Imagine with me for a moment. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and let go of everything you know about how it’s SUPPOSED to be done.

This can apply to anything. Relationships. Love. Parenting. Education. Art. Spirituality. Health issues. Your business, your work — your Purpose.

What if nobody ever told you how it was “supposed” to be done?

What if you hadn’t researched the industry standard? What if you didn’t read the books that gave you the blueprint you chose to follow? What if you didn’t just fall in line with society’s expectations?

I’ll tell you exactly what would happen. You’d create magic instead.

As humans, we are susceptible to a pretty intense form of tunnel vision. If we’re looking for something specific (say, how to start a photography business, or how to raise a decent human being) we’ll find it. But we’ll also ignore EVERYTHING ELSE that doesn’t fit that particular filter. (This is a function of our Reticular Activator, a fascinating bit of our brain that does all this filtering without our permission…more on THAT in a later post.) So while you look for models of the photography industry, or attachment parenting advice, or tips for improving your marriage, you ignore several amazing resources you’ve got at your fingertips.

1 * Broaden your scope

The first way to loosen the grip of tunnel vision is to shake your sight loose. Ditch the laser focus for a bit, and see what else comes into your awareness. Look to other industries to inspire you. See how different services are generally performed, and start collecting the pieces that jive with you. Approach it with curiosity – “How could this look if I applied these ideas to my own work?” Sometimes shifting your perspective like this can resolve any struggles you’ve come up against, too – any time you change your lens, you see things in a different way.

2 * Look to the innovators

What’s on the cutting edge right now? What direction do you sense things are moving right now? What common changes are taking place – particularly in the experience of those you’re trying to serve? If you take notice of what’s on the horizon, you may be able to position yourself to lead the charge. Anytime major shifts take place, people look to those who can help them make sense of what’s going on. They need someone to follow – and what’s more, they need someone who can show them how to lead. When you let go of the need to keep doing things the way they’ve always been done, you open up a world of endless possibilities. Because really, if you can imagine it, you can do it!

3 * Shift your tense

You have to stop thinking from a perspective of past-present, and look at your world through present-future glasses. If you want to succeed in any area of life, you have to release your hold on the past. Instead of fixating on what has already happened and how it’s affecting our current experience, you have to focus on how our current situation is directing our future. How do you know you’re holding on to the past? You take a victim role – you complain about the things that are happening TO you instead of claiming any responsibility. (Maybe you can’t change anyone else’s behaviors or actions, but you sure as hell control how you react to them.) Or maybe you keep fighting the same battles over and over. If you aren’t seeing results, it’s time to let go of what’s happened and work toward ensuring it doesn’t happen again. Or maybe you simply turn ostrich; stick your head in the sand and pretend things aren’t changing around you. No matter how it manifests, past-present thinking is stuck thinking.

4 * Your own loyalties

Here’s a nifty fact: Your ideal client, your best partner, thinks and behaves VERY similarly to you. Why is that? Because they have shared beliefs and common values. The more you can dial into those beliefs and values, the faster you’ll find your path. Examine your own loyalties. What brands, stores, friends, writers captivate your heart each time you interact? What do they have in common, and how are they different from others you’ve experienced? Again, looking at a variety of sources will be the most powerful way to spark inspiration. What is it about your interactions with this list that just makes you a raving fan? How can you bring more of those qualities or ideas to your own life and business?

5 * Listen to your tribe

This is particularly key when you’re looking at serving others in some capacity. Start listening to what they’re saying – that tribe of yours that’s just waiting for you to show up. What gaps exist right now that they’re aching to have filled? Where do you fit in to that bigger picture? How can you best serve all of their needs, exactly as they’re stating them? Pay close attention to the specific words and phrases they are using to describe their problems and the wishful thinking they share. (You can later use these EXACT words and phrases to speak directly to them, and you’ll have an instant response – it’s like you’re reading their minds!) How does your particular tribe want to interact with YOU? What kind of leader are they seeking?

6 * Go with your gut

Above all else, and to help you tie together all these other pieces, listen to your gut instincts. Your intuition will guide you exactly where you need to be. Any time you’re considering a particular decision, feel into it a bit and see how it settles with you before you pull the trigger. If you find that you’re leaning toward a particular option just because you think that’s what’s expected, it’ll leave you feeling a little uncertain, or uneasy, or sometimes even queasy. If it’s a truly good fit for you, you’ll feel empowered or excited or downright giddy over it! If you’re still struggling to tell how you feel, pencil in a coffee date with someone you trust, someone who really gets you. And just start chatting about it. Run your ideas by them, and pay attention to how you feel as you’re talking. Most of the time, you’ll answer your own questions before you can even get their input. Anything that makes you come alive…DO THAT. Even if it doesn’t always make sense by logical standards.

7 * Implement…and course correct

Start experimenting with your new ideas. Try them on for size, and see how you feel in the middle of it all. If it feels good, thrilling, fulfilling, keep pushing forward. If it doesn’t feel as good as you thought it might, you can always correct your course and try a different approach. This phase is all about trial-and-error, stretching your muscles and growing in confidence. Just remember, nothing is permanent. You can always change your mind later.

I don’t believe in cookie-cutter ANYTHING. And if you’re reading this, I’m betting you agree. There’s a better way, if only you dare to do life differently. If you’re willing to challenge the status quo, the field of possibility opens to you. The path is yours alone – only you have the unique set of skills, experiences, knowledge and personality to pull it off.

If you don’t walk it, who will?

xo

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