Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
The power of prose to reveal and express our true selves — a journey of healing and reinvention
I started writing in a journal when I was 11 years old, as a way to communicate with my brother who died. In sharing with him on those early pages, I was able to make some sense of myself — and the world. My journal was my best friend and over the years the volumes accumulated to well over 70…until I destroyed them in 2008 after my then-husband read them. The crushing betrayal of him invading my privacy — and what he discovered inside them — became the catalyst to the life I’m living now.
Had I not written the truth, I wouldn’t have been able to step into it.
I began keeping a journal again once we were separated and I was living on my own. My journal invites curiosity while reminding me of possibility. Since I know how confronting a blank page can be, I offer guidance to prompt your own inquiry and discovery. It’s never too soon or too late to know what’s true for you and give yourself permission to live it.
As a lifelong journaler, it’s been my absolute dream come true to create this journal. But, truth be told, The Art of Change is no ordinary journal. It’s a proven roadmap that will guide you to make choices and take action in support of the vision you desire. So you can make the changes in your life that you want to make.
The Art of Change contains concepts and explorations to support and deepen your own inner excavation, ultimately for you to be able to own your worth and live life on your own terms, stepping into center stage of your own life.
In my own experience, journaling has been key to really getting to understand and know myself. So, this journal is going to give you the opportunity to truly make a commitment to yourself, to slow down and get quiet and take pen to paper, to investigate what is true for you.
The Art of Change is an invitation to immerse yourself in the Eight Dimensions of Reinvention —one each week — with a coaching concept to contemplate, and then an exploration with daily prompts that build on each other throughout the week. The Art of Change guides you on a transformative journey though Vision, Calibration, Beliefs, Self-Worth, Boundaries, Choice, Self-Confidence, and Visibility.
Once you embody The Art of Change, you can consciously curate what you want to bring into your life, as well as what you choose to release. You can think of this journal as a way to have me by your side, coaching you and guiding you in the direction of your own reinvention.
Below is an excerpt from The Art of Change: A Guided Journal — 8 Weeks to Making a Meaningful Shift in Your Life [Hay House, Inc. 2022]
WEEK 1: VISION
The central aspect of the art of change is the process of reinvention. Reinvention isn’t about scrubbing your life clean of any signs that you’ve lived it. It’s about returning to the essence of who you actually are—the you that, quite possibly, has been hanging out beneath a mountain of habits, obligations, and inherited beliefs, gesturing wildly to get your attention: “Heyyyy, remember me?”
This is the true you—the inner spark that you sense when you’re most at home in your body and your mind. It’s the brightness that radiates out from you and touches everything you encounter; it makes colors more vivid and food tastier. It’s the sense of passion and purpose you were born with, which gives life texture and meaning. In short, it’s the essential part of you that makes life worth living.
Now, you might be thinking, Well, that sounds nice, but it’s definitely not my experience—at least not most of the time. So how can it possibly be the “true me”?
I’m here to say that it is—even during the times you’ve lost direction, which is super easy to do if you’re pinned beneath that gigantic mountain of patterns and behaviors you’ve come to identify as “me.” In truth, who you are is infinite, which means it’s not limited or defined by your life circumstances. In fact, the true self—which is calm, confident, and empowered—tends to become even more resilient when we are connected to it, because it isn’t deterred by so-called obstacles or the litany of reasons to bury our heads in the sand and give up. In fact, when we live from the true self, we are inspired to discover creative solutions in the midst of pretty dismal situations. To use a cliché, we are inspired to turn lemons into lemonade because that’s just part of our nature as human beings.
Unfortunately, we aren’t often taught or encouraged by our society to dig deep and use this part of who we are as a vital resource to move us forward. We don’t even know it’s there half the time, much less that the true self is our superpower! This is why we have to be curious and courageous (and if you’re here, reading this, I already know you are!). We must have the courage to embark on a journey of self-discovery that allows us to deeply explore our dreams, passions, and values; challenge limiting beliefs and ineffective habits that we’ve mistakenly taken at face value as “the way things are”; celebrate our true self as a magnificent being who is not fixed in space and time but is constantly evolving toward greater joy and contribution; and embrace our potential and purpose with enthusiasm and the willingness to learn and grow.
It’s your birthright to live as your true self, but it takes practice to do so. At the foundation of this coaching journal, this practice will come by embracing my Transformation Equation: Change = Vision + Choice + Action
Your Vision: Your True North
This week focuses on the first dimension of reinvention: vision. There’s a reason that vision comes first in the Transformation Equation. Vision is the secret to creating real and lasting change. If you want change to occur, first you need to have a clear vision of where you want to go. Then you need to be willing to make different choices and take different actions.
When we set our course in alignment with our vision, it has the power to transform us. Vision becomes a gravitational force pulling us toward its fulfillment. Vision is essential to the journey. It becomes the map that guides our trajectory. Once we know where we’re headed, we can make choices and take actions to support our vision. Every choice we make or action we take will either serve or sabotage our vision.
Here’s what’s so exciting about your vision: It doesn’t need to be created. Just like your true self, your vision already exists within you. It is likely a bit dormant or dusty, or it has been neglected as other things got prioritized and pushed to the top of the to-do list—but your vision is still there! We’re going to uncover it, unconceal it, and dust it off so it can actually get some fresh air and the light of our loving attention.
Why is knowing your vision so important? Well, because you simply cannot hope to become an effective practitioner of the art of change without identifying a fresh and clear vision that reflects your most authentic desires.
Many of us may feel disconnected from our vision because we have not plugged into our authentic desires. Even if we are not aware of it, we may be living someone else’s version of what a “good,” “normal,” “stable,” “successful” life looks like. A lot of times, a life that is bereft of a person’s authentic desires may look like a life in which nothing ever feels good enough . . . or some vital but unidentifiable ingredient is missing, sapping our life of its spice and zest. If this is true for you, it’s a sign you’re disconnected from your own definitions of truth and success, or that you’ve taken on someone else’s.
A powerful vision starts with powerful desires that actually move and excite you on a fundamental level. But if you’ve been disconnected from your desires for as long as you can remember, it’s time to become present and still. It’s time to give yourself the gift of your own undivided attention. So often, people are too busy being busy to check in with themselves, but this process requires your full permission to be here, now.
In fact, you may want to take a moment to slow down and put your hand over your heart as you simply feel into your body. Your body is the barometer of your truth.
We tend to think we’ll find answers in our head. We’re so used to overriding our body and what we feel, but our feelings have a lot of important information for us when we stop to consider them. (If it isn’t already obvious, you’ll be invited to check in with your body and how you really feel throughout the course of this coaching journal. This means you are not to be perfunctory! No more telling yourself and others, “I’m fine,” especially when that’s probably not the case. I want you to take the time to be very specific about what’s alive for you. Dig deep and be honest with yourself.)
The exercises in this section will give you permission to discover your desires and your vision, in all their glory. For now, I invite you to suspend needing to know how you’re going to get from here to there—a preoccupation that can extinguish the fire of transformation before you’ve even begun the journey!
Right now, it’s about opening up to wanting and receiving.
Powered by Desire
One of the reasons we get so disconnected from our authentic desires (and thus, our authentic vision and authentic self) is that we’re accustomed to tamping down our wanting. Often, we’ve already convinced ourselves we can’t have what we want, or we put someone else’s needs or desires ahead of our own. We’re even taught that it’s best to not have any wants—to be independent and self-sufficient, and to resist the need for help from the outside world. Also, we tend to get caught up in the fear that we can’t have what we want, so why bother? We convince ourselves it would be too painful to want something we’ll probably never end up getting. This is why, so often, when we do tap into a genuine desire, we dismiss it and give ourselves a long list of reasons why we aren’t worthy of it or why other people deserve it more than we do. These are all tricks our mind plays to keep us from feeling the magnitude of our desires.
We also operate under the assumption that life is a zero-sum game: “If someone else has, I go without, or if I have, someone else goes without.” We’re trained to believe that desire is selfish—and that it’s a bad or irresponsible thing! In truth, one of the greatest tools to support you on this journey is . . . selfishness. In fact, selfishness is the foundation for a fulfilling life. I’m talking about the kind of selfishness that fills your cup and allows you to ditch your people-pleasing ways, so you can get your own needs met. Until you know how to give yourself enough air, you’ll always be gasping just to keep going. You might tend to fear being selfish to such a degree that you end up becoming selfless—which ultimately means that with each giving act, you vanish. You end up abandoning yourself and your own needs.
Being selfish isn’t about one-upping or exploiting others. It’s about remembering the universe is an abundant place that’s more than capable of giving all of us what we truly want and need.
First, we have to become more comfortable with feeling and acknowledging desires—and recognizing that we are worthy of having them fulfilled. We have to fill our own pitcher before giving to anyone else, otherwise we’re just giving from an ever-depleted vessel.
This week, you’re going to give yourself full permission to want. The daily prompts at the end of this section will enable you to go into specific areas of your life (which I chose because they’re common themes that have arisen over and over among the thousands of people I’ve worked with), almost as if you are dividing your life into several slices of pie, so you can identify the vision that lives in that particular area. For the most thoroughness, be sure to spend at least 10 minutes on each daily prompt.
By allowing your vision to be bite-sized, digestible, and manageable, you ensure that you don’t overwhelm yourself. Taking incremental steps actually prepares you for the next step and sets you up to accomplish what you want. Procrastination is often the result of putting something off because it feels like it’s “too big.” In contrast, by getting connected to the very practical matter of what exactly needs to happen to move you closer to your desires, you end up building (and living!) an integrated, holistic vision—which will be your map, as well as your compass, throughout the next eight weeks.
There is no right or wrong here. Your vision is 100 percent yours. It’s your ideal set of circumstances that you have the power to activate when you take responsibility for what’s in your control. As you go about discovering your vision, allow yourself to be in the presence of passion, desire, and dreaming, even if you have a knee-jerk aversion to wanting. Give yourself free rein. This process is just for you!
As you explore your vision this week, I invite you to stay in the “I”. Remember, reinvention isn’t about dusting off someone else’s vision or modeling your vision on others’. It isn’t about curating your world so that it looks like your favorite influencer’s Instagram page. It’s time to stop idealizing others and to begin inhabiting your own life on your own terms. Build a vision that allows you to step into the center stage of your own life!
- Write down the area of your life you’d most like to change.
- Give yourself permission for the vision you hold for this area of your life six months from now to arise and make some notes.
- In order for your vision to be fulfilled, what do you choose to eliminate from your life?
- In order for your vision to be fulfilled, what do you choose to integrate into your life?
- What will be possible and available for you in your life when you live in alignment with your vision?
Allow yourself to breathe, to dream, to become…doesn’t that feel better already?
You may also enjoy browsing other articles and podcasts from Nancy Levin for Best Self Magazine.