Consciously focusing your priorities on what makes you happy

priorities

It’s been a month since I wrote a blog post and reflecting on that is so upsetting to me. I have felt uninspired and distracted, focusing on my business and on “income producing activities.” I wouldn’t categorize writing as an income producing activity and so I wouldn’t do it. I was rationalizing the fact that I wasn’t writing because I was “too busy” while also telling myself “well, so much time has already passed since your last post, you already fell off the schedule you made for yourself, so who cares when your next post is?” (Really positive thinking, huh?) As I was sitting on my new couch in my new apartment in my new neighborhood with my new roommate I thought to myself, “wow Nancy you are prioritizing everything else in your life besides yourself and your writing. So much is “new”but what about the old that was positive and that was working? You have stayed so busy and changed so much and yet you aren’t doing something you love each and every day.” (Yes I talk to myself). So I walked across my apartment, picked up my laptop and began writing this post.

Note to self: It’s okay that I haven’t written in weeks, it’s okay that I have been distracted, it’s okay that I have prioritized other things in my life. I need to remind myself of that and stop being so hard on myself. Easier said than done but it is a habit and a practice I am working on. Being a perfectionist sucks because you are so hard on yourself in every aspect of your life that when one thing isn’t going the way you want it to, even if there are other areas that can be celebrated and that are going well, you focus on that one area that needs improvement because it isn’t perfect. New priority-acknowledge myself for all of the good I am doing and all of the places I am growing and focus on the positive.

Your priorities can change each month, each week, each day and each hour even. Your focus can change. And it most likely will. One of my mentors always talks about how the most important thing you can do is move in the right direction. She says direction is all that matters. When I take a step back and zoom out on my life (even just the past few weeks) I know with confidence that I am moving in the right direction, but when I am in the day-to-day nitty gritty, I tend to freak out and overwhelm. I am sooo hard on myself. I don’t think about the direction, instead I think about the money I am not making and all of the money I am spending, I compare myself to others and I drown in my negative thoughts. My priorities become doing things that “look good”, trying to talk to as many people as possible, staying as busy as possible, and trying to make as much money as possible. My priority becomes doing things that make other people happy (there are my people pleasing tendencies again) and ignoring my thoughts, beliefs, worry and pain.

Rarely is my priority doing things that make me happy, taking a break, and just relaxing. I hate being bored, I hate having down time, I hate being “unproductive” and I hate being alone. I have anxiety over wasting time, disappointing others, and paying my rent. Writing has not been a priority for me. But that is okay.

My writing is for me. I don’t do it for the likes, the comments, the messages or the acknowledgment. I do it because it helps me process my thoughts, it makes me feel better, and it is a way for me to relax. I write to provide value to others, to be transparent and to inspire others to do the same. I write to take off the masks I wear and to be my authentic self. Now that is something  I need to make a priority.

When I tune in to myself and change my priorities to focus on what makes me happy, that is where the magic is. That is where the success is, that is where the bliss is, that is where the money is.

When was the last time you thought about your priorities and if they were making you happy and moving you forward? When was the last time you thought about what truly does make you happy and why you get up each and every morning? When was the last time you began your day with focus and excitement? I know it’s been a while for me. Your priorities are uniquely yours. They are not your parent’s, your friend’s, your roommate’s, or your significant other’s. This means you may make some people in your network unhappy while making yourself happy because they are focusing on themselves while you need to focus on yourself, but that’s okay. Because everything is perfect (even when it’s imperfect) and happens exactly how it is supposed to. You are meant to mess up your priorities so you can learn how to realize that and get back on track. That’s relatable and that’s human.

My priority is to feel good and to be happy. My priority is to write. My priority is to help others. My priority is to live in the present. My priority is to care less about the little things that don’t matter as much. We take life so seriously, always focusing on the next step, and rarely focusing on the present.

Take a second to reflect and think about your priorities. This is a conscious practice. It takes effort, focus, and purpose. Are your priorities in line with the direction you want your life to go in? Are you making time for the things that truly matter to you? Are your priorities making you a better person and helping those around you? Doing this practice takes some extra time but prioritizing your priorities is where happiness lies.

 

The Four Agreements Tom Brady made that helped him get through Deflategate

brady

Why is there still a taboo around self-help books? Do you think they are only for those who are “depressed” and “need extra help”? Do you walk straight past that section of the bookstore, making sure not to stop or look too long in case someone thinks something is wrong with you? I’m sure this isn’t you because if it was, you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog. But it was me a few months ago.

If Tom Brady is reading self-help books, than so can you

He discussed the book that changed it all for him in an article written almost a year ago on Boston.com. So yes, I’m late to the game, but I believe it is extremely timely due to his recent decision in the Deflategate case. There’s no doubt this book didn’t have an affect on him and his decision to take the four game suspension rather than continuing with his case and escalating it to the Supreme Court.

Spill it Nance, what’s the book you’re talking about?

Yes, I am talking in third person. Why? Because it’s fun and I feel like it 🙂 If you already clicked on the links I provided above than you know what book I’m talking about. It’s called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and I actually read it before I even knew Tom Brady read it because it was recommended to me by my friend Chelsea Miller (I’m so hipster 😉 ). I just recently found out my boy Brady read this book and it got me really excited, so much so that I had to write about it. The Four Agreements is a pretty freakin’ epic book and I totally understand why Brady has been reading it for the past 10 years and why he rereads it before every football season. It’s just as amazing that Gisele has also referred to The Four Agreements in multiple interviews and that it has influenced her thoughts and her life in an equally profound way.  Power couple much? Couples who read self-help books together, stay together and conquer the world.

So what are The Four Agreements and why is it so epic?

Well where do I even start? This actually works out super well because The Four Agreements is the first book I ever listened to as an audiobook. I’m definitely old school, I like holding my books and having paper copies of them (to write in, dog ear, and highlight) but my friend and I are doing a book club and he lets me use his Audible account so he bought it on there and we both listened to it. Listening to the book allowed me to take notes on an amazing app called Evernote that I adore. These notes are perfect because I can use them to share some big points I typed out while I was listening. This book is definitely spiritual, very deep, and sometimes hard to understand because what Don Miguel Ruiz is discussing is so abstract and not the way most people are used to thinking. But it is certainly worth the read (and re read) in order to help you change your thinking, the agreements you make, and your life.

Don Miguel Ruiz starts off with some important general points:

  • We never had the opportunity to choose what to believe or what not to believe. We were given our beliefs from childhood and we have held on to these beliefs ever since. In order to create new beliefs we need to agree with new ideas. This is extremely difficult to do because it causes us to feel unsafe. –> To realize that I was given my beliefs and that they aren’t true was HUGE for me. I can CHOOSE to believe anything I want. And so can you. Boom.
  • As a child, our reward was attention from other people. As a child, we try to please our parents and our teachers. The fear of being rejected becomes the fear of not being good enough. Eventually we become a copy of other people’s beliefs.–>A part of me is (and has always been) a people pleaser so this hit home for me. I always wanted to be the “perfect” child. I always wanted to do everything right, get the good grades, the amazing job, I wanted to make everyone else proud and I wanted to make them happy. I need to be validated, I need attention. This then creates a fear of being rejected because I so crave acceptance and love and I am always striving for more so I don’t feel good enough right now.
  •  Being ourselves is our biggest fear because we fear we will be rejected and that we won’t be good enough.
  • No one abuses me more than I abuse myself. This stems from believing I need to be perfect, hiding that imperfection, feeling inauthentic, rejecting myself and punishing myself. Self abuse comes from self rejection. Self rejection comes from an image of perfection.
  • The most important agreements are the ones with myself. Break the agreements that are fear-based. The agreements based in love are #1 and the absolute truth. The only way to break an agreement is to make a new agreement based on truth (aka love).

Okay and now finally the actual Four Agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with my word. 
    • This was a hard one for me to get. On the surface it looks like, “okay be truthful, keep my word, don’t lie, got it. Nothing new. Easy enough.” But then Don Miguel goes on to say, “How much I love myself and how I feel about myself is directly proportional to the quality and integrity and impeccability of my word.” Whaaat wow. Damn that shit’s deep. Read that a few times and really let it sink in. So basically the more you love yourself, the more impeccable your word is. Makes sense since the truth is love and if you are to be speaking the truth, you need to be speaking love and that all starts with loving yourself.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
    • This is one that Tom Brady specifically talks about in his interview and one that really helped him through the Deflategate case. He didn’t allow himself to take what was being said about him or what was happening as something personal. This of course is extremely difficult and takes strength and practice but it’s a habit that can be built over time. Everything people do and say is because of themselves and their opinions, beliefs and feelings in their own minds. If I take things personally then I poison my mind.By taking things personally I set myself up to suffer for nothing. This agreement is something I have really been practicing and it was been helping me so so much. As a sensitive, emotional, and caring person, it is extra hard for me to not take things personally but by reminding myself of Ruiz’s words that what people say has only to do with themselves I’ve been getting much better at this practice. One of my favorite sayings also helps as an amazing reminder, “What you think of me is none of my business.”
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
    • Ask questions rather than make assumptions. We make assumptions because we are too afraid to ask for clarification. This is another reason why communication is key. When we communicate, we are clearing up the situation and dissolving assumptions. Assumptions set us up for suffering. And of course they make an ass out of you and me 😉 (hehe sorry I had to). We make the assumption that people see us the way we see ourselves. Before other people can judge or reject us, we judge and reject ourselves.
  4. Always do my best.
    • It doesn’t matter if I’m sick or tired, just do my best in that moment. Don’t overextend myself. My best will change depending on the time of day, my health and my feelings and that is OK. When I always do my best, I take action. Take action because I love it, not because I expect a reward. This was another light bulb moment for me. Action dissolves fear and anxiety. When you take action you cannot fail, only learn and grow. When I do my best, I learn to accept myself.

Whoa. That’s a lot of heavy, deep shit right?

Uh yeah. That’s why Tom Brady and Gisele are freakin’ badasses.And that’s also why they have read The Four Agreements multiple times. It’s hard to digest and understand at first because what Don Miguel Ruiz is shining a light upon are things we don’t ever think about or can fully digest the first time around.

You have to be very strong to follow these agreements. Warning: most people do not think this way or hold these agreements in their mind so you are the minority. Get used to it.

The first step to following the agreements is being aware of them so that’s checked off your list- woohoo! Next you have to allow yourself to be imperfect, you won’t follow all of these agreements all of the time, and that is normal, expected and a good thing because it means you’re not some crazy robot. You have to be committed, dedicated and hardworking. Write these agreements out in places where you will see them often to remind yourself of them (I like using index cards and taping them on my wall, hanging them next to my desk at work, putting them in my backpack).  Start noticing your old thoughts and little by little start replacing your old agreements and beliefs with new ones that align with the above four agreements.

There are so many more notes I have typed out and so much more I could go in to but I will leave you guys with this because I want you to read the book for yourself 🙂 If this post has motivated and intrigued you to purchase the book please consider supporting me by ordering the book here (or clicking on any of the links above).

I would be honored to hear your thoughts and opinions on the book and how it has helped shape your life after reading it so please contact me using the form below because I would love to chat about it <3