Three career crossroads: which one are you at?

Ever been stuck on a big career decision – feeling out of alignment, confused or paralyzed? Over and over, I see three major decision points that stump us. Three career crossroads that we stop and stand at, gazing around… some of us for a long time.

Let’s stop doing that! Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re taking a pause at one of these crossroads. Let’s figure out which one and get you moving…

The first crossroads: what work should I be doing? 

You may think this is a question for teenagers before they choose their major, and it is. But it resurfaces, often several times as we grow into our careers and our lives; when you’ve been through change; when you’ve grown significantly; when you feel out of alignment with your path.

Asking this question doesn’t mean you did it wrong up until now. You didn’t mess up! It means you’re evolving. It means you’re brave.

How do we solve it? I like to start deep by understanding values. Your values are the underpinning of all your choices. So, when you consciously understand your values, you will simplify your choices. For example, one of my top values is evolution. I am obsessed with growth and change. I am surrounded by plants and tree images all the time. So, what work should I be doing? Work that focuses on helping people evolve.

The second crossroads: what’s my next move? 

This is a career transition. It’s what happens when you’ve outgrown your role or your manager or your company or your colleagues or your least favourite spreadsheet.  You’re ready to change…. change jobs, change companies, go to flex, go to ownership, go to parenthood, go back to work, CHANGE.

Remember outgrowing your sneakers as a kid? It’s uncomfortable. Often, we need to get really uncomfortable and feel really out of alignment, before we are willing to take the risk of stepping into the unknown. Our human brains are wired to keep us safe and doing what we know, so it can be a BATTLE, even when you know on some level, that it’s time.

Whole generations before us simply avoided this; now, the economy of work is much more fluid. In a lot of ways, we are always on the job market, always marketing ourselves. Some people embrace this and others don’t; it’s fine. But when you want a change – when your feet get itchy and it no longer feels good 75%, 80% of the time where you are, it’s time to seriously think about that leap of faith. And then to stop thinking, and MAKE YOUR MOVE.

The third crossroads: ready to thrive

I’ll be honest: some people never get here. Even for those who do want to THRIVE, it takes a good measure of self-awareness, focus, willingness to take risks, and universal timing. It happens when you’re in the right place, when you’ve put your roots down in the right soil. And you’re ready to grow.

And it’s a crossroads because often, it’s not obvious how to grow. You probably need to learn skills you’ve never needed before. You probably need to get way outside your comfort zone, and risk looking dumb, and make some mistakes (a lot of mistakes), to really grow and thrive. But it’s all possible. It’s all exciting.

So even if you’re an expert at what you do, put your humility hat on and be open to stumbling. Double your rate of failure. Paradoxically, it’s the fastest path to thrive.

So, where do you stand? 

Which crossroads are you hanging out at, and are you feeling the nudge to move forward? Just standing there gets old pretty quickly, so let this be your invitation to take action without delay. What are you waiting for?! (actually though, what are you waiting for?)…


PS! now that you know the problem you’re solving, check out the resources page HERE for top posts and free tools to help you. And if you’re feeling the pull for a conversation, you can always get in touch here.


Want more? If you’re into living intentionally according to your core values, getting super clear on what you want in work and life, taking massive inspired action and using your work as a catalyst for exploring your human potential, then welcome to the fold, kindred spirit! Get enlightened career strategy, inspiration and first access to new free resources by clicking HERE.  And if you’re on the ‘gram say hi HERE. XO


 

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to

I’m kind of a hustler. I know some people don’t like that word; some days I don’t either. But I’m out there chasing, growing and building and trying my best to live an awesome and intentional life, and I call that hustling.

There are many days when things flow.

But some days it feels like pushing against a door that just won’t open. And when that happens, it’s usually because I’ve slipped into the energy of needing to PROVE something: to myself, to my people, to the world.

And that energy is bad. So lately when it happens, I take a breath and just…

Stop trying to prove everything all the time 

I’m not suggesting we shy away from proving things out of a fear that we can’t. Fear is what makes us think we need to prove things in the first place.

Try this: just because I can prove it, doesn’t mean I have to.

Just because you CAN be a VP at your company, doesn’t mean you have to.

Just because you CAN lose fifteen pounds, doesn’t mean you have to.

Just because you CAN write a book, doesn’t mean you have to.

Well, um, if I stop having to prove anything, what will I do with my time? 

Focus on fun instead 

Feeling like you always have to prove something is so heavy. What’s light?
Fun is light!
Remember fun? fun; fən; noun; enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure.
We can actually figure out what feels right and aligned with who we are and who we’re authentically becoming by swapping in these five words: “for the fun of it”.

I think I’ll be a VP at my company for the fun of it.

I think I’ll lose fifteen pounds for the fun of it.

I think I’ll write a book for the fun of it.

How about “real life” stuff? 

Of course, some things need to happen and may not sound like fun.

I need to feed my children, several times daily, whether I’m having fun each time or not (sometimes yes, sometimes no).

But for those big goals, the ones you spend so much time thinking about and planning for and remodeling your life and schedule and well-being to make room for, do this check. If it doesn’t feel one bit of fun, if doing it for the fun of it does not resonate, then please:

Stop trying to prove it, stop trying to do it, just. stop. it.

Let the magic in 

If you think about it this way, a lot of things on your NEED TO PROVE list will get shelved immediately and permanently. Others will will be transformed into things to pursue for fun… and that’s where the magic happens. My friend, you just opened the door: go ahead and let the magic come in.


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Get sh*t done: paths to finding flow

When I was a kid, my grandparents took me to Casa Loma. It’s an historic stone mega-mansion in the middle of Toronto that’s now a public attraction. I was immediately obsessed.

Obviously I took the visitor pamphlet with the castle’s floor plan back to my grandparents’ apartment. And to my great delight, my grandfather, who was an engineer, showed me how to pull out the drafting table that he and built into his bedroom wall and use his huge sheets of graph paper and a ruler to enlarge the floor plan to scale.

Despite being under ten, for the next few hours I did this work with the intensity of a surgeon. My brain was in heaven – meditative, systematic, switched on, dialed in, with laser clarity of purpose. It’s one of the first times I can consciously remember being in a state of flow.

You may feel like you have difficulty focusing, but know this: your brain is designed to flow and it craves this state of intense focus and clarity. The more you flow, the easier it is, and the more you will experience it. Here are some tips for getting there:

Make it matter  

You probably won’t find flow washing dishes (although I’ve heard it can be pretty zen #notforme). Find a task that really matters, where you’re invested in the outcome. It should challenge you, but not to the point you’ll get frustrated and quit. This is actually a great test for any work you’re doing. If it doesn’t matter enough to inspire you into a state of flow, how much of a priority is it?

Choose work times intentionally

Do your focused, creative work when you are most naturally focused and creative. If you don’t know, you need to experiment and figure that out. For most of us, we do our best work in the early morning or in the evening. Turns out, our brain activity mirrors the activity level of the animals at the High Park zoo (go figure).

Give yourself enough time 

You also want to give yourself a window of time in which to enter the state of flow and actually get somewhere. If there was a city called “let’s honestly think we can do two hours of work in the next forty minutes,” I would be mayor of that city. I’m working on that. What I’ve learned is that it is WAY BETTER to choose just one important thing, and give yourself the forty minutes to go deep with it.

Help your brain avoid distractions

Does your brain love to be in the state of flow? Yes it does. Does it need help to overcome distractions? Absolutely. Do yourself a favour and set yourself up for success.

Clear your desk space (or wherever you’ll be working).

Have everything you might need within reach.

Remove distractions (close the fifteen other tabs, or disconnect altogether, put phone on silent or out of the way (imagine!), let your dog out).

Catch yourself

A final tip: catch yourself just as you are breaking focus and challenge yourself to prolong focus instead. While writing this, I’ve literally reached for my phone, caught myself, and returned to typing at least four times. And look, I finished!

There it is. To recap: make it matter, choose work times intentionally, give yourself enough time, help your brain avoid distractions, and catch yourself. What will you accomplish today? Here’s to you, finding flow.


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Gut check: four keys to evaluating your next career move

A lot of people are confused about when to make a move. Here’s what I tell them: if you’re feeling the pull, it means something. But if you’re not serious about a move, stop “window shopping” job postings on your bad days at work because it’s a waste of your time. Spend that energy making your current job work better for you.

That is, unless it IS time for a change. In which case, let’s do it. Here are four keys to ponder before you make a move. These four factors will significantly impact your success and runway in any new role. They’ll belong in a different order for different people (clarity bonus: go ahead and rank ’em). Here they are:

The skills and experiences you need for your long term plans

If you have a long term career plan, imagine what you’ll need when you go to get your next job – the one you want after this next one. Get clear on those skills and experiences, write them down, and put them front and centre when you’re evaluating potential opportunities. If you’re not sure, think about some possible directions you might like to go, and look for themes.

The manager’s ability to nurture you

I’m a big advocate for taking jobs based on managers. There is a massive range when it comes to managers and management skills, and you want to work for someone who is going to teach you, challenge you, and ideally, actively develop and champion you. To be clear: even your dream job won’t feel that way if you’re out of sync with your manager. Once you’re in the interview process, pay attention to your reaction to and interaction with this person. Most of us have pretty good radar for whether we are going to work well with a person or not.

The story you tell about your company and industry 

You may not think your company’s story matters to you over here in the Finance Department or wherever you are, but if you’re an aspiring minimalist and your company makes plastic sand toys for Dollarama that are designed to break after a single use, that is going to be a problem. You’ll be able to overlook it on your good days, but it’s going to be a problem on your tougher days. Choose a company and industry that you can feel good about saying out loud when your neighbours ask you what you do.

The lifestyle net impact 

Compensation, benefits and vacation days matter. So do working hours, commute, environment, colleagues, learning and development, and, for some of us, quality of in-office coffee and snacks. Consider all of it: what each day and week will look like as an employee of the company you’re looking at. And ask yourself if it’s an upgrade from where you are now, or just a change.

There they are, four keys to evaluating your next career move. To recap, they are: the skills and experiences you need for your long term plans, the manager’s ability to nurture you, the story you tell about your company and industry, and the lifestyle net impact. By considering all four, you’ll make a great move for your present and future. Good luck!


BONUS! When you’re all lined up and ready to negotiate, I created a powerful cheat sheet for nailing your ask so you are clear on what you want ahead of time – grab it HERE.


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Grace through change: returning to work after maternity leave

This post is not about babies or mothering or priorities or meaningful work or difficult decisions or finances or getting a tribe or a therapist or setting expectations or negotiating flexibility or guilt or feminism or all the things I promise I’ll write some day.

This post is about grace through change. Because regardless of who you are, the truth is that returning to work after maternity leave generally feels like a massive and terrifying change (even if you’ve never been more excited to get to work!).

I have this friend who actually claims that she loves change. I’m like, what?

Not that I don’t like change. I mean, of course, I am obsessed with personal development and evolving as a human being and that is all change, all the time.

But what about changes that shake up your world suddenly, like returning to work after maternity leave? Or adapting to any new routine (hello, back to school). Or moving and building up a repertoire of favourite spots in your new neighbourhood. Or moving in with a partner or going through a breakup. These are big changes. But good news: they usually feel bigger than they actually are. Here are some ways to handle them:

Honour that sh*t  

It’s happening. And it’s not easy. And you’re going to make it through. And in the meantime your going to get a little anxious. Just permit yourself to feel all of it. And cry or take a day or whatever you need to do to honour it and honour yourself moving through it. Change is not easy (except for my friend, #yougogirl). For most of us, it’s a challenge.

Lighten up 

I know, annoying. It’s like when you’re freaking out and someone tells you to relax. Not helpful. But try this: nothing is permanent, everything is a lesson, you’re on a journey, this change will come and go and soon it will be the new normal and you’ll be on to the next. The only sure thing in life is change. If you’re starting a new job, you’ll still have good and bad days, take vacation and spend time with your family and all the good stuff. If you’re moving, you’ll still eat breakfast every day (if you do that) and enjoy coffee (me) and find a nice place to go for runs (in my fantasy life). However big this change feels, it will not change everything; nothing is that powerful. So lighten up on the gravity of the situation.

Send that change some love 

Now if you’re like me, you might have some experience with catastrophizing that change to death. Like what is it going to feel like when you have to commute to work at 7am on a Monday in a blizzard in February and your kid is like “no mommy, don’t leave. why don’t you love me?”… Let’s just put that in perspective for a moment: that’s an imaginary thing that may or may not happen. So instead, think of some good things that are going to come out of the change and send it some love that way. Like how much reading you’ll be getting done during that commute. Or the amazing coffee you’ll be picking up every morning on your way into the office.

Change is actually good 

Because you’re going to grow! Baby, you’re going to grow so much from this. It’s going to hurt some days but it is going to take you somewhere you would not have been able to go without it. Even if it’s quickly out of this job and into another, or back home to care for more babies or into your own business or who knows? This change is a step on your path. It is actually good. Courage pants on. Hand on heart. Bring it on!


If you are heading back to work after maternity leave and want to talk it out, get in touch with me here.


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Negotiate your next job with confidence

Fun fact: I have ten years of experience working with companies on their compensation. Take it from me, that is deep experience. I’ve seen the gamut in terms of how companies handle recruiting and the offer process. I’ve also seen the gamut on negotiations, and how different tactics land.

So, today I’m boiling it down – here are five tips for negotiating your next job with confidence.

Know who and what you’re dealing with

If you’re applying to a well-established, medium size company or bigger, chances are they have a system. This includes intelligence on what the market pays for your position, and probably an established guideline for salary, bonus opportunity, other incentives, vacation, allowances, etc.

Typically these systems come with a fair amount of internal pressure to stay within bounds – to manage costs, free up management and maintain internal equity.

This doesn’t mean you can’t ask for the moon (more on that below), just know that the company has a system and that getting around it or getting creative is generally pretty rare. This does mean that your mission is to get the best offer you can, working within their system.

If you’re joining a small company or start up, different rules may apply and creativity possibly encouraged. If you’re serious about the job and growing with the company, definitely go after equity.

Nail your ask – the sooner the better

If you’ve ever had a call from a recruiter, you know that they’re keen to find out what you’re making now. Two reasons: to gauge your suitability for their position, and to test whether you’ll fit within the company’s compensation system.

Don’t be shy about not answering that question if you don’t want to. You can say you’d prefer to put it off until later, or, you can tell them what you would like to be making – in other words, what you would move for.

Knowing the number you would move for is important. Recognizing a lot of factors go into making a career move, compensation looms large. So before you enter your first conversation with a recruiter or potential manager, take a few minutes to consider the salary, incentive, pension, benefits, vacation and other terms you would like (the aspiration) and what you would settle for (and still sleep at night). I created a quick cheat sheet to help you get clear on this ahead of time – you can grab it HERE.

Know where you stand

First, if you’re in a negotiation, they want you. Recruiting is a costly process – it takes time and most companies want roles filled yesterday. So if a company tells you they’d like to move forward with an offer, then you can be confident that they are invested in making it work with you, within reason (and within their system).

This is why I encourage you to ask for what you want. Do your homework, know your worth, and don’t be shy about coming in with all of your asks.

Negotiate with grace

First, manners. When you get an offer, say thank you. You are negotiating with another human and the relationship matters. That human is motivated to end their search with you. And they can unlock what’s possible within their system if they want to.

A lot of companies will talk through the details of the offer with you, then put it in writing. This can save them time by only getting senior management sign-off once, versus multiple times. Caution: this approach can make you feel like receiving the offer in writing is the final step. It doesn’t have to be.

So, know that the first conversation is an opportunity for you to negotiate, but not the only opportunity.

When an offer is presented, don’t agree to any aspect of it in real time. Even if you feel like Santa just flew by and left you a Victorian dollhouse full of period furnishings (or, you know, insert your childhood dream here) – take a breath, say an honest thank you and that you’d like to sleep on it. Preferably several sleeps.

If you’re still not sure you can buy yourself more time. Maybe you would benefit from meeting a few more people in the company – a peer or the head of the department. Leave it open until you’re ready to close it.

Look at the whole picture

Money is important and so is your life. When negotiating, consider the non monetary terms too – work location (commute time), hours, flexibility, seasonality, vacation, perks, leadership, opportunity, learning and development, colleagues, social, company culture. You won’t be able to negotiate on all of these, but you may on some.

Final word

There is no one size fits all for negotiating your next job, but here’s one tip that stands no matter what: be true to yourself. Career moves are a big deal, many of us will only make a handful or two in our lives. So make sure it’s the right role, know what you want, and go after it.

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If you didn’t already grab it, I created a powerful cheat sheet for nailing your ask so you are clear on what you want ahead of time – you can get it HERE.


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Change your work narrative: how to reclaim your power when you’re in a slump

A little while ago I posted some advice on getting through a rough patch at work. Let’s be realistic: everyone goes through this. As a person who spends a lot of time in the peaks and valleys, I am an expert on this. Yes, generally I love my work and career, but I’ve had times when I struggled with showing up, bringing my A game (or any game at all) and keeping myself on track with my bigger goals.

Here are five steps I wish I’d taken sooner to end the self-pity on several occasions. Also, while wine with friends is not a solution, it is fun and encouraged.

Show up as you

Wear your favourite outfit. Welcome an authentic conversation with your colleagues (in lieu of brooding silence). Say your idea out loud (in lieu of over-editing yourself into nothingness). Channel a version of yourself that feels more complete: Sunday coffee shop you, or playing with your two-year-old you, or just finished dance class you. Just, you. Whole Self, people. Throw caution to the wind.

Get boundaries

Hellish deadlines or not, you are a free person. So show up on time, get in, get it done, and get out again. Even if you’re working late, for goodness sake, take a break! Healthy people have boundaries. They’re good for you and, believe it or not, they’re good for your colleagues and company. No one has a breakdown which means everyone wins.

Finish something

Even if it’s little, make it your mission to complete something. This simple act will get something off your list and will give you some sense of control and accomplishment. That energy will do wonders for your mood and will probably kickstart more productivity too. Pick the thing on your list that least offends you, and do it now.

Take stock

When you can, take a second and get clear on what’s happening. Consider a few common reasons why you’re down on work:

  1. it’s work related (what you’re actually doing day to day),
  2. it’s people related (boss, colleagues, lack thereof),
  3. it’s path related (this role isn’t leading you where you want to go), or
  4. it’s not work at all (demands outside of work are making feel work impossible)

Even if you can’t solve for it today (and quite often you can’t), at least you know where your challenge lies. You would be amazed how many of us think the problem is one thing, when two minutes of focused, critical thought reveals that it is something else.

De-victimize yourself

Listen, you’re an adult. You got yourself this job for reasons that made sense at the time. And if every one of those reasons no longer applies, then you’re going to decide to hunt for a new job pretty soon. If any of those reasons remains valid, then good for you! You are the main character here – and if there are things that need to change, you’re about to start doing that. Getting intentional about turning this negative energy around gets you into your power and moving past a slump faster. Cue me raising a foam finger in the air for you because you got this.

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That’s it, five things to get you into your power and out of a work slump. What do you think – have you used these or others? Let me know with a comment or find more inspiration and tips (and pictures of my two cute toddlers) over here.

 

Worrying is bad for us. Let’s stop.

This month the thirteenth fell on a Friday. I have a soft spot for those because I got engaged on Friday the thirteenth in September 2013.

Recently I was researching what older people regret. What can I say, this is just the kind of stuff I google on the reg. The answer? Worrying.

I can relate to worriers. I come from a strong line of worrier women (ahem, also warrior women, shout outs ladies!). And often the worries come from a good place – of love and concern and wanting the best outcome for everyone.

Five years ago I was a little worried. I was ready to move forward with my life in a bunch of ways and I wanted all the things at once – to get married, to kill it at work, to be my fittest self, to buy a home, to start a family. Sometimes I worried that none of it was going to happen.

The problem with worries is that they’re just imaginary negative thoughts about the future AKA the unknown. Um. Could anything be more useless?

The last five years have unfolded in ways I never could have predicted, full of ups and downs and blessings and challenges. They’ve been surprising, hilarious, painful, transformative and miraculous.

Newsflash: the worries were wasted energy. All worry is wasted energy!

Back to the old folks. The article specifically said these worriers (/warriors) wished they had thought more short term. Which made me pause.

Because in yoga we’re always saying “be in the present moment”.

I realized that if we just pull those future worries back in time, and if we think short term enough then we land in the present moment. 

Worries don’t make sense in the present moment. They’re for the future.

What does make sense in the present moment? Taking actions to align with desired outcomes. 

Worrying is bad for us. Let’s stop.

That’s what our elders are telling us. Let’s listen.

That thing that drives us

This is the third post in the Career Cornerstones for a Lit-Up Life series. In case you missed them, here’s the first (VALUES), and here’s the second (TOOLS).

I have this friend. She’s a total connector. She loves showing up for her people, helping them out by connecting them with each other, supporting their growth, sticking up for them, finding a doctor when one of them has an intoxicated fall and requires forehead stitches in the middle of the night in a foreign country.

I have another friend. He is hilarious. All he wants to do is create and perform funny, quirky, nerdy content. He did this for years for mostly no money – all through high school, then for the first fifteen years of adulthood – creating. making people laugh. creating. making people laugh. Until one day, he got a big break. And now he’s still doing it, only he’s got a company behind him that’s funding it – allowing him to spread his content far and wide.

These friends, they’ve got PURPOSE. Hers is connecting and lifting people up. His is making the world laugh.

Your purpose is what drives you to action. It’s the impact you want to have when you’re feeling your most confident. It’s the dream you have for your career when you’re totally in the flow. It’s the third career cornerstone for a lit-up life and the best news of all is…

YOU DEFINITELY HAVE ONE.

Or maybe you have a few.

Here are three easy things you can do to tap into your purpose:

Think beyond the confines of your current job. You might find ways to exercise your purpose there (in fact I guarantee that you do), but it’s not where your purpose lives. And chances are it’s not allowing you to fully live your purpose.

Ask someone who knows you. Choose a perceptive friend or family member who’s seen you work and live your life and ask them for the themes they’ve noticed.

Pay more attention to your thoughts. There is an incredible amount of information available to all of us that we cannot see and generally cannot explain. You can call it your intuition, your higher self, universal intelligence, spirit, source, guides, gods, whatever. Maybe this resonates with you and, and maybe you’re like “that’s weird”. Both reactions are fine.

But if you’re still reading, let me tell you this: our culture doesn’t really talk about this, and that’s a shame, because the simple act of paying attention to your thoughts is the fastest route to more authenticity, abundance and joy.

I challenge you to start looking at the thoughts and ideas that pop into your head as having meaning. As in, think of your thoughts as a conversation between your conscious mind (which is receiving these thoughts) and the source, AKA wherever they came from. Research suggests we have 50,000+ thoughts PER DAY. That is a lot of opportunity for profound messages and insights. Like, for example, learning to recognize your purpose.

Oh, and chew on this: It’s highly likely that your real purpose is smack-dab in the centre of your biggest fear. Living a lit-up life is not for weenies, you guys.

Stay tuned for the final career cornerstone next week. If you’re enjoying this series, I would love to know! Get in touch directly or leave a comment here or over on IG (link below). X

Breaking away from black and white thinking

A lot happened this week.

I was low on sleep (I have two babies with colds). Completely exhausted, I cried and bore witness to my own despair, declaring “you are such a disappointment” to my partner’s face. He hugged me.

It felt really good to say it, even though it’s not the truth. I took two things away from my experience seeing a therapist for my postpartum anxiety over the winter. One was about my tendency to think in black and white and how harmful that can be.

He’s not a disappointment. More like, I’m sometimes disappointed by things he does and doesn’t do. Just like I’m sometimes disappointed by things I do and don’t do.

Because, you know, we’re humans.

Safely externalizing those black and white thoughts can reveal how ludicrous they are…  and take their power away.

Life is better in the grey. It’s more muted, less dramatic. Subtle, some might say boring. But the stuff our subconscious brains perceive and label as horrific suddenly becomes consumable, digestible, manageable, overcome-able.

True to form, my rock bottom was followed by a climb to new heights: it’s like I let go of the negativity, literally released the anvil, and immediately became incredibly positive about LIFE.

I am letting go of the black and white thinking and embracing the beautiful grey BEYOND.

Today, I am making the conscious choice to take up the special space in the world that I am made for. By following my intuition and uncovering more of my authentic self as I go.

What black and white thoughts can you let go of today? What can you do to move you closer to authenticity?