When the world's youngest self-made female billionaire, Spanx founder Sara Blakely had her twins, she entered a period of depression. It's not that she didn't love being a mom (she really did), it was that she felt pulled in too many directions and didn't have time to think. Familiar, much?
She realized that what had changed was how much solo time she spent ruminating on new ideas, business decisions and life plans. So she created a "fake commute" where instead of going straight to work, she drives around for an hour, recording herself talking ideas out on her phone.
You might not need to fake your commute, but the truth is that if you feel overwhelmed and not fully "on purpose", it's because you've been skipping a very important appointment.
It's with the person in the mirror. And at that meeting, here are three things to put on the agenda.
I know. It's annoying to read yet another article that extols the virtues to starting your day with a period of mindful silence. But in my research, I noticed that almost all high achievers practice some sort of mindfulness. Making this date with your innermost self and learning to quiet the chaos so you can focus on being goes a long way towards keeping you focused on what you actually want.
If you're daunted by the idea of a 40-minute practice like many transcendental meditation experts recommend, start by sprinkling in bite-sized mindfulness moments into your day, says Shawn Achor, Harvard-trained researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness.
If you're totally new to meditation, try the Headspace app. They've done an incredible job of demystifying the process and making it fun. I even use it to help my 5-year-old fall asleep.
2. Watch your language.
Language can open minds, spark revolutions and empower people, but it can also destroy someone from the inside. Even subtle nuances can have a big impact. And this is where you take what you learn in that solo meeting into real life.
In his book Unf*ck Yourself, performance coach and personal development guru Gary John Bishop points out and breaks down some of the unconscious patterns that might be keeping you stuck. He does an excellent job of pointing out the connection between what you say to yourself in your head (your self talk) and how your actions unfold.
One example of the way I've used this awareness is to keep myself well. Instead of saying, "Oh no I'm coming down with something," I gently shift my thought to, "I am fighting something." I take my supplements, go to bed early and since 2015 have woken up the following day feeling fantastic. This despite undergoing intense sleep deprivation with a newborn, having my preschooler cough in my eye and having everyone around me get sick with the flu.
3. Don't freak out. You'll hurt yourself.
There is nothing more crippling the self-sabotage. It's those little voices in your head saying you're not good enough. You can't do it. Who do you think you are? Yeah, I've been there, and let me tell you something. Those voices are only as real as you allow them to be.
Repeat after me, "The only way I will fail is if I freak out. I will not freak out." This has been my mantra since even before launching my company.
In more than 20 years as a journalist, I have met amazing people who are afraid of the press. When I ask why, they say they're not ready. They're too young, too old, too fat, too new or whatever their excuse is.
But here's the good news. With the press - as with any other bucketlist goal- you're ready when you decide you are. If you can face those inner demons, then you can handle what it's like to get exposure, credibility and exponential growth.
Another example is people who have stage fright. They have no logical reason to be afraid of their audience. That fear is an artifact of the way our brains are wired for survival. Our subconscious wiring can't tell the difference between a sabre toothed tiger and the applause of an awaiting auditorium.
But our conscious mind can.
The trick is to schedule quiet time with yourself so that you can create a constructive conversation between the two parts of your being and make sure they're in full alignment.
Hurdles will come and hurdles will go. All you can control is your emotional climate. And in the end, this ability is what gives the ultra successful the staying power to cleave to their vision when almost everyone else is ready to crawl back into bed.