Updated: Mar 26, 2020
How would you describe your identity and personal brand, independent of your children? Today, I am joined by Brand Activation Strategist Makayla Ervin, and she is sharing with us all about activating our personal brands post-babies so that we can attract the life we want and become the most authentic, genuinely happiest version of ourselves. Makayla discusses setting goals and seeking change from a place of deep self-love and self-acceptance, and closing the gap between our desires and our reality. Come on, mama, let's boldly walk in the fullness of our potential and passions!
In today's episode, we discuss:
Why 'balance' is fake news, and a better aim
The power of exploring your 'what' and 'why'
A new way to dream: dreaming of feelings instead of things
The Good Things Jar (an activity for application)
What is a personal brand?
Re-branding ourselves in motherhood
Actively attracting the life you want
Making choices founded in self-love
Understanding the link between your body and your personal brand
Two final tips from Makayla
Why 'Balance' is Fake News, and a Better Aim
One of the greatest lessons that Makayla has taken away from her own struggle and search for the illusive 'balance' for which we all aim, is that there is no such thing. Sometimes we panic at the thought, but it is actually so freeing: it can feel like having two huge bricks lifted off of your chest as you surrender to the truth that achieving perfect balance - or 'balancing it all' - is an unnecessary standard. In the timeless words of Elsa, "Let it go!"
So, if not balance, then what? Makayla emphasizes that, rather than focusing on perfect balance, we should be focusing on improvement, specifically progress over perfection: what can you do today to get closer to dividing your time a little bit better, while giving yourself grace in the knowing that it's not going to be equally balanced? We can possess varying priorities at once, with different priorities receiving higher or lower levels of attention and focus in different seasons - and this is both okay and natural. As King Solomon wrote, "There is a season for everything" ...not "all things in all seasons."
The Power of Exploring Your 'What' and 'Why'
The high standard of excellence to which we as women hold ourselves largely is unnecessarily self-imposed, constructed by external sources of influence, pressures and expectations. Each and every one of us has intrinsic ideas and values that inform our behaviors and perceptions, both of ourselves and of others. We each have ideas as to what it means to be a good mom, and then seemingly at odds with that, ideas as to what it means to be a ‘success’ in business or in our careers or in the pursuit of our passions. These deep-seated ideas and values have been passed down to us through generations, and added to and shaped over the course of our own lives by a plethora of obvious and less-obvious variables: things like our environment, the way that we were raised, the things that have been repeatedly spoken to us, our conscious and subconscious observations of our own moms, etc. If there is a gap between these expectations that we have set for ourselves, versus the reality that we are actually living, this can often create internal tension that can materialize as frustration or anxiety, as we tell ourselves, 'Oh my gosh, I am just not enough, I am not doing enough, I am not being enough.'
It is for this reason, that it is so valuable to ask ourselves why we do - or feel pressure to do - things a specific way or to be a specific way. After all, we can easily become resentful if we are doing something out of obligation just because it is what we have been told we should, without a clear vision and motive that is distinctly, deeply our own.
It is easy to feel the weight of other people's perceptions and judgement as to how we choose to live our lives. Makayla encourages that we can find more joy when we realize that all of these external opinions about what we 'should' be doing are in fact different variations of one ideal lifestyle: a profile of what the ideal American mother looks like, including how she behaves, how she spends her time, what she wants, etc. The profile falls short, however, because we do not have the same desires, strengths and weaknesses, and this is what makes humans in general and mothers specifically so amazing: we all have different approaches to parenting, different lifestyle desires, etc. If we want to be good mothers, wives, business owners or employees, friends, or [insert anything you want to do or be here], we have got to figure out what that even looks like to us, because a lot of times we are just running around trying to check off a list of expectations based on somebody else's idea of what it looks like.
A New Way to Dream: Dreaming of Feelings Instead of Things
We live in such a goal-oriented world, and it's put on us that we need to have this clear idea of exactly what we want as far as tangible things (e.g., I want this house in this neighborhood, I want my kids to go to this school, etc.). Makayla challenges us to dream based on feelings: how we want to feel about ourselves, how we want our relationship with our kids to feel, how we want our relationships with our spouse to feel, etc.
Instead of saying I want X, Y, Z tangible things, saying this is the kind of person I want to be, and then ask yourself what you need to change about your routine, about the way you speak to people or yourself, etc. in order to be more like that
It's always a really good indication because your feelings don't lie. It's easy to check in with yourself and know what your progress is because if you're doing something and it's not feeling good, you can ask yourself what you need to do to change that feeling. The Good Challenges the fickle idea once I achieve X than I will have or be able to do Y
Application: The Good Things Jar
What it is: The Good Things Jar is a collection of all of the little shifts you can make to start becoming the best version of yourself...
STEP #1: Ask yourself, "What does being a good [insert anything you are, do, or want to be or do here] look like to me?"
STEP #2: Ask yourself, "Why are these the specific qualities and characteristics I associate with this?" If you don't like or deeply resonate with the why, cross out the affiliated quality or characteristic from your 'what' list... the 'why' matters!
STEP #3: Ask yourself, "If I am focusing on progress over perfection, what are the little steps I can take or the little shifts I can make towards my ideal self?" For example, what do you need to change about your routine, about the way you speak to people or yourself, etc.
STEP #4: Assemble and start using your 'The Good Things' Jar...
How it works: Cut up little strips of paper. On each one, write one little shift from Step #3 above. Every Sunday, reflect on the previous week. Then, draw one piece of paper from the jar. That is the shift you will implement in the coming week!
What is a Personal Brand?
There are a lot of misconceptions around the concept of a 'personal brand' - for example, one place people's minds often go is oversharing on social media.
Your personal brand is the essence of who you are; it is how people feel whenever they think about or interact with you. Every person has a personal brand, and it shows up in the way you are a mom, they way you are a friend, or a wife, etc.
Your personal brand is ...the unique combination of skills, experience, and personality that you want the world to see. It is the telling of your story, and it is reflected in your conduct, your behavior, your spoken and unspoken words, and your attitudes. You use your personal branding to differentiate yourself from other people.
-Influencer Marketing Hub.com
The Motherhood Re-Brand
Becoming moms really deeply impacts our identities and personal brands. In the same way that our physical bodies are transformed through motherhood, our identities are transformed, too. Developing and boldly activating our personal brands during this season in which it's common to feel like we're losing parts of ourselves to motherhood; Like maybe we don't recognize ourselves as much anymore; we feel like parts of our identity are slipping away; our personal brand is being redefined by motherhood; what can we do during this time to really lean into that, and not feel like we're losing ourselves but really own that transformation
We feel like we lose a lot when we have kids, especially if you're the first in your friend group, you kind of feel like you lose that connection with them. The same thing could be said about getting married. We focus on the losing instead of focusing on what we're gaining. When you become a mother, it's like you're re-branding yourself.
Actively Attracting the Life You Want
It is important to ask yourself, apart from your children, how do you as an individual want to be recognized and known. You have got to decide what you want your life to look like, what you want your new 'motherhood brand' to be, and start showing up as and for that person.
What are three things - think three adjectives - you want somebody to think of or feel when they think of you?
Loneliness and the desire for more like-minded friends are common feelings in motherhood. So often, we wait and we wait until that friend comes along, and we think, "I'll be happy when this or that happens" ...news flash: this is not how life works. We need a better strategy.
Think about the characteristics of your ideal friend. Create a profile of that individual, and start acting and doing and showing up as somebody who would attract that type of person.
Making Choices Founded in Self-Love
Whenever we are feeling insecure or concerned by the way others are perceiving us, there is usually a self-love deficit. It is important to acknowledge what we are feeling and noticing, and then always shift back to the question, "If this is not what I want, then what do I want?" If you find yourself in a space where you feel, "I don't like what I've created," it can be really hard to pull yourself up and not get stuck in feeling defeated or upset. When you are in this space, self-love is extremely important, because it is the difference between saying, "I need to change because I am not [insert your adjective of choice here] enough," and saying, "I want to implement change because I want better for myself."
We can only make decisions from one of two places: either a place of fear, or a place of love. It is really important in moments when we are wanting to create change and create a better life for ourselves, that we check in very regularly with the intention, and determine if the change we are making is out of fear (for example, the fear that somebody does not like us, or that we are never going to find happiness, etc.), or out of love (where we love and appreciate ourselves and where we are, and we appreciate all of the experiences that got us here, and we also see our potential and want to continue going in the direction of our potential). It is all about the intention.
Self-acceptance does not mean you are complacent, and it doesn't mean that you don't want better for yourself.
Tony Robins says, "If you're not growing, you're dying." We should always be striving to be the best version of ourselves, because we are not perfect humans.
Understanding the Link Between Your Body and Your Personal Brand
Body weight and self-hate are not positively correlated: like, decreasing weight is not correlated with decreasing self-hate. So often we believe that altering our bodies and our weight is going to change the way we see or feel about ourselves, but in fact, one has nothing to do with the other. Both gaining and losing weight can be acts of either self-hate and fear, or of self-love and self-acceptance.
Makayla shares that, after having her children, she found herself desperately working to lose weight out of fear: irrational, very real fears that her business could not be successful if she did not lose weight, that her husband would leave her if she did not lose weight, and on and on. She soon learned that action taken in fear is not sustainable.
Now, approaching her health from a place of self-love rather than fear and punishment means noticing how her body is feeling and what it is experiencing, and making little shifts in response: in other words, listening to her body and lovingly giving it what it needs (for example, being mindful of staying hydrated throughout the day). The conversation around being 'body positive' needs to continue to shift towards how we can take care of our bodies and our health.
Two Final Tips from Makayla
Tip #1: Educate yourself on what your body and brain have experienced since becoming a mother. It is incredible what it takes to be a mother in any capacity; get to know how incredible you are. Take a look at what women go through and what we're capable of, because anyone who is actually educated on this stuff would be silly to not be blown away by how amazing you are! Follow Makayla's advice here.
Tip #2: Once you are really clear on what you were put on this earth to do and the capabilities that you have, figure out what you want to do with them. Figure out what you want to be known for, and what type of person you want to be in the world: if you could create any type of person (because you can!), who would you want to be? What is the most authentic version of yourself? Then, start moving towards that person every day. Make yourself a good things jar and fill it with little tasks and habits that will start moving you towards a happier, more full version of yourself. And, above all, love yourself!