November 16, 2020

Happiness Is A Form Of Courage with Kristi Andrus


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Happiness is a form of courage, because the challenges of happiness is you really have to prioritize your needs first.

What does that have to do with decluttering?

Well as my guest Kristi Andrus says, when you want to be a working mom you basically sign up for two full time jobs. And that just means that there are certain things that you have to let go. Certain beliefs, but also certain things that you wanted to do, or certain wishes or goals you have or had.

This is also decluttering, just in a bigger sense, it's decluttering your life to make room for your big dreams. 

Kristi Andrus is a happiness and success coach for women, she helps moms find the sweet spot at the intersection of life, business, and motherhood.

We talk about how to achieve happiness, which is what we all want, right? We all want to be happy. But as Kristi says, happiness is not a destination, it's a way of living. It is about being really observant as we go through life. When we make choices we need to ask ourselves: do the choices feel good? 

Listen in how a good choise feels and how a bad choice feels and what else helps us to become happy, whether we are a woman entrepreneur or a mom-preneur, a working mom. 

Happiness is a form of courage, because one of the challenges of happiness is you really have to prioritize your needs first.

I hope you are intrigued and listen in. 

If you find value in this conversation with Kristi please share the episode with one or two of your friends or family members, because if you find value in it, they will too. 

Kristi Andrus

is a happiness and success coach for women. She helps moms find the sweet spot at the intersection of life, business, and motherhood.

A former media executive at HBO, Kristi managed a billion-dollar account with three children under three years old, so she appreciates the complexity of balancing competing priorities, being ambitious, and loving mom life too.

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Reading instead of Listening (Transcript) 

FYI: this text is not polished, I try to keep it as close as possible to how the guest expressed herself/himself . 

Conny Graf
Welcome Kristi, thanks so much for being on my podcast.

Kristi Andrus
Yeah, I'm so excited to be here I've been waiting for this.

Conny Graf
Yeah, I'm very excited because you're a happiness and success coach and who doesn't want to be happy and successful. So before we talk about that tell us a little bit about you

Kristi Andrus
well, so my background is in corporate and I was in sports at the early part of my career and then media the second half of my career. And when I got out, I kind of have this pivotal moment, actually I had two, I'll tell you briefly about both of them. The first was, I had three children under three years old and I was managing a billion dollar account, and I was just.... I had this moment where I was like is this my life? I think this is what I wanted, but I wasn't sure.

That was the first moment and then flash forward, about a year later, and I had just left Corporate America without a plan, and without a plan B, and I was getting to know the other mamas in my community who were really smart, talented, incredible women. And they all were navigating the same thing I was navigating which was how do you still crush it and do all your goals and achieve all the things you want to achieve, and also really love motherhood. I was like, Oh, I want to help solve for that.

And so, how my coaching practice came to me was essentially just navigating that intersection of happiness motherhood and success and what that looks like and I mean that's what we all want right on the personal front we want to be happy we want to love our family and just be really fulfilled. And on the professional front we want to be successful and we want to achieve big things and kind of make our mark so it was that intersection layered on with motherhood and that's kind of where it all started.

Conny Graf
Yeah. And it's so true that we all want that and then it still seems to be such a struggle. And you wrote a blog post, I forgot on what platform but it was about Yale's most popular course in history, which is called The Science Of Well Being and in that blog post, you wrote something that I really liked you said happiness is a form of courage. So, tell me how courageous we have to be to be happy and successful.

Kristi Andrus
Oh, I love this question yeah so it was on medium, and that's where I write a lot. The thing about happiness is that the reason that I say it's courageous is because I really think that, especially for women, one of the challenges of happiness is you really have to prioritize your needs first. A lot of us have to unpack a lot of things before we get to our needs, it gets pushed down to the bottom of the list or, our family's needs or our jobs or whatever it is gets put ahead of that.

So that's one way we can be courageous is to just declare our needs, and go about the business of fulfilling our needs. But I think the other thing about happiness that's courageous is, while everyone wants happiness, everyone's version looks a little bit different. And so it's having the courage to really say: this is what I need, even if it looks very different than what other people have. Or even if it's a unique combination of things that I'm not seeing out there. It's being okay in that place to say this is my brand of happiness, and I'm going for it.

Conny Graf
And that's so, so difficult for women or maybe we don't want to take it away from men for maybe it's for men, difficult too, especially in this social media world where we always see what supposedly success and happiness looks like you know you're being presented a lot, and maybe you have a different definition, you have to go for it so you have to go swim against the stream, which might be very, very difficult

Kristi Andrus
Yeah, I think social media... what it does is... well there's the comparison part right so that's part of it. But then I also think we get this idea that there's one way to be successful or there's one way to be happy. This is what it looks like, you know, it's the gorgeous blonde, blown out hair with two adorable kids and a husband, right? Yeah, exactly. I think that's the whole point right is that it's not real. I think about the people who are living up to those standards. and, I mean, how many takes a day, are they doing to get that one shot right. Their kids are not playing in the backyard their kids are sitting there posing for two hours while mommy gets the big shot so that she can say that this is the perfect life, right.

So, I think there is something to that. And also, I think, the reason it's a little bit tougher for women (I would say it's probably tougher for women), is because there's so many nuances to all the myriad of ways that we're judged. Right. And men have kind of carved out more space for themselves to be who they are at any given moment and I think women, we're not quite there yet in terms of equality about just getting to show up as our truest self.

Conny Graf
Yeah, I totally agree. I think it's the social conditioning that makes it hard for us. And actually that leads very well into my next question because in your blog post.... so who doesn't want to be happy, right? .... so I'm reading your blog post and you have, I think 10 or 11 steps how to become happy, but just the first three already, I thought, oh my god! So number one was "know who you are and what you want". Number two "prioritize that" and then number three, which plays into what I help people do, "let everything else go", and even step eight is again "let more stuff go".

But in my experience, a lot of people, especially women, trip already over step one, "know who you are and what you want". How are we knowing what we want and who we are in a world where we're so conditioned, from small girls up, how to be and what to want, and then being presented with all that social media constantly on top of it. So do you have a shortcut to our inner self?

Kristi Andrus
I don't know if it's a shortcut. I think this is where I don't know if there is even a shortcut. But, I think we just have to be diligent in our pursuit of what feels good and feels right, and makes us happy. So rather than happiness as a destination, it has to be, what are those moments you're choosing throughout the day that feel like happiness. And I think that's also how we know who we are and what we want, because if all the things that define us, all the roles that we're playing, are all the action we're taking in the course the day isn't ultimately what we want, or doesn't make us happy, then that's a clue too,

The thing is, we sign up for something, there's a lot of women, I'm definitely guilty of this, who like to be kind of top students, A-plus students, and so we do what we have to do to kind of get the accolades of being good. When we take a job, for example, we say, Okay, this is what I have to do to get a promotion, or this is what's going to take to get to the next level, and we just keep going on. Following the right path, if you will, without stopping at any given moment to say is this what I even want?

Is this really feel like it's leading to who I want to become or what I want to experience out of life? It is just asking those questions and being really observant to, as we go through life, when we make choices, do the choices feel good? A good choice is a choice where when you make the choice you immediately have that lift of expansiveness like, Oh, this is gonna be amazing! You get excited and want to pursue it. A not so good choice is the one where your body automatically feels tight or constricted, or you feel like almost resigned, like, Ah, I'm glad that's over! You're glad you made the choice, not glad about the outcome.

Conny Graf
yeah I like that concept that I think it's Derek Sivvers who started saying it he says if it's not a hell yes, it's a no. And it's kind of like, if the minute you have to start justifying it to yourself it's probably a no.

Kristi Andrus
Yeah, or the minute that you put something on your to do list because you feel like it's the thing you need to do. And then you notice, six weeks or six months later, it's still on your list. I'm gonna give you permission to take it off the list, scratch it out, tear it off whatever you have to do delete it, because it's not for you! I think you can see these patterns we have in our life where we deprioritize something but still hang on to it, or even worse, keep it on our list and then just feel guilty or beat ourselves up for not doing the thing, when it was never something for us anyway.

So I think the whole point about prioritizing who you are and what you want is that. It's like, if there's an outcome that you want if there's something you want out of life for the way you want to experience life, take steps towards that and if it's not on that path. Just say okay, that's not for me, don't judge, don't judge or feel obligated because of someone else's

Conny Graf
I think that's the hard part that's where it needs courage, because often from the outer world we get pushback, because people may say well I thought you want it that and I thought you wanted to do this and that and everything so, and then we have to be really strong and stand strong. So I come from Switzerland, it's, maybe not so much anymore, but when I was younger, it was still like a little bit of: what you want to go to work, you want to have a business, even though you have children? It was kind of like you should be fulfilled just with your children and not wanting anything more.

That you're kind of telling us now that it is possible to create a business that you love, even if your biggest priority or your most important goal in life is to be a mother. So how do you then become happy and successful in your business and happy... well I don't want to say successful because you're always successful as a mother I feel, but how you combine that?

Kristi Andrus
Yeah, so, okay, first, can I go back for one second to what you said about that idea of that when people are giving you kind of unsolicited advice about who they thought you were, or what they thought you want, or weighing in. Because this comes up a lot with my clients, and I think when people feel like they have permission to weigh in on your life, it is okay for you to redraw that boundary. Thank them for their input in a way that makes it very clear, their input was not solicited.

Because I think as women we need to kind of protect that space around us. It even ties back into the way we find happiness, which is, we have to have room to breathe. If we don't have room to breathe, we can't find our happiness, and in your business it's when stuffs encroaching on your world in my business it's when thoughts or people are encroaching in your world and so it's okay to push those boundaries out and kind of carve out a little more space for yourself. Just say: I'm figuring this out I don't know where it's gonna lead, that's okay. I'm okay I love, I love this journey that I'm on. That's one version of happiness.

You don't have to be achieving something or working towards a goal of, I'm going to have a million dollars before the end of 2020, it doesn't always have to be like that. It can be: I want to be the person who knows how to make a million dollars or I want to be the person who's growing a vibrant, healthy, business. There's so many ways to get there. Sorry I just, I was thinking about that when you were talking about it, okay and then... so the question is, what's your question?

Conny Graf
Well, it goes exactly into that, because, when I was at the perfect age to have children. It was very common to say well you either have children, or you have a business or a career, you can't have both. But you're basically, when we were talking before, said that it is possible to create a business, a successful one, and have the goal of being a mother or being a mother not just a goal but being a mother.

So, how do you combine that so that you're not just happy with being a mother, but happy with being with the whole package.

Kristi Andrus
Success is tricky. I mean it's a really really really tricky thing and so there's a few parts. I think early on, you have to decide that that's what you really want. Because basically what you're doing is raising your hand and opting in to say yes I want two full time jobs for the rest of my life.

That's a big commitment, so you have to know in your heart of hearts that that's what you want. And then when you start to do the work of looking at what does that really look like, I would say Look around you. Ask the women in your life who are doing both, what is hard and what is a challenge, and what they love and what makes it worth it and what they wish they would have known before they started.

All those questions and.... you know, one of the things that just came up with a colleague of mine recently is, she was kind of shocked by this idea that there were no mothers in the upper echelon of her company. And I said, yeah, you can't wait to look until you become a mom, right. You can't wait to look up and see who's running your company Yeah, after you become a mom right as you're planning these really big pivotal life decisions you have to look around you and say is this going to work for me in my business? Is this going to work for me in my industry? Is this going to work for me and my family structure? And then committing to that path.

There was never a doubt in my mind that I was going to be a mom, and have a big career! I didn't know I was going to run my business, I thought I was going to continue to climb the corporate ladder, but now that I know about the gifts of entrepreneurship I couldn't see myself doing it any other way. That said, once you get in that mindset of, okay, I'm definitely doing this, then you just get in the space of okay now how do I make that happen? It is an iterative process.

The way I think is, there's two ways to, to be happy in the pursuit of that. The first is 100% get on the same page with your partner, your husband, you know who you're with, so that you have the same vision for what it means to be parents, what it means to run this business, how you're going to share the responsibilities of that. If you're not on the same page it's going to be an uphill battle, the whole time. And then the second part of that is really deciding what you want more, and where you're willing to compromise or sacrifice and where you're not.

So for example, I have to regularly pass on opportunities in my business, because it would take away from my family, at a time when I can't make that sacrifice or I can't make that trade off right now. And I have to be okay with that and I am okay with that because my priority, my top priority, is my family. So, I have to say, Okay, in this stage or this season that I'm in, 100% of my best stuff goes to my family and I only have this much bandwidth for my business. That means my business is probably not gonna go at this trajectory that's like a rocketship. It's gonna go more like a slow mountain climber, and that's okay.

Because that's what I'm doing at this stage, and also because I'm still putting in the foundation to have that rocket ship like trajectory, it's gonna just be when my kids are older. When you have that clarity about where the balance is between family and business, then it's almost like that's your North Star that's what how you can make any decision that crosses your plate. Yes This fits with where I'm at, or no it doesn't. And I find that more often than not, when you say no, for the right reasons, the opportunity presents itself later, anyway.

Conny Graf
I agree. On the other hand, like we wouldn't have this discussion, if we were both men, because a man never has to think do I want to have children or do I want to have a successful career or successful business. And I'm thinking, and I want to hear your opinion about that so and I'm thinking, that is sometimes why we have such a hard time to know who we are, what we want, because it has to go against this.

Because like I said no man would think do I want to have a family or do I want to have a career? It's kind of like, of course I want to have both, and he would never have to say, Okay, well, I can't have to pass on opportunities because as a man you don't have to go to that extent you can basically say I want to have both and you can have both and society supports you to have both. The minute you are a woman who wants to have both possibly, at least where I come from, it's still like, Oh my god, you know you're a little bit selfish here

Kristi Andrus
yeah, so I agree with you I think it's a systemic issue with that affects almost every culture, for sure, 100%, and do I think that the world could fix this in a very short period of time. Yes, I think that idea that we haven't is absolutely ridiculous

Conny Graf
It's sad yeah,

Kristi Andrus
I do think that, it's a yes and because I do think that men make sacrifices they just don't know they are. So for example, I think I'm the one who... let me back a step, step one step one step because I do think what you said about men just make it, of course I want both so yes I'm gonna have both. I do think women could benefit from that attitude of just saying, of course I want both yes I'm going to have both.

And use that as their foundation that I think that would actually make a lot of progress on the issue if women didn't feel so much tension or angst around the decision and they just said of course I want both, of course I'm going to have both. But I do think men also make sacrifices it's maybe just not as obvious. So for example, the man who says, I want to have a family, and I want to have a big career, and then, they have children, and he goes to an office job that he's there 80 hours a week.

He is missing out on all that rich rewarding experience that's happening at home. He may not know he's missing out because culturally it's the same thing for him. Culture has told him that the woman does the child rearing, right. So he may want that he may want to have a better relationship with his kids he may want to be the one where when his son falls down and gets a booboo on his knee he asked the dad to kiss it not the mom. He is missing out on something, he just may not know it and he may not have the courage to ask for it frankly because he's kind of living up to the society norms that woman is just on, on the reverse.

I can use that as a personal example because my husband, the first five years of our parenting. my husband was a stay at home, dad. And I was the primary breadwinner, and I was the one traveling in business all the time and he was the one doing the majority of childcare, all the time. At the beginning, neither one of us knew what we were getting into, so we both had a really strong learning curve. That's a perfect example of he didn't even know to want those things because that certainly wasn't how his dad was that was how his older brothers were with their kids. That wasn't how the majority of the men in his life were.

And now that he's back in kind of more of a nine to five structure he misses it. He misses being there for their key moments and their key milestones and he loved that. I think it's way more nuanced and I think also, in today's society, there's so many different combinations. I think the stereotypes are still there for all the reasons that stereotypes are hard to break, but I think a lot of families are meeting more in the middle where the, they're sharing in the parenting more, they're sharing in the emotional labor more they're being more hands on in so many different ways, and that's good. I think it's not just good for the women who want to pursue something and have a business or be successful in some way,

I think it's also good for the men who get to have this emotional connection to their children that they probably wouldn't have otherwise gotten.

Conny Graf
And it's good for the children, and I never wanted to say that men don't miss out on something either. What I wanted to say is, from a woman's standpoint, like you said you wished more women would just stand there and say yes I want to have both. It is just that, that thought would probably not come into a man's mind as strong as it comes into a woman's mind.

And on top of it so oftentimes the criticism that comes towards you when you're a working mom is from other women, and not necessarily from men. Which is another issue that I'm having so it was totally not meant to be against men. It's just how society is and we're kind of brainwashed into some stereotypes that we're trying to break up more and more.

Kristi Andrus
Yeah, okay, I see that happen in so many spaces and I'll give you an example. When I was in the corporate world, before I had kids. I had no idea that there was this subculture of working moms right. You don't know what you don't know. And then when I became a working mom, I did feel that. I did feel like working moms were kind of envious, and judgy, about stay at home moms. And then when I became a stay at home mom I felt like stay at home moms were kind of envious and judgy about working moms.

Now I'm a work from home mom, like mom-preneur so it's yet a whole other culture. Each one does have their pros and cons and I think, again, I think there's enough diversity out there and there's enough ways to pursue life. There used to be, you had, like you said you had a path of you're going to be a mom or you're going to be a businesswoman, and that was kind of the end right the end of the story. You picked a path and you pursued that the whole way. And I think there's so many ways to do life now, and that's a good thing.

But I do think it's open the door for moms to redefine how they want to do it too. And, if there's enough of us that it reaches the tipping point that we kind of collectively all say yeah, we're gonna, of course we're gonna do motherhood and of course we're going to do business there of course we're going to be successful and of course we're going to be happy, then that's the new standard right it's that's the new precedent.

Conny Graf
Exactly, that's kind of what I'm in. So, you said to me that you help. I assume that your clients are mostly moms because that is kind of your jam. So you said you help them through a mix of strategy, mindset, and an action plan so can you talk a little bit more about that so if now a mom would come to you what would you do first? How would you help her with strategy and mindset, strategy and action plan? So what what would you do first with her?

Kristi Andrus
Yeah, so I'm really there's two kind of key ways to work with me one is one on one coaching, the other one is to take one of my courses. I'll give you a little bit of a glimpse into both. So with one on one coaching, it's pretty straightforward. It's like traditional coaching where we address kind of the foundational beliefs or issues in your life, and figure out a plan so you can level up quickly.

I think coaching is deep transformative work quickly. I would say it's got to be a high percentage I don't know what the number is but like 85% of moms, let's say, just for the sake of this argument. They either want more time or more money or both. And it's rarely, rarely, the root issue or the root cause, when we start digging down into it. There's always something else underneath that. But if you ask moms, what do you want? It's more time or more money or both.

Okay. And then if they were coming to me in the course like for example, one of my entry level courses is "Eight weeks to your best life", and this is a good example to answer your question about how we apply the learning. So, in that example, each week we dive into a concept a key concept, on a happiness planner, on a strategic happiness plan, and explore the concept, take away a couple to one or two key insights and then apply it before we move on.

The key thing is women, I'm gonna generalize for a moment, so women and productivity, they can get in this pattern of they just want to be productive. And so one of two things happens. One they have this massive to do list and every day they're checking off things. At the same time for every one thing that they cross off three more pop up, it's just like weeds. That's the one version. The second version is they do a lot of research. They decide they want, let's say, let's use a really easy example they say they want a minivan for the first time, to drive their big family around.

They are all of a sudden researching minivans and price points and what dealership and, do they need four wheel drive and all this stuff, and they're not actually buying the minivan. They're not actually doing the things on their to do list, in either case right. So productivity has kind of got conflated with what's really all the things that lead up to actually doing the thing. So one of the key things that I employ in my business is you have to act, you always have to act.

So you say you want something, if you say you want to be a mom and you say you want to run a successful business, each day we have to take a baby step towards one of those things. It doesn't have to be the right thing, it doesn't have to be the most optimal thing it doesn't have to be the highest return thing it doesn't have to be the perfect thing. Because women, again to relate it back to what we're talking about earlier about being an A-student, women like to know what the right steps are, and to follow the right playbook, or to have the perfect plan.

Both those things, motherhood and running a business, they're kind of metaphors for each other. You kind of have to figure it out by doing it. If you're not doing it, you're not actually going to get the thing that you want. We have to be willing to take imperfect action and then keep going long enough to see how that thing is going to pan out. If it's going to turn into anything, if it does build traction, if it does lead up to us having that happy family, if it does lead us to a successful business. If we're not doing the actual thing we're saying, we're just researching it or planning or strategizing, then there's nothing for the world to react to.

We don't get feedback from other people in our life, we don't grow an audience, we don't grow a brand, we don't become a mom, until we actually do the thing that we say we're going to do.

Conny Graf
That, so true and and I'm guilty of researching. When I wanted to have a mixer and I researched the heck out of it. But I do take action and just.

Kristi Andrus
But okay so that example of the mixer. Um, I think it's fine, because if we know where that kind of person. We can't fight who we are right that's who we are. But what I tell my clients is okay so, um, one day you you get a wallow or research or contemplate or deliberate or whatever the thing you need to do is for one day less than 24 hours and then you have to have a timer. And when that pops up near a reminder it's gonna say, okay, Conny today is the day to decide. And you have to decide because the thing is, we overthink. 

When we overthink all those little decisions all those relatively insignificant decisions, it clutters to use one of your favorite words. It clutters our brain, and we don't get to get to the, the big stuff in our life we don't get to think about the big things and make the big decisions and have those kind of evolutionary leaps because we're always stuck in that low vibe overthinking. I don't know what it is like a tornado almost

Conny Graf
no I totally agree with you because one of my sayings is a few minutes a day keeps the chaos away and I firmly believe or to that if you don't start small, especially with decluttering too. And that can be decluttering your mind, or your house home or whatever you need to build your your muscle up so you start with the smaller decisions and then when the bigger decisions come in life you're, you're, have more muscle to actually make those decisions to. So, I totally

Kristi Andrus
hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah. So, um you know what there's things that you said they're huge they're essential. One is start small. I think one of the things, too, that gets in our way, a lot, especially as women who are very, you know, we do see, we do see the perfectly polished perfect people on Instagram and Pinterest. Right.

And, a lot of us have really kind of issues around I don't know if I want to use the word issues when we use the word issues around because being visible and starting small, we want to hold back all of our work and kind of do everything behind the scenes, until we can reveal this perfect. Amazing. You know, big reveal. And it doesn't work like that because we don't know if the thing we're doing if the stuff we're working on is right and let's we're getting that constant feedback and engagement. So the starting small is a really big thing when we have to be willing to kind of practice publicly and be visible. But the other thing you said about a few minutes a day is so crucial to because there are some times when I do a post for example, especially when I very first started writing.

I was growing my audience where I would spend hours on the posts, and hours on the editing. And then it got to the hard part the hard part was actually pressing that button, the publish button, and I would say you know what, I don't need to be brave. I just need to get courageous for 30 seconds that it takes me to log on and press publish and then I don't even have to think about this right so it is really just those little micro commitments throughout the day. I can make a huge difference and really be exponential.

Conny Graf
Yeah. Oh yeah, I could talk for hours of your time and the listeners time so if we now take a look at some moms interest Where can she find you. What is your preferred and most favorite social media platform.

Kristi Andrus
Okay, so my favorite My favorite is Instagram and I'm at coach for moms on Instagram. I'm everywhere else too but that that's might be place, and I'm relaunching Christie So that should be available very very soon. But in the meantime yeah just head over to Instagram and at coach for moms and say hi and especially Tell me if you listen to it off, chit chat.

Conny Graf
Yeah so awesome. Any last words of wisdom that you want to get out or did I not ask something that you really want to get off your chest before we wrap up. Um,

Kristi Andrus
I don't know if I really want to get this off my chest. But, I think, um, you know, we talked about some kind of heavy like bold action some big stuff right and I think I'm kind of one final thought would be. Just take a look at all those moments that are not the big deal moments, or, leading to something or the self, you know self improvement moments or just all those kind of lazy.

Doing nothing moments, if you can and try to enjoy those because if you can feel good in any given moment throughout the day without having to produce something without having to check off something or you know be amazing. I think it, it kind of fuels us and re energizes us to take on that pick stuff.

Conny Graf
Wow. Yeah, so beautiful and I so agree we don't always have to do something we can just be, because we're human beings no not human doings so beautifully said thank you so much, Steve for being on my podcast and sharing your wisdom with us. Thank you so much.

Kristi Andrus
Well thank you it's my pleasure. Okay, bye bye.

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