All hail the gut.

I get a lot of frantic, stressed-out college-age (and sometimes older) people who come to me wanting to know how to make a plan so that they have an amazing, successful, meaningful life.

I don’t think it works like that.
(It sure as hell didn’t work like that for me or anyone I know)

Life isn’t a plan. It’s a series of opportunities that you take runs at. 
You try things.
You go hard.
You triumph.
You fall on your face.
You say stupid shit. You make mistakes.
You say brilliant things. You have shiny moments.
You do things you love.
You do things you’re fine never doing again.
Most of all, you learn.
And then the next run at things is a little bit better.

What I just laid out is absolutely true for anyone that wants to live a big-ass, interesting, purposeful life — there is direction, but there is no detailed plan. There is a lot of listening and learning, but there are few rules. You learn to marry your hard work to the flow of opportunity instead of to a plan made by an anxious 22 year-old in a dorm room.

The universe has some awesome stuff in store for you if you can just learn to calm down and be.

But there’s one more element to all this that we need to talk about: the gut.

Gut instinct.
Higher power.

Whatever you want to call it, that “thing” has been the driving force in my life. It’s given me the confidence to make several big leaps and to feel really solid about the paths I take and decisions I make.

Here’s the rub: it’s HARD to have a relationship with your gut. Especially now. We all flit (myself included) to ridiculously addictive digital devices, pings, likes and alerts.

We keep ourselves hyper-stimulated and mentally jumpy. 
None of this is good for the gut.

The gut needs stretches of space, quiet, boredom, reflection.
It needs time to process what is going on.
It needs time to nudge you.
It needs space so you can hear what it has to say.

You gotta make space for the gut. Making space is not trivial. It takes time, effort, intention. This isn’t about putting a crystal on your forehead for ten minutes and calling it a day or pulling a tarot card and getting deep insight because you got the hanged man again; it’s about going there.

Putting in time. Pulling yourself away from life-hustle. Putting the phone down. Letting the stuff surface (that we ALL have in us). And then being vulnerable. Being honest. Embracing the pain and celebrating the power.

I don’t think you can live a big-ass, interesting, purposeful life without making the time to have a relationship with your gut.

In my own experience, in the moments where I feel connected to my gut, I feel calm, I feel strong. I feel awake. The big moves start to feel inevitable, not stressful. And for all the perfection-mongers out there (coming from a recovering perfection-monger myself), all this doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, but it means I know I’m taking the path I’m supposed to take in that moment, even if I need to switch gears later.

Yes, I know how crazy that might sound.
You just know?? You listen to your gut and go???

I don’t care that it sounds crazy. I’ve experienced this too much in my own journey to pretend like there’s not something there.

So, the number one piece of advice I give to anyone who is looking for it is to create spaces and rituals for the gut to thrive. Start easy. Start with five minutes a day. Let the practice grow (you’ll know how to grow it — trust). And then have the bravery to let life follow.

For me, there are actions/tricks that keep me on track:

  1. No Instagram in the morning unless I’ve meditated.
  2. Running and motorcycling has to happen — it’s when my brain clears out.
  3. If I’m not journaling, I’m probably fucking something up.
  4. Recently I flipped my phone to grayscale (Android/iPhone). Damn does that make a difference.

For the record, I mess this up all the time. I get off-track and off-gut. It’s okay. The most important thing is to try.