The message that comes up again and again on the podcast is this: self-awareness is key. What works for me might not work for you. The very thing that brings you joy and fulfillment might fill me with dread. I equally love having these conversations when someone brings up a practice or tip I know I absolutely must try as when they mention something that's improving their life that I know would absolutely not be good for me. It's all so fascinating!
The more we understand our own needs, desires, preferences, strengths, weaknesses, energy, and personality, the more we can design a life that nourishes us and makes us happy.
You can read every self-help book, productivity article, and enticing listicle you stumble upon but ultimately life’s an experiment. You need to give things a try and see how they fit. Compare what you know about yourself with what you’ve read. Does it sound like a good fit for you? Awesome! Give it a go. If not, that’s okay too. It’s all useful information.
There’s no “right” way. It’s easy to get sucked into the latest productivity or self-help trend the way we all got sucked into wearing chokers in the 90s and raver pants in the 00s. Most of us have fallen into the trap of doing the same thing day after day, week after week because we’ve read over and over again that it’s the thing that will make us happy/wealthy/successful/popular/fulfilled/enlightened/a-good-human-being with very little critical thought to what impact the thing is actually having on our lives.
Does writing down three things you’re grateful for every evening give you a boost or is there something that’s a better fit for you that will help you align yourself with the positives in your life? Maybe you’re a visual person and doodling your blessings works well. Perhaps you like to cultivate feelings of gratitude and abundance in your meditation practice. Or sharing them with your family at the dinner table.
Is a formal meditation practice the best way to quiet your mind or does walking in nature, painting with watercolours, lying in the bath or swaying to your favourite song bring you more peace?
What brings you joy?
How do you work best?
I spent most of last year looking for the magic bullet - the perfect diet, superfood, routine, or practice that would heal me and leave my feeling vibrantly healthy.
I thought if I could just figure out the right things and do them perfectly, I’d undergo the kind of transformation I’d seen on so many Instagram feeds.
In the process I scoured books, articles, and videos. I talked to friends and worked with experts. I spent a lot of time looking outside of myself rather than reflecting on what was working for me and what wasn’t.
That’s not the say the time I spent searching was completely wasted. It gave me a lot to experiment with.
Because what I didn’t notice was that slowly, day-by-day, inch-by-inch, I was transforming. Not into a vibrant, glow-y Instagram goddess but into someone who is deeply in touch with her body, who understands how to take care of herself, and has created a life that allows her to do that.
It took me a long time to accept that in this season of my life, I can only handle one or two social obligations a week - and they definitely can’t be on the same day. The degree of slowness and rest that I need right now feels radical, uncomfortable, and certainly not aspirational. But it’s my truth. And I never could have found it in someone else’s advice. I had to learn it for myself through experimentation and reflection.
Just like how I had to learn how I can best be productive. What most fuels my creativity. How my body likes to move. What food makes my body feel good. What I need to feel loved and appreciated.
I’m always happy to share what works for me but in the end, I can never tell you what will work for you. But the wonderful thing is, if you stop, reflect, and listen, you know what works for you.
All this to say: let’s read the books and blog posts and watch the YouTube videos and listening to the podcasts. But let’s spend even more time treating life as an experiment, reflecting on what works for us, and designing our life in a way that feels right for who we are in this season of our lives.
Sit down, crack open a notebook, and write the listicle of how you're most productive, what brings you the most joy. I promise you haven't gotten this far without having a pretty clear understanding of what makes you tick.