meaningful career (part 2): Know your values

Check out the whole series

This is part 2 in a blog series on how to build a more meaningful career.

  • In Part 1: Redefine success, we explore the question, What do I want?
  • In Part 2: Know your values (this post), I cover how to identify and prioritize your values by asking, Who do I want to be?
  • In Part 3: Every action counts, we consider, What feels good?

Who do you want to be?

“This is the biggest tragedy in most people’s lives: many people know what they want to have, but have no idea of who they want to be.” – Tony Robbins

In her bestselling book The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte proposes that we start any goal setting by identifying our desired feelings. She writes, “We have the procedures of achievement upside down… So what if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel within ourselves, and then we designed our to-do lists, set our goals, and wrote out our bucket lists?”

I’m a big fan of the KISS principle (Keep it simple, stupid!). So, I view life values and desired feelings as pretty much the same. I value gratitude; I want to feel grateful. I value health; I want to feel healthy. I’ll use these two terms interchangeably throughout this post.

Pick the method below that sounds the most fun and give it a try.

Below are 3 of my fave methods for finding the values (feelings) that are most meaningful to you. I invite you to pick the method that sounds the most fun and give it a try.

Consider what’s most important

In Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins writes, “All you have to do to discover your values is answer one simple question: ‘What’s most important to me in life?’” He suggests brainstorming the answer to this question, then goes one step further.

What if you designed your life by choosing your values? He suggests, “Ask yourself a new question: ‘What do my values need to be in order to achieve the destiny I desire and deserve?’ Brainstorm out a list. Put them in order.”

What should my values be in order to achieve what I desire?

Consider how you want to feel

LaPorte writes, “How do you want to feel in each [area] of your life? Stream of consciousness is the way to go here.”

She defines five life areas to consider: livelihood & lifestyle, body & wellness, creativity & learning, relationships & society, essence & spirituality.

Consider the people you admire

Make a list of people you admire. They can be people you know personally, celebrities, historical figures, fictional characters… Take your time with this, and try to list at least 10 names.

Beside each name, list the qualities you admire in that person. As an example, I might write, “Ellen DeGeneres: kind, funny, generous, self-love, honest.”

Now read through all of the qualities you’ve listed and circle the ones that stand out. Maybe it will be listed multiple times, or maybe you just know it’s very important to you.

By examining what you admire in others, you’ve created a list of words or phrases that describe your life values.

Narrow it down and prioritize

Regardless of what method you used, you should have a great list of values and/or feelings that define who you want to be. Next, narrow your list down to three or four words or phrases. (Why? This is how many things we can easily hold in our mind at one time.)

Narrow your list to 3 – 4 values.

When it comes to prioritizing, Robbins again poses some great questions to ask. For each value, ask yourself two questions: “What benefit do I get by having this value in this position?” and “What could having [this value] at [this position in] my list cost me?”

Living these values is what will give meaning to your work, and to any aspect of your life.

Living your values gives your work meaning.

Additional Reading

  • In part 1 of this series, I show you how to redefine success in a way that’s meaningful to you.
  • In part 3, I show you how to consistently feel the way you want to feel.
  • The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte
  • Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny by Tony Robbins

Get on the list!

To receive the next post in this series via email, join my mailing list here. (Plus you’ll get my most popular worksheet To Love Your Career, Question the Rules.)

PC: Kimberly Bailey

How to build a meaningful career (part 1): Redefine success

How to build a meaningful career (part 1): Redefine success

What you’ll find in this series

What is a “meaningful” career? Is it something that fully uses a person’s skills, abilities, and interests? Does it have to give the person plenty of free time? Or maybe it’s one that solves world peace?

The thing is, there is no single answer. It’s different for each of us. If something feels worth doing, then it’s meaningful to you.

“Forget whatever you were taught about ‘meaningful work’ and start noticing whatever has meaning to you.” – Barbara Sher

This three-part blog series show you how you can build a more meaningful career by first refining your own definition of “meaningful,” and then living that definition.

In Part 1: Redefine success (this post), I’ll suggest a new way to define success. We’ll explore the question, What do I want?

In Part 2: Know your values, I cover how you can identify and prioritize your values by asking, Who do I want to be? These values are what give your work meaning.

In Part 3: Every action counts, I’ll show you how being successful on these new terms is both far easier and feels way better than what you’ve been trying. We’ll consider, What feels good?

It’s time for a change

For many years I felt like a dog chasing her tail — like whatever the heck “success” was, I couldn’t seem to reach it. It didn’t matter how many things went well. I had a stable, high-paying career. I earned the respect of my peers. I was constantly learning and advancing, receiving high praise and bonuses. And yet, I felt like a failure. Like none of this was quite good enough.

Luckily, my tail-chasing days are gone. Instead, I consistently feel successful, fulfilled, and on-track with my work. No, not every minute of every day — but way more often than not. I feel energized and creative. I generously connect with individuals. I get to help people change their lives!

How was I able to make this massive mental shift?

The most important thing I did to experience more success in my life was to change my definition of success. To clarify what “meaningful” means to me.

The most important thing I did was change my definition of success.

So let’s dive right in and learn how you can redefine success for yourself.

What we really want

We always want something, right? Movies would be boring without the main character who wants something soooo badly and is struggling to get it. Marlin wants to find his son Nemo. Rose wants to be with Jack in Titanic. And I fell asleep at Lord of the Rings, but I think everyone’s either looking for a magical ring or trying to destroy it.

What are some things you really want? Maybe a bigger paycheck, a house in the woods, your own wildly successful business…

#realtalk: These things aren’t what you want. Not exactly. What you want is how these things might make you feel.

What we’re really after is the way we expect things to make us feel.

Pick something you really want. Now close your eyes and imagine that you have that thing. Pay attention to your body. What emotions come up when you imagine having the thing?

Here are some feelings using the examples from above:

  • A bigger paycheck will make me feel secure, appreciated, relaxed.
  • A house in the woods will make me feel calm, peaceful, connected, joyful.
  • My own business will make me feel creative, generous, joyful.

A variety of thought leaders have written on this subject. In The Desire Map, author Danielle LaPorte writes, “You’re not chasing the goal itself — you’re chasing the feelings that you hope attaining those goals will give you.” In Steering by Starlight, Martha Beck tells us, “What we’re really after when we yearn for something is a feeling state.”

So now that you know what you’re really after, how do you apply that to your career development?

A new measure of success

I invite you to redefine success in terms of your own desired feelings.

Redefine success in terms of how you feel.

I define my success by how I feel. For example, through my work I want to feel catalytic — I want to help people change their lives more quickly and easily. I don’t measure myself on things like the magnitude of my clients’ life changes or even the number of clients I serve because I can’t fully control those outcomes. Instead, I feel successful — like I’m focused in the right direction — when I feel catalytic. And I feel catalytic every time I take action that has the potential to inspire someone to make a positive change in their life.

If you’ve ever worked in corporate America, you’ve probably heard the famous quote by management consultant Peter Drucker, “What gets measured, gets managed.” Your new measurement stick will encourage you to prioritize your time and energy around your desired feelings, which leads to meaningful action.

I’ll share an example. Early in my coaching career, even though I knew this stuff, I slipped off course for a bit. I started focusing all of my energy on a single number: my revenue goal. Every day I didn’t receive a payment (which was most days), I felt like a screw-up!

When I woke up to my silliness and refocused on my desired feelings, I could easily feel successful most days. I realized I have full control over whether I put my wisdom out into the world. Suddenly, I was creating a 17-page guide to help people transform their living space and their life. Next, I was consistently sharing my expertise on social media and through my newsletter. I gained followers. I coached more people. I received stunning praise, things like “I always feel so inspired after working with you!” and being called “a genuine gift!” And all because I focused on how I wanted to feel!

Armed with your new definition of success, you’ll feel the way you want to feel more often. And you may be pleasantly surprised at how the world responds!

Additional Reading

  • In part 2 of this series, I show you how to identify and prioritize the specific feelings that give your work (and your life) meaning.
  • In part 3, I show you how you can consistently experience those feelings.
  • I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It by Barbara Sher
  • The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte
  • Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny by Martha Beck

Get on the list!

To receive the next post in this series via email, join my mailing list here. (Plus you’ll get my most popular worksheet To Love Your Career, Question the Rules.)

PC: Kimberly Bailey

Discovering your ideal career is simpler than you think

Discovering your ideal career is simpler than you think

If you don’t know what kind of career you want, you’re not alone. According to The Conference Board’s 2018 survey, about half of all Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs.

Career counselors often use a Venn diagram to help a person choose a career. Its three circles encompass your interests, your skills, and other’s needs: What do you love? What are you good at? What will people pay you to do? Where these circles overlap, the theory goes, you’ll find your ideal career.

It’s really much simpler.

Ignore your skills

Your skills are irrelevant because if you love it, you’ll spend time building your skills.

“Only love will give you the drive to stick to something until you develop your gift. That’s the way really big things get accomplished in this world — by people no different than you and I who know what they want and put everything they’ve got behind it.”

– Barbara Sher, speaker, career coach, bestselling author

On the flip side, you know that when you try to sharpen your skills in an area that doesn’t interest you, it’s like trying to run in chest-deep lake water. (As much as my husband tries, I will never master his preferred method of dishwasher loading.)

Ignore the market

Wondering what people will pay for isn’t worth your energy either. When you’re pursuing work that you love, others won’t be able to resist your authentic and joyful energy.

Think about someone you know who loves their job. Even if their profession’s lingo goes way over your head, don’t you find yourself wanting to soak up their enthusiasm? Now imagine what it’s like for someone in their target market, rather than their bff, to be listening!

Choose what you love

Choose what you love over what you’re good at, or what you think people want. Focus only on desire, and the other pieces will fall into place. 

“I don’t believe you live the good life by doing what you can do; you live it by doing what you want to do… All of us are good at things we’re not madly in love with. And all of us have talents we’ve never used.”

– Barbara Sher

Looking for more?

Notice I said discovering your dream career is simpler than you think, not easier. It can be super challenging to know what we desire!

If you’ve already focused on what you love, and you’re still feeling unclear about your dream career, I can help! Apply for a free one-on-one Clarity Call to feel more clear about what you want, what’s getting in your way, and your right next steps.

PC: Kimberly Bailey

You are not crazy: why decluttering is so hard

You are not crazy: why decluttering is so hard

Before yoga class begins, Sharon (name changed) tells us about the beaded jewelry necklace that broke in her hands this morning, scattering tiny seed beads across her bathroom floor. After class — more specifically, after she finds out that I help people declutter as a way to support extraordinary life changes — she shares that she got down on her hands and knees to carefully pick up each bead. She saved them just in case she ever gets the string repaired.

“I know it’s crazy!” she says with a nervous laugh, gazing towards the floor between us. “I know I’m crazy.”

Read More Read More

Balance mind + body to plan your best days

Balance mind + body to plan your best days

It’s been almost two months since I left my software career (i.e. set aside my golden handcuffs) to get after my “someday.” It’s been absolutely amazing! One of my challenges has been adapting my schedule so I both have fun and feel productive every day. It was a quiet retreat in the woods that helped me crack this puzzle.

Read More Read More