How to make choices that energize youFeatured

When was the last time you felt like the whole world was open before you?

I remember feeling that way…

When I was 9, coming home from school to sit under my desk, a blanket draped over my knees to trap the heat from the grate, settling in with an adventure book for hours and hours.

When I was 12, finally old enough to join band practice and choose an instrument to play. It was between flute, trumpet, and saxophone, and I ended up playing all three.

When I was 17, president of the drama council, member of five different school clubs, applying to business school and theatre school, and dreaming of being an actor.

When I was 18, waitlisted for theatre school but accepted early into business school. Invited to join the board of directors at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, providing guidance during the 4 most tumultuous years of the company’s existence.

When I was 22, graduating with a BBA but immediately entering the world of film acting. Within the first month, starring in a short film that won international acclaim and a Canadian Oscar. Starring in the first VR film in Canada. Starring in national commercials. Getting an agent. Joining the actors union. Landing film and TV roles.

When I was 25, being recruited to build a startup in the film/tech space as COO. Entering the tech world. Learning how to build a company, how to sell to clients like Rogers and Wattpad, how to scale.

When I was 28, 3 months out of shutting down my first company. Meeting someone who would become first my co-founder and then my best friend. Starting a dating app together, joining Techstars, raising money, spending so much time talking about relationships, people, connection, and love. Launching the product in Feb 2020, right as Covid hit. Pivoting pivoting pivoting to find a way to survive, then shutting down.

When I was 30, getting my first salaried job. Making more money than I knew what to do with. Finally feeling what it was like to get paid for your work, to be able to afford everything you wanted and more. To be able to rely on a team, resources, and existing structures. To get promoted!

When I was 32, getting laid off. Using that as a launchpad to start my executive coaching practice, where I could build on everything I’d learned over my life and work to help other people build their dream lives.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

If you’re doing something you care about, you’ll naturally find more opportunities. And you’ll have the energy to pursue them.

You will naturally find more opportunities because you will be curious. You’ll go to more events, meet more people, write more, read more, and engage more. All of it will be internally driven. You’ll feel alignment, be willing to take risks, and instead of spending energy, you’ll be gaining it. You’ll feed that back into your curiosity, and it will feel like a perpetual motion machine.

You will also make decisions faster. When you have internal alignment (“I’m doing this because I want to, I see value in it, and it matters to me”), you’ll become better and better at knowing what you need to do. And when you make aligned choices, you’ll stand confidently behind them. Other people will see that.

You will also see the story in everything you’ve done. There will be a thread that’s pulled you all your life. The more you pay attention to it, the more visible it will be, and the easier it will be to sense when you’re in or against alignment with it.

When you see the thread running through everything, you won’t care what other people think. It’ll be your story. You’ll know how to tell it. You’ll know what led you here. It will all make sense to you.

You will pick up skills, knowledge, and connections that will serve you all your life. They will make you truly better at the things you care about.

You will enjoy the process, not just the outcome. You will be happy to be there.

The hardest part of all of this is letting yourself hear, and then follow that inner voice. It’s easy in the short-term to do what the world has told you it expects. It’s hard in the long term.

You’ll feel it in the loss of your ambition. You’ll feel it in the loss of energy.

Most of all, you’ll feel it in the loss of possibility.

I’ve always been good at listening to my gut on a large scale. Pursuing acting. Pursuing startups.

But I’ve struggled on the small scale to know what I really wanted.

I’ve spent years doing things out of habit because I didn’t notice I’d changed, and what used to work no longer did.

I listened to confident people because I didn’t know what I wanted until it was too late.

Here’s how I changed that, and how you can too.

Whenever I had a choice to make, no matter how small, I would pay attention to how I felt in my body.

I’d imagine each option and see -

Was it energy up, or energy down?

A purely physical sensation.

No justification, no explanation, no rationale.

Energy up. Or energy down.

Try it.

Try taking the energy up option. Try taking the energy down.

See how you feel. See if there are patterns.

And then, begin to trust it.

And then, see what happens.