If your summer social feeds were anything like mine, you saw lots of folks enjoying sun-filled beach vacations. You also saw lots of “30 Day Challenges” (Whole 30, 30 days of Push-ups, 30 days of Rose, etc.). I dig challenges, so I decided to do one of my own, dubbing it “30 Days of Self Work.”
Why did I decide to prioritize “self work” this summer?
You may be guessing that I was unhappy, but I wasn’t. The convergence of a great many things (turning 40, illness/loss experienced by friends and family, attending the United States of Women Summit, several amazing travel experiences, this election) had begun to really impact the lens through which I view the world, myself and my purpose. As happens over time, my passions, perspectives and priorities were evolving, and I realized I needed a “tune-up”.
Over the course of August, through various activities I will share later, I began to solidify what I needed to work on to be the best version of myself I can be, and to serve myself and the world in the best way I can. They are:
1) Dialing back my “doer” and “thinker” and nurturing my “be-er” and “feeler”
2) Giving time to all the dimensions of life that are important to me
(which entails learning to say “no” without feeling like a horrible human)
3) Focusing on Fulfillment, as opposed to Achievement
Why am I writing about my experience and why, on earth, am I sharing it?
I am writing this 1) for me (and to hold myself accountable), 2) for anyone with whom this may resonate and help on any level, and 3) because my dear friend, and badass startup founder, Kat Markov, suggested I share my experience (particularly when I told her I made an appointment with a numerologist).
What I did?
Disclaimer: I am fully aware that creating a Self-Development Summer Intensive is exactly how a “doer” and achievement-obsessed person would tackle growth. Baby steps folks;) In this case, the ends justified the means.
Since I decided to embark upon this journey, I also decided to be completely open to any suggestions that came up along the way. As my friend , the wise soothsayer Ara Katz, said to me, “It doesn’t matter what type of work it is, it only matters that you are doing it. Whatever works for you, is a good thing for you.” So now, without further adieu, I am sharing my “Toolbox for Getting Real and Growing.” Take some of these practices or leave them. Everyone has their own path:
1) I did brand work. Yup, you read that right. When is the last time you wrote down your (not your company’s) core values, mission statement, and vision statement. Other great questions to ask yourself: What do you stand for? How do you define who you are? How do you want to impact the world? This is a challenging and powerful exercise. If you are not doing things – in either your professional or personal life – that align with your values and goals, it is time to make changes. Thank you Liz Heller and Robin Fisher Roffer of Big Fish Marketing for showing me the way.
2) I cut back on the countless articles, books, podcasts, and videos on the tech /startup space I consume daily. I supplemented my reading with content on personal growth and development that I read in 30-45 minute allotments in the morning and evening.
In the age of the Internet, social media and the smart phone, this is VERY hard to do. Nuzzle, Pocket, Facebook, Twitter, TechCrunch, Pando, The Information, The Verge, Upload VR… I read them all, often. I love reading about tech and innovation and, of course, it is part of my job. I didn’t stop reading about my industry altogether, I just checked myself from doing it incessantly. Like when I wake up at 2 am and read for an hour, which I put the kibosh on for good!
In addition, I deliberately re-visited impactful content I had consumed in the past, as well as sought out new information from people I know to be experts in the self-development space. Interestingly enough, I found that shifting my focus opened me up to discover (or at least pay attention to) all kinds of amazing pieces relevant to my “challenge.” I consumed so much important, impactful content that I cannot share it all. Below are some of the folks that helped me get in touch with what I wanted to improve upon and how I might do so.
James Altucher –
I stumbled upon an amazing Medium post by James Altucher a few months back. James is a hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, writer, and podcaster. To be honest, I had no idea who he was at the time I read the post, but I knew it spoke to me so I followed him. During my 30 days, Medium suggested other posts by James, as well those under the topic of “Personal Growth” (thank you, Medium!). At this point, I have devoured an insane amount of Altucher content, all of which has been super helpful.
One of my favorite posts is called “I Miss Nothing.” You can read it here. Best quote of the article: “Stillness ultimately creates, Doing often destroys.”
I also read a great post titled “13 Things I learned from James Altucher.” They are all gems but the first one will stick with me far beyond these 30 days:
“Acknowledge that it’s not your external life that needs to change (you have little control over that), but that external changes flow from the inside.”
I also suggest reading James’ books, “Choose Yourself” and “The Power of No.”
Brene Browne –
I revisited Brene Browne’s Ted Talk on vulnerability. It resonates with me on so many levels, as Brene is a self-proclaimed Type A perfectionist. This is a Ted Talk I will visit frequently as I am working on allowing myself to be more vulnerable. If you also need to work on this, watch and bookmark this video NOW.
Tony Robbins –
Admittedly, I have never quite understood the phenomenon of Tony, but his documentary hit Netflix the first week of my “challenge.” In addition to being a sucker for a great documentary, I figured it was time to learn why millions of people, including many successful business leaders I revere, swear Tony helped them better their lives. Watching “I Am Not Your Guru” blew my mind. It helped me to recognize that to better understand myself I’d need to go deep into my childhood. This exercise is not to place blame, but to understand some of the driving forces of your life and to release what is not working for you. I had never really done this in a concerted way so this took some real work, which ended up being real helpful.
With my newfound admiration for Tony Robbins, I sought out more from him. I came across this podcast he did with Tim Feriss. So much of what he says really hit home for me. The gist is that “We get the science of Achievement, but don’t pay enough to the Art of Fulfillment…… its an art because it is different for everyone.” He also says, “the principal that makes us fulfilled is growth because we are most alive when we are growing and growth gives us the ability to give and feel like we are making a contribution to the Universe.” Amen Mr. Robbins.
3) I made a pie. No, not that kind – I cant’ bake (or cook for that matter). More specifically, I made a pie chart. It consisted of the things in my life that are most important to me. Mine were: Family, Friends & Dog, Job/Career, Love Life, Fitness & Health, Travel & Fun, Service, and Learning. I first drew the chart according how I have spent my time in the past. No surprise here that the career slice of my pie was exceedingly large. I then drew my chart according how I want to allocate my time going forward. I now have a visual in my head , and on paper, to check myself if/when I fall out of balance.
4) I went to a Numerologist. Don’t really know what a numerologist is? No worries, I didn’t either. The fact that it floored several of my friends when I revealed I was doing this should tell you that I am not a numerologist kinda gal. That is, I wasn’t. But I am now.
I have since learned folks like Pythagoras and Gallileo believed in numerology. Seem like smart dudes, right?
I met my numerologist, Josh, at Le Zinque – a hot spot in Venice, not a tie-dye gypsy tent. He came highly recommended from my friend Leslie, who assured me he was not “hippie dippie” and that I would like him. She was correct. Josh is a math and science guy, who became obsessed with numerology 20 years ago. After exchanging pleasantries, Josh asked for my full name and birth date, which he wrote at the top of a plain sheet of paper. He then went to work, like a mad scientist (err… numerologist). He began calculating numbers all over the sheet and then circled many of them, drawing lines across the paper to connect like numbers. It was all quite fascinating. Then, he looked up and proceeded to tell me all about myself. It would be apt to say, “he had my number.” He even called out certain years in my life that were years of transition/transformation. And he knew I was in one of those years right now.
Of course, visiting a numerologist isn’t going to magically change you. But anything that helps you get real and examine your personality traits and behaviors can certainly be helpful in making decisions and changes.
I have now referred a number of friends to Josh. All have been blown away by their experience. If you are open to trying it, message me.
5) I spent time with myself and nature. Even as a single person, it’s tough to get alone time – at least quality alone time. Time where you can sit in stillness and just breathe and be present. In LA, we have alone time in our cars, but that is usually filled with planning the day ahead, business calls, road rage, and the occasional 80s rock song sing-a-long. The same goes with gym time. While I am a fitness nut, and love what it does for me physically and mentally, the group classes I take don’t really provide for peaceful introspection. During my “challenge”, I cut back on my group classes and opted for walks along the ocean and hikes in the mountains by myself. At some point along my scenic route, I would pick a peaceful spot to sit and meditate. Now, I have tried to meditate before and it has never stuck. So I am trying again and will keep doing so until I am the girl pictured below realizing all of the many great benefits of the practice.
Special thanks to Headspace for making something so difficult a little bit less so. Wish I was an investor!
During my “30 Days of Self Work,” I also did a bunch of other things that made me happy, made me feel grateful and made me….just feel. Things that involved the heart over the head. This included family and friends time, attending a wedding on an estancia in Argentina, dancing, and spending lots of time with babies and small kids (admiring their endless curiosity and excitement).
My challenge is now complete. I feel grounded, recharged, and more creative. Most importantly, I feel more in tune with what is important to me both personally and professionally. It was an amazing 30 days, but the hard part begins now – with how to continue the work and sustain my current peace of mind and perspective. The key is to make it a priority and to make myself, and becoming my best self, a priority above all else. There is nothing more important than continuing to grow and to focus on living a fulfilled life. As the saying goes, “you only get one shot, make it your best!”