Back in early 2018 I was really struggling in my business.
We’d just returned from six years overseas and I was trying to establish my new career coaching business in my hometown of Perth, Australia.
Like many women, I’d left my corporate career when I gave birth to my first child because it felt like my former professional role as a Consulting Engineer wasn’t compatible with motherhood.
The company I worked for didn’t offer part time roles or job-shares for returning mothers and to be honest, I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage the demands of a career as an Engineer alongside the demands of motherhood.
I’d been unhappy in my career for a long time and I knew there was something else I was ‘meant’ to be doing.
After lots of soul searching, I decided to branch out on my own and start my own business, while also raising two small children (my goodness those years were really tough!).
Like so many of us who start our own business, I thought “I’m a smart girl, I’ll figure this business thing out.”
And to my credit I did manage to figure lots of it out and I made a lot of progress.
But there was also so much that I couldn’t figure out.
There was so much conflicting advice and information everywhere.
Every single coach promised they had the magic solution or the ‘silver bullet’ to all my problems.
I burned so much money (and I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars…) on coaching programs, E-courses and private coaches.
But progress was very slow and very frustrating.
After a while I realised that I wasn’t making anywhere near the kind of money I wanted to be making and I had no idea how to position myself or package myself up to generate a consistent income.
There were so many times when I was close to giving up and going back and getting a J-O-B….
The more that time went on, my confidence started to drop and within a couple of years I was wallowing in major self-doubt and self-criticism, wondering if I’d ever make it on my own.
My husband started hinting that I should go back and get a job in engineering again.
And then all of a sudden, out of the blue, a Facebook advertisement showed up in my Facebook feed about a free workshop for women in business, focusing on social media and marketing strategy.
And it was run by Marnie LeFevre, founder of Fempire.
I hadn’t heard of Marnie LeFevre at the time, but her messaging spoke to me and something called me to sign up for the free workshop.
It was the best thing I ever did.
Marnie’s free workshop explained so much of the mystery around business building.
It helped me understand why I’d been struggling so much, and what I needed to do about it.
She gave practical tips and strategies to help me on my way.
But perhaps the most beautiful thing for me was that I finally felt supported – I’d finally found my tribe.
I was so tired of doing it on my own…
And the fact that Marnie had created a sisterhood of women in business who support each other to succeed felt like such a relief.
I went up to the back of the room at the end of her presentation and waited to speak to her (along with many, many other women!)
I’ll never forget my first interaction with Marnie.
I told her about my business and how I’d been struggling, but also how big my vision was and how badly I wanted to succeed.
She looked straight into my eyes and said:
“I can see you have what it takes but you lack self-confidence.
You just need someone to believe in you.
And I can be that person for you until you can believe in it yourself.”
WOW… my eyes filled with tears.
She was so right.
I’d lost all belief in myself. I had no self-confidence left.
And just knowing that she believed in me, without even knowing me, filled me with so much hope and optimism.
Needless to say, I signed up for Marnie’s 3-day Fempreneur course, and then signed on to be mentored by her for 12 months. I can’t tell you the relief I felt to finally get really solid, practical advice to grow my business in a way that actually worked.
Fast forward two years and now here I am, working with Marnie as a Fempire Coach and loving every minute.
My whole life changed with that one decision to attend her workshop.
I feel blessed that I now get to help so many women who are in that place of feeling stuck and confused, just as I was, and I get to help them move into a place of momentum, flow, and business success.
We all need a good mentor.
Do you have one?
Do you have someone who can believe in you until you can believe it yourself?
If not, please reach out.
Our passion and mission is to empower women like you who need someone to help and guide you along the path of building a thriving, profitable business.
If you haven’t already, reach out for a free Discovery Call to see if we’re the right people to provide you the support you need.
Maybe our programs will be the transformation that you need to get where you want to go.
If you’re feeling lonely, stuck, and confused, let’s chat!
Your strengths are more than just the things you’re good at.
Each and every person has a unique ‘zone of natural genius’ and you’ll feel fulfilled and satisfied if you spend the bulk of your days working in your zone of genius.
Just because you’re good at something, doesn’t mean it’s a ‘strength’. A true strength is an activity you do with a high level of ease and competency, and it also leaves you feeling energised and fulfilled at the end of it.
If you’re not operating in your zone of genius, you’ll easily feel drained and frustrated at the end of a workday.
That was my story for the best part of fifteen years.
When I was nearing the end of high school, I was advised by Career Counsellors and many other well-intentioned people that I should pursue Science or Engineering as a profession because I was good at maths & science. But I was only good at those subjects because I poured endless hours of study, sweat, and tears into them. I knew that maths & science were highly valued by my school and by my parents (my father was an Engineer), and being the chronic people-pleaser that I was back then, I slogged away to make sure I got good grades.
But no one ever asked me if I actually liked maths & science – I didn’t.
I actually kind of dreaded them. And it didn’t seem to matter to anyone else that technical subjects didn’t come naturally to me. They felt hard and heavy. My brain was more wired for Literature, Languages, and Social Sciences. Those subjects felt natural, fun, and easy for me. But after being told countless times that I would never find a well-paying job in the Humanities, I decided I should follow the overwhelming advice to study Science & Engineering and guarantee myself a career of financial security. So that’s what I did.
And then I spent the good part of fifteen years feeling miserable.
I poured everything I had into my career, but it never felt quite right. I would come home from work feeling exhausted and empty. It was deeply frustrating that I never felt completely fulfilled by my work. I felt lost and confused, continuously searching for ways to make my career feel better, but no amount of tweaking of my career gave me the satisfaction I was craving. I started developing chronic illnesses that wouldn’t go away and I was eventually diagnosed with chronic fatigue, which I struggled with for many years.
And then one day I hit burn out, and I couldn’t go on anymore. I knew I had to step away from my career as a professional Engineer altogether.
I now know that your strengths are so much more than just the things you’re good at. And the only way to feel completely fulfilled and satisfied in your work is to find and operate in your own unique Zone of Genius.
And it’s all because I consciously chose to operate in my Zone of Genius.
So how do you operate in your Zone of Genius?
Marcus Buckingham has done great work in the fields of Strengths Analysis. In his book Go Put Your Strengths to Work, he defines four signs of a true strength, which happen to follow the acronym of S-I-G-N.
The Four Signs of a True Strength.
S is for SUCCESS
A strength is an area in which you achieve success or a high level of proficiency with relative ease. And you’re able to sustain great performance over time. And they’re also the areas in which you’ll improve the most as your train and practice your craft.
I is for INSTINCT
Your strengths have an “I-can’t-help-but” quality to them. Maybe you can’t quite articulate why, but you find yourself drawn to particular activities repeatedly. For example, even though I was studying science and engineering at University, I always loved going into New Age bookstores to read anything and everything I could about spirituality, philosophy and personal growth. I did Reiki courses in my spare time and I was constantly drawn to anything that discussed psychology, finding your purpose, and metaphysics. It wasn’t until much later that I could see how all of these seemingly (at the time) unrelated topics formed the basis for my love of Coaching. What are some of the things you find yourself being drawn to repeatedly? Where does your instinct lead you?
G is for GROWTH
Buckingham discusses how, from a neurological perspective, ‘intelligence’ in a certain area develops through the creation of thick branches of ‘synaptic connections’ in your brain. Neuroscientists have now established that a strength is an area where your brain made large connections very naturally and easily; larger than other areas.
Nature has a habit of piggy-backing on existing infrastructure, meaning that you’ll grow the most new ‘synaptic connections’ (i.e. brain capacity or ability) in those areas where you already have the most existing ones. You will learn the most, come up with the most new ideas and have the best insights in areas where you already have a natural affinity.
Since you can’t peer inside your brain to see where these thick branches of brain connections already exist and what they relate to, you have to look for the signs yourself. What does a thick branch of synaptic connections feel like? According to Buckingham, it feel like this:
“It feels easy. It feels like you’re not trying very hard. It feels like an activity that, for some reason, proved quite simple for you to pick up. You learned it quickly and you find it easy to concentrate on it. You naturally stay focused on it and it feels like time speeds up, and you still stay focused and time speeds up some more. You have to remind yourself to look up at the clock, and when you do, whole hours have flown by while you’ve been completely absorbed in the activity and really enjoying it. It feels like interest, and more, it feels like inquisitiveness. It’s an activity you want to practice, to read up on, to refine with new tricks and techniques, to grow. It feels like true happiness.” – Marcus Buckingham
It’s not that these activities are without effort. There is almost certainly effort. But it feels, seemingly, effortless. You feel challenged, but in just the way you like to be challenged. You actually want to concentrate. And when you do, you lose your regular perspective and you become immersed. You become lost in the activity for a long moment.
The final sign of a strength stands for needs. Whereas the Instinct sign refers to how you feel before you engage in the activity, and the Growth sign relates to your feelings during the activity, the Needs sign points to how you feel right after you’ve done it. Some activities just seem to fill in an innate need of yours. When you’re done with them, you may feel physically tired. But you don’t feel psychologically drained. Instead, you feel fulfilled, empowered, restored, the exact opposite of drained. It’s a satisfying feeling, but it’s also much more than mere satisfaction. It feels authentic. It feels right.
Here’s a summary of Buckingham’s SIGN acronym for true strengths:
When you do it, you feel effective, proficient, competent: The S (Success) of SIGN.
You actively look forward to doing it: The I (Instinct) of SIGN.
You feel inquisitive, focused and satisfied while doing it: The G (Growth) of SIGN.
You feel fulfilled and authentic after completing it: The N (Needs) of SIGN.
I hope this insight has helped you look at your strengths differently. It’s so important to know what your strengths are. If you can begin to build your awareness of the activities that contain these four qualities for you, you can more consciously align your job or career around your true strengths. And as a consequence, you’ll enjoy more flow, satisfaction, and fulfillment in your day-to-day work. And this is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
There’s a path that’s perfect for you… let me help you find it.
– Kate De Jong
It’s been many years since I left my corporate career and took the leap of faith to follow my heart.
When I finally realised that I not only wanted, but needed, to quit my career, there were no career coaches or mentors I knew who could guide me through the process of transition. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I only knew that continuing on my current path was no longer an option. Fumbling along on my own, my transition was filled with more doubt, fear, and uncertainty than was necessary. And this is why I’m now so dedicated to being a guide for you, to help you avoid the struggle I went through, and to help you transition into a life you love with ease, grace and, most of all – joy.
Are you living fully in alignment with your personal truth, both personally and professionally?
Are you walking your true path?
What is your ‘true path’? I define it like this.
Your ‘true path’ is the path or vocation that allows you to express yourself fully and to contribute your unique gifts in service to something you care about, while making a positive difference and earning you an abundant, reliable income.
Do you long to feel more fulfilment and joy in your professional life? Do you wish you could wake up each morning excited to jump out of bed and start your day because you absolutely love what you do? Do you wish that your work could energise, uplift, and nourish you? Does all of that sound wonderful, but also like an impossible dream? If so, I’m here to tell you that it might be closer within your reach than it seems, and I’m here to guide you there.
I know how painful it feels to wake up each morning with a sense of dread, knowing that you have a busy day ahead with so many meetings to attend, deadlines to meet and different balls to juggle. And that despite how ‘busy’ and full your days are, you still won’t be able to escape that nagging feeling of emptiness inside.
If you’re tired of the struggle and you yearn for something different, it’s time.
Your feelings of frustration and emptiness are a signal that you’ve wandered off your true path. Prolonged struggle and frustration are not noble, admirable or necessary. If you’d tried to tell me that seven years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’d grown up hearing constant messages like “Success takes hard work, grit, and determination” and “Nothing worth having comes easy”. I had seen my parents work incredibly hard to build their lives and I believed I would have to do the same.
But here’s what I now know: Yes, of course you will have to work hard to achieve your goals and dreams, but if it feels like hard work, you’re probably doing the wrong thing. When you follow your heart and do what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, it won’t feel like hard work. It feels easy, joyful and fun. But you’ll find that you’ll want to work hard, because you love what you do.
There’s no ‘struggle’ on your true path, just committed and inspired action that feels good!
Take some time to tune into how you feel about your work right now. Do you look forward to getting stuck into your work each day? Or do you feel a certain level of anxiety about it? Does your work inspire and uplift you? Or does it bore you or tax you too heavily? Does it feel light, easy and joyful? Or does it feel constricting and heavy? Does your work fill you with a sense of purpose and meaning? Or is it something you do to pay the bills? You’ll know if you’re on your ‘true path’ or not – and if you’re not, what I’m about to tell you will help you find it.
How to Find and Walk Your True Path
“Sometimes your hear a voice through the door calling you… This turning toward what you deeply love saves you” – Rumi
Step 1: Turn and Face the Longing
The first thing you need to do in the quest to find your true path is turn and face the longing. This is hard for many of us; I know it was for me. I felt scared that if I surrendered to my deepest desires, I’d be completely overtaken by them. I had responsibilities and obligations after all. I had bills and a mortgage to pay, savings and superannuation plans to build, and a rising cost of living to cover. Over the years, the ‘Golden Handcuffs’ had kept my straying heart at bay, with financial benefits and bonuses rewarded to me in exchange for my loyalty to the company. How could I possibly give that up to follow my heart’s wild impulses?
As Oprah says in her book O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose “Concerns about money and status long ago extinguished most people’s ability to think authentically about their career options.” I’d been so caught up in my perceived obligations and expectations from others that I’d learned to suppress my heart’s desires at all cost.
In my ‘Moment of Clarity’ I’d finally realised that my constant effort to suppress my authentic desires was the cause of all my feelings of emptiness and depletion.
It took an enormous amount of courage to walk away from all the financial security into the fire of risk and uncertainty, to surrender to those deep desires.
But I haven’t regretted it for a second. The feelings of freedom and satisfaction I now feel are indescribable. With the right guidance and support and a pragmatic risk management plan in place, you can navigate the process of career transition with grace and ease and set yourself up financially relatively quickly. When you do what you love, the money will flow. I have seen this happen too many times with my clients to think otherwise.
If you hear your heart whispering but feel too afraid of the risks involved, I urge you to ask yourself this question:
What is the cost to you of not following your heart?
How is your current career direction impacting your health, your happiness, your relationships, your family life, your freedom, your ability to have fun and enjoy life, and your sanity? Try to imagine how you will feel at the end of your life about the decisions you’ve made. In Bronnie Ware’s famous blog article Regrets of the Dying she describes the number one top regret of her elderly patients as:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.
You have a choice. You can choose to commit to following your heart and doing whatever it takes to be true to yourself. Or you can live with the whispers in your heart for the rest of the days and wonder what it would have been like if you’d had the courage to follow them. Which one do you choose?
Don’t be afraid. Turn and face the longing.
If you truly wish to live a life that is fulfilling, joyful, rewarding, deeply satisfying and abundant, you must start to listen to the whispers. Your desires contain the seeds of your calling. Yes, your path will be challenging at times like every path in life, but the rewards will be greater than anything you could ever imagine. You’ll feel profound levels of joy, freedom, prosperity and satisfaction when you make the decision to find and walk your true path, full out.
Step 2: Start the Process of Figuring Out What You Really Want to Do.
So, what do you really want to do? That’s the million dollar question! And it’s not one we’re easily able to answer. If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably heard the whispers in your heart and you know you can’t ignore them any longer. And yet you don’t have enough clarity to know what those whispers mean and how they could possibly translate into a new career direction. It’s very difficult to decipher the whispers and yearnings to know what you really want. As the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow once said:
It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement. – Abraham Maslow
So don’t be discouraged if you feel lost and confused; it’s completely normal.
I know how difficult it can be to feel the longing for a more joyful and fulfilling professional life, and at the same time to have no idea how to make sense of the longings to create a new career direction that really is the right direction.
The last thing you want to do is give up your current career and financial security to follow a brilliant idea you have, only to find out that your new direction doesn’t leave you feeling truly happy and fulfilled either.
So before you take the leap of faith to forge a new career path, take the time to do some deep self-reflection to uncover the four elements that are critical to finding your true path.
Your True Path or Purpose: Where your natural ability meets your true nature, your passion, and your ability to meet a societal need (profit).
You’ll know when you’ve found your purpose: You’ll find unlimited creative energy, motivation, inspiration, dedication, devotion and a deep and lasting sense of satisfaction and fulfilment.
Finding your professional purpose feels like coming home.
It connects you to something fundamental to your sense of identity, purpose, and well-being. Living in this zone provides a sense of self-revelation, of defining and expressing who you really are and you finally know – without a shadow of a doubt – that this is what you’re ‘meant’ to be doing with your life. There’s a feeling of devotion and obsession, almost. Many people who finally find their unique calling describe it as an ‘epiphany’.
Step 3: Clarity Comes Through Consistent, Inspired Action.
If you’re waiting to find out exactly what your calling is before you start to take action, you might end up waiting forever. You’ll only discover what you’re ‘meant’ to do by getting out there and trying different things. You might have lots of wonderful ideas, but it’s not until you actually engage in them that you discover whether they really are the foundation of your true calling. When experimenting with different ideas, be sure to pay close attention to what lifts your energy and excites you and to keep moving in that direction. If you try something and realise it’s not what you thought it would be, that’s OK and completely normal. Try to view the whole exercise of finding your calling as one of trial and error, adventure and discovery.
There is no failure, only feedback.
All feedback is useful and helpful. But don’t quit your job and pin all your hopes on a big idea you have before you’ve had a chance to test it out. The big question I often get asked is “When is the right time to quit my job?” This will depend entirely on your unique situation and the answer is different for everyone. If you’re happy (enough) where you are to try different ideas while still holding down your full-time job, that is the best option. Try to provide yourself with as much financial stability as you can while experimenting so that you don’t have the stress of finances while trying to find your way. If you want to break free and go it alone, figure out how much money you’ll need to cover your cost of living for at least six months and make sure you can cover it before you throw yourself into the new venture.
It takes time to build momentum and get traction.
Inform yourself as much as you can about your idea or new career direction. Read up on everything you can and better still, talk to people who are already working in the fields you’re interested in. You’ll find that most people are happy to let you buy them a coffee in exchange for some insight into what their job is like and what a typical day looks like. Dave Evans and Bill Burnett call these Life Design Interviews, where you interview people with the intent to find out more information about different vocations. A wonderful by-product of these conversations is a valuable network and connections in fields you’re interested in.
Don’t jump into a new venture without first informing yourself fully. Research, investigate and talk to as many people as is humanly possible.
Step 4: Leap!
As scary as it sounds, at some stage you will have to take the leap of faith and dedicate all your time and resources to your new career direction. This feels incredibly scary, I know. Something I’ve discovered since quitting my corporate career in 2011 to build my own thriving coaching practice is this:
Fear and excitement are in constant tension on your true path.
You’ll be called to do things you haven’t done before. You’ll have to jump without knowing whether you’ll land on safe ground. And you must be prepared to feel the fear and do it anyway. In Jenny Blake’s wonderful book Pivot she reminds us “Do not expect courage to rain down from the sky before you make a move. It comes from taking action. Courage will not arrive in full [beforehand]; it will appear afterward, when the confidence from making a life-changing decision settles in… The more courageous action you take connected with your vision and values, the more confident you will feel along the way.”
Step 5: Get the Right Guidance and Support on Your Journey
Finally, remember that you can’t do it alone. We all need guidance, advice, support, cheer leading and mentoring from those who have walked before us. I’ve been so fortunate to have the help and support of many mentors throughout my journey who each provided a valuable piece of the puzzle. It’s thanks to their wisdom and guidance that I’ve managed to build my thriving coaching practice that allows me to do what I love and love what I do while helping countless men and women to find their true path and live the life of their dreams. If you feel stuck and need help, I’m here for you! Please do get the guidance you need. I know how frustrating it is to feel lost and stuck, and it’s not necessary!
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to help you navigate through the fear, doubt and uncertainty into your ‘zone of magic’ where your clarity, confidence, and abundance reside.
I’m sure you’ve heard the famous quote allegedly said by Confucius, the Chinese teacher, politician, and philosopher who lived more than 2500 years ago.
Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work another day in your life. – Confucius
It sounds so easy. And yet the seemingly simple task of “choosing a job you love” is, in reality, not so easy at all. Maybe you’ve also struggled with finding a career you love. If so, you’re not alone. A Gallup study of more than 140 countries in 2011/2012 showed that only 13 percent of employees worldwide are actively “engaged” in their jobs, or emotionally invested in their work and focused on helping their organizations improve.
How is it possible that so many of us spend a third of our lives in jobs we don’t even like? Not to mention how incredibly inefficient we must be collectively when 87% of the workforce worldwide is, at best, not motivated or exerting any effort.
The benefits of doing work you love are well documented and a quick Google search returns hundreds of articles telling you why you should love your professional life.
But it’s not that easy to find work you love. Here’s why.
1. Our Education Systems Don’t Prepare Us to Make Effective Career Choices.
Learning how to manage your career is a lifelong process that needs to start early on in secondary school – but rarely does. Imagine if, for example, during Math in high school, you learned about professions that include Math like Weather Prediction, Construction, Space Travel, Astronomy, and Global Economic Analysis, just to name a few. Would you be a little more excited to attend those dreaded classes?
We currently emerge from school with little to no idea about how the subjects we’ve studied relate to professions in the real world. And we’re not armed with essential life skills like self-awareness, emotional intelligence, or career management skills. So how can we be expected to make effective career choices?
There’s an art to finding the right career path. If you, like most of us, weren’t given appropriate guidance on how to find your ideal path, it’s not too late. But it requires deep self-reflection and a willingness to ask yourself some hard questions. I define 4 P’s that are essential elements in finding your meaningful path – your Personality, your Proficiency, your Passion, and Profit. The area where these four different characteristics overlap is your Purpose, or ‘Big Why’ – i.e. your reason for getting out of bed in the morning. When you find your Big Why, you tap into an infinite well of energy, inspiration, and grit that fuels you forward. To learn more about the art of finding the right career path, click here.
2. Reality Can Be Different From Our Preconceived Ideas.
You’re asked to choose a career path when you’re young, with limited life experience, and with little idea of what many career paths are actually like on a day-to-day basis. The reality of many professions is that they’re very different from the idealistic fantasies we might have about them. And if you choose a certain path only to discover it’s not what you thought, it’s hard to change your mind after you’ve spent years attaining the appropriate qualifications and accumulated large amounts of student debt.
What To Do Instead
Before you lock yourself into any particular professional path, get out and talk to as many people as you can who are already working in the fields you’re interested in. Do your research. Get direct work experience if you can, even if you’re ‘pivoting’ in your current career. One of the best ways to determine fact from fiction and discover what you really love is to follow Dave Evans and Bill Burnett’s Life Design Principles so that you can actively create a career path that you love.
3. We Prioritise Extrinsic Values Over Our Own Intrinsic Values.
Extrinsic values are things that your external world (i.e. society, family, friends etc.) deem to be important, while your intrinsic values are the things that are important to you personally. Particularly when we’re young, we tend to place a lot more importance on extrinsic values.
But the definition of success is personal and different for everyone. It takes self-awareness and often deep soul-searching to figure out exactly what your intrinsic values are. But one thing is for sure, you won’t be able to find or build a career you love if you don’t know specifically what’s important to you and how you measure success, personally.
What To Do Instead
Take the time to understand what happiness and success mean for you personally. If you could imagine your dream workday, what would that look like? What kinds of activities would you be engaged in and how would you be interacting with other people? Discover your most cherished values and make sure that the career path you choose aligns with them and allows you to express them fully.
4. Let’s Face it, Good Career Advice Hasn’t Always Been Easy to Come By.
Back in my day, the school Careers Counsellor attempted to fit your personality and skills into a certain box of limited choices. I was told that because I was good at Math and Science (even though I hated them), I should pursue science and engineering (that ended badly). One of my friends who is now a thriving creative entrepreneur was told by her school Careers Counsellor that she should either be a prison warden or a police officer. There is so much more to choosing a meaningful career than simply looking at your grades or doing simple psychometric tests. Finding the right career path is about getting all aspects of your nature playing together in harmony.
5. We’re Taught to Doubt Our Own Intuition and Self-Belief.
You came into this world with perfectly intact self-belief (believing you can do anything) and intuition (the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning). But you’re taught from a young age to doubt these essential qualities. It’s no wonder we feel unhappy and lost when we become disconnected from them, drifting around in a sea of other people’s opinions and ideas and a world trying to make us believe we’re not enough to make our dreams come true.
What To Do Instead
If you’ve become disconnected from your intuition, don’t worry, you can reconnect to it again if it’s your intention to do so. You can do this by spending time in quiet reflection, by going for walks in nature, or whatever it takes to get you into a peaceful, meditative state. It’s in those quiet moments that your intuition whispers to you (read more here). You’ll know when you’ve received intuitive guidance because you’ll suddenly feel an urge to do something that just feels right, even if a little scary. The next step is to believe that you have whatever it takes to do what your intuition is urging you to do.
As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know once you’ve found the career path that’s right for you.
Finding the right path creates a state of mind that transforms your life. Having a deep connection to your work makes you happy and gives you the motivation to keep going even when times get tough, leading to higher levels of success and satisfaction. It’s a positive, upward spiral that has beneficial ripple effects into all areas of your life.
Originally featured in Ariana Huffington’s THRIVE GLOBAL on June 29 2018.
I see you.
There’s an inextinguishable fire in your belly to make a positive difference.
Maybe you don’t fully understand why, but you feel it, without a doubt.
You know the world’s predicament and you wish you could do more.
It pains you to see how far we’ve drifted collectively from the things that sustain and nourish us.
You know there’s a better way.
And you’re determined to help steer this big ship called humanity back onto the right course.
You must keep playing your part. The world needs you.
Live by these 10 rules to leave your unique mark on the world.
1. You Change the World By Being the Happiest Version of Yourself.
You don’t have to do huge or amazing things to change the environment around you. You have a positive impact by being the happiest version of yourself. You know this to be true when you’re in the presence of someone who’s authentic, happy, and lit up from the inside. Their enthusiasm and positive energy ripple outward and you can’t help but be uplifted when you’re around them. They inspire you to be more and do more.
When you live in full alignment with your values, you feel happy. Happiness is a choice, and you can choose to be happy by being true to who you are. It’s not easy, but it’s possile.
Your job is to be you and be you fully.
You know how it is when you’re in the presence of someone who’s negative or pessimistic, right? It’s draining. You can literally feel it impacting your energy. Be the person who’s happy from within and positively impacts everyone they come into contact with.
Whether you believe you’re someone destined to impact millions, or whether you know intuitively that your purpose is to nurture and inspire the small circle within which you orbit, you need to find what your unique purpose is. There are so many ways you could help change the world for the better, but you can’t do it all. Find the particular area that you feel called to change and throw everything you’ve got at it. You’ll be more impactful when you’re laser-focused and clear about your unique mission.
What’s the unique mark you want to leave on the world?
Make peace with the past. Get help if you need to. Make your personal growth your priority. Cultivate genuine self-awareness. People are far more willing to listen when you come from a place of compassion, understanding, and non-judgment. Try to see all sides of a situation and be willing to seek win-win solutions.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
4. Focus on What’s Going Right, Not What’s Going Wrong.
Nothing beneficial comes from complaining and whining about what’s not right. Expressions of anger, resentment, and self-righteousness cause people and organisations to get defensive and protective, and that’s not a place from which you can effect change. Put your attention instead on what’s working.
Appreciating the positives generates goodwill. It’s motivating and uplifting. And it’s the place from which true change can emerge.
5. Pay it Forward.
As a changemaker, it’s your job to be a catalyst for those around you. Display random acts of kindness. Just as a rude person can destroy your day, a friendly smile or gesture from a stranger can change someone’s day for the better. Count your blessings and pay them forward whenever you can.
6. Know and Protect Your Boundaries.
It’s not possible to ‘be the change’ if you’re feeling tired, depleted, or frustrated because your needs aren’t being met. It’s not selfish to set healthy boundaries and protect them fiercely – it’s essential. Put your own needs first. This is the highest act of self-love. And when you feel good, all those around you benefit too. If in doubt, refer back to Rule #1.
To be effective and impactful, you need to operate in your ‘Zone of Genius’. The world needs those special gifts that you have, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you. Get serious about discovering your unique strengths and find a way to contribute them in service to your unique purpose.
Don’t let yourself get in your own way. All those little voices inside that tell you that you’re “not good enough”, or “smart enough”, or “good-looking enough” are BS. It’s your primitive ego talking whose job is to keep you safe and comfortable at all costs. But the magic happens outside your comfort zone.
Your path won’t always be easy. But trust that those experiences are created to teach you specific qualities that enable you to grow and to do your specific work in the world. Your greatest insight can come from your deepest suffering. The greatest human achievements have come after immense and enduring pain.
Trust that everything is unfolding exactly as it should.
You’re right where you’re meant to be, and you’re always being held and guided towards your highest good.
10. Find Your Tribe and Collaborate
Find the people and organizations who share your values and ideals and then connect and collaborate with them. Don’t try to operate in isolation. Recognize that when you collaborate, a nеw energy іѕ сrеаtеd that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. Reach out. Ask for help. Get yourself a mentor. Start discussions. Let camaraderie and teamwork be your goal. Keep your focus on the bigger picture and recognize that true power lies in doing it together.
No act is too small to make a difference.
And never underestimate the ripple effect of your actions.
Are you living your truth?
Palliative nurse Bronnie Ware famously wrote in her original blog ‘The Top Regrets of the Dying’ that the #1 regret of dying people is: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
“Everything is unfolding exactly as it should. You’re exactly where you’re meant to be.”
That’s what several well-intentioned people said to me (or words to that effect) when I was in the middle of my ‘dark night of the soul’ in my mid-thirties.
And those words enraged me.
Because it felt like nothing was going as it should. How was I ‘meant’ to be so miserable?
Why did my life feel so difficult and heavy?
This was not how I had ever imagined my life to be.
Very far from it.
How and when did everything go so wrong?
But, of course, I see now that it was unfolding exactly as it should. I can see that I indeed was exactly where I was meant to be, as impossible as that seemed at the time. Because if it hadn’t been for that period of my life, I wouldn’t have undergone the necessary metamorphosis that changed my life for the better.
My body had been trying to tell me for years, via chronic illness and fatigue, that I was on the wrong path. But I wouldn’t listen. The more I ignored the signs, the louder they became. It finally took a sledgehammer of painful personal experiences to wake me up to the truth of what needed to be done (you can read more about my rude awakening here).
Following my ‘moment of truth’, as I call it, I knew that I had to quit my career of almost 15 years as an engineer. It wasn’t easy walking into my manager’s office to tell him that I was leaving. No one could fathom why I was making this drastic decision. I’d invested enormous amounts of time, energy, emotion, sweat, and tears into my career from the age of 18. I’d finally built up an admirable reputation that established me as an authority in my field.
I wished I could be like my colleagues who seemed content with their professional life. I was never content; always searching for a new role, or a new project, that would allow me to finally feel the fulfilment and satisfaction I was seeking. But it got to the point where I knew in my heart that no amount of tweaking of my current professional career would get me whatever it was I was looking for.
Quitting was the only option if I was going to recover my health, my well-being, and my sanity.
Following my departure from the corporate world, I went through a long identity crisis as I tried to uncover who I really was, peeling back back the layers of my ego that had been heavily invested in being ‘an engineer’ and ‘an important professional woman’.
Who was I if I wasn’t those things?
I enrolled in every single course that crossed my path on ‘how to find your purpose’ and spent hours in therapy, trying to understand how I’d strayed so far from my true self and what to do about it. At times I wondered if I would ever figure it all out. I felt completely lost and confused. A turning point came during Jean Houston’s visionary program ‘Living Your Destiny’. We were asked to look at our lives through the lens of The Hero’s Journey. It was the first time I considered that perhaps there was meaning in my journey and my suffering. I came to the powerful realisation that:
When you take the time to stand back and look at the bigger picture of your life, you see a beautiful tapestry of purpose and meaning, woven together by all the different threads of your life experiences. It’s our job to pay attention to the different threads weaving through our lives and to try to understand the larger tapestry that is emerging.
And just as there can be no light without the darkness, each and every difficult situation and each emotional wound we experience on our path is necessary to bring out the contrast and texture of the final picture.
My decade-long set of struggles had been necessary preparation for the work I was ‘meant’ to do. Given that my biggest wound had been the struggle to feel happy and aligned in my professional path, I felt that it was my mission to become a ‘Purpose Coach’, helping people find their path and purpose so they can love their professional life and thrive.
It felt right in my heart.
And so I took the leap of faith to set up my coaching business.
And for the first couple of years, it was great. I developed a process to help people find their purpose, which I trialled on several different clients with great success.
The positive testimonials started to build and it felt great to be doing my thing and earning money on my own terms. I was ‘living my dream’.
Until everything started to feel really hard again.
I’ve wondered whether I’m really cut out to be an entrepreneur.
Maybe I should just go back and ‘get a real job’ again?
Maybe I wasn’t meant to do this after all?
I mean, I knew my new path wouldn’t be easy. But I never expected it to be this hard.
I was really struggling to make it work. I wasn’t “thriving and making a difference doing work I love” – the rally cry in all my personal branding and marketing. I wasn’t making anywhere near the amount of money that I was preaching to others was possible.
Talk about feeling like a fraud.
But now, once again, I find myself marvelling at the miracle of how everything unfolds exactly as it should. I had been intensely resisting the struggles in my business, feeling like “I should have it all figured out by now”. I was pushing, forcing, and getting increasingly angry that I didn’t have it all down to a fine art after three years in business. It got to the point where I got down on my knees and I prayed:
“OK Universe, if I’m meant to be doing this, I need some guidance.
Please help me.”
Soon after, the guidance came. In a moment of frustration, I had stepped away from my computer to go and lie outside in the sun. As I lay there on our outdoor lounge, a series of events flooded my memory in rapid succession.
I’m 15 years old and I’m in our Science classroom, peering into the fridge to look at the agar plates that we’ve inoculated with mold from an old, decaying orange. Penicillin mold has started to grow and I’m amazed that someone once figured out that this mold could save the lives of millions of people worldwide as an antibiotic. How cool that you can discover something that saves so many lives?
I’m 17 years old, standing on the banks of the Rio Parana in Paraguay, South America, as an exchange student all the way from Australia. Upstream, a large concrete factory is pumping its waste into the river while downstream, my friends and host-family are washing and bathing. I stare in horror as I watch the plumes of toxic waste flow right into the bay where everyone is bathing. I’m outraged and think to myself, “One day I’m going to do something about this.”
I’m 23 years old and I’m working as a Research Scientist with a big mining company on a biological mining process that has the potential to be way more environmentally friendly than traditional methods. But despite our best efforts, the economics don’t stack up. I feel frustrated and disheartened that our economic system doesn’t have a way to quantify the damage we cause to nature. Why can’t we see the long-term damage we’re doing for short-term profit?
I’m working part-time on a project in Indonesia with Engineers Without Borders to provide clean water to a large community in northeastern Bali. I feel such joy and satisfaction when after four long years we finally celebrate the completion of our successful project through close collaboration with the local people. This is what makes my heart sing.
I’m 34 and I’m a Consulting Water Engineer. I’m giving a presentation to the Executives of a large Water Utility about how we can better plan our water treatment systems to be more sustainable. One manager makes an off-hand comment about how I’m simply trying to ‘win work’ for my company, and they decline to consider the ideas in our Strategic Plan. Again I feel utterly disheartened. Why don’t they seem to care about doing the right thing?
I’m in my mid-thirties I walk away from my career as a Consulting Engineer because I’m tired of banging my head against a brick wall. I have an inextinguishable fire in my belly to make a positive difference in the world. But I feel utterly impotent and powerless. And I’m exhausted and unwell.
As these memories flooded my awareness, one after another, I realised that so much frustration in my life had been because I desperately wanted to make a positive difference. But it had gotten to the point where I realised that I had a lot of work to do on myself first, before I’d be able to create any kind of lasting change in the outside world. I was a mess and I needed to sort myself out. Suddenly the clarity popped.
I’m a changemaker.
And I’m here to serve heart-centered changemakers.
There it is. So simple. Yet, to me, so powerful.
This clarity has been the catalyst that’s allowed everything in my business to start flowing again, because I finally know who specifically I am here to serve. I’m here to help heart-centered changemakers find and walk their true path. How had I been missing this critical piece? This thread of my life had been so foundational in so many of my life experiences. Why hadn’t I claimed it until now? Once again, life had a larger game plan. There were things that I needed to experience and learn, through contrast and challenge, in order to prepare me for my work as an effective ‘Changemaker’. Without the struggle and challenge, I wouldn’t have reached the level of clarity and inner knowing that I now have.
‘Self-awareness’ is the ability to see ourselves clearly, to understand who we are, how others see us, and how we fit into the world. It’s the conscious knowledge of one’s own personality, character, feelings, and individuality.
Did you know that genuine self-awareness is the greatest gift you can give yourself, your business, and the people in your life?
Here’s why. People with a high level of self-awareness have been shown to be:
More effective leaders with more profitable companies.
Those are pretty compelling reasons to become more self-aware don’t you think?
Self-awareness researcher and expert Dr Tasha Eurich calls self-awareness a ‘meta-skill’ because:
“Self-awareness is the underlying foundation to all of the skills that are required to succeed in the 21st century. It affects your emotional intelligence, influence, persuasion, sales. If you are not self-aware, if you do not understand who you are, how others see you, and the role you play in the world, you are going to come up short.”
According to Dr. Eurich’s extensive research on self-awareness of thousands of people over several years, there are two types of people:
Those who think they’re self-aware (95% of all people).
Those who actually are (10-15% of all people).
That’s a staggering statistic!
Around 85-90% of us are either lying to ourselves, in denial or just not seeing ourselves clearly.
This is why ‘360-degree reviews’ – surveys that allow your managers and colleagues to provide feedback on how you behave in the workplace – can be shocking for many people. Because often, it’s the first time they realize that others do not view them in the same way that they view themselves.
Can you picture someone you know who might be lacking self-awareness? Perhaps they’re easily triggered and prickly, or over-controlling of situations and people, or simply difficult to relate to or to work with. Perhaps they don’t seem very happy.
Now try to picture someone who seems self-aware. Perhaps they’re easy to get along with, accommodating, understanding, consistently positive and able to apologize when they’re at fault. Isn’t it so much easier to work with someone who’s self-aware? Deep self-awareness makes us more rational, more open, more intelligent, and more thoughtful.
According to Ray Van Gilst, the key qualities of someone who is self-aware in the workplace are:
They understand their emotional impact on others (they have high Emotional Intelligence)
They recognize their weaknesses and aren’t afraid to admit them or get support for them.
They lead with their strengths.
They know their limits.
They’re able to anticipate reactions and respond effectively.
But if it turns out you’re one of the 85-90% of people who aren’t self-aware, all is not lost. Self-awareness is a skill that can be learned. If you want to grow your own and/or your team’s self-awareness, you can. You just need to know how.
3 Ways You Can Become More Self-Aware
1. Take at Least 3 Different Personality Tests
Personality tests work by asking you questions about yourself, and then they use your answers to tell you about yourself. Realizing where you fit into the broad spectrum of human behavior can be very enlightening. Knowing yourself intimately gives you more authentic power.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t excavate your subconscious thoughts, beliefs, and feelings on your own. And because so much is hidden from your conscious awareness, you end up inventing answers that feel true, but are often very wrong. Personality tests act like a mirror, reflecting your subconscious world back to you, and bringing it into your conscious awareness so that you can work with it.
There are many personality tests available online, many of them with a free version that allows you to do your basic typing. In my experience, the most helpful tests are The Enneagram, The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, and the DISC Model of Human Behavior. You can learn all about these tests and find the links to the best free versions online in my free E-Book The Happiness Key.
This is critical. You can’t become more self-aware by yourself. You need feedback from other people to help you see the things you can’t see about yourself; your ‘blind spots’. They’re called blind spots for a reason – you can’t see them.
Requesting feedback can be a big, scary step. You might not want to hear how you’re perceived by others, in both positive and negative ways. But this is why 360-degree reviews are so powerful in the workplace; they make people aware of their patterns so they can adapt them and become more effective, relatable, and competent.
If you’re ready to be brave and take the step of requesting feedback, Dr. Eurich recommends these criteria:
Ask the right people. Don’t ask your ‘unloving critics’, or people who are ‘loving but uncritical’ (those for whom you can do nothing wrong.) You need to find ‘loving critics’; the people who have your best interests at heart and are not afraid of telling you the truth you need to hear.
Ask specifically what kind of feedback you want. Which kind of behaviors do you want to know more about and in which area? Give them something tangible to answer rather than a vague question like “What am I like?”
Use the right process and give them context. For example, you could say “I received some 360-degree feedback from my colleagues and I really want to understand it better. Could you give me some honest feedback on the following areas?”
3. Change the word “Why?” to “What”
After researching thousands of people and finding the 10-15% of people who actually are self-aware, Dr. Tasha Eurich noticed a very striking pattern. People who were not self-aware were tended to always ask the question “Why?”. For example, “Why me?” or “Why does she behave that way towards me?” or “Why does that person always behave like that?” Their attention is on the other person and their perceived faults.
Instead, the people who were self-aware looked at themselves and asked how they could adapt in order to improve a situation. For example, “They are really adamant that their way is the only way. I wonder what I can do to help them see other options.”
Armed with these three strategies, you’ll have a much better chance at becoming more self-aware. What is it costing you to remain in the 85-90% of people who are not actually self-aware? Greater levels of fulfillment? More happiness and success? I urge you to try these three steps. They won’t be easy, but they will help you beyond measure. Give yourself the gift of greater self-awareness and watch your life and business soar.
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Kate De Jong, Ph.D Fempire Coach for Thriving Female Entrepreneurs email@example.com www.katiedejong.com
Are you ready to develop your level of self-awareness even further and join the 10-15% of self-aware people who are loving life to the max?
Are you feeling a sense of restlessness in your career and find yourself constantly wondering if perhaps there’s something else you could/should be doing?
Do you ‘like’ your work, but you don’t come home at the end of each day feeling completely fulfilled and satisfied?
If so, you’re not alone. It’s becoming more and more common for professionals to question their career path after a certain amount of time because we get to the point where we think “Is this it?”. We spend such a large portion of our lives working in our jobs, that we want to make sure we spend it doing something we really love, and that feels meaningful.
I spent the best part of fifteen years in a career path that I liked, and I was really good at it, but it drained me (you can read my story here). In my mid-thirties a life-crisis finally forced me to face that fact that I needed to change career paths entirely.
Thankfully, it’s no longer considered reckless to make a complete career switch mid-life and it’s becoming more widely accepted that we may have a couple, if not many, different career paths during our working lives.
In addition to this, the internet has revolutionised the way we work. It’s now possible for everyone, everywhere, to be connected. This global inter-connectivity means that it’s no longer necessary to be bound to a desk or an office to do your work and more and more people are embracing the freedom and flexibility that the internet is offering us. Small start-ups and entrepreneurs are flourishing more than ever before. As this sea of possibility and opportunity is opening up, we’re feeling a call to self-actualise and do something deeply meaningful with our lives.
The great thing about living in these exciting times is that the concept of ‘follow your heart’ is no longer an impossible fantasy.
It’s not an easy decision to leave the comforts and security of a stable career. We all have financial obligations and commitments and it’s simply not always possible to throw caution to the wind and make a big career change, without the assurance that we’re going to make good money while doing it and it’s actually going to give us the fulfilment and meaning we’re chasing. Otherwise, we’ll end up back where we were. So before making a big change, we want to be sure we’re making the right decision.
And this is why I believe it’s so important to find and live your true ‘inspired path’. What do I mean by your ‘inspired path’? This is how I define it:
Your inspired path feels like coming home. All niggling feelings of doubt and frustration are replaced by a deep and lasting sense of fulfillment. You know deep inside that you’re finally doing exactly what you’re ‘meant’ to be doing. It comes with a feeling of sudden clarity, optimism, and energy.
I believe we come into this world already having a sense of what our joyful and meaningful professional path could be, but most of us go through a process of disconnecting from our ‘true self’ at a young age, while trying to become acceptable citizens and to fit into the mould that our society or family imposes on us.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in an environment that encouraged you to nurture and embrace your unique self, it’s likely that you’ve been able to live a life true to your heart and you have a good sense of your true professional purpose. However, if like most of us, you grew up trying to be a ‘good kid’ or to fit the image of success that your environment demanded, you may need some more time to excavate the nature of the specific calling that lights you up and makes you want to jump out of bed each morning, and allows you to be fully you. After years of reflection on this topic and coaching others to find their purpose, I’ve come to believe that the ‘secret’ to finding your true path and purpose is to look for the special zone where the following 4 things overlap:
Figure 1: Your PURPOSE – or BIG WHY – where your natural ability meets your passion and your true nature.
Let me define what I mean by these terms.
Proficiency – a.k.a. Your Strengths
Everyone has many different abilities and skills. But when you’re trying to find your inspired and authentic career path, you need to connect with what I call your natural genius. Everyone – yes, EVERYONE! – has a zone of natural genius. These are the things you’re naturally good at without even trying. The problem is, we’re often blind to the things we’re really good at, because we assume that everyone else finds these things easy too. You might be an excellent organiser, or be able to connect intuitively with animals, or make delicious meals without recipes, or take amazing photos without much effort.
There will be something that you’re extremely good at. Perhaps you discounted it as a child because it wasn’t valued or rewarded in your environment. Perhaps it’s so obvious that you can’t even see it. Or perhaps you haven’t discovered it because you haven’t yet had the opportunity to express it or develop it.
Strengths tests such as the Gallup Strengthsfinder 2.0 can be very helpful in helping you narrow down the areas of your natural genius. But take heart – you absolutely have your own specific zone of natural genius and with a little exploring, you can find it. A good way to start finding your natural genius is to think back to the things that came easily to you as a child. What would your friends ask for help with? What came naturally to you? What would the people in your environment compliment you about? Ask your friends, family and work colleagues what they think you’re good at. Often they can see these things more clearly than we can.
Your personality is your true nature; it’s who you are when you’re being yourself fully.
It’s the type of person you are when you’re not worried about what others think of you, or when you’re in an environment that makes you feel at home and connected to yourself.
There are certain environments that bring out your true nature more than others. Do you know what those environments are for you? Perhaps you love being with animals, or working with antique furniture, or being out on the water, or solving complex technical problems. Perhaps you love being in large groups, or working alone. Perhaps you love drawing, or orienteering, or leading, or coming up with new ideas. It’s important to think here about the things you love doing. When you’re being true to yourself and you’re engaged in activities you love, feelings of joy, happiness and fulfilment emerge as a natural consequence.
Write down all the things you love doing. If you had an abundance of free time, how would you spend it? What are the things you get so completely immersed in that you lose track of time? What are the things in life that bring you joy and satisfaction? Another good exercise is to write down all the ‘high points’ of your life; times when you felt blissful and carefree. What were you doing and where were you? Often those high points contain important clues about your true nature and where your joy lies.
When you’re passionate about something, it means you care very deeply about it. But being passionate about something doesn’t guarantee that you’ll always feels upbeat and joyful.
In fact, in Joseph Campbell’s famous book The Power of Myth he explains that the Greek root of the word passion translates to suffering. Annabelle Parr describes beautifully that “Following your passion means choosing a vocation that is so important to you, so vital to your being that you’re willing to suffer for it.” She goes on to define passion as being “where fulfilment, growth, joy and change exist”. Your passion will push you to your growth edge and force you to fully develop and express your gifts which can feel scary, challenging and very difficult at times. But through this unfolding of your full potential, while being in service to something you care about, you’ll naturally feel deeply fulfilled and satisfied throughout this process of growth and change.
A good place to start looking for things you’re passionate about is to find those things that evoke an emotional response in you when you’re watching TV, listening to the radio, or hearing others talk. What breaks your heart the most in the world? What would you most love to dedicate your precious time and resources to? Studies have shown that people who feel most fulfilled are those who are giving their gifts in service to something larger than themselves, to something they care about. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can about things that you’re passionate about. Write them down.
Of course, in order for your purpose to be a true, sustainable livelihood it must generate a reliable and abundant income for you. So you need to find a way to integrate all the aspects of your purpose into something that people need and will happily pay for. But don’t worry, this part comes very easily when your intention is to be of service to others and to contribute something valuable to society. Where there is a genuine need met or a positive outcome generated from your work, people will gladly pay you for your help.
Bringing It All Together
The key now is to reflect on your answers and to see where and how these different parts of you might overlap. Brainstorm different ideas or vocations that would incorporate the three different areas. At this stage it’s important that you don’t limit yourself – wild and crazy ideas are very welcome at this point! You have to think wild and crazy before you can locate what feels ‘right’. Make a list of all the ideas you can think of. I highly recommend LiteMind’s technique of writing a‘list of 100’to do this properly. Also, think of your role models and people you admire and use what they do to inspire your ideas. A good litmus test for any idea you come up with is to ask yourself if it would bring you great joy, if it’s aligned with one of your deepest passions, and if it would allow you to fully express and develop your natural genius.
Finding your purpose connects you to something fundamental to your sense of identity and well-being. Living in this zone provides a sense of self-revelation, of defining and expressing who you really are and you finally know – without a shadow of a doubt – that this is what you’re ‘meant’ to be doing with your life. There’s a feeling of devotion and obsession, almost. Many people who finally find their unique calling describe it as an ‘epiphany’. You might start to feel unfulfilled, empty, burned out or lost when you find yourself in one of the following three situations:
1. You have passion and ability, but no joy
You might feel deeply passionate about your work and dedicated to making a positive difference in your chosen field. And you might also be naturally very good at the work you do (you’re in your zone of genius). But if it doesn’t feel light and joyful, you’re not in your sweet spot of life and things may often feel like a struggle. When you’ve found your unique calling, you’ll love what you do and the sense of lightheartedness and joy will light you up and fill you with positive energy.
2. You have ability and joy in your work, but no passion
You might be really good at what you do, and love doing it. For some people this is absolutely enough and they lead a happy and content life in this zone. But if you don’t feel completely fulfilled and satisfied, it’s probably because you have a niggling feeling that there’s something more you should be doing with your life; you want to feeltruly passionate about the field you’re working in or the cause you’re contributing to. Many studies have shown that people who feel most fulfilled are those who are giving their gifts in service to something larger than themselves. This is the key to feeling deep and lasting fulfilment. Perhaps you feel like there’s a positive legacy you’re meant to leave, but you don’t know what it is. And you won’t feel truly content until you find it.
3. You feel joy and passion in your work, but you it’s not in your zone of genius
It’s almost impossible to feel fulfilled and deeply satisfied in your work if you have to struggle or work really hard to produce great results. You’ll tend to feel frustrated and demotivated because you’re not operating within your own specific zone of natural genius where things flow easily and effortlessly. In your zone of genius you don’t have to try to be good at your work; it’s what you’re naturally brilliant at anyway.
The problem I had in my professional career of almost 15 years was that I wasn’t operating in my zone of natural genius and my work didn’t feel joyful. I only had one of the circles covered in the diagram above – passion; I was passionate about my field of environmental protection. But despite my passion, the work always felt hard and a struggle and it drained me of energy. As a result, overwhelm eventually turned into chronic fatigue and a perpetual feeling of being on the edge of burnout. I don’t recommend living like this!
You’ll want to have at least three of the four elements covered in your life work (profit, proficiency, personality, and passion). But the intersection where all four overlap is where the real magic happens. This is where you’ll find your inspired professional purpose.
The search for your unique purpose can require a little excavating and digging. The fastest way to uncover your calling is to make space and time in your life right now, to not only get very quiet on a regular basis and connect with your heart, but to also start doing things that come easily to you, that feel joyful or that ignite your passion. Start by doing anything that fits into one of these categories, even if it’s just for ten minutes a day initially. You purpose will start to reveal itself to you as soon as you set the intention and make the commitment to find it, and then start taking actions in the direction of something that feels joyful. If you’re feeling the call to action, go ahead and get started my friend. The rewards and treasures are awaiting you. You won’t be disappointed. And the world needs your precious gifts more than ever right now. You have something incredibly special and valuable to contribute.
As Dr Wayne Dyer always used to say “Don’t die with your music still inside of you”.
Try not to be one of those people who wishes they had taken their dreams seriously when they had the chance! Studies show that the number one regret people have when they’re dying is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” (Bronnie Ware, Palliative Nurse, 2000).
Before we get started on this journey of understanding and harnessing the Law of Attraction to create more of what you want, there are a few things worth mentioning up-front.
Depending on your beliefs and background, what you’re about to learn might challenge you to stretch beyond what you currently believe about who we are and how the world works.
I know that I personally had to shift my own perspective and beliefs in order to embrace what the great spiritual leaders have long been teaching us about Universal Abundance Laws and how they work.
My journey into challenging my own beliefs started when I was in my early twenties. I developed the mystery illness ‘chronic fatigue’, which I suffered for many years. It was a debilitating condition that made me feel continuously exhausted and unwell, affecting my whole life. When medical doctors were unable to help me, I was forced to approach the ‘alternative’ healing sector, which challenged my own beliefs about health and the mind-body-spirit-connection. The key message I needed to embrace in order to heal myself was this:
You are more than just your physical body.
We all have a field of energy around us – which I will refer to as the Human Energy Field. This energetic field extends several feet to several metres beyond our physical skin. All of our physical problems begin with a distortion in this human energy field, predominantly through dysfunctional beliefs about ourselves / others / life, and the longer these distortions persist, the more likely we are to develop a physical symptom. Blockages in our energy field eventually become blockages in our physical bodies. And many of the ‘alternative’ healing methodologies rely on ancient wisdom and knowledge that has been passed down through the generations, which work on improving the human energy field (releasing blockages), in order to heal the physical body.
When I was ill with chronic fatigue I was amazed and surprised at how much benefit I received from alternative healing techniques like Reiki, Tai Chi, energy work, hypnosis and Bioresonance (a technique where distortions in your energy field are measured and corrected). These techniques were so effective for me, which I found hard to rationalise with my logical mind. I now understand that these healing modalities are effective because they work on healing the human energy field, and this healing eventually filters down into the physical body. I also discovered that I was able to impact my own energy field directly through my thoughts, beliefs and my focus of attention, to eventually heal my physical symptoms.
Consistent, negative thoughts become blockages in our energy field, which eventually become blockages at the physical level. And the opposite is also true. Consistent, positive thoughts expand and nourish your energy field, resulting in not only improved health, but also increased levels of abundance, ease, and flow.
In my introductory video below, I talk about major scientific breakthroughs that have confirmed the existence of our human energy field and how we can impact the energy field through our focus of attention.
The key points to understand from my video above are:
You are more than just your physical body.
You are surrounded by an energy field. The existence of this human energy field has been confirmed through MANY scientific experiments and discoveries (some of which I talk about above in my video).
The quality of your energy field (and hence your health and your life experiences) can be directly improved through improving your thoughts, your beliefs and your focus of attention.
You have the power to create more health, vitality, joy, ease, and ABUNDANCE in your life through shifting the quality of your thoughts, beliefs and focus of attention. And in the following three days I’m going to show you how.
Bruce Lipton, Ph.D, has played a key role in raising our awareness of the links between the physical world and the energetic/emotional world. He wrote the famous book THE BIOLOGY OF BELIEF in which he proved that our beliefs impact our health and our DNA.
Here’s what Bruce says::
In The Biology of Belief, Spontaneous Evolution and The Honeymoon Effect I discuss ‘invisible forces’ influencing our lives. Young people who have been exposed to the mind-bending tenets of quantum physics throughout their lives may underestimate the revolutionary nature of its findings. I on the other hand was trained in conventional medicine, which separates the invisible from the visible, the spiritual from the non-spiritual, matter from energy, the mind from the physical body. The truth is that all of those dichotomies have been proven false by quantum physics, which has found that the universe is not as Newtonian physicists or pharmaceutical researchers or atheist scientists have imagined it. Instead, the Universe is as the ancient wisdom of aboriginal cultures conceived it. Aboriginal cultures do not divide the world into rigid categories like rocks, air and humans, for they are all imbued with Spirit, with invisible energy. Matter and energy are completely entangled just as aboriginal cultures knew instinctively and quantum physicists proved. To quote Albert Einstein: “The [invisible] Field is the Sole Governing Agency of the Particle.”
Dr Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.
Cell Biologist, Specialist in Epigenetics, Author of the International Bestseller THE BIOLOGY OF BELIEF and more
So much about your journey into abundance is about being open-minded and allowing yourself to experience life differently. I invite you to keep an open mind and trust that what I am about to share with you really works!
Did you know that the single governing law in our particular Universe is the LAW OF ATTRACTION?
If you want to understand Abundance, you need to understand the LAW OF ATTRACTION. And there’s been a lot of misinformation out there about how this Universal governing law works.
Do you remember all the hype surrounding the movie “THE SECRET” when it came out all those years ago? The movie was all about the Law of Attraction. I really liked the message in the movie, but despite their best intentions, I do feel it comes across a little simplistic and materialistic, telling people they can have whatever house or car they desire if they can just imagine having it. Many people miscontrued the movie to be promoting the idea that “If you want a Ferrari, you just need to visualise yourself owning a Ferrari, put it on a Vision Board and look at it every day, and eventually you will own a Ferrari.”
But I’ve since realized that there’s a little bit more to it than that.
The Law of Attraction teaches you how to be a co-creator in your own life.
The Law of Attraction is basically this: Like attracts like. Whatever you hold in your thoughts, beliefs, and focus of attention, ultimately becomes your reality. So within, so without.
Medical Intuitive Teal Swan calls it the ‘Law of Mirroring’, which means that our reality is simply a mirror of the thoughts we hold internally.
Teal says regularly: “If you focus your thoughts on something, it must show up in your reality.” It’s a Universal Law.
This is how I’ve come to understand that the Law of Attraction works:
Clear Desire + Belief + Trust + Inspired Action
The key is to let your imagination run wild and to feel into what you would really, really like to manifest in your life. And here is the catch – most of us are trained to think a certain way. We have so many beliefs about what we think we can and can’t have, and when we focus on what we would really love to create in our life, we come up against all the internal, negative programming that tells us we can’t have that.
We’re not trained to dream big.
In fact, most of us have been taught to keep our dreams small. But you can strengthen this ‘dreaming muscle’ and over time and it does get easier, especially when you start seeing the signs of what you desire appearing in your life!
When you’re able to imagine having, being or doing something you care about deeply, something that feels joyful and exciting, you create an energetic ‘blueprint’ for what you desire. That blueprint emanates out into your human energy field – setting forth the forces of attraction that bring an energetic match to that blueprint into your reality.
Acting and behaving as though you already have what you want is a surefire way to activate the Law of Attraction, because as Wayne Dyer always said, we attract into our life things that match our current energetic frequency.
When you step back and surrender, and (importantly) believe and trust that you can and will have the thing you desire, then quite miraculously, what you desire starts turning up in your life somehow. Not always straight away (although sometimes it does!). But the steps to reach it will start appearing right in front of you. And when you commit to taking inspired action to make it happen, you help it to manifest in your reality.
It’s called CO-CREATION – intentionally creating what you want through harnessing the Law of Attraction.
‘Inspired Action’ is action that feels fun and joyful. It’s important to pursue actions that feel light, fun, and meaningful because your emotional state is what determines how effective the Law of Attraction will be.
Did you know that different emotions carry different frequencies? There is now scientific evidence that shows that emotions like kindness, love, compassion, and joy cause our human energy field to ‘vibrate’ at higher frequencies than emotions like boredom, sadness, listlessness. And emotions such as anger, hate, and rage vibrate at very low frequencies.
And since ‘like attracts like’, emotions of a higher frequency will attract in life experiences of a higher frequency.
A lot of us have a strange relationship to our desires.
We try to suppress them or keep them small because we believe we shouldn’t want too much and we’re afraid that if we allow ourselves to want something, then we’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t show up.
Getting clear on what you want is not easy for two reasons:
1. You might not know exactly know what you want;
2. You might believe it’s not possible to have what you really want.
However, before we go any further, you must understand this:
1. It’s OK to have big desires! You have them for a reason. They contain the seeds of your most fully expressed life.
2. You’re allowed to have big desires and more importantly – you deserve them. Abundance is your birthright and you’re supposed to claim it.
3. You have FULL permission to desire everything you desire.
If you feel any resistance to the above three points, don’t worry, that’s completely normal; it’s the unconscious programming that has generally taught you the opposite throughout most of your life. Just allow the resistance to be there. But don’t let it deter you!
If you want to intentionally bring more of anything into your life, you first need to get clear on exactly what you want. The clearer you are, the more effectively you can harness the Law of Attraction.
Did you know that we usually have our goal setting process around back-to-front?
When trying to figure out what we want, we usually devise goals that (unconsciously) we think are going to make us feel a certain way. But often it turns out that the goals we devised didn’t actually end up making us feel the way we thought they would. For example, perhaps you feel that when you get a promotion and become a manager and a higher salary, you’ll be able to buy the home you want and finally feel happy. Except when you finally receive that promotion and you have the new home, you realise soon after that you still feel empty and restless inside.
To be more effective in your goal-setting, you first need to uncover how you want to feel – and then devise goals to more intentionally help you feel the way you actually want to feel.
If you’re feeling stuck and you’re not sure how you want to feel, please take a moment to browse through the library of images contained in the Core Desired Feelings Library that contains more than 100 FEELINGS (based on Danielle LaPorte’s original concept of Core Desired Feelings). Getting clear on how you want to feel can be a very powerful way to set goals that really get to the heart of what you want to experience.
Ready for more flow of abundance into your life? Try this!
Choose ONE area of life in which you’d like to experience more abundance, and get very specific about exactly how you want it to manifest.
Clarity of intention is everything in the Law of Attraction.
Task 1 – How do you want to feel?
Think about how you want to feel within the next few weeks/months. If you need help figuring out how you want to feel, be sure to have a browse through the Core desired feelings library.
When you get clear on how you want to feel, write it down. Use 3 – 10 words to describe how you want to feel.
Task 2 – Visualise a goal you would like to manifest
Take a few long, deep breaths and breathe into your belly. Feel it moving in and out.
Now close your eyes and imagine a GOAL that will help you FEEL how you want to feel. Write it down.
Task 3 – Make the goal specific and make it feel good!
Make the goal very specific. If you want to experience more financial freedom, write down how much money you want to make and BY WHEN. The goal needs to feel like an exciting stretch – not too much of a stretch that it feels overwhelming and impossible, but one that would be really fun and exciting to achieve.
If you want to attract someone into your life, get very specific on what that person looks like, what their personality is like, what you love about them and what they love about you. Where do they live and what do they do?
If you want to experience more flow and abundance in your business, what would that look like specifically? How many clients would you like each month or how many programs would you need to sell, and how easily would you find those people? Get specific on how your business would look and feel.
Remember, the more specific, the more effectively this will work!
That’s it for today. I hope you’ve learned something new and have been able to come up with a clear and specific GOAL to focus on; the first critical step.
Do you wish you could live your truth more fully and experience greater levels of freedom, fulfilment, love and happiness? Get your FREE copy of my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING YOUR TRUTH now and discover the 5 pillars of authentic living – your gateway to happiness! Click here to download it now.
In 2017 I was fortunate to work alongside 10 powerhouse female entrepreneurs to create the much-anticipated anthology THE ART OF UNLEARNING: CONSCIOUS CHOICES FOR EMPOWERED LIVING. Our collaboration explores the art of ‘unlearning’ all the explicit and implicit messages we hear as we grow up, in order to be ourselves fully and to live life on our own terms.
The book is a collection of inspirational stories by women who have thrown off the shackles, rewritten their own life rules and overcome difficult obstacles to find a way to live from their heart and thrive.
When the two instigators of this beautiful collaboration – Lisa Marie Pepe and Divya Parekh – put out their call for authors early in 2017 with their title ‘The Art of Unlearning’, I knew I had to be a part of the project. ‘Unlearning’ has been the central theme of my life journey so far and is now at the heart of my work as a coach who is passionate about helping women live a life true to their hearts.
What is ‘Unlearning’?
When we’re growing up we unknowingly absorb a multitude of messages in the form of parental and societal expectations about what it means to be ‘a good person’, or ‘successful’ or ‘morally correct’. Sometimes those messages are in alignment with our own personal truth, and sometimes they’re not. When you try to conform to those expectations that don’t feel true for you, you stray from your authentic self and you end up feeling frustrated, empty or unfulfilled as a result.
And if you stray far enough away from your true self, you can end up depressed or unwell. Prolonged negative feelings and emotions are your own internal guidance system, designed to alert you when you’re out of alignment with your personal truth. As you’ll find out in the book, the more I personally tried to suppress or ignore my own negative feelings in my journey of life, the more miserable and unwell I became.
It wasn’t until I started acknowledging, listeningto and acting on those emotions that things started to change for the better.
In need of inspiration? Get your copy of our #1 International Bestseller now!
There is most definitely an ‘art’ to figuring out what is true for each of us, and it is equally an ‘art’ to live your life in accordance with that truth. ‘Unlearning’, as the word suggests, requires that you first unlearn everything that you have assumed is ‘true’, in order to learn a new way of thinking and behaving.
To embrace new ways of viewing the world and to re-shape your life inside of those new beliefs, you first need to unlearn any limiting mental models, false internal narratives or beliefs that you’ve developed and embraced throughout your life.
And because adapting new beliefs requires you to change, it can feel uncomfortable.
In the foreword of our book, Literary Strategist Ann Weber uses a great analogy for unlearning: Learning to drive a car on the ‘other’ side of the road. When you go to a country that drives on a different side of the road to what you’re used to, it takes a lot of effort, small mistakes, feelings of discomfort and persistence before you can forget how to drive on the side that you’re used to, in order to drive effectively on the ‘other’ side.
And the same goes for adapting any new belief or behaviour; we first have to forget about how we used to think, and really consciously and proactively CHOOSE to believe and act in a new way. And it’s so easy to slip back into the ‘old way’. Which is why we all need guidance and support during any period of change – to keep us on the path we truly want to walk.
In our book THE ART OF UNLEARNING, nine different women share their own stories about what led them or, in many cases, forced them, to unlearn outdated ways of thinking, in order to shape their own lives in accordance with their personal truth and heart. The book is an uplifting, inspiring read that will – I hope – inspire you to dig deeper to find your own personal truth and to make conscious choices to align yourself more closely to it.
Below I share the 5 powerful myths, messages, and beliefs that I personally had to UNLEARN before it was possible for me to step into a new way of living for myself, in alignment with my heart and soul. You’ll have to get yourself a copy of the book in order to find out what happened to me – and 8 other women – as a result of believing our societal myths … and how we found ways to rebuild ourselves and our lives from the ashes of these false truths!
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
5 POWERFUL MYTHS YOU NEED TO UNLEARN TO BUILD A LIFE YOU LOVE.
1. The things you love doing and that feel easy are for ‘hobbies’; not for a real job.
In high school, I loved languages, literature, and the humanities. They felt natural and easy to me; it was as though my brain was wired for them. I could sail through exams with relatively little effort, in comparison to the maths and sciences subjects, which felt hard and tedious and required huge amounts of effort to get decent grades. And yet, when it came time to choose a study at University, the well-intentioned people around me advised that I choose financial security by studying science & engineering, which I pursued for 15 years, at the cost of my overall personal happiness and health, as you’ll find out more about in the book.
THE REAL TRUTH: The things that you love doing and that feel easy form an essential and very central part of your most joyful and abundant life path and purpose.
2. It’s not practical or responsible to do what you love.
It’s not hard to understand why our parents and teachers might have cautioned us into choosing security over joy. For many of our parents, their families had been busily trying to rise up out of the first two layers of the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Emerging out of the post-depression era, many of our Baby Boomer parents knew nothing but hardship and struggle growing up, which they passed onto us. But fortunately for many of us today (particularly in the developed world), we’re experiencing unprecedented times of prosperity and we’re at a stage in our human evolution in which self-esteem and self-actualization are now possible.
THE REAL TRUTH: When you engage in activities you love, that you’re good at and that you’re passionate about, you become magnetic and unstoppable and you find ways to make an abundant income no matter what the circumstances. Doing what you love ensures that you’re the happiest and most balanced version of yourself, which has positive ripple effects to everyone in your life, both financially and emotionally. In actual fact, it’s irresponsible and not practical TO SUPPRESS your genuine desire to do what you love.
3. Others know what’s best for you.
As children, we start out being very connected and in-tune with our own hearts. And yet many of us are taught from a young age that our parents and teachers know what’s best for us and that we can’t trust our own inner impulses and desires. We’re told that our dreams aren’t possible, or realistic or practical. Over time we learn to disconnect from our hearts as we’re forced to suppress the internal whisperings we hear, pushing them into the background as wishful thinking.
THE REAL TRUTH: Learning to connect to and trust the pure intelligence from your heart is the fastest path to living an authentic and joyful life.
4. You’re not supposed to enjoy work. If it was fun, they wouldn’t call it work.
I truly used to believe this one and I do believe it’s the reason I stuck it out in my career for so long, even though I felt so empty and miserable. As I was growing up, I understood work to be a necessary evil to help pay the bills. As I looked around me, it seemed that everyone who was ‘successful’ was working incredibly long hours and sacrificing much of their personal life for the demands of their job. And it seemed natural that I would have to do the same. But can you think of someone you know who absolutely loves their work and how they seem to just naturally THRIVE, emotionally AND financially? That’s because we experience abundance in all areas of our life when we commit to doing what feels joyful.
THE REAL TRUTH: You ARE supposed to enjoy work. When your work is accompanied by feelings of joy and positive emotion, you tap into an unlimited reservoir of creativity and potential that has limitless positive ripple effects. If you really don’t enjoy your work, it’s a sign you need to do something else! You’re doing yourself and everyone else around you a disservice by sticking it out in a job you really don’t like. Of course, every job has parts we don’t like. But if you don’t come home with a genuine, overall feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction at the end of each week, maybe it’s time to start doing some deep self-reflection to find out how you can start realigning your life with your own personal truth and happiness.
5. Materialism and wealth are true signs of success.
This was certainly something that seemed true to me while growing up; that my success would be measured by the material possessions I’d be able to accrue. It certainly seemed to be the way everyone else measured each other’s success. Unfortunately, the more money I seemed to make, the more miserable and empty I felt inside.
THE REAL TRUTH: The definition of ‘success’ is personal for everyone. For me personally, it’s having mutually nurturing relationships and connections, being able to spend time with my precious friends and family, being able to make a positive impact through my work, loving the work I do and the people I work with, having time to travel and experience the world and feeling a deep sense of joy and gratitude each and every day.
Have you ever had a big question that you want answers to, and no matter how much you try to rationalise and analyse the options with your mind, you just can’t get the clarity you need?
Well, you’re not alone. In fact, in our modern western civilisation, the majority of us spend most of our time ‘thinking’ with our brain. And yet, our brains are only one part of an entire world of intelligence that we have access to. And when all your good friends tell you to “Follow your heart” or “Listen to your heart” during times of confusion, it turns out there’s more truth and substance to this advice than just well-wishing friendship.
Modern-day breakthroughs in scientific research have shown that we actually have three intelligence centres in our bodies. According to the mBraining Institute, we all have “complex, adaptive and fully functional neural networks or ‘brains’ in 1) the heart, 2) the gut, and 3) the head.” And when you’re able to combine the intelligence from all three intelligence centres in your body, you experience “synergistic effects that bring greater wisdom to decision making, relationships and life.”
And mBraining is not the only organisation that researches and talks about the three different intelligence centres. Other organisations like The Omega Institute, HeartMath, and The Shift Network, and great leaders who bridge science and spirituality like Gregg Braden and Deepak Chopra ,have long been talking about the untapped power available to you when you integrate your three intelligence centres.
I call the integration of your three intelligence centres, and the wisdom that emerges from it, your inner compass.
And you can access your inner compass by connecting to your heart, using very specific steps that I’m about to show you.
The human heart has approximately 40,000 neural cells. This means the heart has its own nervous system, which actually sends more information to the brain, than the brain sends to the heart!
From an electromagnetic perspective, the heart’s electromagnetic field is 5,000 times more powerful than the brain’s. Our heart’s electromagnetic field expands and touches those within 2 – 8 metres of where we are positioned!
When fully embodied and integrated, your Heart Intelligence gives you the ability to be fully real, present, connected and heart-directed in every area of your life so that you can experience greater levels of performance, creativity, intuition and higher order thinking.
So it’s no wonder that you can’t solve big life questions simply through using your logical ‘head’ brain. To get true clarity, you need to integrate the intelligence from all three intelligence centres – head, heart, and gut.
In fact, this is what the now famous mBraining modality is all about. Grounded in verified scientific research, Australian psychologists Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka developed the mBIT coaching philosophy (Multiple Brain Integration Techniques), which is comprised of a suite of tools and techniques for communicating with, integrating and harnessing the power of your three intelligence centres which, when working together, produce amazing results. Today there are thousands of mBIT coaches in over 32 countries worldwide, helping people integrate their three intelligence centres to improve their lives.
And other organisations like the HeartMath Institute are passionate about harnessing the heart’s intelligence and have made breakthroughs in the development of user-friendly technology that you can use with your smartphone to harmonise the communication between your three intelligence centres. HeartMath has a raving fan base with thousands of great testimonials and results, endorsements from high-profile leaders leaders in the personal development space, and over 8,000 certified HeartMath practitioners worldwide.
It’s clear that our heart has an intelligence that can be accessed in order to make strategic decisions that help us live happier lives. And if we’re only using our ‘head brains’, we’re missing out on a vast source of wisdom. And that’s when we end up feeling stuck and confused.
In our current society, most of us have the tendency to seek answers outside of ourselves when we’re feeling stuck or confused about a particular life question. We ask our friends what they think, we ask our parents or mentors, or we seek counselling or therapy to help us find our own answers. And this gets us even more confused, because everyone of course has a different opinion about what you ‘should’ do. One of the most powerful things my counsellor said to me back during my ‘dark night of the soul’ – the term I use to refer to my period of extremely challenging and difficult circumstances in my mid-thirties – was this:
“You need to stop seeking the answers outside of yourself and realise that you have them right there inside you.”
And she was right. But I was so disconnected from myself that I had no idea how to go about accessing my own inner answers. I had to go through a long process of slowly reconnecting to myself and my truth before I was able to start listening to – and receive guidance from – my own inner compass. Your inner compass is your true essence; the part of you that is all-knowing, all-powerful, creative, loving, and limitless – connected to the infinite part of you that come refer to as your ‘soul’. Your soul is not limited by fear, anxiety, or self-doubt. It knows the path of your fullest expression. Connecting with your inner compass and your soul brings you into alignment with your highest and most fully-expressed potential.
If you’ve become disconnected from your own inner guidance, the good news is that you can reconnect to it – and most importantly, with time, learn to trust it. The more you practice connecting to your own inner guidance, the stronger the ‘knowing’ becomes and the more automatic and second-nature it becomes. It really is the only way to make good decisions.
If you’re serious about accessing your inner compass, you need to create quiet, reflective spaces in your life.
When life is busy and chaotic, you’re not able to hear the gentle guidance constantly coming from within, particularly if you’re not paying attention to the signs. To hear your inner guidance, you need to have a specific intention to converse with it. And then you need to create enough space in your life to be in a receptive state, to receive its guidance. It speaks to you during those peaceful, contemplative moments when the hyperactive mind is quiet enough for it to be heard. An over-busy mind drowns out anything that your inner guidance might be trying to whisper to you. You need to get quiet and find ways to cultivate stillness inside.
To access your inner compass, or heart’s intelligence, there are three strategies that are highly effective when used simultaneously.
Get quiet and breathe deeply (this signals to your brain that you’re shifting from an ‘alpha’ awake state to a ‘beta’ relaxed state, which is the state in which you can attune to your inner wisdom.)
Bring your awareness and full attention to your chest area.
Bring to mind a joyful experience and immerse yourself in positive emotions.
The reason this works is because joyful memories allow you to vibrate at a high frequency, which is critical for accessing your higher knowing.
Did You Know that Emotions Vibrate at Different Frequencies?
Your energetic vibration can be measured, and your vibration rate (a.k.a. frequency) depends on the emotional state you’re in. It’s become a well-known fact in scientific and spiritual realms nowadays that we vibrate at different frequencies depending on our emotional state. The frequency of different emotions has been measured, and scientists have developed the following guide to the frequency of emotions (the image below is from The Omega Institute).
So as you can see, when you’re immersed in happy, peaceful or joyful memories or experiences, you vibrate at one of the highest rates possible. This creates a fast connection to your inner compass, because your higher guidance comes from your soul, which is firmly grounded in the realm of ‘enlightenment’ at 700+ Hz.
Below I’m going to share with you the short meditative process that I use regularly to reconnect to my inner guidance. It takes less than ten minutes a day, and it works. If you’d like to try a guided meditation for this process, please be sure to download your ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING YOUR TRUTH, which contains a free recorded version of this meditation inside.
I give full credit to my mentor Gina Maria Mele who first introduced me to this specific process. It’s been my regular go-to practice to access my inner compass and to return to emotional well-being when I get knocked off-centre.
How to Connect with Your Inner Compass
1. Sit quietly with your eyes closed (I prefer sitting because then you’re less likely to fall asleep!). Put your hands on your belly and take deep, slow breaths in through your nose, all the way down into your belly. Feel your hands move in and out as you breathe. Breathe as long as it takes to feel your body and mind relax. Keep focusing all your attention on the breath.
2. Bring your attention to your chest. Feel it rise and fall with each breath in and out. Do this until you can feel all your attention and awareness in your chest. Perhaps you can even feel your heart beating.
3. Think of a time in your life when you felt real joy, love, or happiness. Maybe it was while holding your puppy? Or your first kiss? Or holding your baby in your arms for the first time? Or when you finally visited a place you’ve always wanted to go? Perhaps you were with friends and felt a moment of spontaneous fun and laughter. Think of any experience that invokes strong feelings of joy and love.
4. Now take yourself back into that experience and really re-live it in your mind. Remember how it felt, how it sounded, how it looked, how it smelt. Really take yourself back there and feel all the feelings and sensations you felt in that moment.
5. As you sink into those feelings, imagine a big white light radiating outwards from your chest.
6. As you hold the happy memory in your thoughts, bring this white light all the way up to about a meter above your head. As you breathe deeply, now bring it down to about a metre below your feet and all around you, until you’re completely surrounded by a large bubble of white light. You may not be able to visualise this and instead just feel it (depending on your dominant sensory mode).
7. As you sit in the memory of your happy experience in your bubble of white light, bring your focus back to your chest and ask a question that you really want to know the answer to. For example, “What should I do in this situation?”, or What do I really want?” or “What is my unique gift to give to the world?”, or “What steps can I take right now that are in alignment with my highest truth?. Ask whatever question is most relevant to you right now.
8. Sit quietly and wait for any images, sounds or feelings to come to you. Don’t force anything, just sit quietly and listen in an open, receptive mode. If nothing comes, that’s OK too. It will come later. If your mind drifts, bring it gently back to your question and be open and receptive to any guidance.
Sit in this state for as long as you need. Enjoy the experience. You have just connected with your heart. You just felt its energy.
The act of connecting to feelings of joy, happiness, and love while focusing on the area around your chest is the fastest way I know to connect with your heart and receive its guidance.
You might not always like the guidance you get. Maybe the guidance doesn’t fit within the picture of where your ego wants to go – the part of you that’s bound up in expectations of others, or the image you want to project to others. The guidance might push you out of your comfort zone and require you to stretch and grow in ways that feel uncomfortable. But your inner wisdom is never wrong. It will always strive to bring your outer world into alignment with your authentic desires, your personal truth, and your true priorities.
If nothing comes during the meditation itself, rest assured that it will come to you in some way as you go about your business in the next few days or weeks. Pay attention to the signs and guidance you will begin to receive through synchronicity or ‘coincidence’ (there is no such thing as coincidence by the way).
You may not notice anything different initially, but if you commit to doing this for 5-10 minutes every day, you’ll notice your life starting to shift in a subtle but very tangible way.
You’ll start receiving insights seemingly out of nowhere. You’ll start feeling more optimistic, inspired and joyful. You may suddenly just feel a lot clearer about where you want to go. Or you may notice certain relationships are easier and less strained, and you may notice you feel more compassion.
If you take the time to do this visualisation regularly, you’ll notice that you start feeling a gradual reconnection to your true essence and an emergence of real clarity. Take the time to slow down and hear your inner whispers. You won’t be disappointed.
In service to helping you live your fullest and brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
Try these powerful questions. They may just give you the answers you need.
A few years back I learned about a powerful set of questions from the visionary thought leader Jeffrey van Dyk, a man who’s on a mission to help people change the world through purposeful business and entrepreneurship.
His questions felt like the missing piece that I’d been seeking to really help people find their inspired path and purpose.
Those of you who know my work will already know that I believe there are four main pieces to discovering your purpose as shown below.
I have in-depth techniques to help people get reconnected to their authentic personality, their strengths (‘proficiency’), and to how they can make money. But I was missing a powerful technique to help people uncover their passion.
I’d tried the usual questions like “What breaks your heart the most?” and “If you could dedicate yourself to one cause in this lifetime, what would it be?” Questions like that can usually give a good indication of what someone is passionate about. But I didn’t yet have a technique that could help people drill down into the specifics of their particular passion, and how that relates to their purpose.
Until I discovered Jeffrey’s questions.
His questions are a powerful way to either confirm that you’re on the right path or to help you get clearer on the specific mission that feel called to serve.
Jeffrey’s approach requires you to look at the ’emotional wounds’ that you’ve suffered over the course of your life so far. This may seem like a strange place to start looking for your passion. But it just happens to be the approach that brings the most powerful insight to people in the search for their unique purpose.
The big underlying assumption – which I believe is the magic key – is this:
The other underlying assumption is that if you’re someone who feels as though you have a specific ‘calling’ to fulfill, it means that you care about your contribution to the world. You’re not just concerned about money or status or image. You feel as though there must be some way that you can contribute your unique gifts and talents in a way that is meaningful and impactful, and allows you to make a positive difference.
When you discover the specific pattern running through all of your life’s ‘wounds’, it’s enlightening and empowering. Because most often this is the one thing that you want to help other people with. You feel passionate about preventing other people from experiencing the same pain or struggle that you went through.
In order to understand Jeffrey’s approach, we first need to understand the answer to the question:
What is an ’emotional wound’?
We’ve all been wounded in some way over the course of our lifetimes, despite the good intentions of our parents or caregivers who tried to protect and nurture us. You may have experienced an acute wound (in the form of the death of a sibling or loved one for example, or physical or emotional abuse) or an experiential wound that was not intended by anyone to cause pain, but nevertheless caused you emotional pain, and caused you to take on certain behaviours to protect yourself into the future.
Follow these steps in order to uncover your specific purpose.
Write down the top 5-10 emotional wounds you experienced as a child/teenager. This could be anything from “My best friend moved to another town” or “My Dad never wanted to see me” or “A mean boy at school called me names” – or anything at all that stands out in your memory as causing some kind of pain to you as a child.
Write down the top 5-10 wounds that you experienced during your adult years. Remember, these could be acute experiences (a painful event) or long-standing patterns (e.g. “No one understood me”, or “I never belonged anywhere”).
Reflect on all the wounds you’ve written down. You might begin to notice that there’s a predominant theme running through them. Not all wounds will fall under this theme, but many will. Try to see if you can find one thread that links the majority of the wounds together.
Once you’ve identified a theme running through the emotional wounds, answer the following questions.
6 Questions to Help You Uncover Your Unique Purpose.
1. What happened? – What happened to you that made you feel so sad or wounded? Was there a common theme in these experiences?
2. How did you feel? – How did these experiences make you feel? Try to find the words to describe it.
3. What did you crave? – In those moments when you felt so wounded, what was it that you craved to be given? Or how did you crave to be treated?
4. What did you do? – How did you start behaving to try to give yourself the things that you were craving?
5. How did you develop as a result? – How did those experiences change you and what kind of person did you become as a result?
6. How might your answers to these questions relate to your unique path and purpose?
To help you along, here are the answers to my questions that helped me get closer to understanding my purposeful path.
Here’s how I found my professional ‘purpose’ in the pattern of my life struggles.
1. WHAT HAPPENED?
I felt pressured to walk a professional path that didn’t feel authentic for me – Engineering. I loved writing, languages, and the humanities and I knew that those were my natural gifts. But I felt very pressured to excel in technical subjects because the people in my environment only valued those subjects. As I entered University I felt I had to follow a technical, academic path in order to be loved and approved of as a person.
I ended up spending almost 15 years in a career that wasn’t aligned with my strengths, personality or passion – I was miserable. I felt empty, unfulfilled and spent many years feeling lost and off-track. My health and relationships suffered severely as a result.
2. HOW DID I FEEL?
I felt pressured, trapped, stressed, and anxious when I was younger. I didn’t enjoy learning all the difficult technical subjects at school and University, they were a struggle for me. Success in these areas required hard work and sacrifice.
I had to ignore the whispers in my heart that kept telling me I wanted to pursue languages, literature, and journalism. During my professional years as a corporate consulting engineer, I felt inauthentic, misaligned and as though my true personality and strengths were suppressed.
I felt like no one could see the real me and no one heard me. I didn’t feel loved or valued for who I am – my authentic self – at my core. I felt disconnected from my truth and my essence.
3. WHAT DID I CRAVE?
I craved approval and permission to be who I am. I craved to be loved, seen and heard as my true, authentic self. I longed to follow my heart and pursue things that make me come alive and allow me to unleash my natural talents in service to others. I craved fun, freedom, abundance and full creative expression.
4. WHAT DID I DO?
In order to fulfil my longing to be seen, valued, and loved, I embarked on a lifetime of over-achieving to gain the approval I desperately wanted. I became something that in my heart I knew was not me.
5. HOW DID I DEVELOP?
I became a wonderful actor, pretending to have it all together and to be living a successful life. Sometimes I even fooled myself. I over-achieved at the expense of my health and relationships. I believed life was a struggle and meant to be difficult.
I neglected myself and my needs, I self-abandoned, all to try to be something I am not. This had disastrous effects on my emotional and physical well-being and my relationships suffered terribly too.
Eventually, I was brought to my knees and I was forced to realise that no-one was benefiting from me living an inauthentic life. I needed to give up the false pretences, let go of everything that felt misaligned and instead tune into my heart to follow my true desires.
When I gave myself permission to do this, everything changed.
6. HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO MY PROFESSIONAL PATH AND PURPOSE?
I feel called to help people find their truth and to find a way make a positive difference doing work they love. I help people to find work that allows them to express their true selves fully.
I love helping each person to feel seen, heard and appreciated for the unique person they are, and to help them bring their whole self into the career and into the workplace.
And yet the seemingly simple task of “choosing a job you love” is, in reality, not so easy at all.
There are a number of reasons for that, including:
You’re told to choose a career path when you’re very young, with little life experience, and without having had a chance to experience what many different career paths look and feel like on a day-to-day basis. The reality of many professions is very different to the preconceptions or fantasies we have about them.
You’re filled with societal expectations from a young age that teach you falsehoods such as “If you’re smart, you should become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer” or “The measure of success is the amount of money you make” or “Choose job security over passion” and other such misleading statements.
You’re not taught to trust your own inner instincts from a young age. You’re encouraged to take the advice from teachers and adults more seriously than the whispers in your heart. Over time most of us learn to ignore those whispers completely.
You might have been told that following our passion is not responsible or wise.
You might have been led to believe that your specific talents and gifts are not necessarily something that the world needs and that we should choose something more practical instead.
I took all the subliminal messages in my environment very seriously and they eventually led me down the completely wrong professional path.
I spent fifteen years of my life in a career that was a complete mismatch for my personality, strengths, and passion.
And as a result, I spent years feeling unwell, miserable, and exhausted.
My journey has led me to believe that this is probably more like the advice we should follow instead:
To find a career path you love, get out there and try many different things. The only way to know if a certain career path is right for you is to try it. There is no shame or failure in realising that you’re on the wrong path. All experiences, whether good are bad, are feedback. Let your experiences inform you and guide your future decisions.
Trust your own inner instincts. Learn to listen to those whispers from that little voice in your head. They’re your very own internal GPS system, guiding you through life and to your true path. Be sure to spend time in quiet reflection and develop the ability to listen to your own intuition coming through those whispers. It’s the most reliable advice you’ll ever get.
Don’t feel pressured to lock yourself into one particular path. Choosing one particular direction does not mean you’re locked into it for life. Allow yourself to ‘pivot’when you have to and try to stay open to what life is trying to tell you. Your life is constantly giving you feedback; it’s up to you to learn how to read the signs.
Your mood and energy levels are a gauge as to whether you’re on the right path or not. If you feel positive, have lots of energy, and come home feeling fulfilled and satisfied each night, even if it’s been a difficult day, chances are you’re on the right path. And the opposite is also true.
Don’t let your degree lock you into a particular profession. If you chose to go to University, view your degree as a great foundation for your life and appreciate it for all the skills it taught you. All the skills you learned at University are transferable and can be used in any profession.
You have unique and specific gifts and talents that the world needs. Your job is to discover what they are. Your job is to find how to apply them in a way that feels fun, fulfilling, and meaningful and allows you to make a positive contribution. Many research studies have shown repeatedly that those who feel the most satisfaction in their job are those who feel that they’re making a meaningful contribution to society.
You have passions for a reason. They’re a guidepost for your unique path and purpose. They’re clues to your ‘big why’, your purpose. Yes, you have a unique purpose. And it’s your task to find it. You won’t find it overnight, but it will eventually reveal itself to you and you will know, without a shadow of a doubt, when you have found it. All of a sudden you’ll have all the energy, inspiration, and motivation you need and more.
Your purpose is the vocation that allows you to express yourself and your potential fully and to contribute your unique gifts in service to something you care about, while making a positive difference and earning you an abundant, reliable income.
But the big question still remains – How do you find that particular path?
The most important thing is to give up the notion that you have to find it straight away.
The key, I believe, is to simply start by doing the things that bring you joy, fulfilment, and satisfaction, and to view your journey with curiosity and wonder. Stay open to how different jobs and activities make you feel, and keep going in the direction of the ones that feel good. Here are some questions to ponder along the way.
What is it that you love doing? What makes your heart sing?
What kind of work feels really fulfilling and satisfying?
How could you build a career around these things that allows you to thrive?
The key lies in reflecting back on those moments in life where you felt ecstatic joy, aliveness, and connection; where your heart literally overflowed with happiness. Most of us have experienced at least a couple of these moments in life.
The key to your purpose and true passion lies in those moments if you’re able to feel back into them and understand what they represented. They’re not random moments of happiness that you just happen to remember as highlights of your life, but rather they give you insight into what makes you happy and the values that you hold most cherished. And they contain the seeds of your true calling.
Try this process to more closely understand your own personal ‘bliss’:
Take a moment to describe those fleeting moments in your life when you felt a true feeling of happiness. Where were you, what were you doing, and with whom were you doing it? Which feelings did you experience and why?
Write them down, and then look for the hidden signs to your cherished values in there.
Here are some examples from my own experience to help you define yours.
Those Blissfully Happy Moments
My Blissfully Happy Moment #1
I’m on a road trip up north in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia with friends and we stop at a roadhouse somewhere to have dinner, in what feels like the middle-of-nowhere. Behind the roadhouse there’s a small hall where some locals are doing Karaoke; we decide to join them. Several drinks and many cheesy songs later, we walk outside to find our camper-van to sleep in. We come across a group of beautiful little Aboriginal children playing outside on the grass. One of them comes up to us, beaming with her big white teeth in an ear-to-ear grin. I strike up a conversation with her and we laugh and connect. Such a beautiful, innocent little girl who is a victim of circumstances – born into a race of people who have been mistreated and often looked down upon in White Australia, living in poverty and a world of limited opportunities.
I ask her if she likes dizzy-whizzies and she says “yes!”. I pick her up, swing her around and she giggles with delight. I do this a few more times at her request, and we swirl around and fall down, laughing from dizziness and fun. Finally, I tell her I have to go (or my drinks are going to come up!). My friends have already left. As I leave I give her a big squeeze and she grabs me back in a beautiful, giant hug. I feel her heart and her warmth, her beautiful, radiant soul. We stay locked in this beautiful hug and in this moment it feels like the world has stood still; two strangers locked in an embrace, sharing our humanity and love.
I never saw her again, but she taught me so much and in that moment: I knew I wanted to be a vehicle for everyone in this world to be seen and heard, for everyone to be able to step into their full light and brightness, regardless of their background, skin colour or social setting.
This was a seed of my calling.
My Blissfully Happy Moment #2
I’m boarding a plane at London Heathrow airport where I’ve been living, bound for Milan, Italy for a three-day weekend to go to a concert of Italian rock icon Vasco Rossi. I have nothing with me but my small backpack containing two changes of clothes, my wallet, my camera and my toilet bag. I’ll be staying with a good friend in Italy for the weekend, both of us huge fans of Vasco and what this rock legend represents – rebellion against the system, full expression of everyone’s uniqueness and individual identity, living life to the fullest in all its pain and glory. The exquisite, joyful feeling starts at the check-in counter when they ask me if I have baggage to check in. I say ‘no’ (traveling without baggage feels like a true symbol of freedom for me). I walk through the security area, sit down at a bar to wait for my flight and enjoy a large beer – just me and my small backpack. The feeling of freedom and joy is indescribable.
It’s not until later many years later that I realise what the joy in this moment was telling me; that freedom is one of the highest values I cherish. Freedom of expression, freedom to live life according to our own agenda, gifts and talents, freedom to contribute to the world in the way we want, freedom to allow others to be their own exquisite selves. Freedom from shame, expectations and internally or externally-imposed limitations. Freedom to be ourselves, fully and unashamedly.
Another seed of my calling.
These moments didn’t give me direct answers. But they helped me understand more about my values and what makes me happy. And there are many more moments I could allude to; all pieces of the puzzles that have helped me get closer to my ‘bliss’, even though it’s an ongoing journey that reveals more and more of itself as life goes on.
So I wonder, what are those moments in your life that made you genuinely happy? What were they trying to tell you about what you value and cherish most in life? And what guidance were they giving you about your inspired path and purpose?
Take the time to reflect on your blissfully happy moments and ask yourself what’s hiding in there. You might just find the next clue that will light your way on the road to following your bliss.
I was sitting on the terrace of a beautiful outdoor cafe in a leafy green suburb right on the beach. The warm sun was gently warming my shoulders and there was a gentle breeze in the air. I’d just been for a swim in the clear, blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The underwater visibility was beautiful as I swam to the edge of the pier and back, watching the ripples of sand on the ocean floor and fish swimming by in small schools. Stepping out of the water I felt cleansed, nourished and uplifted.
Now as I was waiting for my coffee and breakfast to arrive I glanced over at the waitress serving our group of tables outside on the peaceful terrace. She looked relaxed, happy and sun-kissed, as though she’d had a fun, long summer, probably stopping to work for a few months here on the West Coast as she backpacked around Australia, gathering by the Irish lilt in her accent. She looked focused on the milk she was frothing for the cappuccinos she was preparing, in a joyful and contented way. She laughed and tossed her hair as a passing colleague made a funny comment. I was suddenly struck by an enormous feeling of envy at the ease and joy she exuded, of the deep sense of peace and happiness she seemed to feel.
How long had it been since I had felt so at ease and in love with life? I had once been like that, just like this carefree waitress, I remember it well; that feeling of light-heartedness, spontaneity, ease, and joy.
How had my life become so difficult, dark and heavy?
Since those uncomplicated and carefree days in my late teens and early twenties, it felt like my life had been slipping deeper and deeper into an abyss and I had no hope of clawing my way back out. I’d been through a five-year battle with chronic fatigue, my parents’ heart-wrenching divorce, enormous struggle to establish my career, struggle setting up my life in another country and in a new language, difficult relationships, the pain of ‘unexplained infertility’ and most recently, two devastating miscarriages that turned my whole world upside down. It took all my willpower just to get out of bed in the mornings and to face another day, when all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep, or better still – never wake up.
I had recently walked into my manager’s office at work and told him that I needed to take two months off work. I couldn’t go on any longer. I was on the verge of a breakdown and I just could not keep up the facade. I needed help, I needed time out. Until this point, I had pushed through every difficulty of my life, never giving up, always pushing on, always struggling through. I had been intent on never letting anyone down, of fulfilling my duties and obligations no matter what state I was in. I had no more strength to do this. I was drained and depleted.
My cup was empty, every last drop.
This was the first time in my life that I had put my own needs first, by deciding to take time off work and just be for two months. Even though I was exhausted and felt so incredibly run down, I drove down to the beach each morning to enjoy the soothing calm of the waves lapping the sand and to watch the birds frolic in the waves, to try to instil some peace and comfort within my being.
I had never before felt entitled to take time out of the rat race to honour my needs, to listen to my body and heed the whispers of my heart. I had always felt a sense of duty to go on, a responsibility to keep contributing my salary to our household income and fulfil my work obligations, to put on a brave face and soldier on no matter what inner guidance I may have been getting. But losing our second pregnancy, after trying to create our family for so long, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The sense of grief and anguish was so deep and heart-wrenching, the pain touched every part of my being in every single waking moment. I was heart-broken and depleted. It was simply no longer possible to muster the energy to pretend everything was OK. It was not OK. After almost fifteen years of pain and struggle I had finally realised that this was very far from OK. Something had to change.
In that moment on the café terrace at the beach, as I sat in silence enjoying my coffee, it suddenly dawned on me that I had the power to change my life.
Until now I had felt trapped in my chosen career path and life circumstances. I had invested so much in my career, I couldn’t possibly abandon it … could I? Is it possible to leave something behind when you’ve invested your sweat and tears in it, when you’ve depleted and drained yourself to achieve it, when you’ve spent more than fifteen years pursuing it and dedicated every cell of your being to it? And you’ve finally got there? When you’ve finally built up the career and reputation you’d been working so hard to achieve all those years? Could I leave all that now and finally admit that I had been barking up the wrong tree? That this is absolutely not how I want to spend the rest of my life? That this life I’ve been living is not me?
There was something inside me in that moment that changed forever. I finally opened to the possibility that perhaps I could decide to leave my career behind to pursue something closer to my heart, more aligned to my strengths. Perhaps I could do something that brings me real joy and flows naturally and easily to me. Until now my career and way of life had been nothing but struggle and an uphill battle, I’d been desperately trying to prove myself in a world that was not authentically mine.
I’d always felt a little like a fraud and a square peg in a round hole, in my corporate career that valued logic, rational thought and ladder-climbing. While deep down I knew my strengths are creativity, linguistics and human relations. The only way I felt I could be accepted and respected in my corporate career was to be outstanding at what I did. That way no one could detect that I was putting on a facade.
What would it feel like to let down the facade, to drop the act and discover the real me?
And that’s when a voice deep within me said “Yes. Give up. Listen to your heart for once and follow its guidance. You’ve been ignoring it since you were a teenager. Look where it’s gotten you. Sure, you’ve climbed your way up the academic and corporate ranks, you’ve gathered nice titles behind your name and achieved great things, but at what cost? Is this what living life is about? Being forced to take time off work because you’re on the verge of breaking down completely; living life in a heavy fog of sadness, exhaustion, depletion and anxiety? Life is not meant to be this difficult!”
As I let the thought “give up” enter and permeate my being, something happened. It felt as though a veil was slowly lifting around me and light was slowly seeping in. Suddenly the colours around me seemed brighter, the sounds became louder, I could see a beetle on the tree a few metres away from me and appreciate its intricate beauty. A lightness filled my being, a feeling I had not felt in a very long time.
In that moment I knew. This was a turning point. It was time for me to reclaim my life.
It was time for me to listen to my heart, to be true to myself, to acknowledge that I had been living my life according to other people’s expectations, that I had abandoned the desires of my heart to pursue a life that was not authentically my own. And now I had the power to change that.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy to give up my career and pursue something closer to my heart. There would be many people surprised by my decision and perhaps many who would be disappointed. There would be many who would laugh. But now that I’d felt the connection to my heart’s desires and the subsequent energetic lift that it created, there was no going back.
The ‘good girl’ in me no longer cared about what others thought; it was time for me to like the life I live.
Do you fantasise about quitting the rat race to start your dream business?
Thanks to high-speed internet and cloud-based systems, it’s easier than ever before to work from anywhere you like. Culturally, we’re getting tired of the rat race and more and more people are craving more flexibility, freedom, purpose, and creativity in their work.
I quit my corporate engineering consulting career back in 2011 and I haven’t missed it at all. I now get to create my work days on my own terms, and I fit my work life around my busy life as a mother to two young boys.
Freelancing and ‘gig’ workers are on the rise.
Freelancers now make up 35% of the American and Australian workcforces, and these numbers steadily are on the rise.
Having grown up in the digital world, it’s natural that young people in the modern era are more flexible, agile, and connected with big networks – the perfect ingredients for entrepreneurship and freelancing.
It’s interesting to note also that the majority of older people who chose to start their own business did not do so out of necessity, but by choice (57% of the total), with flexibility, freedom, and improved work-life balance “luring them from the rigid confines of the 38-hour work week.”
I know that when I was growing up, freelancing always seemed incredibly risky to me; the responsibility for generating your own income throughout all economic cycles seemed like a far bigger risk than I was willing to take. However, independent workforce surveys such as the UpWork survey in the USA show that freelancers are now, in fact, earning more relative to their old jobs. Among respondents in the UpWork survey, more than half are earning more than they did getting a steady paycheck in their former job. A total of 46% were able to successfully raise their rates in the past year.
But if you’re sitting on the fence about whether to finally answer that little voice that’s nudging you to quit your day job to pursue something closer to your heart, I understand from personal experience how hard it is to make that decision. Deciding to leave a stable career path and a reliable salary for an unknown outcome, no matter how exciting or appealing the idea, is absolutely not an easy decision to make to. And it’s not one that I made lightly myself. It wasn’t until I started suffering from severe chronic health issues that I was finally forced to change direction (you can read my full story here).
And even when all the signs were pointing to the fact that I needed to branch out on my own, it was still an absolutely terrifying thought; I had a lot of fear and insecurity to overcome before I was able to consider the idea of becoming a ‘business owner’ seriously.
But taking the leap of faith to start my own business was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life, for the reasons I’m about to share with you. Of course, it hasn’t always been easy.
Starting your own business is not for the faint-hearted. It requires enormous resilience, grit, perseverance, and most of all, belief in yourself.
But the rewards more than outweigh the challenge.
There are days when it all feels too hard and I want to give up on my dream (as I write about in my article 7 Powerful Strategies to Get You Through Those Days When You Just Want to Give Up on Your Dream). But they’re happening less frequently as I establish more reliable structures, systems, and approaches that allow me to earn a more reliable and predictable income. Establishing yourself successfully in your own business won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. As long as you approach it with a practical, low-risk strategy and get advice from those who have gone before you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
Here are 5 big reasons why you should break free and start your own business.
1. You’ll enjoy greater freedom and flexibility.
If you’re tired of the groundhog days of alarm clocks, rushing and commuting, then you’ll love being your own boss. No more forcing yourself into the office early in the morning no matter how late you stayed up the night before, or the complete lack of free time to do the things that sustain and nourish you.
Yes, you’ll need to have robust self-discipline and sufficient structure in your days to force you to be productive and be able to enjoy the traction and momentum you need in your business. But when you’re doing something you love, it’s not hard to find the motivation to get onto your work.
It’s been my experience that structure and routine are your best allies as a small business owner. The good part is, you get to decide on the business structure and routine that suits you.
2. You can do things on your own terms.
If you’re someone who finds it hard to be micro-managed or to follow someone else’s ideas (especially if you don’t agree with them), then you’ll love being your own boss. In the great article “Why entrepreneurs choose freedom over money”, they conclude:
“Despite the fact that people who work for themselves often work more, have fewer benefits and experience more on-the-job stress than those who work in a company, the majority of Americans would prefer to be entrepreneurs. Our research shows that entrepreneurs are more satisfied with their jobs – and happier in general. Workplace autonomy is a powerful motivator.”
3. You’ll experience more fun and fulfilment.
I really needed to pinch myself the first time I received money for my coaching services; it seemed such a gift to be paid for something I found so enjoyable and enriching. Doing something you love really is the biggest gift you can give yourself. Plus, entrepreneurs are a fun bunch of people! It continues to amaze and inspire me to see how much entrepreneurs seem to enjoy their work. One of my favourite mentors Jeanna Gabellini always says:
“If it ain’t fun, don’t do it!” – Jeanna Gabellini
A central part of Jeanna’s work and message is teaching people how to harness the Law of Attraction in their business to attract more profits and abundance, and having fun is an essential part! This was something that took me a long time to get used to. I was used to having to work hard and to ‘struggle’ at work; I’d come to accept that work is a necessary evil to pay the bills and to get ahead in the world. It feels so great to now to actually have fun in my work each and every day. To learn more about the Law of Attraction, check out my blog article: How to Create More of What You Want Using the Law of Attraction.
4. You get to fully express your unique gifts and talents.
You have your own unique zone of ‘natural genius’ – the things that you’re naturally good at without even trying. You’ll experience greater fulfilment and fun when you’re operating in your zone of natural genius most of the time.
During my corporate career, I was operating in my zone of natural genius only about 20% of the time. The rest of the time I was doing things that weren’t aligned with my natural strengths and they felt hard and draining.
I know that every career includes tasks and activities that we like and many task and activities that we don’t like. But when you’re working in a way that allows you to fully express the gifts you do have, somehow the other parts don’t feel so onerous or annoying – they’re in service to the beautiful thing you’re creating through your business.
5. You get to see the direct results of your efforts and enjoy making a positive difference.
Do you often wonder whether your daily work is having any impact? In my former career I spent countless hours writing Business Cases, proposals and strategic plans that were often shelved, delayed due to lack of funding, or often dismissed because it was “not the way we’ve always done things”.
When you work for yourself, you can pitch your idea and philosophy clearly and those who resonate with your vision – and need exactly what you’re offering – can engage with you. And then you can get on with the task of serving those people directly and effectively. I believe the more people who embrace their yearning to make a difference and put themselves out there to start serving in their own unique way, the faster we’ll see things improve in the world.
Are you ready to leave your day job to start your own business?
If you’re at the point of wondering whether you should leave your career behind to pursue something closer to your heart, Helena Klein suggests asking yourself these questions:
Do you have to justify your job to yourself and others? Do you find yourself saying your work is actually ‘not that bad’, when in reality you know there must be a more joyful and fulfilling way to spend your working days?
Is your work giving you energy or draining you of it? Is there at least one part of your work that you look forward to each day? If there’s no part of your work that truly excites you, it’s time to make some changes.
Is there anybody I work with whose life I would like to have? If you don’t see any positive role models at work to look up to and who have the kind of life you want, then why are you there? There is no use in working your way up to a job that you don’t want to have.
Do you feel inspired by your work? Are you able to think freely, out of the box? Or do you feel trapped and patronized? If you spend too much time completing other people’s tasks, ignoring your own thoughts, or withholding your talent from the world, then it’s time to think seriously about change.
Last but not least: is my work in line with my personal values? If the things you’re doing at work don’t feel good to you, this is a big warning sign. You should feel proud of what you do and feel good about yourself when you do it.
Do you want to break free but you’re not quite sure how to go about setting up your own business? Get yourself a FREE copy of THE ULTIMATE FEMPRENEUR SUCCESS HANDBOOK and learn everything I wish I knew when I decided to start my own business back in 2011!
Learn how to build a career that unites your true nature, your passion and your natural genius into work that is a full expression of yourself, allowing you to get your unique and valuable gifts into the world in a way that is FUN and deeply fulfilling!
Evans and Burnett define three steps to creating your dream life.
1. Figure out what you actually want. Do you know what your ideal professional life would look like, in clear detail? What does your ideal day look like? What kind of people are you working with? What kind of projects are you working on? Where are you physically located? If you’re having trouble defining what your dream career or business looks like, get your FREE copy of my E-Book PATHFINDING: HOW TO FIND YOUR INSPIRED PATH & PURPOSE.
2. Get busy conducting Life Design Interviews. You build your way into your dream business or career through relationships and connections. Use what Evans & Burnett call Life Design Interviews to easily and authentically start building these relationships and connections (more on these below).
3. Apply the Life Design Principles to actively create the business or career you love. I’ll go through these principles in detail below.
In this article I’m discussing how you can use Life Design Principles to:
Build your dream business, or;
Find your dream job.
If you’re clear on the dream job you want and you sit around browsing job seeking websites, waiting for the perfect position to show up, you’ll be waiting a long time. That’s because of this interesting fact:
Only one in five jobs are advertised. Four out of five jobs opportunities are not made available to the public.
If only twenty percent of jobs are advertised, where are the other eighty percent?
Evans & Burnett call it the Hidden Job Market, which they describe as “the job market that’s only open to people who are already connected into the web of professional relationships in which that job resides. This is an insider’s game, and it’s almost impossible to get inside that web as a job seeker.”
So how do you become one of the ‘insiders’ when you’re on the outside?
When you apply Life Design Interviews to networking, it becomes easy, authentic, and fun to build your network.
Life Design Interviews
Life Design Interviews are structured discussions with professionals who are already doing the thing you want to do (or close to it). You invite them to a no-strings-attached, half-hour coffee interview with you (you buy the coffee of course!). These discussions are an opportunity to learn more about the industry/business you want to create and what it takes to get there.
The great thing about these interviews is that most people are more than happy to have a free coffee for half an hour and an opportunity to talk about themselves and their work, especially when they know that the intention is to seek information, not to request or apply for a job or business opportunity.
In the interviews you’re seeking to understand more about what it’s actually like to do that kind of work you desire, and the different pathways to get there.
Life Design Interviews are a fantastic way to do two things:
Fact-find and learn about the business or profession you want to create for yourself. By speaking to people who are already doing the work (or similar) to what you desire, you get to know what it’s actually like and how to make it happen.
Build professional relationships and a strategic network. You establish a connection with an insider in that field. You’re networking in a completely organic and non-forced manner, bringing you closer to accessing the hidden job market or strategic business relationships.
Evans & Burnett state that you must approach the conversation “as a sincerely interested inquirer – someone looking just for the story (not looking for the job). That’s how this works.”
There’s something magical that happens when you move from a place of desperation and neediness into a place of open-minded curiosity and non-attachment.
When you’re presenting at an interview as an interested inquirer, there’s a shift in your energy and you open up the conversation to an authentic connection and conversation, as opposed to an attempt to coerce the other person into giving you something you need. People are very good at picking up on ‘needy’ energy and it’s repelling.
Curiosity, on the other hand, is inviting and appealing.
The more people you interview, the more information and insight you learn and the more connections and relationships you make.
Evans & Burnett describe how one of their clients, Kurt, started off as a job-seeker. He submitted thirty-eight job applications, along with his impressive resume and thirty-eight individual crafted cover letters. Out of all his applications, he received terse rejection emails from eight companies and never heard back from the other thirty. “No interviews, no offers, no follow-up calls.” Needless to say, he became disheartened and dejected.
After learning of the Life Design Interview process, Kurt then identified people he could talk to and went out and conducted 56 life design interviews in different companies and organisations related to his dream field. During that process, he established a wide web of authentic connections and in the end, was offered seven wonderful job offers and had to spend significant time considering which one was the best fit for him. He turned his situation of desperation into one of being connected and in-demand. This is how the Life Design Process works.
This shift in itself will create several positive benefits you hadn’t anticipated.
Take back your power and rather than wait for the next best thing to come along, get busy deciding what you want and figuring out how to create it!
To proactively build your way into your dream business or career, here are Life Design Principles that will help you.
The Life Design Principles
1. Be curious – adapt a curious mindset.
Endless curiosity is key to a well-designed life. There’s something interesting about everything and if you adapt a curious mindset, you’re going to learn so much that’s going to direct you towards what you want.
Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself to get curious:
Which kinds of people could you talk to to find out more information about your career or business?
What do experts in this field argue about and why?
What are the key issues people in this field deal with?
What are the problems/issues/challenges that keep these people up at night and are these issues you are passionate about too?
“Endless curiosity equals increasing knowledge, options and clarity about your life direction.” – Evans & Burnett, Design Your Life
2. Try stuff – there’s no failure, only feedback.
When you shift into a mode of being bias-toward-action, you stop being stuck. There’s no more analysing, worrying, pondering, or solving your way through life.
Keep figuring out the next action to take and do it.
Who can you talk to next?
What’s something you could do to find out more about a certain field?
What can you read or learn to find out more about a particular idea you have?
Are there any courses or self-study modules you could follow to learn more and up-skill yourself?
3. Re-frame problems
Re-framing is a change in perspective, viewing something from a different angle and changing the meaning around it. For example, a dysfunctional belief could be “I’m too old and it’s too late to find my dream job”. A re-frame would be “It’s never too late to design a life you love and I have the power to create anything I desire.”
Ask yourself “What perspective do I actually have in this situation?” and is there a way to change it for your own benefit and empowerment? We have the power to re-frame any situation and substitute a limiting belief with a resourceful one.
You get to choose and design your own life!
4. Know That It’s a Process
Knowing that building your dream career or business is a process (and not a linear one!). Try not to get frustrated or lost and don’t ever give up. Keep going, trusting that eventually you will create the life you love.
5. Ask For Help
You’re not meant to walk this path alone. Your success depends on building networks of support and collaboration. Find yourself a mentor (or several) and join groups or networks of like-minded people with similar aspirations.
So get yourself unstuck by brainstorming who you could conduct some Life Design Interviews with and get out there and start actively and intentionally building the career or business you desire. You are in charge of your life and your destiny and only you have the power to build the life you want.
Have you experienced first-hand how the magic of the Law of Attraction can work in your business and life?
In 2015 I completed a great course for entrepreneurs and business owners called ‘Profit Quest’ by Jeanna Gabellini at Masterpeace Coaching. This was my first introduction into applying Law of Attraction principles into my business.
Her tagline that drew me into the course was:
“Double your profits, double your fun!”
When I first saw her promotions I thought “Wow, that’s a big call.” Can I really double my profits and double my fun in my small coaching business by the end of her course?
I enrolled in her course to find out and lo and behold – it appears her system really works.
It’s powerful and yet it’s so simple. And it’s based on the Law of Attraction.
Do you remember the big ‘hoo-ha’ surrounding the movie “The Secret” when it came out all those years ago? The movie was all about the Law of Attraction. I really liked the message in the movie, but at the time I thought it was also a bit simplistic and materialistic, telling people they could have whatever house or car they desire if they could just imagine having it.
But I’ve since realized that there’s much more to the Law of Attraction.
The Law of Attraction teaches you how to be a co-creator in your own life – to align yourself with a vision you love and then allow it to unfold.
The Law of Attraction is basically this: Like attracts like. So within, so without.
When you imagine having, being or doing something you care about deeply, something that feels joyful and exciting, you create an energetic ‘blueprint’ for what you desire. When you step back and surrender, and (importantly) believethat you can and will have the thing you desire, then quite miraculously, what you desire starts turning up in your life somehow. Not always straight away (although sometimes it does!); but the steps to reach it will start appearing. You’ll start getting intuitive insights into what you need to do. Suddenly you’ll meet the right person, or you’ll find the perfect resource to help you take the next steps.
The key is to let your imagination run wild and to feel into what you would really, really like to manifest in your life. And here is the catch – most of us are so trained into thinking a certain way; we have so many beliefs about what we think we can and can’t have. And when we focus on what we would really love to create in our life, we come up against all the internal, negative programming that tells us we can’t have that.
We’re not trained to dream big.
In fact, most of us have been taught to keep our dreams small.
One of the tasks we had to do early in the Profit Quest course was to define exactly how much money we would love to make by the end of the year, if everything in our business suddenly started aligning and flowing. This was quite difficult to do. At first my head took over and I wrote down a number that I thought I ould realisticallyachieve.
That number, however, is not a number that got me excited or inspired. We were asked to write down the dollar amount that would make us feel super excited – not a number too far out of our league that it feels impossible and overwhelming (hence leading to disappointment and fear of failure), but a number that feels like abigstretch, but also feels energizing and exciting.
So I wrote down a number that felt super exciting.
At the time I wrote it down, I didn’t actually believethat I could make that much money, but I thought it would be cool if I did!
When you allow yourself to think big like that, all of a sudden things start showing up that align with that vision. Since adopting this technique, I’ve experienced major positive growth in my business, all because I’ve managed to make big shifts in my internal mindset around what is possible for me, my business and my clients.
Jeanna makes a digital and hard-copy journal available called Speed Dial the Universe, which has been an incredibly powerful tool for me. It’s a daily reminder to dream big and to set your internal compass towards allowing miracles to manifest in your life. I was skeptical at first, but my experience with it has shown that it really does work. The journal is a fun way to start your day because it focuses your mind, body, and soul on positive outcomes that you desire in your life.
First, you need to be able to dream big and set a big, clear intention about what you want to create.
This isn’t easy when we first start out. Our internal beliefs put all kinds of limits on what we think is possible. But you can strengthen this ‘muscle’ and over time, if you commit to doing this practice daily, you will find that you’re able to allow yourself to dream bigger and bigger. And when you start seeing the signs and small steps of what you desire appearing in your life, it’s so much fun!
The other important ingredient is surrender. You have to set your clear intention and then let go. This part can be really hard! We’re so used to controlling everything we want to create in our lives. However, without surrender, you can’t be in a receptive state and be open to receive the insight and wisdom that’s trying to be transmitted to you.
And finally, belief. This is very intertwined with surrender and can be difficult. With many things that I write down in my journal, at the start I’m not sure I actually believeI can have those things. But I’m willing to write them down. And with this simple act, it opens the floodgates for possibility, belief, and optimism to flow in. And this allows us to start behaving as ifwe already have the thing we desire. This in itself opens the doors to miracles.
So when you start acting as though you already are someone who has the things you desire, you become a ‘vibrational match’ to the things you want, and you start attracting those things into your life.
Feel like giving it a try? Start dreaming big, focus daily on the things that you would really love to create in your life and then sit back and enjoy the ride. And let me know if anything shifts for you. As always I would love to hear from you!
To read more about The Law of Attraction and how to apply it in your life, take a look at my two recent blog posts:
In my mid-thirties I was in a very dark place. Life felt heavy, overwhelming and hopeless. My heart ached constantly and every morning I struggled to get out of bed, tired of the continuous sadness, depletion, and exhaustion that plagued my life.
Nothing made sense and life seemed cruel and meaningless.
As I forced myself to put on a brave, smiling face every day to go to work and face the never-ending deadlines and meetings, inside I felt like I was dying. It was exhausting to put on this facade, day in, day out, to pretend that I was happy, coping and succeeding. While inside I was desperately sad and exhausted – emotionally, physically and spiritually.
As often happens when we’re in these dark places, I prayed for help; for some small sign that there was meaning to all of this, and a glimmer of hope that things would get better. Shortly after, an email landed in my inbox from the visionary thought leader Dr. Jean Houston. The email was about her upcoming course Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. To this day I still don’t know how I got onto her e-mail list. I didn’t know who she was or anything about the work she had been doing in the field of Human Potential. But somehow her email landed in my inbox and caught my attention. After years of feeling like I was on the wrong path and of asking myself “How did I end up here?”, Jean’s call to finally uncover my purpose felt like an absolutely essential and urgent thing for me to do. So in spite of my head telling me I didn’t have the time or money to do this course, my heart urged me to sign up immediately.
Jean Houston’s course – among other serendipitous things that happened soon after I sent out my S.O.S call to the universe – was the start of a slow but massive shift in my life. One of the key elements in her teachings is the power of story and myth to create meaning in our lives. One of the assignments we had to do as homework was to describe the story of our in lives in the context of the ‘Hero’s Journey’.
The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of storytelling identified by the famous American scholar, Joseph Campbell, that weaves through many human stories, movies, drama, theatre, and myth. It describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization.
Since becoming aware of this pattern of narrative in our storytelling, I’ve noticed it running through many films and stories in our entertainment world; the most famous and obvious ones being Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I now recognise it when I see it woven into children’s movies or stories when reading with my young boys.
When I was asked to write my life journey so far within the framework of The Hero’s Journey, I was skeptical at first about the significance that this task could have. But I dutifully sat down and started. I made up a fictional name for myself and started writing about my life in third-person, describing the key events and relationships I had been through. As I wrote about the different phases of my life, amazingly I began to see how my life has roughly followed this basic theme.
I can’t explain the uplift and joy I felt after recognising my life story within the archetypal pattern of the Hero’s Journey.
Suddenly my pain and suffering felt meaningful and a necessary part of my life’s journey to greater happiness and peace.
1. The Ordinary World You’re bumbling along in life, unconsciously reacting or responding to events, people, and situations. You’re blissfully ignorant of the limits of your societal conditioning and messaging that you’ve grown up with.
2. The Call to Adventure At some stage, you hear a ‘call to adventure’. You hear a whisper in your heart; a rising desire to do something that feels out of place. It doesn’t fit within the straight lines and boxes of your current existence. And yet it feels exciting and appealing.
“The call to adventure signifies that destiny has summoned the hero.”
– Joseph Campbell
3. Refusal of the Call As exciting and appealing as the call sounds, you refuse it. It would be crazy to consider such a thing. You might get rejected by people. People will laugh at you. And anyway, you feel like you don’t have what it takes to do that. You wish the desire would go away. It’s irresponsible. It’s crazy.
4. Meeting with the Mentor And then you meet someone. They change your perspective and open your mind to new possibilities. They’ve answered the call themselves and they’re passionately living their truth. They inspire you to move closer to your own truth and to consider that maybe those desires you’ve been feeling aren’t so crazy after all? This person is a positive role model and their courage, faith, and strength rub off on you. After some time, the little voice inside your heart is getting louder and more urgent and finally, you decide you must cross the threshold. You can’t go on living in the ordinary world.
5. Crossing the Threshold
You summon all your courage, faith, and optimism and you step across the threshold. You’re so excited that you did it. It feels exhilarating.
6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
And yet it’s difficult – really hard. Surely it isn’t meant to be this difficult? You’re confronted with challenge after challenge and you start doubting whether you made the right decision. You discover enemies you didn’t know you had. Your faith is tested. You wonder if you should turn back. And yet you know you can’t. Thankfully, you find allies who support you and encourage you to keep going. You forge ahead.
7. Approaching the Cave
You can see a cave ahead of you with a beautiful treasure inside. You know that the treasure is the elixir that you have been seeking. But the entrance to the cave is guarded by fierce protectors who will not allow you to enter the cave easily.
8. The Ordeal
You must face a dangerous physical test or a deep inner crisis in order to survive or for your new world to continue to exist. Whether it be facing your greatest fear or your most deadly foe, you must now draw upon all of your skills and experiences gathered upon the path to the innermost cave, in order to overcome this most difficult challenge.
Only through some form of ‘death’ can you be reborn, experiencing a metaphorical resurrection that somehow grants you greater power or the insight necessary in order to fulfill your destiny, or to reach your journey’s end. This is the high-point of your journey where everything you hold dear is put on the line. If you fail, you will either die, or life as you know it will never be the same again.
9. The Reward (Seizing the Sword) Somehow you defeat the enemy, you survive death and finally overcome your greatest personal challenge. You are ultimately transformed into a new state, emerging from battle as a stronger person and perhaps with a prize.
The Reward may come in many forms: An object of great importance or power, a secret, greater knowledge or insight, or even reconciliation with a loved one or ally. Whatever the treasure, which may well facilitate your return to the Ordinary World, you must quickly put celebrations aside and prepare for the last leg of your journey.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”
– Joseph Campbell
10. The Road Back
You must now return home with your reward but this time the anticipation of danger is replaced with that of acclaim and perhaps vindication, absolution, or even exoneration.
But the Hero’s journey is not yet over and you may still need one last push back into the Ordinary World. The moment before you commit to the last stage of your journey, there may be a moment in which you must choose between your own personal objective and that of a Higher Cause.
10. The Resurrection This is the climax in which you have your final and most dangerous encounter with death. The final battle also represents something far greater than your own existence, with its outcome having far-reaching consequences to your Ordinary World and the lives of those you left behind.
If you fail, others will suffer and this places more weight upon your shoulders and fills you with fear and trepidation. This is more than just about you. This is about a higher service. Ultimately you succeed, you destroy your enemy and you emerge from the battle cleansed and reborn.
11. Return with the Elixir In this final stage of the Hero’s journey, you return home to your Ordinary World a changed person. You have grown as a person, learned many things, faced many terrible dangers and even death, but you now look forward to the start of a new life. Your return may bring fresh hope to those you left behind, perhaps a direct solution to their problems or perhaps a new perspective for everyone to consider.
The final reward that you obtain may be literal or metaphoric. It could be a cause for celebration, self-realization or an end to strife, but whatever it is it represents three things: Change, success, and resurrection of some kind. The return home also signals the need for resolution for the story’s other key players. Your doubters will be reprimanded or forgiven, your enemies punished and your allies rewarded.
Ultimately, as the Hero, you will return to where you started but things will clearly never be the same again.
“If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential. You must follow your bliss.”
– Joseph Campbell
By choosing to answer my own personal call and to step across the threshold over the past 5-10 years, I’m now on my way to ‘returning with the elixir’, tapping into the joy, flow, and abundance that comes to us naturally when we align with our heart and soul.
The road hasn’t been easy and I’ve been tested and tried, as the journey says we will be, but it’s the only road that makes sense to me now. Going back is not an option.
Sometimes my inner skeptic tells me the Hero’s Journey is just something we tell ourselves to help ourselves feel better. And then I think – so what? If we find meaning, comfort, strength, and motivation by seeing ourselves within this context, as the Hero within our own lives, surviving trials and tribulations on our path to finding the treasure, then isn’t that great? And isn’t that all that really matters?
I hope you find comfort in realizing your own life journey within the context of the Hero’s Journey. And may you slay your dragons, undergo your personal transformation and return with your very own elixir!
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
Have you ever felt constrained by a label? Or been unfairly compared to others? Or have you felt empowered by a label?
I felt compelled to write this article because I’ve seen both the positive and the destructive forces of labels playing out in the lives of many people close to me and I’ve felt them acutely myself.
Labels like ‘gifted’, or ‘not gifted’, or ‘talented’ or ‘not talented’ put us into artificial boxes that don’t actually exist (except in our minds) and they can limit — or over-inflate — the way we feel about ourselves.
Plus, they can become self-fulfilling prophecies in that what we believe about ourselves tends to become our reality. One of the biggest dream-killers is a lack of self-belief. And what better way to kill someone’s aspirations than to tell them they’re ‘not gifted’, or ‘not talented enough’.
Labels can hold us back. By comparing ourselves to others, we feel less-than.
And they don’t allow for the ever-changing nature of our authentic self to unfold and flourish. We’re not static, we’re constantly changing and learning. And measuring our ‘intelligence’ at a single point in time is unfair.
As a Career & Business Coach, one of the biggest hurdles I experience when coaching people to create the lives they so desperately want is their beliefs about themselves. I see them get all excited and lit up by an exciting vision of the future they’d love to create. And then I see the fear and inner gremlins creep in that tell them they’re not good enough, or ‘smart enough’ to make it happen.
You’re about to discover that IQ tests are not necessarily an indicator of your potential. Instead, there are four real elements that determine your level of success.
And you’ll find out how you can apply these four principles in your own life in order to thrive and unlock your full potential.
“In the 40-plus years that I have worked with children, I continue to be in awe of each young soul whom I am privileged to get to know. I have learned a great deal about each Self. I’ve experienced their emotions, anxieties, joys, passions, and ambitions, and I see that each Self is perfect in itself. It is only when we start comparing them to each other that we begin to see imperfection.”
— Annemarie Roeper, quoted in Ungifted, by Scott Barry Kaufman.
I’ve always had a bee in my bonnet about the concept of human intelligence and the idea that some people are inherently more ‘intelligent’ than others. I’ve simply always felt intuitively that it’s not accurate.
I believe we’re all equally intelligent, but in radically different ways. And it depends on our environment as to whether we get the opportunity to fully nurture and develop our unique form of intelligence.
When I was about nine years old I was made to sit a test called PEAC (Primary Extension and Challenge), based on IQ (‘Intelligence Quotient’) measurement. I was very surprised that I scored highly on that particular test, because I knew very well that I wasn’t any more or less intelligent than my classmates. I was under no illusion and I knew that my classmates were very good at some things that I wasn’t, and vice versa.
My classmates and I were all different and clever in our own, very different way.
My mind just seemed to work in a way that made me score high on this particular IQ test. As a result, I was labelled ‘gifted’ and channelled into after-school ‘extension’ classes. Suddenly my afternoons that were once filled with play time were spent sitting in a classroom learning about electronics, meteorology, ancient mythology and Italian. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I really didn’t enjoy those classes. It became a real source of anxiety for me to attend them. Plus, the label ‘gifted’ was very uncomfortable for me among my peers as well as at home among my siblings and created all kinds of unwanted tension. Comparison really is the beginning of all problems.
Then there is the story of Scott Barry Kaufman.
Scott is the author of the wonderful book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, who at a very young age was diagnosed as having a learning disability based on IQ tests. As a result, he was channelled into special classes for the learning disabled. Like me, he knew that he wasn’t any more or less intelligent than the others, but his particular kind of intelligence wasn’t fully quantifiable in an IQ test. He tried desperately to escape the label of ‘learning disabled’, which affected him in immeasurable ways (as you can imagine).
It wasn’t until one particular teacher in high school took a chance on him and allowed him to enter her ‘normal’ classroom. Scott went on to prove his school psychologist (and countless others) wrong by graduating from high school and he eventually completed a PhD in Cognitive Psychology at one of America’s most prestigious universities – Yale.
After being labeled ‘learning disabled’, he is now one of the most respected Psychologists in the field of human intelligence and is a wonderful example of how labels can be proven utterly wrong.
Kaufman’s book highlights the real limitations of IQ testing. He discusses how the first modern IQ test was developed in France by Alfred Binet in 1905, who was given the task of inventing a test that would distinguish ‘fast learners’ from ‘slow learners’ in a school environment. The IQ-test that Binet developed was quite effective at doing so, but Binet himself knew the limitations of the test.
After working with hundreds of children and their test results, Binet knew that the outcome of the test was not 100% reproducible and depended on a number of factors including the level of anxiety of the child at the time of the test, their current level of maturity, their environment, how motivated they were to do well in the test and the amount of stimulation they received until that point.
Binet knew that the IQ-test was not a direct sign of potential, which depends on a myriad of other factors.
Binet said himself: “With practice, training and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgement and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.”
And yet despite his public statements about the limitations of the test, the test was fervently adopted for measuring human intelligence worldwide. Lewis Terman, a professor of psychology at Stanford University in the USA was smitten with the Binet test and with some modifications developed the Stanford-Binet test in 1916, which went on to propel the IQ-test forward as the gold standard for human intelligence testing and remained America’s test of choice for half a century (Kaufman, 2013).
Terman and his team believed that intelligence is fixed, enduring and hereditary (which we now know is not the case). His labels influenced a whole new generation of IQ classification schemes. Interestingly, as Kaufman discusses in his book, Terman’s impact surprised even himself. As he noted about fifteen years after the first edition of his test was published “I knew that revision of Binet’s tests was superior to others then available, but I did not foresee the vogue it was to have an imagined that it would probably be displaced by something much better within a few years.”
The imperfect and flawed IQ-test was not superseded by something better within a few years as Terman predicted. It is still the basis behind most intelligence testing used worldwide today.
In his book Ungifted, Kaufman refers to research by Kevin McGrew which showed that IQ tests are “fallible predictors of academic achievement.” He explains how for any given IQ test score, half of the students will end up obtaining final achievement scores at or below their IQ score. Conversely, and frequently not recognized, is that for any given test score, half of the students will end up obtaining final achievement scores at or above their IQ score . So as you can see, IQ tests are not a be-all-and-end-all summary of your potential. They simply “measure an important but limited slice of intellectual functioning in a very limited test environment”, as Kaufman says.
So what is intelligence then?
I’m a big fan of Nicholas Lore’s definition of intelligence in his book The Pathfinder: How to choose or change your career for a lifetime of satisfaction and success.
“Intelligence is a natural gift for doing anything well.”
– Nicholas Lore
We all have a natural gift for doing something well. And therefore, we are all intelligent.
Each of us is unique, with a very distinct and particular zone of what I call natural genius; a particular set of skills, gifts, and talents that are unique to us. And who are we to judge whether one set of skills and abilities makes us more intelligent than someone with a completely different set of talents and abilities?
I call the things you do naturally well your natural genius because I believe that the term genius shouldn’t be reserved only for those who become successful and wildly famous because of their specific gifts. It should be acknowledged that we all have a specific kind of genius, and the only things that separate you from a well-known ‘genius’ are these following things:
· The right conditions, environment, and support to nurture and develop your particular zone of genius;
· The belief that you have a very unique and particular zone of genius;
· An attitude of ‘grit’, a term gaining popularity to describe “A passion and perseverance for long-term goals” (defined by Angela Lee Duckworth);
· A passion and love for something that allows you to sustain and fuel an attitude of grit, which in turn allows you to develop and express your genius to its fullest extent.
In her famous book Wishcraft, Barbara Sher discusses how we’re each born with a ‘seed’ of genius that contains the maximum potential of our fully expressed life; a bit like the acorn contains the blueprint of the fully developed oak tree.
But that acorn will not become a fully developed oak tree unless it is nurtured in the right conditions with nutritious soil, water, sunshine and air. Your natural genius needs a special kind of nurturing too with regards to the environment you grow up in and live in. Sher explains that all accomplished ‘geniuses’ received the right conditions to nurture their particular genius, including support from their environment, encouragement, stimulation, and opportunity.
Kaufman (2013) says that a nurturing family environment is a necessity to help a child flourish, just as a fish needs water to swim and survive.
And one of the most important discoveries in recent years is that the environment you’re in triggers gene expression.
This means that some talents lie dormant in all of us, waiting for the perfect environmental conditions to trigger them. So a supportive and stimulating environment is critical to the development of your own unique intelligence.
To understand whether your own zone of natural genius was nurtured as you were growing up, try to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following questions [from Wishcraft].
Was your natural genius carefully nurtured while growing up?
1. When you were a child, were you treated as though you have a unique kind of genius that was loved and respected?
2. Were you told that you can do or be anything you want, and that you would be loved and admired no matter what that was?
3. Were you given real encouragement in finding out what you wanted to do, and how to do it?
4. Were you encouraged to explore all your talents and interests even if they changed regularly?
5. Were you allowed to complain when the going got tough, and were you given sympathy?
6. Were you rescued when you got in over your head, without being punished or reprimanded?
7. Were you surrounded by happy, fulfilled people who were pleased when you succeeded?
If you answered ‘no’ to four or more of these questions, then it’s likely your natural genius wasn’t provided with the optimal conditions to fully unfold and develop. It’s possible that you don’t know what your natural genius is and perhaps you feel skeptical about even having one.
On the other hand, if you answered ‘yes’ to four or more of these questions, it’s likely that your natural genius ‘seed’ was nurtured very well and allowed to germinate, perhaps grow into a seedling, or perhaps even into a fully developed tree. It’s likely that you have a clear and healthy sense of your own abilities and your unique gifts and talents.
That’s a wonderful thing. You’re very lucky!
One of the best places to start looking to uncover your natural genius is in your childhood. What are the things you loved doing as a child, what did you naturally gravitate towards and what would others say you were naturally good at? And what do you love doing? The seeds of your natural genius will be hidden in there.
There are many different kinds of intelligence and an infinite number of ways in which these types of intelligence can interact and complement each other within each of us.
Commonly referred to as ‘talent stacks’, different combinations of talents can result in very different and powerful abilities. Thankfully today there are numerous approaches, systems, and tests for discovering your own particular innate strengths, which can help you understand the best professions and environments that suit and nurture your particular genius.
I’ve highlighted just some of the many different ways the innate abilities can be classified in Table 1 at the end of this article. What’s important is that you recognize that you have a zone of natural genius. In her book Coach Yourself To A New Career, Talane Miedaner says:
“Our inherent abilities are so much a part of our makeup that they can be like breathing; we may take them completely for granted and not even recognize them as special talents and abilities”.
– Talane Miedaner
You’ll know you’re operating in your zone of natural genius if:
· It feels fun and easy;
· You can do it for hours and you are more energized afterward, not less;
· Time collapses around you. You lose track of the hours when you’re engaged in your natural talent;
· You create superior results with less effort;
· You add value effortlessly to those around you;
· It is easy to be successful;
· You are happy and fulfilled;
· You feel fully alive and self-expressed (Miedaner, 2010).
So how do you realise your maximum potential and succeed?
Potential, Kaufman says in Ungifted, is a constantly moving target. The more we engage in something, the more we develop our brain capacity in that area and the more our potential grows.
In his book Brain Rules, John Medina describes how what you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like — it literally rewires it. So you can absolutely develop intelligence in an area, depending on how much time you dedicate to something.
There are four essential ingredients for success:
In her compelling TED talk, Angela Lee Duckworth describes how in study after study, she found that the most telling factor for success was grit (passion and perseverance for long-term goals). Talent and success are usually unrelated or even inversely related.
She argues that it’s all about perseverance and follow-through.
This brings me to the other essential ingredient for developing your potential — passion. Passion is what fuels and sustains grit and follow-through. When you’re passionate about something, it means you care very deeply about it. But being passionate about something doesn’t guarantee that you’ll always feel upbeat and joyful. In fact, in Joseph Campbell’s famous book The Power of Myth he explains that the Greek root of the word passion translates to suffering.
In her article on the topic, Annabelle Parr describes beautifully:
“Following your passion means choosing a vocation that is so important to you, so vital to your being that you’re willing to suffer for it.”
– Annabelle Par
Annabelle Par goes on to define passion as being “where fulfillment, growth, joy, and change exist”. Your passion will push you to your growth edge and force you to fully develop and express your gifts which can feel scary, challenging and very difficult at times. But through this unfolding of your full potential, while being in service to something you care about, you’ll naturally feel deeply fulfilled and satisfied throughout this process of growth and change. Many studies have shown that people who feel most fulfilled are those who are giving their gifts in service to something larger than themselves.
Find your passion and you will discover your capacity for grit, which will allow you to develop your intelligence and proficiency to follow your dream.
So please, if you ever feel those inner gremlins creeping in that tell you haven’t got what it takes to fulfill your dreams, I am here to remind you of this:
· You are a genius in your very individual, unique way. Don’t let an IQ test result, or anything else for that matter, stand in the way between you and your dream;
· The world needs your specific gifts.
· The way to develop and express your full potential is to forge ahead with grit, perseverance and belief in yourself.
· Find your PASSION and let it fuel and sustain your grit and perseverance, and take you to the most fully-expressed, happy and fulfilled version of yourself you came here to be.
“Greatness is not born, but takes time to develop, and there are many paths to greatness.” — Scott Barry Kaufman
This question has fascinated me ever since a recent epiphany I had on this very topic. I realised suddenly that so many years of struggle and pain I had endured were because I had been living an inauthentic life. It was Katherine Woodward Thomas who came up with these words during one of her coaching calls and they were a true ‘ah-ha!’ moment for me. It was cathartic to finally find the words to name the reason for all my struggles and to see clearly in how many ways I had been inauthentic to my heart throughout the course of my life.
I’ve since been on a rampant search for my own true, authentic voice. Who am I really? What do I really want? What does it mean for me to beauthentic?
We receive so many messages when we’re young. So many messages that are not necessarily true for us, yet we take them on as if they are, because who are we to know? We’re young and parents and teachers know better, they’ve experienced the world. Of course, the messages we receive are radically different depending on our cultural background, our gender, our parents’ social class etc. And how we react to them also depends on our own individual personality.
In my case, a middle class white family in suburban Australia, I received messages like: You’re a good girl if you do this, you’ll get far if you do this, you have to work hard and struggle to get anywhere but it’s worth it, success takes sacrifice, education is the most important thing in the world, particularly science & engineering as those fields will always have jobs, corporate careers are the way to make money, we have to sacrifice what we love to do what is best, financial security is paramount, creative talents are for hobbies, not a real career, there is no money in the arts, humanities studies are not real studies, you will never make money as a linguist, you are loved and valued for what you can achieve… . As an impressionable young girl, desperately wanting my parents’ love and approval, I took these messages seriously.
I ignored the whisperings of my heart, telling me…
You love writing, you love languages, you love creative expression, you love people, community and connection, you love stories, you love dancing. Because the messages I received allowed no room for these whispers. They simply didn’t fit in my world of parental expectations. I was fortunate that I did not ignore every whispering I received from my heart. I’m blessed with quite a stubborn, rebellious and adventurous spirit that urged me to spend 12 months in rural Paraguay (South America) as a cultural exchange student, which was a life-altering and heart-opening experience, and to take 12 months off university after my second year to backpack and work my way around Europe. I learned the art of living off the lowest wages, of doing any job that came up to cover the next train ticket, of feeling at home in all kinds of squalid accommodation, befriending people from all walks of life and all different countries and lifestyles.
Each of these experiences cracked me open in some delightful way, allowed the light to flow into my heart and reach the furthest corners where my true essence was lying there waiting for me to tap into it. I discovered my love for people of all cultures, all races, all backgrounds, a deep compassion for those born and raised into poverty and difficult circumstances, a deep compassion for the planet and all the damage we are inflicting upon it, a deep joy of connecting with other human beings and listening to their stories.
But somehow the childhood messages were deeply ingrained.
I remember the exact moment at which I made the decision to ‘sacrifice’ my heart’s joy for the noble good of earning a decent living and setting up a financially secure future. I was sitting in a plane on the way back from Argentina, having travelled there over the university holidays on money earned from working three part-time jobs (yes I had a tendency to burn the candle at both ends) and savoring the delicious experience I had just had. My heart opens in an indescribable way in South America, there’s something about the way they value family, fun, community, and dancing above all else, and live a seemingly uncomplicated and joyful life. At that moment I was on my way back to finish my final year of university, which I knew would be tough, and I knew I would have to do postgraduate degrees after the basic degree to find a good job in my particular field.
If I’d had the courage to put aside my childhood conditioning when deciding what to study at university, I would have chosen to study languages without a doubt. Learning and speaking other languages brings me so much joy, I absorb them quickly and easily, with almost no effort. Wouldn’t that be a sign of your heart’s purpose, if something feels so joyful and effortless?
But my childhood conditioning and parent’s advice urged me to pursue a career in science & engineering, given the increased job opportunities I would have. In that moment sitting in the plane, coming back from my overseas holiday, I knew the fun times were over. From now on it would be hard work, sacrifice, and time to build that much coveted financially secure future…. my heart sank and I knew I was making a choice that was perhaps not authentically me. But what choice did I have? A financially insecure future was no option in my mind of beliefs. I knew that a secure future would require sacrifice, hard work, sweat, and tears, right?
And so I embarked on the journey of being an inauthentic version of myself
…seeking financial security, job opportunities and deep down, my parent’s approval. I knuckled down and finished my degree with Honours, then on to completing my Doctorate (self-sacrifice is honorable right? And we’re seen and loved for our achievements right?). This is where I started unraveling at the seams. While I was passionate about my chosen field, the whole field was simply not in my zone of genius. I’m a creative soul, a linguist, a humanitarian. So why on earth was I doing science & engineering? The work was tough and difficult, I had to work long hours to keep up with the demands, it didn’t come naturally to me yet I was determined to do well. There was no room for failure. My health plummeted; I was drained, depleted and completely exhausted. Yet I had to achieve and do well, after all that was how I would be seen and loved. I was chasing that elusive abundant financial future and job security. I was chasing love and approval.
Childhood conditioning runs deep.
As I moved from university into the corporate world, I was finally able to enjoy my first decent income. So it was all worth it right? I had a great permanent work contract with a great company, I had interesting and challenging projects. I’d made it. I was secure. I consistently ignored the signs of my inner wisdom. I over-rode them. I was getting more and more tired, my brain was becoming foggy, my attention span was dwindling. I was tired, always tired. Physical symptoms started manifesting, indigestion problems, sleep problems, and finally an acute over-active thyroid that caused me insomnia and a loss of 10 kg within one month. You would think this sign would get my attention that something in my current life was not right, right? Well, not really.
I read Louise Hay’s book on the spiritual causes of physical illnesses. The spiritual cause behind an over-active thyroid was ‘when would it be my turn?’ This was absolutely what I was thinking. When I looked around me, I saw all my friends enjoying life, with active social lives, budding careers, travelling, starting families. While I was stuck in pursuing a difficult career that had wonderful career prospects and financial security, but with my physical body that was falling apart and a mind that was in torture but had no idea how to escape it. There was no room for changing my career path. I had invested so much in this path, I’d given everything, my blood, sweat, and tears — literally. My partner and I had bought a house and we were financially stuck. We needed my income. There was no room to take time out. I hadn’t earned enough sick leave at this early stage of my career to take time off.
I had chosen this path and I had to make it work.
As ways to survive I delved into yoga and meditation that helped greatly. I read spiritual teachings, hoping to discover my true life purpose and how to live it. I rested as much as I could. I got help through acupuncture and bio-resonance to alleviate my physical symptoms. I maintained a semi-decent social life. On the surface, things looked pretty good. My career was flourishing, I had been invited to be a Shareholder of my company and I was holding down senior management positions. I was facilitating workshops, attending conferences and presenting well-received papers. This was everything I had always wanted, wasn’t it? So why was I still always so tired? And why did I feel so empty? Something was missing. Something big was missing. I wasn’t getting my gifts into the world. I didn’t feel as though I was making an impact, my soul was under-fed and under-nourished in every possible way.
And at a deep soul level, I was simply exhausted.
I believe the Universe never stops giving us gentle nudges in the direction we need to be going to live our purpose. I had ignored my gentle nudges for so long that they were eventually turning into sledgehammers. The final wakeup call came when my husband and I wanted to start our family. We went through two devastating miscarriages within a 12 month period. For the first time in my life I actually thought I could no longer go on. I entertained thoughts of leaving this world. Nothing could explain the deep, gut-wrenching pain and sadness I experienced every waking moment. I had always wanted to be a mother. I couldn’t understand why the Universe was making me endure this, after all the suffering I had been through continuously since my early twenties, with the constant fatigue and physical symptoms, why this on top of that? Hadn’t I suffered enough?
But fortunately, the Universe knows the game plan. Somehow it knew that this was the only way to wake me up from the deep illusion I had dug myself into.
It didn’t work after one miscarriage. I went straight back to work and into the same old routines and behaviours as before. Over-doing everything. Over-achieving in everything, as a way to prove my worth and that I was good enough. It took a second miscarriage to shake me up sufficiently such that I would walk into the office the next day and request 3 months off work. I handed over my job and went home to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. For the first time in my life, I was choosing for me and my needs. What an amazing feeling. At the age of 35 I realised I had never done this before, put my own needs first, I had always been trying to please others, live up to others’ expectations of me. It was during this time, away from the grind of corporate office life, sipping coffee at the beach one morning, that I had an epiphany.
I had a choice.
I could continue this life of chasing love and approval through things that do not feed me spiritually and emotionally. Or I could choose to leave that life behind and find the path that is authentically me.
I didn’t take this decision lightly, given how much I had invested in my career to date, but once the thought had entered my head that there was another way, there was no going back. It felt like a tonne of bricks had been lifted from my shoulders. It felt like the light was seeping in under the veil of illusion that had kept me separated from my authentic self. I felt my heart fill with joy. It felt like the Angels were rejoicing and celebrating that I had finally heeded their call.
It’s been two and a half years since I left my corporate career and finally became a mother, to our absolute delight. We were given the amazing opportunity to embark on overseas postings through my husband’s work, which has given me time and space to dig deep and discover my true passion and calling (does the Universe suddenly support us in every way after we’ve woken up to the call to find our authentic self?). After much reflection, I decided to study remotely to become a Life Coach and to focus on writing. Through coaching I am finally following my heart’s passion, connecting with people, listening to their stories, helping them find their own authentic self. I cannot explain the synchronicity that has followed me since I made the decision to be true to my heart and soul, doors opening at exactly the right time, my health improving out of sight, my energy levels soaring, meeting the right people at the right time, being guided to the right books, the right teachers and the right clients at the right time.
I cannot explain the synchronicity that has followed me since I made the decision to be true to my heart and soul…
… doors opening at exactly the right time, my health improving out of sight, my energy levels soaring, meeting the right people at the right time, being guided to the right books, the right teachers and the right clients at the right time.
How did my friends and family react to my decision to leave my old career behind and follow my heart? Initially with shock and disbelief (I had many people openly laugh at my decision), followed by understanding and compassion, and these days with admiration and respect. People are realising more and more that the only path to real, authentic joy, is to be our real, authentic selves. There is something that happens when we dare to connect with what is authentic and true in our own heart. In my case, I feel like I’m finally tapping into the Universal power, opportunities miraculously open up, synchronicities abound, I feel I am flowing with the river instead of swimming upstream and I feel a deep sense of relief, joy and clarity that I had never felt before. I wake up excited about the new day ahead and uplifted by the positive contribution I can make through my own unique gifts and talents.
To me, this is what it means to be authentic. My heart and soul feel alive and connected to all of humanity, I feel aligned, I feel infinite gratitude and deep inner happiness, and most importantly, I finally feel free. I don’t believe there can be anything more beautiful than being able to joyfully serve others, in a way that feels authentic to our hearts. I think we pay a high price for being inauthentic.
It’s as though the Universe is programmed to increase our pain and struggle exponentially the further we get away from our true, authentic self.
So I wonder, how do we help each other to find our own authentic selves? In their hearts, our parents had the very best intentions for us as children. It isn’t their fault they embedded messages into our belief systems that encouraged us into directions that may not be our authentic path to follow. They grew up in difficult times when financial security was the only thing that mattered. It was still about survival, not self-actualisation. And I don’t want to paint a bad picture of my parents; they were very loving, very supportive and simply wanted the best future for us. I wonder how many of their generation and all the thousands of generations before were able to be their authentic selves? How many people actually had a choice? I dare to think not many. The fortunate few who were able to be authentic to their heart and soul were the lucky minority. We are so fortunate that we’re now entering a time of prosperity, of increased choices and opportunities to explore deeply how we can earn a living doing what we do well and what we love. Times have changed.
I am now 100% committed to helping others find their own authentic voice. I’m passionate about helping people experience that degree of freedom and joy that comes when we take the time to slow down and listen to those whispers in our heart that lead us back to our authentic self.
It has to be acknowledged that the path of our authentic self is not always easy. We are still challenged with many things we need to learn along the way, it can be difficult creating a secure financial base and livelihood from doing what we love. It takes courage to escape the confines of our secure jobs that provide for all of our needs except perhaps our spiritual and emotional ones. We have responsibilities in life and commitments, it is not always possible to take that leap of faith when we want to. But I do truly believe that once we make the commitment to find our authentic self and to courageously take steps in that direction, we suddenly find unlimited support and opportunities opening up to help us, the support of the Universe is suddenly up underneath us and limitations we thought we had dissolve or go away. Miraculous things can happen when we decide to ‘go for it’, all the way. Just as it seems pain and struggle increase the further away we get from our authentic selves, in reverse, joy and ease seem to increase the closer we get to being our authentic selves.
So what would I recommend we do in our quest for finding and being our authentic self?
Number one, we need to listen to our hearts. Stop, slow down, take time out, get quiet, and listen. I know we lead busy lives, I know we think there isn’t always time. But once we make the commitment to be true to ourselves, we find we can make time, and suddenly and miraculously we find our access to time increases. The whisperings are there in our heart, just waiting to be heard. We need to ask ourselves, what do I love doing? What kind of person do I love being? Within those things we love doing lie hidden the treasures of our own specific, unique gifts that we uniquely have to bless the world. The world desperately needs our specific gifts because no one else can give them except us. If we don’t nurture and contribute them in service, we and the world will have missed out on our biggest blessing and the Universe will mourn that loss. The heart cannot give false advice, it always leads to growth and expansion, to service in joy and a profound blessing to our soul and the world. So we just need to get quiet and listen.
Of course, we encounter obstacles along the way, those false nagging beliefs that tell us we can’t do that, or we’re not good enough to do this… we are all slaves to our internal beliefs. But these beliefs can be overcome through gentle and deep belief work that remove the obstacles we have created in our minds. We might come up against unforeseen challenges that make us feel we’re on the wrong path after all. However, I believe the Universe continues to provide us the challenges we need to grow, strengthen and evolve the skills we need to be doing the work we want to do. Being authentic requires growth and expansion, healing and love. It is not a journey for the faint-hearted, but it is one that is guaranteed to bring us back to our soul, where all that is joyful and wonderful in this life resides.
Time is short, don’t waste another day – you CAN make a difference and earn great money, doing what you love. Find out how in my E-Book PATHFINDING.
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
Kate De Jong is an expert Fempire Coach, blogger and inspirer who intimately understands (and shares) what it is like to juggle motherhood and entrepreneurship, whilst staying sane and enjoying the freedom and fulfilment of being a successful coach and fempreneur.