Category Archives: Reclaim Your Life

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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

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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.

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Neutralize Pretty

Sneak peek at our new weekly email series with unique takes on developing courage and confidence by finding your voice and taking up space. The ideas are based on research and personal experience, designed to help educate and empower the girls in your life and you too!

If you’d like to join us and receive a new tip weekly, subscribe here: http://paulagrieco.com/courageandconfidence/  

I’d also love to hear  your ideas on how you have developed courage and confidence via paula@paulagrieco.com 

Standing with you in courage and love. 

“I imagine a girl sitting in front of a mirror, touching her hair <looking at her reflection> wanting to change things.” -teenage girl when asked what came to mind when she heard body image

Courage and Confidence Challenge #1 – Neutralize Pretty

Take a moment and consider how often you focus your compliments and judgements on physical appearance.

Instead, try this at least once today: Skip the physical appearance commentary. Instead focus your encouragements to your daughter and the girls and women in your life on their intellect, work ethic, strength, and character.  Like how badass she is for sticking with that challenging math problem, her relentlessness on the field, her contagious laugh, how strong she is for walking into school on a tough day, etc. As a rule, this type of encouragement should happen about 10 times as much as praise focused on physical beauty.

Here’s Why

“Imagine a girl sitting in front of a mirror, touching her hair <looking at her reflection> wanting to change things.” -teenage girl when asked what came to mind when she heard body image

For two years, we interviewed over 100 girls and young women primarily from across the United States for the What’s Your Brave project. They varied as much as a population can — by religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, academic success and even ambition and desires for their life. Yet, when the topic of body image came up, there was almost a universal anguish expressed by the weight of feeling valued and judged first and foremost by their physical appearance and more specifically, how closely they lived up to a beauty standard that is literally unattainable.

It’s not in their heads. The research confirms what we know from experience. Girls are inundated with messages about what they are supposed to look like — over 250,000 times before they reach adulthood – when the onslaught continues full force. Research shows conclusively that this environment is having subtle to profound consequences on our girls’ psychological, physical, and emotional well-being. The media and cultural messaging is slowly  expanding the definition of what it means to be beautiful and that’s a good thing.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with telling someone how beautiful they look or how much you love their dress; the problem is that the overwhelming cultural narrative still equates worth with physical appearance.

Let’s remind our girls (and ourselves) that building confidence doesn’t come from a mascara bottle and isn’t based on an arbitrary standard and cultural obsession that is ever-changing and they can’t control.

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Be the Woman You Want Her to Become

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

shutterstock_33451507Be 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 Life and 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. 

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

 

The Power of the Sh*tty First Draft

One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.” -Paul Coehlo

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For many years, I didn’t move forward on what I truly desired; there were many factors holding me back.  Now, I see my most significant barrier was expecting absolute clarity and preparedness before moving forward. In other words, I was waiting to be perfectly ready and for a direction to be so unambiguous that there would be no doubt as to whether or not it was the right path for me.

That was a long time ago and you won’t be surprised to hear that I thought and worried a lot about my dreams and goals, but didn’t make much progress. Everything changed when I started to apply the concept of the sh*tty first draft. Anne Lamott, NYT best-seller author, describes the concept in her book on writing, Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

Of course, this sense of doing it just right applies to more than just writing. It is relevant to starting a business or choosing a new career path or starting a blog or showing your photography or going back to school or…

Rather than waiting to be ready to start or 100 percent positive that I was choosing the right goal or creative project (read having the experience and expertise of someone who had already done it well), I started to produce sh*tty first (and second and third) drafts, by taking imperfect action.

And although mistakes are a part of the process, the sh*tty first draft is how I became a VP and Leadership Board member at a start-up, started my own technology consulting company, co-founded my first girl empowerment company, wrote my first book, traveled to India with Habitat Humanity, backpacked through Europe, and how my admittedly non-athletic self even ran my first 5k and sprint triathlon.

All, because I was ready to take imperfect action, sometimes in a very public way. I was (and still am) willing to be a novice, even when I feel embarrassed because what I am producing doesn’t match my high standards or creative expectations.

That’s how I made real progress and you can too! So, don’t wait, okay? I am down with reflecting, preparing and planning as many of you know, but action is the only way you will make progress and gain clarity.

Take 5

For more inspiration, check out this video by Ira Glass on taste and the gap. Then start working on your sh*tty first draft today.

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Why You Should Do It Badly

 

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” C.K. Chesterton
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Recently, a psychologist who I deeply respect sent me an email regarding my book for teens, Take 5 for Your Dreams. Here’s an excerpt:

“I was nearly in tears reading your beautiful book…Somehow you were able to take such huge concepts and bring them into focus for moms and teens in a way that was just beautiful – I love the graphics too!”

OMGosh, are you kidding me?! I respect her work with women and teens and was humbled by how clearly she captured the intent and essence of the book. She also passed the book onto a few friends who run mother-daughter book clubs. Wow. Really? That’s quite an endorsement.

But, in addition to taking in all of her juicy, feel-good encouragements, I felt a little embarrassed that she read my book…and had to resist the urge to enumerate the major flaws and inadequacies of the book in my reply. Not out of insecurity, but because objectively Take 5 could be a whole lot better and a part of me wanted her to know that I knew that.

But I did talk myself out it…that would not serve a useful purpose. As imperfect as it is, Take 5 has also impacted thousands in a positive way. Besides, despite its flaws, I did it – I published a book about a topic that matters deeply to me, all while raising two kids and running a profitable consultancy business. The process was pretty darn messy, but also incredibly rewarding. 

The moral of the story is do something that is so important to you that it is worth doing badly. Please don’t wait until you’re ready. Don’t let perfect get in the way of making your difference in the world and living a happier life. Don’t wait for the perfect timing because we all know when that will be. Most importantly, whatever you do, don’t wait for permission to do that thing you want to do.

Other than newborns and nature, I have never seen any flawless work released into the world. Start today. Do something that it is so important to you that it is worth doing badly.

Love, Paula

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One Life-Changing Question I Ask Myself All the Time

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But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too  -Stevie Nicks, Landslide

Fall is a good time to get bolder and reflect on big questions like,

Am I spending my time (equals spending my life) the way I want to…am meant to?

I ask myself this life-changing question at least once a week…and three times a year (one being Autumn), I set aside bigger chunks of time to consider my time in a deeper way with openness to making changes.

As I have been consciously thinking (feeling and praying) about this question, I want to be bolder this coming year. Two goals that are core to my purpose keep coming to the surface; ones that I had get buried.

One is related to writing and I am pretty psyched to be taking imperfect action by creating a daily authentic writing (and posting) habit.  The first step to a dream that includes a creative pursuit is easy as it often requires daily habit, but not necessarily hours of time each day (yet). The other goal is more complex (because it is very time (aka life) consuming) so I am still discerning how and if I will make it work. To be continued.

Take 5

Right now, take a few minutes and consider whether you are spending your time (and your life) that way you are meant to?

Write down whatever comes to you about activities you don’t want to do anymore or a pursuit that you have let stay dormant for much too long. Don’t worry about the how as you never have to make changes if you don’t want to or can’t… (Pro-tip. Don’t skip right to the number two thing on your list because it feels safer. Start with what’s at the top, the very top of your list before you bury it. There is no risk in writing down your reflections on this question.)

 

4 Actions You Can Take While You Are Working *Only* for the Money

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My job is soul-sucking.

It’s not the first time I have heard this phrase from someone that is miserable in their work. Many people that are deeply unsatisfied and unhappy at their jobs describe an oppressive (and sometimes hostile) daily existence including: a lack of trust in their co-workers or management, feeling pressure to perform without support (or sometimes active sabotaging), political game playing such as others taking credit for their work, experiencing subtle or overt sexism, finding the work meaningless, boring, or in some cases morally bankrupt, etc…

Others say they feel as though they are not living up to their potential or want to be involved in work and people that matter to them. At some point during the conversation, I usually ask:

So why not quit?

And the response:

I can’t afford it.

This is smart response. Financial security and taking care of your family are meaningful reasons to stay at your soul-sucking job temporarily. If timing is your choice, I never recommend quitting your current position without a transition plan and an understanding of what’s next for you.

Sometimes though, especially for those in high-paying and/or prestigious positions, the conversation leads to staying because of the importance of maintaining a certain lifestyle.

Reminder: A few weeks of family vacation where you worry about your work often, that beautiful house where you can’t sleep without medication, or weekend’s where you feel depressed and exhausted…is not much of a lifestyle.

Whether you are at a soul-sucking job or simply want to do something bigger or more meaningful, there is a third option. Stay while you plan your escape by:

  1. Saving. Reduce or alleviate the financial risk of making a big shift. Reduce your expenses, get a second job, support your spouse in working, or start a side gig. Most people that are unhappy at work feel that they do not have any other choice but to stay. Without some level of financial safety net, the risk and anxiety of leaving your job may be too significant.
  2. Dreaming. There is zero risk in dreaming about what you want. Carve out even five minutes a day to explore and be intentional about your work and life dreams by asking yourself the big questions. Reflect on what it is most important to you in the next phase of work and life.  With the right questions and process in a short time you will see patterns and a direction emerge. Reconnect with your dreams first and then get very practical about what is feasible and what would be a financially profitably way to approach it. Here are a couple of questions to get you started. Remember these are brainstorming exercises, so no filter and no right or wrong answer. This is between you and you.  Your answers may range from specific and small to visionary to vague: If time, money, or the opinion of others were not a factor, what goals and activities would you pursue? What issues, causes, and problems that need solving have you been particularly drawn to.
  3. Taking micro steps. Don’t stop with dreaming, because without action (and eventually a plan), you won’t make progress. Once you know what you want, then start making a list of infinitesimal, doable steps you can take toward it.
  4. Finding something meaningful in your work now. Bringing more of yourself into your life can help. Try one of these every day: write down one way in which you are contributing in a positive way to your company; start the day by recording one thing you are grateful for at work; reach out consciously to someone at work with a kind or encouraging word; go outside at lunch and breathe the fresh air; or brainstorm out-of-the-box ideas to help your company that would also fuel your own passions.

How about you, what one small, infinitesimal step can you take to begin toward work that is meaningful to you?

 

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