We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers.
Every year at this time I ask myself, everyone I'm working with, and everyone I love some version of the following:
What are you proud of?
When did you feel alive?
What didn't work?
What did you learn?
What is your next frontier?
Who will you become to rise to it?
I grow most from listening to people talk about the complexity of their whole experience and small daily happenings. So, I'm sharing a candid look into my nonlinear process and my 2018 learnings, acts, celebrations, and failures in the hope that something here sparks something meaningful and useful for your own process as you envision the coming year.
1. Do the next brave thing
This practice, invented during one of my darkest moments, has been the single most effective practice of my year.
Doing the next brave thing--
I made a long list of brave things I would love to do in 2019, and I am daring myself to maintain my practice of doing at least one brave thing a day in the new year; I am curious to know the woman I will become by this experiment.
So be it; See to it! says Octavia Butler.
2. My inner world became nourishing and even fun
The single most empowering act of my last decade is that I stopped letting my Tiny Terrorist (my word for the Inner Critic / fear / ego) dominate my life. This year I started invoking my Creator Goddess Warrior Queen–the antidote to the Tiny T and a most powerful, thrilling inner guide who keeps us on the hook about the things that matter most with love and zero shame.
As a result, I experienced creative ideas in such large amounts that a new challenge emerged of how to keep up and determine the good ones from the not so good (I certainly didn’t always succeed at this! Room to grow here in 2019).
I hope to keep helping all of us create increasingly supportive inner landscapes in the coming year because everything gets better when the Tiny Terrorist stops running the show.
3. Dear Body--I love you.
I wrote letters to my body, asking for forgiveness, and exploring a new kind of collaboration. Our reunion is ongoing but significant, and I am beginning to see that my life and all of my doings must happen in concert with--not against--her rhythms.
5. Be radically generous and perpetually kind
Most of our angst comes when we are caught up in our own small stories. Radical generosity and kindness--not to be confused with over-giving, pleasing, and sacrificing—are a way out of that loop, and I made efforts to be in these practices more consciously this year.
And yet, they are hardest to uphold in my closest and most intimate relationships. This is something I want to work on in the coming year.
Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people more beautiful than perpetual kindness, says Tolstoy.
6. The answer never comes from sitting
It happens like clockwork—I am sitting, agonizing over a sentence or a framework or how to have a hard conversation—tight in my brain and body but determined to force the solution!
I finally get myself up, to walk, dance, or move, and all of a sudden—the thing that felt obstinate flows and a new perspective falls into my lap.
The answer never comes from sitting.
I use timers for work periods (I learned this year that 33 minutes is an increment that works for me, and the free insight timer is my current favorite because the sounds are beautiful) and make myself get up when it rings.
7. Multi-threats R I S I N G
I read an article in The Yorker that used the term multi-threat to describe someone who utilizes multiple skill sets in the alchemy of their career. I LOVE this term.
I'm declaring 2018 the end of feeling shame about having multiple passions, talents, and proclivities and reclaiming multi-threat-ness as a pathway to greatness.
I made huge progress claiming my nonlinear career path this year and also still had moments when I felt painfully small—having to chose one fixed "profession" in a drop-down menu, or when my relatives say–so, wait, what exactly are you doing again?
The future lies in our unique, beautiful, particular intersections—the stories only we can tell—and some of us are not here to do just one thing, but, instead, to explore, expand, and integrate multiple skills across disciplines in order to ask new questions of the world.
Choosing this path does require flexible but rigorous systems of focus, and I hope to talk more about these in 2019.
8. Show up how I would want a young woman to watch me show up.
I heard myself ask a client how she would show up in a tough conversation she was preparing to have if she knew a younger woman who looked up to her was watching. I started asking this question regularly to others and have found it blazingly effective as an invitation to play bigger and stand in integrity.
What if a young woman I cared about was listening to the conversations inside of my head?
What if she was watching me scroll on Instagram?
What if she was listening to me respond when someone asks me about my work?
What if she was observing my day?
9. The art of shame-free daily practice
Andy Warhol says that we can do something either once only, or every day, and I am learning that it is extremely supportive to my nonlinear ducks to have a few supportive practices every day.
But the catch is that there is no shame allowed, because no habit or goal is worth making the inside of your head an unsafe space.
I now have a set of daily habits I do because I have experimented and tested what works best for me, not because the internet or a guru says it's how I will 10X my life. On the days that I don’t, I forgive myself. I shift them if a season or a project demands it. This system works, and when it doesn't, I will change it.
10. Scarcity is not the way
Consciously untangling from the toxic disease of scarcity was a major focus of my year. Exhausted by the scarcity-based marketing ringing in our ears, leaders abusing positions of power, and the growing number of people struggling with a feeling of not enough despite an uptick in motivational #abundancemindset posts on Instagram, I wanted to actualize the theory I had read so many books about into a set of useful and practical methods to shift thoughts, behavior, and actions.
I am noticing subtle but profound shifts—not to mention an outpouring of abundance in my own life and my clients' lives—a process that I will continue exploring into the next year.
8. I said YES
I said yes to marrying the amazing Michael this year. As the only child of an open marriage and now divorced parents, this took more courage than I thought it would but I am wholly excited.
Now...the great adventure begins.
9. I spoke up
I made a choice to become vocal about politics during the midterm elections in the US and I knew this would come at a cost—certain people would be unhappy (and many let me know that they were!)—but I was clear that I wanted to be able to look back on this time in history and know that I showed up in a way I could be proud of.
It was also important to me not to use shame or negativity to steer people toward action.
I did my best. As a result, some of the most meaningful moments of my year were receiving messages and hearing from women who voted for the first time, and told me that it was not until this year that they felt their voice mattered enough to do so.
Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women, says Maya Angelou
11. Action often leads to joy but worry almost always leads to despair
Worry does not equal productivity I reteach myself a thousand times a day.
As part of my efforts to stop stewing and start doing, I choose a few specific and targeted areas of focus, one of which was being a tiny soldier ant in Lauren Underwood's campaign to join the House of Representatives.
While watching her win at her election night party was a magnificent moment, the act of working toward it—of knocking and calling and talking to people on the street—was the most joyful of all.
12. Began waking up to my own blindspots around racism and inequality
I am a humble student in this conversation, and am disappointed in myself that I didn't begin this work sooner, but grateful for incredible minds like Ijeoma Oluo, Milagros Phillips, Shaun King, and Catrice M. Jackson who are helping me wake up and learn new ways of being, seeing, and behaving.
13. The Burpee Project
As they were for so many of us, the Kavanaugh hearings were deeply disturbing and viscerally hijacking for me.
Sometimes it was hard to get through the day, and I longed for a way to be connected to my own power, so I made a small post-it note of 5 things I could show up for every day, no matter what, and one of them included burpees.
I started with one burpee each day and then I added one every day. I made a pact that I would not be hard on myself and I could stop at any point, but I began to look forward to the strength I felt each day. I am currently at 86. I can't believe it, but it's thrilling to show up for myself and I love how strong I feel.
Surprisingly, after spending thousands of dollars this year on treatments that did nothing for the chronic pain in my body, this free and portable practice—in addition to weightlifting—was the one thing that actually helped.
14. Took my first real vacation
As part of my effort to unhook from an over-attachment to work, we made a commitment to taking an actual vacation. At first this seemed impossible, because I have trouble spending money on anything that feels extravagant to me, and because I had made up a story that working for myself meant that I didn't get to take real time off.
However, I challenged myself to create a savings account called WE ARE PEOPLE WHO TAKE VACATIONS, because I think any worthy goal requires us to become new people and it's helpful to remind yourself of that as you work toward it.
We went to Tulum in May. I had an excruciating time detaching fully (the internet never sleeps!) but Michael was a good sport and we had a glorious time.
It is one of the highlights of my year and when I close my eyes and think about it, I feel a jolt of joy.
Vacations for the win.
15. Nominated my Dad (and myself)
You can read the story here if you haven't already, but we recently had our first official rehearsal, and I am exceptionally glad we said yes to doing the thing that scared us. We're still afraid, but that's a sign that we have committed to a creative project worthy of our time and attention.
Most importantly, it has already brought me closer to my Dad, which feels like the opportunity of a lifetime.
16. Grew 'The Collective'.
I am blown away to see the growth, successes, and strength of this growing community. I don't know exactly where it will head next, but what I continue to know for sure is that every woman together is a more effective-and fun-organizing principle than "every man for himself". We all rise together. Upwards.
17. Built my network of colleagues
I once heard that we need three groups of people in our professional worlds—people we are teaching/guiding, mentors, and colleagues.
I realized this year that while I was blessed with an abundance of the first two, I had an absence of colleagues. Part of the tradeoff in creating my own path means that I don’t have connections with contemporaries unless I actively seek them. I decided to make a commitment to having a weekly conversation with a peer, as well as connecting like-minded people who I think might like to know each other (which is one of my absolute favorite things to do that I sometimes forget to make time for).
Almost immediately, I felt surrounded by a powerful network of people working adjacently to me. I joined a CEO group. I connected with new people over social media. I went on blind colleague dates.
Sometimes what we want is already in our midst, if only we put out the call.
18. Invested in my own development
I took several impactful courses, continued coaching with the brilliant Kristine Oller, and read more than I have in several years. I fought the narrative that I don't have time, because learning is one of the most important ways I feel alive, and a necessary path to growing in my work and life.
19. I made 100 rules about social media. I broke them all. This year I'm focusing on alignment.
I thought a great deal about the effect of social media on our hearts and brains this year. I write more in this article for W42ST Street magazine, but my intentions in the coming year are less rules, more love, be braver, and squander less time doing things that don't make me proud.
20. Ate breakfast every day
I realized that making breakfast optional was a shadow behavior from the eating disorders of my twenties and so I made it non-negotiable.
Did you know that breakfast is an energy miracle?
It is now a beloved habit.
21. Nearly everything takes longer than I think it will
I have no wisdom, and only room for improvement here, which brings me to...
FAILURES I’M PROUD OF AND SOME I’M NOT SO PROUD OF
The last one stings the most.
My tendency to hyper-focus on work means I am, at times, absent-minded in my relationships and home environment.
It's humbling to write but also galvanizing—telling the truth is the beginning of change, and looking at this list with curiosity already feels like a compass for my 2019.
My 13 favorite books of the year are HERE.
My 13 favorite questions of the year are HERE
And if you want to listen to me talk about the creative process, here is a podcast I recorded with the wonderful Brennen Lukas at GOAL MAGIC—there is an exercise at the end to help you in any stage of a creative project.
I am signing off with big love and gratitude for you.
Even though we are divided by screens, I cherish this community—the internet often encourages us to disengage from meaningful connection—and I am grateful to each of you for defying that.
Thank you for reading, sharing, writing me letters, asking good and hard questions.
Most importantly, thank you for showing up for your own creative and courageous life.
Much to come in the bright new year.
Creative, courageous, non-linear, full hearts.
ps // There is one spot left in The Big Leap, a year-long 1:1 coaching experience—if this is interesting to you, I'd love to connect. Schedule your application conversation here.
A little book of inspiration, frameworks, and guidance for your next creative project.