Why to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Recently, I was a guest on  See Chicago (airing Sunday nights on WGN TV) for the “Get Out of Your Comfort Zone” episode. With my pal and show host Dawn Jackson Blatner, I took on the adventure of trying aerial yoga. If you haven’t heard of it, aerial yoga involves flying in silk fabric and performing yoga suspended up in the air. Sound challenging? It is! Especially trying it for the very first time if you’re not Spiderman or a trapeze artist.

The suggestion to “get out of your comfort zone,” is advice we hear often. But, do we really know why this is a good idea? This experience reminded me. And I wanted to share with you because it is so easy to forget! It’s easy to forget that this is a healthy practice because there are two major reasons why you typically don’t want to get out of your comfort zone. They are:

  1. It’s hard. By the very title: “get out of your comfort zone,” it’s obvious that you’ll experience discomfort. This means you can expect to feel the range of emotions falling on the less desirable side of the spectrum like: fear, embarrassment, disappointment, anger, and frustration. Not typically what we look forward to feeling.
  2. You’ll resist. Because your brain doesn’t like like discomfort, and especially if you’re an overachiever like me who hates being a beginner and bad at something, you’ll want to react to the discomfort like a whiny baby: crabby, critical, defeated, demanding, and maybe even snapping at people to dispel your negative emotions. This is not the best version of yourself and you especially don’t want others in the world to see it.

So with all this ick – there must be a profound reason to get out of your comfort zone, right? Well, here’s what I learned:

As much as I felt frustrated and whiny while I was terrible at aerial yoga in a room full of aerial yoga goddesses, the whole experience reminded me what it’s like to be at the very beginning of something. Anything new is messy. Always. And that is important to remember because we get so IN our comfort zones in life sometimes we get an aversion to messiness. And if this goes unchecked, out of fear, we’ll stop doing anything that seems chaotic or uncertain or adventurous. This is dangerous because chaos and uncertainty and adventure are necessary parts of the creative process. You can’t create anything new or interesting without these elements. Nope. You can’t. Not ever.

So, aversion to messiness puts you in a rut where you are at risk to: stay in the same old jobs even if its boring, to stay exactly the same in a relationship even if it is unhealthy, and to just stick with sameness in countless other ways. On the other hand, to get out of your comfort zone means staying fresh, innovative, creative, able to take risks, and committed to grow into who you are really meant to become. This is the absolute gold and why it’s worth doing. And, the more you do it, the more you build confidence to cultivate your creative, genius self.

Plus, here’s a bonus tip: Get out of your comfort zone with loved ones, especially those who are fun and have a lot of heart and personality.  Together is always better, and makes it much easier to remember to laugh and have a good time in the whole messy, chaotic process. Speaking of laughter, watch Dawn and I giggle our way through an aerial yoga class in the “Get Out of Your Comfort Zone” episode on See Chicago.

WATCH THE SEGMENT HERE (3 minutes)!

WATCH THE SEGMENT HERE!

And if you’re a Chicago lover like us, be sure to tune in every Sunday night at 10:30 pm CT / 8:30 pm PT. Watching Dawn in her various adventures around the city is sure to give you more ideas to get out of your comfort zone.

 

7 simple practices to reduce anxiety

As if the daily grind of our busy modern professional lives aren’t enough, right now we’re all coming down from a high stress election season and entering another season known for provoking pressure: the holidays. So, it’s prime time for us to consider picking up a couple new habits to reduce anxiety. Here are my top 7 simple practices …

1. Meditate

Although it seems like we are doing nothing, research shows that sitting in silence has positive effects on our brains.  Those who meditate report enhanced feelings of peacefulness and reduced anxiety levels.  You don’t even have to be good at meditation to experience positive results. As Nike says, just do it! If you’re new to this practice, check out my meditation intro video and starter kit HERE.

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2. Hydrate

My friend & healthy living guru Dawn Jackson Blatner introduced me to the idea that when we feel off, one the first questions to ask is: “am I dehydrated?”  Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, and we lose water throughout the day. Being dehydrated causes stress on the body which can show up like mental anxiety. I find that when I drink the recommended 2 liters per day, I’m overall happier and less stressed. Personally, I also found that I wasn’t attracted to drinking water until I switched to bottled water. It seems my body knew that Chicago water wasn’t right for me. And as an extra boost, you can upgrade your glass of water into green juice with spinach, a frozen banana, and a squeeze of lemon.

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3. Listen to music filled with positive vibes

We are all energy. We are vibrating beings. Music is sound vibration. So, putting on your headphones and pouring positive sound vibrations into your body can change the very makeup of your cells from negative to positive. These good vibes can help connect you to your deeper sense of inner truth when you are otherwise feeling down or fearful. Here is a new release from spiritual music artist David Newman titled “Peace and Love” to add to your positivity playlist…

4. Move your body

Our bodies are meant to be active. Yet, as professionals today, we spend a lot of time stationary staring into our computer screens. Being sedentary can open the door to our darkest and most fearful thoughts which provoke worry and anxiety. Move your body to get rid of that bad juju! Get outside for a walk, go for a run, swim, jump on a trampoline, do yoga, rock a 4 minute tabata routine, or crank up some music and have a 5 minute dance party.

5. Read a passage from an inspirational book

To get our brains off of the fear grid and away from “stinkin thinkin,” we can proactively infuse our minds with positive brain food found in inspirational books. Check out a few of my go-to books to reduce anxiety HERE.

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6. Enjoy a Salt Bath

Sometimes we catch negative energy from others just like we catch a cold. During the election season, I noticed this happening to me quite frequently as I ran into more fear than usual around my friends and in my social media feeds. There is a great way to clear away negative energy from our bodies: take a salt bath! Epsom salts are available at any local pharmacy for about $7 a bag. We can also up our game with floating, which is a practice to immerse into 1,000 lbs of healing salts in a sensory deprivation tank. Learn more about this practice and a special discount from my friends at Float Sixty Chicago HERE.

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7. Be in nature

Many of us spend our days primarily indoors. Some of us live in big cities with lots of concrete and tall buildings. Some of us live in places where it gets super cold in the winter and we don’t even want to go outside. Trees, flowers, bodies of water, animals, fresh air … these are all natural healers. Our bodies were intended to soak up these elements as a way to heal itself and replenish from the stress of life. Especially in the busy modern world, we cannot do without the benefits of nature. When we feel the need to reduce anxiety, here are a few mood-boosting ways to enjoy nature: soak up some sunshine, hug a tree, sit in the grass, breathe in the ocean air, and even indoors – surround your desk with nourishing plants. Check out this funny video reminding us of the importance of spending time in nature…

It’s easy to think we don’t have time for these types of activities when we feel busy and stressed out. And because that mindset gives us no support whatsoever,  let us consider thinking the opposite. It’s quite logical actually, that when we incorporate one or several anxiety-reducing practices into our lives, we set ourselves up to win. Letting go of the negative energy and bringing in the positive, ultimately, we do everything better.

Curious about meditation? Enjoy this intro video & starter kit!

Meditation is medicine to experience peace, calm, and happiness amidst the craziness of our modern world. Yet, our fast-paced lifestyle may make meditation seem impossible. So I’m here to teach you meditation basics to make this practice fun, easy, and worth your while.

The benefits of meditation

Let’s start with exploring why you would even meditate in the first place. It can seem counter-productive to sit in stillness and do nothing, especially if you are super busy! You can find all kinds of benefits of meditation around health and improving your ability to focus. Here are the 3 reasons I find most powerful:

  1. Connecting with your authentic self: Whether you are asking bigger questions like “who am I?” or faced with daily questions around work, home, and relationships, meditation helps you be more in tune with what matters most to you. This helps you be more clear to make better life decisions.
  2. Connecting with your higher power: Meditation is a time to connect with your higher power and guides. It is said: prayer is to ask for what you desire and meditation is to receive the answers. In the stillness, you can hear your truth, see visions, or feel into whatever you need. Or, because you made time for stillness, answers to your questions may come during the course of your day.
  3. Feeling more peace and less stress: In meditation, you bring attention to your breathing. This alone creates a sense of calm and relief. With more practice in meditation, you feel more and more calm and experience less random thoughts running through your mind. This practice of letting go of your thoughts allows you to be more present and aware in your life, which reduces stress and creates a greater sense of peace.

Techniques for meditation

My original training in meditation was at the Zen Buddhist Center in Chicago. There, I learned a basic technique that I teach you in the video below. It’s great for beginners in meditation! Here are a few highlights:

  1. Sit on a pillow or meditation cushion with your back straight.
  2. Place your hands in your lap facing up or in gyan mudra.
  3. Close your eyes completely, close them 80%, or gaze at a candle flame.
  4. Take deep breaths, and count down on each exhale from 5 to 0.
  5. Set a timer for the amount of time you want to meditate.
  6. Bonus: start with a positive vibe by thinking of something you are grateful for and feeling gratitude in your heart.

Making a regular practice of meditation

Are you totally psyched to do this all the time? Meditation is most beneficial when you do it regularly. So set yourself up to win by committing to mediate at the same time every day. Morning is ideal to start your day centered, feeling peaceful, and feeling connected to yourself.

Begin with a commitment you can stick to – for real! When I started, I committed to 5 minutes every morning before I left the house. And it worked to form my new habit. Even if it meant running late, I could surely create 5 minutes to meditate.

Setting up your space for meditation

As a regular meditator, it’s awesome to create a sacred meditation space for yourself.  It might be as simple as a designating a favorite chair to your meditation practice, or as fancy as creating a meditation area furnished with a meditation pillow and altar. If you live with family or roommates and private space is hard to come by, don’t fret!  That gives you a chance to be creative! When I first started, I sat in my closet in front of a single candle. For me, the dark removed all distractions. And that’s really key. Go somewhere that you can be free from interruptions.

Your meditation supplies & starter kit

You don’t need any supplies whatsoever to meditate. You can do it anywhere, anytime – even in a bathroom stall. And that is great news! However, for regulars, sacred supplies can enhance the experience. Here are a few you might consider.

Cushion: Meditation cushions raise your hips, which keeps your back straight and maximizes comfort overall. Before you invest in a cushion, you can start with basic pillows at home from your couch or bed.

Candle: Lighting a candle is great to signify to your brain that this is sacred time for you. A candle is also great for your practice if you would like to use the technique of gazing into the flame as a point of focus during your meditation.

Incense & holder: Incense creates sacredness in your practice and smells wonderful. Among many scents, a standard favorite is called Nag Champa. When you light your incense, you might wave the smoke over your body as an energy clearing technique before you begin your meditation.

Altar: An altar is a table upon which you set your sacred objects and sit in front of to meditate. You can fill up your altar with goodies like: candles, inspirational quotes, photos, statues of spiritual deities, sacred symbols, written goals, and healing crystals.

To help you commit to your practice, I’ve created a meditation starter kit for you! Purchasing a few meditation goodies and setting up your very own meditation space gives you an extra boost to create dedicated time every day! To navigate the starter kit, simply click the links on any of the items you’re interested in to learn more about them, and add to your cart any you wish to purchase. Happy shopping!

Using meditation to connect more with your authentic self to forward your career dreams? Check out these other great ways I can help you…

Career Dreams Class: Nov 1, Dec 6 & Jan 3.

The 3 Session Genius Jumpstart – anytime, you schedule 3 sessions with me over 3 weeks.

Relieve doubt about your genius with a prayer

Want to serve others in a big way through your genius?

As enlivening as a big, purposeful career feels, it also rouses inner discomfort.
This road has twists and turns, ups and downs – all to help you shed away baggage
to release what you no longer need to be who you are most meant to become.

These challenges bring major self doubt –
perhaps as you watch someone else get ahead and you feel behind, or
perhaps as you try something new and it doesn’t take off the way you planned, or
perhaps as you procrastinate because you’re too afraid to really go for it.

If you’re craving a reprieve from feeling too unworthy, unprepared, or uncertain
to truly follow the big career calling in your heart, I’ve got a treat for you!

While sitting by the ocean this week, I video recorded a prayer for you,
to release the doubt and open to guidance toward your greatness.

Remember: those of us with the biggest connection to purpose, are often the ones most sensitive to the doubt. So know that it’s ok to feel it, just don’t get stuck there.

Top 3 songs to catalyze career joy

Desire more harmony in your career?

Music is one of the most powerful healing tools available to us.
It’s easily accessible and it doesn’t cost a whole lot of money.

Impactful lyrics can open our hearts and speak to our souls,
and vibrational tones can change the very makeup of our cells from negative to positive.

You know this is true from that feeling you’ve had when driving in a car
with really loud music, singing your heart out at the top of your lungs.

Music frees you to feel what you really feel,
and own the desires that you don’t always admit you hold deeply in your heart.

So for those of you who desire a more joyful and fulfilling professional life –
one that is more in harmony with who you really are – I’ve got a special treat.

I’ve put together a short list of my top 3 transformational songs.
Here they are:

Shake It Out, Florence + The Machine
When you feel stuck, unhappy, or like you’re not following your own north star in your career, this song is very powerful for acknowledging your own beliefs and behavior patterns that are not working, and releasing them through singing the powerful lyrics and literally dancing to shake out the old.

 

Shift, David Newman
When you feel yourself opening to change, even if you don’t know what that change is yet, this song is great for its powerful lyrics to acknowledge the desire you feel within for more love, peace, and harmony. By singing the lyrics or even humming along the melody, you are aligning your energy with those desires, and that has the power to catalyze change in your external experiences.

 

I Surrender, I Receive, Jennifer Alexander
When you are feeling unsure of your path, this song harmonizes you with the old adage: Let Go and Let God. Basically, as you hear in the lyrics, you proclaim to let go of trying to figure anything out (“I surrender”). And you offer up to be shown what is your path that reflects the Truth of who you are (“I receive”).

P.S. These are all dowloadable on iTunes!
Blessings to you that these songs create the harmony you desire in your career!

The genius of being a highly sensitive person

Many of my clients are highly sensitive people. Because sensitivity has received a bad rap, I coach my clients quite a bit about the genius that this quality indicates and how to use that for good and also how to navigate the challenges.

Being highly sensitive – first and foremost – tells me that you are highly intuitive, psychic, and can read the energy vibes around you like nobody’s business. This means, you don’t miss a beat. You always see the truth of what’s happening, often when others don’t. You can be very empathetic and understanding, which makes you an incredible friend and healer. And, this trait also indicates you hold great potential to be one of the emerging leaders toward creating a more loving and tolerant world.

To live up to your full potential, you also want to be honest about and deal with the challenges of being highly sensitive. Here are some of the issues you face:
Issue 1: You can easily absorb others’ negative energy which causes you to feel bad.
Issue 2: You experience difficult emotions 10 times more intensely than other.
Issue 3: People have probably told you all your life that you are “too sensitive” and to “toughen up,” so you often feel insecure about your sensitivity, like something is wrong with you. (Nothing is wrong with you!)

As a highly sensitive person, you need some tools to deal with these challenges.  Check out this video containing 12 practices that can make a big difference. While they may sound like self care for anyone, they are essential for a highly sensitive person
to allow the genius of this trait to flourish.

Here are a few more resources for highly sensitive people: “The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide: Essential Skills for Living Well in an Overstimulating World” by Ted Zeff PhD, “16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People” on HuffPo, and “25 habits of Highly Sensitive People” on Lifehack.

Questions about this area of genius? Message me.

 

Lessons from Superman & Popeye on Career Depression

Kryptonite is a substance that takes the almighty Superman down. It makes him weak, depressed, and unable to perform his awesome superhero functions.

Although we often try to pretend we are superhuman and have no needs whatsoever,
as humans we are actually quite fragile and sensitive. Certain substances or neglectful behavior toward basic needs can trigger feelings of depression which may spiral into believing you are ill-equipped or unworthy of your career dreams.

This type of depression is a good thing; it alerts you that you need maintenance.
Think of those blinking red lights in your car. “Beep beep! Hey you! Something is going to go very wrong if you don’t listen to me!”

Paying attention to and noticing what substances or neglectful behavior amount to kryptonite for you empowers you to avoid these depressed feelings and keeps you moving powerfully forward. Similarly, you are better equipped to take action toward your dreams when you also know what helps you regain strength after you’ve been taken down. Think Popeye & spinach!

Here’s a handy tool with examples of what might be kryptonite for you and what might give you strength. Turn your frown upside down and go after your career dreams!

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Anxiety is your ally to live your career dreams

Somehow anxiety got a bad rap.
Like whenever it shows up – we want to shut it down.
It’s like we all have amnesia.

Emotions are actually part of our very important internal GPS system.
We feel positive feelings when something is aligned for us,
and we feel negative feelings as an alert that something is out of alignment for us.

Our feelings help us get through life, IF we listen to their wisdom.
For example, you might feel worry, uneasiness or sick to your stomach as you contemplate taking an important career step.

Your anxiety alerts you to important issues like:
– you’re moving too quickly & need to slow down,
– you’re going in the wrong direction & need to check in with your intuition, or
– you’re trying to force a specific result & not open to better possible options.

Are you getting the gist here? Anxiety is your ally. So notice when she comes around.
And begin resisting the habit to shut her down; instead let her speak to you,
like the GPS in your car that guides you home.