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Get on Board with a Personal BoD

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Confession time.

At the start of this year, I had yet to conceive my annual business plan. And it felt pretty crappy to be lacking the clarity I needed to create a roadmap for success.

About halfway through January, I decided I really needed a combination of motivation and accountability. So I opted to create a personal board of directors. A crew of select friends vastly familiar with my most authentic self, who are some of my biggest biz supporters, and who have had experience working with me in the past. A few peeps whose opinions mean the world to me, and who are genuinely invested in my success.

We spent three hours in a room together analyzing, from a place of love, all the aspects of my biz, and I walked away from this session with a detailed plan coupled with soaring spirits to get after it.

The idea of creating your own board of directors, mastermind or cohort isn’t new, but man can it can be inspiring and invigorating when done well.

Here are a few key ingredients to create your own ride or die squad to help you achieve whatever is most important to you, personally or professionally, this year.

Know your cheerleaders

These are the people who are always interested in what’s shaking in your life and career. The people who seem to get you on a deep, intrinsic level and truly want to see you succeed in achieving whatever floats your boat. Plus, they are willing to roll up their sleeves and help you get there. This will look different for each of us, but the sentiment is the same - these peeps are willing to share, connect, brainstorm, inspire and get you excited about moving toward what you most want for yourself with gusto.

Design how you’ll support each other

As with any relationship, take time at your first BoD meeting to get into agreement around what’s cool, what’s not, meeting structure, etc.

  • How often will you meet?
  • Is everything shared in total confidence?
  • How do you each want to support one another?  (Think accountability, sharing the mic, etc)
  • Any special requests or permissions to be granted to the group?

Clarity in the purpose of your personal BoD and how you design your support of each other will lay the groundwork for successful meetings, and create a fertile environment for goal attainment.  

Be vulnerable

If you have the right people at the table, this step will be far easier than, say, showcasing that same vulnerability in front of your new CEO. The idea here is to be honest and open so that your board has the full scope of why what you’re bringing to the table is important to you. The clearer you are in your why, the more genuinely your posse will want to help you accomplish your goals. When people are able to align with the purpose behind your goal, achieving it becomes uber meaningful to everyone involved in the process. It’s as much a win for your board as it is for you!

Do the work

You personal BoD is invested in your success and it’s imperative to honor their commitment by being personally committed to doing the work. Sure, life happens, but the point of having this tribe is to both have your back and inspire you to get after it. Honor yourself, their time and the feel good vibes that come from a group of people rooted in seeing you succeed. Show up for your personal BoD, and yourself, by doing the work to meet the goals you commit to accomplishing each and every time you meet. You might just change your life.

 

 

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Sorry, Not Sorry

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All right. Moment of hard truth.

I do it too!

Those tentative phrases that us women seem to have been brainwashed into using.

Words such as: kind of, sort of, maybe, might, please, sorry, somewhat.

Questions like, “know what I mean/what I’m saying”, “does that make sense”, or up talking our statements, making them sound like a question, unintentionally inviting unsolicited opinions like moths to a flame.

These words and tendencies are the cornerstones of tentative speech. And friends we all need to quit qualifying, because we belong right where we are in our professional and personal lives!

Tentative speech is the shy alternative to assertion, and sadly it can be a characteristic of those who lack confidence in themselves, or feel a lack of power or status.

Now I know for a fact this is not how you want to come across in your next big pitch meeting or email to the C-Suite.  

The fix is both simple and challenging. If you want to own what you have to say in your next email or big meeting, then its time to quit using all the soft words and phrases.

You gotta drop em, just like the mic.

To start working your way up to this moment, here's a few suggestions to help you say what you mean and mean what you say.

Reread Emails

A quick fix to start, find every qualifier in your freshly written email and delete them. Feeling like this email sounds a bit harsh? It might to you at first, but odds are your readers will start taking your directives as exactly that, a directive, with a few less opinions to go around.

Make Note

Tack a post-it with all your verbal hesitancies up on your computer screen or in the notebook that goes with you to every meeting. Have them within constant view so there’s an ever present reminder of the words you’re dropping from your vocab.

Take Note

Count em up. Enlist the services of a trusted friend or co-worker to start tallying how many times you use these words, or keep your own score. Start to notice how prevalent these tentative phrases are in your speech.

Let’s band together and own the power of how we speak and write.

I know I’m worth it, and I know you are too. No kind of, sort of or maybe about it.

 

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Values Based Job Hunting

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You know you’re ready for the next big move in your career. Your current gig works, but you really want a job you love. A position that lets your authentic leadership capabilities shine, and feels oh so meaningful.

In order to land a job that feels dreamy, try holding your values at the center of the job hunting process.

Values are the mile markers of purpose. They are a mostly unspoken way of of living that gives meaning to our lives. To find a gig that truly lights you up, lets put your values front and center.

Know Thy Values

First things first, what are your values? I’m not necessarily talking the tried and true values you were raised upon, but the tenants of what is deeply and personally meaningful to you. Collaboration, spontaneity, tenacity, integrity, adventure, compassion. You can find value lists a mile long online, but it’s important you identify the words or phrases that are intensely significant to you. Those at the bedrock of who you are and what makes you tick.

If you’re having trouble identifying them, think of a moment in life where you were particularly fulfilled. Who were you being, what was happening around you, what feels important about this moment in your life? Share this story with a friend and have them string together words that are popping, or the values they are noticing.

Cross Reference

With reaffirming clarity on your own values, start to look for positions and organizations that compliment them. Review organizational missions, corporate giving partners and practices, client rosters, employee benefits, etc, and cross reference how they align with what’s on your personal values list. The more synchronicities the better!

Another quick way to know if you’re jiving with a company is to notice how your body feels when you’re learning about the org, position or on the interview. When we’re living meaningfully, putting our values front and center, we feel incredibly alive, lit up and energized. Check in with what’s going on for you physically across the entire job hunting experience for deeper insight from somatic alignment. We often don’t give our bodies enough credit for the information they provide.

Own Em

As you start landing those big interviews, be prepared to share your strengths and experience as they pertain to your values and the values of the organization. If collaboration is a core value that makes you and the organization tick, showcase examples of how your collaborative nature has shaped who you are and effects of these dynamic contributions across your career. Be curious about how collaboration fits as a centerpiece of their work and the work in the potential new role, being sure to highlight whatever synergies you see across your own resume.

Show Up

At every stage of the process, from resume submission, to interview, to offer negotiation, stand fully in the importance of your values. Affirm to yourself that this opportunity will help you live more meaningfully, since it is aligned with what’s most important to you; allowing you to do greater, more impactful work. Relish the power of you getting to do work that feels so true to who you are at each stage of the process and watch how magically things can unfold.

 

 

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How 'How' Hampers

It is inevitable. We’ll be deep into a coaching session and uncover a big ol’ ah-ha around what’s holding the client back. It’s this mic drop kind of moment where we both sit back and revel in the revelation.

And then it happens. The client asks the biggest, hardest question… how?

  • How do I do that?
  • How do I change?
  • How do I get there?

Oh friends. If I had the answer I’d be writing this from my yacht parked in the Mediterranean next to Mr. and Mrs. Sean Carter. Tossing a Cartier ball across the water with Blue.

Alas my yacht dreams have yet to be realized, but the reason has nothing to do with me and everything to do with this three letter word.

Allow me to explain how. ;)

You’re Thirsty

How is usually preceded by another three letter word, but. “But how do I… “

But = lack.

Lack = thirst.

When you’re coming from a place of lack, you basically abandon all creative thinking and relinquish control, keeping yourself stuck in the lack of a foreseeable solution. For further tips on how to quench being thirsty, see the pervious blog.

You’re Overwhelmed

How embodies the feeling of stuck, and when we’re stuck we tend to spin out into overwhelm about what to do next.

It’s cool, it happens to the best of us.

To combat overwhelm, which inevitably follows 'how', get into action. I’m not talking life changing action, that’s too overwhelming, but simply identify one small thing you can do to move in the direction of an answer. Not THE answer necessarily, but an answer. Do that thing, do it now. Then tomorrow, do another small thing. Rinse and repeat till you suddenly find yourself knee deep in a plan.

You’re Intuitive

Here’s the big secret, I don’t have the answers to your 'how', but you DO. If you quiet down the fear, the ego, and listen deeply, you’ll hear that inner voice who’s completely at peace and knowledgeable about exactly 'how' to move forward. You can find it through journaling, meditation, repetitive motion. Showering and long runs tend to be my brainstorm magnets of choice.

Once you quiet the noise, and are able to tune inward, your next steps will flow to you with more ease than you could imagine. Your job is to listen and trust it. The more you do, the clearer the path starts to become.

You’re Attached

By clinging to the one and only perceivable way you believe it can happen, you're basically telling the Universe, "It’s my way or the highway, Bud!" Not the best stance for cosmic negotiation.

Small actions will showcase the energy of commitment toward what you desire, so the Universe can start engineering some potential support.  By not holding onto the end goal of your ‘how’ super tightly, and taking a small step in the general direction of where you want to head without desperate attachment, you’ll open yourself up to opportunities that may not be visible to you in this exact moment.

Next time you hear yourself utter ‘how’ from that state of desperation, check yourself. Check in with yourself, drink a big ol’ glass of water and take one small step in the direction of what you most desire.

And if you end up parked next to the Carter's yacht because of it, may I be so bold to ask for an invitation?

 

 

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Quench Your Thirst

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Quench Your Thirst

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You know that feeling.
You’ve just Got. To. Have. It.
The job, relationship, raise. You want it so bad it pains you.
This feeling = thirsty.

When we’re thirsty, we are completely focused on the lack of having what we want. And this feeling of needy desperation doesn’t leave us with much perspective, opportunity or creative energy.

The best way to move in the direction of what you desperately desire is finding a way to quench your thirst.

Here are three tips to start feeling satisfied.

Get into gratitude
When we are seized by the somewhat paralyzing thoughts of what we don’t have, the single best way I’ve found to reverse this thinking trap is to get ourselves into an appreciative state. What are all the things you have in your life to be grateful for? Make a list, say them out loud, see how long this list can be. Being in gratitude is a research backed way for us to feel more abundant and in turn, far less thirsty.

Seek the desired feeling
Imagine you had the thing you’re longing for. Now ask yourself, how would that make me feel?
Get to the baseline feeling the object your thirsting over will provide, and then be in that feeling as much as possible. Seriously, go do whatever you have to do to feel the way you want to feel.
If your thirst for a partner is about feeling loved, remind yourself of all the love you currently have. Shower yourself with self love, give your Mom a call, snuggle your pup, treat a friend to a coffee date. Find as many ways to be in the feeling your thirsting for so you begin to quench it with the abundance of, in this case love, available to you right now.

Drink a glass of water
I know, I know, I’m being quite literal here, but it works! When you’re feeling that longing for what you lack, go fill up a big ol’ glass of water and drink it down. Symbolically you’re reminding your body, and mind, when it's in a panicked or a desperate sense of lack that you truly have all you need at your fingertips. You are fully capable of quenching your own thirst. Enjoy this full feeling, be in gratitude for it and go ahead and pat yourself on the back for the hydration boost.

Want to add an extra does of woo? Before you drink the water, send it thoughts of gratitude, abundance, love, anything positive. Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto has demonstrated when focusing positive thoughts on water beautiful molecular snowflake like patterns are created, while negative feeling thoughts create harsh dark indecipherable structures. Check out Google Images to see the visible results of charging your water with positivity and enjoy drinking it down.

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The Wind Down, Round Up

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December. It’s that time when we’re holly, jolly and “ho, ho, holy crap where'd the year go?!” It’s once we’re past Hanukkah, Christmas and Kawanzaa, ready to turn the annual page, when I feel most compelled to reflect and set my sights on how I want the new year to be.

My original intention with this post was to share what this process looks like for me, but upon reflection, it’s really not a one size fits all kinda thing. In fact, there are some really incredible resources that might be the exact fit for your new year planning and beyond.

With that, allow me to share some of my favorite things:

Reboot Your Year

Reboot, a great coaching organization, has a fantastic free email series focused on deep reflection. This 5-day email course offers Buddha like poetry, koans – which are phrases to meditate upon, and 20-minute guided journal prompts. If you’re looking for a quiet, zen like way to recap and revive, this will help you do just that, all between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Desire Mapping

Any client of mine will tell you my go to strategy in determining what’s next is tuning in to how you want to feel, and letting those feelings guide your intentions. (more on intentions below) Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map book and planners are my hands down go-to’s when determining what gets priority on my agenda in the year to come. It’s become my sacred intention setting and reflection strategy throughout the year.

Intentions Over Resolutions

At the top of 2017, I wrote a short blog post on why I believe it’s most important to set your intentions for the new year versus making a laundry list of resolutions. To me, intentions feel so much more compassionate and "in it for the long-haul". Influenced by Desire Mapping, and what works best on my end, it’s worth the quick read.

Zing Collaborative

My dear friend, and Achieving Alchemy co-creator, Sarah, wrote an amazing blog post at the close of 2016 focused on some big coaching questions to consider for end of year reflection and planning. It’s basically like having a coach in your pocket, helping you get focused on what’s most important to you next year.

Tools to keep it all alive in 2018:

Calm app

I believe in order to be at our best, our most intentional, we need to create mindful awareness. Building in a pause before our reaction. Calm is my favorite meditation app for whatever you want to work on. Awareness, anxiety, restful sleep, they have a variety of meditations and, maybe most importantly, lengths ranging from 2-30 minutes helping you fit mindfulness into your schedule on a daily basis.

Desire Map Planner

Mentioned above, this planner is what keeps me anchored in my intentions and focused on how I want to feel the whole year through. I’ve always been an aspirational planner user, never lasting beyond March. Yet this journal like datebook has become my bible the whole year through. 

Champagne Moments

How would you design your week so that by Friday at 5, what you accomplished would be worthy of popping a bottle of bubbly? That’s the idea behind Carrie Bentley’s champagne moments, from Life Hack Bootcamp. I discovered this genius productivity method through Amy Porterfield’s podcast, and it’s seriously upped my "get sh*t done" game ever since.

Accountability

Having accountability in any goal, project or intention will amplify your discipline to a whole new level. As you start to think about what’s important for you in 2018, who can hold you accountable in getting there? You could hire a coach (shameless plug and sample session link here), confide in your boss, chat up a mentor, teacher, leader. No matter who it is, you want them to hold a high bar for you, have your best interest at heart and hold you to your larger vision for 2018.

Recommended Reading:

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasticha – A quick, easy read on Neil’s research backed 9 secrets to happiness. I agree with them all.

The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard – It’s like a polar plunge for claiming your personal power and refusing to settle for smallness.

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna – A book full of whimsy and wisdom on the road to purpose. It’s one I go back to for a shot of creative inspiration again and again.

Find Your Why by Simon Sinek, et all – A follow up to the infamous “Start With Why” that walks you through determining your Why page by page. Pro tip: start with Why and then create goals based on your How’s.

The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte – At this point, it goes without saying, but use this one to identify your core desired feelings and set some goals with soul.

Whew, here you have it!

I should mention, none of these are affiliate links, but truly great resources I have in my back pocket at all times.

Happy reflecting, planning, holidays and new year to you and yours.

Lots of Love - Jess

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Follow Your Flow

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“When someone makes a decision, she is really diving into a strong current that will carry her to places she had never dreamed of when she first made the decision.”

- Paulo Coelho & Jess Edwards

I’ve been reflecting on my professional journey a lot recently.

The discomfort of major growth periods, the deep satisfaction of the joyous moments can flood back to me in an instant. But what really stands out is this idea of current.

Of how making what may seem like a small decision begins to shape and guide you toward calling, toward purpose.

9 years ago - I looked up my corporate ladder and thought, damn, this isn't for me... but what the heck is?

6 years ago - I wrapped grad school and shifted my career trajectory, accepting a role leveraging my degree in leadership and organizational development.

4 years ago - I walked into my first coach training and discovered my calling.

3 years ago - I began coaching women in my organization. Helping them get grounded in who they were so they could lead from their authenticity, finding meaning in their work and their lives.

1 year ago - I longed for a larger impact, and left to launch my coaching business, helping women align who they are with the work they want to do in the world.

Today - I look back and see that the start of this journey was an internal restlessness.  Very much like a current. It pulled me closer and closer to my calling, toward what was next.

Each move edged me closer to purpose. Helping me feel more alive and energized by each step, more lit up by the work I was doing, all as I got closer to the work I’m meant to do.

Trusting this current hasn’t always been easy, but it’s helped me grow and gain the knowledge necessary to pour all of this experience into gentling the journey for the women I have the honor of coaching in my practice.

And I wish the same for you. May your current always be strong, may you have the courage to follow your flow. 

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SoulCycle Life Lessons

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Anyone who’s been reading my blog from the beginning knows I have a special place in my heart for spin class. The loud, heart pumping, sweat dripping workout is one of my favorite go to’s. This past June, I was offered the spinner’s dream, to join SoulCycle for a complimentary month.

Let me start by confirming the cult rumors are true. I mean, am I the only one not wearing their branded clothing? These SoulCyclers are serious!

I fully expected to end the month jonesing for my next candlelit endorphin rush, having fully drank the Kool-Aid, but instead I was surprised to have walked away with a few life lessons instead.

Inhale intention, exhale exhaustion

Inhale intention, exhale exhaustion has become a bit of a life manta for me. Each breath gives us an opportunity to set our intension for the day, for a meeting, for a conversation. Each breath gives us a chance to reset. To bring us back to the larger picture of what we want and intend for our careers, lives, selves. It’s become a reminder to reset my mind when I notice my breath, and release what isn’t serving me. When I’m exhausted, I’ll forcefully exhale to relieve my tension or overwhelm, and take a deep inhale to reset my intention for how I want things to be.

Don’t be breathless, be sore

So many people around me during class would be flying on their bikes. A pedaling blur of fast, with zero resistance, and basically missing the point. It’s not about how fast you go, but the effort behind each stroke. Hello busy-ness metaphor!

Busy does not equal meaningful. The sweet spot in our work comes from being intentional with our time and effort in order to create meaningful outcomes. We want to end our work weeks with that same good kind of sore, where we know hard work got done and done well, rather than collapse from the breathlessness of busy.

It’s not about money or time, but how bad you want it

You have to get after it. You have to show up for what you want in your life. Not having enough money or time are excuses for not really wanting whatever “it” is for you. And that’s ok! Maybe “it” isn’t the thing you really want or need, maybe the timing isn’t right. But when you truly set your sights on “it”, the wanting becomes so focused and intense, everything else starts to fall away and the road to where you want to go rises to meet you.

You can be tired and still be strong

Once we start getting after “it”, it can be exhausting. You might fall down or feel beat, but you’re still strong my friend. It is this strength, that will carry you forward. Take a moment to be tired. To see how you’re improving, growing and inching closer to what’s next for you. Take a break, rest, recoup, take damn good care of yourself, so when you're ready, you can get after it again in a fiercely strong way. 

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Three Quick Tips to Combat Imposter Syndrome

You did it! You nailed the interview, got the huge new gig, and said fond farewells to your old colleagues. There’s oohhh-ing and ahhhhh-ing at your fancy new title and big name organization. You’re moving on up!

Then it hits you, maybe the night before you first day or the moment you close the door to your new office, “Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into? I’m not qualified for this! They’re going to discover they made the wrong choice, and I’m screwed!”

Panic sets in and your mind starts reeling through all the ways you’ve hoodwinked your way into this role. A role that you’ve desired and strove toward with blind ambition for as long as you can remember.

What the hell is happening?

You my friend have been hit by a case of imposter syndrome.  It’s estimated that up to 70% of us feel we’ve fooled others into thinking we’re more talented or competent than we believe ourselves to be. 70%! That’s just depressing.

A new job, a promotion, heck even being on a volunteer board or entering into motherhood can create feelings of fraudulence. You likely feel if anyone were to pull the curtain back when you aren’t looking, they’d surely find a trembling kid, totally unsure of the "right way" of doing things and making it up as she goes.

Imposter syndrome is a natural response to constantly rising to the height of your capabilities. It means you’re stretching and growing, you’re developing and showing up for bigger and better experiences.

Still feeling like a fake? Well, here are three quick reminders to prove to yourself that you, my friend, most certainly do belong.

You’re not alone

Everyone had to start somewhere… and odds are they were scared sh*tless on their first day of that big new job or position too. Not too many people go around openly sharing how terrifying a new role or project was for them. With 70% of us suffering from Imposter Syndrome, I guarantee that during big moments like these, most of us feel like the real Oz who's hiding behind the curtain.

You’re here

Which means you’ve accomplished a lot.  Odds are your new organization isn’t filling a quota by hiring you for this new role. You are here because of all you’ve accomplished. So write down all your successes, your accomplishments, what you’re most proud of achieving for fodder when you’re feeling terrified. Success always exists in the rearview mirror, so keep this list of accomplishments in your back pocket as a shot in the arm reminder for when fear overwhelms.

You’re awesome

Yes, you. As a person, not a title or fancy new position, but honest to goodness you. It might come as a newsflash, but we exist as people outside of our professional selves. If work has you feeling fraudulent, think of all the amazing ways you show up outside of your professional life. As a friend, in your hobbies, at the gym, whatever reminds you that work alone does not define all of who you are. Let your bevy of robust awesomeness ground you with confidence. 

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Resiliency: The Art of Making Lemonade

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I like to think of resiliency as the art of turning life's lemons into lemonade. I mean, have you heard Beyonce’s new album? Girlfriend made ALL the lemonade out of those lemons!

While your process of bouncing back may look different than say Beyonce’s, there are four key elements you can put into practice to help you create our own blend of lemonade when life hands you a bowl full of lemons.

Feel Your Feels

Scientifically, we have a hopeless circuit that gets triggered by upsetting events resulting in intense feelings of sadness, anger or the need to dive headfirst into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. This is both biological and completely normal. It is only after we allow these feelings to clear out that hope swings back into action. After all, how can we recognize hope if we have never felt hopelessness? So go ahead and give yourself a few days, or pints, to get over not getting the promotion or that very public social media blunder. Know that you’re likely to round the corner toward feeling hopeful again once you’ve allowed yourself to process and wallow for a bit.

Control what you can

Obviously we can’t control the outcome of the job interview or if you get that raise you’ve been working hard for this year, but learning to control what we can is a way to strengthen our resiliency muscles. By staying focused on what’s within your grasp, you actively resist the anxiety spiral of ‘what if’ or ‘why me?’. Get focused on your talking points for the interview or building your case for that raise, even if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted, you’ll bounce back faster knowing you tackled the situation in a controlled and empowered way.

Be flexible

Some think of resiliency as “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” That’s true, to an extent. Trying hard is part of it, but perhaps more importantly, is the willingness to try again differently. The art of building resiliency is a willingness to consider different ways to solve a problem and assess the effectiveness of the outcomes. Thinking of different approaches and perspectives will help you build new pathways toward bouncing back, and help you move forward with purpose.   

Talk it out

Please know you do not have to have it all together, or get back on track alone. I’ve built my entire business on helping people strengthen their resiliency through discussing their problems and what arises while doing so. Talking to others who’ve been where you are, or can help you try on a different perspective, is a way to put resiliency into action. No one is perfect, we’ve all stumbled and found a way to learn and grow from it. Sharing our ‘lemons’ with a BFF, coach or mentor helps us realize others have been there too, and we’re not alone... often inspiring us to make some damn good lemonade.

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