Ingredients for a Successful Life

"Etsy vintage tablespoon by JessicaNDesigns}

“Etsy vintage tablespoon by JessicaNDesigns}

When I reflect upon the almost 7 years I have been a freelance writer, the biggest hurdle had less to do with my professional experience than my personal struggles. In fact, success often deals with the latter.

Of course you need experience, a little bit of talent and much hard work to be successful. But often what stands in the way of most individual’s success is what they believe to be true about themselves.

In 2006 and earlier, I had an overwhelming desire to write. I asked for a typewriter for Christmas. I wrote down my own stories on little pieces of paper. I composed poetry as a kid. It pushed me to get a BA in English, but after college I just didn’t think I had the skills, talent or ability to get hired.

I skirted around my career, went into research because it felt comfortable and then psychology instead. I’m grateful for that experience. It gave me the confidence and courage to deal with a lot of the inner shadows that were clouding my work.

It took time, patience, resilience and the foresight to follow my calling. Along the way I picked up a lot of negativity about my desired career. I realized these words were just external versions of what I was telling myself every day. You may be familiar with some of them:

“You’re never going to make it.”

“You’re not smart enough.”

“Who do you think you’re kidding?”

“If so and so can’t do it, why do you think you can?”

Those words prevented me from trusting my instincts. It beat me up from the inside out. Even when I was getting writing opportunities, I ended up sabotaging them. How could I not when I essentially believed I didn’t have what it takes to do it?

Fast-forward to 2013. Since then, I am continually surprised with the doors that have opened for me. Recently, I started writing for Intuit’s Small Business blog and signed a contract with a greeting card company. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work as a freelance copywriter for several online retailers and I have been writing for local and regional publications and been an online columnist for The Writer magazine, Psych Central and Beliefnet.

That wouldn’t have happened to me if I continued on the road to self-sabotage, negativity and perfectionism. It took constantly beefing up my critical mind with positivity. I had to work on being cognizant of what and who I was allowing in my life and how it was impacting me personally and professionally.

Essentially, what I learned can be valuable to those of you seeking your own success in life. I realized that when we change how we view ourselves on the inside, we change our external world.

It’s not an easy process especially if you’ve been brought up to believe the worse in yourself. It will take time. But know this…

The fact that you are here means you have an important purpose. Don’t let your past, critical people or your own negative voice prevent you from fulfilling what you are meant to do.

There is only one of you. Celebrate it! Share who you are with the world and you will see the gifts unwrap in front of you.

Don’t squander your talent, hide your true self or shy away from your voice. The world will benefit from you being uniquely you. Let me tell you-as you sit doubting yourself, we are all desperately waiting for you to reveal it.

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Inspiring Businesses

When I’m stuck in a rut, when I’m feeling like my chips are down, the one thing that lifts me up better than an ice-cream cone on a sweltering hot day is soaking up the light from other inspiring businesses.

This past week I heard of two that really got me going and I wanted to share their stories with you here.

Teen Beats Sharks

I first heard about Maggie Bradshaw on Shark Tank. (One of my favorite mindless reality TV shows.) Even if you haven’t seen it before, the title really says it all. People looking for investors to fund their latest invention give a brief presentation to a financially wealthy panel (the sharks) and get ready for them to swarm. It’s a fun show to watch. But this time I was more afraid for Maggie and her younger 12-year old sister.

Not only did Maggie do better than most participants in the show, but all 5 of the sharks wanted to invest in her company. She was assertive, determined and more knowledgeable about business and profit margins that I was at that age. She held her ground, negotiated, didn’t show an once of fear and ended up getting 3 sharks to invest in her million dollar company. Maggie’s just 16. And her company? Necklaces made out of used bottle caps. Genius! You can find out more about m3 girl designs here.

A Truly Inspiring Bee

I haven’t met Bumble owner Mary Heffernan except seeing her in passing as I left her charming restaurant/play cafe, but she still inspires me. As soon as I walked into the cottage that housed her dreams, I was smitten. What I most admire about Heffernan is her out of the box thinking. She created a business out of what she felt was a need-a place where adults could enjoy eating out again with their kids. The cottage is beautifully and glamorously decorated so much so that I didn’t even realize it was a place parents bring their kids until I looked through the aquarium and saw children looking back at us from the next room. What a brilliant idea! Not only that but the items on her menu are organic and locally sourced. And I’m a big lover of details so I couldn’t help but adore the tiles in the bathroom shaped like what else? Honeycombs.

These are just a few business and I’m sure you have your own list of people and companies that make you want to be and do better in your own life. Who are they and what is about them that inspire you?

I’m signing off with one more bit of inspiration. George Lucas recently sat down to talk with Oprah on OWN and I had to jot down what he said about passion. Here it is:

“You sit down to do something at 7 o’clock in the morning and you get hungry and you realize it’s 7 o’clock at night. That’s your passion. That’s what you love. Find something like that, that you can make your career…The idea of making money. The idea of being famous. The idea of becoming powerful in essence is meaningless. It’s only that you’re happy and you’re only going to be happy doing what you love.”

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Making Meaning in 2012

When I reflect back on 2011, I see a bunch of foggy days wrapped up tight, stuffed and oozing out like a burrito from a food truck. It may taste delicious all and all, but the sight…well it ain’t for sore eyes.

In 2012, I want more. I want to rediscover meaning and purpose and passion. I’m tired of settling for status quo. I’m fed up with telling the same story that everyone has told before and continues to tell over and over again. It’s time now to begin authoring my own life.

This bubbling brook began forming months ago. But it was reignited while I was in Sedona and heightened when I returned to Hawaii a week ago. While I was working and attempting to juggle seeing friends and family, I had a profound dream. I don’t remember what it was about or who was in it. But the message was clear:

“You need to survive this so you can write about it.”

The “this” the voice was talking about doesn’t matter. It could be the stress of the holidays, my fears, my health. But the decisiveness of the message and the feeling it left-a sense of hope and inspiration is what’s most important to me.

If you’re feeling worn down and out and have been thirsting to live, not just survive, you understand. You’re ready too.

One of my favorite songs these days is Shake It Out by Florence and the Machine. In it, she sings:

“it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back”

It made me wonder what devils, what fears, negativity, criticisms, are holding us back from living a life of meaning. And can we shake them off if we are aware of them? Will we choose to continue to walk on the same path that’s been cleared for us? And will we die that way? Or will we take a chance and be brave?

Avoiding the Well-Trodden Path

My husband and I went hiking this weekend. But we went late. And the directions on the map were unclear. The quickly setting sun was making my heart palpitate. We were lost. We couldn’t find the well-trodden path and we would soon lose the sun. So we threw our hands in the air, put away that map and made our own path. The experience was scary and yet invigorating. As we walked along the side of the mountain and heard what sounded like owls or cows (they all sound the same in the dark), I realized that all I needed was faith and intuition. We’ve gotten dependent on our technological tools to guide us. Perhaps the answer to living a more meaningful life lies inside of us. Perhaps we had our own inner map all along. But we’ve lost in along the way with cell phones and GPS, with cars, with experts telling us what to do. We gave up the thrill of our lives for the stability of a non-life.

If you want to live with meaning in 2012, toss that map you have in front of you. Take a risk. Follow your heart not your wallet. Yes it will be scary. Yes there will be bumps in the road. Yes there will be cows and owls and scarier things to persuade you to stop and get back on the “right” track. And you can choose to live that way. But since we only have this one life right now, why not consider just for a moment, what your life could be like…if you just took a chance?

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