I have an exercise for you to do:
The next time you are tempted to say I’m sorry for something (for anything!) - I’d like you to replace it with something else,
I’d like you to say “You’re welcome.”
Lisa! <- that’s what you are thinking. "How can I do that?" "It’s so rude." "I'd sound so self-important!"
Ok, bear with me. I’m not advocating saying it every time. Maybe don’t even say it out loud (but I won't be mad at you if you did!)
Commit to being unapologetic. Stop telling the world that you are sorry. Be yourself in all your amazing and imperfect ways.
Unapologetic, by definition, is putting forward (i.e. putting anything out there) without apology or qualification. So this is my call to you to put yourself into the world without qualifying or apologizing for yourself.
DO IT TODAY
See what happens when you stop apologizing for anything that is an inherent part of who you are - DO NOT ever say "I'm sorry" for being yourself.
Oftentimes the idea of success is so removed from us because it seems sky high. Literally, floating above us, it is visible but we cannot touch it. How does one harness something so elusive?
This is because success is an abstract idea, one person’s success or wealth is very different than someone else’s idea and/or vision. And this can lead to frustration - how do I tap into something so up in the ether?
Oftentimes it is useful to take any idea or concept that we would like to achieve and define it - either with words or numerically.
Recently, I have been studying success, i.e. what are some of the key things that the people who are at the top of their fields do daily, in numbers. Check it out on your own journey to defining and achieving success.
5 The number of people closest to you that will help define your success. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn, who is one of the forefathers of the current self development genre, was famously quoted as saying “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” We are closely influenced by those we spend the most time from - ideas, activities and ethics. So choose wisely, who are you conversing with, spending time with and choosing to do business with. Choose to spend time with those who inspire you. AND spend time with those people who will lovingly tell you the truth.
And, as an extension of this idea, consider what you are doing and talking about when you spend time with people. A discussion about your hopes and dreams will have a positive outlook on your life, while gossiping about other people certainly will not.
3 The number of things to put on your to-do list every day. Although our list of things to get done get be immeasurable, sitting a list of everything to be done in every aspect of our life can be overwhelming. Overwhelm can lead to us turning off and not getting ANYTHING done.
So focus on a few (3) of the most essential things that are imperatives to get done on any day. I get up in the morning and write on a visible wipeboard the three things I WILL get done.
Now, this excludes things I do everyday - like answering emails or posting to social media. BUT, this method allows me to prioritize and schedule the things that are the most important. Addtionally, if you get more done then you feel more productive.
5 The days of the week you need to do planning! One of my favorite quotes is that “If you don’t have a plan for yourself, someone else does!” To that end, if you don’t have a schedule and prioritized “Must Do” activities, other things and people will take up your time and energy. On every work day I spend 5 minutes at the beginning and end of every day planning. This bookending of my schedule allows for maximum productivity as well as allowing for clear delineation between work and personal time. Here is my planning procedure:
End of the Day:
Beginning of the Day:
I just returned from co-facilitating a beautiful weeklong retreat. The retreat focused on dance and goal setting and we bonded, laughed and cried AND worked through our goals for the year. When the women arrived, they had a set idea of "what they wanted." Several expressed surprise (and excitement) when I didn't start our work with how to achieve your goals, I started with spending some time on figuring out exactly what you want.
Here's the thing, oftentimes we think we know what we want. But later we figure out that it's not what we actually wanted. Maybe it was a societal expectation (2 kids and a picket fence??) or maybe it is what our friends, parents or family want for us. In the next few articles, I will take time to detail the process to getting what you want, so then we can go out and get it!
Start by writing for 20 minutes, NO STOPPING, and start with "I want..." Write stream of consciousness and detail what you want in your life. Let go of expectations and let go of fear. Write about the things, people, feelings and places that you want to be a part of you life. Keep your pen moving! Consider all the aspects of life - work, spirituality, how you look, feel and act, relationships etc. LIMITATIONS EXSIST ONLY IN YOUR MIND.
Review the list and highlight or circle anything that comes up more than once. Or, highlight anything you feel strongly about. Do you have a positive physical response (sitting forward, feeling of excitement etc) when reading any of your I wants? Circle them! Then, make a list and estimate when you expect to reach those goals. Challenge yourself! If all of your wants are short term, think about the future and vice versa.
CHALLENGE: PICK OUT THE 4 MOST IMPORTANT GOALS FOR YOU THIS YEAR! THIS IS WHERE YOU START! THINK ABOUT WHY YOU WANT TO DO THESE THINGS. IF YOU FEEL STRONGLY ENOUGH ABOUT IT - YOU WILL DO IT! THIS IS WHERE YOU PROVE TO YOURSELF WHAT YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH. PICK ONE ACTION TO MOVE TOWARDS EACH GOAL AND DO IT TODAY!
Write measurable specific goals with due dates. Re-write each goal as measurable and pick a date you'd like to achieve it by. For example "I want to be healthy" turns into "I will go to the gym 3x/week for the next 4 weeks."
Write about what it will feel like when you are finished. What will that moment look and feel like? Savor this! Connect to this as the motivation to get started.
Make a list of resources. What parts of your toolkit (whatever you need to accomplish this goal) do you already have? What do you need and how can you get it? What characteristics, friends, supplies, time, energy etc. Fill up your toolbox so you are ready to go.
Create a step-by-step plan. List out all the action step needed to get to that goal. Each step must not contain multiple actions. Then go back and assign a date to each step. Then, WRITE IT DOWN. Use your to-do-list or calendar.
Who else has done what you want to do? Wether is it your bestie or Oprah, do your research and see what they did. This is a study in best practices. Learn learn learn!
Speak it outloud! Tell a coach or trusted friend! Speaking it outloud starts to make it a reality!
ALL BODIES ARE BEAUTIFUL. The human form and physical ability is miraculous. I do not believe that one shape is better than another and I don't believe in a "good" or "bad" body.
SHAPE AND WEIGHT DO NOT DEFINE VALUE. I love to workout. I enjoy getting smaller or bigger depending on what I am working on. However, I don't think my value (or yours!) changes based on shape. I don't think thin women are bitches and I don't think that larger people are unworthy.
I BELIEVE IN FEELING GOOD. Weight is bullshit and has to do with your relationship with gravity. Who cares - my weight fluctuates and so will yours. However, I believe in feeling good and being able to live your life - i.e. lifting heavy things, running and jumping. I recently went back to an eating style that does well for me and I lost weight. I am happy because I feel good. If I felt crappy, I would stop.
I BELIEVE IN MOVEMENT. There are enormous neurological, physiological and emotional benefits to moving. I believe in fitness. I think you should find a way that feels good for you to move. I also think you should eat in way that makes you feel good and supports your lifestyle.
I BELIEVE IN PERSONAL CHOICE. If you want to lose weight, gain weight, tattoo yourself, augment yourself, change because it makes you feel good. DO IT.
Imagine that you walk into a party. You have a friend who is out of town, and they asked you to send pictures of the fun you are having at the party.
When you walk in there is a large crowd of people laughing and having fun. They turn as you come in and smile with excitement. In the back corner of the room there are two people who have excluded themselves from the fun. They are sitting among empty chairs frowning with their arms crossed.
If you took your camera and focused on the two upset people you'd be telling your friend a very different story than if you focused on the large group of people having fun in front of you.
LIFE IS JUST LIKE THIS PARTY.
WHATEVER WE FOCUS ON BECOMES OUR REALITY.
In 1914, Thomas Edison was 67. His life's work was in his labratory. That labratory burned down. At the scene everyone was shocked because he was excited. Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, "I'm so excited, what an opportunity, I'll start all over again tomorrow." He continued his work without losing any employees. HE FOCUSED ON THE OPPORTUNITY IN THE SITUATION.
Maggie, one of my clients, desperately wanted to be in a relationship. She went on several dates a week but there was something just a little off about everyone. She was so distraught. She would go on dates FOCUSING on what could possibly go wrong. We worked on mindset, changed her focus. She started looking for what she wanted and found Mr. Right.
We all know and acknowledge that words have power. They can make us laugh or cry. They can uplift or they can damage us. Words create actions, emotions and have enormous power. We see this every day.
And yet, while we see this so powerfully on a large and intimate scale, I am shocked by how I hear women talking about themselves. A few examples from the past week:
Women who beat themselves down verbally will have a beat down life and experience. Women who CHOOSE to speak with amazing, colorful, rich worlds of themselves and their experiences have amazing, colorful and rich experiences.
Changing habitual vocabulary can cause instant change to how you think. How you think affects how you feel. AND how you feel affects how you live.
I have a confession. In the midst of a terrible political climate, major change at the business I own, and familial loss, my life got better. I changed, in many areas of my life (work, physical, financial) for the better. This happened because I decided to change. With 40 on the horizon, I saw some things I wanted to change and I did it. I am so humbled and grateful that hard work can change things.
The most significant change that I made was (is!) changing my "shoulds" to "musts."
Here is what typically happens:
We make a list of all the "shoulds"... (and often times this is amplified by our holiday experience of stress, family and over indulgence.)
So let's take a look at that sentence. "I should..."
Change it. Switch the "should" with a "must."
Consider how powerful it is when we change "I should eat healthier" to "I must eat healthier."
or... "I should start saving money." To "I must start saving money."
Changing the strength of your language also changes something else, your standards. When you raise your standards, you will be able to make permanent change in your life. Raising your standards will change your should to a must.
YOUR LIFE IS A DIRECT REFLECTION OF THE STANDARDS YOU HOLD FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
The standards you hold are a direct reflection of your life. The way you manage everything - health, finances, your environment, your appearance, your values. How you communicate yourself to the world is a communication of the standards you hold.
How do you start doing this? Get a paper and pen and ask yourself some questions:
(doing this now will let change start to happen NOW)
On a Saturday morning last spring I woke up at 4:45am. I was going on the local news to promote my dance studio. I woke up early and drank coffee. I stared at the closet to pick out something to wear. Although I am relatively comfortable on camera, it is, to say the least, an anxiety inducing experience.
“What do I wear? Do I look hip? Can you tell I am almost 40? What do I say? What if I am goofy?” (The last one being very likely.)
I went and shot the segment, did my thing, and exhaled a sigh of relief. I decided to get a coffee and then go to the gym. In the Starbucks, I got a notification that I had a Facebook message.
In all capital letters, a woman expressed her disgust at me. She said I was fat, obese even. She said I had no right to be on TV, especially to talk about fitness and exercise.
My heart sank. I was horrified. I felt shame. You would think, in getting such a rude message, one with misspelling and all capital letters, I would just laugh it off. I did not, my heart hurt.
I went to the gym and told my trainer. He, and all my friends, talked about how dumb it was, they all said how fit I am. I still felt really shitty. And very uncomfortable in my own skin.
I like to think that I am tough, that I am outspoken, that I am essentially, over anyone else’s opinion. But I went home and I cried. I let her get to me. I doubted myself.
But then, I made a choice. I made a choice to take it back, to take back the power.
I opened up Facebook and decided to write back to her. I decided that I was going to be happy that day and I decided that I was going to be ok with myself. So I wrote back,and I sent her a picture:
First of all, I love you and I hope you find love in yourself. If you are mad at me, a stranger, then I bet you are mad at someone else too. I wish you ease with that, prayer and peace.
Second of all, I love and celebrate my body and how I look. Sometimes I indulge or feel stress and am bigger, sometimes I work out a lot and am stronger and leaner. I like all those versions of myself. They are mine and I love me. I love fitness, and am so grateful that I can run five miles, lift over 100 pounds and dance for hours. I love to express myself with clothing and honestly, I think I am pretty darn cute.
What you said doesn't bother me. I happily represent my business. We encourage all types of beautiful people to come here and work out and feel good.
However, words matter and mean something. If you had sent me this 15 years ago, I would have been wrecked. You could have sent me into a tailspin of self doubt and reckless behavior. Say whatever you want to me, but if I heard you say that in front of a little girl or to a teenager, you'd see what my angry looks like.
I took this picture of me for you, in all my joy in my favorite place in the world, my successful business. I will continue to loudly express myself in your honor.
With love, LZ
I wrote back to her and then I blocked her. I didn’t want to fight with an irrationally angry woman on the internet. And then I posted the whole thing on my Facebook page. I decided to make it mine. My story, not hers. My decision. And then I made another decision, to let it go. (As an aside, I have “Let Go” tattooed on my arm as a reminder to myself. I can be pretty stubborn.)
This particular incident has amplified to me how much people talk to me about my body. I am a performer, I am curvy, I am not skinny. I like tight, bold clothes and have no desire to hide myself, to attempt to “minimize” anything or abide by anyone’s decision of what I should wear.
This attitude brings about a lot of conversation. Honestly, I used to hate it. People stop me on the street or write to me about how I feel about myself and how that has affected them. How they feel ok or not. And this, used to make me feel as vulnerable and awful as this woman’s letter.
I realized recently that I don’t feel that way anymore. I am open and loud about what I have to say and how I feel about myself. Other people’s words do not change how I feel about myself.
Other people’s words do not change how I feel about you:
LOVE YOUR BODY. NO ONE ELSE’S OPINION MATTERS. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
I realize that the shift is because of this letter. I took something that made me feel so awful, looked it in the face and shouted back. With grace.
If I could write to her again, I would say thank you. Thank you for calling me fat.