Jay Shetty's guest is Jenna Kutcher, a mother, wife, and entrepreneur.

She hosts the Goal Digger podcast and works as a leading online personality and educator. Moreover, she authored the book How Are You, Really? in which she tries to move us to look into our souls and understand how we feel.

When answering this question herself, Kutcher uses the word “season” to describe how she feels in the present. It is a phase of life, and it feels less pressuring than saying what emotions we carry at this moment or talking about an entire year, Jay Shetty noticed.

Answering how you genuinely feel is a matter of being vulnerable in front of another person. It is easy to give generic answers like “I'm fine,” “it's okay,” etc. Instead, Kutcher explains that she thought of the question as a way to take a look inward, not in the context of a conversation with someone else. “It's about coming home to yourself,” she said.

Always Busy

In today's world, we forget how to be still; we are constantly busy. As others have recognized, being busy has become a “badge of honor,” as it signifies to others that you are doing well. However, the downside is that children don't know how to be bored or creative anymore. Instead, they are being “pacified with screens or different things,” Kutcher explained to Jay Shetty.

It happens to adults, too. We are constantly in motion because “we don't believe that we deserve the rest,” she continued. As a result, we forget to listen to our inner voice telling us what we need, and instead, we listen to what Kutcher called “the noise of the world.”

And this is why we need to find the equilibrium between these two voices to be balanced in today's world. However, “there's a difference between being the passenger on a journey and being in the driver's seat. And a lot of times the noise of the world is the driver's seat for us,” she told Jay Shetty.

Listen to Your Inner Voice

When Jenna Kutcher had conversations with people who were going through significant life changes, she learned that all along, they’d had a feeling something wasn’t right, or that a change was due, but they ignored it. In truth, we need to ask ourselves whether we actually are as fine as we tell the world we are, or if we are faking it to convince others we are okay.

The question, “How are you, really?” is an invitation to get quiet with yourself. Meditations are a great way of finding your center and slowing down. Kutcher admits enjoying Jay Shetty's meditations, which were, to her, “an invitation of getting quiet.”

Jay Shetty opened up about when he ignored his physical pain for two years, not paying attention to what his body was telling him. He added that forgetting our mental, emotional and relational needs is even easier. Finding silence and stillness is necessary to hear your mind voicing your needs.

Pausing Is Important

One of the chapters in Kutcher's book is called “My Soul Shavasana,” as a remembrance to take time for relaxation. It is rooted in her experience with yoga workouts. She would often appreciate the physical activity but feel restless during the relaxation phase, as if she didn't deserve it.

She compares her journey to the reverse of running daily to train for a 5K. We are already running at full speed, and we need to learn to tune it down slowly. We also need to know how to spend time doing nothing, actually relaxing.

“I really think our culture has confused contentedness with complacency,” Kutcher told Jay Shetty. She believes that being content means living entirely in the moment, being filled with gratitude, and being fully present.

Wear All the Hats

Currently, she is playing various roles in her personal and professional life. As a result, finding time for relaxation has been a challenging journey. She notes that mothers feel this pressure very clearly, as, in her view, “We're supposed to work like we don't have children and parent like we don't have a job.” Feeling the pressure weighs on her, but Kutcher found a way to balance all her roles throughout the day. “When I cross the threshold into a room, whether it's an office, my bedroom, the house, the living room, my daughter's room, whatever that is, I have to really plant my feet and actually cross through with intention to just be here.”

This approach resonates with Jay Shetty. He expressed how describing yourself to others based on your roles can lose its meaning for ourselves along the way. Therefore, it is essential to understand who we are and who we think we are before anything else.

Be True to Yourself

Kutcher explained to Jay Shetty how she learned about the term “identity foreclosure” during an interview for her podcast. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), identity foreclosure is what happens when someone “accepts the roles, values, goals, etc. that others such as friends, parents, teachers, and coaches have chosen for them.” They then make these roles part of their identity even though they haven't yet explored other options.1

We constantly try new paths, but those don't have to define us. They are mere vehicles to get us where we want to be, to complete our mission. However, it is essential not to forget ourselves along the way. 

Kutcher said about her online presence and activities: “I think who we are offline is more important than who we are online.” In alignment with this statement, Jay Shetty admits that he enjoys his activities as a private person even more than his online work.

Finding Your Way

Kutcher remembers how she moved on from the hustle culture, working a corporate job, to finding stillness and time for relaxation. She continues to describe these periods of her life as “seasons.” There were times when she traded her time for money and other times when she made money that bought her time in return. And even though she was reaching her milestones in her pursuit, she didn't feel whole.

This entire journey felt off. Kutcher wasn't enjoying it as much as she wanted, so she tried to achieve the next best thing, one after the other, until it led to burnout. “I want to live a life that feels better than it looks,” she told Jay Shetty.

After the burnout, she would find the breakthrough: getting off the path. Kutcher has been a photographer, watercolor artist, podcaster, and course creator. But she believes that her current success is due to her energy. She has never felt “more in alignment” in her work life than now. “If we check in with ourselves and see where our energy is, I think that can be the compass that then guides us forward,” she explained.

How to Conserve Energy

The primary source of energy drainage comes from us saying “yes” too often without setting healthy boundaries. To Jenna Kutcher, it is crucial to identify the limits that protect her energy while allowing her to do meaningful work. It’s all about finding the perfect balance for herself.

Just like Kutcher, we need to be more selective with our priorities. Ask yourselves simple guiding questions, such as “Is this the right opportunity? Is it shiny? Is it going to guide me forward? Is it going to serve others?” she shared with Jay Shetty.

Saying “no” to loved ones or prospects is a difficult lesson to learn when setting boundaries. When asked how she deals with these situations, Kutcher told Jay Shetty that she has a pre-defined decline reply on her phone. The message thanks the sender for their thoughtfulness and briefly explains that her priorities are currently different. She also uses this opportunity to invite the sender to ponder their values.

Jay Shetty believes we should be able to tell others “no” without being untruthful. “Often people think they need to lie or make something up or construct.” But it is more valuable to explain our priorities and invite others to reflect on theirs. He experienced a lot of understanding when sending this kind of message. Moreover, he was positively surprised to learn he was in alignment with more people than expected.

Making Connections

The second chapter of Kutcher's book explores the question of who she has and who has her. Because we live in a world more connected than ever, we forget how to make meaningful bonds, and this deep bond with someone may lead to feelings of loneliness. She shared with Jay Shetty that it doesn't just mean being alone but feeling like others don't know the real us.

The pandemic was an opportunity to revise our behaviors and to understand we need to reach out to others as much as we hope they will reach out to us. Checking in from time to time and letting our friends know we think of them can have a tremendously positive impact.

However, when people feel lonely and in times of struggle, they tend to close up. Then, they try to wear all their hats and juggle different roles, which is exhausting. Kutcher did the same until she realized she needed external help with her business. She could no longer do it alone.

Community and Shared Experiences

Finding yourself in need is an excellent opportunity to let people in. It is important to understand some individuals in our lives thrive on helping others. So, we can expand our connections by offering them the invitation to do just that. “Suddenly, who I have and who has me expands,” Kutcher added.

Building a community has its foundation in shared experiences. How Are You, Really? gives insights into Jenna Kutcher's private life events that shaped her into who she is today. Unfortunately, many topics, such as miscarriage or mental health, are still taboo, which can feel very isolating. So she vowed to share only true stories online. Moreover, she wants to remember the authentic moments, the good and the bad, not just “the shiny.”

When she decided to share about her pregnancy loss, she did it to help other women feel less alone. But, on the other hand, she shared it to give meaning to the experience. She also dedicated a portion of the book to discussing another woman's journey with in vitro fertilization (IVF). It attempts to inspire young ladies to embark on a journey that may seem unfathomable at first sight.

This approach resonates with Jay Shetty, who used a similar tactic when writing Think Like a Monk. He believes sharing your struggles makes you more approachable. In addition, it gives the readers the courage to embark on a scary journey. Finally, knowing everyone makes mistakes and nobody's perfect is comforting.

Setting Worthy Goals

The third portion of the book deals with goal-setting. Jay Shetty recalls the SMART strategy of setting objectives created by George T. Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. According to the strategy, goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely, hence SMART. However, nobody told him what a worthy goal is.

According to Jenna Kutcher, a worthy pursuit makes us feel good and right. She encourages the listeners to take a moment and ask themselves what feels good to them. Then, envision how achieving a particular goal looks. It is essential to imprint this image in your memory and be fully aware of your reality once this dream comes true. Unfortunately, people often miss great moments. Instead, they focus on the next best thing rather than taking in the present moment.

“Sometimes the journey of working towards the goals should be enjoyed just as much as achieving the goal itself,” Kutcher added. The main goal, she continued, doesn't have to be shiny or great. It only has to make you happy and content.

Sometimes, we adopt goals from others, be it from family, friends, or social media influencers. “We have a goal without even knowing we have one,” Jay Shetty notes. Whenever he felt alone during times of transition, he would find a book describing a similar circumstance that resonated with his current struggles. Even when there was no real person to discuss an issue, books provided a significant pillar of his journey. And so he encourages everyone who wants to make a shift in their lives to read Jenna Kutcher's How Are You, Really?

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Manifesting Your Ideal Work Life Balance & How to Avoid Burnout” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.

1. “Identity Foreclosure.” APA Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Accessed August 30, 2022. https://dictionary.apa.org/identity-foreclosure.
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