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Author: Ayanna Castro

Joy From Serving Others

Joy From Serving Others

I don’t know about you, but I get unexplainable joy from serving others. Helping others reach their goals, break through a mental road block or overcome a challenge makes me Christmas-morning happy. We help others by sharing our gifts and talents. We help others by being authentic and transparent about our struggles and heartbreak.

Have you ever had someone come to you and tell you that because of something you did or said inspired them to pursue a dream? I can tell you from personal experience, it is an amazing feeling. Don’t be selfish with your life experiences. You never who it will encourage or inspire.

With love,

Grow Anyway

Grow Anyway

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes life can just suck. Like sucks to the point that you don’t want to be bothered with anything other than remembering to breathe and to blink your eyes. The amount of negativity the average person can face each day is enough to make your want to throw your hands up in defeat and question why you started in the first place. I get it. I really do. Now here’s where you will probably roll your eyes at me and sigh deeply. I need you to GROW ANYWAY. The concrete in your life can be anything from family members who tell you can’t do it based on your past mistakes to sabotaging co-workers. GROW ANYWAY. Ask for the promotion. Create the business plan. Enroll in school. Lose the weight. Write the damn book. No one ever said that your individual journey would be easy. If you are looking at someone else’s journey and you think they had it “easy”, invite them to have lunch so they can tell you the truth. Success is hard. Following and fulfilling your purpose might be even harder. But I can tell you that it is worth it. Don’t let a little bit of concrete stop you…GROW ANYWAY.

With love,

A Little Bit of Motivation

A Little Bit of Motivation

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been recording Facebook Live videos. I didn’t set out to do them with any frequency but alas, there is more than one. Have you seen them? If not, you are in luck, here are the links and topics I covered.

Who Is Surrounding You?

Cut It Out With Self-Imposed Restrictions

Stop Existing and Start Living

You Don’t Need Saving

I would love to hear your thoughts on the videos and hear what topics you would like for me to cover next.

With love,

Are Your Limiting Yourself?

Are Your Limiting Yourself?

Self-imposed restrictions and limitations can be great for setting a basic guideline like eating healthy or exercising. But when you limit yourself because you doubt how awesome you are or what others may say, you are blocking yourself from doing something extraordinary. Be willing to go where you are uncomfortable. Be willing to start the conversation. Be willing to volunteer for that project that no one else wants. Be willing to see the opportunity in the midst of challenge. Be willing to live instead of just existing. Be willing to be extraordinary.

With love,

From Point A to Point B

From Point A to Point B

How can you get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you are right now? While coaching an amazing woman, I asked her, “Where do you see yourself a year from now?” The question stumped her. So I asked her a basic question based on her current circumstances. “What are you really good at?” Again…crickets. When using your GPS for driving instructions, it needs your current location in order to give you directions for your destination. Getting to know yourself is the starting point on the GPS. If you are unsure of where you are, here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. What are my strengths? What are you known for? What do people call on you to do frequently?
  2. What are my short-term and long-term goals? You don’t need a complicated plan. Take some time and mind map it.
  3. What am I ashamed of? If you haven’t read “Daring Greatly” by Dr. Brene Brown, I highly recommend it.
  4. What new activities am I willing to try?
  5. What am I worried about? What is keeping you up at night or keeping you from making a decision?
  6. What does my inner critic tell me? We are our worse critics. Listen to what it is saying. Is it really true or a lie that someone told you that you keep replaying as truth?
  7. What do I do to practice self-care? This is a big one. If you don’t take the time to take care of yourself. No one is going to give it to you
  8. What am I passionate about? 
  9. Am I an introvert or extrovert? Did you know you could be an outgoing introvert? Transparent and vulnerable moment….I’m an ambivert. It took me years to figure out why I get so mentally exhausted after being around a large group of people for an extended period of time. I love to serve others but I now know when I’ve met my threshold of being sociable.
  10. If I wasn’t afraid, I would______. Some are able to complete this statement immediately. Some may take a few minutes or even days to think about it. However long it takes, answer it and then ask yourself, “Why am I afraid?”

When you are unsure of where you are, the road ahead can seem daunting. When you know who you are, you can chart your own path.

With love,

Aww. How Sweet. The Answer is Still ‘No’

Aww. How Sweet. The Answer is Still ‘No’

This week I received an email from one of the parents on my oldest daughter’s middle school PTO asking me to consider joining the board for the next school year. She gave plenty of reasons why it would be a great idea: I’m passionate about my daughter’s education (true), I’m very organized and creative (true and true), I have a GREAT working relationship with the principal (also true) and she REALLY believes I would be great at it (yeah, also probably true…but). While compliments are nice, they are also the “suck you in” tactics folks use when they have no clue or don’t care how full your calendar already is. Like seriously, I will put myself in timeout if I add one more thing to my plate.

How many of you are dealing with well-intentioned folks who see how awesomely magnificent you are and want you to share all that awesomeness and help them with something? They will give you plenty of reasons why you should….Oh, it will only take a few hours a month. All of our meetings are by conference call. There’s a rotating schedule so you won’t have to do it all by yourself. I’ll be here to help you. Listen, while all of that sounds really great, the truth is, you should only commit to doing something based on your schedule and allotted mental bandwidth to take on something else. Will they be disappointed? Yes. Will they possibly give you a little bit a side eye the next time they see you? Maybe.

You, my dear, are the ruler and protector of your precious time. Don’t let sweet words and promises take you off course from managing your 168 and using those hours for what really matters and makes you happy.

With love,

 

 

 

 

P.S. How many of you tried the mind mapping exercise I shared with you last week?

The Power of Mind Mapping

The Power of Mind Mapping

Before I discovered mind mapping I used to write an endless list of the things that I wanted to do and achieve. Now granted there are some things that still need to be in a list like see your groceries or a gift list when you shopping for the holidays. But there are some things that you can not fully brainstorm on in a linear fashion. This is where mind mapping becomes helpful. It gives you the ability to see all the different tangents of a particular thought. For example, as I sit here thinking about Work Your Package my different tangents include the upcoming 4th annual conference, my next book, coaching, and speaking engagements. You might have something else that doesn’t have to do with your passion such as home repairs. So let’s just say in the middle of a piece of paper, you draw a little circle and label it “home”. You tangents may include bedroom, bathrooms, basement, kitchen, etc. And off of each tangent, you have additional points for the bathroom such as replace vanity, change wallpaper and update lighting fixtures.

Mind mapping helps you see the entire picture. And the great thing is about it there is no right or wrong way to do it. Your creativity is the only limitation to how great your map that can be. I’ve also used mind mapping for my corporate gig. I’ve used it to brainstorm several ideas for projects that I’m working on such as the corporate centennial or the holiday party. It helped me to get all of the ideas out of my head so that I was able to fully communicate with the planning committee on the next steps. And it helped the planning committee to see it visually so that they can see the full vision of the desired end result.

Take a minute or two to do a little mind mapping and get those ideas you are sitting on out of your head and on paper. I would love to see your maps. Share them with me the Work Your Package Facebook page with the hashtag #mindmap. I worked on one this morning while sitting in Starbucks in between meetings:

 

With love,

The “Aha” Moment

The “Aha” Moment

When you know your “why”, obstacles become lessons, not barriers. When I realized why my life experiences were primarily centered around encouraging others and helping them recognize how extraordinary they were, everything else started to make sense. The whispering from the little birdie no longer left me baffled and questioning my capabilities. The doors of opportunity that continue to open are no longer met with skepticism and doubt. There is a freedom that comes with realizing who you are and why you are on this earth. If you are paying attention to the little birdie, actions that may look insane to others make perfectly good sense to you. And guess what? You no longer feel the need to explain your actions. Truth is, if you are surrounded by the right people, you won’t have to. It’s not your job or responsibility to explain your journey and path. Folks are either going to support you or wait for you to fail. And guess what? You might fail the first, second or third time but I’m encouraging you to keep going until you are successful. If you haven’t figured out your “why” take a look at the repetitive requests for your natural talents. Your “why” is there and is waiting for you to discover it.

With love,

 

 

 

 

 

Your Network, Net Work and Self-Worth

Your Network, Net Work and Self-Worth

Mark Petticord said, “The sum of your net worth will be the result of your network.” While I believe in having a diverse network, I also believe your network reflects your self-worth. I can pretty much tell how people feel about themselves by the people they surround themselves with. When I see people surrounded by a bunch of bobbleheads and people who don’t challenge them or their ideas, there is a strong possibility that person does not see how much they have to offer and has low self-worth. On the contrary, when I see someone who is surrounded by people who are smarter than they are and receive constructive feedback, I know that those people are dedicated to improving their self-worth which ultimately impacts their ability to grow their network.

Your relationships are a reflection of how you see yourself. If you are surrounded by people who constantly take from you but don’t replenish you…you are hanging around with the wrong people. Surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you and have your best interest at heart. Is there some truth that your network equals your net worth? Maybe. But I dare to say that when you know your self-worth making those connections in your network will be a lot easier.

With love,

 

 

 

 

Register today for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference on October 6 & 7 in Laurel, MD: www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com

 

A Woman Without A Title

A Woman Without A Title

It’s National Women’s History Month and this year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business”. The theme honors women who have successfully challenged the role of women in both business and the paid labor force. But just for a moment, let’s just forget about the titles that women hold. Let’s think about the fact that you are a woman first and forget about the fact you might be running a multi-million dollar corporation or you might be on your third startup or you just sold your most brilliant idea to a company that wants to pay you seven figures. Let’s forget about the fact that you just gave birth to twins or you just got married to your high-school sweetheart or you’ve decided to go back to school or you finally got that promotion that you’ve been working for. Let’s just forget about all of that. Take a minute to remember that before all of that you are a woman. Being a woman requires extraordinary strength and resilience because there are times when your womanhood will be questioned or others make a juvenile attempt to define it for you. Being a woman requires patience and I’m not talking about patience with others. We need to have patience with ourselves. We are prone to being Type A…we want things to be perfect…have everything in place…all our ducks in a row…dot the “i” and cross the “t”.  And because of the way we are wired, we have a tendency to be extraordinarily hard on ourselves when gentleness is required. Understand this, no one called you to be superwoman. I don’t know who started this foolishness. Let me say it again, no one called you to be a superwoman. No one said that you had to carry the golden lasso of truth or wear the golden, bullet reflecting cuffs. Take the damn cape off already. 

Your title at work doesn’t matter. It doesn’t if you’re running your own business. It doesn’t matter if you won ‘mom of the year’ and your kids are on the honor roll and your husband places you up on a pedestal. It doesn’t matter because of the end of the day when you close your eyes you are still a woman and everything about being a woman is amazing. 

With love,

 

 

 

 

Registration is open for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference. Register today at www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com.