How to Pursue Your Dreams When Life is too Busy

“Find a way.” Diana Nyad

When the Fault in the Stars book and film were all the rage, my daughter use to joke that I was a low-key version of the mom who had encouragements all around her house.

As much as I love and believe in the power of inspirational words, I also know what it feels like to read this and think, “Sure, I’ll walk with the dreamers with the 15 minutes I have in my day after the job and kids, and meals and extracurricular…and the dog, who is akin to a lifelong toddler. Not to mention, trying to save our democracy from the grips of authoritarianism.”

Even though life IS busy, I have found a way – even in the midst of crazy busy – to pursue purpose-filled dreams.  Here’s what works for me; I hope you find it helpful as well!

  1. Know your goal and write it down. Make your goal clear and actionable. Even if you have a big vision, break it down into chunks that can be accomplished in three to six months. Then write it down and read it every single day. If you don’t know what your goal is try this exercise to get started. 
  2. Decide. I know this sounds trite. However, if you decide no matter what you are going to spend time on this goal every day, then when the unexpected happens in your day, you’ll still find a way to take a step toward your goal.
  3. Feel your purpose. Although you don’t need a five, ten or even a one year detailed plan, research shows that having a purpose behind your goal which is significant and meaningful to you personally and will make the world a better place increases your likelihood of making it happen. In other words, know your why and yup, write it down.
  4. What are you so busy doing? Create space for your goal. Look at your daily activities. What are you willing and able to cross off your list. Nothing is exempt. Are there volunteer activities that now feel hollow to you? Can you hire a house cleaner, even once a month? Delegate chores to family members? Are there some good or okay ways that you spend your time that you are willing to sacrifice for this dream?
  5. Use the power of daily microsteps. What two to three infinitesimal steps can you take to get started? Break your goal into small, microsteps and dedicate time every day to it. When my kids took music lessons the instructor use to say he’d rather a musician spend five minutes a day practicing than cram an hour of practice into one day. Write down your microsteps the night before and commit to spending time – even if it’s five minutes to start – dedicated to your goal.

Life is busy. It’s true. But one or five or ten years from now, I can say confidently that you’ll regret not making time for what matters most to you beginning now.

Join us for FREE practical tips on {re}claiming your dreams for busy women and girls

Dream Crasher #2 – When You Have Too Many Dreams to Choose From

This is the second in a series of the most common obstacles I see when pursuing goals and dreams.

Dream Crasher #2: Too many passions and good ideas to choose from. These are my early morning drinks and pretty metaphorical for my natural life and work approach. Can anyone relate?

Like many entrepreneurs and business owners, I am multi-passionate and I don’t liked to be boxed neatly into a category. (We can talk about why personality tests are flawed on another day.)

Like water, coffee and smoothies, I embrace seemingly contradictory ideas – like doing good and making money do not have to be mutually exclusive. And similarly to my morning drinks, I tend to have an over-abundance of potentially earth-shattering project ideas daily.

The problem is that unless you’re a consultant whose job it is to brainstorm, it’s pretty difficult to grow a business, social enterprise or non-profit if you’re chasing new ideas all the time.
Here’s what I have found in my own life and with clients: if you can’t choose, it’s almost always because you don’t have enough information. And that is a very fixable problem. Here is the short version of how:

1. list out your biggest dreams and goals (no limits).
2. complete a reflection exercise to explore or try-on each. Usually one or two rise to the surface. Take action on those. For a free worksheet with specifics what questions to ask when *trying on* your dreams, enter your email below so we can send it to you.

Enter your email to receive the FREE Try-On Your Dreams Worksheet

11 Ways to Move Forward When You Feel Stuck

photo cred: lauren-mancke via unsplash

No matter how meaningful your work, everyone feels stuck sometimes. Here are research-based quick, easy actions for getting past the inertia and taking action when you are feeling stuck. Pick one when you are resisting moving forward or are generally stuck on what’s next.

  1. Plan ahead. Make a task list for your day (or week) the evening (or weekend) before. In the morning, go through your list of to-dos in a mechanical way. Nothing to think about. No decisions to make. Look at your list and do it.
  2. Don’t worry alone.* If you cannot get out of your own head or past your resistance, call a friend who believes in you. Make a pact with someone who will be there for you, with an ear of support. Promise to always answer calls from one another and to only take a few minutes.
  3. Take a shower. There is actually science behind this method. A shower enacts cornerstones of creativity including: dopamine release, relaxation, and distraction from decision making. Some creatives/innovators are known to take several showers a day when in the middle of a project.
  4. Exercise. Go for a quick walk. Try an interval app. Jog in place. Do 20 jumping jacks. Stand in mountain pose.
  5. Take a micro-action daily. Break down your to-do’s into steps that seem ridiculously easy. This is the most effective way to break free of inertia.  
  6. Clear out a drawer or quit an activity. Clearing physical space or your schedule can clear your mind and energy too.
  7. Use the power of morning pages. Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, suggests starting each day with a written braindump – no agenda, no worrying about how it sounds. Even if you write, “I don’t know what to write over and over again.” I’d say start with one page and see if it helps free your energy.
  8. Know your goal. Remind yourself every day where you are headed and WHY. Write your BIG goal and your WHY down everyday. If you are unclear on your goal, download this exercise from Reclaim Your Dreams to get started.
  9. Read every word of The Art of War.  In his book Steven Pressfield focuses on how to move forward on creative projects and work through resistance.
  10. Start with thanks. Begin every day with a list of one to three things you are super grateful for.
  11. Rest. Don’t quit. We all need a break so step away from the computer and take a nap or grab a cup of tea or….you name it.

*Thanks to Dr. Halowell via Marie Forleo for this gem of a quote.

Join us for FREE practical tips on {re}claiming your dreams for busy women and girls

On Being the Woman You Want Her to Become

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -Mahatma Ghandi

Be the woman you want her to become. During a conversation recently with a friend about girl empowerment I shared what had been bothering me for a while,

“Did you ever notice that we invest so much time in ensuring our daughters pursue their dreams while most of us ignore our own or relegate our truest dreams to the back burner?”

She had noticed the same thing.

“What message does that send our girls and our boys about the importance of our desires and theirs too?”

If you ask any parent (or child), they will confirm that it is what we model in action that sends the most powerful message to young people. Pursuing your dreams wholeheartedly isn’t selfish but is honoring what you are designed to give to the world. It is speaking the truth in action that your life and time deserve the same level of attention and care as each member of your family. What I have also noticed is that as children get older, they express significant pride in their parent’s professional accomplishments and impact on the world.

Take up space in your own life for the world’s sake and to give the girls and boys that are watching permission to do the same.

Reclaim Your Dreams Workbook is available on Amazon.

Join us for FREE practical tips on {re}claiming your dreams for busy women and girls

 

Dream Crasher #1 – Feeling a Little Lost

Dream Crasher #1: Feeling a Little Lost is the first in a series with practical tools for getting past the obstacles holding you back from pursuing big, meaningful goals

“I am not even sure what my dreams are anymore.”

Whether this sounds like you or you are just ready to be more intentional about your goals, get your copy of the powerful, easy (and free) exercise from the Reclaim Your Dreams program, by clicking on the link below.

Feeling a little lost about what their dreams are is one common theme I hear from the women I work with. Most are moms. Many have achieved significant success in their careers; others stay-at-home or work part-time. A vast majority are politically active. They all desire to do more with their work and life, but feel out-of-touch with where to begin or even what they want. The good news is figuring this out doesn’t require a major evacuation project, but is typically only a few questions away. Get started with this powerful and fun Clean Slate exercise. 

Your Meaningful Work is Waiting for You

Henry and I have moved our “office” until this New England cold front passes, but I am still focused on helping as many women as I can create meaningful work and goals in 2018. I have been working for myself for over fifteen years when I took a big leap of faith, leaving a lucrative executive position in the software industry to start my own tech firm. Thanks to hard work and lots of good fortune, that business was quite successful. Two businesses later, the office location is definitely a perk, but mostly I am grateful for work that is meaningful and where I can be myself and call my own shots. 

I am always inspired by my clients including a new entrepreneur who I just started working with. She’s pursuing a dream business idea she’s been thinking about for a very long time. It takes a whole lot of guts to start a business or pursue any new career direction and I believe it’s one of the most foundational ways you can support gender equity. If there’s a goal or dream that keeps coming back to you – even a vague one – it’s may be time to take action.

I’d love to help you figure out how to make it happen, one microstep at a time. It’s always scariest before you start so yourself proud in 2018 and take the leap. FB Message me to chat or email paula@paulagrieco.com .

 

More Light

I don’t remember ever seeing so many friends collectively say good riddance to a year before. I’m not surprised given all that our country has lost in 2017 but also seems like there’s been much personal loss too. Here’s to 2018. A year of more light…

On Christmas Eve I was at our church’s service with my people – my two kids and husband – and surrounded by a whole lot of kind people, the ones who restore your faith in humanity. Quite unexpectedly, while I was reading the bulletin and the long list of dedications for the memorial poinsettias decorating the sanctuary, a heaviness and wave of hopelessness swept me as I considered all the pain humans are asked to endure in a lifetime. Hint – Way. Too. Much. 

This hopeless place is unusual for me as I am typically an optimist. I don’t mean a “let’s deny pain and suffering” positive thinker; I mean optimism as relentless hope that things can and will get better… There’s always a way to figure things out, people will do the right thing again; everyone can grow and change; Justice will reign one day; love will win eventually if we work toward it; obstacles can be overcome to reach a meaningful goal; businesses can grow; it’s never too late to pursue a dream. And there’s always a way.

But not that night…that particular moment was my lowest point since the days after the election.

I know that wallowing in the suffering in my head makes it pretty impossible to do much good and I was desperate so I asked the question, “What do I do then?” And right then, the heaviness lifted just as quickly as it came. “Be the light.” It is truly that simple and that incredibly complex. It’s the only way: whether it be shining a light on the injustices of the world and working to change them or smiling at a stranger at Starbucks.

Be the light. Not as a way of minimizing or denying the pain in the world or ignoring the unjust, scary place our country is in right now, but to ease the pain where I can just a bit and work very, very hard to make it better.

That’s my hope for 2018. Light. More light. MUCH more light. Happy New Year and thanks for all the inspiring work that you do in the world.

——
Update:
Today, I started an online chat with AT&T. I am usually kind of a difficult customer to be honest, but I attempted to bring some light to Steve, my agent , and at the end of the call he thanked me for being so patient and told me I was the nicest customer he had all day. (In a way that imparted the only nice one.) And then I thanked him and shared that I was working on being a better customer. More light. Much more light.

Money Matters

“Invest in yourself. It will pay you for the rest of your life.” -Aristotle

Courage and Confidence Challenge #9

Money matters. Think about the messages your daughter receives about money both in the media and at home. Earning it. Investing it. Making lots of it. We know the media does, but consider how you subtly or indirectly tell her that she can depend on others (like a future husband) to take care of her financial needs? Is earning power a factor when she considers her future? Today make sure to frame earning money as a path to freedom, empowerment, and the opportunity to make a broader difference in the world. This isn’t about greed or doesn’t mean giving up on a dream. In fact, the goal is the very opposite! It does mean making choices that assume she is responsible for her financial well-being. If you need more direction, start with education by checking out The Daily Worth and Amanda Steinberg’s accompanying book, Worth It: Your Money, Your Life, Your Terms In addition to helping empower women financially, Amanda is a serial technology entrepreneur and an inspiring role model.

Here’s Why

So many reasons why. For starters, statistically, women are more likely to spend time on budgeting/expenses than investing, more likely to feel anxiety around investing, less likely to ask for raises, less likely to consider financial impact when making career decisions, and less likely to feel confident around making sound investment decisions.

Anecdotally, I can share countless stories of how economic disempowerment plays out at every life phase. There was the mom who suggested her 13 year old daughter consider a “flexible” career path – i.e., let’s set the vocational dream bar low and think about how you might work part-time once you have kids before you even start high school.

And the teenager who thanked me for saying, “making money was a good thing” because she thought it was selfish and felt guilty about considering finances when dreaming about a career path.

Or the messages everywhere telling girls to focus on marrying an ambitious person rather than being the ambitious person.

And finally, I also see how it plays out on the other end of vocational life…women in their 60’s and beyond who feel handcuffed (still) by work that they dislike or don’t know how to step back into the workforce. Let’s empower our daughters to invest in their careers and their financial well-being from the outset. Much more to come on this topic from The Brave Core.

——–

Thanks for joining our movement to inspire a generation of girls and women to find their voice and embrace their power! You’ll receive these weekly how-to tips from now through the end of the year. The ideas are based on research and personal experience, designed to educate and empower you and the girls in your life. If you find these tips valuable, sign up below and then please invite others by forwarding the message or link: http://paulagrieco.com/courageandconfidence/

Courage and Confidence Delivered to Your Inbox
Sign up to receive a FREE weekly tip

Making Meaningful Work a Priority in Your Life

At some point, you have to decide whether meaningful work is a priority for you.

Whether consciously or through a non-decision, decision, you will pick a path. When I ran my first Reclaim Your Dreams program, I was focused on vocational *dreams* (I thought those were the dreams everyone desired to claim); I learned quickly from some participants that work is not a priority goal for everyone. For some, a job they like, fun leisure vacations, some local volunteer work, their children/family and a community of friends they socialize with, make for the life they desire.

If that’s you, then you don’t have to read any further.

However, for people…for women like me, not getting serious about vocational work will lead to heartbreaking regret down the line — listed among the top five regrets at end of life.

…So it’s a critical question to ask yourself. When looking back on my life is impactful work important to me? Will I regret not having a vocational legacy?

(Inside voice…screaming, please do not let this go because your life is too important to procrastinate, avoid, delay this discussion with yourself.)

Meaningful work can come in many forms. You can create meaning in your current work, use your job as a method for funding your vocation, or start the process of creating work that you believe will have an impact that you can be proud of. This doesn’t mean quitting your day job immediately, foregoing financial concerns (don’t do this) or thinking your way into a singular life purpose.

It does mean intentionally considering your career path options, choosing one that you will look back and feel proud and satisfied with, and creating a plan of action to set you on the path.

I had a career for many years in the start-up software industry where I liked the lucrative and fast-paced work (though the politics were soul crushing) and did well financially. But I didn’t find the work meaningful. Although I could have done a better job at finding meaning in the day-to-day, it would have always been a compromise choice, as I had a deep sense of calling to make a difference in people’s lives.

Eventually, I started my own business in the same industry, which was freeing, satisfying, financially rewarding, and exponentially improved my quality of life.

However, it wasn’t until I combined my love for entrepreneurship and writing with my deep-down desire for social impact that I began to feel that my work was soulful and meaningful.

What I see over and over is that it’s not complicated to figure out what meaningful work will look like for you, but it does take some intentional time devoted to exploration and conscious decision-making.

If you are satisfied with your work (or don’t see it as a priority), you can ignore all this, but if you feel called internally to something more vocationally, then join your fellow sojourners here.

DO NOT LET THIS GO…instead learn from those who did and take the time now to consider what meaning looks like to you.

Join us for FREE practical tips on {re}claiming your dreams for busy women and girls

Looking and Standing Up

This is my favorite maple tree and I almost forgot to look up and notice it this season.

Every year it’s one of the last to shed its leaves; even in rainy autumns manages to fire up our front yard with orange and red. But this year I’ve been so engrossed in my thoughts….thinking/worrying about my kids’ future…my future …our country’s future…the earth’s future that I almost missed my favorite fiery maple tree.

That took me aback because forget to look up and you miss out on the fall leaves, a writing idea or a meaningful project that needs time, catching my dog before he ruins another blanket (wait, not that), and most importantly, connections with my people …a conversation with my 87 year old Mom, a laugh with a sister, and all the firsts and lasts that life is filled with – especially as I watch our kids grow into teens and adulthood right before my eyes. 

Almost missing the blazing tree that I pass – daily – hit me hard…because sometimes if you don’t look up, it’s too late – at least for a season, but maybe forever.

So this is what I’ve decided fellow activists, worriers, dreamers and givers. I am taking time to breathe and look up more.

I can look up and stand up and fight for what I believe, for our country all in the same day. Reality is, it’s all going to be alright or it’s not. Either way I also embraced the beauty that was right in front of me along the way.

If you desire to be more intentional about creating meaning and passion in your work and life, then join us and receive my blog and other free updates delivered straight to your inbox:

Join us for FREE practical tips on {re}claiming your dreams for busy women and girls