Why You Remain Stuck and How to Save Your Soul.

There you are. Preparing your coffee before you head to a job that just doesn’t do it for you anymore. Well, it pays the bills. But it doesn’t make you come alive.

There’s that shiny thing off in the distance, you know it. The thing you’ve always wanted to do. The thing you would always rather be doing. Maybe it’s playing guitar, maybe it’s directing a movie, maybe it’s writing a book about that awesome idea you once had long ago.

But it’s a part of life, right? You have bills to pay and maybe even mouths to feed. It’s just not the time to take risks. So you stay here. Stuck.

You reason with yourself.
How could you be so selfish as to take a risk that could put yourself and others in jeopardy of not having the things you need to get by? No, you are a responsible being who has priorities and things to get done.

You’re used to making a decent amount of money. It took you years to get to this place, to make all this income, why take a step backward?

You allow the influence of others to hold you back.
Remember that one time your parents sat down with you to have a serious chat about your life and when you would finally decide to give up pursuit of these crazy dreams? You all agreed that if you weren’t “successful” by a certain age, you would pursue “other things.” That age has long since passed. Why would you go back on your word?

Plus, your friends who you grew up with through college, the same ones who used to dream alongside you, also have “grown out” of their dreaming phase. You only reminisce now while you are out having drinks. Then go back to your respective comfortable lives. They tell you they will put in a referral for you, at another job you know you would hate but at least it pays more money.

You failed big time and decided not to get back up after that last time.
You gave it everything you had. Energy, hopes, money, time. You finally had a chance to prove yourself and you missed it, hard. You had to go back home with your tail between your legs. Maybe asked your parents to move back in with them for a short time while you got back on your feet. You became bitter at your broken dream. Your ego crushed. You became numb, finally pursuing other things. But still, every time you are at a concert with friends and see somebody playing that bass guitar like they were born to do it, something dies inside of you all over again.

It was time to move on. It was time to “grow up.”

This “stuck” is almost always a mental barrier that we have created for ourselves (Unless it’s a restraining order. It’s there for a reason. Obey). The scary truth is that you have one life to live. One life to live to the absolute fullest. One life to leave a print on the world. One shot to leave it better than you found it. One life to make a lasting impact. In some way, I think that’s enough reason to be a little selfish. Not only that, but a better example to the rest of the world for how we should be doing this life thing. What kind of example do you want to be for the next generation? One who is brave, takes risks, pushes the world forward? Or one who sticks with what is safe and comfortable, and tells them to do the same later on in life?

Ok, so now that I may have gotten you a little fired up, let’s talk about what it takes to move forward. Let’s dig into the whole “saving your soul” part of all this. I’m not referring to the after life here, that’s for all of eternity. Today, we are only going to be focusing on this life. The one you are in right now. The one you should be getting the absolute most out of, because nobody else is going to do it for you.

Here’s the first step to saving your soul:

Listen, it’s the first for a reason. It also happens to be the most difficult. The one that everyone gets stuck on. Again, that mental barrier. It’s when we get stuck in between our own two ears. In our brain place.

Let me tell you something about believing. It is much harder than un-believing. Un-believing happens in an instant. Something happens, a truth is exposed, and BOOM, you un-believe. Kind of like when you discovered that Santa wasn’t real. After that, you never believed otherwise.

But believing, that’s the hardest of all. It’s even harder when you’ve gotten to the stage of un-believing. I can’t convince you to believe in yourself in an instant. You have probably spent most of your life trying to convince your self to believe in you. This can only come from digging deep. Drowning out all of the noise and then making a decision. Sometimes the decision has to come before the belief does. You make the choice to believe, even if you’re not quite there yet. It’s like a commitment or pact with an old friend. This time, the old friend happens to be you.

So after making a promise to yourself to believe, even though you may not be fully there yet, it’s time to become a stalker. Well, a friendly-internet-troll kind of stalker.

It’s easy for us to sit at home in our comfy-bitter chairs and internally judge those who have achieved our dream status. We make excuses for them such as, “Well, their dad was already in the industry, so of course they were a shoe-in.” It’s easy for us to reason why they achieved their dream and we didn’t.

So I am going to ask you to go back to your now comfy-curious chair, get on the internet and sit there for a little bit longer. Long enough to search for actual people who achieved your dream status and research them. Yes, I am asking you to become an internet troll (I wasn’t lying earlier). It is VERY likely you will discover plenty of stories of people who put in a lot of effort, a lot of hard work and who had a whole lot of failure. I promise.

Do this enough, and you may begin to feel some warmth melting the ice off of your cold bitter heart. What’s that? Un-belief starting to melt away.

Don’t forget. You made the pact with yourself. The choice to believe. Guess what? Others have done the same. They promised themselves. Find some of these people. Connect with them. Something is going to happen. Here’s the next step in saving your soul.

Take Action by becoming a master at your craft.
Ok, you’ve proved it to yourself. You actually have seen and believe that some of these crazy dreams could become reality. Yes, seeing seems to be believing, but one day we will get ourselves to where we no longer have to see to believe (that’s another blog for another time).
In The Art of Work, by Jeff Goins, he shares the journey of the apprenticeship to mastery that took place in the Middle Ages. This required a student and a teacher. In our case today, a mentor. Apprenticeships would begin as early as the age of twelve. My guess is that you’re probably not twelve and we’re not in Kansas anymore. That’s ok. Because you made a choice, remember. To believe and you are going to do this thing. It’s time to go back to being a student. Reach out to others considered Masters and take on a posture of humility and be ready and willing to grow.

So how do you make this work? How do you effectively manage your time when you already have your day job and plenty of other responsibilities?
Dedication. This comes by saying that fulfillment of this choice has more weight than your need to watch T.V., than your need to hang out with friends every night (they’ll understand if you cut back to only once a week), than your need to sleep in at every chance you get. Simply put, it’s going to take a lot of effort and intentionality.

In this season you are greasing up the squeaky gears that have gone rusty over time. You are sharpening your skills. Researching a ton on your craft and others who are successful doing what you want to do. Not to mimic, but to gain perspective on where the market is at within your particular field. But mostly, you practicing the hell out of what it is you need to be doing. If it’s building guitars, you are crafting day and night. If it’s writing, you are waking up at 5AM every morning and writing new content and learning your voice. If it’s App Development, you are tinkering with all relevant technology and figuring out how things work, perhaps late at night with coffee sitting next to you.

An important thing to note, is that you could get stuck here for much longer than necessary. Especially if you happen to be one of those awkward perfectionists, like myself. You’re scared to show anybody your work because it’s not perfected yet. DO. NOT. WAIT. FOR. PERFECTION.

Find a mentor, practice, then create. Continue taking action. It should not always be the same action. Once you have invested a sufficient amount of time (If you are in this place for longer than 6-12 months, you need to get moving) as an apprentice, it’s time for the next step to becoming un-stuck.

Why you remain stuck and how to save your soul.

Building a Network and Marketing yourself and your goods.
Bleh. Yes, I used the words networking and marketing. This post just got adult real fast. But you can choose to man up and learn about self-promotion, or stay a closet dreamer for the remainder of your Earthly life (I’m pretty sure we already went over why that would suck).
I am not sure if you are a podcast junkie like me, but if you are, you may have heard the term “solopreneur” maybe you haven’t. Basically, it’s a bunch of crap. Being “solo” will never get you anywhere. Remember, you probably have bills to pay and potential mouths to feed, being “solo” will not get you those things. You need help. You need customers. You need teachers and you yourself should also be a teacher in order for all of this to work out. You need a network. Is a single person stranded on a desert island, successful? I don’t think many will see it that way. So convince yourself now that you need people and also that people need you.

That’s where marketing starts. Convincing others they need you (or your product). It feels gross and sleeze-bally saying that, I know. But if you aren’t convinced they won’t be either. Donald Miller has a great post about self-promotion titled, “Some Thoughts on Self Promotion and Why Arrogant People Think it’s Wrong.” You should definitely check it out if you still need to convince yourself.

Remember earlier when we talked about being brave, taking risks and pushing the world forward? The world isn’t going anywhere and not single person will be affected if you don’t. It’s selfish to withhold your gift from the world. We could all be better off because of what you as a human had to offer (what if Thomas Edison never invented the light bulb and electric power distribution? The world would be a whole lot darker.)

So what’s after that? Anything. Everything. Never stop dreaming. Never stop taking action. Get yourself un-stuck. Do it for yourself. Do it for the next generation. Do it for the world to know your gift.

Where are you now? What can you do to move forward? Please share your thoughts and/or your story in the comments below. This is a place of community. Let’s believe alongside each other and be a resource to one another. I look forward to hearing your story.

It may be time to rethink your “hope.”

Hope is an odd thing.

We all have it. Hope for something; something better, something new, something familiar.

And the thing is, unless we attain it, our heart, it hurts.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” An old Proverb says.

We can even try to silence this hope. Or even attempt to fulfill it with other things, but the longing is always there.

Over time we may have even convinced ourselves that it is no longer worth it, to continue to hope for that thing. It’s just too far off now, or perhaps “too childish.”

But the longing is there. It is truth. Just silenced.

We hope to become wealthy so we play the lottery or hope to strike a jackpot at a slot machine in Vegas. Maybe we hope that we get a large promotion so our families will be taken care of from now on. Perhaps we hope that the right person will cross our path and lead us to the big break we always wanted. Or maybe we even hope that we will run into the person of our dreams while sitting at home, browsing the internet.

But what have we done with this hope?

If faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Then, this hope, or this faith, needs a little help to allow it to be so.

Hope is something that we know to be true but does not exist yet. Isn’t it, then, ok, to cause its existence? Perhaps, more than ok? But necessary?

This “hope,” then, may evolve to: Dedicating oneself to a craft and after several failures over time, finding success and becoming wealthy. Creating a place of refuge for your family through dedication to hard work and love. Networking, putting ourselves out there and creating opportunities until people know who you are and what you have to offer, seeking you out. Going out and living life to the fullest, being confident in who you are and run into somebody else dong something similar and fall in love.

What is hope if we have not put forth action behind it? It’s merely just a thought, one might reason.

Truly, we are capable of more.

Is your heart sick? Or are you doing something with your Hope?

3 Reasons why it’s time to be Millennial-Friendly.

If you haven’t yet noticed, there are a lot of young hipsters waiting to rule the world.

Being on the early-end of the millennial generation, there’s something within in me that refuses to self-identify with this group. But the truth is, I am part of it. A lot of us are. Regardless, of my own personal bias, 22-year old Dominique was absolutely what we would consider a millennial stereotype by today’s standards.

Luckily, I had some incredible people present in my life to get me through my wandering season.

If you aren’t on board yet with the millennials gearing up to take over the world, hopefully your mind will be changed by the time you get through this post. Here’s why we need to stop bemoaning this young group and start supporting them in their endeavors.

They are the smartest group of people to exist.
Hear me out on this one. Step back. Push your “but their a bunch of immature adolescents” stereotype aside and listen.

Think about it. The millennials grew up with something most of us have not. The internet and modern technology. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING is available to these young people at their fingertips in nano-seconds. Smart phones have replaced the need for a college education. (Whoa, I’m getting a bit progressive here, I know.) Blogs, YouTube, Online Workshops and Courses, Development in Niche markets without wasting time to learn a bunch of other crap you will never use again; it all makes up for endless possibilities when it comes to discovering a talent and learning all that there is to know. Now, they have to be willing to put forth the effort (more to come on that).

Even if these young people don’t know something, they know how to get the information and fast. Generally before most of us do.

They think differently. They don’t want to look at the world the same way that we have. They want partnership and camaraderie, not competition.

We need them.
Yes. We do. They are the future. They want what’s next and they know what they want. We don’t. We have no clue what they want. Basically, they are that family member that you have to buy a birthday gift for but has everything. We need them to see what’s ahead. We need to figure out exactly what it is that appeals to them and establish a new framework from that.

They need us.
Regardless of whether they know it or not, it’s true.
They are dreamers, but often without ambition. They know what they want but they don’t always know how. They have knowledge and desire but not experience. They need direction. But most of us are over waiting to prove ourselves correct that they either fail or never get started. They can sense our disbelief. Sure they believe in themselves, but that added layer of support is invaluable. Do you remember when you were young and sat face to face with somebody older that you greatly respected and admired? Do you remember when they believed in you? It made all the difference.

So let’s be that. Let’s push our egos aside and see what these young people are able to do. I have a feeling it’s going to be incredible. We can either be with them or against them. I’d rather be a part of pushing the world forward than trying to force it to remain the same.

How about you?

The dream killer: perfectionism.

Perfectionism is a sure way to never get started or to never be ok with the work that you put forth (and therefore, we withhold it). Either route is a dream killer.

Hi. I’m dominique. I’m a perfectionist. A perfectionist who prefers to think that I am not a perfectionist. That might even be worse. I haven’t decided yet.

The odd thing is, I 100% believe in the need for failure. The lessons learned are invaluable. They shape who we are and who we will become. I know this. I believe this. I know I need it.

Then there’s the whole “balance” thing. You know what I mean, “practice makes perfect.” blah blah blah. So does that mean I SHOULD strive for perfection? (this is me reasoning and rationalizing crazy with myself)

I have always just had this very strong internal need to do and achieve something great. But “great” by who’s standards? Well, my own, I guess. These really really REALLY high standards I have set for myself.

And so I feel it necessary to bring my A Game 100% of the time. I don’t half-ass anything ever. I can’t.

Eventually this will lead me to a point of exhaustion and stretching myself too thin. Or even confronted with life (or my very honest Mexican Mother) that I am not present and am too focused on the wrong things. That’s never fun. Then I’m exhausted AND feel like a giant ass hole.

But ultimately, what I’ve discovered, is that perfectionism is rooted in fear. Fear of something less than worthy. If it’s not perfect, it’s a poor representation of me. And remember, I want greatness.

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So I stop. I sit in quiet. I remind myself that I am human. And these super high standards I have put on myself, I would never allow another human to beat themselves up over. So I shouldn’t beat myself up either. And neither should you.

If we beat ourselves up to the point where we refuse to dream because we refuse to fail, then we’ve lost. I just don’t think that’s what this life is about. The world needs our gifts and our thoughts. It’s about you being you and me being me. Each day we can each bring what we have to give. Some days we will have more to offer than other days. That’s ok. It’s ok to be honest about it.

We don’t need perfection. We just need each other. Honest. Raw. And real.

So let’s remember to take it easy on ourselves. I know I could use a reminder every once and a while, and even a little encouragement here and there. You may too. If that’s the case, here you go: You’re doing a great job. Thank you for all of your hard work. It matters and you make a difference. Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise.

Now, go and remind somebody else who may need to hear that as well.

You have a gift.

Have you ever been in that place where you have wondered if you should be doing more with your life?

I think we probably all have.

I think there’s a reason for that.

The truth is that there is more. And I think you know that. But you’ve reasoned enough with yourself. You’ve gotten comfortable. So, your life that you’re living now is merely what you do.

But is it who you are? Does everything you do in your life have your own stamp on it? Do you go to sleep at night proud of your accomplishments. Do you feel you’ve contributed value to the world? Does your passion and influence rub off on others?

Or do you not believe in all of that self-help garbage? Were you meant to just show up? So you are here, potentially numb to life and the things around you.

I was. For years. I had dreams, hopes and aspirations. I gave them everything I had. Until I couldn’t anymore. Then I stopped. I settled for the idea of just letting life happen. Wallowed.

And then one day I woke up. It was like somebody grabbed me and shook me. I was reminded that I believed in something and it was important to me. There was a message that I was supposed to be sharing.(for more details of my personal journey, check out the post, “Are you ashamed of your jalopy?“)

So here I am. Finally sharing it. A message that I discovered when I was 20 years old. It only took me 11 years to get to this moment right now. (Sorry for the delay.)

My message is that there is more. Specifically, there is more in you. There is more for you to discover and more for you to share. My purpose is to pull it out of you and show it off to the world.

So, let’s talk. I like to ask questions. Dig deep. I might annoy you or call you out, but I will not relent. Because I believe. I believe you have a purpose and a gift. The good news is that it doesn’t matter how your gift has been packaged or wrapped. That’s just an excuse. An excuse to keep you comfortable and safe. The true gift is what’s inside of you waiting to be shared.

This is going to take risk. It’s going to be scary. But it will be worth it.

It’s time to lead the life you were meant to live. Let’s get started. Together.

What is the thing you have always wanted to do but have kept inside, scared to even share the thought out loud? What has been your reason for not pursuing it? Share in the comments.

If you think you’re ready, you’re probably not.

If you’ve ever worked for a company for any amount of time, you are aware of who is probably trying really hard to get promoted to the next level. That person might even be you.

The interesting truth, though, is that we might know this solely based on the fact this is all that person talks about. Not necessarily because they are actually ready to be promoted. What makes it interesting is that talking is generally not what gets one promoted to the next level. It’s doing. It’s action. So if you find most of your conversations are you complaining about why you haven’t been promoted yet, you probably aren’t actually doing anything.

Let’s be honest, most people probably assume they are farther along than they really are. This is generally due to a couple of things.

  1. Lack of Maturity. 
    When we are young, most of us can’t see past ourselves. We are the most capable of figuring it all out. There is no fear of failure, because we haven’t truly failed big yet (nor have we actually tried). We haven’t been put in our place after saying the very stupid thing we should have never allowed to escape our mouth (Donna, I am still sorry about that one thing I said about your son). We still think talking gets more done than doing. We are looking to point the fingers at the “wrong” things, rather than focusing on all the right and then offering new ideas to implement and further growth. Basically, we are immature and selfish. Hopefully, we are not still in this place after 25.
  2. Lack of Experience
    We might have matured now, but still haven’t been truly challenged or tasked with the “doing” part. We have learned about having a “filter” and can navigate political conversations, but outside of that, we are just smooth talkers.
  3. Lack of Perspective
    Ok, so maybe now you’ve figured out how to not upset a bunch of people verbally. You’ve gotten a few opportunities at proving yourself with some projects and have been able to accomplish a handful of great things. But you haven’t been fully able to articulate the “what needs to be done” with the “why.” Or perhaps even understand it for yourself (maybe you’re really self-motivated) but struggle articulating this to a team. This happens to be where a lot of people get stuck. Lack of seeing the bigger picture. This gap can cause an “us vs. them” mentality between a team and its leaders. The person on the team who can align with the vision of the leadership and simplify the message to their peers, helping to get them all on the same page, is invaluable.

You might even already be seen as a “leader” amongst your team. But if you are over-aligning with the team and not holding them to the standard necessary to achieve excellence that has been set by your leaders, you are more dangerous than an under-performer. Yes. I said that. You have the potential to steer an entire team in the wrong direction. All this creates is chaos and division, leading to low morale and people who hate going to their jobs. The place they invest most of their life. Nobody wins. Not leaders. Not team members.

Hear me out, nobody is asking you to become a mindless robot and do whatever your leadership says to do (or be the hard-ass rule follower that everyone else can’t stand to be around). If you want to get to the next level, you should be willing to do 2 things. First, be willing to seek clarity on messages or a vision you may not understand or even believe in (this shows humility and willingness to grow). Second, once you have clarity, be brave enough to share additional thoughts and ideas on what is necessary to achieve the goals of a particular vision.

Seeking clarity will give you the perspective necessary to help motivate others. Somebody who has a great perspective, great relationships and takes action is a person who others will want on their team. They pull out the best in themselves and others.

People who no longer assume they are “ready” have big failures behind their belt. Moments that have humbled them. These people who have experienced great failure, have also probably learned what it means to persevere. In turn, they find themselves continuously learning. It never stops.

“Ready” becomes a relative term because they are already doing.

So where are you? Still maturing? Still searching for experience? Seeking clarity to gain perspective? Which is preventing you from truly being ready?

Are you ashamed of your jalopy?

The Orange Car

About 6 years ago I was driving home down a dark street, with tears on my cheeks and a rage inside of me. I had given up on my dreams of being a rockstar after leaving my band that was nothing but drama. The economy crashed and so did my education because my parents could no longer afford to continue to pay my way. Both my plan A & plan B were gone. I was filled with rage for 2 reasons. 1. I was the only person to blame for walking away from my pursuit of music and being some big rockstar. 2. My biggest dream currently was to receive a full-time position at a retail store so that I could somehow continue to pay my bills.

So, I coasted. Sure, I finally hit my goal of full-time at a retail store, and even got promoted a couple more times, mostly just because I am naturally driven. But I had no huge aspirations. I grew in my company because I believe that’s what we are supposed to do; learn and grow. But in my mind, it was still “retail.” The very type of work I swore I would never be involved with again after my departing from Old Navy as a teenager (folding a table of T-shirts just to be unfolded and plopped down again, made me want to kill myself. I know that sounds dramatic, but I was 17. Everything is dramatic when you’re 17).

Retail for me was kind of like your first car, it’s a jalopy, but it gets you to where you need to go. I was young and needed work, so I took what I could get to pay some bills. I was definitely a bit embarrassed of working for some retailer rather than touring the world and rocking peoples’ faces off. So to be back in retail, after 5 years of college and internships, it felt even more shameful.

After a couple years at my company, I had a very big realization. My core values hadn’t changed, only the outside perception of myself and of what I felt others had of me, changed.

As I have explained several times, my deep sense of purpose in life has been to encourage others to pursue their dreams and passions. I have known this since I was 18 years old. I discovered it after some good old fashioned therapy. This one fact about myself had not changed. It was still what got me fired up in life. However, I allowed my outside circumstances to quench that fire. I focused more on my banged up vehicle than the actual destination I was needing to arrive at. The truth was, my jalopy could still help me arrive at my destination of pursuing my core purpose.

Even in retail, I could still encourage others to pursue their passions. I could still challenge others to make goals and go after them. I could still believe that these things were attainable for them and with them.

Once I got over myself and my shame of being in “retail” and re-connected with my true purpose, I discovered the true amount of infinite opportunity that my company truly had to offer. My retail company also happens to be in the top 5 of fortune 500 companies in the world.

When I realized that my vehicle was what merely gets me TO my destination, it didn’t matter if I was driving a jalopy or a Mercedes. I was only causing my own despair and devastation by creating unnecessary expectations for myself that were actually holding me back from pursuing my purpose. Our purpose should be what drives us. It should be our fuel. What kind of gas tank it goes in, doesn’t matter.

Don’t be ashamed of your vehicle. I have learned more working for this retail company than any education could have taught me. I just needed to realize how important it was to appreciate the journey and know what should be my fuel to keep me on course.

Once I allowed my purpose to fuel me, and aligned it with my current vehicle at my company, I took off. I was willing to grow and take advantage of all that was available to me. I am still learning, but I choose to continue to grow.

Someday, as it did once before, my vehicle may change. But I will be far more open to it next time. As long as I remain true to my core values, that will be what drives me forward. When we are open to growth and change, opportunities present themselves constantly. We may just need to be willing to overlook a bad paint job.

So, what about you? Are you confusing your vehicle with your purpose? Or are you letting your purpose be what fuels you to reach your destiny…errr…destination?