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Yesterday I took my place alongside thousands of other spectators who had gathered to watch the Blue Angels roar through the picturesque San Francisco skyline. The jets flew across the bay, giving us a quick glimpse of their spectacular stunts before they were grounded due to fog conditions. Yet it wasn’t the aborted show that sent me away feeling disappointed; it was a conversation that took place in the crowd that I allowed to get me down.
Four and a half years ago I left a high-paying job because I had come to painfully recognize that I was only in it for the money. I’ve started a new business since then that has great potential, yet it is only now beginning to take off. My life lately has not exactly been a cakewalk financially as I continue to invest in my new venture.
What Does Money Mean?
I am not normally an envious person, so it took me some soul-searching to uncover why the couple behind me in yesterday’s crowd got to me when I heard them talking about the multiple homes they owned. I had let myself fall into the trap of valuing money as the gauge for success. As I listened to them discuss how they were currently looking at buying another home, I began to ask myself if I had been a fool to let go of my big paycheck, as if the amount of money you have is a determination of how wise you are.
True Success in Life
One question that always gets me back on track is asking myself what would make me feel good about my life when I reach its end. It is easy to forget that it is a series of little things that build a lifetime, not one accomplishment that defines us. My Blue Angels experience reminded me to honor how I want to be remembered, and to measure my success accordingly.
I celebrated my 50th birthday earlier this month. As I have been slowly reflecting on how this milestone has impacted me, one thing that has come up is that I want to approach the second half of my life a bit differently. You see, I pretty much let the energy of life pull me along for my first 50 years. I’m not complaining; it seems to have unfolded pretty darn well. But now I’m starting to realize that what I make of my life is totally up to me, and with the clock ticking a little more loudly now, I am feeling a lot more motivated to step in and take control.
How do you take control of your life?
- Acknowledge that your life needs the same kind of planning that you give your weekends. We all have a lot more power to create awesome lives than we recognize. It starts with direction.
- Set aside time to focus on what you want to create with your life. Let dreams be born and believed in.
- Begin every day focused on your vision. Recognize that your attention fuels whatever you focus on.
- Uphold the vision throughout the day. Continue to visit your vision in your mind as your reality.
- Work on believing that your vision will manifest. Get in touch with whatever is holding you back from your vision and work on breaking through limiting thoughts.
As I reread my list here from the perspective of really wanting to make this happen for myself, I recognize that there is a discipline required. Just like the time I so easily invest each week in running or the gym, I need to spend similar time to building the life I want.
The Silicon Valley chapter of Experience Unlimited, ProMatch, a state sponsored career resource center, has swelled to maximum capacity while a list holds names of unemployed professionals waiting to get in. The volume is so strained that the maximum membership time has been reduced from 9 months to 6 months in an effort to support more people.
The New York Times this weekend reported similar crowd scenes, yet in a different type of venue. The article opened by describing an affluent Long Island town evangelical church so packed that an overflow room with closed-circuit TV with 100 folding chairs set up to accommodate the crowd. Similar stories were reported in Seattle, Brooklyn, and other cities throughout the country.
Bad times draw big crowds in church. It seems that fear returns us to that faith that there is something to believe in that will enable us to feel safe.
If we can feel safe in the most challenging of times, then isn’t the challenge worth where we’ve arrived?
I’ve been invited by Dress for Success San Francisco to give a presentation next week on managing stress. As I finished my initial preparation, it occurred to me that with all that is happening in our world these days, everyone could benefit from these 10 simple tips:
- Eliminate the idea of lack. Recognize that opportunities to create more abundance are all around you. It’s just a matter of focusing on them and following through.
- Look to see a benefit in the stress point – a silver lining or a valuable lesson learned. Choose to see tough economic times as opportunities to work hard and learn how to do what you do better to get and keep the job.
- Exercise your right to respond peacefully. A challenging situation does not require an emotionally charged response. Your choice to react peacefully does not mean that you agree with or support the stressor; rather it demonstrates your choice to minimize its negative impact.
- Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly, relax and surround yourself with the energy of peace.
- Learn to accept things you can’t change. Choose to believe that the universe knows more than you about what is best.
- Find an exercise you enjoy and do it regularly.
- Avoid negative people and environments as much as possible. Do whatever you can to surround yourself with peaceful influences.
- Learn to say no. Don’t promise too much. Give yourself enough time to get things done.
- Trust in the goodness of the universe. Expect that what you need will be provided.
- Join a support group or seek out professionals if you can’t cope on your own. Consider seeking help as a sign that you are smart enough to know it and strong enough to go for it.
I received a thank you card the other day from the program coordinator of a center for girls where I recently presented. In her note she expressed how she appreciated the vibe I brought to the girls. I thought that to be an interesting statement and considered what she specifically might have meant. I was conscious of the words I’d chosen to share, how I said them and what I wore. But my vibe?
Yesterday I attended a women’s networking event where I met a number of women for the first time. As I reflected on the event afterwards and brought to mind those I met, I realized that it wasn’t what they’d said or what they’d worn that stayed in my mind; it was their vibe.
Vibe as defined by The Free Dictionary: a distinctive emotional aura experienced instinctively
My mind kept revisiting one woman in particular. I knew very little about her life, but through her vibe, I sensed she felt beaten down, hungry for something that is missing in her life, and not comfortable in her own skin. While this person seems very nice on the outside, her vibe feels like a downer.
We all pick up on vibes, whether we are conscious of it or not.
Are you aware of what your vibe says?
Does it express what you want to attract in your life?
For tips on how to improve your vibe, read my article Raising Your Vibration to Attract What You Want.
Yesterday I enjoyed the most simple and loving day with the three people who mean the most to me—my mother, my father and my boyfriend. We took a 75-mile drive to pick olives. This outing was something I initiated after an evening viewing our family home movies with my parents a few weeks back. My dad had made a comment that will forever stay with me, “Those were the good old days. I don’t have much to live for anymore.” I cried most of the drive home that night, partly from hearing that he felt that way and partly realizing that my time with my parents is running low.
At the end of the day, does it really matter how much the stock market dipped or what’s the price of oil? You can lose everything you have, but nothing can take your memories away.
Building memories is easy and it doesn’t have to cost much money. It’s all a matter of making memories a higher priority. Here’s how:
- Ask yourself who are the people who are important to you.
- Determine how you might enjoy spending time with them.
- Check your calendar for available dates.
- Make the call to propose the time.
- Follow through with your commitment.
- Enjoy the time and the awareness that you are building what really counts in life.
Is there something that you wish to achieve or create in your life, yet you lack the confidence in yourself to follow through? Here are some tips for staying relentlessly focused on your goal.
- Break your goal into executable steps.
- Recognize that the key to achieving your goals is following through with the necessary steps.
- Assign a schedule for each step and commit it to your calendar.
- Use your calendar as your “to do” list. If you can’t get to a step on the scheduled date, reschedule it. Keep the step on your calendar until its completion.
- If you are feeling resistance to following through with a particular step, get in touch with the belief that is in your way.
- Replace the limiting belief with an idea that empowers you to move forward. Get inspired from someone who believes in you.
- Hold yourself responsible for the life you create. Don’t allow room for regrets!
Worry is nothing more than holding mental pictures of things you do not want.
–from I Can, by Ben Sweetland
I found this passage yesterday in the very first self-help book I ever bought. I can’t remember when or where I got my copy of I Can. All I know is that it is the 1978 edition of the book originally copyrighted in 1953.
The memory of this book came to me as I was thinking about my dreams for my work life and fighting the doubts that were darting through my mind. It was as if I was wrestling with what I knew I believed about my own potential and possibilities intellectually versus the doubtful thinking that seems to come so naturally. I really do believe I can do or be anything. But why does it have to be so hard fighting off the demons trying to tell me otherwise?
Can you relate?
Don’t be afraid to let yourself be guided by the dreams and visions you have in your heart. These dreams represent your potential, who you truly are at your core. The fact that you have these dreams is evidence that they are attainable, even if they seem too good to be true.
What if something really does feel too good to be true?
Ask yourself one question. Is it too good to be true for anybody, or just too good to be true for you? This is an interesting question, isn’t it? Why should any idea be too good to be true? There is something about being human that leaves us wide open to questioning whether we are good enough. Why is it that we can muster up so much more worthiness for our family, friends, and neighbors than we can for ourselves? Just like we need to believe that we can reach something before we stretch our arms for it, we need to believe that we are entitled to something before we dare to begin to take the steps toward it.
Steps to conquer the fear of not being good enough:
- Look at yourself with compassion from the inside out and ask, what is really not good enough?”
- Look at your intention. Is it to do something that is good for you and your fellow man? Is so, ask what’s not to be good enough?
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Allow yourself to see that you bring your own unique gifts and experiences that make you different.
- Remind yourself that when you are being who you truly are, you are way more than good enough. You are in your right place. The process of getting from Point A to Point B may feel like it pushes your buttons of competency, yet that’s very different from your being good enough.
- Remember than absolutely nobody is perfect. Life itself is meant to be an experience that we learn and grow from.
Imagine that somehow you were forced to sit in a science classroom in the earlier part of today, and you learned that you are energetically connected to everything that is alive. Would that change your view of the role you play in this world?
Chances are that you did not go to science class today, but that doesn’t change your opportunity to revisit your world view and the role you play. This tidbit about your connection to all of life is true, according to evidence brought forth by modern day quantum physicists. Furthermore, they tell us that we are constantly exchanging energy back and forth with each other. Consider it a cosmic game of catch, but instead of a ball, we’re throwing around our thoughts. Imagine that.
As these understandings rise to the surface of our cultural consciousness, gone go the days when we can pretend that what we think or say about others or ourselves doesn’t have any impact. That’s like thinking that throwing acid in the reservoir isn’t going to affect our drinking water.
Someone close to me has been very challenged in “getting his act together” for the past couple of years. It’s so easy for me to listen to his stories on the phone and make judgments that produce energy that feeds what he’s doing on his own. Yet this evidence of our connected energy has made me so much more cautious about the power of my thoughts, and I now feel a greater need to be morally responsible with them. What are your thoughts?