I’m a control freak. I like to know when things are going to happen and how they’re going to happen – and I want to be in charge of the whole show (especially when it comes to my career). Years ago I created a vision board of all of the things that I was determined to make happen. I’d just quit my corporate job, and I was hell-bent on proving to the world (and to myself) that giving up my good salary hadn’t been in vain.
I was going to make it, dammit, and no one could stop me!
My vision board included items such as:
- Score a publishing contract with Hay House
- Get on Oprah
- Lead workshops at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
- Live in a house on a lake
I had a very clear idea of how it was all going to play out. I was going to make a website, therefore declaring to the world that I was ready to offer my services. Then the universe would bestow everything that I wanted upon me. And why not? I was a personable yoga teacher with a PhD in Psychology, I had years of public speaking experience and writing skills, I had a personal story about getting off of antidepressants that was vulnerable and accessible, and, above all else, I was a good person. Why wouldn’t the universe want to support me?
So, the day after I left my corporate job in May 2010, I went to a Hay House I Can Do It conference in Toronto. I saw this as my chance to put myself in front of self-help icons like Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay, who would, of course, immediately beg me to write a book for them. I’d created a package that included my bio and book ideas, which I handed out to every Hay House person that I came into contact with, including the CEO Reid Tracy. And then…
Well, that isn’t entirely accurate. Something did happen – it just wasn’t exactly what I thought would happen.
Instead of Louise Hay offering me a book deal on the spot, Hay House launched their self-publishing platform (Balboa Press) the very same month that I quit my corporate job. At first I was reluctant to self-publish my book. After all, isn’t self-publishing for losers who can’t get a book deal?
But I had to face the fact that my phone wasn’t ringing off the hook with agents who wanted to represent me or publishing companies that wanted to work with me, so I decided to self-publish my book. It didn’t end up being a New York Times bestseller, but I do know, based on emails from readers, that it has helped many people get off of antidepressants and live a more balanced life.
In order to birth my book into the world and serve others the way I was meant to serve, I had to put my ego in the backseat and get my work out there. I didn’t have 10,000 followers on Facebook (or whatever sized platform book publishers like you to have) – but what I did have was a very loyal and engaged audience who knew that I was doing everything in my power to help them create a life they love – whether it brings me fame or not.
Fast forward five years. I was recently contacted by a book publisher that’s interested in me writing a book for them. They are a small publisher – not Hay House. And there’s no six figure advance or guarantee that my book proposal will even be accepted. But it’s a start.
Here’s another example. In 2010 my vision board was splattered with pictures of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, because I desperately wanted to lead a retreat there. I’d heard it was a mecca of wellness and relaxation, where all of the big-wig self-help people gave workshops. I envisioned my photo and bio in their catalog, with people from all over the country flocking to my programs.
At the time I was volunteering for a professor who was affiliated with Kripalu, so I had a few connections there. I put together a proposal for my retreat and figured I was a shoo-in. A few weeks later I excitedly opened an email from Kripalu, only to find that my workshop had been rejected. I moped and felt sorry for myself, but continued to deliver my tiny workshops in my tiny town, where I was lucky if I could get ten people to show up.
Fast forward five years. I now work full-time for Harvard Medical School and Kripalu, where I do research on yoga for youth. Over the last two years I’ve given several lectures at Kripalu – and my photo appears on their website and in some of their print materials. The difference between what was on my vision board and what I’m actually doing is subtle – but important. I’m not delivering personal workshops and retreats at Kripalu. Instead, I’m giving research lectures where I share the findings of my studies on yoga in school settings.
I’m telling you these stories to show that I manifested several things on my vision board – but in different ways than my control-freak-ego wanted them to manifest.
What about my desire to be on Oprah and live in a house on a lake? Well, I haven’t been on Oprah yet, but I’ve been plugging away, doing small media interviews and TV appearances for years, whether four or 400 people were watching/listening. Then, a couple of weeks ago, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal called, asking if she could interview me for one of her articles. And I don’t own a house on a lake, but I do live in an 800-square foot apartment that overlooks a beautiful pond.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Kripalu Yoga in the Schools Symposium, where I delivered two lectures. My seat in the main hall was assigned with a name tag that looked like this:
I took a photo of the name tag and posted the following on Facebook:
5 years ago, if someone had told me that I’d eventually have my name, Harvard Medical School, and Kripalu on my name-tag, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible. My logical brain wouldn’t have been able to put together the non-linear path that brought me here. Yet here I am. My point? Your life has enormous potential beyond what you can see right now. Expect the incredible.
In other words, you might have a very linear, point A to point B idea of what you think your life is supposed to look like. You might even have a five year plan. You might force and push and try too hard, desperately attempting to mold your life into the vision that exists in your mind. Whenever you get caught in this cycle, remind yourself that:
While things might not turn out how you think they should, they will always turn out how they’re meant to.
I’ve still never published a book with a “real” publishing company. I don’t have 10,000 followers on my Facebook page. I’ve never led a retreat at Kripalu. And I don’t own a mansion on a lake.
But I do have a life that sort of resembles these things. Why? Because I took the time to envision them and I had the courage to make choices that would bring me closer to my dreams.
Even if you’re in a dark or low place right now, try to expect the incredible. @BethanyButzer
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Life can turn on a dime. And, even though things might not look exactly how you’d hoped, your soul will sing at the fact that you loved yourself enough to expect greatness.
How might you expect greatness in your life today?
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution. If you’d like tips on how to create a life you love and have a thriving relationship, check out her online courses on Creating A Life You Love and Practical Tips to Enhance Your Partnerships.
Image courtesy of llya.