Every new year, I post my favorite ways to make the most of the coming year. Check last year’s post here.
Over the last few years, I’ve been so fortunate to have been given opportunities and experiences to meet and work with so many amazing women–online and in-person. To say I’m grateful is an understatement.
The best part, for me, about working with so many women who are all so different, have different aspirations, passions, personalities, etc, is that I get a lot of experience figuring out what works for who. How can this person be more effective in their business? How can this gal finally beat the crash dieting cycle and maintain her results? How can this woman master her mindset to become freer and happier in her relationships with herself and others.
It’s been a whirlwind, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Luckily, there are number of solutions and strategies that work for most women when it comes to being more effective, successful, happy and fulfilled in their lives. Below are the lessons I’ve learned personally, and through working in-depth with hundreds of women over the years to elevate. Enjoy!
1) Master the art of SELF-trust.
If there’s one practice to rule them all, it’s this. All insecurity comes down to this–on some level, we don’t trust ourselves. We censor ourselves and look for affirmation and approval and act in accordance with that we believe will earn us that from others. We often go around trying to prove to others we are good enough, when if we just mastered the art of self-trust, we’d be free of the need for approval altogether. And imagine how liberating that could be! Doing what you need to do for you, without worrying over how others will perceive it or what they’re thinking. Because remember, they are often too busy wondering what you’re thinking OF THEM. Ha!
This is probably the hardest task on this list because it means overcoming some of our deepest insecurities.
How do you do it? You start practicing, and use “worst-case scenario.” When you find yourself looking for affirmation from others and seeking approval, instead, try a new way. Just do or say whatever is in your heart and let the chips fall where they may. HOLY SHIT. Lol. Sooooo hard. But, then, go to worst-case scenario: What if people don’t like what you have to say? Or what you’re doing? Would you change as a result? Try to fall back in line? Probably not if it’s what’s in your heart, right? So then ask, would I be okay with so-and-so not approving? Or being disappointed? Or not offering their affirmation? And I bet, 100% of the time you’ll be just fine. Is it comfortable? No. Does it feel painful? Sometimes. And in the short term, it’ll probably be a struggle. But the alternative is staying in a place where you’re constantly compromising for others and censoring your true self in an effort to gain approval. And that sucks way worse in the long-run.
2) Be yourself, unapologetically.
Similar to self-trust, when you act and come from a place of unapologetic authenticity, people get to see the real you. And that can be scary, sure. But the amazing thing is that when you practice being yourself without apology, you KNOW that the people who love you and surround you TRULY love you for you. No smokescreens, expectations or obligations to be anything you’re not. Because keeping up the facade of being someone you’re not is almost like lying to those around you, isn’t it? It’s a promise that you can’t (and shouldn’t) deliver. And those you love deserve to see the real you, every part of you. And implicit in that revealing also means that some people will leave your life. Let them. It’s fine. Because they also deserve to surround themselves with people they enjoy without obligation or expectation, don’t they? It’s a beautiful system!
3) Try. Try. And then try some more.
AKA, take action and see what happens. Because the alternative is not taking action. And staying in status quo mode. Which is not a judgment if you like your status quo–besides, you should like it–but when we talk about elevating your game for 2014, it’s about deeper connection and richer experiences. And those only arise when we try a new way. Take a new chance. Choose to go in a different direction. And change is always scary, but we’ll never know how far we can go if we don’t try. And try again. And try some more. Because elevating is not easy. It takes time, patience, persistence, self-confidence and reams of resiliency. But the reward is more than you can imagine. Your entire existence can be completely different a year from now if you start taking action consistently. Put in the work, mess up and then keep on keeping on.
4) Practice empathy.
People want permission to be human. And when we judge them for being anything but perfect, we are making a judgment that there’s something *wrong* with them, and that the way we want them to be is the “right way.” It’s not a matter of right or wrong, simply the fact that people are and should be able to be themselves, whatever that looks like.
The most generous thing we can do for someone else is to see where they’re coming from. Put ourselves in their shoes. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Allow them to be human. We can create the most fulfilling relationships if we let people be themselves without judgment. And by using “the benefit of the doubt” as a tool, we can also understand why people do what they do.
We all act out of insecurity, so when using the benefit of the doubt, if someone pisses you off, you don’t need to take it personally because you can now understand that they are acting from their own insecurity. They are just doing the best they can. And the need to take offense and take things personally falls away. It’s liberating for them, but more for YOU :) Practice empathy. How can it hurt to see where someone else is coming from?
5) Give to others exactly what you want to get back. And give freely!
You want to be treated kindly? Be kind to others first. If you want to be respected, treat others with respect and be humble first. Besides, doesn’t everyone deserve to be listened to and acknowledged? The most confident people give praise and compliments freely because they don’t make it mean that their contributions are any less valuable. I think as women, we can get caught up in this, out of insecurity. We hold back praise for others because we think that if we acknowledge someone else’s success or accomplishment, it means that we are not doing as well. Which is crazy! The two, in actuality, have nothing to do with one another. And the most confident people realize this and give freely. And not only that, they also realize it actually BENEFITS THEM to help and give to others. It’s in giving that we receive. Truly. Try and see what happens.
6) Give up the idea of “perfection.”
In everything. Your physique, your parenting skills, your business outcomes, your relationships. When you expect perfection in not only certain areas, but ALL areas, as us women often do, we’re only left with disappointment and discouragement. We decide that we need X or else we can’t be happy or we can’t feel successful.
And that’s a miserable way to live.
I would even argue that striving for perfection not only makes you miserable but actually holds you back from being successful. Because remember, failure is feedback, and we need the mess-ups to learn and grow. Perfectionists have little tolerance for missteps, to the point that when they do mess up, they crumble. They don’t have the resiliency built that people who just strive to do their best do. Let “good enough” be good enough and watch as your results soar.
7) Quit defining success.
My ever-insightful sister-in-law, Jillian and I were talking over a bottle of wine last night, and she said something that really struck me: “As soon as you define what happiness looks like, you’ve already limited yourself.” I love this. When you define what you see happiness as–a new house, a luxury car, the perfect relationship, a career making X amount a year, whatever–you are already closed off to seeing other ways you might experience happiness. When you define your happiness goal a specific way, you miss out on any potential happiness that can be found outside that definition.
8) Take what people say at face value.
This is so hard, because we want to make assumptions and protect ourselves against what we perceive to be ulterior motives by others. We say things like, “I have a great sense of intuition,” or “I go with my gut,” and “Well, I don’t trust they really mean what they say.” I understand that. And it can be scary taking something someone says at face value, because we want to make meaning out of things. We don’t want to be taken advantage of or have someone pull one over on us. I get that too.
But the point is two things: a) Making assumptions and thinking you know what someone *means* to say better then they themselves know is dangerous. Because when we interact in this way, we never trust anyone. We think people are working from an agenda. Talk about miserable! And not to mention, it’s completely unfair to the other person. Let them own their truth (or falsity), it’s not for you to decipher. “But Jill, what if someone is lying to me?” And that brings me to b) If you take someone at face value and they are deceiving you, then that truth will come out eventually. And you’ll learn from it at that point. You can make a decision at that point. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You’re made a fool of? Someone pulls one over on you? Aren’t you only a victim if you decide you’re one? Aren’t you only “a fool” if you give that thought credence?
I know this concept is a really bitter pill to swallow for many, but the alternative is waaaaay worse–never being able to trust anyone, constantly feeling like others are trying to take advantage of you, watching your back and never fully living because you’re so worried about what others are doing. No thanks! You do YOU. Let them do them!
Love this so much: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~Hemingway
9) Stop doing shit you hate.
This is tricky, because often we don’t even stop to think about if we actually LIKE what we’re doing or enjoy it. I remember when I was doing “the fitness hustle,” teaching and training at a million different gyms and working 70 hours a week, I had no time to even THINK about the fact that I was miserable. It wasn’t until I was driving across town at 8pm on a Friday night to train one client for $15 that I was like, “WTF? What am I doing?? How is this my life? I don’t even have any sense of control over it. I’m just drifting, never asking the hard questions.” You might be in that position right now too. Feeling like you can’t slow down to question your life’s direction because … What about the bills? What about my obligations? What about the guilt I would feel at not delivering on certain things? I couldn’t possibly ask my boss for a raise or a change in my schedule because, what if he fires me?? What if I raise my prices and my clients quit!?
I get it. I do. And when I started making changes to my miserable schedule, I had all those same fears. And you don’t make changes overnight. It took me 5 years from my aha moment to actually be working full-time for myself from home. So I’m not asking you to shun your responsibilities or not make your mortgage. But start to consider that you COULD actually start SLOWLY making some changes to your life to be happier, freer and more effective with your time and money. At least begin to ASK the questions :)
10) Be grateful. For the good, the bad, and the ugly.
It’s easy to be appreciative for the good stuff. I can look around my life and find a million happy coincidences. And that’s an important practice. BUT. But, what about the tough stuff? Can you be grateful for those too?? Tal Ben-Shahar in ‘Being Happy’ says that it’s through the challenges and the failures that we truly grow. Without the obstacles, we’d have zero opportunities to get better. I was laughing with Jillian a few months ago, saying, “Sometimes I just want to go move to a cabin out in the woods and be alone forever.” I think we all experience moments like that, don’t we? When we want to hide from reality. And isn’t going to a cabin in the middle of nowhere nice and convenient? No one to push my buttons. Nothing to challenge me. No responsibilities forcing me to learn. Beautiful! Except that there’s also absolutely zero chance for connection, no opportunity for grow, change, insight, improvement.
The bad. And the ugly. Those are where the gems are. The BEST lessons! Aaaaaah! And it’s hard! And painful! And uncomfortable! But you’ll know you’ve mastered this when you can see your worst nightmares come true as gifts. Aaaaaaah! But the bottom line is that none of us gets out of life without experiencing pain, loss and heartbreak of some kind. And like Byron Katie says, “You don’t have to like it. It’s just easier if you do.” Ha!
Regardless of where you decide to go in 2014, remember that you can do anything you want. Never forget how powerful you are in the world. Everything you ever wanted is only a thought away, if you have the audacity and courage to think it. Thoughts become things! And though I love a new year, I find that every single day is an opportunity to get better, to become freer, happier, more successful in my own way, on my own terms. How about you? What will you do to be amazing this year? Let me know! :) Ox, Jill
Related: 32 Rules to Live By