Looking for that Touch of Magic to go after your dreams? It takes guts to put yourself on the line and to say “I am going to try something and it could fail. I’m going to put my time and energy into this. I am going to actually go for it. I am going to throw myself out there and I could be ridiculed, rejected, or run out of money.” So we don’t do it. We go along with the status quo. We get comfortable.
And then we don’t push ourselves because we value comfort over growth.
The people who believe in the Touch of Magic and who know all the risks but try anyway are the ones that really want it. And yes, it is scary to start. It is scary to take the leap.
When I started this blog, I had thought about doing it for years. YEARS. Literally over 10 years I kept thinking “You know, I really should start writing about my experiences. They may help someone struggling out there.” But there was never enough time. Never enough money. I had all kinds of excuses. But the reality was that I didn’t have enough courage. I was too self-conscious to put anything less than the best out in the world. So I would start to write something, and if it wasn’t PERFECT, absolutely perfect, then I didn’t post it. Instead, I would spend more time thinking about doing it. I rationalized to myself that since I wasn’t the best out there and since no one knows who I am, then it’s not worth trying. So I delayed starting. Years went by and I put “start website” on my goal list for 5 years. Never actually getting it done.
Then when my Mom died, the sense of urgency came to the forefront of my mind. I realized that I didn’t have the luxury of all these years to get started. That it needed to happen now. That life is short. That someday will never come.
I had to become vulnerable enough to share my experiences. So I started writing. I stopped worrying so much about what I sounded like and I just wrote. After a few weeks of consistently writing, I got an email from a man who said he was suicidal and then read one of my posts and he realized he wasn’t alone. My words and my experience helped someone!
It was at that point that I knew that if nothing else ever came of writing this blog, then at least I had helped one person.
That Touch of Magic may look like having some courage to just start. It is so cliché but it is true. When we start with where we are, even though we don’t have it all figured out, things will start to flow.
The Touch of Magic will start to appear.
What are you scared of right now? How can you move towards that? Discomfort is your growth! It’s where the Touch of Magic will come to life.
I’m currently reading a biography of Roald Dahl, the children’s author who brought to life those sweet gems of books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda, plus countless others. As the second part of our three part series on the Touch of Magic in the creative process, I was interested in understanding more about his.
The creative process takes time. While we wish things would always just flow smoothly, it often isn’t the case. The same seemed true for Mr. Dahl. While he was arguably one of the most creative writers of his time, as it turns out, it didn’t always just flow for him. He put a routine and structure to his writing. He created a space to let the creative process come to life, on its own time.
Dahl’s writing took place in a shed hidden behind his greenhouse. He had a tiny shed that was just big enough for himself, a chair, a small table, and other photos and things. It was here where the creative genius produced his greatest work. The writing hut was centered around his armchair and he set an old suitcase full of heavy logs as a footrest. When it was cold he put his legs inside an old sleeping bag and pulled a rickety electric heater just close enough to warm his hands. He propped a cloth-covered board up on a roll of cardboard to set the exact angle for writing, taking his time to get it ‘just right’. He was very routine about his process. He would go to his hut about 10AM every day and would sharpen 6 pencils with a pencil sharpener. He would write for two hours, go back to the house for a light lunch, a nap, and then head back to the hut for two more hours in the afternoon. His experience told him a writer 'should never work for too long at a stretch, because after about two hours you are not at your highest level of concentration, so you have to stop.'
At the same time and same place every day, he would go to his writing hut. The consistency of going to his writing hut was paramount, even if the Touch of Magic of the words did not flow easily. The hut had no view, no natural sunlight, no noise, and no interruptions. In describing his routine, Roald Dahl wrote lyrically of the charming setting for his writing hut: 'Through the window [of the hut] you can see all sorts of creatures if you sit there quietly looking out. There are squirrels in the big apple tree, and blue birds, and bullfinches, even a green woodpecker sometimes, and I would be happy to sit watching them all morning long and do no work. So I leave the curtains closed.'
But it was very familiar and comforting to the author: the ritual of writing at the same time every day, in the same seat, in the same room, on the same yellow paper, with the same number of pencils in the jar beside him gave a sense of stability and constancy. The monotony of the creative process was how he tapped into his Touch of Magic.
But like all things, this doesn’t always happen on our timeline. Dahl’s work – was no different. In notes for a speech, he wrote: 'I, like many other writers I know, am always frightened of starting work each morning. The reason for this is that when you have to invent something new to write every day of your life, there is always the fear that your inventiveness will fail you and you won’t be able to think of anything at all.'
Dahl’s stories seem to be inspired from his own life. He takes ordinary things that happened to him or that he experienced and added a Touch of Magic. He also had one important habit that helped him tap into ideas 'I have a notebook for plots. It is the same one I’ve had for twenty years. If I get the germ of an idea, I scribble it down in the notebook, one idea to each page. ... Once or twice every year, I leaf through the book ... And then at last, perhaps after three years, perhaps after seven, there comes a time when I look at it and see that it is ripe for writing, and I take it out of the book, and start away.'
His books are famous for always having the underdog be the hero. The outsider is the victor. Dahl himself experienced this – as a kid growing up he was bullied, beaten, and as an adult was sacked from a job because he just didn’t fit in.
It isn’t always obvious when and how the Touch of Magic begins. But if we use our own creativity, imaginations, and are open to taking our experiences and exploring them to a different level, we can tap into a side invaluable to the creative process. For Dahl, each working day would begin with re-reading every draft that he had written so far; not just the work of the previous day, but all the way back to the beginning of the piece at hand. Roald Dahl calculated that, by the end of writing a book, the very earliest sections would have been re-read, altered and corrected around 150 times. But this early, intense effort could unlock the rest of the story. 'The first page is written and re-written so often that the process never takes less than three weeks. But during that time, other things are simultaneously happening, the little seed is starting to grow in the mind, the colours are emerging in the story, a kind of momentum is slowly gathering and the fingers that hold the pencil are beginning to twitch. So the book begins.'
Roald Dahl shows us that his experience was essential to his process on all levels, and also contributed to his craft. That combined with a certain level of discipline and routine, we can ignite that Touch of Magic. As Dahl says: “All the best stuff comes at the desk.”
In general, I am the type of person that likes to be as effective and efficient as possible. So when I sit down to get things done, and I run into obstacles, I get frustrated. Most of the days, when I am working, I chug along confidently. Things just flow, I cross things off of my to do list. I feel optimistic and confident that I can hit those deadlines. I laugh and sing as I high five myself. It’s like some Touch of Magic is happening in the background, helping me move things along, getting stuff done! It’s exhilarating and inspiring.
But other times, I hit dead ends. It could be when I have a conversation with my boss that doesn’t go the way I wanted it to. When a pitch that I poured my heart and soul into gets rejected. When I find out that someone else got the promotion I wanted. When I notice an error in my work that I already submitted for approval. When these things come up, I get frustrated and distracted. And I think that I just can’t deal. When I feel like it is all too much. There are days when things just don’t go the way I planned them too.
You know how that feels, right? It's when you're working there trying. HARD. But nothing is going your way. It's frustrating, uncomfortable, and makes you want to cry. You start freaking out.
One day, in the middle of this mental freak out, I realized I was expecting myself to have everything figured out already. To have the work already done. I noticed that I was being really hard on myself. Criticizing everything I was doing. Mean thoughts in my head like “"It's NOT working Erin! All these hours and days and you're still not done yet! You're not nearly as far as you should be on this project. Your team is going to be so angry and disappointed. Why did they even hire you!"
Sitting there in the uncertainty and the chaos of my mind while the time was ticking away was beyond challenging and uncomfortable. I felt like running. Like giving it all up. Throwing the towel in and walking away. I was so overwhelmed I found myself unable to keep focus or continue working.
What was going on here? It was in that moment when I realized that I wasn’t trusting myself. I didn’t trust myself enough to know that I could handle this. I didn’t trust myself enough to believe that I could make all of this work come together. I was looking for a Touch of Magic to give me some sort of inspiration or insight or amazing discovery that could help things start to flow again. That could tie all of these things together in a way that would make a difference in this world. I had this ideal notion that if I was really good at my job, if my contributions really meant something, then things would just be easy and effortless and fast. When I am in the middle of the creative process, I often think that if I was really good at something, it would easily just happen.
But the reality is that the Touch of Magic sometimes takes time. A long time. We have to trust in ourselves and our abilities that creating work we are proud of takes time.
Great work takes time. A Touch of Magic will appear on its own, when it is good and ready. So when we find ourselves feeling the tug of uncertainty and the negative thoughts start to take over, we can pause. Take a deep breath. Dig deeper into our faith that the Magic will show up. And trust in the time that the creative process takes.
A lot of us think about doing great, amazing things. We think about what we want to achieve. But in addition to thinking this, we have to believe it is possible for us. And we have to be committed to the belief—because possessing the unqualified belief that we are capable of having what we want is the first step to achieving it.
When we commit to believing it will happen, then everything else will fall into place to make it happen. By committing to believing it will happen, our choices and our decisions become guided by this mindset.
There is beauty in believing because in that space, we know it can be true for us. Some may call us ignorant, but I think ignorance is the key. When we decide on something we want, we can’t possibly know how we are going to reach our goals, and we don’t need to. Once we are willing to live with not knowing everything, the results will start to appear.
But it’s easy to understand why some of us stop believing we can have what we want! There are going to be times when it seems like the world around us is trying to get us to quit. When we are hit with problem after problem. When we watch the months pass by… but we are nowhere closer to where we want to be. Through the struggle, we may lack confidence and motivation. We may think that it seems nearly impossible that we can transform our lives.
But we can overcome this! We can take back control of our focus. We can get back to the discipline of believing it will happen. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of subtle shifts. When we find ourselves lacking belief that it will happen, when we are down and full of despair, we can take a few minutes to re-assess. We can ask ourselves:
· Where is our attention? Sometimes all we need is to look around and realize what is driving us away from our goals. For me, it is my phone. I realized I had a problem when every 5 minutes I was checking it. So I made a change. Now, my phone never makes an audible noise. I keep it face down most of the time so I can’t see the screen light up, and I turn off all notifications. And that is exactly the way I want it. I lived a great life before text messages, and life will go on if I miss one now.
· What are we listening to? Are our thoughts helping or hurting us? We have to get comfortable being kind and loving to ourselves. It is easy to tell ourselves that we are failing, or that it can never happen. But we are all stronger than that – we have to shift those thoughts to ones of believing it will happen. The quality of our work will drastically increase and we will be more productive if we tell ourselves good, positive things.
When we decide to commit to believing that what we want is possible for us, life will give us exactly what we want. We just have to have the discipline of believing that we really do have the power to make it happen.
So tell me, in the comments below, what was one thing you didn’t believe you could achieve but now you are certain you can?
Dear Self, I love you. I really do. You are always there for me. No matter what, you are there. And starting today, we are together. We are on the same team. I love you for always being there for me. I love you for supporting me, giving me the air in my lungs, the blood in my veins, and the beat in my heart. Thank you for keeping me alive and healthy. I appreciate you for giving me a good instinct so I know when I am on the right path in life. You keep me protected and safe. Thank you for all of the joy and laughter you have brought into my life. You are the reason I can giggle and sing and dance and love. You have always had my back. Always.
So starting today, I will start to show you more love. I will appreciate you and care for you. I will start treating you better. I will dress you in outfits that you feel proud of wearing. I will feed you with food that makes you feel good. I won’t call you mean names anymore. I will keep you excited and energized, alert and stimulated by being kind. I will start to appreciate the fact that you take care of me, look after me, and protect me. This time, I will put you first. I will respect you and honor you and cherish you. Together, we are enough. Thank you self. I love you.
Have you ever taken a moment to write a love letter to yourself? Oftentimes, we are our own worst enemies. We don’t always show ourselves love. There are times when we get mad at ourselves. We don’t like what we do or we get disappointed in our behavior and actions. But instead of letting it go or forgiving ourselves, we get frustrated and mad. We criticize and say some really bad stuff to ourselves. We call ourselves names and beat ourselves up emotionally and mentally. We are so mean to ourselves! We try so hard to change ourselves and become someone that we aren’t. We compare ourselves to others and worry so much about what other people think of us. So we try to fix ourselves to act and behave like a person we were never meant to be. We spend time and energy wishing we were different.
Well we aren’t doing ourselves any favors! Instead of getting frustrated, how about we forgive. Instead of hating ourselves, our bodies, our actions…how about we show ourselves some respect and love. Let’s command joy today by writing ourselves a love letter.
It’s Monday morning. The alarm goes off at 5:30AM. We have to get up to face our normal work week. Some of us may be dreading it. We may have a job that we hate, and we are dreading the work day. It’s difficult, no question. It’s challenging to get up, get ready, and face the world. But when we are feeling less than enthused, we can shift our thoughts and choose to command joy by bringing light into the world.
One of the greatest influences we have in our world is to radiate our own light. When we shine, we allow others around us to shine too. When we find a way to open our hearts to the light of awareness, freedom, truth, and love…we bring in the light. And through our lightness, we light those around us. We influence the world in a positive way, making things a little lighter, a little better, a little happier. It’s our joy to bring light into the world.
To find our light, we have to get in touch with our deepest, truest self. We have to let go of our egos. We have to release the need to please other people and the feeling of having to prove ourselves, and just be. Once we are in touch with our truest self, lightness happens. We start to radiate the qualities of light and love, truth and beauty. We lose our attachment to things that don’t matter. We feel harmony and balance. From here, from this place of light, we can impact others around us.
We become the light by treating the person next to us with kindness, compassion, and human dignity. We light up the world by being the best, most loving version of ourselves to our friends and family. When we let our light shine, we command joy and light in others.
We all have the power to make the world a little brighter. We can choose to shine our own light. So today, get out there and shine enormous amounts of light! Light up the world by doing what you were born to do. Find the job, the passion, the hobby that lights you up! When we are the light, we light up the world.
Tell me, in the comments below, how do you bring light to yourself, and to others?
The mental peak state. When is your peak state? For some, it is in the morning. Some people wake up and are good to go. They are ready to crush the day while everyone else is still in a daze. For others, it is later in the evening, after they have fulfilled all work and family obligations. These Night Owls spend their evenings re-charged and ready to face new challenges.
We all have different circadian clocks and biorhythms that affect our peak state. Some of it is genetic, some of it is based on lifestyle behaviors. We can get ourselves into a “peak” or heightened state of mind and then operate from that state anytime we want to. ANYTIME!!!
The first thing we can do is shift our mindset to become more forward centric and forward thinking. As we get older, we tend to play out our days in our routine, where the pattern of yesterday looks the same as today. We tend to eat the same things, watch the same things, and do the same amount of work as we have always done. We may have important goals we are pursuing. But if, when we look at our actual daily behavior, does it mostly look like what happened yesterday? Children don’t do this. Kids are almost entirely future oriented. If you ask a little kid their age, they will say “I am almost 8!” or “I am 4 and a half!” They can’t wait for the next day to arrive, and are full of anticipation about what is to come next. We can command joy by training ourselves to act and live from the future we want to create, not from our past.
We can keep our eyes on the prize. If we commit to our goals, really commit, we won’t have time or energy for any other way of thinking. As we start to train our brans to act and react from the place of our deepest desires, our behaviors will change dramatically. When we are wholeheartedly focused on our goals, we will act with enthusiasm and interest, no matter what time of the day or night it is. We will start to see potential where others see nothing. We can put ourselves into a zone where we see incredible opportunities and experiences. Our perspective comes from our mindset. When we feel excited about the future and the possibilities, we will act more powerfully and positively, which will put us into a mental peak state. When we are in focused pursuit of our goals, the best thing we can do is to fully embrace the feeling of having our goal already fulfilled.
There are simple ways to recharge when we slip into low energy. In addition to getting enough sleep, there are things that we can do to make sure we set ourselves up for success for getting the rest we need. “Treat yourself as well as you treat your smartphone, making sure to sleep until fully recharged.” — Arianna Huffington. By giving ourselves a regular bedtime, to not looking at screens at least 60 minutes before we want to go to sleep, to not engaging in work or stressful activities before we hit the hay, and by creating an environment where we can actually sleep (dark, cool, and comfortable), it will be easier to get into the mental peak state we need. Taking a time out when we start to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed can also help us mentally. If we start to feel the emotions rise up in our body, we can stop. Close our eyes. Focus inward. Get centered. Remind ourselves about our desired future and visualize it in our minds. Then we can open our eyes and reawaken to the next thing we need to do toward our goals.
Changing up our environment helps too. If we find ourselves not as efficient or effective at our desks, it may be time to stand up and walk outside. We may need to work someplace different than where we normally do. This helps us get a new, fresh perspective on our ideas. So change it up, shift around, listen to your thoughts and feelings and make sure they are on track towards your goals.
Now tell me, in the comments below, when have you commanded joy by getting into a mental peak state? What did you do?
Let’s talk about make up tips. No, not the stuff we paint on our face. When we have fights with people we care about and love, figuring out how to make up with them is hard.
Friends know us like no one else - we’ve told them our deepest secrets, they’ve been there for us through good times and bad, they have been a constant source of support in our life.
Yet we fight. We scream. We cry. We give each other the silent treatment. We then eventually realize that the fight isn’t worth losing our friendship over.
So when we want to make up, there are some things we can think about and do to make it all okay.
Now, we would love to hear from you! Tell me, in the comments below, how has making up with someone helped you in your relationships? What did you learn?
Joyfully accepting ourselves. Something that sounds so easy is so hard for a lot of Americans. Beyond our own internal self-judgment, we have a ton of external forces working against us.
This is an unprecedented time in our society. Hidden behind computers and social media, people feel a false sense of power. A lot of people in the world feel insecure about themselves and are looking for ways to inflate their own egos. So instead of trying to heal their own inner wounds, they bully, harass, and harm other people through their words online. They put others down so that they can feel good in comparison.
But this strategy comes at a price. People get hurt. They become emotionally scarred sometimes physically hurt. When harassment happens to the wrong person, the consequences can become deadly. The rates of teen suicide have gone up 70% in the past 10 years, a direct correlation with the growth of social media.
So enough is enough.
We have to become kinder and gentler towards ourselves. It is time to command joy through self-compassion. Starting today, we end the self-judgment and self-evaluation. Starting today, we simply accept ourselves with an open heart. We treat ourselves with the same compassion and caring we would show someone we love.
Having compassion for ourselves feels unnatural to a lot of people. When we are a hot mess and going through a rough patch in life, we may think “if I am too self-compassionate, won’t I just be lazy and selfish?”
Here’s the deal. Self-criticism – despite being socially accepted – is not at all helpful. It makes things worse. We don’t make ourselves a better person by beating ourselves up all the time. Instead, we become inadequate and insecure. We beat ourselves up so much that we become full of self-hate.
We can easily turn the self-hate into self-compassion with three key things.
1) Self-kindness. Becoming gentler and understanding of ourselves instead of harshly critical and judgmental.
2) Connectedness. Recognizing our common humanity by feeling connect with others instead of feeling isolated and alienated.
3) Mindfulness. Practicing staying in the moment. Instead of worrying about the future or reflecting on the past, holding onto each moment. Here and now.
In order to be truly self-compassionate, we have to work on those three areas.
The best part about self-compassion is that it opens us up to a sense of calmness and inner peace. Instead of the constant questioning “Am I as good as they are? Am I good enough?”, we fully accept ourselves.
We stop the constant self-criticism, we start the self-love.
While it takes some work to develop self-compassion, especially if you have spent your entire life being self-critical, nothing else in life can help us feel more alive! It’s worth it.
So, tell me, in the comments below, how have you helped yourself feel more self-compassion?
There are times when we look back at our lives and wonder how we ended up where we are. We find ourselves just going through the motions, instead of being in charge like a CEO. In my conversations with people over the years, I have noticed that most of us don’t believe we have the power to control our lives to the extent that we actually can. Some of us feel out of control, overwhelmed, and unable to stop all the things we have obligated ourselves to. We don’t feel like we can take back the steering wheel and go in the direction we want to go. We have too many demands.
Here’s the deal: we have the ability to control our lives way more, and I mean WAY more than we give ourselves credit for! We are the CEO of our life.
But CEOs have to believe in their power.
The thing is that most of us don’t know how to take control of our lives. We think outside circumstances are the cause of our problems and that those things will never change. So we give up. We don’t try. Oh we think we are trying to make real, lasting change in our lives. But we don’t REALLY try. It’s hard to form new habits. So when we come across an obstacle, we give up. We don’t believe we have the power to control our life to the extent that we can.
Some of us also think its too much work because we don’t really have a plan. We don’t know which direction or path to take. So we just don’t take any. Or we fear making a mistake and ending up on the wrong course.
The good news is that it is EASY to figure out what kind of life you want to be CEO of.
As a new CEO, ask yourself:
· In my everyday life, what do I find myself doing because I am good at it but I don’t find it energizing or fulfilling? This could be any groups or clubs, helping others in volunteer roles or as part of your work, even your job.
· How many hours per week do I waste on activities that are boring or simply time filling? Things like posting on social media, sitting on the couch watching TV/ movies, hanging out with friends you only sort of like, reading, playing games? Ask yourself, “What am I getting out of this?”
· Look back at your calendar over the last 60 days – and ask, what appointments or activities did I do that were truly exciting, that used my talents and knowledge, and that left me feeling energized when done?
· How much of your life is spent doing what you really want? If time and money weren’t a concern, what would you be doing? Take out a piece of paper or do it on your laptop. Write “I want_______.” And then fill in the blank. Do this 200 times. It can give you an indication of what you truly madly deeply want in your life.
· What do I want my life to look like? Write a story of your life five years from now. Use very detailed descriptions of where you live, who with, what you do on a typical day, what you wear, listen to, eat, dream about, touch and smell. This will help you figure out what you really want to do and who you want to become.
We all have things that we want to do and accomplish in our lives. Over time, we lose our sense of who we really are and what we really want. It is easy to understand why this happens. Our wants get pushed aside as we set out to please society’s expectations of us. We hear from our parents, our teachers, our friends about what we should do with our lives. We have been pushed and pulled by other peoples’ expectations of us. We lose our voice.
But each one of us, as CEOs, have our own unique lives to create. We get to choose. We are in charge. And we can do whatever we decide to commit to doing. Starting right now.
So tell me, in the comments below, what is one action you took when you decided to become the CEO of YOUR life?