How to say no to things you really want to do

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There are articles and blog posts all the time about saying no to the things you don’t actually want to do.

That’s never been a big issue for me.

My problem is saying no to the things that I really, legitimately WANT to do. Because I want to do everything! I want to be involved. I love to learn. I enjoy being out in the world doing things. I’m always the first one to say to a new adventure.

But I can’t do it all.

So I have to say no – even to things I really want to do.

This realization came to me a few years ago when I said yes to a fantastic project – leading mentoring for the Cargill Global Scholars Program. I was tasked with creating the structure and support for over 50 university students from across the globe that would be paired with Cargill employees as mentors. Amazing, right? I thought so too.

So I said yes without even pausing to think.

I said yes in the same month that I returned from my expat assignment in Australia and started a new job at Cargill that would require a huge amount of learning. I said yes when I was in the midst of moving back into my condo. I said yes when I was rebuilding friendships that I had been absent from for a year and a half.

I spent at least four hours a week on this project for the next year. Parts of it were amazing. It was completely aligned to my values. I loved seeing the connections made between students and their mentors. I felt awesome when the students came from Brazil, China, Russia, India, and the US to Minnesota for a leadership seminar and I got to meet them and hear what they were learning from the program.

But I still should have said no.

What I realized in the midst of all this is that when you say yes to something, you’re always saying no to something else.

The challenge is that the choices aren’t usually stacked next to each, so it doesn’t look like you’re choosing between things. But you are.

When I said yes to this amazing project, I said no to leaving the office at a reasonable hour each day. I said no evenings and weekends free from work. I said no to really enjoying all my social activities because, even though I went out with my friends, my energy wasn’t always there to fully engage.

In short, I was overwhelmed, overworked, and exhausted.

So I started to pause before I said yes to new offers. I told people that I needed to think about it and would get back to them instead of responding with a yes or no in the moment. I asked myself “What am I saying no to if I say yes to this?”

I’ll admit, I still want to be involved in everything. I consistently have to remind myself that I can’t do it all – that I have to say no even when I want to say yes. It’s a practice.

But it’s a practice with massive rewards. I have more time and energy for my true yeses. I can dig in deep with them and contribute more of myself. I also get more sleep and feel less stress and overwhelm.

What do you want to say no to this week?

 

Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach that works with women to master doubt, own their brilliance, and step into the career and life they desire. Click here to learn more. 

Weeding Our Beliefs

Belief

What do you believe?

It’s a big question.

We hold beliefs about everything – the job we’re supposed to be in, how attractive we are, whether we’re good at painting, running, math, or being a leader. Our beliefs affect how we work, learn, love, and live.

I inadvertently began a deep dive into my own beliefs in January during a discussion on spirituality with Andy, a friend (and fellow coach!) I had recently met. I referenced my past Christian upbringing when describing the connection I felt in the world by saying, “I guess that’s what some people would call the Holy Spirit.”

Andy’s response?

“You can call it whatever you want.”

It wasn’t exactly a spiritual awakening – more like a spiritual startling. I had to pause for moment to let it sink in.

He was right. This was my belief. I could call it whatever I wanted.

I continued examining my beliefs in preparation for a panel discussion on generations and faith at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in February, the church where I grew up and worked for many years. During a meeting ahead of the panel, someone mentioned they didn’t understand what it meant to be spiritual and not religious. So I decided to share my perspective during the event.

In front of 200 people.

In the same room where I had been confirmed 23 years earlier.

The irony and impact of the moment hit me about an hour before I went on stage. A million thoughts went through my head. Would people be disappointed in me? Would they look at me like I was crazy when I described spirituality as being in the flow and feeling like I was stepping into the river of the universe?

Maybe. But I did it anyway.

It was a true adult moment. I stood on a stage with a microphone and put a stake in the ground on my beliefs. And I called them what I wanted; what I chose.

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Last Thursday I attended a workshop on creating happiness. The facilitators told us that we are constantly cultivating our beliefs – and it’s our job to weed out the beliefs that no longer serve us.

Think for a moment….

Are you in a job today because of a belief you held at nineteen that no longer applies?

Do you avoid art classes or public speaking or asking someone out on a date because somewhere along the line you believed you weren’t good enough?

How many of your beliefs were given to you by your parents? Your teachers? A former boyfriend, coach, or manager?

Do those beliefs still serve you?

Or is it time to do some weeding?

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to create meaningful careers and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, creative life. 

Taking Risks

Taking Risks

This morning at The Business Women’s Circle I facilitate we discussed women, confidence, and all the weird and unexpected ways that lower confidence shows up, like perfectionism and feeling like an imposter. One of the biggest outcomes is not taking risks.

We tend to think of all the potential downsides to taking a risk. Every single little thing that could go possibly go wrong. But what about the risk of doing nothing at all?

Pause for a second. Think about your life. If you’re still in the same place five years from will you be happy?

If the answer is yes – awesome! Keep going forward, growing and evolving!

If the answer is no – then ask yourself again – what is the real risk of doing nothing?

The real risk is (not) having a job you really love, (not) contributing your awesomeness to the world, (not) creating from your heart – (not) being the full and amazing person that you are. Those are the real risks. What do you choose?

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to create meaningful careers and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram@destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

Changing Your Path

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Last week I decided to give up something I really wanted to do – lead a group coaching program. The design was nearly complete and I was excited to get started. The problem? I couldn’t find 3 people for the pilot that were both interested in a group program and available at the same time each week for 12 weeks in a row. It was even hard for my schedule and I was the one leading it!

So I let it go.

I was disappointed. And instantly relieved. The stress I had been feeling melted away.

The same day I decided to stop the group program I confirmed two new clients. I had three more referrals and a request to write a proposal for a women’s coaching and development program by the end of the week.

It was like the universe knew I had space and energy and it rushed in to fill it up with amazing possibilities.

We hear a lot of messages about persistence and determination when we are growing up. Stick to the path! Keep on keeping on! Perseverance is the key to success! And there is a time to hold onto your dreams with both hands and scrape your way forward.

But there’s also a time to pause, honestly ask ourselves what isn’t working, and choose a better way.

This is especially true when it comes to our careers. I hear clients say:

I’ve been on this path for 10 years and the future is laid out in front of me. But I’m not sure I want to be on this path anymore.

My managers have always told me I have potential and will be a great leader. What if I want to use my potential in a different way?

I want to try something else, but I’m afraid I’ll disappoint everyone.

Choosing a different path is not failure. It is an opportunity to create the possibility for something great.

Take the first step towards a future that you really want. Start exploring the options. Talk to new people. Reflect on what’s most important to you.

And if you want help on the journey, I work with clients that are feeling stuck in their career. We’ll work together to figure out what you really want and build a plan to create a meaningful career.

The path isn’t laid out in front of you – you create the path as you walk forward. It’s your move.

 

Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach that works with women to combat self-doubt, own their brilliance, and step into the career and life they desire. Click here to learn more. 

My #1 Priority in Business (and Life)

Stop the hustle

My number one priority as an entrepreneur? Rest.

Yes, rest.

But aren’t new entrepreneurs supposed to be all about the hustle?

I don’t think so. In fact, I hate the word hustle. Hustling feels rushed and jittery. Like I’m running from one thing to the next without time to pause and figure out if what I’m doing actually makes sense.

That’s not the way I want to build my business. It’s not the way I want to live my life.

I want to do what is meaningful and will have the biggest impact for my clients. Sustain the important relationships in my life. Take risks and create new things to bring into the world.

That work takes focus.

Focus requires energy.

Energy demands rest.

How do I renew? Sleep is the most critical. I need at least eight hours a night. Sometimes nine. Most days I take a short nap or meditate for 15 minutes in the afternoon. And there are evenings when I collapse on the couch and watch four episodes of Mozart in the Jungle or a bad Hallmark movie and that fills my tank as well.

I’m not perfect. There are weeks when I go to bed too late or push through back-to-back days without taking a breath.

And then I pay for it.

I pay for it with my creativity and productivity. With my ability to listen deeply. With my focus and motivation to tackle the important work.

Avoid the hustle. Rest, renew, and get the good work done.

 

Look for a follow-up video on learning to give myself permission to stop and rest on Destination Soul Shine next week.

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to get out of unsatisfying jobs, create meaningful careers and lives, and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

Walk Boldly Into This Season

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Last week I received an email from my cousin Kelsey with the message, “I think you’ll be blessed for your boldness in the season you’re walking into.” Now that is a set of beautiful words! Blessed. Boldness. Season. Walking into. I’ve shared this sentence with multiple people and each person has derived their own meaning from it, just as I imagine you are now thinking about what it means for you in this season of your life. Here are my thoughts.

Blessed

I equate blessed with gratitude. Living blessed is shifting from a mindset of scarcity to abundance. Choosing to focus on what I have in my life instead of what is missing. Looking for evidence of beauty, belonging, and love. Taking the moments to savor joy, sink into the feeling, and imprint it in my mind. Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast said “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful.” Create the space for gratitude and you will be blessed.

Boldness

One of my favorite quotes and a life motto is “If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” (Emile Zola). This is my definition of boldness – life out loud. Boldness is not a lack of fear. It is walking forward with the fear. Bringing forth the courage held deep in our hearts to follow what we are called to do.

Season

Green grass and flowers are a long way off in Minnesota, but we have turned the corner on winter. The days are getting longer. There are no subzero temperatures in the extended forecast. As the Earth transitions, so do we. There are seasons of rest and renewal and seasons of flurry and change. I am in a season of learning and growth, which is, inevitably, also a season of vulnerability. Every day I become aware of something I don’t know and skills I need to build. I am constantly reflecting on how I want to show up in the world, the relationships I want to create, and how I will generate impact with my life.

Walking Into

Dr. Michael Bernard Beckworth said on a recent SuperSoul Conversations podcast with Oprah, “Pain pushes until the vision pulls.” Pain can get us started on a new path. Sometimes it drags us kicking and screaming. And then, one day, we see the vision ahead and suddenly we are walking into the vision instead of running away from the pain. We actively move ourselves forward, taking steps into the life we desire.

Lay down your path of gratitude and walk boldly into this season, my friends.

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to create meaningful careers and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

 

Aligning Your Human Being and Human Doing

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When I graduated from college I had no intention of entering the traditional workforce. I taught environmental education, guided camping trips with teenagers, and led semesters abroad with gap year students. I filled any downtime in employment with substitute teaching. A desire for roots and community brought me back to Minnesota for grad school. I applied for a summer internship at Cargill and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I decided to stay. (And they decided to keep me!)

I look back at the last 10 years of my career with incredible gratitude. I still can’t believe some of the experiences I’ve had. My colleagues taught – and continue to teach – me lessons about courage, creativity, leadership development, coaching, and authenticity. I discovered that curiosity and listening are the keys to engaging and building trust with anyone, from a union leader in the middle of Ohio to an executive in Ecuador. I learned how to be vulnerable to give others the permission to learn and grow. I am here today because of these lessons.

Even through these amazing experiences, I always wondered if a full-time role in corporate America was the best place for me. Many of you have been reading my blog and know that I started to listen to that voice and seriously entertain the idea of entrepreneurship about a year ago. After much exploration and reflection, I put in my notice at work in July, went part-time in October, and my last day is Thursday.

Although I never felt like my life was particularly out of alignment, I have become increasingly aware over the past several months that I am now living in alignment. I am energized and inspired. I have never experienced this level of creativity. Amazing people are entering my life. The changing structure of my days fits my personality. The actual work I am doing and developing is aligned to my values, my skills, and the impact that I want to have. I am serving with my whole self. Life feels full of possibilities. It’s not easy, but it’s right.

My former leader at Cargill recently started a project called Significance Matters. On the website she and her husband have two different bios – their human doing bios and human being bios. Alignment is a collision between the human being and human doing. Instead of my being and doing existing separately or bumping into each other only occasionally, they are becoming one. This is the difference I feel.

 

What about you?

Most of the time we aren’t in vast misalignment. We tend to notice when our integrity is crossed or values blatantly violated. Subtle misalignment is harder to recognize and easy to ignore. It’s the boiled frog metaphor – if you drop a frog in boiling water it will leap out. But if you place a frog in cool water and slowly raise the temperature, it will boil to death without ever leaving the pot.

Are you in a pot with the temperature rising so slowly you don’t notice?

Are you like me? Generally happy with your life, but feeling like something is just a little off?

Pay attention to those sensations that tell you something is awry. Lean into the feeling. Get curious about it. Ask yourself where it is coming from. Do your best to withhold expectations or judgment from the response.

Once you recognize where you are out of alignment, you can make adjustments. Sometimes a big change is needed. Often more exploration. But just a tweak here and there will also help bring your human being and human doing closer together.

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to get out of unsatisfying jobs, create meaningful careers and lives, and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

My Favorite Brené Brown Quotes

Sometimes I need a walk with a friend. Occasionally a hard spin class. Other times a glass of wine. And then there are days I just need a little Brené Brown. I listen to an interview with Brené or I open my copy of Daring Greatly and she simultaneously hugs my heart and gives me a kick in the ass. Her words remind me to embrace vulnerability and feel deeply. She gives me the courage to again bring my full self forward into the world.

Here are a few of my favorite Brené Brown quotes set against photos I’ve taken over the past several years. I hope they also give you a hug and the push you need to move forward.

Brené Brown quote on authenticity

I took this photo of the sun rising behind Uluru from Kata Tjuta, nearly 30 miles away from the giant rock. I look at this photo now, almost 5 years later, and I relive the feeling of standing under a massive sky and watching the day begin. It is a reminder to let go and be at peace with myself and the world.

Brené Brown quote on vulnerability

About halfway through my visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit I realized that I could see the Seattle Space Needle reflected in Chihuly’s art. I love that this photo is both clear and blurred. It’s a little messy – just like vulnerability.

Brené Brown quote - live from our wild heart

A long staircase down a sheer cliff kept most of the tourists from this glorious beach along Great Ocean Road in Australia. It feels expansive and free – a place you can easily live from your wild heart.

Brené Brown quote on feedback

I was sitting on the roof of a boat watching the sunset in the Galápagos Islands when this bird soared overhead. He is definitely in the arena!

Brené Brown quote on belonging

A magnificent sunset in one of my favorite countries – Slovenia. I feel a gentle sense of belonging and connection in the world watching this man fish at dusk.

Brené Brown quote on numbing emotions

These branches reflected in the sand at Lover’s Key State Park in Florida are crisp and almost thorny, yet they are beautiful. They reminded me of the challenging emotions we need to embrace.

 

Heather Whelpley is a writer, photographer, and coach that works with clients to get out of unsatisfying jobs, create meaningful careers and lives, and fulfill their own potential. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

Making the time for joy

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Two weeks ago I shared an activity I used to create timelines and tasks from the vision I have for my business. It was a practical tool to achieve concrete goals. But there’s another important goal in my life that I don’t want to put on a timeline – creating space for the activities that are guaranteed to bring me joy.

I’m lucky to have great relationships and a lot of fun in my life. Joy is the next level beyond fun. Joy is all encompassing happiness that seeps into my soul. For me, greater joy means amping up:

  • Live music. In November I saw Har Mar Superstar at the Turf Club. It was amazing. The beats pulsed through my entire body. I danced. I laughed. I turned to my friends in the middle and said, “I’m so happy.” I love how music instantly creates the feeling of community among strangers. I need more of this.
  • Really getting outside. I’m great an organizing outdoorsy activities in the city. Want to go biking to breweries? Walk around Lake of the Isles? Cross-country ski at Theodore Wirth? I’ll plan the route, send out the invite, and show up with bells on. But it’s been years since I went camping or hiked the North Shore. I want to go on a 10-mile hike, build a campfire, and see the Milky Way.
  • Community and real conversation. I have wonderful friends. We have a ton of fun cooking, traveling, and playing games. But I felt like there was a different aspect of community that I was seeking. In December I started attending Intertwine, a community designed to share stories, listen, reflect, and participate in meaningful conversation. It was exactly the gap I’d been looking to fill.
  • Mini-adventures. I tend to think of adventure in grand terms. It usually involves getting on a plane for at least 8 hours. This kind of adventure is really important to me, but it can only happen occasionally. I need that quick hit of energy from exploring new places, activities, and events closer to home. Two summers ago my mom and I took a day trip to Stockholm and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. We ate quiche in a bakery, shopped in a cute boutique, wandered art galleries, had a great lunch, and sampled cider at Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery. I felt like I had a vacation! And I was gone for a total of 8 hours.

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What will it take to make this happen? First and foremost, I will have to make it a priority to proactively get these activities on the calendar and round up people to join me (because a big part of my joy is the people!). I have already planned an overnight to Duluth in February. Intertwine events are a priority in my schedule. I’ll organize a camping trip once the weather is warmer and I’m keeping my eyes open for live music opportunities. I’m sure I will also have to say no to a few things in order to create room for these joy-filled activities.

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Do you want to create more joy in your life? Consider the following:

  • What activities and environments bring you true joy? Think about moments where you lose track of time and revel in being alive in this world. When your body feels awake and your heart is free. It does not have to be grandiose. It might be playing the guitar, doing art projects with your kids, or biking around the lake.
  • What do you need to eliminate to make room for joy? Perhaps you need to stop participating in that book club that feels more like an obligation than fun. Trade 30 minutes on the elliptical for a dance class. Clear your calendar one weekend in June to make time for a family camping trip.
  • What is your mindset towards joy? Do you allow yourself to let go and experience joy? There’s a certain freedom and release in experiencing joy, but joy is also vulnerable. If you experience fear and hold back when joy creeps into your life, I recommend reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly or watching her Ted Talk on vulnerability. She has great ideas and reflections on the topic.

Cheers to creating more joy in 2018!

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach working with people that want to have a meaningful career and live up to their own potential, but feel stuck in their job. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life. 

Create a plan for your dreams

Zig Ziglar Quote

It’s that time of year. Resolutions promised. Vision boards created. Business plans crafted. Performance and development goals set at work.

Do you want to make changes in 2018? Become a better version of yourself? Take a step (or leap!) towards achieving a dream? Instead of just thinking about change, make a plan to achieve it.

As most of you know, I am launching a business in coaching and facilitation while I write a book on getting the most out of development experiences at work. I am also writing a children’s book around mindfulness and emotional awareness – with ideas for more that I want to explore. I had general goals for my business and writing, but I knew that I needed to be much more specific so that it wouldn’t take years to get there – and so I would even know where “there” was! It is hard to hold yourself accountable to ambiguity.

In November I spent a few hours on the floor of my condo surrounded by index cards and Sharpies to make this happen. I followed a simple process to articulate my vision and then work backwards to goals and tasks that were easy to achieve. The only required materials are index cards and a pen – but feel free to add color and creativity as desired! Here you go!

Brainstorm your vision for 2018. Do you want to run a half marathon? Write a book? Start a side business? Write each idea on a separate note card.

If you are unsure of your vision, ask yourself:

  • What would a successful 2018 look like?
  • What could you change that would improve the quality of your life in 2018?
  • If you own a business, what targets will you achieve? What impact will you create for your clients?

Line up your goals. If you have more than 5, I recommend pairing them down. The fewer goals you have, the more likely you are to accomplish them. One goal complete is better than 10 goals left unfinished.

For each goal, ask yourself: What do I need to do by the end of June to accomplish this goal in 2018? Perhaps you run a 10K in preparation for the half marathon. Write 50,000 words of the novel you’re going to complete. Create a page on Etsy. Write each action on a notecard.

Now take it three months out – to the end of March 2018.

Repeat for the end of January 2018.

Finally, what do you need to do each week in January to reach your first set of milestones by the end of the month?

I had goals around writing my books, networking, building coaching clients and speaking engagements, and the logistics of running a business. I also included goal setting as a task to complete each weekend to make sure that I’m staying on track and adjusting my actions as needed throughout the year (or change my goals – that is also allowed!).

Finally, I got out masking tape and put them up on the wall – a visible reminder of my goals and what it will take to get there.

This process was a fantastic kick for me to get moving. It created structure, clarity, and process for goals that were too high-level and future focused to be attainable in the short-term. It motivated me to get moving TODAY. I hope it does the same for you! Cheers to achieving your dreams in 2018!

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach working with people that want to have a meaningful career and live up to their own potential, but feel stuck in their job. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life.