by Jessica Thiefels | Featured Contributor
What does it mean to “live powerfully?” It means to live with intention. To make sure that every choice you make is getting you closer to where you want to go—whether that’s to bed after a long day of work or to travel the globe for a year. If you want to love your life, you have to move with intention to create it, but doing so is hard.
Here’s a simple example I’m sure we’ve all experienced: You get out of work after a long day, and all you want to do is go home, put on sweats, and relax. Your friend calls as you walk out the door with plans of happy hour. She really wants you to go—she’s had a great day and wants to celebrate. So, instead of making the best decision for you, to stay home, rest, and show up as your best self at work tomorrow, what do you do? You say yes and go out anyway. Because you don’t want to hurt her feelings or leave her hanging.
That’s the crux of it: we’re so focused on other people—living up to their expectations, afraid to hurt their feelings—that we don’t make the best choices for us. When we live for other people, and not ourselves, we drain our power. Instead of using it, we give it to other people.
The example I shared above is relatively harmless. However, when passionate entrepreneurs don’t start that business, and instead stay in a job they hate for fear of letting co-workers down or because they have no support network—that’s when living without power and without intention stops you from living a life that you love.
My Life-Changing Moment
Life changes when you embrace the ability to make the best choices for your life. I know this because I had 5 jobs in 5 years. I was making conscious and intentional decisions at every step of the way. To make the best move for my career. To say no to bad bosses and being treated poorly. At each job, I could have stayed, been miserable, and dealt with it. But I refused.
So much so, that in one case, I left a new job after just a week and a half. While I didn’t leave feeling fine, of course I felt bad and guilty for doing so, I knew I had to go. I made the decision to leave, on a Tuesday, and when I told my husband he had the reaction I was expecting: “I just don’t feel comfortable with you leaving when you don’t have another job.”
In that moment, I understood where he was coming from—and that my decision to live as intentionally as possible was going to affect both of us, but I knew I needed to leave. I told him I’d try to get a job between Tuesday and Friday, and I did intend to try—crazier things have happened—but I knew I had to go by Friday, either way.
When I made the decision to leave, despite how hard I knew it would be, the magic happened. The next morning I had an email from a company who saw my resume on indeed. It was a dream position for me at the time: working remote, managing my own time, and building a skillset that is now the most popular service I offer clients.
We had an interview on Thursday and by Friday I had the job. I told my boss that I needed to go that Friday afternoon and walked away feeling a massive weight slide off my shoulders. Making the choice to live with intention—knowing that that job was not right for me—opened me up to something new, and that something new ended up being a gift in so many ways.
How You Can Live Powerfully
Three years after taking that job, I’m running a six-figure business while traveling the world for eight months. Making the decision to live powerfully and with intention got me here, writing this on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, and letting my dreams unfold before me.
The good news is, you can start charting your way toward a life you love too. You can even start today. Here are my three rules for doing that.
#1: Find the people who lift you up and ask for their support.
Whether you’re 15, 25 or 52, the people that you surround yourself with play a critical role in the life you create for yourself. Look at the people around you. Do they support you, or burden you with expectations? If you said, I’m leaving my job tomorrow; I know I’m just an admin right now, but I want to run a virtual assistant business and I need to do this. Would your closest friends or family support you or fill you with doubts?
If you don’t know that they’d support you, there’s one simple step to take: start networking. You love your friends and family, there’s no need to find new ones, but look for the people that will lift you up.
I started networking actively with women’s groups around San Diego just one year ago and my network of supportive women has quadrupled. People want to support you and show up for you, I promise. You might just need to do a little work to find those people.
#2: Start doing what YOU want to do.
This may sound straightforward, but you can imagine from what I’ve already said that very few of us are actually doing it. Start by making a list of things that you want and don’t be afraid to walk away from anything that doesn’t get you closer to that. A new job? A better apartment? To travel the world? Once you know what you want to do, you can start making decisions to get to that place.
Perhaps you want to go to law school but you have to pass the bar to get in. Suddenly, it’s a lot easier to say no to that happy hour. You know what you want, and it’s not to get drinks after a long day of studying or be exhausted for your practice exam the next day.
Most importantly, remember: you don’t have to know your entire life plan right now. You may want to leave your job in six months, so step one is to have a conversation with your boss and decide what’s next. Get clear on what you want and then start tuning in to how your decisions are getting you closer to that.
#3: Say no.
So often we are too afraid to say this very small, yet very difficult word because we don’t want to disappoint someone, let them down, make them mad. So we get the college degree our parents want for us or go to that party when we don’t care about.
The sad thing is, when you say yes to someone else, and you don’t want to, you’re saying no to yourself. That means someone else is writing your story—and who knows how that will end. But when you start saying no to others and yes to yourself, that’s when you begin making intentional decisions to build the life that want to live.
Go Live Powerfully
Living powerfully has helped me build a life that’s fulfilling, exciting and challenging all at the same time. It hasn’t been easy for me every step of the way—I’ve said no a lot, I’ve hurt people’s feelings, and I’ve taken the hard way out every time the easy one presented itself. And if you want to create a life you’re excited to call your own, can do the same—I know that with total confidence. If you need a little push, follow me, @HowtoMastertheArt, on Instagram where I’m sharing all the motivation you need to create a life you’re stoked about. You’ve always had the power, you just didn’t know it.
Jessica Thiefels is founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, an organic content marketing agency for mid-size B2B businesses outsourcing content marketing. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. She also regularly contributes to Virgin, Business Insider, Glassdoor, Score.org and more. Follow her on Twitter, @JThiefels and Instagram, @HowtoMastertheArt, and connect on LinkedIn.