Whenever I hear the same thing more than twice in one week, my ears perk up.
Wait, is that for me?
The answer is usually yes, but it isn’t always clear why.
Case in point, this week’s message: Don’t listen to other people.
I can’t remember now where I heard it first, maybe on Twitter. I don’t remember because at the time it didn’t seem like a message meant for me.
Thing is, it stayed with me for some reason. Well, I know the reason but I’ll get to that. Days later I could still hear it faintly repeating in my mind.
Then I read a presentation from Hugh MacLeod of gapingvoid. Among the suggestions he made to creatives who have big dreams of being successful but are not sure how to make it a reality was, you guessed it, to not listen to anyone else.
This recent cartoon of his is another way of putting it.
Second time was the charm. When I saw Hugh’s presentation, I knew it was a message meant for me.
Why? Because I have been wasting a lot of time listening to other people lately.
Worse than that, I’ve been making up what other people might say if I told them my idea and took their responses to heart.
So that means I’ve been wasting my time listening to the part of me that’s so scared it’s now begun making things up in order to convince me not to move forward into the unknown.
Why should I not listen to anyone, and therefore you not listen to me either?
You. Know. Better.
Your instincts are better than what anyone else could come up with. That includes doctors, lawyers, parents, spouses, and best friends. They all mean well, and think they are advising you with your best interest in mind.
But they don’t know. You do.
What do you know?
You know your body, and what’s happening inside your body (even if you don’t know why yet). You know what makes you happy. You know what brings you comfort. You know when you’re really ready to make a change, and when you’re just placating other people.
There’s more, but you get the idea.
Now there’s a lot you don’t know too, like which medication to prescribe yourself or insurance policy to buy, or even where you’ll be in five years if you make this decision right now.
Other people don’t know those things either. They are making guesses, some educated and some not. Advice-givers tend to sound like they know what they are talking about, but that’s it. They sound good.
Where does that leave us?
1. Trust yourself.
When you’re not sure what to do next, quiet time listening to yourself…or just quiet time…will give you the best answer for you.
Maybe that quiet time will not involve a bolt of lightning with the words, “Lauree, Do This,” attached to it. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen, even when you really, really wish it would be that obvious.
Quiet time instead could help you drown out the voices in your head that aren’t yours. It’s amazing what peace a lack of other voices can provide.
2. Wait to tell other people.
They aren’t going anywhere, so we need a plan for them too. The best advice I’ve seen for handling other people is to wait to share your idea until you’re really clear on it yourself.
Most of us do the opposite, share early to brainstorm with or gather buy-in from the people we trust most. This doesn’t mean you should never tell them, or that they won’t ultimately love and support your decisions. This is just about timing.
Giving yourself time to sit with a new idea before sharing it allows you to get used to it first.
Then when you talk about it, the idea doesn’t feel as strange and new as it did when you first thought of it. You’ve acclimated to it.
Once that happens, other people’s opinions are just their opinion, which you can consider from a safer distance.
3. Don’t listen to me.
Now, I realize that all of this may seem strange coming from a coach, so let me be clear.
I don’t want you to listen to me either.
My job is to help you listen to yourself.
It is. Any coach who gives you advice is not coaching you. If I do that, feel free to call me on it.
I don’t know any more than the other well-meaning people in your life. I believe that your instincts will lead us to what’s best for you.
This is your choose-your-own-adventure story and I can’t wait to see where we go next. Listening to me (or anyone else) would be a lot less fun for everyone involved.
So if you ever hear any of us in your head, feel free to say Shush.
The thing I hate most about that voice is how much I listen to it.
It can be very convincing.
Sitting on the couch last night, an idea popped into my head.
[What idea, you may ask? Hold tight! I'll get to that in a future post.]
It took me by surprise how happy this new idea made me, and how right it felt.
I had a blissful moment of revelation, and then…dun dun ddduuunnnnnn….a voice inside my head piped up out of nowhere telling me:
- That’s a decent idea, but how will you do it?
- But what about the other plans you had?
- But what if you f-a-i-l?
Oh you pesky But voice, you did it again. I don’t have an answer to any of those questions, and now that you have asked them, I feel like I should.
Before I let the sheen on my shiny new idea get any more tarnished, I stopped myself.
I laughed out loud at how easy it was to let myself get derailed.
These questions, needing to know all of the answers Right Now, were enough to get me to turn away from a perfectly good idea and put it aside permanently.
Know what I mean?
I bet you do. My clients often come to me when this voice is at its loudest.
When they want to make a career change, or move to a new city, and all they can see are the unknowns.
The But voice is the part of all of us that wants stability. We have convinced ourselves that stability, security only come from what we know. What it appears that we have control of.
I hate to break it to us, but we don’t have control over much.
The life we have carefully built for ourselves — our homes, our jobs, our families — are lovely and impermanent. The better we get at riding the wave of uncertainty, the better we are at being happy.
That is another way of saying that life is short. Enjoy it.
Those shiny new ideas that make us squirm? Enjoy them too.
Laughing at myself on the couch last night, I went back to my new idea.
The questioning voice in my head will never completely go away unless I only ever choose the safe path. That doesn’t feel like a happy life to me, so I need to make peace with its presence.
I hear you, pesky But voice, and we are gonna see what happens this time. It’s going to be ok.
It is. Because just because I dream up a great idea doesn’t mean I need to jump off the couch and do it immediately. It also doesn’t mean that the idea won’t change over time into something more comfortable for me and the But voice in my head.
What I need to do right now is let the idea simmer, and see where it takes me.
I need to consider what amazing things could happen if I did go for it tomorrow. If I did change my plans to make this my new plan.
I need to let myself feel the excitement.
If I do that, then just like that voice suddenly appeared last night, in time a new voice will pipe up and say…
Now. I’m ready. Let’s do this.
Life has a way of reminding you what’s really important.
What happened at the Boston Marathon on Monday was beyond words. A day of celebration turned into horror.
I woke up this morning drained.
Today was supposed to be another celebration. It is the day my book becomes available on Amazon.com.
The book, I’m scared & doing it anyway, is available. I am so proud of it.
If you pre-ordered, it will ship today. Thank you for that and I hope the story brings you inspiration.
If you want to endorse the book, I would appreciate kind words to your communities on social media and in your real life. Buy an extra book for someone you care about. Remind others that they can be afraid and find courage to go after their dreams.
My book is about sharing love unabashedly, and it seems a good day for that.
If celebrating isn’t feeling right to you though, I understand completely. I have another suggestion in mind.
Today is also Take-Care-Tuesday.
I created that concept over a year ago to remind us all to be conscious about our choices if not every day, than at least one day each week.
Slow down. Pay attention to what you tell yourself, and how you treat yourself today.
You’re important to me, and to many others. Taking care of yourself fills you up to be your full self. The you we love the most.
That can mean a long walk, or shutting down email while you think through a new idea. It can mean pouring a glass of wine at 5:30pm.
You know what is best for you, and Take-Care-Tuesday is a chance to do just that. Remember how well you know yourself, and make the choice that feels right to you.
Whatever you do today, know that I’m right there with you. Cheering you on, holding your hand…and always, always listening.
Before I tell you, let’s first get something straight.
When someone says, “this is the best advice,” it’s because the words they are about to repeat came exactly when they needed to hear them.
More than that, the advice came exactly when they were ready to hear it.
The advice I’m passing along is a perfect case in point.
Nine years ago this month, in April 2004, I was getting ready to have brain surgery.
By getting ready I mean freaking out almost daily.
A friend Jess emailed me after hearing through our network of friends what was happening.
As a young girl she had been through a very serious surgery of her own, therefore had some knowledge on the subject of what getting ready for surgery was like.
Her email was really short: I heard, I’m sorry, here’s something that may help.
She said, “Sometimes you just have to say This Sucks.”
Before Jess’ email, I was a pressure cooker of stress and worry. Holding it all in for fear of what might happen if I let some of it escape. I might never get out of bed again.
While reading her email, I let out a sigh.
She gave me permission to feel what I needed to feel when I needed to feel it.
I still woke up with my alarm every morning and commuted to work. In fact, that release allowed me more easily to do it.
I have since found this advice to be hugely comforting in those moments when I am at a loss for words in my own life, or with someone I love.
“Well, this sucks,” I’ll say with a knowing smile. Sometimes it really does.
And then you set the alarm like usual.
What is the best advice you ever received? Please share it!
It’s amazing how comforting “I know exactly what you mean” can feel.
What a relief it is to know that whatever you’re struggling with is completely normal.
Because before that, it’s really lonely.
You convince yourself that other people have things more figured out than you, wouldn’t have made the mistakes you did, or are so much better than you are at this.
Moms berate themselves for letting their children eat takeout, or for missing the freedom they enjoyed before their families: I am a Bad Mother.
Partners think they failed because this relationship isn’t what they wanted it to be: I am the Bad Guy.
Employees know this a good job, they should be satisfied: There is Something Wrong with Me.
You can tell yourself some pretty mean things. (None of which are true, by the way.)
No matter what is happening, you are not alone.
Someone else has been where you are. Likely a lot of us.
We just don’t talk about it. No one wants to point out when we feel something we’re not proud of.
Know what else? It always always always feels better once you do talk about it.
If right this minute you told the person next to you, even a complete stranger, the thing you were most worried about or ashamed of, there is a nearly 100% chance of them telling you that they have been there or know someone who has.
Truly, you’re not alone. You just convincing yourself you are out of punishment. And that doesn’t help anyone.
So here is what I propose:
If you’re struggling with something, please share it.
I’m here, and I bet there are three people you can think of off the top of your head who would take your call in a heartbeat.
You’ll gain the perspective (and the break!) you’re not giving yourself.
They will also feel great. Why? Because it is very likely that you’ve been there for them before too and they are dying to repay the favor. Really.
If things are going well for you, fantastic!
Please save these words for when you need them, and share them now with someone you care about.
Whether you realize it, or whether she’s had the guts to admit it to you, someone you know believes she is alone in feeling what she feels right now.
She needs to hear from you that she’s not alone, just like you’ll need to hear it from her someday too.
Nine years ago, I was scared out of my mind.
That’s when I came face-to-face with a little white blob on an MRI film.
A brain tumor.
From that moment on, the trajectory of my life completely changed.
It changed how I saw myself, my relationships, my work, my purpose in ways that only something so big and utterly unexpected can.
I know that you have, are or will face something to equal its magnitude, and that is why I spent the last two years writing this memoir.
I’m sharing my journey so you have company for wherever yours takes you.
I’m scared & doing it anyway is about the choices you make when you feel like you don’t have any.
It’s also about how triumphant it can feel to look your fear in the eye, take it by the hand, and Go For It. Bet you just want to scream from the rooftops, “I Did It!” and high five everyone in sight. Me too.
You know what this book is also about? L O V E.
Giving and receiving love can be the most daunting and exhilarating moments of our lives. It’s not always pretty, or easy, but I’ve learned first hand that it’s always worthwhile.
If my book helps you wrap your arms around the person next to you, that would be the best thing ever.
With that, it is with great enthusiasm — who am I kidding? trepidation — that I announce…
My Book is Here!
When you visit my Book page, you’ll see endorsements from special people in my life: mentors, bosses, teachers, and respected authors. You’ll also see a description of the book and a little about me. If you haven’t yet, at the bottom of the page you can download a free excerpt.
I’m scared & doing it anyway is available for pre-sale now, and will ship on Tuesday, April 16.
After that, I’ll begin a series of book launch events. The first is in Washington, DC on Tuesday, April 23. More details here. If you’re in the area, I would love to see you!
I also need your help. I’m self-publishing, an immensely rewarding and challenging endeavor.
If you’re scared & doing it anyway, please share this book!
Please share this with your loved ones, colleagues, and anyone you meet who needs to know they’re not alone.
That’s what I needed nine years ago, to know someone understood what I was going through, and could show me that I had more choices at my disposal. I couldn’t un-do having a brain tumor, but I could choose how I went through the process. How I treated myself.
Now is your chance to do that for yourself and someone you care about.
I hope that my book helps.
PS: If the subject reminded you of Tattoo from Fantasy Island, I may have been going for that.
PPS: I hope you like my book.
PPPS: I can’t believe I just admitted that (but it’s totally true).
[Book news coming this week! Look for another post in a couple days.]
Exes, we all have them.
The one who got away, or in some cases the one who we got away from.
That’s the catch, isn’t it? The yet.
There are some people who no matter how much time has passed, or how much happier we are pretty sure we are now, we still think back and wonder.
We turn over in our minds the details of what happened when and what could or should have been said. You did it at the time and if you let yourself, if I let myself, we’ll do it all over again.
Some of it is easier to understand. Like how the past looks from the benefit of time and distance. Those rose-colored glasses.
What do we miss?
In my previous post, I spoke about what happens when work no longer works for you.
When it’s all you can do to get out of bed in the morning. It can feel like moving through sludge.
The reason is because you want to make a difference, and it doesn’t seem like you can do that where you are now.
One option is to stay.
If that feels right, it’s still possible to make a difference. Here’s how.
If it’s time for a change though, this post may help.
What happens if you leave.
In several instances, I left because I had to. Being forced to leave became a blessing in disguise.
Choosing to leave takes more hutzpa.
I know it’s inside of you. The voice that says, “That’s it!” either because you’ve had enough, or because you’ve just laid eyes on what you’ve been looking for (sometimes in a package you didn’t expect).
When that happens it can feel like an imaginary hand is pulling you forward. Your rational brain wants to think things through, but this hand is tugging at you to say yes. That is your hutzpa, and it’s smart stuff.
How do we access that daring part of you?
It can be tough to admit when the work you’re doing isn’t working for you anymore.
I’ve been there. Every time the phone rang, I cringed.
It felt like moving through sludge.
There were the days when something good happened and I could convince myself that maybe things weren’t as bad as I’d made them out to be the day before. As the good feeling faded though, the sludge-y feeling would seep back in.
If you’re cringing too, please know it is OK to feel this way.
It doesn’t have to reflect poorly on you, or on your employer. Like any relationship, it’s healthy to see when something isn’t working and find ways to make it better for both parties.
So, why is this work not working for you anymore?
Because you want to make a difference in a way that’s meaningful to you, and it doesn’t feel like you can do that where you are right now.
The other day my coach, Steven, had me reeling.
“Lauree,” he said, “For some reason you think money and a husband are difficult to get.”
“It’s as if you believe that you have to change who you are in order to get what you want, when in so many other areas of your life you’ve proven that doing the exact opposite works so much better.”
I have made a habit of taking naps in order for great opportunities to show up. Then they do.
I have shared love generously with people I care about and received more love and support in return than I imagined possible.
Why do being financially buoyant and having a fulfilling romantic relationship have to be any different?
The difference is that I think they are different.
You mean my future husband magically appears while I’m taking a nap?
I’m pretty sure the answer is supposed to be Yes, but it doesn’t feel that way.
I think that I am not good enough or aren’t doing the right things in order to get them. I need to be prettier, smarter…you get it.