About once a month I work with Elizabeth Wipff, my “mindset coach”. Elizabeth, a Yoga Tune Up® Teacher Trainer, CrossFit Coach, Olympic Lifter, New Yorker, and overall she-lion badass, is the creator of an incredible coaching program for health and wellness professionals called #ifXthenWhy that helped me understand, define and explore the WHY behind the work I do as a movement educator. Part of her program is creating some impossible goals to start thinking and living bigger than you thought you could. This StrongFirst adventure is one goal in a sea of impossible goals that requires mental clarity, occasional tough love, and an unwavering commitment to self-care, so I continue to work with Elizabeth to keep my ship on course.
‘Overwhelmed’ is a word and a feeling that comes up quite frequently for me. A fully booked schedule is often the metric I use to determine if my week was successful - but I am learning that being busy and being successful in working toward your goals are not the same thing. I am also one of those ‘say yes to everything so everyone will be happy’ kind of people. Add to this my strong commitment to being a feminist (yes, I’m using the F-word) and the ‘women can do ANYTHING’ mentality, and voila, you have the recipe for overwhelm! In my latest coaching session, when I was still mulling over signing up for the certification, Elizabeth asked me one of those Zen bomb kind of questions – she said, “What do you have to say ‘no’ to in order to say ‘yes’ to this?” She reminded me that instead of piling more, and more, and more onto my giant, overflowing plate at the grand buffet of life, I can pause and take a few items off instead of trying to force feed myself more obligations! Time is limited and extremely valuable. So she challenged me to take one thing off the plate for every item I add.
Our culture really values saying 'yes'. The yoga scene is full of messaging about increasing your spirituality by being open and saying 'yes' to the universe - more heart openers! more hip openers! yes! yes! yes! And generally our collective culture has decided that 'no' is for negative people. I definitely support exploration, and being open to adventure but, all that 'yes-ing' without focus can derail, deflect, and delay you from what you're really trying to achieve. I can’t train five days a week, do all my Physics homework, teach 16 weekly Yoga classes at 5 different locations until 8pm every night, teach my private clients, take care of my dog, have a relationship with my boyfriend, still have clean underwear, and keep my shit together! So I have committed to saying ‘no’. Not in a mean hearted way – you can stand up for yourself without putting anyone else down. It’s actually been a fantastic exploration of self-respect. While I believe the modern woman can do ANYTHING she wants, it is impossible for her to do EVERYTHING all at once, all the time. So I have scaled back my teaching schedule slightly, calendared in my training schedule (including recovery days and recovery activities), and I’m saying ‘yes’ to getting stronger, taking care of my body and mind, and achieving my long term goals.
So for all you folks out there (especially women) who struggle with saying ‘yes’ to your own goals because it's hard to say 'no' to people in your life, here’s a little poem from Louise Erdich to see you through: