5 Reasons You’re Still Stuck

Cat starting out the window

It’s been several years since your last big idea. But you’re still reading or watching about other people’s dreams while yours fades in the distance.

If you’ve wondered why you haven’t “made it” yet. Scroll through the following list to see if you’re guilty of the following obstacles that are keeping you stuck.

1) You’re playing safe.

People who risk big are often the most successful and the happiest. Taking a risk means different things to different people. For some, joining toastmasters or a choir is huge in the department of facing their fears. For others, starting their own business is a risk worth taking. If you’re still stuck in the same place you were last year, you may be too comfortable where you are. True enjoyment comes from taking risks. Find out what would make your heart race and take the leap.

2) You’re on the wrong path.

Maybe you dream of great things. But the things you’re dreaming of has nothing to do with what truly matters to you. If you’re fantasizing about financial wealth, but your real goal is to help others, you’ll stay stuck in a false facade of what can really make you happy. The sooner you realize you’re on the wrong path and return to the one that will lead you to your true purpose, the faster you’ll be on the road to happiness.

3) You expecting something or someone to change.

Life doesn’t happen because you’re lucky. Life happens because you take the necessary action to fulfill your dreams. If you’re waiting for the circumstances to be right before you venture into your life, you will be waiting a very long time.

4) You’re burnt out.

Perhaps you’ve run out of steam and inspiration on the path towards the life you want. The key is to mix things up, take a break, reimagine your vision. Change won’t happen while you’re emotionally or physically drained. Things will happen when you take care of yourself and feel refreshed enough to go after your dreams.

5) You haven’t taken any baby steps.

Big dreams do require big steps. But they also require small ones too. Skipping steps won’t get you there faster. Hard work, patience and continually chipping away at the small tasks (from paperwork to research) to get to the larger ones will eventually lead you to your dreams. Sometimes we need to face the small fears in order to give us courage for the really scary ones. If you haven’t made any changes in years, it’s time to reflect on whether you’ve taken all the necessary steps to get there.

Need help finding your purpose? I’d love to help! I offer phone and in-person dream coaching for those who need direction in following their dreams.

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Will You Live in Fear or Faith?

{Flickr photo by 27147}

{Flickr photo by 27147}

Between moving to our first home and landing a new writing gig, I haven’t had spare time to write for fun, much less keep up this blog. [insert =( here.] But I know the value in doing it. It’s forced me to sit on the ground with my laptop, exhausted after 5 hours of moving behind me.

Why?

Reflecting on this moment is of the utmost importance and sharing all the mini lessons I learn along the way makes it all worthwhile. Even if there are only a handful of you still reading this now.

2012-2013 has been filled with some of my most exciting and painful moments. I’ve said goodbye to good friends, got slammed with unexpected good and bad news and was continuously tested on my faith. The question that kept looping in my head was: Do I choose to live in fear or faith?

To live an inspiring life, many might assume that it means living a pain-free one. Some might think that true happiness is a life void of difficulty and filled to the rim with constant joy, and luck. Those who feel this way can get pretty tied up in feeling sorry for themselves (I can vouch for my own self-pity parties in the past.). But what they don’t realize is true happiness and joy stems from having the confidence to overcome obstacles, from being able to put one foot in front of the other regardless if you know where that path will lead.

Any one of us can easily fall into the gap of paranoia and fear especially in regards to the news lately. Any one of us can stay in the past and glorify a frozen moment. It’s easy to let yourself get overwhelmed by difficulty, problems and uncertainty. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

On the other side of the fence is hope. It’s still scary there. Unknowns lay like hidden potholes. But love, courage, faith there are stronger. I’m not saying that the road is easier. In fact, if you decide to live your life with faith, it may even be harder. But if you choose it, your confidence will grow. And in doing so, you will reap the benefits of a truly lived life.

I meet a lot of people these days who like to play their lives safe. Being cautious feels smart. It feels like the best way to live your life. But play things too cautiously and you’re putting yourself at great risk. You’re risking your ability to love deeply, laugh loudly and experience the life you were meant to live.

We were not meant to live life problem-free. We were meant to bend in the wind, to fall, to bleed, to shed our leaves and grow beautiful like the trees…

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How to Get Through Life’s Growing Pains

{photo by The Inspiring Bee}

Who we are is always in the process of becoming. Although we might not know it, there is room to grow even in the fullest of blossoms. That’s because sometimes growth means a death, a letting go of who we were in order to become who we were meant to be.

It’s not in easy process, but it’s a worthwhile one.

The difficulty lies in the awareness that we are not yet there. Just like the mountain that impedes our path on a hiking trip or the lack of experience that finds us interrupting our career, our ability to keep going is as necessary as breathing. If we were to stop, to turn back, to give up, that would also be a death, a silent lights out of our dreams.

There are ways we make the process harder. As Iyanla Vanzant said on Oprah’s Life Class:

“Comparison is an act of violence against yourself.”

I’ve done it enough times to know the self-inflicting pain that comes when you compare yourself to others. And it’s never to people who are worse off than you. It’s always to those reaping the benefits of their hard work. We rarely see the struggles people go through to become successful. We see their book deals, high paying dream jobs and easy lifestyle as gifts given to just a handful of people. But they were here too. It just wasn’t exciting enough to land on TV.

So I say to you now and to myself, this is our growing pains. This is not the end of our story. This is a small pebble on a beautiful, but lengthy path. There will come a time when we will celebrate too. But now’s not the time for rejoicing, it’s all about hard work. Moments like these beckon us to believe even when no evidence exists for positive change. It’s a call for faith.

Living in Hawaii hasn’t been easy. Writing jobs are sparse here and writers are aplenty. There have been many times that I’ve thought of giving up. But I remember what it took for me to start from nothing (no writing jobs, no contacts) five years ago and how far I’ve come. When you’re settled and you think you’ve got it covered, life will always hurl you a curve ball. It’s a sign you’re on the right path and on your way to self-growth and change. It can be an opportunity or it can be the beginning of the end of your career.

I’ve taken up watercolor painting recently. First of all, let me start by saying that I pretty much suck at it. But the process of learning it by this lady has re-taught me the importance of trying something even if you’re not good at it. It’s a reminder that we’re all students in this big class called life. Making mistakes, realizing your not good at it, dipping your paintbrush into something unfamiliar, these are all key life lessons. It’s not the end of the world when we fail, when we make a mistake, or when what we do doesn’t make us immediately successful. It’s believing what we’re doing matters and sticking through it even when it feels like it’s not working. True failure is the end anyway. If you’re still working towards your dreams, you haven’t failed yet.

So if you’re comparing yourself to someone more successful, stop right now. Come back to yourself. Be grateful for whatever stage your in. Know that what your doing is worthy and meaningful. And remember that the greatest gift you can offer the world is to genuinely be and give of yourself.

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What to Do If You’re Feeling Burnt Out

I’ve been feeling burnt out lately. Actually, I didn’t even know that’s what it was until I read Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive by Joan Borysenko. All I know was that it was getting hard and harder to blog lately. And I was also losing my creative drive. Hence, the lack of Creative Friday posts lately.

After digging into that book, I learned that being burnt out affects each of us in different ways. We become emotionally exhaustive, disengaged, cynical, feel diminished, isolate and lose sight of why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place.

While I hadn’t experienced the full total experience of burning out, I definitely was creeping up to the edge. This Easter weekend, I vowed things had to change and fast!

In Julia Cameron’s infamous book, The Artist’s Way, Cameron says:

“Our artist child can best be enticed to work by treating work as play.”

Insert light bulb here. All work and no play was draining my creative fountain and I needed a break ASAP. Oh boy did I wish I had taken my own advice sooner. But better late than never right?

This weekend on an impulse, my husband and I took a much needed one day trip to Monterey.

Inspiring sunset

It was an important reminder that in order to meld meaning into our ordinary day-to-day lives we need to take a break, play and open our eyes to the possibility and magic taking place all around us each and every day.

Spring blossoms

{photos by The Inspiring Bee}

What’s inspiring you lately?

It’s hard not to feel grateful when you see a mommy seal with her new pup.

*The labels people give us can define who we are, if we’re not aware of it. Find out how what others tell you can have a negative impact on your life over on my new Beliefnet Health blog, Happy Haven.

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Watch Out for Those Dream Killers!

{flickr photo Andrew Magill}

I had a disturbing dream the other night. A loud, abrasive woman (who resembled me on PMS) said, “You need to watch out and guard your inspiration and your passion!” or something to that effect.

That poor, harried lady who scared the hell out of me was trying her hardest to warn me of what scares me the most-dream killers. While they exist everywhere, they are particularly rampant and concentrated in certain areas (especially if you grew up with them).

In fact, I have grown up with a lot of them. And because of it, I’ve attracted and invited a few into my life. While it’s never pleasant to hear how I “haven’t really made it yet” or why any writing job I get will never be as grand as my third uncle from a second marriage’s impressive career, I do have to say this:

If life was a school, they’d be my biggest teachers.

How to Outsmart Smarty Pants People

The only way to negate negative people is to:

  1. Minimize your time with them. {I talk a little more about that and about the people you should avoid if you’re in a particularly bad mood on my Beliefnet blog here.}
  2. Pretend you’ve got headphones on and you can’t read lips.
  3. Suck it all in, run far away from them and then scream, exercise and vent in journal or to a supportive friend.
  4. Smile and say, “Thanks for sharing” and try not to do it with sarcasm.

The one thing you should NOT do is to reply with anger, in the heat of the moment and say things you’ll regret.

The thing about us creative types is that we’re extra sensitive people. And the funny thing about that is we often grow up in communities and families that are less than sensitive to our feelings.

—>If I’ve learned anything it’s that the worst thing you can do is attack someone who you feel is attacking you. It might feel tempting to point out your friend’s hypocritical criticism especially when he/she has yet to take a risk and follow their own dreams. Or to laugh at a relative who makes a nasty comment about your creative endeavors when they haven’t done anything creative or risky themselves. But that’s the point.

When it comes down to it:

The best thing you can do is to put on an invisible shield and let those words bounce right off of you. Realize that no matter how much it stings, most of what they say has nothing to do with you.<—

Remember you don’t have anything to prove to anyone.  You are on your own path and they are on theirs. Remember that as long as you’re continuing to follow your dreams, you are not the loser, coward, failure they say you are. In fact, you are a survivor, someone who simply deserves everything you ever wanted in life because you are here and made it this far.

*I took a much needed Creative Friday break. The last one really wore me out, which you can read about here and here. I hope to be back to my regular schedule next week. Have you been busy crafting while I’ve been away on vacation? Tell me please! I need the motivation.

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What’s Scary About Being Creative

 {Thanks @kristinoffiler for your Facebook comment that inspired this 4:06 pm in the afternoon spontaneous post!}

I was rambling on Facebook yesterday about more things I fear. Maybe it’s Halloween that’s started the domino affect or the several hours a day I spend reading psychology articles on anxiety and depression. But I’ve been talking a lot about the things that scare me lately.

That’s when Kristin gave me a good book recommendation for Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles. I did a digital thumb through and read about how the author Gabrielle Bernstein interpreted fear. In it she says,”I’ve learned that much of what I feared in my life was not frightening at all, or in many instances even real. I’ve learned that fear is simply an illusion based on past experiences that project onto the present and onto the future.”

It’s an interesting and provocative statement. And I agree on many levels.

While I wouldn’t say that every fear is attached to a past negative experience, I do believe that fear like any other emotion, stems from a purpose. It’s in our DNA to have fear as a way to protect ourselves. Over time that defense mechanism could have developed because of past experiences of feeling rejected, abandoned, criticized. The important thing is being able to weed out the real fears (the kind that can save your life) from the illogical and unnecessary ones (the ones that can ruin your life).

A lot of creative people have fears. Fears about their art being not good enough, not worthy, of being rejected. It’s the same kind of fears that I face when I create something. Or hopefully and more importantly after I create something.

Fear + creation = debilitation

Creativity – fear = Creation.

What I think Bernstein is talking about and what Martha Beck says in her February 2006 O magazine article below is that learning to deal, confront, have acceptance for your fears is what can render those fears powerless. They are always going to be there. It’s the way we respond to them that can change everything.

“Once we’re willing to confront our emotional suffering, we begin making choices based on attraction instead of aversion, love instead of fear. Where we used to think about what was “safe,” we now become interested in doing what seems right or fun or meaningful or ripe with possibilities.” – Martha Beck

I think what was so triggering for me about this topic is that I am a proponent of fear.

When I was in high school, I was extremely shy and introverted. But I tried out for our school play. I had just a small dancing part, but it was one of the best and most exciting experiences of my life.

As an introvert, the experience gave me butterflies in my stomach. Every night I put on my blue and white striped knit dress and tights, powdered my nose and lacquered on bright red lipstick to my lips. Ever night I told my play-mates how nervous I was. Except for that one night.

One night I was cool as a cucumber. Didn’t have a care in the world. The butterflies were gone. My palms were dry. My heart beating at a meditative level. You can guess what happened next. I messed up big time. Unfortunately it was the night a few local celebrities were watching in the crowd and it was the only night videotaped.

That was a big lesson for me.

I learned that when you have the right amount of adrenaline and fear in your system you’re more alive and present because you care.

Why Am I So Passionate About This?

I think fear can be your friend. I think fear can teach you about who you are right now and where you’d like to be in the future. I think fear is the brother of courage-you can’t have one without the other. I’m cautious about ridding myself and eliminating any emotion for the “fear” of it being repressed. A lot of the issues I see from others and myself stem from a denial or a lack of acknowledgment of negative emotion. When we can learn to embrace what we truly feel, when we can truly listen to what it is we’re feeling and accept it, we’ve essentially released the ghost and the power it has over us and over our lives.

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Shake Off the Grind with Joe Wilner

I call him the inspirational expert because life coach, speaker, and writer Joe Wilner blogs to inspire others. You know, kind of like what I strive to do here. I became enamored with his writing first from Psych Central where he writes Adventures in Positive Psychology. And then fell in love with his personal development blog Shake Off the Grind.

Because his writing hits so close to home for me, I wanted to bring him over to The Inspiring Bee. I knew that his ability to empower others to find meaning in their lives was a gift. And I wanted to share that gift with you.

In this Q&A, Wilner chats about his blog and about following your dreams. Read it and be inspired!

What do you think is the number 1 thing that holds people back from following their dreams?

I think a general fear of failure is the main factor. This may stem from believing that our dreams can’t become a reality, or that real talent is something we’re born with instead of something we practice and develop through hard work. I also believe that somewhere along the way people are told they aren’t good enough and this can really have an impact on their confidence and willingness to even try.

What can they do to remedy that?
In order to push past our self-imposed limits we can learn to take calculated risks and start to do things that initially caused us fear. Little by little we can start taking bigger steps, and we can actually start to enjoy taking risks. It becomes a way to engage in life.

We can begin to examine our belief system and what core beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world, and how these are impacting us is crucial. At some point or another we will all need to challenge our assumptions and reposition certain beliefs in order to free ourselves from limits that have been imposed upon us from our environment and past mistakes.

What may surprise people about being successful and achieving their dreams?

In my opinion, uncovering what success really means to someone can offer surprising insights. You might find out that what you truly value and desire isn’t what you expected. It can be sort of staggering at first to really grab a hold of our life’s mission and purpose, and people need to recognize the amount of effort and self-discovering this can take. Becoming in touch with our purpose and meaning is a process, but a very worthwhile one.

Who/what do you find inspiring?

I find it inspiring when people are doing what they love and living life to the fullest. I really admire people who can fearlessly approach life and follow their passions. I also find great inspiration from people who are truly happy. I think we can all find greater happiness and learn to live with passion. I strive to do this in my life and love when I see this happening for others. It offers me encouragement that I can do the same.

What helped you in your life find your purpose? What obstacles did you have to overcome to get where you are today?

There was a time when I was very insecure and uncomfortable with who I was and where my life was headed. I was settling for less even though I had big dreams. I didn’t think my dreams could be a reality. Little by little though, through much soul searching and the help of extraordinary people, I learned that there is always more possible then we first realize. It just takes continual growth and a willingness to push past our limits.

I really had to explore my personal beliefs and start developing a mission, vision, and values statement. I needed to discover where I wanted to go and how I was going to get there. I feel I’m on this track, at least for now. ?

How did you come up with Shake Off the Grind? Can you tell us a little bit about you and your website?

Shake Off the Grind was started initially to focus on professional development and to help people uncover their calling or dream vocation. It still incorporates this theme, but has adapted to focus more on pushing past self-imposed limits and developing the courage and faith to live a life of purpose and meaning. I write about what I find inspiring in my life and try to share this with others to offer inspiration and empowerment. I really want to help people realize they can do more than they believe, and really work to uncover their potential. SOTG is a place to find continued support, encouragement, and inspiration to stay resilient and focused on living the life you desire.

Didn’t I tell you he was inspiring? Thanks to Joe Wilner for offering up his wisdom and insight to help inspire others to live a meaningful and purpose-filled life. The life they were meant to live.

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