Ease. It’s a major 2017 focus for me. How can I make my life run more smoothly? Freedom from stress and anxiety. A lessening of effort, concern, and annoyance. Increasing tranquility, comfort, and bliss.
I feel like “ease” may have some negative connotations, that it may be lumped in with laziness or luck. But to me it means knowing what I really want, so I can ensure all my decisions point towards that. It also means really knowing myself, and what I need to get to those places.
Learning what you need – what your body needs, what your mind needs, what your soul needs – can be a lifelong pursuit, but it’s so important to be in tune with all three of those aspects. Knowing what it is that energizes, refreshes, and inspires you will make your life infinitely easier.
So how do you differentiate between what you need to do, what you should do, and what you want to do? Often, when I’m really in the zone and on the right path, those all align. Sometimes, however, the choice isn’t particularly clear.
Need is pretty easy, since when we need to do something, it’s generally a requirement or an obligation, and things simply won’t progress if we don’t do them. We must do it, so do it we shall.
What about the things we should do versus the things we want to do? That is when I ask myself, “How do I want to feel? Where do I want to get to?”
Years ago I read a story about a young girl who was a competitive swimmer. She had to get up every morning before school to practice, which she did without fail. One day her grandmother was talking to her about swimming and commented that it must be so fun. “Oh, no,” the girl replied, “I love swimming, but it’s not fun.” She was referring to the early mornings, the long, tedious hours of practice, the frustrations that inevitably accompany progress. Yet even at her young age she understood the pay off, how her commitment did in the end bring her joy and satisfaction.
That story stuck with me. Often, the most worthwhile things in life are the ones we pour the most effort into.
Back to my year of ease, and how am I going to decide between should and want? Does ease always equate to doing and getting what I want? Ah ha! Doing what I want and getting what I want are two entirely different questions!
This year I also want to be productive. And I want to have fun. I want to be really supportive and connected. I want to be successful, energetic, and really really healthy.
Those words, those ideas, they paint a pretty clear picture of how I want to feel. So when I have to decide what to do with my day, I can ask myself, “How do I want to feel?”
January 1. The perfect day to start with a clean slate and get the year off to a roaring start. I could be productive, oh yes I could! And I potentially should have used the free day to start checking things off my life list, however I had been so busy over the holidays and working so hard, what I was desperately craving was relaxation (ease) and connection with my hot man. The entire day was spent wrapped in my robe, the majority while propped opposite Marcus on the couch, books open and beverages at hand. I tackled no chores, no duties, no organization, and I didn’t have one iota of regret about it.
Fast forward through another long, busy week, and I have committed to attending a seminar all weekend. I do not want to go. I absolutely do not want to spend my precious free time waking up early, sitting in a conference room, being surrounded by strangers, listening to a lecture. I agreed to this for a reason though, and I should go. It will be good for me to focus on myself for a few days. It will be an enforced opportunity to set this year off on the right foot. I know that I will either learn something new and valuable, or be reminded of something important.
When the seminar begins our educator for the weekend asks everyone who is excited to be there to stand. I do not stand. Then she asks who has shown up but is wondering why they signed up when they have so many other places to be and things to do. I stand up. Honesty is always key.
I attend. I learn. And I’m glad for the experience, as I knew I would be.
Despite this being a “should” decision and not so much of a “want,” I know myself well enough to know that I need to put myself in a position to succeed, if I’m to receive any benefit. Before the seminar begins for the weekend, I make a grocery list, go to the store, and organize meals for my next three days. I know that I am more alert and focused if I eat properly. It is important. I cancel all my social engagements for the weekend, knowing I will need time to decompress from all the enforced interaction with strangers, and will also need time to quietly process what I’m learning. I show up to the space with hot tea, an extra sweater, and a giant scarf to wrap around my shoulders – knowing that the rooms are often cold. And when our lunch break arrives, I’ve been struggling with a nasty headache, and the thought of dealing with bright lights and crowds of people for any excess time fills me with anxiety, so I choose to drive all the way home, where I can nap and decompress for a few short minutes, even though it logically doesn’t make much sense to do so.
These things are what I needed to do in order to show up and succeed at this seminar. And so I did them. I could easily have canceled, but I would not have felt as productive, fulfilled, or as if I was setting myself up to progress.
Know yourself. Weigh out your “shoulds” versus your “wants.” Only you know which is the best choice for you. And most importantly, pinpoint how you want to feel, this more than anything will be able to guide the decisions you are faced with making.by McKinnley
As a child I was impossibly stubborn. There was a day in Kindergarten where our class went to the airport and they were taking all the kids up for a ride in a tiny four-seater plane. And I decided that there was absolutely no way I was getting in that thing. While I remember the day so clearly, I have zero recollection of my rationale behind not wanting to fly. However I do recall my unflinching tenacity in sticking with my decision: I refused to get in the plane, no matter how much cajoling my teachers did, not even when they told me I could have the coveted front seat. I even remember feeling my hold beginning to soften with that one, maybe it would be worth it, since everyone was going to so much trouble to tell me how great it would be, and I could even have the best seat! But NO. I had decided I wasn’t doing it, and nobody was going to change my mind. I never got in the plane.
Fast forward 30 years and I retain very few of the qualities that stubborn and unsmiling child embodied. For better or for worse, I’ve grown up, and I’m no longer as impossibly stubborn as I used to be. In fact, I often find myself being far too flexible, and my decision-making skills are rather insubstantial – I can be coerced into almost anything by anyone charming and persistent enough to try.
While I don’t believe pig-headed stubbornness is a valuable life skill, I do think that decision-making should be simple, definitive, and not lead to sleepless, anxiety filled nights.
A friend recently lent me some books, including “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero. I really didn’t think there would be anything new or exciting for me in this book, since I’ve read everything I can get my hands on by amazingly insightful authors such as Brené Brown, Danielle LaPorte, Pam Grout, and dozens of others. To my delight I found this book to be a fantastic amalgamation of many ideas and tenets I’ve been embracing. There’s a wicked little chapter called “The Almighty Decision,” which I think really hits the nail on the head.
So often, we pretend we’ve made a decision, when what we’ve really done is signed up to try until it gets too uncomfortable.
I TOTALLY DO THAT. I sit on the fence for ages. I ask people on both sides how the grass is. I reach over and wriggle my toes around to see how it feels. Eventually I’ll climb down onto one side, but rarely do I let go of the fence, I keep my hand on that wooden post just in case I see something exciting happening on that other side and need to scramble back over. Sure, sometimes I get enjoyment from both worlds, but most of the time I miss out on the best that either side has to offer because I’m holding too damn tightly to the fence to go out and enjoy frolicking in the meadow.
“I’m a terrible decision maker.” “Making decisions gives me anxiety.” I’ve said both of these things, frequently and repeatedly. It’s time to stop. It’s time to start saying, “I’m a great decision maker!” It’s time for me to actually BE a great decision maker.
I wrote about making the decision to quit my favourite job. How that moment was crystal clear and it was the only time I felt 100% confident that it was what I both needed and wanted to do. It would be amazing if every decision came with that amount of clarity, but it doesn’t, and I need to be able to make quick, decisive choices even when the answer doesn’t come ringing.
This is where we turn back to Jen Sincero, who talks about signing up fully, wanting it badly enough, and, as Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Yep, ok, cool. Then she gets to the good stuff, the How To’s:
In order to do this you need to have the audacity to be honest about what you really want to do, not what you should do, believe it’s available to you regardless of any evidence otherwise, and go for it.
To decide means literally “to cut off.” No wonder so many people are totally freaked out by it! Indecision is one of the most popular tricks for staying stuck within the boundaries of what’s safe and familiar. Which is why a common trait of successful people is that they make decisions quickly and change them slowly. And by quickly I don’t mean that you must know exactly what to do the moment a decision presents itself (although there are those people who do), but rather that you immediately face the damn thing and start working through your decision-making process, whatever that may look like.
If you’re a waffler, or prefer to avoid the process altogether, a great thing to do is practice on the little things to build up your decision-making muscle. When eating at restaurants, make yourself pick something off the menu in under thirty seconds. Once you choose, you are unauthorized to change your mind or your order. Give yourself twenty minutes to go online and research the best garlic press and then make the purchase.
Decisions are not up for negotiation
The whole point of deciding is to stop wasting time and to move forward, NOT to spend time figuring out how you can wiggle out of your decision! It helped me to think of it this way: I’m not going to go home and negotiate about whether or not I’m going to smoke a cigarette just as I’m not going to go home and negotiate about whether or not to snort some horse tranquilizers. I don’t negotiate about snorting horse tranquilizers because I’m not a horse-tranquilizer snorter. Now that I don’t smoke, I’m not going to negotiate about smoking because I don’t smoke.
Whenever I asked all these hugely successful business owners what the secret to their success was, the overwhelming majority answered: Tenacity. Be the last person standing. Wear down your obstacles and excuses and fears and doubts..
GENIUS!!!!!! I never would have thought that you can practice things like being a better decision maker, but it absolutely makes sense.
She also gives an analogy of how birthing your dreams is like giving birth, and it’s pretty spot on. The entire book is worth a read. You can check her out at www.jensincero.com
As for me, I’ve learned that making definitive decisions brings peace and confidence. I’ve also learned that I can get better at making decisions. I no longer tell myself – or others – that I’m a rotten decision-maker. I don’t even tell myself what kind of person I want to be, I just try to be that person.
So when I’m feeling bored and snacky at work, and I’m tempted to sneak a few French fries from the greasy bowl under the heat lamp, I tell myself, “I’m not the kind of person who eats French fries at midnight.”
I think it’s important to remember that being a great decision-maker doesn’t mean you’re ever wrong, or that you never change your mind, it simply means that mistakes are merely learning opportunities, and that if a decision doesn’t feel right any more you give yourself permission to make a different decision.
Get out there and make some life-changing decisions, my friends!!by McKinnley
It seems that a majority of the conversations I’m having these days are centered around the Power of Intention, Conversations with The Universe, and all varieties of incredible, philosophical, spiritual learnings. It’s exciting and inspiring!
Exciting in that more and more people are talking about this stuff, are asking questions about how to live their lives bigger and fuller and with more purpose. I LOVE these conversations. I love reading the books, perusing the websites, pondering the implications, doing the experiments, and sharing my thoughts and experiences.
When a friend asked me if I’d like to attend a Belief Re-Patterning seminar with her, I quickly agreed. Even though I’m unemployed, giving up a Wednesday evening to go sit in a conference room wasn’t entirely appealing. And like I said, I eat, sleep and breathe this stuff, so I wasn’t confident the speaker would have anything new to add to my repertoire. But just like learning to play guitar, or draw, or speak Spanish, if you practice once a week, chances are your skill level isn’t going to improve much. If you practice every day, even for 20 minutes, you’ll retain more information and muscle memory, and you’ll improve pretty quickly. But the only way to really become proficient is by becoming immersed in the activity, by taking every opportunity to talk about it, learn about it, and practice the techniques you are learning.
I went to the seminar, and not only did it feel good to be surrounded by like-minded people and to absorb the energy they generated, but I actually learned a few new things.
The event was called, “Inner Critic to Inner Coach,” and the very engaging speaker was Hay House author (and Calgary native) Suze Casey. My favourite technique from the night was when Suze asked everyone to write down the days of the week, beginning with Thursday (the next day). She then had us write beside each day a feeling we want to experience more frequently, such as “secure” or “free.” We now had our intentions for the week mapped out, so each day we would be able to look at this list to remind us what to focus on. Of course the next step being to concentrate on that feeling, in order to draw more of it into our immediate daily life. So if you’d decided you wanted to feel more freedom in your life, on the designated day you would devote a few moments in the morning thinking about all the times you’ve previously felt free. You’d recall specific details about what you were doing, who was there, what prompted your freedom, and exactly how it felt. Throughout the day you would take snippets of time to draw up that feeling of freedom again, and really feel it: how your lungs expanded, your skin was tingling, your muscles were loose and relaxed, your brain was calm yet excited yet laser-focused all at the same time. You feel all of that again. No need to think it through, no need to ponder why you were feeling free, or to try and formulate a plan to replicate it, just feel. And keep on feeling.
Suze’s theory here is that so much of our “New Age” manifesting is focused on things. Sure, if you’re in tune enough with The Universe you can manifest yourself a brand, spanking new car, it happens all the time. However, for the majority of us, no matter how much we WANT to believe this is possible, our logical know-it-all brains just roll their eyes at us and put their ear buds back in – effectively ignoring the thing we’re desperate to manifest: “Pfffft! You think you can just dream up a new car and it will “magically” appear?! Riiiiiiiiiiiight.” The champagne coloured Audi A4 allroad quattro inevitably doesn’t arrive and we subsequently dismiss the entire notion of manifesting.
The reason we’re so crap at manifesting specific things is simply because we’ve been taught our entire lives that it’s not possible, it’s not that simple, and it’s pretty darn difficult to turn 36 years (in my case) of cultural conditioning on its head. You most certainly can flip your worldview 180 degrees, but it usually takes a few steps and a lot of determined effort to get there.
So what if, instead of trying to materialize arbitrary items out of thin air, you start setting goals? And instead of having objects become the focus of your goals, what if feelings were what you were after? For example, what does that gorgeous Audi represent for me? Success perhaps. If somebody were to hand me my dream car tomorrow, would I actually feel successful? Probably not. Oh, I’d be pretty stoked about it, but if I’m counting on an Audi to make me feel happy and fulfilled, I’ll likely be disappointed, and then confused as to why achieving this goal didn’t tip my success scale. How do I define success? What does success FEEL like? If I focus on those questions, instead of what success might look like, I’ll be much more likely to achieve success (and who knows, maybe I’ll end up with that Audi after all).
A few years ago I learned about feeling oriented goal setting from the always enlightening Danielle LaPorte (check her out! www.daniellelaporte.com “What will I do to feel the way I want to feel?”) but suddenly Suze had handed me a new tool to really be able to create these emotions, as opposed to just trying to manifest them. Talk about a lightbulb moment!!!! Now, instead of telling myself, “Hey, I’d really like to feel more accepting. K, thanks, bye,” and then hoping all these opportunities to feel accepting appear in front of me, I can go, “I really haven’t been feeling very accepting lately. Sonja is an amazing example of Accepting because she just radiates light and love, I should spend more time around her and try to emulate that kind of presence. And remember the time in a ferry terminal where I opened up and was really attentive and kind to the odd hippie dragging around a giant garbage bag? How he was sweet and interesting when I decided to actually listen to him, and then he gave me a hand-dyed shirt out of his bag, simply as a gesture of appreciation and good Karma? It felt like I was sending little tendrils of love from my heart to his, that’s what accepting felt like, and I want to repeat that experience regularly.” Now I can conjure up that syrupy, rose-gold tinged heart-feel at will throughout the day, and if I continue to recreate that feeling of acceptance, it won’t be long until I simply AM an accepting person.
My list looked like this:
Already I’m feeling more focused!!
If this strikes a chord with you, Suze is having another FREE seminar in Calgary on Tuesday, September 15. You should reserve a seat at www.critic2coach.ca (you can use code 1182 when signing up). You can also check her out at www.beliefrepatterning.com Or pick up her book Belief Re-Patterning http://www.amazon.ca/Belief-Re-patterning-Technique-Flipping-Positive/dp/1401935567/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440989564&sr=8-1&keywords=suze+caseyby McKinnley
I’m not even remotely athletic, and how good of shape I’m in is highly questionable (After a hike a couple of years ago, a friend who was with me commented, “I’ve heard about people like you – you’re one of those fat skinny people!!”).. I’ve been blessed with great genetics, and a career that keeps me on my feet and moving all day every day, but overall fitness = FAIL.
Then I hit my 30’s, and all the physical capabilities I’d taken for granted for three decades suddenly weren’t so readily available: My knees started hurting when I climbed stairs. Things I’d been carrying or moving at work for years were now a struggle. I’d become winded at the slightest exertion. I had to *gasp* start asking for help!
Having never exercised, I had no idea where to start. Someone gave me a free pass to a gym – which I actually went to, once, where I promptly acquired a case of severe anxiety, and never returned.
A friend suggested I join her in a yoga class. Being kind of a hippie yoga seemed right up my alley… But the hot studio was intimidating: I’m prone to dehydration, I don’t like getting sweaty, AND HOW WOULD I KNOW WHAT TO DO?? She somehow convinced me to go with her. And then go again.
I kind of thought that once I got past my excuses, yoga and I would fall madly in love. That’s not exactly what happened. For nearly two years yoga and I had an on-again off-again relationship, and even when I was practicing semi-regularly, I never looked forward to it. In fact, when yoga came up in conversation I often admitted to not liking it! “I have to do something,” was my response to the confused expressions on their faces.
However a shift was happening: I started going to yoga even when nobody could join me, I found myself maneuvering my schedule around my favourite classes, and lo and behold, I began to notice that the poses were easier some days, my limbs seemed to be getting stronger, everyday tasks that had become a struggle no longer phased me, and I could walk into a power class in a different city while on vacation without being the least bit intimidated.
Still, I wouldn’t have described yoga as being a big part of my life.
And then, about a month ago, I dislocated a rib. There’s not even a good story to go along with my injury, but it’s prevented me from doing many things I want to do – which is incredibly frustrating.
Suddenly, now that I can’t do yoga, it’s all I want to do. Turns out I DO actually like yoga, a lot. I miss it, fiercely. Funny how that works, isn’t it? That we don’t realize how much we love something until we can’t have it. (Humans are strange creatures…)
I’m attempting to be patient while my muscles and ligaments knit themselves back together (a challenge for me), and in the interim I’m dreaming about amazing yoga sequences I want to tackle one day. Turns out I have a passion, a goal, a desire, a burning for more! And I’m gonna do it!!!! Sure, I may be 36 and a little soft around the edges, but I see ABSOLUTELY NO REASON why I can’t do the splits, or master a handstand, or touch my toes to my head:
Check out these incredible videos for more mind-blowing inspiration:
(I’m ITCHING to do some acro yoga – anybody wanna partner up with me??)
And then this = HOLY CRAP PUNCHERSby McKinnley