“At the center of your being you have the answer, you know who you are and you know what you want.” – Lao Tzu
Mother may I. Simon says. Childhood presents a lot of little games designed to teach us right from wrong, what lines not to cross and when to proceed to the next step. Unfortunately, as we venture into adulthood, it’s no different. Despite achieving financial independence and holding down a full-time job while raising a family, many of us are still waiting for permission. Permission to be who we really are when no one is watching; permission to take on a new position at work or quit a job to pursue our heart’s desire; permission to say no to things that no longer serve us.
Why we seek the approval of others
We seek in others what we have abandoned in ourselves. Reflect for a moment. Somewhere in between childhood and womanhood someone may have said you’re not good enough or discouraged you from doing something you really wanted to do – and you believed them. As a result, a series of self-fulfilling prophecies began to unfold.
A few weeks ago, I was listening to a radio show interview featuring author Lisa Nichols and she said something that struck me. She coined herself as a “permission agent.” She then went on to recount an experience in school, where a teacher told her she lacked writing skills and would never make it as a writer. Twenty plus years later, she’s now a New York Times best-selling author.
A Personal Story
In 2007, I began moonlighting as an entrepreneur while working during the day as a legal writer. Then it happened: My uncle died a week before his 38th birthday. While tragic, this event gave me the permission I needed to start living a life on my own terms. Two weeks later I handed in my resignation and never looked back.
Imagine if your life was cut short. What will you have left behind? Unrealized dreams? Regret?
Here are three ways to grant yourself permission to step into greatness.
1. Take responsibility. Sure blaming others, the economy, your upbringing or lack of education can feel like a warm snuggly blanket shielding you from the possibility of failure, but aside from countless excuses you’ll have nothing to show for your efforts. Giving yourself permission requires taking complete responsibility for your career or business. Although, you may not be able to control all the events in your life, you have full command over your actions and how you react in each situation.
What does taking responsibility entail?
It means giving up all the complaints and excuses for why you’re not achieving your desires. It means digging your heels in, putting your head down and working on your goal until you’ve reached your destination, regardless of what’s going on around you.
2. Determine what you want. How clear is the vision of what you want? Can you see it, taste it, smell it, hear it? If not, it’s time to hone in on your dream. Make a wish list. Write a detailed description of how you’ll feel once you’ve attained your desire on an index card. Ask yourself, how will my life improve? Then memorize these details and recite them to yourself every morning and night before you go to bed.
3. Pull the trigger. Day after day, week after week, you talk about taking your business or career to the next level but still nothing. You contemplate for endless hours on the appropriate action to take or allow yourself to get bogged down with the details. Meanwhile, time has picked up the pace, along with a growing number of obligations. There’s never going to be a perfect time or balance when it comes to going after something you want.
Giving yourself permission can be inconvenient, taxing on your mental and physical energy and possibly the most difficult thing you’ll do. On the other hand, it’s the only way to live your truth. Start small and experiment with new things: try a new cuisine, test out a new lipstick or sign up for a class. The possibilities are endless. The point is that the more you shift the compartments of your life around, the more room you’ll have for what’s important to you.
So what will you give yourself permission to do this week? I invite you to commit to doing something every day for the next 30 days.