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Career Growth. It Isn't Always Vertical

There are so many idioms for rising in our careers.

  • Climbing the corporate ladder

  • Breaking the glass ceiling

  • Upward mobility

There’s one commonality here, they’re all vertical. They all point to one career trajectory, up.

The reality is our careers can, and perhaps even need to, move horizontally at times to get after what’s next.

Enter our 26th president of the United States.

Teddy Roosevelt’s career was driven from a place of values, passion and curiosity, which included many horizontal moves before landing at what might ultimately be considered the top of the career ladder, President of the US.

Roosevelt lost both his mother and wife on the same day when he was only 25 years old. According to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, his reaction in the face of this devastating adversity was not to climb higher on the ladder he was currently scaling, but to “take whatever job came his way where he thought he could do good.” Realigning and focusing his career on what was most meaningful to him after going through the intense heartache of loss.

This shift in meaning and perspective had him leaving the NY state legislator to focus on other ways he could have an impact and grow in his career.

He became the head of the US Civil Service Commission, then NYC Police commissioner, joined the army, became governor of New York, then Vice President and finally a US President.

It was a winding path toward the ultimate leadership position, but one that no doubt made him a far better leader because of the accumulation of experiences over time.

The reminder here is that career growth isn’t always upwards. As you’re thinking about what’s next for you on your path toward realizing your full leadership potential, and the impact you’re looking to have in your career, be cognizant of getting caught in the “nowhere to go but up” trap.

Explore what opportunities might help you grow and expand in your career, what positions align fully with your values, the impact you hope to have, and the leader you purposefully and intentionally want to be.

Get clear and curious about what will help you learn, help you grow and then step confidently in that direction… even if you move horizontally.

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My Secret to Getting After It

Alignment and happiness

Here it is. My big reveal.

I wholeheartedly believe the secret to getting after it is… getting into alignment.

Allow me to go all Webster’s dictionary on you for a minute. Alignment = a position of agreement.

Now let that sink in.

How often are you getting yourself into a position of agreement with yourself? 

Those feelings of joyous, thriving, lit up, buzzy, aliveness. Living life according to your values. Feeling good! I find, when I’m living life from a place of agreement with my fine self, things seem to fall effortlessly into place in a “pinch me” kind of way.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve had to give your arm a pinch, let’s discuss how you can spend more time in your most agreeable flow state.


Happiness routines

Routines don’t normally equate happiness, but what if we committed to making happiness part of our daily routine? Identifying the tiny things that bring you joy and making time for them each and every day.

- Dark chocolate for dessert... after breakfast?
- Walking home from the office jamming to your favorite playlist so you can shake off the day?
- A daily La Croix break? (Pamplemousse brings me so much joy!)

Whatever makes you feel good!

Creating time for the little things that lift you up in a regular way can shift your outlook, inviting in that high vibe feeling of agreement we’re looking for here.


Pay attention to presence

A definition of mindfulness I love is paying attention on purpose. When we take a minute to become fully present in this exact moment, we have more information available to us right now.

How we are feeling? What may or may not be true about this current situation?  

Presence is a centeredness that allows us to slow down and make a more deliberate choice about our thoughts, feelings or behaviors.

If alignment is all about being in agreement with one’s self, then practicing mindful awareness is a necessary step to begin noticing what is agreeing to you.


Recognizing the feeling
Here’s a radical notion, the Universe always says yes to what you focus upon. Think about that for a moment.

- What have you been focusing on lately?
- How are you feeling right now?
- Where might this feeling be reflecting back to you in your present circumstances?

Being intentional about how you want to feel is a first step toward alignment. Once you can identify the core feeling you’re desiring, the next step becomes welcoming and recognizing when you feel aligned with, or in agreement with it. Get present to the actions and thoughts that put you into this feel good place and take note! Add some of these actions, thoughts, mantras to your daily happiness routine.

Be intentional about doing the things that will help you feel exactly like how you want to feel.

Alignment can be a “I know it when I feel it” sort of moment for most people. So I encourage you to begin to pay attention on purpose to how you want to feel and what brings more of that feeling into your awareness.

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Mastering Management

Relaxed Manager

While management training is often focused on P&Ls, corporate mandates and how to improve your team’s bottom line, there are some soft skills I believe are crucial for managers to master.

Throughout both my corporate career and external coaching work I’ve been able to identify five core traits of authentic management. These behaviors, which we can all adopt, are impact drivers across multiple layers of the organization, starting with your direct reports.

Core Traits to Mastering Management:

You're Coach Like
They ask their team open ended questions, explore their thinking with curiosity, acknowledge their strengths and, through their discussions, leave their team pointed in the best possible direction given the situation.  They recognize it’s less about providing answers, but allowing space for individuals to discover solutions themselves.

You're Authentic
They come clean when they don't know something, they'll admit when the team is eating a sh*t sandwich, and they will be themselves, admitting to mistakes as much as humbly yet powerfully owning their strengths along the way. Honesty and realness go SUCH a long way when leading a team.

You're Values Driven
As a manager, being aware and in line with your values means you’re leading more meaningfully.  Values are the cornerstone of authentic leadership and help rally support from the team and organization to get good work done.

You're Experienced
This goes for on the job skills, past roles, even life experience. They can bring what's worked for them in the past to the table as an offering, and have the wherewithal to not be attached to the solution being a perfect fit for their new role, team or organization.

You're Appreciative
They boost their team up through honest appreciation.  They notice the hard work going on around them, step in to help as needed and acknowledge everything in real time from the strengths of their team, to the projects and organizational effects of their work. This appreciating nature helps to enroll the team toward a unified outcome and create an atmosphere of camaraderie.


If you or someone on your team is looking to enhance these aspects of authentic and effective leadership, let’s chat. I’m all about helping leaders at every level lead from the pallet of who they are to get great work done.

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Bricking Progress Toward Your Goals

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As a culture, we are pretty obsessed with where people are heading and what they hope to accomplish in doing so. We are constantly finding ways to measure our progress in work, in our relationships, heck even through the comparison trap of Instagram.

SMART goal-ing our professional lives away can lead to overwhelm when it comes to balancing your personal and professional goals.

No matter the size of the accomplishments on your goal list, you can set about achieving them with more ease.

Start with a solid foundation
In order to begin the process of accomplishing what’s important to you, you need to have a solid foundation to build upon. This includes time to reflect on WHY your goal is important to you, identifying the support you have in your life to help you accomplish it, and how you will feel when you achieve it.

I want you to have total clarity in how it will feel to accomplish your goal so this feeling starts to become a magnet getting you out of bed early to work on it, or grants you full permission to turn down a weekend invitation to spend time making progress on your big vision.

Breakdown the steps to get there
Once you are clear in your destination, and your big juicy reason why this is of the utmost importance to you, you need to break it down.

Think of it like building a house. Your reason why is the foundation you’ll build from. (Which is why we want it to be compelling and strong.)

Now you’ll want to determine the structure to erect the house. Categorize the big steps you’ll need to accomplish to achieve your goal. For example, if your goal is to write a memoir, your categorization might be a rough content outline, creating a pitch list of publishers, securing an editor, locating a cover designer, etc. You’re basically determining the walls of the house and which wall needs to go up first before you start to laying down your metaphorical bricks.

Do something each day
With your foundation set and your blueprint determined, you’ve got to start showing up each and every day. That’s right, each day spend a small predetermined amount of time laying down one brick.

In our memoir example, this could be as simple as writing for 20 minutes before work each morning. The point is that you do something small each day to continuously build upon the foundation of your goal. Slow, but incredibly steady.

Plan for failure - “If this, then that”

Life happens. There are going to be early morning meetings and sick days. Those times when despite the best of intentions, you aren’t able to show up as fully as you may have intended for your goal. The key is not to beat yourself up in these moments, shame and harsh self criticism can quickly send you down a spiral of goal abandonment. We just want to have a plan for these moments when life gets in the way.

Use the “if this, then that” technique. If I get sick and am unable to write my allotted 20 minutes in the morning for a week, then I’ll earmark two hours over the weekend to write when I’m feeling better. Having a backup plan is a fail safe way to make sure when life sidelines you, you know just how to get yourself back on track.

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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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