Got a Secret Dream?

Time to read: Not more than 2 minutes. Not counting the pauses to breathe.

My dream

My dream

Top of the day to you, Rebels!

When you all write to me, you say that sometimes it seems like I'm in your head. That somehow, I knew exactly what you needed to hear. Today, I actually am in your head, and here's what I see in there.

You have a dream.

It may be a quiet dream that you've never said out loud. You likely have taken no steps to make it come true. You've told no one. It sits quietly in your brain and heart, popping up in the wee hours of the morning, slipping by your consciousness while waiting at Starbucks, and maybe disappearing for months to reappear again in a quiet moment.

This dream is probably creative. Say, painting. Or writing a novel. Or learning to belly dance. You tell yourself it's ridiculous, that you don't have time, that it's terrifying, that you don't know how to do whatever it is, and that other more important priorities deserve your attention. Yet, the dream persists in its quiet nudging.

I have such a dream, and I'm stumbling awkwardly (and slowly) toward doing something about it.

My dream? To tell a story on The Moth.

Which brings me back to you. What's the process for stumbling awkwardly toward your dream? As I'm in the middle of the process, here are the steps I'm following:

Step 1: Avoid your dream. Avoid it at all cost. Check Facebook. Push it away. Ignore it. Let years pass while you do nothing. If it sticks to you through all of that, move to Step 2.

Step 2: After avoiding, notice your dream. Make it real to yourself. Bring it forward in your consciousness. Start to tip toe toward what it would be like to do this thing.

Step 3: Tell people. Start with one person. Make it more real by telling a few more people. Let's say you publish a weekly newsletter. You can out yourself there. Bringing other people into your secret dream helps to create personal accountability.

Step 4: Remind yourself that you've done terrifying things before. Like apply for jobs. Or ask for a date. When I published my first newsletter to 80 of my closest friends and relatives, I thought I might die. Now, it's just part of what I do. You can do scary things.

Step 5: Take one little step. Do one little thing that will start the ball rolling. When I hit send on this newsletter, I'm going to click the button on the Moth website that says, "Tell your story." I'm terrified. And you know you can do one thing.

Step 6: Visualize your dream. I'm starting to be able to see myself on that stage, telling a story. I can picture publishing a link to the audio for all of you. This step feels tender to me. You can take your process as slowly as you want.

 

As for the rest of the steps, I'm not sure yet, because I am still somewhere between Steps 4 and 5. I'll report back on the rest once I know what they are. (Whew! My daughter just called me to pick her up from school. I'm saved from Step 5 and can go back to Step 1. At least for a little while.)

What's your secret dream? I'm happy to help you with Step 3. Write to me and tell me all about it.

With Rebel love,

Christina

P.S. Just breathe and take the first step.

P.P.S. If you know someone who has a secret dream, please forward this newsletter to them. They can subscribe for a weekly dose of inspiration about work and life here.

 

Waiting

Time to read: 30 seconds and change.

Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot

In your fast paced, action-oriented life, what is your relationship to waiting?

Consider these situations:

  • You feel like you are not appreciated and are being passed over for promotion.
  • A director you know walked by you in the hall and didn't acknowledge you.
  • You received your performance appraisal and there was some "feedback" that was hard to hear.

You say something you wish you hadn't said in a meeting. In situations like this, the temptation to do something is powerful. When you feel uncomfortable and confused, the desire to fix it, smooth it over, and make yourself comfortable again is a strong driver. In order to restore equilibrium, you might do any of the following: worry, talk to 10 friends about it, call your mom, talk to the person involved, or take a firm stand for what you want.

What would it be like to wait? What happens if you do nothing? What if your only action is to breathe and be still with it?

When you drop the urge to rush to create comfort and sit in your discomfort, my intuition says powerful things will happen for you.

Give waiting a try this week. Then write and tell me all about it.

I'm experimenting with waiting this week, too.

I'm curious to hear what happens.

With rebel love,

Christina

 

Struggle vs. Ease... Which Do You Choose?

Time to read: 1 minute, 35 seconds

Let's all move into Hotel Ease!

Let's all move into Hotel Ease!

Hi Rebels!

This week, I had a fun email exchange with one of your sister rebels who asked me about the time it takes to write these newsletters. She writes a blog and said it sometimes takes her 10-12 hours to produce a blog post and that "writing is hard work." That got me thinking about all the things you do every day that feel like "hard work."

I had to really think about that before I replied.

  1. Because I wanted to say something useful.
  2. Because over the years, I have developed a very different relationship with writing and work.

For years, I was mired in a story that work was hard and required struggle. Think: No pain, no gain.

To produce a dissertation, I became unreliable to my friends, unavailable to my partner, and worked many, many hours because I believed "hard work" was the only thing that would get me that darn PhD.

In my corporate job, I believed that long hours and "hard" work made me successful and got me recognized as a top performer. Toward the end of my time at my corporate job, I was working late at night, struggling to keep up with email, and working "hard" while sacrificing time with my family and frankly, my sanity.

The truth is... this "hard" work got me a PhD and did get me recognized as a top performer. And, there were huge costs associated with my choice to see work as "hard" and as a "struggle."

A couple of years ago, I decided to change my perspective toward work, and it has made all the difference. Here's what I said (among other things, like it takes me 20-30 minutes to write a newsletter) in the email exchange. I share this because I'd love for you to be able to shift from "hard" to "ease."

"I hold writing these newsletters (like I hold most things) as fun and easy. It’s part of my personal practices to let go of struggle so I practice ease (not struggle) with things like my newsletter. Holding it with ease liberates the process to take less time and actually be easeful. Sometimes, I don’t have a clue as to what to write, and then it takes a little longer."

Think about a place in your life where you believe "hard work" and struggle are the key to your success. Where can you breathe ease into the process. (Notice, I'm not saying "easy." Even ease has elements of challenge. The question is, what would it be like to drop the struggle and do the same work with ease?)

Give it a try then write and tell me all about it. I love hearing from you.

With rebel love,

Christina

P.S. If you love this newsletter, please share it with your friends and colleagues. The more, the merrier. Just forward it to them. They can join us here.

 

Time to Say Good-Bye

Time to read: Less than 2 little minutes of your day.

Good-bye old dream.

Good-bye old dream.

Thanks to Marie Kondo, I've put every item in my house through the "joy-o-meter." When I started this process, I could not have foreseen the depth of the letting go.

This process has taken more courage than I anticipated.

One of the hardest pieces has been saying good-bye to old dreams and accomplishments. That got me thinking of you. Where do you allow old dreams to clog your present and your future?

Here's what I mean.

I have a PhD, and 20 years ago I spent months traveling in India, interviewing women dairy farmers, and learning from them how they work within a system of powerful dairy cooperatives to find their own power. It was an amazing project. Women gave generously of their time and stories, and we formed life-long bonds. When my dissertation was complete, a book publisher asked to meet. At that meeting, I knew I didn't want to publish a book. I didn't want to be an academic.

I walked away.

In times of doubt, I look back wistfully thinking I could have been a leading expert on cooperatives, traveling the world to conferences and interfacing with the luminaries in international development. Maybe I could have been a luminary. In times of self-judgment, I chastise my young self for being stupid and selfish.

A well-organized box of cassettes, transcripts and notes has moved with me from apartments to houses. This stuff pre-dates my children. The box has sat there for 20 years radiating the tiniest ray of hope that maybe, someday, I'll publish that book.

Marie Kondo forced me to be honest with myself. I'm never going to publish that book, and it's time to let it go. Here is what I learned from throwing those cassettes, transcripts and notes into the trash:

  1. Your old dreams mattered. They mattered then, and they are in you now. You don't need to keep artifacts to take the meaning with you.

  2. If you haven't written the book, or built the invention, or taught the class, or started the business, you aren't going to. Be honest with yourself. There is no shame in changing your dream and letting the old ones go. In fact, you have to.

  3. Holding onto an old dream, even subconsciously, is blocking your ability to allow what wants to emerge in your life now.

  4. When you let it go, honor it. I sent love and prayers to the women who helped me. I read some of my notes to remember the hilarious and challenging moments of that research. I texted my best friend from graduate school who completely understood.

  5. Own your choice. If you let the dream slide or you consciously walked away, a wise part of you knew it wasn't your path.

  6. Let the past go and get about the business of allowing what wants to happen in your life now.

I'll be honest. This process is exhausting. My couch has been my best friend. And, I can't wait to feel what's possible in this new future.

Warmly,

Christina

P.S. Have a friend who wants to open their future by letting an old dream go? Forward this newsletter to them. They can join here.

 

For All the Men. A Tough Love Note on Valentine's Day.

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Happy Valentine's Day Rebels,

If you are a man or if you love a man or two, this newsletter is for you.

I'm going to cut straight to the chase, no soft start, no cute story. It's Valentine's Day after all, and I want to give you this loving gift right away.

  • 1. Men, you are more than your job.

  • 2. Don't wait until retirement to do the things that make you happy.

There are a number of reasons it felt urgent to make that point today. Here they are:

  • Tom. When I knew Tom in our corporate days, he was a tightly wound, hilarious leader who loved his family and told epic stories of being at the office on Christmas Eve. He retired a few years ago and was finally working at the beer store and enjoying his adult children. Two years into his retirement, he died suddenly, and we were all crying in church while his children spoke.

  • Frank: He retired and finally was taking the master gardening class he could never fit into his schedule. He died before he finished the class.

  • Bill: When Bill called me a year ago, going to work made him sick to his stomach. In his mid-60s, he had to drag himself to his job every day and drag himself home with nothing to show for the hours at the office. Rather than doing the work of releasing the past and redefining a broader identity for himself, he decided to double down on his job and continue for 4 more years until he felt he could retire.

  • My beloved father-in-law. He was an amazing CFO, loved doing taxes, and served on many boards until Alzheimers robbed him of his ability to crunch numbers and communicate financial strategy. He had no hobbies, and no outside interests, which left him lost.

I can name at least two other men who died within a couple of years of their retirement. My heart breaks every time I hear this story.

And that is why I wanted to send you this Valentine. You are more than your work. Who you are matters. Who you are to your family and friends matters.

If you feel like you have let your friendships go, decide to make some new ones. You deserve to do things you love and that make you happy. You deserve to take care of your body and mind even while you work. And it's ok to love working. I love working. Just don't put off the chance to develop other wonderful parts of yourself until retirement. You are loved.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Christina

P.S. Does your dad, brother, husband, best friend, boss need to hear this message? Forward this email to them. They can join here to learn ways to embrace their happiness.

 

Sparking Joy - Why Does It Matter?

Time to read: 1 minute and 25 seconds to change your life!

Thank you, Marie Kondo.

Thank you, Marie Kondo.

If you've been one of my private clients, you know that I love getting rid of stuff. Purging stuff makes me weirdly happy, and many of my clients catch the discarding bug, too. It's one of the free gifts with purchase. (BOGO coaching. Buy "get happy at work" and get "clean your house" for free!)

I've always known (since requesting a file cabinet for Christmas in 8th grade) that clarity in your physical space, creates clarity in your mental space.

Enter Marie Kondo and her KonMari process. If you have not yet read her book (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) or watched her TV show on Netflix, I highly recommend it. She has taken cleaning and discarding to a whole new level, and I LOVE her. Here's why:

  1. Although on its surface, it looks like Marie is about getting rid of stuff, she's about something much deeper. What starts as cleaning your closet, becomes a calibration in what brings YOU joy. Through her process, you not only get rid of the stuff that weighs you down, you also tap into your sense of joy. That joy then spreads from your stuff to your relationships, your work, and what you want for your life.

  2. In releasing your stuff, Marie gives you permission to release stagnant energy. In doing her process with a friend of mine, I donated 50% of my jewelry to her thrift store. The next day, she called to tell me about a Congolese refugee woman who was thrilled to buy three of my necklaces. The stuff that was creating stagnant energy in my life was released to bring joy to someone else. By releasing your things to realize their purpose, energy starts moving in your life, too.

  3. Your stuff weighs you down - with old memories, fears of the future ("I might need that someday") and the energy it takes to organize and care for it. By letting go of your stuff, you free your creativity. You free your future. And once you start, that liberation is catching. My daughter asked if we can do the KonMari process in her room. Time for the stagnant pile of stuffed animals to be released to create room for a passionate teenager. (Mom - are you reading this? Did you hear? It's catching. Not that I'm hinting or anything.)

It's cold out there (in Minnesota at least). This is the perfect time to release stagnant energy so you can enter spring with all the joy and newness of the season. Anything is possible out there.

Really and truly. Give it a try.

With rebel love,

Christina

P.S. Marie's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is available in any bookstore. Like here.

 

What's the Secret to Big Change?

Time to read: Less than a minute and a half.

We are freezing our arses off. This cruise ship is looking pretty good right now.

We are freezing our arses off. This cruise ship is looking pretty good right now.

Hello Rebels!

Last week, I was working with a corporate team on some... shall we call them... dynamics. They are committed to working differently and brought me in to facilitate a process to help them communicate better and create a happier workplace. The question becomes, how do you get from point A to point B when you are trying to make a change?

Many times, you try to change cold turkey. Think New Year's Resolution. Think Big Change. Think get what you want right now, this minute. Think jump straight from point A to point B. That sounds like this:

"Now I'm going to the gym every day."

"Our workplace will be happier starting today."

"I am going to change my attitude about that colleague I don't like."


The sad truth is, how many of those Big Changes stick over time, and how often do you find yourself a year later in the same situation (or worse)?

Here's what I told the team last week. Big Change happens because you commit to making a thousand Small Changes every single day. Here's a list to get you started:

  • Greet your colleagues cheerfully when you arrive in the morning rather than running for your email.
  • Eat lunch with the colleague who bugs you and commit to learning one new thing about them.
  • Express appreciation openly and consciously three times a day.
  • If you need to vent, take it outside the office.
  • Give your colleagues the benefit of the doubt and instead of getting annoyed, get curious about what is happening for them.

To the cruise ship photo above: If you turn a huge ship one degree, it will end up in a completely different country. That is the power of small changes. When added up over the course of a year, you will have created the Big Change you wanted.

Every little thing you do matters.

With rebel love,

Christina

P.S. Every little thing you do really does matter. What will you choose right now?

P.P.S. If you have friends who would like to join our merry band of rebels, they can sign up to get this newsletter right here.