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Joe knows better than anyone – some days I feel like one person and I have a plan, and the next day I’m a totally different person with a different plan! Anyone else?? 😂
I don’t know if it’s a fear of commitment, or if it’s just that I’m still mid-journey into discovering and embracing who I am, but I feel like we are always going to be mid-journey when it comes to that.
Knowing and loving who you are isn’t just a magic switch; it’s always evolving and that’s a good thing. The question is, how do I find -and not only find, but stick to – my path? Especially when there are elements of uncertainty or uncharted waters?
Today, we have a few pointers, but I am looking forward to the reminder myself. And I’m hoping these will be something you can actively start to implement, too.
1. Become a student of your discomfort and doubt.
A big part of uncovering your path is being willing to become a student of your discomfort & doubt, or even your weaknesses. Often, those feelings are really a message in disguise.
Rather than stubbornly putting our foot down and saying, I don’t want to feel that (although we’ve all been there, done that), ask yourself what is the message my body or my emotions are trying to tell me?
Sometimes, discomfort means a boundary needs to be enforced. Sometimes, it’s trying to tell you that you’re running on empty and you need to take some time to fill your tank. Sometimes, we feel uncomfortable when we know we’re wrong, or something is wrong, but we’re fighting that knowledge.
Sometimes, doubt means we’re placing too much value on what someone else says. It might mean we need more preparation. Sometimes, it’s a gut feeling that another course is a better fit.
Sometimes, we’re angry because our trust has been violated. Sometimes, it’s because we don’t understand another point of view. Sometimes, it’s out of self-protection, because we’re afraid if we aren’t angry, the loss or the hurt is too big, that if we stand still too long we won’t be enough, or we’ll fall short.
When you understand what is behind these feelings, then you can ask ourself, what next? Where do I go from here? What path do I want to take?
But, first, it requires courage to face those hard feelings and come out on the other side.
2. Follow What You Love.
This is something that really helps me, because, some days, I still feel like I’m in the thick of it. Yes, there are things I know about myself that I didn’t know two years ago, but I also learn from continuing to follow the things that I love and see where they take me.
I read somewhere once that identity is not “discovered”; it’s “created”. And that’s been largely true for me. Like I’m piecing together a puzzle of things I love or don’t love and things I’m good at or not good at.
But, so much of the time, we have things that speak to us that we shut down because we are afraid of them, or afraid of rejection.
For me – my music, the podcast, writing, Exercise Science (which is my field of expertise)… These are all things I really really love, but I’m also terrified of not being good enough at, or not having the “right” personality for, or not fitting the mold of what someone who is “good” at these things looks like.
My challenge to you is – follow the things you love anyway. Not because you have to hustle for your worth, but because we uncover our path when we take something we aren’t comfortable with and turn it into something we are competent at.
Then, it becomes something restorative that is this big or even small, but important, part of who we are.
I remember hearing Brooke White on the 3in30podcast once talk about confidence. She shared about her experience on American Idol and she said: love “the thing”, whatever the thing is, so much, that you’re willing to withstand the discomfort.
I love that perspective – that bravery and confidence come from loving something so much, that the not-so-fun feelings are worth it.
It’s just like with my marriage and family. The things that really matter the most, the biggest love, has the potential to hurt the most, too. But every moment is worth it. We sacrifice so much and risk so much for our kids and our spouse, and even parents and siblings, because we love them so big.
But, for some reason, when it comes to anything else we love, it feels selfish. I think that’s why identity crisis always hits young parents or caregivers in general so hard.
It’s like we’re afraid that once we have that big love, loving anything else takes away from that, but it doesn’t. It actually gives you a stronger foundation for caring for and relating with the people that you love as your whole self and not a shell of who you could be.
The key is to focus on the “love for the thing”, as Brooke puts it, not on the fear and the doubt. Like we mentioned, we can get curious with our doubts and discomfort and learn from them, but, then, take what you learn and chase after those things that are going to make you whole, that are going to make you come alive, and be willing to face whatever, because that love is big enough.
Slowly, we start to step into who we are, and own that, instead of running from it.
So, if you like to draw, follow that! If you love to study history, follow that! If you love to read to little kids, follow that! If you like to write or sing or play an instrument, follow that. And don’t worry about what anybody else thinks, becaus, before it’s a talent or title, it’s going to be a little “unknown”, and that’s okay.
Just follow it and see where it goes.
3. Strip Away the “Should”s.
A big part of being able to follow what you love is to shed the pieces of you that you put there for someone else. That may even be quality you hope to emulate someday, but with “should” as your motivation, you lose meaning, and you keep looking for someone else to fill in the gaps.
Find your meaning, not someone else’s. Be honest about the things you love and the qualities that come naturally to you, as well as the attributes that are going to take a little bit more work.
4. Zoom In (And Out).
This one requires some finesse, as Joe would say.
First, zooming in. I use zooming in when I’m trying to home in on what matters most to me, or pick the most important thing on my to-do list is.
I guarantee a few of you can relate, but I usually have to choose, either in writing my list or in actual execution – what can I let go of today?
And when I’m answering that question it helps me to say, “If this were my last day, or my last week on earth, what would I do? What would I want to leave behind?
I want my husband and my kids to know I love them. I want to spend quality time with the people I love. When people remember me, I don’t want it to be because I was stressed out about x, y, and z, or the house was never clean enough, or the body was never good enough, or the connection was never deep enough.
Honestly, I want to leave behind joy. As someone who struggles with anxiety, that’s not something I’m always perfect at, but I really try.
And yet, we also need to zoom out.
It’s a juggle between “living like you were dying” and doing your future self a favor.
In fact, we went back and forth between these like crazy during our extra long pandemic summer, haha!
First it was – I can’t do all the things, I need a break, let’s watch a family movie and just enjoy being together. Then – I need routine!! Movie night isn’t working on an every night basis, I miss when my kids slept at regular intervals, and this isn’t sustainable.
So, zooming out, doing your future self a favor means acknowledging long-term or even short-term, but not immediate implications of your present course.
This is where we set our 5-year goals and our 10-year goals and then we decide, if I want to be here in 10 years, this is what I need to do to get there.
We have apathy on one side of the spectrum and obsession on the other, but zooming both out and in, allows us to reach that middle ground of love for who we are, love for the now, and respect for who we are becoming and acknowledging the hard work required to fulfill the potential that’s already there.
One-Liner: Don’t be afraid of uncertainty, explore it.
Journal Prompt: Today, we have two for you! You can choose one, or do both, it’s totally up to you. 1. Make a list of the things that you love. What is it you want to let yourself explore more and see where it takes you? 2. The next time you experience a negative emotion, ask yourself, what is this emotion or response trying to tell me? And write that down! You can do this as many times as you need to to just start getting into the habit of asking yourself this question whenever those feelings come up.
❤ Jenny and Joe