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313: Living with intention...you can't be "anything" you want, but you can do this...

ON AIR WITH ELLA episode 313

your intentional life podcast

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Living with intention > living on auto-pilot.

I have been thinking a lot lately about happiness, about fulfillment, about creating a purposeful life. These are all different concepts, of course, and I’ve been thinking about what I am getting right in these areas and what I want to do better.


Maybe you can relate to this if you’ve been through a change recently, or want one, or maybe you're in a new chapter, or you just have decided to start paying more attention to what’s aligned for you. For me, I am (always) working on figuring out who I want to be, what I want this chapter now to look like, and what I want to develop and mature in myself - as much as "what do I want to turn the volume all the way down on?"


That’s part of living an intentional life, no matter where you are in yours, right? Living an intentional, awake life instead of auto-pilot life - that’s something that each of us cares about or we wouldn’t be here together right now, right?


So here I am, trying to be the very best me and figure out what that looks like on a day to day basis, and so I was very surprised by my strong reaction when I saw something online the other day (and it was very positive, so my reaction felt really strange at first).


Busting unhelpful happiness myths

I came across a post by a woman who just accomplished something pretty cool, and by her account, something she previously never imagined she could, something that previously felt impossible. There was a photo of her running across a finish line, with a huge smile on her face, and her caption was short and sweet. It said:


“You can be anything you want to be.”

Now, this was cool and I get it. Younger Her would have been amazed to see Older Her do this thing, and she had set her mind to it and done it. And I am not a jerk! - I see that and I get that - but my honest reaction to her sentiment "You can be anything you want" - a.k.a “You can be anything you set your mind to” - well, my response was “Oh, that is such bs. That is just not true.”


I know that sounds weirdly negative, but stick with me here...


I think it’s really important what we tell ourselves in the pursuit of our best life and living out the best versions of ourselves, and I think we can actually shut down our momentum, our progress when we set ourselves up with the wrong framework or the wrong expectations.

For example, I might want to be Beyoncé, but I cannot set my mind to it and be Beyoncé. (If there’s an equation that adds up to Beyoncé, I don’t have any of the factors that go into that equation. We can all agree that I don’t have enough space, and you don’t have enough time, for me to list all the ways I am not and cannot be Beyoncé.)


You can be anything you want? I disagree.

The truth is not everyone can fulfill every desire that they have. Some might dream of being a parent but can't be, or maybe you want to be naturally athletic or brilliant or born rich, or an Oscar winner. Some people will be.


But we can’t “be anything we want to be,” …and the blind pursuit has left many people feeling unfulfilled or “less than.” And I think it matters.

At the very least, comparison of your lot in life, of your day-to-day existence, of your body or your home, your job or your business, of your vacations, of your accomplishments, that comparison will kill your joy - but worse - that comparison and the “falling short” of it all will oftentimes kill the version of you that is possible. So yeah, I think it matters.

Can we be whatever we want to be? Whatever we wish to be? No, I don’t think so.


I think we were each gifted talents and hindrances and resources and deficits that are specific to us and to the space and time we occupy. Together these make up a formula that is unique to us. And, I believe that each of us has an almost infinite number of paths that we can take within our journey, but our journey is different from the next guy’s.


If this is “choose your own adventure” and we own our choices and their outcomes, that can have a billion different variations, but nobody else’s looks exactly like yours.

I have different skills and experiences and choices than a woman exactly my age growing up in a different part of the world, with a different set of rules, in a different body, with a different family and a different bank account and a different perspective and so on and so on. And what if she spent her life comparing hers to mine? And what if I spent my life wanting what she had?


Isn’t this something that we do in tiny ways every single day?


(I mean, do you have social media? Do you have colleagues or peers? Do you have perceived competition at work? Have you ever wanted something that you can’t have? Have you ever wanted something that is not at all made for you, but it just looks better than what you have?)


I know I have. And that was not just a waste of my time and a diversion, but it was a distraction from what is FOR me.


So, yes, I think this type of blind positivity - while harmless on the surface - can actually create a deficit. I think it’s the wrong message. I think it’s the wrong message for kids - incidentally - to say “you can be anyone you set your mind to.” I think there’s a better message.


If we want to OWN our stuff - the good and the bad, the abundance and the lack that makes up our make up - then I think it’s more useful to know this:


You started where you started, with what you had, what you could build or acquire and what you don’t or can’t, and YOU GET TO CHOOSE which version of yourself you want to be.


You can be any VERSION OF YOU that you want to be.

This is true on a macro scale and on a micro scale. On a macro scale, it’s examining “what kind of person do I want to be? What jobs will I have in my lifetime? What relationships will I enter into? What activities will I engage in?”

By way of example for me... I was gifted a strong healthy body, the gift of communication, a family, the opportunity for an education, the ability to think critically on occasion, and a talent for word puzzles that is as impressive as it is useless. I was not gifted a single atom of musical ability, advanced calculus, fine motor skills, spatial awareness, the ability to wrap presents in any comprehensible way, or to cook. I cannot successfully choose to be Beyoncé, or a child prodigy, or a math major, but I can choose the ways I will employ my gifts, just as you get to choose the ways you will employ and enjoy yours.


That’s the macro level: You get to choose which versions of yourself you will live out.


This is also true in every tiny decision that we make in a day, on the micro level: in relationship to ourselves, in relationship to others, at work, at play, at parenting, in being a friend, at taking care of our bodies, our minds, our bank accounts - it’s living out the answer to questions like:

  • Which thoughts will I allow right now?

  • What action will I take or not take right now?

  • What version of me will I be here?

  • Which version of me am I cultivating here with this choice?

In any given scenario, am I embattled, will I be a warrior, or am I martyr, am I a dependent or autonomous being, am I very passive or am I very aggressive, am I outraged or empowered? We are all of these, of course, at different times. That’s natural - we’re like those old TV sets with the dials and different channels to choose from. Some of the signals come in strong and some are fuzzy.


vintage tv

Like you, I have a LOT of channels. I have a top channel called businesswoman, a channel called wife, a channel called mom, sister, a channel called friend and triathlete and so on….. And on the second dial I have thousands of channels and they are called tired or energized, fulfilled and discontent, proud, hurt, aggressive , aloof, connected , detached… there are a LOT of channels!!!


I might be dissatisfied, affronted, aggrieved, slighted. Or I might think and act as a person who is respected, content, satisfied, grateful, fulfilled, healthy...in each of my roles in life. But as the TV, I get to choose what I tune into, what I am made of.


So, that’s why I think it’s important what we tell ourselves about living our best life.


I think the words we use matter, because they help form our beliefs, and our beliefs shape our thoughts, and our thoughts shape our actions and our inaction.

How we view ourselves, and what we can accomplish, shapes what we actually do and don’t do. And you are here to live out the best versions of you.


I am here to spend more time choosing the choices for the person I want to be. And to use my gifts, not spending time wanting yours.


(PS!! This is the only way that you can ever truly celebrate the accomplishments of others without strings attached, by the way. Somebody else’s gifts are entirely irrelevant to ours. I want that for you because that feeds the best version of you. That is your win for your version. I am not competing with that because my version looks different. Get it?)


So, Beyoncé safely gets to be Beyoncé, and I get to be me. Which version of me will I dial into? Which channels will get the most air time? What do the best versions of me look like? What do they act like? What do they do or not do? What choices do they make?


Here are some specific question you can ask yourself in pursuit of this approach:


  1. FIRST: When was the last time I checked in with myself?

  2. ZOOM OUT: I will not live forever. (Nobody does.) What will I regret not doing?

  3. THEN, ZOOM IN: What will I wish I had done today?


Personal Manifesto for a more intentional life

Personal Manifesto

Here's a template for you to create your own PERSONAL MANIFESTO. If you'd like to take action, to commit, to write down your commitments to solidify them, you can download this template and draft your own:

MANIFESTO
.pdf
Download PDF • 661KB

The better news

So no, you can’t "be ANYTHING you want to be." None of us can be something we’re not.


But you can be any version of YOU that you want to be.


And so can I. And we have the option to dial in to the best us. It’s entirely up to us.


And that's GREAT news.

xoxo

Ella

 

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Check out Oxyceutics "Gut to Glow" and use code ELLA15 to save 15% (tip: use “subscribe & save” for an additional 20% discount): get it HI - bonus solo episode from me to be followed next week by part 2 with dr stacy sims, so make sure you’ve listened to XXX and stay tuned for that. Today is a short message for anyone who feels like they’re struggling with their mission, finding their purpose or what they want to do next. It’s also for anyone who has begun that journey but then finds themselves comparing their own progress to other people’s and feeling a bit behind, less than or like success is out of reach. It’s for anyone who wants to be living an intentional life and specifically does not want to live life on autopilot!

So if that’s not speaking to you today, just put this in your pocket for when you need it. And if you are up for diving into a message about purpose and how NOT to deter yourself, than pull up a chair, get comfy and let’s gooooooo.


Busting Happiness Myths


I have been thinking a lot lately about happiness, about fulfillment, about creating a purposeful life. These are all different concepts, of course, and I’ve been thinking about what I am getting right in these areas and what I want to do better.


Maybe you can relate to this if you’ve been through a change recently, or want one, or maybe you're in a new chapter, or you just have decided to start paying more attention to what’s aligned for you. For me, I am (always) working on figuring out who I want to be, what I want this chapter now to look like, and what I want to develop and mature in myself as much as what do I want to turn the volume all the way down on.


That’s part of living an intentional life, no matter where you are in yours, right? Living an intentional, awake life instead of auto-pilot life - that’s something that each of us cares about or we wouldn’t be here together right now, right?


So yeah, I am casually trying to be the very best me and figure out what that looks like on a day to day basis and so I was very surprised by my strong reaction when I saw something online the other day - and it was very positive, so my reaction felt really weird at first.


I came across a post by a woman who just accomplished something pretty cool, and by her account, something she previously never imagined she could, something that previously felt impossible. So there was this photo of her running across a finish line, huge smile on her face, and her caption was short and sweet. It said


“You can be anything you want to be.”


Now, this was cool and I get it. Younger her would have been amazed to see older her do this thing and she had set her mind to it and done it. And I am not a jerk - I see that and I get that, but my honest reaction to her sentiment You can be anything you want. (a.k.a “You can be anything you set your mind to.”) - my response was “oh that is such bs. That is just not true.”


I know that sounds weirdly negative, but stick with me here - I think it’s really important what we tell ourselves in the pursuit of our best life and living out the best versions of ourselves, and I think we can actually shut down our momentum, our progress when we set ourselves up with the wrong framework or the wrong expectations.


for example, I might want to be Beyonce,, but I cannot set my mind to it and be Beyonce. If there’s an equation that adds up to Beyonce, I don’t have any of the factors that go into that equation. I don’t have enough GigaBytes and you don’t have enough time for me to list all the ways I am not and cannot be Beyonce. I have nothing in common with Beyonce except that we are of the same species and I am not even sure about that because have you seen her perform? I’m pretty sure she’s actually supernatural.


You can be anything you want? I disagree. The truth is not everyone can fulfill every desire that they have. Some might dream of being a parent but can't be, or maybe you want to be naturally athletic or brilliant or born rich, or an Oscar winner. Some people will be. But we can’t “be anything we want to be,” …and the blind pursuit has left many people feeling unfulfilled or “less than.” And I think it matters.


At the very least, comparison of your lot in life, of your day to day existence, of your body or your home, your job or your business, of your vacations, of your accomplishments, that comparison will kill your joy - but worse - that comparison and the “falling short” of it all

will oftentimes kill the version of you that is possible. So yeah, I think it matters.

Can we be whatever we want to be? what ever we wish to be? No, I don’t think so.


I think we were each gifted talents and hindrances and resources and deficits that are specific to us and to the space and time we occupy. Together these make up a formula that is unique to us. And, I believe that each of us has an almost infinite number of paths that we can take within our journey, but our journey is different from the next guy’s. If this is “choose your own adventure” and we own our choices and their outcomes, that can have a billion different variations, but nobody else’s looks exactly like yours.


I have different skills and experiences and choices than a woman exactly my age growing up in a different part of the world, with a different set of rules, in a different body, with a different family and a different bank account and a different perspective and so on and so on. And what if she spent her life comparing hers to mine? And what if I spent my life wanting what she had? [PAUSE] Isn’t this something that we do in tiny ways every single day?


I mean, Do you have social media? Do you have colleagues or peers? Do you have perceived competition at work? Have you ever wanted something that you can’t have? Have you ever wanted something that is not at all made for you, but it just looks better than what you have?


I know I have. And that was not just a waste of my time and a diversion, but it actually was a distraction from what is FOR me.


So, yes, I think this type of blind positivity - while harmless on the surface - can actually create a deficit. I think it’s the wrong message. I think it’s the wrong message for kids - incidentally - to say “you can be anyone you set your mind to”

I think there’s a better message.


If we want to OWN our stuff - the good and the bad, the abundance and the lack that makes up our make up ;-) - then I think it’s more useful to know this:


You started where you started, with what you had, what you could build or acquire and what you don’t or can’t, and YOU GET TO CHOOSE which version of yourself you want to be.


You can be any VERSION OF YOU that you want to be.


This is true on a macro scale and on a micro scale. On a macros scale, it’s “what kind of person do I want to be? What jobs will I have in my lifetime? What relationships will I enter into? What activities will I engage in?”

By way of example for me... I was gifted a strong healthy body, the gift of communication, a family, the opportunity for an education, the ability to think critically on occasion, and a talent for word puzzles that is as impressive as it is useless. I was not gifted a single atom of musical ability, um, calculus, fine motor skills, spatial awareness, uh the ability to wrap presents in any comprehensible way or to cook. I cannot successfully choose to be Beyonce, or a child prodigy, or a math major, but I can choose the ways I will employ my gifts, just as you get to choose the ways you will employ and enjoy yours.


That’s the macro level. You get to choose which version of yourself you will live out.


But this is also true in every tiny decision that we make in a day - in relationship to ourselves, in relationship to others, at work, at play, at parenting, in being a friend, at taking care of our bodies, our minds, our bank accounts - it’s living out the answer to questions like:


  • Which thoughts will I allow right now?

  • What action will I take or not take right now?

  • What version of me will I be here? Which version of me am I cultivating here with this choice?


am I embattled/ will I be a warrior, or am I martyr, am I a dependent or autonomous being, am I very passive or am I very aggressive, am I outraged or empowered? We are all of these, of course At different times. That’s natural - We’re like those old tv sets with the dials and different channels to choose from. Some of the signals come in strong and some are fuzzy.


((Yea, realizing that I’ll have to post a picture for those of you who don’t know what it’s like to have to turn to channel U on top and 43 on the bottom of a television set :-). Or just google vintage tv with dials as watched by your ancestors. Anyway…))


Ok, so I'm a complicated tv. You are too. Like you, I have a LOT of channels. I have a top channel called businesswoman, a channel called wife, a channel called mom, sister, a channel called friend and triathlete and so on….. And on the second dial I have thousands of channels and they are called tired or energized, fulfilled and discontent, proud, hurt, aggressive , aloof, connected , detached… there are a LOT of channels!!!


I might be

Dissatisfied

Affronted

Aggrieved

Slighted


Or I might think and act as a person who is

  • Respected

  • Content

  • Satisfied

  • Grateful

  • Fulfilled

  • Healthy

In each of my roles in life.

But as the tv. I get to choose what I tune into once I figure out which channels I came with. What I am made of.


So, that’s why I think it’s important what we tell ourselves about living our best life. I think the words we use matter, because they help form our beliefs and our beliefs shape our thoughts, and our thoughts shape our actions and our inaction. How we view ourselves and what we can accomplish shapes what we actually do and don’t do.


And you are here to live the best versions of you. I am here to spend more time choosing the choices for the person I want to be. And to use MY gifts, not spending time wanting yours.


(PS This is the only way in my humble opinion that you can ever truly celebrate the accomplishments of others without strings attached, by the way. Somebody else’s gifts are entirely irrelevant to ours. I want that for you because that feeds the best version of you. That is your win for your version. I am not competing with that because my version looks different). I always want the best for you because that’s what the best version of me looks like!)


So, Beyonce gets to be Beyonce and I get to be me. Which version of me will I dial into? Which channels will get the most air time? What do the best versions of me look like? What do they act like? What do they do or not do? What choices do they make?


Here are some specific question you can ask yourself, and as always I will share these in the post for this episode:


  • FIRST: When was the last time I checked in with myself?

  • ZOOM OUT: I will not live forever. Nobody does. What will I regret not doing?

  • ZOOM IN: What will I wish you had done today?

  • Finally, if you’re up for it, I’m posting a template for you to create your own personal MANIFESTO. If you’re the type of person who likes to take action, to commit, to write things down to solidify them, you can download that template (where) and draft your own personal manifesto (repeat where)



So no, You can’t be ANYTHING you want. We can’t be something we’re not.

But you can be any version of YOU that you want to be.

And we have the option to dial in to the BEST us. It’s entirely up to us.



PS - I only take TWO a day and that works for me.

 

Questions? Contact me

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xxoo Ella






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