Awaken Your Potential
When I was thirteen years old, my grade eight English teacher introduced me to the world of marketing. I thought it was fascinating to learn how brands could influence consumer decisions based on the shapes, colours and messaging of their products and services. Three years later, my volleyball coach in high school introduced me to – more specifically – the world of sports marketing. He connected me with a relative of his who worked for the Nike headquarters in Oregon and she quickly became a mentor of mine, sharing her wisdom and experience so I could follow along a similar path.
I did everything she suggested and once I graduated, I found myself accepting a marketing and events position in a professional football organization across the country. As per the requirements of her MBA program that led to her opportunity at Nike, I would dedicate exactly two years of my life to the professional sports industry and then dutifully make my way down to the University of Oregon where I would get my MBA and eventually become employed at Nike. A very simple and straightforward plan with 100% certainty that, I was going to make it happen.
Before I had the chance to complete two years in the industry, however, I was offered and took on multiple opportunities, promotions, increased salaries and by the age of 25, I was nominated and awarded as one of the “Top 5 under 25 to Watch” in the sports business industry, across Canada. Shortly afterwards, I was approached by a League head office with yet again, a salary increase and a better title. At this point, I had completed the two years of work in the sports industry that was required to be accepted into the MBA program and knew that I needed to first check in to see if the Nike headquarters was still something I wanted to pursue. I booked a trip to Portland and arranged to meet with students and faculty in the program in addition to organizing a lunch and a tour of the Nike Headquarters with my mentor that I had never met in person before.
The Nike Campus was everything I had ever dreamed of (and more). The buildings were surrounded with trees lined with running trails, volleyball courts, a soccer field, a climbing wall, yoga and spin classes and bikes located at nearly every entrance for a quick and active means of transportation to your next meeting. The buildings themselves surrounded “Lake Nike” and floor to ceiling posters of Nike’s famous athletes towered over me as I walked from building to building. It was breathtaking, beautiful, exciting and yet, something didn’t feel right. I didn’t have the same level of excitement, passion and motivation that I had experienced when I was first introduced to the sports industry. I had a wonderful visit and a delicious lunch with my mentor and made my way back to my hotel to get a fresh start the next morning.
The next day, I took a two hour drive down to the University of Oregon and partook in a campus tour with a few of the MBA students that were currently in the program. They took me to lunch and answered any questions I had about the program, sharing with me their own experiences. I finished off the day by sitting down with one of the faculty professors who, similar to me, had spent the majority of her sports marketing career at another league head office in marketing and sponsorship. A career she had spent 8 years in before realizing it no longer made her happy. We discovered that we had both gotten into a career because it seemed cool and fun, yet once the initial shine wore off, we both found ourselves overworked, overwhelmed and too stressed out to enjoy the many gifts that life offered.
I told her about the offer that currently stood and that I would have to decide whether to accept or not once I returned from Oregon. When she asked what the alternative would be, I replied, “to get my Masters here, grow my relationships with employees at Nike and begin working there once I graduate”. Her response altered the path I found myself on and as a result, changed my life. She said; “Sarah, the students in this program would give their arm to be in the position that you are in, to be offered the type of jobs that you already have and are in a position of accepting. Though my boss would kill me for saying this, you going into thousands of dollars of debt and taking yourself out of the industry will do more harm than good and you will be working towards a job very similar to that which you find yourself in right now.” Her honesty was refreshing.
I had an epiphany in that very moment. It suddenly dawned on me that, though I had accomplished my goal of working (and achieving success) in sports at an early age, I suddenly became aware that this wasn’t where my passion and purpose was. I was always waiting for the next big thing. The next promotion, the next title change, the next move that would take me upwards and onwards. However, with every job change, I felt a quick burst of excitement, energy and temporary fulfillment, before quickly going back to the unhappy and unfulfilled state that I was in before. The one thing that never changed however was my lack of satisfaction, completeness, happiness and fulfillment that was like a cloud hanging over my head every morning when I got out of bed. All I could think about in that moment was that if I continued down this path that I had set out on 14 years earlier, I would eventually wake up one day at the end of my lifetime, realizing that I had lived a life without meaning and purpose. It was a morbid thought.
I thanked the women and began the two hour drive back into Portland where I was staying, with the windows down and the music blaring at an ear-deafening volume. I was surprised to feel a sense of relief, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders due to the life-altering realization that I finally had figured out why I never felt happy. I simply wasn’t doing what I was put on this earth to do. Though I didn’t have a clue what it was that I was supposed to be doing, it was a relief knowing that, at last, I had realized it wasn’t this. I began to look back on the previous years I had spent in the sports industry.
I would wake up every single morning feeling completely miserable, constantly stressed, incredibly alone and severely unfulfilled. I didn’t have close relationships and because of the constant demands of my “9-5” my health and wellness had slowly deteriorated. I had lost contact with many friends and family members in addition to slowly destroying the relationship I had with my partner. My career was my only true measurement of success and when things got increasingly hectic, my happiness, health and wellness took up permanent residency on the back burner. I hadn’t even realized the level of stress and anxiety I had in my life until I began to recall the multiple and severe anxiety attacks that I had begun to consider “normal” in my life (including one that left me vomiting, shaking and sobbing uncontrollably on the floor of a yoga studio change room).
I suddenly knew that unless I wanted that to be my life permanently, I had to make some major and immediate changes in my life. I was tired of feeling like I was wasting my days stuck on a never-ending hamster wheel – not sure really why or how long I would be stuck running, or how I even got there in the first place. I was ready to reboot my life, once and for all.
It took time, and it was challenging, but once I shifted my mindset from wanting to change my life to actually deciding to change, things began to fall into place. I began to prioritize myself; making time to cook healthy food that nourished me, moving my body through yoga and exercise and allowing myself time to just relax and do nothing at all. I eliminated toxic habits and relationships and accepted an offer in a new city that provided for more work/life balance. A few weeks after the big move, I stumbled across a company promoting their coaching program while moseying about a yoga convention and something in my body lit up. I wanted to share and show others how they too, could create a life they wanted by teaching them to have the courage and confidence to break free from a life of fear, suffering and lack of self-worth for one with more vibrancy, power, passion and purpose. I had learned how to reboot my life, and I now knew my purpose was to help others to reboot theirs.
Except that meant one thing; it was finally the moment where I would have to decide to leave a safe, secure and comfortable paying job that I had spent half of my life working towards. All of the relationships, mentorships, internships, networking, extra-curricular roles that had me well on the path to earning an executive level position was no longer useful to me. It hit me that if I wanted to change course. I would have to get more schooling, take out a line-of-credit, quit my job, begin paying for my own benefits, cell phone and computer. I would have to teach myself how to manage the finances of my business (since I didn’t pay attention in my University accounting class) and learn the legal side of running my own business. This was just a short list of the risks that came with quitting my unfulfilling corporate job for one that excited me and would ultimately allow me to live the life I’d always wanted. In short, I would have to kick all of the fears that were emerging to the curb, if I wanted to move forward.
I think there’s a creative genius in each one of us. Whether that be channeled towards writing a book, painting art, launching our own business or simply being the best there is at whichever craft we choose to share with the world. Yet, the potential that each one of us is capable of is quite often rarely actualized. When it comes to having the courage and confidence to chase after our goals and dreams, something prevents the majority of us from doing so; fear.
Fear of failure.
Fear of perceived judgment from others.
Fear that we are not enough.
And it shows up differently for each and every one of us. It can show up as anxiety, overwhelm and stress for a new project. It can show up as a form self-sabotage, disguised through procrastination, laziness, multi-tasking or making excuses such as you don’t have the time, money or energy to commit. It can show up by your resistance to applying for the promotion that you wanted, asking for the raise you deserve or inquiring about the dream job that suddenly became available because you don’t think you stand a chance. Most commonly, it arises when we decided to make a massive change or shift in our lives.
I had an old roommate who absolutely detested her job at a bank. She would wake up every morning in complete misery and sometimes she just wouldn’t go, and even on the days she didn’t call in “sick” she would typically show up thirty minutes late because her boss didn’t notice or care. She spent most of her days on Pinterest and Instagram, planning events or looking up alternative ways to decorate her house. She was a natural born event planner and her passion showed in her beautiful decorated house, her artfully done dinner parties, and how she chose to spend her spare time. She came across a position at an events company and though she didn’t have any official experience in the industry, she worked up the courage to apply for the job and made it to the final round of interviews.
Ultimately, the company ended up selecting another applicant, and it shattered her. She cried for a few days straight due to her the embarrassment and disappointment that she felt with herself. When I spoke to her about it the next day she shared with me “I just feel so stupid, Sarah. I really believed that I had it. I just need to stop applying for jobs that I know I can’t get, or at least manage my expectations that I’m not going to get it before I go into an interview.”
I was shocked and disappointed once I heard her newfound limiting belief. Regardless if she was the perfect candidate for any position moving forward, it was now highly unlikely she would even be considered going into an interview with the mindset that she didn’t actually have a chance. What’s more, it’s unlikely she’d ever even apply for the jobs she actually wanted because of the fear that she wouldn’t get them and because she doesn’t want to (and expects she will) be disappointed. She instead might spend her time applying for less than satisfying roles that she knows full well she might never enjoy, because those are the only ones she truly believes she deserves and might actually have a chance at an offer.
The fear of failure can be paralyzing and can cause us to stop ourselves from ultimately moving forward towards the place and person we want to be. In a nutshell, fear could very well be the only thing that could stop you from changing your life for the better. What we – as humans that are hardwired to focus on fear in every situation – sometimes fail to realize is that, when we allow that fear to control our decisions and actions, we are denying ourselves the countless incredible and life-altering opportunities that we were meant to experience.
Recently, I was at a yoga retreat and we were asked to pair up with the person beside us and tell them what our biggest fear was. I felt completely vulnerable and scared to share my biggest fear with a women, who appeared to be in her sixties. I assumed she would think my fear was silly and most likely have some sage advice to share. I was shocked to learn however, that she was even more nervous to share her fear with me. Her eyes began to brim with tears and her lips begin to quiver as she explained how she had felt terrified to show up for this yoga retreat. It was the first she had ever been to and she was so scared to step out of her comfort zone, scared that she wouldn’t be able to “keep up” with all of the yogis in attendance that day. That she wouldn’t be fit enough, knowledgeable enough, quick enough or good enough. But after she shared her fear with me, she told me her biggest fear of all was that she would spend her entire life not doing the things she wanted to do. And even though she spent the first sixty years of her time on this planet, not living to the fullest of her capability, there came a point where she finally decided that she wasn’t going to waste another day not doing what she felt called to do. So she showed up.
And how did it go? She loved it! She was ecstatic! She kept up and when she needed a break and a sip of her water she did just that, much like the majority of the other attendees throughout the day. She laughed and met new like-minded people that encouraged her and invited her to other events. By the end of the day, she was positively glowing.
Imagine being in that women’s shoes and waiting until you were sixty years old to start doing the things you most wanted to do, and being the person you most wanted to be? How would that change how you lived every day of your life, moving forward? Though the entire day was special, the most unforgettable memory I have was feeling the raw emotion and longing in that woman’s voice when told me that she wished she had someone in her life while she was growing up, to help, encourage and support her through her fears so she could have started living her life, earlier on. If you could speak to your sixty or seventy year-old self, what would they say to you? How would you start to spend each day of your life, moving forward? What would you change? What would you try to achieve? What do you think he or she would tell you to do?
Perhaps you’ve spent your whole life avoiding uncomfortable and risky situations out of fear. You’ve longed to change your lifestyle, your career, your relationships, your mindset. Frankly, your whole life. But stepping outside of our comfort zone can be terrifying. Most people are much more inclined to stay in comfortable situations where they know what to expect.
If you are on the other end of the spectrum and ready to shift your life from ordinary to extraordinary (which, I suspect you are, or else you wouldn’t be reading this in the first place) then read on! I’ve outlined some simple yet impactful strategies that will help you start the exciting new journey of rebooting your life.
5 Strategies to Reboot Your Life
Raise Your Standards
If you want to reboot your life, and I mean, REALLY change things, you need to go from wanting to change your life, to deciding to change your life. Most people are perfectly content with living their life in the most comfortable and complacent way possible. They wake up feeling exhausted barely able to pull themselves out of bed. They go to a job that is less than enjoyable to do work that lacks any real meaning, value or excitement to them. They head out the office door feeling even more exhausted and might stop at a fast-food restaurant to grab something quick and easy on the way home. They plop themselves down in front of the television for the entire night until sometimes far too late before realizing its past midnight and they have to get up early to do it all over again in the morning. What many fail to realize is that they don’t have to live their lives this way. They can quite literally, have it all. But they need to stop fantasizing about living out their dreams, having amazing and deep relationships, a healthy and vibrant body and a positive outlook on life, and they must act on it. The first step is awareness that you can have more, and to raise yourself up to the level where you are committed to working for it.
- Get Clear on What You Want & Why You Want It
This beautiful process helps us define where we are, where we want to go, and how to get there. Get very specific about what it is you want from your life and more importantly, why you want it. (Both steps are crucial for this exercise and you can’t do one without the other). Take my story for example, I had been working towards a big goal of mine for over half of my lifetime before I realized that I had never stopped to consider why I was doing it. Sure I had a timeline, goals, action steps and all of the commitment and perseverance in the world, but I didn’t have a reason why I was in that line of work other than it seemed “cool”. It lacked meaning, purpose and excitement for me. Over time, people change, grow and evolve. As they do, so do their goals and visions. And that’s okay! Instead of listening to the people in your life that are trying to assure you it’s just a “phase” or quarter/mid-life crisis and to stay where you are and let it pass, see it as an opportunity to tap back into what you want out of life in this very moment. Maybe you have a completely different and exciting idea that’s been burning in the back of your mind for a while now, ready to be set free. It might be the perfect time to reevaluate and to start down a new path.
- Eliminate Excuses
What would you do if time, money and fear weren’t factors? Whatever your answer is, it’s time you just go ahead and do it. Quite often, we are held back out of fear of failure or lack of self-belief. We can’t quit our job and pursue our passion because we are too old, too young, don’t have the money, the time, the energy, the know-how, the support, or the resources. The economy is too bad, our partner doesn’t support us, or someone else is already doing it. Everything that is exciting or important to us typically comes with an excuse why we can’t or shouldn’t have it. Chuck the excuses because, I guarantee when you are lying on your death bed after living a long and healthy life, you will regret more of what you didn’t do than what you did do.
- Ask For Guidance
The most successful people in the world didn’t get to where they are on their own. I can almost guarantee you that whatever idea is brewing in the back of your mind, someone else has already done similar and could help guide you down the right path. The beauty of coaches and mentors is they have the ability to assist people create change in their lives; moving them from where they are, to where they want to be. They also provide an objective point of view as it relates to challenges and obstacles that people face. Quite often, family members, partners and friends (due to wanting what is best for you and to keep you safe) might not always encourage you to take the risks necessary to go for your big dreams. Whether wanting to start your own business, write a novel, or quit your job to travel the world, there are a ton of people who can provide the support, guidance and encouragement that will help you get started.
- Do it, NOW
You might be holding yourself back because of that perfectionistic side of you that’s whispering in your ear, “not yet, it’s not the right time, you don’t have it figured out yet or, you’re not quite ready”. I will let you in on a little secret. You will NEVER feel like you’re ready. I feel like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing half of the time. I didn’t feel ready when I started a blog, quit my corporate job, started by business or launched my website, started working with my first client or hosted my first event. The majority of the time I don’t feel as though I am ready for any of the new projects I set out to achieve. But if I waited until I thought that I was those things would have never happened. You’ll evolve, change your course, and alter your dream as you grow. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll determine where it is you are meant to be. And most importantly, trust the process. The Universe will deliver what you have the guts to ask for.
So if, for example, you are contemplating making the shift from your soul-sucking 9-5 corporate job and launching your own business (like I was), you may be more focused on the fact that you might fail, that you might be laughed at and you might lose all your money trying. Instead, I urge you to focus on the beautiful idea that if you take this risk right now, you might just find yourself waking up every day to a life you absolutely adore, and if you do fail, don’t consider it failure. Simply see it is an opportunity to re-route your dream and find a new way of making it work.
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