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Kill your aspirational self.

You have an aspirational self. She has a thigh gap and eats like a champion. He has a six pack and is a stallion in the bedroom. All aspirational selves work out, don’t sweat, don’t fart, and don’t ever swing by a fast food joint for a late-night snack.

Inevitably, your aspirational self makes more money than you do. He or she is also fulfilled by life, never second-guesses a single decision, and is incredibly knowledgeable about every topic on earth.

Make no mistake: your aspirational self is the most interesting person in the world.

You’re constantly comparing yourself to your aspirational self and coming up short.

(Your house doesn’t look like it belongs in a magazine feature. You haven’t made those Pinterest recipes or read those articles or implemented that advice. You ate a cookie. You missed a payment. You aren’t at Inbox Zero. You let that call go to voicemail.)

When compared to your aspirational self, you just plain SUCK.

(So do I. So does she. We all suck.)

Further, and based on this aspirational self, we all have a list in our mind of all the things we “should” do. The goals we should have and the activities we should be participating in to reach that aspirational future self.

My ongoing list pushes me to be an ultra-fit, super-social fashionista. It goes like this.

I should:

• drink one or two green smoothies a day
• run a few miles a day
• meet more strangers and make new friends
• buy whole outfits instead of individual pieces when shopping
• wear high heels instead of flats
• carry a purse
• use a blow dryer instead of letting my hair air dry
• watch less TV
• take more classes in person
• hire a maid service instead of cleaning the house myself
• read on my Kindle more
• answer my phone every time it rings instead of letting it go to voicemail
• send more snail mail to my friends
• do yoga every day
• cook unprocessed, whole foods three times a day
• read a wider range of books and get them from the library instead of buying them
• schedule more adventures for myself instead of playing it by ear

All the standards I want to place on myself from outside, as well as all the ways I want my thighs to be skinnier and my life to be more “normal” come out in this first list.

Now, I’ll take that list and replace “I should” with “I want to,” letting whatever doesn’t survive the switch fall by the wayside. Suddenly, my list is rather short.

I want to:

• take more classes in person
• send more snail mail to my friends
• do yoga every day
• schedule more adventures for myself instead of playing it by ear

Well shit, friend! Those things are totally doable! Instead of falling victim to the whispering voices in my head telling me I should be doing all sorts of crap I don’t actually care about, I’m limiting my energies to what I actually want to do.

Now, let’s refine those desires so they have numbers instead of the word “more.”

I want to:

• take a pottery class in person
• send one snail mail letter per week
• do yoga every day
• schedule a weekly adventure for myself

With those numbers in mind, I can schedule ‘em, add ‘em to the calendar, and go enjoy my closet full of decidedly flat shoes and mismatched articles of clothing.

Killing your purely-aspirational self is the first step toward becoming the imperfect and lovely you we all deserve to meet.

P.S.  This is an excerpt from Introverts at Work.  Pick up your copy in print or digital format now. 😉

What are you making space for?

I’ve had more free time than ever this year, having let a major relationship (read: my marriage) go. Post tears and drama, I made a bunch of space for life itself to hijack my existence.

Time for stargazing. (Literal, actual stargazing, as well as reading People magazine at the bookstore.)

Time for watching movies, reading books, and taking long walks. For dreaming.
For long silences. For helping my friends actualize their treasured projects.
For letting the next thing make itself known.

I could have crammed my life with work, work, and more work to distract myself, but I actively made space for the next big thing. It was a conscious choice. It’s led to me being a few pounds heavier, a shit-ton happier, and a whole lot lighter in spirit. And it begs the question…

What are you making space for?

It’s a question no one likes. When I’m talking with peeps 1-on-1, I spend a lot of time hearing about people’s deepest desires. Their quiet goals and their hidden agendas. They’re writing children’s books, they’re starting crazy-awesome companies, they’re planning events, they’re making gorgeous art. They’re tweaking their businesses to suit their evolving needs.

Again and again, I find that those people who are dying to finish the book, wrap up the website, overhaul the details, arrange the event, or tighten up the budget are actively making space for good things in their lives.

They’re rearranging their schedules and cleaning their calendars to make room. Other people are stuck in Pinteresting mode, dreaming and planning without putting anything into action. Not because they’re lazy, tired, disinterested, incapable, or [insert negative adjective here], but because they aren’t making enough space for the incredible stuff to grab their lives by the collars and shake ’em.

If you’re working seven days a week, where are you going to find those extra three hours for writing? If you’ve got to shuttle your kids all over the state for sports competitions, when are you going to plan the debut gala for your artwork?
If you’re sleeping three hours a night, why in the everloving hell would you miss a nap in order to work on that project?

We’re all actively shaping and then using our time to the best of our abilities.  We’re all teaching people how to treat us.  We’re all doing the best we can.

I know. I’m not here to make you feel like a failure. But I’ve gotta ask: what are you making space for?

What are you actively carving room for into your life?

It’s a pain-in-the-ass question. It’s easier to say you’re too busy to worry about this. You’re a victim of the modern age. You’re tired, you haven’t got time, you’re overwhelmed.

But it’s not going away, and you’ll get to it eventually, even if it’s 30 or 40 or 50 years from now: what are you making space for?

Business, personal, big, small.  A recording contract or a single YouTube video that you find the courage to put online. What are you making space for? A whole book, a single poem. One small change or a sweeping series of declarations.

No matter how you choose to do it, I dare you to make some space today. 

And if your phone eats up all your free time, pick up Space to help you cut your phone time by 50% or more.  You’ll get back 2-3 hours a day, which means 14+ hours per week to work on your next project.

P.S. How to claim freedom from all kinds of bullshit.

About your underwear.

I’ve always been an achiever. Give me a sticker or star or Book it! pizza to earn, and I’m all over it, earning away.

But you can’t achieve a sense of fulfillment.
There’s no sticker-laden star chart leading to that place where you are deeply and urgently fulfilled by your work in the world.

There is no next level.

We can only ask questions and see what happens.

Where am I helping people?
Where do I lose time?
Where do I experience a sense of timelessness?

What feels like underwear?

Yup…what feels like underwear?

See, I’ve been listening to a ton of podcasts and videos and TED talks lately. I don’t know where I heard this, but there’s a guy talking about underwear. About how where you’re sitting right now, you can’t even feel them on your body. You’re used to the sensation of the fabric against your skin. It’s no longer special enough for your mind to actively point out to your conscious mind.

So many of our aspirations are like underwear — we’ll get used to them within a few weeks of achieving them.

Got yourself a new car? It’ll soon be underwear.
New house, new clothes, new handbag, private plane, yacht? Underwear in the making.

The brain actively adapts to all sorts of new situations, churning them into an ever-adapting understanding of “normal.”

Your job is to find the thing that never turns to underwear.

It still feels new.
You don’t take it for granted.
You lose time when you’re doing it.
You feel physically ill at the thought of losing it, whatever ‘it’ is.

Whether it’s being behind a camera or writing books or stand-up comedy or talking to other people about physics or teaching or cooking doesn’t matter.

You don’t get to choose the things that make you feel this way. You only get to discover them.

There aren’t many, and they rarely change. If you’ve been writing for a decade, it’s unlikely that it will suddenly turn to underwear tomorrow. You’re a writer. Write.

Which activities haven’t yet turned to underwear?

Start there. Point your business there. Point your life there.
Soak up all the time you can with your not-underwear.
And see what happens.

Success in your business is as simple and as complex as that.

P.S.  How to write a book in 6 weeks or less.

The now thing doesn’t have to be the forever thing.

“People can always surprise you,” my Mom quips when bad things happen. 9 times out of 10 she says this after watching the news, when there’s been a bombing or shooting or murder or robbery or especially disaster-y disaster.

Perhaps she’s right, but I prefer to think about the good ways people have surprised you.

Consider the friend who showed up with donuts and coffee when you were too tired to make breakfast.

The friend who’s been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize, but it’s never come up in conversation. You read it in one of his bios online this morning. (Not to worry, I sent a text and asked for the story. I can’t wait to hear…)

The friend who sends you book recommendations once a week. They’re always spot on and it isn’t easy, being a book recommender-person. (I couldn’t put this book down.)

We never quite know all the cards another person is holding. And of course, we often underestimate the cards we’re holding ourselves.

Consider the ways you’ve surprised yourself.

The ways in which you’ve overcome, pushed through, gone around, or just plain shredded the obstacles in your way.

Remember the test you nailed even though you hardly studied?

Remember your first few months of being a business owner — how shocking, how terrible, how thrilling, how utterly alive you were — remember how you survived all that?

You’ve been surprising yourself for years now, and that means your next move might be a little bit shocking. Peeps reach out to me in angst about their new direction on the regular. What if people don’t want to hire me? What if they don’t want to read my new book or watch my new videos? What if they don’t care about the nerdy things I care about? What if I’m not giving my customers enough value for the price?

Under all of it, the soft pulse of, “WHAT WILL THEY THINK OF ME!?”

If they’re not asshats, they will think you’re exploring. They’ll think you’re finding your way. They’ll think you’re fascinating and they’ll be excited to go on the ride with you. (They’ll fall away if they think anything less.)

Yes, it’s risky to change directions. It’s also risky to keep doing the thing you’ve been doing when it no longer makes you feel even the slightest bit alive.

You’re free to change course, to shift gears, and to explore.

There’s no need to make the Now thing the FOREVER thing.

You aren’t Mark Zuckerberg, you aren’t stuck managing a many-headed, multi-pronged, mega-billion dollar corporation for the foreseeable future. (And thank God for that, eh?) I love what I do, and I’m going to write a novel this year. Those J.K. Rowling dreams are calling my name. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing or teaching or dreaming up crazy events or coaching peeps. It simply means I’m making a little more space for what’s calling my name this summer.

Which dreams are calling your name? Which bits or pieces of life seem most interesting to you right now? What would you like to experiment with in the coming months?

It’s summer, so you’re free to go easy on yourself. There will be plenty of time for buckling down and doing hard work come Labor Day (get it!? LABOR Day?). This is a season made for flicking your toes around in the sand and seeing what you find.

Sand dollars. Shells. Sea slugs. Bits of deceased sea creatures, may they rest in peace. Bird tracks. Crazy creatures that only live on this beach, at this moment, so you might as well go looking.

Go digging, see what you find. And may you surprise all of us with the bounty of your next big move.

If you have a vaaaaague inkling of your next move but either a.) need help figuring out the details, b.) need to be held accountable for moving toward, c.) would like a step-by-step action plan to help get you there, or d.) all of the above — take a look at KK on Tap.

Business is a spiritual practice. (Lemme explain.)

Business is a spiritual practice.

There, I said it.

Business is a spiritual practice, requiring as much devotion, faith, hope, love & doubt as my belief in God. (Sometimes more.)

Even though my first memory of being moved by the divine happened at age eight. I wept in front of the Eucharist, deeply and self-consciously, in the third pew of a quiet Catholic church.
Even though I’ve responded to altar calls throughout my teens, being saved and saved and SAVED.
Even though I’ve read plenty of books about Judaism and Buddhism.
Even though I’ve rejected religion wholesale for over a decade, only to be broken open all over again at 32.
Even though I’ve found my inner guides, my spirit animals, and my psychic abilities, too.
Even though I’m seeking and seeking and growing and shaping my spiritual beliefs into little sculptures of light that keep me going every day.

Business is still the most spiritual thing I do.

When I wake up in the morning, I have to believe someone cares about what I’m doing. And why I’m doing it.
When I’m dreaming up new projects, I have to have tremendous faith in the process of bringing each one to life.
When I don’t feel like creating, I have to trust that the inspiration will come when I engage in the discipline of doing.
When I answer e-mails, I have to practice devotion to kindness, grace, and patience.
When money is tight, I have to trust that it will come.
When money is abundant, I have to remain focused enough to stay the course. To keep working and building and growing.

I have to have faith that this — all of this, every minute of this business thing — is worth it. Is building to something higher, stronger, better, deeper.

Spirituality and spiritual practices, religious rituals and devotion to God are unquestionably spiritual.

But consider, for a moment, that the practice of bringing your greatest talents to the world — and being rewarded for doing so — is the most spiritual work you can do.

(It’s so much easier to float on the surface. To do the busy work, to distract ourselves from our greatest gifts, isn’t it?)

When I say business, here, I’m not talking about dreaming up a three dollar product that you have manufactured in China and that you don’t give a shit about, bringing it to a worldwide audience to make a small fortune and retire to Fiji.

I’m talking about building a business by mining the depths of your soul.
Building an enterprise by waking up, showing up, and chipping away at your life’s work.
Though high tide, low tide, and all manner of life circumstances. Through waves of creativity and those days when you don’t feel you have an ounce left to give.

Business is a spiritual practice.

That’s why it’s so crucial to ask questions. Hard ones, deep ones, ones that hit you right in the gut.

If you’re having trouble earning, where are you fearful of letting others see your talents?
If you’re giving your work away for free, where and why do you fail to value what you do?
If you fail to celebrate your achievements, where do you need to cultivate gratitude? (And quiet?)
If your business doesn’t feel the slightest bit fulfilling any longer, what needs to shift?
If your devotion to your business is waning, which changes need to happen?
Which mental furniture needs to be moved around, refreshed, or donated in order to keep mining way down there, in the deepest darkest depths of yourself?

You already know the answers.
WE already know the answers, each one of us.
Our only job is to admit the answers to ourselves.
To get quiet, to let truths fall like atom bombs on the paths we’re walking.

And to take the next step. Into the mystery, with faith and hope and love and our ears tilted toward the divine for a whisper.

Because, contrary to popular belief, business is a spiritual practice.

P.S.  This blog post inspired my book entitled Calling to the Deep: business as a spiritual practice.  It’s dope AND it’s pay-what-you-can priced.  Check it out here!