I recently posted about living the dream. In it, I challenged anyone reading to envision and write down what they wanted their life to look like 10 years from now. Terrifying, I know… but the process taught me a lot about myself. The biggest being that in my busyness, I’d gotten far away from the life I desired to create.

This meditative exercise woke me out of a reactive, chaotic work-life slumber and set me on a healthy path toward living my dream. Along the way, I have learned and instilled several steps that have made this possible.

Today I’m sharing five of them with you. I hope these practical steps help move you out of a place of busyness and burnout and into a place of balance and inspiration. 

1. If it doesn't light you up, give it up.

This applies to relationships, physical activities, commitments, and especially what you do for a living. Despite what you may think, if you don’t love what you’re doing, it isn’t loving—for yourself or your client. 

We give our best to the things that light us up. So, what lights your fire? What ignites energy and joy in you? When you do what brings you joy, you become a distributor of joy. The world doesn’t need more obligated workers, it needs more joyful workers

So give up the stuff that makes you feel bad. Surrender to your shortcomings, and you’ll find freedom. You can’t be what everyone needs and you shouldn’t try.  

2. Listen to your body. 

My girl crush, Danielle Laporte, wrote a little blurb about this idea in her book Fire Starter Sessions, and it stuck with me:

“I’ve heard of a Japanese mogul who let’s his meal choices guide his business decisions. While he’s eating dinner he thinks about or discusses the business proposition of the day. If he digests it well, he takes positive action. If the meal doesn't go down well, then the deal doesn't go down either."

As much as this story may be perceivably comical, I do think there is some value in it. How many of us are living with knots in our shoulders and back, feeling the weight of the stress we’re carrying? And how many of us are losing sleep at night for the same reasons? When we’re strained emotionally and mentally, our bodies come along for the ride. 

Pay attention to physical pain or discomfort, and ask yourself what needs to change. Make a point to schedule rest periods, yoga sessions, and healthier eating habits into your daily routine. 

3. Be gentle with yourself.

Often times as creative types, we are our toughest critics. Instead of listening to all the voices in your head that make you fear or assume the worst about your work, why not practice canceling them out with positive thinking and truth? I’ll write more on this next week, but for now, make a short list of things you’re good at and keep it on your desk. When you’re feeling anxious or negative, glance at it and take a deep breath. You deserve to be treated with the same gentleness you’d offer a friend. 

4. When you’re clear on how you want to feel, life gets easier.

Anything that doesn’t make you feel the way that you desire to feel most, no longer deserves a place in your life. If you desire to feel more connected and available, stop working late nights. If you desire to feel more at peace, stop spending as much time with friends who feed you drama. This is hard at first, but the result makes life easier.

I’ll leave you with Danielle Laporte’s perspective, which I’ve found to be true:

“Be done with feeling guilty for wanting to feel the way you feel. Follow your desired emotion. Don’t analyze it too deeply. Just roll and rumble a bit. It may be there to humble you, expand you, or reinvent you.”

5. Share your dreams

If you have an intern, partners, or coworkers, make sure you’re sharing and encouraging each other’s dreams. When Jordan, my project manager, life saver, and director of client happiness, came on board, she was the catalyst for doing some of these goal setting workshops. I wanted to honor Jordan’s expertise and foster open communication in our working relationship. And since we were interacting on a day-to-day basis, I wanted to know what she wanted out of life. Learning each other’s values and goals helped create accountability. Do you have anyone in your life that is holding you accountable for the way that you want to feel?


lauren ledbetter