How do YOU Define Yourself?

For a long time I doubted myself, my art, my professional skills, and had been afraid to show my art work to anyone. But, on the eve of turning 30 (a few weeks ago), I made the determination that I would change my mindset and attitude from one of fear and scarcity, to one of abundance and gratitude in order to live the life I want, and start being the person I want to become. A shift in mindset (more than math) is what got me out of $40,000 in student loans, and booking art gigs left and right (woot woot!).

That shift in mindset has been more instrumental to changing my finances than math. Math motivated me to change my money behavior within the short term. But a deep and sincere commitment -- no, a vow -- to redefine yourself, that really recharged my life's batteries.

But how do you go from living in fear of your passion to living proudly for your passion; from pinching pennies, to living in abundance?


1. Take Teeny Tiny Steps: I'd often felt overwhelmed by all the projects I'm working on (a film, a personal finance course, photo projects, a ton of travel, etc.). So rather than doing a lot each day, I make a goal to just do 1 teeny tiny thing each day. Rather than make it a goal for the day to "edit a whole scene of the film", which would take hours, I instead take the smallest baby-step of a goal possible -- "off load all of the footage from one shoot" -- which would only take minutes. That's it. One. Teeny. Tiny. Step. Per. Day.

Sometimes I feel inspired to do more, other times I just have the energy for a tiny step. And that's okay! It's one step further down the road I want to be on, and closer to the life I want. The 7 tiny steps  over the past week, would but me further today than had I not taken those steps.

2. Run Yourself Like a Business: In my "Clark Kent" life (my 9-to-5), I set up and manage huge technology systems for very large (20,000 employee+) organizations. By the time I get my "Superwoman" life on (my 5-to-9) I'm tir'd (can't even get the "e" in I'm so tir'd)!

But alas, there's hope. I run my life like a business through different project management tools. I budget my time, use project management tools (my latest fave is Asana), and try to automate as much as possible (future post on that later for all you type-A's out there who feel me!).

3. Attitude Gratitude: I've started keeping a gratitude journal  in addition to my Buddhist practice. Each night before bed I think of at least one thing I'm grateful for and tell my fiance or record it. "What was your happiest moment today?" is another way we'll end our day. Try asking yourself that tonight, and you'll see a wonderful habit blossom.

4. Nike it up! Just do it! Just keep moving forward because your soul depends on it. Really. The doubt/fear/etc. doesn't go away, but you'll be so busy doing (instead of waiting for yourself to do something) that all you can do is move forward. With every action you take -- small (sending an email) or big (screening a film -- side note: I have a Film Festival Premiere next month! Eep!) -- your life will have no choice but to move in the direction of your dreams.

I'll repeat that...

I'm grateful to have seen this today:

What's 1 thing you're grateful for today?

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Could you list 100 of your dreams?

Whenever I have downtime online (instead of checking social media again) I look at my list of 100 dreams and make plans to work towards them. It's a list of anything -- no rules -- I want to do with my life. I have everything from "sleep" to "take my man to Hawai'i" on here. Writing down the first 30 or so is easy, but then you start to slow down. 

I've heard of bucket lists, but feel this just works better for me. I also use this as a motivator for how I want to spend my time, energy and money. So, rather than trying to save time doing dishes, or optimizing all of my errands into one afternoon, or, in other words, focusing and planning around the things I don't want to do/drain me of energy/or are lower priority,  instead, I just focus on what I do want to do / give me energy/ and is high priority. Everything else just then falls into place or gets de-priortize (as it should). 

More concretely, one of my dreams is to read a book a month. So while doing dishes I'll listen to an audio book. The $14/month subscription for audio books is worth it to me because the fee is nominal for me, and getting to hear the books I've chosen is awesome, a priority for me, and thus worth it. 

Bottom line: Prioritize around your dreams (the things that give you energy), rather than around your chores (the demands the drain your energy). That's true for both money and time. 

Shout out to Laura Vanderkam, whose workshop I learned this in. Check out her List of 100 Dreams

My List of "100" Dreams (it's 46 right now, but meh. That's cool with me)

strike through = Made it!
bold = actively working on it
plain = new/pending

  1. Get a black belt in something (I did boxing for 20 years, and tae kwon do for 4)
  2. Try Aikido
  3. Take my man to hawai'i
  4. go my man to new zeleand
  5. have a super fun wedding
  6. show in a gallery
  7. create a successful creative business
  8. inspire others
  9. buy a house
  10. have multiple streams of income
  11. take my man to morocco
  12. work on a feature film
  13. bake more bread
  14. teach an online course
  16. create scrapbooks from old stuff
  17. shoot on analog still photography film again
  18. publish a book of my artwork
  19. speak at events
  20. lead workshops
  21. take class at the folk school w/ my man
  22. have a family day each month (rock climb, cycling around the beach, LEGO museum, jet ski/wakeboard, aqua jet pack, hicking)
  23. read a book each month
  24. have a monthly girls' night
  25. visit chicago yearly
  26. cook 
  27. learn to throw pottery
  28. do my nails more often
  29. get a monthly massage 
  30. go shopping more often
  31. sleep
  32. scuba dive
  33. start a scholarship program 
  34. mentor low-income high school students
  35. Learn japanese
  36. Visit kyoto
  37. Visit japan 
  38. Stretch canvas
  39. Attend workshop by my favorite artist
  40. learn to use a speed bag
  41. ride a bike with no handle bars
  42. Eat healthy
  43. Excercise 
  44. volunteer helping sea turtles
  45. visit the turtle hospital on marathon key
  46. make moroccan tea

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"Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It"

'My good friend died, my relationship ended, my 3 year old company is going to shit. To say I was depressed would be generous.'

Those were the words of a man who inspired me today. In the depths of emptiness and hardship, he found light and hope by making a very simple vow to himself. And I'll emphasize this again -- it was a vow -- not a promise, nor a goal -- a vow. His vow? 'I vow to love myself.'

He wrote it down, and vowed to accomplish it. Every moment thereafter he made every decision, every email, every choice, weighed every option, with that vow in mind.

How would your life be different if you loved yourself first? When someone asked you if you want to go to that party? If you're deciding to return that phone call or email? If you're weighing what vacation you want to go on? How would you decide where your money should go?

How would things be different if you sincerely vowed to love yourself? Your flaws, decisions, vulnerabilities, goals, and you. You. You as you are have everything you need to be at your best. I truly and sincerely believe that about everyone. Really.

Happiness comes down to that. Feel a fire in your belly, a surge in your heart, a feeling in your gut. Feel the enormity of life telling you the thing you already know but try to run away from, or make excuses to keep from yourself.

It's the age old battle: You vs. Yourself. To be or not to be. < --- that is the question. The answer? Love yourself like your life depends on it.

For more:
Watch the speech.
Get the book.

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