Overcoming stress. Finding purpose. Maintaining motivation. These are all roadblocks we have all faced at some point throughout our professional and personal lives.
We sat down with Dr. Kristina Hallett, a board-certified specialist in clinical psychology and author of international best-seller Own Best Friend: Eight Steps to a Life of Purpose, Passion, and Ease, to discuss her incredible insight on finding happiness, motivation, and purpose in ones life. Kristina is one of many successful authors in The Author Incubator, working with Founder & CEO Angela Lauria to complete and launch her latest book. Kristina’s passion and expertise lies is assisting professional women to reduce stress, increase resilience and productivity, and helping those become their #ownbestfriend.
What was your inspiration for writing Eight Steps to a Life of Purpose, Passion, and Ease and how do you recommend people get the most out of the message of it?
My inspiration for writing Own Best Friend: Eight Steps to a Life of Purpose, Passion, and Ease came from two sources -the women I have worked with over the last twenty years, and my daughter, Sandra. Every person I encounter has something to teach me about the world, and about myself.
As I listened to women of all ages, education and circumstance discuss the challenges they faced, common themes emerged. These women managed a multitude of stressors and roles throughout the day (this was also true for men, but women still consistently do more of the “second shift” work at home); these women unquestioningly offered support and assistance to family and friends (often at the cost of self-care); these women all struggled with self-doubt and the sense of being “not good enough”. Most of all, these women had an internal dialogue that lacked self-compassion and love. The women I worked with (as well as my friends, my relatives, and me) would share caring, inspiring, compassionate honesty with each other – but their inner voice was unflaggingly negative, critical and unkind. None of these women would ever hold a friend to the inner standard they maintained, and they would never speak to a friend the way they talked to themselves.
My daughter has been an inspiration to me since the day she was born. She is an amazing young woman, filled with passion and purpose and a true drive to make a positive difference in the world. I want her (and all women) to live her purpose, with passion, and with ease – without impossible standards, without negative self-talk, and with a true sense of her worth as a perfectly imperfect person.
While the book can be read straight through from the beginning, the chapters are constructed so that you can find your personal area of biggest need, and start there. Each chapter has exercises to implement that support the main focus of the chapter in a section entitled “Try this”. Ultimately, all eight steps of the EMPOWERS process weave together to support your ability to “have (and enjoy) it all”.
What are a few methods you would suggest to maintain productivity throughout the day that readers would be surprised to learn?
The most surprising boost to productivity is making the choice to stop working and take a guilt-free break. We are all limited in our ability to focus intently over long periods of time. When you start a task or a project and keep working without a break, fatigue sets in and your productivity begins to drop. Even when you pause, if your thoughts center on “I should be working”, you aren’t giving yourself an opportunity to recharge. Plan for regular stopping points and then fully engage and enjoy the break. You will have better focus and concentration when you start up again (even if you only took 10 minutes to stretch, breathe and use the restroom).
Second – throw the notion of multi-tasking out the window. I used to believe I was a master multi-tasker. I really resisted the suggestion that I was decreasing my productivity through multi-tasking until I understood the meaning of mindful living. When you are fully present and conscious of what you are doing in the moment, you realize that splitting your attention between two or three different areas results in not truly attending to any area. Being present means being 100% aware. Three tasks at the same time means none of them are getting 100% of your attention. And ultimately this effects both productivity and quality.
Third – create your priority list based on assessing the three components of your time commitment, the drop-dead date, and the ease of task completion. Often you will feel more motivated (and therefore be more productive) if you are able to get an easier task off your plate.
What is your suggestion for those who are overcome by stress and anxiety and no longer have time for things they love in their life?
Make time for yourself asap! Follow the instructions of the airlines and put your own mask on first. This isn’t selfish, this is vital. No car runs without gas; there are no withdrawals from an empty bank account. Recognize that you are responsible for the life you live and understand that you are your own agent of change. Stress and anxiety are real parts of life, but they don’t have to prevent you from doing what you love. When you start to treat yourself as your #ownbestfriend, you will create those moments during the day that refresh and recharge you – in the same way you would urge your friends.
What personal experiences do you find most relatable to your readers in terms of personal development? (example- your “AHA” moment)
The most common thing I hear from my readers is “I know just what you mean – I’ve felt that way, too!”. I share a number of my own stories in the book, as well as stories from women who have transformed into a life of purpose, passion, and ease.
My favorite story is about my yellow car. Many years ago I wanted to buy a yellow car, and I got a lot of commentary from others, most of which suggested I would be making a big mistake. I couldn’t stop thinking about what everyone else said, and I didn’t buy the car. I got a dark green car instead – and regretted it. I knew I wasn’t following my heart, and that just added to my negative self-talk. The yellow car symbolized my sense of self, the way I didn’t listen to my inner voice, and the power I gave to the opinions of others. After many years and lots of personal growth, I (finally) learned to trust myself and my own opinion. I got a yellow car (a gorgeous Jeep Renegade), and I smile every time I see it.
What is your advice to those who are having a hard time finding their “purpose” in life?
Start with paying attention to those times that you are completely in “flow” – the times when you lose track of time, are fully present in what you are doing, when you don’t feel self-conscious, when the activity itself is it’s own reward. The areas in which we are fully engaged provide a roadmap to the external expressions of our purpose. Then step back and consider how the inner joy that sets you on fire is what you are called to do (your purpose). In other words, living your purpose means living a life that involves doing the things that light you up.
Do you believe that we are meant to do one thing/have one purpose throughout life, or do you think we are always evolving as humans to do different things?
I don’t think that we are meant to do only one thing throughout life. We are constantly growing, changing and learning, and this shapes our purpose. I do believe that there is often a consistent theme, which can be expressed through different modalities. My vision, my purpose, is to inspire women to be their #ownbestfriend and to live a life of purpose, passion, and ease. I have found expression of this purpose in teaching, parenting, coaching, speaking and in conducting psychotherapy. Our possibilities are limitless and exploring different options, or manifestations, of your purpose enhances the world.