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How Jen Louden, Danielle LaPorte & Rachel Cole changed my puritanical view on desires

Saturday, March 1, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

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It’s the beginning of a new year, and it seemed like a good moment to revisit my systems, including how I plan my days. I’m a minimalist when it comes to planning. I plan as much as I need to: to reduce stress for myself and others; to give myself some parameters around how much will be enough so that I don’t work all night; and to make sure the things that really matter to me happen.

But I’ve always been wary of traditional approaches to planning – guided as they often seem to be by external ideas of success, and sufficiency. Many planning approaches feel too restrictive and rigid for me – as someone with a constitutional tendency towards rigidity, the last thing I need is a rigid planning tool!

So I was excited when two of the women I’ve learned the most from over the past four years as a business owner – Jen Louden and Danielle LaPorte – recently released (or in Jen’s case, re-released) books sharing their own approach to planning.

First up, The Life Organiser by Jen Louden.

“If you’re like most women,” says Jen, “you spend your days fulfilling commitments and juggling multiple roles, in a constant dance between everyone else’s needs and your own. If you’re exhausted by this over-striving, rushing, making-life-happen mode, don’t give up–there is a more intuitive, more grounded way to guide your life.”

And she delivers on that promise in The Life Organiser, offering a feminine, heart-based approach to life planning that makes room for, and even embraces, chaos. As Dr Brene Brown has said:

“In this important book, Jennifer Louden shows you how to live with more courage and greater intention and how to embrace the truth that you are enough right now.”

Jen was a pioneer in the field of women’s desire, and the role our desires – and our abilities to know and feed those desires – play in living a meaningful, pleasurable, powerful life. She’s been a role model, a teacher and a mentor for me in all those areas and this book – The Life Organiser – has been a revelation, so much of Jen’s wisdom in one accessible place.

Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map, is an entire life planning system built around this core teaching of Jen’s work – that our desires are a reliable guide for our lives. The fact that these two women – both of whom I look to for inspiration and guidance on how to live a good life, and at the same time build and run successful business that serves others – have come to the same conclusion about the importance of knowing and attending to our desires makes me sit up and pay attention.

When you add to that mix the teachings I got from my dear friend and wise woman Rachel Cole this past summer on the importance of knowing, acknowledging, honouring and taking responsibility for feeding my own hungers you won’t be surprised to learn that this ‘desire-based’ approach to living is becoming central to how I live.

But to understand what a big deal that is, and why I am surprised, you need to know that I grew up in a rural Brethren home in which my desires were not only irrelevant to the daily plan, but were suspect—best ignored in case they led me into dangerous, sinful, or frivolously wasteful territory. Reframing my heart-felt desires and belly-grabbing hungers as wise and reliable guides in my life has been quite a radical shift for me.

So, my next planning tool is the The Desire Map Day Planner by Danielle LaPorte. This is a companion to Danielle’s book The Desire Map, and is designed to help you, as Danielle says: “put your core desired feelings at the centre of your week.”

“Most goal-setting systems,” says Danielle, “fail to harness the most powerful driver behind any aspiration: your preferred feelings…The Desire Map program is changing all of that. You could call it holistic life-planning. The inner meets the outer. The spirit drives the material. … THIS is where your soul meets your schedule.”

As someone who resists a lot of planning tools for the simple reason that they lack soul, this was a very appealing concept. In practice, however, I found using The Desire Map challenging, my inner puritan kept butting in to say ‘What you desire is not that important. Think about the starving children in Africa!’ Anyone else have that?

Anyway – eventually – with help from Jen, Rachel and Danielle – I came to see that this desire that all children everywhere be well, healthy, happy and safe, is a core desire in my life and that is can also be expressed in the form of how I want to feel about my place in the world, and about my work in the world.

So the best thing, for me, about The Desire Map Day Planner was that it motivated me to pull my Desire Map book back off the shelf and use it to do some big picture planning for this year.

A giveaway!

me - march giveaway

The Desire Map Day Planner is out of stock, but I have one extra copy which I’m giving away as part of this post. I also have one copy of Jen Louden’s The Life Organiser — the original desire-based day planner — to give away.

For a chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post or on the relevant post on my Facebook page by the end of Monday 3 March.


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37 Responses to "How Jen Louden, Danielle LaPorte & Rachel Cole changed my puritanical view on desires"

  1. Monica says:

    I resonate so much with what you’ve written in this post. Here’s to new ways of viewing and approaching success and desire!

  2. Katie says:

    I very much needed to be reminded of this today–that it is ok to prioritize one’s own desires. Thank you!

  3. Jodi I says:

    I do such a great job setting goals for my “day job” – but not so much for my life – and I’m working to improve that in 2013. I need to check out these books!

  4. Sara Macias says:

    As a mother, I adore Jennifer Louden’s Life Organizer. Helps me breathe when I can’t see beyond poopy diapers and laundry. Thankful.

  5. Jennifer O. says:

    This goal-setting system sounds wonderful. I have such a hard time focusing in on what my real desire-driven goals are. I’ve had Jen Louden’s book on my “list” for a while now, and The Desire Map Day Planner really sounds very interesting!

  6. Jemma says:

    My life is changing radically as I leave the country I’m living in and the work I’m doing into the liminal space of waiting for a next thing. Some maps and tools to help this next season be purposeful could be a very good thing.

  7. Lisa Zahn says:

    I found this through Rachel’s twitter page and love it! I am going through a similar process. Guided by Rachel and Jen’s work primarily. I would love these books!

  8. Dear Marianne,

    I have a similar issue with desire as you’ve spoken about in this post. I don’t come from a puritanical background, but I do see how ego (grasping to a permanent sense of self) can hide under the guise of desire. Thus, my hesitations.

    I am curious though and would love to explore these books to see if my concerns are founded or not. In the end, my core desires are very similar to yours.

    Wishing you well!

  9. Lissa C says:

    Brilliant! I love the idea of planning my life to incorporate chaos and with a strong feminine, heart-based based!

  10. Bea says:

    Thanks for the motivation to get to the actual planning part — I’m very slowly working my way through Desire Map.

  11. Chloe says:

    I have learnt so much from these three women also. And from you. I used Jen’s Life Organiser for the first time last year. Would love to revisit and definitely have also been tempted by the Desire Map planner too! Thanks for the opportunity

  12. Christine says:

    This hits home in a big way – I’m not sure I could even tell you what my desired are right now. I would love some help to get there. Thank you for this great giveaway.

  13. Jan says:

    Oh I am so sad that it is out of stock but see that there are other materials that are available. I have failed repeatedly with planning in my life preferring or rather habitually bouncing along reacting to whatever surface I hit up against. With age and increasing wisdom, I hope, I see more of a value in planning but as yet have not made the transition to operating from this mode. I told myself for years it was fruitless to plan too much because life just happens. I wonder if I was afraid. I lost my Mum at a young age and as I grew felt on the one hand that I, would never die and had endless amounts of time but on the other that life was very scary and that people and things, including homes, could be taken away very easily. Which is true. I suppose I am now at the point where I am letting go of rear and trying to control everything in my life whilst not caring about myself much and having some commitment to myself and others, and to the world. Planning from my desires sounds like a good place to start.

  14. Jan says:

    That last part doesn’t read very well. I mean I am at a crossroads between these. Also it should read fear not rear.

  15. Nathalie M says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with planning. I find a new planning system. I get existed. I turned into a planning freak for little while, enough to realise that life gets in the way of most perfect planning. Learning to planning based on desires resonate a lot with me. I would love to give it try.

  16. Kim Paxton-Hagner says:

    I’m excited about the prospect of finally finding a planner/organizer that I actually use. My theme for 2014 is to be more intentional. I’ve long for more social connections so I started making it happen: a Brene Brown online course lead to a women’s group that lead to World Muse and next week’s Muse Women’s Conference and workshops with Kerri Kelly. What an amazing journey to a more connected life. I can’t wait to start tapping into my desires and letting them guide my year. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  17. Kavindra says:

    Focusing on my core desired feelings is my plan for creating a life and a career that I love.

  18. Ann says:

    This is a fantastic way of looking at and approaching our lives. I am personally at a professional crossroads in my life, which inevitably extends into my family and personal life. While I still have a moment before I have to make life-altering decisions, I will definitely put these ideas in the mix. Thank you, Marianne!!

  19. Heidi says:

    This I need to try! No more stomach, knotting, puritanical to do lists! How freeing it will be to try some hart based planning.

  20. Christen says:

    Lovely. I’ve been exploring my desires too–trying to coax them out of hiding! Thanks!

  21. Claire says:

    I’ve got the intention and vision to guide me, but I know I need to use and commit to a more soul centred map to keep myself on a creative path of action. Thanks for your timely reminder to get a bit more structure around my imperfect action plans. Kia ora!

  22. Megan says:

    This post really speaks to me. As someone who is a recovering to-do lister, the idea of planning my fulfilling future rather than Listing the mundane details is refreshing. I would be so grateful to receive these tools.

  23. Wendy Moore says:

    Like so many of the other people who have commented, there is a sense that this is timely. As one with a VERY similar background to yours, it is really hard reading the word desires without hearing the word selfish which would have always gone with it. I have spent the last couple of months thinking about my desires, my values, doing lots of reflection, but now almost feel overwhelmed about next steps. It is a process. Like all these other people, I would be grateful for one of these.

  24. Audrey says:

    I have tried traditional approaches to planning in the past and failed miserably. I always feel like I’m putting myself in a box being watched and under pressure to stick to the plan and I get dissapointed from not achieving my goals.So to be honest, a life planning system seems too much and unrealistic. But at the same time I’m curious and interested in discovering how I can include my desire in my life planning.Deep inside I want to answer the question and understand what is important to me and plan around that.A bit of guidance would be great in this first step, especially for me who just moved to new city, far away from family and friends.

  25. Sasha says:

    Wonderful, I am committing to some soulful planning this year after a few years of just getting by following the kids. I am not sure exactly where to start, but as they y must stand for something or you will fall for anything… I totally need to do some about changes to plan from desires. As an ony child I have lots of residue of being told I was spoilt and selfish and I think this keeps coming back when I think about my own desires. So hum, I would love to have these great resources to get started.

  26. Joy says:

    I *love* The Desire Map and to have the day planned would be amazing! I enjoy the practice of manifesting, although I am much better if I am manifesting “for another” (such as when I put my children’s wishes forefront with my own – I can live infinite possibility – and I am wonderful as a guide to the process) than for myself.

    I was taught not to “desire” – I was raised in a very patriarchal family with very specific guidelines on what a woman “should” and “should not” do and desiring was a “should not’. So this is all new to me…to actually identify how I wish to feel in all experiences and to live that feeling. It’s often scary, and also exciting.

    I love Jen’s work as well – because it’s all new territory for me a “life organizing tool” would be wonderful as well.

  27. Molly says:

    This is so pertinent to what I am working on in my life right now. Thanks Marianne!

  28. Jo Henson says:

    This is where I am at right now. At a continuous repetitive nagging record of ‘I need to plan to live my authentic life’ – now. Jx

  29. Amanda says:

    I find that I get so caught up in planning and carrying out day-to-day activities, there is no time to consider a deeper, more meaningful plan. The irony is that, of course, is the long-term is more important, but it gets ignored – for laundry, grocery shopping and endless emails.

  30. Connie says:

    I am in the beginning stages of major life changes and need some help. I’ve moved in with my man of 19 years (to another state), I’ve returned to school and I plan on opening my own business as a Patient Advocate. Plus I’m having financial challenges – could use some help!! I felt grounded at my home before the move but now I’m all over the place and need some guidance.

  31. Anne-Marie says:

    Oh my goodness, I need this! My life seems to be a non-stop round of responsibilities. Count me in for the giveaway.

  32. Marcela says:

    Oh I love both their works and I would love to win this giveaway. Thank you, Marianne, for always being such a wonderful source of inspiration.

  33. Catalina says:

    Very interesting and hope giving 🙂

    Thanks for the opportunity Marianne!

  34. Catalina says:

    oh! I guess I was late…sorry….or is it 3 for you? I’m in Europe

  35. kelly says:

    I so desperately need this wisdom in my life right now. Thanks for the opportunity!

  36. Marianne Elliott says:

    Thanks so much for your comments. I combined your comments here together with the comments on Facebook, assigned you all numbers and then random number generator chose the winners. Lissa and Jan were the winners, and I’ve emailed them both. Jen’s wonderful book is still available here:

  37. Mike` says:

    I like to make plans in my head, I like to create my plans in my head before I put them on paper because it gives me an opportunity to feel things first and it gives my plans life and helps me see them before they actually take shape and as I plan in my head I like to talk things up into existence.

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