Doing What You're "Supposed To" Will Get You Nowhere (+ top tips to find your passion)

There I was... sitting on the floor, alone, crying, lost.

It was my sophomore year of college and I was spending spring break on campus by myself (depressing, I know).  I'd just gotten off the phone with my mom, pleading (begging!!!) my case to take a year off of school to travel and find myself.  I tried to explain to her that engineering school didn't feel right - this wasn't where I was supposed to be - but she wasn't having it.

"Get your degree and then you can do what you want."

The be responsible, be the "good girl" part was implied.

Have you ever felt that way?  Like you're being pushed into something you KNOW isn't right for you?  And even when you speak up you're told to just wait it out - as if you don't know what you want or need for yourself?

Fast forward 2 years and I graduated with my BS in Environmental Engineering and a massive student loan debt (I'm SURE you know the drill here).  At this point, sure, I could've (and should've!) gone off on my own to do the soul searching I knew I needed... but responsibility slapped me square in the face, AGAIN.  Student loans don't just pay themselves.  

So, off I marched to the first of many jobs where I played the role of the good girl.  (I mean that's what we're all taught right?  Play by the rules, don't speak out of turn, raise your hand, let the boys go first).  

Outward success came easily, but inside, I felt empty.  I felt unfulfilled.  And my work felt inauthentic. I went into Environmental Engineering to "save the earth", but all my clients wanted to skirt regulations and kick the ball down the field.  My heart sank every time I submitted a report saying we were doing nothing for another year.  This was NOT what I signed up for.  And I knew, that if I kept playing by their rules, this was the game I'd always play.  

I decided it was time to play by my own rules... FINALLY!  Fast forward (again!), to today, and I've job hopped and traveled and soul searched and learned lessons on my yoga mat and off, and I've defined the rules of the game that work for me.  I've found work that meets all my needs: my technical mind, my creative and altruistic spirit, and my bipartisan need for structure and freedom.

Have you defined the rules of your game yet?  If not, here are a few of my favorite tips to give you a kickstart:

1. Identify How You Want To Feel

In her amazing books The Firestarter Sessions (literally changed my life) and the Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte flips traditional goal setting on it's head... in a nutshell, it goes like this:

You have a goal to get a big fancy car.  Let's say a chic black Lexus with leather interior and all the bells and whistles.  You get the car and on Day 1, you feel great about your accomplishment, but by Day 2, the buzz has already worn off.  So you start in on the next thing - what will you buy/do/see next?

But, what if, instead of focusing on the getting of things (whether material possessions or experiences), we focus on the way we want those things to make us feel and aim to feel that way everyday?  

You wanted that car to feel POWERFUL.  How can you feel POWERFUL today?

2. Define Your Non-Negotiables

I believe each woman should have a non-negotiables list - it's one of the things I work clients through in my 1-1 coaching.  Explicitly stating what we want and don't want is so LIBERATING, but for so many women it's foreign territory (remember - we've been taught to play by the rules!).

What are your non-negotiables?  An 8 hr workday?  Working from home one day a week?  Hitting up your favorite gym class on Wednesdays?  Spending Sundays in bed until 2 pm?  

Write 'em down.  And then start LIVING THEM.

3. Scream Your Praises From the Rooftops (if only for your ears)

Self appreciation fuels manifestation.  Let me repeat that: self appreciation fuels manifestation.  
Yet again, those good girl rules come into play.  Did you know that research has identified a major discrepancy in the praise that men and women give themselves?  Men are WAY more likely to take personal credit, whereas women generally share credit with the team.  

It's time to sing your own praises, gorgeous!  Like today, right now.  I dare you to reply back to this email and tell me 1 thing you've totally kicked ass out in the last 48 hrs.  (and if you're not comfortable with sharing it with me - share it with someone you love or just right it down for yourself).

Make bragging and loving in yourself a daily practice and it'll change your whole world.


I'll be sharing more about this all week on Periscope (download the app and follow me @stephcookwell) and in my private Facebook community >>> pop over and join us.