Whether we realize it or not, we tend to equate our personal value with our productivity. How much are we doing? When people ask us how we are, instead of good or bad, we default to “busy” as if we have so much going on we aren’t even aware of our current emotional state.

If we don’t have something yet, the job, the car, the relationship, we work and work and work. THEN once we are stressed and tired and depleted we will finally get to the finish line. We will reap the benefits of all of our sacrifice and busy-ness. We will be entitled to what we want because we are finally WORTHY.

This is a lie. I have been guilty of telling myself this lie. I believed that if I wanted to start making progress with my writing and workshops, it would need to be difficult, and hard, and exhausting. I would need to grind, stay up late, push and shove and be relentless. It is necessary to put in the effort and the passion and the energy to achieve our goals. Passivity is not what I am advocating. Action is required. But I am realizing that pursing authentic goals should also be enjoyable and fulfilling along the way. After all of my pushing and shoving and forcing, I was ultimately left burnt out–fast. And mysteriously, even though I felt ridiculously busy, nothing got done at all. I completely stalled out. I started to dread doing the work that was SUPPOSED to light me up. Something was out of wack.

I recently listened to a live podcast from Natalie Brite. She discussed the idea of seeking alignment in our lives and our businesses. Alignment is the notion that when were are doing things that feel right, somehow the details fall into place. It may sound a little mystical and farfetched to some, but I think most of us can agree we have felt this state of being at one point or another. A time when things just gelled. The stars aligned. The right place at the right time. What if we could live life like that ALL the time? Or at least MOST of the time.

Natalie talks about noticing when things feel right and pursuing this contentment. She also urges us to let go of expectations when the situation isn’t feeling right. This may mean cancelling the appointment with the career coach you met with. She checked all the “boxes” but didn’t feel like the right fit for some inexplicable reason. Or turning down the writing gig, because you simply couldn’t bring yourself to write the article they were asking you to write (I literally stared at the blinking space bar for 2 solid days before calling it quits).  If we allow ourselves to release the things that feel forced and unnatural, perhaps we can allow space for the experiences we are called to. This does not mean that you never have to do something “unpleasant” again. Realistically, we still have obligations and responsibilities in life. However, it is a call to awareness. To put your creative energies into what brings you clarity, joy and enthusiasm.

To hit the message home (clearly the universe had a theme in mind for me this week), I went out for drinks with one of my closest friends last Thursday evening. We expressed feeling stuck in two very different areas of life. My woes were related to my career and professional goals, while she focused on her hopes to find a strong relationship. We both commiserated about all the “doing” we had been doing. Job boards, dating sites– you name it, we were taking ACTION! No one could say we weren’t trying. And yet, despite the effort, we both felt we had ended up right back where we started. Unsuccessful, frustrated, and out of ideas. We quickly we realized, that we were having mirrored experiences in different aspects of our lives. Throughout the course of our conversation, she was giving herself advice, by coaching me, and vice versa. We were telling ourselves what we needed to hear, but indirectly by helping a friend. It is always so much easier to care for others than it is ourselves, isn’t it? I think by the end of the evening, we realized the answers we needed were already within. We didn’t need to go searching for someone or something to FIX our stuck-ness. We needed to have the faith and courage to believe that if we clear the way and pay attention, the answers will reveal themselves. As within, so without. 

My lesson learned this week is to force less, and allow opportunity to flow in with more ease (this requires faith– and I’m working on the whole surrender and trust thing–it’s tough work, folks). I am checking in with myself throughout the day and when making big decisions with these questions:

Is this what I need right now? Is this something I want (or do I feel obligated)? Will this l feel good to take on or will it feel better to say NO? How can I clear out some space for things I want to do?

Perhaps these same questions can help guide you on your path too!