This is what you should start, stop and drop to live your life on purpose.
When I take my kids to school every day, we do affirmations. We start with the Lord’s Prayer. That’s something we’ve always done – I believe in prayer and I believe in the power of prayer.
I also believe in the power of positive affirmations. If you have listened to Oprah’s Super Soul podcast, you may have heard when she recently had Joel Osteen on and he talked about the power of “I am.” If you haven’t heard that segment, you should listen to it.
You are absolutely who you say you are, and you are absolutely who you say you’re not. So, in my house, if my kids say “can’t,” we say that’s a bad word. They might respond, “That’s not a bad word!” But that is a bad word in my house.
What are you saying to yourself every day? You are the only person you spend 24 hours a day with, uninterrupted. What is your self-talk? What movie reel is going on in your mind? If you need a jump start with positive affirmations, these are the things that we say every day in my family:
- I am smart.
- I am brave.
- I am kind.
- I am powerful.
- I am highly favored.
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
- I will lend and not borrow.
- I have great ideas.
- I have great connections.
- I am beautiful.
- I am equipped.
- I am well able.
- I make good decisions every day.
Remember that you are who you say you are.
Start a Yes List
We talk a lot about the power of no, which is wonderfully valuable. There’s also a lot to say about the power of yes. If you listened to my podcast segment entitled, “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things,” I talked about the power of yes, because I see that firsthand when I reach out to people like Laura Vanderkam, Jacob Morgan, Dwayne Reed and many others who don’t know me from the person in line at Publix, but felt compelled to join my show to share their stories. It is the most humbling experience, and it’s also taught me to say yes more than I’d normally be inclined to. When people reach out to me for guidance on careers or technology or how to start a podcast, I may not have all the answers, but I have the answers that those people need at that time in their lives.
Schedule Weekly “Me Time”
When I had Laura Vanderkam on the show, we were talking about tips for productivity, and she said something that was life-changing. Laura schedules weekly time, every week, for herself, and she trades off that time with her partner. Laura has four children with one on the way – a very busy life. But she schedules, let’s say, three hours every week just for her. And I remember when she was saying it, I started doing a movie reel in my head of excuses like, “I work full-time,” “I have two kids,” “My daughter has soccer three times a week.” I mean, really, I was thinking of all the reasons why this did not apply to me, and I actually said something back to her like, “Oh, my gosh, how do you do that?” And she responded, “You just do it.”
It doesn’t have to be three hours. It could be a manicure, a pedicure, lunch with your friends, meditation or exercise. But you have to take care of yourself. You have to put your oxygen mask on first and be unapologetic about it. We need to stop being martyrs for everybody else.
Meditation literally changed my life. I shared in the episode I did with Kim Lackey, “When the Universe Punches You in the Face,” about the panic attack I had last year out of nowhere. It was a gorgeous Saturday morning with…paramedics in my house. I thought I was having a heart attack. Nope, I wasn’t. I was just pretending to be superwoman, and it all came crashing down.
That moment changed my life in so many ways, and I’m so thankful that it happened. It always sounded weird to me when people said they were thankful when bad things struck. I actually am really thankful because it allowed me time to stop and make immediate corrections in the areas that weren’t working in my life. Meditation was one thing I introduced, quite frankly, out of necessity. It was not at some Buddhist retreat with guided mediation at sunset. It was leaving the hospital on a Saturday afternoon when my sister said, “You have to make some changes. Here’s something that’s worked for me.” I have been a vocal and dedicated and consistent meditator ever since.
I do 10 minutes a day; I have a goal of 20 minutes, which sometimes happens. I really challenge you to start the practice of meditation. I am vocal because it saved my life. And there are so many people out there who might have a similar response.
Write It Down
The power of journaling is magical, and it’s also pretty straightforward. When you write something down, your body literally starts changing its motivation to get it done. Thinking about it, texting it, and speaking it are not the same as putting pen to paper. Write it down, whether it be your goals or what you’re grateful for every day (which I’ve also spoken on); the power of journaling can change your life.
When people say the word “exercise,” those of you who may not be doing it might roll your eyes. Okay, that’s cool, but hear me out. I exercise so that I’m a nicer person. Yeah.
Do your legs look good, too? Yep, they do. I walk my dog a mile a day and then I bike five miles a day. It’s nothing glamorous like on a hill or anything. It’s a bike in my room. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. I still get it in. I feel better. I look better. I do better when I exercise.
Am I asking you to go start six miles a day? No, but can you take a 10-minute walk on your lunch break? Can you take the stairs at work? Can you take your kids and your family with you and do an evening walk? If the weather’s good where you live, just start. The power of transformation is not once-in-awhile, random changes. It’s every day in the grind, in the moment, doing it when you don’t feel like doing it. And that’s where the magic happens.
Live Your Life
This might seem like a massive question, but are you truly living? I mean, when your feet hit the ground, are you excited for your day? Are you ready to take over the world and whatever comes at you? Or are you rolling your eyes at me right now and telling me to stop being so dang happy?
That’s why you’re listening to me – if you don’t have it, I want to teach you how to get it. I want to teach you how to wake up excited when your feet hit the floor each day. I want to teach you how to live on purpose. That’s not going to be a quick change. That’s going to be you stopping and taking inventory of your life.
Really getting real with yourself.
Not your Instagram posts or your Facebook cute and edited posts. What is really going on? Who are you at nine o’clock at night when nobody is paying attention? Who are you at seven in the morning when you’re getting ready? That’s the real you. What do you like? What do you want to change and what’s stopping you?
I know I’m getting all serious, y’all, but I mean it. I want you to understand life. It’s so finite. We have all lost loved ones where we just shook our heads, because – wait a second – that wasn’t supposed to happen. Please don’t waste any more time. Don’t worry about what society says you should be doing. Don’t worry about other people’s opinions of you. What makes you happy? What brings you joy? And what can you start doing to cultivate that, right now?
How are you spending your time and is it the most valuable way to spend it? There are things you should be doing and there are things other people should be doing. You need to spend your time doing what you were hired to do. If you were hired to be strategic and solve problems, that’s where you should be spending your time. If you’re mired in administrative duties or things other people can be doing, you’re probably not being strategic. If you’re firing off email responses all day, you’re probably not being strategic. Track your time. Make sure you’re using your time for what you are good at. And if there are tasks you can delegate to others, or that you can help develop the skills in them and help them grow, do that because ultimately, that’s going free you up.
For some reason, we believe that because we’re female, we should be doing all the housework, all the mental to-do lists, children’s activities, holding down jobs and careers…you know, doing everything.
I used to work all day, get off work and manage the messy lives of two little humans, and then I’d spend my night doing dishes and laundry and cleaning up after them. And I was utterly exhausted. See podcast episode #7 where I talk about my panic attack.
Y’all, I have dropped that self-expectation of having it all done. I have so dropped that. If there are dishes in the sink overnight, I am so cool with it. Now, if there are piles of laundry, I outsource that to my husband or my daughter. I do not feel responsibility any longer to keep a perfect home because somebody might be stopping by. That is insane. It is not sustainable. There is still a housework gender gap. You may not like me saying that, men, if you’re reading this, but it’s true.
Ladies, where can you outsource the housework? If you share a home with other people, you should not be doing all the work. Stop. That.
Committing to Things and to People Who Don’t Serve You
My mother says there are four types of people in your life: The people who add, subtract, multiply and divide. If you are hanging out with the subtractors and the dividers, stop. Make sure that you’re committing to things and people who serve you. If you get an invite and it’s not serving, “No,” is a complete sentence. It’s okay to stay home in your jammies and get to that book you’ve been trying to read. If it serves your soul, I promise you that people will get over it.
Stop Holding a Grudge
That person who made you mad 10 years ago, who you say you’ve forgiven but you really haven’t – stop. Listen, there are some people who have done some things to me and there are some people who I have upset, I’m sure. I have to forgive some things every day. If you’re harboring anger and you’re harboring hatred, lay it down. Actually say it out loud. I know I have you guys say things out loud a lot. There’s just something to it. “I forgive (insert name).” That doesn’t mean you have to hang with them. It doesn’t mean you have to send them flowers. It doesn’t mean anything other than that you’ve released that ghost from your mind and that thought from your body, and can now move on.
Saying “I’m Sorry” All the Time
Have you noticed that as women, we say we’re sorry for things that have nothing to do with anything we did? It’s not an empowering statement. You’re literally apologizing for something that’s not your fault. Stop. Drop it.
Waiting to Be 100% Ready
Here is a newsflash: You are never, ever, ever, ever 100% ready. Were you 100% ready to be a parent? Were you 100% ready to take that job? No, and no. Heck, half of us are still faking it until we make it. Stop waiting to be 100% ready. Stop waiting for perfection. Just start doing.
Did you know that when it comes to jobs, and this is a proven statistic, men will apply for a job when they have at least 30% of the requirements? Guess what? Women don’t apply for a job until they believe they have 100% of the requirements. I’ve been in the people and recruiting business for a long time. Nobody has 100% of the requirements unless they’ve been doing the job forever. Stop waiting until you’re 100% ready. Do it afraid – it’ll come. It’ll come to you. It’s not going to be perfect. It’ll be messy. But sometimes those are the best lessons.
Expecting Happiness from Other People
It’s impossible. Happiness is an inside job. Realize that you come into this world by yourself, you leave this world by yourself and you are the only person you are with 24 hours a day. Your happiness and your peace and your joy should be top of mind because how awful would it be to not be happy or joyful, and not cultivate what you want when you’re literally with yourself all the time? Be 1000% unapologetic about fiercely seeking happiness.
A lot of the time, joy is found in the simplest of things. I don’t like when people make happiness into some medal that you have to achieve – that is not happiness. I personally believe that for me, happiness is peace. It’s joy. It’s quiet. It’s knowing who I am and being unapologetic about that. It’s living with integrity and authenticity. If I cultivate those things, happiness follows.
Last but not least, drop the excuses. You are the architect of your life. If you don’t like something in your life, change it. If you don’t like the way you look or how much you weigh, change it. If you don’t like the constant chatter in your mind or the story you’ve been telling yourself, change it. You know that song by the Eagles about how we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have the key? You are so much more powerful than you think you are. You can do so much more than you think you can.