by Svetlana Saitsky
Growing up, I always had quite the sunny disposition and a curiosity regarding where it came from. I was born in the Republic of Moldova under the communist regime of the former Soviet Union. My birthplace is considered to be one of the unhappiest countries in the world. When I learned of this while reading Eric Wieners’ The Geography of Bliss years ago, I became determined to understand the meaning of happiness and ultimately, what it means to live an inspired life. Throughout the last seven years I have travelled around the world taking photographs, and interviewing people on the subject of happiness and inspiration. I have worked with some of the worlds most innovative companies like Google, and I have fallen in love one too many times. All of this “inspiration research” as I call it, has led me to San Francisco, CA to a brand new year, with a mountain of post-its filled with you know, resolutions.
Every year around New Year’s we make them, but how many of us keep them? I don’t know about you, but personally, I have not been very successful in keeping my resolutions in the past, so this year I decided to try something new. One of my mentors Tony Robbins says, “Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure” and I agree. So in the spirit of success and fulfillment, I present to you 13 Inspiring Notions for 2013. I am just a girl on a journey and no different than you, but I have learned a thing or two about inspiration. After interviewing CEOs, professors of Positive Psychology, musicians, artists, and friends all over the world, in my book, it all begins with the concept of “permission.”
13: Give Yourself Permission
How much of what you really want to do, do you do? In 2013, give yourself permission to live the life you want and stop seeking validation from others. The most important person you ever need to seek permission from is yourself, so be your own best friend, do yourself a favor and give yourself permission. Looking back, you’ll likely regret not what you did do, but what you did not, so in the spirit of not living with regrets; do “it” now!
12: Say NO
Steve Jobs said, “Say no to 1000 things!” and I agree with him. Smart people know what to walk away from, and they don’t feel bad about it either. So figure out what you love and focus on that and forget about the rest, for now. Better to bring one idea to life than spend your time working on 13 and never getting anywhere.
Last year I realized that my “more is more” mentality has not been working for me. I decided to Feng Shui my life, and started working with a local Feng Shui master, Catherine Grison, I began with my apartment and am currently working on my email inbox. My new motto, which was stolen from Catherine, is not so much less is more or more is more, but instead “good is good”. Keep the essential things you love, and get rid of the rest. It’s pretty magical to see what happens when you de-clutter: you create space for bigger, better, and more inspiring things, people and events.
10: Snap Out of It
This one is a bit Pavlovian and requires an open mind, so bear with me. Do you catch yourself having negative thoughts? OK good, so you are human after all. Do you wish to rid yourself of these thoughts? Try this: buy a rubber band and put it on your wrist. Any time you have a negative thought, snap that band. I tried this and within about a week, I stopped thinking those negative thoughts. A bit radical? Perhaps it is, but I know that it worked for me, so I am inspired to share it with you.
9: Quotes & Books & Films… read some, know some, see some and share some…
My favorite book of the moment is The Fear Project by Jaimal Yogis and my favorite quote is “Overnight success usually takes about 15 years” by H. Jackson Brown. My favorite documentary is made by Miss Alexandra Liss, a local San Franciscan who couch surfed all over the world, teaching us all about the power and beauty of sharing. In moments when I am lacking inspiration, I find that turning to a favorite book, a quote or an inspiring documentary is a great source of inspiration.
The Buddha says, “ Happiness never decreases by being shared” and with this in mind I have started an experiment. I smile at everyone as I walk down the street and guess what? Most people smile right back. It feels pretty fantastic. If more of us did this, I think the world might just be a bit more happy and inspired.
7: Figure out your Life Word
My life word is Inspiration. What is yours? Figure it out and live it. Family? Love? Avocado? Whatever your word is, figure it out, embrace it and live by it.
Ever feel like the faster you run, the later you arrive?
A few years ago, a supermodel turned Bikram Studio owner gave me some advice.“ Meditate for 15 minutes for three weeks and your whole life will change,” she said. Shortly after this, I had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, and we spoke about the power of meditation. How am I, the girl with a mind that races faster than a Ferrari supposed to sit in silence, I wondered. At first it seemed impossible and in the end it came down to just doing it.
Inspired by Liz, I dove in to this practice of meditation and highly recommend finding the time to sit in silence with yourself, even if just for minutes daily. Meditation has helped me slow down, and personally I have found that the slower I go, the better I feel and the more I get done. Sounds backwards I know, but you’ll only know if it works if you try it for yourself. And yes, you do have 10-15 minutes a day, so refer again to #13 and give yourself permission to unplug.
5: Manage your manager (they’ll thank you…)
In 2013, share the brilliant ideas that you have previously kept to yourself with your manager and see what happens. The best managers are open to new ideas and more efficient ways of working. The absolute worst thing that will happen is that they say no, and then you’re exactly where you started and that isn’t so bad is it?
4: Have a TOP 3
For me, I know that when I start to feel a bit down or sad there are three things I can do to remedy this: I can buy myself fresh flowers, go for a run, or I can listen to Hotel California by the Eagles. What are your TOP 3? Figure them out and then turn to them when needed.
3: Find quiet in the disquiet and enjoy the NOW.
I used to think that I could not enjoy the present until I accomplished all of my goals and dreams and then it dawned on me that the journey is the destination. You actually can choose to just be happy now, while still working towards your goals. It’s all about what you care to experience; and a great book to read that might help you on this journey is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
Heard of the “10,000 hours of practice” rule, written about in the highly acclaimed book “ Outliers” by Malcolm Gladlwell? Rather than looking for a secret shortcut, if you want to truly excel in something, the magical formula is: practice practice practice
It’s 2013, and it’s time to invest in the most important startup of your life: YOU.
Realize that you are in control of your life, and that your choices and your reactions to both successes and failures are all an important part of your evolution, so really own it all and do not blame others. Congratulate yourself when you win and learn a lesson when you lose. Never stop learning and appreciating the bumps and detours along the way.
An exceptionally inspiring person, and CEO of Hotel Tonight, Sam Shank said to me last year, “Failure without fulfillment is the ultimate failure” and I agree. You might not always succeed in everything you do, but as long as you really take the time to learn from all of your experiences, continue to invest in your dreams, and never give up on yourself and your passions, this whole journey of life becomes a much more inspiring one. So happy 2013 and cheers to Inspiration!
Svetlana Saitsky is a Creative Iconoclast who strives to inspire through her work as a photographer and writer. With her entrepreneurial spirit, business school education, corporate experience and artistic savvy, Svetlana combines left-brain intellect with right-brain creativity and resides in San Francisco, CA while working on her first book on Inspiration. A modern day Renaissance woman, Svetlana believes in exploring a variety of passions daily and when she is not taking photographs or writing, you might find her salsa dancing, singing, eating avocados and hanging out in coffee shops all over town. To explore Svetlana's work, please visit her here!