What change really looks like in your life

road spirals up a mountain

I gave myself a soft deadline of this Thursday, January 16 to launch an online course for all of you.

Knowing that I’m an overachiever that tends to take on too much, I consciously told myself it was fine if I didn’t meet the deadline. It was completely okay if the course didn’t launch until next week. After all, what does 4 or 5 days matter in the grand scheme of things?

I told myself these things – and still this week I could feel the overachiever inner critic popping back into my mind telling me I better meet that Thursday deadline. I better work nights and push myself to get it all done. The familiar feeling of low-level anxiety crept into my belly.

And then I caught myself.

Instead of just telling myself it was okay not to meet the deadline, I actively gave myself permission to launch next week.

I realized all these feelings pushing me to meet a completely arbitrary deadline were just old patterns and old beliefs. And I didn’t want to listen to them anymore.

So I let them go.

And I was immediately relieved. SO relieved. Now that the pressure of the fake deadline is gone, I can actually ENJOY the process of creating the course. And I can enjoy the next several days of my life as well.

This is how change happens – any change. It’s not a linear process where one day you decide to be a different person and you slide into that new way of being without any bumps along the road.

No.

Change is catching yourself earlier and earlier. Instead of berating yourself for being back in the same place, appreciate how far you’ve come. Realize a year ago you wouldn’t have even NOTICED you were in old habits and beliefs, let alone redirected yourself.

You are on a journey. Despite how often it feels like you’re running in circles, let me assure you – you are moving forward. You are evolving and growing every day. You are letting go and unlearning and becoming more and more of the person you are every step along the way.

Give yourself grace.

What do YOU desire this year?

woman holding sparkler

When was the last time you asked yourself what YOU really wanted? Not what your boss or spouse or parents wanted, but you? Not what you thought you wanted when you were 25 or what you are “supposed” to want, but YOUR desires, right now, at this point in your life?

I’m guessing it’s been a long time for many of you. Even those of you that spend a lot of time reflecting and setting goals can get caught up in the “supposed-to’s” instead designing the life you desire.

It’s time for you to reconnect to you.

To hear the whisper inside your heart that’s been waiting patiently for you to listen.

To feel where you’re being called this year.

I have 3 journaling prompts to help you do just that.

I recommend setting a timer for 5 minutes, putting your pen to paper to answer the first prompt, and then writing continuously until the timer goes off. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation or even if you’re making sense. Just write. Repeat with the other two prompts. Here they are:

  • If you had a magic wand, what would be different one year from today?
  • My heart is telling me to…
  • At the end of the year, I’ll regret if I don’t…

After you finish writing, go back and read through what you wrote. What jumps out at you? What messages is your true inner voice telling you about where you’re being called this year?

My biggest lesson of 2019

My biggest lesson of 2019
The outdoors called to me yesterday. I had this weird desire to go out walking in the 40 degree mist and fog. I thought the path through Hidden Falls Regional Park would be plowed, making it easy to navigate.
 
It wasn’t plowed. The park wasn’t even open. I had to park above the entrance and walk down. And the second I arrived, the fog lifted and the mist cleared. The sun even came out for a few minutes.
 
So basically, this walk was nothing I expected.
 
And it was perfect.
 
It was perfect because the closed gate over the entrance kept almost everyone out, so I walked in peace for an hour and only saw four people.
 
It was perfect because the sun shone through the clouds and created layers of gray on gray on gray over the river and it was spectacularly beautiful.
 
It was perfect because the unplowed path was just slushy enough to make me slip and slide and make it all silly and playful, but not so much that I actually fell down.
 
It was perfect because I realized in the moment just how perfect it was and then I got to think of all the reasons it was perfect and better than any of the expectations that had gotten me outside in the first place.
My biggest lesson of 2019, maybe of my life as a whole, is to create expectations and then hold to them lightly. Set goals and get clear on your dreams and then be open to completely different possibilities along the way.
 
Suffering happens when you expect something has to be a SINGLE way. You have to meet that goal or else you’ve failed. That experience or relationship or person better be how you envisioned or it’s terrible.
 
Joy happens when you dream and plan and scheme and then let yourself be a part of the journey. When you let go of the expectations of what happiness was supposed to look like and embrace the joy that is already here in this present moment.

That’s my lesson learned this year. What’s yours?

You Are Whole On The Journey

Friendly Beaches, Tasmania, Australia

I’m seeing a TON of podcasts and emails right now about doing a deep dive not just into the last year, but the last DECADE. And then planning your big goals and dreams for the next year – or decade – of life.

I’m all about reflecting. And I’m all about big dreams. I have an entire day blocked off next week for reflection and strategic planning for 2020.

But I also know it’s easy to look back and instead of seeing what you’re proud of, you see all the places you feel behind. And then that feeling quadruples when you starting thinking about the future and some imaginary point when you’ll finally be have it all together and be complete.

I had a client recently tell me that she didn’t feel like she could rest until she was fully formed. Like she wasn’t already enough in this moment.

Have you ever felt like that? Like you just need the better job or a revenue level and then you will have made it. Or you need to get married. Or have kids. Or buy a house. Or lose 20 pounds.

Just one more thing and then you will be enough.

I’m here to say YOU ARE ALREADY ENOUGH.

You are both whole and constantly forming at the same time.

You are already amazing. And you are developing and learning every single day.

You have nothing to prove. You can stop hustling and take a breath.

You deserve to feel good on the journey – because it’s all a journey.

I’ll say it again. You are already enough.

Remember this as you reflect on the last year and dream your dreams for 2020.

Self Care During The Holidays

Candles - self care during the holidays

The holidays are supposed to be joyful, right?!? And they can be – or they can be total chaos.

Overachievers and perfectionists (which I KNOW many of you identify with!) have a special challenge during the holidays – taking perfectionism and applying it to holiday cheer.

You have to find the best gift for everyone, get out your glue gun to create the most perfect ugly Christmas sweater, decorate your house and tree and cookies to look like a Pinterest board, and put that stupid Elf On A Shelf in the most creative place each day (I’m not a parent, so maybe I shouldn’t comment on this, but I do not get Elf On A Shelf! It seems like just one more thing on the to-do list during an already busy time.)

It’s time to stop. You are not responsible for creating the perfect holiday.

But even if you know that logically, it can still be hard. And this is a busy time of year for most people even if they aren’t overachieving at holiday making.

Here are my top 3 tips for self-care during the holidays:

  • Say no. I’ve written about saying no many times. It’s because most of us need to do it WAY more. The holidays are no exception. You get to say no to a party invite or a cookie exchange or even a volunteer event. Your no is not a judgment on the person extending the invite or your relationship or the worthiness of the activity – it’s just a no.
  • Take 5 minutes of your day just for yourself (or more if that works for you!): December is actually a slow time of the year for me in my business, which means it’s a good time of year to start new habits. Before diving into work each morning, I’m spending a few minutes journaling. I light a candle and write. It’s the perfect start to the day. You can take a bath, sit quietly with your cup of coffee, or just breathe for a few minutes.
  • Choose present over perfect: I’m stealing this from a book title (one I haven’t actually read but had to buy because of the title and is now sitting on my shelf). You will be more joyful this holiday season if you are present. Throw perfection out the window. Enjoy right now. Love the people you’re with. Doing this will create the moments you wanted in the first place.

What listening to dozens of writers has taught me about life

What listening to authors has taught me about life

I have always LOVED listening to writers. If you ask me to go to an event where an author is speaking, I’ll probably say yes.

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert in the basement of a Barnes & Noble right after Eat, Pray, Love came out – and right before she became uber-famous. Half her family was sitting in the basement of that bookstore AND Richard from Texas was there. They both signed my copy. (Which, sadly, was lost somewhere in all my moves.)

Jacquelyn Mitchard came to my dorm in college and told us that she writes ideas for her books on post-it notes and tosses them into a plastic container in her closet. When the container is full, she knows it’s time to start writing.

Ann Patchett outlines her entire book and then sits down to write it in single draft. Of course it’s edited, but she knows EXACTLY what is going to happen in the whole book when she sits down to write.

Brené Brown got stuck while writing one of her books and invited a bunch of friends to a working weekend on the beach where she told them her stories and they helped her finish the book.

Colson Whitehead, Chris Van Allsburg, Nicole Krauss, Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan…they all have a different story.

You know what I learned from listening to all these amazing writers?

THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO WRITE A BOOK.

There is only figuring out the way that is going to work for you.

This is true for everything in life. Yes, you can listen to mentors and get advice from people that have gone before you. But then you have to turn inward, listen to yourself, to your true inner voice, and decide what’s going to work FOR YOU.

You get to decide the right way to do your career, to parent, eat, and take care of yourself. You get to decide the right way to do LIFE.

There are many great paths. You get to choose the ones that are right for you.

 

If you know something needs to change in the way you work and live and want guidance figuring out the right way for YOU to do life, schedule a free coaching consultation with me now. We’ll get underneath what’s holding you back and figure out if coaching is the right solution for you.

Brussel sprouts and learning to change your story

Brussel Sprouts and learning to change your story

I was conditioned from day one of my life to hate brussel sprouts. My mom HATED them.  She had an open vendetta against brussel sprouts.

She was unwillingly served them once at a restaurant and not only did she not eat them, she packaged them up and brought them home to prove to my brother and I just how disgusting they were.

I had a story in my head about brussel sprouts and it was in me DEEP.

For years I avoided brussel sprouts like the plague. It wasn’t hard to do – no one was making them in my family and they weren’t exactly on every menu in the 90s and early 2000s.

But then brussel sprouts made a resurgence. They started showing up at dinner parties. I saw people carrying around stalks of them at the farmers market. I noticed, but still didn’t make the move to try them.

And then I ate Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house and his cousin made roasted brussel sprouts. They were doused in olive oil, lightly sprinkled with salt, and roasted to perfection. They were crisp and tender and absolutely amazing.

The story I’d been telling myself for years was destroyed in a single meal.

That was two years ago. Today I legit CRAVE brussel sprouts. I buy the CostCo sized bag and eat them all myself.

By now you’re probably realizing this story isn’t just about brussel sprouts 🙂

It’s about all the stories you tell yourself. The rules you were taught growing up and are so deeply engrained now that you sometimes don’t even realize you’re following them.

I had a coach several years ago that told me in one of our calls, “The good news is you’re an adult and you get to change your story.”

You also get to change your story. You get to let go of the rules you’ve been following and create your own set of rules for life.

What’s your brussel sprout story? What rule do you need to let go of to have a life you love living?

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with high achieving women to get out of their own way so they can have the life they want while making an impact. Click here to learn more about coaching.

The two keys to working less

The two secrets to working less

 

Who doesn’t want to work less? Even people that love their jobs and have pretty reasonable hours usually want to work less and have more time for family, friends, exercise, fun, creativity, etc.

And, let’s face it, most of you reading this aren’t working reasonable hours. You’re struggling to put boundaries around work. It makes no difference whether you’re an employee in an organization or an entrepreneur. Working too hard is an epidemic.

It’s one of the most common problems that people share when they come to me for coaching. You don’t want to work every night. You don’t want to check email while still laying in bed in the morning. You want to work hard and be successful, but also let go of it and be present in your time NOT working. We all want it.

Here are the two keys to working less:

  1. Work smarter, not harder: You’ve probably heard this one before, but how many of you are actually doing it? Hint: If you have your email open all the time when you’re working, you not doing it. There are so many ways you can get more efficient and cut out work that doesn’t matter so that you can work less – while also having a bigger impact with your time.
  1. Believe you can work less – and still be successful: This is the one you probably haven’t heard, but it’s even more crucial than the first one. Even when you KNOW that you can be more efficient and do the important work, if you have an underlying belief that you have to hustle to be successful, then that belief is going to override everything. If you believe you’re not the smartest one in the room, but you can work the hardest, then you’ll always work too much. If you believe that money only comes through working 60 hours a week, then you’re going to work 60 hours a week. If you feel like an imposter in what you’re doing, you’re going to work like crazy to keep others from finding you out.

You ALWAYS need both the outer practical work and the internal work to really make change. You have to look inside yourself to shift your beliefs and put practices in place to work smarter.

Either one without the other and long-term change is not going to happen.
That’s why you get both sides in my coaching. I don’t want you to make change for a few weeks – I want you to change your life, so that you can change the world.

If you’re ready to work less and love life while having a big impact in your career, schedule a coaching consultation with me today.

How to get out of manic mode

Are you operating in manic mode?

I’m guessing if you clicked on this blog post, you already know what I’m talking about.

Manic mode. It’s feeling like you can’t slow down. Like there will never be enough time to get everything done, so you rush from place to place to check another item off a to-do list that never seems to get shorter. There is an underlying feeling of anxiety and edge through your entire body.

One of my clients calls this panic mode. Not quite an actual panic attack, but snaking in that direction.

It’s not a healthy place.

I first noticed my own manic mode a few years ago when I was running errands on a weekend day. I felt my whole body rushing with an urgent need to get everything done on my to-do list. It was like there was a hamster wheel in front of my lungs and I could feel it spinning faster and faster, whirring inside my body.

So I stopped.

My rational brain kicked in and I said to myself, “This is ridiculous. Nothing you are doing is an emergency. You don’t need to feel this way.”

I took a breath and let go of manic mode. The whir of the hamster wheel in my chest began to quiet down. My heart rate slowed. The underlying anxiety pulsing through my body started to subside.

I purposefully shifted my body out of manic mode and back into a normal state of being. Still moving forward. Still getting things done. Just without the manic.

I realized I could be productive AND calm at the same time.

Manic mode didn’t help me get through my to-do list any faster. It just made it less enjoyable.

After that day, I started to notice when I was operating in manic mode. The hamster wheel in my chest was the dead giveaway. Over time, I noticed more subtle signals as well. Shallow breathing. My mind ticking faster than normal. I often bumped into things when I was in manic mode – literally. I have manic mode to blame for countless bruises and scrapes!

Manic mode shows up less now than it used to, but it still makes an appearance every once in a while. When I notice it, I take a breath and move my body out of manic mode state. It’s an intentional shift. Sometimes I can do it in an instant and sometimes it requires sitting for a minute and taking deep breaths. But it works every time.

What does your manic mode look like?

Think about how your body tells you that you’re in manic mode. Do you have the wheel spinning in your chest like me? Or is there tightness in your belly? Do you feel like you can’t take a deep breath? The signals are different for everyone – start paying attention to yours.

When you notice it, stop and breathe. Tell yourself that you don’t have to live this way. Purposefully release manic mode. Feel your body and mind slow down. And then keep going on with your day – no manic required.

 

ONE FINAL NOTE: If you can’t slow down and manic mode is more than an underlying feeling – it’s a high level of overarching anxiety, please reach out for help. As I coach, I work with women that experience manic mode, but if you are having panic attacks or all-consuming anxiety, then a therapist or psychologist is a better fit (I have also worked with clients utilizing a therapist and me as a coach at the same time and it’s a great combination!).

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with high achieving women that want to stop being so hard on themselves and get back their joy while still having a successful career. Click here to learn more about coaching.

 

How to let people help you

How to let people help you

You are a high achieving, smart, successful woman. You’re holding a million pieces of life together, juggling twenty balls and keeping them all airborne. You can spill your coffee down your shirt and walk into a meeting with your CEO 20 minutes later. You can simultaneously make dinner, teach fourth grade math, and listen to the emotional drama of a 13-year-old. You can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Possibly even walk on water.

In other words – You’ve got this.

But you don’t have to.

I can’t tell you the thousands upon thousands of times that someone offered me help and I responded with, “I’m good.”

I remember one trip to Houston, Texas when I first started my career coordinating leadership development programs for senior leaders. Thirty-five of us flew  from Minneapolis to Houston and then got on a bus to our hotel. Everyone had luggage, but I also had all the course materials for the week. More than one person offered me help, but instead of saying, “Thanks, that would be great” and handing them a box, I chose to sling my backpack over my shoulders, balance one box on top of my roller bag and drag it behind me, and situate another box on my hip with my arm slung over the top. My fingers barely reached the bottom.

It would have been so much easier to accept help. I didn’t even have to ask for it! It was offered directly to me. But my lifelong MO has been “I’ve got it” so that was my response. I remember taking a certain amount of pride in walking into that hotel, laden down with all my supplies and making it through the door without dropping anything. It gave me confidence to know that I always had it together.

This is a tiny example, but when a million of these tiny examples add up, they create layers of unnecessary stress and anxiety. It’s not just about accepting help with suitcases and boxes. It’s working late nights to complete a project that was really too much to take on in the first place. It’s bearing the weight of your husband’s illness in silence because you don’t want to be a burden on anyone. It’s crying in your car while sitting in the garage at home and then wiping your tears and smiling as you walk in the door.

I see two major reasons we don’t accept (let alone ask for!) help. First, we don’t want to be a burden. We’re afraid that we’re going to put a major inconvenience on someone. But here’s the thing – people LIKE to help. They ENJOY being needed. So flip your mindset and see that you are giving someone the opportunity to help you.

Second, accepting help is admitting that we can’t do it all. That is confronting. And scary. And vulnerable. This one often takes some deeper work. You need to get behind what’s driving you to feel like you always have to have it all together so that you can create a new story for yourself. A story that makes life easier and more enjoyable. This work is hard, but it’s worth it. This is the work that can really change your life.

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with high achieving women that want to stop overwhelm and get back their joy while still having a successful career. Click here to learn more about coaching.