My BIGGEST, most painful lesson in taking ownership, ever.

Every so often I become aware that another year of my life has passed. This isn’t because it’s my birthday, it’s just a moment where I’m reminded of where I was exactly a year ago. For many years, this realization was met with a pounding heart, deep sadness, and frustration that another year had passed where nothing in my life changed. Nothing at all. I was unhappy, lacking joy and fulfillment, depressed, overweight, completely lost as to who I was or what I wanted, always broke, and without depth and connection of any kind in my life. So realizing that I’d spent another entire year in this place was devastating.

Let me give you some back story…

When I was 21 years old, I had everything I thought I ever wanted. I had just graduated from college at the top of my class, had an amazing job at a local graphic design firm, a brand new townhouse, a boyfriend of almost seven years (my “high school sweetheart”), and a shiny little car in my own name. On the outside it appeared that I was doing everything right for my age, and, honestly, a lot better than my peers. People were really proud of me and impressed by the life I’d worked so hard to create at such a young age.

But despite outward appearances, I was absolutely miserable.

Knowing that the guy I shared a home with was not “the one.” Finding that the great job, despite the excellent pay and awesome projects, wasn’t making me happy. Feeling trapped financially by the house, the car and the “perfect little life” I had created… basically feeling that nothing in my life was right, deeply unfulfilled, isolated and with absolutely no clue what to do about any of it!

I attempted to resolve the growing discomfort with several new jobs, all ridiculously fabulous and with increased salary and clout. I ended my relationship, jumped into a new one, and threw myself into a whirlwind of painful changes and serious stress. But no matter what I did, something deep inside me just wasn’t having any of it.

During this difficult period of my life, I truly believed I would never be happy. I believed that I simply wasn’t built for it and being a “happy person” just wasn’t in the cards for me. I believed that life would always be a struggle and it would pass by right before my eyes with absolutely no say on my part.

And yet, here I am today with a completely different life and perspective.

When I realized recently that another year had passed, I felt expansive, joyful, filled with gratitude, amazed, and absolutely in love with myself and my life. And the best part? I feel this way every single day.

How’s that for a change?

The reason I’m sharing this with you today is because I want to touch on something incredibly important that took me years to understand: creating the changes you want to see externally in your life starts with the changes you make internally. Despite all the job, location, income, business, and relationship changes I made during that difficult time, nothing actually changed for me. I was still unhappy, lacking fulfillment, completely lost, miserable, and depressed.

It wasn’t until I started doing the inner work, and I mean really doing the work, that I began to create amazing things in my life externally.

This week, I’m going to be sharing three videos with you that contain the most essential tools, mindset shifts, and exercises with you so you can begin creating an amazing life you absolutely LOVE, right now. When asked by my clients and Mastery members what was the ONE THING I did to really start making changes in my life, I tell them there are three simple things I did.

Each of these individual exercises are truly transformational on their own, but combined? They’re unbelievable. Spoiler! In this first video, you’re also going to hear about the biggest, most painful and slightly embarrassing lesson I’ve ever learned on taking ownership in my life. It’s a doozy.

Depending on how you connected with me originally, you may have already seen these videos, but I encourage you to take some time to really watch them again, AND work through the exercises. This isn’t the kind of work you do once and suddenly everything’s amazing. Nope, not even close. I still do the work in these three videos every single day. That’s how I created an amazing life and business I love, and it’s how I’ll continue to build on the beautiful foundation I’ve created.

So, let’s dive in shall we?

The Nine Words That Will Forever Transform Your Life

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After you watch the video, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts, what came up for you, and how you’ll begin utilizing this powerful shift in your life!

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Around Here…

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This past week was spent in my favorite city of all (and my soon to be — in a year or so — home), Portland, OR for an event and time with an amazing friend.

I absolutely adore Portland, as well as this particular event. My time here is always expansive, eye-opening, inspiring, growth inducing, overwhelming in the best ways, and filled with new creative energy. This trip was full, but amazing.

My friend and I attended a 5K Fun Run on Friday morning and had an awesome view of the Portland sign and river. Then we attended the Great Namaste, a world record attempt for the largest yoga chain. Super fun and super hot. :) After that, we hit up an amazing talk by Jonathan Fields about creating a revolution (best talk I’ve ever been to and worth the flight and event expense alone) and I was feeling beyond inspired. The weekend was filled with amazing talks and inspiring moments, many of which I’ll blog about soon (and already have here).

After the weekend, I had a day to play alone where I went to coffee shops and delicious vegan dining spots. I wrote, relaxed, and recovered. Tuesday I had the awesome opportunity to go trail running for the first time ever and absolutely loved it. I have energizer bunny lungs down here and it’s awesome. :) Wednesday we went to the coast, something I’ve wanted to do since my first trip in 2012. Amazing. I have never been so in love with mountains and forests like I am with Portland’s. They’re lush, flowering, full, and amazing. I felt like frolicking through the trees and rolling around in fields of wildflowers. For real.

Then there was the ocean. The ocean is my home and I’m happy simply to be in it’s presence. It was much colder than we expected (three former Hawaiian residents obviously dressed for the beach… not the Portland coast), but it was so much fun and I stilled managed to get a good solid sunburn.

I’m so grateful for this trip and for the adventures, inspiration and clarity it’s brought me. I also can’t wait to move here in a year! :)

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How to Take Brave, Bold and Imperfect Action

I spent last weekend at Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit Event in Portland, OR and it was, as always, absolutely amazing. What I love about attending events with multiple speakers is that we all receive the individual messages we need to hear through ideas interwoven into each talk. Our minds are amazing that way, so even though each talk is unique, we hear what we so need to hear in the moment while someone else hears something totally different.

There were two things that came up for me repeatedly… things “I already knew”. While I’m not generally one who goes into experiences thinking I know everything and there’s nothing I can learn, I was very surprised to get these messages over and over because I’d been reminding my clients and members about one for the last three months repeatedly.

The first thing I was hearing repeatedly was to just start, and continue taking imperfect action.

This is something I feel really awesome at, and is definitely something I’ve been doing for some time now. I started this business before I knew what kind of business it was going to be by throwing up a website and starting to blog. I put Your Passion-Based Business on my Mastery sales page with a general idea, but no real plan of what I would deliver in the program until I had to get started. I pushed out my new website before it was done. I take imperfect action all the time, and I’m always telling my clients and members to do the same.

The second thing is that life is really, really short.

One amazing speaker named Michael Hyatt shared some startling statistics with us. Out of the 2,500+ people in the theatre that day, two of us would be dead within 30 days. He followed it up with a joke, saying “I know what you’re thinking… it’s the guy next to me.” But when I heard that number I stopped breathing. I’m a person who lives with a strong sense of urgency, and have for as long as I can remember. I have the very distinct belief that “I’m running out of time to do the work I’m here to do.” This can be stressful at times, but it’s something I’m incredibly grateful for, because I don’t take my time and life for granted. Instead, I feel the constant pull to do the work I’m here to do.

So why was I hearing these messages?

And then, like a dramatic and cliche bolt of lightening from the heavens, it hit me.

Three years ago I discovered my passion for personal responsibility and started this blog. Two years ago, I had an idea for a passion project that would teach personal responsibility to the world.

For two long years, I’ve been clear that my life’s work is to teach and inspire personal responsibility. And yet, I’ve done hardly anything around this passion project but think about starting it “soon” (though, points for me, I designed a logo at one point!). I realized I’ve been using every excuse in the book, and every excuse I’ve coached my clients around to put it off.

That’s two years I could have leaned deeper into my calling, purpose, passion project, and life’s work but haven’t. And you know what, life is really, really short and I may be one of the two people to die in the next month… do I really want to die without bringing my life’s work to the world?

So, my dear friend and I headed off to a coffee shop during Sunday’s lunch break with the intention of taking brave, bold and imperfect action towards our big scary dreams. She started writing her first book, and I threw up an imperfect website and blog post for my “For Purpose” website in just two hours. I took my own advice that I’ve been handing out for months, and the advise of the amazing speakers, and I started.

It was scary, felt oh so amazing, and is something you can do too.

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How to take brave, bold and imperfect action:

1) Decide what’s really important to you right now.

If you only had 30 days to live, what would you pour your heart and soul into? What’s your passion project or life’s work that’s being neglected or pushed to the side? What’s a goal or dream you’ve deferred for far too long? Decide on one thing that’s really important to you right now… not your family or friends, or your boss or co-workers, just you.

2) Take brave, bold, and imperfect action around it. Today.

Choose one way you’ll take brave, bold, and imperfect action around this thing that’s so important to you. Do something to move it forward, no matter how small, huge, incremental, or scary. Be brave, be bold, and let go of your perfectionism. As I always say (and now always do), you just have to get started. You’ll build momentum from there, but just start. Take the first step and register the domain, call the person, write the first words, throw the first colors onto canvas… just start somewhere and build from there.

3) Create momentum by continuing to take imperfect action.

It’s not enough to start, you have to keep moving. Even if it’s something tiny every day or once a week, keep building the momentum by continuing to take imperfect action. I put up my passion project’s website yesterday and today I made some tweaks and published another blog post. Every single day I will do one thing, including post something relevant to the conversation on the blog, to build momentum and start bringing it to life. What can you do every single day? It doesn’t have to be massive, it just has to be something. Brave, bold, imperfect action.

I don’t think I have to say it, but…

Take action now.

You know what to do, so go do it. Then tell me about it in the comments below. :)

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June Was…

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The fullest, busiest, craziest month of the year so far.

My first 5K and beating my arbitrary goal of 35min without stopping!

My professional photo shoot with the fabulous Erika Astrid.

First proofs and new favorite flowers (aka, African Daisies).

My house going under contract in just 6 days on the market.

Baseball games, awesome Thai massages, and a breakfast date with this cutie.

Sunrises, self care, shelfies and lots of snuggling.

Vegan dining dates, Maya at the museum, and sitting out by the pool.

Lots of packing, pretty pots of flowers, and an awesome new apartment.

Road tripping with my guy, New Mexico food tour, and Jack!

Celebrating my first baby sister’s wedding.

New ring bling and delicious (oh so delicious) sopapilla delights.

Getting back to the gym (and loving it).

Schooling my guy in Super Nintendo’s Donkey Kong!

Easy closing, moving days, back injuries, and saying goodbye to my first house.

The long anticipated release of my first book, Awesome Life Tips!

Challenging, exhausting, and never-ending.

Filled with release, purging, and detoxing on all levels.

Tear inducing, sleep depriving, and yet still pretty amazing.

Filled with joy, release, new beginnings, and awesome changes.

Maxed out, like crazily so.

Happily behind me.

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When Life Feels Impossible and Overwhelming

Someone I love has been going through a rough patch lately and I want nothing more than to make it better for them. Being a coach and personal development writer, I noticed my desire to start coaching and “inspiring”. Instead, I paused and thought back to my experiences going through the quarter life crisis, struggling to build a business, never having enough money, being in relationships that didn’t serve me, and all the other fun stuff in between.

What I remember most about those times were that they felt impossible and overwhelming. I remember not wanting to be told things like “it gets better” or “stay positive” because it felt like the world was closing in on me, everything was happening to me, and I had absolutely nothing left to give.

Impossible and overwhelming.

I remember how hard I tried, again and again, to make changes in my life, build a thriving business doing work I loved, “find myself”, create real depth and connection, and just be happy, secure, and in love with life. I also remember how many times it seemed like every step forward was met with five crashing steps backwards, where I wouldn’t just move back, I’d take out the whole walkway, walls, and anything else that had been built up around it.

Impossible and overwhelming.

I remember the night I cried my eyes out in my car parked at an ocean lookout. I was in so much emotional pain it physically hurt to be in my body. I sobbed until I almost hyperventilated… and then I just stopped. That was the first, and most intense, divine moment I’ve ever experienced in my life. A moment where I felt like part of me had left my body and ventured out into the stars. I could feel, with every fiber in my being, my truth and essence. There was joy, inspiration, creativity, love, connection, peace, and depth. It was amazing.

But actually getting to that place?

Impossible.
Overwhelming.

And yet, here I am today, living a life I love, with amazing people, doing some of the work I was put here to do.

Not only that, I’ve met and gone beyond that feeling I conjured up one sad, lonely night at an overlook by the ocean.

So if you’re feeling like life is impossible and overwhelming, know that I hear you. I know. Our experiences and journeys are different, but I understand. I know you don’t want to hear “be positive” and “it will all work out.” I know you feel like you’re giving everything you’ve got and there’s nothing left. I know you’re tired, need a hug and a bubble bath, and just want to get there already.

I hear you, I love you, and I know.

I’ve thought a lot about what I can say to someone, like the person I know and love, about getting through the impossible and overwhelming, that wouldn’t have made me rage out when I was in my own dark and hard place. Because even though we know things like “be positive” and “it gets better” are wise truths, we don’t want to hear it. It’s quite possibly the most annoying thing anyone on this planet could ever say. We feel like the only person who’s ever had this difficult of a time trying to create a good life. We think that because someone is shiny and happy, they don’t get it. How could they? Their life is clearly awesome!

So here’s what I have to say (and yes, it’s all annoying and cliche… but also wise and true):

1) Take care of yourself.

When you do take a step forward only to take five crashing steps back, take a self care timeout. This “change your life” stuff isn’t easy, so be good to yourself. Fall backwards into a bubble bath, a Sunday afternoon nap, a good fiction book, or a date with a great friend. Nurture yourself every step of the way and you’ll build up more resilience at an incredible pace. Pretty soon, even ten steps back will feel like a little misstep in a bouncy house and you’ll pop right back up ready to plow forward again. Promise.

2) Don’t stop trying.

Take timeouts when you need them, but don’t give up. Trying to make changes often requires things literally rewiring your brain, uprooting yourself from what’s known and comfortable, taking a sledgehammer to parts (or all) of your life, changing your ecology, and so much more. I’ll say it again, this “change your life” stuff isn’t easy. Not even a little bit! In theory, it’s all pretty simple. Be positive, speak your truth, love yourself, blah blah blah. Simple in theory, crazy hard in reality. Remember how you used to fall when you were first learning to walk? Probably not, but you know what I’m saying… practice, patience (or a total meltdown followed by a self care timeout, followed by trying again), and perseverance. I got to where I am because I kept trying, you will too.

3) Stop doing it all yourself.

Get the support you need, whether it’s crying to your best friend or hiring a coach, mentor, or counselor. Join a program or community, ask for help when you need it, read books written by people who’ve been where you are. You’re not the only person going through this, and there are people who’ve made it through and then wrote books about how you can do it too. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience that surrounds you and get some support. I know you can do this on your own, I know it. But wouldn’t you rather be “there” (happy, fulfilled, living your passion, loving your life, etc) sooner rather than later? Books, mentors, coaches, counselors, programs, communities, etc. They’re all key, use them as much as you can.

4) Don’t get mad…

At me, because I’m going to say it: stay positive. Again, I know how annoying that is to hear, I personally hated that statement! But if I can attribute changing my life to one thing, it’s changing my mindset. Click here to access my free training series with my top three mindset shifts. Again, these aren’t easy to implement, but they are hugely transformational! Don’t be stubborn. People say cliche things for a reason, because they’re true and they work. Roll your eyes if you want, but do the exercises!

Take action now!

If you’re feeling like creating what you desire, or just getting through the day, is impossible and overwhelming, I want you to choose one action item from the list above and do it. Share with me what you’ve done!

PS – Only three more days to take advantage of the My Awesome Life Mastery sale! Save $150 on your annual membership when you register by Friday, July 11th! This year long mastery group gives you complete access to my products and programs, monthly group coaching calls, a tribe of like-minded people on the same journey as you, and everything you need to build a life and business you love! Click here to learn more.

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People around me have noticed how “happy” I’ve been lately and I can 100% say that I have never felt more happy, authentic, confident, and healthy as I do now. I am so grateful to Stephenie for helping me begin this journey of self discovery. — Jennifer McAleese