I Make Money Moves: How To NOT Freak Out Over Your Bank Account

I Make Money Moves: How To NOT Freak Out Over Your Bank Account

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I will never forget the person who changed my relationship with money.

No, not a parent.

No, not a boss.

It was my first…

…tax guy.

 

My friend Roy referred me to Wardie back when I was twenty-something, broke-ish, and realized that if I ever wanted to truly become a self-sufficient adult, I needed to woman up and stop passing off Tax Duty to the accountants most broke-ish twenty-somethings use: the parentals.

I was a lucky, lucky girl to have parents who would take on this task for me. I recognize and understand my privilege, and how closely I toed the line between Uninformed Young Person and Stereotypical Spoiled Millenial. I think it was when I realized that I had a choice between the two – owning my uninformed-ness and learning, or making someone else do my dirty work and staying in the dark – that I took a deep breath and got myself my very first (non-relative, non-unpaid) accountant.

Wardie had been in the business of money for over fifty years. His office was perched on the third floor of an inconspicuous putty-colored building, sandwiched between a production company and a plumber’s HQ. I vividly remember driving up one Sunday and parking in a spot reserved for the production staff. The irony that I was there to take control of my finances yet practically asking for (yet another) parking ticket was not lost on me. *This* is how I got broke-ish, I thought.

I ended up using Wardie as my accountant for years, up until I moved to Manhattan. Walking into Wardie’s office was a little like walking into a page out of the I Spy series of my childhood: books upon books and knick-knacks randomly scattered around the shelves. A framed set of coins, a USC championship banner from who knows when. Old family photos and Hemmingway anthologies. Notebooks and textbooks and file folders galore. The haphazard space was strangely calming, the lack of outward order making me sigh with relief every year – because once I sat down at his desk, I knew he had my back. His hands shook slightly more and more each year, and he used the same calculator he’d had since 1984.

And when I expressed concern or asked a question, he reminded me to Not Worry; that I had things under control – a reminder I needed, because much like his office, my exterior world could sometimes feel a bit confusing.

~

Money: it’s a topic most of us tap-dance around, even with the people we trust most. There’s a sense of shame associated with not having as much as you feel you should…or not being able to afford what you once could…or not be able to afford what others can…or looking at your paycheck and seeing how much is taken out from taxes…or doing your taxes and realizing you owe more than a few paychecks’ worth and not really understanding why. Mo’ money, mo’ shame. Less money, mo’ shame. Basically, Money and Shame are the toxic dynamic duo who just won’t quit.

And hey, it’s not ENTIRELY our fault we let Money Shame beat us up so bad. Managing personal finances in a balanced way is something most of us never learn how to do until we’re deep in the weeds. Whether that’s because our practical-education system is flawed/nonexistant, or because most of the adults who came before us carry Money Shame and pass it onto us…? I don’t know. It’s probably a little of both.

Money Shame scares us into scarcity mode in more way than one. We latch onto poor financial advice without doing research or getting multiple opinions, because it’s something. We hang onto time-sensitive monetary guidance for longer than it serves us, sticking by principles or processes that might have been appropriate a few years back but are since outdated for the life we lead in the present (and hope to create in the future).

Oh, and don’t forget the other side of scarcity mentality: the idea that a full bank account (or desire to have one) is greedy or narcissistic. Even when we ARE in a comfy spot when it comes to money, we cling to our old, dusty financial fears. Even if we’re blessed with abundance, we adopt a less-than mentality. We’re starved for an open conversation; we’re conditioned to make money our enemy.

You guys.

It does not have to be this way.

I remember my second year working with Wardie. He looked over my numbers and pulled out my prior year’s files from one of his many floor-to-ceiling file cabinets. “Look at that!” he exclaimed. “You made DOUBLE this year what you made last year. You keep this trend up, you’ll be a millionaire in five years and we’ll be having all different kinds of conversations!” Hm. I’d been hustling and stressing so hard all year, I hadn’t even registered that I was literally bringing in more than double what I’d been earning the year before. That one little comment from him, while a liiiittle exaggerated, was the first time I’d heard any sort of positive reinforcement when it came to how much money I made – or was able to make.

It’s very likely that if the thought of checking your bank account balance makes you break out in cold sweats, you’ve got quite a few people around you who are reinforcing this. Family, friends, coworkers, media personalities, Money Shame is everywhere. Just like Casual Negativity, money problems can be a way of bonding with others: commiserating over how expensive something is or how you really can’t afford such-and-such or UGH taxes amiright??

It can be a relief to know that you’re not alone…but it can also be damaging if you’re not devising a game plan to shift into a more positive and proactive reality. Here are some tools to break out of financial fears, shift into a rich mentality, and stay…shall we say…ACCOUNTABLE.

Let’s talk about CENTS, baby. Or for a more current pop culture pun…


FIVE WAYS TO MAKE MONEY MOVES
 

1 – REVISIT YOUR OWN FINANCIAL HISTORY.
Think back to a time you felt as if you had nothing. Then think of a time that felt more abundant. Remind yourself that money ebbs and flows just like the weather and the waves of the ocean. Everyone (even Oprah!) has had these ebbs and flows – we just don’t hear about them. What might feel hopeless now is just a low spot in the cycle of your financial flow. No, you can’t just sit back and wait. But as long as you’re being proactive, not reactive – even, ESPECIALLY, when it’s toughest – more IS on its way.

And ps…I’m not talking Oprah status, speaking of Oprah. A lot of times when we think of abundance, we think of a Scrooge McDuck-type wealth where we’re suddenly diving into a sea of gold coins. Maybe a sea of coins is in the cards, I have no idea…but if you’re so stuck on that one singular image of “wealth,” you’ll miss out on so many literal value adds that happen in your life throughout your life. When I say more, I’m talking MORE. More than what you have when you’re feeling low. More than you have when your finances don’t seem to be flowing. More than now. More than then. Just…more. No one season defines you, and no one season is forever.

No one season defines you, and no one season is forever. Click To Tweet

2 – FIERCELY EDUCATE YOURSELF.
Abundant mindset is awesome, but nothing beats good ol’ brainwork. Schoolhouse Rock was right: Knowledge truly is power – and wealth. Get some. Even if everything you read sounds like a foreign language at first (and it probably will. the acronyms definitely will.), just read. Or listen to a podcast. Or watch a lecture or a TED Talk. We’ve got so much information at our fingertips, and most costs virtually nothing to access. My favorite resources are personal finance guru Suze Orman, who is a favorite of the Big O herself, and money maven Kate Northrup Watts, who gives brilliant, grounded financial advice that’s both relatable and attainable. And never be afraid to ask around, whether it be from a professional financial advisor or just someone you view as having it “together” who you can confide in without fear of judgement. It can be scary to seek awareness, but that feeling too shall pass. The more you know. Literally.

3 – PARTNER UP.
If you’re one half of a dynamic duo, it’s ESSENTIAL you and your partner create a safe space to discuss money. Not only is this healthy for your mind and bank account – it’s healthy for your relationship! Sit down during a neutral time (not when the actual problems arise or big decisions need to be made) and have a conversation about your current respective attitudes towards money and how they have been formed over the years through upbringing or experience.

Most financial fears stem from a place that goes waaaaay beyond dollars and cents. Aim to understand each other’s views and emotions surrounding money, then discuss how you can help each other shift into a positive space together. There are few things worse than feeling as if you cannot share deep-set worries or fears with the person you love most. Make sure each other knows you have a safe, respectful place to turn and strategize when you’re anxiety-ridden.

4 – GIVE MORE TO GET MORE.
This might sound counterintuitive, but when you feel financial fear making its way into your mind, spend a little on someone. It can be anything from donating to a friend’s marathon efforts to buying a coworker her morning coffee to donating to a cause you believe in or a random GoFundMe campaign that hits all your heart’s soft spots. To combat feelings of having nothing, we must actively create a sense of positivity and worth.

It doesn’t have to be much – you don’t even need to spend more than a couple dollars for this to work. The amount is NOT the point. It’s about cultivating worth and value. That means showing someone else they’re valued. The fact that you are able to give enough to make someone else smile can set off a chain reaction in your brain and heart that makes you feel truly rich.

5 – PRACTICE THE ART OF BENCHMARK BUYING.
While researching/acting upon return policies is a MUST when necessary, sometimes the act of making a return when the reason for return is finance-related (been there, done that) can reinforce that poor person mentality we’re trying so hard to break. Am I saying keep the thing if you can’t afford it? Hell no! But there’s gotta be something more to halt sub-par spending in the first place.

Spender’s Remorse usually comes from impulse buying, which usually comes from feeling a lack of control in some other part of life OR this idea that someone else’s opinion (salesperson, friend, family, that ad you saw on Facebook) matters more than your own. Enter what I have coined Benchmark Buying. It’s essentially this: if you have a certain amount of money that you CAN spend, how do you choose to spend it? If a new outfit costs as much as a plane ticket to Los Angeles to see my family, it BETTER be a damn good outfit I’ll be wearing for years to come. If I’m taking my husband out on a date, I’d rather pay for a quality intimate experience than a bunch of sub-part cocktails at an ultra-hip new hotspot known for its Instagrammableness. If I’m feeling lazy and want to pick up my lunch twice a week instead of make it, that convenience is probably not worth more to me than the boutique bootcamp class I could take later that costs the same amount. Comparing and contrasting the ways you spend your money not only encourages you to slow down your impulses, it empowers you to feel control over the direction in which your bank account is going.

I realized that financial success was this: not letting it control me. Click To Tweet

Moving from Los Angeles (an expensive city) to NYC (an even more expensive city) made me revisit my financial fears all over again. I knew I could do this…but what was it really going to take? And as someone who was part of a partnership, partners who were equal teammates but had totally different relationships with dolla-dolla-bills…what did financial success mean to me?

I realized that financial success in New York City was this: not letting it control me. It meant being able to fully support myself and understanding what all iterations of that would look like. It meant not letting my experiences with money – lots of it or littles of it – rule my emotions and dictate my quality of life.

Breaking out of financial fears is not about a specific number in your bank account, a figure on your paycheck, or a lucky winning lottery ticket. It’s about being tired of the control the mere THOUGHT of money has over both you and the people you love. Be your own positive example of what a healthy relationship with George, Abe, Alex, and Andy looks like. You might not have any plans to be a CFO or accountant or the next Wardie Jr. – but you CAN work to be a money-spending, money-saving maven and shift from Shame to Worth. No matter what the ebbs and flows of your finances look like, the act of feeling in control is something that only appreciates in value. That’s a richness that cannot be taxed.


WANT Yourself:
Now I wanna know…what are some ways you keep yourself in CHECK when it comes to checks? How do you stay ACCOUNTABLE when it comes to your bank account? What keeps you SANE-ing when you’re SAVING?
(How many more bad money-related jokes can I write? That last one didn’t even make much CENTS…) 

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No Filter: 6 Tips Everyone Should Use To Stay Sane On Social Media

No Filter: 6 Tips Everyone Should Use To Stay Sane On Social Media

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I’m of the age that I can remember a time when social media didn’t reign supreme. I still remember the ancient dial-up chords of the Prodigy and AOL era internet, the rush of excitement when you finally made it “online” (because that thing was slooooow) and the hope that someone wouldn’t pick up the landline, kick you off, and ruin it all.

One of my most vivid and impactful memories of the dawning of the internet is when my high school English teacher had to explicitly tell us that Wikipedia was not a reliable source. WHAT?! There is stuff on the internet that isn’t true?! There are people who aren’t who they say they are?! Well geez. This takes the fun out of things.

I remember MySpace, I remember Friendster. And then, the summer before my first year of college, I signed up to get an invite to an exclusive website connecting me to all my future classmates. It was called The Facebook.

The internet – and social media – have evolved a LOT since the 90s and early 2000s and the olden days when Facebook had a THE before it and only allowed you to update your status in ways that completed the sentence “So-And-So is…” And with that evolution, we’ve had to reinvent what it means to be MINDFUL, over and over again.

~
Maybe you’re alreay mindful IRL. You’re present in your conversations, you live for the now, and you’re all about savoring the moment. Some might have trouble tuning into life when today’s technology provides such a fun distraction – but for you, the fun is right in front of you in real time.

But here’s the hard reality: social media, smartphones, and being in-somewhat-constant-contact are not the exception anymore, they’re the norm. Whereas outlets like Instagram and Twitter were once fun escapes, they’ve become a vital component of connection in the world we live. And while we’re not necessarily living for another moment because of social media…the moments we are living for are the same ones we’re expected to stop, drop, and document to keep our “brand” alive, both online and off.

Whether you’re looking to grow your business or are the average social media user catching up on cute baby/puppy pics and posting funny memes, the social media overwhelm factor is loud and proud and REAL. So many people to keep up with, so much news being thrown at us…it’s almost too much to handle if you’re the type of person who likes to savor the moment. It’s not just that social media is a distraction – it’s that it makes us question how true our truths really are.

Just like a baby slowly learns that crying isn’t just a mode of calling for help but a surefire way to steal mom’s focus, social media can suck you in and make you feel as if every update, every post, every link and every Boost is a make-or-break scenario. While I’m all about the power of a double-tap, it’s vital we learn to stay SANE on our smartphones.

Here are a few solid social media tips + strategies to follow (ha, no pun intended) so you can have your life and post it, too:

WHEN SCROLLING…

-Question news sources. Many times we’ll see a headline, gasp, and share so someone else can share in our rage/elation. But how often do you look at the URL where it came from? Is this source credible? Is it from a viable news outlet, like the New York Times or CNN, or is it from a site called something like icantbelieveitsnotbetter.com ?? It’s called “click bait” for a reason: its main point is to lure you in so you will click and BITE.

Since we can usually see the source in the link preview, look into THAT first – then decide whether you’ll click the bait. If it’s real news, there’s a good chance it’s being reported on a more credible news site where you can find real reporting – if it’s not, then it’s not worth reading anyway (no matter HOW much it’s playing to your emotions).

-Practice COMO – the Celebration of Missing Out. Feeling envy bubble up when you see someone else doing something you with YOU could do or have, too? True jealousy, by definition, is a reaction to the threat of LOSING something you have. Envy, however, arises when you find yourself LACKING something someone else has. (*If you’re unsure which is which, here’s a primer on distinguishing the two.)

If you find yourself being envious of someone else on social media, ask yourself what about that thing resonates the most. What is it you want? And then CELEBRATE it for the other person. When you choose to celebrate what you want, even when someone ELSE has it, the universe takes a little mental note that you know that opportunity isn’t a limited resource. If you see scarcity, you get scarcity. Only those who recognize that there’s space out there for them can actually FILL it. Plus, in the words of Call Your Girlfriend hosts Ann and Aminatou’s Shine Theory, I don’t shine if you don’t shine.

-Engage wisely. It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason: it’s supposed to encourage us to be SOCIAL. Would you socialize with someone that made you feel icky? Differing opinions is different than downright bad vibes. Choose wisely with what and who you engage with, and make sure it does more good than harm. If it’s not the kind of social interaction you’d want to have offline, then why are you having it online?

If it's not the kind of social interaction you'd want to have offline, then why are you having it online? Click To Tweet

WHEN POSTING…

-Be Proactive, not Reactive. Posting reactively is the adult equivalent of the temper tantrum. We see or experience something and get so overworked and overwhelmed that we share something, ANYTHING, to let others know how we feel.

Before you lose your cool on the web, ask yourself if what you’re posting is the Communicative Quad-fecta: Kind, True, Helpful, and Necessary. If it’s not, then maybe give yourself a time-out (counting to 20 taking slow breaths helps) to refocus and regroup.

-Know what you want to say – like, REALLY want to say. When you post a photo or update, what’s the overarching message you want to share with your followers? Do you want to share a snapshot of something you love – or are you trying to keep up with the social media mavens you see online? Do you want Likes and comments, or do you want to impart an actual, meaningful message? Quality over quantity, especially when it comes to social media.

A great picture or quote should support a main message or tell others about who you ARE, not steal the show and tell others what they AREN’T. Set a clear intention before you post, and be honest with yourself about WHY you are posting what you’re posting. And guess what? You DON’T have to keep up with the social media joneses and flood the feed. Authenticity in intention always trumps abundance in action.

-Set it and forget it. After you’ve posted, let it be! It’s tempting to check your activity log every half-minute, refreshing the page to see if someone else has “Liked,” commented, or retweeted what you’ve shared. Not only is this a time-suck, it’s a strain on your emotions. If you don’t get a surge of attention within minutes, it can seem as if what you had to say or show was not a success, leading you to doubt your credibility, obsess over what you did right or wrong, and agonize over how you can tweak your strategy moving forward. All in all…it becomes an abusive relationship that makes you feel like crap.

To keep yourself in a proactive space, it’s vital to set boundaries with your social media. Make a pact with yourself to only check your various social media outlets for activity at specific, limited times throughout the day. Respond, comment, and strategize during these times and these times only, during quiet moments when your attention is not needed elsewhere. Take your pic, share your post, then go make your mark on the world – no filter necessary.

 


WANT Yourself:
Do you have any social media tips and tricks to help you stay sane WITHOUT disconnecting completely? Post in the comments and let us know!


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5 Empowering Books By Women I Can’t Freaking Wait To Read In The New Year (Plus Two That Haven’t Even Dropped Yet!)

5 Empowering Books By Women I Can’t Freaking Wait To Read In The New Year (Plus Two That Haven’t Even Dropped Yet!)

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Last year, I did something I’ve wanted to do since I was in elementary school: I joined a book club.

 

Okay, the book club consisted of two people. One of them being me. The other being my husband.

But still. We met. We read (Gloria Steinam’s My Life On The Road, fyi). We discussed.

It was a freaking book club, okay??

 (was it really, though…)

Whether it’s multi-colored lists posted on Instagram Stories or conversations IRL, one of the most popular, most reoccurring resolutions I tend to see within my community is something so simple it feels almost silly:

Read. More. Books.

Unlike goals attached to career, success, physicality, or relationships, reading more book is one of the most non-labor-intensive goals you can achieve. All you need is basic elementary school level comprehension skills, and you’re good to go. You don’t need to invest tons of money, you don’t need help from anyone or anyTHING else – heck, you don’t even need to do anything besides literally turning a PAGE to see signs of success!

So why don’t we do it? Why, if reaching goals is so gratifying, don’t we pick up the damn book and turn the page?

Some hypotheses (and solutions) I’ve drawn:

PROBLEM: Carrying around a book. When I lived in Los Angeles, this was no excuse for not reading more books. I had a portable storage device – aka a car. I was able to lock my latest page-turner in the glove compartment, stash it under my seat, or throw it in my trunk for later. But now that I’m in NYC and walk, cab, or take the subway everywhere, my backpack space is precious. Plus, like almost everyone else…I’m a little too tethered to my phone.

SOLUTION: Read on your phone or device. If you’re short on space or don’t want to literally add to your load, “reading more” is as easy as hitting Download. I know, I know, it’s not a physical BOOK – but your goal is to read more books, not possess more books, right? I LOVE physical books – underlining, dogearing, and making sweet notes from my husband or long-ass to-do lists my makeshift bookmarks. But I also know that sometimes it’s more important to focus on the goal and not get so hung up on the ins and outs of how we get there.

PROBLEM: Reading without a goal in mind. Sometimes we think more about WHAT we’re going to read instead of WHY we’re going to read. But reading just to read is like watching a movie just to watch a movie: eventually, you’ll just zone out.

SOLUTION: Get clear on what you want your takeaways or experience to be. Do you like to learn, escape, think, discuss…or a combo of these things? We all read for different reasons. Think of the books you love most. How are they structured? How do they “sound?” Why did you love them so much? Choosing a genre isn’t enough: go one step further and look into things like the voice used (is it in first or third person? narrative or ___?) and how the book is structured.

PROBLEM: Finishing the damn thing. (there’s a that’s what she said joke somewhere in here.) Whenever I put down We get hung up on completing the task instead of taking the journey.

SOLUTION: Cut yourself some slack. What are you most likely to finish? Are you even concerned with finishing? Does “reading a book” = “finishing a book” to you? If so, cool – but then you need to choose books you’re likely to finish. Look at how the book is structured. Is it super short? Broken up into bite-sized bits or spread out over an arc? Do you prefer shorter reads, or do you like a long, winding story? Do some research, ask your local bookstore employees (they work there because they love books, after all!), and choose a read that’s not only a genre or topic you’re interested in, but a style and structure that resonates.

And…this might be a controversial stance…but if you get honest and you’re not really that tied to finishing a book, don’t let that stop you from picking it up altogether. I personally am VERY tied to finishing novels and memoirs, books I read to escape or empathize – but not research-driven or self-improvement-style books I’m reading to learn something from. That doesn’t mean I like them any less, I’ve just gotten what I need at the time and can come back later. No shame in that game!

If you’re like me and looking to up your literary game this year, grab a friend, sibling, or significant other and start your own two-person book club. Need some suggestions? Here are five books written by women I freaking can’t wait to read this year – plus two that haven’t even come out yet! – that you might like, too:

Braving The Wilderness by Brené BrownHigh priestess Brené is at it again. This time, she’s talking about what it means to truly belong – in our communities, in our organizations, in our culture – in an age of increased polarization. Brené’s style is thoughtful and witty – personal where it needs to be and academic where it needs to be. I just love her and cannot wait to dive into this one. GET IT HERE

The Power Of Meaning by Emily Esfahani SmithI first found Emily Esfahani Smith’s work last summer in Quartz. After going down the rabbit hole that is Google, I loved how most of her writing centered around the notions of success, fame, and true fulfillment. She draws on historic and literary examples as well as extensive research to answer her One Big Question: if a happy life is a meaningful life, then how do we create meaning? I’ve already started The Power Of Meaning and I’m in love. GET IT HERE

200 Women Who Will Change The Way You See The World by Geoff Blackwell + Ruth Hobday, Photography by Kieran Scott
This stunning book is half coffee table piece de resistance, half interview series. Coupled with gorgeous photography, this book features some of the most inspiring interviews from some of the most game-changing women in all fields. GET IT HERE

Extreme YOU by Sarah Robb O’Hagen
Sarah Robb O’Hagan has seen it all. From climbing the corporate ladder at places like Virgina Atlantic and Nike to becoming the CEO of Flywheel and formerly Equinox (yep, where I teach classes), she’s seen it all. Although we never got to meet in person while she was with Equinox (hi, Sarah!), I always heard wonderful things about this Wonder Woman…which is why I was THRILLED when I learned she was releasing a book sharing her badassery with us all. In Extreme YOU, Sarah dives in and digs deep on what it means to be an “Extremer” by developing ALL parts of yourself – quirks included – to hone your potential and lead a life of greatness. GET IT HERE

It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs, and Badass Women by Amanda de Cadenet
Amanda de Cadenet was one of my main role models in my twenties when The Conversation launched, and continues to be a HUGE source of motivation and empowerment for me now (I even got to speak on a panel she led back in 2015 at SXSW). I’ve always admired her ability to connect with others, to ask the kinds of questions that exist between the lines, and to tap into the down-to-earth, beautifully flawed humanity of everyone she interviews. In It’s Messy, she’s shining that same kind of light onto herself, proving that our experiences as women are way more universal than separate. GET IT HERE

 

Feeling overachiever-y? Put these two on your reading list for later in the year when they launch:

Give A Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save The Planet by Ashlee Piper
Ashlee has been featured on WANT multiple! times! and is a bona-fide badass in the eco-friendly space. You’d be cray not to sign up for pre-order.

On Being Human by Jennifer Pastiloff
Jen has been a dear friend of mine for years now and is one of my absolute favorite writers. SO excited to see this beautiful piece of work she’s been manifesting come into existence. You can bet I’ll be sharing more about this when it’s share-able – for now, keep your eyes peeled.


WANT Yourself:
What books are you looking foeard to reading this year? I’m always looking for new, exciting, fascinating books to add to my shelf (or my newly downloaded reading app)…tell me what you’re loving! Also, can I join your book club?

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Shift Your Self-Talk: Defining Your Through Line.

Shift Your Self-Talk: Defining Your Through Line.

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What is the common theme in everything you love? What is the common goal in everything you do?

Those, my friends, are the building blocks of your THROUGH LINE.

 

We’re all equipped with a through line; something we’re wonderful at and are meant  to give to the world. And while some people might suggest mantras or affirmations, it’s my firm belief that you can’t shift your self-talk without finding your through line first.


Negative self-talk might sometimes seem like it pops up out of nowhere, but when you boil it down to basics, it’s simply filler for uncertainty in purpose and imbalances in your mind, body and soul. 
With confidence in your purpose or through line, there’s less of the negative talk that we use to sabotage ourselves.

We cannot succeed if we do not love what we DO – or if what we do does not fit into the big picture. Once we find our through line and shift our actions to deliver that through line, long-term success is inevitable.

Notice the little things that fulfill you. Not necessarily the tasks themselves, but the meaning behind those tasks. Not so much the superficial What, but the hidden Why.

Notice the little things that fulfill you. Not the superficial WHAT, but the hidden WHY. Click To Tweet

You might have one through line or a couple. Here are two (and-a-half steps) to help you find yours:

STEP 1: MAKE A LIST OF EVERYTHING YOU LOVE TO DO OR EXPERIENCE. I MEAN EVERYTHING. The things that you seem to get absorbed by and fill you up from the inside out. Don’t worry about cohesiveness, list as many actions, experiences, and instances as you can think of. Cooking dinner, one-on-one time with friends, business strategy, binging on horror movies – it’s all fair game.

STEP 2: CAN YOU FIND A COMMON THEME IN THE MAJORITY OF YOUR ANSWERS? Try to find a mode and an output. Maybe not all the things you listed out fit together, but I’ll bet good money on the fact that a lot of them DO. Look beyond the obvious – the fact that you love to bake and you love to have spontaneous dance parties might seem unrelated, but when you dig deeper you might realize what you actually love is the act of creating something that brightens up someone else’s day. You love to bake – but when you’re sharing your treats with friends. You love to have spontaneous dance parties because it makes your husband or boyfriend or kid or dog even fill up with joy and laughter. There’s where your talents lie. That is your through line.

Here’s the optional half-step, if you’re feeling curious: just for kicks, make another list of everything you excel at. No need to hold back here – remember, confidence is not synonymous with narcissism or vanity.

Now highlight the things that you can recognize your through line in.

Does this list seem familiar? It should. Many of the things we love to do are the things we have a natural knack for.

Pretty cool, huh? These places are where you shine the brightest.

~

Need an example? Here’s what the first two steps of my exercise looks like:

Step 1: I love writing, interviewing others, singing, people watching, unfiltered and authentic conversations, listening to podcasts, music, running, teaching fitness classes, taking fitness classes, pretty much exercise of all kinds, yoga classes, acting, photography, singing and dancing at concerts, laughing out loud at movies, spending time with my family and soul-friends, reading non-fiction books or books written in the first person, public speaking, taking small chances, painting, drawing, playing board games that may or may not bring out my inner competitive Monica Gellar (where you at, Settlers of Catan).

Step 2: In most all of the things I love, I can see that my through line is using my unique voice to its fullest to help others find theirs.

But wait…how does this connect to playing Settlers of Catan or singing and dancing during Beyoncé’s Formation tour???

It goes back to my yoga practice, actually. I realized a long time ago that we learn best not from textbooks or bulletpointed protocols, but from each other. I used to practice amongst handstand junkies and power posers, and noticed that the people around them would get frustrated when they couldn’t get upside down. So I did an experiment: what would happen if I took Child’s Pose, a “resting” pose, in the classes where people were doing handstands, and I tried the more physically challenging poses even if I fell flat on my face in the classes where people shied away from things if they didn’t look perfect?

Lo and behold, people started taking Child’s Pose instead of forcing themselves into handstands, and playfully experimenting when the teacher offered up a variation on the familiar. Because I gave myself permission to publicly do what worked for ME, others started to give themselves permission to do the same. 

I see my “voice” not only in talking or singing to teaching, but in writing, drawing – movement even. I get bored or frustrated when I am required to do things exactly like someone else. I love listening to podcasts and reading non-fiction or books written in the first person because they spark a discussion inside my head; I can almost hear my voice chiming in with the author or speaker. I love taking those discussions out into the “real world” and making my community like my very own unofficial book club or listening group. Learning new information isn’t enough for me: I get high off of learning it, translating it, and discussing it in a broader yet at the same time more personal context. If I look closely, everything I love has my through line of “using my unique voice to its fullest to help others do the same” running through it. I stand for love – of others and yourself.

Whenever I feel discontent or useless or squashed down and dull, I ask myself…”Katie, are you using your unique voice right now and is it resonating with the best parts of others?” If the answer is no, even if I can’t fully escape the scenario that’s bringing me down, I divert my attention and place myself in a scenario in which I CAN use my though line to its fullest potential, however big or small that might look from the outside.

~

It’s easy to talk negatively about ourselves when we’re in those bang-your-head-against-the-wall scenarios. And we’ve all got to deal with those throughout our lives no matter what. Sometimes, things just don’t gel. But now that you know your through line, you can invest your time a bit more wisely. Go back and look at your list, see if you can identify a nuance of your through line, or a whole other through line altogether, that exists in your current situation…and try again. Trial and error is part of the deal. It’s all about changing up the approach. 

I’m not saying that once you figure out how or where you shine the brightest, you’ll always be shiny and sparkly. Life would be boring and useless without mistakes and missteps and those moments we feel the lowest of our lows. But if you’re strategically placing yourself in scenarios in which you can use your through line – whether it be with a new group of friends, a new relationship, a new job or simply a potential hobby you’re taking up – you’ll also feel those highest highs a whole lot higher. Your life will feel a whole lot more cohesive, and you’ll feel your purpose from the inside out.


WANT Yourself Action Plan:

In the comments section below, tell me what your through line is. How do you use it on a regular basis? Did you have an aha! moment that helped you realize what you were meant to give to the world?

Be as specific as possible – this is not an easy exercise, and your insight and experience might be exactly what someone else needs to read to realize the power they have within themselves.

WANT is a testament to the power of our pragmatically positive voice as a community and the impact we can have if we band together. Go for it, WANT peeps…


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a different version of this post originally appeared back in 2015 on WANT. see it here 

Twelve Goals, One Year: How To Conquer One ‘Resolution’ A Month in 2018

Twelve Goals, One Year: How To Conquer One ‘Resolution’ A Month in 2018

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We’re all set with the best of intentions come January, etching lofty goals into our journals to carry with us into spring, summer, fall, and winter. But let’s be honest with ourselves for a sec: the end of Resolution Season finds us loosening our wallets, dipping into the cookie jar, forgetting to say “thank you,” and foregoing the gym for just one more rerun of Friends on the couch. The idea of what our lives “should” look like and how our goals “should” play out gets us all tied up in knots we scramble to untangle come January 1st of the next New Year.

To avoid those tangles and kick 2018 off on the right foot, why not rethink the way we make our resolutions? All month long I’ll be diving in and digging deep on strategies to set your year ablaze – because no one success strategy works for everyone.

 

I once read that when adopting a newer, healthier lifestyle (whether that means losing extra inches, lowering inflammation in your body, gaining muscle, or raising your body weight to a level at which it can function with energy and ease), it takes something like four weeks for you to feel a difference, eight for your friends to take notice…and twelve for acquaintance and strangers to start asking questions.

Okay, so maybe I read it on the ever-prestigious scientific journal that is Pinterest…but I love the picture it paints of slow and steady change, moment by moment. Sure, you can have an end result in mind. But most of the time, when we’re so tightly tied to one specific end result, we miss out on all the other great things that happen along the way.

This year, try adopting one new habit per month and just see where it takes you. If the Pinterest scientists are correct, you’ll start to feel a shift about a month into your journey. If it’s working for you, great! If it’s not, let it go – no guilt.

Your goals might seem simple or minute – how can making your bed every morning really contribute to the quality of your life?! – but each singular goal reached will inform the definition of what it means to live well for you, to be your best self twelve months out of the year.

Another bonus? Just one habit per month prevents you from getting too overwhelmed with tasks and to-dos – and helps you pay attention to what’s really going on as a result of the change you’ve vowed to make. I can sometimes (read: all the times) get overly excited about the idea of making big shifts all at once. It’s exciting. And distracting. One per month (or one habit + one tangible to-do item if you’re feeling ambitious) helps me focus my energy on that single thing instead of spreading myself thin in 12 different areas of my life.

~

Get out your notebooks, clear off your chalkboard, and start to outline one goal, big or small, for each month. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

12 GOALS, 1 YEAR: HOW TO CONQUER ONE NEW YEARS RESOLUTION A MONTH

JANUARY: WAKE UP (GO TO SLEEP) ONE HOUR EARLIER
Instead of making a goal to exercise five times a week or fit in breakfast, start from the ground up – literally. Waking up early, studies have shown, can super-charge your entire day and actually allow you the time to make healthy living seem more accessible. I get it, we all have the same 24 hours in the day, blah blah…but sometimes, even a smidge extra time can make a huge difference. What might seem like sixty measly extra minutes allows time for exercise, hobbies, meditation, strategic thinking, or just easing into your day at your own pace (sounds nice, huh?). Already wake up early? Try hitting the sack one hour earlier. Start with 15 minutes earlier during week one, increase to 30 during week two, 45 during week three – and by the end of the month, you’ll be logging an extra hour.

READ: Is Sleep More Important Than Nutrition, Exercise, and Mindfulness? by Lindsay Kellner, mbg

FEBRUARY: SHOW YOUR LOVE ONCE A DAY.
Whether it’s telling your significant other how much he or she means to you or simply asking the bank teller how their day is going, there are a zillion ways to express love. Pick up a piece of trash off the sidewalk. Let the car next to you into your lane in crowded traffic. Call your grandma. These gestures, both big and small, not only help others feel good or make the world be a nicer place to live – they contribute to your own self-confidence and sense of abundant love.

READ: Love And The Whole Spectrum

MARCH: MAKE YOUR BED EVERY MORNING
Spring cleaning season is here! Before you overhaul your closet or clean out that dresser drawer, set the stage for a tidy space from the second you get up. Making your bed every morning only takes a few extra minutes, but can set the stage for an orderly room, home, and mindset.

READ: A Non-Exhaustive List Of Things To Do When Life Seems Hard

APRIL: PACK YOUR LUNCH
Taxes on your mind? Do double resolution duty this month by making healthier choices and making a dent in your savings. Even if you only pack a lunch two times a week, you’re still saving in the long run – plus, you’re connecting with what goes into your body and where it comes from.

READ: Let’s Talk About Cents, Baby

MAY: DRINK YOUR GREENS FOR BREAKFAST
April showers bring May flowers…and greens! Whether you opt for smoothies or juice, getting in a good dose of greens first thing in the morning sets you up for a healthy day ahead. Even if you mindlessly or emotionally nosh later in the day or “accidentally” skip your afternoon spin class (been there, done that), the beauty of going green first thing in the A.M. is that you know you’ve given yourself a hefty dose of vitamins and nutrients no matter what the day has in store.

LISTEN: My New Roots’ Sarah Britton on the WANTcast

JUNE: TRAIN (AND SIGN UP!) FOR A RACE…
Most cities hold at least one 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or “fun run” throughout the summer months, which means June is the perfect time to start training! Warm (but not sweltering) temps allow for exercise outdoors if you’re into it – otherwise start your running routine at your local gym. Slowly increase your distance or speed goals with each workout, and alternate between long, moderate-paced running days and short, quick sprinting days. Not into organized races or the early wake-up call that goes with them? Set a date to run your own personal race: determine the day, time, location, and distance, then plan a fun reward for yourself after. Get a friend in on the action for extra motivation!

READ: 5 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise, No Matter How You Feel

JULY: MAKE A NEW FRIEND
Summer months are all about playfulness and make us think of long days at summer camp and hobbies. As adults, we don’t have things like school and clubs to connect us or parents to schedule play dates. Community, however, is often the missing link when it comes to our day to day fulfillment – and it’s up to us to find the places . Whether it’s a yoga class or the comments section of a blog, make it a goal to frequent a place or space that you feel allows you to be completely yourself. You’ll find that just like in romantic relationships, the right people will seem to fall into your life when you’re simply busy with the interests you love – when you’re busy being you.

READ: Making Friends As An Adult

AUGUST: TRY ONE NEW FRUIT OR VEGETABLE A WEEK
Green cauliflower? Okra? Gooseberries? There’s a slew of seasonal produce available, year-round…yet most of us only skim the surface when it comes to variety. Visit your local farmer’s market, check out the selection, and find one fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried. Whether you choose to cook an elaborate dish or go raw, you’ll expand your palate, net more nutrients, and have at least a few new healthy options come August 31st. Check out One Part Plant for all the planty resources you’ll ever need.

LISTEN: Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant and Know Your Endo on the WANTcast

SEPTEMBER: FIND THE YOGA CLASS THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
September is National Yoga Month, so use this time to get flowing. Ask around or call your local studios/gyms to help pick a practice that’s right for you (my friend Megan wrote an awesome guide here), and pop into a class nearby (many studios offer deals or specials during this month). Sure, this is an exercise-related goal and your overall fitness will probably improve – but more than anything, you’ll be building community, soothing stress, and giving yourself a fresh new perspective on the year. Yoga’s awesome like that.

READ: My Advanced Practice

OCTOBER: FACE YOUR FEARS ONCE EACH WEEK
October is about all things scary – but we’re not really into the whole haunted house, “trick or treat” thing. Take this spooky month in a new direction by vowing to conquer one (or a few!) of your fears at least once a week. The fears could be ones that affect your every-day life or are seemingly trivial. Terrified of public speaking? Add your voice to the mix in each of your weekly work meetings. Afraid of heights? Find a cool restaurant on a rooftop to visit. Whatever it is, commit to facing the fear once a week and watch your confidence skyrocket.

READ: How To Tackle Your Ghost Worries

NOVEMBER: CLEAN UP, GIVE BACK
Spring cleaning is a thing of the past – but what about Fall Freedom? Clearing your space of what does not serve you, you don’t like, or you’ve simply outgrown is like telling the universe you’ve made room and are game for whatever it has in store. Instead of trashing your old goods or stuffing your worn clothes into the nearest dumpster, find an organization near you that donates 100% of its goods to those in need (or Google a cause close to your heart that might need your help). You’ll be doing good and feeling great – and making someone else feel the same.

READ: How To Activate Your Inner Activist

DECEMBER: REFLECT, REVAMP, AND REFOCUS
What worked this year? What could be improved upon? Were there certain moments, people, events, or feelings that stuck with you? Create a conscious game plan for improvement and forward motion right now. No need to rush the process or make snap decisions. Use the entire month to take a look at your life as it is, right in that very second, and refocus your energy on making a positive shift towards the person you know you want to be. At the end of this year, make December 2018 your month of renewal instead of January 2019, so that once the confetti bursts at midnight, you’ll already have hit the ground running.

LISTEN: Thinking Out Loud: On Functioning Under F*ck-It, Micro vs Macro, Other People’s Trauma, Running Toward Real Life, and More


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It Moves With You: On Slowing Down + Shifting Gears

It Moves With You: On Slowing Down + Shifting Gears

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All year, I’ve been running. Literally and metaphorically. Running into my career, running into my 30s, running into huge life changes, new habits, new routines, new purpose, standing my ground with people I love, and holding my own when it comes to my worth.

Running, running, running.

Not ever running away – running toward and running through – but nevertheless, running.

Last week, as I slipped on my shoes for yet another run that felt as if it might be lackluster, just like the runs I’ve been running for the last couple weeks, I realized – I do not want to run any more.

At least right now.

It’s pre-winter in NYC, which means that the weather’s pulling bi-polar stunts all over the place. One day it’s 65 and gorgeous, the next it’s in the 30s and so cold I can’t feel my hands crammed into my own pockets. I’m throw for a loop: I don’t know what to wear, my skin doesn’t know what’s going on, and my routine gets thrown completely out of whack without me even realizing what’s happening.

And my exercise regimen – one of my favorite forms of self-care – suddenly feels useless.

~

Seasonal shifts can do a number on you when you live in a culture that doesn’t honor (or even talk about!) the ways our bodies and minds subtly shift throughout the year.

According to the magazines and trends, we’re supposed to act, eat, and yes, exercise the same way January through December: with intensity, with drive, with an all-or-nothing mentality that promises slimmer thighs!, better sex!, and brighter moods! 365 days a year.

So when days like these seemingly lovely cool-and-crisp ones roll around and I can’t muster up that intensity and drive – I’ve gotta tell you, I feel like a real asshole.

the puzzle jeremy and i did (instead of exercising.)

Everything about this time of year is about slowing down, being thankful, and cozying up with the ones we love.

So why do we still think that high-impact, fast-paced, quick-fix workouts are the only way to go, when the rest of the season encourages slowing down and shifting gears?

I agree that a high-impact workout can be a great way to blow off steam. I understand that it can help de-puff after too many pie slices (been there, done that). But for someone like me, who is highly sensitive to the energetic shifts around her, adding stress to an already stressful time almost seems like fighting fire with fire.

I didn’t realize this until the other day, when slipping into my workout clothes I realized I had ZERO DESIRE to run. I usually love to run, and for the past year, it’s been my fitness form of choice. Running, and big group classes packed with familiar faces.

But lately, I’ve had zero desire for either. It’s crazily out of character. It’s unexpected. And it goes completely against my heath credo: I am a firm believer that there are way too many kinds of fitness formats for all kinds of personality types for a workout to ever feel “forced.”

And yet I realized that I’ve been trying to force myself through my routine for the sake of routine – hopping onto the treadmill and feeling no different afterwards, or going into my usual much-loved, jam-packed yoga class and getting major performance anxiety from the lack of space. Doing it not because it brought me joy or made me feel good in the now, but because it brought me joy and made me feel good at some other point in time.

We’re all dealing with a lot – year-round. The way we exercise should compliment what we’re missing, what we’re craving, and what we want to create in our lives each season of the year.

I realized that all year, I’ve been running toward the person I want to be and the world I want to create. Running toward, fighting for. Eleven-plus whole months of RUNNING.

It gave me solace, it gave me ideas, it gave me energy.

It gave me fight.

And after all that running, that soul-opening, spirit-gratifying running – my body doesn’t want to run right now.

It wants to ground down, plant roots, and reflect on the solid foundation that I’ve built and want to build from here on out.

My body is in its winter, and to my dismay, I realized I’ve been trying to fight that.

~

No matter your goals, you don’t need to prescribe to one certain type of exercise year-round in order to feel good in your body year-round. Even when it comes to cross-training and mixing your week up – sometimes the run-lift-yoga, or crossfit-pilates-spin, or whatever-you-usually-do combo isn’t the combo that’s going to be the best one in every moment.

For right now, for my body to be its best, I’m realizing I need to cross-train in a different way. I need to listen to how my body is changing with the seasons.

There is no one right way to exercise this season. Because the right way is the way that works for you, and for you alone.

watching ice skaters (instead of exercising.)

Need some help? Here are 3 fitness “tips” (I use the term loosely) to follow this month and beyond:

1.) Feed your cravings, not your addictions.

Ever notice how the more you do something extreme, the more your body wants the next hit? Stress is like that. And not just the kind of emotional stress we associate with bad stuff: the kind of physical stress that gets our heart rate up in the gym, feels thrilling, and/or works our body to its edge. It’s why going super-super fast on a spin bike is trendy, even though it’s not efficient or effective: it’s an easy hit for a stress junkie.

Similarly, if you’re feeling cabin fever, extremely “restorative’ or more steady-state exercises might not be the best for you right now. You might need a run, or a boxing class, or ViPR or something like that to get your blood pumping and shake things up if they’re feeling stagnant.

Net-net, you want to feed what your body is craving (in this case – actually wants), not what it’s addicted to (in this case – what it’s simply used to wanting).

2.) Enlist a friend…or not.

Maybe you’re not around family during this time of year, or you live in a new city. Working out solo can be hard, for an unexpected reason: it reinforces the feeling of being lonely-alone.

On the flipside, if you’ve got party after shindig after obligation after whatever on your schedule, you might need some alone time.

If you’re getting a little too much solo time this season, you might need to put yourself in a community-type scenario, whether that means calling up a friendly acquaintance for a gym date or popping into that team-vibey class.

On the other hand, if you’re stretched thin on the social front – don’t force yourself into a class if you don’t want to (even if it’s your normal routine), and don’t wait around for someone else to be ready for the gym (just because it’s how you always roll). This is how I’m feeling right now, and while I usually use the gym as a way to feel a sense of community, I’m currently feeling the urge to keep to myself, go solo, and use my workout time to do some introspection (my best epiphanies come when I move, after all).

Sure, this is sort of a no-brainer. But so many times, we get so caught up in the routine of things, we forget those “duh” nuggets of wisdom. It’s perfectly okay to do like Stevie Nicks and go your own way.
Do like Stevie Nicks and go your own way. Click To Tweet

3.) All hail the rest day(s)…but also, don’t blindly follow them.

There was a time in my life that I thought rest days were a sign of weakness, low willpower, and lost athleticism. Boy was I wrong. REST DAYS ARE AMAZING YOU GUYS!!!!!

But something interesting happened along the way to discovering this: I found that when I planned my rest days, they ended up being the days I wanted to exercise the most, even if I’d technically taken a “rest day” the day before. Basically, I became so tied to the idea of certain days “needing” to be rest days and certain days “needing” to be workout days that it became really hard to listen to what my body actually wanted in the moment.

What I found works for me is to “nothing” rest days. I take them when I take them. Sometimes once a week, sometimes twice or three times. But always, always when I’m feeling the need to rejuvenate.

Of course, if you’re killin’ it in the gym every single day, working through injuries, etc, it’s very important to break the addiction and de-vilify the Rest Day. Your physical health depends on it. But as a former listmaking addict – a person addicted to planning her weeks down to the minutes she’d be brushing her teeth (fact; I still have the notebooks filled with the lists) – I’ve found that planning out my rest days works against all the hard work I’ve done over the years to listen to my body and honor its needs. Granted, I did need to plan rest days along the way just to get used to them…but after that? I became able to enjoy rest days and “sweat” days equally.

the walk i took to work (instead of exercising.)

So how am I exercising right now if I’m not doing my normal run-lift-yoga combo? I’m doing the exercises that make me feel grounded.

I’m going into the spin room at the gym during non-class hours, plugging in my headphones, and doing a class all for myself. It’s low impact, which means my bones aren’t absorbing force that would come from, say, striking my foot down on the ground in a sprint. Each pedalstroke grounds me and reminds me that this is my body, and it’s the only one I’ve got (in this lifetime, at least, I don’t know what comes next!). Sometimes I’ll hop into the class of a teacher I know and trust, because with so much newness this year, my body isn’t in a phase of exploration and chance. It feels good to use the music to guide me or have the teacher tell me what to do, because all year long I’ve been making decisions that sort of scare me. I’m trading my box jumps and caterpillar crawls for machine-based exercises and mat classes.

And sometimes, I just roll out my mat, close my eyes, and BE.

Yes. THAT COUNTS.

I’m feeling a need to be nurtured and supported, held up while I do the work. What that looks like? I get to decide, over and over again, every single day.

I’m sure in the new year, or even in the new month, all this will change.

But that is the beauty of fitness, and what drew me to it in the first place: it moves with you.

 

WANT YOURSELF:
In the comments, tell me: do you also find that your body craves different forms of movement as the seasons change? How do you plan on taking care of yourself this winter? What’s one thing you can do today to honor what your body truly WANTs?

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