I am so eternally grateful that I know what it is like to feel "stuck" in my life. At the time, I hated it. I was miserable, unfulfilled and sleep-walking through life on autopilot. I made decisions based on what I thought I, "should do". I didn't listen to my heart. I recoiled in fear at the slightest tinge of discomfort and growth. I retreated to "stucked-ness", even though every cell in my body was screaming for me to do something else. As difficult as this was, it needed to happen. Without this experience, I wouldn't have the slightest clue how to relate to others who feel the same way. I also wouldn't have the skills to help others get "unstuck" from their own lives.
So, what happened? I had been tip-toeing around making changes in my life, when I very literally found myself in our truck, sliding sideways on black ice across a highway on a direct trajectory with a semi-tractor trailer. I wasn't fearful, I wasn't panicked - I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was about to die. In that moment, I felt three things: disappointment, shame and sadness. And then, without warning, our truck came to a screeching halt mere inches from colliding with the semi truck. To this day, I have no idea why or how I am still alive. I went home, and for the next two weeks I spent a lot of time crying: crying about what could have happened, crying for joy that I was still alive, and crying because I knew in my heart that I absolutely was not living up to my potential in life.
I am so incredibly lucky that I was in that near-tragic car crash. When you have a life-changing experience like that, you can choose to see it as a mere coincidence - something that happened "to you", or you can choose to see it as a miracle - something that happened "for you". Obviously, I chose the latter.
This is going to sound a little bit freaky, but a few weeks after the near-crash, I was meditating in my bedroom and I very clearly heard a voice say, simply, "The power of the one." Startled, I jumped up from my meditation - was I dreaming? Imagining things? I thought I might be going crazy, but I knew that I had heard a voice. I calmed myself down and closed my eyes again. In that moment, I saw all of my potential swirling around me, lifting me up into the sky. I saw the millions of people in the world that I am going to impact and change. I saw every little piece of my life that is going to unfold. It was the most scary, most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life - and the only thing more terrifying to me than seeing such an exciting vision, is not living in to that vision and making the difference that I know I was placed on this planet to make. As I contemplated, "the power of the one", I realized what it meant: the power to do anything, be anything, change anything lies within every single one of us - we only have to have the courage to dig deep and release it to the world.
Please, do not have a near-fatal car wreck on your journey to becoming unstuck in life. While I am blessed by that incredible experience, it was absolutely heart-wrenching. The good news is that you can have a breakthrough moment at any point in your life. You can have one right now if you want to - it is literally a conscious choice. With that being said, I am going to give you some concrete, tangible tips that will help you on your own path.
1. Visualize. I absolutely cannot stress the importance of visualization in your own transformation. If you want something specific (i.e. to lose weight, have a new job, build your dream house, climb a mountain, etc...) you absolutely MUST visualize exactly what you want. What do I mean by visualize? I mean, sit down, close your eyes and see it. See exactly what you want like it is real. Taste it. Feel it. Know that this reality is available to you. Talk about it in the present tense - don't just wish for it. Write down exactly what you want and read it/obsess about it every single day. Create a vision board. When I first started on my path, I did crazy things like taking photographs of myself in front of my dream house. I am not kidding about being obsessive (in a healthy way, of course!) - you have to want this so badly that you have a constant hunger in the pit ofyour stomach. It needs to be the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about before you go to sleep. Live it. Eat it. Breathe it. This is your new reality, and you are going to stop at nothing until you make it happen.
2. Meditate. This sounds like a lot of "woo", but it doesn't have to be. We live in a technology-based society, where it is so stupidly easy to "compare and despair". It is so difficult to see other people who are successful and/or achieving goals that you want for yourself and to convince yourself that, "somebody has already done it" or "I'm not good enough." You are good enough. You do deserve it. Meditation will help you connect with your heart and will help you connect with the energy in the universe that places you into a state of, "flow" - that magical state of mind where all things are possible (before your brain starts trying to convince you otherwise). I love using guided meditations - Meditation Studio and Insight Timer are two of my favorite apps for meditation. Meditation is as much of a priority to me as eating and drinking water - do not skip a day.
One of my favorite ways to meditate is to set a meditation timer and to close my eyes and visualize the feeling of being on the summit of a mountain (for me, I always imagine being on the summit of Glacier Peak). You can do this with any of your favorite hiking/climbing locales - pick a place that is special to you, and really see yourself in that place. Focus on your breath, and when your mind wanders, just gently bring it back to your breath, over and over again.
Another fun option, if you are feeling a little bit adventurous, is to try something like a sound bath. My friend Kate Towell is an Ayurvedic Coach and Yogi, and Aaron and I went to one of her healing sound baths at Twist Yoga in Edmonds, Washington. It was incredible. I had never experienced anything like a sound bath before, and I highly recommend it.
3. Move. You absolutely need to move your body and exercise. It doesn't have to be an epic hike or an intense weight-lifting session. Even a walk will do! Just make it a priority, and do it. It will clear your mind and invigorate your body.
4. Nourish. Putting junk into our bodies might temporarily feel good, but in the long run, it's going to hurt. I truly believe in the power of positive, daily compounding actions. So, eating cake today won't kill you ... but eating cake everyday for the next 10 years might. When your body is nourished properly, your brain will function properly. I cannot stress the importance of good, sustainable nutrition (not "dieting"). Hire a nutrition coach and figure out what works for you, but get your nutrition under control. Your life, literally, depends on it.
5. Sleep. For two years, I neglected my sleep. I worked night shift, and I woke up ridiculously early in the morning to try and fit in my gym workouts. What I didn't realize is that getting 4 hours of sleep per night was completely counter-acting any progress that I was making at the gym. When you don't sleep, your cortisol levels go up, which hurts your health in a big way. When you make your sleep a priority, you will start thinking more clearly and you will be able to make better decisions, be more creative, and, in general, live a happier life (seriously, just prioritizing my sleep completely changed my life).
6. Believe. You have to believe in yourself. This is a really hard one, because when you start on a path to follow your dreams or change your life, it is going to make other people uncomfortable. Listen to your heart and believe that you deserve this. When I first started, I recited affirmations to myself over and over again. In particular, I said, "I believe in myself. I am enough. I do not compare and despair". Over. And over. And over again. You are about to embark on something that you have never done before - so, chances are, you have no idea how to do it. Do not let that stop you. You can absolutely do anything that you put your mind to.
7. Inch by inch. If you've been following me for more than 10 seconds, you know that "Toward the Mountaintop Inch By Inch" is the theme of my life. As you embark on this new trail in your life, be gentle on yourself, but keep moving. If I had a dollar for every time that I had a great idea or wanted to follow my dreams and never actually did anything about it, I'd be a gazillionaire - I'm sure you can relate to that feeling too. Like I said before, you don't need to know all the steps that you are going to take to get where you are going - all you have to do is take the first one. Once you take the first step, the next one will reveal itself to you. Just keep taking, "right-feeling" steps - and be open for new opportunities that might present themselves to you in new or unexpected ways. A mountain is not climbed in one giant leap - it is climbed in thousands upon thousands of tiny steps. Love yourself through the process, and just keep taking steps.
Trust me on this: every step matters. We are so good at not giving ourselves a chance and quitting before we even have the opportunity to succeed. We get so easily frustrated with not reaching our goal immediately. It took you millions of steps to get where you are right now, and it is going to take millions more steps to get where you are going. With your vision in mind, just keep taking steps.
8. Give. We live on the most amazing, abundant planet. Our world is filled with the most incredible, kind and loving people. If you have the opportunity to give to others, take it. It doesn't have to be much: a smile, a compliment, a coffee, or just a helping hand. We are all in this together, and connecting with other human beings is the most deeply rewarding act of love on the planet. As you gain more abundance and give more, more beauty, positivity and joy will flow to you in ways that you cannot even imagine.
9. Focus. What you focus on you find. Here's a good litmus test: go read your last 10 Facebook status posts. Are they negative? Are you complaining a lot? Or, are they positive? Inspirational? Think about what energy you are giving off to the world. What you give to the world is what you are going to get back. What you focus on in life, is what you will create. If you are shocked to discover that you are a slightly negative person, try changing it up for a few days: see what happens when you only focus on positivity. What new opportunities arise in your life?
Another helpful tip: Do not watch the news. You are on a mission in this world to do good, be good and spread good. This is not about being indifferent - it is about protecting yourself so that you can be your best self and make the most impact. Being negative and propogating fear-mongering and negativity does not help anybody else, including you. Sharing negativity that you have no control over serves no purpose, other than to attract more negativity to you.
10. Outside. When in doubt, go out. Get outside - even if it means sitting on your back porch and feeling the sun on your face. The wilderness has the magically ability to give us the reality check that we need at exactly the right time. Feeling a bit too arrogant? It will put you in your place. Lacking confidence? Climbing a mountain will empower you. Don't use the wilderness as mere recreation time - look for the lessons that it has to offer, and then try applying them to areas of your personal life that you want to improve.
What other tips do you have for getting "unstuck" in life? Any advice to share with others? What has worked/not worked for you?