She may not have advised Shailene Woodley to eat clay on a regular basis, but Danielle LaPorte is responsible for issuing Woodley’s wake-up call to “actively do something to manifest your dream.” LaPorte calls her branded life plan (and her fourth published book) The Desire Map, and it’s influencing not only the fresh-faced actress but also LaPorte’s own 87,000 Twitter followers. Whether in her writing, her vast social media presence, or her live speaking events, LaPorte’s mission is clear: She shows people how to make room in their lives for their own feelings and needs.
In our conversation with the author, entrepreneur, and personal-growth consultant, LaPorte explains the importance of meditation and swearing — and why you might not really need that promotion.
“Those Truth Bombs get written at the strangest of times. I write them in the car, I voice-dictate them into my phone, I get out of the shower to write them, I take notes when I first wake up… So, the divine thing is, even though they’re randomly sorted...we get so much feedback about, ‘How did you know I needed this today?’... To which I usually say, ‘I am reading your mind.’”
Everyone needs a mind-reader! Do you sometimes feel that what people need are harsher truths?
“Yes; I think the truth is both fast and hard. I’m here to issue a wake-up call, and sometimes that happens through encouragement and being really loving…and sometimes it’s a smackdown.”
What are some of your personal experiences that led to creating The Desire Map plan?
“My ambitions were stressing me out. Getting what I wanted wasn’t as fun as I wanted it to be; I had to learn that it’s about being fierce and flexible. That’s really the heart of the message of The Desire Map… I don’t want what I want any less than I used to. I’m still ambitious, I’m still devoted, I still have big visions, and I’m way more flexible… It all gets back to, ‘Do I feel the way I want to feel, while I’m going after what I want?’ For me, that’s been fucking revolutionary.”
What do you think makes The Desire Map different from other approaches to self-improvement? For example, if someone were hoping to get a promotion at work, a more traditional suggestion would be to design a five-year plan with concrete steps towards that goal.
“Well...that traditional plan is not working, is it? People are fried; they’re on Prozac, they’re stressed, and there’s a lot of anxiety and emptiness… So, here’s another option, which is, ‘Why don’t you turn your ambition inside-out, get clear on how you want to feel, and let that drive you?’... You change the whole process. It really does become both about the journey and about the goal…inner attunement and outer attainment [both] matter, but the problem is we’ve just been going after the outer attainment.”
So, to that person who wants that promotion, you would say he or she should aim to feel successful?
“I would ask them [if] they really even need the promotion. This is about analyzing every goal that you have. Is that promotion related to...your core desired feelings — or is that somebody else’s dream? Is that your mother’s dream that she has for you?... Maybe you need to quit… Or, maybe the promotion is exactly what you need... Let’s say your core desired feeling is about connection and feeling powerful or energized. Maybe being VP is exactly what your soul needs and you should go after it with all your heart. [If] it wasn’t your dream to begin with...it’s time to dump it and get something that fits the shape of your soul.”
What are the most common feelings people put on their personal Desire Maps?
“There’s always something about energy, vitality…courage, boldness, and bravery. And, then there seems to be a lot around light. Like, I want to feel lit up, I want to feel lighter, I want to feel luminous, I want to feel bright… And then, love. Always love. To feel love, to be loving, to be loved, to be lovable, to give love… People want to feel connected to themselves, to their energy source, to each other, to their version of God — just connected.”
What have been some of the most interesting interactions you’ve had with people whom you’ve met through your work?
“I’m always getting stories about what people are quitting. It’s like, ‘I dumped the chump… I realized what I want to feel is freedom and I’m completely restricted in this relationship, in this job, in this MBA program.’ So, there are a lot of quit stories…stories about subtle but profound self-worth shifts… There’s so much that everyone’s, quote, ‘obligated’ to [do] that they’re resenting… You’ve got to feel the enthusiasm… [If you don’t], you’re just going to get fat and tired.”
Has there ever been a time where you’ve felt restricted in your work, or have you felt like you weren’t taken seriously?
“Definitely restricted. You’ve got to feel restricted before you bust out. I mean, I had a company where I wasn’t free to use my own voice… I broke out of that and went solo, and decided that…I was going to say ‘fuck’ if I wanted, on my own blog. I could say ‘fuck’ and ‘meditation’ in the same sentence if I wanted to. And, I haven’t looked back since then. If you’re a creative person...you’re always going to be dancing with restriction.”
From here, how do you see The Desire Map evolving?
“Well, it’s taken on a life of its own now, which is beautiful to watch. Last year, 500 Desire Map book clubs started, and lots of them are still meeting… in yoga studios and cafes and people’s living rooms, and that’s amazing… I’ve been blown away at the requests for Desire Mapping for teenagers and for children. We’re getting stories now from guidance counselors at high school levels that are using it. You know why? Because nobody asks you in school how you want to feel… I hope more people are going to do what feels good. And, I’ve got six book ideas...I’m in discussion with a big jewelry company about a Truth Bomb jewelry line...there’s so much more. I just got started.”