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 combat self-doubt, own what makes you amazing, and step into the career and life you desire. See her home page  or join Heather’s mailing list to learn more. 

Monday Moment – Create

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I believe that we are all creative. That we have a natural desire to bring new ideas, processes, art, and ways of being into the world.

Sometimes our creativity is highly functional and sometimes it’s just plain fun.

Yesterday my mom and I had a little art session painting tiles with alcohol inks. Even though I view myself as creative, I’ve never seen myself as an artist. I’m flat-out not good at painting and drawing. But the alcohol inks were different. It wasn’t about making anything specific. The alcohol inks had a mind of their own. They swirled uncontrollably and created the shapes and designs you see in the photo. I think I liked watching the paints more than the actual painting itself!

There wasn’t any particular purpose to painting these tiles. But it was fun! And calming. And I felt focused. And it used a different part of my brain.

Take a moment today and create for no reason at all. Bring something into the world just for the fun of it. And enjoy every second.

 

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. Follow Heather on Facebook or Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, creative life. 

Wise Woman Wednesday – 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. 

Monday Moment – Rest

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Most of you reading this are not lounging on a beach (I’m not either!). But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to rest today. Find a spot of sunshine and eat your lunch outside. Close your eyes for a few minutes. I just got back from a 20-minute walk and it was glorious! I left the phone at home and let my mind wander. Even though I was moving it felt restful. How can you rest today?

 

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 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. 

Monday Moment – Act

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Doubt can get in the way of action. What if I fail? What if other people don’t like it? What if, what if, what if. We rationalize every possible reason not to act. Flip your mindset this week by asking yourself: What is the upside of acting vs the downside of doing nothing? How does that perspective change your thinking?

 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

A Letter To My Fear

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This past June was a month of uncertainty for me. I had internally decided to leave my job and become an entrepreneur, but I hadn’t actually pulled the trigger. About 90% of the time I was excited for the possibilities. The other 10% of the time I felt like someone had wrapped a corset around my lungs and pulled the strings tight. I questioned the sanity of my decision to leave my safe, steady job and pursue a path that could lead to failure. After all, I hadn’t actually quit my job. I could still change my mind.

But in my heart I knew that I couldn’t change my mind. I was already on this path. I was moving ahead and fear was just going to be part of the journey.

I remembered reading a letter that Elizabeth Gilbert had written to her fear in Big Magic and I decided to do the same. I had no intention of sharing this publicly, but a colleague suggested that it might help others to manage their fear.

It’s taken me five months to get the courage to share the letter. I feel vulnerable just typing this introduction. But I also believe that vulnerability is the key to growth, so here it is:

Heather – You are becoming the person that you want to be. Stepping fully into yourself. Expressing what you have to offer to the world. You are taking the time to design life on your own terms and release the expectations you have created for yourself or others have impressed upon you over many years. Heather, you are creativity, and when you reach into that creativity and act from your heart without ego, your light is unstoppable.

 And, Heather, you know that stepping into the light can be scary. Light exposes flaws, makes it harder to hide when things go poorly, all eyes on you. But remember when this fear washes over you and you feel vulnerable to the eyes of the world – a life in the light is also warm. It is open, illuminating, and free. It embraces your beauty and also your imperfections knowing that’s what makes you real. You’ve known for a long time that perfection is unattainable – it’s now time to act on that knowledge.

But the most important thing to remember, Heather, is that a life in the light isn’t about you at all. It is the light you give to others that matters. And only by stepping into the light and bathing yourself in its radiance do you have light to give to others. Overflowing radiance. What might be possible with overflowing radiance?

So when the fear creeps in and sucks the breath from your lungs and the energy from your heart, take a deep breath and turn towards the light, towards the possibilities, inward to your creativity and outward in overflowing radiance.

I’ve read this letter countless times since I wrote it in June. Whenever I feel the fear edge in, this letter gives me the pep talk I need to move forward with confidence. The fear doesn’t disappear entirely – and I wouldn’t want it to. A little fear gives me a sense of urgency and pushes me forward – into the light, into my creativity, and outward in overflowing radiance.

 

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.