Repost: How to Become That Girl You Always Wanted to Be

*Originally posted on Levoleague.com

How to Become That Girl You Always Wanted to Be

I moved to New York City in March 2009. As the recession swept across the country, I stepped into what essentially was another world compared to the small suburb I grew up in.

Every day, as I applied for jobs and attempted to network and get interviews I ran across “that girl.” You know, well put together on that 9 a.m. downtown 5 train, green juice in hand, reading the economist on her iPad before heading in for a long day of work at a job she found fulfilling before meeting friends for a class at Soul Cycle or drinks on the roof of the Soho Grand. You know you’ve seen her. And I’ll be honest, I was envious.

In college, my best friend and I would watch The Real World (when it was good) and eat Chips Ahoy and frosting. Fitness and wellness were utterly foreign to me, but when I moved to New York and felt the pangs of envy for a life I didn’t have — it dawned on me. Her life was that way because she chose it. So now, four years later, as a proud 6 a.m.-four-days-a-week-Chelsea-Piers-gym-bunny, I have a few pieces of advice for all of us building the lives we’ve dreamt of for years:

Become Who You Want to Be

Transform Envy to Action

It’s true, jealousy is not a good thing. That said, the root of envy is often a desire for something you don’t have. By paying attention to these moments you can harness a unique opportunity to see a growth opportunity for yourself. If there’s someone you know whose career you’re jealous of, ask yourself what is it that they have that you’d like. Is it the salary, the title, what they get to do each day? Then, begin mapping out how you could make those things happen in your own life.

Modify, Modify, Modify

Yoga instructors often advise students to modify positions and focus on making the pose meaningful to you. “It’s your practice” is a phrase that is used in many classes. The same is true in life, if you’re goal is to be “perfect” you’ve missed the mark because our perfection is in our humanity. If your goal is a daily early morning work out and then you take a job that requires you to be at your desk at 8 a.m., modify the goal and focus on doing what you can, when you can, and how you can instead.

Celebrate

One of the things about adulthood that caught me off guard was the decrease in special events. Without a graduation looming, I realized that celebrations outside of birthdays and holidays required a bit more initiative and felt in some ways even more important. As you create the life you dream of, be sure to take the time to enjoy it. It can be easy to be so focused on looking ahead that you forget to look around and realize how far you’ve come.

What are your methods for self-actualization in your relationships, fitness, career, and lifestyle?

Repost: Want to Thrive? Make Fewer Decisions

*Originally posted on Levoleague.com

Want to Thrive? Make Fewer Decisions

It was nearly 2 p.m. and I was sitting at my desk staring blankly at three lunch menus. My eyes were endlessly roving between the glossy pages and my brain was unable to decide between my standard kale salad, vegetarian pad thai, or the new vegan place. As I continued to decompensate, I realized something was off — how was I so out of mental energy that I could barely make simple decision like what to have for lunch?

After a busy day of early morning meetings, answering emails, checking Facebook, updating my LinkedIn, and beginning to think through a board presentation I hadn’t merely run out of steam, I had run out of capacity to make a decision.

In the customized age we are making more decisions than ever, this day in age the average American adult makes approximately 35,000 decisions a day. No wonder we all feel exhausted. Everything from what to wear to work, which train to take the office, to what printer to send your documents. And in a 24-hour period of time, there is a limit.

Numerous studies have shown that using up your mental bandwidth for small decisions negatively impacts your capacity to make larger, more complex, and ultimately more impactful decisions. At work, this can compromise our ability to become an innovative and valuable leader and colleague.

The trick? Make fewer decisions.

Our own POTUS Barack Obama is well-known for routinizing the routine. He says, “I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Make Fewer Decisions

Want to simplify your life today? Here are three simple steps to get on the path to fewer decisions.

1. Almonds in a snack bag are you new friend. As much as commercials try to tell us that most of us are waking up and calmly eating Greek yogurt in a terry cloth robe before work starts, I know that this is not true for the majority of us. That said, keeping a desk drawer full of oatmeal, sandwich bags of almonds, fresh fruit, granola bars, tea bags, etc. helps answer the question of what to have for breakfast or snack. Go buy yourself a reusable snack bag and start your decision making off the right way for the day.

2. All black everything. Or the true story of how I stopped getting lost in my purse. Have you ever needed to find a business card or your lipgloss only to spend 15 minutes searching the bottom of your purse and only coming up with a handful of crumbs, loose change, and a golf pencil with an indeterminate origin? Well, take back your sanity by taking my advice. Last year I made a switch to a single black purse that contains five all black items (makeup bag, iPhone, iPad, moleskin, and business card holder). Try it, trust me, this step alone will change your life.

3. Purchase a mannequin. Ok, please don’t really do this, unless you are a costume designer or have a kitschy vintage home theme, because I doubt this would work well for your social life. That said, taking the time to lay your clothes out the night before is an easy way to save your early morning decisions for something more valuable, like negotiating a raise or facilitating a meeting.

7 Steps to A Personal Sequester

*Original posted on my Huffington Post Blog, 3.18.2013

Two weeks ago, what was originally described as "financial apocalypse" or a "doomsday scenario" by many occurred. The sequester cuts, totaling roughly $1.5 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years, were discussed in many major media outlets. Yet, it was reported in a recent Gallup Poll that the majority of American's were not interested in this aspect of our national conversation because they were unsure of the personal impact. The irony cannot be overlooked.

Although the sequester dialogue was framed around fiscal and programmatic impact, the underlying theme of the conversation, is a question.How do we withdraw from our lives of over-consumption? If the "new economy" is here to stay, then it is critical for us each to develop an understanding of this question that resonates with our day to day lives.

I suggest a personal sequester.

In January 2011, I needed a reset. Growing up in the '90s I had developed an all consuming thirst for success and activity. As a digital native there hasn't been a time when I wasn't connected and as the pace of the Internet quickened all of our lives, I found my life moving at breakneck pace. Barely able to appreciate my success and accomplishments, I felt deeply pained by my failures and overwhelmed by the constant busy. After a chaotic first two years in NYC, I felt unmoored and disengaged. I realized I was no longer present in my own life, which troubled and scared me.

Although I grew up with a profound faith and access to religious traditions, the desire to feel present wasn't accompanied by a clear understanding of how to get in touch with my own life. Maybe -- I thought -- it would be as simple as being in motion, to be in my body felt logical and compelling.

As I begin what evolved into a daily yoga practice, I realized that I needed to step out of the flow of traffic and noise in order to access my internal still and quiet. This was a tall order. As a recent NYC transplant on the heels of a devastating economic recession, slowing down was extraordinarily counterintuitive. That said, I made peace and self discovery a priority, and as I disappeared from social media, adopted a vegan diet and declined social activities in favor of intentional solitude, I found myself in a new way. In truth, it was the most pivotal six months of my life and I suggest that each of us consider what it would take to feel our lives in a renewed way. Uncluttered, pure, present and free.

The strategic approach to developing a personal sequester involves seven components:

1. Assessment. How do you feel? Taking time to pause in your life begins with setting aside time to have an internal check-in. Are you stressed? Are you tired? How does your body feel? How does your skin look? The human body provides clear indications of disharmony.

2. Acknowledgement. Upon realizing your need, acceptance and acknowledgment are critical in creation an action plan. American work culture posits that exhaustion is a tenant of hard work. As such, many people I know feel guilt, as if the need to slow down is a gross luxury. This is an inaccurate and dangerous supposition.

3. Prioritization. All evolution is possible because of a first step. Choosing which personal needs to prioritize is essential. In my own life, physical wellness (sleep, diet, exercise) were pivotal to become more grounded in my life.

4. Implementation. Once you have discovered your needs and prioritized them, create a strategy for your personal sustainability, which also needs to include how you'll make it work. For example, in choosing to become vegan, I knew that I would have to cook more often to ensure that I had enough choices during the work day. My implementation plan included creating a weekly menu of vegan meals including snacks.

5. Adjustment. Adjusting the goals and the efforts around them is a natural part of achieving success. Initially, I wanted to attend a meditation class. However, due to my work schedule and personal commitments, bi-weekly classes were more realistic.

6. Maintenance. Consistency and self- discipline are the tenants of a life of peace and contentment. Maintenance means developing systems to maintain your personal accountability. I found that leaning on close friends who supported my desire to slow down was valuable.

7. Incorporation. When all was said and done, I had taken a full six months of time to myself, 18 months later I have re-engaged in my social networks and returned to the NYC pace in many ways, but now I am informed by my needs and work to support my sustainability on a daily basis.

Have you paused today? What are you waiting for, because your life is just waiting for you.

The greater dan...

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 - 1564)