Step Into Your Future
by Lois Barth
Whether we are looking at history through a patriarchal or matriarchal lens, in order for us to step into “our” future as women, we have to be willing to create new stories that empower us and keep us moving forward.
I love the expression, “Happy Wife…Happy Life”, or as I like to refer to it on a global level, “Happy Women…Happy Planet”. I firmly believe that when we utilize our innate gifts, skills, the hard and acquired wiring that is part of our make up, and leverage all of our SPARKLE, that’s when the magic happens. The impact reaches far beyond our own life, into our communities and the world around us.
I’m going to share my two SPARKLE Power Principles to Creating Our Future.
1) Don’t Put Your Sparkle on Hold
I talk a lot about this in my presentation and in my book, Courage to SPARKLE; no matter how successful we are, we all have those areas where we put our SPARKLE on hold. ALL of US. You can’t create a future that lights you up and stay in your familiarity zone, it just doesn’t work that way; but, you can be deliciously uncomfortable in service of what makes you SPARKLE.
Do this exercise: Take 30 minutes out. Play some music, close your eyes, whatever you do to get present. Have some loose-leaf paper nearby. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Ask yourself: What is my greatest fear right now in my life? Let it rip! Just start free associating the first thing that comes up. Breathe, cry, rant, rave, laugh, start obsessing about the chocolate wafers in your freezer, whatever. Next, take your shredder out and shred everything you wrote down; NOT to discount the truth, but to know you are letting go of old ways of being that no longer serve you. Take out a fresh piece of paper and write (do this long hand, not on your computer) on the top of the page: “Things I’ll do Once I’m…..” and trust the first thing that comes up (such as being rich, confident, beautiful, blah blah blah, again it doesn’t matter what).
What’s important is to start writing a list, no narrative, just items. Start chipping away at the list and notice how you feel and what starts shifting in your life. One participant in a group I spoke for wrote:
Once I feel like I’m good enough I’ll:
1) Stop people pleasing.
2) Tell people no when I don’t want to do crap.
3) Stop laughing when something isn’t funny.
She was horrified to notice that almost everything on her list was focused on what people thought of her. How sad that so much of her energy was trapped by “looking a certain way” she was imprisoned by it. Committing to cross things off her list, she later reported that, while it terrified her at first, by the time she got to item 10, she needed to upgrade her list since the things that followed no longer fazed her. Try this for yourself and you’ll be amazed how much energy you start having.
You don’t get energy from a $12 coffee drink with a thousand grams of sugar. You get it from both creating beliefs that empower and inspire you and taking actions that are in line with your goals and deepest desires.
2) Support Your SPARKLE Sistahs in Small and Big Ways.
There are so many ways we can support each other that doesn’t take gobs of time, energy, and money. It could be an introduction to someone who could help a SPARKLE Sistah to expand their base of business or their network. I call it being a Sparkle Sistah and love the term, because as women we can keep each other lit with our natural radiance and brightness or we can put ourselves and each other on dimmers. Every minute we choose. Humor is one great way to do that.
Last week, I was on the crowded subway during rush hour and inadvertently I kept bumping into this woman with my bag. By the third time, she whipped around with the most angry look I’ve ever seen and shouted “Are you planning to keep hitting me in the back with that goddamn bag of yours for the rest of the trip?” People around me got really scared, but for some reason I just sensed she was having a rough day. I could’ve apologized, but I felt bad for her and thought a little humor might help. I said with a smile, “Well it wasn’t on my things to do list, but I am always game to add a few action items on a moment’s notice?”
In response, she burst into laughter and said, “Damn it felt good to let out some steam!” I said, “I hear you, boy sounds like you had a day of dimmers!” and we chatted about how rough her day was. At the end of the subway ride she said, “If I knew I would get a free therapy session I’d let you whack me with your bag on a regular basis”, whereupon I countered, “Oh, my whacking doubles as a chiropractic adjustment so you’ll get my check in the mail.” A few folks tittered. Now, granted, I wouldn’t have taken that approach with everyone, but I sensed she was just feeling really down and beaten up by life and a little laugh and a little listening could go a long way.
I’ve heard other wonderful stories where someone just treated a stranger with an extra bit of kindness or challenged a colleague to not sell themselves short by not going after a promotion. Often, it’s that extra nudge of encouragement that can change a person’s day or life! It’s often the little things that make the biggest difference.
What would Our Future as women look like if we committed to integrating these two SPARKLE Power Principles imperfectly, but consistently?
Lois Barth is a human development expert, motivational speaker, coach, and thrilled to have delivered her first ‘book child,’ “Courage to SPARKLE: The Audacious Girls’ Guide to Creating a Life that Lights You Up”. She champions women to share their brilliance and to live an authentic life. She speaks at women’s conferences all over the country and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fitness, Weight Watchers, and MSNBC.com to name a few.