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Last year it was 35 acts of kindness. This year: 36 letters.

Getting older isn’t always looked upon favorably, but I’d like to think I’m becoming more confident and more thoughtful each year. On August 6, I turn 36.

Leading up to my birthday, my goal is to write 36 letters. The hope is to share gratitude and inspire generosity and love within my friend circles.

Consideration should be the norm, not the exception, and I believe — now more than ever before — it is our responsibility to make the communities in which we live more tolerant and kind. That’s my birthday wish.

Fear, regret, and bonus questions (grab a pen)

I was writing every day. Every morning. And I stopped.

Why?

I was afraid.

(Yep! Me. Afraid! Little known fact: I constantly battle a thin hum of anxiety. But that’s a different story, a different post. Back to writing.)

I was afraid I wasn’t good enough.

I was afraid my writing was missing the mark. I’d let a few rejections from publishers mute my enthusiasm. And I got tired. Other things because More Important. (Though what can be more important than telling your truth, I am not sure. Certainly not work. Or YouTube yoga videos.)

So in 2020: I’m coming back. I’m owning myself and my time like never before. I’m ready to take up more space. I’m ready to shove fear in its rightful place, even if it needs some coddling to move. This year, I’m not going to let anxiety drive the car. Not anymore.

Your turn: (Here’s where your pen comes in.) Tell me…

What are you returning to this year?

What are you letting go of?

What will you keep?

What mistakes have you made? I’m asking not to make you feel bad, in fact, I want you to celebrate them. Mistakes mean you’re going for it! Have regrets? Even better! Celebrate! You’re LIVING LIFE.

What will you move away from in 2020? What don’t you want?

Now. Get ready.

Celebrate what you’re going to create.

The projects you’re going to put into the world. The dreams that will manifest. The big move. The relationships you will nourish and cherish. A new business.

This time next year what will you be proud of?

And celebrate. Celebrate all of these things as if they have already happened. Imagine your enthusiasm and accomplishment. And rejoice.

Rejoice at this life you are living. Rejoice in who you are.

Rejoice in what you love and what excites you and what keeps you curious.

Rejoice in all of it, the ups and the downs.

Happy New Year.

The best gift you can give yourself

Time.

You owe it to yourself.

Give yourself time.

Time to create, to explore, to dream, to vision, to get lost, to do nothing, to write, to play, to imagine, to be alone, to be with others, to meditate, to feel inspired, to remember, to reflect, to forgive, to move on, to set goals, to change, to grow, to rest.

Ten minutes a day at minimum.

An hour for yourself each weekend at best.

Schedule it.

Not only is time the best gift you can give yourself, but your families and communities will be better for it.

23 times to say “Yes”

  1. will you forgive me
  2. can you help
  3. will you listen
  4. will you share your view
  5. will you try
  6. can you do me a favor
  7. will you show up
  8. can you do better
  9. can you learn this 
  10. will you speak your truth
  11. can you donate your time
  12. will you respect yourself
  13. could this work
  14. am I good enough
  15. will I regret this
  16. unexpected connections
  17. opportunity — even when it seems scary/hard
  18. new experiences
  19. teaching moments 
  20. stepping outside your comfort zone
  21. each morning
  22. every day
  23. this moment

Converting risk into opportunity

Risk is often associated with negative consequence and bad bets. Yet sometimes risk can bring opportunity, growth, confidence, and responsibility. The right risk-taking behaviors build self esteem and self-efficacy, the belief in your own ability to perform and create change. Positive risk-taking encourages you to take control over your own life.

Examples of risk converted into opportunity:

  • Investment
  • Taking steps, however small, toward your dreams
  • Personal growth
  • A business idea
  • Making change: Lifestyle, approach, identity
  • Initiating conversation at the supermarket
  • Creative endeavors
  • Relationships

For risk-taking to become positive, potential benefits and consequences must be fully explored. Evaluating your priorities and potential can help identify the resources available to you as you draw up strategies to minimize negative outcomes. This work can be time consuming — but worth it.

Some questions to ask:

  • What are the reasons for taking this risk? Am I responding to a situation or taking a proactive approach?
  • What are my experiences with risk? What is my understanding of it?
  • Outline actions that could be risky. What are the possible positive outcomes? Clearly define the risks are you going to take and describe the ideal responses from these actions.
  • Consider any negative repercussions, including the likelihood of these things happening.
  • What safety nets already exist? Are there any you can create?

What do you want more than anything?

Grit. Determination. Focus. Passion. Stubbornness. Courage. Diligence. Patience.

Your biggest dreams will require all of these and more. You will wonder whether your sacrifices are “worth it.” You will question your decisions and make mistakes. You will disappoint others. You will disappoint yourself. Your resolve will be tested, over and over again.

But if you really, truly want something? Nothing will stop you.

Check out Diana Nyad’s story if you’re needing some inspiration today.