Setting intentions does ✨

These last days of the year are a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the year that passed and to start tapping into the life we want to lead and the world that we want to create. It’s all about opening up to new possibilities.

You might be used to working with new year resolutions, but they seldom work. In my experience, there’s a slight difference between them and intentions, so let me share why I choose to go with the latter, for myself and my clients.

RESOLUTIONS involve behavioural changes that we know are beneficial. We aim at letting go of what no longer serves us. However, when thinking of resolutions, we look at what’s “wrong” in our lives and therefore, we might even feel some guilt or pressure if we go off-track. 

INTENTIONS on the other hand, are linked to what we want to create, how we want to feel and they ask to bring mindfulness to our actions while making efforts to change, without being attached to an outcome. Therefore, they bring a much more loving and compassionate energy. 

They are all about letting go and letting come what’s of the highest good for all. 

When setting #intentions, think of questions like:

-How do I want the new year to unfold? 
-Why will it be great? What would happen in an ideal world?
-What new opportunities do I want to explore?
-How do I want to feel throughout the year?
-What will give me energy this year?

I invite you to think of Intentions and a couple of SMART Goals to support them - we do need some structure to do the work after all 😉

‘Where intention goes, energy flows’. So when writing them down, focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want. Be bold with your desires and always do your best! 

Keep an eye out for my last post of the year, as I will share a very practical tool that I use to Reflect & Plan the year ahead in line with the intentions we've set.

Until then, happy intentions setting! 🙌

“To be honest, I really want to live by the sea” my friend confessed in a recent phone conversation. As she went on sharing her recent experience in Puerto Madryn, Argentina, I noticed how her tone of voice enlivened! 

“I feel I belong there”, she said.

“That's great! I’m so happy for you. What are you going to do about it?” 

“Meh, I’m not sure… I feel guilty about leaving everyone and everything behind. And besides, what will people think of me?”

As an expat myself, I get where she’s coming from and I know how she feels. I change gears:

‘Tell me, who are the 5 most important people in your life?’

She was quick to answer - “My parents, siblings, nephew”. Proud, not a single doubt.

“That’s so sweet. And what about You?” 😏  it was indeed a tricky question.

Silence… 

“Oh, I see what you did there… I get it, thank you”.

9 out of 10 people answer in the same way - and I use this question often - not just with expats but with everyone prioritising everyone else but themselves when it comes to work, relationships, any kind of decision, etc.

Maybe you’re thinking it’s selfish to do so, or that it feels good to be there for others. 

Well, let me share this with you: there’s a reason why you put your oxygen mask on first in case of need during a flight.

You can only show up fully for others when you have attended to yourself first. 

What’s opening up for you as you read this? 
What are you not allowing yourself to do because of guilt or of what others may think?
As the new year approaches, what do you want to leave behind?

Think about everything you believe, but don’t believe everything you think".

There are many stories we told ourselves, or the decisions we made about ourselves, at some point in our life to protect ourselves.

Our thoughts, if we think them over and over, and assign truth to them, become beliefs and drive our behaviours. And as our mind likes to be right, it will always look for evidence that matches up with what we believe to be true.

But this can be shifted once we recognise that our thoughts are just thoughts, and that they don’t hold true anymore. The easiest way to do so is to start looking for evidence to prove a different statement.

I’d like to share my own experience with you.

Early 2020, I was informed that my super-cool role couldn’t continue as such, and I had to make a choice between staying employed (different/ lower role) and keeping my salary, or leave and figure out what to do next. Not chill.

Internally, I knew what I needed to do, my whole body was telling me “take the less travelled road, there’s surely something new opening up for you”. Plus, taking a position that was meant for someone who really wanted it, just because I was afraid wouldn’t feel good.

But my mind? Oh, it was very active with all the reasons why I should play it safe. Else, I’d be digging my own grave. I started searching for opportunities in the company, spending time and energy on this when there was a hiring freeze that had caused my role to be made redundant…

“You just cannot leave a safe job in the middle of a global crisis”.

Until I, with the help of a coach, managed to break through the stories rooted in fear I was telling myself, my internal conflict kept draining me.

The narrative? That I wouldn’t find another job, that I wasn’t good enough to make it on my own, too old to start over, that my expertise wasn’t valued and that I’d be better off staying where I was.

Was this true? Of course not! In hindsight, I had built a life in the Netherlands on my own, reinvented myself, made a successful career, even created my own role! But that didn’t seem to amount for much when fear was in the driver’s seat.

The way out was to acknowledge that I was scared.

That there was no truth in me not being good enough to follow the path that was opening up for me.

That everything is perfect as is, because Life has a better plan than anything we can fathom.

I decided to trust myself and took my leap of faith. I had my breakthrough, my life changed and I’m living in alignment. So much so, that now I’m helping others reconnect with themselves and have their own #breakthroughs with my #coaching.

For me it was my job, but it could have been a relationship, or anything else.

So my questions to you are: What is your one decision that has the potential to change your life? How are you going to break through what’s holding you back?

Hurt people hurt people. We hurt each other because we ourselves are hurting.

How would it look if we would come to conversations Knowing that everyone is fighting their own battles?

This is very alive in me because of a conversation I had yesterday with a dear friend of mine. Our actions hurt each other, not on purpose, but they did. 

We hurt because we are already in pain, and this causes us to become defensive and self-protective. In its rawest, it seems a self-preservation mechanism. 

But are we in real danger? 

What do we actually fear? 

Can we acknowledge the pain?

We can and this is how we start healing. Seeing our pain, and seeing the pain in the other. If hurt people hurt people, the opposite must be true. 

We’re interconnected. If we manage to let go of ourselves and our need to be right, to hear an apology. 

If we allow the ice-shield protecting our hearts to melt, we might allow the other person to see our pain too. 

We are all doing our best. I trust that. So I think that apologising for the fact, doesn’t help. Because we did what we knew best with no bad intentions, but blindfolded by our pain.

Acknowledge that even by acting to the best of our abilities, we might hurt others’ feelings. And that, we can address - ‘I’m sorry that my actions caused you pain’. No need to understand or even agree with it. Empathise yes. The other person’s pain is real to them, as much as our’s is to us.

We may not agree with each other, not even feel or fully understand what the other person is going through, but we can accept and acknowledge that there is pain, that the other person’s feelings are as valid to them, as our own to us.

Everyone is the protagonist in the movie of their lives, so not taking anything personal helps. As does not making assumptions. 

Not seeing who has it better or worse, or who’s right or wrong. There is no such thing, and it’s not a competition. 

We see others as we are - we can only see in someone else what we have in us. So let’s just listen for a moment. How did our actions cause pain? 

Having an honest communication can help the other person realise that we’re also hurting, even if we failed to convey the message in the first place. 

Some conversations are tough to have, but how can we afford not to? 

Since I started my own transformational journey, I've dedicated most of my reading to becoming more comfortable with my decision to lead my most authentic life and be the best version of myself.

It felt like a new world unfolded before me, and I constantly come across books that inspire me so much that I eventually share them in my work with my clients.

Here're my summer reads this year, in case they inspire you too!

The Fifth Agreement

A sequel to the Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz and don Jose Ruiz, who remind us of the greatest gift we can give ourselves: the freedom to be who we really are.

This book is a guide to Self-Mastery we can all make use of 😉

The Surrender Experiment

by M.A. Singer - After a deep spiritual awakening, he decided to let go of his personal preferences and simply let life call the shots. His message is about trusting that the Universe has a better plan than any we can 'think' of.

The Culture Map

by Erin Meyer - We are all the same, and yet we are all different. As the culture in which we grow up has a profound impact on how we see the world, I found this book very useful, not just for work but also for life as an #expat 🙂

La Revolución que Esperábamos

by Claudio Naranjo - A new #consciousness revolution is here. It took me a while to connect with his writing style, but I now see this as an imprescindible read for educators. He explores concepts such as the end of patriarchy, the transformation of education, the development of the three loves and the path of self-knowledge as the necessary antidotes for the transformation of a world in crisis.

I enjoyed all of them!

Have you read any of them? What is your biggest insight? Let me know via Instagram DM or LinkedIn.

“I know what I don’t like but I have no clue what I like, and what I am really good at”. 

“I want to take a different career path, but I have no idea where to begin”.

“I hear I should follow my passion, but I wouldn’t know what it is or where to even begin”. 

I hear this all too often, and I’ve been there myself too. You see, we are not trained to think like that and we're too busy finding our answers outside when, as usual, the answers to these questions are already within yourself. You just need to go inwards and find them.

Does this resonate with you? Then I suggest you use this exercise as a starting point.

How to find your Zone of Genius

Get a pencil and a big sheet of paper to allow for your creativity to flow freely. You'll need to do some writing here.

Draw 4 intersecting circles - like the ones in the picture below.

The intersection of these circles is your Zone of Genius - you might also know it as Ikigai - a Japanese concept which translates to "your reason for being". 

Your Zone of Genius is the intersection between your
Passion, Values, Skills and Talents.

In each circle you'll write 4 big words: Passion, Skills, Talents and Values - which you will need to complete as follows:

Passion

What you’d do all day, for FREE, if all your needs were covered. This is what makes you FEEL GOOD. It’s OK if you don’t know what that is right now. It will come, allow yourself to be OK with not knowing yet.

Skills

What you’ve learned in your journey to-date. Every single tool and process in your know-how. What you’ve studied, the software you use in your current job, a methodology, etc. These are transferable competencies.

Talent

What you’re naturally good at. It’s all what you do effortlessly. Not sure what? Ask a (good) friend or family. These might be things you often disregard as non-important: being a good listener, holding space for others, having the right word of encouragement, drawing, communicating, etc.

Values

What matters most to you than anything else. This is your WHY, your filter-system to make any heart-aligned decision.

Here's a nice reminder if you want to save it.

Click on the image to see it bigger

Your Zone of Genius is that which only you can do like nobody else. It’s almost as unique to you as your fingerprint.

Ideally, you want to try to spend as much time as you can operating from there. 

Though many of the things you've jotted down are for life, some of them might not hold so true throughout your entire life. We (hopefully) evolve, and so does this list.

For example, some of your Values are inherent to you, and others might change as you grow - in age and in wisdom 😉

This is a "live" list, you might add or remove things that are not necessarily true for you in different stages of your life.

Therefore, I suggest you have this very present and use it as a guide to check-in with yourself whenever you're considering a next step or move.

Give this a try and let me know if you find it useful! You can reach out to me also via my Instagram Account.

And also please share with whoever might find value in it as well.

With love,

Paula

By now we’ve all probably heard about “the Great Resignation”, a term coined by Management Professor Anthony Klotz, stemming from the rising numbers of workers considering a job change as pandemic restrictions ease and companies call employees back to the office. 

recent survey revealed 41% of workers are thinking about resigning from their jobs. But why? The pandemic gave workers more free time to think about their careers, explore entrepreneurship and save more money — leading many to realise their current job was not fulfilling. Is this true for you?

I personally like to think of the ‘Great Resignation’ as one of the ways that the tendency towards a more conscious living is manifesting.

One of the first things I noticed when we went on lockdown last year was that though many of us struggled with the restrictions, others were actually quite OK with the new imposed pace. There was some sense of ease in the lack of social commitments and the forced slowing down.

For me, other than making sure home was a place I wanted to spend time in, there wasn’t much to do. I felt at ease and enthusiastic about this new time affluence allowing me to take extra care of myself and for the new invitation to reassess my life. 

The lockdown forced me, as well as many of us, to stop.

The STOP is a well known coaching acronym that stands for :

Stop whatever you're doing, just pause for a moment.

Take a deep breath, which is our anchor to the here and now.

Observe what is happening inside and outside of you.

Proceed with a new awareness.

When we pause, in a world that is more challenging and demanding than ever, we are given the opportunity to go inwards and take stock of how we really feel about the things we do, and compare them with how we think we should feel about them. 

If we allow for it, we can make space to feel what needs to be felt, to see what needs to be seen, to do what needs to be done, and to simply BE. It might be a bit uncomfortable, but this is the first step towards a conscious living. 

Change is inevitable, but it's also a choice

Of course, there’s always a choice. To do nothing about it and get distracted with some mindless phone scrolling and online shopping, or to get curious and see what’s in there for us. And I think many of us opted for the second option.

We started asking ourselves questions about our lives in general - and I dare to say that we’ve all made a change or two that might have not been foreseen - be it work, health, creativity or relationships related.

Conscious Living begins with paying enough attention to every aspect of our life, so that we move from living in #autopilot mode - or “letting life happen to us” - to living with #intent.

It’s about bringing mindfulness to our days, and taking it a step further. For it is not just the awareness that matters - it’s caring enough to act based on it and choosing with ourselves and the world around us in our mind and heart. 

Embarking on this journey towards Conscious Living not only means getting curious about why and how we do what we do but it also invites us to challenge and even change old ideas and ways of doing, with regards to our relationship with ourselves and others.

As we can only change that which we are aware of, we all deserve to revisit our priorities and definitions of success from time to time:

Living in autopilot puts us at odds with living with purpose and finding flow in our lives.

When we reconnect with our true nature, we understand that we are all One, and that unless we all thrive no-one does. We’re wired for connection and it is paramount to take care of one self and one-another if we want to have a future in this world.

Ultimately, when we learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and we are at ease with making the right choice - whatever it is, as long as it feels right.

Back to the start of this post, there certainly are people resigning jobs and letting go of what no longer serves them, and there are many that are choosing to stay. Not necessarily because they haven’t looked into it, but because having weighed their options, they still find value in what they have for whatever conscious reason. How beautiful is this? 

We can get carried away by the trends and by looking at what’s wrong and missing, but being aware also means taking stock of what there is, what’s working and staying true to what feels right, and change whatever doesn’t.

To be honest, if there is a take away from this last 1.5 year, it’s that we have control over very little, and that in our daily choices lie our growth and freedom.

I took last week off to join an Ayurvedic retreat as an assistant, which meant making each participant feel welcome, and supporting with practicalities, and most importantly, holding space for whatever might come up in the different sessions. 

“Holding space” means being physically, mentally, and emotionally present for someone. It’s the process of witnessing and validating someone else's emotional state while simultaneously being present to your own.

18 women showed up individually - there were only a couple of friends. All willing to dive in and connect, yet they seemed somewhat reserved, observing and following the unwritten rules of engagement.

Two days in, during one of the talks, one strong, assertive lady dared to open up and shared a concern about what was going on in her life. In such a setting, she felt safe to share what hurt and her daily struggle. Her vulnerability shifted the energy in the room.
What unfolded was beautiful and changed the whole experience of the retreat - IMHO what everyone was really seeking: liberation, mutual respect, kinship, compassion, strength, community.

When we allow ourselves to be seen for who we really are, we enable the same for others. And the connection becomes real, human. No veils, no need for perfection. Just real people talking about real life stuff. 
By doing so, we can realise we’re not alone, and that it’s part of our human nature to be compassionate and supportive of others - even if it’s just by holding space.

All had their own goals and expectations: more time for themselves, spending time with nature, and learning about Ayurveda.
Yet all left with something much more deeper and meaningful: the reconnection with themselves, the knowing of being part of something bigger and of course, tools to return to daily life. 

I love retreats, but also know that we can find such moments in our daily lives. Let’s make sure we hold the space for one another, that we see each other and that whenever we ask a simple “How are you?”, we care enough to wait for an answer.

Welcome to Part 3 of this sequence. 

In Part 1 , I shared about my “wake up call”, which had me moving to the Netherlands and in Part 2,  how I set off on a transformational journey inwards. One that I have come to realise is an ongoing process, forever. 

Next to my personal journey, my career at Merck had taken off as well. Within 2.5 years, I moved from customer service Agent to Manager. And after 5 years I had become Regional Manager with teams in Amsterdam, Madrid and Milan. 

I was very good at my job, considered a “talent”,  travelling all around Europe for meetings which, as an Argentinian, had an extra excitement. I was once invited for a one day speed-meeting in France with the top leaders just to get more ‘visibility’. I could not believe it!

My team consisted of 50 people, with whom I developed an endearing relationship. I truly cared about each of them and, to be honest, that shows. Whenever difficult decisions needed to be made, - like letting go of someone - I would ensure we did it as best and considerate as we could. 

When you start living consciously, your awareness slowly permeates all aspects of your life, even if you are not particularly intentional about it.

My way of connecting with myself and others shifted. I dared to bring my true Self  to work and when I did, others did too. 

My team meetings were much more meaningful. I was comfortable making decisions that I knew would not make everyone happy, like a couple of new hires that would surprise everyone but FELT good to me. I KNEW  it was the right call, saw something in them and I trusted, coached and challenged them every step of the way. I had allowed my intuition to be a part of my decision making process. 

My way inspired them to find their own, and that is what conscious leadership means to me. As a team, we were in a state of Flow and thriving. At least for a while.

Don’t get me wrong, I made mistakes, plenty of them, but I believe I have cashed them in as learning opportunities.

Though I was making my way up, ticking off all the boxes and getting profiled as a top talent, I felt that something was missing. I was making progress, but it somehow failed to fulfill me. 

I could not see it clearly back then, but eventually I realised that I had lost myself in the process. Was it my own boxes I was checking, or were they someone else's, and whose?

If you observe these questions in detail, you will notice that they start within - “What do I want and need?” - and evolve into an external form - “How can I help?” 

Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakes. Carl Jung.

Introspection and contemplation did the trick, as they usually do.

I looked around at my team, peers, and colleagues. As I walked around the office, I saw some young guys powering up with a Red Bull at 9am, others piling up near the coffee machine, and others “needed”  a  Coke at 3pm to move through the rest of the day. 

Stress was poorly managed and burnout cases were no longer exceptions. I even had them in my team. My biggest concern was that while we were all doing our best, there was a generalized frustration and disengagement. 

It dawned on me that people around me were missing the basic wellbeing tools I had integrated into my life throughout the years: meditation, my conscious eating and sleeping habits, emotional relief, exercise, a sense of purpose...

And with that, I found my answer - I was to help others by sharing the tools that supported me best!

I made it my mission to bring Wellbeing not only to my team, but to the rest of the organisation.

As part of my own development plan, I created a business case with facts and figures, trends and benchmark analysis, and presented it to my manager. 

I had worked on it for weekends on end, and the more I connected with it, the better I felt. My purpose became clearer and my skills were just what was needed to make it happen.

We needed to bring Sustainability and Wellbeing to the Management table. My case was compelling and the timing was perfect. I had created my own role and job description as “Culture Manager” within the organisation. Wow.

What followed next was great. I will share more about this phase in a next entry. For now and as usual, my learnings:

If you are going through something similar, and would like some support, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d love to hear from you and see how I can help with my own experience and tools.

I’ll be sharing part 4 next week. Stay tuned!

Until then, take good care.

With love,

Paula

A few months in after my move to Amsterdam, I was somewhat struggling on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. By Western standards, that is. Food and clothing were indeed covered, though job security and accommodation were still a challenge. Let alone feelings of belonging in my new hometown.

I realised that finding a job as an Industrial Designer was not going to be easy because of a language barrier; and who would have known, finding accommodation proved even more difficult than getting a job.

In hindsight, I should have done some pre-work and research, but back then, I didn’t know any better and was hungry for change. 

In my last post, I mentioned “making concessions”, and by that I meant opening up to other job possibilities, despite my academic background. Did I mention my postgraduate degree in PM as well?

As a native spanish speaker, I started working in Customer Service - a job that in my mind was always meant as a temporary solution. One that, several promotions included, lasted for about 5 years.

Something very interesting happens when you have your basic needs covered, you count with spare time and are removed from your habitual surroundings. 

You start asking questions.

Michael Crichton describes it well in his book “Travels”: “Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am…Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines…you are forced into direct experience [which] inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience.”

“If I am no longer an Industrial Designer, WHO AM I?

If I don’t have such a busy social life anymore, what do I love doing in my spare time?

What’s my passion? What’s my hobby? What am I good at?

What do I want? What do I believe in?

Why do I do what I do?

What are my gifts and talents? What is my purpose?

What makes my heart break? What matters most to me?

Am I living my life? Or am I just doing what is expected of me? And by whom?”

If I was so disconnected from myself, from which place was I operating with the world around me?

In this journey inwards, it became very evident to me that I didn’t know the answer to these questions, and that for most of my life, I had been living from the “should be” rather than by what might have felt truer to me. 

Finish high school -> off to University -> get a job -> Postgraduate Degree -> chase promotions - because that’s the recipe to “succeed” in life. No question about it - at least not in the educational system I was brought up in.

Let’s agree that this works for some of us, but what if that’s not what we want or what we are here to be? What if we feel stuck in a rut by following these society’s old rules of engagement? 

What if instead of being highly functional, you could be actually THRIVING?

The problem with the labels that are given to us from an early age, which become part of our “identity”, is not only that they are quite limiting, but also that they are perceived as set in stone. 

How can you dare take a different direction? What will people say? And what about the ‘sunk costs’? 

Asking myself those questions allowed me to look at life with a new awareness, which slowly turned into action. Gradually, I started making different choices in all the areas of my life that transformed for good the way I connect with myself, with others and with the world around me. 

Personal transformation and growth are, in my opinion, a constant evolution in a spiral movement upwards. Growth takes courage, which means moving forward even in the face of fear.

I would not be honest if I said I have no worries or fears about walking a different path at the age of 38. Self-preservation is a real thing after all. But what I can affirm is that I am BEING from a place that feels much more authentic to me, trusting that nothing really goes away until it teaches what we need to learn. So, my fears and concerns might come back in different shapes and forms, but I know I am working to be able to respond from a new, elevated awareness.

I always like to share my learnings, as they might be of help or inspiration for someone else. In this case, I can say that:

If you are going through something similar, and would like some support, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d love to hear from you and see how I can help with my own experience and tools.

I’ll be sharing part 3 next week. Stay tuned!

Until then, take good care.

With love,

Paula

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