I lived the majority of my 20s in a bubble of possibilities. I’d decided that when I won the lottery, I would do all the things I hadn’t been able to do before: I’d work for myself, I’d spend more time on my body. I’d reconnect with family and friends. I’d travel the world and become an adventurer.
It wasn’t until I was 28 that I realized my “lottery” might never come. In fact, it was more likely not going to happen, despite my intricate vision boards, daily mantras of abundance, and intense self-reflection. I had two options: Concede that I may never “win” and live a listless existence of mediocrity; or, decide that I had to “win,” but that my own resourcefulness, inspiration and determination was going to get me there — not some lottery.
My life changed when I took myself out of my head and into my life. I’m the happiest, healthiest and most authentic I’ve ever been. Here’s how I got there:
1. Practice small actions, every day.
I was waiting for Oprah to gift me a trip to the Outback before I felt worthy of adventuring, for Random House to call and give me a book deal before I felt worthy of writing, for Sony to call and give me a recording contract before I felt worthy (or capable) of sharing my music. We’re all preprogrammed to see successful, happy people and what their result is; we fail to understand that we haven't been privy to the steps that got them there.
Success and happiness are not a book deal. They aren't the dream come true. Success is the late night worrying how you’ll pay your bills when you’ve started your own business. Learning how to communicate with a new partner you’re in love with. Running for one minute more than you could the week before at the gym. If you want big results, you need to stop discounting small action. Small action triggers big change.
2. Tell the truth.
My life drastically changed when I made it my responsibility to tell the truth to myself and the people around me. I told the truth about what I wanted to change about my body. I said out loud, for the first time, that I was unfulfilled in my relationship. I told the truth about being stuck and fearful in my dead-end corporate job, that my heart was aching to work with people, and make music and write.
Nothing magically happened — at first. But once my “truth” was out there, it was as if me, my family and friends, and the universe were all working together to get me what I needed, because I was clear about where I stood. Beyond that, issues that had become too heavy for me to hold were released.
The idea of telling the truth is terrifying. But doing it is freeing and absolutely necessary to get to whatever your next step is.
3. Show up.
Show up when you don’t want to, when you’re tired, when you’re not sure if you’ll be able to, when you’re burned out, when you’re uninspired, when you’re busy. Show up all the time. I made a promise to myself when I started making decisive changes in my life that I would take every opportunity that was presented to me; that if something found me it was meant for me, and if I didn’t say “yes,” and didn’t make progress, or get what I wanted, it was my fault for not answering when opportunity knocked.
Sometimes I’d “show up” and something profound would happen. Other times, seemingly nothing came of me being there. But almost always, whether it’s been in the moment or after the fact, the times I’ve said “yes” have led to an opportunity, a new friend, a new idea. Show up for your life, relentlessly, and life will show up for you.
4. Get to know (and love) your body.
I kept my body at arm’s length for most of my life. I was either feeding it recklessly, or beating it into the ground through treacherous, hate-filled workouts. When I started making big changes, I talked to my body like it was my life boat: the thing that would pull me through the storms. I fed it the right way. I strengthened it in my workouts, and rested it when it felt exhausted. I slept. I got to know my curves and lines, embracing and relishing in my sexuality.
My body, ultimately, became my center, and I found that because I had poured so much trust and confidence into what I was physically, my energy was no longer consumed by fitting into a pair of jeans, but rather free to focus on bigger, more important life decisions.
5. Be scared EVERY day.
What if all your dreams suddenly came true for you? How would you feel? Excited, absolutely. But you’d be scared. Scared to fail, to succeed, to try something new, to lose it all. “Conquer your fears” is my least favorite phrase. Because it’s not about “conquering” them. It’s about living with them. If you aren’t fearful, you’re staying still. If you’re ready to really grow and change something big in your life, fear is a requirement.
These days, I’m most scared on the days I’m not scared. I know that fear, for me, is an indicator that I’m expanding myself beyond my current, self-imposed limitations. If your dream-come-true would scare you to death (and it should), then you need to practice that emotion every day. Cold call a stranger to ask for their business. Ask out the person you’ve been flirting with for months. Try the new workout class you swore to yourself you couldn’t do. Put yourself out there. You already know what will happen if you don’t, and maybe nothing will happen if you do ... but what if it did?
Isabeau Miller is a Nashville-based writer, podcaster, musician, and entrepreneur. She writes and speaks on issues such as parenting, her relationships, wellness, body image, and being an entrepreneur. A previous contestant on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” Isabeau is committed to inspiring positive change through workshops, private coaching, speaking engagements and written publications and blogs.