When we take a day away from our busy lives and spend time investing in what our future vision is for ourselves, it can re-energize our souls.
Have you ever taken a day to step away from it all? A day alone to reflect on your life? To understand yourself better and what you want out of life? Like what you really really want?
For years I felt burned out, stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to give up on everything. I was ready to walk away from life. I was done. Over it. It was all too much for me to handle. I wanted to leave it all: my family, my friends, my city, my job.
Nothing was going well and I thought everything would be better if I just ended my life. But I didn’t. I sucked it up and put on a happy face when I needed to, even though I felt dead inside. I didn’t let anyone know how I was feeling. I didn’t want to “burden” anyone with my problems. So, I isolated myself. I quit my hobbies. I stayed home at night and on the weekends. Showing up for work was the extent of all of the energy I could generate within myself. I spent my days going to work and going home. After work, I would shower and crawl into bed. This habit went on for weeks, which became months, and then became 3 years.
And then one day I read a book that changed my life. It forced me to see that my unhappiness was my own damn fault. It wasn’t the boyfriend or the boss or the bad traffic that was driving me to exhaustion. It was me.
And once I had awareness that it was me doing this to myself, I knew I was the only one accountable. I had no one else to pass responsibility onto but myself for my environment, my circumstances, and my surroundings. This was all my own doing.
This realization was frightening and freeing at the same time. Frightening because I had to finally come to grips that I had no one to blame but myself for where I was. This meant though, that I had to actually DO something to make it better. It was freeing because I had no one to rely on to make the changes I needed to make in my life. No one but me.
So I took a step away from the crazy for one day and I got clear. I turned off my phone. I removed the remote control for theTV. I shut down the laptop. I had a pen, a highlighter, a pencil and a notebook. I was going to spend time with just me.
Here’s what I did on my day away:
This day helped me reconnect with myself. I came out of my day away refreshed and re-energized with life. I knew that the good times would be just around the corner because I was now clear on what I wanted.
When we dedicate time to work on ourselves, our lives can transform. When we take a pause, a break, and see if we are growing and making progress, we can figure out how to command joy in our lives.
Here’s the deal. Priorities change based on our current circumstances. So we have to constantly be back in tune with ourselves and with what we want out of life. We owe it to ourselves to get clear.
Dedicated time to work on ourselves is one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves. When we reflect on where we are growing, where we are making progress, we can gain the confidence to really go after what we want!!
We can command joy with a day away. Just for ourselves, we can re-imagine what our lives could be like!
“I’m sure it’s fine.” The doctor said. “It will be okay, everything will be fine.” I heard these words as I sat in a doctor’s office for the third time in three months. “With the holiday Monday and with the doctor going on vacation, it might take us 10-15 business days to diagnosis this.”
Great. So I may have skin cancer. But I may not. As I was leaving the doctor’s office, I knew that I had 10 days in front of me to anxiously await the results of my test. 10 Days. 10 DAYS.
As I made the slow walk back to my car and got out my keys, I thought through my two options.
When I got home, I sat silently on my couch and contemplated the roller coaster of emotions that I was confident I would experience for the next 10 days. I weighed out the two options in my mind. Do I give up and accept Option 1? Do I try to calm myself down and strive to be like Option 2?
I realized that I was going to go through a little bit of Option 1 and a little bit of Option 2.
There was no denying it. I may be an emotional mess for the next 10 days. Crap. I am the one who is always happy and positive. People are counting on me to lift them up. I have to get myself together. I can’t let them down!
As I started listening to myself judge that I was going to be a mess for the next 10 days, I worked on quieting the self judgement.
I decided to give myself a break. I decided it was okay if I wasn’t going to be all sunshine and roses and happy go lucky for a couple of weeks.
No matter what the results are, I can control one part of my health. I can commit to having some love and compassion for myself.
I realized that we all have a healer within each of us. We can all Command Joy by Healing Now. We can start by healing our relationship with ourselves.
When we Glow, we allow others around us to Glow too.
When I was a little girl, I spent my summers at my grandparent’s house in Ohio. Living in Texas and having to get to Ohio, we would pack up all of our stuff in a big Chevy suburban and drive north. It would take us 2-3 days to get there. A car ride for 2-3 days with 2 kids under the age of 10 in the back seat. Can you imagine what my parents had to deal with? Whoa.
To me, the road trip was always a fun one and I looked forward to it every year. Growing up, I idolized my older brother and here he was stuck in the back seat with ME! I had 2 days of uninterrupted time to be with him. As the annoying little sister, I loved it. He was stuck with me for 2 entire days! My brother, of course, was not so amused. He did everything he could to entertain himself in any way possible to not have to deal with me. He would listen to music on his Walkman, play on his Gameboy, really do anything to avoid me. I would try to get his attention by pointing out things I saw outside the window - cars driving by, funny signs on the road. We would drive and drive and drive. Since I wasn’t getting anywhere annoying my brother, for hours I would stare out the window and dream of being an adult. I dreamt of a bigger, richer, more exciting life than the one I had with my family. One where I could do anything or be anything I wanted.
When we would finally arrive at this small town in northern Ohio, I always noticed how it was so different than Texas. The houses were huddled together with smaller lawns, and with much different architecture. AND the best part? They all had basements!! I had never seen or heard of such a thing until I visited Ohio. It was like an entire built in extra playroom! There was a town square with a huge century old bell alongside train tracks. And a huge creek where kids went swimming in the summer. It seemed so quaint, so small, and so safe. The homes in my grandparent’s neighborhood were very early 1900s with large white columns and a screened door that slammed when people went in and out of it. Their house was the oldest in the neighborhood, on the corner and across the street from the elementary school.
What I loved the most about my grandparent’s house was their huge front porch. It was one of those classically large porches that go all around half the house. They had a huge rocking chairs that felt like you were in a swing – I can still hear the sound of it creaking back and forth on the wooden porch.
It was in Ohio, where, during the warm summer nights, we would see fireflies. I would sit in the chair on the front porch, lookout over the yard and see these little things light up in the sky! They were so beautiful – it was like a light show! Illuminating the darkness with their glow! I thought it was stunning.
Here did these little tiny insects have so much power to glow and light up the night? As I look back on this now, I realize what an extraordinary thing this is.
I also realize, that like a firefly, we have the same power. Like a firefly, it’s strength is not in itself, it is that when it is illuminated with others.
We can glow through our hearts and light up the world! And when we all commit to doing so, what a well lit world this could be!
She leaned forward with a look of confusion, her eyebrows starting to crinkle on her forehead. After a minute of looking puzzled, she finally asked, “You? They picked YOU? How on earth did they give you that opportunity? I mean, why? How? And, oh yeah, congratulations!” Her question was fair because I was also in disbelief. I wasn’t sure how I got so Lucky either! I mean, I just applied for the position, was interviewed, and got the offer. It wasn’t that unbelievable that the odds were in my favor…or was it?
Was this all a matter of Luck?
It’s been said that Luck is 95% preparation and 5% opportunity. If this theory holds true, then we do create our own Luck. Even Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of the United States, agreed with this. He said, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."
So then, if we have the capacity to create our own Luck, then we have to start it with a Lucky Mindset. No one else is going to do it for us.
If we decide to, we can find so many things to feel Lucky about! If we reflect on all the joyful things that have happened over the course of our lives, we can find instances when we were Lucky. Like really Lucky!
Commanding Joy with Luck looks like:
Luck is unlimited and is happening all around us. Command Joy Today with a Lucky mindset…this could be the luckiest day of our lives!
Let’s talk about how to Command Joy with our Top 10 – the Top 10 things we love to do. And let’s figure out how, in this crazy busy world, we can incorporate them into our life!
Take our careers, for instance. The conventional corporate career path would tell us that we start our careers in our 20s, usually in entry level positions. After we have built our foundational skills, we become managers and leaders in our 30s. Then, by the time we hit our 40s -50s, we are leveraging all that experience and cashing in those higher salaries as executives. We expect to see progressive income increases year after year.
Yes….buuut…not necessarily! For me, my career has taken many different routes. I have worked for companies that have merged together and I had to take a decrease in salary. My position title has changed. I’ve been in jobs where I had 6 different bosses within a two year time frame. I’ve worked for companies that were growing so rapidly that what my actual day to day job looked nothing like my job description!
More than likely, our careers are going to start and stop. With corporate downsizing, re-structures, and layoffs, incomes will have some high years and low years.
The so called “steady paycheck” is steady no more.
So if we can’t rely on finding big corporate jobs in the future, what do we do about it? Well…one thing we can do is protect our paycheck by figuring out our Top 10 Skills.
We can unleash our brilliant potential by understanding what it is that we really LIKE to do and what we are GOOD at doing.
Here’s one way to get started….
We have to protect our paychecks by finding multiple streams of income. And it doesn’t have to be hard or stressful or overwhelming! We can take the things that we love and find ways to make money doing them.
Unleash your limitless potential and act on what you already know and love…the more we help each other, the better we’ll be!
Cheers to your Top 10!
A client friend of mine, Jessica, has been ambitious for as long as she can remember. When she was just 10 years old, she started a habit of waking up at 5AM every morning. During high school, she used this extra time in the mornings to work out and catch up on her schoolwork. Graduating at the top of her class, she got into every college she applied to. With full academic scholarships. This same drive helped her climb the corporate ladder. Over the last 10 years, Jessica, now 45, has held a number of VP level positions at large LA based creative agencies.
Jessica isn’t quite sure what the source is of her fierce ambition. She knows that her parents both had a very strong work ethic and were go-getters, but Jessica thinks there must be something else. She thinks that something is ingrained in her personality that makes her always strive for more.
Ambition has been defined as an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, such as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment. Originally derived from the Latin “ambitio,” ambition initially meant literally 'a going around', especially of candidates for office in Rome soliciting votes.
Today it can be viewed as striving for some kind of achievement or distinction. It involves both desiring the achievement and having the determination and motivation to get it, even in the face of failure.
So is Ambition a learned trait or something we are just born with? Can we learn to be more ambitious? Is Ambition Good or Bad?
Different cultures have different ideas of Ambition. Western cultures view Ambition as a key to business success but others see it as negative. Some view Ambitious people as selfish and never satisfied because they always want more.
The components of what makes a person Ambitious are hard to exactly pin down but there are a few contributing factors.
· Self-esteem. Studies have seen that those with higher self esteem are more ambitious than those with low self-esteem. When you have more self-esteem, you are more ambitious because you think you can do things. Whether or not you can is less important than your idea that you believe you can achieve something.
· Background. Our childhood experiences are also important factors in ambitious. Kids with successful, ambitious parents or grandparents often become ambitious too. Success is simply expected of some children.
· Personality. People who have high degrees of conscientiousness, and who are extroverted, are more likely to have Ambition. This could be due to extroverts liking the external approval which could contribute to their drive.
Research has shown that Ambitious people are likely to have higher levels of education and income, but they are also more likely to experience anxiety. Ambition tends to put expectations in a person’s mind, so they could become afraid to fail.
Jessica thinks that she is just goal oriented. “Without a goal, I don’t have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It’s my goals that keep me going.”
So maybe then, there is no right or wrong when it comes to ambition.
I say that we commit to learning and let’s see where that takes us. Let’s Command Joy by facing life with our eyes and ears open to the possibilities that might be just around the corner. That’s enough ambition, to me.
I wasn’t ready. I was nervous. I had practiced, rehearsed, memorized my presentation for weeks. For an entire month, all I thought about, cared about, and cried about was this huge presentation. This was my chance. This was my one golden opportunity to show them what I could really do. To prove that I was more than the peon they thought I was. With this presentation, I was going to show them.
I was going to face the people who didn’t think I could do it. I was going to look right at them, give my talk, and they could look back at me in awe. I was going to prove to them, and to myself, once and for all, that I could do it. That I deserved more than what they currently thought of me.
But as the days grew closer to THE DAY, I grew more and more scared. I could feel the anxiety rising. I could actually hear my heartbeat. I started not being able to sleep. I found myself overwhelmed with thoughts about it not going well. I thought I would get up there and not remember what I was going to say.
Doubts crept in. The worst case scenarios played out in my mind. What if they start laughing at me? What if they roll their eyes? What if I forget completely what I was going to say? What if my voice sounds like it is shaking? What if my nerves take over and I throw up on stage? Worse, what if they give me a look of pity as if to say…”aww…that poor girl thought she had what it takes.”
So I thought through my options:
· Option One: tell the event staff that I was going to have to cancel
· Option Two: tell them I am sick the day of the presentation
· Option Three: beg the event staff to re-schedule me to a later date
· Option Four: suck it up and try
Then I googled “prepare for a big presentation” and found the following tactics:
· Tactic One: visualize yourself giving the speech and it going well
· Tactic Two: act like superwoman with a power pose
· Tactic Three: deep breathing exercises: in for 3 counts, hold for 3 counts, out for 3 counts
· Tactic Four: rehearse out loud
I did every tactic. Tactic One to Tactic Four. Then I repeated them. But nothing worked. My heart was still beating out of my chest non-stop. My mouth was still dry. I still couldn’t take a deep breath. My insomnia continued.
But I kept going through the motions, I went through all of the tactics. Again and again. I tried to keep myself calm. I kept running through my talk out loud so I could hear myself. I recorded what I looked like while I practiced. I noticed things that could make it better. I adjusted, I tried different inflection points with my voice, different ways of moving across the stage, different hand gestures.
I had gone over this presentation so many times that I literally felt sick to my stomach when I started from the beginning of it. Again.
Then the big day came. After a night of little to no sleep, I woke up at my usual wake up time. I did my usual morning routine. I took a longer time getting ready, trying to hide the huge circles under my eyes.
As the hour of the presentation came suddenly closer, my nerves were so bad I was visibly shaking. My breathing was short, my mouth dry, my heart racing.
Then a voice in my head came through loud and clear. Get yourself under control Erin! This isn’t life or death! You did everything you could do. You are ready! You got this!
And so I had. As I walked up onto that stage, I was calm. I was ready. I could do this. Yes it was scary. Yes I was nervous. Yes there was a risk of it not going well.
But in that moment I realized that there was a greater risk. The greater risk would have been not trying. The greater risk would have been dodging the opportunity and calling in sick. The greater risk would have been giving up.
The greatest risk in life is not taking any risk.
Command Joy by Taking a Risk. What are you currently afraid of or avoiding in life because you are scared? What steps can you take towards it? Tell me in the comments below!
All my life it was assumed I would go to college. So I spent the entire four years during high school focused on things that would look good on college applications. From getting a perfect GPA to participating in every extra-curricular activity I could handle, I did as much as I could. Did I even WANT to go to college? I honestly have no idea. Because it was what I was supposed to do, I went to college. I just went. Then in college, I spent my summers doing internships. I did an internship because I was told they are good for my career. (Wait. What career?) All of my life, I never actually took a moment to ask myself what I wanted. Fast forward a few years and I found myself in a job I hated. Finally, I decided to listen to the voice in my head that said the words I needed to hear… “Erin, you can’t be serious. Who are you right now?!?!”
That’s the very short story of how I started my career in marketing which led me to creating this website. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of experiences. Some awe inspiring, some devastating, but in the end, each had a powerful lesson.
A lot of us think that we don’t have an interesting story to tell, so we don’t bother to tell it. How wrong we are! In everything that happens to us, there is a universal lesson that is worth telling. A narrative that we need to share. Our brains are hardwired to pay attention to stories so it’s no wonder they work so well!
So now that we know storytelling is important, how do we do it?
Start with illustrations with something personal that happened in everyday life
Share your Thought Process
Think about what questions might be in a listener’s minds and walk them through your line of thinking
Have a Big Idea
Drive your main message or big idea home by repeating it several times throughout your story. In a world of endless distractions, it’s a good idea to repeat the big idea.
Do you like the idea of storytelling but don’t know where to start? Command Joy can help!
Send us a DM with a story you are thinking about telling and we will help you craft it for maximum impact!!
Wouldn’t it be great...?
That one question has the potential to transform our focus and our path to a place of growth. When we expand our awareness and our minds to the possibilities, we can make something magnificent. We can all start to Command Joy with One Question.
“Wouldn’t it be great if Thanksgiving was every day?” a friend of mine asked. There we were, sitting on a long table, with our closest friends. We were giggling uncontrollably, laughing at some joke one of us said. Friends since college, we rarely found the time to get together. Life events, marriages, children, jobs had taken us on different paths. But every Thanksgiving, for 5 years, we made it a point to get together. We flew in from all around the country – East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, Middle of Nowhere. We found time to take a break from our busy lives and just be together for one night. In these dinners, I could feel the love we had for each other. I felt gratitude for having these people in my life. And I felt the hopefulness we all had for making our places in this world.
The love I felt in that room made me want to cry with happiness. As I sat there glowing in pure joy, I realized, Thanksgiving isn't just a holiday. It’s a lifestyle. Everyday we can choose to feel this love. Everyday we can decide to be grateful.
And then I realized that the simple question of “wouldn’t it be great” can be asked of everything! The next weekend when I returned home, I started writing a list of “wouldn’t it be great…” I was actually surprised by the things I came up with.
Wouldn’t it be Great…
And on and on and on…things that I didn’t even realize I wanted to do let alone cared to do became more real to me with this one simple question! We can Command Joy with One Question.
So, tell me, in the comments below…what wouldn’t it be great list did you come up with?
It’s that graduation time of year and Today is a Celebration! Really, every day is a cause for celebration. Why, you ask? Because when we stop and think about it, just the fact that we are ALIVE is a reason to be in awe. But we don’t always remember this.
We live in a world full of distractions, demands on our attention, and pressures to succeed and perform. It can get really intense! We have bills to pay, mouths to feed, deadlines to meet. The stress can be overwhelming. Layer in our “got to have it now” world and society, and it is easy to get overwhelmed and anxious. So, when it all just feels like it’s too much, and we don’t know what to do next, we can Command Joy by Celebrating Ourselves.
We can get there by pausing. Breathing. Looking around to see that there is so much pure beauty that exists in each and every one of us.
We can Command Joy by Celebrating Ourselves.
Years ago on New Years Eve I found myself standing in my closet. I was frantically looking at every dress I owned and trying to figure out what to wear to a new year’s party. I probably tried on 20 different combinations of glittery skirts and silk blouse, black pants and sparkly tank top, long dress and glitter heels. As I looked at all the different combinations of shoes and jewelry and jackets, I started to feel very overwhelmed. In my head I was thinking, why can’t I make one simple decision about what to wear? Why was even this, small, tiny, simple thing, so hard? AND WHY do I have so many clothes to begin with? My closest isn’t that big!
As I tried on shirt after shirt, I had to sit down. I plopped right down in the middle of my closet. I felt dizzy. I could barely breathe. I was making little, short breaths but when I tried to take a deep breath, I couldn’t. Then I felt a pain in my chest. A sharp, shooting pain in my stomach and heart. I freaked out. I screamed out loud, OMG I am having a heart attack.
I knew where the nearest ER was so I grabbed my keys, ran to the car, and drove myself there. I thought to myself, this is it. This is where my story ends. Erin Merritt’s last day. I couldn’t believe it. I had so much more I wanted to contribute to the world! This can’t be THE END. It felt too soon, too sudden. As I pulled into the ER parking lot, a nurse saw me. She grabbed a wheelchair and wheeled me right in, past the waiting room of a hundred people with bloody body parts and aching pains. I couldn’t believe how packed the ER was! Luckily I didn’t have to wait. I was moved into a hospital bed and my vitals were checked. A few minutes later, a doctor walked over and evaluated me. “You aren’t having a heart attack” he finally concluded. “It’s just an anxiety attack.” “The majority of ER visits stem from mental health issues.”
The relief set in. I was going to be okay! I was going to live!!! I had an overwhelming feeling of Joy and happiness.
As I started to process what the Dr. had just said to me, I thought I don’t have a MENTAL HEALTH issue. Who are you to tell me that I have a mental health issue?!! Then later, I thought… hypothetically that if he was right, then what is an anxiety attack? Is that even a real thing?
Naturally, from my hospital bed, I started looking it up on my phone. Turns out, it is a real thing. A very real thing. So I spent the next few months trying to understand how I made it to that point. How did I get here? What the heck happened?
As I thought about the events leading up to my visit in the ER, I realized that for months I had been dealing with a high amount of stress – I was overwhelmed at work, I was having problems in my relationship, my Mom was fighting melanoma. I had a lot on my mind and I wasn’t doing anything healthy about it.
I had a co-worker that recommended I start meditating to calm my anxiety. So I decided to start trying. At first, I thought it was dumb and a complete waste of time. I had so much to do, I couldn’t just sit in silence and try to clear my mind! Who has time for this?
But I didn’t stop trying. I kept at it. After a few weeks of daily 5 minute sessions, I started to see the power in it.
Through meditation, I started to see beauty in myself and in the things around me. I felt love, real love, for myself for the first time in my adult life. Calmness. Peace. Beauty.
The world that was once scary and overwhelming felt different. It felt alive and wonderful. From the ER came a changed woman. From the ER came a person who was ready to Command Joy.
We can all Command Joy by Celebrating Ourselves today. At the core of every one of us is freedom, love, and joy. Why not take the time to celebrate that today?