Make Room for the New with A Content Cleanse

If you're reading this it's likely that you're a little bit like me - an information junkie who loads up on "elevating" material throughout the year. Half of which ends up in life's forgotten folders. Like a bookshelf stuffed with unread books.

It's also likely that you've engaged deeply with a lot of that same material - daily subscriptions, netflix queues, etc. for a specific season in your life. An awkward break-up, a death in the family, a career change.

In either of these cases, the turning over of a new year is a good time to shed some of that weight and make room for new revelations. A few places to start:

- Apps (the good, the bad, the ugly and unused)
- Emails (like notifications from a dormant Snapchat account)
- Calendar (e.g. recurring meetings that no one ever shows up to) 
- Browser Bookmarks (do people still use these?)
- Books (easy to donate or gift a friend)
- Podcasts (you know when you've heard enough)
- Contacts (that mute, unfollow, or block - even if it's temporary)

No content cleanse is the same. It really is up to you and the place you're at in your journey. Listen to your intuition and let it guide you without self-judgment.

My cleanse this year is centered around 3 major themes.

--- Self-help that is no longer helpful. It was right about the time Thanksgiving rolled around that I realized how much "help" I had surrounded myself with in 2018. Daily emails, IG posts  (#mondaymotivation), YouTube business gurus, articles and listicles -- all dedicated to the same thing. Develop better habits, get in better shape, be a better entrepreneur. I had to take note that much of this content was just a distraction from doing the actual work, and inhibiting my process of taking it one day at a time. This year, I'm acknowledging that I already have all the help I need. No more new books or gurus -- instead I'm picking my favorites and revisiting them. Everything else is already inside of me.

--- Research tools that are no longer useful. I'm the type of person to comb through a few 100 reviews before making a big ticket purchase. It's served me well - I'm generally getting the best of the best of what I really want. And most of all, I get the invaluable reinforcement of my own control-complex and the satisfaction of making a right choice. But it becomes a problem when this mentality leaks into my every day choices. I often find myself on a carousel of endless internal dialogue about the perfect thing to say, perfect time to call, or perfect thing to do. And Google is always there to feed my compulsion. The feedback loop can be paralyzing. That's why I want to say goodbye to obsessive researching and the tools/apps/websites that encourage it. Life-hacking my way to happiness is no longer the vibe.

--- Relationships that have run their course. I want to say thank you to the people I've learned from and listened to, who've given me insight and guidance, who've been there along the way. I'm grateful for the memories, but also acknowledge when a match has gone stale. Moving on or agreeing to a lower frequency of contact is hardly ever going to be easy, but that doesn't mean it has to be a bitter end. A newlywed buddy of mine so matter-of-factly explained to me over drinks one night how he had erased from his phone every single number from a female-identified person other than his wife. I had never considered a move like that, but I could see that the clarity he gained from removing the weight of the past was palpable. It wasn't a big dramatic gesture for him. Just a simple and effective way of clearing a path for his new and exciting future.

What are you clearing out for the year ahead?

Photo by Ameen Fahmy 

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An Accomplishment Journal Is The One Daily Habit I've Bothered To Keep

It’s not that I haven’t tried others. Waking up at 5am. Running a mile. Doing 100 pushups.

It’s just the reality. I've always had trouble starting and keeping any kind of daily habit. I’ll have a good two-week run if I’m luckily, reward myself with a day off and then it all collapses.

But last week when I flipped through the Moleskine hardcover I specifically purchased for this ritual recommended by my coach and saw that I had 6 months of consistent entries I was pretty blown away.

It's simple: Every night I task myself with remembering 4 small things that went right that day and writing them down. As someone who has been historically really good at finding what's wrong with a situation, I've found this practice to be invaluable for training my brain to focus on the positive.

Even if I miss a day or four, I always make sure to go back and fill in the highlights - from the big to the very small. Career related or personal.

Here’s a real-life example:

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  1. Went to Speedplay workout

  2. Caught up with artist friend at brunch

  3. Worked on writing and vocals for new song

  4. Grocery shopped, made meals for the week

It can be plain, sometimes painfully mundane. But it works.

Since I’ve started the practice, I’ve become more aware of my tendency to find the fault in everyday things - the crack in the wall, the mispronounced word, the dirt under the fingernails of life. And while that attention to detail has been helped me succeed in many ways, it also hindered my happiness. Allowing myself to be grateful for the highlights (in spite of, or even because of the imperfections) is making me better human. More pleasant with myself and with other people.

Here’s to celebrating the little things.

Are You Okay? And Why It's Okay if You're Not

My mom called me up the other day: “Are you okay?,” she said.

There was a little bit of drama in her voice. I chuckled the way I do whenever I’m trying to diffuse some tension inside of me. I revert back to my 17-year old self when we speak on the phone. 

Still laughing I said, “Uh yeah, I’m okay. Are YOU okay?"

We’ve been checking in on each other like this regularly since my father passed away last Fall. Actually, today marks exactly one year since we got that particular call. I appreciate our check ins, yet every time it’s got me asking deeper questions. Questions like, 

  • What are we really aiming for when we ask each other, "Are you okay?"

  • When I say I’m okay, am I really? And if I’m not, is that…okay? What else can I say?

  • What do we do with all this information anyway? 

Over the year I've posed the same questions to my friends, many of whom are reeling from the state of world affairs, income instability, mental health struggles, and digital media fatigue.

Through that process, I’ve come to 3 conclusions about my own preoccupation with okayness:

  1. It's okay to not be okay. For me it’s all about self examination and acknowledgement. It's about recognizing when things are not okay and that they haven't been okay for a while, and that it's normal. It's about knowing that there's an actual reason I've been drinking cheap champagne for lunch on Mondays and hiring a personal trainer to force me out of bed on Tuesdays. Everyone deals in a different way. Some times we clean every corner of the house and other times we let the weeds outside grow to Jumanji-like levels. It’s okay to not be okay. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't seek help of loved ones, trained professionals, or healers.

  2. Not being okay is an opportunity to learn and to grow. I'm highly skilled at numbing and self-medicating now. Not so much at sitting in my emotions or celebrating them. What if I took a different approach and ventured to shift my perspective? This is where talk therapists and coaches can really help. Being honest with ourselves is the first step. Taking action is the next. 

  3. I won't fix you, but I can support you. Supporting each other is about allowing the other person enough space to really be honest with themselves without fear of judgment. Imagine if the next time someone asked “Are you okay?” you simply could reply with an “I don’t know.” Maybe it would feel more real? Take the pressure off? Maybe it would open the door to a deeper conversation. The likelihood of any of us truly fixing each other's problems is a zero, and generally an unfair unnecessary ask. Just listening, allowing that pause for reflection can be enough.

It’s okay to not be okay, and we can be it together.

18 Ideas For Fresh Energy in the New Year

The first quarter can encompass some of the most motivating, active, and stressful days of the year. It's tempting to attack every dark, cob-web laden corner of your life with a full overhaul, but both experts and personal experience say you're better off taking it one small step at a time.

Here are some tips to inject a little energy back into your routine.

The following list is meant to be more of a buffet than an 18-course meal - just a few ideas that can be implemented in small portions to get you to a refreshed state of mind and build momentum for the year, which is still young.

1. Restart your computer. Then install a wrangler for all your browser tabs. 
This free Chrome extension automatically closes your tabs after a set amount of time (trust me, you won't miss them - and even if you do, there's an easy way to recover them).

2. Delete / clean up the apps on your phone screen

3. Turn off notifications from Instagram and Twitter. Initiate an unfollowIng spree on Facebook.
Yes, I'm under 40 and still on a personal Facebook regularly. If you want a cleaner feed with less distraction, no one else has to know. Quietly click the unfollow button on a former high school classmate, and you'll still remain friends in case either one of you decides to reach out for a substantive catch-up. Repeat the process with others you've lost touch or interest with and soon you'll have a completely blank slate.

If you're looking for a real shortcut, use this genius Chrome extension: 
News Feed Eradicator For Facebook

4. Begin a daily gratitude practice.
Gratitude reminds us that we have agency - the power to interpret the outcomes of our lives in a way that's useful.  I've begun writing down 3 different things I am grateful for every day, on paper or in the notes of my phone. I try to make 2 of these things something small that I'd usually take for granted, like ankle socks (in the summer; crew socks in the winter).

5. Write down a list of your fears.
On one side of the paper you'll have a list of everything that stops you in your tracks. Now flip it over and write the counter argument to each one of them.

6. Freewrite for 20 minutes, stream of consciousness style.
As a bonus, schedule a freewriting session with another artist.

7. Challenge yourself to write down 5-10 new ideas per day. 
They could be creative concepts or business plans, as long as they're something you haven't dreamed up before.

8. Find a therapist or life coach.
Good news -- it's no longer corny to have a life coach. A professional athlete would never train without a coach because their performance is serious business. If you're serious about life, could it be the same? 

9. Make and share a playlist.

10. Sign up for a class or course. 
Yoga, Painting, Flute, Breakdancing, Coding, Sex-Positivity.

11. Respond to an email that's gone unanswered for over 6 months . 
You'll be surprised what comes back. I've successfully picked up meeting plans that had stalled over a year prior.

12. Schedule a family activity.
Make it a monthly thing.

13. Book a solo trip.
Day-trip or a week overseas, some time in a new place on your own is a great way to shift your perspective and get aware of your trigger points.

14. Make amends. In person, by phone, or by letter that never gets sent.

15. Make a contract with yourself and sign it.

16. Set aside half a day to grab groceries and prep meals for the week.
As an addict for take-out and delivery, I can say that cooking has become a meditative experience for me. I appreciate what I eat much more after prepping the ingredients by hand, and save a lot of money in the process.

17. Take a cold shower.

18. Buy a plant for your home, office, or workspace.
Something you can take care of. Snake plants are among the toughest and nearly impossible to mess up.

Have you tried any of these out? What new habits or practices are you building in 2018?