Posts in Stress Erasers
How to make commitment work.

commitment Earlier this week I wrote about my internal struggle with commitment in my career and the questions that nag at me (loaded with a whole lot of judgment): Why can’t I commit fully to a career path? Why do I always doubt?

I have been struggling with which career path to choose this entire year, and last year, and to a certain extent every year since high school. I worry about not choosing the right path. And – the catch 22 – I worry that no matter what I choose it will not be enough. I worry that collectively, it is impossible to do the things I am up to - law, writing, coaching, speaking - good enough, and that individually, the things I am up to are not enough. So I don’t commit fully.

I have had enough of not knowing. I want to know myself to be committed.

So Tuesday night as I was going to bed I wrote a declaration on a paper: September 17, 2014 - breakthrough in commitment to career.

Here's what came up shortly after the clock struck midnight and September 17, 2014 rolled around. (It’s funny how declarations work if you really believe in them.)

Commitment must begin within. 

Unless there is an underlying commitment to something within my power, trying to commit to something outside of myself will result in attachment to outcome and my choices not being good enough.

For example, being committed to something outside of myself (a guy, a relationship, or how it appeared) did not allow my romantic relationships to work. I was attached to the outcome and constantly doubting whether I’d found the right guy or the right relationship, and whether it was the right time. 

The day I found the things that I really wanted to create and experience (the big ones being love and partnership) and committed to them knowing it was in my power to create those things in my life, I no longer had doubts. The pressure to find the right guy and the perfect relationship was replaced by the freedom to choose the guy and the relationship that I would empower to create with me the things I was already committed to creating.

Once committed to something within, we need to commit to and empower something outside of ourselves.

Once I own my power and commit to creating and experiencing the things I really want, then I must choose to empower and commit to something that will enable me to create and experience those things.

Without choosing a partner I would never experience partnership, and without choosing to love someone and to allow someone to love me, I would never experience love. I commit to the person and the relationship (things outside myself) and empower them to help me create the things I really want: partnership and love.

In relationship, you have to find a kick ass person who is committed to creating and experiencing those things with you in order for it to work, but it is so much easier to find that person when you aren't putting pressure on them to figure out how to meet your wants and needs, and putting pressure on yourself to figure out how to meet their wants and needs. Instead you empower each other to create and experience the things you both are already committed to creating and experiencing in your own life.

No pressure and full commitment.

When we start by committing to something within our power, our external commitments are enough.

I was not fulfilled in any area of my life until I started owning my power to create and experience what I need and want.

In my relationships I could not choose to commit to someone or empower them to meet my needs and wants, because I did not feel like I had the power in me to meet my own needs and wants in the first place. I was looking for them to save me, but didn't want to admit I needed saving, so I never let them in. I was also holding the other person as unable to meet their own needs. I was terrified of what I saw as a huge responsibility that came with being in relationship - figuring out how to make the other person happy and give them what they needed to fill a void in their life.

I didn't have the awareness at the time, but I can see now that as I started owning my own power to get my underlying needs and wants met, it became less and less scary to think about being in a relationship. The more I became aware of what I wanted, and held myself as powerful enough to create and experience it, the more I was able to empower someone else to help me create and experience what I wanted.

Only when I was enough, did it become possible for someone else to be enough. By owning our power we fill the void.

So what does this all mean for my career?

I can see that I've been trying to commit myself to a career path – a thing outside of myself – instead of first committing to what I really want to create and experience in career. I had not identified what I really wanted or owned it as within my power to create and experience. The result: I have been attached to how my career goes, I doubt whether I have chosen the right path, and, ultimately, no path is good enough to fill the void.

So early Wednesday morning as this awareness was building in my mind, I took a look a little deeper within.

What do I really want to to create and experience in my career?

It was so obvious. I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in the lives of individual people in my life. I want to make a different in my profession. I want to make a difference in the world.  I want to make a contribution.

For the first time the chattering voices doubting my choices were silenced. It is so easy to commit to contribution. No doubt in my mind it is the thing I want in my career. And I know that contribution is something that is within my power to create and experience. 

Of course, in order to create and experience what I want, I still have to choose something external to commit to and empower, but the choice is a now a freedom, not a burden. I have the freedom to choose to commit to law or coaching or writing or speaking, or all of them, or something else completely. No matter what I choose, as long as I empower it to create and experience what I really want (to make a contribution) it will be enough. The path will be right because I empower it to be so.

And now for the choice.

In service of my commitment to contribution, I choose to commit to all that I am up to - writing and law and speaking and coaching. I choose to empower all of these things to create and experience contribution in my life.

Those words would not have fallen out of my mouth (hands) wholeheartedly a week ago. There were too many doubts.

Now I know it is enough and that I've made the right choice, simply because I say so. It is within my power to make a difference. I do not need to find the "perfect" career path in order to do so. In fact, it is only in my moments of hesitation and doubt, when I am trying to find and choose the perfect path, that I cannot create or experience myself as making a contribution. And that is because, in those moments, I give away my power to make a contribution to some external "perfect" choice.

So with all of that (if you haven't yet been bored by my winding thought process and somewhat philosophical nature of this post)...

Here's my advice:

1. Look within and commit. Determine what you really want in each area of your life, own that it is within your power to create and experience, and commit to doing just that.  

2. Look outside yourself and choose. Let your internal commitment guide you in choosing something which will allow you to create and experience the thing(s) you really want.

3. Commit to and empower your choice. By committing to your choice you allow it to be enough, and by empowering it you can create and experience the thing(s) you really want.

4. Repeat. Wake up every day and do it again.

We each have the power to create for ourselves the things we need and want in life. We must own this power, and commit to fulfilling our underlying wants and needs in each area of our lives, before we can commit to anything outside of ourselves in that area. Only then does commitment become liberating instead of burdensome. Only then are our choices enough. And only then are we able to empower something outside of ourselves and therefore create and experience what we really want. 

I'm not saying I will now and forevermore be committed without doubt. There will likely be moments when I give away my power. I may sometimes forget to check in with my underlying commitments. Old doubts may from time to time creep in. Integrity is not an all or nothing game. And yet I can't un-know any of this. This awareness is a gift. My task is not to be perfectly committed all the time. It is simply to strengthen this new muscle. To own my power and step into my commitments a little more each day. And to step back into integrity with my commitments whenever I slip out.

What you are committed to creating in your career? Do you have your own philosophy around commitment? I would love to know! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. 

AND...just in case you have any lingering doubt, I am 100% committed to creating a life that I LOVE, and its totally within my power to do just that.

xo,

Danielle

Image credit 1

How Awesome I Am

awesome; self; love; acknowledgement; praise; celebrate; win Today I am writing about how awesome I am. Yes, that’s right, it’s a brag post.

Its last week’s brag post actually. I wrote it last week but did not post it because it makes me so uncomfortable to say nice things about myself. Today I’m stepping up fully to the promise I’ve made, to be nicer to little old me.

Celebrating our wins is important.

Here’s why.

We have these voices inside of us that tell us we aren’t good enough.  Call it inner critic, call it inner gremlin, call it superego - whatever the label, mine is chattering all the time, and I’m sick of it.

We live in a society that teaches us not to brag. To downplay achievements and deflect praise. To try not to not shine too bright. It’s awkward, we’re told.  Maybe you agree. I know a part of me definitely sees the world this way. No one likes the guy who’s full of himself, right? Besides, who am I to be acting all high and mighty?

But we also live in a society that tells us we need to accomplish a lot of things in order to be successful. So what about when we do achieve our goals? Is there room for celebration and reward? Is it possible to be proud of our accomplishments? Or is there only room for moving on to tackling the next thing that we haven’t yet completed?

I looked up the word “proud” in my thesaurus just for fun (thesauruses are fun, right?). This is the first group of synonyms that came up: “arrogant, conceited, superior, self-important, swollen with pride, pompous, self-righteous, overconfident, big-headed, and egotistical”. How many of you would be ashamed to be viewed in these ways? I’m guessing many of you. I know I would.

Antonyms were “humble and modest”. A little more palatable, I’d say.

There was another, shorter list of synonyms for “proud”, which comprised of “pleased, satisfied, full of pride, and fulfilled”. The antonym for this group was “ashamed”.

Funny, I thought, how I could be ashamed to be proud when ashamed was in one sense the opposite of proud.

I realized just how much I think this way yesterday (last Wednesday) when I submitted my weekly check in form to my coach, which included a request for what I would like coaching on in our session today (last Thursday). My request was essentially for some strategies to get me taking more action because I believe I’m not doing enough. I also requested some assistance in stepping up my game and taking more risks – making bold requests and promises.

What stuck with me as I sent the request off was the not doing enough bit. It was a familiar request, but this time it struck a different chord. Rather than seeing it as the truth I could hear a different voice. Quiet at first, and then louder. Why do you say you’re not doing enough? I’m actually doing a lot! Are you blind? I’ve been working my ass off to please you for years! Why can’t you be proud of what I’ve done? Why is it never enough?

The voice was angry. It would not fade into the background like it usually does. It would not give in to the “truth” that I simply wasn’t doing enough and that the criticism was justified. So I decided to listen. And here’s what I learned.

I have done amazing things in my life to date. I have been amazing places. I have created masterpieces. I have completed heroic tasks. I have accomplished desired goals. I have built incredible relationships. I have given selflessly. I have received many gifts.

It’s time to celebrate. It’s time to acknowledge myself for the things I am taking on, the things I have done, the stands I have taken, who I have been, and who I am being. There is nothing more or less I need to do or be. I am perfect as I am, and as I am not.

In service of this awareness I have spent some time listening to the voice that says I am enough. And although there is a part of me that says its not nice to brag, I am practicing some self-acknowledgement.

So here goes…

How awesome am I?

  1. Last Sunday I ran my first marathon ever (42K!!) in 4 hours and 6 minutes, in the rain and wind, despite shin splints and pinched nerve problems, 3 days after returning from a long vacation in Peru.
  2. This year I made a whole lot of bold promises to myself and committed to seeing them through (including taking a 3 ½ week vacation in Peru – which was AWESOME!)
  3. I am an equal partner in building a rock solid a relationship with an amazing guy.
  4. In February 2013 I took a stand for lawyers everywhere creating lives that they LOVE.
  5. Since February 2013 I have committed to that stand, and today, I continue to stand for lawyers everywhere creating lives that they LOVE.
  6. I drank my own Kool-Aid, and created a kick-ass life that I LOVE.
  7. In early 2013 I worked up the courage to take a risk and tell my boss that I was unhappy.
  8. I’ve built, and continue to build, an amazing mentorship relationship with my boss.
  9. I have recovered from an 8 year struggle with bulimia.
  10. In January 2013 I called deep on my courage and told my family, friends, colleagues, and the world, about my struggles with bulimia.
  11. In service of my stand for lawyers, I have developed principles, created materials, and put on workshops to help lawyers create lives that they LOVE
  12. I learned how to and did start my own blog where I share my story and the stories of other young lawyers and law firms who are creating lives that they LOVE. I have had one of my blog articles published by the CBA.
  13. In service of my stand for lawyers, I have learned how to cold call, and made hundreds of cold calls to law firms and law schools all across the country.
  14. I have a zero losses record in Court to date.
  15. I increased play in my life a million times. I laugh at work every day (possibly every hour).
  16. In service of my stand for lawyers and my love of writing, I am writing a book.
  17. In service of my stand for lawyers, in early 2013 I increased my knowledge of social media, created a brand that reflects my stand, and have maintained a consistent presence ever since.
  18. Last year I took on and completed a course on How to Connect with Anyone.
  19. This year I have taken on and am completing Accomplishment Coaching, an intense 12 month leadership and life coaching course. I declare the possibility of taking a stand for others and creating a space for their greatness as coach.
  20. I have learned how to be vulnerable, and continue to increase my capacity for vulnerability.
  21. I have made connections with inspiring people all across Canada and the U.S., and even some in South America and Europe.
  22. I trust more and have more compassion, with myself and others.
  23. A position of Wellness Officer was created in the executive of the CBA Young Lawyers Lower Mainland section and I have stepped into that role.
  24. I have, in that role, together with a Wellness Committee, taken on creating a Wellness Challenge for lawyers in B.C. which will take place in June 16 to June 27, 2014.
  25. I have learned how to be with myself more fully and to appreciate the gifts I bring.
  26. I have developed and continue to develop deep awareness of myself, others, and the world.
  27. I have increased my capacity to be with uncomfortable situations and feelings without trying to numb them.
  28. I have developed meaningful relationships with family, friends, and colleagues at a depth I did not know possible.
  29. I have taken back my power in so many ways and in so many areas of my life. I choose responsibility and freedom over victim more and more all the time. I choose to be the driver in my life. I choose choice.
  30. I have discovered passion, love and light within myself and am sharing my gifts with the world.

That is how awesome I am.

I acknowledge myself for all that I have been and done. I am proud of who I am.

As being proud is uncomfortable for me, I am taking on practicing it (even more). I am taking on a week of silencing my inner critic – starting now. That means no self deprecation. Each time I hear the voice that says I should be doing more, I will turn it off and instead look for the voice that is cheering me on and patting me on the back for my accomplishments.  I am also taking on daily self acknowledgment on my Accomplishment Coaching team blog until the end of May.

And this weekend to celebrate...I’m going dancing!

These are my promises to myself.

I request that you take on a little more self love this week as well. Praise yourself. Acknowledge yourself. Reward yourself. Celebrate. Brag a little. Notice if it makes you uncomfortable. Try it out anyways.

You are worthy.

xo,

Danielle

All it takes.

possibility, condor, Peru Perspective. Over the past three weeks I’ve gained new perspective. Actually, it is more accurate to say I gained some altitude, found an old perspective, and stepped into it in a new light.

I’ve reconnected with possibility. I've gotten familiar with and declared what’s important to me. I’ve tapped into passion. I’ve made new commitments. I’ve recommitted to old commitments. I feel grounded. I feel lighter. I’ve created space. When I go back to my motto for the year – nothing is impossible – I can feel its truth. I am powerful. I am strength. There is no something that is missing. I am content.

Now you may be thinking of course I am content and feeling on top of the world, I have been on vacation for over three weeks. This is true. Peru is incredible. And my travels have been nothing short of breathtakingly amazing. But what I’ve created for myself is independent of my vacation. Sure I chose to dedicate some time to create it on vacation, but the most important realization I have had on this vacation is that my vacation did not cause the shift. I did.

As I mentioned, the shift is new yet old. I’ve visited this place before. The place anything is possible. I’ve even lived here for short times. I’ve cautiously, excitedly, and sometimes boldly, stepped into this place of unlimited possibility, and then as if welcome overstayed, I’ve gotten completely overwhelmed and returned to what’s realistic. There I would remain in realistic until I somehow I would find my way back to possibility once more. And so it went.

What I am present to now is choice. Not only that I have now chosen to return to possibility, but that I have always chosen. Every place I’ve found myself in is exactly where I’ve chosen to be. There is power in this realization. I now know that this place of possibility is always available. I can always choose it.

I can also choose to let fear guide my actions. I can choose to blame lack of time, lack of sleep, lack of opportunity, lack of money, lack of experience, and lack of ________. I can choose to stamp my feet and pound my pillow about the unfairness of the universe. I can choose to procrastinate and make excuses. I can choose to be a victim any time. I can choose to visit these places all I want.

I can choose to be any place. I’m driving.

Here it is in a nutshell. Possibility never goes anywhere. We do.

I do. I have. And I will go away again. But the road is always there. I can return at any time. I have always known this on some level. But what my new awareness has given me is a map with a birds eye view of the road to possibility and a full tank of gas. I can now find my way here at will.

When I chose to return to possibility this time, I realized something else. I’m starting to know this place. I can feel it is a part of me. Possibility is becoming less like a place I visit, and more like home.

My plan is to hang out here for a while. Really get to know the possibility that exists in not knowing and make some impossible things happen. And next time I leave this place I will not be frustrated, throw my hands up in the air, and threaten to give up...instead I will fill my tank, pull out my map, and set out on a road trip back.

All it takes is a choice.

xo,

Danielle

Image credit: Yours Truly. Gazing up at a condor soaring overhead at Colca Canyon, Peru.

An Unexpected Gift from my Vacation

unexpected-rd Hola! I am a little over half way through a three and half week vacation in Peru. It has been amazing so far. I have visited with old friends, made new friends, shared in the experience of a Brazilian wedding, and deepened my connection with my boyfriend. I have seen some of the greatest sights of the world in Machu Pichu, experienced the exotic mix between old and new in Arequipa, tasted the delicious cuisine of Lima, and ran up the winding mountainside roads to breathtaking views in Cuzco.

Surreal. I feel so blessed. 

All this vacationing has got me thinking of the reasons we vacation. There are many. Rest, relaxation, exploration, adventure, fun, escape, change of pace, excitement, seeing new places, experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, enjoying exotic food and drink, trying new things, and having no responsibilities come to mind.

Each of these things may be exactly the gift we need, and I have been experiencing many of them. But this trip has also been exactly what I needed in an unexpected way. This gift from my vacation came in the form of a reminder.

My vacation has reminded me that I am not needed. Gulp.

The reminder became front and centre even before I left for Peru. It was 3 pm on my last day of work and I had completed everything I wanted to get done. (Impossible, right?) I told myself this was good, and that I was grateful to not be stressed out and running around until the last minute, but honestly it also felt like a kick in the gut (ahem, ego). In a dark corner of my mind thoughts of “maybe you’re really not needed here” and “if what you do is really important surely you would have more things to do before you left” were stewing.

I hate to admit it, but freedom felt pretty shitty. My ego told me that I was not needed therefore not valuable, worthless even. So I started my vacation worrying that I was worthless. Great place to be on vacation.

I sat with this feeling, while also being ashamed and angry with myself for feeling this way, and I gained new awareness. With the help of my coaching teammates in Seattle over the weekend before I left, I took a deeper look at the cause of my feelings; which turned out to be a look at how I value myself and the way I define value. I realised that I often rate my self-worth based on how much I have to do and how much I believe I am needed by others. In my mind a story was running that to be valuable meant I should have been rushing around until the last second, maybe even continuing to work on a few important things on the first few days of vacation, before finally being able to let go and relax.

This exact story is what played out before and on my Christmas vacation. I can see now that the way my Christmas vacation went was less a product of me being needed, and more a product of me needing to feel needed. Only when there are multiple, and preferably unrealistic (more demands = I’m more needed, right?), demands on my time is my ego satisfied that I am needed and therefore valuable. Having nothing to do exposed this way I value myself.

This is all very hard to admit. Yet admitting it exposes it for what it is: a story; a limiting, disempowering story. Needing to be needed is not a powerful place to live. When my worth is dependent on how much others need me, my own worth is out of my hands. It is dependent on a number of factors outside my control, which are subject to other stories I have about what being needed and providing value looks like. If the story plays out just right can I come to the conclusion I am worthy. In reality, the story rarely plays out just right and I am left constantly striving.

I have believed for some time that external validation of self-worth is chameleon-like and necessarily dissatisfying, yet I can see that I still let it guide my actions in many ways. Being forced to face the fact that I continue to attach so much to feeling I am needed, and that deep down I don’t want everything and everyone to get along just fine without me, has been a powerful reminder.

A few questions have come to mind as I have explored this realization over the past couple weeks. What if I was inherently worthy? What if there is no need to be worthy in the first place? What if things didn’t have to be valuable or not valuable? What if I made choices without considering these things at all?

I have started by practising choosing to come from a place of inherent worth. It has been rewarding, and challenging. I catch myself looking to my email and thinking, “None today! What?”; I catch myself creating in my mind things I have to do, and looking for things I could take on or ways I could provide value. Whenever I catch myself I remind myself, not only that I am not indispensable to what I do, but also that I am not what I do.

I may do great things, make great contributions to the world, and bring great joy to people’s lives, but I am not those things. I may also not do anything, make unhelpful contributions, and bring unhappiness to people’s lives, but I am not those things either. What I am is who I am, and that is the true value.

Choosing without consideration of value has been more challenging still. One way I have found to do this is to choose from values, instead of value. Choosing from what I value, separate from whether it is valuable has been a great place to start. I will continue to explore this and other ways of choosing separate from value and worthiness. I know there is much growth available to me in this area.

These realizations have provided me the opportunity to learn more about myself, to choose from a place of inherent worth more often, and to become more in tune with what I value, rather than what I believe will be valuable to others.

I am most grateful however for the space and lightness these realizations have brought to my vacation.  I have been able to let go of stresses and worries about work and other projects way more than I usually do. I have been able to find peace in the freedom of vacation, instead of sitting in the fear that freedom means I am not valuable.

From this place there is a lot more room for fun, adventure, new experiences, relaxation, connection, and all of the other gifts a vacation provides.

Writing with new found freedom from Peru.

2014-04-14 09.28.47

xo,

Danielle

Three tales about goals. Tale One: For the love of...

My battle with goal setting came to a head this past week. It sucked and it was amazing all at the same time. Well at first it just sucked. Now that my deepest battle wounds have been tended to, I am surrounded by new found lightness and power. So I want to tell you three tales. Three tales about goals. 

The first is about a slave. The second is about a golden-haired girl and three bears. The third is about a battle won by failure.

Tale One.

For the love of...

running, motivation, app

My phone beeped. Shit! This couldn`t be happening.

I glanced at my arm band. My battery was about to die. Shit! Shit! Shit!

I was no where near my goal of 30 km. My Nike Running App had just given me my stats. I was nearing 18 km and going steady. My pace was 5 minutes 22 seconds per kilometre. A good pace. I was just past the halfway mark of what would be the longest run of my life. I was feeling great. Confident I would achieve what I set out to do.

My phone couldn't be dying with 12 km to go. How would I know when I arrived at the finish? How would I know I had completed my goal? How would I know if I was keeping a good pace? And how would I be motivated to keep up my pace for all 30 kilometres without that voice in my ear reminding me each kilometre? 

I know, I know, its just a Nike Running App. And yes I have run without it. And yes I did map out my run before I started, so I knew where I had to end up in order to get in 30 km. But for a few moments it seemed important. It actually crossed my mind that I could stop at the nearest Starbucks and see if I could borrow someone's iPhone charger for a bit before continuing on my run (crazy, I know).

My phone died. I cursed. I stopped running and stood there for a moment. I took a deep breath.

And then the hilarity of my frustration hit me. I was really caught up in it. I began to laugh at the thoughts that had been running through my mind. I couldn't believe how much power I had given away to a little talking box strapped to my arm.

I called deep on my courage. It was time for me to take it back.

I started running. I stared into the hugeness of the ocean. I felt the wind. 

I focused my thoughts inward. I focused on my legs; I felt their strength propelling me forward. I focused on my feet; how they felt as they landed on the pavement, carrying my body with each step. I focused on my heart; I felt it beating, giving me life. I focused on the space I had created; I felt it expand and spread through my body. 

I remembered my why. I remembered what I love about running. I remembered the marathon I was working towards.

I remembered choice. I remembered trees. I remembered strength. 

I ran the remaining 12 km without record or reminder. It was no longer a have to. I just ran.

For the love of running.

xo,

Danielle

Image credit 1

Back to ME

I am me My name is Danielle Rondeau.

I am a lawyer, coach, and activist.  

I am passionate about living. I am passionate about getting to know myself, who I am, and what I love. I believe in seeing myself so I can bring my highest self and my highest contribution.

I am passionate about connecting. I am passionate about being seen and being real. I believe weakness is appearing strong, and courage is vulnerability.

I am passionate about wellbeing. I believe self care is the foundation of all life, all love, and all creation. I believe without self care there is no capacity to care for others.

I am passionate about health. I believe our health is our greatest asset, our greatest resource, and our greatest investment.  I believe without health nothing else matters.

I am passionate about dreaming big. I am passionate about inspiring and being inspired. I believe nothing is impossible, and the greatest fear we must step into is our own greatness.

I am passionate about being a lawyer. I am passionate about solving problems and being creative. I believe legal knowledge is a gift and law is a profession of helping.

I am passionate about writing. I am passionate about sharing stories, struggles, and successes. I believe every story has a life, and every life is a million stories that, untold, are lost.

I am passionate about helping. I believe each of us has unique strengths, skills, and resources. I believe we can survive only by helping and receiving help.

I am passionate about change. I am passionate about experimenting and learning. I believe everything is the way it is only because we choose it to be and something different is always available.

I am passionate about being a light. I believe we each have something to stand for. I believe by stepping into what we stand for we will transform the world.

I am passionate about gratitude. I am passionate about acknowledging and expressing gratitude daily. I believe gratitude has the power to heal and to provide.

I am passionate about laughter. I am passionate about bringing joy and play into life. I believe from the capacity for laughter flows the capacity for all else.

I am passionate about possibility. I am passionate about taking a step out over the edge. I believe we are always on the edge of the unknown, and the unknown is possibility.

I am passionate about life. I am passionate about dreaming life, creating life, living life, and loving life. I believe life is our greatest love and if you love life, life will love you back.

I am Danielle Rondeau.

I am light. I am possibility. I am passion. I am play. I am heart.

I am ME.

xo,

Danielle

What I've realised about goals and trees.

trees, goals, life I’ve been trying to figure out why it is that goals can have such a motivating, yet disempowering effect on my life and why is it that I can so easily turn what I love into an obligation, the moment I set a definite goal around it.

I’ve been talking about this with many people over the past few weeks and have received some great ideas, insights, and reflections. I want to share with you some of the things I’ve been thinking about.

Flexibility.

It is ok to choose to change our minds, redefine, restructure, postpone, or even quit completely at any time. We don’t have to place these things under the umbrella definition of failure. We can instead take back our power and choose them.

Constant conscious choice.

Each moment we are choosing. When we choose to do or not do something it is not because we have to or because someone or something is making us, it is because we are choosing to do or not do it. If we recognize that we are choosing our action or inaction in each moment we can see that the “have tos” and “shoulds” are really invented concepts, a giving away of our power, and an escape from taking ownership of our lives.

Empowered choices.

We can also choose a different attitude, a different way of being. A different way of looking at our choices. When we choose to procrastinate or to eat a lot of chocolate or to not go to bed early or to not do any of the many things on our to do list that will lead us to completing a goal (not that I do any of these things, of course), we can acknowledge that we are making a choice and accept it instead of being frustrated. We can choose to empower each choice in each moment.

Compassion.

Cultivate it. Let it in. This is closely related to flexibility and choice. Instead of fighting against our human needs such as sleep, exercise, love, and connection, we can allow ourselves the option of choosing what we need in each moment. We can have some compassion for the fact that we are human. We can hold our choices with love. We can cultivate a little more of that love for the choices that others make, and we can let others do the same for us. Compassion eliminates the have tos and instead gives us permission to be who we are and need what we need.

Trust.

More of it. Taking away rigid structure and adding some flexibility. Taking back personal power, and empowering each choice. Having some compassion for self and others. All of these things are impossible without trust. Trust in ourselves, trust in others, and trust in the journey. Trusting our choices and trusting that voice that tells us what we need makes room for a whole lot more flexibility and a whole lot less have tos.

Let it be.

Not everything can be understood and explained. There is no right or wrong way to do goals, or life (as I so hoped there was so I could figure it out and do it all perfectly). What I’m learning instead is that sometimes trying to figure it out is the problem. Sometimes exactly what we need is to not know the answer. Sometimes what we need is to not even know what it is that we want to know.

I’m learning that letting go of my desire to understand, control and predict my life, actions, time, and the future requires a lot of trust. And that the space that is created when I do is amazing. So I’m going to stop trying to figure it all out…at least some of the time. Breathe a little more deeply a little more often. Let it be.

Where does all of this leave me?

There is immense value for me in each of the above. Each of the conversations I have had with people over the past few weeks has chipped away at the lens through which I see goals, and more broadly, life. I’ve realized the way things are may not be. They may simply be the way I see them. I’ve found some flexibility and choice, more trust and compassion, and an openness that I was not previously in touch with.

Although I wish I could report that the above are the solutions to the problem with goals, I cannot. Not because the above are not solutions. But precisely because they are just that: solutions. Solutions only work if there is a problem to be fixed. And I no longer choose to label what I have been struggling with as a problem to be fixed.

Goals are not a problem to be fixed.

Life is not a problem to be fixed.

Through all of my conversations with friends, family, and colleagues one idea keeps returning. An idea that encapsulates something bigger; something mysterious; something incapable of being understood, fixed, or controlled.

The seed was planted a couple of weeks ago when I was out in Victoria. And the idea has returned twice more since then, in different conversations, with different people. In fact it came up in three separate conversation with three people who inspire me, who have lived and are living great lives each day, and who I am so grateful to have in my life as mentors.

The idea is this: trees. 

I have been thinking a lot about trees. I've always liked trees. I used to sit outside at my parents’ farm and draw trees when I was younger. I loved having dinners in the field during harvest under the big oak tree at the top of the hill on the home quarter. On my trip to Africa two years ago, out of all of the amazing things I saw, some of the most beautiful were the trees. And there is really nothing better than climbing a tree, or hanging out under a tree with a good book, a drawing pad, or an ipod filled with songs.

I have been trying to understand what it all means, why trees have come up repeatedly in my conversations about goals, and what I can take away from it all. And just this morning I realized I’m doing it again – trying to figure it all out.

I don't really want to understand trees. Trees are that something big. That something mysterious. That something incapable of being understood, fixed, or controlled.

So instead I've decided to write a poem. A tribute to trees.

A Tribute to Trees 

by Danielle Rondeau

Grounded and billowing in the wind.

Taking a stand for time.

Secrets untold.

Weathered and worn, not weary; withstanding life's storms.

Solid, and filled with space.

Deep rooted and wild.

Stretching upward, outward, and deep within.

Source of Life. Air. Shelter. Beauty. Power.

Growing, renewing, and changing.

Swirling experiences ring upon ring.

Dancing playfully.

Telling a story with wisdom and grace.

Strength. Peaceful sage.

Whispering and creaking; leaves rustling in the wind.

Homely and shaded yet open and free.

Supporting. Supported.

Growing, reaching, twisting, inviting.

Enveloping and encapsulating each moment.

Connected and present yet distant and aloof.

Wonder filled darkness.

Untamed creativity and passion.

Tall, bent, fallen, and spikey.

Beacon of inspiration, of hope.

Rough, tough, and rooted.

Majestic and musical.

Young. Aged.

Timeless.

Limitless.

Alive.

xo,

Danielle

 

The Problem With Goals

goal So here goes. I am facing a dilemma. Personal crisis. Life crisis. Literally. It’s possible the entire foundation of what I have been writing about needs rethinking.

Ok, I may be exaggerating a little, but the essence of my struggle is this: why make goals? Do goals add to my wellbeing or take from it? Is the fact that I have set goals preventing me from being content with who I am? Are my goals frustrating my ability to enjoy the moment, to be content with where I am now? Do my goals leave room for spontaneity and flexibility? Is the goal itself the very thing that zaps the fun out of the doing, that turns the things I love into have tos and shoulds?

The answer I have come up with is equally confusing: yes and no.

Yes because in fact that is the way my goals have been affecting me. And no, because if I look a little deeper I can see that it is me who chooses to define goals and doing things in a way that disempowers me.

Here’s how it started. Two weeks ago, after arguing with myself for a while about whether I had taken on too much, I actually sat down and wrote out all of the things I want to do in a week. I estimated the amount of time it takes to do each thing, added in seven hours of sleep per night, eating and self care, and I came up with something that scared me: three hours on Sunday. The only free time that I had left myself in an entire week was three hours on Sunday!

I thought about this and immediately came to the conclusion that I had taken on an unrealistic amount of things. Unexpected delays, distractions, and the occasional inefficiency or procrastination would almost certainly take up those extra three hours every week. There was no room for spontaneity. No room to relax or enjoy an unexpected activity or conversation without failing to complete everything I want to complete in a week, which would lead to getting behind and failing to achieve my goals. I decided I had set myself up to fail, and since failure is not something I like, I decided something had to change.

So last week I thought a lot about quitting. What I wanted to give up. I even wrote a blog post about quitting. I was giving myself permission to quit something that I really wanted to do without feeling guilty about it. And I do believe it is important to empower our choices and not view quitting or changing our minds as failure. But after all that rationalizing I just couldn’t bring myself to quit anything. Not anything big anyways. I wanted to do it all.

So what is a girl to do?

My motto for the year is "nothing is impossible" and I was determined that there had to be another way. I started strategizing different possibilities that could give me the freedom and flexibility for spontaneity and to enjoy the moment, but still achieve my goals. I was stumped.

Then last weekend while in Victoria, I gained some insights into another way. I was visiting one of the judges I had clerked for and we were talking about life. I shared my dilemma with her and she told me some of the stories that make up her rich and fascinating life. She also told me something else, which initially I found strange. She’s never set a goal for herself. She’s never tried to define, or set out to attain, success. This initially shocked me, as she is one of the most successful people I know.

As I let this sink in over the next few days, it came to make more and more sense. Instead of being guided by a particular predefined outcome, she was guided by a deep sense of who she was. The words groundedness, intuition, values, principle, and integrity were constantly floating around in my mind.

I immediately liked this option. It left immense room for flexibility and enjoying the moment, yet I could still be guided by those things that are important to me. I thought with all of these ingredients surely I could come up with a solution to my problem.

An alternate plan was hatched.

I began talking these ideas over with a few friends and came up with an alternate universe. In this universe I don’t have goals. I may have some short term projects that I am working on, but there is no rigidity, no have tos, shoulds, and by whens. My direction in life would instead be guided by principle, by my values, and the things that are important to me. I would simply trust that my life would take on the course it was supposed to take, and I would end up where I was supposed to end up.

I thought I had it all figured out.

I ran my alternate universe by my life coach on Thursday. After an hour of trying to convince her that I had figured out the solution to life, fielding her questions about what I was going to do with my projects in this alternate world, and listening (a little grudgingly) to her suggestion that I may want to take a look at how I define the word “goal”, I was no longer sure my solution was as simple as I had made it out to be.

Although I wasn’t ready to give up on the idea, I could see that what I was trying to do was “fix” my problem. It was an all or nothing approach to projects and goal setting. Either I have goals and rigidity and what I love turns into have tos, or I have no goals and lots of flexibility and I can enjoy the moment.

I thought a little more about my alternate universe and how it would apply to each of my projects. Did I want to just throw the goals out the window? What about the marathon, for example? It has a defined end date; a date by which my training will be complete and I will step out on the road and run 42 km. How can I eliminate the goal on that one?

I was back where I started. Or was I?

While I was not ready to let go of my goals, I also was not ready to let go of a more flexible approach to life; one where I trust myself a little more to act on what is important to me, without having a schedule that only allows me three hours of free time a week.

I don’t know what the answer is. I just wanted to share with you my thoughts as I’m right in the thick of it. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you have some insights. Maybe there is no answer at all.

To be continued I'm sure...

xo,

Danielle

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If you are going to quit, then quit.

quit, quitter If you are going to half way quit, then half way quit. And if you are going to change your mind, then change your mind. But however you do it, do it. Don't let it be done to you.

You know that thing that is not getting done. That thing that keeps getting put off. That thing you committed to, signed up for, or promised yourself you would do, don`t do, and then beat yourself up about.

Give yourself permission NOT to do it.

That's right. Choose to give up, quit.

Why set yourself up to fail day after day? Do you really like going to bed disappointed with yourself for not checking it off, or even making a small dent in that lingering to do?

If its not going to get done and you aren't willing to rearrange your schedule to make it get done. Just quit already.

Be bold. Bandy it about. "I'm quitting!" you might yell at the top of your lungs.

Take back the power of quitting from the circumstances that stole it. Its your life, don't let someone or something else quit at it for you.

Quitting doesn't have to mean losing or failure. When quitting is yours it can mean whatever you choose it to mean. Quitting can mean listening to your heart. Quitting can mean acceptance. Quitting can mean love. Quitting can mean courage. Quitting can mean fun.

So choose quitting with excitement! Choose it with curiosity. Choose it with peace. Choose it with that personal power you know you possess.

Last week I didn't write a blog post. I felt like a quitter. But I didn't really choose to be a quitter. I quit with resignation. I chose it to mean defeat. My arguments were convincing. I have a cold...I am tired...I am uninspired...I can't find the motivation...I have no choice I just can't write. I am weak. I am lazy. I am a Quitter.

What I refused to acknowledge at the time was what I really needed was sleep, tea, and a little self-love. And what my mind didn't say was, I choose to listen, acknowledge, and accept what I need. I choose sleep. I choose tea. I choose a little self love. I am courageous. I choose not to write a blog post. I CHOOSE TO BE A QUITTER.

But wouldn`t it have been amazing if I had. And if one day I quit writing blog posts completely, or quit anything else in my life, I hope I will choose to quit it with gusto, and love.

By taking back quitting, we double our choices and eliminate defeat. For every option we had before, the opposite is now available. And every option that would have been failure is now success.

So if you are ever going to give up on something, put something off, or change your mind, before making a list of "reasons why you have to" and "accepting defeat", look a little deeper, find the real reason why you want to or need to quit, acknowledge it, accept it, and give yourself permission to be a Quitter! 

xo,

Danielle

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