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This Daily Challenge Will Kickstart Your Writing Habit for 2019

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You’ve tried timers and headphones, writing on laptops, surface pros, paper, planes, subway trains, and auto-correct on mobile phones. But you haven’t tried this.

  1. Create Space

Before diving into a creative habit of any kind, you need to know what you are getting into. The number one reason that people who say they want to write do not end up doing so is because they 'don't have the time.'…

How much time do you need? That answer will vary, but what if you just start with 10 minutes?

A lot of people create when they’re feeling inspired. But when I ask, well how do you know when that happens, it’s like “You know, something just hits me.” So, before inspired creation occurs you first need to be conscious of it.

Your brain has a lot to say when you stop and get it quiet. But the idea in creating space for yourself is literally, just being present--waiting until the mind clears from the passing clouds of mental calamity.

Beyond treating illnesses such as depression and reducing anxiety, meditation is a creativity primer. Since is this the birthplace of every good idea that ever was (and well yes, shitty ideas too), you want to have a clear space for the ideas, solutions and everything else that needs to enter your consciousness but your mind has been too loud to receive answers. So start creating this habit first and foremost.

First thing in the AM, before checking your phone/email/social media, I do what I call the Wake, Shake, Take 10 to Begin Method!

WAKE

20 minutes early--set an alarm (preferably one that is NOT on your phone)

SHAKE

Do a little physical activity to get the blood flowing.

Pull up Spotify playlist and alternately do jumping jacks and modified / regular pushups for the length of a song or 2.

TAKE 10

… to settle in. Check my Guided Meditation Playlist including Zen Jen's Yoga Nidra on Soundcloud.

Find a cozy spot that is not your bed to either lay down or sit upright on a comfortable rug (shag rugs are my favorite).

BEGIN

… your day with ease .OK NOW look at your phone / e-mail.

2. Know Why You Write

So many of us jump into a new project or habit that seems fun and good for us and have trouble staying consistent with it. There are a lot of reasons why someone quits something, but if you are not truly aware of WHY  it is that you started it in the first place, then it makes sense that it falls by the wayside to make space for other priorities.

You don’t ‘quit’ your job, ‘cause that’s what makes you income.

You don’t ‘quit’ your family ‘cause even though they drive you crazy, they are those that you love and care about you the most.

You know WHY you intuitively know why they are in your life and consistently dedicating time to your job and your family makes you a better contributor.

Why should your creative habit be any different?

YOUR DI-WHY CARD

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Having a ‘WHY’ Card posted somewhere you see everyday can make all the difference when you’re tired, hangry, or otherwise not truly in the mood to make magic.

Pro tip: It never hurts to make it pretty. Use markers, graphics, or calligraphy. Or print it out and glue it to an index card with some other decorations. I don’t know, get crafty with it.

Questions to ask yourself to find your WHY:

What do you truly and deeply believe about your work?

Who do you most want to impact with your words?

What does the world need to know that only you can share?

3. Align Your Values

What’s MOST important in your life?

Yes, your creative habit is important, but what about your job, your family, your commitment to your volleyball team? Now you’re going to get really clear just where your writing fits in to the big picture.

A. First, what are your top five values?

Example: Freedom, Love, Expansion, Wellness, Fun

B. Define what each of these values mean to you.

Example:

Freedom means the ability to take the actions that honor your truest most authentic self.

Love is the most powerful energy that lives within each of us and connects us all … etc.

Expansion is continuously nurturing myself through awareness, acceptance, learning and teaching, etc.

C. Based on the definitions, what value/s do you honor by writing?

Example: Freedom, Love and Expansion

D. What needs to shift in your life to align your life with these values?

Example: I’d like to find an accountability group to help me stay on track with my writing habit which honors Freedom, Love and Expansion. I’d like to get up 15 minutes earlier so I can start my morning meditation routine which honors my value of Wellness.

4. Go With The Flow Goals

While many type A’s (like me!) think of SMART goals to create an action plan for their goals, I had an interesting discussion with my friend, artist and teacher, Anne Koller, who just published her first poetry book entitled Free to Feel. She offered a gentler and completely novel method to create goals that are more aligned with your purpose and lifestyle.

A.STRUCTURE GOALS AROUND NATURAL OCCURANCES

Right after you exercise when you have endorphins still running may be a perfect opportunity to express yourself through words. Also, instead of giving yourself, say, six months to write your draft, choose a date that is emotionally significant. Anne set a goal for her book around the anniversary of her dad’s death, which made her accomplishment especially sentimental since she was honoring him as well.

B. GIVE YOURSELF SPACE WITHIN THE GOAL TO EXPAND

Setting goals that are achievable allow you to feel good about your progress along the way and allow you to continuously have a milestone to reach.

C. CREATE A STRUCTURE FOR WRITING IT DOWN AND ALSO FOR SHARING IT

Make it easy for yourself to write ‘in the moment’ and to share it. Start connecting with your audience and community before anything is ‘done’. It’s incredibly motivating!

5. Manifest Success

“Everything that you see was once just a thought in a man or woman’s mind.”

-Wallace Wattles

Every aspect of our experience is a manifestation of the mind. That is why imagining the outcome of your writing goal--getting your book read by someone who’s life you are about to change--is a powerful way to fast-track you to getting there.

So write this down:

[Title]  is Done

  1. What does it look like when you are done?

  2. How does it feel when you are done?

Visualize what comes to mind when you’re done with your piece. Feel the feelings of what happens when you’re done.

Doing this on a consistent basis will literally align you with the “good feels” and will allow you to reach greater creative heights and will align the universe to your goals. It’s part magic, part quantum physics.

Once you choose to believe in manifestation and experience it for yourself, you will never choose otherwise. Suddenly, you play the leading role in the grand saga of your incredible life. You have a say in your fate; ain’t that great?

So, now you have an opportunity. Join a community of fellow writers that will keep you accountable every day while you gain confidence and traction in bringing your literary dream to life.

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5 Steps to Create Positive Affirmations for the Life of Your Dreams

 Marie Forleo

Marie Forleo

Want to be a bestselling author? A millionaire and master of your craft? Here’s how create a positive affirmation script to live the life of your dreams starting NOW.

[Producer]: How would you start this movie?

[Jim Carrey]: Well, if I had my choice, it wouldn't start at all.

It would already have been. And it wouldn't end either.

Something strange happened in the course of the creation of the 1999 film, the Man on the Moon about the life of absurd comedian, Andy Kaufman starring Jim Carrey.

Jim actually *became* Andy.

No one doubted it for a minute that this happened. There was a very touching moment in the film where Andy’s daughter communicated with her father in Jim’s corporeal form. Method Acting, the actor actually becomes the subject they are emulating. So how is this useful for the rest of us?

We are powerful creators that have the choice to reinvent ourselves at every moment. Author, entrepreneur and high-performance trainer Ricky Goodall says that the limiting beliefs that we hold around our wildest desires are just manifestations leftover from a previous self that isn’t you anymore. You can choose to believe whatever you want and positive affirmations are the key to aligning all the elements to get you to life of your dreams.

Step 1 of Positive Affirmation Creation

  1. Who is Living the Life of Your Dreams?

You already know this because there is that feeling of friendvy . You are exhilarated by a post on IG by an influencer in your field.

 Instagram Post of Marie Forleo

Instagram Post of Marie Forleo

The caption is usually one of self-love or discovery and it’s in nature or Paris or an exotic location that at this point in your life feels as accessible as shopping on the blockchain.

We are often attracted to people who we want to be like. And the Jim Rohn quote says we are the five people that we surround ourselves with is true. But if that’s true then WE are the person that we are around the most. So, in order to be who we want to be, we have to THINK and ACT like the person we want to become. We must behave like the method actor and write the script of the life of our dreams.

Step 1 of this process is listing out all of the people who are living a life you’d LOVE to have.

Step 2 of Positive Affirmation Creation: Why do you Want It?

After you have created the list of people who have a life you’d love to be living, choose the one who gives you the strongest emotional charge.

Take a piece of paper and fold it down the middle.

On the left column, write down everything about their life that you love. In the right-hand column for each attribute, write why you love it.

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Step 3 of Positive Affirmation Creation: Imagine a Day in the Life

Set a timer for yourself for 15 minutes and get to a quiet place.

Imagine it’s two years from now.

You’re the ________ that you’ve always wanted to be. You wake up. Look around. What is the first thing you see?

Look around the room.

What’s the first thing you feel?

What is the first thing you do?

What does your morning look like?

Run through the events of the rest of the day taking note about your environment, the people you are taking to, the thoughts that come up throughout your day. Finally imagine what the end of the day looks like. What are you doing when you wrap up your day and wind down for the evening?

Take a few more breaths as you imagine your last thoughts before you drift off to sleep.

After you have completed the visualizations, you may want to take a few minutes to journal about what came up for you.

Step 4 of Positive Affirmation Creation: What are your belief statements

On a new page, write down 5-10 belief statements that this person holds in first-person and present-tense.

Here are a few of mine for Marie Forleo:

“I am ALWAYS adding value to the people that I love and believe in working with” (1 - service)

“No one else has my gifts and so I must use them to serve as powerfully as I am able.” (1 - service)

“There is always enough for everyone to go around. “ (2- abundance)

“I love my life AND I am already in process of having everything I want in my life right now” (3 - abundance)

“I ask the questions whose answers will best serve myself and my clients even when and especially when fear is present” (4 - fearlessness)

“I prefer to make the choices that honor my values most fully.” (7 - discipline)

“I am beautiful, intelligent, powerful and my light is BRIGHT!” (8 - confidence)

“I choose to always expand myself because I am proof of the infinite possibilities and impact of mankind.” (10 - growth)

Bonus points if you can identify the value you are honoring in the belief statement.

You now have a positive affirmation script for the life of your dreams.

Step 5 of Positive Affirmation Creation: Record and Play it Back

The last step to this process is recording yourself reciting this and playing it back regularly. I play my “Master Coach” script every time I am about to go into a coaching session because it makes me feel powerful and gets me into a mindset of powerful presence.

Are you cultivating the mindset of a best-selling author? Learn more jedi-manifestation mind tricks to make space in your life to write by signing up for the 5 Days of Focus Challenge.


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Ten Unwritten Rules for Writers

 Photo by Jane on Unsplash

Photo by Jane on Unsplash

I went rogue and writ the unwritten rules.

Unwritten Rule #1

Writers Have Deadlines

When we are hyper-aware of limited time, we use it more intentionally. Deadlines can be externally or internally imposed, and either short- or long-term. Short term deadlines look like this: “I will be setting a timer for 45 minutes to write continuously with minimal editing and reading through what I’ve already written.” And that’s a deadline too. It could also be, I’m going to write minimum of 750 words a day for 100 days. However you do it is up to you. But set a deadline. It’s how marathons get run and books get written.

Unwritten Rule 2

Writers Get Accountability

As a writer, you will be more successful if you have someone to turn something over to, like an editor or virtual assistant. If you have a set appointment with this person, you increase your odds of getting a goal completed by 95% according to the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD). And maybe if you’re Seth Godin after 20 years and 18 books later, you don’t need to know that someone is waiting on the other side to see what you’ve got to do the work. But then I’m pretty sure as someone who calls himself a teacher first, he will be sure to show up and do the work himself to set an example for his students.  

Unwritten Rule #3

Writers Know that They Are Not Alone

They aren’t alone even when they are camping out solo in the woods. In fact, those writers who crave solitude to write often return to humanity feeling more connected to their source energy which allows them to connect on a much deeper and more spiritual level to everyone and everything. The act of writing is a solitary contribution and experience, but that doesn’t mean it is not shared.

Unwritten Rule #4

Writers Acknowledge that They Are Writers

Mary Shoals wanted to write a book, but there was a problem. She wasn’t a writer.

As she says in her interview with Kimberly Rich on the Bold Life Movement podcast, when we think, I’m not a writer, we create a neural pathway that brings it into congruence with our actions. By dropping the “not” from that statement  and the action of writing led Mary to write her book, Conscious Communication, which inevitably landed her to become an Amazon bestseller. If you write, you’re a writer. Just own it and see what you create under those pretenses.

Unwritten Rule #5

Writers Write

Is there anything sadder than a writer who isn’t writing? Oh, the melancholy. OHHH the ache of not making your art. OH WHY DON’T I FEEL INSPIRED? Just like that one time when I wrote that amazing thing because I was “struck” by the muse fairy and it felt easy and fun and I shipped it and immediately got no less than 97 likes? What was the magic formula there?

There’s no magic formula - writers mix and drink their own juice on the reg’s--even when they don’t feel like it. As (author of 18 books) Seth Godin says, I don’t get great ideas so I can write. I write so I get great ideas. Or something very similar to that. Writers write to get ideas, paid, inspired, think better and clearer and to make a change. There’s different reasons why they do it, but at the end of the day, or the beginning, writers write.

Unwritten Rule #6

Writers Need Not Be Miserable (Most of the Time)

 Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Yes, we all have known the writer archetype--the brooding tormented writer who can truly be his true self expressed through his words. He who doesn’t allow himself to experience the height of joy because he could lose that “thing” that connects him so deeply to his art. Sometimes it’s not so literal. Sometimes it is your sister or friend who suffers from an anxiety disorder and will not seek help because when she is happy, she stops creating. Why, oh why do we creative-types allow this narrative to be true? We seek solace in the art, channel our hurt into something beautiful, but let’s drop the “starving artist” myth unless the artist is HAPPY being hungry. We are more resourceful than that and we know it. Let’s create a new narrative (that is what we do well anyway) and use all of the emotions, including the happy and high ones.

Unwritten Rule #7

Writers Need to Eat

Speaking of the starving artist, writers need to eat. They need to nourish their ears with Billie Holiday vinyls in their day-to-day, feast their eyes on steamy, freshly sprayed street mural art in neon yellows, blues and reds. They need vitamin D in the sun and sand and feed off the endorphins from running with a furry friend on their favorite dusty trail at dusk. This isn’t optional! As my best friend and human potential powerhouse, Melanie Weinberger says, “Feel good then do good” or make good work in this case.

Unwritten Rule #8

Writers need to *sometimes* know why

Writers are intentional. Always. But being intentional about just writing is enough. We don’t need to know WHY we are writing what we’re writing in the moment because the act of writing will reveal itself. Slowly. Painfully. Often aggravatingly. Sometimes it feels as if the words are being pulled out of us like a an anchor lifting from the mud. Sometimes it feels like a schlep from Kips Bay in east manhattan to midtown west with something sharp in your cross-body bag that keeps poking your hip. That particular route is a public transit deadzone. The most efficient and cost-effective route is walking--i.e. doing the work manually.

Unwritten Rule #9

Writers Need to Get Paid (Somehow)

In the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, writing well, it’s more of a basic bitch need.Shelter, clothing, safety, yes. You gotta cover the basics before your words or face grace the cover of Fast Company. If you’re getting paid to write, you have it a little tougher.

Nothing kills a passion project boner faster than getting paid to write something you don’t care about.

I did a ‘DI-Why’ Card workshop and one lady with beautiful, flowy dark hair was an artist. Her card said “Because I have to.” It made me laugh and I asked if she was being intentionally funny. She said no. She doesn’t put up with the artist’s whines. She said all of the successful, working artists that I know make work. It’s their job.

It reminds me of something from the Prosperous Coach by Rich Litvin and Steve Chandler, one of my favorites. They said the best coaches and in this case, writers, conduct their work like blue collar workers. They punch in. You don’t see a railroad or construction or line worker saying they don’t feel like showing up and punching in. They show up and punch in because it’s a paycheck. Dude. If you’re writing for yourself you’re not necessarily getting a paycheck from it. SO HAVE SOME FUCKING FUN WITH IT. If you get paid to make art, you gotta show up and punch in, and get dirty in the words.

Unwritten Rule #10

Writers Edit

I never liked the expression, “kill your darlings,” but I haven’t created a phrase better to coin in the quest to put your best work forward. Yes, B minus work is better than not doing it at all, but chances are if your process is like mine, you write furiously for an hour and a half and then don’t look at it for awhile and you discover that to get to B minus you need to C some D work first. And then cut it down for content and clarity. You might have to cut some of the clever out. But just remember, the clever is always there. There is no shortage of clever and witty, just as there is no shortage of shitty. So keep the wit only where it serves the piece. Your readers deserve no less.


Your readers also deserve to hear from you.

Wanna get back in the habit of writing with others getting back into their creative groove?

Flowriters is an online community that gets writers writing through silent live writes, challenges, inspiration and accountability.


GET ACCESS HERE.

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Never Quit Your Passion Project for this Reason

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Recently, I was at a conference and got into a conversation with a woman who was inquiring about the work that I do. I told her I help creative entrepreneurs finish what they start, in other words follow through with their passion projects.

“Oh, that’s interesting!” she exclaimed, “I bet they need help with starting too, huh?”

I shook my head, “They start too much. That’s the issue!”

Except that as I sit here to write for the next 45 minutes, that’s not entirely truthful.

Chronic ‘starters’ do have trouble starting when they are aware of their history of quitting either too soon or too late and not being able to follow through with their passion projects.

They feel shame with the Instagram posts, “NEVER QUIT!” when they get that feeling in their stomach that they want to stop.

They want to feel fearless in their pursuit and continual commitment to their passion project, and if it doesn’t work out, they want to be able to stop without guilt.*

When the resistance to continuing your passion project gets thick--and it will--you have to decide whether or not to follow through . This is when you will ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Does My ‘Why’ Still Work?

Your ‘WHY’ in this instance is why you started your passion project in the first place.


Example: I’m starting a live course for writers to finish their passion project because writing consistently is my EVEREST. I have half finished poems and blog posts hanging around like strings that I won’t cut and I think it will be the MOST USEFUL course that I can offer that will help the MOST AMOUNT of people in my readership, including me!

The values it most honors by continuing is growth, financial abundance, and creativity.

Also, if your purpose shifts and you’re no longer aligned with your Why. Lose the guilt around it! It’s a phantom feeling, maybe because you are used to feeling guilty when you quit. But guilt comes from being out of integrity with your values and obligations. If your why isn’t true for you. Then leave it on the steps of your Project Exit and don’t look back.

2. Am I Quitting in Fear or Love?

Create unconsciously until quitting time. Then quit consciously with no guilty conscience.

Make every choice a conscious one. The decision to quit should be no different. Recently I heard in Conversations with God - An Uncommon Dialogue by Neale Donald Walsch that there are only two emotions: fear and love. If you apply these emotions to choice as it pertains to quitting, it becomes quitting based on fear or quitting based on love.

Do not, I repeat, do not quit based on fear.

Ninety percent of people do. You will know because the fear will resemble resistance and your internal ‘gremlin’ takes over your mind with thoughts like this:

I don’t know enough to write about this.

I quit every, single time. Why would this time be any different?

This is garbage and I know it.

Who do I think I am putting garbage into the world? My target market aren’t trash collectors!

These questions are not coming from your higher self. And they don’t appear when you’re in your Zone of Genius--aka, that space where you are creating the passion project you love to do that also brings you joy and/or paychecks. They come from it getting really harrrrrrd (whiny resistance voice) and from when you were a kid and you got picked last in gym class and so it’s your mind’s way of protecting you from being embarrassed ever again. It was learned and ingrained. It happens to the best of us. Excuse me, it happens to ALL OF US.


Promise yourself that you will only quit in love.


This means quitting if it will help you better serve yourself and the people on whom you want to create the biggest impact.

Is continuing this passion project harming my health or wellbeing?

Does continuing this passion project limit or infringe upon my growth in an area that is TOP priority for me? Spiritual, financial, etc.

Is there something else that feels more aligned with my core values that I am being called on to pursue?

If you answer “yes” to any of the above questions, then by all means, quit.

*A note about guilt*

Merriam-Webster defines guilt as feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses. [Insert thoughtful, chin-tapping emoji here.] Imagined offenses include “letting yourself down” by not seeing your passion project through to the end. If you must quit, at least commit to quitting without guilt. It didn’t serve your mother and it’s not serving you. When guilt does show up, acknowledge its presence, but don’t let it set up shop. Show yourself some kindness and then show guilt to the door.

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5 Powerful Intentions for an Expansive Conference Experience

 Taking note at Priya Parker’s keynote at the CreativeMornings Summit 2018

Taking note at Priya Parker’s keynote at the CreativeMornings Summit 2018

People attend conferences for two main reasons: 1. To connect with others 2. To expand--intellectually, emotionally and creatively. Why not create powerful intentions to design the best possible conference experience you can imagine for yourself?

Gone are the days of the run-of-the-mill trade shows. Today, entrepreneurs and freelancers plan their travel schedules around immersive experiences in unique destinations like HATCH in Bozeman, Montana, or the CreativeMornings Summit summer camp that I just attended in the scenic Catskills of New York.  These multi-day conventions are jam-packed with activities like ‘Powerful Intentions Setting’, talks from industry experts, breakout sessions and bootcamps and it can be overwhelming, even for the most extroverted of us (hand-raise-moji).

Before you arrive at your next conference, I invite you to go inward and create a few powerful intentions of your own to better curate the experience you wish to have. Adopt one or more of the five powerful intentions below will allow for inward expansion that in turn will attract the people you are meant to meet.

Powerful Intention #1:

I will put my mission to the test--how can what I learn here allow me to be more specific in what I strive to do and who I do it for?

Before setting foot on the cobblestone path that led to the cabins at CM Summit camp a few weeks back, I was vacillating between 2 ideas for my group coaching course that I will be launching by year-end 2018. However, after prolific author and marketing master, Seth Godin took the stage, he urged us to “seek to serve the smallest possible audience.” After mentally eliminating the idea that was too broad, my mental picture of how I will serve my ‘polyamas’ became evermore clear and colorful.

 Ascend Live 2018 with Melissa Pharr

Ascend Live 2018 with Melissa Pharr

Powerful Intention #2:

I intend to stay fully present to what is showing up for me emotionally. Whatever comes, I welcome and acknowledge it with radical consent.

“Participate to the point and extent that you want.” Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering and master facilitator at the CM Summit told the crowd that fully encircled her on the field house bleachers. She defined this as radical consent, and I might offer that if you are feeling something that prevents you from campfire crowd crooning your lil heart out, honor your emotions and take that space. Sometimes the best powerful intention you can create is the one where you honor yourself fully.

Powerful intention #3:

I will treat this experience as a mirror to show me what is beautiful, what is ugly and what is true of me.

It’s not always kumbaya and kombucha at these things or as CM says, ‘hugs and high fives.’

After several impactful keynotes on Day 2, I had to step out.

I found my way to a hammock with my journal and a hot, heaving, heavy chest. I felt like a child about to throw a *major* tantrum. One of those upsets that as a child you allow the emotional storm to rip through your whole body, squirming and screaming, face twisted in aggravation in the unfairness of it all. I was envious in the most altruistic way (friendvious?)

“I want to be the one on stage! Why aren’t they listening to ME? I want to be the brilliant one facilitating transformational change!”

The feelings weren’t pretty, but I allowed them to set up camp in that hammock that overlooked the lake-facing cabins.

It felt beautiful to accept the truth that I couldn’t not facilitate transformational change until I felt it first. And how could I not be grateful for that hard-hitting dose of empathy!?

Powerful Intention #4:

I will pay attention to my energy and how certain people, nourishment and experiences ‘fill’ vs. ‘drain’ me and note them accordingly.

One of the greatest gifts of practicing presence and self-awareness is that you become keenly aware of how your energy shifts. The higher we resonate, the more creative and expansive we are and the more we attract opportunities and similarly high-resonating people our way. It can be very easy to abandon your self-care practices when in a new, exciting environment, but doing that can cause you to burn out quickly. Keep the ones that allow you to show up fully present, whether that is getting your morning meditation in or keeping an alcohol-free spree going.

 Tina Ross Eisenberg, found of CreativeMornings takes the mic

Tina Ross Eisenberg, found of CreativeMornings takes the mic

Powerful Intention #5:

I will get weird.

Fellow Austinites understand that weird is a euphemism for being unapologetically authentic and simply doing you. Try bypassing small talk and getting real with your fellow comrades by asking off-the-beaten path ice breakers like “What are you interested in to the point of near-embarrassment?” or “What’s your go-to dance move?”

Making out-of-the-ordinary connections make them more memorable, and is a trick that memory masters use with mnemonics. If one of your reasons for attending a conference is to meet amazing people, make meeting them memorable for everyone involved!

Do you have a go-to powerful intention that has worked well for you? Please share in the comments below.

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