I was new to pro-am dancing and was in a group class, learning the basics of Night Club Two-Step. I always dreaded stepping in with a partner to learn the basics. I was sure to step on some toes!
But this particular time, I stepped on the floor with a very kind man, who ended up being my practice partner for several years. I was nervous because it was my first time to try the step and because he was a very accomplished dancer.
But quickly, I was frozen by the words I heard from the practice song. I had never heard it before that time, and the words that kept echoing in my heart were: “Who I am with you, is who I really wanna be… “
My mind was racing.
I was asking myself, who am I anyway? And perhaps more importantly, who is it that I wanna be? And who was I when I was with some people, and who was I with others?
I truly did not know the answer at that moment.
My guess is that many of you have had the same questions about yourself. Through evaluating my own, perhaps I can shed some light on your questions.
I have to confess that I quickly realized that I was a better version of myself around some people than I was around others.
The question quickly captured me for the first time: who do I really want to be? Now that’s a pretty big life question!
I began journaling about it. Eventually, it became a critical piece in my yearly intentional work to design an extraordinary year!
So let me ask you to think about the basic questions: Who are you? Who do you really want to be? Are you a better version of you around some people? If so, would you like to just be that person?
I took two lessons from that moment on the dance floor. First, I wanted to be intentional about who I was and offer the best version of me in every situation, with every person in my life. Secondly, that it might be important to spend more time with people who called forth the best version of me!
I’ve been writing a lot about designing an extraordinary year. Why am I so adamant about encouraging people to do this? Because I believe you were created for more than what you are doing; you were created for greater things.
Most people think that designing an extraordinary year would be all about goals. And goals are very important. But if you set goals that propel you to becoming something other than the greatest version of you, then — “Uh, Houston… We have a problem!”
When I help people with this piece in designing an extraordinary year, I usually get this question: “I just don’t quite get it! Can you get me started?”
I tell them that they might not particularly like what I would share. So I only proceed if they give me permission after the disclaimer.
I’d love to get you started too, And I hope you will keep reading, even though I’m giving you the same warning: you might not like what I will share!
Here are the places that I actually started. I started with only two categories. I wanted to be a person of:
1. A PERSON OF MODERATION. Moderation has been defined as: The avoidance of excess or extremes; Limiting or elimination of things outside of reasonable limits.
I consider this definition for myself annually to ensure that I remain a person of moderation. To make this evaluation easier, I break my evaluation down into three categories:
A. Moderate social media. Since I post content five days a week, it might look as if I spend a lot of time on Facebook.
I actually have turned off notifications. And I purposely spend less than 30 minutes daily on Facebook.
Why? Two reasons:
- First, because research indicates that many challenges come with spending too much time on social media. What are some of the challenges?
- Research indicates it creates sleep disturbances and negatively affects quality of sleep
- Multiple studies indicate increases in stress, anxiety, and depression with overexposure to social media
- The National Marriage Project released research that indicates increased infidelity rates correlate with the increased use of social media
- Neuropsychological research has noted that the reward system in the brain (the VTA – ventral tegmental area) is greatly influenced by how many face to face relationships we have. In addition, it programs the VTA to become numb to genuine and sincere effort. This is why many of us can’t even put our cell phones away for a meal!
- Second, I am away from my phone all day long. (I would never have it disrupt my sessions.) And at the end of my day, I long for real two-way conversations. Honestly, I became tired of going to dinner with people who were more engaged with their cell phones than with me. I think it’s rude! It shows a lack of respect or care for the relationship. I don’t want to model that behavior to anyone I would enjoy having dinner with!
B. Moderate all other media, including Netflix, news shows, reality TV, movies – ALL of it! Yes, I used to be just as addicted to the TV as many are! And no, I don’t believe it’s a “one-eyed monster.” But I do know it’s the greatest hypnotic device known to man! (In 30 to 180 seconds, it sends your brainwaves into an alpha state, similar to the state the brain goes to in hypnosis!)
Research reveals that other than sleep and work, Americans are more likely to watch TV than ANY other activity. HUH?!!
Research reveals the astounding effects of watching the news, debate shows, sports commentaries, and the like. It shows that anxiety and total mood disturbance occurs within five minutes of watching these shows. Research also reveals a triggering of negative psychological feelings that could not be calmed by other distractions. Only intentional relaxation exercises and meditation calm this anxiety. Without that sort of intervention, it takes anywhere from 12-72 hours to be calmed from the stress, anxiety and negativity triggered by such programs.
Other research shows that watching TV (more than 30 minutes to an hour daily) has these negative effects:
- Interference with cognitive analysis, effecting ones’ view of reality
- Creates psychological addiction, becoming a means of processing emotions externally or vicariously
- Develops the reptilian parts of our brain (lower functioning) and allows the frontal lobe to lose development and become more impulsive, creating more angry outbursts, and dramatically lowering self-discipline
- Has been linked to degenerative brain disorders (dementia, Alzheimer’s, memory loss); and increased alcohol consumption (which is also linked to degenerative brain disorders). WOW! Can you say, “Frying your brain!”
- Causes a short attention span and puts any ADD/ADHD disorders on steroids.
I could go on and on here. But I realized that not only was I using my time poorly parked in front of the TV, but I was also lessening my brainpower. That was unfair to clients I coach; my friends; my family. I knew then that for me to be a person of integrity, I had to change my career or moderate my TV time. No choice! I love what I do, so I had to moderate.
Again, I’m not an extremist. I can assure you that when the new season of “Yellowstone” comes out, I’ll be watching it! (OK OK! Please don’t send me hate mail about that!)
C. Moderate all “substance use.” That means food, alcohol, and drugs. (Street drugs, or prescription drugs taken other than as prescribed.)
When I was younger, I was pleased that I could say I’ve never been intoxicated or used an illegal drug. But — then I found out I was a full-blown sugar addict! When called out on it, I found that the research was ABSOLUTELY TRUE: Withdrawal from sugar addiction is more brutal than withdrawal from cocaine! I was the owner of an inpatient and outpatient treatment center, and I found myself in a fetal position in the corner! Trembling, shaking, sobbing! It wasn’t pretty! But in time, my headaches disappeared, my energy returned, and I felt much clearer in my thinking than ever before.
ALL substances affect our health, our energy, our brains. Remember in the 80s when there were billboards and ads showing “your brain on drugs” and “your brain on alcohol”? Did we learn anything? Let’s moderate all substances and become our best!
2. A PERSON OF INTENTION. Intentionality has been defined as: “Being purposeful and directed in one’s life, relationships, career, and financial management. The trait of being thoughtful and deliberate in actions or decisions.”
I wanted to become intentional! I did NOT want to just let life happen to me. Not just live by the “devil made me do it” excuses.
To become very, very intentional, To do so, I had to first remove the four stupidest words in my vocabulary: “I can’t help it!”
Years ago I divided my intentionality into three categories. I still evaluate these each year.
A. Intentional words. An old proverb says that “life and death is in the power of the tongue.” I became aware that I spoke at least 100 things a day that were statements of defeat. Things like:
- I’ll never make enough money to just practice and not have to waitress on the side.
- I don’t think I’ll ever get to sleep normal hours.
- I don’t know why other people give money, and they seem to get richer, and I’m just getting poorer.
- I’ll never have a healthy relationship.
- Nothing I do is successful.
And I was right! That’s exactly what my life looked like!
Until I met Vikki Burke. She taught me the power of words. She helped me write my first proclamation. And now I write them all the time and speak my success, health, joy and peace into existence!
Be intentional with your words. Very intentional. About yourself, about others, about the future, about what’s possible.
B. Intentional about living with purpose. At one point many years ago, I found my life being directed by whatever came at me. The squeakiest wheel got the grease — What a horrible quality of life I had.
Then I stumbled upon the concept of living with purpose. It changed everything!
What is your purpose? If you don’t know, consider attending my signature workshop, “The Power of Purpose.” In it, I help people find or refine their purpose. Then we find the power in it.
This workshop changes lives!
Get intentional about living your life with purpose.
I will share a short story about someone who attended my workshop. She came having no clue what her purpose was. In the process of the workshop, she clearly defined her purpose: mentoring younger women who had been abused (as children, or as adults). She was in a job she hated but wanted to do her mentoring on a volunteer basis. In her small group, they suggested that she keep her job, as it paid very well. But to think of it as a means of supporting herself so she could mentor without charge. She said it was such a transformational way of looking at her work that she quickly climbed to a management position where her pay was increased and her hours were decreased. She said she fell in love with her job, because it provided her the opportunity to live her purpose.
She decided that one great way for her to mentor these women was to provide scholarships for them to attend my workshop. When she shared the story of her decision-making process with me two years later, she was bubbling over with gratitude and joy. You will have the same experience when you begin living with purpose.
Who is it that you want to be? I hope you will consider moderation and intentionality as a potential way to help you become the best version of you. Don’t stop with those two. I have at least FIVE each year. This year, I have many more. Why? Because I am more excited than ever about my extraordinary year ahead, and about making a difference in the lives of others.
That’s what we do as World Changers. I know you are one. No matter where you are or what your circumstances are. You are a World Changer. So take time to create the best version of you.
Finally, I didn’t win with the Night Club Two Step dance. Maybe because the song “Who I am with you, is what I really wanna be…” distracted me. But let me give myself a little credit!: I did really well with cha cha and waltz in competition, and my practice partner turned me into a progressive two-step wiz! (If you’d like a moment of fun, click here to see my first practice session with a replaced elbow and replaced shoulder!)
I am still a slacker at Night Club Two-Steppin! I am, however, no slacker in becoming the best version of me! That’s very important to me!
Now I need to get back out on that dance floor!