FIVE YEARS OF THOUGHT WORK PART 1: BODY, WORK & MONEY
Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to know what results you can get from thought work.
It’s a common question, and I’m going to shed some light on it in a 3-week series where I’ll explore how my life has changed since I discovered thought work five years ago.
As I’ll show in the series, thought work can make ANYTHING possible.
My life now is radically different from my life five years ago, but the main lesson I want to share with you is that I didn’t get here by expecting my life to change overnight.
Radical change is possible, but it’s usually not radically quick!
Expecting radical change to look like radical change on a day-to-day basis is a recipe for giving up before you’ve even begun.
Incremental change is responsible for every single one of my transformations, as it will be for yours.
Most people vastly overestimate the amount of change they can accomplish in one day or one week, and they vastly underestimate the radical change they can see in their lives in six months or a year.
This week, I’m going to give you a taste of how incremental change has compounded into huge changes to my relationship with my body, my professional life, and my money mindset.
I’ll start with my relationship to my body because that is some of the most intensive work I’ve done.
Five years ago, I hated my body.
That is not an exaggeration.
I tortured myself with mental and physical restrictions. I was binging and purging. I thought about losing weight constantly.
I had just discovered the idea of body positivity and anti-diet culture but was deeply entrenched in my beliefs that my body was too big, too ugly, too limited because of my chronic pain issues.
Fast forward to now, and I am several clothing sizes larger than I was in 2015. I can also genuinely say that I find my body incredible and sexy.
I also feel better physically than I used to. I’m stronger because I now lift weights twice a week, and I have less pain and more mobility than I used to.
When my brain occasionally fires off an old “losing weight will solve all your negative feelings” circuit, I know how to shut that sh*t down.
Most of the time, though, I don’t even think about my body, what I’m eating or what I weigh. This would have been incomprehensible to 2015-Kara. But this mental space is part of how I’ve been able to focus so much of my time and energy on reworking my relationship to my professional life.
You may think of me as a confident, successful business owner, but in 2015, I was on the cusp of transitioning out of my legal career and into a new identity as a life coach – and I was Terrified, with a capital T.
I was still very attached to the prestige and intellectual capital of my then-career running a think tank at Columbia Law School.
I attended coach certification in 2015, but I was deeply embarrassed to share my new path with those around me.
I vehemently rejected an identity as a “businesswoman” or an “entrepreneur” (kudos to my own teacher and coach for putting up with many, many coaching sessions about this) and my relationship to work itself was what some may characterize as masochistic.
I believed that if work wasn’t grueling, it didn’t count. I constantly thought that I should work better or differently or more. As you can imagine, I had immense imposter syndrome and anxiety, and even minor professional feedback could send me into a tailspin.
Fast forward five years and one thing is the same: I still believe in being of service to others and in working to liberate women from patriarchal constraint…but I live out my mission in a very different way than I used to.
I now fully identify as an entrepreneur and business owner. I am kinder to myself. I no longer think that work must feel hard to “count” – I’m willing to let what is easy be easy and what is hard be hard. I neither believe everything should be easy nor that everything should be hard.
I also recognize that how much I think I do or don’t work is just a thought and that my results will speak for themselves.
Overall, I work more efficiently – but I still have a human brain. I have to manage my mind to focus when it wants to procrastinate on doing new things or things it thinks are hard. I don’t procrastinate as much as I used to, but my brain WANTS to. And that’s ok. I don’t make it mean anything other than that I’m a human. What a relief.
Not surprisingly, my work life mindset shift has gone hand-in-hand with changes in my relationship to money.
Five years ago, I thought money was something I got from a salary that someone else decided, and that I didn’t have any control over that number. My “crazy” financial goal for my new coaching business was to make $150,000 in my first three years as a coach. That’s closer to my monthly revenue now, but at the time it seemed impossible.
Five years later, I’m running a multi-million dollar business (with salaried employees!) – and even better, I create this value in the world by helping thousands of women a year.
I now believe I can create money easily, and that making money as a coach is a great thing.
I also believe that spending money can be a good thing, while I used to think I should be thriftier. Shifting my mindset has helped me see money as a renewable resource for me, which (among other things) has helped me dramatically scale my business in a short amount of time.
Aside from that, my philosophy on money’s relationship to happiness hasn’t changed much. Working as a coach has strengthened my beliefs that feeling rich or poor or scarce or abundant is based on your thoughts, not your circumstances. I never thought that having money would make someone happy, and I still don’t. It’s convenient to have, and when you’re below subsistence level it can make a big difference in your ability to take care of your physical needs. But it doesn’t change your happiness.
Thought work is always an evolving journey. I can also see where my money mindset is still limited. I don’t yet believe I can make ANY amount of money I want. I see that it’s possible I might be able to have a business that creates $20 million in revenue and provides jobs for 50 people, but I don’t believe yet that I can have a business that creates $100+ million in revenue.
There’s still a cap on my belief, which is why there’s still a cap on my results. And that’s ok – it’s just the next level of the work for me.
And that’s another lesson that I’ve learned these past five years. For all the transformation thought work has helped bring to my life, this work is really about identifying the next steps in development and committing to a lifetime of incremental, daily application.
There is no “destination” – and that’s a beautiful thing.
Now that I’ve shared how thought work has transformed my life, I want you to imagine what your next level of growth is. Is it to accept and love your body? To take a big leap in your career? To redefine your relationship with money? Or something totally different?
Wherever you’re at now, the next version of you is possible with incremental, daily change. I know because I’ve experienced it in all facets of my life, and I’ll be back next week to share how thought work has helped transform my relationships with others. Family, dating, friendship – I’m going to share it all!