Authenticity Archives

This summer we bought a new car which was a big deal for us. The car we replaced was 19 years old.

Four years ago, we pre-shopped. We knew our car was getting old and didn’t want to have to make a quick decision if it died on us. At that time, I fell in love with the Mini Cooper. And as a part of my Surfing Your Enthusiasm goal-setting process, I added it to my list of goals.

During the last 4 years, I’ve dreamt of owning a Mini. I was thrilled every time I saw one on the road and went out of my way to drive past the Mini dealership whenever I was in that part of town.

When our 19-year-old car started hemorrhaging oil, we decided it was time. We went to the Mini dealership, test drove one, and got all the details we needed to order our own custom Cooper. Then we walked out of the dealership and slept on it, and boy am I glad we did.

My husband suggested we check out some less expensive cars. At first I was disappointed. But one of the things I do with my goals is to think about what the essence of what I want is. The essence of what I wanted in our new car was something totally fun to drive. Something small and easy to zip around and park. Something well-designed. Something I loved the look of. And something I was proud of.

I also committed to myself that I wouldn’t buy anything I didn’t feel excited about. Settling for second best wasn’t an option.

There was a lot I loved about the Mini, but there were some things I wasn’t thrilled with. The backseats were tight, and I knew our parents wouldn’t be comfortable getting in and out of them. I read reviews complaining that the Mins weren’t as reliable as people would have liked. And the maintenance costs over the long run were really expensive.

One of the cars we checked out was the Honda Fit. The more I read about it, the more I fell in love with it. It was really cute. It had excellent reviews. People owned these cars for years and found them very reliable. When we test drove one, I was impressed with how well it was designed. And the back seats were super spacious for such a little car.

We ended up buying the Fit. If we had bought the Mini, I would have been settling for less than what I could have gotten. But because I knew the essence of what I wanted, I could easily see the better choice. And on top of that, the Fit was cheaper. So now we have extra funds we can spend on other things we’ve been wanting to do.

Are You Settling for Less from the Get Go?

When I was in high school and considering what I would study in college, my first choice was interior design. My second was nutrition. My art teacher brought in a young woman who had gotten a degree in interior design and had been working for a year or two. She wasn’t able to find a job actually doing interior design. Instead, she was selling furniture and was absolutely miserable. The thought of selling was horrifying to me. You can imagine how that made me feel about pursuing interior design.

There was another part of this woman’s story that made me cringe. She wasn’t able to make enough money to move out of her parents house. At 18, that seemed like the worst thing imaginable.

So I started to get discouraged about following my first choice. I did seek out colleges that offered both degrees—interior design and nutrition—in case I chose one and changed my mind.

ChoicesMy dad was convinced getting a technical degree would give me the best opportunities for financial success. With nutrition, I would study chemistry, math, and physics. It was technical. He recommended I start with nutrition because he thought if I started with interior design it would be harder for me to change from design classes to technical classes if I decided to switch over to nutrition.

The logic made sense to me so I started with my second choice. I felt torn the whole time I went to school. And I never had the courage to switch to my first choice. Of course, thinking I would never make enough money to live on my own didn’t help.

I’ve always regretted that choice. I went on to work in a technical field for most of my career. My heart was never in it. I could only tolerate staying at a job for so long before I felt miserable …How ironic is that?…and I would look for something new. I never made very much money either. Basically what I was afraid I’d get with my first choice, I actually got with my second.

The lesson I took away from that experience is to go for your first choice first! If I’ve tried my best, and it isn’t panning out, I can look to a second choice. I have used this approach in other areas of my life and have loved the results. Things don’t always turn out the way I had originally envisioned, and there are times I feel disappointment. But going for my number one choices first has brought me a lot of joy and results that many times have been better than I thought possible.

So don’t settle for choice number 2 without at least giving choice number 1 an honest try. And it doesn’t have to be just about the big things in life. It applies to those little decisions we make each day. Go for what you really want in the little things and watch you life bloom.

My Word of the Year

Each year I like to choose a word as a theme to focus on during the year. I find it much simpler than a full New Year’s resolution. And because it’s simple, it’s been more powerful in my life.

For 2013, I chose “ground”. At the beginning of 2013, I was working at making significant changes in my life. Change, even for the better, can feel disorienting. So I wanted to focus on being as grounded as I could as I made my changes.

Life had an interesting way of bringing the quality of groundedness to me—a way I never would have predicted nor chosen.

One day in May, I woke up tired. The next day, I was even more tired. My tiredness continued to grow until, by the end of July, I spent full days lying on the couch. My brain was even too tired to think. I was in a fog.

I had to quit working. I couldn’t help around the house. I couldn’t do all the fun activities I was used to—dancing, socializing, hiking, art. I had to totally let go.

What I found in letting go is a sense of support from life.

Lap cat 017

This is my view most days. My cat likes his new bed 😉

The doctor I’d been seeing the last couple years happen to specialize in fatigue illnesses. He prescribed a gentle homeopathic remedy that cleared my mind and gave me a tiny bit more energy. My husband stepped up and took over the grocery shopping and cooking and is supporting me in my healing process.

I met someone at a business training in June who introduced me to a fabulous tool that helps people get more in touch with their authentic self and teaches them ways of living that work really well. (I’ll be talking more about that in future posts.) This tool has helped me tremendously in navigating this phase of my life.

Through this newfound tool, I found a group which is supporting me during my down time. It’s also giving me tools that I can use in the future to live in ways that would make it less likely I’d get sick like this again. You see, I had this same illness in 2009.

I realize life is giving me everything I need. And that feels grounding to me. My roots securely embedded in trusting life. This is not only a concept in my head, but it’s something I feel throughout my entire body.

I’m seeing how, in the past, I’ve tried so hard to make certain things happen in my life that I had overstepped my part in those particular areas. I was trying too hard. I wasn’t allowing life to bring me what it could if only I’d relax and trust as I do my part and allowed life to do it’s part.

I’m still very exhausted as a result of my illness and spend the majority of my days on the couch, but I have a sense of peace about this phase of my life. That there’s a purpose and that I’m being taking care of in this purpose.

No More Half-Brained Decisions

How many of us make half-brained decisions?

If you’re someone who makes decisions purely from your head and ignores your emotions or how your body feels as you’re considering your options, you’re making a decision with the left side of your brain and ignoring the right.

If you’re someone who doesn’t take time to gather information or think through your options and instead makes decisions based on how you feel, you’re using the right side of your brain and ignoring left.

Right brain left brainPeople who only use the left side of their brain to make decisions tend to go round and round in their heads trying to figure out which is the best choice. It can be exhausting. And if they ignore how they’re feeling about their options, chances are they’ll end up making a decision that doesn’t really work well for them.

Those who only use the right side of their brain and skip collecting the information they need and skip spending time thinking logically through their options can end up making decisions they later regret after getting more information.

In both these cases, people are making half-brained decisions.

We’ve been give 2 sides to our brain for a reason, and each side has an important role in our decision-making process.

The left brain’s role is to collect the information you need to make a good decision. Then it can logically think about your options.

Your right brain synthesizes the information your left brain collected and communicates it to you through your emotions and feelings in your body.

Both sides are important.

An excellent way to make decisions is to:

  1. Collect the information you need to be informed on what you’re deciding.
  2. Think through the information you’ve collected logically and see what you’re left brain has to say about it.
  3. Then connect with how your body feels and what emotions you’re experiencing as you think through each option.
  4. The option that feels the best in your body and emotions after doing the steps above will be the best choice you can make with the information you currently have.
  5. If none of the options feel right in your body and emotions, you may need more information or more options. Talking through what doesn’t seem right with someone can help clarify things too.

Now, the emotional part can be tricky. And this is why many people are afraid to wade into the emotional territory when making decisions. When we’re in extreme emotions, we don’t make good decisions. Think about the last decision you made when you were really angry at someone you love. I bet you regretted it.

Ideally, when we need to make a decision, we work toward a more neutral place with our emotions before seriously considering our options. And if strong emotions come up, we examine what’s behind those emotions. They’re trying to tell us something. Taking the time to process them before actually making the decision is important so that those strong emotions don’t hijack our decision-making process.

A word about fear. A good decision can still be a scary one. Don’t let fear stop you. It’s normal to feel some fear when we’re trying something new.

Even if you tend to be more left-brained or right-brained, using your whole brain you will make better decisions.

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