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Hit Your Target Powerfully

My bedroom used to overlook a beautiful pond bordered by a gorgeous forest. The sun set every night over the water creating a light show of spectacular hues I’ve only seen in Florida. I knew it was beautiful. I acknowledged its beauty, but I couldn’t feel it. I had become numb to things that had once fired me up, inspired me, and energized me, like the sunset, or a starry night. I felt more like someone barely staying afloat rather than a talented creative or adventurous leader. One night, instead of futilely trying to feel the way I used to feel beneath a magnificent sky, I acknowledged the reality: I was burnt out, stagnant and empty inside. I was unfulfilled. My daily routines and tasks didn’t excite me any more and I felt disconnected from meaningful relationships. Life was hectic, and the overwhelm of trying to do everything and be that perfect mother, wife and human being had burnt me out. I was frustrated, and exhausted. There were many times when I believed the solutions were outside of me. I thought that when things become less hectic, then I’ll be able to figure this out, or if my husband would change then I’ll be able to change. But it’s when I took the initiative to change myself in powerful ways, both large and small, that my life began to shift. I would spend time thinking about who I used to be, and grieve over what I had become. But things really began to shift when I decided to think about who I wanted to become instead.

At the time, I was a stay at home mom in my late thirties homeschooling five kids. I was last on every list and had done very little for myself in years. Taking a 15 minute bath felt like an outrageous use of my time. I had no independent income, and I felt guilty buying myself even a candy bar or asking my husband for anything. I was sleeping no more than 3-5 hours a night. My body had become so weak I could barely hold a plank for 10 seconds. I was unfulfilled, burnt out and I missed my old self. What made my transformation so dramatic, was that I didn’t choose a goal that was obvious and accessible, I chose what I’ve learned to call an ‘impossible goal’. A target so outlandish for me at the time, I had no idea how I could achieve it. I decided to become a horseback archer. It was different from other goals I had set in the past, not just because it seemed so impossible, but because I set this goal with commitment. In the years prior I had said, ‘I’m going to try blogging.’ ‘ Let’s start a jewelry business!’ And ‘Maybe I’ll start painting again.’

This time I said to myself “I am becoming a horseback archer.” I meant it with conviction and commitment. And gradually, I began to say it out loud. I was determined and I didn’t care what anyone else thought about it. Instead of seeing it as a place to get to, I made becoming a horseback archer a place to come from: As a horseback archer, what do I do daily? How do I feed my body? How do I sleep? How do I help my family thrive while thriving as an athlete? How do I show up in my relationships? How do I support my training? What do I need to learn and practice? How do I ensure the rest of my life flows well so I have time to practice? How do I recharge? How do I make time for my own wellbeing? I had been afraid that my prime years were over, that I’d never be truly fulfilled or happy again, that my relationships would be stagnant or wither away. And I had no idea at the time that something as seemingly random as deciding to be a horseback archer could transform my life that way it has.

Now, I run my own business supporting incredible women as they become even more powerful leaders, making a positive impact while taking better care of themselves than ever. My clients are entrepreneurs, creatives, non-profit leaders, mothers and executives. I’ve helped found and am president of a new non-profit serving my local community. I sit as a board member for two other non-profits. I’ve worked with kids, empowering them and teaching them leadership and the power of being female. My marriage has transformed and I believe this last year has been our best of 18. Family life is healthy and fulfilling, we are growing and changing for the better, together. I want to say that I’m in the best shape of my life, because that’s how I feel, but a few days ago I barely beat my 16 y/o daughter in an arm wrestle, and she doesn’t even work out. So, let me say this: I may have been faster, stronger and more agile when I was young, but I am excited that in my 40’s I feel stronger and healthier than ever. I have to work for my results at this age, and I can appreciate them with wisdom of gratitude that I didn’t have in my teens and 20’s. Perhaps the best part is that this is only the beginning. I now know that as humans we are full of potential and capable of growth and change throughout our lives. Our mindset and identity shape our outcomes and they are within our control. I’m on a mission, because I believe that women can be the most powerful force in the world, and I believe that if we want to create a better future, we have to step up. Leave our old baggage and limiting beliefs in the dust. We haven’t o step into our power, own it and use it for good.

If you want to create your best year (and continue doing so for the rest of your life) here are some of the biggest takeaways from my transformation. I hope they help you:

Choose a target:

Go big. When I created my impossible goal, I had no idea how I would get there. I couldn’t break it into a 12 step plan. If you can think of a step by step process to achieve your goal, it’s not big enough. (In my case, there is literally NO ONE who teaches horseback archery in my area and I don’t have my own horse.) This helps keep you inspired and makes all the little steps along the way necessary and nonnegotiable, and seem small in comparison.

It must excite you and inspire you. For me, being a horseback archer was almost the opposite of the woman I had become. The thought of being a strong, courageous, noble warrior who could hit her targets (get what she wants) motivated me. If I had said, ‘I want to get in shape’ nothing might have happened, but now, I’m strong and fit. If making a million dollars is your goal but that’s not really exciting to you, most likely you’ll not be making that million this year or next year. What fires you up AND that million could be made along the way?

Long term vs. short term. A target that’s close is easy to hit. In the beginning, having some short term targets is great, but you need a big, long term goal to really drive and sustain action. I love long term goals that require lots of other tasks. For me, becoming a horseback archer meant: learning to ride horses, getting super strong and fit, learning archery, sleeping better, eating better, creating a resilient mindset that could get back on a horse after falling off, building courage, overcoming fear of failure, embarrassment, imperfection and more! Commitment. I didn’t know the first thing about it, and I couldn’t even ride a horse at the time beyond a walk. No one around me teaches horseback archery. If I hadn’t been committed, my dream would have gone nowhere. When you choose a target and commit, you find a way. You withstand challenges, ups and downs. Your target has to be non-negotiable in your mind.

A Place to Come From vs. A Place to Get To

Making your goal a place to come from means you start to act like the person who achieves that goal. Ask yourself “Who do I need to be?” Imagine yourself hitting the target. As the woman who achieves her dreams, how do you show up? How do you respond? How do you make requests? What do you do? What do you not do? What do you wear? How do you speak? What’s your day look like? How do you eat?

Intention vs. In Tension:

 This is a great distinction I learned from Rich Litvin. Your ability to be in tension beats intention every time. It’s about getting to the edge of your comfort zone and being okay with discomfort. Now I know that almost every woman I meet, bears a ton of tension and discomfort. The thing is, it’s almost always for the sake of someone else. If you’ve been conditioned to bear discomfort for others wellbeing or happiness or to fulfill their expectations and meet their standards, you might be surprised how hard it is to do so for yourself and your own dreams. But this point is really crucial, because you will face failure, rejection, discomfort and risk.

You might have the intention to hit the target, but if you’re not willing to be in tension and get to the very edge of your comfort zone, your arrow won’t fly very far. Think of drawing a bow. The further you pull back the string, the more power your shot will have. Intention alone can’t do that. The likelihood of shooting and reaching the target depends on the amount of tension you are willing to endure. Expanding your range and expanding your ability to be in tension and willing to be at the edge and even beyond your comfort zone – that’s how you play an exponential game. Generally, your willingness to get uncomfortable and sit with discomfort will determine your success. You’ve got to be willing to have those uncomfortable conversations, and take risks. Everything you want is on the other side of discomfort. So be willing to get out of your comfort zone, and practice remaining in that tension. Here’s an important tip: you only need to work at the edge of your comfort zone. Go too far too fast, and you’ll risk giving up. Be aware of what feels difficult and uncomfortable and know that working just at that edge is how you expand your range. I run fitness classes and this principle has helped women who have never stuck to any sort of exercise routine, stay in my classes for years. Know your edge, and stay there, the edge itself will move and be expanded as you play with staying in that little bit of discomfort until one day you’ll find yourself doing things that looked impossible 6 months ago. Don’t skip this step! I’d love to know about your impossible targets! 

Much Love,

Danielle

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