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5 Things You Need to Start Doing

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Pink and red flowers--roses and peonies--are laid out on a concrete floor. Overlaid is the title "5 Things You Need To Start Doing"

Last week was all about 5 Things You Need to Stop Doing. If I left it at that, it would feel like doing bicep curls on just my left arm, or throwing out the trash without putting a new bag in the trash can. Things, big and small, need to be balanced: so if you stop doing some things, you should also start doing other things.

Just like last week, these are lifestyle areas to draw out your inner happiness and confidence, as well as spread some positivity around for others. You will have to work at it and it won’t happen over night, but one day you’ll catch yourself doing one of these things naturally and that little lightbulb in your head will go off, likely accompanied with the realization that you’ve achieved some growth.


#1 Start Speaking Up

We live in a time and age when people are being encouraged to find their voice. Some are doing this well, like Emma Watson and Halsey, and others are…well, not so great. There is still a time and place to shut your trap and nod your head while blending in with the wall paper, but those instances are falling into the majority. It’s time to start taking small and big steps towards having your voice heard.

Let’s start little. The next time you’re with a group of friends or coworkers and everyone is asking “where do you want to go for lunch?” but no one is coming up with an answer, speak up! Even if you truly don’t care if your get salads or pizza or just raid the vending machines, you’ll be the hero for giving a definite answer, rather than just keeping the question game alive. It’s so simple, but it will give you a bit of a confidence boost and people will start to pay attention to your existence.

How about a medium step? The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, say so. Tell your BFF “I’m having a rough week and need a girl’s night”. Go to your boss and say “this project is bigger than I anticipated and I could use more resources to make sure it’s done on time and done well”. Feeling underwhelmed? It’s okay to say “no hard feelings, but this date isn’t going very well. Why don’t we just get the check now, shake hands, and call it a night?” rather than suffering through another hour and then pretending like you had a good time and should do it again sometime.

Now we’re ready for a big step, and it’s going to be uncomfortable. But necessary. And worth it. This is the step where you start speaking up when things are uncomfortable, rather than gritting your teeth and bearing with it because for some terrible reason, you think that’s how it should be. This is where you start challenging voices of authority that aren’t keeping up with the times, that are delivering false information, that can’t defend or rationalize their actions. It’s time to start calling out instances of mansplaining and hepeating and sexism and racism. I won’t lie, it will be hella awkward in the moment. But later, when you’re driving home and reviewing your day, you’ll feel a lot better knowing that you stood up and made a stand.


#2 Start Thinking with Confidence and Love

The saying “beauty comes from within” refers to kindness and a good personality. Wanna know where those things come from? Confidence and self love. I’ll wait for you to pick of the pieces of your blown mind at this realization.

But seriously, we’ve got to start learning to love ourselves, and that starts with the way we talk to and about ourselves. Every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep (or as often as you can), tell yourself that you are great, you are worthy, everything if fine. It’s cheesy and you’ll feel silly, but it will make such a difference in how you present and carry yourself.

The best part? You can totally fake it, and it still counts. In the beginning, you might not believe yourself when you think “I am beautiful” or “I am worthy of love”, but you need to say it anyway, and with as much conviction as you can muster. The saying is “fake it until you make it”. And there’s science behind it to prove it works. 

I’ll leave on this note: how you treat yourself sets the standard for how other people can treat you.

Related Reading: 6 Mantras To Live By In 2018

A bike basket is filled with bright pink flowers to symbolize the love of self. Give yourself a gift of happiness and flowers.


#3 Start Challenging Your Conditioning 

It’s like Ms. Norbury said, “You’ve got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.” We need to start examining our behavior, language, reactions, ideas, roles, and everything and figure out if it’s something we do because we like it and it feel right, or if it’s something we’ve been secretly trained to do. Our words and actions reinforce other words and actions, like the idea that sexual activity it okay for guys but not for girls, because that’s just wrong.

There’s this idea that the first thought through your head is what you’ve been conditioned to think. Things like “ew, that girl is so fat” or “I have a flat tire so I should call my boyfriend to fix it”. But it’s your second thought that defines you: “that girl is rocking her skin; good for her” or “I should call my boyfriend to teach me to fix my flat tire so I can do it myself next time.” It’s time to start rethinking and going with that second thought. That also means thinking about yourself differently (see #2 above!).


#4 Start Half-Assing Things

In the wise words of Amy Phoeler, “The doing is the thing.” It’s not going to be perfect the first time you do it, so you have to start somewhere. So it’s just about the doing, not the result.

I am not a fitness person. I do not love the gym or have a clue about what to do when I’m there. But it’s important to be active and healthy, so I go. In the beginning, I went for the minimum twenty minutes, did a little of this, barely touched that, and then went home. And I celebrated! It was an absolutely terrible workout, but it was more of a workout than I had done before. I congratulate myself on going, on just showing up and doing the bare minimum, because I was focusing on building the habit, of just getting out of my shell and doing it. Bit by bit, my workouts started to increase in length and purpose and I’ve improved. If I had tried to be perfect on day one, it would have been too much pressure and I wouldn’t have even started.

So really, this is about “starting to start”.

A woman sits on a stump by the beach, the wind blowing her blonde hair.


#5 Start Going For What you Want

Sitting around wishing for something isn’t going to get you anywhere except Sadville. Want a better job? Start applying. Want love? Stop wondering why you can’t meet anyone when all you do is sit in the dark watching Netflix; go out and make the first move! Or adopt a puppy. Either works.

You can start small (see #4), but you have to start. Saying “maybe next year” is just another way of saying “I want it, but not badly enough to do anything about it, so it will never happen.” Get out of that cycle, grab life for the reigns, and start taking control! Because you can do it, you do deserve it, and it is worth it.


When you’re ready to start, I’d love to hear from you! Let’s help each other stay on course towards growth, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

March 15, 2018

5 Things You Need To Stop Doing

Posted in Lifestyle by

The title "5 Things You Need to Stop Doing" is written over a person climbing a flight of stairs.

The last two years have not been great: I quit the career I studied for, I quit the next career I went into, my depression resurfaced and brought his buddy Anxiety to the party, and I’m in the worst financial situation of my (admittedly short) life. Every day is a new discovery of short-fallings and failures and black holes, but every day is also an opportunity to dust myself off and get back up to try again. The wonderful thing about rock bottom is being able to do anything: I can take risks because there’s nothing left to lose. But most importantly, I get a second chance at building a strong foundation. And I’m determined to do it right.

I’ve found myself doing a lot of self examination over the past few years, especially in recent months. I’ve been trying to figure out what are the little things that are holding me back, that are making me unhappy, that are getting in the way of things. I have these great dreams and big plans, but I don’t seem to go for them as strongly as I could. There’s a whole slew of psychological reasons behind that to keep a therapist employed for years, I’m sure, but there are a number of tiny things I can work on right now. And that you should work on, too.

Whether you’ve already achieved success, are almost there, or can’t even figure out where success is because your compass is broken, there are five things in your life that you should stop doing. I’ve found that these are areas that make me unconsciously unhappy, and that also poison the people around me. So this isn’t about me, this isn’t even about you: this is about everyone.


#1 Stop Apologizing

This has some parameters to follow: if you hit someone’s car, apologize; if you hurt someone’s feelings, apologize; if you accidentally feed your roommate peanut butter cookie dough that triggers his peanut allergy, apologize (I swear it wasn’t me. It was the other roommate). But there are other situations when you should rephrase your “sorry” as a “thank you.”

Let’s say you’re running late because reasons. The reasons don’t matter. But you show up to happy hour where your friend has already been waiting for twenty minutes and you’re a bit out of breath because you were trying to be there on time, even though you knew you wouldn’t be. So what do you say? “I’m sorry I’m late”, right? Wrong. Don’t say that. Instead, say “Thank you waiting for me.” It’s a simple change of words, but it will do so much for you and for your relationships.

When you say “I’m sorry” you’re putting the focus on you, and you’re doing it in a negative way. You’re essentially saying “I messed up. I’m a failure.” Yes, you did oversleep or whatever it was that caused you to be late, but beating yourself up about it further is only going to make you feel negatively about yourself, and it’s inviting the other person to view you negatively as well. Reverse it to say “thank you” and you’re expressing gratitude, something positive, towards the other person. You feel good, they feel good, everyone is a winner. Positive vibes = positive life.

Other ways to say “thank you” instead of “sorry”:

  • I’m sorry I’m such a mess
    • Thank you for understanding that things are crazy right now and for still loving me.
  • I’m sorry I’m so emotional
    • Thank you for being patient with me
  • I’m sorry that I need so much attention
    • Thank you for reassuring me and spending time with me

Need some help getting started? Try filling out a few of these “Thank You” sticky notes.

Three women are pictured from behind with their arms around each other's low backs. They are wearing denim and holding baby's breath flower shoots. Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

#2 Stop Trying to Fit into Molds

Somewhere in the course of history, humans created this idea that certain titles come with certain identities. Things like “construction workers can’t be pretty” and “women should be stay-at-home moms” and “manly men can’t wear glitter.” All of those are lies.

If you haven’t yet, you need to go read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. In it, she talks about “good for her, not for me” and how terrible it is for people of different walks of life to criticize each other. You should not feel bad about wanting to wear a floral sundress right after shaving your head. You should not have to think about what others might think about you if you quit your job as a rough-and-tough business woman to pursue a career as a hair dresser. You should not been made fun of for having a full beard and perfectly threaded eyebrows.

Likewise, you can fully wrap yourself up in an identity if it’s what you like. You’re an accountant and like wearing black suits every day? Good for you! Just maybe not for me. So let me dye my hair pink and go slam a whiskey shot at lunch.

This is about being true to you. It’s the same lesson that you’ve been hearing time and time again since you were a little kid, but I’m here to tell it to you again just in case you haven’t started living it. Be what you want to be, who you want to be. And if people aren’t supportive, then you don’t need them: this is your life, so live it!

Related Reading: 6 Mantras to Live by in 2018, The Two Step: A Bilateral Move

#3 Stop Going Back to the Same Sh*t

You ex is an ex for a reason. That restaurant always gives you food poisoning. You say that you can write a blog post while watching Netflix even though you know you can’t. So stop going there!

We’re creatures of habit, I get it, but sometimes we have to slap ourselves out of it and move on. Because if we don’t, one of two things will happen: either it will continue to suck you down until it’s too late and the damage is irreversible, or your friends will start throwing spoons at you every time you try to talk about getting back with your ex. True story.

If you hear the little whisper in your head of “don’t do it”, then DON’T. DO. IT! If you’re sitting down at happy hour and your conversation starts with “I know you told me not to, but…” be prepared for a harsh dose of reality, either from your friend or from the world. Stop poisoning your own well, stop the self-sabotage. If you can’t do it alone, enlist help: get your friend to delete all of his social media and change his number in your phone; cancel your Netflix subscription (drastic, I know, but it might be necessary. Speaking from experience here); hire a shrink. Take care of yourself.

A woman is pictured walking on a sandy pier between two bodies of water, her back to the camera. It has a light and positive feel. Photo by Mariona Campmany on Unsplash

#4 Stop Letting Things Slide

There are little things every day that irritate you and you know it, but you don’t do anything about it. Or at least not enough. Maybe it’s your roommates never emptying the dishwasher or the dog always tracking in mud or your boss never fully giving you the details of your assignment. Maybe it’s bigger, like constantly being overlooked for a promotion or your landlord not sending a plumber over for the garbage disposal that broke two weeks ago. Either way, those things make you sad and mad and that’s what leads to stress acne and not being able to sleep and feeling sick and throwing things. Not good.

So do something. Either truly fully suck it up and become okay with it on a spiritual level where you are the new Buddha, or speak up. Enlist a friend or coworker or your hairdresser to practice your speech: you want to be confident but not mean, firm but not overbearing. Make it happen.

And be firm with yourself. If you want to be healthier, don’t let yourself skip a gym session just because you don’t feel like going. If you want to learn a new skill, make it a requirement to practice it every day and hold yourself to that. You’re an adult now: it’s time to get off the kiddie slide.

Related Reading: When It’s Been A Long Week and It’s Only Monday, W(h)ine About It: The Little Things

#5 Stop Blaming Others for Your Unhappiness

It’s time to lay down some cold hard truth: take charge of your own happiness. That means either having some hard conversations with people (see #4 up above), or cutting some people out of your life.

If you’re a big dreamer but everyone around you is content to be mediocre and makes you feel bad for wanting more in life, the first thing you should want is a new circle of friends. If your partner belittles you or puts you down, it’s time to pack up and GTFO. If your friend is constantly bringing you down with all her drama and foolish decisions, see #3 of this guide and tell her buh-bye. Hard, I know, but worth it.

But here’s the thing: this item on the list isn’t telling you to stop being friends with those people. It’s saying that you need to stop blaming them for your unhappiness, because the real reason they make you unhappy is because you let them. By agreeing to a dinner date with that friend, knowing you’re going to need to order at least two glasses of wine and that you’re going to walk away feeling down about the world, you’re signing yourself up for a world of hurt. You, not her. If you’re dreading going to the family reunion where your aunt is going to criticize your haircut just because she never has anything positive to say and you go and let her, that’s on you. It’s time to either start standing up for yourself, cutting people out, or not letting it get to you. It’s your life, and you have a say in how you live it, and you have a say of how people get to affect it.

Because here’s the thing: you are worthy of happiness. But sometimes you have to work for it, and you always have to insist on it.

Related Reading: Cherish: A Story of Silver Linings 

Stop Doing These 5 Things
A man buttoning up his suit.
March 8, 2018