Cultivating Empowerment: Challenge

January is typically the season for renewal, or at least, intended renewal.  We make promises to ourselves and others about how we are going to change, what we are going to accomplish, and for all intents and purposes, these promises are well-intended.  The issue arises though, as January drags on, we are swept into the hustle and bustle of our day to day lives – a series of schedules and habits which seem oblivious to our newfound plans.  As the promises we made to ourselves to eat healthier, workout more, or say no more often drift away, we are left with residual guilt, justified by the fact that life is just to crazy right now.  By February, we feel worse about our current situation than we did in December!  I don’t suffer from this affliction, fortunately, and this year I plan to help you escape it for good, too.

This blog is dedicated to things that bring me joy, and helping others procure it.  This year, I challenge you to follow me through this short series, getting down and dirty with your innermost hopes and dreams, and learning how to get what you want any time of the year.  I do not know what you might find at the end of your journey, but my hope is that you continue to find, and choose, happiness.

What is this series about?

I’m going to cut to the chase…if something about your life seems “off”, your body, mind and spirit is telling you something is amiss.  You deserve better than to feel off.  Much of this blog is dedicated to simple but critical strategies we often forget when setting things right, and being able to effectively be happy with yourself and the life you create is vital to your empowerment, your independence, and ultimately your happiness in outside relationships.

These are skills and mindsets that I carry with me constantly, and I recommend that you read through and think about what each challenge means to you.  Get lost in how it makes you feel, and try to figure out why it makes you feel that way.  Remember that we choose to take from situations what we choose to take.  You leave a situation or finish an article feeling a certain way, and what you choose to carry with you is a matter of perspective.  With that, I challenge you to find something positive or challenging in each post or mindset that speaks to you and carry it with you.

Your Challenge

We are typically so good at determining what others in our life are in need of.  Whether its a boss at work, our spouse or partner, or our kiddos, we are constantly monitoring their needs and tending to them.  Those of us who are particularly good at this tend to wind up in relationships that are extremely co-dependent, where our worth and identity is dependent on the degree to which we satisfy needs that aren’t ours.  This is a problem.  The problem doesn’t lie in our helping others, but in the fact that too often we let that assisting role define us, and instead of taking care of ourselves, we are seeking validation from others.  Not good.

This challenge is dedicated to looking inward and determining what you need. What goals you have, and what life you want.

Right now, or when you have a minute, close you eyes or otherwise get lost in the following question.  Try to do it without interruption, and if you need to make space for yourself, make it a priority (this is a skill you must master).  If the thought of having 5 or 10 minutes to yourself stresses you out, here are some suggestions, (but don’t get too comfortable…we WILL be addressing this issue later!)…

  • In the car
  • Before bed
  • While stirring pasta
  • Surfing Pinterest (my personal favorite)
  • etc. (you get the idea)

This is not a one-and-done exercise.  In fact, I recommend taking these moments throughout your week to reflect on just this series of questions:

Describe your ideal lifestyle.  What does it look like, what does it feel like?

Get in the habit of dreaming, something we sadly stop doing at some point.

In fact, if you have kids and they won’t leave you alone, make it a family affair.  We actually pose these kinds of “dream it” questions to our kiddos all the time.  Have them draw a picture or write a story.  Chances are they will have more fun with it, so take a lesson from them and dream big!  If you do have time to yourself, and you happen to be a Pintrester like me, you might find creating a secret board will help you review the kinds of things that seem to bring you joy.  Maybe you find you pin a lot of blue, a ton of farmscapes, family portraits, or funny memes.  Whatever the commonalities are, it will help bring realization to the things that bring your heart happiness.  Don’t focus too much on that now, though.  Just pin.

Now, do not think that this series is going to be me telling you how to obtain these wild dreams.  Just because you dream of Tuscany does not mean you need to uproot your family to Italy to be happy.  This exercise is about self reflection and honing in on what kinds of things make you feel joy, and it is extremely important in establishing real goals, knowing what makes you happy, and learning the difference between feeling real joy and simply settling.

One warning I will make is not to simply jump to conclusions about what you think should make you happy.  This exercise is not about what you think the world thinks should make you happy.  This is about YOU.  If your mental escapes fail to depict family vacations and bright green salads, that is OK.  Everyone loves their family and everyone wants to be healthier; the purpose is to focus on those deep-seeded gems that bring joy to YOU, a unique person.

That is it for today.  This is a simple, but important task.  I will leave you with an affirmation –

You are worth the biggest dreams you have for yourself, and all the strength and ability you need to achieve them is already within you.