Hello, 2016. It’s good to see you.
Something I see many people do around the web this time of year is set an intention and focus through the year ahead through a single word. While trying to explore what my word for 2016 could be I played around with Growth, Explore, Connect, Create, and Joy, but I finally stumbled across the perfect word while re-reading through Brené Brown’s 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living.
The word and her guideposts summed up exactly what it is I want to focus on and cultivate in this brand new year ahead. Working through her 10 guideposts, I found myself setting clear intentions for both my work and my life and I want to share them with you today in the hopes they can be a jumping off point for you to do the same.
1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting go of what people think
It’s so exhausting, living in a world where we care too much about what others think above our own feelings and thoughts on the life we’re living and the choices we make. In 2015 I learned that to make purposeful choices for our work and our life that will allow us to find fulfilment, freedom, and joy, we have to make those choices from a place of honesty and truth about what we truly need to live a happy, healthy, and joyful life.
So here’s to practicing the art of letting go of what people think, because we live in a world where we’re encouraged so often to build a life based on pleasing others instead of doing what we truly need to find happiness and joy. And when it comes to business, I truly believe that when we do our work from a place of creativity, service, and intuition, instead of trying to fit in and gain other peoples approval, that’s when we really can start to do brave and bold things with the work we do.
2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting go of perfectionism
It’s so hard sometimes to show ourselves the same compassion that we show to others. I never thought I was a perfectionist until I started my business and saw over time the damaging effects of never giving myself permission to be good enough and always pushing for more. Being able to say to myself, “Jen, you’re doing a good job. It’s okay that you can’t do everything; it’s okay to just do what you can do and then pick back up again tomorrow” can be such a struggle - I always fear that by doing that I’m giving myself permission to aim lower, be lazy, and play small - but I’m learning that compassion for myself is a must if I want to exist and create in the world in a way that is purposeful and fulfilling.
Somehow, along the way in my life so far, I’ve confused self-compassion with narcissism. 2016 is the year I rewire that train of thought and practice showing myself grace and compassion without guilt or shame. If you struggle with this one too, I hope this can encourage you to do the same.
3. Cultivating A Resilient Spirit: Letting go of numbing and powerlessness
I wear my heart on my sleeve, and for so long it’s been a trait that I’ve resented and tried to minimise as I’ve always feared it’s made me weak and naive in a world where we champion strength, grit, and control over our emotions. When I’m hurt or dealing with conflict, it’s my natural response to be vulnerable, honest, and open, but I’ve worked hard over the past few years to try and make myself harder, tougher, and less vulnerable as I navigate the world and any conflicts or issues that may arise.
This is another habit of mine that I need to retrain.
I’m so much more comfortable when I exist (and create) from a place of vulnerability, and I know I don’t want to exist in a world where I numb myself to the realities of life and everything that comes with it. This one may take more time to become a habit I’m fully comfortable with, but I’m committed to prioritising it as an intention in my life right now.
4. Cultivating Gratitude And Joy: Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark
Gratitude is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Joy is something I want to pursue every single day of my life, so working through this guidepost has been so relevant to where I am in my life right now.
Scarcity is a concept I hadn’t spent much time thinking about until last year. Learning to navigate my work and my life - and especially my finances - from a place of abundance instead of a place of scarcity has been pretty game changing. It’s not easy when you’re naturally wired to go to a place of scarcity, but I’m learning that a life of abundance only can come from a place of gratitude and joy.
We’re all encouraged to dream big, push for more, and uplevel in our work and our lives, but as I head into this brand new year something that is heavy on my mind is how to navigate my desire to play bigger with my desire for a life of gratitude, joy, and inner peace. I’m still figuring this one out, and I’m hoping I can share what I discover with you along the way.
5. Cultivating Intuition And Trusting Faith: Letting go of the need for certainty
Oh certainty, how you haunt my days. I ache for it, yet I know and believe that intuition is the path to fulfilment. How we find faith and intuition in our lives is so personal depending on how it is we navigate the world and what it is we believe to be true.
Leaning into my intuition, trusting it more, and cultivating it as a guiding factor in my life is a huge intention for me right now. Letting go of the need for certainty - especially when it comes to running a business - is something I struggle with so much. I want to know exactly what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future, how it will work out, and where I’ll be heading next - but we all know that this isn’t possible. The unknown and the unlimited possibilities are some of the biggest joys of running your own business (and of course, life in general) and I’m learning that we really do sometimes have to trust the process, trust our own ability to make smart and purposeful decisions, and let go of our need for certainty and instead give ourselves permission to learn and evolve as we go.
6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting go of comparison
We’ve all heard the saying - comparison is the thief of joy - and for any of us who have struggled with it, we’ll also know that it’s the thief of creativity too.
Cultivating creativity is a huge focus for me in 2016. 2015 was the year I built my business from scratch, and so much of my focus was on making purposeful, strategic, and smart decisions so I could move my brand and my work forward in a purposeful and profitable way. What was sacrificed at times during last year was my creativity - although I was still creating from a place of purpose and authenticity, behind it was always the needs and focus of my business. Of course this cannot change altogether for this year, but I want to be brave enough to make a little more space for creativity in how I show up with my work and voice online.
I have a feeling this a struggle many of us face when we’re running a creative business - sometimes the business takes more priority than our creativity, and at times that’s a-okay, but sooner or later I think we’ll all feel the pull inside of ourselves to make space again for our need to explore and create.
7. Cultivating Play And Rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self worth
This is perhaps the most important focus for me right now as I head into 2016:
Lettings go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self worth.
I spent the majority of the second half of 2015 exhausted, pretty much all of the time. I don’t regret it, as the hard work I put in last year helped me move forward in ways I didn’t know was possible, but I know I can’t go on living exhausted and functioning on empty as I try and make big and beautiful things happen with my work and my life.
Letting go of productivity as self worth is a big one for me. I struggle to respect myself when I’m not working hard and pushing my own boundaries through my work. That may sound extreme, but it’s true and I know that it has to change. Giving myself permission to redefine my self worth is a journey I’m embracing right now, and exploring lifestyle changes to promote my own wellbeing and rest is a huge focus too. I know so many of us struggle with this one, and I’m hoping 2016 can be the year we truly make space in our lives for play, rest, and our own wellbeing and personal growth.
8. Cultivating Calm And Stillness: Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
I never thought of anxiety as a lifestyle until I read this sentence, though I think it sums up exactly something so many of us are struggling with in our work and our lives. As someone who lives with anxiety, it can play a huge part in how I navigate and exist in the world. But I know from speaking with my clients and friends, a diagnosis or mental health illness isn’t needed for anxiety to cause issues and struggles in a persons life.
Cultivating calm and stillness - doesn’t that sound great? We can face so much anxiety each day - from our finances, to our careers, to our health, to our relationships, to our reaction to the news and how uncertain and out of control life can feel at times. Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle is something I want to focus on in 2016 - through taking care of myself and my own mental health needs, and cultivating calm and stillness in my own life by exploring how best I can do that with the time and resources I have available to me.
9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to"
Everything I do is about cultivating meaningful work. From running my own business, to the work I do with my clients through content coaching and creative mentoring, doing work of meaning and purpose (for both ourselves and the people we’re being of service to) is a huge focus of mine in everything I do.
I truly believe one of the biggest things holding so many of us back, especially online, from truly finding fulfilment and purpose through meaningful work is the fear and distraction of what it is we’re “supposed to” be doing instead. Learning to trust our own ideas, creativity, and intuition is a brave and scary thing to do, but I really do believe it’s how we can cultivate meaningful work in our lives, our careers, and our businesses.
Letting go of self-doubt, leaning into my intuition, and questioning every “supposed to” that is holding me back is a big intention of mine for 2016. If you’re aching for your work to feel more meaningful, fulfilling, and purposeful, so you can find more freedom and joy in what it is you do, I’d love to encourage you to do the same.
10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, And Dance: Letting go of being cool and “always in control"
I wasn’t sure at first how this one fits into my intentions for 2016. But ask anyone close to me and they’ll tell you that I seriously can struggle sometimes with my need to always be in control. Whether it’s my business and my struggle to delegate, or in my personal life when it comes to travelling, social events, and even simple things like food and eating out - I really can struggle to give up control and not plan out every single step ahead to come.
I want to be more aware of my “always in control” tendencies, notice when it’s helpful, notice when it’s not, and adjust and change accordingly. Giving myself permission to lean into the unknown a little more is a big focus of mine for 2016 - and if you’re anything like me and a Type B person with a few Type A traits poking through, try leaning into your Type B side a little more and see if it helps.
More than anything, this year I want to live a wholehearted life and run a wholehearted business. I know this post is a little different than usual, but I wanted to kick start this year with something honest and true from my own life and share with you what my intentions are as I head into 2016. The other side of the work life blend and that messy middle where our work and life meet is also something I'm curious to explore a little more in the content I create and share, and it feels true to my intentions and values for 2016 to make a little space for it too.
And how about you: what's your word for 2016? I'd love to know in the comments below.
If you'd like to read more about Wholeheartedness and the 10 Guideposts, definitely check out Brené Brown's book, Daring Greatly.
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