Reality Check: Time To Get In Formation

” Your winter is someone else’s summer.”

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That quote unleashes some very visceral emotions inside of me; things I’ve kept tucked away while I try to keep up with the day-to-day busyness of adulthood. But it’s high time I let them go because holding on is doing me absolutely no good. I’ve realized, while amidst the thick of the fuckery I’ve been through this year, that I have a high propensity for being a perfectionist. It’s so high, in fact, that it keeps me from going after the things that I want and need to do. I’ll set out to do something and, midstream, I’ll freeze because I think whatever I’m doing isn’t good enough and the follow through ends up being super wack.

I haven’t updated my blog, worked on my business models, or any of my interests because I’ve allowed my circumstances to get the best of me. This year has been pretty tough, definitely the coldest metaphoric winter I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been homeless, I was assaulted, I’ve been abandoned several times, heart broken more than once, and many other trials and tribulations have ensued. I’ve let those things mold me into someone I don’t recognize when I look into the mirror, and that terrifies me. I’ve allowed myself to become this person who, when standing face-to-face with obstacles, she gets emotional and has a pity party for herself long before she attacks them. And when I finally do, I’m exhausted from the roller coaster ride I put myself through. I’m at the point where I’m sick and tired of not being in control of my own destiny. I’m completely over just existing and I’m ready to start living again.

I’m not sure what point you’re at in your life as you’re reading this. Hell, you could be doing great in life, and if you are good for you. Do that shit! But if you’re stuck in the same old rut and you’re ready to get back to where you were before, or even transcend beyond that point (which is always a good idea), then I’ll offer you three pieces of advice that have jump-started my will to live life more abundantly again no matter what my circumstances are. You can Google the phrase “How to get your shit together” and easily find 1.3 million articles on how to do just that, each one offering fifty plus ways to turn the lemons life has hurled at your poor peanut shaped head into lemonade (all hail #QueenBey!). But I think three is a good place to start. There’s something about that number that resonates with me; I think it signifies harmony, and we could all use a little more of that. Plus, I think these three things open the door to many more good habits that can and will help push you into the right direction. So, let’s begin.

  1. Get objective feedback from a trustworthy source.

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Emphasis on trustworthy. So not that one coworker who’s always having money problems, or your cousin Ray Ray who can’t hold down a job for longer than sixty days, and definitely not your super “independent”  man hating aunt who hasn’t had a bae since ’86. This person should be close enough to you where they know exactly what you may be going through, but are far away enough to see the bigger picture, and wise enough to point you in the right direction. You could be focusing too much of your attention on a problem at work or a relationship that doesn’t serve you, and that person has the ability to come in with a fresh pair of eyes and give you the perspective you would’ve taken longer to achieve on your own.

I have friends who keep me moving forward even when I can’t seem to pull it together sometimes. When I’m dealing with a tough situation in my personal life, or I’m entertaining something or someone that is challenging my self-worth (it really doesn’t matter what it is) one or all of them will individually or collectively say to me, “Bitch….no!” And they will proceed to snatch my wig to and fro until I get myself back into formation. They’re present enough to know the details of whatever the problem is but also able to take the emotion out of what I’m telling them in order to help me come up with solutions that will work to solve said problem. I am so grateful for them because I tend to be very dramatic all the time  sometimes and I have this annoying habit of making mountains out of molehills. Silly me.

2. Acknowledge what’s working

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You are incredible! You are a work of art, absolutely divine, and so so talented. Never allow yourself to lose sight of how special and unique you are. Focusing on the deeper reality of the spirit instead of where your ego is just may be all you need to pick yourself up and keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter how many times you think you’ve fallen short, it’s really about your perspective. You could be bombing at one thing but blowing something else out of the water in another area of your life.

One of my biggest adulthood boo boos is not saving enough money. And by enough, I mean none at all; I’m the worst at that. I’ll have the best intentions when I’m planning out my bills but then I’ll get so anxious and overwhelmed about deadlines and such that saving goes completely out the window. I have really bad anxiety about being homeless again. It’s at the forefront of my mind when I think about and handle money. “Oh I can’t get those shoes, gotta save for rent. I can’t be homeless again” “Nah, I’ll just eat at home. I can’t be eating out, gotta pay my rent so I’ll have a roof over my head” “I gotta get it together man, I can’t go back to that shelter”

I’ll get so caught up in what could go wrong if all the bad shit I cook up in my head happened simultaneously (which never does), that I rarely acknowledge all the things I’m doing right. For one, I actually care about paying things on time. That’s a win, because a lot of people really don’t give a shit. I’m responsible (did you hear that Mom and Dad?), or at least I try to be as much as I can. And as much as I panic about it, I do pay all my bills. I’m actually coming up with ways to say money that will have many long term benefits instead of short term ones; another step in the right direction. Doing that helps me focus on the future and gets my brain thinking about how I’m going to achieve my next set of goals. When I’m in this frame of mind I’m in problem solving mode instead of panic mode, which does wonders for my nerves. Instead of holding my face in my hands saying “Oh my God, oh my God. What do I do?” repeatedly I ask myself “What am I doing now that’s gotten me to this point?”, “What do I want to see happen in this area?”, and “What can I do to turn this shit around?” And then something amazing happens. I’ll remember that I’m pretty damn awesome and I can do anything I put my mind to. Perspective.

3. Meditate on gratitude and appreciation.

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It may sound super cheesy, but a little gratitude goes a long way. Frustration has a way of making everything seem really really shitty. Your boss may have been a total douche to do in front of some really important people, and you’re so pissed off that you sit there and stew over it all day, then some jerk cuts you off in traffic, and you’re so hell bent on getting home that you forgot to hit up that one place you love because they’re having a 25% off sale on your favorite wine. Then you finally get home, after all that, only to trip over an ant playing soccer on a cotton ball and you hit your pinky toe on that same corner of the coffee table that you have at least two hundred times minimum. Stupid boss, this all your fault.  You work tirelessly to be amazing at what you do and your boss never shows any appreciation at all. You come in early, you leave late, you blow the roof off the place, and you get nothing in return. Not even a nod. Your life is absolute shit and it’ll never get any better, plus you won’t have any more functional toes left because of that damn table. It’ll never get better, right? Wrong. Sometimes a brief moment of stepping out of a disheartening situation to an appreciation of something general, no matter how small, can take you forward a few steps to detaching from what isn’t working. And when you do that you create space that gives you room to shift towards a better view.

I get so bogged down about bills, and adulting, and how I should be so much further along in life than I am right now. I beat myself up about not writing enough, or not having the funding to start my businesses, or about how bad I am at remembering to do laundry that I forget to be grateful for all the things that I do have and have been blessed with. I have a great living space that’s warm, and inviting, and it’s my sanctuary. When my mind becomes cluttered and I can’t think straight, I’ll look around and see that the state of my thoughts have manifested themselves into my living space. So I’ll clean it up; wash dishes, do laundry, clean my bathroom, reorganize my closet, everything. And when I’m done I get this overwhelming feeling of pride and gratitude; I’ll look around and say to myself “Wow, this is my place. This time last year I was staying with this person and that person, then I ended up living in a hotel, then a shelter, then somebody else’s place, then a place where the roof was leaking. Now I’m here, safe, warm, and back on track. Thank you Lord”.

That one moment gives way to many more that allow me to see just how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time. I thank God for everything, and every time I do the Universe takes note of it and I attract more great things my way. When I spend money, on whatever, I always thank God and the Universe for allowing me to have it; and I say to myself “There’s more where that came from”. When I’m cleaning up and I find a dime or a penny I say thank you out loud. When I make some bomb fajitas, I say thank you (out loud), because God didn’t have to bless me with the resources to make that party in my mouth happen but He did and I’m grateful. Gratitude really does go a long way and soon you’ll begin to realize just how much you really have, which takes the focus off what you don’t have and that makes room for you to get what you want to have. See how that works?

Life can serve a pretty mean uppercut, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle with getting your ass kicked everyday (bob and weave my G). I promise if you do these three things every time you face a problem, you’ll get through it and with a level of style and grace that may surprise you. It’s 2:30 in the morning and, as I’m writing this, my problems seem to be much smaller than I thought they were before I started this post. There’s freedom in that, I feel lighter. And my goals seem much more attainable. The same can be true for you, all you have to do is apply what I mentioned above and you’ll be Gucci. So go knock it out the park, kiddo.

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Tough Love: Standing By Your Dreams

Sometimes life can be a gathering of beautiful and amazing moments, memories, and people all wrapped up in a perfect little box with a bow on it. But most of the time life’s a real b-word,and at one time or another we all get to our breaking points. I haven’t posted, sketched, or done anything remotely creative in almost two months. I haven’t felt that giddiness that fashion or any of my other interests and passions normally fill me with, and its been pretty rough. I’ve been stressed out over some financial issues and extremely exhausted because work isn’t yielding what I’ve been putting into it. I just haven’t been feeling inspired lately.

At about 4:30 this morning my boyfriend called and woke me up and, as expected, after our short convo I wasn’t able to get back to sleep. So I laid there in bed thinking about everything, all at once. Usually that’s a big mistake and only adds to the stress that you’re already feeling. After the back-and-fourth between my emotions and reason I decided I was giving up on fashion and going back to a medical based career. Not because I wanted to, but because I haven’t gotten to where I think I should be. And this magical place where I “should” be isn’t being measured by pacing myself or by the goals I’d set up, but by the accomplishments of my friends and people I know in my field. I decided to quit going after my dreams and do some mediocre job because it was safe. But just as I was about to finalize this throwing in of the towel I ran across an article that changed everything. So if you’re feeling like all hope is lost and giving up is the only option, ask yourself these 10 things before you do:

1. Why did you want to pursue this goal to begin with? Has anything changed?

You had a good reason to committing to this goal. Maybe it was getting enough people in your community more involved and excited about recycling, thus helping the environment. Mine was to help women and girls look and feel beautiful any way I could through fashion. And since then nothing has changed, although I realized men like looking and feeling good as well. Often times guys can feel just as insecure about their appearances as women do, so I made room for them on my list as well.

Odds are you still want those things just as much as you did before, you just stopped believing you could because your efforts have yet to yield the results you’ve been hoping for. You have to ask yourself if you push through the discomfort and feelings of disappointment, will it be worth it in the end.

2. Have you been operating with too much information?

There is so much information at our fingertips thanks to the internet, but sometimes that can do us more harm than help. With all the e-books, blogs, teleconferences, coaching sessions, and user forums its so easy to overwhelm yourself with more knowledge than you can apply.

One of two things usually happen as a result: you spend more time planning to act than acting, or you devote minimal energy to minimal plans instead of committing to one solid approach. I have been so guilty of this, and when the time comes to execute what I’ve been planning I’m too overwhelmed to actually do it. Instead of drowning in tons of information, try narrowing it down and start again from a less overwhelming space.

3. Did you set a smart goal?

SMART goals are:

Specific— you know exactly what your world will look like when you achieve this goal.

Measurable— you have a specific plan to mark your progress as you go.

Attainable— you have the attitude and aptitude to make your goal a reality.

Realistic— you’re willing and able to do the required work.

Time-bound— you’ve set a concrete time frame for completion to create a sense of urgency.

If your goals aren’t SMART then you’re setting yourself up for failure, trust me. How could you possibly achieve anything without knowing exactly what you want, or the belief that you could do it? Are you really ready to walk away from your dreams without giving yourself every opportunity to succeed?

4. What’s the worst that can happen if you keep going and not reach your goal?

When I want to give up on something its usually because I’m afraid of failing. Then I think about how other people will be disappointed in me or judge me, or afraid that I’ll have wasted my time. In reality, no one ever judges us like we judge ourselves, and we always grow and learn through the process of striving, regardless of the outcome. If you don’t keep going, you’ll never know how far you could’ve gone, or the person you’ve become through the effort alone. If you do keep going you’ll still land among the stars, even if you don’t quite make it to the moon.

5. Are you afraid of succeeding?

I am a person that likes responsibility until it becomes to be too much. There are tons of things I’d love to do, but I hold off on doing them because I don’t want the power and responsibility to impact, hurt, or disappoint other people. Sometimes I get a little freaked out about what achieving my goals will entail. What if I accomplish something spectacular and nothing else I do compares to it? What if I let those who follow my work down?

If you can relate to this feeling then the following mantra is for you: great power comes with great responsibility, but it also brings great rewards. Make a habit of repeating this to yourself daily, soon it’ll go from being a mantra to being an affirmation. And that is when you’ll see things start to change, because positive thoughts created positive results. If you play it safe you won’t hurt or disappoint anyone, but you also won’t help or inspire anyone. And equally important, you won’t help or inspire yourself.

6. Are you acting on impulse or emotion rather than thinking things through?

Sometimes our emotions give us hints about what we want and what we should do, but other times they’re just responses to stress, and maybe even indications we’re on the right track. But if you act in that moment of intense emotion— be it fear, anger, or frustration— you may regret it once the dust has settled.

So sit back. Take note of what you’re feeling. Feel it fully, without judging it or yourself. Then act when you’ve gotten to the other side. That way you’ll know you made your decision with a clear head.

7. Would you enjoy giving a loved one the honest explanation of why you gave up?

And I mean honest.

Would you tell your child, “I gave up on losing the weight because my emotional connection to food is more important to me than making sure I have more golden years to spend with you”?

Would it be fun to tell your mother “I decided not to go to school because I’d rather spend all my time with my boyfriend of three months then prepare for a career that will ensure I won’t end up jobless and homeless?”

“I know you guys have been supporting me through all this. But I’ve decided to give up pursuing a career in fashion because I’ve been trying and trying and I haven’t styled for a famous magazine, attended any fashion shows in New York or abroad, or reached a blogging audience of 15,000 yet. So yeah, I quit.”

How could I say that to my family and friends without feeling like a total jackass? Or being one for that matter. I had a great reason for wanting to do all of this and none of them were for the reasons that were just stated. Granted experiencing any one of those would be amazing, and they very well may happen one day, but they aren’t the focal points of my mission. Once I recognized this none of that crap seemed as important anymore. My success isn’t measured by the number of shows I’ve done or hits I’ve gotten on my blog. Knowing that there are people out there that value my opinion enough to read my blog or ask me to style them for events, dates, or vacations because of this blog is my definition of success. People that I would’ve never dreamed that would value anything I say read my blogs, follow me on Instagram, and favorite my tweets on Twitter and I think that is so dope. Why would I give that up just because the road I’m on got a little rough?

8. Would your life be better if you gave up on this goal?

I know it doesn’t sound super motivational, but sometimes giving up is a good thing. Maybe you set a completely unrealistic goal and not achieving it has gotten you feeling anxious and inadequate. Or maybe your goal isn’t in the best interest of yours or a loved one and it’d be best to get out before you become too invested to pull out. You could easily use this as a justification to delude yourself, so think about it carefully. Is this goal really a good thing, when you weigh all the consequences of its fulfillment?

9. How much have you already put in?

A concept in psychology called “the sunk cost principle” indicates the more we’ve invested in something, the less likely we are to prematurely walk away. How invested are you in this dream? How much money and time have you devoted? How many sacrifices have you made? Are you really willing to chalk it all up as a loss because you’re not feeling confident in your abilities?

10. What would you tell someone else if they were in your shoes?

Would you tell your best friend to give up because there was no possible way she could reach her goal? Would it be wise to tell my baby sister, who’s a senior in high school, to just give up on college because its a debt inducing scam? And once she gets her degree she probably won’t get a job in her field anyway because the economy stinks to high hell?

A good friend, or older sibling, would practice their finest motivational speech and help her see what they see in her potential. So why not do the same for yourself? As cheesy as it sounds, you need to be your own best friend. You, more than anyone in this world, deserve your belief and motivation. If you’ve gone through all these questions and still feel resolute about the decision to give up, you have my blessing to abandon your goal. And if you don’t, keep working towards that dream that fills you with passion.

Take a different approach if you need to. Enlist new assistance. Scale back your time commitment to something you can more easily maintain. Maybe take a break at the onset of feeling overwhelmed or anxious. But whatever you do, don’t give yourself a reason to one day utter the words, “I quit because I was scared.” Which is what I chose not to do.